Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Los Angeles prog vets Upsilon Acrux and Danish crooner Jannis Noya Makrigiannis.
Listed: Upsilon Acrux + Choir of Young Believers
Southern Californiaís Upsilon Acrux is a five-man avant-garde rock band that was a big part of the ďbrutal progĒ movement that gained momentum in the early aughts. Guitarist Paul Lai has been the anchor for more than a decade, while more than 15 musicians rotated through the group. The line-up now reads Lai and David Moeggenberg on guitars, Marty Sataman on bass, Chris Meszler on drums and Phil Cobb on the Moog synthesizer. Upsilon Acrux pride themselves on virtuosic playing, complex arrangement and, evidently, really good taste in music. Paul and Marty took part in this weekís Listed.
1. John Coltrane - Om
This album is commonly known as the ĎJohn Coltrane bad acid trip albumí and he himself didnít want it released! That alone should get people running to search it out, but for whatever reason itís an album not spoken of often. How does it sound? Well, considering that I believe in my heart of hearts that Coltrane is an angel sent directly from God to show us what music is, the question then becomes "what does an angel on a bad acid trip sound like?" Well, letís say about 100 times more aggressive and expressive then all your Aids Wolf Motherís Eye Parades put together. The dark side of the sun! (Paul)
2. Neil Young - Trans
Vocoders, analog synths, drum machines, weird "weird science" sunglasses. This was Neilís attempt at modernizing his sound, and like everything he does, he puts everything into it. Itís not half-assed, itís fucking beautiful! He has said in interviews that it was his way of trying to communicate with his kids, one of which has cerebral palsy. Between the definitive version of "Mr.Soul" and absolute strange monsters like "Sample and Hold" and "Computer Age," thereís nothing but classics here -- except the first song, which is terrible. There are gems on every Neil Young album -- these are diamonds... neon green diamonds. (Paul)
3. King Crimson - Earthbound
This lineup is not loved by many, but I think itís a classic in its own rights. This version of "21 Century Schizoid Man" truly is the most vicious and "out" version Iíve ever heard.. and thatís saying a lot considering Iíve probably heard over 30 versions of this song in every lineup King Crimson ever had. "Groon" is incredible and totally drawn-out compared to the recorded version, which sounds like an early Nels Cline Trio. Overall, the VCS3 usage and the blown-the-fuck-out sax and grainy bass and drums combined with Robert Frippís undeniable irritation with not being able to reel these guys in makes for a profound listen. As amazing for the meltdowns as the buildups. (Paul)
4. Camberwell Now - Ghost Trade
Continuing in the vein of the This Heat trajectory, I find this album to be totally amazing. It features Charles Hayward who is a one-of-a-kind drummer continuing to do his one-of-a-kind-drumming. The songs sound like a strange mixture of Movement-era New Order, some of the more song-y This Heat stuff and some later King Crimson stuff involving repeating guitar patterns. Plus it has a very cold, dry sense of humor. Not quite as eye opening as the This Heat stuff, but way more consistantly amazing. (Paul)
5. Henry Cow - Western Culture
Known for mixing Eastern European free jazz with classical and sometime odd-metered, occasionally rock-based music and helping create the RIO (rock in opposition) thing (which was kind of the first indie "weird bands helping other weird bands" collective), Henry Cow was full of strong personalities. This album is the last and least heralded of the bunch. They were fighting a lot and disagree a ton. I think itís by far and away their best album. It takes forward-moving compositions to a new place, and the absolute singular blending of sounds makes it a once-in-a-lifetime album. I will always love every member of this band because of this album. "Industry" is a highlight for me, but they are all amazing songs. Nothing anyone from this band has done can top this album. (Paul)
6. The Uphill Gardeners - The Uphill Gardeners
This is one of my all-time favorite Smell bands. We played with them once at the old Smell and I believe Jim (Smell) is releasing something soon from them. It featured Bobb Bruno (Polar Goldie Cats, Goliath Birdeater, solo etc..), Jarrett Silberman (Liars, Young People) and Nigel Lundemo (Godzik Pink), and is some of the best No Wave influenced music ever put down. This album goes between DNA-inspired noise to toy piano sounds to white feedback and kills without any pretension. Pray for a return to form. (Paul)
7. Nels Cline Trio - Ground
This is Nelsí second trio album, but the first to completely show everything he and this band are capable of. It combines the chording of early Sonic Youth with Eastern European free-ocity, thru the feel of Tony Williamsí Lifetime and the lyricism of Ornette Coleman. Youíll hear everything that Nelsí throws at his guitar. Youíll hear super-precise, interwoven singular phrasing thatís absolutely syncopated with soul. A birth of a god (Nels) and the greatest band Iíve seen live. I used to drive three hours back and forth to see this band play every monday. I did it for 18 months... (Paul)
8. Polar Goldie Cats - Feral Phantasms
PGC are probably -- other than us -- the only band thatís active and have played both the old Smell and the new Smell through the years. This album is the fourth in 11 years, and to me, the best theyíve ever done. Iíve always thought that they sound like a late 1970s NYC band led by a young Philip Glass playing feline bedtime themes. Dreamy without being washed-out, aggressive without power chords, elusively magical. (Paul)
9. Peter Kolovos - New Bodies
We have a shitload of guitarists in this town, seriously way too many, but thereís one Nels and one Peter Kolovos. He is, in my estimation, the best improv sound-structure no-rock/scale/melody reference guitarist in the world, and this is his finest work. Itís two sides of Kolovos battling Kolovos, Greek-on-Greek crime, and for everyone that misses Derek Bailey or wished Morton Subotnick would cut loose every once in awhile, or is just in need of new horizons, you should buy this now. Also played the old Smell with his band Open City a trio that was pushing shit. (Paul)
10. Bad Dudes - Bad Dudes
These guys were way ahead of the game, creating a sound that was a unique embrace of contrary styles and helping shape the future sound of Los Angeles. You can hear their influence in bands like the Mae Shi, Abe Vigoda, etc... This is some of the best "good feeling" difficult music thatís ever been put on record. The album flies by, incorporating all things good and blunt in their brevity. Touching base (even for a second) on Bonham, Aphex Twin, King Crimson, Daft Punk, Black Flag, Beach Boys, Rush, Sonic Youth, the Kinks, Germs, etc. And you used to be able to see them weekly at the Smell. Two guitarists, two keyboards, one bass, one singer (though every member sang on the album) and a star drummer. A definite future classic, only because people are too slow to recognize real genius. (Paul)
11. Weidorje - Weidorje
One-off Magma offshoot. Bernard Paganotti and Patrick rule so hard, I can hardly stand it. Listen to that gnarly bass tone on "Elohimís Voyage." Then check out the stellar Rhodes work on "Vilna." Good god. Incidentally, Paganotti is the same guy who penned the Magma song which bears this bands name. (Marty)
12. Shadow Music of Thailand - Sublime Frequencies
Ď60s Thai guitar pop influenced by Cliff Richard and the Shadows. Who knew my people had so much soul? (Marty)
13. Steve Reich - Electric Counterpoint
Beautiful. Hypnotic. Soothing guitar on guitar on guitar on guitar (etc.) action. Some 10 years ago, I was listening to this on repeat. Everyday. I never thought I would say that about Pat Metheny. (Marty)
14. Paul McCartney - II
On tour in Japan, Macca gets busted for holding 219 grams of weed, and gets himself thrown in jail (only nine days actually). Tourís cancelled. Upon release, he goes back to his farm in Scotland, decides to put Wings on the back burner, and puts out his lo-fi home recordings from the previous summer. Synths everywhere. Stony reggae ("Check My Machine"), Kraftwerkian synth arpeggios ("Temporary Secretary"), YMO styled instrumentals ("Frozen Jap"), synthscaped lullabies ("Summerís Day Song," "Waterfalls"), and some nice funk numbers thrown in as well ("Coming Up," "Darkroom"). (Marty)
15. Kate Bush - Never for Ever
Most people call Hounds of Love their favorite. I can respect that. But his one really appeals to me. Itís her first No. 1 record, her first to feature synthesizers and Fairlight CMI (geekiest Instrument ever! It even has a light pen!) and has controversial cover art (the various animals flying out of Kateís skirt proved too riske for the prudish Japanese and had to be censored). Oh, plus sheís only 22 on this record, a total babe, stupid talented, and undeniably on some other-level shit. (Marty)
16. Space Art - Playback
Synth and drums duo by Dominique Perrier (or Dom P, síil vous plait), a Jean-Michel Jarre conspirator. Spaced-out synths, a la Jarre. Heavy drumming, a la Bonham. Thereís also some romantic numbers for the ladies ("Welcome to Love," "Love Machine"). (Marty)
17. Genesis - Genesis Live
Peter Gabriel-era Genesis in top form. This is their first live record, first top 10 hit, and only official Gabriel-era live recording (at least until the box set came out some 25 years later, which had some re-recorded vocal tracks, anyway). The performances on this record are incredible. If youíre not already, this might actually make you a bigger fan of Phil Collins (the drummer). (Marty)
18. The Buggles - Living in the Plastic Age
We all know about "Video Killed the Radio Star," but not many know that the rest of the album is equally as good, if not better. Apparently they were rehearsing next door to Yes, and hit it off so well they were asked to join the band. The same year they go on to produce Yesí Drama album, which I think is a fine record. But I digress, check out the video for the title track. Itís some good watchiní. Thereís also a nice reggae-inspired instrumental named "Island," which appears to be the same name of the label it was released on. Coincidence? (Marty)
19. Daryl Hall - Sacred Songs
If I ever get my act together as a solo artist and end up on the cover of L.A. Record, this is album cover that I want to recreate. Daryl, of Hall and Oates fame, frustrated with making hit songs, replaces John Oates with Robert Fripp of King Crimson, who was also frustrated with prog rock and more interested with playing with his Frippertronics (a couple of tape machines rigged to record endless looping). Thereís a break in "Babs and Babs" that sounds like someone accidentally taped No Pussyfootin over the track while Hall was out to lunch. Also, check out the instrumental break in "Something in 4/4 Time." Man, I wonder why RCA wanted to shelve this? Iím glad they changed their mind. (Marty)
Choir of Young Believers
Denmarkís Choir of Young Believers is essentially Jannis Noya Makrigiannis. A relative veteran in the Copenhagen underground, Makrigiannis moved to Samos, Greece in 2006 and got in touch with his inner Neil Young. Makrigiannisís vocals are a little easier on the ears than Young, and his arrangements are described by his own record label as ďgrandiose.Ē That majestic production isnít the key to his Choir, however. Makrigiannis often performs as a duo with just a guitar and a cello. His album This Is for the White in Your Eyes was released by Ghostly International earlier this year Ė you can read our review of it here.
1. Ice Age
My new favorite band is this super cool new Danish kiddy punk band, who just released a 7" on Escho (very nice Danish label). Fantastic singer and an amazing rhythm section, they remind me a bit of the Buzzcocks and Television, but just with a more avant-garde feel. My favorite track is the 47-second "Hole." Check out their myspace here http://www.myspace.com/egaec.
2. The xx
Dark and sad pop music is always gooooooood. Not as cool, young and punk as Ice Age, but still OK :-)
3. Taxi Taxi - Still Standing at Your Back Door
This is Johanna and Miriam from Taxi Taxiīs first full length (they have done two EPs). We have been touring a bit together, so i was very excited to hear what they have been up to. The first EP they did was very sparse, with just vocals and piano or guitar, but on the new album drums, bass, strings and horns are playing. The output is still very simple and low key, and the main focus is still the vocals. Johanna and Miriam both sing and do really nice harmonies, and because they are twin sisters, their voices sound very similar, which just makes their singing sound even more amazing.
4. Danzig - 6:66 Satanís Child
I just heard the song "Thirteen" a couple of days ago and fell in love with it right away, so the last couple of days I have been trying to love the whole album. I really like Glenn Danzigís voice. It sounds a bit like a deep and fucked-up Roy Orbison. I donít think Danzig is my new favorite band, but some of the stuff I really like, and itís fun to give it a try Ďcuz the universe and aesthetics of their lyrics and music are so very different from what I normaly listen to.
5. Highlife - EP
I dont know that much about this new band, but what I know is that it is Sleepy Doug Shaw from White Magicís new project, that they made a 4-track EP, and that Iím a fan! Itís a bit more poppy and lighter than White Magic (who I also really like), and very inspired by African guitar pop. I think Iím getting a little tired of all these Afro-pop guitars suddenly popping up everywhere, but in this case it doesnít matter at all Ďcuz the songs are so good and Dougís voice is so soulful.
By Dusted Magazine