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    Robert Millis + Jefferey Taylor – Victrola Favorites

    Robert Millis + Jefferey Taylor - Victrola Favorites

    Back in the late 1990s, Robert Millis and Jefferey Taylor, of the experimental music outfit Climax Golden Twins, put out a series of limited-edition cassettes called Victrola Favorites, which contained music from around the globe originally released on old 78 rpm records in the early 20th century. A decade later, the cream of this crop was released to a much wider audience as a gorgeous art book and 2-CD set. Faithfully reproduced with the sonic murk of crackles and hiss left intact, the raw-as-hell recordings unfurl over the course of two hours in a most pleasing and perfect manner.

    Ranging from the 1920s to the ’50s, the songs veer all over the musical map. Disc one kicks off with some abrupt call and response singing from the Congo, followed by opera from China, fado from Portugal and some sublime drone-based raga from India. The United States weighs in with shining examples of orchestral jazz blues, feral guitar / vocal blues, hillbilly country ballads, unbelievable solo slide guitar shredding, jug band jazz, insane country yodeling and big band swing jazz. Finishing up the disc is a dramatic Greek folk song, exotic Egyptian belly dance music, entrancing solo oud from Turkey and a side of Korean bamboo flute.

    Disc two begins in the United Kingdom with a solemn field recording of Big Ben chiming with traffic noises. The United States pops up here and there with several sides, including raw, scalding gospel blues, country bumpkin yodeling, a vocal / piano duet, peppy swing jazz, Hawaiian slide steel guitar, hot jazz and catchy Western swing. Portugal chimes in with some solo slide guitar, followed by a bit of bamboo xylophone from Japan. Burma brings some shambling nat pwe-like music and a squirrely guitar / vocals duet to the table, while its neighbor Thailand offers up a sprightly selection of molam costume drama.

    China’s entry includes a not-yet-common example of Buddhist nun chant with clanging metal percussion. A syrupy ballad comprised of vocals, piano and violin from Greece sets up a haunting popular song from Persia, while Japan is represented by a stately court ballad. Next up is Africa with a track full of entrancing Zulu singing backed by a huge, simple, slow beat wrought with drums and sticks. Closing out this impressive two-disc set is an Indian raga boasting a mesmerizing display of tabla mastery.

    All of this amazing music is held tight in one of the prettiest art books ever. The excellent layout effectively showcases a lair’s share of full-color record sleeves, labels and gramophone needle tins brimming with lovely hand-drawn lettering and artwork, frequently zooming in on scenes of breathgiving beauty. Period photos and drawings of folks from throughout the world gathered around the Victrola also abound, as do quaint advertisements and so much more. A brief essay takes a glance at the birth of the recording industry and the lure of collecting and playing old 78 rpm records. An index of the artwork and music—including artist, track, country and year—finishes off this over-the-top artistic artifact.

    Publisher: Dust to Digital Catalog Number: DTD 11 Format: Book + 2-CD Packaging: Hardcover Pages: 144 Country: United States Released: 2007 More: Amazon, Blog Spot, Climax Golden Twins, Dust to Digital, Forced Exposure, YouTube

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy

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