Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gastr Del Sol - Camoufler

Jim O'Rourke's last album with Gastr del Sol is a subdued, meditative affair, bringing together elements of folk, jazz, film music, and the avant-garde. "The Seasons Reverse" opens the album with a deceptive, gentle melody and strummed, hushed guitars. Its sound and leisurely pace set the tone, but not the style, for the rest of the album. Each track is intricate and layered, but the music isn't overly complex. Instead, Camoufleur is quiet and minimal, requiring attentive listening. Only "The Seasons Reverse" and the closer "Bauchredner," with its unexpected, catchy horn-driven coda, are straightforward. The remainder of the album demands concentration. Given some time, the album opens up, revealing layers of modest beauty. It's a nice way for O'Rourke to leave the fold, and it certainly suggests that David Grubbs is far from finished musically, whether he chooses to continue with Gastr del Sol or not.


Friday, September 23, 2011

lawrence butch morris - testament a conduction collection

lawrence butch morris - testament a conduction collection (flac)

the definitive document of one of the most weird adventures in the history of free improvisation.

all details in the booklet.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

nicole mitchell - awakening (2011)

a very beautiful record, great improvisation and interplay. nicole mitchell is a great improviser and here stretches the flute carving out all possible sounds from it, while never forgetting melody. In this, she is perfectly backed by jeff parker's guitar which also varies his tone and sound brilliantly. listen it loud.....


Monday, September 12, 2011

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Oboe Concerto -Antony Pay / Michel Piguet / The Academy of Ancient Music / Christopher Hogwood

This CD is a successful coming-together of two of Mozart's best concerti, two brilliant soloists and some very good conducting.
More often than not, the Oboe Concerto in C is heard in its flute version - transposed to the key of D. This recording presents Mozart's original layout of the oboe concerto played with period instruments or accurate replicas. The bold stability of the key of C major suits the optimism of this concerto, composed in what many call Mozart's mid-period. Fresh yet mature, the language is extremely expressive. The contrast between the three movements goes to the heart of 18th-Century theory on dramatic contrasts - with the confident Allegro, the lyric Adagio and the bouncy Allegretto.
Tempo choice is impeccable. Orchestral textures come across as vibrant and dynamic thanks to the consummate experience of the Academy of Ancient Music, one of the premier Baroque orchestras. But the playing of Michel Piguet is what really sets this performance apart. The sheer fire he puts into the solo makes this music as current and heartfelt as if he really "lived it." His sound is full and expressive, and his choice of cadenzas nothing short of exquisite. The climax to the high "e" in the first movement's cadenza - and the way Piguet reaches it - is delightful.
The Clarinet Concerto brings the listener to another mood - that of Mozart's more somber "third period." Compared to the oboe concerto, the tones are darker, the melodic phrases longer and the counterpoint between the solo and the orchestral voices more complex and pronounced.
One of the important things that sets this CD apart is this. Mozart did not write this piece for a conventional clarinet (in A or Bb) - but for an experimental hybrid instrument capable of extending the clarinet's normal range down to a low and eerie bass register. This instrument, the "Basset Clarinet" was reconstructed for this recording and played masterfully by Anthony Pay.
Thus, the many passages that were transposed an octave higher to suit the modern clarinet (losing most of their dramatic flare) have been restored to their proper pitch - much to the music's advantage. Hear the basset clarinet's "dialogues" between its high and low register, close your eyes and imagine a soprano and a baritone exchanging lines in a sublime opera...
Good choice on continuo playing too. Rather than conducting from the podium as modern conductors do, Hogwood conducts from the harpsichord and the fortepiano respectively. This adds yet more contrast to the different colors of the two concerti - the first brighter, the second rounder and more sedate.
Overall, an excellent CD, that combines great musicological research with expressiveness, fire and passion.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Glenn Gould - A State of Wonder

These two performances of the Goldberg Variations have been reissued so many times. But what makes this new reissue stand out is the bonus interview & outtakes of the 1955 recording sessions, plus all brand new remastered sound using Direct Stream Digital technology, with 2.83 MHz sampling frequency yielding high resolution results on standard CD.
I was a little hesitant to purchase this set at first because I already own both versions of these piece. But after I bought and listened to it, I must say I don't regret it at all.
In 1981, Gould recorded his latest thoughts on the Goldberg Variations. Some people expressed the opinion then that the digital Lp & CD sound was unkindly analytical, lacking timbre, causing the notes to appear disconnected from each other.
Twenty years have passed since Gould's untimely death and to honour him and set the record straight, Sony Music returned to the analogue master tapes made at the same session. In the early 1980's, digital technology was in its infancy and technically imperfect. By contrast, analog technology had reached its peak. As a precaution of early digital imperfection, what many recording companies did, including Sony Music, was running two recording medium simultaneously side-by-side at the recording session and mark analog version as "safety master" in case there's anything wrong with the digital masters. From the technical notes in the booklet of this CD set, when Sony gave the green light to this "State of wonder" project, Sony A&R, reissue producer and two sound engineers as well as a project adviser, Mr. Tim page, made a Digital vs. Analog comparison and they found that the analog safety master has much superior sound that no one had ever heard before. Then the vote was unanimous to reissue the 1981 version using the analog safety master, instead of digital, for the first time after 21 years it was recorded. This analog safety master was unedited, untouched, so they had to acquire the original score marked by Glenn Gould & original records producer, then they edited the tapes to exactly duplicate the sequences chosen for the original release by Glenn himself.
The difference of sound quality is not superficial. Even untrained ears can notice it. Now, there are the sonorities so painfully absent before, providing the necessary connection between the notes. This performance now sings. Well, so does Gould but that becomes an attraction, not a distraction.
The third disc had Gould chatting with Tim Page about the two recordings with illustrations. Also, the never before released 1955 outtakes of Goldbergs' session.
This package is no mere re-exploitation of existing recordings. It does honour to Glenn Gould.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble - Challenge (Re-post)

Paul Rutherford | John Stevens | Trevir Watts |Kenny Wheeler |Bruce Cale | Jeff Clyne | Chris Cambridge | Evan Parker

1 - E.D.'S MESSAGE - 4:08
2 - 2.B.ORNETTE - 2:07
3 - CLUB 66 - 8:37
7 - LITTLE RED HEAD - 3:52

The discipline of discographical research usually follows a rubric akin to any science-based endeavor in that revision goes part and parcel with the pursuit. Invariably a lost tape or long forgotten reel-to-reel surfaces and succeeds in gumming up the works for those dedicated souls who track musical minutiae and the very idea of the 'complete' recordings of any musician or group is by definition a misnomer. Corroborating the inherent futility in attempting a definitive catalog of a musician or band's every extant recording, Emanem has seen fit to release yet another document from the SME's earliest years, one that has been out of circulation for years and comes newly pressed with a pair of unreleased performances.

Boundaries between free improvisation and free jazz blurred even further back when these tracks were recorded than they do in today's 21st century climate. Many of the pieces in this vintage of the SME songbook have strong jazz referents and it's an exciting prospect to hear them all navigating such jazz-based straits together. The complete sextet sounds off on all but three of the selections with Kenny Wheeler sitting out on two and John Stevens hanging up his sticks on "Little Red Head". Usually working from prearranged heads the band is a tightly knit unit. Sectional interludes of tracks like "Traveling Together" profess a high level of compositional cohesion balanced with individual improvisational verve. The Paul Rutherford-penned fragment "2.B.Ornette" features Wheeler's clipped flugelhorn and delivers fascinating instruction on one of the seminal influences on the group. The opening "E.D.'s Message" references another in its oblique invocation of Dolphy through Trevor Watts' register leaping runs. In similar fashion the saxophonist sails above the bustling firmament of bass and drums on "Club 66", firing off pinched figures and sounding like a personalized amalgam of the aforementioned Coleman and Lee Konitz. Rutherford ranges about the middle register of his brass smearing the edges of his phrases with well-placed plunger manipulations. Stevens practices the rudiments of the economical acumen that was to become his trademark, parsing out press rolls in staccato bursts.

Akin to the prize buried at the bottom of a cereal box the disc's final track offers a smaller assemblage of SME members bringing to life a composition by Stevens. Scripted as an aural encapsulation of the drummer's feelings of homesickness the piece features Watts flighty piccolo in tandem with Evan Parker's nascent soprano. Contemporaneous session photos in the liner notes picture the players bedecked in vests, ties, slacks, and in some instances spectacles looking like youthful Tristanoite intellectuals. The music reflects this academic bent, but is also flavored with a fair amount of visceral thrills. SME discographers may scratch their heads and rush to update their files, but for the rest of us the music is certain to provide satisfaction enough.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brotzmann / Kondo / Pupillo / Nilssen-Love - Hairy Bones

Devotees of modern free jazz whose main icon is represented by Last Exit — the quartet of Peter Brotzmann, Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock and Ronald Shannon Jackson which repeatedly set the cognoscenti's brain on fire (or, at least, mine...) — could give a try to this, the recording of a performance at Amsterdam's Bimhuis dated September 6, 2008, which features a joint venture between the old guard of Brotzmann himself (alto & tenor sax, Bb clarinet, tarogato) and Kondo (electric trumpet) and younger turks Pupillo (electric bass) and Nilssen-Love (drums).

The record is divided in two extended sections that leave no room for unnecessary reflection, although those who expect a total free-for-all might remain a tad disconcerted, given that the artists not only fuel the activist anger of self-expression with (rather disciplined) fury, but also find the time to reduce the impact of their drive along "calmer" explorations of the partial combination of instrumental voices and dynamics, at times remaining moderately exposed as two or three elements interact. For example, an interesting Pupillo vs. Kondo colloquy in the title track is sandwiched in the muscular antagonism of the group as a whole, and a groovy solo by Nilssen-Love — as distant from the boring percussive marathons of certain "progressive" bands as you can wish — is followed by the drummer depicting shades against the disagreeing stubbornness of Brotzmann, soon aided by the echoing blathering of Kondo until the improvisation reaches its natural demise.

"Chain Dogs" begins with a tense "dissonant lyricism", reed and trumpet emitting pensive notes upon the rhythm section's increasingly mounting inner energy, yet it doesn't take much before the foursome soar again through impatiently clumped rhythmical disorders, aggravating the dynamic conflict by the minute, Brotzmann emitting autistic ostinatos amidst fuming devastations by Pupillo and Nilssen-Love, Kondo attributing a spacey vibe to the jumble via modified reverberations of his tool. The music gradually becomes a cross of intimidation and unalterable faith in some sort of divine light leading the sonic splodge out of potential holes, as what appears tempestuous at first reveals instead a logic of coherence which facilitates the approach to the listening experience, and the quieter sections hide nonetheless the peril of a venomous sting.

Forget the cerebral aspects and be overwhelmed by the threatening physicality of this set. Hairy Bones is a classic case of "play-loud-neighbors-be-damned" outing, an exhibition of conspicuous skill in the thick of apparent mayhem.

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Albert Ayler Quartet - Hilversum Session

The Hilversum Session is a real gem! Albert w/ Don Cherry deliver one of their best records in a very full year (1964). The quartet powered through similiar material in the wonderful live Vibrations---one of my favorites. Here the quartet hones their studio sound. Albert's tenor brilliance in high fidelity is something to behold. Check out Don's cornet magic as well as Peacock's bass and the incredible Sunny Murray. Ayler live was always amazing, but here in the studio the group flows through the material at a different pace w/ Don & Albert playing a tighter sound. I love hearing Albert in this small setting, meshing his unreal full tenor w/ a master like Don Cherry. Soon the quartet disbanded and the 2 players moved on to other settings. But I've always cherished this work, and I want to thank ESP for reissuing this very very fine session.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ton Koopman (The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir) - J.S.Bach - Complete Cantatas - Vol.01

Rip and scans from *.ape. Mp3 320 CBR. I have all the 22 volumes and I'm planning of releasing them all.

Johann Sebastian Bach left a magnificent collection of vocal music to posterity.
among which he supposedly included compositions of his own. Certain types of pieces for constantly recurring occasions such as weddings and funerals, as well as settings of frequently used psalms were composed mainly in order to build up a reserve.
Nonetheless, Bach's reasonable hopes were not fulfilled in Mühlhausen, for here too he was only required to compose works for specific events. Cantatas extant from the period up to about 1708 are BWV 4, 71,106,131,150 and 196.
Following his experiences at Arnstadt and Mühlhausen, Bach appears to have lowered his expectations, for his new responsibilities as court organist to the Duke of Weimar did not in any case include vocal composition. The decisive step up, namely from organ and keyboard virtuoso to composer of vocal music for performance, was finally achieved in the spring of 1714, when he was offered the chance to succeed Handel's teacher, Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau, at Halle. Having turned down the post at St Mary's Church with its extensive obligation to provide vocal music, Bach was promoted to Konzertmeister by the Duke. He was also commissioned to compose and perform a new cantata once a month. This resulted in an impressive series of works for voice in which Bach attempted for the first time to take into consideration, as far as possible, every Sunday and holy day in the liturgical year. The existing Weimar repertoire consists of the cantatas BWV 12,18, 21, 31,54,61, 63,132,152, 155,161,162,163,165,172,182 and 199.
Bach's earliest church cantatas are still clearly marked by 17th-century traditions. As well as the influences of older members of the Bach family, those of Buxtehude and Pachelbel the Elder, and Italian and French masters are evident, technically, structurally and stylistically. For example the use of twice the number of violins is of French origin, the treatment of the first violins is Italian, while the motetto concertato choral passages and the inclusion of plainsong and chorale arrangements is German. A particularly characteristic feature of the pre-Leipzig cantatas is Bach's exceptional delight in experimental and complex handling of an extremely wide range of instruments, with refined sound effects (such as the use of the bassoon) and polyand homophonic settings and forms. He painstakingly avoids any standardisation, adopting neither established conventions nor repeating his own solutions and models. Equally noticeable are Bach's many original ideas for making the music reflect the text (e.g. all the voices on a rising scale on the words "leite mich" (lead me) in BWV 150/4) and never previously heard harmonies, especially in cadences (e.g. contrasting the words "Gnade" (mercy) and "Sünde" (sin) in BWV 131/5.).
Before the Weimar period, settings of a mixture of biblical and hymn texts - only occasionally interspersed with freely conceived poetry - predominated.
Thus, musically and formally, each movement has a unified structure, assuring its artistic independence, while flowing coherently one into the other. However, the movements are seldom arranged as self-contained units. At the same time, there is strong emphasis on certain extracts of the text and even on particular words. Only later, with the appearance of the printed cantata libretti of Weimar court poet Salomo Franck, did Bach turn to the modern cantata setting in which individual sections are distinctly separate and types of text are arranged in specific order: recitative and aria, biblical text and chorale. This was to be the definitive musical and textual form of all Bach's subsequent vocal compositions. Likewise, in the area of musical expression, the accent moved from the deliberate differentiation of single words and short textual extracts to a unified spirit binding the whole text.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bach: Lute Works, Vol. 1 - Paul O'Dette

Rip and Scans all done by my original copy. I can provide also FLAC. Ask in the comments.

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding Bach's 'lute' music. It simply cannot be played on any standard 13-course lute available in 18th Century Germany. And since he notated his 'lute' pieces in staff keyboard notation and not lute tablature, his intentions are open to interpretation. What Bach may have had in mind requires informed guesswork. If we begin with Bach, himself, any theory must take into account his affinity for abstraction. He could (and did) compose music with no specific instrumentation in mind, The Art of Fugue a prime example. When a specific task or commission is not at stake, he seems to compose music in its absolute sense, leaving musicians to handle performance issues, such as instrumentation, voicings, transposition. 18th Century performers were often jack-of-all-trades, capable of meeting Bach's musical demands, and Bach had no reason to believe that this would change in the future. Another mystery is whether Bach played the lute, himself. Given his universal musical genius, it is likely he knew his way around the instrument without being a virtuoso. There is evidence he gave lute instruction to one of his students, Johann Ludwig Krebs. And he wrote significant lute parts into his St. Matthew and St. John Passions.

What seems to validate the absolute theory is the fact that Bach loved the lute enough to have designed a gut-strung harpsichord, called the Lautenwerk, with a sound that so resembled the lute, it 'deceived the ears of the best lutenists.' Described as the most beautiful of all sounding keyboards, after the organ, because of its ability to emulate the lute, the one complaint was that it was incapable of producing soft and loud sounds as the lute can do. 'It must always be played quickly and arpeggiated as we usually hear skilled lutenists do....' The nature of Bach's 'lute' works indicates that they were composed at the Lautenwerk, a unique instrument, to be played as the performer saw fit.

Paul O'dette uses a 13-course lute by Andrew Rutherford, New York, 2002, after an instrument built by Sebastian Schelle in 1727. He transposes the Pieces pour la luth a Monsieur Schouster, BWV 995 (an arrangement of the C minor Cello Suite, BWV 1011), from G minor to A minor, allowing the piece to be played on a 13-course lute exactly as written. Both of the following 'lute' pieces are Bach reworkings of Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin: the Partita in E major, BWV 1006a (transposed to F major) and the Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001. Bach often played his violin pieces on the clavichord, adding whatever harmonies he thought necessary. The reworkings presumably convinced Bach that there was an abstract harmony not achievable on the violin but possible on the Lautenwerk, with extra bass notes and chords. These found there way into the 'lute' pieces.

O'Dette's playing is elegant and precise, his touch feathery (there is an almost complete absence of noise as he negotiates the strings). His phrasing is impeccable, his use of the lute's wide dynamics serves to articulate each phrase as if emulating the human voice. The more vivacious dances are jaunty and joyful. The inner directed, ruminative movements are soulful, even ethereal, and seem to stop time. Each suite is its own abstract, beautiful world that O'Dette brings to life with nearly flawless technique. His artistry makes this disc, the first volume in an apparent Bach lute series, an important addition to the collections of those who love Bach and the Baroque, and lute and/or string instrument aficionados. The recording sounds warm and clear, with the lute recorded in the middle distance, and nice acoustic reverberation surrounding each note.

This is a splendid recording, worth the investment. Most strongly recommended.

Review by Mark Birman

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Converge - Deathwish Live Series 02: Minneapolis, MN 09.21.05

This was made available for free from the Deathwish site back in 2008. Is recorded live in Minneapolis during the tour of "You fail me". Give it a try.

Track list:
1. First Light
2. Eagles Become Vultures
3. The Broken Vow
4. Drop Out
5. Hope Street
6. Bitter And Then Some
7. You Fail Me
8. Black Cloud
9. Heartless
10. Homewrecker
11. Last Line
12. Concubine
13. Conduit
14. The Saddest Day