Som Imaginário

A Matança do Porco (1973)

http://www.mediafire.com/?in2m0nlgmdo

Brazilian fusion with touches of prog, psyche and bossa nova. This is their third and final album, heading away from the psychedlic-driven sounds of their earlier albums and toward jazz-rock. Wagner Tiso, the keyboardist and now apparently leader of the band is very skilled at what he does (as are all the musicians here), but occasionally takes the album into softer keyboard jazz that may not sound too out of place on a Chick Corea solo album – a bit too light for me. Don’t worry though, there’s still a healthy amount of distorted and rambling guitar parts in the Os Mutantes tradition. High points are the heavy, building guitars of “Armina” and the epic symphonic prog of the 11 minute title track. A cool album that manages to successfully blend a variety of genres into something quite unique.

Slowdive

Pygmalion Demos

http://www.mediafire.com/?um1ms1lcuri

During my teenage years, I heard some tracks from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything and the resultant eps and they had me at hello. I loved Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, but had no frame of reference for the sounds emanating from my shoddy boombox. I bought all I could and discovered the Creation label which led me to collect a string of eps from Moonshake, Telescopes, Swervedriver and most importantly, Slowdive. The s/t and Morningrise eps contained music even more alien than the MBV releases since it borrowed from them, but made it so sluggish, noisy and it sounded like a funeral dirge. I loved this point in their development and still hold it in the highest of regards. However, Slowdive’s full-length, Just For a day, relied on ep tracks for traction and the rest was underwhelming. Souvlaki was another bag meat shavings that we’ll for another day.

I liked Just For a day and Souvlaki just fine, but sort of wrote them off a bit until their grand finale Souvlaki was released. This album didn’t even get a proper release in the United States. The album was generally ignored in comparison to its more readily available counterparts. However, I picked up the 5(In Mind) eps and was amazed at how they had taken a u-turn from shoegaze and even traditional song structures involving choruses and crescendos to a more amorphous approach.

Souvlaki is sparse to say the least. In my mind, it gets bunched with Flying Saucer Attack’s excellent Further album as the two finest examples of a progression of English acid-folk recorded by actual English bands. Pygmalion. It’s shoegaze on a handful of qualudes and serious personal issues. It is the sound of a breakup, both musically and personally. However, I wouldn’t peg Pygmalion as a particularly sad album. It’s a doped-up bummer to be sure, but there are glimmers of optimism throughout. This charade has gone on long enough and it is supposed to be about the demos for Pygmalion. Well, the demos bear little relation to the actual album. It is obvious that the band had an overflow of songs and ideas as these demos include many songs left on the cutting floor. Many aren’t even songs, but sketches. However, this collection of demos stands on its own as a viable album, albeit even more ghostly and gloomy as its official brethren.

Spectrum

Geracao Bendita (Shadoks reissue of 1971 album)

http://www.mediafire.com/?z5gpzouyfgf

Once you stray outside of Tropicalia’s inner circle of Brazilian psychedelic royalty (Gilberto Gil, Gaetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben and Tom Ze) there are so many more misses than hits. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to find an album that holds its own against any album recorded by the aforementioned artists. This Spectrum has nothing to do with Pete Kember of and his brilliant continuation of Spacemen 3’s work, but this Spectrum was assembled to perform the soundtrack to a Brazilian hippie flick.

Consisting of actors and actresses in the film as well as members of the 2000 Volts band, this Spectrum has much love for Os Mutantes’ first two classic albums, but the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour albums as well. Vocalists jump from English to Portuguese without rhyme or reason as the band professes their love of peace, love and understanding, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. The main attraction is in how this suddenly assembled band deftly builds upon the sound of Os Mutantes and slathers the tracks in fuzz guitar.

However, there is one track on Geracao Bendita that still floors me a year after I first stumbled upon it. “Mother Nature” combines the Brazilian vibes of Tropicalia, the wide eyed optimism of the Beatles and the laid-back West Coast vibes of Haight-Ashbury in one track. It’s Abbey Road, After Bathing at Baxters and Os Mutantes in one sitting. The rest of Geracao Bendita is good, but this track makes me grin from ear to ear. There is not hyperbole in my mutterings. I really, really love this song.

Susanne Abbuehl

April (ECM 2001)

http://www.sendspace.com/file/w9tewq

I sometimes think that the sentimental, sappy side of personality is what causes me to love every release on the ECM label. Yes, some of their 70s output was fresh, confrontational and new, but their overall output is so minimal and pleasant that I feel as if I’ve been brainwashed through constant exposure. How did a label responsible for Bernie Maupin’s Jewel in the Lotus and Julian Priester’s Love, Love give rise to some of Keith Jarrett’s snooze-a-paloozas? The sick shit is that I own a few Keith Jarrett albums. I have a problem. Don’t even get me started on my fanaticism about Meredith Monk. I play these records for people and its like I’m arguing that cocktail wieners or a box of nerds are as special as a truffle.

Thankfully, my addiction is easily sated since it’s relatively easy to find recent ECM releases in local budget bins. I even felt a lame rush of excitement when I found a vinyl copy of Don Cherry’s Codona the other day. Therefore, I get to discover gems like Susanne Abbuehl’s April and share them with my limited readership.

Susanne Abbuehl is a Swiss/Dutch singer and composer who has studied Indian classical music and recorded two albums for the ECM label. April is her debut and it includes a revamp of “Round Midnight” and a few Carla Bley tunes as well as a curious hybrid of cocktail jazz and a raga. On the surface, Abbuehl’s voice could woo your casual fan of Norah Jones or Diana Krall, but there is something far more sophisticated at work here. Her backing band plays so gently and minimally that there are no crescendos or climaxes to be found. The end result is a slow burning, sensual jazz vocal album that is stunning in its own subtle way. I guess it’s a bit of an aural bubblebath complete with stinky candles, but sometimes a fellow has treat himself like he’s got some class.

Ingram Marshall

Fog Tropes/Gradual Requiem/Gambuh 1 (New Albion 1994)

http://www.sendspace.com/file/n6qugm

An American composer whose works have been performed by the Kronos Quartet and Andy Summers of the Police, Igram Marshall’s compositions run the gamut from Balinese fluting/electronic hybrids to orchestral works that sound like they were recorded at the bottom of a well. This is high praise indeed since his best efforts stand up to works by Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Adams, Iannis Xenaxis and others who pushed the gilded envelope of classical music.

The first piece “Fog Tropes” was composed in 1979 at the request of performance artist Grace Ferguson. Marshall wanted to create a piece reminiscent of the fog-shrouded bays of San Francisco, so he went around the waterfront and made numerous field recordings of different fog horns. Now, the end result sounds nothing like the flatulent fiesta you’d expect after a piece based on fog horns. Marshall marries queasy drones, unsettlingly dissonant strings and the soothing, but authoritatize blare of the fog horn to create a noirish soundtrack to 3am on a lonely pier.

The other two pieces “Gradual Requiem” and “Gambuh 1” have supposedly been altered to fit the theme of the opener. In particular, Gradual Requiem is an especially claustrophobic listen as the flutes become increasingly overdubbed and more intense until it resembles one of Jon Hassell’s “Fourth World” multi-culti nightmares. Then, the insanity gently wanes and gives way to the most angelic mandolin playing this side of Heaven or Nashville.

Listen deeply and hear groundbreaking sounds; Listen shallowly and you have a majestic soundtrack to your morning crossword. Have a fucking crumpet while you’re at it. Fog Tropes offers as much as you are willing to give.