Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Julian Piper

I should like to repost below a short piece on Julian Piper who has, sadly, recently passed.

The compliments and thanks paid in that paragraph speak to the tribute I want to repeat here now, and I can only add that I know I had the opportunity and pleasure to see many great musicians in the South West only because of his efforts to bring them here.

That he played with so many himself, at the local gigs arranged or elsewhere in his impressive personal musical career, is testament to his love of music and the respect with which he was held by so many.

He was first and foremost a family man, but his blues playing - and a lifetime of such - is in itself a part of a significant legacy he leaves behind.

Here is the paragraph originally posted as part of a fuller review in October, 2015:

Special mention should go to Julian Piper who organised this gig, as he did when Chris last played locally. A great blues player himself, Julian has an impressive resume as musician and founder of the band Junkyard Angels, as well as guesting with many famous guitarists on stage and on record, but as local impresario he has over so many years brought amazing artists to the Southwest, and last night's was one of many performance feathers in a fellow musician's empathetic hat. Music events like this, and the pleasure it brings to many as well as the introduction to those who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity, is quite brilliant. Thank you.

To read that again in its original context, you will find it here.

My thoughts continue to be with his family and close friends, especially fellow musicians.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Eye Music 46

Iggy Pop - Free, album review

Seemingly Seamless

In many ways I don’t want to listen to this again – but of course I will because it is so compelling – but what I mean is that on a first listen it evokes as a whole, the individual tracks melding into one another as some seamless jazz/ambient and spoken word narrative, melody and meaning moving onwards as one with bursts that make it a varying but not [on the single first listen] disparate loop of sound. There are echoes too of Bowie’s final album Blackstar and it isn’t easy to pin that on any melodic links [but Sonali seems to replicate rhythmic beats from that album], though there must be, or if it is more a sense of a knowing storyline, or most likely it is in the resonant ‘echoed’ vocal of Iggy’s singing that lays down such a palpable gravitas in its very presence. Leron Thomas’ trumpet playing provides the obvious jazzier influences, but it is also the perfect complement to the overall mood in its sudden beautiful patternings. That James Bond sounds like a Franz Ferdinand song is probably the one obvious break from a continuous line, and Dirty Sanchez has Thomas laying out some classic Mexican-sounding horn loops with Iggy in strident voice [you see what happened: I have listened that second time since beginning this brief review…]. And because of this second hearing, I have to now comment on Page which is a crooner’s paradise of a song – we’re only human, no longer human never sounding so paradoxically more human than in the vibrating baritone of Iggy with Thomas caressing it in the jazz lounge of its performance. We Are the People is a Lou Reed poem narrated in front of Thomas’ background horn lament, and this is followed by another glorious amalgam of horn and Iggy’s narration of Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

We are the people without land. We are the people without tradition. We are the people who do not know how to die peacefully and at ease. We are the thoughts of sorrows. Endings of tomorrows. We are the wisps of rulers and the jokers of kings.

We are the people without right. We are the people who have known only lies and desperation. We are the people without a country, a voice or a mirror. We are the crystal gaze returned through the density and immensity of a berserk nation. We are the victims of the untold manifesto of the lack of depth of full and heavy emptiness.

We are the people without sorrow who have moved beyond national pride and indifference to a parody of instinct. We are the people who are desperate beyond emotion because it defies thought. We are the people who conceive our destruction and carry it out lawfully. We are the insects of someone else’s thought. A casualty of daytime, nighttime, space and god without race, nationality or religion. We are the people. The people. The people. 

 -  Lou Reed

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Kalle Kalima & Knut Reiersrud - Flying Like Eagles, album review

Morning Delight

There is the melodic and there is the wild and two guitars with fine players that lay in the lush lawns or set the fields on fire. There are three classic songs – For What it’s Worth, Hotel California, Hurt – providing touchstones to the familiar. The band is rooted to strong rhythms by exemplary bass and drums. I’m waking up to these wonderful tracks this morning, so pleased for the bright insights on an otherwise grey day. The band are: Kalle Kalima, electric guitar; Knut Reiersrud, resonator, electric & lap steel guitar, harmonica; Phil Donkin, bass; Jim Black, drums.

I have no doubt this will also become a nighttime reverie. Every track is an embrace of excellence. 

Eye Music 45

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Black Wizards - Reflections, album review

Adoring Generic Accolade

This is a wonderful, wonderfully generic psyche-rock album with fulsome female vocals from Joana Brito who sings elegantly on spacy songs like Starlight and vibrantly on the spaced-out heavy rock of opener Imposing Sun.

A Portuguese fuzzadelic / psychedelic rock band with other wizard-honed members Paulo Ferreira, João Lugatte, João Mendes, this fine foursome demonstrates there are no geographical boundaries to the acquisition of the ‘generic’ as I have outlined it so positively in my previous posting on Dead Feathers, though these two bands are quite distinctive and thus prove, as well, how the generic is not narrowly defining.

The wah-wah propelled psychedelia of appropriately psyche-titled Symphony of the Ironic Sympathy is a perfect example of this band’s distinctive trajectory along the precursor line of such far-out music and musicianship. This is a great track, and Brito excels in a musical diatribe of exalted passion on the song’s close. That this is followed by a gorgeous blues-riffed [a la Free's Moonshine] wah-wah in Soul Keeper is bliss to these generic-adoring ears.

Get it here.

No Face Music 29

Friday, 30 August 2019

Dead Feathers - All is Lost, album review

Generic Accolade

When I say ‘generic’ I do not do so disparagingly: I recently wrote about the ‘pleasingly generic’ songwriting of Baby Rose because her music is R&B and thus its generic R&B sound is tin-written; therefore, in stressing how the psychedelic rock of Dead Feathers is heavily generic I am endorsing it, the adjectival qualifier, as with my other example, the obvious signpost, albeit here also a pun.

So the wah-wah and pounding bass and thundering drums and riffs from this fine band on this fine album come as expected and wholly welcome: there are many such bands these days presenting this generic retro-rock, psychedelic-wise in this case, and that too is all good to these ears. And before writing this review I have read a few others – essentially looking for images to appropriate, as they have – and these too cite the generic qualities, though tending to do so with precise references to precursor sounds, as I often do, and a regular I have noted is Black Sabbath – a consistent forerunner to mention when writing about any of this kind of music –  and also, in at least one, Fairport Convention, which is odd to me on the one hand, but not on the other because when first listening to opening track At the Edge [and I don’t think it is the word ‘Edge’ that has prompted this touchstone citation] I immediately thought of the vocal of Sandy Denny. In the band’s centrepiece of Marissa Allen, Dead Feathers have a singer of beautiful clarity as well as the rock-power to compare with any of the best you can think of and might want to mention, another review actually naming Grace Slick which I wouldn’t argue against.

I know – just felt like writing a little more than cutting to the chase of how this album’s exceptional quality is the vocal of Marissa Allen. That the rest of Dead Feather’s Chicago rockers play a powerfully generic support and platform for this potent voice is, however, firmly celebrated by the other function of that long preamble in making it clear what I mean by ‘generic’.