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.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Isang Yun - Selected Works For Clarinet - Compositions Of Isang Yun 1 (Camerata - CMT-1084)

Since I have provided information on Isang Yun on my previous critic of his record "Loyang, Gasa, Reak, Tuyaux Sonores", I will directly get into the details of this record. I bought this one along with second and third one of the series from a guy in Germany via Ebay. Unfortunately I lost the last (Fourth) one. These are records which were only released by the Japanese Camerata label, therefore it will be some time until I find the remaining one. Anyway let's get back to the task at hand.

This record includes the works of Isang Yun which he composed for Clarinet. The opening piece "Concerto For Clarinet And Orchestra" is his composition for the clarinist Eduard Brunner. The piece is made up of three movements which are linked without any breaks. The first movement is a developing melody that takes different forms, additions and substractions along the way. Second movement is more depressing and slower in tempo. Here the melody is more fragmanted and expressions are made up of various phrases to provide the whole picture. Last movement is more of a concerto as in standard understanding.

"Ruil For Clarinet And Piano" was composed during the never ending pressures the composer endured from the Korean Secret Service. Riul means melody in Korean and the work is a web of a single melody taking different shapes. This is part of the philosophy of "main-tone" which was created by Yun himself. There is a basic melodic line (Like in the first piece) and it evolves during the piece. Piano acts mainly like a percussion instrument to maintain a certain rhythmic flow. It can also be stated that Piano gives a sharp contrast to the melody and therefore shows some of the tensions the composer was facing during the times. You can feel the exact struggle while listening it. Just also to note, Aloys Kontarsky is the pianist (Not surprising of course).

"Piri" is actually a Korean traditional instrument which is similar to Oboe. The piece was also written for Oboe, but Brunner premiered it. There are different melodies in the piece which vary in length and intensity. They do not overlap, but rather follow each other one by one and the closer you get to the end of the piece, the more spacey the melodies become. Somehow this piece reminded me that of Harlekin by Karlheinz Stockhausen in terms of it's structure and expressionism, but it's highly probable that I may be mistaken (Or drunk).

This record is a good example of the variety in composition by Isang Yun. Some people are not very much used to Clarinet driven melodies or have a different idea about Clarinet's modern musical use (Mainly used by gypsy musicians in East Europe, Turkey and Jazz players nowadays). All in all, this is a record to listen with the main thought of melodic Contemporary Classical music in mind.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rachmaninov - The Four Piano Concertos/Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, Ashkenazy, LSO, Previn (Decca - SXLF 6565-7)

Sergei Rachmaninov being one of the best pianists of all times is actually not being fond of labelled as a pianist. Not hard to guess why. He aimed all his efforts on composing and playing a piano was just a tool he used alongside. He had an exceptional talent, but he wanted to enhance his composition skills and surely did so. His romantic touch combining with his grandoise compositions for piano have attracted many people durin his times and after his death. Unfortunately he was not very secure during the later stages in his life which led him to tour as a pianist as well. Honestly, purely as a listener, I am a little happy about this since otherwise we could never have listened the beauty of his talent directly from records. However that is the subject of another review.

Rachmaninov's four piano concertos are among the milestones of romantic era and almost signals the end of the era as well. Of course there is also a huge effort of Vladimir Ashkenazy who has studied these pieces for a very long time and totally absorbed the feeling thus passing them onto us. The reason to mention this is Rachmaninov having an extremely votile psychological state during his career was always heavily affected by his feelings. He always mentioned that he never wrote anything with planning nor tried to express something certain. He only wrote what he felt like exactly the he felt it. Result? Totally emotional pieces ranging from hatred to love, joy to pain, happiness to depression.

My favorite of his piano concertos has always been the second. On the other hand, I have had a deep admiration for his first as well. It was the first work that Rachmaninov felt ready to open up to the world and give an opus number. It is also interesting that he wrote the 2nd and 3rd movements of this concerto in two and a half days only.

In terms of performance, Ashkenazy is totally in control of the second concerto as it has been in his repertoire for a very long time. Previn was also very likened to this composition and the result is staggering. Yet, it is also worth to point out that they put a remarkable performance together with the London Symphony Orchesra on all four concertos. Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini is one of many transcriptions he has successfully brought up to life. Even Sutekh made a Micro House version of this transcription which was a beauty in itself.

This box set is a compilation of four records released priorly by Decca label. Due to the extremely thin covers of these records (I own two of the original releases and they are micro thin), this set gives a better preservation option to listen the original recordings with total reality. For any classic music lover who admires the romantic era, this work should sit near the turntable at all times for urgent cases where someone may feel too clustered by the cement blocks that surround us today.

To buy this record:

@ Music Stack
@ Ebay

Friday, March 2, 2012

Leadbelly - Good Night Irene (Allegro - ALL 786)

Leadbelly is stated on the album cover, but according to himself, his moniker is actually Lead Belly while his name is Huddie Ledbetter. Lead Belly is one of the best voices of Folk and Blues. Actually his voice is exceptionally suitable to Blues including all the quarter tones. Another exquisite talent of his is the twelve string guitar which can be called his signature as well. He cannot be really distinguished between Folk and Blues. However, one reason for this is the standards he has brought up into the world of both musical genres. To be honest, Folk for the AfroAmericans are Blues itself, thus a distinction is not very clear anyway.

The album is dated 1965. It is a UK press and a collection of his previously released songs. Actually all LPs featuring his songs are compilations since he only released so called singles during his times and these are on 78 rpm records. One significant thing about the album is that it is somewhat more concentrated on the Blues songs of Lead Belly. This suits me perfectly fine, but can give an incomplete version of him to a new listener.

The album includes personal interests of mine including the track which gave it's name to the album "Good Night, Irene" where Lead Belly's vocal reaches the utmost limits of performance. It is such a beauty that later on many artists tried to perform this song in their albums while all were left in the shadows. The other one was a song that I've been introduced by Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) during their Unplugged performance for MTV. The original name of the song is "Black Girl", but it is also known as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?". With all due respect to a multi talented man like Kurt Cobain, listening the original version beats everything. However, I should point out that Cobain's version is the second best I've heard.

As always, the songs on the album are about racism, poverty, and unsurprisingly the prison life. Being one of the idols of todays gangster rap artists who love taking a periodical trip to the prison, Lead Belly was actually the creator of this genre as well. His irregular temperament has caused him several visits to state penitentiaries and this also helped him earn a big recognition. He was a regular performer in prisons. He has also noted that prison life has helped him build an unseen repertoire of Folk and Blues songs. Whatever the reason, he has been a unique artist in the Blues world and is worth each drop of respect he gets.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay