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

Gil Mellé – The Andromeda Strain OST (1971)

Gil Mellé – The Andromeda Strain (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Original release 1971 KAPP Records
2017 Jackpot Records – Limited Edition RSD
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192kHz |  Web art + scans
Genre: electronic / experimental | 1971
Jackpot Records ~ JPR-044

Dr. Vibes’ 12 Days of Christmas – Day 3 – Probably the eeriest soundtrack for any film that was not  technically in the horror genre, Gil Mellé really broke ground in electronic music on this soundtrack for this classic science-fiction thriller adapted from the Michael Crichton novel. Apparently he “created his own instruments” to make some of these compositions.  I’m not sure what that really means but the  results are definitely otherworldly.   I have a habit of being fans of soundtrack albums without ever getting around to seeing the associated film, and that was the case with this title until just a few years ago.   Although reissued in Japan several times on vinyl, for the longest time this was only available digitally as a CD-R on the grey-market / bootleg label Creel Pone.  It finally got a limited official release about 8 years ago that is now also pretty rare.  So I was pretty happy to see it on a list o special releases for Record Store Day in 2017.  Jackpot Records deserves some credit for staying faithful to the original deluxe packaging (which I did not place on my scanner, sorry).  But I sort of wish they just made a normal round EP, because I suspect getting these hexagonal things off the presses isn’t easy — my brand-new copy had a big-ole scratch on it as soon as I opened it.  But I think I got a pretty good transfer.

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Masahiko Satoh & Soundbreakers – Amalgamation (1971)


Masahiko Satoh & Soundbreakers – Amalgamation
Label: Phoenix Records (ASH3040CD)
Originally released 1971 on Liberty (LTP-9018)
Reissued 6 Dec 2010
1 Side One1 15:50
2 Side Two 21:18

Composed By, Conductor, Arranged By – Masahiko Satoh
Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder
Produced by Creed Taylor

Part 1 recorded August 17, 13:00~19:00 at Toshiba Records 1st studio.
Edited September 18, 13:00~20:00 at Toshiba Records room A

Part 2 recorded August 22, 13:00~19:00 at Toshiba Records 1st studio.
Edited August 30, 10:00~20:00 at Toshiba Records 2nd studio & October 24, 10:00~18:00 at Toshiba Records 2nd studio.

It has almost begun to feel like a tradition that whenever something horrible happens in the world, I have to dedicate a post to the atrocity, tragedy, and heroism of the moment. Over the last week as I’ve followed the BBC World Service and listened to the death toll in Japan rise every day with estimates that the count won’t be over until it reaches the 10,000 mark or higher, I have felt myself grow mute, reverent, and cautious. Cautious not to add my voice to the clamor of pundits; reverent of the magnitude of entire cities lost, generations of families shattered, of spectral genetic memories of nuclear disaster and potential holocaust; mute in the face of the inability of the thousands upon thousands of humanitarian aid workers to do any more than they are doing. Unlike Haiti, this is unfolding in one of the most developed countries in the world, one that has been utterly prepared for such a disaster for decades and whose government, by most accounts, has done a pretty commendable job of dealing rapidly with the disaster. Mute in the face of such enormous human suffering that almost dictates that anything I might say will seem trite. I have no sophisticated, penetrating analysis or discourse to offer.


So why not leave it to music, once again, to say what I cannot. This album of experimental jazz and psychedelia was completely unknown to me until fairly recently and seems to resonate somehow with all of this. Recorded in Japan in the early seventies by none other than Rudy Van Gelder and Creed Taylor (who seem to have left it off their resumé or simply disowned it), with Detroit drummer Louis Hayes, the record is equal parts terror and beauty, violence and respite. Swells of organ that remind me vaguely of Larry Young engulf noisy blasts of percussion and saxophone and tape loops of what sound like either military exercises of street protests. More stunning still is the realization that this ‘free’ music is fairly tightly composed as well. At times the whole things sounds like it could fit comfortably in a Krautrock discography as well. I’ll include here a review from Julian Cope, because I like his writing more than the usual music-journalist dry filler.

Big thanks to my friend Cheshire for turning me on to this and passing it along.

This preposterous piece of psychedelic avant-jazz sounds like the work of aliens, each with only one foot in our universe. Propelled by cacophonous brassy blasts, volleys of machine-gunning, ecstatically ‘Light Fantastic’ rhythms and moments of Teo Macero-style ‘Mixing Concrète’ (during which the whole track becomes consumed by waves of new sound); the result is the most singular mash-up of inappropriate sounds any listener is ever likely to hear. Over two side-long tracks, shamen Masahiko Satoh sends us through a sonic mind-field, baffling our senses and our sense of gravity. Located at the centre of AMALGAMATION’s giddy sessions was the frantic Detroit drumming of hard-bop legend Louis Hayes, whose role it was to play the bubbling ever unfolding fundament on which Masahiko Satoh’s whole trip proceeded, as though the rhythm section were a magic carpet constantly being pulled out from under the feet of the other performers. Over this rhythmic shaking, Satoh scattered Hammond organ around and ring-modulated* his Fender Rhodes piano solos (*Roland built three especially for the record), added lead guitar from ‘super session’ legend Kimio Mizutani, trumpets and sax from Mototeru Takagi, scat singing from Kayoko Itoh, and strings from the Wehnne Strings Consort. As if to further disorientate us, the composer divided the single fifteen-minute track of side one into ten absurd titles (eg ‘The Atomic Bomb Was Not Follen’ [sic]), and the single twenty-one minutes of side two similarly (‘Here Me Talking to Ya’, ‘Ancient Tales of Days to Come’), though both tracks are intended as single pieces, being encoded thus on CD re-issues. Essential stuff. [Julian Cope]

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Tom Zé – Estudando o Samba / Correio na Estação Brás (1975, 1978)



1976 Continental (1.07.405.303)

1 Mã (Tom Zé)
2 A felicidade (Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
3 Toc (Tom Zé)
4 Tô (Élton Medeiros, Tom Zé)
5 Vai [Menina amanhã de manhã] (Perna, Tom Zé)
6 Ui! [Você inventa] (Odair, Tom Zé)
7 Doi (Tom Zé)
8 Mãe [Mãe solteira] (Élton Medeiros, Tom Zé)
9 Hein? (Tom Zé, Vicente Barreto)
10 Só [Solidão] (Tom Zé)
11 Se (Tom Zé)
12 Índice (José Briamonte, Heraldo do Monte, Tom Zé)

Arrangements by José Briamonte
Produced by Heraldo do Monte



Tom Zé (1978)

1 Menina Jesus (Tom Zé)
2 Morena (Tom Zé e Domínio Público)
3 Correio da Estação do Brás (Tom Zé)
4 Carta (Tom Zé)
5 Pecado original (Tom Zé)
6 Lavagem da igreja de Irará (Tom Zé)
7 Pecado, rifa e revista (Tom Zé)
8 A volta de Xanduzinha [Maria Mariô ](Tom Zé)
9 Amor de estrada (Washington Olivetto, Tom Zé)
10 Lá vem cuíca (Tom Zé, Vicente Barreto)
11 Na parada de sucesso (Tom Zé, Vicente Barreto)

Arrangements by Otavio Basso


Reissued 2000 on Warner/Continental – Série Dois Momentos – Vol.15 (857384832-2)
Remixed by Roberto Marquest & Charles Gavin
Mastereed by Ricardo Garcia & Charles Gavin
Supervised by Tom Zé

This is the second volume that Continental dedicated to Tom Zé (Vol.14 is on its way!). According to legend, Estudanto o Samba was the album that introduced David Byrne to the music of Tom Zé, and it was understandably like nothing he had ever heard. It’s not just that Tom desconstructs the traditions of samba composition and playing — he actually does, in fact, put it together in a cohesive way in the universe according to Tom Zé. The album was undertaken in the spirit of a project of research. Based mostly in acoustic instrumentation, but occasionally incorporating found sounds from detuned radios or televisions or even the clacking of a typewriter. His unorthodoxy manages to be reverent at the same time, and if you need any proof you can look at the compositions he co-wrote with “respectable sambista” Elton Medeiros on this record, or the respectful liner notes written by Medeiros on the inner sleeve. As he relates, Tom Zé emerged from the University of Bahia’s conservatory of music, and in spite of critical praise upon critical praise, still hadn’t received the type of recognition he deserved (never ‘winning’ at any of the many festivals of song, for example). And although Medeiros doesn’t mention it here, the sales for his brilliant Todos Os Olhos, widely considered a masterpiece, were disappointing. “For this, without losing any time, he decided to create this album, where he looked to reunite the variety of rural and urban types and forms of samba, giving each song the presentation he found most adequate,” writes Medeiros. Elton also says that Zé had told him that if THIS album doesn’t “circulate”, this will probably end the “research side” of his career. And in a way his prediction was true. Although he never stopped experimenting, he never really attempted another project quite like this until the more recent ‘Estudando o Pagode’, with this album as an explicit reference.

Zé’s interpretation of the Jobim/Vinicius classic “A felicidade” is also one of my favorites out there.

Unlike his contemporaries in Tropicália, Tom only put out records every few years. I like to say that this is what makes his body of work devoid of the embarrassing discographical titles found in the catalog of a Caetano Veloso or Gilberto Gil. He has never released a bad album, and even his luke-warm ones are well worth your time.

CORREIO DA ESTAÇÃO DO BRÁS is not “luke-warm” by any stretch, but it has been somewhat ignored by those of us reappraising the career of this maverick genius (either because we missed it the first time, like most of the public, or — as in my case — we weren’t even born yet when he was tossing some of these early gemstones into the either). Although the album is of very high quality and consistently, it is overshadowed by the powerful bursts of creativity that went into his previous two albums, and so in a way it is understandable that it’s been overlooked. If you are looking to “turn someone on” to Tom Zé, this won’t be the album you will reach for first. But it’s filled with compelling music. It opens with the heavy social critique of ‘Menino Jesus’ that portrays a Northeastern migrant leaving his rural life for the big-city life in the south with its dreams and obsessions of consumerism, of battery-powered radios, of TVs, and wristwatches… The lyrics, composition, arrangements are all first rate on this record. The production is a bit slicker and professional than his other work from the 70s but nowhere near approaching the sterility that was beginning to afflict so much MPB of the time. More highlights are his reinterpretation of a traditional tune, “Morena,” “Pecado original” probably the most experimental cut on here, “Pecado, revista, e rife”, and “A Volta de Xanduzinha”, and “Lá vem cuica.” There is even something approaching a ‘brega’ on “Amor de estrada.” We are treated with a surprisingly tuneful Tom Zé throughout this album, on what might be loosely-called a concept record about a neighborhood in São Paulo comprised of primarily Northeastern immigrants, which in the liner notes he says on market days takes on the semblance of any small town in the northeast interior. It’s a record I would almost describe as “sweet”, and it would be another six years before Zé would make another album.

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