Paul Horn – Inside The Great Pyramid, 1976

I’ve been hesitant to share this record because I can’t tell if everyone already knows it—it seems a bit dadcore, and I think it sold a bajillion copies—but it’s something I keep reaching for when fall turns to winter, so maybe y’all will enjoy it. I mentioned Paul Horn in my post about Pauline Oliveros the other week, and have been appreciating it even more in light of her recent passing.

Paul Horn was a legendary jazz flautist, saxophonist, and composer, and considered to be a new age pioneer. Inside The Great Pyramid was part of his “inside” series, in which he recorded site-specific music in places of spiritual significance, oftentimes making him the first person to record music in those locations. In addition to sneaking a tape recorder into the Taj Mahal, he was the first westerner to be granted permission to perform in the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, considered to be the spiritual nexus of Tibetan Buddhism. This was the first recording made in the Great Pyramid of Giza, and I think that most or all of it was recorded in the King’s Chamber right at the heart of the pyramid. The story goes that Paul began by hitting the large granite sarcophagus in the center of the room with the flat of his hand, which emits a resonant tone of 438Hz, slightly lower than an A. (You can hear this in the opening track previewed below.) Horn tuned his flute to that and improvised from there.

As you might expect, the natural reverb and room tone is arguably the most interesting part of the record. Horn is an incredible flautist, and he vocalizes a bit too, but the weight and air of the pyramid steal though show, especially given that the pyramid’s strong resonance was a deliberate feature of its architecture.

Joel Andrews – The Violet Flame, 1976

As far as new age sound-healing records go, this is pretty pared down. No chanting, no reverb, no swirling synth arpeggiations–no synth at all, actually. Just harp and tape crackle. Feels more neo-classical than new age, but no complaints here: this is sprawling and warm, and to me always sounds like gold threads. Surprisingly multipurpose: works just as well by a fireplace as at a picnic, and I once had a really great day at the Cloisters with this. Note: this tape rip is very staticky. No word on whether the sound on the custom CD available from Andrews’s website is better; let me know if you buy it.

Susan Cadogan – Susan Cadogan, 1976

An unusually romantic record from master Lee “Scratch” Perry. Sunny, sensual vocal layering from Susan Cadogan, whose voice I can’t get enough of. Perfectly gritty reverb. Apparently this didn’t attract much attention in Jamaica at the time of its release but it did well overseas, especially in the UK. I can’t really think of anyone who wouldn’t love this. Thank you Isabel for the tip!

Note that there are a couple small glitches in this copy–this is the highest quality I could find. Enjoy!

Henri Texier – Amir, 1976

The debut album from French jazz double bassist Henri Texier, who has worked with Don Cherry, Bud Powell, Donald Byrd, Chet Baker, and Total Issue, and co-founded the Transatlantik Quartet and European Rhythm Machine. Amir is spare and stark, vibrating and volatile with unrealized possibility, slightly sinister and about to burst at the seams. Long stretches of double bass drone, lyricless vocal chants (Texier’s voice sounds an awful lot like a string instrument), and a few brief forays into free-jazz, moments at which the record threatens to break apart. Texier on double bass, viola, oud, flute, percussion, piano, and vocals. Unsettling dinner-eating music.

[RIP Dieter Moebius] Cluster – Sowiesoso, 1976

This is in honor of the life of the German musician Dieter Moebius, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71. He was most famous for co-founding Cluster and Harmonia, and for his longtime collaboration with Connie Plank.

Sowiesoso (“always the same”) is Cluster’s fourth full-length, recorded over a period of just two days in Forst, Germany, and mixed in Connie Plank’s studio. Compared to their other albums, Sowiesoso is gentler and more melodic, alternately wading through a dense jungle inhabited by robotic synth-chirp birds and picnicking in the countryside. It’s shimmering, warm, and surprisingly nostalgic, as far as Cluster goes, with track titles that translate to “For Eternity,” “The Wanderer” (fretless bass!), and “Once Upon A Time.” Outlier “Halwa,” replete with middle Eastern kitsch, is a reminder that Cluster still deals in the scronky sense of humor innate to so many krautrockers. Closer “In Ewigkeit” (“For Eternity”) is an opiated smoke drift, ghostly and sensual, a soundtrack to leaving the party at five am wide awake but with heavy eyelids.

Safe travels, Moebius, and thank you for everything!

Selda Bagcan – Selda, 1976

Selda Bağcan got real big in the 70s as one of Turkey’s most well-known politically-minded musicians, and from what I understand, became somewhat of a household name. Her sound was a progressive wash of psychedelic guitar funk and angular synth heat, applied liberally to Turkish folk songs as scorching backdrops for her emotive, razor-sharp vocals and political critiques. Unsurprisingly, she was thrown in jail three times and was stripped of her passport, but was eventually freed and went on to tour extensively. She resurfaced again in 2006, when Finders Keepers reissued her self-titled LP with some previously unreleased tracks. That’s when I first heard this record–my sister gave it to me, and it just about blew my 16-year-old brain open, since I didn’t have much of a grasp on the roots of psychedelic music, or what Turkey was. This record is a classic for many, so I hope this serves as a friendly reminder that it’s still bubbling hot (with the exception of string-infused weeper ballad “Dam Üstüne Çulserer,” flecked with fountain sounds and spiny percussives, which is more of a slow-burner). Note: I’m posting the original album, without the rerelease tracks and with the songs in a different order. It sounds better than ever, almost 40 years later. Enjoy!

Michael Hoenig & Manuel Göttsching – Early Water, 1976

Guest post by Collin Crowe

Unearthed from their studio is a tape reel of perhaps the greatest jam of all time by Michael Hoenig and Manuel Göttsching. Highly recommended visual and meditative 48 minute improv by the cosmic masters. Take a dip and enjoy!