This week arrived two absolutely astounding additions to our library. Each is a milestone in its own right so I’ll waste no time getting right to them.
The first is a modern classic from the legendary NinjaTune label. Originally released in 2004, Skalpel’s self-titled double LP was repressed through beatdelete in 2013. The DJs behind Skalpel, Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudło were dissatisfied with the humdrum music of their native Poland.
“The Polish music scene is very poor at the moment. Nothing really interesting happens. The majority of music on TV and radio is kind of ‘World Idol’. Very little individuality – just copies of American music.” (interview, R4NT.com)
Their response was to create their own sound – “resurrecting the dusty & smokey spirit of polish jazz of 60s and 70s, re-imagined for 21st century audiophiles.” (NinjaTune.net)
I’d nearly pre-ordered the 2013 180g 2LP beatdelete reissue when it was announced, but had let the opportunity pass. Thankfully, a member of one of the vinyl communities I frequent recently posted a shot of the album which inspired me to give it a second listen. I was camping at the time, but came prepared with my Sennheiser circumaural studio monitors. Around 11pm I laid back, closed my eyes, and lost myself to the album. The 5-wheel camper and fold-out mattress was instantly transformed into something more like this:
By the middle of the third selection, I’d already tracked down a sealed copy and processed my payment – certain that this was an essential for my library.
Mr Tim G – my sincere thanks for re-opening my ears to this album!
The second (and equally-outstanding) recording is a selection from minimalist composer, Terry Riley’s catalog. I already have A Rainbow in Curved Air, The Church of Anthrax (with John Cale), The Ten Voices of the Two Prophets, and know very well that I need his most-celebrated work – In C.
But this particular record – Persian Surgery Dervishes, had escaped my radar. It was only after I saw numerous copies surface among members of a social network that I decided this was something I needed to hear.
At first listen, I was completely enveloped in a wash of pulsing electric organ loops. Each side-long track sounds as if it were an exercise in the tape loop technique developed by Riley and Pauline Oliveros (later popularized by Fripp and Eno). However, the rapid, cyclic melodies heard on each side of the album are in reality two LIVE solo performances of Riley in LA and in Paris performing on a just-intoned Yamaha organ. Even more astounding is that the second performance sounds far different from the first, but is simply Riley demonstrating the importance of improvisation. The two recordings are each of the same composition.
Dervishes is beautifully meditative and is really an album you can loose yourself in. Like most great minimalist compositions, the listener loses their sense of time and the piece becomes the atmosphere of the room.
Special thanks to all of the users who posted their copies of this exceptional record – Andrew G, Tintin E, Andrew T, Luke B, Chris A, and likely many others!
Now get lost.