Friday, December 23, 2011

Smoke Ghosts & Dark Mimics

Nearly the end of another year. Many thanks for following the blog. Here's a little audio collage of my favourite musical discoveries this year. I hope you enjoy. I'm not sure what kind of bandwidth I have but try to grab the mix it while it's available. Tracklist in comments. Happy Solstmas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plymouth's Leading Nightspots

Sorry!  I couldn't resist posting this one.  Any idea where the music is from?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Michael Garrick

Sad news. The world loses another visionary talent. If you're unaware of his remarkable contribution to British jazz, Mr Trunk had kindly posted the poignantly sublime 1963 track "Sketches Of Israel" as way of remembrance.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Saturday, November 05, 2011

El Jazz Mexicano De Tino Contreras

A little disc landed on my doorstep this morning and what a joy it is. A proverbial gem. I must confess I’d never heard of Tino Contreras but my ears have been truely opened after spending the last couple of hours with his vast and varied musical legacy. Relatively unknown outside his country of birth, he is probably Mexico's best kept musical secret. With a career spanning over sixty years, "El Jazz Mexicano De Tino Contreras" covers a wide variety of stylistic ground and consistently defies musical expectation. Fiery percussive salvos and modal jazz grooves are unexpectedly fused with mariachi rhythmic inflections, ancient pre-hispanic instrumentation, sinuous eastern scales and a myriad of oddly intriguing  cultural twists. 

In particular, “En El Viejo Estambul” is a wonderfully evocative psychedelic jazz composition, which combines strange middle eastern twilight zone scales, motorik jazz drumming and shimmering vibraphonic glissandos. The effect is beautifully exotic, propulsive and hypnotic. Things get a little odder with tracks selected from the 1966 long player “Misa En Jazz”. Like many jazz musicians and composers from the period, Tino Contreras attempted to combine secular and non secular composition. The results on display here are eerily engaging. “Santo” interweaves a stripped down jazz organ refrain in 5/4 time (think Dave Brubeck Quartet) with liturgical male and female vocal chant - it shouldn’t work but it does. Weirder still, “Credo” utilises a ghostly ballroom organ which evokes an image of Sun Ra languorously jamming on a disused seaside pier round midnight with a devout choir lamenting to otherworldly effect in the background. Twisted jazz never sounded so good. “Gloria” is even odder, opening with noir call girl tease, the track slowly evolves into celestial chorus and progressive modern jazz flourishes creating a sublime meeting point between the sacred and profane. I don’t go to church often but if I heard this playing from the pulpit, I definitely would. 

Throughout his career,Tino Contreras, was a visionary innovator, he travelled to Egypt, Turkey, Haiti, Brazil and Argentina collecting a wealth of musical knowledge along the way. In his later years, he developed compositions using the microtonal system of musical composition, ‘Sonido 13’, the ‘Thirteenth Sound', which divided conventional scales into a vastly wider palette of sonic tones.The track “Orbita” is a fine example of this style of composition. Taken from the rare and virtually untraceable private press record “Quinto Sol, Musica Infinita” this track required specially modified instruments to be built in order to create the wonderfully strange percussive effects which feature in this lopsided waltz time number. Shards of prepared piano collide with a deep jazz groove while sonorous baritone sax overtones dissolve into kinetic percussive joy, an intoxicating blend indeed. 

This release documents the career of a unique and singular talent and should be investigated at the earliest opportunity. A remarkable out there release. 

‘El Jazz Mexicano De Tino Contreras” is released by Jazzman Records on the 7th November. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Edition Fieber

Shrigley Forced To Speak With Others – "The Tree" by Edition Fieber
Shrigley Forced To Speak With Others – "Bong Your Dong Against The Gong" by Edition Fieber
Here's a little project I helped create. I'd almost forgotten about it but a small box of 7" singles arrived on my doorstep this morning and when I opened it I got a little excited. Probably more so than I should of. I did the audio warble and some other bloke scrawled the artwork and wrote the lyrics. I rather like them. Dinky little things. Maybe, it's because the covers look so rubbish, maybe it's the pink vinyl, I really don't know. There's more information about the project here. Oh and the price tag, absolutely mental.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Here's a recording entirely worthy of your attention. Originally released in 1974 as a minuscule private pressing of less than a 100 vinyl copies, Yaraandoo, is surely one of the lesser known and oddest conceptual records in existence. It's a difficult recording to define, an oddly unique meeting point between Kosmiche outsider jam, restrained free jazz improv, romantic impressionism, pastoral jazz and taut progressive moves. Inspired by the Aboriginal dreamtime myth of Yaraandoo, the record is a masterpiece of deeply, sparse and evocative musicality which deftly captures the stark, sun drenched Dreamtime isolation of the Australian outback. Recorded over a few months by multi instrumentalist Rob Thomsett and friends on a two track home studio in Canberra, Yaraandoo evokes a wide range of stylistic and compositional tones, moods and colours. At times, the sound is reminiscent of the deep jazz groove of Ian Carr's progressive outfit Nucleus but this reference point soon collapses into unexpected forms such as childlike folk strum complete with shimmering bells, glockenspiel and auto harp, melancholic minor key orchestration, wibbly avant electronic oscillations and slow motion hypnotic jazz. Originally, packaged using hand glued stationary card and illustrated with startlingly contemporaneous spray painted graphics, the record has a strange outsider aura which would make even the most ardent record collector salivate.  Few private records live up to the hyperbole, but Yaraandoo is undoubtedly a unique and strange listening experience which thankfully has been lifted from private press obscurity by the ever wonderful Australian based label Roundtable. Seek out this record, take off your clothes, lift your arms up to feel the setting sun and let this undefinable musical solar flare wash over you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photography Into Sculpture

Los Angeles based gallery, Cherry & Martin, restage Peter Bunnellʼs landmark 1970 exhibition, Photography Into Sculpture. Perhaps worth a visit if you're in the vicinity?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Way Of The Morris

More good news! My favourite purveyor of esoteric soundtrack recordings, Jonny Trunk, has started a new label called OST with the sole aim of releasing some of the more interesting proponents of contemporary film music out there. The first release on this new label is Adrian Corker's original soundtrack for Tim Plester's award winning documentary about the much ridiculed tradition of Morris dancing entitled “Way Of The Morris”. The film is a charming meditation on the curious role of folk traditions with contemporaneous culture and despite this rather oblique subject matter, the soundtrack is a wondrous mix of restrained electronics and ancient instrumentation and very much worthy of your attention. Utilizing field recordings from rural England, the music documents a strange and wonderful meeting place, where the sound of bells and whistles, voice and tradition, sticks and rushes blur and decay into a radiophonic otherworldliness. It is a weird mix indeed as shimmering glacial electronics elide into eccentric Moondog rhythmic patterns, joyous Bacchanalian reverie eerily echoes then dissolves into playful folk melody to suddenly side step into deeply meditative and cavernous melancholic disquiet creating an intoxicating amalgam of rural sounds. Compositionally, the soundtrack is both rich and emotive in tenor and style and wonderfully captures many of the contradictions of the preserving village green tradition within an industrial society. An utterly charming, idiosyncratic and very worthwhile release.

The "Way Of The Morris" soundtrack is released on OST on November 21st.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It's taken me a while to discover the wonderful blog entitled 50 Watts. Here's a few gems from the collection. The images are taken from a book from 1928 entitled "Children's Toys of Bygone Days: A History of Playthings of All Peoples from Prehistoric Times to the XIXth Century" by Karl Gober. Wonderful stuff.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bulandra I Diabeł

The Kramford Look

Here's a little oddball record that I like. Odd, because I've spent a large part of my adult life looking for records like it. It's the kind of record that makes the endless hours spent rummaging through consumer dietrus at rain soaked carboots, church fairs and the occasional local dump worthwhile. If your bag is sinister Giallo schlock, dusty wibbly electronic library themes or kinky cinematic arrangement you'll want to dig a little deeper to find this gem. The descriptive cues on the back of the record such as "Apprehensive theme with childlike overtones, glockenspiel" give little indication of the sonic wonders contained within its grooves and if I pulled this out from a box of scratched Mantovani records at the local booter I'd be well chuffed. You can find yours here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jazz In Relief

Here's a thing of beauty. I've been playing it all Sunday morning.  For years, I was obsessed with finding a copy in good nick and when I did I played it non stop for a month or so, filed it away and forgot about it. I'm glad I've rediscovered it. It's a jazz record of sorts, not of the free blowing variety but a wonderfully melodic trio recording. The playing is beautifully restrained throughout. Sunday morning music my dad would have called it. I've always liked the cover. It looks oddly futuristic and nostalgic at the same time. On the back of the record it says the photograph is called 'Three Lions' which has always confused me because I can't for the life of me see a single lion on it. The link above is for the French issue which I found online but I much prefer the cover of UK issue from 1967 which can be viewed below. I hope you enjoy too.