Yantra – Drones e Excursões de Guitarras Rumo ao Desconhecido Vol. 2

yantraAnother trip back to Brazil, completely unlike any of the previous visits.

Yantra do what is described as psychedelic meditation music. From such a thing you can expect and will receive two slow-moving pieces of improvised performances which do that hypnotic transcendent thing of which I am so fond. These two pieces were recorded in 2016 at separate locations, and you can tell the difference in atmosphere of each piece. They do complement each other very well, however.

Because I don’t often listen to pure drone works, I don’t really have any reference points for you. That probably isn’t important anyway. If you’re in the mood to chill, this works very well.

The label that releases this seems very interesting, too. I had a listen to one of the Hierofante releases, and I’ll definitely be going back for another listen.

Daniel Higgs – viv

vivWhat’s the definition of perfect pitch?

A banjo down a 40-foot hole without touching the sides!

At least, I used to think that was the pinnacle in musician jokes, but then the legendary Daniel Higgs had to go and start doing improvisations with a banjo, didn’t he? And now I like music with banjos in it.

This sort of music could be made anywhere, anywhen. I’m sure I’ve heard Indian ragas with this kind of feel, I’ve definitely heard Hamza el-Din doing stuff with this kind of feel, and probably all the zillion or so other cultures in the world also have their equivalents.

His previous band Lungfish did meditative and repetitive music, so you could argue his approach has been consistent all the way through. He’s done quite a few of this sort of thing solo, my other recent favourite being The Godward Way. The subject matter, when he does sing, is the perennial philosophy. This is the music of a man sitting down and letting the spirit move his fingers. I hesitate to use the word ‘shaman’ because it is a label that has been pinned on so many now and is probably a bit overused, and I’m also not overly confident that we use the term correctly anymore anyway. But, y’know, mystical and cosmic philosophies? Improvised meditative music? I’ll just make myself comfortable.

William Parker – Double Sunrise Over Neptune

parker-dbl-sunrise-book-1William Parker was my gateway into jazz. The first album I heard by him was Long Hidden – The Olmec Series which piqued my interest, particularly the 11-minute Pok-A-Tok at a time when I was beginning to enjoy longer pieces on a regular basis. But Double Sunrise Over Neptune was something else again. Technically, it’s a four track album, but seeing as one of those tracks is less than a minute and is essentially banter, I think we can safely say that this is a three track album, the shortest of which is fifteen minutes long.

The reason I like this so much is because it wasn’t even remotely close to my pre-conceptions of jazz. For a start, Parker keeps repeating the same bassline in each piece. They are amongst the most hypnotic basslines ever, circular, weaving, did someone say Ouroboros (the cosmic serpent, not the various metal-ish acts that have used the name over the years)? They are islands of simplicity amongst the whirling maelstrom of ecstatic expression happening around him.

The secret to enjoying this music, for me, was exactly the same as the secret to enjoying Les Rallizes Denudes, bizarrely enough. Use the bassline to anchor your perceptions and let your attention drift in and out to the various expressions being performed by the other voices and instruments. They are many and rapturous, but there is always the bassline to return to. There are ebbs and flows, crescendos and lulls, but always the bassline. (Has anyone noticed I’ve got a thing about bass?)

From here I was able to understand more and more of the jazz approach to musical expression, although my favourite incarnations have always been the long and hypnotic – I think it’s fair to say that that’s largely true of most genres for me these days.

So, I don’t have a handy way of embedding the album or demonstrating the whole thing apart from the opening – and shortest – track. You’ll have to take my word for it, though, that this is a wonderful example of transcendent music across the entire album.

And, whilst finding the things I’ve linked for this post, I let the embedded tune play to it’s end as I wrote the main body of the text. And you know how Youtube automatically selects a next piece for you if you don’t take an active role? Well, I’d never even heard of Ronnie Boykins, but damn…

Black Bombain and Peter Brötzmann

black-bombaim-and-peter-brotzmannBlack Bombain seem to me to be born collaborators. Their live jam from late last year was a seriously good piece of music, and if you haven’t heard their collaboration with Gnod, then you should know that Black Gnod’s Innerspace recording comes with the highest possible recommendation from Soundbergs Towers.

This time they’ve teamed up with free jazz maestro Peter Brötzmann, himself no stranger to the collaborative arts, resulting in a superlative work of one of my favourite sub-mashup-genres, saxophone psych. There should be more horns and brass atop these swirling guitar maelstroms generally, and I speak as a guitarist who never used to like brass at all. Brass is the one class of instrument I absolutely cannot play at all, which may be related; however, it adds a tonal element to the ‘psych-rock’ mix which complements it superbly. A whole field with relatively few visitors.

It fascinates me how music that quite obviously came together on the spot can nevertheless sound so coherent and, you know, purposive. Having done some improv over the years (all the best Itto tunes came into being that way) I have an idea; it’s like tuning into some music and being the vehicle of its expression rather than ‘separate’ beings somehow all being creative in the same way at the same time. Maybe we receive before we can transmit? On a very basic level, that is exactly true – you have to listen to your collaborators (receive) if you want to complement the overall sound (transmit). However, there were times when all of us suddenly changed direction at the same time without prompt – you can’t put those experiences into words, and neither can you take the idea of a flat universe seriously anymore.

The music comes with the guarantee that it is good, not that it will make you think mystical things, although that may happen if you are so inclined. You can score it from shhpuma or Lovers and Lollipops

Fantasy collaboration time: imagine Valerio Cosi collaborating with Oneida? (drools like Homer Simpson…)

Flowers Must Die

It’s about time I wrote of something relatively contemporary this year, although the argument can be made that if something is turning you on now, then it is contemporary, regardless of when it was made. Fashion – there’s the door. Don’t slam it. I’m listening to Flowers Must Die.

fmd_test-1024x789

Hat tip goes to the Psych Insight column over at Backseat Mafia.

They’re a Swedish band, and the Parson Sound influence is obvious, particularly on the ‘Greatest Hits (live)’ album (I love that they called it that) which most definitely qualifies as music my brother wouldn’t like as the shortest song is 8 minutes, and the longest is 54. This is music to properly get lost in. As the title suggests, these are live recordings. I think music of this nature really benefits from being captured live.

The tunes on Psykjunta/Parsonligt Sound are much shorter, and also more uptempo. The other release I can tell you about is Hoga Nord which is back in the realm of the longer, more meditative tunage that I personally find so appealing, with Eastern influences more prevalent. There are other releases too. I love when bands do that. I shall check them out whenever I check them out, and tell you about the good ones in one of my updates.

Inutili

Something approaching sonic heaven for you, assuming that an admixture of Parson Sound and Les Rallizes Denudes would be your thang…inutili

I’m here to tell you that this is most definitely my thang.

It’s actually quite blissed out, something I need to mention given that you would not always – or maybe ever – categorise Les Rallizes Denudes as blissed out.

‘Music to Watch the Clouds on a Sunny Day’ is in fact the best title they could give it, although I am yet to test the suggestion, what with it being winter, this being the UK, and the few days since I discovered it having very little in the way of sunny. I firmly intend to test it out in the summer, though, if we have one. However, I can say that as I listened to it for the first time on a Thursday morning in the basement office in which I work, the sun did indeed shine through the small horizontal cracks at the top of the wall that we call windows, and the moment was perfect. Hence why I think of this as blissed out.

There’s a bluesy feel to it, too. I’d love to say it’s a bit like Junior Kimbrough in that respect, but it probably isn’t that much, I just wanted an excuse to reference my all time favourite bluesman. Any firmer reference points, answers on a comment please…

I can’t find out much about them beyond they are/were a three piece from Italy.

There’s also a couple of free downloads available, very nearly as good. Their artwork is NSFW in the same way that Acid Mothers Temple artwork is NSFW, although it depends very much on where you work, I suppose.

 

Evening Fires

Another result of somebody else’s year end post.

They actually released 2 albums, the second of which you are not allowed to buy digitally, although you can buy it on CD, which is a digital format, and they only allow you to hear one song from it… would love to know what the thinking is behind that.

Whereas the album Where I’ve Been is Places and What I’ve Seen is Things is available in a more easy to please Flipdog manner, and is very good. It ticks all the right boxes, most important of which is I don’t know how to describe it. Rural psychedelia? I’ve seen someone use that. Meandering? I think I’d prefer exploratory. Chilled? Yes. Though not always.

ef

I love how after ‘Roll Away the Stones’, which is a kind of ‘typical’ jam band affair, we get a curveball in the shape of ‘We Cast Our Lot With the Waves’ which is very atmospheric and seems to feature wind very heavily (though maybe synths too), and has a very Parson Sound feel when they go Glyptotec. And each song has a different focus. The whole album is wonderfully diverse yet very coherent.

Also, they give good title.

Of course, the other album may be too, but I can only hear one piece from it and frankly it didn’t grab me. I bet it would work in the context of the rest of the album.