Listed: Gary Lucas + Kinski
Lucas first gained international acclaim when he joined Captain Beefheart's Magic Band in the late 1970's and formed the foundation for one of avant-rock's most influential groups. He has since recorded with his rock trio Gods and Monsters and The Du-Tels, an incredible duo with Peter Stampfel. Lucas is currently rehersing for a Magic Band reunion, which should steal the show at April's All Tomorrow's Parties in London. His solo album Edge of Heaven has just been released stateside, courtesy of Harmonia Mundi, which only complements his recently released compilation on Knitting Factory called Operators are Standing By. Our favorite movie critic Glenn Kenny pens the liner notes for that one. Check out: http://www.garylucas.com for more information.
Here's some off the cuff ramblings on some current audio (and DVD faves) that are seeing action chez Lucas here in the west Village of Manhattan:
1) The Elektrosoniks (a/ka/ Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan) - Electronic Music (Phillips Records) - Released here around 1960. Do you think you've heard Electronica?? I copped this action-painting bedecked vinyl back in 1960 in my hometown Syracuse lookin for some "scary music" for a Halloween mix tape. The sales clerk at Onondaga Music there (a combination " fine instrument" (pianos, violins, guitars/sheetmusic/vinyl) emporium--remember them?--hipped me to this platter and by God I ust got a cdr copy of it again on request from my pal Willem Breuker, one of Holland's leading avant-garde composers, who actually scored one of the pieces on the record! And --it is as good if not better than I remember it from 43 years ago! Tom Dissevelt was a major Dutch avant-composer/musique concretist who in the company of Kid Baltan (a/k/a Dick Raaymakers) forged a wholly sui generis sonic confection here that resembles nothing so much as David Voorhaus' White Noise--An Electrical Storm in Hell album on Island of the late 60's. Sonic snippets of found sounds are loopeds, manipulated, and tweezed alonside various futuristic keyboards, ring modulators and natural acoustic intrsuments to create a truly sci-fi soundtrack that leaves Esquivel lying panting in the dust, I kid you not. Was reissued on Limelight in the mid-60's as Song of the Second Moon -- one standout cut, "Orbital Re-Entry", is known far and wide throughout this great land of ours as the local underscore for various regional Chiller Theater type shows; hey, I even heard a cut once used as backround music on the Red Skelton show! Seek this out at any cost! The good folks at Basta promise a Tom Disselvelt collection one 'o these days -- Now's the time!
2) Bobby Bland - Two Steps from the Blues (MCA) - What can I say but this is the ultimate blues crooner's most bejeweled album, containing immaculate, harmonically songs with horn and string arrangements by the unsung genius Joe Scott, chicken pickin' and jazzy blues guitar courtesy of Wayne Bennett, and Bobby himself gliding effortlessly here from honey-suckle heavenly voice to his trademark panther squall in the service of down and dirty citified blues ("I Pity the Fool", done not as well by Paul Butterfield some years later), urban sophisticate r and b ("Cry Cry Cry"), lush meditations on integration ("Lead Me On") -- the whole panoply of sobbing heartaches, whooped and squalled erotic joys and bittersweet ruminations wrapped up in the silken, smooth as molasses and grittier than grits Voice of one of the greatest underappreciated blues vocalists--for all times. Maybe it was his name that tipped people into imagining a Bland persona for this icon of urban blues. Nothing could be further from the truth.There is NO better Valentine's gift out there for someone you truly love.
3) Ralph Vaugh-Williams Serenade to Music (EMI Classics) - One of the best in EMI's multi-volume compilations of the English nature mystic and composer, just about my favorite classical composer in fact. And this collection, while lacking "Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis", does score a knockout punch with the inclusion of the maestic "Norfolk Rhapsody", where you can conure up and even smell the sodden earth and ancient oaks of the primeval British forests, also too on "In the Fen Country"--plus you finish with "The Lark Ascending"--the most shimmering, haunting, exultant viollin obligato, which takes birdsong into the realm of the transcendental, solo violindarting and soaring plaintively and finally, exultantly heavenward into the blue empyrean (Messian's efforts in this direction leave me much much colder)--beware of luxury car adverts that cop the vibe if not the actual notes of this composition (have heard this recently channel surfing)--in fact the genius blues guitarist Peter Green used the chromatic movement of "The Lark Ascending" as the harmonic basis of his extended pop 45 classical B side workout, "Oh Well Pt. Two" (1969 Reprise).
It's only appropriate that Chris Martin's latest band, Kinski, formed while debating the merits of digital versus analog recording. Their latest album Airs Above Your Station (and accompanying ep, Semaphore) contain some of the most exciting, explosive recorded guitar sounds this side of Slint. Martin's solo project, Ampbuzz (whose album was released on the fantastic Strange-Attractors label, which also released the first Kinski album) shows off his sparser side, focusing more on drone and tone than Kinsi's explosive rock. Kinski's Airs Above Your Station (Sub Pop) and Ampbuzz' This Is My Ampbuzz (Strange Attractors) are both available wherever you buy records, hopefully.
Some of my favorite albums/bands:
1) Broselmaschine - Broselmaschine (Spalax) - This is a beautiful cosmic folk record and unlike anything else I've heard. (I always ask people who have this record what else is in the same vein but haven't come up with much yet.) One traditional folk song and 5 other meditative, cloudlike pieces. The opening line says it all: "Look up to the sky, heads are flying by".
2) Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix (DGC) - A nearly perfect pop record. I love this band and their humanistic take on songwriting. I really don't know why so many people gave up on them after Catholic Education and Bandwagonesque. Maybe the hype machine turned a lot of people off. Whenever I get drunk and sentimental and there are friends over at the house, I put this one on. (Until they make me take it off.)
3) Cluster - Cluster II, Zuckerzeit, Sowiesoso (Sky/Spalax) - 10 years ago, whenever I was freaked out late at night and couldn't sleep I'd put on a Beach Boys record and that would calm me down and make some sense of that panicky, 3 a.m. feel. But in the past few years I reach for the Cluster records. They all have their merits, especially the first four or five. Incredibly inventive and direct, simple melodies that speak volumes. Again, there is a humanistic element that I find really soothing.
4) Faust - Faust IV (Virgin) - This was basically the first "krautrock" record I got and it blew me away. When I first heard it, it sounded really strange and really rocking. I listened to it over and over again. Critically the other Faust records seem to get higher marks but I like this one the best. The 11 minute opener, "Krautrock," sets the drone out stage and tracks like the warm and melancholy "Jennifer" makes for a really well rounded, experimental rock record
5) Spacemen 3 - Dreamweapon (Sympathy for the Record Industry/Space Age) - I heard the Spacemen 3 records at the time they came out but for some reason they didn't really connect with me. But when I pulled them out again in the mid 90's, it made a lot more sense. Dreamweapon is certainly their most "out" recording. 45 minutes of guitar drone and tremelo. At one point, there's an announcement in the club that a movie is starting next door in a few minutes and, perfectly, it's "Wings of Desire". The whole vibe would have been different if it were, say, "Ghostbusters".
6) Bardo Pond - Vol IV (Self Released) - This is another one of those bands that it's hard to pick one particular album that is a favorite because there are so many good things on every record. Vol IV is part of their self-released series of home recordings and in many ways it probably is my favorite Bardo Pond record. One of the greatest bands of the last 10 years.
7) Gas - Pop (Mille Plateaux ) / Microstoria - Init Ding (Thrill Jockey) - I put these two together because I have a bunch of ambient, deep space kinds of things but these are the two that really jump out for me. I listen to the Gas records all the time. They're some of the most relaxing things that I know of.
8) Mainliner - Solid Stick Attack (La Musica) - This is the hardest record to find on my list because it was a cdr edition of 100. For those that don't know, Mainliner were Kawabata Makoto from Acid Mothers Temple, Nanjo Asahito from High Rise and various drummers, on this record it's Koji Shimura. They have other "official" records that are easier to find but this one is my favorite. Really heavy and rocking and soulful. This recording has a soft spot in my heart because this is the stuff they were playing on tour when we (Kinski) toured with them on our first ever outing.
9) Flower Travellin' Band - Satori (Warner Bros Japan) - I just discovered this one recently. Heavy, driving Black Sabbath style rock but not as gloomy. Spiritual, forceful and cleansing, this Japanese band recorded this masterpiece in 1971.
10) The Clean - Compilation (Homestead) / The Chills - Kaleidoscope World (Homestead) - It's cheap to combine these two but I'm running out of slots. These two compilations capture what was so great about both these bands and the Flying Nun scene. Well executed and rocking pop songs that are timeless. (I haven't yet heard the new Clean anthology on Merge, the compilation I'm mentioning is the one that came out on Homestead. A classic.)
11) Richard Youngs - Sapphie (Oblique) - I mention this one because it's strange to have a favorite record that you never want to listen again. I find this album so emotional and painful that I can't imagine wanting to put myself through it another time. A three song/suite ode to a friend's dog who died. After four or five plays, I filed it away but I hear it in my head every once and awhile.
Records/bands that would have made it if I did this list on a different day:
Agitation Free - Last
By Dusted Magazine