Playlist from 10-3-10

1. Bengal Spice Mix  by End.  From Percussions, Tigerbeat6, 2004.

This playlist starts off with a danceable bang.  Not to be confused with Canada's metal band The End, or the British band, or the US record label, this End (sometimes capitalized or used with a period behind the word) is the work of NYC's Charles Peirce.  I haven't kept up with his newest music, but I've long been a fan of his 2004 release, The Sounds of Disaster, which mixes dance and breakbeat music with rock, rockabilly, and cinematic-sounding music to great effect.  I was listening to that record a lot during a period of immersing myself in some of JG Thirwell's instrumental music as Steroid Maximus, as the two share a similar approach and sound.  In the case of this track from the Percussions album, the source music used is from jazz and exotica sources, so it's  a more mellow experience than the Sounds of Disaster, but still very good.

Here's a recent video for an update on what he's been up to since these records:

2. Sagaie by 1980. From Self Titled, Trendkill Recordings, 2009.

1980 is a French band currently working in that ever-interesting field between metal and jazz influences.  So far, they only have one self-titled album, and it's a great first record.  1980 isn't afraid to use longer passages of mellow/introspective music when the need arises, which I appreciate.  On the other hand, they can throw and and thrash with the best of them, too.  And the jazz influence is legit: this gets far beyond the fake walking bass and swinging ride cymbal routine that some bands consider the "Jazz Odyssey."  Another good recommendation for those into Naked City, Silencio, and some other bands we'll continue to explore in coming weeks.

3.  Erase Yourself by Ron Miles.  From My Cruel Heart, Ryko/Gramavision, 1996.

In my opinion, My Cruel Heart might be the most under-rated, tragically under-appreciated albums of all time.  The follow-up album, Woman's Day, is no slouch, either.  Ron is a wonderfully sensitive trumpet player and composer, and on this album I understand that he was interested in exploring some sound ideas that occurred to him one day in a practice room at the University of Denver (my alma mater).  The old Lamont rooms were less than perfectly soundproof, and legend has it that Ron stopped practicing for a moment and became aware of a cool sound combination coming from the combination of a trumpet player in one adjoining room and an electric guitar player in the room on the other side.  Those kinds of juxtapositions, usually done in groups of two instruments playing "opposite" other pairs, happen in several awesome spots on this album.
That's not to say it's a harshly experimental record, however.  If you like your jazz more straight-forward, there are plenty of moments you'll love on this record.  And Ron has a knack for making the weirdest experiments and juxtapositions sound truly beautiful.  He's a great communicator with his music and his playing, and I wish more people got to hear his work.  For the moment, though, the records of this period are somewhat difficult to find, as Gramavision (Rykodisc) has let both of 'em slip out of print.  Fortunately for all of us, Ron's newer work, such as the amazing Stone/Blossom double disc, is available from Sterling Sound.
4.  Right Away by Pattern Is Movement.  From All Together, Hometapes, 2009.

This band started life as a five piece?--four piece?--I don't remember.  They've been living as a duo for their last couple of albums, though (drums and keys w/vocals), and it's remarkable how rich and full they sound.  From math-y beginnings among other Philly and NYC avant-rock acts, their mature sound focuses on gorgeous melodies and rich, sonorous arrangements.  All Together is a short but incredibly potent album, and one of those rare records that manages to be "serious" while leaving you in a happier mood for having heard it.  These songs/melodies are incredibly memorable, too, so don't be surprised if you're humming half of the album as you walk down a street days later.

5. Le Silo by Le Silo.  From 8.8, Tutinoko, 2004.

This intense prog trio from Japan is lead by pianist Miyako Kanizawa, who also plays piano and sings for one of my favorite Japanese bands, Koenjahyakkei.  And like Koenjahyakkei, this music has an obvious French prog influence.  But the trio arrangements allow for maybe more intimacy than many of the chamber orchestra-sized bands the music references.  I think this album might be an appealing jazz/prog "crossover" album for folks who are generally into jazz but have an interest in rock/prog musical directions.
6.  Silence Is Sexy by Einstürzende Neubauten.  From Silence is Sexy, Mute, 2000.
Neubauten is one of my all-time favorites, and they've covered a wide range of stylistic and conceptual ground throughout their career, which just reached the 30-year milestone!.  This album immediately follows their Tabula Rasa, the record which most clearly delineated a shift toward more songform-oriented compositions, and more gentle passages in the music compared to earlier periods in their work.  This song is a favorite of mine for the many long pauses in the music, and the beautiful recordings of quiet moments like lighting a cigarette that arrive just before the music kicks in many times.  And there's a great (unofficial) video worth seeing, too:

7.  Stampede by Godley & Creme.  From Consequences, Mercury, 1977.

Godley & Creme are probably an acquired taste for most people, but I seem to have finally added them fully to my palette. Though there are certainly many moments of bad and/or cheesy throwaway material mixed into almost all of their albums (and how could there not be with a TRIPLE album such as Consequences?), they do succeed in writing some truly epic stuff at times. This track, which aspires to combine some orchestral thoughts with both psychedelic and arena rock moments, is one of those successes for me. I love the Queen-esque harmonies that dissolve into musique concrete halfway through! Silence is Sexy, indeed...

8.  Lixiviate by La Part maudite.  From Our Balls are like Dead Suns, &Records, 2010.

I only recently heard about this band, but any group who names themselves after one of my favorite books by Georges Bataille (published as "The Accursed Share" in English) can't be all bad. Indeed, I find this project very appealing: trumpet/bass/drums trio. Bass and trumpet: heavy on the distortion. Drums: hard and heavy and mostly dry-sounding. It's a very free record at times, but there are some great riff/melody sections, too, bathed in some wild distortion. Looking forward to more!

The album title, by the way, comes from this Bataille poem:


For sake the dung among the head
I detonate I execrate the sky
the clouds expectorate
it’s bitter to immensity
my eyes are pigs
my heart is ink
my balls become 
dead suns 

the fallen stars gone fathomless grown grave
I weep my language leaks
it imports no immensity’s a round
and rolled and bound in sound
I passion death petition it
in Holy Father’s butchery. 

Georges Bataille (trans: Mark Daniel Cohen)

Sorry, unrelated to the band, but I simply must link to this rare video of Bataille speaking on the notion of literature and evil:

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