Getatchew Mekurya & The Ex & Guests - 2007

Getatchew Mekurya & The Ex & Guests - 2007
Dudes, this is awesome.

Getatchew Mekurya is an Ethiopian jazz saxaphone player. Particuarly active in the fifties and sixties, he was "one of the first musicians to record an instrumental version of shellela, a genre of traditional Ethiopian vocal music sung by warriors before going into battle. Mekurya took the shellela tradition seriously, often appearing onstage in a warrior's animal-skin tunic and lion's mane headdress".

So that's pretty cool on its own.

But, when people started looking back on the awesome Ethiopian jazz scene a couple years ago, he caught the attention of The Ex, an anarcho-post-punk band from the Netherlands. They did a few albums with each other (not full on collaborations, but one with The Ex as a backing band for Getatchew, and another one where he solo'd on a few songs of their's, or something like that).

Shit really catches on fire with this live DVD, though. Each half of the equation (Ethiopian free jazz + post punk) clearly influences the other, and ends up creating a sound unlike any other I've heard.

Sometimes biting and raw, the saxophone is like a screaming spirit over the edgy, rough guitars. Sometimes funky, the horn section delivers afro-beat style epic lead lines. Sometimes jazzy, Getatchew spits hot fire atop of the punk structure.

Pet Sounds in the Key of Dee - Presented by Bullion (2007)

first things first, what a hilariously shooped cover. now, i fucking love dilla, and i fucking love pet sounds. so for me to be finding out about this album so late is kind of embarrassing - my cred has now suffered. anyway, excellent production (albeit a bit compressed - but hey, you can do that if you call it a mixtape) by english producer bullion. the mix here is as satisfying as it is fun to listen to. if you are acquainted with both pet sounds and dillas work, you will love this treat. in terms of what period of dilla bullion aimed for, it is for the most part pre-donuts (but after the dee[troit]) mixed with some donuts goodness and some of what was evident in jay stay paid. killer basslines and snares to die for. very nice album. the track "you still believe in dee" is a particular favorite of mine. enjoy.

PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love (B-Sides) (1995)

You guys.

Not sure why these were released as b-sides, because every track is golden. She starts unapologetically, immediately screaming her desire to "wanna bathe in milk, eat grapes, Robert DeNiro sit on my face", and continues her ruthless and reckless energy throughout.

It goes to some strange places, but the entire thing is worth two tracks in particular - Maniac, which channels the same vibe of her better known single Down By The Water, and Harder, which evokes the best moments of her Rid of Me album days - which are two of the sexiest, rawest, oh-god-I'm-so-turned-on vocal performances alive.

Mmmmmm yeahhhhhh

Protect IP Act - Call your senators

Protect IP Act - Call your senators

"The US Congress is considering America's first system for censoring the Internet.
Despite public outcry, the Internet Censorship bill could pass at any time.
If it does, the Internet and free speech will never be the same:"

so go to the website so that they can connect you with your senators and just say you oppose the protect IP act. you call them and they connect you after some quick bulletpoints. no hassle and just zip codes required, the email is for american cencorship to send updates.

Neil Young - Dead Man (1995)

Neil Young - Dead Man (1995)

I recently added the 1995 movie "Dead Man" to my list of movies-I-need-to-see-but-have-heard-the-soundtrack-to. It grows and grows and grows.

I don't know anything about the movie but for the liberal use of film excerpts. Normally I'm not a fan of dialogue over music in soundtracks, but it fits Neil Young's ambient, improvised guitar jahms like a glove.

The soundtrack was recorded in one take, with Neil Young improvising while he watched the film. And, since he's Neil Young, Neil Young plays his slow, grungily atmospheric guitar in such a manner that I don't need to see the movie at all.

Edit: And now people are saying that Gibby Fucking Haynes is in this movie? I need to see it right now.

Satanstompingcaterpillars - The Most Wonderfulest Thing (2002)

precursor to black moth super rainbow and tobacco, satanstompingcateripillars is the original pseudonym under which tobacco started experimenting. more like bmsr than his solo stuff, this music still retains the properties which make the rest of his music so unique and likeable - good rhythms coupled with psychedelic vocoder treats. good for those who like this type of music. not the most astounding, but perfect for these calm winter times.

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres (2011)

wow. the best avant-jazz i've heard in 3 or 4 years, and not for lack of trying. this is an INTENSE record, with each track capable of multiple shifts in style; brutal, crushing lows; and dizzying, blissed-out highs. filling in the spaces is next level musicianship, interesting instrumental combinations (check out the distorted guitar/violin duo in "Song for Eulalie"), and plenty of overdubs/audio treatments. it's actually quite refreshing to hear jazz discoursing with technology in a meaningful way. maybe it's cliche, but the depth of feeling is what pushes this album over the top, especially the raw, unrestrained vocal work. and, of course, the swing is the thing; if you like the swirling chaos of Mingus's soulful large ensemble improvisations then this is right up your alley. so do yourself a favor - take an hour out to kick back on the sofa with your vice of choice and experience this amazing record from start to finish. by the time the last song comes on, you'll feel like you've earned it.

my picture will never be taken

Pablo Moses - A Song (1980)

Pablo Moses - A Song (1980)
When I was on my big dub kick last month, someone mentioned this album in the comments. I tracked it down (shit's been out of print for years!), and oh man. This is easily some of the best reggae I've heard.

The title track ("A Song") is epic, dark, and so quintessentially reggae with cutting synths, a big chorus, driving bass, back-beat guitars, and I believe timpanis (timpanii?) from time to time. But, on an album this good it's just not possible to pick a favorite. So I won't.

I know I've thrown a lot of dub and reggae your way recently, but trust me--this one is essential. And out of print.

Daphne Oram - Oramics (2007)

i won't ruin the trip and say too much about Oramics besides that it's probably the best random discovery i've made in 2011, and if it had been released by Four Tet, FlyLo, GLK, or Boards of Canada it'd be on everyone's year end lists. it's worth mentioning that the album art above is from the 4xLP deluxe gatefold that was released this year (the version available below is the inferior 2007 2xCD). it'll set you back around 50 bucks, but if you like the up it's definitely worth the purchase.

[removed by request of Clive, who i pissed off]

Alice Coltrane - Ptah, the El Daoud (1970)

Alice Coltrane's third solo album is sheer beauty. Her simple and sparse rhythm section sit comfortably in common time, setting a support upon which Alice - appearing on both piano and harp - and her horns explore a myriad of minor and pentatonic melodies. Their phrasing is moody, melancholic and haunting. Tunes like the title track and Blue Nile prove catchy and syncopated, while the absolutely gorgeous Turiya and Ramakrishna remains my ultimate remedy - if you're anything like me, nothing will sooth you like this song.

One can read alot into this album, recorded whilst Alice was actively engaged with several eastern concepts of spirituality, practices which she infused into her music. To me, the mysticism is in her musical phrasings; this is truly divine.


Laibach - Volk (2006)

I used to complain about how their weren't any albums consisting entirely of industrial techno covers of national anthems.

Then I found this album. Consisting of fourteen tracks--Germany, America, England, France, Israel, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Norway, Japan, the Vatican, and China--the lyrics are bleak, and highly critical of nationalism. Hell, they even give Norway shit!

That said, it's subtle. That's not I word I throw around with industrial music often, but the beats never seem gratuitous or forced. Apart from that, though, there's all the wonderful, epic things you would expect from Laibach: heavy synth beats, drum machines, a threatening voice chanting politically charged rhetoric about nationalism (people used to give Laibach shit for their nazi imagery, but track one really puts that myth to rest), atmospheric pads, and a general sense of menace.

Abner Jay - Folk Song Stylist (2010)

Mississippi Records' collection of his early tracks. Musically jumps around from gospel to folk to blues, but all tracks are united by his seriously powerful vocal performance. I can't recommend this enough.


Ashkenazy & Rubinstein - Chopin's Nocturnes (1997, 2000)

a nocturne is music to be played at, or that is evocative of, night. Chopin's sets are easily the best in the genre. why? well there's very little overt complexity here: the form is a simple ABA, with two contrasting themes; the (mostly) uncomplicated harmony is supplied economically by arpeggiated chords in the left hand. you've probably come up with more complicated melodies singing to yourself in the shower. so what makes these so fucking excellent, then? the eastern-European lilt also heard in Bartok, Rach., and Scriabin? the impressionistic tone colors of Debussy, Ravel, and Gershwin? hell if i know. Rubinstein said "Chopin was a genius of universal appeal... [His music] does not tell stories or paint pictures. It is expressive and personal, but still a pure art. Even in this abstract atomic age, where emotion is not fashionable, Chopin endures. His music is the universal language of human communication. When I play Chopin I know I speak directly to the hearts of people." well shit then.

a note on the recordings: Rubinstein's collection is the best available. he plays it the way i think Chopin would, with delicacy and impeccable phrasing that shapes the melodies and emphasizes interesting harmonies. Ashkenazy's interpretation is more dramatic, with lots of exaggerations in tempi and contour. it makes for an uneven set (he absolutely butchers the Bb min.), but his highs are probably higher than Rube's, especially where power and flair are concerned (F, Ab). also included is a mix of modern-ish nocturnes and ephemera influenced by Chopin that you might also like (parent discs available if you ask nice).

Rubinstein disc 1
Rubinstein disc 2
Ashkenazy disc 1
Ashkenazy disc 2
bonus stuff

SOPA (oh shit the internet is over)

SOPA (oh shit the internet is over)
so many of you are probably aware of this already: and for those who are not, its a bill trying to pass that could basically do any one of these things:

  • allow isps to block any website they deem is breaking the law
  • shut down sites like youtube, tumblr, and other websites i dont really visit (but are cool)
  • cut off funding to websites that are also breaking the law
  • make it a felony with an up to 5 year sentence to use any copyrighted material even if you are not commercially using it
  • dismantle the morality of internet security
  • ????
  • and more
so please negate that with will or simply write and call to your congressman. this crap should not pass. if it does, we will not be able to fucking love music anymore.

Johnny Flynn - A Larum (2008)

Johnny Flynn - A Larum (2008)
This is, without a doubt, my favorite folk album, and one of the most well-loved pieces of music in my life.

Johnny Flynn is the British singer/songwriter responsible for this masterpiece. His playful lyrics are joined with incredible instrumentation--traditional americana instruments being used in unorthodox ways. Lots of cello harmonics, trumpets, mandolins, drums...

Anyways, as the days get colder, you're going to need some warm music. This is a great choice.


HANDWITHLEGS-The Electric Cave (2011)

Rattling live percussion mixed with drum machines beats. Distorted guitars blended with arpeggiating synths. Vocals distorted and drenched with reverb, at equal level with the music, almost as another instrument.  To me, this is what industrial music should sound like in 2011.

Give it a try

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Summvs (2011)

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Summvs (2011)
This is an interesting collaboration. Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, best know for his wonderful soundtrack work--"Little Buddha", "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence", and (I shit you not!) the start-up sound for the Dreamcast--is joined by Alva Noto.

Alva Noto is, in a way, germany's second Oval. Experimenting with glitchy electronic tones and textures, along with oscillators and samples of modems, he accents and rhythmicisizes Sakamoto's lush chordal soundscapes.

Sometimes full and rich with close-miked, reverbed piano and strings; sometimes minimal and electronic; sometimes almost inaudible; this is a very interesting ambient record. Never too much going on to overwhelm thought, but likewise, never so static as to bore.

Woodbine - Woodbine (1999)

Last night I worked for 13 hours, doing lights, sound, and security at the music venue employs me.

Now I'm fucking beat, and this is the perfect music for an exhausted Sunday afternoon.

Psychedelic, relaxed, folky, organic, rich. These are all good words to describe this album.

I don't know a thing about this group, except that their second album is just about as good as this one, and that they're on the lovely Domino Records label.

Anyways, this is a nice little gem. I don't think that anyone will dislike it.

If anyone knows anything about the group, leave it in the comments.

Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia - Call of the Valley (1995)

This album is a wonderful place to begin exploring Indian classical music. Although it uses very non-traditional instrumentation (slide guitar, hammer dulcimer, wooden flute, and tablas), it offers a sort of intermediary between western timbres and Indian song forms.

Indian classical music is very different than what is labeled as classical music in the European tradition. Based around different ragas (which would most closely be approximated as modes), the music is heavily improvised. But, you really don't need to know the mechanics of what's going on to appreciate this beautiful music.

If you dig this and want more suggestions, lemme know in the comments.

░▒▓ - █ ▄ █ █ ▄ ██ ▄ ██ ▄█ [2010]

Hehe. Good luck searching for this one.
As gimmicky as the artist name/title might be this is a lovely ambient excursion. Some very intimidating soundscapes, but ultimately very beautiful. I think Mr. ░▒▓ himself describes this release pretty well:

This Mister Softy side-project was born just after the Paulstretch / Bieber craze. Seeing how incredible the algorithm was I decided to make something with it. I collected various samples (a full track I did a while back, snippets of unfinished stuff, comedy radio broadcasts, bass guitar recordings I made last year with a borrowed instrument - I don't even play bass but who cares?), "paulstretched" them, fired pro-tools and made a huge montage with the stuff. I then recorded the output on tape using a worn, shitty ghetto blaster with damaged heads. Finally, I mixed the digital and tape versions together (to get rid of the digital purity while maintaining a sense of clarity). The end result is a series of ominous yet relaxing soundscapes lasting over 35 minutes.

Oysterhead - The Grand Pecking Order (2001)

Oysterhead - The Grand Pecking Order (2001)
My mind damn near exploded when I found discovered this gem during my junior year of high school. At the time, I was really into Phish and Primus, and...well, for someone who likes those bands, this album's something of a mindfuck.

With Primus' Les Claypool on bass (slip slap slap-ing the shit out of those strings), The Police's Stewart Copland (who lays down some tight pockets), and Phish's Trey Anastasio (who, at what was undoubtably an oxy-ed out low point, hits a home run), this is the power trio to end all power trios. Each member is undoubtably a master of their instrument, and with this one-off side project, they really stretch out quite a bit.

What immediately makes the album stick out is the lovely, lush, colorful production. Claypool and Anastasio's past studio albums tend to stick to what they can do live--both have masterpieces under their belts, but "The Grand Pecking Order" is very much a departure. Full of overdubs, rich textures (thanks largely in part to The Matterhorn, Anastasio's custom guitar with--get this--a fuckin' theremin made out of fuckin' antlers attached to the side), and silly voices, the album is light enough for constant listening but complex enough to listen to constantly. That's right, I fucking went there.

Anyways, even if you're one of those snobs who won't touch jam bands with a ten-foot-pole, I implore you to give this a listen. Or I'll poke you with my ten-foot-pole.

Amadou & Mariam - Sou Ni Tilé (1999)

An incredible blind married couple from Mali, whose music straddles multiple genres. This genre-bending is immediately apparent in the haunting opening track, which blends Indian tabla and violin over a blues progression, all while retaining elements of their western African roots. Their eclectic style is united by incredibly catchy melodies and rhythms. They've put out several albums, this is one of my favorites.


The Dirty Dozen Brass Band - What's Going On? (2006)

Am I the only one posting here anymore?

Okay, now that that's out of the way: this album kills. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' own Dirty Dozen Brass Band covered Marvin Gaye's classic album "What's Going On?".

They could not have chose a better album to cover--the issues in Gaye's deeply personal and political album remains relevant today, and one can only imagine how much his calls for social justice resonate with these musicians who lost their homes to the devastating hurricane.

If a top-tier brass band covering classic motown funk doesn't do it for you (and it really should), then get this: Public Enemy's Chuck D does vocals for the first track, and Betty Lavette, Ian Neville, G. Love, and Guru also contribute vocals for other tracks.

This is a great listen. Check it out, and then buy the album: proceeds go to benefit the New Orleans music community.

(but seriously, am I the only one posting here anymore? i'm 12 and what is this)

Keith Hudson & Friends - The Hudson Affair (2005)

Keith Hudson & Friends - The Hudson Affair (2005)

Keith Hudson is one of my favorite dub producers. His album "Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood" is one of my all time favorite dub albums (also, check out this blog. it's one of my favorites). His music is consistently dark and clautrophobic, full of sonic interest while not sounding contrived or cliché--Hudson is one of the key people (I'd put him up there with King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Augustus Pablo, and Errol Thompson) who gave dub its signature sounds.

Anyways, this two disk set is fascinating for a number of reasons. First of all, it contains many tracks which are fundamental to the development of reggae and dub. The first track, "Old Fashioned Way", shows reggaes foundation in American R&B. This wonderfully upbeat track has all the trappings of a typical reggae song (backbeat guitar and organ, low bass, and quintessentially reggae-y drums), as well as a keyboard line which will be stuck in your head for a week ("doo doo doo doo doo!").

The second reason I love this compilation is in the second track: "Dynamic Fashion Way", a dub version of the first song. Using mostly the same form as the "original" (quotations are present because originality is a false capitalist concept. /marxist), the instrumental track is toasted over by the fantastic U Roy. The track really reinforce Hip Hop's roots in dub, as U Roy responds to the lyrics of the first song and encourages the audience to dance. Almost every track on this album is accompanied by two or three dubs and versions, making the album a great example of the musical developments that led to dub as its own musical style.

In an even broader sense, the techniques demonstrated on this album laid the foundation for todays remix culture, and contributed to the general destabilization and deterritorialization of music that remains ongoing. The internet has further contributed to this process, as music is removed from its cultural and geographic boundaries.

Anyhoo, if you're at all interested in the history of dub, you'll get a lot out of this.

Sorry for all the big words.
This is what happens when I take breaks from thesis writing to post things I love.

Snuffy - Mangia! (2011)

Snuffy - Mangia! (2011)

First and foremost: if you're one of the posters who's album this isn't, don't be mad at me. Y'all threw so much good shit up there that it'll take me ages to get to it all. I fully intend to put much more of it up here, 'cause y'all are some articulate, informed, tasteful motherfuckers. Still, for whatever reasons, this was the one that really stuck out to me--it spoke to me today.

This suggestion came from the illustrious Mike A. What does 'A' stand for? We can only speculate. Maybe 'articulate':

Just a fun ass album that takes explores animal collective experimentation with a hip hop beat. just listen and you may be hooked. P.s band name is in homage to the late great Mr. Snuffulupagus

This is a fairly accurate description, I guess. I'd replace the Animal Collective comparison with Ratatat--their textures are all quite beat driven, in a fun way. Very rocky, and just all around fun. I think you'll dig it.

Anyways, I'll post more of your suggestions later--I love how articulate and knowledgable this community is. Keep it up.

Various Artists - Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's (1995)[v0]

Various Artists - Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's (1995)[v0]

Happy November, y'all.
I've been listening to a whole lot of dub in relation to my thesis (remind me to talk about that sometime, it's pretty relevant to this blog), and then I realized that there's not nearly as much old-school Jamaican dub on this blog as there should be. So I'm taking matters into my own hands.

Dub music is quintessentially Jamaican, though the impact of the music was felt world-wide. During the 1960s and 1970s, mobile sound-systems were the primary places music was heard.
"King Tubby's Hometown Hi Fi" was one of these sound-systems.

Bobby Vicious: "Nothing compared to Tubby's. Tubby's was the legend, you know. And I"ve seen a lot of sound systems, man. Even today, with all the technology we have today, you still don't hear any sound system like Tubby's. They're big, and they're huge, and they're heavy, but nothin' compares to that sound Tubby had"

"The sound system context in turn influenced King Tubby's studio work: after witnessing the crowd's response in the dancehall, he would then elaborate upon these effects in the laboratory setting of his studio, and eventually use them to craft records", says Michael Veal in his vital book "Dub".

One thing that led to the success of his sound system was the pressing of special records--dub plates--that were popular reggae and ska singles, stripped down of vocals and spaced out with delay and reverb. These were used for MCs to toast over, talkin' shit about other sound systems, and getting the crowd hyped up and dancing. These dub-versions gave each sound system a unique sound, and Tubby's was know far and wide for being the best.

This album is a compilation of tracks made for and by King Tubby. Including a lot of work by his protégés Scientist, Philip Smart, and Prince Jammy, this is a great introduction to one of my favorite styles of music.

If people seem to be particularly into this one, I've got a ton of good Jamaican dub I'd love to throw up here.