Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Louisville royalty Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and New York ambient duo Mountains.
Listed: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy + Mountains
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
Introducing Will Oldham seems a little silly, but we’ll give it a go anyway. Oldham, a Louisville, Kentucky native, has recorded rock ‘n’ roll records under a series of names since 1993, mostly for Drag City Records. His debut There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You kicked off an incredible run of records in the 1990s, peaking with 1999’s I See a Darkness. Johnny Cash covered Oldham’s song of the same name, introducing Oldham to a much larger audience and certifying him as one of our time’s most respected songwriters. On Tuesday, he released his 12th record under the moniker Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Beware, which he’s celebrating with a massive tour. Here are the dates:
Friday, Marcy 20 - Fargo, ND (The Aquarium)
Saturday, March 21 - Winnipeg, MB, Canada (Pyramid Cabaret)
Sunday, March 22 - Saskatoon, SK, Canada (Broadway Theatre)
Monday, March 23 - Edmonton, AB, Canada (McDougall United Church)
Tuesday, March 24 - Calgary, AB, Canada (MacEwan Hall)
Wednesday, March 25 - Vancouver, BC, Canada (The Vogue Theatre)
Thursday, March 26 - Seattle, WA (Moore Theatre)
Friday, March 27 - Portland, OR (Crystal Ballroom)
Sunday, March 29 - Santa Rosa, CA (Orchard Spotlight)
Monday, March 30 - San Francisco, CA (The Fillmore)
Tuesday, March 31 - Los Osos, CA (South Bay Community Center)
Thursday, April 2 - Los Angeles, CA (El Rey Theatre)
Friday, April 3 - Phoenix, AZ (Modified)
Saturday, April 4 - Santa Fe, NM (Santa Fe Brewing Co.)
Sunday, April 5 - Denver, CO (The Bluebird Theater)
Tuesday, April 7 - Lawrence, KS (The Granada)
Thursday, April 9 - Omaha, NE (The Waiting Room)
Friday, April 10 - St. Louis, MO (The Pageant)
Saturday, April 11 - Indianapolis, IN (The Vogue)
Monday, April 20 - London, England (Royal Festival Hall)
Wednesday, April 22 - Bruxelles, Belgium (AB)
Thursday, April 23 - Amsterdam, Holland (Paradiso)
Friday, April 24 - Paris, France (Le Cigale)
Saturday, April 25 - Bourges, France (Printemps de Bourges)
Sunday, April 26 - Marseilles, France (Le Poste a Gallene)
Tuesday, April 28 - Torino, Italy (Espace)
Wednesday, April 29 - Bologna, Italy (Estragon)
Thursday, April 30 - Foligno (Perugia), Italy (Auditorium San Domenico)
Tuesday, May 12 - Pontiac, MI (The Crofoot Ballroom)
Wednesday, May 13 - Cleveland, OH (Beachland Ballroom)
Thursday, May 14 - Toronto, ON, Canada (Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
Friday, May 15 - Montreal, QC, Canada (Ukranian Federation)
Saturday, May 16 - Northampton, MA (Iron Horse Music Hall)
Sunday, May 17 - Boston, MA (Wilbur Theatre)
Monday, May 18 - South Burlington, VT (Higher Ground Ballroom)
Thursday, May 21 - New York, NY (Apollo Theater)
Friday, May 22 - Philadelphia, PA (Trocadero Theatre)
Saturday, May 23 - Alexandria, VA (The Birchmere)
Sunday, May 24 - Charlottesville, VA (Fry’s Spring Beach Club)
Tuesday, May 26 - Knoxville, TN (Bijou Theatre)
Wednesday, May 27 - Asheville, NC (Grey Eagle)
Thursday, May 28 - Carrboro, NC (The Arts Center)
Friday, May 29 - Atlanta, GA (Variety Playhouse)
Friday, June 5 - Austin, TX (The Mohawk)
Saturday, June 6 - Dallas, TX (Granada Theater)
Wednesday, June 10 - Nashville, TN (Belcourt Theatre)
Thursday, June 11 - Newport, KY (The Southgate House)
Here is a list of ten clean records that SOUND like they are specifically presented and direct. They sound like they minimize the world on the other side of the recording. It’s impossible for me to think of these records existing anywhere but coming out the speakers and into this life from there.
Deathprod - Reference Frequencies (Rune Grammofon)
Beginning with the least of these in terms of the above-described effect, because of the poet’s voice; except it’s like a sample of a larger world, played into the smaller world. The recording comes from Norway, and the voice is speaking English words.
Darren Benitez - Dear Mama (Fat Katz)
All of the records on this list are from the future. They sound like time-isolated events. This record is for a mother, maybe. What mother where? Recorded in Los Alamos during the bomb discoveries, recorded in a contaminant-free lab.
Johnny Cash - My Mother’s Hymn Book (Lost Highway)
When others sing about the Lord, I can translate.
Psarantonis - My Thoughts are Like Old Wine (Greek Tradition Music)
A woman in Salonika took me for a ride on her motorcycle and also gave me this record, knowing that I would like it.
Faun Fables - Mother Twilight (Drag City)
The world inside was made immediately and dauntingly larger upon hearing this record.
Merle Haggard - A Friend in California (Epic)
Merle Haggard in zeroes and ones. Tight, little and tiny, much heart.
Susanna - Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos (Rune Grammofon)
Precise with a natural language.
June Tabor - Abyssinians (Topic)
June Tabor’s own rules about what makes a song a song, and music music. These rules must be accepted in order to live a wilder life.
Cat Power - You Are Free (Matador)
The singer’s voice here brings the words out with such certainty, no apology no apology no apology. I’m not angry and I do not forgive you.
Bachelorette - The End of Things (Arch Hill)
Finally some warmth and generosity in and among all of this circuitry. Is it youth, even some of this “hope” we hear about, but coming from New Zealand??
Serge Gainsbourg - L’Homme a Tete de Chou (Polydor)
Years ago, I recorded two 7” singles with the Bates Brothers outside of Birmingham, Alabama. The intent was to sound like this music sounds. In some way, all of the records on this list sound the way I wish all music, my own included, sounded. Clear, finite and human; completely unreal and unconnected to a shared physical reality.
Mountains is the duo of Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg, two of the leading voices in contemporary ambient music. The two old friends started the Apestaartje label in 1999 to release their own solo projects as well as minimal music from around the world. Mountains was initially just a live project, but their self-titled debut on Apestaartje in 2005 showed too much promise not to pursue. They released Sewn in 2006 to universal praise and began attracting interest from larger labels. Thrill Jockey signed them last year and released Choral in February. Holtkamp contributed to this week’s Listed.
This is by no means a definitive best of sort of list, simply 10 records that moved me.
1. Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes - Paix (Phillips)
While acting in Jean Luc Godard’s Les Carabiniers in 1967, Catherine Ribiero met musician/instrument builder Patrick Moulet, who proposed he write some music to her poems. They formed the group 2bis, which after one record evolved into Alpes. Their first five records are all pretty much great, but if I’ve gotta pick one, 1973’s Paix is it. Seriously, this is an utterly mind-blowing collection of cosmic psychedelia with an amazingly forceful and expressive front-woman. Moulet’s otherworldly inventions such as the Cosmophone and Percuphone weave their way through organ drones and acid guitar to create a hypnotically enchanting canvas. Bridget Fontaine and the spacier elements of Pink Floyd might come to mind for a moment, but this is something else all together.
2. Telegraph Ave - Telegraph Ave (Mag)
Guitarist Bo Ichikawa spent a year in San Francisco in 1969 absorbing the psychedelic sounds coming out of Height-Ashbury. Upon returning to Peru, he formed the appropriately titled Telegraph Ave with Los Holy’s drummer Walter Carrillo, Alex Nathanson and Chachi Lujan. This, their first LP, combines that influence with their latin rock roots. A soulful and supremely upbeat collection of catchy tunes that will have you humming for days.
3. Kathy & Carol - Kathy & Carol (Elektra)
Released as part of Elektra’s guitar series in 1965, Kathy & Carol’s sole album comes across less like an album of standards (which it is) and more like the sound of two birds harmonizing. Accompanied by acoustic guitar as well as some other small instruments, the two voices overlap in such a unique and beautiful way you sometimes forget these are people. This might very well be my favorite record.
4. The Paper Hats - Desert Canyon (apparent-extent)
This one came out last year – Wiliam Tyler with the help of some friends. Tyler is somewhat known as a guitarist for bands like Lambchop and the now defunct Silver Jews, as well as a member of Hands Off Cuba, but as far as I know this is his solo debut. There’s plenty of fine guitarists mining the Takoma style these days but Tyler’s playing transcends artful imitation not simply because he’s a great songwriter as well as guitarist, but also he’s not afraid to branch out and take it elsewhere at times. For example, the second track starts off with delicately paced fingerpicking that speeds up only to be absorbed into a wall of distortion and then back again. There’s a refreshing range and dexterity here. Really looking forward to hearing more in the future from this guy. Added bonus - all the songs on the LP are titled with pictures and diagrams rather then words. (A nod to Anthony Braxton...)
5. William Eaton - William Eaton (self released)
An album of extended guitar instrumentals self-released by experimental string instrument builder William Eaton in 1978. Somewhere between song and improvisation, the pieces evolve spontaneously as Eaton explores the range of his instruments. A series of sounds emanating from the desert. No titles or any information attached, only the words “Music by William Eaton.”
6. Howlin Wolf - ‘This Is Howlin Wolf’s New Record. He Doesn’t like It. He Didn’t like his electric guitar at first either.’ (Cadet Concept)
Well, the title does a pretty straightforward job of describing the situation. While I wouldn’t normally support a producer trying to make an artist go in a direction they weren’t into, and by all accounts Mr. Wolf was none too excited about this project, the band is so good backing him we’re lucky this exists. Pete Cosey’s in top form here with his signature wah guitar interchanging with a tight rhythm section featuring several members of the Pharoahs, as Wolf barrels through many of his classics. This is the same band that plays on Muddy Water’s Electric Mud and After The Rain, and while those are mighty fine records, this one’s the best of the bunch.
7. Richard Youngs - Everything
Richard Youngs has been doing his thing for quite awhile now. From his early uncompromisingly experimental works such as Advent and Festival to his more song-oriented albums of recent years such as Saphie, Making Paper, and Airs Of The Ear, to his multitude of collaborations he’s never been one to think twice about sticking his neck out. With a catalog that large, the results can be hit or miss, but there’s few people working today who take as many chances as this guy and even fewer who have made as many great records. Check out Summer Wanderer, an utterly enchanting solo acapella record. How many people these days can really pull that off?
8. V/A - Musiques De Garbon (Ocora)
The Ocora catalog is vast and filled with some of the more astonishing sounds I’ve ever heard. These recordings were made in 1967 in the small African country of Gabon. This is the music of secret societies, pygmies, masked dancers on stilts and epic song poems. Ranging from a solo mouth harp piece that subtly shifts harmonics to mutli-layered polyrhythms played on xylophones made of banana tree trunks to plucked mvet harp zither and winding vocal arrangements that will make you dizzy, this one’s filled with enough nuance and dynamics to keep you wondering. As always with the early Ocora LPs, it’s wonderfully documented with background and photographs on the various styles displayed here.
9. Bill Quick - Marvelosa Gate (Explosion)
Bill Quick was a guy who made and sold leather belts around Madrid in the early ’70s. He released this one album of sun-bleached psychedelic songs in 1972 to very little if any critical acclaim, but it’s filled with a rare kind of carefree catchy and intimate pop stylings that will keep you coming back. Let the sunshine in.
10. Giusto Pio - Motore Immobile (Cramps)
A contemporary and collaborator of Franco Battiata and Claudio Roche, Italian violinist Giusto Pio released these two side-long tracks for organ, pianoforte, voice and violin in 1978. Deceptively simple compositions that drift forward, slowly accenting subtle organ drones with voice and violin in the title track and short playful clusters of piano on side 2’s “Ananta.” Definitely fits the post-minimalist tag, but there’s a certain warmth and expression here that often gets lost in the more robotic imitations.
By Dusted Magazine