Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Rock's fav violinist Samara Lubelski and Asthmatic Kitty savant Chris Schlarb.
Listed: Samara Lubelski + Chris Schlarb
Samara Lubelski is one of, if not the most respected non-classical violinist in New York City. She's crafted improv, psych and folk since the mid-1990s, when she starred in Hall of Fame and contributed Matt Valentine's Tower Recordings. She ventured out on her own in 1997 with In the Valley, on MV's Child of Microtones label and has released three solo recordings since the turn of the millennium, The Fleeting Skies (2004), Spectacular of Passages (2005), and this year's Parallel Suns, all on The Social Registry. Lubelski also played a crucial role in Thurston Moore's latest solo album, Trees Outside the Academy, handling the violin duties and accompanying the Sonic Youth guitarist on tours across the U.S. and, soon, Europe. She was kind enough to partake in this week's Listed.
1. Moby Grape - Moby Grape
Great guitars on top of three different song writing vibes. This one lies/plays on the border of freaking out, but is too well crafted to actually fall off the edge. High energy that doesn't burnout. It always seems psyched on itself, with some secret knowledge of the here and now ever-lasting. Maybe it's the presence of Skip Spence alone, but even the soft, wistful numbers have stayed in the head.
2. Fairport Convention - Fairport Convention
Complete with a cover tune from Emitt Rhodes' Merry-Go-Round "Live" LP, and a couple of Joni Mitchell covers. Fairport was in their first period when they were hooked on American folk/pop (pre- Brit folk), exuberant, naive and really well done. "Time will show the wiser" always seemed to have that particular euphoric immediacy. Judy Dyble tends to get lesser-than comparisons to Sandy Denny, but I always dug the shy/reticent take on these songs. Joe Boyd produced.
3. Gene Clark - Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers
This first solo record has a little bit of it all - string sections, harpsichord, country twang, and the Gosdin brothers doing vocal back up. This record has more of the professional song writer/entertainer feel than some of his later records which seem to carry a well of sadness through them.
4. Yoko Ono - "Mindtrain" (Fly)
It's hard to choose when it comes to Yoko. Never one to limit herself to styles of expression and very far reaching in her explorations, Mindtrain wins out for sheer staying boogie-power. Can-esque groove with guitar from her man, and just seconds under a 17- minute delivery.
5. Le Stelle di Mario Schifano - Le Stelle di Mario Schifano
Arty Italians inspired by VU under the direction of Mario Schifano (himself inspired by Warhol). A mix of Musique Concrete piano string bangings and fuzzed out pop, garagey tunes like E Dopo. It never seems to take itself too seriously and stays playful. Marianne Faithfull ran away with Schifano when she briefly left Mick in the late '60's.
6. Chimera - Chimera
"Lady With Bullets In Her Hair" Members of Pink Floyd backed for this one record project. This particular song is arranged in the baroque style. Very cool lady with that distant/elusive vibe (see also early Marianne Faithful). You couldn't catch her if you tried. When you arrive she's already gone.
7. Margo Guryan - Take A Picture
New York singer/writer/arranger. Not too dissimilar to Claudine Longet (whom she wrote for). Ever child-like and dreamy, with the addition of some very sophisticated arrangements, especially on the long introduction to "Love" - Spacey, baroque questing that cuts in tight to the tune. All comes heavily coated in sugar...
8. Sagittarius - "Would you like to go" (Present Tense)
Produced by Curt Boettcher/Gary Usher. California Sunshine. A good companion to romantic visions of the west coast in the '60's . It's drenched in warm haze and extravagantly stylized - to the point that the production defines its personality more than the performance or songwriting. Something like druggy elevator music.
9. Marianne Faithfull - "Tomorrow's Calling" (Faithfull Forever)
Before her comeback, Faithfull was very successful with three LPs for London records. An Andrew Loog Oldham discovery, she made Classic productions of the time with full arrangements including strings and backing chorus. The records are inconsistent, made up of cover songs, she tends to be as good as the material she's working with. This one is very beautiful. And as with Chimera evokes the free spirit, deep in the woodlands.
10. Tim Buckley - "And It Happens Every Time" (Tim Buckley)
Many great Buckley records. His first one is more in the pop realm and less exploratory in the arrangements and song structures than the later records. Van Dyke Parks sits in. Buckley is usually backed by Lee Underwood, on guitar, in his early and mid period records - a great guitarist. He kind of reminds of Gabor Szabo - fluid and easy, with lots and lots of time to talk to you.
For the foreseeable future Chris Schlarb will likely find himself relegated to be a "Sufjan Steven collaborator," and though that's certainly an impressive feat unto itself, there's more to him than association. Schlarb founded the label Sounds Are Active, Asthmatic Kitty's "second cousin, twice removed." In addition to releasing music with a number of different groups, Schlarb has also released solo electric guitar music under the name Xn. He recently released the first album under his own name, Twilight & Ghost Stories, a massive five-year work with over forty collaborating musicians.
Top 10 Songs About Fish:
1. Neil Young - “Will To Love” (American Stars 'N Bars)
Although followed by the grating "Like A Hurricane" the first two songs on the B-side of American Stars N' Bars provide a welcome respite from the world: "Star of Bethlehem" and the masterpiece "Will To Love." Filled with crackling fire, floating vibraphone and half sung/half slurred lyrics, "Will To Love" is the kind of song that deserves an album of like-minded music. Young's smashed face on the album's cover provides a physical insight to the spirit of this song: emptiness, hallucination, confusion. The song flirts haphazardly between analogies of fire and fame before settling into an extended salmon metaphor: "And now my fins are in the air/And my belly's scraping on the rocks"
"Will To Love" was written within months of Young's separation from actress Carrie Snodgress who had moved onto his ranch, taken care of him after a debilitating back injury and had given birth to their son Zeke. Young plays all the instruments here and cocoons himself within disembodied backing vocals, the occasional deep flange on his guitars and a rare appearance on the drum kit. Always a master of distillation, Young would never again come this close to loneliness, paranoia and pure shambling skill.
2. Barnes & Barnes - “Fish Heads” (Voobaha)
Before the White Stripes there was Barnes & Barnes. Fictional siblings Art & Artie Barnes were really childhood friends Robert Haimer and Bill Mumy who together composed what is perhaps the most enduring tribute to least appetizing part of any entree. "Fish Heads" was no doubt both a blessing (it is the most requested song in the history of the Dr. Demento Show) and curse (see previous parenthetical) for Haimer & Mumy: the group would later go on to collaborate with both Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, Crispin Glover and Wild Man Fischer while attempting to distance themselves from the novelty music genre with the album Kodovoner. The group was later forced by Rhino Records to return to their strength and, having sold less and less music since their "Fish Heads"-led debut Voobaha, the duo capitulated.
3. Yes - “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” (Fragile)
One of the five "solo" pieces that each member of Yes composed for band's breakthrough album Fragile, "The Fish" is bassist Chris Squire's epic self-referential ode: Squire was allegedly give the nickname of "Fish" by drummer Bill Bruford who remarked at the amount of time he spent in the bath. Schindleria Praematurus, the latin translation of Schindler's fish, is composed almost entirely of Squire's multi-tracked bass guitar and Bruford's trademark odd time signature (7/4) kit work. Eventually lead vocalist Jon Anderson and Squire harmonize on the only lyrics present, stretching the Latin phrase out to almost twice its syllabic value.
4. Leo Kottke - “The Fisherman” (6- And 12- String Guitar)
The only 6-string guitar song on Kottke's classic album, 6- And 12- String Guitar, "The Fisherman" is an instrumental tribute to "the mad fishermen of the North whose ice fishing spots resemble national shrines." Kottke outshines his mentor John Fahey, playing with passionate abandon throughout 6- And 12-, yet on "The Fisherman" he slows temporarily and conjures a scene as complete as the best narrative.
5. Memphis Minnie - Fish Man Blues (Queen of the Delta Blues)
A childhood runaway who honed her guitar and banjo technique playing clubs while still in her early teens, Memphis Minnie penned one of the classic fishing tunes ever put to acetate. "Fish Man Blues" finds Minnie sneaking away for a weekend fishing trip when, after an extended vamp, she sighs, "Well your pole done broke/ Ain't no bait in your can/ I'm sorry for ya Daddy/ I've got to have me a fishin' man."
6. Arrested Development - “Give A Man A Fish” (3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days In The Life Of…)
One of the few songs on Arrested Development's debut album that wasn't a number one hit, "Give A Man A Fish" continues Speech's admonitions for self-education, non-violence and spiritual upheaval. Although peppered with it's own flippant racism ("Some fat Italian eatin' pasta lotsa") the song redeems with its universal message of compassion and sustainability.
7. Radiohead - “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” (In Rainbows)
Steely Dan were masters at taking disturbing subject matter and wrapping it in hummable, seemingly mindless grooves. You never knew you were singing about drug dealers and child molesters, but you most certainly were. On "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" Radiohead use a similarly seductive construct: as Thom Yorke sings, "I get eaten by the worms/ Weird fishes" crisp drums shuffle quickly along and guitars successfully distract from the bottomless reverb that washes over the final words, "escape."
8. Brian Eno - “Little Fishes” (Another Green World)
Just after the desert guitars and ancient drum machine of "Sombre Reptiles" comes another rumination on lower animalia. Essentially a solo composition for prepared piano and Farfisa organ, "Little Fishes" fits perfectly into Eno's continuum: a hint of recognizable melody and then melody as texture. Another Green World was a perfect confluence of timing (a young, prodigious Phil Collins plays drums on half of the album), concept and industry.
9. Havalina - “The Diamond in the Fish” (Diamond in the Fish)
Oft-misunderstood and even more oft-miscatagorized, Havalina (formerly Havalina Rail Co.) was one of the most original bands to emerge from the 1990's. Led by Matt Wignall's high concept warble and Orlando Greenhill's relentlessly creative upright bass playing Havalina weathered more personnel turnover than Spinal Tap. On Diamond in the Fish the group went jazz-noir when everyone else was going grunge and more than a decade later it still moves.
10. Henry Grimes - “Fish Story” (The Call)
The rare fish-relegated free jazz composition, "Fish Story" is the opening track from Grimes' 1965 release for ESP-Disk, The Call. Seven years after leaving Benny Goodman's big band (a group which also included The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson's Doc Severenson) Grimes recorded a small trio record with himself on upright bass, Perry Robinson on clarinet and Tom Price on drums. A year later Grimes would disappear from the music world only to return triumphantly, more than thirty years later in 2003.
By Dusted Magazine