Dec 8, 2008

josephine foster

Colorado born Josephine Foster has practically defined what it means to be an outsider folk singer. Initially with Born Heller and then solo and accompanied by the Supposed, her unsettling soprano and way with a song takes the eerie otherness of those early Appalachian ballads and brings them, whispering, into our dreams. The Coming Gladness brings the folk aesthetic that Josephine has explored in her recent albums to the psyche rock territory of her recordings with the Supposed. This intense, uncompromising music is the looming badlands landscape lit by the charged lightning strikes of an extraordinary voice. That voice belongs to no movement, trend or fashion, any more than the equally haunted spirit of Tim Buckley, another outsider, another unique talent, did in his day. It is simply great music and Josephine Foster is, simply, a great singer, simply a great songwriter. Guitarist Victor Herrero and percussionist Alex Nielson more than contribute to the otherworldly sound of the album. Alex Nielson has been the drummer of choice for Will Oldham, Current 93, and many others, while also fronting his own bands Directing Hand, Tight Meat Duo, and Trembling Bells. Victor as accomplished on electric guitar as acoustic, has also a new solo acoustic guitar soon to be released on Bo’ Weavil. .
One of the finest artists to have emerged from the so-called freak-folk boom of a few years back,
Josephine Foster continues to write beautiful songs, and doesn't sound remotely like an artist tied to a particular fad. Regardless of its context, Foster's voice always sounds as if it's emerging from some dusty, wartime 78pm vinyl, with an outgoing, operatic tone probably best described as 'witchy'. Foster has tried out various styles of arrangement of her peculiar song craft over the years, and set into a trio format (with drums supplied by the always excellent Alex Nielson and lead guitar from Victor Herrero) this album probably draws comparison's with the more fleshed out sounds of her A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing album or the Born Heller material. There's nothing that could be branded as especially folksy about this music though, in fact it probably more closely resembles a kind of song-based free jazz at times: on the woozy piano psychedelics of 'Lullaby To All' she sounds like a 1940s Kate Bush, as a rampaging, atonal solo scrawls mercilessly across the song from Herrero's guitar. His inky lead playing leaves its mark on much of the album, and it's particularly effective on the more atmospherically charged moments, such as 'Indelible Rainbows', which is swamped in glistening echo. Despite its ventures into dissonance and the more exploratory dynamics of free jazz, this latest body of song from Foster finds her at the peak of her songwriting form, and she actually seems all the more effective for having other musicians to clash against. Very highly recommended.

Entre que con el paso del tiempo cada vez resulta más complicado escribir palabras que aporten verdaderamente algo y que me llegara el Lp, el regreso de la sirena se ha hecho esperar. Querer intuir que nos esperaba tras A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, el folk más misterioso y desolador que yo haya oído y un disco bellísimo que siempre habrá que reivindicar, era tarea perdida. Abandonado el romanticismo alemán y también a Locust, lo cierto es que aún perduran recuerdos de aquel viaje y, en realidad, por aquellos parajes aún vive pero fuera de la cueva en la que se refugiaba. Su compañero Victor Herrero resquebraja ahora la guitarra aunque las consecuencias son menos fatales, algo más enmascarado en una densa atmósfera. Más Alex Nielson a la percusión, This Coming Gladness, se rinde a la exploración psicodélica y a un folk con alma de blues, eso sí la sensación de free-songs de 'A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing' sigue ahí. Cada paso de Josie en su trabajo es un nuevo vacío a llenar, en sus diferentes reencarnaciones el paso intermedio e invisble nunca había existido, así que por fin llegó.

Dec 7, 2008

ulaan khol

All heavy with warmth & mystery, Ulaan Khol returns with another round of vertical incantations aimed at the heavens. As Ulaan Khol, Steven R. Smith (Hala Strana, Thuja, Mirza) creates dense tapestries that revel in the eternal and infinite. The bursts of tones & grip on formal structures can compare to the best of Hototogisu or Handful of Dust, though filtered through an ample dose of Ash Ra Tempel.

Supreme while discreet, these songs carry a sense of unnerving calm and optimistic gloom, often within a single composition. Swaths of heavy feedback cascade against sinister organ workouts & varied percussion that’s at times pounding, and at others distant. Throughout, Smith’s works emerge as vessels of possibility, exploratory rituals of hope.
Under the Ulaan Khol banner, Smith has planned a maximalist three-part suite, 'Ceremony.' Following the cryptic first installment, II shines with hazy, rolling atmospheric works that drift and shift with ease. Riding a crumbling riff into oblivion, Ulaan Khol's II emanates with the gleam of pure white light.

Oct 14, 2008

milton cross

You might not have heard of Milton Cross, but you've certainly heard of the main band he's in (Tarentel). He's also a member of Dial Square and Party of Doom. "Light in the West" was originally self-released in a limited CDR format, but has now been remastered and reworked (some tracks removed, some new ones added) and reborn in this new skin.

Cross does his best work when he's playing his violin or harmonium. He's classically trained and his skill is immediately apparent. Both instruments permeate the album, adding a thick layer of glowing warmth to the songs which they haunt. From the heartbreaking opener, "It's Been Almost a Year" to the quiet, wavering whispers of "Future Ghost," Cross has created an album full of endless layers and organic details. Each listen reveals something new to dissect and digest. It's an album we are very proud to resurrect from the ether.

Packaged in two-color silkscreened gatefolds. Limited to 500 copies. All new artwork by Eden Hemming Rose.
First 100 copies include special, handnumbered pressed-leaf insert.

Oct 10, 2008

clem alford (rare earth XXIII)

Clem Alford was born in Glasgow, Scotland, where he studied the Scottish national instrument, the bagpipes. He was introduced to the sound of the sitar in the mid sixties. He travelled to India and studied under Pandit Sachindranath Saha, principal of the Midnapore Music College in West Bengal. He secured the diploma of Sangeet Sudhakar for expertise in sitar from Surer Maya Sangit Samaj of Calcutta in 1970. Clem's first major recital was in Bombay in november 1970, an event which the Times of India flashed in its headlines as "American's astounding skill, ease in sitar" (a slight case of mistaken nationality!). It was this sitar recital at the celebrated Kal-ke Kalakar Sammelan of Bombay which won Clem the rich accolade of 'Sur Mani' (a jewel of notes)Keshav Sathe, Clem Alford, Jim Moyes, 1971. Since then Clem has performed not only in the West but also in India, Japan and other Asian countries. He has been hailed by many experts and the press as the best western sitar player of today. An example of this recognition was his participation in the concert held in 1975 in the Royal Albert Hall, in which he was presented along with the leading Indian vocalist Laxmi Shankar.

Clem has been associated with the famous John Williams (classical guitar) John Mayer (composer/ Indo Jazz Fusions) Maurice Jarre (film scores) John Dankworth (jazz) Hemmant Kunar (vocalist) and a host of other striking personalities in the world of music. He has recorded for EMI, amongst other labels, and has authored a very helpful book on how to play the sitar published by EMI. In 1970 he formed a group named Sargam with two other musicians - Jim Moyes (guitar) and Keshav Sathe (tabla) - and this innovative trio (see picture above) recorded an album inappropriately released as Pop Explosion Sitar Style! under the band name Sagram, mispelt by the Windmill recording company, who issued the recording without the bandÕs consent or knowledge. This LP that has since become highly collectable. Then, in 1971 Alisha Sufit joined the trio and the Magic Carpet band was formed; the album Magic Carpet was recorded in the winter of 1971-1972, later released on Mushroom Records.

Pediente estaba desde hace unos meses en rare earth la primera aventura en solitario del extraordinario Clem Alford tras Magic Carpet. Discípulo de Pandit Sachindranath Saha, sus ragas se sumergen en eternas e instrumentales melodías improvisadas donde la inventiva es una constante, para muestra la canción que da título al album. El místico sitar de Clem se ve arropado por la tradición hindú y sus ragas se pasean entre la fusión y la psicodelia -sintes, efectos, tabla, flauta...-.

aldea f: magic carpet
download: mirror image (part 1) & mirror image (part 2)

Sep 5, 2008

tom carter & christian kiefer

tom carter & christian kiefer - from the great american songbook (preservation,2008)

This second collaborative work from the pair is an expansive and ambitious recasting of American music now in the public domain. The influence of the songs collected here is long and widespread for their style and lyricism, forging a rich tradition and ever evolving history. With their interpretations, Carter and Kiefer have taken the songs that have seeped into their souls and extended upon them in such a way that brings something entirely new to their original ideas. It’s something that’s entirely theirs in spite of such source material, and with that, From The Great American Songbook brilliantly reveals a true hallmark of American music invention.

So, we have the infamous murder ballad Pretty Polly, the comic Camptown Races, the funeral Will The Circle Be Unbroken, the outlaw tale of Jesse James, the depression piece Hard Times Killin’ Floor Blues, the ragtime of The Entertainer and the doomed love trysts of Railroad Boy and The Coo Coo Bird. Carter and Kiefer have taken the spirit of these as a starting point for their spectral guitar improvisations, then fleshed them out with piano, percussion, bass and drums. In this thrillingly vast sonic terrain are moments of foreboding, tenderness, melancholy and gut-wrenching rawness.
Two of Kiefer’s longtime cohorts, Scott Leftridge and Chip Conrad played bass and drums respectively, while Califone’s Ben Massarella handled percussion. Also contributing to From The Great American Songbook is a host of American musicians – including Tony Conrad, James Jackson Toth, Glenn Jones, and Sharron Krauss – with their reminiscences and insights into these songs with which they also found great personal resonance.

aldea f.: tom & christian

Aug 20, 2008

helena espvall & masaki batoh

If the pentagrams and moccasins and ponchos of the now nearly bygone “freak folk” era made listening to Fairport Convention cool again, Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh's self-titled collaboration serves as a reminder that British longhairs of the ’60s were nerds, nerds, nerds. Cellist Espvall, best known for her work with Espers, and Batoh, the guitarist of Japanese psych band Ghost, deploy an arsenal of exotic stringed instruments. They play earnest covers of folk songs from Espvall’s native Sweden, with her clear, thin voice taking the lead, then close the album with an epic improvisation complete with oceanic sounds. So far, so Incredible String Band. Listeners should not equip their local forest glade with a maypoles or prep tarot cards in anticipation of the arrival of Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh. Both Espers and Ghost succeed by blending virtuosity with an ability to imbue their music with true eeriness. Despite its medieval chord progressions and finger-cymbals, Espvall and Batoh’s record is more earnest than evocative. The album does not sustain a mood – like a ’60s folk album that jumps from sea-chanty to murder ballad to sitar-enhanced jam, it seems too studious to carry real emotional weight.

Rather, it bears sheer instrumental prowess and vague loveliness as its hallmarks. The folk songs with Espvall’s reverb’d vocals rising over Batoh’s meticulously-picked strings (electric and non) and her own gently rumbling cello are very pretty. The instrumentals often seem like efforts to bring disparate string instruments together, just to see how nice they sound together. On the delicate “Zeranium,” Batoh’s near croon leads the song closer to Low or Ida than the typical freak folk album of yesteryear.

Batoh and Espvall’s skillful musicianship ensure that each individual song works (aside from a misguided cover of the Son House song "Death Letter”), particularly the last two tracks, “Kling Klang” and the enveloping jam "Kyklopes." The menagerie of instruments unleashed and variety of songs attempted leave one with the impression that Espvall and Batoh had a great time figuring out each others' strengths, interests, and influences, and experimenting in the studio. But the deliberateness that resulted, when overlaid with the record's painfully clear, spacious production, void the album of spirit. It's deft enough, and holds the promise of further interesting Espvall/Batoh work, if they can transcend their schoolishness.

Sorprendente y hechizada colaboración entre Helena Espvall (Espers) que tras el precioso disco con Meg Baird & Sharron Kraus se cruza en su camino, nada menos, que con Masaki Batoh quien lleva un par de décadas reescribiendo los códigos del acid-folk y la psicodelia, más que un preferido en f. ya lo sabeis. Me evoca fácilmente a los primeros discos de Ghost, creo que con eso ya queda todo dicho, pero hay que añadir que con Helena al lado todo brilla un poco más. Sí, uno de los discos del año.

aldea f.: ghost

beth jeans houghton

Aug 13, 2008

black moses

Adiós Isaac, el último que quedaba se fue.

Aug 10, 2008

sir richard bishop

"Bishop creates abstract and dissonant fingerstyle webs that evoke those famous LSD experiments with spiders; and he stretchesout in long raga-influenced improvisations that accelerate into flatpicked furies. " - Acoustic Guitar

This is an essential document by one of America's most original and inventive unaccompanied guitaristsworking today. While My Guitar Violently Bleeds is a splendid three piece gem in which the good Sir branches out & nods to points west, east & otherworldly. Classic spaghetti western tinged spidery fretwork(“Zurvan”), Fushitsusha style feedback drenched psych decay (“Smashana”) and a brilliant lengthy raga epic (“Mahavidya”) round out the proceedings by the Sun City Girls master musician.

Atrapado quedarás en la telaraña de Mahavidya: to finish the album off we are treated to the album's longest piece, the 25 minute epic 'Mahavidya', a haunting raga underpinned with an Eastern drone allowing Bishop to effortlessly fingerpick over the top. Meditative and involving we hear the track build slowly and subtly from sparsely picked out notes to the kind of frenetic strumming and desperately technical playing the man is probably best known for.

Aug 5, 2008


Naked Acid is the second solo release from Portland artist Valet, aka Honey Owens. She states: "These songs were Inspired by the Pacific Northwest landscape, semi-conscious dream states and the idea of one's dna code being accessed as eternal memory. I started off with the idea to make a 'songs' record but it really didn't turn out that way. Instead the record became it's own story. Track one is a static beach journey duet with Adrian Orange, and tracks 3, 4 and 5 are collaborations with Mark Evan Burden (Silentist) on drums."

From the gentle narcotic haze of the album opener "We Went There," which is dissected by Honey's trademark incendiary guitar work, to the lazy alien country blues of "Fuck It," and through the hyperventilating rhythmic distortion of the closer "Streets," Naked Acid is a fever dream of ghostly incantation and smudged psychedelia. Honey Owens follows up her widely lauded Blood Is Clean album from early 2007 with another trip through the fertile garden of her imagination. She will be touring starting in mid-February to support the album.

Aug 4, 2008

mogollar (rare earth XXII)

Like we said in the 3 Hur-el review, above, the Middle Eastern '60s/'70s psychedelic rock scene is quite a happenin' phenomenon here at Aquarius -- bands from Istanbul blending the "heavy" beat sounds of London, L.A. and San Francisco with their own ethnic musical traditions. So, along with that great 3 Hur-el disc, we're *really* pleased to have just gotten cd copies in stock of a 1971 album by the fantastic Mogollar (or Les Mogol as they were known in France, where this LP was first released). This band has been a super favorite of ours ever since we first heard 'em on the "Love Peace & Poetry: Asian Psychedelia", "Turkish Delights", and "Hava Narghile" compilations. Yep, they appeared on all three of those fab comps, deservedly so as they were not only one of Turkey's biggest pop bands of the time but also one of the best, near as we can tell. They formed in 1967, playing a style of experimental psychedelic rock based on the folk music of the Anatolian region of Turkey. Their unique Anatolian (or Anadolu) "pop" sound is simply a delight, as amply demonstrated by this particular album. It features 13 tracks (none of 'em to be found on the aforementioned comps) that are based on traditional songs -- but for sure the original versions didn't sound like this, so groovy and hip. They employ some standard sixties rock instrumention -- plenty of electric organ getting almost "Inna-gadda-da-vida"-ish at times -- but also really bring the traditional Turkish instruments to the fore, playing ikligs and baglamas and darbukas and kasiks...all kinds of stringed and percussion instruments, often used traditionally but more often just fiercely strummed to great rock 'n' roll heights. Compared to 3 Hur-el's "Hurel Arsivi" this almost-all-instrumental album is folkier *and* jazzier, the electric organ giving some tracks a kind of Martin Denny exotica vibe. Both discs, though, would make great party records. Highly recommended!!

La portada que veis se corresponde a la edición francesa del disco, la más extendida y la que, supongo, llegó a Europa: Danses et rythmes de la Turquie d'hier à aujourd'hui'. Así, buscar el albúm por su título original es un pérdida de tiempo. Es posible que sea más bonito el nombre que en Francia se le dió pero ese Anadolu Pop resulta muy revelador. Provenientes de la región Anatolia (la parte más oriental del país) recogen el mágico y excitante folclore de la zona, emanando de sus cuerdas y percusiones un traditional-folk infeccioso e irrestible que, en ocasiones, se ve aderezado por oscuras líneas de bajo, teclados y sintes.

Consultando páginas occidentales, figura siempre este disco como su debut, pero en realidad no es así, hay más de 10 grabaciones desde su debut en el 68, lo que desconozco es cuales de ellas son lp's y cuales ep's. De hecho, dudo de si se trata de una recopilación, puesto que comparando las primeras canciones con las últimas, en las que se introducen claramente en la psicodelia, parece haber una evolución en su sonido.
Recuperado por el indispensable sello, yo diría esencial, World Psychedelia. Pocas palabras tengo para describir su música, se me agotan, que hablen 'Madimak' o 'Toroslar' eastern-folk en estado puro. Un eterno preferido.


Jul 16, 2008

ulaan khol

ulaan khol [steve r. smith] - i (soft abuse, 2008)

Throughout his career as a solo artist, and through membership with the celebrated ensembles Thuja and Mirza, Steven R. Smith has had a hand in creating some of the most compelling and singular instrumental psychedelic music of the past ten years. Smith's latest project, Ulaan Khol, moves beyond the Eastern European-inspired sources and scales employed by his work as Hala Strana towards an approach alternately true to his personal musical lineage and in a realm beyond any pre-existing work. As Ulaan Khol, Smith digs in deep with a palette of drums/guitar/organ to craft a monolithic & expansive free form, feedback-heavy atmospheric din that bonds the disparate realms of Fushitsusha and High Rise with Popul Vuh and Flying Saucer Attack.

As Ulaan Khol, Smith has planned a maximalist three-part suite, 'Ceremony.' In the first installment of the trilogy, I, the tone is overwhelming bleak as the pieces (all untitled) caterwaul, moan and crumble. Dripping with basement doom, Ulaan Khol's cosmic histrionics emanate with the raw essence of White Light/White Heat jettisoned by Harmonia's amorphous drifts.

Jul 9, 2008

y desde hoy son 3

Lluvia, vapor y velocidad, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1884)

Tal día como hoy hace tres años, puse las primeras piedras en aldea f. y parece que los cimientos aún aguantan. Quizá en este tiempo, f. no haya crecido demasiado pero las historias siguen y, espero, seguirán narrándose. Os dejo el relato de Juan José Arreola que inspiró el nombre del blog y cierta dosis de imaginación, la cual, he tratado de imprimir al blog, encarnada en el fantástico mundo que recrea y en esa figura del viajero con destino a T.

Pd.: gracias a quienes observan desde la sombra y, sobre todo, a esos pocos con quienes tengo el placer de compartir.

Jul 1, 2008


rusalnaia [sharron kraus & gillian chadwick]- rusalnaia (camera obscura, 2008)

Rusalnaia is about honouring (some would say placating) the Rusalki - mischievous water nymphs capable of tickling victims to death - with song, dance, tree-decorating and wreath-making. Rusalnaia is what happened when Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick, then neighbours in Fishtown, Philadelphia, became friends and decided to honour the Rusalki in each other! The two, coming from very different musical backgrounds, made journeys into each other's terrain until it was no longer clear what the boundaries were. In the collaborative process they became as close as sisters and found their way to the shared musical aesthetic that is Rusalnaia. Rusalnaia's album was recorded at Hexham Head Studios in Philadelphia, engineered by Greg Weeks (Espers, The Valerie Project) in two sessions through 2007 that corresponded with Sharron's extended visits to the country. Weeks helped capture the duo's organic and sometimes unusual instrumentation, from dulcimer and guitar to pennywhistles and goat's nail shakers, and contributed his own accents to a few tracks: acid Les Paul leads and vintage 70's synths. Eight tracks of haunting, ritualistic, magical pagan-folk were the result, varying from the darkly processional tale of dispossession "Shifting Sands", though the Comus-like ceremonies of the title track to the extended forest-folk trance of the concluding "Wild Summer".

La voz de Sharron Kraus me insipira soledad y abandono, pero su torturado folk siempre ha querido verse rodeado y adornado de otras perspectivas. Unos meses después de su debut colaboró con el maravilloso snow-folk de The Iditarod de los que ya nada sabemos, después vendría más sonriente con Christian Kiefer, luego el bellísimo traditional-folk con Meg Baird & Helena Espvall y este año la estelar colaboración con Tara Burke. Ahora vuelve al inicio, a Camera Obscura, al lado de Gillian Chadwick.
¿Qué nos depara esta vez?

Jun 29, 2008

the grand hotel

What a nice surprise this record turned out to be. It's on legendary Finnish microlabel 267 Lattajaa, but these fellas are in fact American, and while they do traffic in a similar style as many of those forest Finns we love so much (Avarus, Anaksimandros, Kemialliset, Islaja) they seem to hew closer to the drifting murky, field recording flecked nature folk of the Jewelled Antler collective. But all that makes them sound super derivative, which they definitely are not. Three songs, all woven into one gorgeous sonic patchwork, tangled and gloriously blissed out, beginning with a soft bramble of acoustic guitars, hovering on a bed of blear eyed FX, over the top, sing-songy falsetto vocals coo and croon, sounding not unlike Glenn from Skygreen Leopards. The second track is a strange lo-fi rhythmscape, focused around a martial drum beat, pounding tribal and insistent over a swirling morass of processed vocals, bits of shimmering feedback, murky ambience, and thick swells of subtly melodic whir. The final track, which at 17 minutes makes up the bulk of the record, is a sprawling epic, that traverses all sorts of different sonic territories, managing to make them all sound wholly interconnected. A burst of hiss and damaged FX, synths and feedback, gives way to deep resonant stretches of metallic buzz, which in turn give way to some aggressive acoustic guitar strumming and muted percussion, a creepy haunting Comus-like ritual, before morphing into an ever changing soundscape of glistening melody, rumbling low end, fractured folk, and smeary soft focus abstract ambience, finishing off with an almost peppy sounding outro, all major key guitar, strange percussion, a simple barely there rhythmic pulse, and slithery strands of glimmering fuzzy melody. Wow. The bad news is... we only got a handful of these, and we're not entirely sure we'll be able to get more. But give it a go, fans of dreamy abstract free folk do NOT want to miss out on The Grand Hotel..." Aquarius Records

Jun 28, 2008

mary-anne patterson (rare earth XXI)

Firmly established as one of the rarest records of its time, and never reissued until now, Mary-Anne Paterson's sole album is a beautiful combination of traditional and original material whose echoing production perfectly captures her haunting voice. This first-ever reissue of Me is sure to appeal to all folk lovers, and deserves to elevate Mary-Anne to where she belongs - alongside Anne Briggs and Vashti Bunyan in the pantheon of Britain's leading folk singers.

"Mary-Anne Paterson was a painter, teacher, actress and folk club regular whose only album is delivered in high, pure tones with basic acoustic backing, occasionally enlivened by understated electric guitar and pounding bongos" - Mojo
"Me's contents vary from haunting treatments of traditional material (Black Girl, The Water Is Wide) to beautiful original compositions (Love Has Gone, Reverie For Roslyn). A true rarity and a prime candidate for reissue" - Record Collector

Según parece Mary-Anne que, por entonces, era profesora de teatro viajó a Londres a finales de 1969 para grabar una demo con el fin de recaudar fondos para el centro donde trabajaba. Este viajé acabó germinando en un improvisada sesión de 1970 en la que se grabó 'Me' y en la que la escocesa fue acompañada por músicos callejeros que no volvería a ver. Ella seguiría siendo profesora, además, pintaría, escribiría para la radio y tv y continuó cantando pero, desgraciadamente, no hubo otro álbum. Rescatado de la oscuridad por Sumbeam hacer un par de años, es una pequeña joya del traditional-british-folk, es medieval, es acústico e íntimo, es Shirley Collins, es Judy Dyble, es C.O.B., es una maravillosa voz. Dentro de la tradición que recoge Mary-Anne, el marcado ambiente del medievo se ve aderezado, puntualmente, por flautas, 12 cuerdas, bongos... que le aportan algo de luz, ahí está el acid-folk de 'Black Girl'. Sólo cabe admirarla como una dama más del verdadero folk.

Audio: Love has gone

Jun 25, 2008

seventh sons (rare earth XX)

seventh sons - seventh sons (1964)

Seventh Sons is a folk rock trio (with the add of Frank Evatoff for the flute parts) who released only one album back in the mid 60's. The leader, guitarist & multi-instrumentalist Buzz Linhart provided a lot of materials. He was recognized as the main protagonist of the Seventh Sons typical sound. After the band's scission he launched a career in solo as a guitarist. Historically this is a must despite that great followers will blow away this effort. Simply called "raga" this album is maybe the first experimental rock item which successes to conciliate "eastern" influences, harmonies & elements with basic, standard rock structures. The only track is built around a single theme developed in several sequences, according a large part to acoustic guitar & flute "floating" lines. Rather discreet pop voices are added to the mix. Back to the 60's musical context “raga” figures as an undisputed masterwork in "indo" pre-progressive rock universe.

Más rare earth, el espíritu de esta aldea. Poco, muy poco se ha hablado de Seventh Sons y su único disco. Su nombre, supongo, está insipirado por la tradición y el folclore que acompaña al número 7. Catalogado como el primer raga tocado con instrumentos eléctricos, lo cierto, es que resulta sorprendente escuchar un disco como éste en 1964, adelantado a la psicodelia y a las influencias que las bandas de occidente recogerían de la India. Tanto es así, que no se publicó hasta 1968. Difícil delimitar por donde se mueve la única pista, el evocador y místico 'Raga', conducido por las cuerdas de Buzz Linhart y las infecciosas percusiones de Serge Katzen, una voz que actúa como un instrumento más y la adicción al trío de la flauta de Frank Evatoff ornamenta el viaje y rompe las eternas líneas de bajo de James Rock. Eastern free-folk-psych en clave raga o mejor, libertad en su estado puro.


Jun 12, 2008


talugung - flooded fields (foxglove, 2008)

Someone should start a clan of the instrument builders. and if such a thing existed, talugung (aka ontario resident, ryan waldron) would be one of the leaders of the movement. even though no such organization exists (damnit), there's still this debut album of waldron's fractured exploits. "flooded fields" isn't played on all instruments he's built, though. he accents this with all sorts of random, ethnic instruments - circular xylophones from god knows where, for example - creating a wonderful cacaphony of sound. the proceedings here are choppy and melodic, but underpinned with an organic sense. at times, it sounds like something you might find on a sublime frequencies release, and is also reminiscent of the work of henry kuntz. 100 copies


May 26, 2008


juju - a message from mozambique (black fire, 1973)

The first album by the group that later went on to become Oneness Of Juju! The album was recorded with a group that featured Plunky Nakabinde and Lon Moshe on reeds and percussion -- plus Babatunde on congas and drums -- and the overall sound is very much in kind of an Art Ensemble Of Chicago mode - with more "out" soloing overall, mixed with some of the spiritual jazz leanings that would show up more on the group's later work. The album's a fitting record for the Strata East label -- as it shows the imprint's equal ability to carve up heavy avant work and more strident spiritual soul jazz. And if we say so ourselves, Plunky's really a wailer on tenor and soprano -- sounding a lot like Kalaparusha or some of the other AACM players from the time! Titles include "(Struggle) Home", "Soledad Brothers", "Freedom Fighter", and "Nairobi/Chants.

La infección rítmica de James Plunky, afro free-jazz que tendría continuación bajo el nombre de Oneness of Juju y un sonido más cercano al funk y a la world-music. Este primer album va en la estela de la AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) y de anteriores viajeros de f. como Maulawi Nururdin y sobre todo, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre.
Download the album

Mar 25, 2008

the family elan

The Family Elan was christened by Chris Hladowski in 2006, being the natural culmination of many hours spent in solitude, both writing songs and attempting to develop an intuitive approach to music making based on the myriad traditions of the long-necked lute. The debut album, Stare of Dawn, consists of spiraling free form yet rooted originals with Hladowski playing bouzouki, baglamas, violin, clarinet, and guitar, alongside various percussion instruments, and Hanna Tuulikki on recorder and flute. The songs range from instrumental modal wanderings with themes such as cascading waterfalls, to folk-inflected tales of friendship and seduction. It was recorded by John Cavanagh (Phosphene) at his home in Muirend, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Since the recording of the album several forays have been made into the murky world of live performance.

Elan derives much inspiration from devotional and folk music traditions. The tanbur playing of the Kurdish Sufi mystic Ostad Elahi and Âshyq songs of the Azerbaijani sâz master Edalat Nasibov spring immediately to mind, alongside the rawer, more percussive sounds of the Yayla musicians of the Eastern Black Sea region – who fashion reed instruments from young pine saplings - like Hasan Yïldïrïm (who plays the violin like a drum) and Hayri Dev. The music of the Rebetes of early twentieth century Greece is an obvious benchmark, alongside more recent European folk revivalists like the Hungarian band Muzsikás. Other signposts might include the bouzouki inventions of Anne Briggs and the musical tapestries of the Incredible String Band. There is also a ‘pop’ sensibility lurking in there somewhere, though it is nigh on impossible to pin down in the conventional sense.


Download the album

Mar 8, 2008

le diable probablement...

Robert Bresson, El diablo probablemente (1977)

Charles, un joven burgés parisino de 20 años aparece muerto en el cementario de Père-Lachais ¿qué sucedió? ¿qué le ha llevado a tal final?... Reflexión sobre la existencia, el vacío que la rodea, la mirada de Charles es una mirada misteriosa, pesimista y fuera de toda esperanza.

Estamos ante el retrato coral de un estado de ánimo generacional. Pero Bresson no pretende tanto el retrato de unos jóvenes post-sesentayochistas ni siquiera un filme sociológico sobre un sector de la juventud -aunque algo de esto queda como telón de fondo- como una particular tesis sobre el fin del mundo a través del camino hacia la autodestrucción de un joven diferente y a la vez del montón. Un filme fatalista y al mismo tiempo inclasificable ¿Es el autor de “Pickcpocket” un pesimista? Si, pero no al modo bergmaniano sino más bien al modo en que lo son otros autores franceses fascinantes, personalísimos e infravalorados como Franju, Becker o Melville. Prefieren plantear interrogantes, penetrar en las heridas, pero sin dar soluciones (como hoy tampoco lo hace el austriaco Michael Haneke). Bresson es en algunos momentos moralista, pero siempre nos quita la certidumbre de cualquier lección ética definitiva. Y de ahí la importancia de su estilo, desnudo, hecho de fueras de campo, desmintiendo a través de la planificación cinemática cualquier posible teatralidad mediante el uso de primeros planos de objetos o de cuerpos humanos, sonidos en off y diálogos melancólicos que, en este caso, pueden sonar hasta ridículamente sentenciosos.
"El diablo probablemente" es argumentalmente una tragedia nihilista, pero no está filmada como tal sino como una odisea personal triste pero a la vez dotada de una extraordinaria vida, la misma vitalidad que desprendían los meticulosos esfuerzos por escapar del protagonista de “Un condenado a muerte se ha escapado”. El realizador no teme irritarnos, pero sus intenciones son siempre precisas como ocurre en esa discursiva sesión de Charles frente a un pedante psicoanalista que, lejos de ayudarle, le proporciona la idea con la que poner fin a su existencia. Bresson, que comenzó siendo un pintor y nunca dejo de serlo admitió temer el uso del color. Aquí lo emplea de modo harto creativo, con una mezcla de belleza y oscuridad. En esta ocasión se vale de un operador de excepción, exportado del mejor cine italiano de los setenta: Pasquale de Santis que se adapta plenamente a la algo funeraria pero a la vez humanísima gama cromática bressoniana, renunciando al preciosismo pero sin caer tampoco en la suciedad, a pesar de lo sórdido de algunos de los personajes que pueblan la trama y de lo incomprensible de muchas de sus acciones, que incluyen el robo de los cepillos de una Iglesia donde van a dormir o continuas separaciones y reencuentros del cuarteto protagonista, Charles, Alberte, Edwige y Michel, el mejor amigo del protagonista y el que con un extraño estoicismo trata de ayudarlo pero no cesa de juzgarlo por su relación con las dos jóvenes.

Jan 31, 2008


almaden - the dream continues in 1,000,000 Roads as the journeyman slumbers to be awoken by the berries of air and forest, a dawn pre-imagined and so owned in footstep and deed as our lovely soujourner of unabysmal light soujourns 4th into willowy and totally purple dawning, day is upon r hero and the golden Rd. of infinitudinous blessedhood! (lattajjaa, 2007)

What a (long) title for the me over 10 minutes of naturally changing pulsating drones and guitar feedbacks (on “buffalo and daughter”) to think this over, before coming to the semi-drugged-mind pyschedelic folk core expression. On some point this seems like how brains and brainwaves thoroughly become like roots of trees. They grow with the acoustic guitar pickings, with humming droning waves in the vocals, taking time to stretch with its mood creations…(and this especially on “black swan”). The harmony vocals on “Buffalo Forever” will possibly bring Devendra Banhart to mind for some listeners, bringing this kind of loner hippie to a tepee, which thoroughly will be smashing to pieces its wow-wow drumming…on his guitar, very distorted in mind, flesh, and wood. “Prayers for singers” makes it up with flowers, whistles, and witches-brew hummings as flipped romantic religious worships and bubbled colourful consciousnesses. Some songs are listed as dedications to life, while the first one which breaths a pause is the meditational moment; a few others are moments of waiting in vain, and are the songs of death, drooping sadly towards a certain wickedness. “Kill me again” is again a bit more communal, with a whipping and hopping ritualistic feeling in the rhythms, as a controlled wackiness, romantic-religious and keeping finger-crossed control in song while mind-losing and opening its consciousness. “Paean: Kitteridge Sam” is calm and sweet, like celebrated candy butterflies swimming in butter. The whole crowd of musicians sings along, in harmony with harmony and a bit of disharmony. “North Country Girl” is a heretic outburst heart full of romance, love, desire and wining, with troubadour guitarpickings and child playroom glockenspiel remembrances slightly dementing, and some harmonium. “Song of sorrow” is again a song of death and sadness, blowing in the winds of lost times. The same backing musicians (himself) howl along like priests, or play glockenspiel like victims of circumstances. “The golden road” sings to the full lightness of daylights again, of thoughts that first were hidden away in prison pits, while having collected so many emotions with it, its final expression becomes transcendent by its seeing light for the first time.

Jan 11, 2008

silmaril (rare earth XIX)

silmaril - voyage of icarus (1973)

Awash in fuzz boxes and acid trips, the dozens of other overlooked groups from the psychedelic era bear little resemblance to Silmaril. While others buzzed within the hippie epicenters of Haight Street and the Lower East Side, Silmaril formed in haunted, industrial Milwaukee. Other bands might have met at a love-in; Silmaril were friends from a Catholic youth retreat bound together by a doomed figure in the eccentric madman tradition of Syd Barrett, Roy Harper and Mel Lyman by the name of Matthew Peregrine. The Voyage of Icarus captures the dark, mysterious, and achingly beautiful acid folk & Christian themed psychedelic sounds that emanated from 1973’s privately pressed album, Given Time... Or the Several Roads, and their dormant, unreleased follow up No Mirrored Temple.
Few have pondered harder than Matthew Peregrine, creative director of the churchy early ‘70s folk ensemble Silmaril. The group met at a Catholic youth retreat, and Peregrine was a practicing Catholic Pentacostal. (The Pentacostals are the ones who believe that, to be saved, they must go beyond gossiping and mumbling hymns, have a “personal relationship” with God, and let the Big Fella breathe down their necks at all times.) The Silmaril kids were also, as some of you may have discerned by now, fascinated with the thick arcania of Tolkein. But it wasn’t just a filtered fascination with the black art of imagination that gave Silmaril’s music a self-destructive edge. No, Matthew Peregrine was very, very gay, and no amount of evangelical fervor could change the tingle in his loins. Years after Silmaril dissolved, he became a hardcore leatherman. But, right here, we’re stuck in his conflicted, ascetic, gay-for-Jesus hell. And, man, is it compelling. Silmaril cut one LP in its time on this earth, the weirdly forlorn (but disturbingly optimistic!) Given Time or the Several Roads. It consisted mostly of acoustic ballads, usually detached (in a wannabe-mystic sort of way) but sometimes remarkably tender and wise (“Given Time”). The voices, both male and female, bleed a poisoned irony that can only come from extreme self-consciousness, and thus drink deep of the mortal pain that gives music soul. This is no hippie freakout. This is a deep, resonant conflict. It’s art defined by elements in its creators that they could not release through any other avenue.

Y comienza 'Poustinia'... y lo hace uno de los discos más sugerentes que recuerdo. Ha sido recuperado y redescubierto por Locust para nuestra fortuna. Todo un rare earth que tengo de camino a casa. En 'The Voyage of Icarus' se descubre un acid-folk cristiano que más allá de ornamentaciones y ambientes oníricos, está maniatado por un halo de misterio y de cierto vacío en su ambiente, así, van liberando en bellísimas canciones sus confesiones. 19 canciones son y ninguna abandona lo acústico, en ellas, las evocadores y sugerentes voces conducen a unas melodías del amanecer y entre tanto, alguna vez, el fervor cristiano se cuela por la ventana. Cuando se acaba, a uno se la hace difícil escoger con cual de todas ella le gustaría despertarse al día siguiente, con 'Vespers' quizá. Para colocarlo al lado de Fuchsia, Mellow Candle, Forest o sino, con otros cristianos como Harvest Flight.


Jan 4, 2008

robert wyatt

Since a listening copy of 'Comicopera' turned up a few weeks back, it's hardly left the office stereo. At 62 years of age the ex-Soft Machine drummer could have easily called it a day by now, he's made his mark on the music scene both as a member of one of progressive rock's most important acts and also as a hugely creative solo artist in his own right. But at an age where most artists shrivel up only to emerge for cash-in live shows or charity appearances, Wyatt just seems to get better and better and with "Comicopera" he has pieced together his most beguiling album to date and quite easily one of the years most incredible releases. 'Comicopera' is divided into three acts, the first 'Lost in Noise' being the most straightforward sonically, highlighting Wyatt's talent for writing leftfield pop music of the most sublime kind. The second act 'The Here and the Now' is jazzy and playful, while the third 'Away with the Fairies' is the most unusual, with tracks sung in Italian and Spanish and sparsely accompanied by discordant, dark instrumentals. Wyatt has long been championed by critics but largely ignored by the record-buying public so it seems right that Domino, drunk with their successes with the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand have put their funds into something truly remarkable and culturally important and given one of the millennium's most fascinating albums adequate support. With songs such as the loungey 'Just as You Are' the comical 'Be Serious' and the melancholy 'You You' straddling such oddities as 'Cancion de Julieta' and the Gamelan-inspired 'Pastafari' there seems no doubt that a new generation of Wyatt listeners will emerge from the mists and will discover a world of genuinely forward-thinking music. The rest of us will simply be dying to hear what the great man does next, one gets the feeling that 'Comicopera' is just the beginning of a very rewarding relationship.

Ahora que publicaciones de referencia, para algunos, se acuerdan de él, las reverencias de muchos acompañan y van detrás, hasta Domino edita el disco. Al final, lo importante es la música y que Robert aún guarda energías para hacernos disfrutar y soñar, y a mí, no se me ocurre mejor manera de iniciar un nuevo año, que con uno de los músicos que más significado tiene en esta pequeña aldea. Siento ser así de cuesto con él, pero no hay más tiempo.