Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet —
Landfall ... LP Nonesuch, 2018. New Copy 2LP ...
A beautiful collaboration between two of the most important forces in leftfield music in the early 80s – multi-media artist Laurie Anderson and modern string legends Kronos Quartet – coming together here in an extended Anderson composition inspired by the experience of Hurricane Sandy! It's been years since we've last heard from Laurie, and she's really returned to her roots here – still using her voice a bit, but also playing violin a fair bit too, along with keyboards, samples, percussion, and lots of her unusual filters and other electronic elements. Most selections are sort, and work together beautifully – almost in territory that might be described as a string quartet take on the modes of United States. Titles include "All The Extinct Animals", "Built You A Mountain", "Darkness Falls", "Dreams Translated", "The Water Rises", "Our Street Is A Black River", "Nothing Left But Their Names", "Thunder Continues In The Aftermath", "Old Motors & Helicopters", and "Everything Is Floating". (Rock, Out Sound)LP, Vinyl record album
Franco Battiato —
Pollution ... LP Superior Viaduct, 1972. New Copy Gatefold ...
A really full-on early set from Franco Battiato – a set that's maybe halfway between some of his more avant compositions and some of the modes of the Italian prog scene at the time! The album's a concept one, based on the growing pollution of the planet – in a mode that's maybe similar to Earth Rot, by David Axelrod – and like that set, Battiato mixes together unusual sounds and ideas with some more straightforward rockish passages. Battiato works with a small group of musicians – and while guitar steps to the lead at some points, others very much more abstract sounds and forms. Titles include "Il Silenzio Del Rumore", "31 Dicembre 1999 – Ore 9", "Beta", "Plancton", "Pollution", and "Areknames". LP, Vinyl record album
A beautiful combination of talents – the compositional work of Harris Eisenstadt, and the dynamic performance range of the Mivos Quartet – who bring life to Eisenstadt's music in a way that you'd never hear on his own records! The combination of a jazz talent and a string quartet is nothing new – but here, the group really seems to understand that wider, almost cinematic vision that Harris can have at times in his own performances – then extrapolate it beautifully to their lineup of two violins, viola, and cello. In other words, Harris doesn't play on the record – but the group really seems to evoke his spirit in their own sounds, although completely different – playing with undeniable beauty as the title suite unfolds over the course of the album. (Jazz, Out Sound)LP, Vinyl record album
A remade version of an album recorded by this enigmatic German duo in the mid 70s, but never issued at the time – resurrected from its original tapes in the mid 90s, and augmented in ways that really open up the sound, while still keeping the core of the music intact! The instrumentation here is a bit more dynamic than on earlier Flute & Voice projects – and uses a bit of keyboards, electric guitars, and more acoustic strings with the two elements of the group's name – so much so, the music almost features more of those other aspects than just flute and voice! Things are relatively spare, and mostly instrumental throughout – kind of at a spot where prog moves into spaciousness, like the start of the Sky Records scene. Titles include "Dear President", "Drachenlied", "Ruth's Blues", "Wie Lange", "Zwolf Monde", and "Bajazzo". (Rock, Out Sound)LP, Vinyl record album
Sublime sounds from a group who definitely offer up what they promise from their name, but also add in some great extra elements too! The use of flute and voice seems to start in a space that's inspired by Indian music, but also takes off into slightly progressive territory too – very spare, and acoustic throughout – with vocal sounds instead of lyrics, and more guitar and sitar than flute! The tunes build slowly, spaciously – almost with an improvised vibe – and the vocal lines are usually a bit more back in the mix than the guitar, and the two work together with a quality that's almost like improvised music, but with more of an advance structure overall. Great package includes the group's first album – plus their never-issued Hallo Rabbit record from the same time! (Rock, Out Sound)LP, Vinyl record album
(Limited to 500 copies! Comes with a big booklet of notes, too.)
Remi Gassman and Oskar Sala each present pieces of modern electronic music in this hard to find LP for Westminster, very much in the style that was in vogue in New York in the 50s and early 60s. Gassman performs his "Electronic Music For the Ballet Electronics", which has a spare spooky sound, and Sala gives us "Five Improvisations On Magnetic Tape" – which are a bunch of short electronic tracks with a fragile, yet noisy feel to them. As the back of the record says "If anyone cares, this record has a dynamic range of 51 dB. Its lowest frequency is 15.4 cycles per second, its highest fundamental 3951 cps, the highest harmonis or overtone 15806 cps. It can blow out speakers, traumatize cats and arouse the landlord." LP, Vinyl record album
(Westminster Gold pressing from 1970.)
Han Bennink & Terrie Ex —
Zeng! ... CD Terp (Netherlands), 2007. Used ...
Sharp, jagged and intuitive interplay from what a pair that works very well together – Dutch postpunk adventurer Terrie Ex of the The Ex – and improvistation jazz drums titan Han Bennik! Zeng doesn't pummel as much as you might be expecting, though they do make a might racket when the mood strikes. It's more dynamic than just visceral back & forth, and overall spare and efficient. Excellent! Titles include "Spikkel", "Zegnie", "Horstik", "Haraf!", "Snerk", "Radder", "Two Bruised Ribs", "Shelly" and "Pekel". (Jazz, Out Sound)CD
(Out of print.)
Cathy Berberian —
Pop Art ... LP Vinyl Ermitage, Late 60s/1970s. New Copy ...
Cathy Berberian's a hell of a hip singer – one who could work in very avant modes, yet also get name-checked by Donald Fagan at the same time – thanks to the wide-ranging scope of her work! That scope is explored very fully here – as Berberian performs a range of material that runs from sharp commentary by Kurt Weill, to very offbeat performances of Beatles material, to some more familiar avant vocal material – scored by frequent partner Luciano Berio, as well as William Walton – and even featuring one piece composed by Berberian herself! Titles include "Stripsody", "Sequenza III", "Avendo Gran Disio", "Tarantella", "Song Of Sexual Slavery", "Surabaya Johnny", "Yesterday", "Ticket To Ride", "Something Lies Beyond The Scene", and "Michelle". LP, Vinyl record album
Fantastic percussion pieces from this ultra-cool New Zealand ensemble of the 70s – a group who take their name and inspiration from the Scratch Orchestra of Cornelius Cardew – but who also work in a more intimate setting, with lots of instruments of their own creation – with a vibe that sometimes reminds us of the music of Harry Party! Given the smallness of the NZ scene at the time, these guys were less of a high art ensemble, than the kind of creative criss-crossing of big ideas and grass roots expression – similar to that moment when the art and punk worlds worked together so strongly in late 70s New York. And the sound here would be right at home alongside some of the more creative artists from the Kitchen scene – as the group play, drum, and blow themselves through a wonderful array of rhythmic sounds! Titles include 'Out In Part", "Passage", "Drumwheel (part 2)", and passages from "Gung Ho". CD
A fittingly massive collection of works by one of the most important electronic composers ever! The 12CD Polyphonies features material chosen and remastered Henry himself specifically for this box set in the months before he passed away, so he's pretty well in charge of his legacy here. It's made up of compositions from as early as 1950 and as late as 2016, brilliantly showing how vital Henry was throughout the decades – with 9 of the 29 pieces previously unreleased – and includes "Chroniques Terriennes" (2016), "Etudes Transcendantes Pour Un Piano Imaginaire" (2015), "Grande Toccata" (2006), "Gymkhana" (1970), "Pleins Jeux" (2008), "Kyldex" (1973), "Une Tour De Babel" (1988)"La Reine Verte", Rock Electronique" (1963), "Histoire Naturelle" (1997), "Facies" (1960), "Le Livre Des Morts Egyptien" (1988), "Fragments Pour Artaud" (1970), "La Noire A Soixante" (1961), "Deuxieme Symphonie" (1972), "Spatiodynamisme" (1953), "Concerto Des Ambiguites" (1950) and more. CD