Friday, July 25, 2008

Alain Goraguer - La Planète Sauvage (1973)


In 2000, the European label DC Recordings reissued on CD the soundtrack from the cult sci-fi animated film La Planète Sauvage (released in English as The Fantastic Planet). The René Laloux film, which won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, was supported by a soundtrack by Alain Goraguer, mostly known for his work as Serge Gainsbourg's arranger. Goraguer's music consists of 25 short vignettes. Each is a contextualized adaptation of one of three main musical themes. The main theme is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother Suite" (same half-time tempo, mellotron, harpsichord, and wah-wah guitar), and the other two are a ballad and a circus-like waltz. The music is very '70s-clichéd and will appeal to fans of French and Italian '70s soundtrack stylings. Although repetitive, the album itself creates an interesting marijuana-induced sci-fi floating mood, blending psychedelia, jazz, and funk (the album has been sampled by a few hip-hop artists).

La Planète Sauvage
La Planète Sauvage

part 1





part 6


part 8

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Terry Riley - In C (1964)


In C is an aleatoric musical piece composed by Terry Riley in 1964 for any number of people, although he suggests "a group of about 35 is desired if possible but smaller or larger groups will work". As its title suggests, it is in the key of C. It is a response to the abstract academic serialist techniques used by composers in the mid-twentieth century and is often cited as the first minimalist composition.

The piece consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase he or she plays: players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase. The performance directions state that the musical ensemble should try to stay within two to three phrases of each other. The phrases must be played in order, although some may be skipped. As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician ("traditionally played by a beautiful girl," Riley notes) to play the note C (in octaves) in repeated eighth notes. This functions as a metronome and is referred to as "The Pulse".

In C has no set duration; performances can last as little as fifteen minutes or as long as several hours, although Riley indicates "performances normally average between 45 minutes and an hour and a half." The number of performers may also vary between any two performances. The original recording of the piece was created by 11 musicians (through overdubbing, several dozen instruments were utilized), while a performance in 2006 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall featured 124 musicians.

The piece begins on a C major chord (patterns one through seven) with a strong emphasis on the mediant E and the entrance of the note F which begins a series of slow progressions to other chords suggesting a few subtle and ambiguous changes of key, the last pattern being an alteration between Bb and G. Though the polyphonic interplay of the various patterns against each other and themselves at different rhythmic displacements is of primary interest, the piece may be considered heterophonic.


In C

Harvester - Hemat (1970)


International Harvester only played together for three years, the first under another name, but they were an influential group for Swedish progressive rock. While making sonic experiments and deep excursions into psychedelic rock, their biggest contribution was probably that they were the foundation on which the more famous group Träd, Gräs och Stenar was built. International Harvester started as the short-lived experimental group Pärsson Sound. The group formed in 1967 in Stockholm by guitarist Bo Anders Persson and included cello player Ericsson and violinist Yman, both with a musical education and playing on homemade electric instruments. Saxophonist Tidholm was a film student and a poet, drummer Gantz had played with the progressive dance orchestra Mecki Mark Men, and at times the band also included an extra drummer, Berger. Pärsson Sound was mainly an instrumental group and their music was not very accessible. At times they let a tape pass two tape recorders on stage, one recording and one playing, which meant the music returned, overdubbed and distorted in an increasing mass of tones and noise. They played a number of gigs at the club Filips, the main spot for progressive rock in Stockholm, and started to get more well-known after a festival in Kungsträdgården, where Don Cherry and Peps Persson also played. In 1968 they changed their name to International Harvester and abandoned the most extreme sonic experiments, instead putting the focus on folk music and psychedelic rock. Tidholm's vocals were allowed more space and in stressing the collective and improvising aspect, the band gave a hint of what would come with Träd, Gräs och Stenar a few years later. Living together in a collective, they made films and composed music, including the soundtrack for a few professional films. On Öjvind Fahlströms' Du Gamla du Fria, the band created and improvised all the music while the cameras were rolling. The debut album Sov Gott Rose-Marie was released in 1968 on Love, a Finish label, since there were no Swedish alternative labels around and no commercial labels were interested. But already in 1969 alternative labels had started to pop up, and with the name shortened to Harvester the band released their second album, Hemåt, on Decibel. Later that year, Tidholm and Yman left. Tidholm formed Hot Boys but was to become most well-known as a poet and a writer of plays and children's books. The remaining members formed Träd, Gräs och Stenar and toured Scandinavia intensely for a few years, taking the idea of interactivity one step further by involving the audience in the music making. With a climate increasingly receptive for psychedelic music Träd, Gräs och Stenar were more successful than International Harvester, but otherwise they had much in common, building on elements of psychedelic rock, blues-rock, and folk music. ~ Lars Lovén, All Music Guide

The lone album by this post-International Harvester group, originally issued in 1970, once again led by the academic tape-composer turned radical folkie psychedelicist Bo Anders Persson. Accompanied by an able body of co-conspirators including Thomas Gartz (drummer/glue of the Mecki Mark Men, whose LPs on the Limelight label are not to be missed), Torbjφrn Abelli, and let's not forget Ulla on small cymbals. Thunder-plod of magnificent tidal proportions, recalling the burnt splendor of the Träd, Gräs och Stenar Live Gardet 1970 set -- TGOS in fact were nothing more than a stripped down quartet version of Harvester! Another piece to the incestuous little jigsaw that was the 1967-1972 Swedish druggist music school dropout sector. Completely burnt, devoid of restraint, massive (some of the best sounding drums this side of Zeppelin, to boot). Blown through and through and through.


Pärson Sound - Pärson Sound (1967-68)


This is a completely astounding collection of dark shimmering drones and super heavy tranced out minimal psych-rock recorded in 1967 and '68. At times freaky and chaotic, but most often hypnotically locked into stoned grooves, this is some of the best heavy psych we've ever heard. Their shifting instrumentation (the list includes guitar, bass, drums, organ, double-bass, electric-cello, flute, cowbell, saxophone, hand drums, acoustic guitar, tape recorder, and...seance? huh?) is employed in both intricate and extended studio recordings and totally primal and euphoric live performances over the course of these two discs. Parson Sound crafted music that, while reminiscient of the Taj Mahal Travellers, Terry Riley, Flower Travelling Band and the like, is almost wholly their own. - Aquarius Records


01. Intro
02. Tio Minuter
03. From Tunis To India In Fullmoon (On Testosterone)
04. India (Slight Return)
05. A Glimpse Inside The Glyptotec-66
06. One Quiet Afternoon (In The Kings Garden)
07. Sov Gott Rose-Marie
08. Skrubba
09. Milano
10. On How To Live
11. Blåslåte

part 1
part 2

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kemado Launches New Vinyl Label Mexican Summer


September's the month we in the Northern Hemisphere grudgingly show summer to the door, but beginning September 2, the folks at Kemado Records will usher in summer year 'round.

The label is in the process of firing up a new vinyl/digital-only offshoot called Mexican Summer (hey, just like the Marissa Nadler song!). The imprint will focus on small-batch, hand-numbered releases on wax, each coupled with a download of all constituent jams. There will even be a record club-style subscription service, though those details appear to be forthcoming.

So what's in store for this Mexican Summer? First up is "Sätt Att Se", a previously mentioned 12" from Dungen limited to 1,000 copies and due September 2. The same day will also see the releases of Nachtmystium's "Worldfall" (1,000 copies) and Headdress' "Turquoise" album (500 copies).

Other fun stuff in queue: a reissue of Marissa Nadler's Ballads of Living and Dying (1,000) with a bonus unreleased 7", and a bonus 7"-bolstered edition of the Tallest Man on Earth's Shallow Grave on vinyl (1,000), both due November 11. After that, we can look forward to a Black Moth Super Rainbow picture disc (1,000), a double LP from Charles Manson associate Bobby Beausoleil & the Orkustra (1,000), and a 12" from Valet.

McDonald & Sherby :: Catharsis (1969)


"McDonald & Sherby's sole contribution to the canon of 20th century music was Catharsis, an album which originally appeared on the appropriately-named Omniscient label (Omniscient Records 1426S) Some have speculated that given the band's prog/psych leanings, Catharsis was probably recorded in the '70s, although the accepted wisdom is that the album was made at Minneapolis's Sound 80 Studios on 1969. The album consists of six long tracks with a decidedly heavy guitar-based vibe, all well- recorded and delivered with considerable aplomb."

This shit is just straight up groovy man! Front to back...


Monday, July 21, 2008

Taj Mahal Travellers

A film by Matsuo Ohno, 1973
Watch it here
and for your auditory pleasures...
Live Stockholm July, 1971
part 1part 2
August 1974

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trees Grass & Stones :: The Swedish Progg Movement

Here's a brilliant documentary on the Swedish Progg Movement. Featuring:
Träd Gräs Och Stenar
Hoola Bandoola
Hansson & Karlsson
part 1:

part 2:

part 3:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Ol' Duct Tape Messiah

Breaking news on the Blaze Foley documentary. Yesterday I got an email from Director/Producer Kevin Triplett stating that the film is almost finished and will make a very rare debut screening at the Paso Robles Film Festival this November.

Try your best to ignore the extremely annoying narrative voice in the trailer.

Blaze is about as good a songwriter as it gets if you ask me...

"If I Could Only Fly"

"Oval Room" (about Ronald Reagan)

John Prine covering Blaze's "Clay Pigeons"