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    Sandy Bull – Inventions

    February 28th, 2022

    Sandy Bull - Inventions.

    Recorded in 1964, Inventions by the American folk musician Sandy Bull (1941-2001) is simply one of my all-time favorite albums of instrumental string music. On this first CD edition released in 1995, the first section consists of three songs on which Sandy plays solo along with overdubs of himself. “Gavotte” based on “Cello Suite No. 5” by J.S. Bach, progresses from a short intro into a fine example of a slow, stately classical acoustic guitar style. “Manha de Carnival” by Luiz Bonfa benefits from being recorded during the early days of overdubbing as Sandy plucks some mellow melodies on the oud over a sprightly strummed guitar tethered with electric bass. “Triple Ballade” was written in the 14th century by Guillaume de Machout, who had no idea that someone would reinterpret it 600 years later as a “haunting sound of the Gothic age” on oud, banjo and guitar.

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    Einsturzende Neubauten

    January 29th, 2022

    Einsturzende Neubauten - Kollaps.

    Exploding out of West Berlin, Germany in 1980, Einsturzende Neubauten’s unique approach to apocalyptic noise made them one of the most important and impressive industrial bands of the 1980s. In contrast to their forebears, like ’70s British group Throbbing Gristle, who worked with a lot of electronics, Einsturzende Neubauten’s sound realm employed more real-world objects. Starting out very crude and cacophonous, their music gradually became somewhat more melodic and palatable as the decade wore on.

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    Theoretical Girls

    December 28th, 2021

    Theoretical Girls CD.

    Heaved up from a filthy gutter inside the incredibly fertile New York City art and music scene of the 1970s, the Theoretical Girls–one of the best-named outfits ever–hurt the feelings of at least a few hundred eardrums from 1977-’79. Ostensibly of no wave origins, their efforts also spilled over into punk rock proper. Oddly enough, the band, formed by Jeffrey Lohn and Glenn Branca, only released one single in their lifetime, leaving the entirety of their rehearsal and live material unreleased until 1996 and 2003, when it appeared on two different CDs–the first divided up into songs by Branca and the second by Lohn.

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    November 27th, 2021

    Jandek - Six and Six

    Let’s say your head has been buried deep between two pillows since 1977, and the only nutrients you’ve been given to sustain yourself are a few crumbs of bread, a glass of water and a tiny transistor radio blaring Billboard’s Top 40. You have no idea there’s an underground, much less a king of it. For a quarter of a century–from 1978 to 2003–a mysterious recording entity called Jandek released over 30 albums of very personal, dissonant folk blues that mostly emanated from a monotonous mouth and a strangely tuned guitar.

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    Throbbing Gristle

    October 26th, 2021

    Throbbing Gristle.

    Noise. Do you consider it music? If not, can it at least be part of music? No? Then does noise have your permission to even exist? Stop shaking your head. Just kidding. Noise doesn’t give a hoot what you think anyway. It’s been around a lot longer than you, flirting with music for over a century now. Among the first to tap its unruly characteristics were two Italian gents named Luigi Russolo and Antonio Russolo, who had close ties to the Italian Futurist movement. Around 1916, they built custom sound boxes called intonarumori that blatted out a ruckus of myriad sounds during concerts that greatly upset the general public. A decade later, Edgar Varese composed very dissonant symphonic works employing an unusually large battery of percussion, sirens and even a lion’s roar (a big rope pulled through a metal tub) that proved far too much for the gentile classical audiences of the day.

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    Rhys Chatham

    September 23rd, 2021

    Rhys Chatham - Die Donnergotter.

    Rhys Chatham is best-known as a composer of electric guitar symphonies. He started out in the early 1970s under the tutelage of minimal music founder La Monte Young, with whom he studied the radically altered tunings of just intonation. After woodshedding with Young-inspired pieces like the metallic wash of “Two Gongs” (1971), Chatham had an epiphany during a Ramones show in 1976: mix minimalism with punk rock! An idea of pure genius that was just waiting to happen resulted in Chatham’s first major work, “Guitar Trio” (1977). With the axes all tuned to E, the piece builds from a quiet single string strum and gradually coalesces into a shimmering bliss field of drone rock perfection completely unlike anything that existed before. This sperm-filled work inspired ensemble member Glenn Branca to sire a similar guitar orchestra of his very own, and Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth to alter their tunings. Indeed, Branca and Sonic Youth practically owe their entire careers to Rhys Chatham.

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    August 22nd, 2021

    Harmonia, 1974.

    Formed in 1973 when the German experimental electronic music duo Cluster (Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius) joined forces with Michael Rother from the krautrock band Neu!, Harmonia released two albums on the Brain label in the mid 1970s that have since been widely discussed in drawing rooms worldwide. Peppering their sonic soup with organ, synthesizer, piano, percussion and, less obviously, guitar, they proceeded to produce unprecedented electro-pop of an order taller than a giraffe. Thank you.

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    July 21st, 2021


    In German, Neu! means New! And in 1971, Neu! was indeed new, as that was the year this archetypical krautrock band formed. (As its name implies, krautrock is a form of German music that developed in the late 1960s and combined elements of non-blues-based rock, psychedelic, avant-garde and ambient.) It didn’t take much time for the members of Neu!–Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother from another pioneering German band called Kraftwerk–to tear their way out of the shrinkwrap that encased them and become one of the very best bands of the genre.

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    Charlemagne Palestine

    June 20th, 2021

    Charlemagne Palestine - Strumming Music.

    Charlemagne Palestine has been pushing the Milky Way-wide padded envelope of minimal music and maximal art since the middle of the 20th century. Starting out in New York City in the late 1950s as a student of accordion and piano, Charlemagne scored some early experience as a drummer for beat poets and Tiny Tim. In the ‘60s, he studied piano, painting and sculpture, improvised some electronic drones, played the carillon at a church and composed music for the Tony Conrad film Coming Attractions.

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    Lard Free

    May 19th, 2021

    Lard Free -v Gilbert Artman's Lard Free.

    No, you vehement vegetarians (of which I am one), we’re not talking about healthy Mexican food here. The Lard Free in question was the name of an early ’70s French experimental prog band that was almost as active as Richard Simmons. Led by drummer Gilbert Artman, they recorded three whole albums for your listening enjoyment. The first one from 1973, shockingly enough called Gilbert Artman’s Lard Free, pretty much rules the roost. “Warinobaril” kicks it off with a simple, repetitive, loping bass / drums rhythm section pleasantly overlayed with a handful of single, drawn-out sax notes that eventually get clobbered by a completely unexpected, dissonant, distorted electric guitar that stirs quite a spicy flavor into this sonic soup.

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