Monday, July 27, 2009

dêti z havel 2. - a most mysterious rhythm

During the encore of her concert with The Bang on a Can All-Stars, which appears on the highly recommended DVD, Superchameleon, Iva Bittová had them singing a round which went

“Smetaná, Dvorak and Janacek are the most famous composers of the Czech Republic, they often write to a most mysterious rhythm”.
It’s been noted that odd time signatures come very naturally to the Czechs. Oddly, though, this collection may be a bit more straight forward, has more rock-y pieces included, but the stretched forms are still prevalent. Someone once suggested to me that the Czech scene must be drawing on King Crimson. To which my response was, well, Robert Fripp was drawing on Bartok, and the Czechs probably drew on both Bartok and his folkloric sources, not to mention the composers noted above. They had no need to go through an English rock filter to reach their own traditions. An indication of this is Iva Bittová’s disc with her sister Dorothea Kellerová of Bartok’s 44 Duets for Two Violins, in which they add extemporaneous singing to his string writing, in effect, making obvious the link between the concert hall and the village origins of the music. A couple brief excerpts from this disc are found in this compilation. Like the prior collection, I made this for a CD swap group to which I belong. Unlike the other one, I never sent it out, as I was already sending two other unrelated mixes at the same time and it just seemed a bit much to expect them to be able to digest. Last evening I listened through it and opted to swap out a couple of pieces and rearrange the order slightly. I could only draw on recordings I have of course, and while I have quite a few discs from the Czech Republic, they tend to be multiple albums by the same small group of people, rather than a large varied pool of artists. There’s a lot more to be discovered there, and I hope these collections prompt people to delve further. I wrote notes for this collection, but I can’t find them so I will re-write them on the fly.

01. Paranoid Like Me - Sing Sing (5:03)
02. Nebojím Sa - Dogma (4:20)
03. La Vie Prochaine - Boo (4:15)
04. Mali - Klar (2:29)
05. Vysocka Stolicka - Z Kopce / Osklid (3:14)
06. Nemilovany Svet - Uz Jsme Doma (2:52)
07. Azpak - Uz Jsme Doma (5:36)
08. Flandaci - MCH Band (3:38)
09. Widze Widze - Tara Fuki (3:25)
10. Niagara - Slede, Zive Slede (2:16)
11. Moondance - Rale (4:03)
12. Dunaj (The Danube) III. Allegro - Brno Philharmonic Orchestra [Janacek] (3:07)
13. Krasobruslar - Filip Topol & The Agon Orchestra (4:11)
14. Kazani na Hore / The Sermon on the Mount - The Plastic People of the Universe & The Agon Orchestra (6:54)
15. Moravian Folk Song - Iva Bittová, Skampa Quartet (3:56)
16. Slovakian Song - Iva Bittová, Dorothea Kellerová [Bartok] (0:50)
17. Slovakian Song II. - Iva Bittová, Dorothea Kellerová [Bartok] (0:53)
18. Nemám Jen Oci Krásné - Vaclavek, Ostransky, Suzanna Jelínková (2:01)
19. Bitevní Pole - Domáci Kapela (4:40)
20. I Sweep But Don't Clean - Pulnoc (6:53)
21. Wondering - Klar (3:49)

download [CD rips | mp3 - 320 kbps | 164 MB]

Sunday, July 26, 2009

dêti z havel 1. - moravian soul beat

dêti z havel (dyetyi zh havel - children (out) of Havel) the impetus for the title and compilation was a quote from Vaclav Havel's liner notes for Pulnoc's 1991 recording City of Hysteria, an unsuccessful attempt by Arista to break them in the US. Pulnoc was an offshoot of The Plastic People, looking back to their rockier roots ala Velvet Underground. These notes were actually written in 1984, which accounts for references which were already part of the past in 1991, but were and are still relevant, I think. Note: the original text was all lower case and I have maintained that here.

"the plastics live in prague. in czechoslovakia. in central europe. their spiritual home is this ethnically, culturally and historically diverse focus of european history. traditionally, this has been the first battleground and the first victim in struggles which begin as european struggles, and end up as something worldwide. it is a crossroads of both european ideas and european armies, the inevitable object of geopolitical interests and a target of modern weapons, impending dangers always seem to be felt here first, and more urgently than elsewhere. it is a great reservoir of differences and a great gene pool of ideas that emanate from it, ideas that are often bizarre and difficult to fathom and yet which sometimes prove to be surprisingly farsighted. prague - that "magical city" built on a medieval town plan - lies at the very centre of this central europe, and though from a distance it may seem no more than the artificially ornate capital of an artificially ornate soviet satellite, it breathes its own irrepressible breath, which is continually bursting to the surface, and imparting its own qualities to imported structures.

prague teenagers don't need to read meyrink, kafka, musil, hasek, klima or hrabal, and they don't need to listen to schoenberg or webern, they don't need to know much history - and still, they will be central european in their sensibilities, their black humor, their grotesque fantasy, their mistrust of inflated rhetoric, their feeling that a generalized threat hangs over them, and the defenses they adopt against it, as well as the disgust they feel with the world - these will always betray their origins.

... some highly specific information about the existential fine tuning of people who find themselves in a place where the knots of history are tied and unraveled."

I took this as emblematic not only of Prague or Bohemia, but the entire country, of the generation contemporaneous with the Plastics and the next one that followed after them. This first collection is centered in and around Brno in Moravia, a solarized picture of which serves as the image, though certain bands are based in Prague or elsewhere within the borders.

moravian soul beat

01. Flageolety - Pavel Fajt & Pluto (4:52)
02. Sinfonietta 1. Allegretto - Leos Janacek - Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra (2:14)
03. Kocka - Iva Bittová & Cikori (6:11)
04. .. A Dny Jak Padli Andele Prsty Ryji Hlinu - Vladimir Vaclavek (4:52)
05. Baba Aga - Jablkon (2:13)
06. Krajina Ró - Jablkon & Sveceny (7:39)
07. Giordano Bruno - MCH Band (5:34)
08. Krasobruslar - Psi Vojaci (3:17)
09. Na Jih - Southwards - Dunaj (4:40)
10. Tango - Tara Fuki (2:53)
11. I'm Going - Rale (4:05)
12. Popí Rondo - Jablkon & Sveceny (3:04)
13. Bare - Vladimir Vaclavek (2:59)
14. Samson - The Plastic People (5:17)
15. Dr. Feigelstock - Mikolás Chadima & Pavel Fajt (2:53)
16. Za Nasím - Iva Bittová & Pavel Fajt (0:58)
17. Bozí Dárek - Iva Bittová & Pavel Fajt (2:31)
18. Padá Rosa Studená - Vaclavek, Ostransky, Suzanna Jelínková (2:23)
19. Hluboko Pod Zemí - Dunaj (4:51)
20. Masopust - Pluto (3:37)
21. Zpivá (Sings) - The Plastic People (3:18)

download [CD rips | mp3 - 320 kbps | 165 MB]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

mars - live @ irving plaza august 4 1978

I saw Sumner Crane as the savant of no wave. He didn't seem to be chasing rock stardom or a Soho art career. Mars terrorized lower Manhattan for about two years, committing 32 minutes of themselves to tape for the ages. Bassist Mark Cunningham writes in his liner notes to Mars - The Complete Studio Recordings: NYC 1977-1978 (G3G/Spooky Sound), "As Sumner once described it, it was a regression from ten to one, and so we reached an end." Crane, who died in 2003, told me he started listening to jazz as a kid, and that jazz, cool or chaotic, always felt like something humans had built piece by piece - the drums go here, this part is added to that. But his first encounter with Jerry Lee Lewis left him dumbfounded and disoriented. Here was something that seemed to have arrived fully formed from outer space. Mars were an alien force as well, with mangled pop hooks and gallows humor percolating through a stumbling, relentless urban squall. I got to see them once, at Max's Kansas City December '78, which seems to have been their final show. Clearly they had completed the mission and were moving on, with Crane spending much of the set blowing a battered trumpet from a battered chair.

live @ irving plaza august 4 1978

01 Outside Africa 2.30
02 Puerto Rican Ghost 1.36
03 Hairwaves 3.50
04 Fractions 3.12
05 Ich Bin Squat 3.20
06 N.N.End* 14.29
07 Eno's Autograph Session .40

Sumner Crane / Connie Burg / Mark Cunningham / Nancy Arlen
*and Rudolph Grey
Recorded live @ Irving Plaza NYC by Brian Eno (on safari) August 4 1978

cassette @320

super boiro band - niaissa & sa trompette

First album by another great Guinean regional orchestra, this one made up of Camp Boiro prison guards. Since Super Boiro were not releasing singles at this point, the best stuff was not being siphoned off, making this one of the better Syliphone long players. Note: original download was missing tracks two and three, link has been corrected as of 07/23. Believe me, you need the whole enchilada.

super boiro band
niaissa & sa trompette
syliphone slp 32 (1972)

01 Mariama (tentemba) 7.45
02 P.D.G. (bolon-rumba) 3.45
03 Kankou (yankadi) 4.38
04 Donsoke (soko-son) 4.32
05 Dioulou Maloyara (yankadi) 4.40
06 Yarabi Kani (rumba-guinée) 4.38
07 Singa (merengué) 3.02
08 Super Boiro Band (yankadi) 4.00
09 M'Ma Wouyama (merengué) 4.30
10 Sokho Yo (tentemba) 4.30

vinyl @320

steve reich: live / electric music

Steve Reich was one of the early musicians that fell into the loose genre eventually known as "minimalism", which may be a bit of an unfortunate name, but it will do. There can be considerable argument as to the origin of this type of music, and it could easily be said that numerous Asian cultures have been using drone-like musics for millennia. Certainly, Terry Riley started in the very early 1960s, and his contemporary LaMonte Young brought a great deal of force to this movement when he involved powerhouses such as the young John Cale and Tony Conrad in New York in 1964. But these were musicians playing instruments.

Steve Reich loved his tape machine. His earliest works, Come Out and It's Gonna Rain both employed spoken word with multiple copies repeated continuously at ever-so-slightly different speeds and allowed to run in and out of phase with each other. Come Out uses the simple phrase "come out to show them" and runs it for 10 minutes or so. It's Gonna Rain has 2 parts of about that length, the first uses the simple "it's gonna rain" while part 2 utilizes at least half a dozen fragments of a few words each, and weaves them all over each other. Magnificent! It takes up the entire album side of a Columbia Masterworks LP. While Come Out is often cited because it is simpler and was released first, I favor It's Gonna Rain because of its greater depth and complexity.

The other side of the vinyl LP Live/Electric Music is Violin Phase featuring Paul Zukofsky. I love this piece and consider it one of the towering masterpieces in all of minimalist music. It is grand, stately, and a perfect meditative tempo. Tragically and unconscionably, when the CD was released, the piece was re-recorded at a hyper-frantic tempo! It sounds ridiculous, and I cannot forgive Reich for utterly ruining one of his masterpieces! It sounds like he took the original 33rpm and played it, not at 45rpm, but at 78rpm. Heinous!
-i wish i was your catfish @ eBay guides

steve reich
live / electric music
violin phase / it's gonna rain
columbia masterworks ms 7265 (1968)
01 Violin Phase 23.37 w/ Paul Zukofsky 1967
02 It's Gonna Rain 17.35 w/ Brother Walter 1965

vinyl @ 320