Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Various Artists - The Meridian Crossings -1995- (CD, Hermit Foundation), Czech Republic

This is a CD only compilation around the music and arts symposium The Meridian Crossings that took place in Plzeň, Czech Republic in 1995. It is a varied release containing Czech folk musician Pavel Fajt, a.o. known of the amazing Czech group Dunaj, Cellist Vojtěch Havel who also did many ethereal folk and avant-garde world music soundscapes with his wife Irena Havlová and also many more improvisation musicians from the country I know less about.

Then present on here is English Rock In Opposition hero Tim Hodgkinson, known ofcourse as member of the pioneering RIO band Henry Cow. Also Dutch and Scandinavian artists are compiled (like Ad van Buuren) with art-installation sounds and improvisation pieces. Drummer Jim Meneses is also featured on the compilation, who played in the Berlin based band Stan Red Fox which I posted before on the blog. Lastly present here is Australian sound-art poetess Amanda Stewart.

The Meridian Crossings is a nice historical sound document of a manifestation of experimental music. A moment in which people from different countries exchanged musical talent in a post-socialist country that always had a very strong experimental underground scene in which music played a pivotal role. Within Eastern Europe, Czech Republic was always musically ahead with legendary groups like The Plastic People of The Universe, DG307 or Extempore. Their sounds concealed critical politics, poetry, art and philosophy in a context of the darker realms of folk and progressive rock experimentation to fight repression and to share state-forbidden information in order to uplift generations of people who were fighting to change the system. On The Meridian Crossings we can hear a new time that is still rooted in this past, but already merging with a global contemporary art-world representing a new transnational unity through the serious but also light-hearted musical avant-garde.

Get it HERE

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Down With People - Same -1990- (LP, Circularphile Records/Nadirean Extensions), US

Down With People was an experimental art rock outfit from Rochester, New York that consisted of Jan Cermak (voice, clarinet percussion), Jack Schaefer (guitar), Zeppi (Bass), John Grieco (drums), Brad Watson (violin), Dan Schelley (bassoon), Steve Peck (trombone) and Carl German (organ).

DWP is a classic example of absurd art rock groups from the US reminding me of dozens of bands, from The Jaunties to Care of The Cow to Blacklight Braille etc! Its existence at the beginning of the 90's makes that the band is portraying a hybrid sound in-between the weird art damaged rock from the 70's and 80's and a more indie sound that would become dominant in the 90's. There are various songs with strange lyrics, deconstructed rock moments and lots of improvisation. I guess the band is a good example of the transition of musical decades, holding on to a DIY ethic with their crazy artwork and experimental approach as well as a healthy dose of absurdism and critique of society in a proto-indie or grunge manifestation.

The bass player Zeppi also did an experimental album in 1988 on the same label Nadirean Extensions. It was posted on the great, now inactive, music blog Continuo ages ago.

Get it HERE

Friday, 2 November 2018

Calliope Quartet - Incognita -1998- (Cassette, Crossroads Records), Hungary

Calliope Quartet was a short-lived Hungarian Jazz-Rock and experimental folk outfit that consisted of Molnár Tamás on bass, Pásztohy Bálint on drums, Hűvösvölgyi Péter on guitar and Bonyár Judit on cello and vocals. They released this one cassette only album on the Hungarian Crossroads Records. A label that tried to merge the genres of folk, jazz and world music with the contemporary sounds of the nineties.

Incognita that was recorded in 1997 is a stunning album balancing somewhere on the crossroads of rock in opposition, jazz-rock and even hinting towards Hungarian folk music at times. Within a Hungarian context they probably come closest to the RIO group Kampec Dolores, known for their combination of avant-rock, folk and improvisation. The tracks on Incognita are quite lengthy and leave lots of room for the listener to enter the musical world of the band. The tracks have nice abstract and sometimes humoristic titles like Aszimmetrikus Fémbuborék (Asymmetrical Metal Bubble) or Jelmezbál Jazzsznoboknak (Costume Ball For Jazz Snobs). The band plays great quality music, but doesn't lose its approach to have fun while playing. Also they don't portray themselves as academic jazz musicians. 

This is actually a great album from Hungary and already nearly impossible to find after just two decades that have passed. Clearly there is some Zappa influence going on, but it also reminds me of 70's French Zeuhl band ZAO or of Italian jazz-rock group Perigeo from the 70's or of the Ethno-Krautrock sound of Embryo or... should I keep it going?!

Excellent avant-jazz-rock from the East of Europe! 

Get it HERE

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Schismatics - Vazen Vol (Vases Full) -1994- (CD, AMF Music), Netherlands

The Schismatics were a Dutch Rock In Opposition and improvisation band that started in the 80's connected to the domain of the legendary artists squats of the Quarantaineweg in Rotterdam, although always based in Amsterdam. The Schismatics is more or less led by Dutch singer, poet and musician Han Buhrs. He was involved in many musical projects like Nine Tobs, Encore + Plus Grande with members of the French RIO band Etron Fou Leloublan, Palinckx and many more. His latest project is the Amsterdam based group Rubatong and Ensemble Extra Ordinaire.

At the time of this album, that was recorded at various locations in Holland in the early 90's, The Schismatics consisted of Han Buhrs (vocals, percussion), Jodi Gilbert (vocals), Beatrice van der Poel (vocals), Maartje ten Hoorn (violin) and Frank van Berkel (bass). The music on Vazen Vol is an interesting mixture of improvisation and avant-garde poetry with an emphasis on the role of the voice as instrument. The often absurd lyrics are a constant combination of both English and Dutch with the occasional use of other languages. The music reminds me of the Italian group Arigret, the American band Care of The Cow, the music of Maggie Nicols and Lindsay Cooper and many more acts of the rock in opposition world of Recommended Records.

This is another essential CD only release from the Dutch impro scene and probably one of the only Dutch groups that may carry the real label of the genre of Rock In Opposition. The cover of the album consists of a painting by Dutch artist Marjan Verkerk.

Get it HERE

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Kósa Vince - Berkoff: A Görög -1994- (Tape, Razzia Distribution), Hungary

This cassette is a solo effort by Hungarian musician and Industrial music protagonist Kósa Vince. Kósa played in the pioneering Hungarian industrial group Art Deco (posted a long time ago on the blog) as well as in the industrial group BP. Service. On this cassette he plays the music to the play A Görög (The Greek) written by English actor and playwright Steven Berkoff that was premiered in 1980 in London and performed in the Radnóti Theatre in Budapest in 1994. The Greek was a modern interpretation of the well-known ancient tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. The tragedy that also inspired Freud in his work to develop his concept of the Oedipus complex.

The music on the tape consists of two long pieces. The first side starts with rhythm based industrial  in combination with collaged music taken from classical music. Later the music transitions into a subaquatic dark ambient soundscape. The B-side is a slightly more interesting affair, where Kósa fully embraces a synthetic tribal ambient sound even ending up in some 90's beats. Nevertheless it still holds on to darker atmospheres.

A Görög reminds me of the 1983 piece Neveleiland by Dutch home-tapers De Fabriek. Furthermore, the music is really in similar realms as the Hungarian avant-garde album Private Exits by composer Tibor Szemző or Hungarian composer László Hortobágyi and his electro-acoustic music built on Indian cosmologies.

A rare cassette, often mistaken for a screenplay or spoken word. Great music and soundscapes from the early nineties and another piece of the Hungarian experimental music puzzle. Lots of Hungarian cassettes still to come to the blog!


Get it HERE

PS: I have an extra copy of this tape. If you would like to trade it for another nice record or tape feel free to get in touch.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Various Artists - Druga Liga Prvo Kolo -1995- (CD, Helidon), Slovenia/Croatia

Druga Liga Prvo Kolo -Second League First Round - is an essential cornerstone compilation from post-Yugo 90's Slovenia. It compiles both Slovenian and Croatian bands that were active in the early and mid-90's in their respective underground scene. Eastern European underground bands from this time were very weird and unclassifiable, playing a combination of both unskilled punk and hyper-complex rock in opposition drenched in a healthy amount of absurdism while existing within a genuine alternative culture based on communal uplifting activisim and desperate local divertissement. Also don't forget that the decade of the 90's in former Yugoslavia and the Balkans was heavily loaded with political tensions and war sentiments that needed an explosive creative output in one way or the other.

Slovenian bands in general, also before the fall of the iron curtain and the disbanding of Yugoslavia, were always very intriguingly weird. With Laibach as main national music reference you know you're in for a blast when digging into the Slovenian musical underground. Other great alternative bands from Slovenia I can think of are Miladojka Youneed, Begnagrad, Lolita, Strelnikoff or the later Pinja Dzazna (who has those files for me!?)

The Slovenian bands on this compilation are experimental group Mamojebac (of which their whole and only existing tape from 1995 Tko Je Ovdje Kome Guzica? is present), strange punk band Absent Minded and the great avantgarde art-rock band Žoambo Žoet Workestrao

The Croatian groups present on Druga Liga are the demented HC-punk group Why Stakla (of which almost their whole cassette Daj, Dođi! from 1995 is compiled) and the free punk no jazz band from Rijeka Plod Mirže (I'm curious if more of their music exists). These bands also remind me of the Croatian band SexA.

Essential uneasy listening of post-Yugo punk-noise-insanity from the underground!

Get it HERE

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Barbieri & Fabbri - Angeli -1988- (LP, Stile Libero), Italy

Next up is another album that connects to the previous post balancing on the thin line of alluring musical ambience and a generous pinch of cheesiness.

Italian Bass player Tiziano Barbieri and Guitarist Moris Fabbri made this quite obscure album of Mediterranean contemporary jazz and late 80's ambient sounds in 1988. Both musicians were not heavily involved in other projects but were definitely active musicians. Moris Fabbri still makes  remarkable experimental music today which you can find on his own Youtube channel.

The music on this album is pretty much divided: the A-side has three tracks of composed atmospheres thriving on Italian Mediterranean guitar, eastern voices and guitar-synths-scapes. Actually no real synthesizer is used on the album and all electronic sounds are coming from the processed guitar. These first tracks are maybe too slick, although you also have the feeling that you're familiar with those melodies already for an eternity. The impressionistic style is similar to the Swedish Vinterhjärta tape I posted some time ago.

The music on the B-side should be more pleasing for the improvisation and experimental jazz fans. Those tracks are more abstract and free-form, showing the cinematic and adventurous side of the duo. It reminds me a bit of the Dutch contemporary Jazz soundtrack Golven by Louis Andriessen, but it mostly reminds me of the biblical Risonanze series of Italian library music that I posted ages ago on the blog.

Maybe something different, but it's definitely the soundtrack of the current Indian summer channeling the elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire while you reminisce of a summer that gently flushes away...

Get it HERE