Slapp Happy – Acnalbasac Noom 2020 Our Swimmer – WELLE102 for Record Store Day
Original release 1980
Recorded with members of Faust at that band’s Wümme studio in 1973, this album was originally scrapped and then rerecorded (without Faust) and released as Casablanca Moon. This version finally surfaced in 1980, with the original title spelled backward. I’ve seen it described as “more raw” than the rerecorded album, but don’t be fooled — these aren’t demos, this is a finished album, recorded and mixed immaculately. I love it to pieces, and although gets both the “prog” and “psychedelia” tags, there is a strong vibe of jangly folk-rock here too. In fact it is so tuneful and melodic that it is hard to believe this is the same band that would merge with Henry Cow a few years later. From Dagmar Krause’s double-tracked vocals to Peter Blegvad’s impeccably-crafted guitar work, this record is a pleasure from start to finish. Continue reading
Popol Vuh – Nosferatu the Vampyre (Original Sound Track)
2019 Reissue (Germany)
Original releases, 1978, as “On The Way To A Little Way” and “Brüder Des Schattens – Söhne Des Lichts “
Werner Herzog had one of the most notable and singular relationships between a director and a composer/musician through his friendship with Florian Fricke (who was basically Popul Vuh – he did the “solo-artist-with-guests-marketed-as-a-band” thing long before the indie kids). The soundtrack to the classic Nosferatu The Vampyre film has one of the more confusing release histories in their partnership, being drawn from music that Fricke had already released as a Popul Vuh album on his own. And unlike some of their other collaborations, like Aguirre, where the soundtrack runs through the film like a recurring character, Nosferatu actually didn’t feature much music in the final edit. Nevertheless, the music is as otherworldly and haunting as any other work from Fricke’s prolific career, with his characteristic blend of mysticism and melancholy. I share it here on Halloween, 2020, when we don’t even need to use our imaginations to see the horrific all around us. May it provide a soundtrack to however you chose to spend the day.
1 Brüder Des Schattens 5:45
2 Höre, Der Du Wagst 6:00
3 Das Schloss Des Irrtums 5:37
4 Die Umkehr 5:57
5 Mantra 1 6:15
6 Morning Sun 3:22
7 Venus Principle 4:41
8 Mantra 2 5:23
9 Die Nacht Der Himmel 5:03
10 Der Ruf Der Rohrflöte 3:39
11 To A Little Way 2:33
12 Through Pain To Heaven 3:47
13 On The Way 4:05
14 Zwiesprache Der Rohrflöte 3:26
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Daniel Fichelscher
Oboe – Bob Eliscu
Piano – Florian Fricke
Producer – Florian Fricke, Gerhard Augustin
Sitar – Alois Gromer
Tambora [Tamboura] – Ted De Jong
1980 Interzone IZ 1001
Original UK release – 1978 Broadcast Records
May Day, 2020. Not long ago, the hashtag #notdying4WallStreet was trending on Twitter, as Vulture Capitalism quite literally proposed killing untold thousands to buoy their stock portfolios. And this week a conglomeration of far-right Christians praying for the next apocalypse to spew forth from their divine vehicle’s tanning bed puckered sphincter-larynx, in a suicidal love-tryst with armed angry white men posing on the steps of capitol buildings demanding that a phantasmagorical Deep State restore their God-given right to choose between Coke and Pepsi. After the revolution comes (the real one, not this bullshit), the first edition of the New Dictionary of the Year Zero will have an entry for “alienation” displaying photos of these people with their banners equating “Freedom” with the right to wage slavery. Continue reading
David Sancious and Tone – Transformation (The Speed Of Love)
1976 Epic Records PE 33939| Genre: Fusion, Jazz-rock, Progressive rock
If, like me, you thought that Incident on 57th Street and New York City Serenade were the high points of Bruce Springsteen’s early career, then you should probably give your attention to musical polymath and chameleon David Sancious. Sancious was keyboardist for the E. Street Band on their first two albums, and contributed to the title track of Born To Run. I think it would be a safe claim to say that his sensibility probably helped sculpt the “epic” sound they were crafting, particularly on the longer songs, but if you have The Boss too firmly in mind when putting on this record, you might be jarred by just how dissimilar it seems. I’ve always been a champion of things eclectic, but Sanscious might be too eclectic for his own good at times. With his virtuosity on multiple instruments taking front and center stage, it is hard not to marvel at least a little at the breadth of vision, but sometimes they straddle the grey area between stylistic transcendence and plain confusion. His debut record for Epic (Forest of Feelings, 1975) was produced by none other than legendary jazz-fusion drummer Billy Cobham, and at times the music comes close to holding its own with Return To Forever or Weather Report or Mahavishnu Orchestra, and at other times sounding a bit like a slightly funky Rush without the benefit of no horrible lyrics (everything here is instrumental).
Haboob – Haboob 1971 Hör Zu Black Label / Reprise Records REP 3400 Made in Germany
This is a rather difficult-to-describe rarity from a group that only made a single record, a trio of ex-pat Americans living in Germany. The driving force is James Jackson who rocks out on Farfisa, Choir Organ, and Hohner Piano. George Green, who also played in the Munich ‘drum orchestra’ band Niagara, gives a drum solo that is actually interesting (I appreciate drum solos in a live setting, when I’m there, but usually find them tedious on records. Continue reading
It’s a Halloween DOUBLE FEATURE at Flabbergasted Vibes!
It seems as if, at some point, Goblin became the Game of Thrones of progressive rock: it’s cool to like them even if you’re generally dismissive of the genre. A revival of interest in this Italian group includes a burst of recent activity, including a few books about their music, a box set collecting six of their albums, and a concurrent (or was it subsequent?) reunion and tour. They are undoubtedly most famous for providing soundtracks for director Dario Argento, who worked extremely closely with them. As my friends can tell you, I’m much more of a music head than a cinephile, with yawning gaps in my cultural literacy when it comes to film. As such, I was familiar with these Goblin records without being familiar with the films. This includes even the hugely famous Dawn Of The Dead from George Romero, which I only saw last year for the first time. And just for this post, I got hold of a gorgeous Blu-Ray of Suspiria and watched it last night. The overall foreboding has not yet worn off.
The music that Goblin produced for these films is central to their entire aesthetic, the score is almost present as it were a separate character, having an impact on the plot more than providing a setting or acting as a reflection. This feeling of urgency isn’t all in my head, apparently, because according to the liner notes the music for Suspiria was actually recorded before they began shooting, and was at times blasted through PA speakers on the set to provide the proper ambiance.
Both Suspiria and Zombi are pretty nightmarish records. The sense of brooding unease never lets up. As on all their record, the group blends organic sounds (percussion and stringed instruments like lutes or zithers or dulcimers) with analog electronics (synthesizers, oscillators), whispers and shrieks and other creepiness. They’ll swing from the soundscapes called up from terrifying bad-trip psychedelia, then switch suddenly to a galloping jazz-funk jam that offers a way out of the dream, or a jaunty prog workout in an off-kilter time signature, anthems of chase or pursuit depending on your luck or misfortune, or perhaps some gentle acoustic guitar or mellow saxophone to lull you into a temporary state of relaxation. Some sort of throat-singing type chant provides the bedrock for another track’s dissonant organ chords and yammering, hallucinatory voices. Considering how cliché-laden the twin genres of horror and prog rock can be, it is kind of amazing how these soundtracks retain a sense of fresh unpredictability throughout them. There is a questionably “tribal” passage on Zombi seemingly meant to invoke white peoples’ fear of Afro-Caribbean percussion, or more precisely the ritual uses to which it often lends itself, but even that somehow manages not to cross over into tackiness territory. Overwhelmingly instrumental (there are obligatory wordless choral bits here and there, in accordance with the 1974 International Agreement on Horror Film Soundtracks), these two soundtracks work well as self-contained records, but when I finally saw the films they belonged to, they seem more fully realized and deliberate. Suspiria was actually the band’s second soundtrack for Argento, the first being “Rosso Profundo”, which is included in the box set on the Bella Casa label, as is the later collaboration for the film Tenebre. Two albums not related to films are also in the box – Roller (1976) and Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bargarozzo Mark (1978).
I’d like to thank my friend Cheshire Tom for sharing the box set with me and being okay with this post. I guess whether or not these two albums end up on your Halloween party playlist tonight largely depends on who you’ve invited over. See the comments section for more info. Regardless of how you chose to enjoy them, I advise you to keep some soothing tunes handy to follow them. I recommend The Best of Bread.