August 31, 2015

Ken Boothe - Everything I Own, 1974


Chills. This album strikes me right to the core. Everything I Own proves to the world that Ken Boothe is obviously the ultimate lovers rocker. Keeping it incredibly real in the grooviest way, the work centers on themes of separation and divorce. The album also has a political message with anthemic songs like "Time Passage" and "Impossible Dream," but all songs seem to cry out in funky protest. Vibe-wise, it has a cool, dark, soulful feel that can be likened to contemporaries like War and Richie Havens, with a judicious amount of synth swooshes. This particular version was released by Trojan for the UK and Germany, but I would recommend seeking out other versions which contain classics like "Is It Because I'm Black" and the cover of Bob Marley's "African Lady." In any case, it doesn't get any better than this Jamaican crooner classic!

August 27, 2015

Vinicius Cantuária - Sol Na Cara, 1996

Wow! A favorite from the legendary Vinicius Cantuária. Sol Na Cara happened a few years after he moved from Rio to New York, and with it he helped usher in a slick new breed of electronically tinged "post-bossa." Unlike so many of its less elegant peers, Sol Na Cara is subtle, sinuous, and never falls victim to the desperation of two-dimensional Starbucks flab. Even when Cantuária flirts with kitsch, as in the synth-squiggled title track, he's too much of an aesthete to let his collaborators lead him astray from beauty. Oh, and about those collaborators: arranged by Ryuichi Sakamoto, co-produced by Arto Lindsay, who mixed it at Kampo Cultural Centre, a studio owned by a Japanese master of calligraphy; with songs co-written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, and Chico Buarque, in addition to Sakamoto, Lindsay, and Cantuária himself, this is a dream team lineup, but the numbers don't cloud Cantuária's singularly beautiful vision. Lazy late summer perfection.

August 20, 2015

Yas-Kaz - Jomon-Sho, 1984

Peaceful and idyllic new age album by Japanese composer and student of gamelan music, Yas-Kaz. Yas-Kaz rose to musical prominence composing for the dance troupe led by one of the founders of Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata. The album features a wide range of entirely acoustic instruments and field recordings and was made for stage performance by Sankai Juku Butoh Group at Theatre de la Ville, Paris. FANTASTIC.

August 18, 2015

Bill Nelson - Getting The Holy Ghost Across, 1986

Bill Nelson's body of work is daunting, to say the least. In addition to his 139 releases, his work as a founding member of the legendary Be Bop Deluxe, collaborations with David Sylvian, Harold Budd, Masami Tsuchiya, and many others, his name is constantly popping up in liner notes and album credits. Over the course of 44 years, he's made a name for himself as one of the UK's most singular and prolific musicians. Picking an album of his to share was tough, especially since I haven't spent time with most of them.

Getting the Holy Ghost Across has a confusing history: it was released in the UK on several different formats with many different track listings ranging from 10 to 18 tracks. Its subsequent US release was clouded by concern over "occult symbolism," so the title was changed to On A Blue Wing, the album cover was changed, and a good deal of the music was cut altogether. (These fears weren't completely unfounded, as Nelson had a longstanding interest in Occultism and Gnosticism.) That being said, Getting the Holy Ghost Across (posted here with the track listing from the original cassette release) isn't all that esoteric: a lot of it is terribly catchy jangling new wave, replete with towering synth hooks and restless, occasionally tropical percussion. Vocally, Nelson is up there with Andy McCluskey, Dave Gahan, Tears For Fears, and Other Famous British Guys, which is to say, many of these tracks coulda woulda shoulda been radio hits. Flanked by gorgeous ambient tracks like "Suvasini" and "Pansophia," Bill Nelson wants you to remember that he's still a weirdo genius, and that even though you'll be too busy bobbing your heads to think about the lyrical content, this is still a theological concept record. No complaints here!

August 14, 2015

Seaside Lovers - Memories In Beach House, 1983

Today is a celebration of internet access to amazing things. This one-off collaboration of chiller-musical-god Hiroshi Sato and the relatively unknowns Akira Inoue and Masataka Matsutoya -- appropriately called "Seaside Lovers" -- is some of the most succulent fruit of this access. It's a trophy of Youtube's intercontinental ubiquity, and these three musicians are pressing all the right beachy chilltime buttons in all the right ways. Soothing flute, funky bass riffs, and sweeping synths, all saturated in reverb.

On the flip side, this is one of the rare times where we'll post an album with a few questionable tracks. The majority of the album is ridiculously listenable, especially the new age/funky soul/smooth jazz tracks, but there are 2 or 3 that require a very specific mood. If you are a jazz fusion fan, though, you will be PSYCHED. Plus, just look at this album cover! Below is their most famous track, but download to hear so much more...

August 11, 2015

Bob Chance - It's Broken!, 1980

Like no other. Scuzzed out leftfield basement oddity. DJ Shadow famously called this "hairy forearm disco," and while I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the album cover, it definitely fits the warped, wonderful, pervy weirdness that Jonny Trunk calls "walking a strange line between the asylum and the dance floor." Ranging from the relentless, ten minute long title track of gnarly, psych-streaked lo-fi disco, to my favorite "I See Her," which could easily pass for a forgotten Pet Sounds demo, to the closing five minutes of meandering slo-mo-funk and bird screech on "Jungle Talk," this record has earned its cult following. Apparently this was a favorite of Doctor Demento. Big ups to the excellent Trunk Records for making this heavily sought-after record available to the masses.

August 6, 2015

Daniel Kobialka - Cosmic Ecstasy, 1981

Don't be fooled by a 1981 new age tape called Cosmic Ecstasy: this is not the swirly synthesizer arpeggiation that you might expect. In fact, these compositions by violinist and Brian Eno collaborator Daniel Kobialka are decidedly synth-free, instead centering on violin, harp, bells, and flute meanderings. So subtle and incredibly gorgeous, you could listen to this on repeat for hours without noticing. Enjoy!

download was removed at artist's request

August 3, 2015

Womack & Womack - Love Wars, 1983

I know Love Wars isn't news to many. Linda and Cecil Womack were soul royalty--Linda is Sam Cooke's daughter and has been an established song writer since she was 11; Cecil was a member of The Valentinos, a protégé of Sam Cooke, and former husband to Motown legend Mary Wells. Linda and Cecil met as children and together their families constructed one of the most confusing family trees of all time, full of death, cheating, scandal, and intermarriage. They were married in the late late 70s after the dissolution of Cecil's marriage to Mary Wells, probably because of her extramarital affair with his brother Bobby.

By the time they put out their debut record as Womack and Womack, Linda and Cecil were seasoned musicians, and bravely turned their own marriage and turbulent family histories into the subject matter of an album that looks unflinchingly at the more painful aspects of relationships. Fittingly, Love Wars is a family affair: Linda and Cecil co-wrote all the songs (with the exception of a cover of The Rolling Stones's "Angie"), with additional co-writing cameos from both of Cecil's parents and his brother, Curtis. As the title suggests, the music is full of paradoxes: sunny, funk-flecked songs that belie their subject matter and their shrewd lyrics, which, as critics have been quick to note, are most incisive when they're dealing with pain and loss rather than with love and happiness. They approach their emotions with effortless, raw musicianship, and you can hear how much fun they had doing it--music-making was clearly family counseling for the Womack clan. Standouts include the foot-stomping, gospel-tinged opener, "Love Wars," the sinuous, relentlessly grooving "Baby I'm Scared Of You," and a hushed, heart-wrenching take on "Love T.K.O.," a song they wrote for David Oliver that was made famous by Teddy PendergrassBy the time they arrive at rhe closer, "Good Times," we can't help but suspect that Linda is singing wistfully about good times that were probably not as good as she might have us believe, but that she's still missing them just the same.