Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mandatory Break Ends Soon

After a long period of silence, we will be back on track soon. I had to replace my stylus due to a critical mistake and didn't have any replacements closeby. Now have received my new one with 2 spares, therefore I hope this mandatory break won't be happening again anytime soon.

Sorry for being absent without any info. I guess I was to depressed to write under those conditions anyway. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Various - The History Of The House Sound Of Chicago (BCM - B.C. 70-2060-49)

"The beat won't stop with the JM Rock. If he jacks the box and the party rocks. The clock tick tocks and the place gets hot. So ease your mind and set yourself free. To that mystifying music they call the key".

House music has historic significance for mid aged chaps like me. We were in our fountain of youth when we started listening House music when it was becoming a fully fledged style of it's own. Then came the Acid vs Metal fury and blew it all off. You were to pick a camp. I wanted to be on both camps due to my already varied taste, but you just had to pick one. So in the automatic protesting teenage years, I acted like a Metal man even though I had a secret love relationship with Acid going on. It was more than a fling and the main reason was my background with House.

House originated from the club Warehouse in Chicago where Frankie Knuckles was playing. He is known to be the Godfather of the genre with some true acclaim to it. He pioneered the style mixing RnB & Soul music with dance tunes and created a new mash up style which we today call House music. However, from those days onwards, House music evolved to numerous shapes, sizes and tastes. House music has been the most fruitful of genres in almost all music history since it has bred and fed the most genres afterwards. To name a few, Techno, Tech House, Progressive House, Hard House, Trance, Us Garage, Italo Disco, etc. etc.

This huge box set of 12 LPs is all about the history of the House music. It includes tracks which are mainly from the beginning stages and then covers a certain era (2 years naturally) when the genre was still in it's growth stages. This has limited the span of the tracks relevant in the box set since you just get a glimpse of how House music has started, but not as how it has developed. However, it is still historically significant in all ways.

The artists and tracks that appear in this box set are both legendary and forgotten. Both types are here. Adonis is here, Chip E., Jackmaster Funk, Marshall Jefferson, Phuture, House Master Boyz, and of course D Train. They are all there. There is also a sort of diversification between labels, the first famous tracks and the rest. However, looking back to it after 20 something years, those distinctions are not so clear now though others are more obvious. It would have been or might be a little better if there is a new version of this box set which covers the whole era. Honestly I think even 20 records may not be enough to cover it, but who can blame me for dreaming and hoping. This is House music. This is where it all started. Thank you Frankie Knuckles.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Friday, February 15, 2013

Oren Ambarchi - Sagittarian Domain (Editions Mego - eMego 144)

Oren Ambarchi is not new to these pages as I have reviewed his release "Hit And Run" with Joe Talia before. However, this time it is a little different. I have bought this record quite some time ago and did not have the courage to listen to it from vinyl for some time. For one thing, I didn't want to open it's package. I was absolutely stunned by the music inside that it seemed like a disrespect to open it. Now that I have eased myself with a couple of glasses of wine, here we go.

As a start, this album is significantly different from his other new works. The style is rather older than what he currently undertakes and his trademark Drone effects have left it's place to much different compositional aspects. I also don't need to say that I have admired this varience in his approach. It can also be called Minimalist in some sense due to the repetitive outlook of the mid section of the 33 minute track. However, the percussion is extremely close to that of the Krautrock era. It has too many points where you can link one way or the other. On the other hand it is utterly original and refreshing. Ambarchi does not play with the basic structure of the melody and rhythm much during the track, though from time to time, he presents himself with his guitar to create Drone textures which are adding supremacy to the already powerful presence. This becomes more evident on the B side of the record or the second half of the track (If you are making the mistake of listening it on CD).

I have read that he mentioned doing this album in 1 say in the studio in Melbourne's Sing Sing Studio due to time limitations. This is pretty remarkable. Recording the guitar, bass, cello, violin, viola altogether and mixing it up to this massive proportion is mind blowing. I have listened to it already several times after opening the record. All I can say is do not listen to it with a low or medium sound level. It is so powerful that the more you crank up the speakers, the more they demand. I have listened it until late night (Or morning some say) and had to lower down the level step by step due to early sleeper neighbours of mine. Will listen again in the morning at my full pleasure.

Before I forget, many thanks to Peter Rehberg for creating such a successful label (And sub labels). I have most of the releases already, but haven't had time to review many. They will start coming one by one (One clue is Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang). You can also review the releases of Editions Mego and the sub labels here. Don't forget to check the GRM re-releases as well.

To buy this record:

@ eBay
@ Discogs
@ Kontra Records

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Muddy Waters - The Chess Box (Chess - CH6 - 80002)

Not much ado about speaking the Blues of Muddy Waters. He has been one of the prominent artists in taking a step forward compared to the classical Blues styles. The bridge in between, that is what he is. Vocal style can easily be accepted as old style (Not Delta though, more of Chicago), but with his electric guitar, he took it to another level while modernizing some of the old classics along the way. Electric Blues as it was called. Of course it is hard to say old school when you are talking about Blues since there is a big distinction between the dates when a song was first originated and when first recorded. As an example, Leadbelly didn't have that many records, yet his repertoire was well over 5.000 songs. It is not hard to guess that most of that knowledge has gone with the wind since those days.

There are many people who claimed that Blues is dead. Well it ain't dead until it's dead, yet the social structure which nurtured Blues has changed drastically. The reasons to write blue songs has waned quite a lot. Yes you can still listen some broken heart song etc, but the social injustice has decreased. Or at least it is not a hegemonia of the AfroAmerican community anymore. There are more people sharing that misery, especially a lot from the Anglo Saxons. It is not a racist thing at least. On the other hand, Country music still lingers on. One thing is that Texans really like it and Texas is huge. Nothing is as big as Texas. And Country music never based it's existence on any struggle. It was mainly love or hate, kiss or kill and a lot of dancing.

Coming back to our subject, Chess records has been a big supported of Blues music and their special efforts in the 1980s resulted in several "Chess Box"es which are really crucial. Apart from Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon have their own boxes as well. However, it is to be noted that the most extensive one is Muddy Waters's, a career spanning 6 LPs.

Whatever you know of Muddy Waters is here. I cannot honestly say that all the versions are the best ones (Especially Mannish Boy), yet it is more than what you can expect (The version of Walkin' Blues is awesome by the way). It is also accompanied by a nice bookish booklet which gets into detail about where he came from, what he did and where he was heading at. Personally I can place my bet on his predecessor to being Ben Harper, but since Harper delved into many things, it is also hard to point out, but no other one sticks out similar to him. All in all, 72 tracks which many are anonymous have found their way into the compilation and offers a loooong Blues listening ceremony. Actually there is an 11 LP box set of Muddy Waters again from Chess records which was released in Japan. Don't know why only in Japan, but that's the way it is. Don't have that one, but one day I will have it. Till then, this ain't one to miss.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay (Somehow other things also come in, beware)
@ Discogs

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ruggiero Leoncavallo - I Pagliacci, Gigli, Pacetti, Basiola, Teatro Alla Scala, Ghione (Seraphim - IB-6009)

This is one of the records I have bought from Kontra Plak. It was surprising to find this original piece dating from 1954 lying there in the new arrivals box. I directly checked the quality which was also stunning as can be seen from the picture. We have to thank at least 1 generation of a record collector for this. I love it when I find a gem in a record store.

I Pagliacci is the sad story of a clown (Pagliacci) which is not one of today's most revered operas in the repertoire, however it was quite popular in the early 1900s. One of the reasons would be that those days were more theatrical compared to today and I Pagliacci is an opera which requires some theatrical performance along the real thing. It is a two act opera with a longer Act I and a shorter Act II. However, the most important thing here is not the opera itself, but rather the performance of Beniamino Gigli. It is simply breathtaking. One of Gigli's most famous arias (At the end of Act I) already belongs to this very performance dating from July, 1934 in Teatro Alla Scala. The opera was conducted by Franco Ghione and it was during the time when Gigli was at his best. Interestingly, though this opera requires theatrical tendencies as well, this was obviously not the strong point of Gigli.

The opera takes 3 sides of the 2 record box set. The remaining part was filled with Gigli's performances of old Italian Songs including the likes of "O Sole Mio", "Senta Ze" and "Ritorna Amore". Even though Gigli is famous for the classical repertoire in general, his performances in these songs are also eye catching. I was honestly not expecting this from him.

The sound quality is of course not as clear as today's recordings, though I can honestly say that it beats many of the recordings from that era. Listening it in a modest level of sound is adequate, but when you go higher, there are some distortions which keeps you from it. Still, it can take you to the seats of Teatro Alla Scala to dream of Gigli standing there with his clown costume on, feeling betrayed, angry and raged because of his unfaithful wife. It would have been such a beautiful show then.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay (Didn't turn out any result, but you can remain faithful)
@ Discogs (The release does not exist)
@ Overstock (CD version, better than nothing)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Best Records Of 2012 & A Short Review

Below are the best 10 records that I have listened during 2012. These may not be the 2012 releases as can be seen from my posts already.

1) Isang Yun - Selected Works For Clarinet - Compositions Of Isang Yun 1

2) Olivier Messiaen - Catalogue D'Oiseaux

3) Thelonious Monk - Riverside Classics

4) Woody Guthrie - Library Of Congress Recordings

5) Metallica - Live In The 80s

6) St Germain - Tourist

7) Oriental Wind - Chila-Chila

8) Leadbelly - Good Night Irene

9) Alva Noto - Unitxt

10) Various - Musique Persane

Looking back to 2012, my main listening habits did not alter too much with the main genres as Contemporary Classical and Experimental Electronic. World music had a surge due to me delving deeper into the origins of music. Electro, Techno, House, Dub and their variations seem to have decreased somewhat along the way, but now thinking about it, I am missing them also. Jazz stayed more or less the same level as well as Blues. I might have increased Free Jazz and Improvisation a little.

In terms of record labels, Editions Mego is by far the leader of the pack. Then comes Decca due to it's wide range of releases starting from Classical to Blues. Philips and EMI (Including Angel & HMV) were also very much in the high levels. Arion, Ocora and Le Chant Du Monde also entered the scene due to World music. Wergo has gone down from it's position from last year since there are not many titles left for me to buy and listen. Also Columbia and Riverside got lower returns. Sonet entered to my catalogue for the first time this year through Oriental Wind and Okay Temiz releases.

I wish everyone a year full of music, health, prosperity, peace and love.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Musiciens Du Nil - Egypte (Ocora - 558 514)

Having started to get into Middle Eastern musical cultures, here is another important part of the culture that has shaped area's musical understanding. Egyptian music is the second most important foundation of Middle Eastern musical culture after Persian and has affected the world the most. It is for one reason simpler to adjust to European music norms. Secondly, it is surely much more livelier than Persian. Unfortunately many people abroad call it Belly Dance music. Oh I just wish the truth would be that easy.

The ancient music of Egypt started from the Upper Egypt which is the South part actually (Due to Nile, if you may not remember from geograpgy lessons). The music was well established before the arrival of Islam and gave some of it's aspects to it also. The music culture mainly belonged to Fellahin which is the general term for bedouins and mountain dwellers. Since Upper Egypt was and still is not a very crowded place in terms of population concentration, it not only had a significance of enjoyment, but was a social expression as well. The main instrument was Rabab which is a sort of a fiddle with one or two strings. This type of instrument later on was used in lots of other regions with the same or similar names.

The music in this region was mainly played by a Shaer (Poet/Singer). The music was accompanied by the Shaer's story, poem or the narrative of a past event. This was also a way of information sharing. Of course, love stories, daily struggles were in the subjects of these songs, but any critical event that has happened also found it's way here and was then passed from city to city, town to town.

The music in general is made up of three different parts. The first piece, Aamedat El Karnak, is a Taqsim which is in modern understanding the intro as well as the solo performance of the main artist. It is not a jam session. The artist takes a piece of the main song and develops an improvised solo by building on it. The second piece Ya Faraoule is a love song which is quite joyful with fast rhythmic structure. The third piece Zahrat El Loxor is similar in terms of structure to the second piece, but this one is only instrumental. However, the best example of ancient Egyptian music is the fourth piece Abou Zeid El Hilali by Shamandi Tewfick Metqal. This is the standard shaer way and has been a refreshing piece all in all. It tells the story of Hilali which is a legend from the 11th century.

One thing should be noted that the music itself is quite simple with many repetitions of the main theme creating the general song. There are certain rhythmic changes when something of importance has to be noted (With lyrical songs), but apart from that the music is mainly repetitive. However, this is true for the ancient music. The modern examples have been quite adopted, but the main theme is still religiously followed albeit small changes within the song.

Some may know, the best example of singers in this category is Oum Kalsoum. Even though she was not a shaer herself, she sang these songs and has earned a mythical respect within the Middle East region and a worldwide recognition. Egypt entered a stand still during her Thursday radio concerts. Even wars entered a stand still when she was to give a concert. Therefore this record is a chance to listen to the background of the music which led to her. Believe me you will enjoy it.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs