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Jul. 20th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Balloon Bass - This Life

I was digging through the far corners of my digital music collection and came across a directory simply called "Balloon Bass". I suspect it is the early music of Addi Somekh, a balloon artist who invented the instrument of that name and went on to record as Unpopable. The balloon bass itself is a rather cool thing: one balloon is inflated and acts as a resonator, and a long stringy one gets tied to it to be plucked at different lengths and tensions. It sounds pretty much exactly as you would imagine and as an instrument is a bit on the lumbering side. Cool though, and clearly the ideal doom metal instrument. Here's the fingerbusting This Life for you.

Balloon Bass - This Life
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Jul. 19th, 2019

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"Blue" Gene Tyranny - She Wore Red Shoes

Back in the 1960s "Blue" Gene Tryanny played alongside Iggy Pop in the Prime Movers Blues Band. That and a brief spell playing keys in The Stooges was as close to the mainstream as the man ever got, spending most of his performance career working with Robert Ashley. With those sort of gallery credentials you might expect his work to be inaccessible, but it's anything but. She Wore Red Shoes is taken from his 2012 release Detours. A muted guitar provides a low key shufflebeat and the notes fall from Tyranny's fingers like so many raindrops. It's inspired by contemporary dance, and maybe you won't feel this in your legs but I guarantee it'll get you in your hands. Elegant, romantic, experimental, physical.

"Blue" Gene Tyranny - She Wore Red Shoes
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Jul. 17th, 2019

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Jan Jelinek & Asuna - Blinking Of Countless Lines

I'll admit I still think of Jan Jelinek as the Loop-finding-jazz guy. Since those early days though his work has steered towards rather more experimental waters. His 2019 album with Asuna, Signals Bulletin, is a clear example of this. It's based around the lengthy drones that Asuna creates by taping down his organ keys with Jelinek building upon these with a host of tiny, discreet noises. It an album full of ominous clatters and rustles, startling interjections and half-heard note clusters.

The final track however is rather more cohesive. Blinking of Countless Lines sees the two working together, their drones crossing and beat phasing. It's heavy, dense sound, oppressively humid like a sweat fog. Ever so slowly it transforms, an inner light pushing out from the thickness and rising above it, and the wind finally arrives to clear the air. Just a great way to end a set.

Jan Jelinek & Asuna - Blinking Of Countless Lines
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Jul. 16th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Frank Gorshin - The Riddler

Holy cash-ins, Batman! Everyone knows how to do the Batusi, but fewer people know that the world's greatest detective wasn't the only character in the '60s Batman show to have his own musical number. The Riddler only appeared in 10 episodes, but Frank Gorshin's cackling performance made him a memorable presence. His 1966 single is exactly what you'd imagine it to be: showbiz camp, heavy on the backing vocals, organ and brass. Add some truly awful jokes, a demented chortle or two, and the obligatory two minutes get filled very easily. Bad fun.

Frank Gorshin - The Riddler
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Jul. 15th, 2019

cyberinsekt

75 Dollar Bill - Hollis Brown

The Ballad Of Hollis Brown is not one of Bob Dylan's better songs. Hollis Brown is a dirt farmer driven to extremes by poverty and misery. He spends his last dollar on shotgun cartridges, kills his wife, his children and finally himself. Whatever poetry or social commentary Dylan tried to take from the story was completely obscured by the grotesque and rather fanciful familicide. Good strong guitar lick though.

And it's that lick that survives in 75 Dollar Bill's instrumental version. In Che Chen's hands it becomes eternal. His splintered guitar rings out, extending and contracting, a living thing part blues part folk part Saharan desert music. It's like a small mammal wriggling in your hands, yet both thrilling and hypnotic. From the album Wooden Bag (2015).

75 Dollar Bill - Hollis Brown
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Jul. 14th, 2019

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Lucy Railton - Fortified Up

Get ready for 11 minutes of oppression and intensity. Lucy Railton is a cellist who works in both contemporary classical and more experimental electroacoustic modes. Last year saw the release of her first solo album Paradise 94 (2018). Here's the sincerely worrying Fortified Up, a diabolic experiment with Risset tones, those sliding notes that seem to be forever increasing in pitch. As old ones slide off the top of the scale they're joined by new ones in the lower registers, but everything gets blended to leave a seamless sonic paradox. The dissonance is perpetual, a sliding window of harmonic clashes, and the only respite is the eventual arrival of a rough buzzing drone. Ghastly and magnificent.

Lucy Railton - Fortified Up
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Jul. 13th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Emanative - Dawn Child (Sunrise)

Spiritual jazz? Cosmic jazz? Introspective jazz? Well yes, all three actually. Dawn Child (Sunrise) comes from Earth, the 2018 album Nick Woodmansey and Emanative. Built around a droning sarod, it is at times an almost ambient invocation of the sun, lifting it from the formless void into the sky, ready for passion to begin. This is all about the writhing woodwind dance in the middle of the ritual circle as it finds its inner beauty. Jazz snobs may sneer at the full bodied production style here, but as Zorn once had it, they can eat shit. Just spectacular.

Emanative - Dawn Child (Sunrise)
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Jul. 12th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Ronnie Boykins - The Will Come, Is Now

Ronnie Boykins played bass with Sun Ra from the '50s through to the '70s, but only ever released one album under his own name. His 1975 disc was the final record ever released on the first run of ESP-Disk' before their bankruptcy. It's more spiritual than fiery. Here's the title track, full of yearning chromatic horn arrangements and the chatter of percussion and whistles. It calls to mind the community music of Pharoah Sanders' Swedish years. Boykins alternates between a heavy riff that provides the perfect backdrop for his more painterly colleagues, and then doing a thorough intellectual deconstruction, as dry and mighty as Mingus. If you've never heard The Will Come, Is Now, you're missing out.

Ronnie Boykins - The Will Come, Is Now
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Jul. 11th, 2019

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Mission of Burma - Donna Sumeria

It can be fun to listen to bands playing against type. For their 00s return Mission of Burma showed little sign of wanting to be a post-punk revival act, so we got songs such as Donna Sumeria from their 2006 album The Obliterati. If you want a bit of tortured guitar you'll certainly be able to find it in there, but you're far more likely to remember this as the one that pays homage to I Feel Love. Donna Summer as Sumeria love goddess? Yeah, we're all onboard for that, you mad bunch of drudes.

Mission of Burma - Donna Sumeria
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Jul. 8th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Pom Poko - Theme #1

If all music were like Pom Poko would soon all be banging our heads into the nearest wall. Sugar coated, tartrazine bright, and spiky as razor blades dipped in alum: the Norwegian electropopsters have an endearing awkwardness about them. Their music is childlike and curiously arty, but can still carry an emotional payload. That's perhaps not the case with Theme #1, the opener to their 2019 debut Birthday. It's frantic Battles-esque math pop, and very much their theme song, calling out the "Heisei era raccoon dog war</i> or Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko, the Studio Ghibli film from which they take their name. Terrific fun.

Pom Poko - Theme #1
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Jul. 7th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Eddie Warner - Pathetic Motion

This is terrific fun: Eddie Warner was a French library music guy, and most of his work is in a fairly familiar vein. Pathetic Motion (1971) though, well this is just nuts. Warner gets the chance to play about with electronic instruments and he isn't messing about. Nothing gets left out. It's a work of joyful excess, sort of like the popular end of the Pierre Henry songbook but more chaotic and full of dark abandon.

Eddie Warner - Pathetic Motion
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Jul. 6th, 2019

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Pendant - OXI-GKK

Pendant is the new recording project of Brian Leeds, formerly better known as the man behind Huerco S. OXI-GKK comes from Make Me Know You Sweet, his first album under that new name, released at the start of last year. It's a bit of an ambient puzzlebox, somehow producing the feel of late night winter city from its blend of vintage and modern keyboard sounds. It stays grounded - very grounded - from its use of a series of very organic creaking and cracking noises. It's hard to describe the precise allure of this piece, but even the way it grows in intensity is surprising. Innovative stuff.

Pendant - OXI-GKK
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Jul. 5th, 2019

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Gianni Mazza - Sospesi Del Traffico

Here's a production music classic by the Italian composer Gianni Mazza. It has everything you want from library psychedelia, with the trademark swirling organ and a menacing bass riff, but there's so much more to it than that. Take the drum break for instance: far from being a exploratory solo it's there to ratchet up the tension. But most impressive of all is the guitar. Sospesi Del Traffico opens sounding for all the world like a prime Johnny Marr cut. Amazing to think that this dates back to the 1971 album La Città N°2.

Gianni Mazza - Sospesi Del Traffico
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Jul. 4th, 2019

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Béla Fleck and the Flecktones - Chennai

Let's finish this miniseries with what might just be a crossover too far. The Flecktones are known for their peculiar bluegrass/jazz fusion, something never really appealed. Most times I've heard them I've been put off how showbiz they were, and how it sometimes sounded like their instruments were playing them rather than vice versa. But Chennai from their 2006 album The Hidden Land adds a new musical influence and it all starts to make sense.

It helps that Chennai is less flashy than most of their stuff. I'm never going to be okay with Vic Wooten's bass sound, but its slappiness doesn't dominate here. Rather we're treated to a track based around Jeff Coffin's flute, and he really does seem to know the Indian-style phrasing his instrument. He shares the lead with Fleck's banjo. It's quite possible to make a banjo sound like a sitar. The two instruments share a brilliance of tone, but Fleck clearly isn't going for mimicry here.

Is this all entirely successful? No, not really, but it is a lot of fun. I especially recommend the video of this performance where the band pass the lead between themselves with extraordinary speed and the poor lighting tech trying to point his spotlight in the right place simply cannot keep up.

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones - Chennai
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Jul. 3rd, 2019

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The Blazers - Bangalore

The Blazers were a Californian surf rock band who only ever released two singles. I doubt that they ever got to see Bangalore or hear its music. Listening to Bangalore (1963) there's certainly little to suggest that they did, other than a hint of Miserlou-style exoticism. Even that sounds secondhand though. Yes this rough musical sketch is still pretty neat, despite its lo-fi muddiness. The flipside, Sound of Mecca was even more appropriative, but this is the better track with its frenetic energy, unexpected turns, and surprising sax break.

The Blazers - Bangalore
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Jul. 2nd, 2019

cyberinsekt

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Calcutta Blues

Yeah I know, Dave Brubeck, what a total square, what a geek, blah blah blah. You're just going to have to deal with it and listen to Calcutta Blues regardless. Soak up that lazy swing, stretch out with those long precise melodic lines, bask in the melancholy. Several years before Yusef Lateef's overt incorporation of Hindustani music into jazz, it's clear from listening to this that Paul Desmond and Joe Morello have been paying attention to it. Brubeck himself is impeccably rhythmic and for all that this is a rather subdued number it's still an absolute joy.

But there's a flipside to this. It's taken from the album Jazz Impressions Of Eurasia, an album of pieces inspired by the locations on Brubeck's extensive 1958 tour. The problem is that it was sponsored by the US State Department. They were using him as an instrument of propaganda there to instil American cultural values, and it can be difficult to approach this music with an open heart knowing that. What a square, what a geek, what a Shah.

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Calcutta Blues
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Jul. 1st, 2019

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Johnny Pearson - Delhi Discotheque

Here's some more more primo cheese for you, though this time the Indian flavour is rather more ersatz. Johhny Pearson was a composer of library music and some of television's most iconic theme tunes. Delhi Discotheque is not all that, though it's certainly fun: full of wah-wah effects, and one of the very few places you'll ever hear a sitar playing alongside a harmonica. A top bit of easy listening psych nonsense.

Johnny Pearson - Delhi Discotheque
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Jun. 30th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Muhavishla Ravi Hatchud & The Indo Jazz Following - Bombay Palace

Here's a sensational jazz/funk rarity that's doing the rounds again after nearly 50 years of obscurity. The 45 of Bombay Palace was originally released in 1970 and as far as I can tell was the only record made by Muhavishla Ravi Hatchud. With organ and dreamy electric sitar swapping the lead and juicy grooves underneath this may set off your cheese detector. Stop relying on props. Just set it to recharge overnight and let this once slip under the radar, you'll be glad you did.

Muhavishla Ravi Hatchud & The Indo Jazz Following - Bombay Palace
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Jun. 29th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Badbadnotgood - Confessions Part III

Badbadnotgood are known for their jazz/hiphop crossover music. You can certainly hear that in Alexander Sowinski's drum sounds at the start of today's track, and the taut acoustic bass of Chester Hansen. On Confessions Part III, inexplicably cut from their album IV (2016), they're joined by Colin Stetson. He puts in an absolutely extraordinary performance, a constant fluttering beneath a unbroken stream of melody. Music for the motherfucking ages.

Badbadnotgood - Confessions Part III
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Jun. 28th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Zach Hill - House of Hits

Zach Hill is the hard-hitting drummer from Hella and Death Grips and today's track comes from his 2010 album Face Tat. House of Hits is a disorienting vortex of blastbeat-speed rolls and fast-forward guitar sheen. The drums don't always take centre of the mix, but the quality of the recording means that they're always there, prominent and well, interesting-sounding. Hill doesn't just know how to play hard and fast, he gets the textures that his kit can provide and they're all on display on this speedball monster of a song. Brutal deluxe.

Zach Hill - House of Hits
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