Archive for the 'old soundz' Category

18
Nov
10

robbie basho – voice of the eagle / visions of the country

Since I reviewed that va tribute, here’s a couple rare Basho recordings that barely get mentioned and are among his best, briefly commented.

The Voice of the Eagle

Basho on full-blast mode. His singing voice might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and can be considered “excessive”, but this being post-Starsailor there shouldn’t be much nitpicking. And guitar-wise, there really is NOTHING wrong with the album. Instrumentally, it’s one of his more “controlled” records, though some tracks wander a little bit (“Wounded Knee”, “Blue Corn Serenade”) the intention is rather conventional. There aren’t any empty or skippable cuts here (most are haunting, my favourites being “Joseph” and “Moving Up A Ways”). All in all it’s sublimely beautiful – even if it is hard to connect with the spirituality of the record, one can’t deny its intensity.

Visions of the Country

 

Deeply affecting. While not as spiritual as some of his other outings, it features a kind of contrived epicness inspired by the same cover. The atmosphere achieved here is bewildering. The monolithic “Green River Suite” opens with Basho half-yodeling about Wyoming and his guitar flowing down a stream of notes; follows the inspiring “Rocky Mountain Raga” in which he’s joined by poignant strings as the picture widens and we roam around the Rockies; “Variations on Easter” is a more intimate instrumental based on the works of fellow guitarist Leo Kottke; in “Orphan’s Lament” Basho switches to a rather lo-fi piano and you can perfectly picture him in some shady, empty bar playing by himself and singing to the walls; he keeps the piano in “Leaf in the Wind”, an offering to Yma Sumac, though the song is way more nervous and whistling is featured, creating an eerie ambiance – it may be the darkest song in the album; next Basho is inspired by navajo chanting and celebrates the Southwest in a very energetic guitar-driven piece; “Call on the Wind” closes the set – a goodnight song supposedly for all americans, but I’d like to join in as well. Overall, ultra solid release, Basho’s voice continues to be an aquired taste yet has shining moments, and the guitarwork is simply marvelous. Also, it’s one of his most varied and accessible albums, music-wise.
Links in comments.

 

02
Jul
10

nomeansno – 0+2=1½

Nomeansno haven’t had an original idea since 2006. At least not one so thundering as to give it to the people. Now they’ve decided to smuggle some old material. Yet do not be mistaken. This is not one of those boring deluxe editions – original album + meandering demo filler. It features just the filler. If Nomeansno had decided to call it quits after 0+2=1, this material would be fresh and exciting; however, they re-recorded most of it for other albums. So, there’s not much NEW stuff in here. I guess it can be considered a part-deluxe / interesting hits / B-sides / whatever release. Overall, it is notably all over the place. 0+2=1 is one of their most eclectic albums: not as fucked up as Small Parts Isolated And Destroyed or Wrong, but varied and catchy. Its remains, offered here, follow a similar trend.

“Cats, Sex and Nazis”, probably one of their most intriguing song titles, features a droning bass beat and an increasingly intense sound. Nomeansno have always been relatively Fall-esque in some of their longer, extended pieces, which are based on repetition (something they mastered in One). This is the kind of song that could go on and on forever and wouldn’t get tiresome. Besides it is a celebration of zombies and flesh-eating. The cut is present in the Why Do They Call Me M. Happy album (as it features the line “Do you know why they call me Mr. Happy?), as is “I Need You”, which continues the iterative brainfuck bass à la Flipper, the other two instruments seemingly subdued until three minutes in, when creeping guitar spirals and cymbal waves strike in, eerily. The punk minimalism is barely interrupted, only a brief wall of guitar sound emerges. The “controlled tension” formula sinuously displayed (also, some of Wright’s most melodramatic vocals). Featured in The Worldhood of the World (As Such), “Lost”‘s start promises a rockin’ track, with a pre-climatic screeching guitar-fest and a chantable “I wanted it all” line, yet it’s not until two minutes in that the guys make the song explode in rushing melody – and it doesn’t last long. Again, Nomeansno’s interest relies on the thumping proto-chorus, not the verse designed for the cut (not all that special – standard post-Wipers punk rock). They even manage to include keyboards at one point. ’tis gotta be one of their most “edge-of-the-seat” compositions. Nauseating. “Blinding Light” is a rather sub-par punk effort, which can be found in Nomeansno offspring band Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong’s lone record. The imaginatively titled “John Instrumental” is a delicious post-hardcore affair, although not very distinctive, having archetypal rhythm changes, angular guitars, aggravating bass and mathy melodies. “Victim’s Choice/Happy Bridge/Ghosts intro” – whose title and sound are awfully reminiscent of Victims Family – combines cuts from Worldhood, Happy and 0+2. It is a neat reminder of why Nomeansno are the kings of “jazzcore”. Funky, groovy, noisy shit, complete with yelling. Though the complexity is oppressive and smart, the track suffers, precisely, from being the pinnacle of “jazzcore”. That is, being a treat to listen to – but after it’s over, remaining forgettable. Only the latter part of the song can be somehow recalled. This is tiring music to listen to at home – but a blast to experience live. “Now it’s Dark”, an unreleased track, re-uses the hammering formula of “Lost” and manages to be just as tense. Its little climaxes (with the Wrights exclaiming dark dark now it’s dark!) are vintage messy hardcore, but as usual Nomeansno manage to force the track to linger on, complete with whispered lyrics instantly followed by screams. Fun stuff. Another version of “Cats, Sex and Nazis” closes the disc. As unnecessary as that might sound, it’s always a pleasure to listen to one of their most memorable (and even hummable) compositions.

Nice music from these Wright individuals, expertly designed for completists. Thing is, the tracks included are not particularly among Nomeansno’s best (except maybe “Lost” and “Cats, Sex and Nazis”). You’re better off listening to the albums which followed 0+2=1. Actually, you should go and eat everything the band ever recorded and pray for a new breathtaking release, which is waaay overdue.

Download here.

27
Jun
10

Frank Zappa – Greasy Love Songs

One day, Mr. Robert Fripp found himself wandering around Potland. At first he felt it was a punishment for the snotty remarks he had accumulated among the years. But, as he sat there, aghast at the parade of bongs, weeds, drones and whatnot, that furiously painted the landscape he frowned upon, he pretty much inspected all the insults he had spat and found none particularly senseless or out of place. So he decided to have a walk and interact with the local motorheads. He was given few answers, since all inhabitants of Potland were consistently high and spent most their time constructing fart noises. Especially annoying were Zappa fans, the most smelly, disgusting kind of potheads. Mr. Fripp, unable to discuss guitar atonality and therefore bored, spent his time watching the assholes ramble on and partake in endless Zappa quizzes. For instance,

– What was good ole Frank doing at 3:45 PM on Wednesday the 4th of May, 1971?

– Composing
– Fucking some gal
– Soloing
– Reading MAD magazine

Of course, the answer was almost always “composing” (either expertly designed prog-rock or hilarious blue jokes). Fripp had grown tired of this Zappa fellow. Besides, there is no way Zappa would’ve made it into King Crimson, so he slightly sucked. His technique wasn’t bad, but probably the sick fuck would’ve insisted on crowding violins and silly trumpets. Though, reflected Fripp, he was way more genuinely quirky than that guy he hired for Crimson, whats-his-name Belew. After some of the zappean numbskulls lamely tried to point out the similarities between the two (the most popular one being “shitting a shitload of live shit” and stupendously releasing it), Fripp decided to play it out nice. So he demanded the newest Zappa release (Greasy Love Songs) and sat down to listen to it. He was offered a joint but delicately refused by having a piss on it. “Cheap Thrills” was blasting off the stereo whilst the junkies pogo’d on the grass.

Fripp found himself pretty much in hell.

Were they playing a prank on him? That’s something drugged out Zappa fans would do. But these pissants were too devoted to screw around their hero. “Love of my Life” and “How Could I Be Such a Fool” came next and Fripp’s skepticism grew wider. At one point one of the zappaholics tried to show him how to do the “bop” steps so he could dance. Fripp strangled him nicely and computed. The fourth track, “Deseri”, continued to confuse his mathematical mind. Why the fuck would an impolite meta-rocker lower himself to doo-woop songs? Fripp, purely anxious now, was aware the jerky, ball-breaking nature of Zappa, but this was too much. This was just waste. He grabbed the liner notes and learnt the Mothers of Invention were actually posing as “Ruben and the Jets”, some sort of phony band. A tribute to Zappa’s younghood roots? His foot was tapping out of control – our irrational, natural bestiality has to be found somewhere, after all – but other than that, Fripp decided to slaughter all those potheads. Of all the Zappa material, they had to choose the most retrograde crap to supposedly “enlighten” his taste. His brain didn’t even melt a little at the predictable, nauseating lyrics. They were something his fucking grandmother would enjoy. Well, that verse in “I’m Not Satisfied” which went “Why should I pretend I like to roam from door to door / Maybe I’ll just kill myself, I just don’t care no more” was pretty tense for 50s standards. What a fatal error on Zappa’s part, Fripp thought: his “oh-so-nostalgic” creation wasn’t even credible, there’s no way the boring asses of that decade could’ve stood for such nonsense. They were as dull as a doorstop.

Also, there was an absurd sentence about dog waste in “Later That Night”.

“No, no, no” and its endless repetition of boppa dooayydoo (boppa dooayydoo, boppa dooayydo) sealed the deal and the massacre started. To think that at one point he even considered Zappa to be a decent musician! The guitar line “Stuff Up the Cracks” hinted at awesome prog soloing, and some of the guitar interplay in “You Didn’t Try to Call Me” was decent, but that’s it, the rest was shameful bland stuff. One of the potheads tried to have a neutral conversation before expiring, remarking the greatness of “Anyway the Wind Blows”, superior to its less nuanced version on Freak Out, but Fripp was not going to consent any dialogue at all, much less if it wasn’t centered on his persona. By the time the “bonus” tracks were underway most the potheads were dead. “Valerie” was playing when the blew up the stereo.

Yet as he continued to drift around Potland, the dooayydoos, ooo-ooos, aha-ahaaas and what-have-yous proceeded to torment him. He felt cruisin’ and brown. His standards fell down a hole. He farted a little bit. Unsure about his clarity, undecided to return to his regular concert-perfoming, live-record-releasing shiny life, he decided to stop trying to abandon Potland until his mind had been cleared of such doo-woop garbage. Some junkie delivered him a letter. It said: “Ruben and the Jets is the greatest group since Danny and the Juniors”. Zappa’s voice spoke from the sky: “I always liked rhythm and blues”. A neon sign informed: “Ruben has 3 dogs”. The Moonglows started playing a couple hundred feet away.

“It’s just a nostalgic trip”.

Fripp thought. And his teen innocence surrounded him, snobbery bygone.

And he hopped among the acres of potheads, gay and singin’

Show the world how to get along,
Peace will enter when hate is gone,
But if it’s not asking too much,
Please send me someone to love.

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‘Come with your ears… leave with your ears!’

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