Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Patrick O'Hearn - Indigo (1991)

Another night, another tasty morsel for The Widening Eye. Frank Zappa bassist-turned-Ambient/New Age composer Patrick O' Hearn has produced an extensive and rather intriguing discography since the mid 80's, bridging Steve Roach-esque soundscaping to classical minimalistic ideas and early jungle-esque arrangements whilst continuing to evolve with the times. Kind of like a one man Tangerine Dream with a bit of cold vodka somewhere in the mix.

Serving as something of a median within the man's vast body of work, 1991's Indigo is also Patrick's most accomplished masterpiece and also functions as a transitional product between two distinct decades of output. The keyboard sounds are less Harold Budd and more modernly varied, spiced up in various places by more organic instrumentation such as trumpets ['Upon the Wings of Night'], saxophones, guitars and piano ['The Ringmaster's Dream'].

If you want to experience a waking dream in vivid detail, I don't think you'll find a better album than this one. These songs are so gorgeous that you wonder if Patrick O' Hearn isn't human at all, but some netherborne musician who has emerged out of time to bring enlightenment to the lower planes. Because seriously, one's soul might evaporate like morning mist through the confines of their flesh with bliss like this on repeat.

Listen Here - "Coba"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Darling Cruel - Passion Crimes (1989)

Yet another strange album from a very strange guy. Once upon a time in the 80's, there was a young gun named Gregory Darling whose musical talent fell into the hands of one Vicki Hamilton, the legendary lass who managed & signed both Poison and Guns N' Roses to annoying stardom at the height of the hair metal epoch. Unfortunately, despite recording 1989's avant-gardish Passion Crimes and hitting it big with MTV while under her wing, Darling was dropped from his label and has since then basically vanished to the point that even the underground people don't know where he is. He joined some punk band for awhile in the 90's, but after that? Who the fuck knows.

At the very least, however, we do have this sole album that The Man Who Never Was released, and it is indeed quite a whopper. Equal parts The Cure, The Church, Peter Hamill and pompish 80's arena rock, this is one of those weird yet wonderfully distinctive recordings that doesn't really sound like it fits into any particular genre despite its melodious and often quite inventive rock-based set. Flutes, sax and carnival instruments seem to pop up just as often as a heavy metal guitar solo, and every song sounds like a myriad of ideas and nuances to serve as colorful vehicles for the torment behind these lyrics. Darling's voice is raspy, viscous and somehow extremely fragile despite its range, and doesn't sound quite like anyone else. As for some of these songs...since when did Middle Eastern jazz-fusion bands cover The Cars? ['Weight On My Shoulders']. And why are the Cocteau Twins writing songs for Motley Crue?  ['Love Child']. BLARGH!!!!!

So yep, this is one amazing fuckin' record. Makes me wonder what Darling would have done next if he hadn't gotten the boot. We can only wonder...

Listen Here - "Weight On My Shoulders"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barry White - Put Me In Your Mix (1991)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Barry White (when he was alive) probably got more pussy in a single day than your entire family line got in an entire lifetime of roofies and shitty pick-up lines. I mean, just look at that smug face of his on the cover this fantastic, underrated little 1991 release Put Me In Your Mix - if the girls weren't prostating to a glimpse of those pearly whites, they'd do it when his voice comes out of their bedroom speakers. Or maybe it's the purple robe....? *shrug*

Barry White is prime examplage of an artist who really never required experimentation or innovation to kick the ass out of most of his competition -- all the motherfucker needed was a nice beat, some orchestral samples and the willpower to talk into a microphone for 6 minutes and he'd go Platinum faster than you could say "Sex On Legs". Fuckin' lucky bastard...I want that talent!

Anyway, tonight's offering is special as any of the Sultan of Soul's classic 70's material. The smooth yet sensual elements that made White a Soul god from the late 60's through the 80's are still alive and kicking, but now tempered in places by reggae ['Volare] and some New Jack Swing elements ['Sho' You Right', 'For Real Chill'] to edge his established formula into more interesting territory for a new generation of potential listeners, which works out to a T in most cases. But hell, when he can still write and perform a jam as moving as 'Love Will Find Us' with this kind of ease, who cares about the details? White's voice is like hearing the stars being bitch-slapped across the endless night so the cosmic waves can flow a little cleaner through your mind.

Self-evident and damned powerful in the ability to set a mood long after his death, you can't go wrong with an album from Barry White, and Put Me In Your Mix is certainly one of the best.

Listen Here - "For Real Chill"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Universal Totem Orchestra - The Magus (2008)

Universal Totem Orchestra are a rare breed indeed - Italian, yet Zeuhl. Much like bands such as Magma or Univers Zero, this band plays avant-rock with touched by opera, jazz and dozens of other fascinating sonic flagellates to flesh out divine excursions and choral coalitions. What distinguishes this bunch even more than the genre they choose to indulge in, however, is a very strong grasp of melody and romance within their performances compared to the freakish and generally angular atonal tendencies of other Zeuhl bands. The vocals and use of sax, for example, is definitely different from most of their competition. The result? A unique, yet transcendental 6-track listening experience. Especially for those of you who have a jazz fan buried deep inside your flab.

Sorry about the lack of postage on Turkey day by the way -- I was probably coma'd due to massive quantities of delicious munchies.

Listen Here - "Les Plantes Magique"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Rippingtons - Curves Ahead (1991)

You know that good schmaltz you sometimes catch in the wee hours of the morning when you flip on The Weather Channel to check for tornadoes? Interim sonic interludes between forecasts packed with slick 80's guitar, gellin' keyboard textures, funky bass, etc? Today's sacrifice to the blog altar is such a record of chilled out muzak, and one of my favorite albums of all time when all is said and done.

The Rippingtons were (and stilla re) the undisputed despots of smooth jazz from the late 80's onward and specialize in that sort of laid-back sound that nobody seems to quite nail but them. And moreover, Curves Ahead is their 1991 masterpiece that leaves 99.9% of the rest of the smooth jazz wasteland in the dust. It's atmospheric beyond belief and can deflate you faster than a muscle relaxant up the jugular, which makes it ideal for those days where the clouds, coffee and a morning drive seem more fulfilling than whatever your friends are bitching about on Facebook or Twitter.

I know the concept of truly awesome smooth jazz is hard for some of you to swallow, but give it a chance will ya? Open your minds!

Listen Here - "Curves Ahead"

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Simon Finn - Pass The Distance (1970)

An obscure English bard of trippy renown for the recording of this 1970 opus, Simon Finn spins claustrophobic yarns of places out of time ['The Courtyard', 'Jerusalem'] in passionate mad-prophet swagger to the thrum of an acoustic guitar, a sitar, skittering percussion and more to an assortment of beautiful, distorted compositions. His singing is haunted like the distant desert and atonal like a faceless wind, and I don't want to be where he might be. I doubt it's a happy place.

This is truly fine music for drifting in the dark, unsure of where you'll be tomorrow. Maybe it won't even be on Earth. Hell, you may not even be alive. You never really know...do you?

Listen Here - "Fades (Pass The Distance)"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Old - Formula (1995)

Probably the weirdest Industrial album ever made. Old (Old Lady Drivers) were originally a grindcore band started by James Plotkin, who would later come to fame from his work with doom metal band Khanate. However, by the time they got to this 1995 final album, the group's sound had evolved into something like a cross between mid 80's Cure and a Nine Inch Nails cover band with fantasies about being some kind of shoegazey acid house ensemble. Or maybe they just really like Devin Townsend. Zounds!

Personally, I reserve my love for that seemingly LSD-fueled insanity that went into these tracks. 'Last Look' is 10 minute of House-influenced-reverb-drenched melancholy that grows more and more out of sync as the seconds wind down to delicious oblivion, while 'Under Glass' is Cocteau Twins gone techno in your daddy's pool hall. I find the production quite attractive too: its very layered, not unlike the work of Babyface with his various New Jack Swing collaborations or John Punter with Strangeways back in the late 80's.

Looking for something weird, slick, dreamy and grindcored to take your mind off the bad part of your day? Old are just what the doctor ordered.

Listen Here - "Rid"

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

FictionJunction - Future Soundscape II (2005)

The second soundtrack to CLAMP's Tsuabasa Chronicle anime series, and yet another interesting case where the music is more compelling than the material it was originally attached to.

The eighteen tracks here alternate between longer and shorter tracks, playing around prominently with a balanced mix of classical instrumentation and electronic, rock and jazz. Opening piece 'Voices Silently Sing' is a particularly nice example of the the latter two, swiveling a saxophone between a distant sounding guitar screech and choral mantras. The stylistic range of things here is rather impressive though, and is the soundtrack's strongest trait: 'Storm and Fire' comes off like a gypsy folk rocker while 'Endlessly' walzes by with prominent flute and operatics aboard the violin brigand.

It's nice to know that Japanese composers aren't afraid to get their feet wet when it comes to mixing up genres and ideas for film and series soundtracks. We could learn from that a bit here in the West I think, especially when there are albums like this floating around over there!

Listen Here - "Voices Silently Sing"

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ragnarok - S/T (1976)

Swedish folk-prog. for an empty night, ideal for wandering minds seeking sleep. It's something of a minor classic of the 70's, infested by melancholy acoustics swimming through a jazzy ambiance not too unlike British contemporaries Camel.

Won't dawdle on much here: wordless beauties like this record are for the ear to judge, not a bastard like me. Still, if you like the track below, you'll find the rest of this a splendid reverie into mythic woodlands where the sun grows colder than the moon upon your pasty flesh.

Good night...and good luck.

Listen Here - "Fabriksfunky"

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

King's X - Gretchen Goes To Nebraska (1989)

Formed during the early 80's in Springfield, Missouri during the height of the New Wave and Hair Metal crazes, King's X occupy a unique loft in the world of music with their gospel laden brand of funk-metal. And nowhere will a new listener find a better place to start with this group than 1989's sophomore smash Gretchen Goes To Nebraska.

Along with their 1990 followup Faith Hope Love, this album shows off King's X in peak conceptual and technical form, and is considered to be one of their most creative releases by fans and non-fans alike. Especially the first half of the record! Take opening number 'Out Of The Silent Planet' for instance: a sitar leads into the dual lead vocals of Ty Tabor and Doug Pinnick that skitter like a dirge across the main riff, while drummer Jerry Gaskill weaves his drum in vagrant, psychedelic tumbles, resulting in a magnificent song. Other highlights include the call-and-response MTV headbanger 'Over My Head' and the mystic but doom driven 'Pleiades', but theres nary a bad composition in earshot here.

King's X are a band that don't click with a large majority of people, which is very unfortunate I think. They aren't metal enough in places for the ADD kids and they aren't always blatantly experimental enough for the connoisseurs either. But what they lack in labelity is made up in spades by their incorporation of blues, gospel, funk and Beatle-esque power pop into normally predictable riff festivals. A true original among counterfeits I'd say!

Listen Here - "The Difference (In the Garden of St. Anne's-on-the-Hill)"

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Somewhere Off Jazz Street - Stories From Midnight Streets (2007)

Putrid foggy nights, empty streets, a waste barrel choked full of dead half-eaten saps floating down the reedy LA current after fucking with the wrong syndicates, drug-induced delusion and strange slithering horrors hiding at the edge of of a withering streetlamp's light - these are the images that Somewhere On Jazz Street conjur with this deliciously smoky brew of sax, percussion, piano, cello and surreal grasp of both space and time that will keep you spellbound long after the fading screams of horns vanish down a strange dark alley...

Fans of John Zorn, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, David Lynch and Bohren & Der Club Of Gore...start your engines.

Listen Here - "Along The Way"

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Earthsuit - Kaleidoscope Superior (2000)

Christian rock's best (and only) well-kept secret comes in the form of a now defunct group called Earthsuit, a creative bunch of slobby musicians that would break up due to a differences (both musical and theological) not long after releasing this diamond in the rough back in 2000. Subsequently, several people from this project would later go on to form spacey alt. rock band MuteMath, who aren't too shabby either (though that's a story for another day).

"But Drake, what the fuck is ANY Christian music doing here on The Widening Eye?" some may ask. "Don't you only listen to cool and awesome shit that you choose to share with the rest of us because you have such a schmexy, bootylicious soul full of warmth and koala-hugging generosity?"

Well, legions of mindless followers, that's just the trick - despite its Christian credentials and questionable lyricisms, Kaleidoscope Superior is a golden fleece surrounded by the evangelical manure of a rather annoying and vast genre of music. And not only is this album heads and shoulders above everything else in Christendom, but it every song is an exceptional demonstration in creative pathos: the whole damn shebang sounds fresh as fuck a decade after its inception, from the weird rap-rock reggae jazz-tinged opening single 'One Time' to orbital psychedelic lounge like 'Whitehorse' and 'Sky Flashings'. My favorite track is 'Wonder' though, which turns a question of faith into a poppy acoustic-sampled trip-rocker that even my hot Goth girlfriend could jig to in a pinch.

Still, an album like this brings up an interesting conundrum for a prospective music listener, and its one that I think is pertinent to everyone: is it okay to love something musically even if you don't agree with the message? Put another way - "If I'm not a Christian and can't relate with the lyrics, is it okay to like it anyway because the compositions themselves are awesome?"

I'll let you peons decide for yourselves I guess, but in my case....who the fuck cares? Kaleidoscope Superior is inspired in its more experimental moments, intriguing and catchy to listen to even at its most straightforward, and best of all has stood the test of time remarkably since it's release...a trend which shall progress into the far & distant future unless the apocalypse ends up obliterating us two Christmases from now.

What do you pussies have to lose? GIVE THIS SUCKA A WHIRL!!!!!

Listen Here - "Wheel"

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Strangeways - And The Horse (1994)

How is it that the single best hair metal/AOR band of the 1980's ends up making one of the best spacey-blues rock/alt. rock albums of the 90's?

Fuck if I know, but yeah...this is one hell of a record regardless of circumstances...specifically the fact that the band had originally been a 4-piece for their last two albums, AOR classics Native Sons from 1987 and Walk In The Fire from 1989. In the wake of their extraordinary Canadian lead vocalist Terry Brock jumping ship after the latter album though, the group brought in some guy named Munch for keyboard duty and had lead guitarist Ian Stewart take on the empty singer's mantle. Not an easy chair to sit methinks!

The results probably took this group's fanbase quite a while to get used to when the results of the lineup change ended up in a recording half a decade later in 1994. Gone are the anthemic crystalline gems that made Strangeways the ONLY band on the planet which could have redeemed arena rock and hair metal in the ears of the defranchised masses. Without Brock's charisma and in light of a vast, ever-changing musical climate, the band needed to rethink it's sound and what kind of music they wanted to write.

The result is almost too good to be believed. The band had always been atmospheric, but 1994's And The Horse takes this secondary aspect of the Strangeways sound and flushes it heavily with a whole new set of touchstones - The Cure, mid 90's Radiohead, early Eagles, Kyuss, the Britpop movement, nods to the newly emerged neo-psychedelic scene and even a wink to space rock pioneers such as Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. The result is a melancholic, lengthy and yet endlessly compelling amalgamation of much of what people loved about the less commercial side of the 90's.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite here on the whole - the swaggering opening number 'Precious Time' is the closest the album gets to single material: it comes across as the crux of a quieter Pulp butting heads with Simple Minds, which is awesome. Desert rockers 'Man's Maker' and 'Wonder How' slither along oh-so-laidback-like in equal measure, and even the 9-minute 'Some Of Us Lie' only demonstrates at how fantastic the Stewart brothers are at writing songs that gel in the mind and soul as they pass through you. For whether it was their prime AOR years in the late 80's or later, these guys wrote good fucking songs!

Underrated and among the classier exercises in blues-based atmosphere I've had the luck to encounter, And The Horse most certainly deserves a place in any one of yous' collections.

Listen Here - "Man's Maker"

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Theo Travis & Robert Fripp - Thread (2008)

Although King Crimson has been on something of a hiatus since 2003's The Power To Believe, founder & atmospheric guitarist extraordinaire Robert Fripp still involves himself in a variety of interesting collaborations, projects and cameos. One such occasion was the result of a meeting with Theo Travis, a flautist and saxophonist of remarkable skill who has worked with such bands as Porcupine Tree, The Tangent and Gong. Impressed with one another and having some good ideas, they spent some time in the studio in 2008 and subsequently recorded Thread in a stroke of hallucinogenic genius.

Honestly fellas, this is one of the most beautiful albums in my collection and most definitely a work that needs greater exposure to the music-loving public. Think Tangerine Dream circa 1973 when Phaedra had just hit shelves, but with a sound bent on lusher ideas and with a greater emphasis on flute and sax. Is the saliva building up in your mouth yet? Although Fripp's production talents and processed soundscaping provides a fantastic backwash when it moves in the forefront a bit ['Pastorale', 'Before Then'], Theo Travis truly defines this record as its emotional core, letting his instruments form unseen words in the mind. When his flute soars into the swirling abyss of some distant starblazed sky, you too will find yourself going there as well ['The Unspoken', 'Curious Liquids']. Fucking glorious!

Fans of great ambient music, flutes, and the minimalistic churning of cosmic notes will have much to meditate upon here, and probably have a damn fine trip in the process.

Listen Here - "The Unspoken"

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Utopia - S/T (1982)

Todd Rundgren is a genuine pop genius who needs no introduction, and this power pop/New Wave extravaganza album from his former prog. band is more than evident of that blazing talent that made him a household name ten years prior with Something/Anything?, though this music owes just as much to punk and groups like XTC as it does to The Kinks and Big Star. It doesn't hurt that the songs are catchier than stupidity either!

Crunchy yet whimsical, Rundgren's Utopia guides the listener through fifteen toe-tappin' shades of craft, with every cut balancing the other without falling flat on its face. Some work bloody well as singles, like the 60's inflected 'Feet Don't Fail Me Now' or the tongue-in-cheek anthemizing of 'Burn Three Times'. Sheer brilliance is broken, however, by album centerpiece 'Hammer In My Heart', which easily proves to not only be the record's knockout punch, but one of the best New Wave songs I've ever had the pleasure of owning. Every song here's a keeper though, so my picks aside I'm certain there's something to like for everyone!

On the whole, I find it strange that this album was forgotten not long after it hit shelves: it's easily among the strongest paring ups of 70's rock melodicism and New Wave energy from the first half of the 80's, not  too unlike a more upbeat Smiths who thought The Association was cooler than Joy Division. Or something along those lines anyway. You all decide!

Listen Here - "Hammer In My Heart"

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Duncan Sheik - S/T (1996)

Ah, American singer-songwriters. Yammering in their half hoarse voices about broken dreams and equally fucked relationships and subsequently usually failing to get radio play unless they can play something half memorable for the casual traveler in all of us. Most would-be pariahs bore the shit out of me under normal circumstances, but every once in awhile I get hit square in the cardiac by a bogey and wonder where X person has been all my musical life.

Duncan Sheik is one such individual, a guy who happened to do quite well for himself in the late 90's and continues to write and record to this day. He's a Buddhist guitar maestro with an earnest voice who resembles a theoretical progenital son of Rob Lowe and John Cusack (except extra pale). Musically, he comes across in his songwriting as the distinct hybrid between the college rock of Edwin McCain and R.E.M. and the barren near-baroque mystique of 70's legends Nick Drake and John Martyn. Hence, our boy Sheik is therefore rather interesting from the point-of-view of a music enthusiast like me: he keeps one foot in the door for the folk-pop-alt. rock radio crowd while still managing to stay poignant lyrically and inventive in his melodies and arrangement craft. And in the game of seeing who stands the test of time and who doesn't 15 years later, inventive melodies and style are the only things that mean a damn thing.

Two songs may be familiar to those who actually listened to radio back in 1996-1997: the introspective 'She Runs Away' and ironically upbeat 'Barely Breathing'. The latter of these two was a smash hit in particular and probably immortalized him in the minds of a generally apathetic and ignorant public. In my opinion though, Sheik is at his best when he loses the alt. rock angstiness and simply lets the ambiance flesh out the emotions. 'Days Go By' and 'November' in particular are quite strong, reminiscent of Colin Blunstone in their lush strings and seemingly infinite empathy for the human heart and all its longing and contradiction. Beyond that, there's a healthy dose of straight up folk ['Little Hands'] and some punchy low-key West Coast numbers to finish out these unforgettable 52 minutes in style ['Serena', 'The End of The Outside'].

Long story short - I'm quite critical of singer-songwriters and their pretensions. Not too many of them ever leave a strong impression on me because I don't consider heartfelt or even "brilliant" lyrics to be the core of interesting or memorable songwriting. Hell, if great lyrics were the only listening criteria that was paramount, then people wouldn't need anything but Van Der Graaf Generator and The Smiths. However, Sheik manages to not only juggle a variety of styles, but possesses an attractive ambiance and charisma to carry the 11 songs present here with flash and subtle panache, and that's what makes this bastard's music worth your time.

Listen Here - "November"

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Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares - S/T (1987)

There's something soothing about the voices of people crying out together in harmonious enlightenment, alone in the vastness of an aged hall or the open sky. This particular beauty, the debut album of from a famous Balkan World Music ensemble, captures for me an elusive timeless spark, an oh-so-brief peek into the transcendentalist of music that goes back centuries beyond 2010 trends and conceptual ideas.

As the tide of this record washes past me, to mind arrives a poem by a writer I've come admire as of late, the macabre and talented Clark Ashton Smith, in which he describes a sunrise-

The moon declines in lonely gold
Among the stars of ashen-grey—
Veiling the pallors of decay
With clouds and glories, fold on fold.

Now, in a crystal interlude,
Stillness and twilight briefly rest,
Ere sudden gules illume the crest
Of peaks where solemn purples brood;

And from the low Favonian bourn
A sweet wind blows so lightly by
It seems the futile silver sigh
Breathed by the lingering moon forlorn.

This won't be everybody's cup of tea, but it certainly soothes like a motherfucker when you hit a certain state of mind. Ambient muzak for Eastern European horse farmers, lulz.  

Listen Here - "Polegnala e Todora"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hawk - Africa She Too Can Cry (1972)

One of the few progressive rock bands to have formed in South Africa during the prime years of the genre, Hawk were chased from their home city of Johannesburg, nearly destroyed alongside so many other groups by the insanity that was apartheid. Thankfully, English record label Charisma took note of the band's talent and got them in one piece to the U.K., where their unusually rhythmic, funky take on epic prog. music was ecstatically received by a very different kind of audience from what they were familiar with. They would later tour with bands such as Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator for several years afterward before falling into unfortunate obscurity. 

This rare 1972 release is Hawk's sophomore album, and it doesn't sound like anything else from the decade. Lead vocals are soulful yet dramatic in the depth of their timbre, the rhythm section thrashes madly against psychedelic fuzz guitar spiraling into suites and choral rage at the injustices that not only occur in Africa, but across the world as well into the present day. It's a very earthy record full of dreaming concrete facets and potential - the Hendrixian psychedelic elements sometimes bend Afro-pop, funk and West Coast into wholly new shapes ['Uvuyo', 'Mumbo Jumbo', 'Hunter'], elements which work so finely in tandem that even the 16 minute whopper of a centerpiece 'African Day Suite' into one of the 70's prog. rock's most memorable colossi, and one that will certainly incite repeated listens to the intrepid listener.

Marvelous records like this are the reason people like you and I listen to music in the first place, so get it while you can. Where else are you going to find the ravenous spirit of Fela Kuti, the haze and atmosphere of Jimi Hendrix and the grandeur of Yes or Genesis all locked away together in one glorious sonic package?

Listen Here - "War Talk"

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moonlight - DownWords (2005)

Polish trip-hop metal isn't the sort of thing that comes along every day in musical vernacular, but lucky for you miscreants I happen to have a particularly nice upload to alleviate that musical deficiency tonight!

Moonlight are one of those groups that you can describe in numerous ways and still miss essential facets. Portishead meets Björk who has been indulging in one-too-many Meshuggah records is perhaps an ideal description for the music mags. But Christ, there's so much else going on that even a description like that is the equivalent of calling Mr. Bungle a mere thrash metal band: you might catch a thrash element here and there, but you'd be missing the point entirely by doing so. There's a shitload of jazz elements, industrial, enchanting avant-gardizms, old school House, and even a touch of the Cocteau Twins dreamy hook sensibility when you least expect it. The end result is almost too brilliant to really take in with just one run through or two: multiple spins is what's required to let the stink of genius seep in.

I'm sure after a double shot of 80's, something obscure and jaw-dropping spectacular is just what you fogies need to get your nightly rocks off. Thank me after the shellshock wears off!

Listen Here - "Pill"

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Bobby Brown - Don't Be Cruel (1988)

Before he was pimp slapping the snot out of Whitney Houston and doing enough coke+assorted substances to kill an elephant, Bobby Brown was a funky little whippersnapper at the top of the R&B charts back in the late 80's. But not because he's some great musician or anything. In truth, much of that success and fame he had was due entirely in thanks to tonight's 1988 upload, which holds up surprisngly well today in a "Woah, this is kinda cool" retro-hipster kind of manner.

Yeah, Don't Be Cruel is a pop album. From the 80's. Reverb is everywhere. Drum machines reign supreme. Still, I beg you lot to have an open mind and enjoy the aesthetic as an expression of the era instead of letting it prevent you from enjoying some pretty good 80's R&B. Hell, it kicks the doodoo out of George Michael's Faith (which beat this sucker at the 1989 Grammys). Kind of a shame really, as Brown himself does very well for himself here and sounds great.

On top of Brown's admittedly cool presence, infamous producer Babyface really pulled out the production stops in places. That 80's oh-so-cheerful fogginess (though everything sounds crystal clear) and sparkling synth-on-the-water feel which runs through everything here truly brings out the best of that tiny spark of talent Brown had back then..though it was subsequently lost by his next album. In retrospect methinks, Don't Be Cruel deserved to be number one on the charts the year I was born. It's a genuine  time-capsuled testament of what made certain things about the 1980's an inspiring era in music, even in the occasional pop context.

Therefore, ladies and gents: if you are going to own just one album in the New Jack Swing genre, make it this one.

Listen Here - "I'll Be Good To You"

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eddie Jobson - Zinc (1983)

Eddie Jobson is a English violinist most famously known for replacing Brian Eno in Roxy Music in 1973 and other stints with such groups as U.K., Curved Air and even Frank Zappa's band. With that sort of backlog behind him, it's therefore not surprising that Jobson did one hell of a...job here on 1983's Zinc, also called "The Green Album" due to the cover.

In any case, this is a weird yet fantastically constructed work. New Wave synthetic violin prowess splurged against Eddie Jobson's surprisingly awesome Jon Anderson-esque vocals coupled with buckets of electronic soundscaping that wouldn't be out of place of any of Eno's mid 70's records. The eleven tracks here are all class, arranged in such a way that Jobson's vocally-driven songs and the instrumentals offset each other in alternate order.

Such a sleek adventure this is, and it really needs to be heard by more to be appreciated. If in curiosity you have ever wanted to hear what Yes, Brian Eno and XTC sound like once you put them through a blender, then drink up, cause this martini be nice and cold!

Listen Here - "Green Face"

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cardiacs - Sing To God (1995)

Progressive punk (pronk) band from England that hipsters love for their zany energy, lyrical ingenuity, cuddleable brainmashing songs and because nobody does what they do as well as them. 1995's Sing To God is their Close to the Edge, their Mona Lisa, and the pinnacle of their manic fucked-up craftsmanship. All 22 songs are figments of the great puzzle, trophies gleaming gold upon the Cardiacs' howling toothed bookcase.

I can't think of anyone who hates something this stellar, so take it like a good moocher and let the lunacy eat your wombs.

PS: This is divided into two parts because Mediafire doesn't swallow the whole load. >:(

Listen Here - "Fiery Gun Hand"

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Jazzanova - Of All The Things (2008)

After two straight days of doom and gloom, how about one of the best modern soul records of the decade to turn your minds to clouds, love and the sun in the azure sky?

Yeah, I know that sounds kinda hippie, but work with me here: Jazzanova are, oddly enough, a German jazz-fusion outfit who normally specialize in remixing stuff for other bands, like England's 4Hero and Gorillaz and God knows who else. Anyway, their latest release is 2008's Of All The Things, and its one of two actual "albums" the group has composed on their own (the other being 2002's In Between). While the latter album was almost note-for-note a reinterpretation of classic jazz filtered through more contemporary ears, tonight's upload is the band from Berlin's interpretation of a classic Motown album, drawing compositional inspiration from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and even The Stylistics to bring you something special this side of the 21st century in 12 kickass songs.

One horn break and some cello later, 'Look What You're Doin' To Me' is the ideal neo-soul opener, with a wicked bridge and chorus to top the mug off. The 70's have a strong grip on this baby's manhood, slickin' up a few toe-tappers here and there ['Let Me Show Ya', 'Rockin' You Eternally'] but keeping the taste fresh with a jazzy ballad that feels strangely spacious ['Little Bird'] and even letting the Jazz part of their name rear its head from time to time, which might remind of you Nujabes without the hip-hop elements ['Morning Scapes', 'Lucky Girl']. Not that the hip-hop is absent however, as a punchy sonnuvabitch like 'So Far From Home' demonstrates with kick to spare. Jazzanova really pulled out all the stops on this album, and the eclecticism benefits everything at play.

An record this unabashedly nostalgic yet so stupendous in execution doesn't come along as often as we'd like to think folks. Whether or not this will be a considered a stone cold neo-soul classic in coming years...or merely survive as fodder for samplers and a listing in the heads of future hipsters...let your years decide.

Listen Here - "Rockin' You Eternally"

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuxedomoon - The Ghost Sonata (1991)

Underrated release by everyone's favorite Californian post-punkers, where the bizarre and the furious meet pristine classical tradition and culminate into one hell of a late night haunter.

Basically, this was a suite the band wrote up back in the mid 80's but didn't get to record til 1990 or so, and its pretty interesting to see how a group of their freakish pedigree handle such high-minded songwriting. Not that is anything like what Chopin or Bach spent their lives composing; spoken word psychosis meets the sounds of black wind and the fading tide of strings, footsteps and the crackling of a wet knife slipping in between the soul and the ribcage. Elegant, but not human nor lined in warmth.

The atmosphere you ask? Quite disorienting, yet beautiful and horrible in a vaguely Oriental way. Listening to The Ghost Sonata at any point in it's 14 track run is like picking up an old Japanese kaidan and sitting back to read it amidst graves and silent spaces at midnight's zenith on Halloween. This music sounds ancient, peerless and will unnerve the shit out of you in the proper frame of mind. This is the sort of material the dead dream to, alone in their mausoleums with naught but an old record player for company in the blackness. I don't like the places where my mind goes accompanied by some of this stuff, but maaaaan does it take you!

I know we're heading into turkey season now, but I hope a little post-season jitters finds you from these shadowed fragments. Let them sink inside you and out of sight, as if your mind were a deep, deep sewer that drags these tunes into death among the garbage and unseen bodies.

Listen Here - "The Ghost Sonata"

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time of Orchids - Sarcast While (2005)

At one point holding the ridiculously commendable honor of being one of the few truly rock-rooted bands on John Zorn's Tzadik label, Time of Orchids kicked off the splendorous occasion back in 2005 with Sarcast While, their 4th release, and by golly is it a doozy!

Often described as the ideal middleman between the glistening ingenuity of Kayo Dot and the disharmonious glory of groups like Thinking Plague, I'm more inclined to describe this band, and furthermore Sarcast While, as Yes or even The Beach Boys doing industrial dream pop with a wicked shoegaze emphasis. Yeah, you read that correctly, and the music these bastards produce is even more inspired than the description suggests!

Personal highlights for me are those tracks where the group's strong suits, such as juxtaposing delirious dissonant soundscapes against the glow of the band's usually four-part vocal harmonies [three guys, one Julee Cruise of the Twin Peaks (the television series) soundtrack fame]. These tracks include the shimmering 'It Gone' and the Brian Wilson-meets-Swans feel of 'All We Ever Wish', the latter of which is worth the whole damn record all by itself! Still, a twisted mind will revel madly in some of the blacker hymns within the album ['High Enthusiast', 'Earned Over'] and probably scratch their heads more than once at the rockabilly free-jazz puree of 'Ours, Engendered' before resuming a state of revelry.

Do you love Kayo Dot but wish they were more outlandish and could sing like a certain poppy bunch of surfers from California? CEASE THY EXPLORATIONS AND REAP THINE BOON!1

Listen Here - "Everyone Is Suspended"

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Graeme Revell - Strange Days OST (1995)

Dunno why, but Strange Days, one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time, bombed quite nastily back when it stormed into theaters 15 years ago. Audiences didn't really understand it despite Kathryn Bigelow's excellent direction and some rather capable performances from Ralph Fiennes and pretty much everyone else involved.

However, due to the film's financial failure, it's only natural that it's equally fantastic soundtrack would get lost somewhere in the details and accumulating dust. Quite the fucking travesty too, as this is one of the best soundtracks ever assembled for a motion picture, featuring not only vintage Tricky but atleast five or six amazingly experimental bands & artists who only recorded music for this film. Hence, along with being a fantastic companion to any dystopian cyberpunk ideas you might be spinnin' up in your heads, it also serves as a top-notch LP stuffed to the brim with one-of-a-kind tracks that you can't find anywhere else, two of which are Deep Forest collaborating with friggin' Peter Gabriel of all people!

Eclecticism is both the strongest and weakest element of these proceedings, hence the excess of labels. Pieces like 'Selling Jesus' and the mindblowing 'No White Clouds' merge punkish alt-rock with punk and jazz respectively, while Jeriko One and Tricky counteract with more contemporary hip-hop measures, culiminating into the glorious downtempo moments from Lori Carson ['Fall In The Light'] and Peter Gabriel's bringing the ethnic house dancibility of Deep Forest to unprecedented grandeur ['Coral Lounge', 'While the Earth Sleeps']. But then again, if you have gotten anything else off this blog so far, a little stylistic flexibility should be right up most of your alleys anyway.

Get this now and then go rent or stream or w/e the movie you lazy blighters. Or be a dick and don't see it. This soundtrack is going to kick your asses either way!

Listen Here - "No White Clouds"

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Monday, November 1, 2010

It Bites - Once Around The World (1988)

Tonight's choice for Uploadom is something of a gamble on my part. First, I love it to motherfucking death, and two, I doubt most of you will give a shit in light of that adoration. Damn it! >:(

It Bites are one of the best things to come out of the 80's, a no-holds-barred collision between bubbly, Level 42-ish pop sensibility and prog. rock pomposity (the 70's Genesis sort) to the nth degree, a crossbreed of ideas that work so beautifully at times that it's almost unbelievable. Lead vocalist and guitarist Francis Dunnery is supernatural in his ability as a frontman in places, and his charisma is felt from the cheesiest moments to those that take the breath right out of you.

Once Around The World was this fine, fine band's sophomore album from 1988 and of the five albums the band has done so far (2008's comeback masterpiece The Tall Ships and 2012's Map Of The Past excluded), it's definitely their milestone. Steve Hillage of Gong fame produced this sucker, and although the 80's has it's talons deep in most of the tracks on board here [the hair-metal influences are heir apparent in opener 'Midnight' and the pop-culture panorama 'Plastic Dreamer' for example), the hallmarks of the It Bites sound are unique and hold up the rest of the songs quite nicely: fantastic vocal harmonies, quicksilver fretwork and an intuitive sense of dynamics that gives weight to even those oudated keyboard soundscapes. Don't believe me? If the guitar and theremin hooplah near the end of 'Yellow Christian' doesn't derive anything from you, then you should stop listening to music entirelly!

An album that few people understand, others dismiss, and that even a few openly mock, It Bites's Once Around The World is a personal poppy little treasure of mine that I hope can connect even the slightest bit to an audience of people saturated by other things and who have no tolerance for melodicism or campiness.

Listen Here - "Yellow Christian"

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