jeudi 30 octobre 2008

Next update very soon !

Dear all,

I am a little too very much busy... 

but next update to my blog will come very soon...

Thanks for your patience ;-)


vendredi 24 octobre 2008

Penguin Cafe Orchestra - When in Rome, Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall (1988)

How could I describe the music of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra ? Lets imagine a wedding party, where musicians invite everyone to dance and to have fun... Let's imagine a nomad band, travelling from city to city, and creating incredible parties, each time it stops in a particular place... Let's imagine yodel's art blending with American country music, let's imagine blues, jazz, classical music, rock blended in order to create a unique instrumental music, challenging any attempt to classify it... Let's imagine a pub, where an inspired music invite you to dance all the night...

Penguin Cafe Orchestra followed a very unique musical path, crossing many musical genres and creating unexpected dialogues between instruments and genres... I love the simplicity and the sophistication of the arrangements, the subtle blending of acoustic instruments, the inventive play on harmonies and rythms...

Guitars, percussions, piano and harmonium, cello, mandolin and ukelele.. Well, there so many instruments that it is impossible to list them...

If I was to locate the Penguin Cafe Orchestra on a map, I would pinpoint its place at the crossroad of minimal and chamber music, but I would like to add a third coordinate: pleasure and fun..

"When in Rome'" is a live recording...  You will feel the incredible feeling, the unique instrumental skill, the fun, the inspiration of this so creative band.

Simon Jeffes died in 1997. He was the main composer of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, he was its soul and he contributed to create its unique sound and mood...

I love this live recording... So much energy, feeling and creaticity.. Such a creative dialogue between musicians and instruments...

This is a great album !

link : mp3

password: olduvai

Klaus Schulze - X (1978)

Klaus Schulze is a musician who played a very important part in my life. I love him so much that I am willing to introduce him to the readers of my blog who never listened to his music, I respect him that much that I do not want to share all his discography, just an album that could give a fair overview of his musical world...

I chose... a 2 CDs boxset from 1978: X. It was still the time of analogic and modular synthesizers; it was the rule of the Big Moog and Minimoog, of the ARP 2600 and ARP Odyssey. These instruments had to be explored and to be mastered, many tricks were to be used in order to retrieve a specific sound or climate. It was before MIDI, computers and samplers...

"X" offers six compositions, from 5:25 to 29:32 minutes and allows us to discover a very romantic and symphonic Klaus Schulze, obviously influenced by composers such as Mahler or Bruckner, and trying to invent new creative roads between rock, krautrock and classical music. 
Harald Grosskopf (from Ash Ra Tempel) plays drums on several tracks.

"X" is an attempt to create musical biographies of characters such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg Trakl, Frank Herbert, Friedmann Bach, Ludwig II von Bayern, Heinrich von Kleist...

Klaus Schulze is exploring the cultural history of Germany through his unique set of electronic instruments...

Thirty years after its release, "X" remains a unique album where a vintage musical technology created unforgettable climates...

Is Klaus Schulze the last romantic of the XXth century  ?

"X" is among the CDs I would bring to the desert island I will have to live in, sooner or later...

If any reader of my blog does not know Klaus Schulze, please, listen to this album, it will open many doors and you will not watch the sky anymore as you were used to...

link: mp3 / 320

Password: olduvai

Jon Hassell / Farafina - Flash of the Spirit (1988)

Jon Hassell, who played a pioneering part in the exploration of the Fourth World musics, meets Farafina, a unique band of African musicians from Burkina Faso.  Founded in the early '80s, Farafina plays traditional music, inspired by the dances and songs of their medecine men, mixing together balafons, flutes and koras.  Farafina is still a very active band, teaching traditional musics to young African people, linking traditions with modernity, creating new musical landscapes where the instruments and the knowledge from the past meet digital technologies.

Flash of the Spirit is one of the albums who played a very important part in the development of the world music concept and scene.

Jon Hassell's unique trumpet sound meets African traditionnal musics, in this beautiful album co-produced by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois.

The sound and the feeling are unique, the message is generous: music is a shared language, beyond all the borders. Feeling, understanding, sharing, respect, friendship are the key-words of this unique joint-venture.

One can just admire the sincerity and involvement of Jon Hassell... This Ambient-African music remains a real UFO in the sky of new musics...

Link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai


"Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm"

Unknown buddhist monk

"Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend".

Bruce Lee

lundi 20 octobre 2008

Harmonia Ensemble & Roger Eno - In a Room (1993)

"The rich subtle music of Roger Eno has forever remained dreamily suspended between an electronic appeal and high brow tendency. This record proposes him as a composer of pure chamber music, featuring acoustic melodies for piano, cello and clarinet. The CD also includes tracks for piano solo".  

The liner notes of this CD, released on the Italian label "Materiali Sonori", are a good introduction to Roger Eno's music. Roger is Brian's brother, and he shares with him the same interest in ambient musics (he was involved into the Apollo album, with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois). Pianist and singer,  Roger Eno is also a composer of chamber music, subtle and elegant, with a unique style. Orio Odori (clarinet, bass clarinet), Damiano Puliti (cello), Alessandra Garosi (piano) create an intimate and beautiful mood, while playing these 16 compositions. Listening to this record will take you from track one "Classical Music for those with no memory ( 4th Movement)" to track 16: "A Dance with no people (Aromatic Tango)".

This is a beautiful musical journey....

link: mp3 / 320
password: olduvai

Propeller Island - Hermeneutic Music (1988)

Lars Stroschen is a multimedia artist living in Berlin, working in many different fields, such as photography, architecture, design of furnitures, drawing and music. As a musician, he started in the late eighties a solo project called Propeller Island (after the name of a Jules Vernes novel). He collected original sounds recorded during his travels and built up a electronic music studio. He composed various pieces for dance performance at the Berliner Schaubühne and in 1988, got a contract with the German Erdenklang label. During the following years, he creates his own label and will release many other records with music and sound sculptures, or unusual sounds libraries on CD-Roms. He was also involved into TONART, a composer community featuring, among others, Conrad Schnitzler: they released five records of extreme and fascinating avant-garde music.

Hermeutic Music is Propeller Island's first CD. Relying on various synthesizers, audio computers and samplers, on grand piano and gongs, on goblin voices and gamelan chorus, the 18 tracks of this album provide us with a very original electronic music, ambient and experimental at the same time, focussing on the sound design and cultures, on the painting of climates with electronic layers and soundscapes recorded in various locations. It is strange, lightly surrealist, very remote from the music of the so-called Berlin school (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze), although it shares with its great forerunners a kind of quest for originality, for new sounds and new composition patterns.

This Hermeneutic music is not hermetic. Let's say it provides the listener with a creative part: it is up to you to make sense of it, and you should not miss the trip  ;-)

link: mp3 / 320
password: olduvai

PS) Lars Stroschen created a unique "art hotel" in Berlin: he conceived all the design and furnitures. This post is illustrated with a few views of this hotel rooms...

vendredi 17 octobre 2008

Hans Otte - The book of Sounds (1984)

Hans Otte (1926-2007) was a very creative German composer and artist, as creative in poems and drawings as in sound installations or music for theatrical plays. He helped a lot in promoting in Germany artists such as John Cage, David Tudor, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, in his Bremen radio Festival. As a musician, Hans Otte was a student of Paul Hindemith and of piano maestro Walter Gieseking. 

The Book of the Sounds or Das Buch der Klänge is among Hans Otte most significant compositions. He played live this composition in many places. This 1984 recording by the Kuckuck German record company is the best introduction to his musical world, where Western minimalism meets Eastern spiritual traditions. John Cage, Terry Riley, Morton Feldman are obvious references, if one tries to compare Hans Otte's piano music to someone else...

What fascinates me in this CD is the quest for new sounds through a traditional musical instruments...

Hans Otte conceived and played piano as anyone else...

For lovers of experimental music, this original CD calls another one: "Das Buch Der Klange" played by Herbert Hencke on ECM New Music...

The interest of Manfred Eicher and ECM for the compositions of Hans Otte is enough to tell its importance in the landscape of contemporary music...

Link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

Adham Shaikh - Journey to the Sun (1996)

While I was commuting from my working place to the place where I live, today, in the late afternoon, while I was in the train, my Ipod, after Mozart and Chet Baker, selected this album by Adham Shaikh, Journey to the Sun... The late afternoon (or early evening) sun was shining and there was a surrealist light through the window of my train. I was among many commuters, going back to their places... I was sad and tired, hopeless and depressed, as sometimes (too often ?) it happens in my life, in others lives too, perhaps ?

Journey to the sun added a unique poetical and ambient touch to my commuting travel... Floating and ambient music, so deep, so far out, so minimal, so inspired, so tasteful, avoiding all the clichés of the chill out mode...  Adham Shaikh has a unique way to blend Indian sitar or flute sounds with Western electronic layers and atmospheres (I guess he used, among other tools,  an old ARP 2600 analogic modular synthesizer, since I am familiar with this instrument). 

It reminds me Brian Eno and the pioneering experimentations of the Berlin School. It evokes too the sun of California, the light of the most creative New Age trend, with musicians like Iasos or.. Aeoliah (who is German by the way...). 

It creates a unique atmosphere, blending ambient sounds, found voices, soundscapes from the street with floating electronic climates... It is not the cosmic space of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, it is the ambient soundscapes of our contemporary world and cities, where languages, traditions, cultures are trying to melt together in a creative way...

Journey to the Sun is a true chill out album. I followed the path and I found the light of a hopeful horizon at the end of a bad day...

Could a musical blogger be subjective sometimes and talk about himself ? 

Any good blog is the mirror of the real guy behind...

At least, I would love to think so...

Please, listen to Journey to the Sun by Adham Shaikh. One of the most original ambient music waiting to be discovered...

NB:  the link was deleted upon request. Please, buy this great album on emusic or on Itunes Store...

lundi 13 octobre 2008

Chris Hughes - Shift From the music of Steve Reich (1994)

Point Music was a record label that was started in 1992 as a joint-venture between Philips Classics and Michael Riesman and Philip Glass. It specialized in cutting-edge contemporary Western music. It was shut down in 2002.

Chris Hughes was fascinated by Steve Reich's music since his childhood, when his father took him to see the European premiere of Steve Reich's Drumming at the Hayward Gallery in London. 

The Shift project started as Chris Hughes pushed forwards his exploration of Steve Reich's musical universe. He met Steve Reich in the mid-80's and decided to work on a series of variations on Reich's early works.

Shift is strongly inspired by Drumming, Violin Phase, Piano Phase and adds something special to the original Steve Reich's works. 

The Synclavier provide Steve Reich's music with a new geometry, a new temporality, new patterns of repetition and variation. 

Shift is a deep exploration of the world of rythms and patterns, of loops and phrases, of electronic gamelan and sequences. Mathematics and time-codes create a unique hypnotic and ambient climate, where space and time are manipulated through computer programming.

By the way, Chris Hughes became one of the most famous British producers and drummers and he worked with Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Enya, Tears for Fears, Paul Mc Cartney and Wang Chung, to name but a few....

Here is the user's guide to this Shift album: "Melt in the sofa, close your eyes, relax and listen". Do it !

link / mp3 320

password: olduvai

Junior Homrich with Brian Gascoigne - The Emerald Forest/ OST to the John Boorman's movie (1985)

I love this John Boorman's movie, devoted to the green and deep world of the Amazonian rainforest, to its native people, to the quest of a father looking for his son, to the struggle between modernity and technologies, on the one hand, and a natural and ancestral way of life, on the other hand... This is for me a great movie inspired by a great humanist and ecologist vision...

I love the soundtrack too... Electronic layers and tribal percussions (clay pots, silver goblets, Jew Harp, marimba, body percussions, drums and African drums) mixed with various acoustic instruments (ethnic flutes, saxophones, ethnic oboe) and vocalizations create a deep and a mysterious atmosphere, a unique climate...  

This is a beautiful ambient soundtrack, that explores an unknown world, whose survival is threatened by the developement of our modern and western civilization... Junior Homrich and Brian Cascoigne were successful in blending the most up-to-date musical technologies with shamanism and tribal trance...  

Link / mp3 320

password: olduvai

samedi 11 octobre 2008

Sky, Earth and Sea

Sky, Earth and Sea (2007)

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; 
but it is the journey that matters,
not the end"

Unknown Zen master

Harold Budd, Ruben Garcia, Daniel Lentz - Music for 3 Pianos (1992)

Music for three Pianos is the result of a long-standing friendship between Harold Budd, Daniel Lentz and Ruben Garcia. Inspired by Morton Feldman's multi-piano pieces, this album explores the border between silence and music and invites the listener to navigate along dreams and memories. Minimalist and ambient, this music is stripped to the essential, and could remind Erik Satie's atmospheres. Simplicity, depth, sensitivity, this is a beautiful dialogue between three outstanding musicians who are more interested in the essence than in the surface, this Music for 3 Pianos is a true melodic and ambient gem. This album should be listened late at night, when the surrounding silence will create its own harmonics with the music and your own feelings...

Link / mp3 320

password: olduvai

John Adams conducts - American Elegies: Charles Ives, Ingram Marshall, Morton Feldman, John Adams, David Diamond (1991)

All the compositions of this album share a common feature: a quiet and reflective mood, an elegiac feeling, blending together lament and memory. As the title of the opening track by Charles Ives suggests, this CD could be considered as a meditation about "The Unanswered Question", as an elegy for the inharmonious folly of the world itself. 

The Orchestra of St. Luke's, conducted by John Adams, plays compositions by Charles Ives (among them, Five Songs, for the splendid soprano voice of Dawn Upshaw), Ingram Marshall (Fog Tropes), Morton Feldman (Madame Press Dies Last Week at Ninety), John Adams himself (Eros piano, played by Paul Crossley) and David Diamond (Elegy in Memory of Maurice Ravel).

This is a beautiful journey through the territory of American new musics, beyond all the usual borders of genres and sub-genres. One could say that a particular form of minimalism is displayed into these delicate orchestral atmospheres, as intimate as chamber music, as evocative as memories fading away...

link / mp3 320

password: olduvai

dimanche 5 octobre 2008

Sea and Sky

Horizon, 2007

"The viewer disappears along with the scene,
The scene follows the viewer into oblivion,
For scene becomes scene only through the viewer,
Viewer becomes viewer because of the scene"


Terje Rypdal - Waves (1978)

Electronic soundscapes of ARP Synthesizer,  RMI Keyboard Computer,  Tac Piano and Ring Modulator; melodic lines of the trumpet and fluegelhorn of Palle Mikkelborg; the drums of Jon Christensen; the 6 & 4 string electric basses of Sveinung Hovensjo... and the space guitar of Terje Rypdal, between fire and ice, earth and sky, rock and jazz, atmospheres and melodies....

Waves is another landmark in the history of ECM and in the musical journey of Terje Rypdal. 

The shades and haze of the Northern landscapes are illuminated by the music of this quartet, ambient jazz with a light electronic touch, where vintage instruments add their unique colours to this beautifully produced album (Manfred Eicher producer, Jan Erik Kongshaug engineer).

Splendid and nostalgic...

link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

Tangerine Dream - Ricochet (1975)

If I was to choose 10 CDs as an ideal collection for living on a desert island, Tangerine Dream's Ricochet would be one of them. This is one of my all time favorite albums... and if anyone among you, dear blog visitors, does not know it, do you a favor... and discover it now !

Ricochet is an album that, more than thirty years after its release, does not sound outdated or old-fashioned... It kept all its mystery and beauty, it is among the few great masterpieces of the German electronic music of the seventies.

The basic materials are live recordings during concerts in England and France by the trio Peter Baumann, Chris Franke and Edgar Froese, but these materials were edited, mixed and reorganized in studio, in order to create these two long and splendid tracks.

Tangerine Dream's previous albums, Phaedra and Rubycon, already featured electronic sequences, but they were still minimal and experimental. In Ricochet, sequences are at the forefront and create innovative harmonic, melodic and rythmical patterns. Nobody used Moog sequencers in such a way, beyond the mere repetition of loops or basic grooves, as a leading melodic voice. And I don't see anything equivalent in the more recent electronic music relying on computers. 

Everything is perfect in these two tracks, from the haunting romantic piano notes opening part two to the spacy guitar leimotiv of part one, from the overdub of drums upon some bass rythm to the use of delays on the most melodic sequences.

Ricochet contains the quintessence of the concerts of the Dream in the seventies, a flight outer space, very far out, a psychedelic travel through the waves of the sound, and a very human and romantic feeling, between rock and classical music...

Absolute masterwork...

link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

mercredi 1 octobre 2008

Hubert Bognermayr & Harald Zuschrader - Erdenklang Computerakustische Klangsinfonie (1982)

This record is part of the history of electronic and computer music. In 1982, it was avant-garde... In 2008, it is a vintage recording, although a part of its innovative concept and new aesthetics is still alive and challenges the listener...

Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader's album provided the German record company Erdenklang with its artistic manifesto: exploring new directions in electronic music and deviating from the cosmic genre of the so-called "Berliner school".

The Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument offered new sampling and sequencing possibilities, a new level of sound quality, through its digital technologies,  and it was heavily used in this "Computerakustische Klangsinfonie". Mixing together concrete and natural noises, industrial sounds and samples of a large vocal chorus or of various acoustic instruments, Bognermayr and Zuschrader were exploring a new style of electronic music, experimental and popular, melodic and abstract  at the same times, avant-garde without being hermetic.

link: mp3 320

password: olduvai

Jean-Philippe Goude - Ainsi de nous (1994)

Jean-Philippe Goude (b. 1952) is a French composer who wrote many soundtracks for movies,  TV shows, adverts and dance companies. Some of his compositions were also commissioned by music festivals and symphonic orchestras.

Ainsi de nous is a good introduction to Goude's musical universe (his discography includes 5 other CDs): chamber music, with an intimate and a very subtle atmosphere, the twelve tracks of this album put the emphasis on melodies and refrains, blending neoclassical influences, a light jazzy swing, and a frivolous elegance that could remind the style of the Penguin Orchestra...

Clarinet and saxophone, basson, cello and violin, piano and harmonium, acoustic bass and accordion provide these compositions with their specific colours, and one can notice, among the musicians involved, jazz artists such as Bruno Fontaine or Renaud Garcia-Fons.

This beautiful album is a gem quite representative of the new musics trend  "à la française"..

link / mp3 320

password: olduvai