Amoeblog

I REMEMBER JOHANN JOHANNSSON

Posted by Rick Frystak, July 2, 2019 07:56pm | Post a Comment
 
 
Johann Jóhannsson passed away last year in February, of a street drug overdose mixed with other medication he was taking, at the way-way-too-young age of 48 years old, a HUGE, huge loss to many fans of progressive music, film scores and progressive performance. Many of my friends saw his last show at the Walt Disney Hall here in L.A., and it was phenomenal. He would start each piece by rising from the keyboard / midi rig he was using and putting up a 15’’ reel of audiotape onto a Revox analog tape recorder and begin the piece with a repetitive loop or musical chunk, which would be softly, slowly and gradually picked up on by his traveling chamber ensemble and himself on piano, synths and samples, and fleshed out into a blooming, flourishing journey of sound. Simply spellbinding. And the visual elements, besides the exotic candelabras, would be a black and white film with blotted images, increasing the brooding, dark atmospherics.

Brooding and dark usually describe his sound, his direction favoring minor chords and modes. But then, he’ll go and write the Theory of Everything, with lots of lilting, rosy cues because that’s what the story demanded. But to me, he excelled in the glum, ominous moods that begat his reputation and manifested the darkened concert hall, with the black balloons and smudged visuals. In many ways his music reminds me of a correlation with composers such as Arvo Part or John Tavener, in mixing the sound of music from the middle ages with contemporary minimalism or ‘avant garde’ sounds; whatever the project demanded or his own inspiration dictated won over. The reason is inexplicable to me.
 
His film scores such as Prisoners, The Mercy, Mary Magdalene (shared credit with Hildur Gunadóttir), Arrival, Sicario, Mandy, A User’s Manual and others show Johannsson’s versatility, variety and inspiration, with the use of electronics mixed with symphonic and pop music elements, and his collaborations with closely held associates like Icelandic cellist Hildur Gunadóttir, who may continue on the path Johann was mining. In Arrival, he used pure electronic effects as part of the melodies in some of the cues; very effectively. Hildur's score to the HBO series Chernobyl (download only) is fascinating, a logical extension of Johannsson’s sound, with the horror of what's happened manifested by pure unfettered ambience. Twice nominated for Academy Awards, he hit it and won a Golden Globe award (foreign press) for his score to Theory of Everything, a great film detailing the early life of Stephen Hawking, no less great due to Johann’s work.

His newest solo project of his own music, Orphee, came shortly before his passing, and marked his signing with the legendary Deutsche Grammophon record label. It could be the best example of the variety of sounds that this man wanted to express to his audience. Many hum-able melodies fuse with textural elements to get at what Johannsson’s statements are in his musical expressions.

After Orphee’s release, things immediately started to happen. Almost simultaneously, his new label released a 2-LP, or 2-CD set ‘reimagining’ an older project Englabörn & Variations, in which Johann collaborated with the remixers in recomposing each piece and therefore, really, making an entirely new album, possibly one of his best. His new label has thus put together a 7-CD box set, a monumental, 100-dollar package with some new photos and I-don’t-know-what-else according to Deutsche Grammophon’s horrible website. In September of this year, DGG will release a string quartet, and another box set with unreleased tracks is being readied.

Johann’s music is many things to many people. His own solo records, such as Fordlandia, Orphee, Englabörn and Virðulegu Forsetar take the listener directly into the mindset of the soundtrack composer, yet maintain his own individual sound that brings you back to his soundtrack art. There are quite a few works by Johann that are out of print as well, (or nearly), already. Check those out too!

RECOMMENDED LISTENING BY Johann Johannsson:
Orphee (solo)
The Mercy (soundtrack)
Arrival (soundtrack)
Prisoners (soundtrack)
Miner’s Hymns (solo/soundtrack)
Englabörn & Variations (solo)
Theory Of Everything (soundtrack)
Mandy (soundtrack)
Retrospective Box Set (solo/soundtrack)
End Of Summer (soundtrack, w/DVD)

Gang Starr "Step In The Arena" 180-gram 2LP (Bonus Tracks) Reissue, J.Stalin's "Cypress Village: The Album" and NAV "Bad Habits"

Posted by Billyjam, July 2, 2019 12:39pm | Post a Comment
Gang Starr Step In The Arena 2LP 180-gram black vinyl (2019 reissue/Virgin)

Among the hot new vinyl arrivals into Amoeba this current week is the new 180 gram double vinyl reissue of the Gang Starr landmark second album; Step In The Arena 2LP that features not just an expanded
double black vinyl pressing but also two bonus tracks ("Credit Is Due" and "Check The Technique  (Remix)").  This early nineties golden era album from the power duo of producer DJ Premier  and the late great emcee Guru is one of those perfect albums with every song a true hip-hop classic with examples including the single "Just To Get A Rep" (scroll down to see this song's music video as well as others from the album).

"Mad brothers know his name" raps Guru (Gifts Unlimited Rhymes Universal) over Premo's trademark production on "Just To Get A Rep." The song was released as the first single from the album by Chrysalis/EMI  following the album release with "Who's Gonna Take The Weight" on the B-side of the 12" single. Other well worn Step In The Arena  tracks include the mellow, chilled out "Lovesick" whose numerous samples include Digital Underground's best known song "The Humpty Dance," the heavily politicized "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?," the killer "Street Ministry,"  "Check The Technique" and Step In The Arena 2LP's title track. Knowing how quickly quality vinyl reissues of albums like this tend to get snapped up by crate diggers, my advice is to order your copy ASAP of Step In The Arena 2LP.  Meantime scroll down to peep those music videos of tracks from the album.

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NightLife Live Featuring Men I Trust & Mk.gee, July 11

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 1, 2019 02:18pm | Post a Comment

NightLife Live, Men I Trust

San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences celebrates their sixth annual NightLife LIVE summerMen I Trust music series. NightLife LIVE pairs emerging bands and musicians with cutting-edge visual artists in an immersive intersection of science, music, and art. The only museum in the world to combine an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, living rainforest, and live performances on an outdoor stage transforms the Academy into one of SF’s most unique live music venues in the heart of Golden Gate Park.

The series kicks off on Thursday, July 11th with a night of laid-back groovy indie pop from Men I Trust and Mk.gee. Fresh off their Coachella debut, Montreal trio Men I Trust headlines, featuring dream-pop perfect vocals by Emma Proulx and a funky and “insatiable groove” (Ones to Watch). Multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and California transplant mk.gee (pronounced McGee) opens, bringing his standout funk-inspired indie rock. He also carries a stamp of approval by Frank Ocean, who featured a mk.gee track on his blonded RADIO show last December.

Additionally, NightLife LIVE features immersive light shows and mind-bending projections by ALL OF IT NOW, VR experiences by Vision Quest, and they are introducing their first artist-in-residency -- Los Angeles-based artist Maggie West. NightLife LIVE also features hands-on, science-inspired crafts and creativity workshops with Paint Pens Collective, local vendors, and special “one-night-only” custom designs with screen printing by San Franpsycho.

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Star System Transmissions With The Space Lady And Chaki, The Galactic Wizard of Funk

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 30, 2019 09:48pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


"I allow myself three mistakes on stage...and more if I need them."
~ The Space Lady

Susan Dietrich was born in 1948 under the Earth sign of Capricorn. But once Susan stands on stage The Space Ladyand puts on her blinking winged helmet of wonders and channels the strange, positive energy from the far reaches of the cosmos, she becomes The Space Lady (who was born under the distant sign of "Casio"-peia.)

I still remember how mesmerized I was the first time I heard The Space Lady's version of "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" by The Electric Prunes on Volume 2 of Songs In The Key of Z. After seeing her perform a few months back, I needed to know more about her than what I could just find on the computer-world. Through the technological communication powers predicted by Arthur C. Clarke, I reached out to Susan in her Colorado dwelling to ask her some questions of true importance.

Do you believe in the city of Telos, from the lost continent of Lemuria, which is said to be hidden underneath Mount Shasta?

"I don't have any direct experience with the supposed inhabitants of Telos, although I spent a lot of time living on the mountain in the '70s where I did see U.F.O.s. But in the '9's, I did see an apparition of several mysterious brown cloaked monks walking in a line through the forest before disappearing there."

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Behind The Masks Of The California GO! Sound Of The Phantom Surfers

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 30, 2019 08:35pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


"I have always wanted to travel to Antarctica, to see the giant tent in the middle of the frozen wasteland. There, inside this tent is a single banquet table; on the table is a single silver platter; and on the platter is a human head...or so I have read."
~ Michael "Daddy Love" Lucas, bass

Of all the bands I have seen over my existence, there are perhaps none more witnessed onstage than The Phantom Surfers. When I find out they are playing near me, I gain the same inner childhood excitement as receiving an "All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp" coupon from Sizzler in the mailbox. With album themes from slot car racing to x-rated parties, this band has truly taken instrumental music one step beyond, far into the the deep unknown (much like a Japanese bank or canned coffee commercial starring Tommy Lee Jones) .

But who are these masked men of reverb, you ask yourself?

Maz, a Gemini and lover of all vegetables, has been playing drums for the band since he was a young lad of 20. Learning to play the trumpet is still a dream for Maz, a man with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing a romantic sunrise while we sold our hoardings together at the swap meet. If a miniature toy train with sushi on board was going around a Japanese restaurant, Maz will always pick the Saba (mackerel) first, however his favorite meal is still a Pollo Asada Torta with extra jalapeños at El Farolito (which I still call I Fart-A-Lot-O). I will never forget the bizarre show in Ventura where The Phantom Surfers played with Fugazi (perhaps the strangest yin to yang I have seen), and afterwards going to the Hong Kong Inn for some scorpion bowls and watching Maz do the hula on stage with their Polynesian revue.

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