Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Back to Prem's [ig] Noble Web Page--main
Prem's Faves for 2002
{no particular order}
KUSF San Francisco, 90.3 FM
Band/Artist Release Record Label Prem's Spew
George Abdo and his Flames of Araby Orchestra Belly Dance!|The Best of George Abdo and his Flames of Araby Orchestra Smithsonian Folkways a collection of George Abdo's recordings from the mid- to late-1970s featuring an amalgam of Middle Eastern and Western influences, drawing from the cultural backgrounds of his band's musicians from Syria, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Armenia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and beyond; these performances were geared to the audiences of the Middle Eastern supper clubs of the period in the US and were accompanied by belly dancers--however, the material on this CD stands its own ground even without the visual stimulation of the dancers and features a myriad of Middle Eastern and Western instruments including oud, guitar, bouzouki, dumbek, violin, oboe, bongos, congas, darabukkah, qanun, trumpet, finger cymbals, drumset, claves, bass guitar, tabla, timpani, and baglama in quirky arrangements (even a bolero!)...all accentuating Abdo's lush vocal textures
Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Electric Heavyland alien8 three epic tracks worth of blistering psychedelic rock laden with thundering guitar riffs reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, dark atmospheres, heavy jam sessions, schizoid wails, panning echoey electronic backgrounds, gnome-like ethereal voices and more; the pace of each of these tracks varies greatly, from droningly meditative to meticulously convoluted to awe-inspiringly throb-ulicious, once again brought to us by Kawabata Makoto and friends of Osaka, Japan
Composer: Luciano Berio
Performers: Kim Kashkashian, Robyn Schulkowsky, & Radio Symphonieorchester Wien
Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies
Voci ECM Records on this, one of the final recordings of this late virtuoso, a violist, a percussionist, and a symphony orchestra circumambulate Sicilian folk music, drawing inspiration from its simplicity and integrating it into movements that vary from majestic to melancholy, contemplative to unsettling, consonant to dissonant--and included on this disc between the two main orchestral pieces are five old raw recordings of Sicilian folk musicians focused mainly upon Sicilian folk singing as augmented by the mouth harp and zampogna, or reed-pipe; in the second orchestral piece, the voice of a pre-recorded Italian vocalist is interposed, initiating a peculiar and captivating interplay between the taped voice and the violist that blurs the distinction between 'popular music' and 'art music,' a distinction for which Berio was never known to have had much respect [2001 release]
Tim Berne The Sevens New World Records performances of Berne's compositions featuring Marc Ducret on acoustic guitar, the ARTE Quartett (Beat Hofstetter/Sascha Armbruster/Andrea Formenti/Beat Kappeler) on saxophones, David Torn on electric guitar and as remixer...and on the album's epic track, Quicksand, Berne himself joins in on saxophone; these pieces range in character from reservedly contemplative to torrid, sometimes modified by David Torn's electronic sound sculpting, and the tracks involving the saxophone quartet bring to mind some of the quirkier material of ROVA Saxophone Quartet while Ducret's acoustic guitar performances inspire comparisons with some of the darker works of Marc Ribot
Brother JT3 Spirituals Drag City Brother JT (John Terlesky) teams up with a few pals to churn out an engaging set of psychedelic rock tunes, each with its own personality and wit; whether or not he intends these songs to elevate you to a spiritual plane is, um, debatable, but with their wealth of memorable riffs and choruses and their easygoing, quirky character it's hard not to be moved to forget about your worldly concerns for a little while to sit back and indulge yourself in the melodies of the moment
Buffalo Daughter I Emperor Norton an undoubtedly poppy offering this time around, steering clear of some of the more experimental leanings of Buffalo Daughter's earlier releases and instead indulging in bubbly choruses, airy (and sometimes eerie) synths, and ethereal strings once in awhile; there's a heavy presence of European feel-good 1960s pop here, but with computerized rhythms mixed in as a contrast to the drums and with departures into robotized vocals and wah-wah style guitar...even a bit of disco (???)...but it all manages to hold together beautifully and seamlessly for a dreamy listening experience [2001 release]
Dan Cantrell Divided Loyalties Odd Shaped Case the soundtrack to the film of the same name, Divided Loyalties examines the musical traditions of the island of Cyprus as well as the Turkish, Greek, and Bulgarian roots of those traditions to reflect the mixture of joy and sorrow of those who have resided there over the course of history; from a bouncy ceremonial wedding jig to a melancholy taqsim, many different forms appear here involving santur, violin, doumbek, tanbur, clarinet, accordion, guitar, oud, daf, vocals and more [2001 release]
Srikanth Chary Tiger + Silk Dhwani Productions crisp, rich ragas focused upon the veena, an ancient stringed instrument in some ways similar to the sitar but with an earthier, less metallic tone; unlike the sitar, an instrument most commonly associated with the Hindustani music of North India, the veena is prevalent in the South Indian Carnatic music which Chary has mastered with intricate improvisation and beautiful gamakams, or bends in pitch characteristic of this music, as well as elegant rhythmic accompaniment (or talas) provided by musicians performing on the mridangam, ghatam, and kanjira (the percussion instruments of Carnatic music)
DJ Cheb I Sabbah Krishna Lila Six Degrees Records this release tends far more towards the classical music of both North and South India than one might expect, given the DJ/remix connotation, and modern elements such as electronic rhythms and reverb/echo effects are employed very sparingly; several live groups are featured on this recording, involving the Carnatic music of South India and employing vocals and related instruments such as the veena, ghatam, mridangam, violin, as well as the Hindustani music of North India implementing vocals and instruments such as the tabla, bansuri (flute), daf and sarod and featuring such well-known musicians as Karsh Kale, among others--also, Bill Laswell adds his signature basslines on some of the tracks, making this an excellent blend of ancient and modern
Clarinet Trio Two Translucent Tones Leo Records Gebhard Ullmann (bass clarinet), Jürgen Kupke (clarinet), and Theo Nabicht (bass clarinet) team up to fashion some of the most free-flowing and (dare it be said) FUN avant-garde works to be found for clarinet trio--or any ensemble, for that matter--as each clarinetist here circumambulates the others, musically speaking, but with such grace that the effort never seems forced or strained as the myriad influences of each player work their way into the interchange during both the compositional phases and the improvisational phases of each piece; some tracks squeak and quiver in a goofily playful manner (two such tracks by Nino Rota, incidentally), while other tracks adopt a more solemn (though never stolid) guise
The Nels Cline Singers Instrumentals Cryptogramophone stark performances that bring together elements of rock and jazz with avant-garde developments and unusual time signatures; Cline's intricate guitar work shifts back and forth between contemplative introspection and aggressive riffage, occasionally evoking the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, while Scott Amendola and Devin Hoff keep pace on drums and acoustic bass, respectively, countering with equally unpredictable percussion flourishes and plucked basslines or weepy bowed bass-scapes (and just in case you're wondering...the instruments are the "singers")
The Consumers All My Friends Are Dead In the Red Records blazing punk rock recorded back in 1977 (and being issued for the first time on CD) with lightning-paced dual guitar attacks that incorporate riveting rhythms into the syncopated riffs, while a prickly vocalist sounds like he's about to stick his head out of your stereo and bite you; too bad the eleven tracks on this release clock in at under 19 minutes long total--another 15 minutes would have been more than welcome! [2001 reissue]
Johnny Dowd The Pawnbroker's Wife Catamount yet another album of warped, wryly bitter country/blues/folk-flavored rock from this cantankerous coot, seething with suppressed inner turmoil and disingenuousness; Dowd plays one of the meanest guitars in the business, though this release leans a bit more heavily on creepy bass synths than on previous albums, and Dowd's penchant for unsettling female backing choruses reveals itself more powerfully while other elements (such as a sitar?!?!) turn up unexpectedly in the musical gumbo
Mark Dresser Trio Aquifer Cryptogramophone an exploration of the lower end of the sonic spectrum, dominated on the darker pieces by Dresser's somber bowed bass textures and unusual harmonics (generated using what he calls a 'giffus'--an alternatively-placed pickup) and on the brighter pieces by his bouncy basslines and/or walking bass, which bring to mind a stroll on a breezy autumn afternoon; the accompaniment on this disc further distinguishes it, introducing eerie passages on the rarely-heard contrabass flute (as well as perkier flautistry from a variety of flutes, as played by Mathias Ziegler) and a panoply of scrapes, clanks, buzzes, and jangles from the prepared piano of Denman Maroney (who occasionally transitions to sounds more commonly associated with the piano), which when experienced as a unit makes your spine tingle
Jewlia Eisenberg Trilectic Tzadik from operatic choruses to gnomish musings to wails and moans, Eisenberg carefully sculpts the human voice on this mostly a cappella release, employing the peculiar relationship of Walter Benjamin and Asja Lacis (two 'radical Jews') as a foundation for the lyrical interplay while applying Bulgarian choruses, doo-wop structures, hymn-like intonation, some African hand percussion, and the recurring beat-box rhythms of Frank Grau; Eisenberg's peers from Charming Hostess appear on this release (as do guests from Faun Fables/Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), but the primary focus is upon the voices of Eisenberg, Carla Kihlstedt, and Nina Rolle [2001 release]
Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra Pax Recordings outwardly structured yet inherently cryptogenic improvisation for an ensemble of strings, reeds, tuba, guitar, and accordion with an occasional unstructured vocal; each track included here ranges from meek to mercurial, often with phases of blitzkrieg bowing countered with reservedly nippy woodwinds, delivering a scintillatingly gripping though uneasy listen
Fred Frith Accidental Fred Records/Cuneiform mind-warping collages of shrieking electric guitar, gutteral croaking, jarring radio static, gloomily moaning church organ, a variety of clickety poppety mouth noises, gyrating power tools, mysterious whispers, bassy throbbiness, and a few orchestral instruments thrown in here and there for good measure; although at first glance the aforementioned components might, in sum, seem abhorrently unlistenable, Frith diabolically employs awkward structures, aberrant rhythms, and dissonant harmonies to coax these factors into musical coagulation [2001 release]
Composer: Fred Frith
Performer: Rova Saxophone Quartet
Freedom in Fragments Tzadik smoothly jagged, jaggedly smooth compositions for multiple saxophones, witnessing moments of jabbery convolution, flowing quasi-exposition, and surreptitious collusions of both; Frith, never one to follow the well-traveled path, strays into the woods on this release, but remains within walking distance of civilization--these compositions, though by no means mainstream, temper the shocking dissonance and grit for which some of his recordings are known
The Hunches Yes. No. Shut It. (CD) + Got Some Hate/Lost Time Frequency (7") In the Red Records a barrage of punk rock with revved up blues lying just beneath the surface--a harsh, jarring performance featuring screaming guitar, a heavily distorted howling male vocalist, chugging bass, slamming drums, screeching feedback...and two vacuum cleaners running in the background of every track (nope, it ain't a lie--vacuum cleaners...); the 7" contains a b-side (Lost Time Frequency) that can't be found on the CD, but shouldn't be missed
The Japonize Elephants From Zorlock, Land of the Lost 40 Years of Our Family TZME Productions once again the Zorlockians weave together a fabric of diverse threads from the realms of bluegrass, gypsy music, blues, jazz, folk, and more--all imbued with the characteristic kookiness for which they've come to be known; banjos, xylophone, accordion, violin, guitars, horns, junk percussion, and bowed saw aplenty, among other things, as well as a guest appearance from Dawn McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl of Faun Fables
Joan Jeanrenaud Metamorphosis New Albion on Jeanrenaud's first solo release since her departure from Kronos Quartet, her cello often becomes the medium of exploration into the darker realms of the human psyche, as several of the six compositions found on this release (composed by Jeanrenaud, Steve Mackey, Hamza El Din, Karen Tanaka, Philip Glass, and Mark Grey) were written in contemplation of somber subject material or as reflections upon memories of environs destroyed by fate; she accompanies herself on several tracks with looped cello layering and on others with electronics or real-time computer sound analysis and feedback--but never in a technophilial manner--and each rendition sweeps into and out of heavier and lighter phases both gracefully and decisively
Jeff Kaiser/Brad Dutz The Order of Her Bones pfMENTUM a captivating sonic jumble of jittery brass exclamations from Jeff Kaiser (on trumpet/flugelhorn) and the percussive equivalent of feigned conspiratorial psychobabble from Brad Dutz (on a plethora of percussion instruments, most notably the marimba, vibraphone, gongs, bells, drums, and more--as well as on several non-percussion instruments); the pieces hold together, however, and bring to mind the free-form exploration of the Art Ensemble of Chicago
The Lost Sounds Rat's Brains & Microchips Empty raging space-freak punk rock with a tinge of goth, hosting rapid-fire guitar/bass/synth, pounding drums, and howling vox (both male and female); each of the tracks here refuses to stick to any one scheme for too long, but rather grasps you by the earlobes and continually jerks your unsuspecting brain into some kind of concussive dementia with raw yet manipulatively mutating rhythms, seemingly Frankenstein-inspired riffs, and lyrics that would serve well as the plot for an apocalyptic sci-fi flic
Mat Maneri featuring Joe McPhee Sustain Thirsty Ear lingering, melancholy compositions and improvisation with a spectral feel, featuring Maneri on viola/electric viola, McPhee on soprano saxophone, William Parker on upright bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Craig Taborn on piano/keyboards; some tracks focus upon single instruments--Alone (Origin), Alone (Construct), Alone (Unravel), Alone (Cleanse), and Alone (Mourn) feature Maneri, Taborn, Parker, Cleaver, and McPhee (respectively) individually creating haunting tapestries--while the other tracks bring the players together in a fascinatingly dreary confluence
Maneri Ensemble Going to Church Aum Fidelity captivating jumbliness certainly not intended for adherents to the easy listen, the three considerably extensive tracks (one longer than 31 minutes) on this release steer you through the swells and troughs of a turbulent sea of sounds emanating from Roy Campbell's trumpets, Joe Maneri's saxophones, Mat Maneri's viola, Matthew Shipp's piano, Barre Phillips' bass, and Randy Peterson's drums; in each track moments arise when two or more players focus on a theme, and then disperse to regroup with other players to focus upon other themes which spontaneously arise, as though the players are members of several pods of dolphins--none mutually exclusive of the others--which interact while navigating the depths
Man Or Astroman? A Spectrum of Finite Scale [self-released--available only at live performances] not the power surf you might expect from this band, but rather a project that tends far more toward the electronic leanings of Man Or Astroman?--as a matter of fact, the band doesn't even function as a band here at all, since each track is performed by only one or two members at a time, with guests on a few cuts; weird synthy atmospheres play a large part, with science-fiction-inspired music/voices and rockin' electric guitar here and there...and one track that sounds like it was composed by a photocopier [2000 release]
Mega-Mousse Musical Monogram TZME Productions hard jazz/rock with elements of klezmer and Eastern European folk carefully woven in; for those who enjoyed the harder material of The Vandermark 5, this release will bring back fond memories with its blaring saxophones, twisted time signatures, and heavy rhythm section--but here, the time signatures reveal underlying gypsy/klezmer roots rather than, say, prog rock or the like, creating a unique amalgam that's both radical and traditional at once
Nekromantix Return of the Loving Dead Hellcat Records raging electric guitar, flyin' rockabilly bass pluckin' & drum chops, and a singer whose growly voice sometimes sounds like some kind of psychopathic Elvis make up the guts of this release, which dips into elements of 50s rock as disguised by creepy whispers, dungeon laughter, and a variety of ghoulish sounds; this album holds together surprisingly well in spite of its cornball pretext, with a host of well-developed choruses and lots of unexpected departures into areas into which one might not expect a kooky band such as this to venture
Ustad Mohammad Omar featuring Zakir Hussain Virtuoso from Afghanistan Smithsonian Folkways now released commercially in full for the first time, this live performance from 1974 brought together two masters--Mohammad Omar, master of the rabab (a lute heard frequently in Afghani traditional and classical music) and Zakir Hussain, who even in his early years had already risen to the upper echelons of the tabla players of India and hence shone brightly through the intricate rhythms and tapestries he wove into this performance; as Afghani music is heavily influenced by the musical traditions of North India and Pakistan (as well as ancient Persia), Mohammad Omar and Zakir Hussain bonded instantly, establishing a fluid musical rapport steeped in the shared influences of their two cultures, even though they had never before met one another and did not even speak a common language
The Quails Atmosphere Inconvenient perkily punchy rock from this trio, with a growling, fuzzy bass guitar skulking ominously beneath the bouncy vocals, synths, and guitar; the female vocalist's high register and in-your-face, choppy singing style immediately bring to mind The Need (if you're familiar with that band), except that an equally boisterous male vocalist also sings on some of the tracks as a contrast, and that the rhythms here don't get quite as haywire as The Need's
Roger Reynolds All Known All White Pogus three extensive and unsettling compositions, the first from 1978 and the second two from 1968 and 1969, respectively, which combine live performances with electronics and/or pre-recorded sounds in real time; all compositions feature the piano prominently in a dark context, enwrapped in layers of woodwinds, brass, percussion, and/or live electronics/taped material and involving the type of algorithmic complexities one might associate with John Cage
Jason Robinson Tandem Accretions Records if such a thing as "death jazz" truly exists, you'll encounter it here as Robinson (usually on sax, but sometimes on flute/electronics/clarinet) pairs up with the other eight musicians featured here (on trombone, piano, contrabass, guitar, percussion, and a sea of electronics and analog synthesizers) for sessions of meningeal scouring and mercilessly carcinogenic improvisation; speak softly, and carry a big sax
Jimbo Trout and the Fishpeople It's Breaktime! Live! With Jimbo Trout & the Fishpeople Fishwrap live indeed--rowdy performances of traditional folk classics as well as a bluegrass composition by Bill Monroe, a swing piece from Lester Young, and other tracks from a variety of influences (George & Ira Gershwin, Jim Jackson, Vassar & Millie Clements, more); the original trio of Trout on guitar/banjo, Steve Neil on bass, and Jimmy Sweetwater on washboard percussion has now expanded to include saxophonist/clarinetist Greg Laakso and fiddler Chad Clouse, providing a fuller backing for Trout's "high lonesome sound"
Xiu Xiu Knife Play 5 Rue Christine a dark, creepy, excursion into the bleak realm frequented only by goth bands, with the characteristic "I'm slowly dying" style vocals and murky synth atmospheres; this release differs from the others, however, given the unexpected variety of influences and instruments shrewdly wrapped into these tracks, from gamelan percussion to dark noizjazz textures, from gongs to bass accordion to harmonium on this cryptically creative offering
Xiu Xiu Chapel of the Chimes Absolutely Kosher this EP is similar in many ways to 'Knife Play' (see above), featuring lugubriously spooky vocals which augment harsh percussion soundscapes and dissonant synths to coagulate into a toxically vicious yet viscous liquid, seeping slowly into the dark recesses of your subconsciousness; one should note that 'Chapel of the Chimes' is the name of a commercial chain of funeral homes, mausoleums, columbariums, memorial parks and cemeteries in Northern California
Back to Prem's [ig] Noble Web Page--main