Friday 21 February 2014

Gloria Martín - Gloria Martín -1971- (LP, Philips), Venezuela

 *Archaic Inventions 1 year anniversary post!*

To me this self-titled record of Venezuelan singer Gloria Martín is the absolute Holy Grail of all Venezuelan records. Actually Martín wasn’t born in Venezuela, but in Madrid and moved to Venezuela with her parents when she was nine years old. So she basically became Venezuelan. She studied philosophy and letters at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), she graduated in Arts and got a Ph.D. in cultural history.  At the same time she started a career as a singer and in Venezuela she’s mainly remembered for her Nueva Canción music. Nueva Canción was a typicial left-wing orientated musical style from Latin America (and Spain) addressing social problems in the society, usually songs on acoustic guitar highly influenced by the revolution in Cuba. Moreover it was a genre which tried to define the own identity of Latin American countries without being defined by colonialism, neo-colonialism or American influences. In Venezuela the Nueva Canción protest music was very much connected to student movements in Caracas of the sixties and seventies. Other representatives in Venezuela were people like Alí Primera, Soledad Bravo and Xulio Formoso. Gloria Martín also wrote a book about Nueva Canción in Venezuela in 1998 entitled “El perfume de una época (la Nueva Canción en Venezuela)” which I’d love to have to be able to tell more about this movement. Here you can at least find a very interesting article in Spanish about Gloria Martín and her role in the Nueva Canción Venezolana. 

But this record is not one of Gloria Martín’s acoustic singer-songwriter protest albums. It’s more of an artistic showcase and does reflect the social environment, but doesn’t involve too much politics. This was an orchestrated musical masterpiece and so many years later it surprisingly shows that everything rightly got together at the moment when that recording was made. Sometimes cultural history gets captured in a recording that reflects the essence of a certain moment: true artistic pearls that are the perfect product of their time in every sense.

The compositions of the orchestra led by Venezuelan arranger Jesús Chucho Sanoja cover all the best musical styles from the early seventies and at the same time create the most amazing conditions for the beautiful voice of Gloria Martín. She was 26 years old at the time she recorded this album full of poetical beauty. Also she wrote all the lyrics herself. The album contains orchestral arrangements, jazz, bossa nova, collage, sound-effects, folk, early seventies rock influences and everything in between. It’s a highly sophisticated record that merges all the nostalgic beauty of Venezuela in the very early seventies (when people were still Damas y Caballeros) with student revolt, impressionistic decadence, sensuality, poetry and intellectualism. Considering all these dimensions, you have to be a really refined soul to be able to comply and apply these things as a youthful person going through university and at the same time being an artist. Conceptually, the album has a lot in common with certain progressive orchestrated music made for singers with studio effects and studio revisions like Serge Gainsbourg’s and Jean-Claude Vannier’s Histoire de melody Nelson (even length-wise!), but then in a Latin American context.

The main highlight of the album is the B-Side which starts after songs like “El hombre aquel” dedicated to Ché Guevara, the song “At the other side of the sea” sung in touching broken English and a bossa nova song sung in Portuguese. It kicks off with an ode to the Universidad Central de Venezuela called “Ciudad Universitaria”. The title reflects Gloria Martín’s passionate relation to her university and its social importance for her city Caracas. The lyrics are as important right now as if they were back then. They describe the paradoxical feeling of attachment  to Caracas with its beauty and danger, because of words like “Ay mi ciudad, quién ha puesto detrás cada flor un policía?” which is accompanied by studio effects creating police alarms to intensify the lyrics. Apparently that song used to be censored during the seventies, because students adopted it as a form of social critique. The song itself is full of energy and shows some of the most groovy rare groove jazz ever to come out of Venezuela. The next song “Mi dulce amigo” is a song that should have been on some Jazzanova groove-jazz compilation of old killer tracks and is an absolute masterpiece. Next is an impressionistic decadent song called “Que facil es” which expresses what goes on in the dreamy mind of a young woman and her gentle diffuse thoughts when she’s under a spell of someone. These three songs make up that part of the album which elevates it into something of unique quality and emotion. “Si puedes” is accompanied by Venezuelan Santana-like psych band La Fe Perdida that also released some singles through Philips in the early seventies: like this one and this one. A core element which is to be found throughout the whole album is the melancholy which makes it strong, it doesn’t glorify the interior nor exterior life and it’s truthful, it might also be because of her deep voice; Grace Slick like. The lyrics of each song are to be found on the inner part of the sleeve. Gloria Martín once described her song writing as:

“Para hacer una canción lo que se necesita es decir algo, tener sensibilidad ante una cosa determinada y también experiencias instantáneas o de toda la vida”. “No considero mis canciones como un éxito, sino como un conjunto de las cosas que yo siento y deseo que lleguen al corazón de la gente”.

The cover of the album looks amazing. Somehow, although not much is to be seen, one can immediately detect Venezuela in that cover. There is a graphic design idea with the rotation of the rectangle and the colours, the design on the tablet on the background and of course Gloria herself with the most amazing groovy seventies haircut and peace-sign necklace. Those elements feel really Venezuelan if you have some insight in the arts during mid-twentieth century Venezuela and mainly Caracas. The inner part of the sleeve shows Gloria in the studio and you get an idea of the left-wing intellectual groovy girl that she was.

It might look as if I glorify this album too much, but I am really touched by this piece of art and see another hidden dimension why to share this. Even more so since I visited Venezuela and could see the fossils of artistic beauty in Caracas covered in the damage of the modern condition and the neglecting of the past in the modern society. National conflicts have created a situation where people mainly want to consolidate what they benefit from the most in their particular social context and history sometimes gets manipulated to let certain political views benefit from it. Reflection on marginal artistic expressions from the past with value for cultural heritage are a lot of times viewed as a divergence from progressive developments of a modern society based on the physical evidence of wealth. A kind of regime of wealth-symbolism rules and values connected to material profit and the consolidation of social class are part of the primary dimension of how people on a short term deal with the current social struggle. I get that arts as such are of course wholly secondary when social problems raise through the roof, so basic needs for a society should be consolidated first. Still I think that precisely a struggle so critical in combination with modern indifference can cause losses for culture and history. Through those dimensions people can feel connected to each other, shape their history, have their imagination aroused and maybe even find “new old” premises to bridge the political gap. Even when art, like a left-wing protest song, is coloured by a clear political preference it still can be perceived more lightly and political conditions change throughout history. Moreover the intellectual core of people who have created this music and had been connected to student movements had a less uncompromised way of shaping their political views and were also fighting for their rights against an oppressive government during Venezuela’s seventies. So back then a left-wing orientated political philosophy also had an emancipatory dimension to it. 

Nowadays politics is like growing up in religion: it exacerbates forming own opinions, because there exists no initiation of the self with the religious values.  But a change is perceivable and people are very engaged with their arts and culture. It seems that everybody knows some national cultural expression which contributes to the beauty of the country, but many things keep being scattered and fragmented in the memories of individuals and don’t find the right path to the public. In my opinion the conservation of cultural expression can for example create political plurality, but also shows something which can shape identity and have people connect to each other. At least people can learn from these individual artists how much one can extract from her/himself without being a product of commerce, excess or machismo which would already be positive no matter what political colour.

The upload of this album, made available for the first time after 43 years (not to be found on the web, I can barely believe it), is for everyone in Venezuela and the world. It has never been sold on Ebay, nor Discogs. Gloria Martín still lives and people have to re-release this album. Make it happen. This is a musical and cultural jewel. This is the definition of essential. Gracias a Gloria Martín y gracias a Venezuela! El disco es cultura!

Highly Recommended!

Get it HERE

Full album on Youtube

Other Gloria Martín albums here:

1969: Lo nuestro es cantar (Single)
1976: Volverán

Another article on Gloria Martín: Pensando en Gloria Martín
More Venezuelan obscurities are to be found on this music channel:

Sunday 16 February 2014

Hermann Kleinknecht - 9. August 1981 -1981- (Single-Sided SP, Galerie am Promenadeplatz München), Germany

Hermann Kleinknecht (* 1943 in Bad Berneck, Bavaria) is a German artist, sculptor, installation artist, painter, photographer and filmmaker. He lives in Berlin and Munich. This is one of his compositions which he made in 1981. More information about Hermann Kleinknecht here on his website. You find some info on this piece under the header "Komposition". Apparently this had an insert card which I don't have.

On Hermann Kleinknecht:
· 1943 Geboren in Bad Berneck/Oberfranken
· 1960 - 63 Glasmalerlehre in München
· 1968 - 72 Studium an der Akademie der bildenden Künste, München
.. (Karl-Fred Dahmen, Robert Jacobsen)

· 1973 - 74 Stipendium der DAAD für "ateliers 63", Haarlem, Holland
· 1974 - 75 Wissenschaftlicher Zeichner am Institut für Paläontologie, München
· 1975 Förderpreis der Stadt München für Malerei
· 1976 Gastaufenthalt Villa Massimo, Rom
· 1981 Staatlicher Förderungspreis Bereich Bildende Kunst, München
· 1986 Beteiligung "Internationales Bildhauersymposium Sistiana", Aurisina, Italien
· 1993 - 94 Stipendium Cite Internationale des Art, Paris
· 1994 - 04 Atelier München und Landerneau, Bretagne
· seit 2004 Atelier Berlin

"Now they are talking about the possibilty to kill 195 million people"

Monday 10 February 2014

Vinicio Adames - Al Comienzo Del Camino -1985- (LP, Private Pressing), Venezuela

If you thought that Venezuela is an odd socialist country where the immortal Hugo Chavez rules the place and where they have a toilet paper scarcity then think again: that’s just one side of the story. Venezuela has historically always been a very diverse country with numerous influences, ideologies, wealth vs. poverty dynamism and identities. It’s a country that artistically was always able to produce its own unique music and art. Its current image of danger and totalitarian socialist spectacle really doesn’t show the deeper refined cultural dimensions that the country has to offer. The artefact we’ve got here is a precise example of the musical diversity the country has to offer. Yes, there is great Latin jazz, salsa music or cumbia, but also minimal synth, electronic improvisation, rock and other genres. Venezuela basically has everything to offer, but the last two or three decades made artistic (not colonial) history disappear under a layer of indifference and political tactics trying to take artistic expression hostage. Luckily, art always finds a way to blur the boarders (unless it was meant to consolidate the state’s power of course) and people are slowly uncovering their forgotten musical past out of necessity and pride.

The album presented here is, to my knowledge, the only absolute example of a synth/wave album from Venezuela. Just when you thought everything (at least vinyl) in that genre has been uncovered by the hype, some things were just too difficult to track down. The only other album which could be qualified minimal synth/wave from Venezuela from the past is “Gran Sabana” by Miguel A. Noya, who also plays a role on this particular album. Because that album has more improvisational pieces too, this is the only one from Venezuela I’d say. The amazing electronic music of Venezuelan musician Angel Rada exceeds basically everything what we are talking about now and has a different kind of quality to it. I’d highly recommend you to check it out. All these people came from the same movement of Venezuelan electronic music though and even performed alongside each other. During the eighties there was an annual electronic music festival in Caracas at the cultural institute Casa Romulo Gallegos where these artists would perform. The Casa Romulo Gallegos still exists today.

Al Comienzo Del Camino
by Vinicio Adames was self-released in 1985 in very limited quantities. To my knowledge only a handful of copies are in the hands of collectors. Vinicio Adames released many more albums. From his website: 
A skilled composer and producer of contemporary, orchestral and electronic music for Film, Art, Dance and TV. One of the most influential exponents of the electronic music movement in South America for more than 20 years. Adames has produced and executed his own concerts in which he combines music, video, design, digital imaging and cinematographic illusions all created by himself. He has been rewarded with numerous awards in the field of music for short and feature films in Venezuela and for the music composed for the advertisement industry. He has produced more than 30 short and featured film projects and around 100 TV programs and documentaries. Music producer for more than 300 advertisement pieces for corporate clients such as: American Express, MasterCard, Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, GM, Ford, Movilnet, Banco de Venezuela, among others.In the art field his music has been exhibited in museums and galleries for installations, expositions and video-art.

Al Comienzo Del Camino
was Vinicio Adames’ first album.
It shows the primitivism of synth wave, but also clearly shows melody and composition. Most of the songs are really composed pieces and have vocals in Spanish. For some people this might be a turn off, because it has a soft kind of new wave side to it. Nevertheless, I think that it’s a great record with quite some diversity and the uniqueness of this type of music from Venezuela makes it worth it anyway. The opening track “Al Comienzo Del Camino” and the tracks  “Escape” and “Grem” are clearly songs I could imagine in any minimal wave set. The electronic music scene of Venezuela really deserves proper reissues and shouldn’t be overlooked. Hopefully this post will contribute.
Get it HERE

Por que, la vida no es una línea infinita
Sino más bien una elipse muy grande
en la cual pasaremos mucho tiempo
tratando de llegar a lo más avanzado
para luego allá
darnos cuenta que
estaremos de nuevo

 Al comienzo del camino


Sunday 9 February 2014

A Message

Hello readers of the blog!

I have been out of my country for a while so I wasn't able to post stuff, but don't worry. Archaic Inventions is nearing it's first year anniversary in three weeks and the visit-counter is almost nearing 10.000(!) which is amazing for me considering a relatively little amount of posts on the blog and perhaps little interest for this kind of music in general. Moreover, people have even been putting some of the songs up one youtube!
Do you guys think I should do something like that too and include it in the posts to give some idea of what to expect from the release? I might have to upgrade this archaic blog to something contemporary.

I started out this blog at the age of 22 with a kind of feeling of responsibilty towards the blogosphere, because Mutant Sounds and No Longer Forgotten Music stopped. It's like finishig a novel so amazing that you want to start and write the rest yourself to never let it end. Those blogs gave me so much and I was sad about the developments with blogs dying, people's sincere concerns about file sharing and more and more trouble with file-sharing websites. I knew I had great stuff to share that never got attention, but at the same I was kind of worried about the fact that I would never be able to share music in such enormous quantities of quality. Also I guess I might have been creating some kind of absolute construction of deviant music in my head which my blog should reflect, which might have been connected to my worldview in combination with my age.

By now, one year later, many things have happened and I view things a bit differently. Now I really don't care that much anymore what it reflects as long as I think that what I share has a certain value, in whatever sense that might be. Whatever style, deviance or not, a rarity or something else. Subcultures, even starting out with good intentions are suffocating me nowadays even with respect to things like minimal synth/wave which is actually one of my favorite musical genres. Anyway, I still don't have that many things to share and I will always stand for the fact that I won't copy existing links, share in-print music or post what you are basically already able to find on the web. I think the beauty of a music blog lies in the fact that people really uncover  music that had never been heard before. In other words: that they actually have something to share. And come on, everybody knows how difficult it's getting to find stuff with a high amount of quality that didn't exist on some blog yet. Music blogs have re-invented the history of music and because of this process of uncovering old music, so much has been reissued and given the proper attention at last.

What I'm thinking right now is that this blog will have a different kind of consistency concerning it's content, but I will keep sharing the same stuff as well, that's priority so to speak. Moreover, I'd really like to use this blog as a platform from which I could do different things. I'm working on some thematic radiosets which I'd like to do, although they might be kind of personal.

Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone for visiting this blog, spreading the music and supporting. Please share your opinions, ideas, comments or whatever if you feel like it. New posts are coming this week and they might be the best ones yet, so stay tuned!

Thanks again,

Bence - Archaic Inventions