Saturday, 1 July 2017
Somehow there always existed a relation with Brazilian Bossa Nova in Eastern Europe. Specially in times when coffee places behind the Iron Curtain flourished and nightly neon lights were flirting with western titles creating a concealed idea of a vibrant night life throughout all of the Eastern European capitals. Latin American tunes were played by jazz bands of the fifties and sixties and the particular feeling lived on all the way to the revival of the retro lounge movement around the change of the millenium, reminiscing the geometrical design imagery and nightly recreation created during the socialist times. It was a strange daily life counterpart to a political system that on the other hand ofcourse was looked upon as a system of repression and terror in many ways. Nevertheless exploring the artists, designers and architects from the time one notices that this culture also contained something unique and refined. Besides that it coincidentally and not so coincidentally had a lot in common with modernism in Latin America.
Jana Koubková is a Czech Jazz singer that was active from the seventies in many Jazz groups like C&K Vokal and Jazz Fragment Prague. In 1985 she created her first solo album Bosa that can be viewed as a unique Czech deconstructed experimental avant-garde Bossa Nova album. Apart from the rhythms that are used, it's mainly a voice and scat album with weird overdubs, free jazz explosions and experimental repetitions. Actually it fits quite well next to the Brazilian contemporary music from the mid eighties that used traditional rhythm and melody with new experiments and unconventional instruments like Andréa Daltro or Cinema.
Bosa examplifies Jana Koubková's creativity and progressive spirit and totally exceeds a mere jazz album. This is true singing talent molded into avant-garde voice experiment art comparable to the amazing work of Russian singer Valentina Ponomareva (or for that matter).
Another one for this summer (letní)!
Get it HERE
Monday, 12 June 2017
Luna was a female duo from Kyoto, Japan that made this jewel of an EP in 1985. Backed by other musicians they created these songs of naive wave sweetness in French, complete with the grammatically incorrect way of spelling Comment ça va? It got released on a sublabel of Zero Records that also released early Shonen Knife and After Dinner.
The EP contains four songs that remind me of other Japanese music from the eighties that used the French chanson style as their conceptual image and sound like a.o. Variètè, Ichiko Hashimoto or Corina Corrina. Actually this cultural appropriation often displays great sensitivity. Furthermore it uses a format which feels like a very honest approach to music. Let's say a toy keyboard, a synth, some simple percussion, a duo or a person by itself, broken language, childish naivety, simple melodies and timid vocals. An example of pure simplicity transformed into honest emotion and love.
Today these type of sounds are for example still to be found in acts like EYE or maybe Le Fruit Vert. Other acts from the past with a similar sensibility that come to mind are The Same, Aksak Maboul or Antena. Ofcourse they have nothing to do with each other contextually. And yeah I guess I'm a sucker for this type of music.
So far only the main track Comment Sa Va ? was around, which is still the highlight, but finally it's here in its entirety.
Hopefully this adds to a naive, warm, healthy, and romantic summer for you all !
Get it HERE
Saturday, 27 May 2017
Niew Hip Stilen - Grüss Aus Wien & Kill Em All (Live at Pandora's Music Box Festival Rotterdam 1983, VARA Moondogs Radioshow), Netherlands
Niew Hip Stilen is one of my favorite Dutch bands. They came from Rotterdam and played an amazing style of electronic synth wave jazz with some hints towards the urban music culture of early eighties New York City (remember New Order going there which led to the Blue Monday period). Nevertheless their sound is also very Dutch and akin to the other great electro jazz group from Rotterdam called Kiem.
Niew Hip Stilen consisted of Maarten van Gent – bass, drums, guitar, percussie & vocals; Jan Willem van Mook – bass, sax, keyboards, percussion & computer; Rutger van Otterloo – sax, drums & percussion. They had one self-released single in 1981, which came out on the label of the Quarantaineweg, the legendary artist squats of Rotterdam. On the back of the single a plan of the squats can be noticed. Other bands connected to the squats were a.o. The Black Sheep and Dull Schicksal. Niew Hip Stilen made one album on Eksakt records called Heartsounds and Murmers that still stands as one of the most inventive and interesting Dutch albums from the eighties.
As for these two songs: this week I found some self-recorded cassettes: blank with handwriting on them. All full concerts of eighties bands that played in Holland. Some of them contain the recordings of the legendary Pandora's Music Box Festival that took place three times in Rotterdam from 83' to 85'. It was a unique festival of new wave, avant-garde and industrial music. You can find a blog dedicated to the festival here. Bands like Fad Gadget, Clock DVA, The Durutti Column, X-Mal Deutschland and SPK all played the first edition. Most of those recordings are available online. Niew Hip Stilen also played and even released a hyperrare cassette with those recordings that was uploaded here.
So as you can see the recordings are actually already available there, but here we have two of the songs in a slightly better sound quality since it was broadcasted by the VARA Moondogs radioshow. Moondogs was a Dutch radioshow from the eighties dedicated to interesting contemporary music with in depth specials around certain bands. Also you can hear the host talking about the band.
Get two rare Niew Hip Stilen live songs HERE
Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Leo Cuypers (Maastricht, 1947) is one of Holland's most inventive and important pianists in the improvisation and Jazz world. He started out as a drummer but soon moved to the piano. As a pianist he developed a unique jazzy playing style by which he improvised many songs just by feeling, mostly in a rhythmic way based on moods and imagined titles. He was frequently playing with Dutch impro Saxophonist Willem Breuker (founder of the Instant Composers Pool and Willem Breuker Kollektief).
Leo Cuypers is probably most famous for his Zeeland Suite from 1977 also with Willem Breuker and others. Throughout the decades of the last century he did many scores and other soundtracks with Willem Breuker. Cuypers was the only person Breuker would trust with his opinion when showing new scores. Their work together keeps a unique place in the Dutch jazz and impro history. On the verge of the nineties Cuypers stopped collaborating with Willem Breuker. By then he had built a decades-long reputation as an impro pianist in a 'jazz world' of women, booze and other nightly endeavours. You can see a short documentary in Dutch with Leo Cuypers here. I love when he basically concludes that he didn't learn shit(!) during his time at the conservatory. This first album he made came out on BASF in The Netherlands, just like the Theo Loevendie Consort (of which Leo Cuypers was a member) as well as the Indonesia inspired experimental Jazz prog band Banten. Also he played on the most psychedelic album by Dutch cult singer Ramses Shaffy from Amsterdam, called Sunset Sunkiss.
From the original 1972 liner notes:
"Maastricht was a beautiful city to live in. People from the Conservatory, the Academy of Arts, painters, sculptors - they all made it a nice scene. But then the hippies from the western part of Holland moved in and things changed so much that many of the artists left." This is pianist Leo Cuypers Talking. Born in Heemstede (near Haarlem) on December 1, 1947 (his parents originally came from Amsterdam) he moved to Maastricht with his family when he was about nine. And he always wanted to study at the Maatricht Conservatory. But after three years he quit; in fact he was chased away after four months of absence. "I was frightened, you know. What was going on there at the time (1962-1965) had nothing to do with making music. One was trained to play one's part in a symphony orchestra - not to play too much out of tune - not to play too well - just to do the job. And nobody was really interested in that kind of music. After lessons the kids ran to their favourite drinking place to listen to pop music, that's what they loved. And besides that, I played jazz, I wanted to become an arranger. I played drums, piano was at first only an obligatory second instrument. I started on drums when I was six. We had a piano at home, but I liked the drums better. It was only when I had learned to play enough piano that I discarded the drums. One day my set was stolen. Or rather, I hoped someone would steal it. Which they did. So I just had to go on with piano. Anyway, at the Maastricht Conservatory the scene finally changed too. Two years after I was chased away I made a guest appearance there."
As for many musicians in this country, the competition that's been held every year since 1958 at the lakeside resort of Loosdrecht meant a big change for Leo Cuypers as well. He entered the 1969 competition, playing solo. It was the percussion element, an echo from his playing the drums. As Maastricht is way down south in holland and the music scene - or anyway the jazz scene - is in the west, by being at Loosdrecht and winning this competition he was heard. Drummer Pierre Courbois liked his playing and when working at the festival of contemporary jazz in Baden-Baden, Germany, he advised Joachim Ernst Berendt to let Leo Cuypers replace Joachim Kühn, who had had a car accident. It was there that Leo Cuypers met composer and reedman Willem Breuker, founder member of the Instant Composers Pool, and it was through Breuker that Leo got his first gig in Amsterdam. Where a little later Theo Loevendie heard him and asked him to play with his consort. So, today, with Misha Mengelberg and Kees Hazevoet, Leo Cuypers is one of the three most foremost pianists in the contemporary music scene. He lives in Amsterdam. - 1972
Get it HERE
Thursday, 4 May 2017
Time for another cassette by Hungarian cultband áPolóK (trans. The Nurses) after two of their other releases I posted on the blog before. áPolóK comes from the Hungarian city of Miskolc and started out in 1982. They are ranked among Hungary's finest weirdo avant-garde groups. They can be placed among other Hungarian underground bands from the eighties and nineties like A.E. Bizottság (Albert Einstein Committee), Kampec Dolores, Tudósok, Vágtázo Hallottkémek and many others.
Their humoristic hyper-intelligent lyrics combine the insanity of the Hungarian culture with great poetic depth and absurdity. áPolóK is a quite unique band in Hungary mashing up a Rock In Opposition sound that contains unorthodox transitions in zappaesque ways with a great punk attitude and alternative rock manoeuvres. It's a band that is very underrated and deserves a lot more attention.
Egyedül A Világon (alone in the world) was áPolóK's first album that was also published abroad as a CD in England which was translated to The One And Only In The World (get that one here!). The cassette was self-released on their own Artalom label (it's a word merging the words Art and Content with each other.) I think this album is one of the stronger releases and shows a more developed sound of the band. The musical quality is keeping the right pace with the showcased absurdity. Some of the members of áPolóK are still playing in bands in Hungary like the absurd punk group Büdösök. Again check out their other releases in the archive of this blog.
Get it - in all its original cassette glory - HERE
Thursday, 13 April 2017
Bewegingstheater (Movement Theatre) was a Dutch theatre group and Amsterdam based theatre school that was active from 1964 to 2005. In their existence they created 126 theatre productions. They worked with architecture, dance, music and poetry. In the late sixties and early seventies Bewth created numerous plays in which their happening-like plays were combined with psychedelic music and poetry.
The musical development started with voice experiments by the actors and were later replaced by compositions and music of the time like Pink Floyd and Arthur Brown. As the architectural element was introduced in the plays, more and more own music started to be created by some of the members, most importantly by: Peter Klencke, Walter Jaffé, Victoria Varekamp and Flip van de Pol. You can get an impression of a Bewth play in the late sixties by clicking here and here. This was a play called Bosche Bollen (1968), it starts with a still of The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Dutch medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch. Bosche Bollen are the famous patisserie chocolate balls connected to the city of 's-Hertogenbosch in the south of The Netherlands, also the birth city of Hieronymus Bosch.
In 1972 the record Over De Dauw Van Dit Land (On The Dew Of This Land) was realized. The greater part of the music was created by Peter Klencke. From 1968 to 1974 he used country and blues slide guitar and a saxophone to create improvised sound imagery that corresponded with the movement of the actors. Also he composed music to the poetry of Bewth-member Ben Zwaal that was recited during plays. The music from this period was compiled on Over De Dauw Van Dit Land. The record was only sold during performances.
The music and poetry on this record have a distinct feeling of the Dutch countryside, in as much as that exists within the mostly urban landscape of Holland. The fragile cardboard cover shows a person in what I think is a boerenkool field. A vegetable that is eaten in Holland in the winter and which traditionally needs a night of frost over it to be eaten (frost and dew, important in alchemy, paganism.. it's all somewhere in that realm isn't it?). Most of the poetry and the song titles deal with nature in its purest form, very much in a pagan fairytale sense. Also one of the songs has a Frisian title, embedding this marginalized language and culture of the Netherlands in the record.
The record is a pearl of Dutch avant-garde acid folk and jam improvisation reminding me a bit of the Dutch obscurity Surprieze - Zeer Oude Klanken En Heel Nieuwe Geluiden from 1973. It is a beautiful example of free-form theatre mixed with spaced out music from that era, comparable to the French Théâtre du Chêne Noir d'Avignon, the Japanese Tokyo Kid Brothers, Tenjo Sajiki, the Belgian happening films of Ludo Mich or even the 1960's Living Theatre in New York.
The Bewegingstheater later went on doing many other performances including in the streets of Dutch cities (like in Middelburg on the picture above). Eventually, the company evolved out of its hippie character while focussing more and more on the relation between theatre and architecture until seazing its activities in 2005. This is one of the most amazing hidden seventies records from Holland and we can only hope there is much more musical material still in archives. This could have easily been on the NWW-List. All images I used are courtesy of Peter Klencke and Bewth.
De Kikker (The Frog)
een zonnebloem / a sunflower
beloofde / promised
de sloot / the creek
haar kromming te vergeven / to forgive its curve
en de sloot / and the creek
huilde zo / cried so
de groene kikker / the green frog
was de kasteelman / was the castle owner
de hoogste van de sloot / the highest of the creek
altijd slapende / always asleep
op luchtige schalen / on breezy scales
vol wijdblad / on wide leaves
en zonder het minste / and without the least
ooievaargevaar / stork danger
de zonnebloem / the sunflower
kende ze allemaal / knew them all
en lachte soms / and sometimes laughed
als het zomer was / when it was summer
Get it HERE
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Wha-Ha-Ha released two amazing albums in the early eighties as well as an EP. Their material was also released in Europe on Recommended Records as a compilation. It's a weird combination of jazz, Rock In Opposition, Japanese melodies, pop songs, unexpected transitions and synthesizer sounds. They remind me a lot of Japanese RIO band After Dinner, also due to the female vocals. I recommend you to check out all the other Wha-Ha-Ha material.
The first song on this single was reissued as a bonus track on a CD in 2003, but the second song hasn't been re-released as far I know. Both of the songs do not appear on the albums.
Get it HERE