Archive for the ‘music – others’ Category
Label misprint of Kraftwerk's Ralf & Florian LP (1975), via Discogs:
You know, Kraf & Florian, those German techno dudes. I actually own the misprinted version (purchased from a cutout bin) and either forgot or never noticed the error until yesterday. Here are some scans from Discogs of the outer sleeve of some other owner's slightly soiled copy:
This was back when they had hair, and were relaxed and having a good time, before the addition of two percussionists and the pose of ultimate robotic regimentation that commenced with Trans Europe Express and The Man Machine and still hasn't ended. Members have come and gone, like replaceable parts (including Florian) so now it's just Ralf Hütter and some substitutes -- the MOMA-ready incarnation of the band.
Images and commentary via Discogs:
Going through the Discogs database recalled this racy LP cover (how could anyone forget this?):
That was briefly in stores in the US, but by the end of the year (1974) the "censored version" appeared:
Kind of eerie! If you're concerned about a transgressive female image, don't use half-measures. Just show some trees. This was decades before the erased-in-Photoshop genre appeared (e.g. removing the victims of the Kent State shooting using the "clone tool") so it seems almost presciently eerie.
it's that time, babe / it's time to take a trip /
gonna leave this place / and all the rat race
everything's so pretty / miles from any city /
just you and i / and the big blue sky etc
We 21st Century humans like to think our culture moves at Wi-Fi-Hi speed but this is a parody of psychedelia while it was happening (1966). That's a pretty tight discursive loop.
Swayzak notes from Discogs:
Tech house duo from the United Kingdom that consists of James S. Taylor and David Brown. They live and work in London.
The name Swayzak comes from "związek" which means "union" in Polish.
I seem to recall an interview from back in the day where they said they took the name from Patrick Swayze. Much better. (Naming one of their LPs "Dirty Dancing" favors the latter interpretation.)
Taylor and Brown started working together in 1993, under the name "Language Lab" though they first met in 1989, after working for four years of mainly studio evolvement, became Swayzak in 1997. Taylor left the group in 2012 and Brown continues alone.
Alone, alone, to soldier on into the existential fog that is the life of... the techno musician. But seriously, what I admire and envy about Swayzak is (a) the "deep" sound that is tinged with melancholy but also occasionally humor and (ii) the ability to do long songs with a few simple elements, which are made lush and mysterious through the use of reverb and impeccable production skills.
A short history of Swayzak:
Swayzak "Low-Rez Skyline" [YouTube] from 1998 -- CD version
Swayzak "Low-Res Skyline" [YouTube] from 1997. 12-inch. In addition to the change of spelling "low-res," the song is structured much differently. The electro "whonk/zap" sound comes in at the middle and is used to make tunes. The CD version is better overall but the comparison intrigues.
At the peak of the duo's popularity they began adding vocals, some by name musicians. This didn't work, owing to the incompatibility of grafting an overt "humanizing" element into a genre which charms through its essentially alienated, abstract, mental space. Swayzak had already successfully "humanized" techno with the touches mentioned above. You don't need Kirsty Hawkshaw singing on top of that.
One exception is:
Swayzak "Illegal (Bigga Bush Version)" [YouTube] Not because the rasta poetry is great but for the overall development of the song from slow, ambient stabs to full-on house, replete with a disco bassline.
In any case, happily, years later, now that Brown is... alone... Swayzak is back in form.
Swayzak "Shot by Both Sides" [YouTube] from 2016. 13 minutes!
Discogs is helping to make sense of some of the vinyl scarfed up during my days as a professional disc-spinner, mostly around the turn of the millennium. French and German house predominates in this cache. Dan Electro's "I Hear Music in the Air" always sounded good in a bar/restaurant environment -- the EP it came from was sold without the cover (above) so I had no clue what it was. The vocal sample, which I half-heartedly guessed might be Ella Fitzgerald, comes from gospel diva Vickie Winans, who is utterly transformed from a rafter-rattling sonic cannon into a mellow club groovemeister.
The real name of the somewhat ridiculous Dan Electro is Alain Gerber.
Am organizing my "record collection" (with many nerdy visits to Discogs to see which pricy versions I was fortunate to have picked up back in the day for $4.99). As I do this I find songs to "share" -- much as I hate contributing to the YT monoculture (yawn let's get on with it)
Tuxedomoon "Grand Hotel" [YouTube] Blaine is kind of sawing away here but I love the vocoderized Garbo loop and how it comes back in at the end
Tuxedomoon "Conquest" [YouTube] "What do I care for your orders? You can't frighten me." more vocoderized Garbo - nice
Tuxedomoon "Queen Christina" [YouTube] "...Oh, this great joy I feel now. This is how the Lord must have felt when he first beheld a finished world, with all his creatures breathing and living..." (Not vocoderized. Need to watch these Garbo films)
Tonto's Expanding Head Band "Jetsex" [YouTube] Just realized how much this anticipated the trippy "road" section of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" (long version)
Atomic Robo Kid "Googlex" [YouTube] Some crazy techno sh*t
David Van Tieghem "All Safe" [YouTube] Heavy on the Fairlight; this was right on the cusp, pre-808 State and "Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit," where '80s beats went from crunchy/static to fluid/sexy
Harley & Muscle "Friends and Enemies" [YouTube] Deep house, and the confusion between friends and enemies.
MIDI Users' Group performs at an electronic music event, Oscillate:Pittsburgh 2017 [YouTube]
Travis Hallenbeck tweeted: "my set in Pittsburgh was described by the organizer as like being stuck in an office"
On the other hand, it was kind of refreshing not seeing an Apple laptop or a rack of modular gear. These not-quite-ancient MIDI devices have their own unique sound and seem to have their own mind. Hallenbeck treats them like a flock of erratic sheep, letting them go where they will and savoring their little bleeps and hums as events in themselves. The caretaker approach to (dis)organized sound.
The website Lateral Addition, edited by Eric Laska, specializes in sound art works. An entry that stuck in my head is "Popular Songs A," a cassette tape by NY artist Christopher Knowles. As writer Lauren DiGiulio explains it,
...in “Popular Songs A,” Knowles introduces a series of short excerpts from Billboard’s Top 20 songs of fourteen different years from 1957 to 1971. The songs are recorded from the Top 20 countdown series on WCBS-FM, an oldies radio station in New York City that offered a programmed countdown of classic hits in the early 1980s. He made this work on fourteen different days throughout the winter and spring of 1984, and each of the recordings is comprised of songs that were popular on the same day of the referenced year. This temporal layering, in which we hear Knowles in 1984 introducing songs from the previous decades, creates a folding effect that draws sonic connections across moments in mid-twentieth century popular music. Here, Knowles takes us on a tour of this formative period in music history, showing us the differences between the smooth soul lyricism of the late ‘50s, the funk-rock beats of the ‘60s, and the psychedelic poetry of the early ‘70s as we hear cropped excerpts of “Pretty Girls Everywhere” by Eugene Church & the Fellows from 1958, “Dance to the Music” by Sly & the Family Stone from 1968, and “Toast and Marmalade for Tea” by Tin Tin from 1971. As listeners, we are invited to tune in to the soundtrack of Knowles’s everyday world, and to shift effortlessly with him across these carefully measured distances.
The song snippets are no more than a few seconds each and punctuated by generous amounts of crackling tape noise. What stays with you, however, are Knowles' amateurish yet incantatory introductions to each group of songs. He is speaking into his cassette recorder in 1984 as if he had an actual audience, which he does, now, 32 years later. Here's an example of one of his spiels, that I transcribed, delivered in an accent that my Southern-born ears can't place to any particular NY borough:
Well now, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for listening to the popular songs of 1965, 19 years ago today. So, Wednesday, March thirty-first, 1965, 19 years ago today. So thank you very much for listening to the popular songs of 1965, 19 years ago today. So Wednesday March thirty-first, 1965, 19 years ago today, so thank you very much for enjoining it [sic]. [Tape noise] So, that was 1965. [Tape pause] Well, now, ladies and gentlemen, now you listen to the popular songs of 1962, 22 years ago today. So, Sunday, April first, 1962, 22 years ago today. So now listen to the popular songs of 1962, 22 years ago today. So, Sunday, April first, 1962, 22 years ago today. So now, you listen up!
These Beckett-like intros, and the time folding effect of listening in 2016 to a crunchy tape made in 1984 of aggressively-spliced musical madeleines from 1957-1971, put the "art" into this sound experiment.
Something I bet you don't have -- a Captain Beefheart signature.
A bunch of us youths mobbed him after a concert; he was signing "Love Over Gold" on whatever scraps of paper we had handy.
This authentic Don Van Vliet signature is on the back of a receipt for a car battery from a store called Memco.