Eric Salzman – The Nude Paper Sermon (Nonesuch 2590 003)

SAM_0695If this odd Lp, subtitled ‘Tropes for Actor, Renaissance Consort, Chorus and Electronics’, has any precedent, it is John Cage’s Indeterminacy.  As with that earlier album, random bursts of strident, prepared electronic racket pepper the proceedings to exhilarating effect. However, Salzman (along with Nonesuch mainstay Joshua Rifkin) takes things further than Cage (who simply intoned laconic, sometimes whimsical, koans and bits of autobiography) by arranging a surreal narrated provocation (by Stacy Keach) to weave in and out of cod madrigals and other Renaissance-style folderol. It’s the kind of thing I love to hear on Radio 3 late Friday and Saturday nights when things get weird. One pound last week in Hythe. Perfick.

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Published in: on June 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Karen Phillips – Viola Today (SR 9007 0698) (1974)

SAM_0280It looked interesting, so for 99p at Folkestone’s Age UK yesterday, I was happy to take a punt. The presence of a Cage (“Dream” [1948]) was the initial hook–the piece, a moody, appealing drone, was originally arranged for piano. “Sequenza VI” (1967), the Berio composition, is far more brutal; full of agitated scrapings and grunts, the uninitiated (e.g. your correspondent) could easily imagine the soloist making it up as she went along. In fact, the work by Maderna (“Viola” [1971]) opening side two is designed to be deconstructed at will. Two versions of “Viola” are presented. The first is as written or “closed form”. The second, as per the composer’s instructions, can be started at any point in the score and interpolate any section of the work the performer so chooses, i.e. “open form”. Heady stuff.

The label is Finnadar, an avant-garde imprint run by İlhan Mimaroǧlu which was distributed by the fellow Turks at Atlantic.
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BBC Radio 3 sometimes play “difficult” modern compositions like this late Friday and Saturday night. These can be more challenging and rewarding than anything on radio. I recommend it if you’re feeling especially pugnacious.

Published in: on February 4, 2014 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Gryphon (TRA 262) (1973)

GryphonProggressive Rock with a difference. For while Gryphon emphasised the tricky time signatures and flashy ensemble polyphony so common amongst its proggy brethren, the band favoured a folky medieval flavour, both in instrumentation and repertoire. The overall effect is cute, maybe too cute, but would perfectly suit a children’s documentary about the Middle Ages. Gonna hafta be in a peculiar mood to listen to it.Inner GryphonQuality textured gatefold cover and stunning full-colour label highlight this VG+ first edition of Gryphon’s début found in the same batch of bootfair Lps as most of the recent posts.

Transatlantic

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 10:39 am  Comments (2)  

Stravinsky – The Rite Of Spring

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Yeah, I know we don’t often do Classical around here, but if Stravinsky is good enough for Captain Beefheart, he’s good enough for me.  And this performance, by L’Orchestre National, Paris was conducted by none other than Pierre Boulez, so it’s gotta be a top-notch version, right?

Now, I don’t pretend to know shit about anything, ever, so I’ll just leave the rest of the commentary to Noel Goodwin, who wrote the sleeve notes to this Concert Hall elpee record (not sure of actual year of release, but the label states that the recording was first published in 1964).

As a result of Stravinsky’s achievements, we listen today with ears different from those our grandparents possessed; what we expect from music, and our understanding of its purpose, have been given new dimensions by the art he has created.

“I was guided by no system whatever in The Rite Of Spring”, wrote Stravinsky. “I heard, and I wrote what I heard. I am the vessel through which Le Sacre passed” (that’s a bit pretentious, innit, Igor? – ed)

Stravinsky extended several features, such as the use of dissonance for structural effect, the simultaneous combination of different tonalities and harmonies and – most importantly – the enthronement of rhythm as the dominating factor.

The innovation of The Rite Of Spring , apart from the boldness of orchestration, was to assert the dominance of rhythm on a vast scale.  A generation of music, both serious and popular, has derived from this…it certainly accounts for the extraordinary power and character retained by The Rite Of Spring right to the present time – a masterpiece as “modern” today as when it was first written.

Published in: on February 1, 2013 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Swingle Singers – Anyone For Mozart? (BL 7656) (1964)

Swingles - it's just fun to sayWell, since it’s you, yes; but I don’t think this is as successful as the group’s Bach pieces whose contrapuntal bounciness seems more appropriate for the application of the Swingle formula. And don’t those quotation marks in the supertitle look ironic?

Yet another rekkid from Hythe.

Aldo Ciccolini – The Piano Music of Erik Satie Vol. 6 (S-36811)

Because my mother is planning to move this autumn, I was obliged to get rid of a bunch of my crap that’d been cluttering her basement when we were visiting earlier this month. Some of this crap we brought back to the UK, but some of it I managed to sell, at a flea market we joined to help the house’s general clear out and a huge Antiques market in Scottsville. This included $60 worth of promo posters to the market I’d acquired when working in a record store in Columbus–nothing too great, but worthy enough. Anyway, I exchanged one of those dollars at the market for a little bit more Satie. Angel label, always welcome at Asbo haus.

For more information on Erik Satie and the French fin de siecle art scene of which he was a part, I recommend Robert Shattuck’s The Banquet Years. It consists of potted biographies and detailed critiques of Satie, Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau and Guillaume Apollinaire.

Published in: on August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ornette Coleman – Skies of America (KC31562) (1972)

Thrifty Vinyl, at least the Prince Asbo branch of the triumverate, will be on vacation to US of Frickin’ A for the next three weeks. In commemoration, I am posting this “difficult” orchestral Ornette Coleman Lp which I bought on the green in Hythe last spring. Suffice to say I much prefer his small group Atlantic material.

I’ll be checking in here, but unlikely to post while abroad. I’m on a seriously tight budget that might even preclude Stateside thrifting! Perhaps others can pick up the slack in my absence.

Published in: on August 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm  Comments (4)  

A Bicentennial Celebration (M33838) (1975)

A lonely celebration of my country of birth’s independence from the country where I now live and coincidentally, my 300th post. Martial music to stir the proud Yankee soul, though, as even the two so-called “Black spiritual” songs sound pretty blanched out, perhaps 200 Years of American White People Brass Band and Chorale Music would’ve been a more accurate subtitle.

I got this at the same time as the Great American Documents Lp.

“Sweet land of Liberty, of thee I sing…”

Published in: on July 4, 2012 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

John McCabe – More Piano Music of Erik Satie (Saga 5472)

One of the most modern aspects of Erik Satie‘s art is the way it sounds spontaneously created, not unlike Gershwin’s later classical-jazz interface. But while Rhapsody In Blue literally scored the great man’s improvisation, Satie achieved freshness with droll, quirky instructions on his sheet music (e.g. play “without pride”, “Fit yourself with clearsightedness”, etc.) in lieu of traditional Italian imperatives for tempo (e.g. largo, moderato, etc.) and volume (fortissimo, pianissimo, etc.) which allows for great interpretive latitude; so, for example, the Gnossiene no.3 here is taken at comparitively breakneck pace. I don’t think you get that level of variation elsewhere in classical music.

Unlike my previous Satie posts, this mint second volume of Piano Music purchased yestiddy in Ashford is comprised entirely of whimsical solo pieces.

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Keith Jarrett – The Köln Concert (ECM) (1975)

A unique one, at least as far as my collection is concerned, The Köln Concert is a 2Lp solo improvisational tour de force by American pianist Jarrett recorded live at the Cologne Opera House. If jazz and classical met in George Gershwin like cubism with each angle refracted but precisely delineated, they collide here as a roiling action painting, with Jarrett audibly grunting and whooping himself into an occasional frenzy as ideas and motifs tumble out in a rush of repeated gospel-tinged vamps, glissandi and rhythmic ostinati. Jarrett was, for the most part, literally making this up as he went along and sometimes the extemporisation sounds to me only just the right side of self-indulgent noodling and showboating—remarkably, this didn’t stop The Köln Concert from becoming the best-selling solo album in jazz history.

Strange that this passionate music should form the bedrock of that infuriatingly placid genre New Age.

Brought to you by the Wincheap Bootfair for £1.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm  Comments (2)