Andreolina – An Island In The Moon, 1990

Sublime collaboration between Silvio Linardi (who’s collaborated with David Sylvian, Hector Zazou, Roger Eno, and others) and Pier Luigi Andreoni (whom you may know from The Doubling Riders). Ricardo Sinigaglia makes a few appearances too, first on piano and then on an Akai S 900. This was their only release as Andreolina.

Sprawling, weightless instrumentals that never stay soporific for too long. You can hear Andreoni’s classical training in much of this, and not just because of how much oboe there is, but structurally too. The name of the album comes from an unfinished piece of William Blake prose, and some of the song titles are Blake references as well–so while it might be power of suggestion, there seem to be tinges of romanticism dotted throughout, whereas other moments veer off into jazz. Lots to love here for Elicoide fans.

As an aside, this was released on ADN, the same label responsible for Tasaday’s L’Eterna Risata and the aforementioned Sinigaglia record. Depending on who you ask, ADN can stand for A Dull Note, L’amore del Nipote, or Agnostic Dumplings Nursery.

download

Don Cherry & Latif Khan – Music/Sangam, 1978

Another Don Cherry collision with terrific results. Originally recorded in Paris in 1978, this only had a 1000-copy run in France and, despite being considered one of Cherry’s strongest works by die-hard fans, was mostly forgotten until its reissue in 2009. I think this is one of the earlier works of Indo-jazz fusion ever, and it’s arguably one of the more successful–while Cherry had a propensity towards cultural dabbling, he avoided many of the pitfalls of “world music” aesthetic through his commitment to musicianship, collaboration, and sensitivity. Also, he sings a bit!

Ustad Ahmed Latif Khan was a tabla virtuoso, avid composer, and member of the Delhi Gharana. He also had perfect pitch and used it to great advantage, tuning his daya (right drum of the tabla) to the same pitch as his baya (left drum of the tabla)–typically the baya is between a fifth and an octave below the daya, but Khan’s tuning allowed for an unusually deep, full tone of the bass notes. He stood out both for this tonal precision and because of his taste for irregular and extremely syncopated rhythms. From the liner notes:

“Sangam” means “meeting place” in Sanskrit. Don obviously knew exactly what he wanted to do, and Latif immediately understood, his fingers fizzing across the tablas at frightening speed, his perfect pitch making him the obvious person to tune the disparate instruments in Don’s armoury to those in the studio, which included a grand piano, a B3 Hammond organ and chromatic timpani.

 It was Don who suggested that Latif overdub new tabla parts to enrich and add complexity to the first takes. We could reasonably have expected to spend the night doing this because this was the first time the percussionist had done this. It took him all of five minutes to get used to listening to the first tracks over the headphones before playing them without the slightest mistake. When we got to the timpani, which he was playing for the first time, his keen sense of pitch and tone once again did miracles. During one take, just for the fun of it Latif started to play a fairly slow, disconnected duple time, moving on to three and then four… all the way up to 19 by which time his fingers were whizzing invisibly across the skins, leaving us in awe and him looking as if he didn’t know what the fuss was all about. All this just made Don even keener to impress his musical companion for a day… and so he did, with great ease and a complicity created by their shared love of music.

Of course, the subtleties of this album call for greater analysis, for example the meeting between the Malian doussou n’gouni and Indian tablas, the Hammond organ taking over from the tampura, 5 1/4 time as if it were the easiest thing in the world, the reinvented Indonesian gamelan… and the lyricism of the (pocket!) cornet.

Steve Tibbetts – Big Map Idea, 1989

An ECM favorite. Moody, pensive fourth world guitar (dobro?) ramblings, with tabla, kalimba, cello, pianolin, cello, and a slew of percussives by Tibbetts’s long-time collaborator Marc Anderson. Steel drums have never sounded so chilly! In spite of Tibbetts’s propensity for eastern instruments and modalities (and even for direct sampling, as in the field recordings of Nepalese chanting in the last three tracks), this record has always felt inescapably Appalachian to me. (Spoiler alert: the opener is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Mountain Side.”)

Ustad Ghulam Ali & Asha Bhosle – Meraj-e-Ghazal, 1983

It would be totally nuts to suggest that I’m sufficiently well-versed in Asha Bhosle’s catalogue to argue that any one record is her best, since she’s the most recorded musician of all time and has performed over 12,000 songs. I’m not even sure how this one wound up in my hands, as it doesn’t seem to be online or in print anywhere. I stumbled across it in my library by accident a few weeks ago and have been stuck on it ever since. There’s not much that can be said about Asha Bhosle’s voice that hasn’t already been said–it’s weightless, luminous, and radiates joy like nobody else’s. Additional vocals by the esteemed Ghulam Ali on four tracks. Ideal spring soundtrack.

Monsoon – Third Eye, 1983

Featuring the voice of world-pop-fusion queen Sheila Chandra, Third Eye was released a couple of years before the launch of her solo career. As in her later work, production is certainly slick, but Third Eye has an inspired raw, youthful quality and an impressive array of world, experimental, and rock-oriented instrumentation. Sitar, tabla, ghatam, shine, ektare, swarmandel timbali, gong, cowbell, roto toms, tom-toms, wasp, tambourine, cabasa, fire extinguisher, electric guitar, hurdy-gurdy, mandolin, santoor, flute, synth, piano, celestia, a gamelan ensemble…to name a few. Even Bill Nelson shows up on his EBow guitar in the cover of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Music video for the hit “Ever So Lonely” below!

buy / download