Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ash Ra Tempel - Schwingungen (1972)


For fans of: Brainticket, Can, Pink Floyd

It's a far out psychedelic space rock epic. The first two tracks are really great jams not unlike those of Brainticket or Can, with longing vocals that don't make much sense and all kinds of heavy loose grooves gliding along. The second side is mostly a more mellow track, with spacey drawn-out guitar sketches and ending with a build of drums and bass. It's a really nice example of the more spaced-out side of progressive rock, created with as much energy as anything. - Matthew Foster

"Ash Ra Tempel's second album featured the first of several personnel changes, Klaus Schulze having departed for other realms and replaced as a result by Wolfgang Muller. A few guest players surfaced here and there as well, with one John L. taking the lead vocals -- another difference from the self-titled debut, which was entirely instrumental. The general principle of side-long efforts continued, though the first half was split into two related songs, "Light" and "Darkness." "Light" itself sounded halfway between the zoned-out exploration of "Traummaschine" and bluesy jamming, a weird if not totally discordant combination that still manages to sound more out there than most bands of the time. Gottsching's fried solo, in particular, is great, sending the rest of the song out to silence that leads into "Darkness." Said song initially takes a far more minimal approach that bears even more resemblance to "Traummaschine," fading out almost entirely by the third minute before a full band performance (including Uli Popp on bongos and Matthais Wehler's sudden alto sax bursts) slowly builds into a frenetic jam. John L.'s vocals become echoed screams and yelps not far off from Damo Suzuki's approach in Can, and the overall performance is a perfect slice of Krautrock insanity, sudden swirls of flanging and even more on-the-edge solos from Gottsching and Wehler sending it over the top. "Suche & Liebe" takes up the entire second side, the performers this time around concentrating on the quiet but unsettling approach, Gottsching's massive soloing kept low in the mix but not so much that it doesn't freak out listeners. The song concludes on an almost conventionally pretty band jam, something that could almost be Meddle-era Pink Floyd, only with even a more haunting, alien air thanks to the wordless vocal keening." - AMG

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual (2008)


For fans of: Animal Collective, Deerhoof, Hella

Listening to this is incredibly fun, and while the vocalist may not be the most "talented," the musicians are certainly adept, and the nonsense yelps and squeals are like the icing on the cake. It's full of complex rhythms and guitar breakdowns that make me think of bands like Hella or Battles, but it's the pure joy that they deliver that makes me want to come back for more. I could understand why this wouldn't be for everyone, but if you've got an adventurous spirit and don't mind a lack of song structure, this should be a treat to the ears, a candy-coated pineapple. - Matthew Foster

"The wild trill Molly Siegel lets loose at the beginning of "Beg Waves" lets listeners know that Ice Cream Spiritual! is unmistakably a Ponytail album, even if it's more neatly groomed than their debut was. Kamehameha introduced the band's highly concentrated, highly combustible noise-punk-pop in saturated outbursts; it sounded like someone threw a few mikes into the fray and then got out of the way of the band's blazing onslaughts. Ice Cream Spiritual! sounds much more produced and premeditated, and its songs are longer and maybe a touch more involved, but none of this halts Ponytail's sugar-buzz energy -- if anything, the album's clarity gives a better idea of just how big the band's sound can be than Kamehameha did. "Late for School"'s joyous guitar flurries and the noise-surf of "7 Souls" breeze by like lost songs from Ponytail's first album, but "G Shock" -- which features fancy fretwork that sounds like sped-up funk, massive drums, and Siegel's vocalizations (which sound a little like an avant-garde cheerleader cheering the rest of the band on to wilder and faster musical feats) -- swells up, explodes, and drifts away like a cloudburst. Ice Cream Spiritual!'s longer tracks push Ponytail closer to the expansive territory of bands like OOIOO, though Ponytail's music is still more rock-based. Once their songs pass the four-minute mark, their energy becomes hypnotic instead of spastic. "Celebrate the Body Electric" runs the spectrum of Ponytail's prettiest and noisiest sounds, but its shimmering guitars give it a desert rock trippiness; "Die Allman Bruder" channels, yes, the Allman Brothers via Sonic Youth and Deerhoof. At times, the album's extended jams get a bit wearing, but Ice Cream Spiritual! shows that Ponytail's music is still equal parts challenging, melodic, and fun." - AMG

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mostly Other People Do the Killing - The Coimbra Concert (2011)

Listen Part 1
Listen Part 2

For fans of: Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Zs

This is a wild ride. They make a lot of noise, with the four members constantly adding to the jumbled mess of grooves and spontaneous interjections, not leaving much room for any soloing. It's like a jazz jam band. Despite its overall lack of form, they manage to come together at times with passages of bebop that are surprisingly fun. The musicianship is great, and they skillfully traverse many different styles of jazz and improvisational music. It's definitely one of the best modern jazz albums I've heard. - Matthew Foster

"Mostly Other People Do the Killing is proud to release their new live double-album on Clean Feed records. The two discs, made up of material culled from a three night stint at the Jazz ao Centro Festival in Coimbra, provide an excellent perspective on the way this quartet performs live. Unlike the previous four studio albums, all on Hot Cup Records, MOPDtK's live performances vary between short renditions of bassist Moppa Elliott's compositions, and sweeping suites encompassing many compositions. This free-association style of performing has developed over the seven years that the quartet has been performing and recording together.
The four members, Peter Evans, Jon Irabagon, Moppa Elliott, and Kevin Shea, have developed a style of performance in which each member is free to steer the group in any way they choose. The other members may or may not follow suit, creating a type of group interplay that often pits the individuals against each other. Within any given performance, an individual may try to cue a new composition, a return to the original melody, or other structural device, only to be vetoed, creating music that often features multiple chains of association simultaneously. In addition, the members of MOPDtK are not afraid to lay out and allow each other ample solo space." - Clean Feed