Amoeblog

An Electronica-Dub-Reggae treasure for all-but-free! Djosos Krost's ignored No Sign of Bad

Posted by Mark Beaver, November 14, 2008 03:30pm | Post a Comment
Djosos Krost No Sign of Bad
Djosos Krost
(DJ Pharfar and DJ Filip) are two dub-obsessed Danes who are better known for having produced the most popular mix of Junior Senior's dancefloor hit, "Move Your Feet." 

I was on board No Sign Of Bad from the first dub moog-fuzz chords of this album. Guests on vocals include Tuco, Jah Bobby, Little Tasha, EMO and Adrian. Tuco, featured on lead vocals for the opener "Straight Upfront" has that lover's reggae vibe pulled from the holy book of Hugh Mundell and Gregory Isaacs. Such a slinky, relaxed delivery as the little dub bleeps and blurps chase each other's tails around the tune.

A good while back (95-99), I was really into the Japanese electro-dub outfit Audio Active and their super-tripped take on bong-heavy dub. Their two classic releases Tokyo Space Cowboys and Happy Happer still satisfy that stony, space-travel urge instilled in all lovers of On-U era Lee 'Scratch' Perry masterpieces like Time Boom De Devil Dead and From the Secret Laboratory.

Here's a classic track from Audio Active.



And one from that particular era of On-u Sound Dub Syndicate 'Scratch!'



James Yorkston's Year of the Leopard: a cheap and beautiful Folk-Rock stunner!

Posted by Mark Beaver, October 31, 2008 04:00pm | Post a Comment
james yorkston year of the leopard
Los Angeles is beautiful right now. The sky is almost completely blanketed with a thin layer of cloud, each cloud undercoated with gray as if it could start raining any moment. It won't, though. Not yet. We have a few weeks, maybe even a month before there's any significant rain, but still, this weather holds a promise that L.A. is moving out of its summer monotony of heat and dust. The wind is moving everything around, warm and round and humid, unlike the Santa Anas and their hot, lip-chapping blast. I'm ready. I want to have a good excuse to sit on the couch and watch a movie as the rain pours off the roof and through the huge oak in my front yard. I'm ready for a day that will welcome a centrepiece like James Yorkston's Year of the Leopard.

Yorkston plays a beautiful acoustic guitar and he writes a beautiful song. He kicked around Scotland and England for years in punk bands and the like, settling down to write the type of gorgeous tomes that Pete Paphides of The Times (London) called, “...songs that sound not so much written as carefully retrieved from your own subconscious, played with an intuition bordering on telepathy. " He's got a great, simultaneously warm and brittle voice that sometimes reminds of fellow Scot, David Gray. His songs are not too far afield from Gray's work, either, often underpinned by burbling electronics and synth washes that, surprisingly, never pull them out of the Brit-Folk context from which they emerge. Yorkston has toured with Beth Orton, David Gray, the Tindersticks, Turin Brakes, Lambchop after having come to many fans' attention through his opening slot on all 27 dates of John Martyn's 2001 tour.

Eighteenth Day of May on Rykodisc: retro Brit-Folk on the cheap!

Posted by Mark Beaver, September 29, 2008 10:14pm | Post a Comment
eighteenth day of may
On hearing the eponymous debut by the British contemporary folkies  Eighteenth Day of May, one would be harp-pressed to claim that it was not recorded during the classic era of British Folk-Rock. American flautist/vocalist, Alison Brice, Swedish multi-instrumentalist Richard Olsen and their British cohorts have crafted a bright slab of pastoral folksong, including a nod to their legendary forefathers, Pentangle, with their cover of Bert Jansch's Deed I Do.

As was the case with releases by Pentangle nearly 40 years earlier, Eighteenth Day of May is a mixed bag. A few of the songs lag a bit and the overall air is fairly edgeless, but the ensemble playing and forward drive is often quite beautiful and evocative of that classic generation that first folded their electric guitars and vintage amps into the rich history of traditional British folksong.

I won't claim that you will replace your Fairport Convention or Incredible String Band's marker in the CD rack with this album, but at clearance pricing, there is certainly enough sublimity to justify the expense, and then some.

David S. Ware's Surrendered: killer jazz quartet's languishing gem

Posted by Mark Beaver, August 26, 2008 02:40pm | Post a Comment
David S. Ware Surrendered
I have to say that I do understand how an album as solid as Surrendered could get lost in the shuffle. David S. Ware has been recording under his own name since 1988, and in groups led by legendary names like Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrille and Barry Harris since the early 70's. In these last 20 years of releases under his own name, Ware has released about an album per year. So, where to start? And what are the chances that an album or two might slip through the cracks and end up in Amoeba's Clearance section?

Ware is considered by many to be a technical (and perhaps theological) descendant of John Coltrane. His tenor is big and brash, in a mold not unlike Pharaoh Sanders, Arthur Blythe or Archie Shepp. His facility is masterful, never neglecting the changes and yet pushing and pulling at the melodic core of the composition. He plays the whole range: he dives off the pier and swims far enough from shore to nurture tension, but he never lets go of his lifeline-- the strong melody within a strong composition. In fact, that's what pulls me to Ware over and over again. His albums are always so full of real composition. Songs are what he and his teams bring to the table, in this case, the killer quartet made up of pianist Matthew Shipp, percussionist Guillermo Brown, and a man I consider to be essential listening any and every time one has the chance, bassist William Parker.

Surrendered starts strongly with a tone poem of sorts called "Peace Celestial." Matthew Shipp holds the core of the piece with piano meditations conjuring Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett at his more internal. "Sweet Georgia Bright" follows, and is the album's most traditional "bop" composition, and it's the lesser for it. This quartet's strength is in the idiom of the post-Coltrane continuum. Tracks like the aforementioned opener, "Theme of Ages," the loping title track with its slow, even build reminiscent of Charles Lloyd's "Night-Blooming Jasmine," and even, to a great extent, "Glorified Calypso," tour that greater territory of improvisational and textural possibilities that the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago liked to refer to as, "Great Black Music," rather than bind it within the limits and collected baggage of the term "jazz."

Canadian For 'Yes!': FM's prog clearance masterpiece

Posted by Mark Beaver, August 5, 2008 12:00am | Post a Comment
In a recent edition of the L.A. Weekly’s Ask a Mexican column, someone asked why it was that so many young Mexican kids seemed gaga for Morrissey. The columnist thought the better question was why so few children of the imperialists (white kids) weren’t as equally gaga about some of the excellent music made by Latino musicians. Granted, as I hear my neighbor drive up blasting his stereo beyond what could possibly be comfortable for him inside the nuclear heart of that volume, I have to admit that much of what he plays for the neighbors sounds pretty good. Not necessarily something I would run out and buy, but I was far from hating it.

What’s that got to do with Canada? Good question, but in some ways, it's obvious. Canada is the Mexico of the Great White North, dont’cha know? It has only been the fact of a more-or-less common language that has allowed the very few Canuck rockers to break USA radio charts that have so far. Neil Young, Bare Naked Ladies, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, Steppenwolf, Rush, Leonard Cohen; there aren’t many that spring to mind and most of them are not in my personal collection, but they built careers with American money without being AmericaFM Black Noisen or British. Good job, guys!

So, trawling thru the Red Sea of Clearance, I happened upon an album cover that has haunted me since my childhood. The vacant stare of the half-man/half-mannequin surrounded by the glowing hoop and splash of light has taunted me from Clearance bins for as long as I can remember being conscious of music. “Now’s the time,” I declared and grabbed it.

FM's Black Noise was in Clearance due to some condition issues, but it was there and cheap, so I took it. FM formed in Toronto in 1976, and Black Noise is their first album, from 1977. I hear a lot of Fragile-era Yes in their sound, some Jean-Luc Ponty, a splash here and there of Jan Hammer and a lot of the prog that defined the reigning Canadian supergroup of the day, Rush.  Perhaps it was the curse of the also-rans, the stigma attached to coming later than first with any particular sound that kept FM from being heard, or maybe we had already filled our Canadian quota for 1977. I certainly don’t mean to give the impression that FM were copy-cats, by any means. There’s enough Buggles in their sound to tilt them towards what was becoming known as New Wave and a bit away from the pack of dyed-in-the-wool proggers. Their drive is provided by fuzzed guitar, virtuoso drums and the central wail of Nash the Slash’s electric violin.

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