Burnt Vinyls

November 23, 2014

Yeah, it’s been a long time. However, a second child takes precedence over this digital backwater posing as a blog. It might be another year or just a few days until I post again, but I’ve been transferring some of my records to mp3s lately and it seemed only fitting that I stumble back onto here for a spell. Anyhow, here is a smattering of songs that have enflamed my very soul to press record and stare at the computer screen until the tune is over.

New York Endless

Strategies EP

“Scale Those Heights”


This song dabbles in so many things I enjoy so very much. It’s a melange of melodic IDM of the Warp and Kompakt persuasions, Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and a sprinkling of early New Order at the very end that floors me. This particular song just gobbles up the best electronic music of the 70s, 80s and 90s and regurgitates something stunning.

Ozark Mountain Daredevils


“Colorado Song”


Starts off with some earnest sensitive 70s balladry of the most primo stock, but slowly picks up steam as they start delving into some fable about a man who rediscovers his mojo when he drops everything to dwell on the mountains of Colorado. Shit gets real when they start multi-tracking harmonies and a hellacious slow burner of a guitar solo steps into the spotlight. Hell, it’s even got an interlude of twinkling bells to class things up a bit before a climactic coda takes us home.

Chris Smither

Don’t It Drag On

“Lonesome Georgia Brown”


No one ever gives this dude his due. His first two albums are essential, but Don’t Drag It On is the better of the two because it somehow weaves a scenario where a cover of “Friend of the Devil” bookends a slow-motion take on the Rolling Stones “No Expectations” and it seems like the best idea since sliced bread. However, “Lonesome Georgia Brown” takes the cake since it kind of evokes the vibe of Terry Allen’s Juarez as Smither creates an entire fictional universe in song. It’s one song, but it traces Georgia Brown’s slow descent into hopelessness and you find yourself pulling for the underdogs in life.

Kenny Rankin

Sliver Morning

“Killed a Cat”


Most of his music borders on total 70s folksy cheese, but this particular album elevates itself to cave-aged status in comparison to his others. “Killed a Cat” rules because it is such a nihilistic stab surrounded by lush fluff. The whole album is on some 70s Alan Alda trail of sensitivity and then Kenny Rankin decides to get real on us. “Killed a Cat” taps into some damaged Tim Buckley vein and Rankin starts proselytizing about the hopelessness of life in 70s New York City where faceless hooligans kill stray cats and the citizenry die a slow death of a thousand cuts as our protagonist reminisces about a time when he romanticized a city which now seems humdrum and doomed.

Shogun Kunitoki-Tasankokaiku

September 22, 2008

Shogun Kunitoki

Tasankokaiku (Fonal 2006)


To many, the sounds of buzzing drones, endless riffs and repetitive chords may appear to be little more that a masturbatory exercise. To me, these are ecstatic moments that put me into a mental space where music becomes something spiritual and magical. I love a well-crafted pop song, driving punk scuzz and elegant classical composition that inspire me to reach for a snifter of brandy. Well, that last reference was a bit fancy for my cruddy mitts, but it does actually happen on occasion. However, there are certain albums that whisk you off into a nodding daze where you can only focus on each progression even though you know the next step is much like the one taken just moments earlier. Terry Riley, Aphex Twin, Seefeel, Morton Feldman, Sleep and others occupy this mental suite, but another has wormed its way into my heart, rendering the others sloppy seconds in my noggin.

Shogun Kunitoki are the ones who have occupied this treasure space in my heart for over year. Drawing from the krautrock masters, Harmonia, Neu, Cluster and Kraftwerk while paying slight tribute to minimalist composers Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine. The band crafts interlapping waves of organ playing with sudden swooshes of psychedelic effects that are tempered by a restrained, but focused rhythms that bring it all back into your general orbit. Some psychedelic albums inspire mental sludge while others conjure lofty, ethereal moods, but Tasankokaiku makes my mind feel like a tangled army  of cheap Christmas lights set ablaze during the last moments before Santa Claus rockets down my chimney. If this was released 30 years ago, you would all revere their very name, but they are ours at this very moment and deserve your adulation. This is the sound of repetition at its most audacious and complex. The layers upon layers of organ provide moments not unlike those when you first heard your first krautrock album and wondered where in the holy hell this music has been your entire life.

Mantler – Sadisfaction

June 19, 2008


Sadisfaction (Tomlab 2002)


I’ve always felt that the German Tomlab label doesn’t get the attention it deserves. From the lush glitches of Tujiko Noriko and The Books to the ambient ear candy of Sack and Blumm and Rafael Toral, it boasts more hits than misses. However, the label’s best, yet criminally unheard album is by Canadian Chris Cummings otherwise known as Mantler. If this album was released in the 70s, collectors would hail him as an eccentric loner akin to Skip Spence’s Oar or John Phillips’ Wolf King of LA. Now, it is a few steps below those in quality, but Sadisfaction exists in its own idiosyncratic universe.

On the surface, Sadisfaction is a gloomy, plodding electronic pop album with lots of retro keyboards, but Cummings’ lyrics must document a personal breakdown of some sort. For example, “I’ve Been Destroyed” features a creepy slowed down loop of him singing “I’ve been destroyed and broken down” as he testifies about how he is a masochistic cliche for allowing others to get close to him. The opener “You Were Free” deals with the crushing sadness he feels as he wakes up alone and goes on tear himself up over his tendency to think instead of act. Yeah, it all sounds like a page torn from a teenage diary, but his robotic take on Kraftwerkian soul hearkens back to the the 70s psychedelic soul balladry and Fender Rhodes work on Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and Frederick Knight’s sadder tunes. However, it is much nerdier and asexual. I guess that is why he has been rejected so much that he has created an album like this. He even reminds me of a sane Gary Wilson on a few times. God, I maybe talking this album up too much because I can see how you may download this and be unimpressed and wonder why I ever described this as robotic soul. Me, I love every narcissistic, paranoid, insecure second.