Miles has arrived, and he is LIVE.

The Miles Davis official website and Facebook page have been brimming with news about the March 25th release of MILES AT THE FILLMORE Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.  I’ve really enjoyed discovering Miles’ work for this period, and the notion of new live material certainly caught my attention.

Sadly, these recordings are set for release exclusively on CD, with no option for vinyl or digital download that I could see.  The official site does make mention that many of Davis’ recordings are currently being “remastered for iTunes…” (and I will bite my tongue here.)

Not to have my excitement shattered, I hurried over to discogs.com.  The official site stated that these recordings had for the most part only been available as bootlegs before this new release.  A few minutes of digging and I learned that a sampling of both shows were issued on an official compilation double LP on the Columbia label in 1970.  I instantly dismissed this option and pressed onward.  Surely, I could secure a copy of at least one of these legendary performances complete and in a vinyl format.

While on the hunt I found that these two performances are said to have been a pivotal moment for Davis – introducing the deadheads and other rock and roll cultures of the Fillmore scene to fusion and Davis’ own brand of new jazz.  Furthermore it is said that these performances are what secured Miles Davis’ induction as the first instrumentalist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And that’s when I found it.  Apparently, the Fillmore West performance was released in its entirety as a double LP in 1973, exclusively in Japan.  But before I scrambled for the discogs marketplace, I acted instead, on a hunch.

I phoned the Bop Shop in my old home town of Rochester, NY.  Tom at the Bop Shop has been the core of the jazz scene in the city for over 30 years.  He’s brought countless jazz acts to the city, and his shop is a must-visit for any discerning music fan.

I told him what I was looking for, and he breathed deep.  “Jeez, I’ve never come across that record,” he confessed.  But before ending the call, he asked me to hold on while he dug around in his back stock just in case.

30 seconds later, he returned to the line.  “Here it is!  Black Beauty, 1973!”

This evening it was waiting on my doorstep.  There’s nothing better than finding great music you never knew you wanted.

DSC04379
DSC04374

DSC04380

DSC04381

And here’s a 30 minute sample from the performance.

Space Music (Literally)

If you had to sum up what Earth is like, what would you say?

“Sounds of the Earth” – The Voyager Golden Record was Earth’s message to the stars in 1977.  It recently exited our solar system in September of 2013 with the Voyager I space probe, and carries greetings in 55 languages, and sounds ranging from a child’s laughter, to whales singing, to a Brandenburg Concerto and Blind Willie Johnson playing the blues.

Voyager Golden Record

Sadly, only two copies were pressed, and each affixed to the Voyager I and II.  In fact, the copyright owners for the images and music on the actual record signed agreements which only permitted the replay of their works outside of the solar system.

Fortunately for we Earthlings, CD copies of the images and recordings of the Voyager Golden Record were included with Murmurs of Earth – a deluxe hardcover book detailing the contents of the historic LP.  Warner New Media would eventually release a CD-ROM version of the album in 1992.  And thankfully, each of these releases surface with some regularity on Amazon and eBay.

Murmurs of Earth Hardcover
Here is the complete LP:

But to take space music one step further – in 1993, Brain/Mind Research and LaserLight Digital ‎released a 5-disc set titled, Symphonies of the Planets.  These recordings were based on electromagnetic data of the outer Solar System, as recorded by instruments on board the Voyager I and II.

Symphonies of the Planets

The result is over two and a half hours of low-end drone frequencies.  Wonderful study-music and a great way to make your listening room feel ten times its actual size.

Disc One of Five:

And what entry on the subject of Space Music would be complete without the soundtrack to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage?

The Music of Cosmos
The Music of Cosmos (1981 LP)

This will forever be the sound I associate with space, and I’m sure the same goes for the millions of others who grew up watching Sagan’s Personal Voyage.  More than any Tangerine Dream album, more than  Tomita’s reimagining of  Debussy’s work on the Snowflakes Are Dancing LP, and more than any Fax/Namlook/Schulze record… the Cosmos soundtrack is an album for the ages.

But on to the present day, the space music that everyone is talking about today is Alan Silverstri’s score to the new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey
Here is a track from Vol 1 of 4, now available on iTunes.  Silverstri is known for his work conducting and composing film scores, such as the memorable soundtracks for the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump,  but perhaps most importantly it was his score to Carl Sagan’s Contact film from 1997 that made him the ideal composer for this, the latest project made in Carl Sagan’s memory.

We’re crossing our fingers for a 4LP box set when the series completes.

The 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time

Last week I saw a post from redditor bsparks who found The Franklin Mint’s 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time at his local Half Price Books at a great price.  He evidently lugged home all 100 discs (nearly 150 pounds of wax) and spent the next year taking them in, one disc at a time.

Franklin Mint - 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time (Cover)

If there’s one thing at which The Mint excels, it is deluxe packaging.  bsparks kindly offers a gallery exploring the collection in great detail.

From the official text:

The 100 Greatest Recordings of all time from the Franklin Mint has been called the ultimate private library of fine recorded music. Every recording was selected by a distinguished panel of music authorities (Martin Bookspan, Schuyler G. Chapin, Franco Ferrara, Irving Kolodin, William Mann, R. Gallois Montbrun, Marcel Prawy, Andre Previn, William Schuman and H. H. Stuckenschmidt).

The library was first announced on the 100th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph. Each recorded treasure was pressed with a special vinyl formulation that enabled a clear, quiet playing surface on a more rigid LP disk. Every record was pressed in an atmosphere controlled “clean room.” There are 50 library cases. Each library case houses two proof-quality long playing records, with each record resting, fully protected, within its own dust free compartment. The record is firmly supported within the closed compartment in such a way that the grooved playing surface never touches any part of the case. Each library case includes a specially written and illustrated commentary, by a respected music expert. The composers and their works are discussed in detail, and background information is provided on the orchestras, conductors, ensembles, and featured soloists. This is a truly unsurpassed private library of recorded music.”

1920039_10152019020046185_898011793_n

As an archivist, I was instantly intrigued by this mammoth set, though the sheer volume of the beast gave me pause.

Thankfully, I found the next best thing on the Web.  Some wonderful, dedicated man or woman took the time to rip all 100 discs to FLAC.  Each of the discs were pre-cleaned with wood glue, played on an Empire 598 Turntable with an ADC XLM MKIII cartridge, powered by Bottlehead Seduction and Bottlehead Foreplay Tube Phono Preamps, and expertly ripped to 24 bit / 96 kHzFLAC using GoldWave.  The tracks were then ClickRepaired and separated, log files were generated, and the final cuts were meticulously organized and tagged into their respective volume folders.

1926719_10152019020756185_2138453487_n
But perhaps the above-and-beyond effort of the collection was the 672 professional photographs of every center label, every page of each book accompanying each of the 50 volumes, the cross-reference index, the pamphlet and the letter signed by Stanley Walker, Director of the Franklin Mint’s Music Dept.

A standing ovation – this is archival FLAC as it should be!

If you’re not quite up to downloading this 80GB library, there is also a 320VBR available, transcoded from the same source audio at the more manageable size of 17.1GB.

I am going to keep an eye out in the event that an affordable copy of the actual set surfaces within a reasonable distance from my home… because there is no way in hell I’m going pay shipping for this baby.

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing to you in a state of pure euphoria.  I am awestruck by the explosion of recent musical events.  So much, in fact, that I must present the latest news to you in three parts.

These three posts will come once every five days as I do my best two maneuver about the chaos that is relocating my audio lab.  In just four days, I will take command of a new home with a dedicated audio engineering and listening space, in the company of my beloved lady and fellow music critic.  These are exciting times, but all my own excitement pales before the news that greeted me upon returning home from work this evening.

ENO & HYDE 2014

The words stared back at me from my monitor, and it took several self-checks to ensure that I had, in fact correctly deciphered and interpreted the Roman glyphs before me.  The article which followed confirmed the headline, and I found myself slipping into a Zen-like ancient ancestral hunter-gatherer trance.  In a few swift motions I seized my credit card, connected to UnderworldLive, converted GBP to USD and locked in my pre-order.

The day has finally come.

After Karl Hyde collaborating with Brian Eno for This is Pure Scenius in 2010, producing acoustic-ambient-art-rock for the masses, and after the release of Hyde’s first solo record, Brian and Karl teamed up again in late 2013 and have just publicly announced the pending release of their first collaborative record – Someday World.

WARP249-Packshot_1400-1024x1024

The 2LP is scheduled for release May 5th, 2014, but those who reserve their copies in advance will receive downloads of 2 pre-release tracks, the first of which will post March 4th.  The gatefold double-LP is sure to be a milestone of music history, perhaps the first of its kind since Byrne and Eno released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.  In fact, an article on the official UnderworldLive website described Eno and Hyde discovering a mutual love of afrobeat… so there may be a hint of Ghosts detectable in the DNA of the new release.

Shipping included from the UK, Stateside buyers will secure a pre-order for just over $49 USD – a small price to pay for such a piece of history.

And UnderworldLive has kindly offered a high-res promotional wallpaper shot of the gents for you to gaze upon while you count the seconds until your copy arrives.

I honestly cannot express my excitement at learning this news – Hyde was the first piece of music I heard in my life which was not from a top 40 radio playlist, and Eno is responsible for initiating me into the world of cerebral, contemplative sound art.  And now, they’ve cut a record together.

See you in 5.

Eno-Hyde-2014_Credit-Perou_Web

February Featured Artist: Mr. Karl Hyde

A dear friend recently stated that “Sometimes I think the only point of going to college was for me to find out about Underworld’s A Hundred Days Off album.”  I replied that it was one of the most beautiful sentences I’d ever read.

And it came at an opportune juncture, as there is brilliant Underworld news afoot.

Karl (the lead, founding member) has released his first-ever solo record.  And you need to go buy it right now.

Karl Hyde - Edgeland

I touched upon this album in my post from mid-December, which served as more of a sample analysis of the LP than a proper review, but now that I’ve had time to really digest the album I thought it appropriate to explore the record and his recent live performances in greater depth.

Karl’s debut solo show at The Union Chapel on April 25th 2013 featured several UW rarities and classics, many performed live for the first time in his 35-year career.

The genre tag for the new LP is listed as “Ethereal” and honestly I could not dream up a more fitting term.  It explores the more intimate progressive sounds which kept bringing listeners back to A Hundred Days Off, and to many of Karl’s more exploratory “deep cuts” over the years.

This first-ever live track is “8 Ball,” originally issued exclusively on the soundtrack to the film, The Beach 14 years ago.  Karl concluded the Union Chapel show with this treat, and it’s wonderful to see him filled with joy at the end of the performance.

And here is “Dirty Epic” from the same show. “Epic” was the first track on his first release as Underworld Mk2.  Underworld Mk1 was a synth pop extension of his earlier band, Freur. But Dubnobasswithmyheadman was brilliantly progressive and a milestone in the history of electronic music. Karl’s stream-of-consciousness sexually-charged lyricism takes center stage in this more intimate interpretation of the now 20-year old trance anthem.

And finally, here was the mind-blowing surprise track of the night. Watch below as Karl performs the track which first exposed him to musical celebrity – the Welsh synthpop one-hit-wonder Freur released in 1983 – “Doot Doot.” This is the first time in 30 years that Karl has performed the song.  And without the electric drum kit or synth keyboards, it takes on a much more mature mood.  Fans who have been following Karl since his humble beginnings were awestruck to hear the track performed by a a man who, at the age of 57 has guided the direction of electronic music for the last three decades.

Now onto Edgeland – Karl’s first official release without his bandmate, Rick Smith.  I came to this record without having heard a single note before I dropped the needle on my own copy.  I made no hesitation about ordering it – Karl has never let me down and Edgeland proved to be no exception.

Karl_Hyde - Edgeland 2013-5.16.2013 Inner Jacket

A few words on Edgeland’s production value:

This is an elegant and mature recording – rare form in an electronic genre plagued by contemporary trends like brostep and heavily-compressed electro pop.

Examining “Perfume” we find a simple, low-fi sawtooth wave paired with a melody supplied by Karl’s Gibson SG guitar.  But headphone listening reveals several other instrumental nuances.  Similarly, subtle choral harmonic effects support and enrich his vocals.  Both of these effects are masterfully executed and clearly separate this record from the bland pop that dominates the genre.

And here is the video of the album’s single – “The Boy With The Jigsaw Puzzle Fingers.”

The track exudes Karl’s intellectual refinement and his overwhelming joy.  The record is a proud sonic declaration of who he is – capturing the musical voice that exists within Mr. Hyde, outside of the sold-out arenas in Tokyo, and away from the rave anthems of the music festivals.  We are hearing Karl’s true voice, independent of Underworld, of the genre, and free of expectation or responsibility.

And his voice is beautiful.

Thanks, Karl.

Karl Hyde Press Photo

A Thought Piece on Retiring My Physical Library

I’ve had a humbling revelation, and I’m honored to be able to share it with my audience.

A few days ago, I prepared multiple discographic digital FLAC archives to upload to the finest private tracker on the net.  I posted an inquiry to the moderators of the site – asking if there was any way to preserve the folder structures of the megatorrents I’d created thusly:

- Studio Albums
- Live Albums
- Soundtracks
- Remasters
- Compilations
- Singles
- Solo Projects
(etc)

I had tagged each disc’s %album% and named each corresponding folder with:
[%YEAR%] %TITLE%.  

My core belief was that artists and labels should be experienced in the full context of their discographies.  I’d labored to create resources for those researching the evolution of a composer’s sound and to help listeners track the development of a genre through the chronology of releases on its primary record label.

But the harsh realization came when it was explained to me that the system in place by the tracker with which I’d elected to share my files already had a superior archival method in place.  Namely – all artists’ work is auto-populated in chronological order of release, and sub-categorized by commercial recordings, live recordings, singles, etc.

But more importantly, the site’s torrents grow better with each upload.  Users can choose to download one album or all albums at any bitrate they desire, whether 192CBR, 320VBR, or FLAC.  And as members upload new releases or superior torrents (such as FLAC + .log), the previous entries are automatically replaced.

The site maintains a strict file naming convention and organizational structure, which was the reason I joined their network in the first place.  Shockingly, this realization shattered the labor of love I’d be building for the past five years.

My local archive was old hat.  It was no longer relevant.  The new system already in place is an ever-evolving organism, superior to my method in nearly every way.  I was old and in the way.

Recursively archived torrent systems composed of magnetic links comprise the greatest library of media, literature and human knowledge ever assembled.  The user-constructed collage system of this particular tracker allows members to collaborate and design maps to help new listeners navigate and discover these wonderful recordings.

And perhaps most importantly, this magnificent system will survive long after my modest archive has long been forgotten.

Will I stop collecting records?  Surely not.  Though I will likely be more conscious and selective about which gems I select for my personal archive going forward.  As an independent archivist, I will adapt and re-direct my efforts toward perfect, FLAC + log archives of exceptional and rare recordings.

Please do not misinterpret my words – by no means am I abandoning my life-long affinity for dusty old bookshops and record libraries.  I am only shifting my methods for the sake of practicality and preservation.

My goal has always been to archive for the enlightenment of the generations to come, for the sake of great music that should never be forgotten.  This goal remains unchanged.  It is simply the means to that end which begs revision.

I welcome your thoughts.  Thank you, friends for letting me share.

dusty-library

Published in: on January 26, 2014 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ending the Year BIG at the Innerspace Connection!

More big news to finish off the year with a bang!

Two new titles to report – one from each of my greatest musical inspirations.

The first is John Higgs’ new book – THE KLF: Chaos, Magic, and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds.

To quote DJ Food, who just blogged about the book at the end of October:

“If there’s one event that the book centers on it’s the burning of a million pounds and from there he draws clear lines to Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea, Alan Moore, Ken Campbell, the number 23, Dr Who, magical thinking, The Dadaists, the Devil, Discordianism, the assassination of Kennedy, Wicker Men and the banking crisis of the late 20th Century.”

This is definitely not your average KLF biography.

Image

The book went into print just last September, so I was happy to create an entry for the title on Goodreads and to provide its first review.

I’m 3/4 through this brilliant book and with each new chapter I am amazed how much this humble little paperback reveals about global events and cultural responses of the 20th century.

For example, Chapter 12: Undercurrents examines the quiet death of 20th century culture – the forgettable early-to-mid 90s.

The chapter summarizes the beginnings and endings of cultural climates, citing key events beginning with Darwinism’s impact on the pillar of faith in the late nineteenth century to The Great War, the conflict of the 40s, the conformity of the 50s, the liberation of the 60s, the hedonistic self-indulgence of the 70s, and the shift toward material wealth in the 1980s.

All of this lead to the 90s – the point where culture simply burned out. “They were out of ideas.” Slacker became the iconic low-culture film of 1991. Nihilism peaked in 1994 with Kurt Cobain’s suicide, the KLF’s burning of a million pounds, and the death of Bill Hicks.

And with these events, Higgs declares, “this was the point when the constant creation of new musical genres that had characterized the 20th century came to an end.”

Higgs refers to 1991-94 as the “Age of Extremes,” bracketed by the end of the Cold War and by the birth of first popular web browser.

The chapter also touches upon Surrealism, Situationism, Anti-capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Dadaism, The Cabaret Voltaire, Generation X, Tony Blair, George W Bush, The Spice Girls, and how all of these lead us to the new millennium.

Other chapters are equally rich in content.  Chapter 4: Magic and Moore, (specifically pp 80 – 89) examine the nature of consciousness, Carl Jung, Alan Moore’s concept of “Ideaspace,” and reality, itself.

A thoroughly exciting book, I had to put it down mid-chapter just to collect my thoughts.

One thing is for certain – Higgs’ book will give you more insight into the mysterious entity that is the K-Foundation than you could ever have asked for.

The KLF Print by Innerspaceboy 2013
A screen print design I made in tribute to the K Foundation earlier this summer.

And I was absolutely delighted when I received a record from my other great inspiration in the post – the first solo recording from Underworld-frontman Karl Hyde.

For those who aren’t aware of my history with Underworld, the debut record of Underworld Mk II – Dubnobasswithmyheadman was the very first album I heard which wasn’t top 40 radio pop.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman

The album set me on a path to discover the progressive and cerebral sounds of the avant-garde and the history of electronic music.  And the album’s packaging, designed by Karl Hyde and his design company, Tomato, inspired me to pursue my degree in graphic design.

In the 35 years since two gents from Cardiff sold their first single out of the boot of their car, Underworld has gone on to write floor-stomping anthems, to collaborate with Danny Boyle on Trainspotting and more recently, the Frankenstein play with Benedict Cumberbatch, and to score the 3-hour opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
They’ve produced experimental works with Brian Eno and created ambient installation pieces for their Tomato art collective.

And now, in 2013, Karl Hyde has released his first-ever solo LP at the age of 57.

Karl Hyde - Edgeland

Edgeland is an elegant and ethereal experimental record – an appropriately sophisticated first solo venture for the man who has been pioneering the electronic genre for decades.

There are subtle but clear elements of inspiration sprinkled throughout the record which Karl’s life-long fans will surely detect.  The last 40 seconds of “Final Ray of the Sun” for example contains a few notes from a muted, compressed harmonica.  The sample comes from a single titled, “Big Mouth” released by Karl back in 1995 under the moniker, Lemon Interupt.  The single received little press or radio play, but true Underworld fans will smile contentedly when the harmonica begins to play on “Final Ray.”

The percussive piano loop which comprises the opening 10 seconds of “Out of Darkness” serves as a subtle nod to Terry Riley’s genre-defining minimal masterpiece, “In C.”

Furthermore, the fragmented instrumentation of “Dancing on the Graves” and the mechanical vocals of “Cascading Lights” are musical elements one might suspect were lifted from Brain Eno and David Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

Even if not for those particular samples, Brian Eno’s collaborative impact is certainly evident in Karl’s trademarked stream-of-consciousness vocals.  It is a mature, contemplative record and a triumph for Karl Hyde.

The release of this new LP inspired me to take on a large project.  This evening I set myself to the task of downloading the largest compendium of Underworld’s work – all in 320CBR  quality and merged it with my own UW library, twice the size of the web-sourced archive.

In four hours’ time, I had constructed a 27GB network of 393 sub-folders and over 2,500 tracks.  I applied uniform naming conventions to the entire set to establish the first archival-quality library of their extended catalog.

Each folder is prefixed with the year of release, and suffixed with its respective catalog number.  Albums are sorted into folders such as ALBUMS, DEMOS & PROTOTYPES, INTERVIEWS, LIVE RELEASES, SINGLES, SOUNDTRACKS, etc, etc.

I plan to spend the remaining evenings of the year tagging the entire network of files to match the folder structure.

And I will enjoy every minute of it.

Thanks for tuning in for 2013 and I’ll see you next year!

East Meets West on this Glorious New Remaster!

Hosianna Mantra 72

The year was 1972.  Florian Fricke had recently sold his Moog synthesizer to Klaus Schulze, trading his trademark electronic sound for piano and African and Turkish percussion.  Hosianna Mantra is, on the whole, a far more organic album than the releases which preceded it.

The album showcases violin, tamboura, piano, oboe, cembalo, and 12-string acoustic guitar, accompanied by soprano Djong Yun’s haunting vocals.

Allmusic editor Wilson Neate recalls the timeless healing quality of this record, and Fricke, himself called it, “a mass for the heart.”

I had been searching the corners of the Web for a copy of this record for the better part of 2013.  Unfortunately it was only issued in the US one time, in 1981.

Celestial Harmonies, the label which produced the ’81 reissue, had the looney idea of replacing the breathtaking foil emblazened portait art of the album with a stark, white cover bearing a single yellow circle.  While I’m normally a strong proponent of minimalism in design, this was not the place for it.

Hosianna Mantra 81

And so my search continued, with most original pressings selling for $75-$100.

Then, by an act of sheer luck (or perhaps divine intervention!) I discovered that a label and record shop in Barcelona had been remastering and reissues LPs from bands like Amon Duul, Between, Embryo, and Popol Vuh!

As good fortune would have it, this very September, Wah Wah Records Supersonic Sound issued the disc I was after.  Remastered from the original studio tapes, this disc featured a gatefold sleeve, promotional print of the band, and a double-sided tri-fold insert with liner notes by Popol Vuh expert Dolf Mulder.

As an added bonus, the album shipped with a 7″ single with pic sleeve that reproduces the original, rare 45 by Korean soprano Djong Yun featuring “Du Sollst Lieben” and “Ave Maria”, written by Bettina Fricke and backed by Popol Vuh.

Only 500 copies were produced so I phoned up their shop in Barcelona and locked in my order.  The disc arrived in the post this evening, and I’m delighted with the new pressing.

Below are hi-res photos I’ve just taken of the new record, and you can listen to the album in its entirety at the end of this post.

01 Sleeve Front

02 Sleeve Back

03 Gatefold Sleeve
04 Promo Print

05 Insert

06 Insert Reverse

07 Seven Inch Sleeve

08 Seven Inch Sleeve Reverse Detail

9 Seven Inch Label A

10 Seven Inch Label B

11 Side 1

12 Side 2

Enjoy the music!

The Mega-Box-Set Post

Recently, while exploring the early Miles Davis recordings, I discovered the Miles Davis Quintet LPs released on the Prestige label in the years before his signing with Columbia.
For the past several months I’ve been enjoying the 72-disc Complete Columbia Recordings Collection so I picked up a digital archive of the Miles Davis Quintet albums and enjoyed the sessions very much.

Their final four albums released on the Prestige label were Cookin’… (57), Relaxin’… (’58), Workin’… (1959), and Steamin… (’61) …with the Miles Davis Quintet.

cookin

relaxin

workin

steamin

A quick scan of discogs.com made it clear that original pressings were out of my budget, but that remasters were pressed throughout the 80s and early 90s and readily available, still sealed, for around $20 apiece.  The total with shipping would be $86 for the remasters, so I spent a few extra days investigating a cheaper option.

The following Saturday I found my answer!  In 1972 and 1974, Prestige released two double-LPs with matching artwork and typography remastering all four of the albums I was after.  Better still, I acquired both sets in VG+ for a total of $21.

R-595825-1166182613

R-1436533-1304538088

Proud additions to my Miles Davis collection!

Next I jumped at the opportunity to order a copy of Moondog’s second self-titled LP from 1969.  It was my first exposure to the legendary blind avant-garde classical street performer and Odin-impersonator, and I knew I had to have it for my library.  The LP was reissued in 2003 but I secured a clean original pressing for $50, so I was happy.

R-1078494-1190462193

Later, while discussing early German avant garde-music with a coworker, he mentioned The Second Viennese School, which I investigated as soon as I was home from work.  There is a digital Collection available which includes Webern: The Complete Works (a 6-disc set), Schoenberg: The Piano Music, and the 1909-1935 Berg Collector’s Edition, (an 8-disc set).  I will be exploring these recordings while reading about the composers more in the coming weeks.

Out of curiosity I searched for the term “avant-garde” in the digital marketplace and found a wonderful set to further my education.  The Progressive/Kraut/Avant Garde/Psych Collection contains 753 albums totaling over 517 hours of material, most of which are out of print on vinyl.  Resources like these are excellent starting points for those taking their first steps into progressive rock and who learn best by actually listening to these rare recordings before ordering the original pressings.

Also on the subject of volumous box sets, there is a magnificent 8-DVD collection which I can’t recommend enough for listeners looking to explore the psybient genre I featured in my previous post.  The discs are expertly organized – the first disc compiling the works of Simon Posford (Celtic Cross, Dub Trees, Hallucinogen, Shpongle, The Infinity Project, etc.)

And DVD #6 is a compilation of fourty official psybient various-artists collections.

In all, the set contains over 329 hours of psychill albums and is an essential collectable for archivists or for anyone in need of some meditative chill-out music to spin while they’re working.

And the final multi-disc set of the week is the limited-edition Klaus Schulze: Ultimate Edition which compiles 50 CDs of previously unreleased or limited-release recordings into one massive set of ambient bliss.

I’ll be playing each of the collections highlighted above at the office for certain.

And to celebrate my new career (and having my own office for the first time in my life), my girlfriend presented me with a 24×36 framed print of a young Miles Davis to hang behind my desk.

Miles Prints sm

I added a framed original pressing of Birth of the Cool to the adjacent wall and picked up a new pair of speakers for my desk.

Image

I’m going to like it there.

Treasures From Vinyl’s Dark Days – 1997-2005

As promised, this week I’m featuring the latest LP treasures added to my library.

Once I secured a copy of the pink vinyl numbered original master recording release of Beck’s magnum opus, Sea Change on Mobile Fidelity records, I knew that there was still one Beck beast I had to capture.

Sea Change is the must-own LP for every fan of Beck Hansen’s music.  Hailed universally by critics as his greatest achievement, surpassing the sample-wizardry of Odelay in its hi-fidelity mastery, Sea Change is the Sgt. Peppers of Beck’s discography.

Image

But my favorite Beck record for all time is the somber, lo-fi masterpiece – Mutations.

Released in 1998, the album suffered an unfortunate fate.

From Wikipedia:

Before beginning the recording sessions, Beck gained permission from the major label he was under contract with, Geffen, to release Mutations on the small indie label Bong Load Records. However, when Geffen executives heard the album, they reneged on their agreement and released the record. This led to a lawsuit filed by Beck against Geffen. As the record was in a markedly different style than the multi-platinum Odelay, Geffen’s marketing effort suggested that the album was not an “official” follow-up.

The limited press swept the release under the rug, and I only discovered the album by chance in a local CD shop.

Image

Image

Image

The best-selling single from the LP is “Nobody’s Fault But My Own” features sitar, tambura, and esraj, giving the track a haunting atmosphere.

 

I jumped on a $60 mint copy of the LP which surfaced online, complete with the original bonus 7″.  The single shipped in a six-panel foldout sleeve with artwork and lyrics.  This album was pressed only once back in ’98, so if you see a copy in the wild, grab it.

According to the liner notes, the background artwork, composed of small intenstines, is a detail shot from a piece of art titled, Wallchart of World History From Earliest Times to the Present.

No high-res copies of the 7″ sleeve art were available on the web so I’ve seamlessly tiled both sides of the sleeve each as as a 12″ x 75″ jpg.  Magnify and enjoy.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Next up, a favorite musician of mine from London posted a wonderful vinyl surprise to Facebook.  This remix of Sundae Club’s “Angels in the Sky” was limited to just 50 white-label copies.  It was originally released and sold out in 2005… Or so they thought.

Recently, Sundae Club announced that they found an unopened box of these white-label rarities, and decided they would flog them off as an additional fund-raiser for Haiti’s Earthquake relief.

From their site:

This is a two-speed promo 12″ (30cm) vinyl record in a plain white cover and a plain white label. One side was designed to be rotated at 33.333rpm and contains two chilled tracks, the other side is a 45rpm cut with massive compression and sounds great in a club. Loud.

I thought I had missed my opportunity back in ’05 so I didn’t hesitate when I saw the post.  And a few weeks later, my copy arrived, with the recording speed info penned in by Mr. Ridware and a special “Thank you, James!” added to the sleeve.

Image

Highly recommended for fans of Lemon Jelly, or general downtempo bliss.

You can check out the tracks for yourself on Sundae Club’s bandcamp page here.

The third and final treasure of the week was another delightful impulse purchase – one I found posted to a record forum on reddit.

Image

F♯ A♯ ∞ is the first official full-length LP from Montreal’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor, originally released in 1997.

There have been various vinyl issues of the album, each with minor differences but on the whole each includes the following:

The band name, album title and image frame is debossed on the album jacket.

The cover has a print glued in place, (first editions including an actual photograph).

And a cross and the catalog # are hand-drawn beside the Constellation Records logo stamp on back cover.

Several inserts were included with the release – An etching illustration of a locomotive and a manilla envelope containing the credit sheet, a handbill from a previous show, a blueprint of “faulty schematics for ruined machine”, a Constellation spring 2000 merchandise flyer and a Canadian penny flattened by a train.

Image

Image

Image

The LP itself is black with black labels, with the track titles etched in the runouts.

The tracklist on the LP version is particularly interesting.  CD and MP3 copies of the album feature the following track list:

‘The Dead Flag Blues’ (16:27)

1.1                          The Dead Flag Blues (Intro)         6:40
1.2                          Slow Moving Trains         3:30
1.3                          The Cowboy…   4:19
1.4                          (;outro)…             1:59

‘East Hastings’ (17:58)

2.1                          “…Nothing’s Alrite In Our Life”/Dead Flag Blues (Reprise)              2:17
2.2                          The Sad Mafioso…           10:01
2.3                          Drugs In Tokyo/Black Helicopter                5:40
‘Providence’ (21:26)
3.1                          Divorce&Fever…              2:45
3.2                          Dead Metheny…              8:15
3.3                          Kicking Horse On Brokenhill         5:40
3.4                          String Loop Manufactured During Downpour…   4:46
3.5                          Silence 3:39
3.6                          J.L.H. Outro        4:48

While the LP lists the tracks as:

Side 1: Nervous, Sad, Poor…

1.            “The Dead Flag Blues (Intro)”     6:09
2.            “Slow Moving Trains”     3:23
3.            “The Cowboy…”               4:16
4.            “Drugs in Tokyo”              3:29
5.            “The Dead Flag Blues (Outro)”                   1:52
6.            Untitled               1:34

Side 2: Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful…

No.         Title       Length
1.            “…Nothing’s Alrite in Our Life…” / “The Dead Flag Blues (Reprise)”           2:00
2.            “The Sad Mafioso…”      5:33
3.            “Kicking Horse on Brokenhill”     5:37
4.            “String Loop Manufactured During Downpour…”              4:26

What this reveals is the origin of the record title – F♯ A♯ ∞.  The first movement, “Nervous, Sad, Poor…” is F#, “A Bleak, Uncertain,
Beautiful…” is A#, and the closing track, “String Loop…” is in fact a locked groove which effectively plays forever, hence “Infinity.”

Another intriguing fact about the vinyl version of this album is that it features an entirely diffent master than that of the CD release.

To quote Discogs.com user, Gecks from April 4, 2005 -

“What I find interesting about this LP version when compared to the later CD release (and indeed the rest of their material), is the almost complete lack of crescendos. It is important to note that the CD release is remixed, re-sequenced and includes two new movements that brought it closer to the familiar GYBE! sound of build-build-buld…crescendo! This LP predominantly features GYBE!’s more droney sound – something that featured less and less in future releases. My guess is that the style shift was a result of their much-lauded early live performances showing a more intense side, which they wanted to document. That’s not to say this release is anything less than utterly engaging, and provides an interesting counterpoint to the whole Post Rock movement which so often relies on pure dynamics.”

As a fan of ambient drone music, this was wonderful news and made the purchase all the more satisfying.

I have had a framed screenprint of the “faulty schematics for ruined machine” graphic on my wall for years, and was very happy to make F♯ A♯ ∞ my first Godspeed purchase.

Here is the memorable, bleak opening to the album – “Dead Flag Blues.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.