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