What W. Axel Rose and his Guns N’ Roses showed the world with their slowest, most patient song, "Patience," was a sensitive vulnerability, unrestrained by the tired power ballad format, that balanced out all the hollyweird, small-man anger their sleazier hits that flaunted to the top of the charts. "Patience" made it to number four in the US and I know for a fact that it continues to enjoy slurred and spirited karaoke renditions the world over, though, as a choice cut, it bodes ill for the novice due to its length and monotony (Kimberly Starling of The Karaoke Informer says it's one of the top 5 songs that tends to bomb: "It just eludes the average ear and when you get off key on this one it sounds to the ear like a turd in a punch bowl looks to the eye.") However, with "Patience" in mind, I am reminded of two recent, overlooked releases that guild a gentle acoustic sound that is characteristically rock while also spiritually folk: Nagisa Ni Te’s Yosuga and Karl Blau’s Nature's Got A Way.
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Miss Ess: What is your pick for best release of 2008 so far?
John Garcia: Well, so far it is probably the rather weighty 4-CD box set on the Cleanfeed label that brought together multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton and guitarist Joe Morris together for the first time (Four Improvisations [Duo] 2007). Each disc is one solid uninterrupted hour of improvisation between these two masterful performers. They are both busy players that ironically have a keen sense of space, but they use that space very differently. Listening to them attempt to resolve those differences on the fly is big part of the fun of the album. The critic Whitney Balliett is credited with calling jazz "the sound of surprise." Under the best of circumstances, all great music has that quality somewhere.
Also, I am also still quite taken with the new album by the British folk group Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, Bairns. I wrote about it in the upcoming Music We Like (Fall 2008) and just as the Braxton/Morris album is complex and flitting, Unthank & Co. are relatively simple, slow-moving and austere. These qualities are their strength, vocally and instrumentally.
Oh yeah, and that Soft Machine DVD, Alive In Paris 1970 is pretty remarkable visually, musically and historically. It documents a performance by the rare quintet version of the band recorded for a then-new half-hour French TV music series. They were the first band featured in the series. Their set was so popular that they aired a second show using the unused footage they shot for the first show. Most of the cameras are onstage and backstage, so some of the angles are unusually intimate and intense. It is only slightly marred by the occasional overdubbed cheers and applause that, apparently, were used to disguise some of the sound editing that needed to be done. At least they resisted using the "psychedelic" special effects that intrude on so much documentary and televised footage of the period.
Phil Blankenship & Amoeba Music present
Saturday October 4
Steven Seagal is
Hard To Kill
1990, 96 min
director: Bruce Malmuth
starring: Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock & William Sadler
New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Finally, finally, after about 3 years of waiting, Antony and the Johnsons will be releasing an EP on Oct 7 entitled Another World. To celebrate the release, Antony is playing two US concerts, one in LA and one in Harlem, with full orchestration co-arranged by the brilliant Nico Muhly. Those dates are here. There will also be two dates in the UK. Antony's next full length, The Crying Light, will apparently be released on January 21, 2009.
If you somehow missed I Am A Bird Now, which won the Mercury Prize for Best Album of 2005, do yourself a favor and grab a copy. Or if you aren't in the mournful mood, you can check out Antony's flawless vocal contributions to Hercules and Love Affair's self titled album. This should get you up and dancing:
And if you wanna hear Antony singing "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," click here.