I'll go out on a limb and suggest that most any ornithologist is a sweetie. Throw in some St. Francis of Assisi, chromesthesia or sound-to-color synesthesia, church organist, birdsong, modes of limited transposition, and Japanese music and you've got an unbeatable recipe for loveliness. I will also note that Olivier Messiaen held the position of Professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatoire from 1941 until his retirement in 1978 and that is by far the loveliest job title I know of—Professor of Harmony. Olivier Messiaen also composed some pure lovely music and if you act within the next 3 days, you can get yourself a whole flock for a prix spécial pittance.
Lydia can be described as a distant descendant of Captain Beefheart minus the stupendous creativity but making up for it with East Village elan and leather. Crunchy guitars, screaming sax, big band hootenanny, razzmatazz, a breezy cover of "Spooky", a gloomy cover of "Gloomy Sunday", and always that lovely lazy Lydia barely in key crooning over the top. Steamy. For an amazing story behind listening to Queen of Siam (at least it was amazing to us) and a much better description of its songs, check out my friend Stephen Mejias' post re: same over on Stereophile.
Noise. Music. Sometimes I enjoy listening to music that borders on, dips more than a big toe in, noise. Brutal, primitive, emotive, transgressive, pulse-pounding, attitude-ridden sonic mayhem. Going all the way back to Italian Futurist painter and composer Luigi Russolo's manifesto The Art of Noises from 1913, the sound of industry, noise, has been invading music ever since. The same era brought us the Dada movement with its healthy dose of non-sense which was first and foremost a reaction to the brutality of war which weaved its way into art, music, poetry, theatre, literature and more. Asian Women on the Telephone (AWOTT) strike me as a descendant of both.
Rarely has one week sounded so good. A quintet of releases of stunning sonic proportions! Here we have music to fit many moods from quiet introspection to percolating Argentinian pop, to brooding noir-colored chanson, electronic dreams, and dreamy tales. I don't have a favorite among these five wonderful releases unless you talk to me while I'm listening to one in which case it will be it.
Beautiful music seems to constantly recede. Just when you've found a piece, the next time you grab for it its gone. Or so it seems to go most often, familiarity breeds loss, or something along those lines. Tim Hecker's newest, Virgins just released on the Kranky label, houses layers of beauty. Virgins was available on NPR's First Listen and I streamed the crap out of it right up until they shut it down when the record was released. So I bought it.
As fas I'm concerned, everyone needs a little Blixa in their life. Actually more than a little and I've certainly made due with more than my fair share. From his earliest and most clamorous days with Einstürzende Neubauten to Silence is Sexy, to his stint as a Bad Seed with Nick Cave, and even his outing with Alva Noto, I've been enjoying Blixa in one form or another for decades. And its been rich and rewarding. Now we've got Still Smiling his collaboration with Italian composer Teho Teardo that adds strings courtesy of The Balanescu Quartet and cellist Martina Bertoni to Blixa's multilingual vocals and Teardo's guitar. Lovely.
A kaleidoscopic sound collage of cinematic proportions. Big, bold musical movements with glimpses of sheer beauty shattered by glitchy staccato breaks and fractured voices. This is Daniel Lopatin's first release on the Warp label and its a doozy all dreamy and space-age sounding. Listening to R Plus Seven feels like a journey through transmogrified space morphing city and country, present and past, inside and out, ultimately ending up in some far off synthetic future.
It all started yesterday with a comment from philipjohnwright on the NPR Music app post, "My particular favourites are the Tiny Desk concerts where you get pared back performances from a very eclectic range of artists." Which reminded me of the wonderful Tiny Desk Concert featuring Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal (do yourself a favor and click that arrow, sit back, and enjoy). Which led me to look for it in download form (no success but that's OK since I own the LP) but I did find another interesting record featuring Ballaké Sissoko and Stranded Horse called Thee. Which led me to post on Facebook, a rare occurrence, "Is there such a thing as bad kora music?".
It's been a tad crazy around here lately. For many reasons. Hectic, kinda frenzied, always feeling as if you're not done even when you've just finished. There's always something else. Which helps explain my very recent infatuation with Takeshi Nishimoto's Lavandula. Classically trained guitarist Nishimoto plucks his way around moods and movements tinged with electronics from Robert Lippok (To Rococo Rot) for a peaceful journey to nowhere in particular. Lovely, meandering, low key, and oh-so-soothing.
Sexy soul. FKA (Formerly Known As) twigs' EP2 4-track EP is a lovely, slow, smoldering, sexy beast of a record. Alejandro Ghersi aka Arca lends a helping hand with crunchy crushing beats and blips behind twigs' stunning siren song vocals. Just released on Young Turks (home of The XX and SBTRKT), EP2 contains some of my favorite fragile forlorn otherworldly love songs so far this year. Totally tasty and it sounds big and badass on the hi-fi.
Do you know the Sublime Frequencies record label? If not, and you like your music served up with spices from around the world, you'll love Sublime Frequencies. The label is owned and operated by Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls, Alvarius B.) and Hisham Mayet and the duo along with others travel the world and bring home music you would otherwise never get to hear. Part of what I love about Sublime Frequencies is it makes you realize that even in this seemingly connected world there are an infinite number of people and places that lie outside what we're served up through that big corporate filter we call entertainment.
If I make a list at the end of this year, Julia Holter's Loud City Song on Domino Records will surely be near the tippy top. I'm almost reluctant to try to pigeon hole its sound but I'm reminded of bits and pieces of Kurt Weill and Laurie Anderson but most of all I'm reminded of Julia Holter. Only better. Yea, I'm going on that limb and suggest that Loud City Song is her most mature sounding and fully realized release yet which kinda makes sense as its also her first true studio release. And I liked last year's Exstasis just fine. But I'm learning to love Loud City Song.
With a spate of super releases coming next week including those from Julia Holter, Julianna Barwick, and Zola Jesus, I thought it would be kinda nice to take a look back at a ground-breaking gem from 1969 that could be seen as an important influence on the bunch. At least I hear it that way. Brigitte Fontaine's Comme à la Radio, her first album with Areski Belkacem who would become her long time partner, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago is so tasty it hurts. Spare instrumentation with worldly accents accompany Ms. Fontaine's breathy spoken sung vocals for a carnival of strangeness that is neither jazz nor pop but remains as playful and fresh as if it just blossomed yesterday.
Lee Hazlewood Industries (LHI) put out a bunch of records in the '60s and '70s including Honey Ltd's one and only self-titled album from 1968. I have a soft spot for so-called girl groups like the Shangri-Las and The Feminine Complex so when I saw that Light In The Attic re-issued Honey Ltd. The Complete LHI Recordings remastered from the original mono tapes, I dove into its sweetness head first. If you dig this kind of music, I do in carefully prescribed doses, and its slightly off-kilter weirdness infested as it is with semi-psychedelic fuzzy flourishes, sometimes sappy orchestration, and waning innocence, all the while retaining those big harmony-induced hooks, you'll want to dip into some Honey Ltd.