Electronic music didn’t begin with Kraftwerk, in fact there were countless innovators who were creating, recreating, inventing, re-inventing, and destroying the way we hear and play music. Call it experimental, avant-garde, electronic, jazz, or the immense sound of nothing into something else. this is what Musica Elettronica Viva have done and New World Records have put together a 4CD compilation honoring those creations with the box set MEV 40 (available directly from New World). Some of the reviews I’ve come across have praised this box set immensely, so pick it up now or make sure the Santa Claus you know is a good person and place it on your want list.
Welcome to The Run-Off Groove #224. I am John Book and ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra. La la how the life goes on.
The Zang Tuum Tumb 25th Anniversary tribute podcast I did for Book’s Music had taken up my time two weeks ago, and I decided to take a makeshift Thanksgiving break last week, thus the reason for the gap between this column and the last. I am back, and now I’m a bit backed up so for this week the column will be brief.
BTW – if you like the column, please consider clicking the banner below for eMusic. You are able to subscribe and download albums in a way that I feel is more effective than iTunes, and there’s a lot of incredible music here. You will not be disappointed.
Also, each review features links to the artist’s home page or MySpace page, so if you want to hear them, you can do so easily. Links are also provided to make a vinyl, CD, or digital purchase, since your local mall probably doesn’t have most of these titles. If you would like to buy the compact disc, click the icon that looks like this:
If you wish to make a digital MP3 purchase, you can click the digital player icon that looks like this:
If a particular release does come out on vinyl, I of course will make a vinyl icon.
Now, the column.
A Block Of Yellow are very pop friendly, and their bio asks “tired of faux emo? Gloomy retros down you down?”, to suggest that they are a slight throwback to the eclectic pop sounds of yesteryear. I think they are very modern, and Do I Do (Around Sounds) shows they know how to be very much in the vein of The Violent Femmes or Let’s Active but most of the time they get stuck in that cutesy retroness and fail to challenge themselves and escape for a breather.
If anything, one of the guys in the band looks like Sean Lennon with meat on his face. If you have ever wanted a band to salute the theme to The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father, A Block Of Yellow are you gentlemen, but they’re just too gentle for me. That could be a good or bad thing, I’ll leave it to your interpretation.
The Secret History is a group created by former My Favorite member Michael Grace Jr., but the heart of the songs on the Desolation Town EP (Le Grand Magistery) belong to its primary vocalist, Lisa Ronson. The group play the kind of aggressive pop that pulls your heartstrings when it matters without dipping into the sappiness of most pop music. It’s aggressive for a reason but does so with a spirit I know I haven’t heard in awhile. Either pop music has become a bland Disney nightmare or more American Idol crap and The Secret History is neither. Comparisons to The Smiths, Roxy Music, and The Patti Smith Group. have been made, but one could also feel free to add Concrete Blonde, The Smithereens, and The Replacements to that list.
Favorite songs include “Our Lady Of Pompeii”, “Mark & John (Bring On The Glitter Kids)”, and “Our Lady Of Palermo”.
My Dear Disco seems like a cool enough name with a possible decent concept, that is until I hear the great voice of vocalist Michelle Chamuel ruined with Auto-Tune. That kept me from wanting to listen to this CD seriously, and all I could do was cringe in disgust. Their cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “All I Do” will bring them a small bit of attention, and Chamuel pulls it off with a great vocal performance with limited Auto-Tune use. If the entire album sounded like this, I’d be alright with it.
Maybe it’s best if she just went solo so we could hear her voice without anyone else’s idea of what she sould sound like.
Oh yeah, the album is called Dancethink, but you’d be better off just buying one track.
Knitting By Twilight have been around for years, and each releases always reveals something new, interesting, and unique. An Evening Out Of Town (it’s Twilight Time) is a mixture of different styles and genres, where you’d not sure where you’ll be headed but you’re always pleased to reach each song’s destination. The core of Knitting By Twilight has always been multi-instrumentalist John Orsi, and he goes at it by creating mostly-instrumental pieces that could be anything and everything from jazz to new age, light electronic music, folk, to sounds that show a possible classical influence. “Soothing Stars” is Orsi and Orsi only, and the backdrop sounds like something you might find on a Tangerine Dream album. The percussion on “Evelyn’s Glen” could easily fit on any world music playlist, but the interesting about Knitting By Twilight is that it’s hard to say which world or territory they’re rooted in. In other words, the territories they represent as a collective may be as different as their backgrounds and influences. While those cores are somewhat represented, it seems once again that this group iare more about the creation of a new borderless territory where there is no final resting place, kind of like how Duke Ellington always ended his music without a proper ending. Each piece sounds like it could continue into the next phase, with Mike Marando‘s guitar work becoming a call for an answer that never comes to fruition, or Manny Silva‘s ebow guitar in “Oblivion’s Poppied Slope” that helps the listener get locked into an alternate universe that the listener wishes they could explore.
It’s simple in its complexity, and it’s complex in its simplicity, which means they pull their music in every direction in order to find new things in their creative minds. Even when a discovery is made, they set off on the next journey, and that is what makes listening to Knitting By Twilight an enjoyable experience.
The Blip Festival 2008 is for music fans who can’t get enough of 8-bit technology creating music for today. The music festival will be held at the The Bell House on 149 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Brooklyn, and along with performances from Anamanaguchi, Cow’p, Sulumi, Trash80, Mr. Spastic, and noteNdo among many others, there are workshops on Saturday and Sunday where you are able to find out how to make your own music (a bit of bending involved) and watch a documentary on the Blip Festival itself. If you attended this year’s Bent Festival or have been curious about what to do with your shed of old electronics, you can’t miss this one.
Here’s a look at last year’s festival and what you might miss this year.
Blip Festival 2007: Video Collection Teaser from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo.
The guys in MSTRKRFT are ready to spread their sounds around the world next year with the release of Fist To God on March 17th, courtesy of Dim Mak/Downtown Records. Their 2006 debut featured such artists as N.O.R.E., Ghostface Killah, E-40, Freeway, Lil’ Mo and John Legend, and who knows who will show up for LP #2. We’ll see.
This is directly from the press release:
Keyboard and electric-violin legend Eddie Jobson ( UK, Roxy Music, Zappa) announces the new UKZ’s debut concert for January 24, 2009 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall in New York City. The “One City World Tour” will also feature the U.S. debut of special guests Stick Men, featuring King Crimson’s Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto. The ticket on-sale date will be announced soon.
The concert will follow the January 6 pre-release of UKZ band’s debut EP entitled Radiation, which is slated for full retail release nationally on March 3.
Returning from a self-imposed 27-year retirement from band and touring activity, Jobson set out to find the same caliber of next-generation musicians for the new UKZ project that would equal or surpass the talents of his previous colleagues and collaborators–an impressive list that includes Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Phil Collins, John Entwistle, Ian Anderson, Simon Phillips, Terry Bozzio, Allan Holdsworth, and Tony Levin.
Jobson — who was born and raised in the Durham area of England — has hand-selected a truly international dream-band of virtuosos from around the world.
Aaron Lippert — a citizen of Belgium, but born and raised in New York — the former lead singer and songwriter for Columbia recording artists Expanding Man.
Trey Gunn — a Texas native, currently residing in Seattle – a ten-year veteran of King Crimson and the leading exponent of the Warr 10-string touch guitar.
Alex Machacek — from Vienna, Austria — an award-winning guitar prodigy and composer.
Marco Minnemann — from Hannover, Germany — a drumming phenomenon of unparalleled virtuosity.
Opening for the supergroup will be Stick Men, which features Chapman stick players Tony Levin and Michael Bernier, with Pat Mastelotto on drums.
For more information, visit the UKZ web site http://www.ukzband.com.
The world has lost another great one. Folk music legend Odetta died today at the age of 77, after going into the hospital with kidney failure. Manager Doug Yeager says the cause of death was heart disease. Her name had been mentioned a lot in recent weeks as she was hoping to perform at the inauguration of the next U.S. president, Barack Obama.
Her music and hard work in the civil rights moment kept her in the frontlines for a generation, and even as the music and trends changed, one couldn’t help but listen to find out what was on her mind.