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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rafael Toral - Space Solo 1 (Taiga - TAIGA 2)

Rafael Toral is a Portugese experimental musician who can be considered an old school artist compared to the new generation of experimentalists. He still mainly adapts the tweaking and restructuring electronic music instruments rather than relying heavily on computer. Being an improvisational guitarist (And quite a good one at that), he has taken this approach to experimental music coming to points where he has literally pushed the boundaries of improvisation.

The Space Solo 1 album was originally released as a CD by Quecksilber label and later on reissued on limited edition red vinyl. The album consists of 5 tracks taken from 4 performances out of the Space Study tour. Actually the track names are mainly self explanatory like "Portable Amplifier" where he uses a modified MS-2 portable amplifier feedback with light-controlled filter.

"Portable Amplifier" is a track that was taken from the Space Study 2 performance in Lisboa. It starts with a mainly spacelike melody which directly resembles the movie "Space Odyssey", but from then on, it takes a totally different turn where Toral pushes the amplifier and the filter to its limits. The frequency levels are constantly altered and I am sure if I was a dog, I could have heard more of it. Closer to the end section of the track, silence is also added as a factor to the composition while small clicks and cuts shows you that you are still in the loop.

"Echo-Feed" is mainly composed of repetitive notes interconnected with spacey textures whereas "Bender" creates the image of a space fight simulator in the intro and turns back into a similar approach like "Echo-Feed", but this time the textures are quite limited. It is more like a Free Jazz Improvisation, but the instrument in question is not a saxophone, but a modified MT-10 portable amplifier. Actually it could have been quite interesting if this approach was fitted with some modern Free Jazz composers. "Electrode Oscillator" is all the more demanding of the compositions due to it's ever changing structure from clicks & cuts and high pitched notes to the use of more distanced elements. One point you feel like there is an electronic woody woodpecker around and next you sit in a room of ancient computers creating click sounds at the same time. The musical understanding is not suited to our standard learnings and therefore following the composition becomes a journey in it's own right. Even though Toral does not rely on classic musicla concepts and notations, from time to time it can be sensed that he still keeps track of them. Yet sometimes, it becomes all too evident that he is in a world of music of his own. A quite interesting and attention grasping world I should say.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay (Currently only CD versions are being sold)
@ Discogs

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Woody Guthrie - Library Of Congress Recordings (Rounder - 1041/3)

Woody Guthrie is an interesting character altogether apart from being the idol of many musicians that we and our fathers have been fans of including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger. He is originally a Folk musician as well as an improviser, though during the development of his career, he sang more and more Blues songs. I should also note that he is certainly not a Country singer as that may be sometimes mixed up with Folk. Another interesting aspect of Guthrie is that he was not a rebuplican. More than that, he was an unofficial communist as he was never listed in any party or groups, but his views were clearly in that line. One reason may have been that he grew up in a well integrated town where a quarter of the population was Indians, the other quarter African Americans and rest Whites. Another aspect could be the Great Depression to which he grew into.

No matter his political leanings, one thing that we can be sure of is that he was one hell of a musician. This box set is also a very good proof of that. Most of his recordings are in the archives of Library Of Congress, hence this box set represents most of the best live recordings he has done. Additionally, before and after each song he plays live, he explains the music, his story and his views which makes the records all the more beautiful while listening. We learn that his mother died in an asylum and his father somehow caught fire after losing all his money and ranch (Guthrie thinks his father set himself on fire incidentally). He even explains his experience with a certain dust storm which happened in April 14th, 1935 which eventually turned up into a song named "Dust Storm Disaster".

The tracks which have been enlightening for me were "Railroad Blues", a story about whiskey "Rye Whiskey", "Do-Re-Mi", a self explanatory post Great Depression song called "I Ain't Got No Home", etc.  The main theme of the box set is the post Great Depression era and the dust storms that came with it. During the interviews you hear a lot about the Dust Bowl and it's effect on people, how people migrated from the Great Plains to states like California and how they lived there. Songs are actually about them as well. Due to wrong farming procedures  and the drought that came with it, the whole Great Plains were covered with dust and when came the prevailing winds, they took up the dust to create dust storms which are famous of that era. These storms caused sicknesses (Hence the song "Dust Pneumonia") and changed lives drastically. For the people interested in this era which also gave birth to John Steinbeck's famous "Grapes Of Wrath", you can watch the TV series "Surviving The Dust Bowl" from PBS's website here.

Overall I have to say that this is quite a sincere performance I am listening. It was recorded in 1940 and I have serious thoughts that this was a radio show. Unfortunately I have the newer version of this box set. The original was released by Library Of Congress records back in 1964 while this one is a repress from 1988 by Rounder records. I also have to say that everything about the release is the same with the previous one. No remastering etc, so that is a good thing. The whole box set left me stunned with the interviews, the songs and the stories behind them. It is a must for any music and sociology lover.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Merzbow - Minazo Volume 2 (Important - IMPREC107)

Merzbow is Masami Akita. For most people in this world, his music would be referred to as noise. For those of know him, he produces music which is musically categorized as Noise. There you go. Sometimes music is not that hard to figure out.

Merzbow is one of the earliest of Japanese Noise projects and probably one of the most well known in the world of Noise music as well. Akita's project has been followed by many artists and Japan is now one of the leading grounds for the Noise scene.

The sheer number of works released by Akita reminds me of a fellow pioneer in experimental electronic music named Byron Jones. It is truly remarkable how many releases both these men have materialized in a short period of time with both over 10 albums per year.

The album takes it's name from a famous Southern Elephant Seal. Akita was a visitor of this seal who lived in the Tokyo zoo and would also allowed access to it. It seems that Akita has had a strong bond with the seal which I don't know the reason why, but right after his death (The elephant seal was a male), the pieces were produced.

The album is a two part release which this current one is the latter one. The use of samples and pedal effects are quite familiar with the other works of Akita. On the background of all the fuss, there is a soothing architecture even though isolating it from the upper chaotic structure is tough. The deeper structure feels more like an obituary while the face of it all is engulfed in systematic terror. It is not hard to guess that the feeling would be to envision the naive/captive animals living in a caged environment just for the amusement of people. Even though we are not different ourselves, we just don't have physical cages like the animals. We only have the social norms acting as invisible cages. For us, freedom is an idea mainly based on humans.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Various - Musique Persane (Ocora - OCR 57)

Persian music or in today's understanding, Iranian music has been the dominant musical culture in the Middle East. It is known that there was a musical culture in the Persian Empire during the Achaemenian dynasty approximately 2.500 years ago. Unfortunately very little written information is available and furthermore there is no details about the style of music. However, with the Sassanian period which was 1.800 years ago, we have written records of the modal structures which made up of Persian music at that time. This structures made up of the musical system which we have been seeing in the Middle East and Anatolia until today. On the other hand, this should not be mixed with Folk music in the sense that both in Persia and in the later stages in Ottoman Empire, this music structure was mainly taken for granted by the emperor/sultan/shah and was available mainly to the palace. Therefore Folk music of these countries varied a lot from this modal structure.

These modal structures have developed over time, starting as seven in the Sassanian period to twelve in the 16th century with many many derivative modes and pieces. Within each song, there are 5-6 pieces generally which make up the entrance and the end, second entrance, ending with two pieces in the middle making up the general structure.

In terms of modals, the growth was vertically rather than horizontally, but the interesting thing is that notation has never been the strength in this region of the world. Therefore a wide range of improvisational options were left out to the players and singers. This has emphasized the importance of the artist much more. Modern theoreticians have tried quite hard to put these modals into notations with exact timing to be calculated. However, in practice they heartbrakingly found out that nobody much cared. In this sense there is a similarity with the ancient Folk music in Europe as well. We don't have to be able to write down everything in exact science. Somethings are better left vague to make it more interesting and artistic.

Maybe as a result of this improvisation options, Iran has been a dominant figure in the development of contemporary music in the 20th century. Before the revolution, Iranian music scene was flourishing with experimental artists and with Chinese artists, these composers take the leading stage apart from Us and Europe.

The record provides two Dastgah modals, Mahur and Segah. These are also present in the Turkish Classical music which in turn is actually not classical but rather palace music. The instruments are also similar. Tar, Ud, Kamanche, Santur, Nay and Tombak are present in the recording. Kamanche is native to the NorthEast Anatolia region which did appear in the folk songs, but not within the palace repertoire while Santur was never ever quite present in Turkey. Instead Kanun was apparent in the Turkish music. There is also a need to note that Turkish music got some of it's derived modals by reshaping Egyptian music into Persian music. This vast combination option increased the number of modals significantly and superficially.

The pieces are very very limited in terms of giving an idea about Persian music. The material is quite vast and even covering the 12 modals are not enough due to numerous derivatives. I don't know the exact number in Persian music, but in Turkish music, the total number of modals + derivatives reached upto over 500 with probably 50 or so remaining in use today. On the other hand, the music is totally different from the modern notation music we are used to. Even abstract music is quite simple compared to this musical culture since rhythm is a complex phenomenon and varies even during pieces of a modal. Apart from all the complexity of the system, the music is absolutely refreshing and different from the music of other regions. It is certainly a feat to delve into.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Monday, October 22, 2012

Steve Reich - The Desert Music (Nonesuch - 9 79101-1 F)

This is a record which took me some time to find a clean one to listen to. Interestingly it's not the rarest of his records, but it became one of the last 3 records of his that I didn't own. Therefore it is special in that way also.

Steve Reich is one of my favorite composers of the 20th century. The only reason is not his Minimalist background also. He has pioneered this genre, had a hard life in the beginning and opened various ways for future composers and artists to follow. He did not compose as much as Philip Glass and was not in the spotlight like him, but all the works he has written are known to be crucial.

Desert Music is structurally Steve Reich, but the vocals and the melodies are reminiscent of Terry Riley. The first thing you can hear in the desert is the wind and your pulse (Or so they sayy). Reich started from the point of pulse and developed from it. Repetition of 8 notes created this effect also pointing out his repetitive style. The use of mallet instruments is also very significant and this style has been a signature of his since he composed "Drumming".

The composition is based on William Carlos Williams's poems which you can also hear in the vocals. The poems themselves have absolutely no relation to desert, but they were also a starting point like the pulse effect. He was also ideally effected by Sinai and the religious importance of it. Moreover, he himself had experiences in Mojave desert. However, the musical feeling in the 5 movement piece has no relation to desert or the feeling of deserts apart from the name. Yet all movements which some are divided in slow and moderate are stylishly developing into one general piece which enables you to savour the moment while listening a true talent. It is also key to notify that Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic orchestra along with the Steve Reich's musicians and chorus. It is a staggeirng record which was obviously worth the wait.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Les Diaboua De Brazzaville - Congo (SFP - FP7-72503)

As part of my latest fascination with ethnic music, I have also delved into African music and found some gems along with it. This record in question is one of those. It is a sample of Congolese music performed by Les Diaboua De Brazzaville at the Festival Mondial Du Folklore in France. This is a live recording and the enthusiasm of the crowd is totally captured.

The rhythms are violent and powerful with percussion taking over the main stage. Every song has a meaning. The opening track "Benguela" is a fisherman's song while "Gandza" is celebrating circumcision, "Waya-Waya" is a welcoming song for an important member of a friendly family. This is African music. They don't do music for the sake of music. It needs to have a meaning. It should be a part of their expressionism in their daily lives.

The music is highly entertaining. Even though you don't get to see the dancers, you can understand their rapid movements by the reactions from the crowd. This being a live recording really raised the level of sheer enjoying of the music.

I honestly don't know if these festivals are still taking place, but I will surely check it out and if possible, go there to view in person. They should be one hell of an attraction both musically and visually. This record has shown me more than enough to give the desired motivation.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay (The search did not bring results, but you can try anytime)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Various - Les Maitres-Tambours Du Burundi (Arion - ARN 33682)

Continuing with my recent purchases of World Music records, we are now facing a very interesting record. I will delve into detail a little later on, but also have to put a dent about Arion records. Arion is a record label which specializes in World Music and some Classical Music. It is a French label like most World Music labels like Ocora and Playa Sound. All these three are well known record labels for any collector and it is a pleasure to find their catalogues anywhere anytime.

As similar to my previous review of Congolese music, this album was also recorded live however in a different festival, "Festival Des Arts Traditionnels". The record consists of 4 tracks. The first three are comparably shorter as they are mainly songs of welcoming and offering. The 4th song is in 2 parts, the beginning in Side A and the rest completely filling Side B of the record. This is the "Suite De Danses Rituelles" which probably means dance ritual song.

The music itself is totally based on percussion. There are also motivating vocals or rather shouts during these percussion movements. The style seems quite similar to that of Kodo. The rhythmic system is also similar. This may either be due to the music being totally percussion or somehow both percussion groups have ended up sharing some ideas. However, apparently especially considering the 4th song, the musical base of both groups seem to be coinciding a great deal.

Unfortunately to a record listener, it is impossible to see the dancers accompanying the music. There is a picture on the back cover which clearly shows that dancers are also present (It probably explains on the back cover information, but my French is non-existent). Tambours seem to be drums of various sizes which the group uses to enhance the rhythmic structure and they achieve this easily. The music is moving and totally attractive. I cannot stop myself from saying that it is also resembling Minimalist Classical music as per evolving rhythms and beats with many repetitions alongside. Steve Reich's Drumming is not too far away from this apart from the extra energy put in by Burundi people. All in all it is a conceptual approach and the result is absolutely enjoying.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jim O'Rourke - Eureka (Drag City - DC162)

There cannot be any doubts about the talent of Jim O'Rourke when it comes to Experimental Electronic Music and it's sub genres. However, it also needs to be clearly pointed out that he is a multi talented guy and likes to express these various sides of his from time to time.

He has had many collaborations and due to this delved into many styles, but the album in question is purely his work and reflects an absolutely different side of his. The album can be labelled as Folk/Art Rock and Indie Folk, but it appeared much before the contemporary Folk fad. The style also has touches of Jazz in it, but closer to the Free Jazz style.

Just think about the Bossa Nova rhythms in "Something Big" and the Jazzy "Through The Night Softly". If Astrud Gilberto was to sing "Something Big", I wouldn't have been surprised at all. Unfortunately the vocal Edith Frost was not creating miracles even though the music is quite lovely.

There is only one track in the album, which is naming the album, that reminds us the background of O'Rourke's present a little is "Eureka". However, even that one is more or less Folk with electronic structures in the background. Just this little tid bit had made me happy to hear.

The album's sound is excessively lenient when compared to his more known works as well as his long lasting collaboration of Fenn O'Berg with Christian Fennesz and Peter Rehberg (Interestingly these names appear in the "danke" section of the album booklet). It has a raw and naïve sound where he also does the vocals and gets support from the contemporary Jazz talents like cornetist Rob Mazurek and cellist Fred Lonbergi-Holm.

If you are expecting a classic O'Rourke album, this is surely not it. It's nowhere near it. This is just him expressing himself in a different way even though the lyrics are showing off his standard philosophy. I just hope that he starts leaving Japan again and ventures into Europe to give some concerts either alone or with Fenn O'Berg.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay (Currently only CDs available)
@ Discogs

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Cream - Cream On Top (Polydor - 2855-002)

The Cream which was made up of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker had a short life span of only 2 years. However, the band released 4 albums during that time with numerous concerts along the way. 3 of these albums can easily be categorized as legendary regarding the British Blues Explosion of that era. Also this band crafted the status of Eric Clapton in the blues scene as well.

The general structure of the albums from this era are mainly extremely cozy. They are not undertaken with strict systematic behaviors. The main sense was originality and trying to show off their skills. It is very evident in the John Mayall albums as well as Alexis Korner's albums also even though less in the latter. Same feeling is there in The Cream's albums. More than normal legnthed solos are all over the place with modifications in the tracks covered. It was more like an experimenting period for all artists and for the listeners. They had a music in their hands which had already developed immensely in USA and they wanted to create their own version through trial and error. As of today, we can safely say that all these experiments have resulted in a successful sub genre of British Blues which paved way for many many artists.

This album has 4 tracks on it, hence you can now officially understand what I mea by lengthy solos. The album is not a short one, the vinyl is not 10 inch, just the tracks are long enough. I also reviewed the "Live Cream" album before and the feeling is not much different apart from the crowd noise which is absent in the background. The tracks "Badge" and "Toad" can really explain this in an easy way. The solos of Eric Clapton are stunning to say the least. On both songs, Ginger Baker also gives a shot at solos. They start as a little straight forward, but on both he somehow finds his rhythm later on to create beauties. Just on the solo in "Toad" he loses his grip once around the middle part of his minimum 8-9 minutes solo, but gets control fast enough. Jack Bruce somehow stayed out of the lime light for solos which maybe was the signal of their breakup. It's not easy to endure the ego of a master talent like Clapton anyway.

I also have to add that even though I didn't review it, I also own the bands first album "Fresh Cream" and all three have really developed and matured since that album. This is by far their most accomplished album albeit really lengthy solos. Did I mentioned the solos on the album :) If you find a decent copy of this album, do not hesitate.

To buy this album:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Oriental Wind - Chila-Chila (Sonet - SNTF 809)

Oriental Wind is a duo made up of Lennart Aberg and Okay Temiz. Okay Temiz is a world known percussionist from Turkey. Actually he is much better known around the world. Main reason has been his style. He makes a fusion between ethnic music and avantgarde jazz. This puts him in a weird position as far as Turkey is concerned since his repertoire is not well suited for the still developing Jazz listener audience of Turkey.

Temiz has collaborated with many top artists of his genre with the main being Don Cherry. For this album, Bobo Stensson featured in piano, Tuna Otenel has joined forces with his Alto Saxophone, Lennart Aberg came along with his flute and on top Thomas Ostergren supported on the bass.

The album consists of Jazz versions of ethnic songs from Turkey as well as Africa. an interesting thing is that the rhythmic scale of all the tracks are written beside the track names. Since some of them are quite challenging for a European ear (Especially Turkish ones with 9/4, 9/8 rhythms), this has been a good clue.

I don't really know the two ethnic songs from Africa, but the Turkish ones are quite famous old songs. The arrangements are quite interesting to hear. Two of them are arranged by Stensson, one by Aberg while the rest is the work of Temiz.

Tuna Otenel creates marvels in "Karasar Zeybegi" while "Estergon Kalesi" seems to be the power struggle between the finesse of Bobo Stensson and Lennart Aberg.

These are arrangements and therefore bits and pieces of the original melodies/tunes can be found in them. This makes the whole process even more intriguing. On top, the talents involved create a show which is absolutely a pleasure to listen. It felt like a cold morning breeze after a heated summer night.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay - Currently none on sale.
@ Discogs

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Various - Chants & Danses Yougoslavie (Le Chant Du Monde - LDX 74384)

For the last two months, I have been in an inevitable mode of my record collecting frenzy. I had World Music records before, but a limited collection of known artists. This time I had an urge to go deeper and the result have been numerous records from prestigious labels like Arion, Ocora, and Lyrichord with more records from lesser known labels.

I am saying inevitable since due to my keen interest in 20th century Classical Music, ethnic melodies was to be a major point of interest. The main reason is modern classical music has gained huge momentum by Folk music and in due time ethnic music. Balinese, Java, African music have all shared important weight in the new developments not only on musical terms, but also on philosophical side (Here especially Chinese and Japanese).

The first record that I wanted to review is from a French label called La Chant Du Monde. Even though my French consists of several words, I can still guess what this label is about. This particular record is the native songs and dances from the former Yugoslavia region. Although it is called Yugoslavia in general, all tracks in the album have been detailed with region names which are now the small countries.

Honestly spoken, all the music on the album have a distinct gypsy flavor to it. This is all the natural since this area and also including the Balkans have been culturally rich and diversified with gypsies taking the main stage in the musical aspect. There are also small traces of Russian folk music with some emphasis on musical instruments, but it is negligable.
I cannot understand any of the names of the songs, but I can easily relate to all of them. Being Turkish and having breathed tons of gypsy origin music all my life, all the similarities directly strike me. The only thing that I found hard to grasp was the absence of a really powerful brass band. Brass bands are the key aspect of ethnic Yugoslavian music or at least I thought so. I may still have a lot to learn. I'll come back with more ethnic records in the not so distant future.

It is hard to find this record, therefore I cannot provide any link. However, you can search it regularly on Ebay. You might just get lucky.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Frederic Chopin - Waltzes 1-14, Dinu Lipatti (EMI - HLM 7075)

I should openly say that Waltzes were never an enthusiastic musical structure that encaptures me before. I still own a triple CD set of Johann Strauss's Waltzes. Blue Danube is probably the one everyone knows. My knowledge seemed to be somewhat similar. I didn't know much about Waltzes in detail which didn't really bother me until now. Now is the key word.

2-3 weeks ago, I was in another shopping spree from one of my favorite sellers from UK and there I saw Chopin's Waltzes being listed. The performer on the record was also another name unfamiliar to me, Dinu Ripatti. This somehow aroused an interest in me for which I still cannot find an explanation. On the other hand, I am still grateful for that moment of weird interest.

I started listening to this record the day that giant package arrived (8 Kg in total) from UK. Out of all the records I've bought with full intent on listening directly (Including Boulez, Elgar's symphonies, old DGG releases and etc), I chose to listen to this record which I bought out of sheer curiosity. What a fruitful purchase it has become.

Starting first from the composer, Chopin never composed Waltzes for dancing and you can also tell this after you start listening in 5 minutes. They are either too fast or too slow. It seems like Chopin chose to compose Waltzes just to direct his perfectionist ideas on another stage. He openly disliked the Viennese style and openly criticized Strauss along the way. When you listen, you can get the point why. Just not to forget to note, the record includes the first 14 Waltzes Chopin composed out of 18 total. .

The second point to mention is Dinu Lipatti. It is somewhat normal for me not to know a pianist who lived a total of 33 years. He was also a child wonder having earned international fame early on in his career, but this was disrupted during WWII and he died only 7 years after he fled to Geneva. He has an exceptional technique with fast and accurate, but still full of feeling touches. This is exactly the skill he needs to perform these Waltzes of Chopin. These are very good performances. I stood in awe in some passages as Lipatti literally throws the roof open and his fingers start flying all over the piano in breathtaking speed. Still, he gives the sudden turns and twists of the Chopin style Waltzes in crisp detail. Considering that he made these recordings some time prior to his death probably around 1945-6, it is even the more remarkable. There seems to be one more record from this recording series under the catalogue HLM 7046 which includes Grieg and Schumann's Piano Concertos. That will also be a record which I will seek from now on.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Various - Grime (Rephlex - CAT 156 LP)

Grime is one of the children of UK underground where other notable styles like Drum And Bass, Breakbeat, Jungle, UK Garage and Dubstep has also fledged into life. Actually these are all quite integrated in their musical backgrounds where they are originated from Dub music and the philosophy of Dub and then melted into a pot with a mixture of Electronic music.

Grime is a style which has been prominent in the music scene after more or less 2003. However, it was always there since the 90's under different style names and monikers. Many of the early Grime tracks you listen are either very close to Uk Garage or Breakbeat.

The three names featured in this 3 LP release are Mark One, Plasticman and Slaughter Mob. These were the new comers when this compilation was released and since Grime was still a baby, these people were the sought after names of those times. Unfortunately when you look at today's standing point, they are not like that anymore. The scene has developed rapidly and brought up young and quite vicious talents which took the genre to another level.

The tracks clearly show a direction for Grime from it's starting point to where it came now today. They are generally milder than what we listen today and the kicks are sharper.Producers like Caspa, Coki, Cotti, Skream, Benga, Rusko, and believe it or not a little Modeselektor are more agressive since they are directly aiming the dancefloor which has been dominated in UK by the two genres of Dubstep and Grime. Even in many other countries, this new musical approach has taken a strong foothold.

This set is surely not the best Grime music you can hear, but it is surely a good lecture in showing the connection between UK Garage, Breakbeat and Grime itself. The artist selection could have been a little wider than 3, but Rephlex is a label which has earned the utmost respect from me over the years, so I can directly forget about this.

To buy this record set:

@ Ebay
@ Discogs

Monday, June 25, 2012

Keith Jarrett - J. S. Bach - Das Wohltemperierte Klavier Buch 1 (ECM New Series - 835 246-1)

Keith Jarrett is a worldwide known Jazz and improvisational pianist/composer. Actually it would be hard not to know him if you are into Jazz since he has been one of the most prominent artists in the last 3 decades. However, his talents are not limited only to Jazz since he has tried (Similar to his fellow contemporary Chick Corea) many different musical genres, mainly on the piano.

This box set is the interpretations of Bach's works for Harpsichord. This is quite a brief explanation of the whole thing actually. The reality lies a little deeper. As Jarrett himself explains, he did not want to add another Glenn Gould style version of Bach's works. There were already too many by lots of excessively gifted pianists. What Jarrett wanted to accomplish was to emphasize the whole thought process of Bach while he was composing these works.

One other interesting thing about the box set is that Jarrett did not want to adopt the works to the more flexible and expressive piano. He rather stuck to the original instrument of harpsichord. He explains the reasoning as "The piece is better than the piano". This is of course a step in his total process of trying to be as authentic as he could get to the music of Bach as he could while still having a touch of modernism via his improvisations. Honestly Jarrett's improvisations are the only key factor of difference from the original scores. Yet, we don't feel any make up or excessive expressionism on Jarrett's part. He is not showing off the parts that he improvises on. There are no Hendrix style "I lose myself now" solos. Jarrett's true talent here becomes in syncronising his miniature improvisations according to the general thought process of Bach and thus giving a more subtle view. There is no reforming here, no innovations, no ground breaking interpretations. It is just Bach with a little touch of Jarrett, but still under Bach's supervision. Even Bach would have been proud of this work.

Please also note that Keith Jarrett will be performing live in Istanbul during the Istanbul Jazz Festival on the 18th of July 2012 with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. This will be a night to remember. Tickets can be found here.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kevin Ayers-John Cale-Eno-Nico - June 1, 1974 (Island - ILPS 9291)

It's not everyday that so many legendary names get together out of nowhere to give a concert. It is absolutely lovely that these once in a lifetime occurrings are documented. The case here is such a concert, and it is documented very well. This is all thanks to the sudden enlightenment of Kevin Ayers who started the ball rolling.

It all started in the mind of Kevin Ayers who was a member of the band Soft Machine. He had a concert in Rainbow Theatre in London and he contacted Nico, the famous German vocalist who also cooperated with Velvet Underground. Nico also brought in John Cale again from Velvet Underground. From here onwards, things started rolling fast as Cale asked Brian Eno to jump in (Of course Eno relished the opportunity). Ayers also asked Robert Wyatt and Mike Oldfield to come along.

After everything was arranged, the crew came out to be absolutely fantastic. So many talented people on the same stage. They also represented different eras and that is why the interest of the audience grew much stronger. 3000 tickets were sold out within days and everyone started expecting what a show it would be.

The record holds 9 of the tracks played that day. 2 of them belong to Brian Eno, 1 to Mae Axton, 1 to The Doors (Jim Morrison actually) and 5 to Kevin Ayers. It is exceptional that with only 1 week to rehearse, they have put on a very enlightening show with the crown to be Nico's version of "The End" from The Doors. It is pretty simple in itself with Nico on vocals and Eno on synth, yet it is very powerful.

The concert was held on June 1st, 1974 and it is still a delight to listen it today. I can just imagine being there, feeling that vast talent and savouring it as much as I can.

To buy the record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Metallica - Live In The 80's (Unofficial - #68/150)

In the last few weeks, I won a grand prize in one of Ebay's bidding wars. It is the exceptionally limited edition box set of Metallica which features their live performances in the 1980's. Well, some might say that most performances were already either released as CDs or DVDs, but not like this man! This is a box set of 150. Considering the pop band explanation of Lars Ulrich (Since they are popular, hell yeah), it is a great feat. Of course this is an unofficial release, not that it signifies anything. Actually it's making me happy that Lars may not get his way out of everything. Enough is enough.

The box set includes 4 coloured records which are taken from 4 concerts. Records are light blue (Sea blue), blue, yellow and white. There are no numbers, no identifications on the records. The box set was unofficially released in Ireland in 2008 and this is all I know actually. There is a track list sheet, but you cannot guess which record is from which concert. You learn by test playing.*

The concerts featured are the 18th of October 1982 concert at Old Waldorf, San Francisco, the 20th of December 1984 concert at Lyceum, London, the 21st of September 1986 concert at Hammersmith Odeon, London and the 3rd of February 1989 concert at Erwin Events Center, Austin (White record).

It is needless to write all tracks from the box set, yet it's enough to say that it covers all the first albums of the 80s. I am in a lazy day perhaps. Sorry for that. If you really need it, I can add later on.

These concerts feature all tracks of a given concert, and they are somewhat concentrated on certain albums. The sound quality is not jaw breaking. It is just passing. You have to crank up the volume a bit from the normal level to get a good hearing from the records. However, the sound quality also suffers, so if you just want to listen Metallica's concert performances, this is not the version you'll embrace. It is not perfect. There are clear mistakes while the guys are playing. There is not a make up to make things look as perfect as it can be. No editions, this or that. It is pure and simple. Metallica live!

The only problem is that the rpm of the light blue record is wrong. It is not even 33 rpm. Probably 25 or something. It is obviously a mispress, but there's nothing I could do. I just slowed down the speed as much as I can. However, it was still not enough. I had to endure fast versions of Seek And Destroy, Master Of Puppets etc. More than that, the voice of James was quite squeeky eventually. This concerned me about his well-being for a moment until I noticed the flaw on the record.

Yet, it is live, performances are good and you feel special. Recordings are not that good. OK. Yet, this is the reality of consumerism. I can't honestly be caring less.

* I was so urged to listen to them directly that I forgot to check the etchings on the records. Actually if you figure out one of the records you've listened, you can find which is which afterwards from the numbers.

To buy the box set, you need to search and search and be patient. It's not easy to come by. Sorry for not being able to provide a link.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jean Sibelius - Violin Concerto/The Swan Of Tuonela, Oistrakh, Philadelphia Orch., Ormandy (CBS - 61041)

When you talk about Classical music, the first "weirdo" person to picture in your mind would be Mozart, the true symbol of utmost talent and craziness. Yet, the truth is somewhat different. It is true that Mozart, not having truly lived his childhood period went half nuts. However, no other century than 20th century saw the massive amount of psychologically unstable composers during it's time.

It is hard to call Jean Sibelius a composer of the 20th century since his style of composition surely lies alongside of the 19th. However, his compositions were mainly after 1893 and under the influence of the modernists even though he tried to stick to the old game. His violin concerto came in 1903. These were all before he hid himself in the woods.

Sibelius ran away from everything in order to compose. He was not into social interactions from the beginning, but as he became successful in composing, he cut out his attachments and isolated himself more and more. He bought a house in the woods and went there to compose, sometimes for months on end. This extreme isolation also let to darker moods and weirder basis for his compositions. Especially in most of his later works, melancholy is a standard with the feeling of joy almost non-existent.

Sibelius's violin concerto in D minor is an early work and therefore a mixture of his stylistic rhythms, melancholy, partial joy and excessively well arranged orchestration (Here maybe lies his true talent). It is a beautiful work. More to it, David Oistrakh is playing with the support of Philadelphia Orchestra under the leadership of conductor Eugene Ormandy.

David Oistrakh is, for me, the most accomplished violinist of the 20th century. If I were to write a violin concerto (Not that I can anyway), he would turn it into a lovely composition. His performance in this concerto is breathtaking. Especially in the first and third movements, I listened in awe as he played effortlessly with such divine beauty. The beginning of the first movement (Allegro Moderato) is not real. Can't be!!!

Apart from the violin concerto, "The Swan Of Tuonela" is also added to the B side. This is probably the most touching movement of Sibelius's suite, Lemminkainen, which is the musical version of the Finnish legend Kalevala. The beauty of expression in this piece is fascinating as the lyrical version explains Tuonela as hell and this is a notion which Sibelius didn't find hard to picture in utmost efficiency and romanticism.

Here I also want to comment on another thing. Penguin books have released several guides concerning different genres of music including Classical, Jazz and Blues. These guides are pretty useful within themselves, but unfortunately they only include CD and DVD releases. In all the three genres, a huge amount of music was released on vinyl and never again released as CD or else. Therefore leaving these out is a big hole in the guide. For instance this performance of Oistrakh is not even mentioned in the guide. I've also seen other critical vinyl releases not mentioned as well, including the legendary box set of Shostakovich Symphonies by Kondrashin which was released by Melodiya at the time. I can also name other missing titles for Jazz as well, especially on Thelonious .Monk and John Coltrane's part as well as some crucial ECM titles. Hopefully in the near future Penguin editors will find the decency to add these vinyl only releases to their portfolio. I'm pretty much sure most of those guys would have these records anyway.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs (A different pressing)
@ Ebay

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pierre Henry - La Noire À Soixante / Granulométrie (Philips - 836 892 DSY)

Pierre Henry is a French composer who is widely known as one of the two godfathers of Musique Concrete. The other one is Pierre Schaeffer. Musique Concrete is based on acousmatic sound ideology which is listenin to a sound without knowing/seeing the source. Of course this is too much of a blurry explanation. The sources of sounds in Musique Concrete are mainly electronic sounds and samples, tape recordings. There are not any human or instrumental sounds in it (Minor exceptions may occur). However, later on Ilhan Mimaroglu combined poems with Musique Concrete. Musique Concrete lies within the general genre of Electroacoustic Music.

Both of the works were on this LP have been recorded between 1960 and 1962 while there has been a delay in releasing the record. I don't know why this delay occured, but it has been released by Philips under their prestigious series Prospective 21e Siecle. This series have been home to very important Musique Concrete and Contemporary Classical Music with Pierre Henry and Iannis Xenakis taking most of the applause.

Henry's work "La Noire A Soixante" is a little different than most of the other Musique Concrete works I've listened until now. The main point is silence is an important aspect of the piece with samples flowing under irregular cycles with changing frequencies and timbres. There is also a tape recording played backwards which is used a lot in this style of music.

The B side is "La Noire À Soixante + Granulométrie" which is essentially the A side being re-recorded while superimposing "Granulometrie" into it. The voice being heard (As I said minor exceptions) is François Dufrêne and the piece is about the experiments on his voice. Due to a more detailed structure on this re-recorded version, silences are more scarce with constant samples flowing around. Even though the A side version suits my minimalistic tastes more, the B side is more fulfilling the notion of Musique Concrete.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thelonious Monk - Riverside Classics 1956 - 1961 (Riverside - 0902098)

I have bought 2 huge box sets around 2 months ago. One of them is this one from Thelonious Monk. It includes the legendary albums he released between 1956 and 1961 from the reknown Jazz label Riverside which helped to take him through the fame doors. The second box set is from Miles Davis with the name The Chronicle. As it is not easy to grasp all of them together, I preferred to start with my favorite Jazz player.

This box set has nothing new. Absolutely non. But it provides a general view of the most important era in Monk's history. His long delayed steps to move from being the weird guy in Jazz and becoming a legend. He was a man who set a task to change the understanding of classic Jazz. This was not easy since his psychological issues and his missing technique in piano was generally mocked. He was noted as an outsider in the Jazz world. Just 10 years later, all these mockers were to stand in total silence and respect when he would play. Therefore his road to glory was not like what we face in the modern times like Justin Bieber or Kaiser Chiefs who wrote up one dumb song and that was it.

This box set is only released in Germany by Metronome Musik under the license of Riverside Records. The albums in the box set are; "The Unique", "Brilliant Corners", "Thelonious Himself", "Thelonious In Action", "Misterioso", "Thelonious Monk Quintet - Five By Monk By Five", "Thelonious Monk Quartet + Two At The Blackhawk", "Thelonious Monk In Paris Vol 1", "Thelonious Monk In Paris Vol 2", and "Monk In Italy". I already had all the records apart from 2 of them while owning all and listening each respectively has gained some other perspective for me. It is totally refreshing to see how the "Thelonious Himself" album came to be and how it was followed which led to another legendary album "Thelonious Action".

There is also a chance to view the change in line up of Monk's band during the years as well. This also gives a chance to view why some artists like John Coltrane became a legend in his own right as well. Other artists who later earned massive fame who accompanied Monk's talents were Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Charlie Rouse, and Frank Dunlop. All of them except Frank Dunlop became a band leader themselves with extensive careers. Dunlop stayed with Monk for 4 years, then worked with Sonny Rollins and Lionel Hampton, but always stayed in the background.

Saying that the box set is enlightening is not enough. I've spent 2 days listening the records one after the other almost full time and cannot explain my joy. It is like a marathon of orgasms. Can't say that anything will beat it for some time. Of course I have three more marathons to run with them being the Miles Davis's Chronicle, The Rolling Stones's radio show (12 hours) and Queen's complete works. These are all exceptional within themselves so I don't want to say that this is the best, but it will certainly be hard to take this box set off the spot.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lou Reed - Live: Take No Prisoners (Arista - AL 8502)

Lou Reed is one of the legends of Rock having been excessively successful as the leading man in Velvet Underground and then suddenly starting a solo career which led him to the laps of harsh critics and underjoyed crowds. He did not stop, went on and became who he is.

Lou Reed actually has a style which is a mixture of several things. He certainly has the Rock background, but is not esentially too far away from Folk as well. If he was not from Brooklyn, I would have added Southern Rock into the mix easily. He also has a Nick Cave and Bob Dylan way to him also. He is called as a modern poet due to his singing style (Especially later works). The main difference with Bob Dylan in this sense is that Dylan went on to review the social issues in his lyrics while Reed was mainly into his own personal experiences.

This album is the third live recording of Lou Reed and takes place at The Bottom Line in NY. Moreover, this is the first, unedited live album he made. The album spans over 2 records and includes his works as well as chats with the audience and monologues which are really interesting within themselves. He also starts pondering on a music critic of that era and tells a little background story of the "Walk On The Wild Side". He tells the story while signing the song. Interesting man. Love it!!!

We get to listen tons of live albums, but listening a raw one is quite satisfactory since you get to listen to the real thing. The mistakes, the coughs, thank yous, anecdotes, sorry for being late we were tunings etc. You feel like you are there. He even says he doesn't have an attitude without a cigarette. There is an intimacy. On this album you directly get it from the beginning. Actually I bought this album with a bunch of others in a lot sale and it has been waiting for me to listen it for 3-4 months now. I've been into lots of things during that time, but it was always in my mind somewhere. Now having taken a vacation from work to do some home work, I have enjoyed it to the fullest.

One small thing is that Lou Reed's last work has been with Metallica for the album of Lulu. The album is an experiment which seems to have gone wrong. The levels of vocals vs music is not well establisted, there is not really a connection between Metallica and Lou Reed. There has to be a chemical reaction in collaborations and it is clearly missing there. Anyway don't judge a book by it's cover and especially someone by a collaboration. To have a true idea of what Lour Reed is capable of, you have to listen to "Live: Take No Prisoners".

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Olivier Messiaen - Catalogue D'Oiseaux, Yvonne Loriod (Erato - STU 70595-8)

Olivier Messiaen is one of my favorite composers from the 20th Century and he is quite a unique character as well. He himself started as an irregularity guy who constantly looked for new things. When he started falling back from his pupils, he started listening them and adopted these new approaches to his music. This box set in question is one of my precious from my record collection and a door which he opened while following his pupils. Actually I even had hard time getting the nerves to listen it. But anyways, here we are.

Messiaen is a man of regular habits which can be seen from his long serving organist position in La Trivite, Paris. Another of his long lasting habits was his interest or rather endless curiosity against birds, their lives and habitats. His first habit brought forth a huge set of orgue based compositions. It was just inevitable for his second habit to come forth similarly and it did so in 1958 when he finished the 13 compositions which make up Catalogue D'Oiseaux.

Actually these works are more of a musical encyclopedia rather than compositions. The main reason is Messiaen tried to picture the bird songs and their habitats with the help of his wife Yvonne Loriod on piano. In reality calling them compositions is not easy. They are not copies of the originals, but they are also not totally authentic. He received the basics from the birds and then followed his imagination while putting these collaborative works into form. Honestly these pieces are not at all easy to explain. You can certainly note down the songs of the birds, yet you can also picture what is beneath the surface.

The pieces are also quite hard to play with the main obstacle being right and left hands having totally different uses along the compositions. The performer should give the birdsongs with his/her right hand while all harmonies expressing surroundings and habitat should be played with the left hand. I'm sure it would be a good exercise for the brain's left and right hemispheres to adjust to this continuous onslaught. I should also note that left and right hands are in totally different melodies and timbres all the way and have no connection to each other at all. The performer tries to cope with two unattachable melodies at the same time.

There are numerous birds which are recorded and hence pictured in these compositions. Unfortunately I don't know French and even if I knew, I really doubt if I would understand the names anyway. On the other hand, this monumental and collective work has inspired many future composers and musicians during their quest to look for what they really want to achieve.

To buy this box set (Or a similar pressing):

@ Ebay

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - The Early Symphonies, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields, Neville Marriner (Philips - 6769 054)

There can not be much to be said about a historical figure as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He is the pinnacle of talent in all understanding. Playing violin at three, mastering it at five, playing whole symphonies from memory again at five and composing his first symphony at nine years old. Boy that takes a beating.

Being the son of a talented violinist, and small brother of another talented sister, Mozart was already excessively lucky. However it was his extra ordinary intelligence linked with extra ordinary talent that made him as he is. Even all the financial and health problems did not stop him from creating 626 works (Not all finished) during a life span of 35 years. It is absolutely remarkable. He was cocky which is not at all surprising since he toured Europe twice before he was ten years old. He was known as the child prodigee and he filled this term to the utmost extent.

This box set includes the early symphonies of Mozart. The box set holds 8 records which cover his first symphonies which he composed between 1764 and 1775. They are not his finest works, but they are clearly the building steps of the legendary last three symphonies he composed. They are also important in understanding how Mozart developed himself musically as well as technically.

The earliest of the symphonies Mozart has composed show a clear style of Italian influence. He has composed these symphonies, that is ok, but they are not really Mozart. The reason I'm saying this is that he was closed up within the boundaries of the Italian style three part symphonies. This was largely due to his affection to the London Bach or formally known as Johann Christian Bach. Moreover, as time passed by and his residence in Salzburg took it's toll, he started experimenting in combining the Viennese style with the Italian style until he finally built his own potion of adorable music.

There are certain aspects of Mozart's symphonic compositions which appear even from the start. The most evident of them is the use of repetitions and loops for violins. He started using them for effect and later on mastered the technique of symphony composition where he supported these effects with other instruments in order to create an effective, yet harmonious, soulful yet hyptonizing music. This is where Mozart departs from his predecessor by 15 years, Beethoven.

Even though the performance of Academy Of St Martin In The Fields and Sir Neville Marriner is exceptional, there are some setbacks regarding the box set. The biggest setback is the listing of the symphonies. In a box set of this kind, chronological listing is very significant and Philips has made a huge mistake here by not doing it. It would have been much more informational and explanatory for the listener. Now I have to move back and forth among the records to create the chronology myself which is just a waste of time, energ and concentration.

The second setback is the famous missing symphony which was discovered in late 1970s which Mozart composed in London. It would have been miracoulous if Neville Marriner could have added that to the 31 symphonies/symphonic works that appear in this boxset. However, there were and there will be (Maybe not) recordings of the early symphonies of Mozart and it will be immensely hard to surpass the musical expression that Neville Marriner has achieved throughout. I've listened the performance of Karl Böhm and even though it is also very good in many aspects, it does not match the promptness and liveliness of Marriner's. I am yet to listen the extensive performance of Jaap Schröder, but from what I've heard and read, that one is also a couple of pars below this one.

Luckily (Or rather naturally) I own the consecutive box set that follows this one in which Neville Marriner performs the late symphonies of Mozart. That box set will some time be reviewed here when I again have the extended time to listen all those records in a row. Until then this box set will be a pleasure to savour.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay (Check for the Box Set particularly)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf - London Revisited (Chess - CH60026)

I have been listening this record with so much pleasure that I started writing about it in my head the moment I laid my hands on it. This is not only because of the two legends who are performing on the record. Obviously that is also important. On the other hand the cover is another story in and of itself. I'll get into those details soon.

The album covers Muddy Water and Howlin' Wolf's seperate recording sessions in London with booming British Blues artists accompanying them. On Muddy Water's recordings which cover the A side, we listen Rory Gallagher and Sam Lawhorn on guitar, Carey Bell Harrington on harmonica (She's damn good), Georgie Fortune on organ and piano, Rik Gretch on bass guitar and Mitch Mitchell on drums. Steve Winwood also makes a brief appearance on piano for the first track, "Hard Days". For Howlin' Wolf's B side, Hubert Sumlin is at guitar, Jeff Carp is at harmonica, Bill Wyman is as bass guitar and Charlie Watts is at drums.

Muddy Waters splitted his 4 track A side into two sort of ballads and two rather uplifting Blues tracks. Ain't much to say about the performance since Waters always excells in his guitar and vocal style. Moreover, his solos in "Hard Days" and "Lovin' Man" are breathtaking. However, I should also note that the cool going "Highway 41" is also a pleasure to the ears with it's rather naïve sound.

Howlin' Wolf's side starts with a touchy "Goin' Down Slow" where the harmony between guitar and harmonica seems to be very effective. Then comes a favorite track of mine, "The Killing Floor". I've just listened it from Jimi Hendrix, but this is obviously more Bluesy with a touch of Funk in it. Yet, the performance of the guitar is unquestioningly better even though Hendrix played this when he was very young. The last track on this side is "Want To Have A Word With You" and it is fascinating. It is the most true to form of all the Blues tracks on the record even when played with an electric guitar. You can listen this all night with Howlin' Wolf howling in your ears.

There is one also interesting thing about the gatefold cover. When you open it, you face a comic strip which explains the adventure of Waters and Wolf in a humorous and poetic way. Taking a picture wouldn't have helped, therefore it is for you to find out when you buy one.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Terry Riley - Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets (Kuckuck - Kuckuck 067 Digital)

This album came as quite unexpected to me. This was one of the albums which I've never listened from Terry Riley before and I was expecting somewhere along the lines of his other works. Yet here it is. Bright and clear as a sunny morning sun glaring into my ears, Contemporary Classical and World Music fused into one gigantic bowl. It would not be unexpected to expect something unexpected from Terry Riley in every album, but you can't know what to expect before you listen it anyway.

Terry Riley undertook a big change. It is true that many Minimalist composers have taken a significant interest in Eastern cultures and religions. They have also included Eastern musical understanding into their modern approaches even though this is not something they pioneered. Balinese music was already adopted to Classical music in the late 1800s in regards to the Folk movement which affected many composers.

In this album Terry Riley not only adopted Eastern musical concepts, he has taken a step away from Minimalist Classical music and drove himself toward World music. True, the general outline of the structure is in accordance with Minimalism, but the bigger picture shows otherwise. The synth melodies are contrasting against the vocals and the musical structure. To some people, the music may sound bizarre or unnatural. This is of course very standard for innovative music. I'm quite sure people who listen this record and like it will also like Talvin Singh and even Muslimgauze to some extent. These are similar minded people who has taken this innovation to several steps further.

Actually the title is about these synthisizers. Two prophets are the two Sony PCM synths and since each of them are capable of 5 voices, we get the total of 10 voices for 2 prophets. Sweet.

Another important aspect of this record is that Terry Riley is singing. His style is close to Indian and Pakistani vocal style which is absolutely natural since his teacher was Pandit Pran Nath. He sang in Eastern scale which created an offbeat feeling during the recording between music and the vocals. Naturally Terry Riley's strength is not singing and it obviously shows off during the record. I have many times though how beautiful it would have been if he somehow convinced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to accompany him on this project. That would have been a spectacle, believe me.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Friday, April 13, 2012

Keith Jarrett / Jan Garbarek - Luminessence (ECM - ECM 1049 ST)

This album was one of the first records I have bought. The reason it came up from the depths of my collection was the chance to have it signed by Jan Garbarek. That was a journey which did not bear any fruit since before the concert, there was an announcement that he would not accept any inquiries after the concert. Well so much for that. But the good side of the story is I had a chance to listen to the record again and here we are as a result.

This album is truly remarkable in many aspects. Two giants in Jazz joining together to create an inspiring album? Yes this is one. Jarrett's composition of a contemporary classical work? Surely. The improvisations of Garbarek? Without a doubt. All this in one single album? Oh yes! And the string

A side of the album consists of two compositions named "Numinor" and "Windsong". These compositions are heavy in emotion. What I mean from this is, both of them are close to the level of depression with the main melody of strings are creating tensions and Garbarek's soprano saxophone is about to push you down from the edge of the cliff. Garbarek always has a tendency to drive someone to alcoholism, but here he is overachieving himself. I have a huge elephant sitting on my chest during the whole A side. You are being shoved, squeezed, hit, torn apart from both sides. "Windsong" makes Garbarek attain an Oriental style during his improvisations. This comes out as utterly striking notes. I sit in awe while my heart constantly hurts. On one side, I'm thinking "Is this never going to end?", while the other part of my brain says "Shut up, it should not end. It is divine". With these feelings I turn the record to face the B side.

"Luminessence" gives a more uplifting feeling with a stronger string section. On the A side string section was mainly the mood setter and Garbarek was putting the killing touch. In this composition, roles seems to be reversed. The strings take on the stage and Garbarek accompanies them (Generally). Of course Garbarek is not always lenient and he forces himself to the front. I should also clear out one thing. Uplifting is a comparison to the A side. This composition is also emotional, yet on the level of sorrow or mourning. Not on the level of -I'm going to kill myself in the next 10 minutes- depressive style. I can definitely say it's more humanitarian.

In terms of musical concept, this is something which even I was not expecting from Jarrett. These compositions are truly way apart from the musical heritage Jarrett came up with. Yes, some points in Garbarek's free improvisation remind me of Jazz induced solos, while at most of the time, I feel like I am listening a Contemporary Classical Composition. I'm also quite sure composers like Max Richter and Olafur Arnalds have listened to this record since their compositions have similarities with this style. Actually it also reminds me of some of the works by Matthew Shipp. He also takes on a logic similar to this, yet with a different style. With all this in mind, after listening this record, you can understand why it has been hailed by the music critics and loved by many on both genres, Jazz and Classical.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oren Ambarchi & Joe Talia - Hit And Run (Touch - Tone 45.3)

Oren Ambarchi is a name most of the Experimental and Drone music listeners would know. He is known for his skills in percussion and also for the abstract structures he creates for his works. Joe Talia is a producer with Classical music background, mainly on the Musique Concrete. He has composed several works, but honestly I am not familiar with any of them. This is something that won't continue for long since I already ordered one of his works on LP.

The album "Hit And Run" is made up of the performance of these artists at Cafe Oto. The album was released by Touch Records within their White Label series as a limited edition of 300. I bought it from a store in Germany and am absolutely happy to own one.

The performance is mainly based on improvisations of percussion and guitar by Ambarchi while Talia is busy with scheming the structure. Based on this style of performing, the outcome is actually not only Experimental and Drone, but feels somewhat similar to Jazz Improvisations. Moreover, you can also get a glimpse of Contemporary Classical Music (Not essentially Musique Concrete).

The performance is mainly improvisational and therefore it is safe to say that no other would be the same. That is why having it released is a pleasure. It certainly is not suitable for all tastes, yet I firmly believe that Experimental music can truly be felt and observed in live performances. Just like this one.

To buy this record:

@ Boomkat
@ Bleep
@ Juno
@ Discogs

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jimi Hendrix - What'd I Say (Mfp - 5278)

I have reviewed a box set of Jimi Hendrix named The Story Of Jimi Hendrix a couple of weeks ago which featured his early works in studio and live along with Curtis Knight. Well here we are back at those times again with a live recording from 1965 with Hendrix on guitar and Knight on vocals. The recording was done by Ed Chalpin again as with the box set.

The record openly shows the early period of Hendrix moving from Soul to Gospel and to Blues. There is even Funk in it. "On The Killin' Floor" is the Funk track on the 6 track album. Actually I've known this song via Orgone which is a very good Funk group and they also had this old track in their repertoire. It is a moving and a killing track. It is quite interesting how Hendrix takes on the challenge and gets through with it at ease.

Another interesting aspect of the album is the track with is also naming it. "What'd I Say" was written by Ray Charles during the times when he was creating the genre of Soul. Similar to his performance in "On The Killin' Floor", Hendrix has probably taken a lot of listening before and plays it superbly until the end. It is also evident from the fact that the crowd keeps on going and going as he plays.

"Bright Lights Big City" was a track which also appeared on the box set, but this time it is live. The intro shows Hendrix playing absolutely genuine Blues on his part and his roots are clear at this point. Even though he didn't lack anything in the other tracks, he shows that this is his turf. The song is short in time and therefore doesn't give you the full taste, but it is quite a pleasure listening those few minutes.

This album is clearly a lesser known work of Hendrix and the sound quality is not that attractive as well. Actually that is not the essence anyway. We had the same problem in his album "Band Of Gypsys" which was a concert he gave on New Year's Eve. Same problem can be seen here. Recording techniques were not that good in that time, especially when it comes to recording during a concert and you have to accept losing some quality of sound recording in order to get the essence out of these great players since they get nurtured from the crowd and play at a much higher level. All in all it shows how Hendrix started his magnificient career and from where he actually took off.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Burial - Kindred (Hyperdub - HDB059)

William Bevan aka Burial came as so much of a surprise in 2006 that it really stunned huge loads of people (I was one of them). The album was voted by many magazines in their Best of lists, not that it means anything anyway. The world was just getting to know a new musical idea called Dubstep and it was rocking the dancefloors all around the world starting from it's birthplace UK. Mary Anne Hobbs was constantly pushing on at BBC Radio One with new names, new releases. Burial came amidst this flourishing scene with a totally different approach, he combined IDM with Dubstep, mixed a little Trip Hop, House, Ambient and brought forth not the danceable, but absolutely admirable type of Dubstep. Benga, Skream, Coki, Kode9, Rusko, Caspa, and many others were rocking all around, yet Burial was ruling.

Fron then on, the Dubstep world took two views, one that wanted to shake the dancefloors with round and powerful basses, the other mildly playing, but more sustainable approach. The first one also merged with Grime and has now slowly turned it's head towards Hard House and Trance, so it is safe to say that it pretty much wrapped itself.

On the other hand Burial and the likes are taking other directions while trying to broaden the aspects they can stick to. He is mingling with Trip Hop, House, Ambient, Nu Jazz and of course IDM.

Kindred is the new release of Burial from Hyperdub Records. There are three tracks on the single. "Kindred" is on the A side and it is a classic Burial style of track and very effective. It is to my utmost happiness that he can still create similar tracks without falling into obvious repetitions. Actually I cannot say that he is playing safe like many other artists. He has been extremely powerful in this (Ambient x Dubstep)/2 approach that he can still use it and create passion within the listener.

B side starts with "Loner". This is for me an unfortunate edition to the album. In one way, it reminds me to the Minimal House works of Apparat, but it certainly lacks the quality. It has a Trancelike rhythm and sticks to it. Maybe it would be productive for him to collaborate with Apparat in this sense to get more hold of this style as well. Apparat's collaboration with Modeselektor (Under the name Moderat) has brought forth tons of lovely fruits and this may be another reason for my thinking.

B2 is "Ashtray Wasp" and it has a majorly different approach since in it's core, the track is not Dubstep. It is not even broken beats. I guess it is one of the trials of Burial to find himself a pathway to take. Vocals and the general structure of the track does not stray far from Burial's trademark structure, while the foundation is totally different. The track is OK, feels like a change. I can't say I liked it a lot since this one also has the Trancelike mediocre melody as "Loner". As the track seems to be ending, I then find out that this has just been sort of an intro. There is a small gap a whole new structure pops out of nowhere. I don't know if this is a hidden track since it certainly feels like so. It is much more enlightening than the other two on this side of the record. The music turns into Burialism. I have no idea what's gotten into Burial's head. However, I can say that this 3-4 minute track (Or Ashtray Wasp's Outro) is absolutely refreshing on my nerves. Burial is acting like himself, trying things, looking from other directions, checking what is outside the box. This is why he has been so immensely followed during the last couple of years.

To buy this record:

@ Bleep
@ Juno
@ Boomkat
@ Discogs

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tchaikovksy - Violin Concerto/Meditation, Stern, Rostropovich (CBS - 76725)

There are certain works which always leave a big effect on the listener. Today's record is about such a release by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. There is not much need to explain the late romantic era composer from Russia. I don't know anyone who is not familiar with Swan Lake, The Nutcracker or The Sleeping Beauty. However, even though Tchaikovsky is very well known for his works for ballet, he has created one of the best ever written works for violin. Of course I am not downplaying his symphonies, but when you are talking about a great composer as Tchaikovsky, you cannot stop the list from going on and on.

Tchaikovsky originally wrote his violin concerto for Leopold Auer. Well. Actually he wrote it to his lover Iosif Kotek. They even co-wrote the solo parts together. But later being afraid of his sexual choice being understood by the public, Tchaikovsky wanted to dedicate the work to Auer. More intriguingly, Auer rejected to premier the work since he thought it was "unplayable". Not a good reasoning for an established player. Later on Adolf Brodsky wanted to premier the work and he did with efficiency as we are told. Even though it was premiered, it took some time and effort on Brodsky's side to make it popular. When it became so, Auer also took it into his repertoire. Suddenly it was not so "unplayable" anymore. Moreover, he edited the solo parts based on totally "aesthetic" point of view. He also mentioned that he thought the piece was not at a high standard at first sight and he never rejected the piece as "unplayable", but rather as not suitable to the instrument's characteristic. What a fancy way of saying that he totally misjudged it. At least he had the decency to accept his misjudgment and ask for Tchaikovsky's absolution before the composer's death.

The performance on this record is by Isaac Stern. Obviously, Stern is one of the handful names that can come into mind when you can think of players who can perform this difficult composition with elegance. Actually, upto now among all performances I've heard including Stern's, Perlman's, Oistrakh's, Accardo's, etc, Oistrakh's execution stands alone. Some works are meant for some certain people like Elgar's Cello Concerto for Du Pre and Vivaldi's Four Season's for Perlman. This piece is meant for Oistrakh. On the other hand, I should not put Stern aside as his performance is also very good, but not perfect.

The piece is emotionally so interchanging that it is also hard to endure for the listener. From a very high point of enjoyment, the piece turns frantically to a very low point which can create drops of sorrow. This fluctuating feeling race is also derived by the fresh and gentle performance of Stern. He plays the piece very good which clearly doubles the effect. He is in perfect harmony with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of another legend Mstislav Rostropovich.

There is also one catch within the record. You first listen the violin concerto with three movements. There is also one more piece on the record Meditation Op. 42 which was originally written by Tchaikovsky as the second movement of the violin concerto, but later he found it not good enough and put it aside with another opus. In contrast to the stronger violin concerto, this piece is similar to Elgar's Cello Concerto with it's naivity and gentle feeling. I am yet to experiment the violin concerto by putting Meditation as the second movement and see how it feels that way, but since Tchaikovsky himself didn't see it right, I doubt I will.

To buy this record:

@ Ebay

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ray Charles - The Greatest Hits Of The Great Ray Charles (Crossover - SQ-95647)

There are not many people who can combine the total opposites. There are not many people who can break down the barriers in people's minds and set new standards. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Ray Charles. Frankly he is one of those people who can fill both shoes.

Actually many people have already watched the movie and the academy award winning performance of Jamie Foxx. The movie was for entertainment, yet it also pointed slightly to the change in music and cultural standards of the general society.

As his style, Ray Charles combined Rock N Roll, Blues and Jazz with a touch of religion in it just for the heck of it. What a heck that turned out to be. He also sang all those genres individually, but his own musical voice was the combination of all. It has been later defined as Soul music, and Ray Charles the Godfather. Ray Charles made music which you could not relate to a single genre, therefore they named a new genre because of him. He was very much criticized for adding Gospel into that mix. He was even downplayed by saying that he was mocking with Christianity. What a dumbass belief that was. Years later the same people were dancing and cheering to his music all the way. Same thing happened to all barrier breaking people, Schoenberg, Cage, etc.

This box set which includes 5 records which one can listen during just a late night chilling. That's exactly what I've done. I sat down the day I received the box set, put all other records away and listened the box set on a roll. Some of the tracks are known almost to everyone, some are to many people. They are a selection of so-called Best Of Ray Charles songs, but they have done well to went on with 5 records since you absolutely cannot be fair to him. You cannot put his best known works to a single record. Then you leave out some less famous, yet excellent songs. In this sense, I am happy about the outcome from the set.

One more thing is that the box set does not hold only studio takes. Some tracks like "What I'd Say" are included as live takes and this really helped to liven up the mood as you are sitting there listening. Of course this is based on the assumption that you can sit down while listening. It's hard. Really hard. Ladies and gentlemen, the genious Ray Charles.