Monday, October 19, 2009

Iva Bittová / Dunaj

Iva Bittová was here at Mills College this past Thursday, so it seems like a good time to post this, which I've had ready for awhile. In the mid 90's the possibility arose of reissuing Dunaj's first album, from when they were Bittová's backing group. The principals involved decided that while the songs were good, they were not happy with the recording quality. Instead of reissuing the record, Bittová and original drummer, Pavel Fajt, joined with the then current lineup of Dunaj, the late Jiri Kolsovsky, Josef Ostransky, Vladimir Vaclavek and Pavel Koudelka, to re-record almost the entire album plus some additional tracks and release it under the monicker, Pustit Musis, the refrain lifted from the song Roztocena. Only Sen and Kobylky were not re-recorded, although by then Dunaj without Iva had already re-recorded the latter twice, for Rosol and IV. They then did a few gigs together. In the comments I will post links to Youtube clips of two songs which appear here.

The recording is a bit primitive in spots. I can understand why they were not satisfied with it and felt they could do better. Still, it shows a group fully formed, with excellent songs and arrangements and superb musicianship on their debut recording. The Dunaj stamp of emotionally charged minimalism, simple parts overlapping in rather surprising rhythmic patterns, is already apparent. We find them already collaborating with lyricists Karel David, and Vladimir Kokolia, who also did the cover art and worked with Vaclavek and Ostransky in E. For all its rather unsympathetic production, it was still one of 1988's most stunning rock albums. The Czech indie scene, which came into its own in the 1990's, begins here.

01. Ouvertura 1:31
02. Kase 2:31
03. Dunaj 3:07
04. V Bilem 4:39
05. Bumerang 2:59
06. Sen 2:37
07. Dvoka Svine 2:30
08. Zrcadlovy Sál 2:51
09. Kobylky 5:52
10. Rukama 3:24
11. Roztocena 3:54
12. V Cernem 3:39

Iva Bittová - Vocals, Percussion
Vladimir Vaclavek - Bass Guitar, Percussion, Guitar, Vocals
Pavel Fajt - Drums, Percussion
Jiri Kolsovsky - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Josef Ostransky - Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
Pavel Richter - Guitar
, Percussion, Vocals

Kobylky - Grass Hoppers

Like grass hoppers, like horses
like locusts, like mange
like cholera, and like a storm
I'll give it to you one day!

Look and seek
Listen and sniff
Pour water into holes
unleash blood/hounds

Like grass hoppers and like horses
like a pack of rats and like a stench
like a pale moon on the bottom of the sea
I'll give it to you one day!

-Pavel Fajt

download | Vinyl rip | mp3-320kpbs | 84 mb | Scans |

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kahondo Style - A Selection

When La Folie du Jour posted a selection from Kahondo Style's albums, Lucky expressed the desire to hear the whole of My Heart's in Motion. I didn't think I could better his rips, so I've only included the tracks he left out. The earlier rips included all but one of the tuneful tracks, so these are mostly the ones that betray the new music, improvisational roots of the band. Bassist, cellist Stuart Jones, had been in Gentle Fire with Hugh Davies and Richard Bernas, guitarist, bouzouki player, Peter Cusack and trombonist, Alan Tomlinson come out of the Bead Records circle of second generation improvisers, Clive Bell had worked with the Ritual Theatre and was nearly in Henry Cow, Sianed Jones went on to the superb Slant with Cris Cheek and Philip Jeck, instrument inventor, Max Eastley, had appeared on Eno's Obscure series and Kuzuko Hohki lead The Frank Chickens. I think KS is at its best on the song oriented work where their improv and arranging skills produce stunning results, but these tracks make for a more complete picture. The range of timbres available to these multi-instrumentalists is extraordinary. Check out, for instance, the showcase for Eastley's Musical Arc and Tomlinson's trombone, Ant by Ant Leaf by Leaf or the group improvisation of Games with the Lights. There is one tuneful ditty as well, Lonely Tear Drop, which puts the more experimental ones in context. If you've downloaded the LFdJ tracks and want to assemble a complete album, I've provided tracks 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 11 of the original 12.

In addition, I was going through some old cassettes and found one marked Kahondo Style, which I'd completely forgotten about. Two tracks I must have taped off KBOO in Portland that were recorded at the Knitting Factory on November 14, 1989, a concert at which I was present. The lineup is the same as appeared on their second album, Green Tea and Crocodiles, Bell, Cusack, Jones, Jones, Tomlinson, Steve Noble, only with Viv Corringham in place of Kazuko Hohki. These tracks show something of the spirit and energy of the live band, as Cusack introduces No More Gravity with an excellent Bouzouki solo. The humor and theater that Tomlinson brings to the proceedings have to be seen to be believed however. He's a bit like Lol Coxhill in that respect. The friend I was staying with found out from Stuart Jones that Tomlinson had no place to sleep while in New York, so he stayed with us during those few days of New Music America and I got to know him a little bit, a great guy.

Games with the Lights 9:40
Last Minute Jingle 1:13
Jaws of Glass 3:24
Lonely Tear Drop 3:13
Ant by Ant Leaf by Leaf 5:25
Mongoose 2:37
Programs on the Air 4:42

No More Gravity (Live) 8:02
Tokyo Ondo (Live) 5:12

download | Vinyl / Tape rips | mp3-320 kbps | 91 mb | Scan |

Friday, October 9, 2009

Voices of Matsulu

Intrigued by Chris Cutler's description of it in the catalog, as a startling, electronic document, or something to that effect, I obtained Voices of Matsulu from Recommended, along with Adio Kattalina by Oskorri, Feliu i Joan Albert and perhaps one or two other albums. Produced by Estonian Radio for the nature preserve, Voices of Matsulu was recorded by biologist Fred Jüssi between 1976-1979 and released on the Soviet Label, Melodiya in 1982.

This makes for an interesting contrast with the recording of birds in Venezuela, which was posted here by reservatory awhile back, but has its own beauty with moments of surprising drama. As I don't yet have scans, I've copied the English portion of the liner notes below. For more information see

Matsulu Bay is situated on the west coast of the Estonian SSR and it is one of the places richest in birdlife in the Baltic area. Observations of birds began to be made here already in 1870. The rich bird population is due to the existence of unique habitats. The more characteristic of these are reed-beds (3.000 ha), the water-meadows of the Kasari River (4.000 ha), coastal meadows and pastures, and islands in the sea.

For the protection of the peculiar nature of the area a state nature reserve was set up here in 1957. The Matsulu State Nature Reserve was included in Group A of ornitological reserves of all-European importance in 1962, and in 1975 it was accorded the status of a wetland of international significance (48,643 ha). 126 species of birds nest in the reserve and a total of 259 species had been observed here by the autumn of 1979. Matsulu as a whole is a veritable pearl of Estonian nature.

This record includes a selection of sound pictures typical of the reed-beds, water-meadows, seaside pastures, and islets of Matsulu. While making the recordings the author spent unforgettable days and nights under the skies of the nature reserve. Hence the wish to convey to the listener not only the sounds of Matsulu, but also something of its beauty.

1. Whooper Swans 1:36

2. Reed-beds 17:12
a. Midnight in the reed-beds (Spotted Crake, Bittern) 1:35
b. Great Reed Warbler (Tufted Duck, Redshank) 0:49
c. Reed Warbler 1:03
d. Sedge Warbler (Curlew) 1:17
e. Savi's Warbler 1:31
f. Reed Bunting 2:09
g. Black-headed Gull 2:13
h. Black Tern 1:06
i. Moorhen 1:22
j. Water Rail 2:08
k. Starling 1:41

3. Water-Meadows and Coastal Pastures 9:39
a. Midnight of Water-Meadows (Reed Warbler, Corncrake) 1:35
b. Corncrake 1:23
c. Marsh Warbler (Cuckoo, Garden Warbler) 2:13
d. River Warbler 0:47
e. Grasshopper Warbler 0:48
f. Barred Warbler (Blackbird, Thrush Nightingale, Corncrake) 1:51
g. Blacktailed Godwit 1:03

4. See Isles 6:38
a. Spring morning on See islet (Oystercatcher) 3:40
b. Caspian tern 1:04
c. Common Gull, herring gull 0:55
d. Greenfinch, Oystercatcher, Barnacle Goose, Redshank 0:57

5. Crane 2:32

download |Vinyl rip | .Flac | 162.3 MB

Friday, October 2, 2009

bembeya jazz sous la direction de diaoune hamidou

Bembeya's debut album somehow escaped reincarnation as a cheesy Syllart CD. Since all Syliphone master tapes seem now to be extinct (Sterns Africa's CD anthologies rely on borrowed vinyl), maybe Syllart had the same problem a decade before, skipping SLP4 because they were unable to come up with a clean copy to rip.

bembeya jazz national
sous la direction de diaoune hamidou
syliphone slp4 (1967)

01 Djanfamagni 4.17
02 Almamy Mamaren 3.40
03 Dembaty Galant 3.28
04 Guinée Hety Horémoun 4.31
05 Minuit 3.08
06 Bembeyako 3.04
07 Air-Guinée 3.22
08 Djamana Bara Sabati 3.32
09 Trafiquant 3.11
10 Loi-Cadre 3.55

vinyl @320

unwound - live in london ep

The flip side of Jimmy Webb, a swoon of dissonance as lush and dense and precise as Webb's sonority. Frontman Justin Trosper doesn't really wring chords or solos out of his guitar, concentrating on tone clusters and smeared chiming instead. From Tumwater, Washington, a few miles south of Olympia (exit I-5 @ ancestral Trosper Rd.), Unwound inspired cult worship throughout the nineties and beyond. A Portland friend dragged me outside to see them on their farewell tour, for which I am eternally grateful. This 12" finds our heroes playing for John Peel on May 20 1998. Call right now and you will receive bonus material including a perfect Unwound single from '96 as well as a compilation track by the Waydowns (a local teenage guitar-drum machine duo) released on Unwound bassist Vern Rumsey's Punk In My Vitamins label. Finally, a taste of Lifelikeweeds, a guitar duo featuring Eric Chenaux of Toronto's Rat Drifting collective, who appears to be in around sixty bands at any given time. Rat Drift for yourself @ eclectic grooves, then check out shiny grey monotone to see where I stole the shot of Unwound in flight.

live in london ep
loveletter lvlt 004 (1999)

01 Hexenszene 5.09
02 Side Effects Of Being Tired 6.28
03 Kantina / Were, are and was or is 9.46
04 Corpse Pose 3.05
05 Everything Is Weird 2.52
06 (Untitled) 2.31
07 The house is in between the porch and the barbeque on mouth speed 6.49

vinyl, cd and download @320

jimmy webb - cloudman demos 1972

Up Up And Away, By The Time I Get To Phoenix and MacArthur Park made Jimmy Webb a very wealthy young man. So he did what any happening 21 year old songwriter would do in 1968. He moved into the former Philippine Embassy in Hollywood and filled it with fifty of his closest friends, a green baby grand piano and (one imagines) drugs. Back then, I avoided The 5th Dimension and their flower power pep rally shtick like the plague, but MacArthur Park was harder to hate. Irish stage veteran Richard Harris, a singing King Arthur in the movie adaptation of Camelot, seemed an unlikely candidate for Top 40 appeal, and the overwrought seven minute epic he tackled after The Association turned it down was, well, slightly insane. But I always listened to the whole thing when it appeared on the car radio, unsure whether it was a psychedelic delusion or a brilliant hoax. In the early seventies, during a brief stint as a gofer (mole) in the LA music biz, I heard Joe Cocker's version of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and puzzlement turned to admiration overnight. Maybe it was sappy next to the Fun House and Faust Tapes I needed after ten hours in Studio A with Lon And Derek Van Eaton, but stately and heartfelt and flat-out beautiful as well. Webb knew his way around chord structure and melody like no one I'd ever been exposed to and filled a need I never knew I had. I kept the whole thing a secret for decades. These demos are straight to the point, just composer (in unusually good voice) and piano and some really good songs. Songs that, underneath all the pretty, are as fevered and deranged as Gary Wilson's 6.4 = Make Out, with Webb as Cloudman becoming vapor to haunt a beloved creature his obsession has driven away. I've also included When Can Brown Begin, from the Letters album for which these demos were intended. The title comes from a comment Sammy Davis Jr. made as he and Webb commiserated over cocktails one night in Vegas. Weary of the 'all-in-fun' racism his show biz pals routinely shoved in his face (clown of vengeance Jerry Lewis dragged him onto his live ABC TV variety fiasco in 1963 to ask about his recent triumph at the legendary Carnigger Hall), Sammy decreed it was time the world moved beyond black and white, to... brown?? Scatological implications aside, explaining how salt and pepper 'cook' together and fire and water make steam still seems like a dubious path to racial harmony. But there it is in all its glory, to musical accompaniment worthy of God's own choir. The coda features a smoky horn winding a path through one of Webb's immaculate chord progressions, which steps steadily skyward as violins saw away on a Möbius strip of ascending spirals that runs out of fretboard as it curls back for another run up the ladder. Avant MOR. He's here, he's air, get used to it.

jimmy webb
cloudman demos 1972
rhino handmade rhm2 7820 (2004)

01 Saturday Suit 3.01
02 Cloudman 3.44
03 Fingerpaint Me 3.53
04 Mr. Shuck And Jive 3.30
05 Simile 3.31
06 Piano 4.08
07 When Can Brown Begin 4.16

How much do I love you?
Just as far as I can reach you now
But the floor feels cold this morning
Yes, I feel there's nothing left to teach you now
Soon, sweet lady, you will walk away from me
Into your own reality
But just remember air
Air is everywhere
The cloudman always sees it there
And waits to paint you pictures on the wind around you
Please recall the days when love found you
When the tide breeze rustling curtains in the summer evening
Bears the imprint of some distant twinkling chimes
Think about the cloudman sometimes
Think about me sometime.

cd @320