Slapp Happy – Acnalbasac Noom (1980) (2020 Our Swimmer)

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

Gal Costa – Gal (1969) (Mono mix)


Gal Costa – Gal
1969 Philips R 765.098 L

The great Gal Costa released two classic Tropicália records in 1969, and this one is widely known as the mind-bendingly psychedelic monster of the two.  The version presented here is the original mono mix and not the stereo mix that appeared on the Gal Total boxset and later in a Polysom reissue.  Gal has always surrounded herself with musical heavyweights but she was keeping particularly heady company at this time: this record has substantial involvement from Gil, Caetano and Jards Macalé (who would serve as her musical director not long after this).  No less than two compositions from Jorge Ben are featured here, including the rather deep cut “Tuareg” in a particularly funky arrangement. Continue reading

Popol Vuh – Nosferatu The Vampyre (1978) (Original Soundtrack)

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

Remastered By – Frank Fiedler, Guido Hieronymus


Mirror 1 || Mirror 2

16-bit 44.1 khz

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In memoriam, Jerry Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995)

Twenty-five years ago, when Jerry Garcia passed on this day in 1995, I was jaded and angry. Still reeling with unprocessed grief from the death of my only sibling a few years earlier, I had distanced myself from the scene I had once felt an affinity to (which had grown increasingly sketchy in the 1990s anyway). I refused to leave my apartment, stayed in bed most of the day, steadfastly avoiding the vigil in the park down the street from me filled with people tearful over somebody they “knew” as an abstract entity.  He was deified as a free-spirited messenger of peace and harmony while nursing a decades-long heroin addiction, the antithesis of freedom.  I felt like that dichotomy between a starry-eyed expanded consciousness and a hedonistic enslavement to the pleasure principle could have very nearly ruined my own life if it hadn’t been for the actions of a few people, my lost sibling among them, which took me off that path.  Famous musicians driving themselves into early graves through hard living — Garcia was barely 53 but looked about 80 when he died – was nothing new. I couldn’t or wouldn’t empathize with the collective eulogizing because all I could think was that it seemed in some way profoundly stupid for people who “had everything in life” to careless throw it away – I’d thought the same thing about Kurt Cobain’s suicide a year earlier even though I had only a passing interest in his music — while all over the world, parents had to bury children lost to horrible circumstances – accidents, diseases, murders – inverting the “natural order”, things weren’t supposed to happen that way. Those families, and mine, didn’t have crowds holding vigils in the park. They got awkward attempts at soothing from friends or relatives, often with platitudes like “he / she is in a better place now” or “God has called home another angel” and insipid shit like that.  Continue reading

Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 with Ginger Baker – Live! (1971)

Fela Ransome-Kuti And The Africa ’70 With Ginger Baker – Live! (1971)

As the newly-revived “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has made abundantly clear, it is far to late to wish you all a happy new year.  In fact, I managed not to post anything at all in the first month of the new decade.  I had originally hoped to share this landmark Fela / Ginger Baker collaboration in late December, as a throwback to my old tradition of highlighting musicians who had passed on during the calendar year.  But it was not meant to be.  This record was originally issued on the obscure Signpost label in 1971.  Before getting a wider release by Universal in the early 00’s, it had also been reissued in the well-curated catalogues of respectable labels like Knitting Factory and Celluloid. Continue reading

Haboob – Haboob (1971) (HörZu Black Label / Reprise Records REP 3400)

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