Friday, June 26, 2020

discourse of vortex (crackers Jacob)

why not more storied?

i guess because no visible records of it bequeathed to us

MUSIQUE CONCRETE – A genre that features a wide array of sounds recorded to tape and then arranged in a specific order to create spatially composed sound. Original Vortex Concerts SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, MAY 29, 1957 "Space became a creative dimension of sound last night at the Morrison Planetarium, when a group of composers and technicians, headed by Henry Jacobs, demonstrated a new resource called VORTEX "As described in the program, Vortex involves the use of 36 loudspeakers grouped in stations of thee speakers each evenly spaced around the perimeter of the planetariums dome with two additional Bass speakers diametrically opposed to each other. The name VORTEX is derived from the ability to move the sounds around the dome in either clockwise or counter clockwise rotation at any speed "....It is ideally suited to the new world of sweeping jarring, scattering, booming, reverberating sounds introduced by the TAPE RECORDER and several of the tape recorder compositions performed last night were magnificent in their affect. Especially magnificent was the sense of space-limitless, incomprehensible vast, and awe-inspiring - witch this music evoked...." SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, MAY 29, 1957 This Factory Release original tape was only sold at the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium in the late 50's... The tape is a 2-track stereo tape for inline or "Stacked Heads" And played on a Technics 1506 reel to reel tape player ABOUT the VORTEX Concerts: During the late 50s, Jordan Belson collaborated with Henry Jacobs to produce a series of performances titled ‘Vortex Concerts’ at the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium. These widely popular shows, consisting of experimental electronic music and abstract visuals, became an early counter-cultural magnet for the Bay Area. 'Especially magnificent was the sense of space limitless, incomprehensibly vast, and awe-inspiring in its implications,' wrote Alfred Frankenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle. "'Amazing!' said a member of the capacity audience. 'It's hypnotic,' said another. A Euphoric Correlation of Image and Sound VORTEX was a swirling totality of sensory experience. Featuring new electronic music from avant-garde composers worldwide curated by composer/DJ Henry Jacobs Artists include Henry Jacobs, Gordon Longfellow, David L. Talcott, and William Loughborough.

belson went on to do this kind of thing

having earlier (1953) done this

Henry Jacobs's use of surroundsound would influence Walter Murch

Jacobs supplied the voice-over to this film, made by Belson's missus Jane Conger Belson Shimane

Jane Conger Belson Shimane's
Odds & Ends (1959)

Narrator: “Rheny Bojacs” [Henry Jacobs]. Transfer note: Copied from a 16mm color negative preserved by the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Running time: 4 minutes.
By the mid-1950s San Francisco was an avant-garde boomtown. Young filmmakers honed their skills in classes at the San Francisco Art Institute, and screenings—especially those in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Art in Cinema” series (1946 to 1954) and the “Vortex Concerts” at Golden Gate Park’s Morrison Planetarium (1957 to 1960)—nurtured an audience. Some artists fused filmmaking with jazz and poetry in a distinctive San Francisco style. By 1959, avant-garde film was sufficiently well established that it could inspire the spoof Odds & Ends.
Little has been written about its maker, Jane Conger Belson Shimane (1927–2002). Her distributor, Creative Film Society founder Robert Pike, considered Belson Shimane the “most gifted talent” of the “new San Francisco group,” having a “formal background in art plus the graphic sensibility of an artist.” Born in Missouri, she studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and married Jordan Belson, the University of California–trained painter who took up abstract animation and exhibited as part of the “Art in Cinema” series as early as 1947. Belson Shimane premiered her first film, Logos, in 1957, the same year that her husband created the “Vortex” light shows with sound artist Henry Jacobs. Featuring an electronic score by Jacobs, her animated work played at festivals in North America and Europe and toured Latin America through the United States Information Agency. Belson Shimane followed up with Odds & Ends and by 1960, had three more films under way. She seems to have stopped filmmaking with the end of her marriage.
Odds & Ends is a sly comment on the collage film and Beat culture. To discarded travel and advertising footage found at a local film laboratory, Belson Shimane added a mélange of animation—assemblages, cutouts, color fields, and line drawings—and faux hipster narration by Jacobs (credited via the anagram Rheny Bojacs) punctuated by a bongo backing. Strung together with doublespeak and non sequiturs, the monologue skirts the edge of nonsense as Jacobs waxes on about poetry, jazz, “reaching the public,” “having a good time,” and—although “money doesn’t count”—the “possibility of subsidy” through grants. Footage of champagne, tropical beaches, and exotic peoples intermingle with rhythmic drawings and stop-motion flights of fancy. The visuals race on through dazzling transformations, both amplifying and undercutting the patter.
In 1960, Odds & Ends won a Creative Film Award, a cash prize presented by the film society Cinema 16 and the Creative Film Foundation, the New York nonprofit developed by Maya Deren to encourage experimental filmmaking. Among the other winners that year were Robert Breer, Bruce Conner, Ed Emshwiller, and Stan Vanderbeek. Commenting on the award, Belson Shimane remarked, “I don’t know just what to say other than I have been extremely impressed with the works of other film makers and ‘I just got high and put it together.’”
About the Preservation
Working from the filmmaker’s original materials, the Academy Film Archive created a preservation negative, a sound track negative, and viewing prints.
More Information
Background on the 1960 Creative Film Awards appears in Cinema 16: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society (Temple University Press, 2002), edited by Scott MacDonald. Robert Pike discusses the San Francisco film scene in his 1960 University of California, Los Angeles master’s thesis, “A Critical Study of the West Coast Experimental Film Movement.” The Wide Weird World of Henry Jacobs (Important Records, 2005) showcases Jacob’s sound pieces, including several involving his hipster persona Shorty Petterstein.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

BME slight return (avantfunk-adjacent)

Mmm, Shriekback in the semi-nude, yum

They were into EST or one of those human potential movements

Tried to go mainstream

Bald(ing) frontmen of the 80s?

Midnight Oil dude, chap in Screaming Blue Messiahs, Matt The The

Well, actually, Matt Johnson had a lot of hair at one point

Oh, how could I forget?

Luxuria deserve a post of their own

Or perhaps a split-post shared with The Armory Show

The The Bad Music Era

Not a typo, the title

For here we cursorily inspect a career whose appeal - and eminence for some - mystifies

Where the didactic tendencies of the postpunk  meets the crypto-prog tendencies of much New Wave

A mash up of TRB and Tears for Fears with some Midnight Oil and Boomtown Rats chucked in for good measure

Johnny Marr rates the work he did with MJ as highly as the work he did with Moz!!!

Some dude has reconstructed the never-released 1982 debut [cough, cough, splutter, well we were all adolescents once I suppose] The Pornography of Despair


that made his ears burn

Losey streak

Made my third favorite film (and one that would be in the Top 200), and in between those, came these three very-very Sixties curios with that characteristic Losey atmosphere (tense, dank, repressed, corrupt, sordid, psychologically grotesque)

But also some twilight tripe

bubblegum synthedelia

yet actually more impressive than many of the hipper synthedelic outfits

pleased to zeta


bonus folkways vocal strangeness

Monday, June 22, 2020

what's in a name?

another fun release from Sven Rånlund

release rationale:

Jump for Kraut! After listening to krautrock music more than probably is healty, I decided to somewhat liberate myself through a long session using only eurorack modular synth. Inspired not by the musics, but rather the band names.
Welcome to my "Krautrock A-Z": 26 improvised tracks, each about 1 minute long. Every recording started with a short meditation on the particular band name. When I've got an idea, I set up a patch that somehow reflected the band name and played and recorded in a rush. Wicked as it may be, but I came to think about Bach's Goldberg variations... These are my varied exercises, ruff'n'ready. No overdubs, no edits.

From start to end – "Krautrock A-Z":

A: Agitation Free (00:00)
B: Brainticket (01:05)
C: Can (02:10)
D: Da Capo (03:18)
E: Embryo (04:13)
F: Flute & Voice (05:16)
G: German Oak (06:23)
H: Harmonia (07:30)
I: Iskander (08:35)
J: Joy Unlimited (09:37)
K: Kaputter Hamster (10:46)
L: Lokomotiv Kreuzberg (11:48)
M: Made In Germany (12:52)
N: Neuschweinstein (13:48)
O: Organisation (14:57)
P: Popol Vuh (16:05)
Q: Q? (17:12)
R: Radio Noisz Ensemble (18:09)
S: Spacebox (19:23)
T: Tetragon (20:25)
U: Utopia (21:28)
V: Velvet Universe 22:29)
W: Wind (23:35)
X: Xhol (24:39)
Y: Yellow Sunshine Explosion (25:41)
Z: Zarathustra (26:45)

Friday, June 19, 2020

näbbmusik / musique de bec

release rationale:

The mysterious habits of birds, especially electronic ones, is the theme for ”Oiseaux électroniques en Suède”, Sven Rånlund’s third release on GEIGER Grammofon. Birds of all sorts come alive in the language of control voltage through his modular synths.
On ”Oiseaux électroniques en Suède”, Sven Rånlund has documented birds from a tiny corner at the West Coast of Sweden, Svensängen. Born and raised in an exclusively modular family – the offsprings of a dynamic Eurorack system and a fixed Buchla Music Easel – these birds have been painstakingly recorded both separately and collectively. Most of them have first explored their songs, chirps and calls in an outdoor environment near the ocean in the company, and sometimes bewilderment, of their feathered cousins.

During the process, the birds have been given names, designations and characters. For instance, we can hear grand soloists like the Korntrast (Cornthrush), Fyrkantsskata (Squarewave Magpie), Lödsångare (Soldering Singer), Sinusskogssnäppa (Sine Sandpiper), Glitchuv (Glitch Owl) and Aylerfink (Aylerfinch). The last one can be easily identifed by its crazy swarms of hi-pitched melodies.

Stories are told throughout the album. In 13 chapters, these electronic creatures expose their daily routines and inner lifes, for instance: a migrating bird reflects on homesickness; a long-legged wader on solitude; a scruffy sea bird on fear of drowning. Sounds and harmonics also come from their interaction with friends and foes in the landscape in which they live. This surrounding material, full of colour and perfume, has been integrated in the compositions.

Music on birds, like ”Oiseaux électroniques en Suède” dare to be, have a long history. Just think of all the classic composers and their swans, ducks and cuckoos. No one more birdloving than Olivier Messiaen; his ”Catalogue d’oiseaux” was a meticulous transformation of melodic outlines of birdsong into notated music. Öyvind Fahlström, the Swedish text-sound composer, came up with a new language, fåglo, that became sound materia for his radio play ”Fåglar i Sverige” (”Birds in Sweden”).

For a 21:th century bird and noise lover as Sven Rånlund, these forerunners in the field of music on birds have paved the way for new sound discoveries and other ways of listening. The birds have landed, ready to electrify curious ears all around.

/Emine Grey


released May 20, 2020

Thursday, June 18, 2020

RIP Rupert Hine

One of those strange winding careers in British pop and edge-of-pop

A hit-maker for others (Howard Jones, Fixx, etc) but just the one hit for himself, as bandleader of Quantum Jump

big up the drummer on this

Bassman too

"Originally released as a single in 1976, the BBC banned it due to the drug and homosexual reference. However, thanks to Kenny Everett, the song received a lot of airplay on his TV & radio shows, and was re-released in 1979."

The albums showcase something else -  frantic fiddly fusion, the missing link between 10cc and Steely Dan,  at times like the missing link between Level 42 and Lizzy Mercier Descloux.

Then there was this project

A virtual group, music all done by Hine, but with actors - including Julian Clary - hired to play the parts of the group members for promo video and TV appearances. Clary played Leo Hurll, the keyboardist.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

how could you sink solo?

are there good solo albums?!

or even if "good", are there necessary solo albums?

I mean here specifically  the solo album as extracurricular excursion for purposes of self-expression, from someone otherwise productively embedded in a group context that is still coming up with the goods

as opposed to the solo album as what gets made during the solo career of someone who was once in a band, but has left it to go their own way,  or the band split up altogether

although those kind of post-primary-band careers have a checkered history in themselves

but still Scott Walker.... John Lennon....  Gene Clark....  Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico...

Who else? Tom Verlaine had some moments, after Television... Julian Cope, eventually, did (Peggy)...    some swear by Robert Plant's post-Zep efforts, but life's too short to check...  Even Ozzy had "Crazy Train"...

But back to the main theme - not the solo album as "I wish to continue in this industry, I am not ready to retire yet, I have a mortage to pay off after all" ...  but the solo album as "I fancy having a little me-time outside the group, prove I am not dependent on the others"..

And that is a landfill factory, as a phenomenon

Thunderfingers Entwhistle did about seven outside-Who albums

A catalogue of the inessential, this type of indulge-myself / prove-myself solo emission

Either they are a misconceived, unachieved attempt to do something very unlike the original band

Or they remind you of the original band but in a diminished, pale-shadow form - e.g the Robert Gorl and Gabi Delgado jobs, Martin Rev's solo emissions

Although Alan Vega had a couple of good and un-Suicidal turns in the early 80s before going all Billy Idol

But let's not muddy the picture

I can think of so very few that are patch on the primary group's output

This is the best of all the Stone-alone jobs by an order of a billion

perhaps the best of them is not a solo album, but a duo album  - half the group releasing its thwarted pop potential

whereas Jerry Harrison's, oh dear

and even Byrne's, while having moments, are lesser affairs

this is one of the moments

A variant in the annals of expensive wastefulness is a band splitting into two halves to indulge their self-expressive needs / cock a snook at the other two

 Duran Duran >>> Arcadia + The Power Station

Not quite the same but equally unproductive

Soft Cell >>>>  Marc and the Mambas + Dave Ball In Strict Tempo

I suppose that's a bit like the DAF split into lesser tangents

Although the Gorl is a bit of an earworm... there's probably not a month that's gone by since it came out, that I haven't at least once spontaneously erupted into the chorus


Around 1980, James Brown suddenly became a reference point

So this Cabs song from 1984 is a bit behind the mark

Here's an earlier tune that name drops him ("Jaaaaames Brown") along with a bunch of other funk and black dance innovator ("Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon", "reggae's expanding with Sly and Robbie")

The flipside of the Cabs single continues the homage with the wittily titled "Bad Self (Part One)"

There is little indication in the lyrics to "James Brown" why it is titled "James Brown".

The lyrics sound more like Michael Gira

With a touch of this fellow - who now I think of it, might have been the person who started putting James Brown back on the rockworld map

One band who got JB via JC/JW was Fire Engines.

See it's hard to remember the extent to which - back then - really recent pop history could just drop out of memory. When I first saw the name, circa 1980, I had no idea who James Brown was except that he had something to do with funk.

Suddenly he was being spoken of with such reverence and relevance, that I set out forthwith to do some catching up.

But there was nothing in print except for a live album recorded in Japan at the end of the 1970s. That's how I first heard "Sex Machine", ""Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", etc - as these slightly padded-out live renditions, not the skeletal minimalism of the recorded originals.

I'm guessing this must be the one - although the cover doesn't ring a bell.

I no longer have the record but it served its educational purpose, providing the rudiments of Brownian knowledge.

The discography stuff was still scarce on the ground by the time I was a student - but I found the Sex Machine Today album in the second-hand stalls of Oxford market

I remember breaking into a ball at one of the Oxford colleges - Wadham  - me and Monitor colleague Hilary were wandering along Holywell Street late at night, saw people clambering up a shop face into a student's bedroom via an open window, and on impulse followed suit, because we had nothing better to do then than stay up til dawn. In the marquee tent, around 4 AM, the deejay dropped "For Goodness Sakes Take A Look At Those Cakes"  - and we danced, my feminist friend smiling indulgently at the Benny Hilly innuendo. This was the summer of '84, I think.

But although the old classic stuff was hard to find, as a current-release recording artist James Brown had resurged in prominence. 1980 was when he put out "Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses)", a near-hit in the UK. Staking a claim as the progenitor of  rap(p) - not for the borrowed breakbeats (at that point not featuring in recorded hip hop, which was all live-band backings) but for the speak-sing style of vocalisation.

He did a rather arid collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa in '84, firming up the rap godfather idea.

Then JB had a proper hit in 1985 - #5 UK (his only UK top ten hit; #4 US, his first Top 40 hit in a a decade) - with this:

Going back to white Brit emulators, this was fairly flagrant

The punmanship is excruciating, isn't it?

Fancy the Endurance Test mix?

What the hell is this?

This is just embarrassing

Haines managed this bunch

Merest spindrift from the tossing waves of postpunk music paper discourse, much touted by those bewitched by their own rhetoric, Stimulin never even got to make a record

And here's another completely different kind of James Brown homage - although just a semiotic nod at the start rather than a musical one (the music is a sort of scrawny-puny  Happy Shopper version of... Motown? Sam & Dave? 

Black horn section added on to bolster the stiff and parched fare from Redskins  - JoBoxers meets the SWP.

The bongo playing =  a particular embarrassment.