Music Project – Album #48 –Abraxas –Santana

 

imageAbraxas by Santana

 

Sometimes I wonder if anyone is still actually reading these entries as I persevere to listen to my album collection in alphabetical order. But do you know? Part of me like to think that long forgotten LJ flisters might still be reading or random people might be coming across these posts many years into the future on WordPress. I also like to think that this is kind of a historical record and in a far off distant future scores of academics and philosophers are debating not only what I meant by vampiresses with comedy inflatable breasts but also why did I have such a massive cock collection of music and were people actually interested in this and if so why?

 

Ritual purposes.

Simple.

 

Anyway, as I plunge on through the “A”s missing out only a couple of two track EPs as they don’t really count as full albums (If you’re really interested they are “Abandoner” by some bloke out of Porcupine Tree and “Absence and Plenum” by Lux Interna who none of you will have heard of anyway. I was also wearing my khaki short sleeved shirt and there are 7 cards in the card holder on the mantelpiece) we arrive at an unusual choice.

I’d never heard of Santana until they appeared on a soundtrack for a film I liked. So as I liked one of their tracks I did my usual thing of downloading their entire back catalogue. Yes. It was getting a bit silly doing that. Anyway, Abraxas contains Black Magic Woman and Oye Como Va  which always makes me feel like I should be in some seedy Spanish restaurant in the 1980s. Surrounded by bullet ridden corpses having just survived a Spanish Mafia attack by hiding behind the fake plastic plant in the corner.

I know some of you guys like Santana.

Good for you.

Music Project–Album #44–A Thousand Roads–Lisa Gerrard & Jeff Rona

imageA Thousand Roads by Lisa Gerrard & Jeff Rona

A Thousand Roads is a film by Chris Eyre released in 2005. This is the soundtrack for it.

I’m very fond of soundtracks and there are many in my collection. Mostly they are of films that I have seen but this is one of 2 film soundtracks of films I’ve not seen.

I’m also very fond of Lisa Gerrard’s music including Dead Can Dance (but more about them in a later post).

So there’s two things: Lisa Gerrard and Soundtracks. What more could I want? Well there is a third thing. World music. I first got into World Music as a teenager when I was taken on a school trip to see the Gamelan at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. Initially I was resistant but an hour into the performance I began to recognise repetitions, subtleties and changes in rhythm which none of my classmates seemed to appreciate. On the back of that experience I embraced World Music and, over the years, have collected some interesting music (again, more of that in a later post).

A Thousand Roads is a lovely mix of etherical wailing, tribal chants and haunting synths. A rare treat for travellers and explorers of the musical soundscape.

Music Project–Album #43– A Song for All Seasons–Renaissance

imageA Song for All Seasons–Renaissance

 

I first came across Renaissance in 2002 when I used to subscribe to Last.fm’s radio service.

 

In case you didn’t know, Last.fm supposedly checks what you listen to and then finds artists you might like and plays samples of their music mixed in with yours.

 

The song that kept being played was Northern Lights. It was one of those songs that made me think “Here! I’ve heard this before!”. It was more than probable that I had.

 

Keen to find out more, I spent a week downloading their catalogue and rapidly falling in love with their music. Bewildered by the fact that I hadn’t actually heard of them before that day.

 

They’re a mix of folk and prog. Prog folk? Maybe. Kind of like Fairport Convention meets Yes.

 

No..that’s not it.

 

It’s similar. But not.

 

Anyway, make your own mind up and, as usual, I would be interested to hear what you think about them too.

Music Project–Album #42–A Secret History –The Divine Comedy

imageA Secret History by The Divine Comedy

 

There is a certain sound that conjures up memories of the 1990’s. Granted, I spent most of the 1990s in a haze of solitude and unemployment. Indeed, I did not really venture much further musically than the compilation album Shine 9. Instead I spent most of the 90s listening to Mike Oldfield, Yes, Triumvirat and whatever I happened upon on my cassette tapes. Those were the days. Days of sitting round, doing nothing. Wasting time.

 

I suspect that The Divine Comedy’s greatest hits, this album, appears in my music library due to Gay Jamie who no doubt put it on one of his many MP3 CDs he wrote for me back in the early noughties.

 

The Divine Comedy are that sound. The sound of the nineties. I’d not listened to this album before I began this project and, apart from a couple of tunes I’d heard on the radio or in other compilations, I’m not all that familiar nor enamoured with the band or their work. I was also surprised by the fact that they wrote the theme tune to Father Ted. So that was a surprise when it started playing midway through the listen.

 

Anyway, I think I’ll just keep the tracks I like off this album and bin the rest.

Music Project – Album #40 – A Momentary Lapse of Reason

imageA Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd

 

Oh you knew it was going to happen. This is the problem when you have 2 computers, one of which you use sparingly, and don’t sync them. Well it’s happened. The first one out of sequence.

So there I am, being diligent and thinking of you dear reader, and I think “I know, I’ll listen to the next album while I wfh”. What happens? I see this album. It begins with an A. A – M. Fucksticks.

I’ve already gone on to A-N.

Never mind.

So, A Momentary Lapse is possibly, in my opinion, the best of the Dave Gilmore led Floyd albums.

I came to Floyd rather late. I knew of The Wall but didn’t really have much of an interest in Floyd back then. It wasn’t until 1990 when Shitbag played me Animals and said: “You’ll never find these on CD you know”

A challenge.

So I nipped out to Penny Lane Records on Penny Lane and picked up this album along with Animals and Gong’s Angel’s Egg: Radio Gnome Invisible Part II just to prove him wrong.

Shitbag was a pink sweater wearing parsnip brain.

A Momentary Lapse is a nice “Background” album. It’s not in your face (though One Slip is a little brisk). I managed to do a good 51 minutes of work while it was on.

Music Project – Album #37 -A Radical Recital- Rasputina

A Radical Recital by Rasputina

Sometimes on a musical journey you unearth a treat. On one such foray into the musical world I was fortunate to come across this delightful live set which introduced me to the bands rather unusual works. On first listen I was hooked and listening to it again I’m still filled with warm squishy feelings and squees. Radical Recital is a good starting point for those interested in exploring Rasputina.

If you are unaware of Rasputina, which I suspect quite a few people are, they’re usually a trio of musicians, 2 cellists and a percussionist (onetime Brian from Dresden Dolls) who play a weird Country/goth/rock fusion. It works. I believe the genre is New Weird America. It would be interesting to hear your opinions…..

Music Project – Album #22 – 01011001–Ayreon

000-ayreon-01011001-(advance)-2cd-proof-2008

01011001 by Ayreon

I can’t remember how I first heard about Ayreon. It might be listening to a compilation or something but from the first song that I heard, I just knew that I would like his work.

So I managed to get his back catalogue with this fantastic double album being released at the moment that I began getting Ayreon’s work.

I think that Ayreon, or Arjen Anthony Lucassen, does a bloody good job of uniting various artists such as Floor Jansen, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Bruce Dickinson and Fish under a single project umbrella. Much in the same way as Ivo Russell-Watts did with 4AD and This Mortal Coil. The difference being that Lucassen creates a concept album as the central cusp of the union.

So let us see….changing artists – Check; Concept albums – Check; Bearded and hairy musicians – check; Rock music – Check….so does that make it prog? New prog? In my opinion, yes it does.

01011001 tells the tale of the descent of man into destruction despite alien entities, psychically beaming visions of our destruction into our little heads. It works. It tells a story. With music and catchy tunes.

Music Project – Albums #20 & 21 – 9012 Live: The Solos & 90125- Yes

9012 Live: The Solos – Yes

People that have known me for a while will no doubt agree when I say, as a youth, I was weird. When all my contemporaries were enjoying U2, Deacon Blue, Blur and Shakespear’s Sister; I was deeply entrenched in a puddle of prog. Most notably, Yes and Triumvirat.

As I reached my early teens my desire for music grew. HMV became the Minaret that called me through it’s doors to the music Mecca that was inside. Remember, this was many years before the Internetz and free musicz. You would have to go through the LPs and CDs alphabetically by artist and hope that there would be something new or exciting within your price range. If they didn’t have the album, you could ask them to order it, but they’d probably charge a fortune. Or you could just hope that on the off chance it would somehow miraculously appear in the racks.  

In the day, records were out of my price range and I would use Christmas and Birthdays to boost the contents of my music library by asking grandparents to buy me the albums or by using gift vouchers. One of the albums I got during this time was this. Unfortunately the vinyl got warped somewhere between the printing press and my record player. I didn’t have a receipt. I didn’t have the courage to ask for a refund. Instead I listened to the listenable bits and made do.

This album reminds me of so much about my childhood. Probably because this and the accompanying studio album and video were on repeat

90125 – Yes

I wrote to Jimmy Peado Saville and asked him to fix it for me to sing with Yes because of this album. He was obviously too busy fiddling to Fix anything for me.

90125 is a break from the twiddly weirdness of their earlier stuff. A complete style change from Tormato and Drama. Yet it works. It works well. They even had a new guitarist. Trevor Rabin (Steve Howe had gone to play with Asia). He looked so cool I wanted long hair like his. I wanted to be dark haired so I could have long hair like his. This was new stuff and a new style that would continue to evolve and grow like me. I must have listened to this album a million times as teen and as a twenteen. With the VHS live video to accompany it too. 

Incidentally, this is the album which contains Owner of a Lonely Heart; Yes’ most famous song.

Music Project – Album #19 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Original Soundtrack

2001: A Space Odyssey – Various Artists (Original Soundtrack)

As a child I thought 2001 was boring. Too much talk. Not enough lasers or explosions. And what was that thing about the huge slabs of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in space about? And why was Rigsby talking with a Russian accent? But hey! Look at all that cool stuff we’ll have in 2001! Holidays in space, floaty pens and Commodore 64s will have huge red lights and be able to kill you. Wow.

As a twenty something, 2001 became the wall paper for mind experiments. Mostly to do with the weird bits at the end. A chap I knew edited the weird trippy hyperspace sequence at the end into a 3 hour stoner flick complete with far out music. Suffice to say, his place was popular with hippies and tourists of the ether on a Friday night after the pubs had closed.

The soundtrack for 2001 is a mix of familiar classical Strauss waltzes interspersed with more unusual Modernist works by Gyorgy Ligeti. Ligeti, you might recall, is a progenitor of the atmospheric style of music. Eerie chanting choirs (they chant “Eeee” and nothing more) are part of the course with Ligeti and sections of his Requiem provide further feelings of unease and suspense. It’s amazing what music can do isn’t it? Some might think of six minutes of people going “eeeeee” discordantly would be torture, while others listen through the surface and deep below feeling the pulses and rhythms on an almost synesthesic level.

On reflection I seem to recall one of my brothers having the 2001 soundtrack when I was a child. I’m certain my mum insisted that he did not play the album when I was around as it might be too scary. It probably was, but I’m sure the continuous playing during my early years, altered my mind on some level, meaning I can appreciate atmospheric, true industrial, noise and rhythmic genres on a significantly different level.

Or perhaps has given me the ability to spout shite.

Music Project Album #15 – 101 – Depeche Mode

101 – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode's music incites a strange mix of emotions and feelings. Kind of kinky dirty but also grimey in the same way. I suppose it's because I know some members had a really bad smack habit so often images of Grange Hill's Zammo slumped in a dirty public bog, hypodermic needle in his arm and dirty burnt silver foil in his hand come to mind.

Saying that, some songs especially those off Songs of Faith & Devotion onjour images of Martin Gore and Dave Gahan in bondage gear flagellating each other in some weird S&M orgy involving penguins and matchsticks. Dunno why….it just does.

My first post-childhood exposure to Depeche Mode, as in one where I was starting to become aware of popular music, occurred in 1992 when I was a student at Sheffield Hallam University. It was while supporting my studies working at Halfords I met a strange chap (who smelt of used sleeping bags) whose belief was no Sunday was complete without 7 hours of constant Depeche Mode. I suppose the repetition helped. I even went and bought their albu Songs of Faith and Devotion, the tracks from which became the soundtrack of those days. Mostly because it was the only CD other than Mike Oldfield that I had with me during my stay at Uni. But I'll go into that more in about a year or so…when I get to S.

101 is a live album. As with all good live albums they provide a snap shot of a band's catalogue at the time of going to press. Indeed, I find live albums a good way of determining whether or not I'll like a band. With some exceptions. But we'll get to that in a few months time.

Recorded in 1989 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl,101 is a good collection of Mode favorites. Most importantly it has an accompanying live concert video which I saw back in the mid nineties. I recall seeing it when at Ginger Chris' house. Everyone was smashed out of their heads on their intoxicant of choice and discussions regarding Egyptian spirituality, UFOs and conspiracies were rife. I suppose that situation reinforced the imagery I described earlier in this entry.

Mode, like Abba, are one of those bands who feature on everyone born in the 1960's to 1970's personal life soundtrack. I'm sure there are some younger readers who will also say "Ah but they feature on my life soundtrack too", and that may be the case. Such is the power and distinctive style of Depeche Mode. Indeed, this live set contains some of their earlier more poppie tunes (I maintain the best thing that Depeche Mode ever did was persuade Vince Clarke to leave) such as Just Can’t Get it up enough and People are People

It would be pertinent to expect to see a fair bit of DM during this project.