This Week’s Listening – Early Krautrock, Proto Ambient, and Musique Concrete

Many discographies have been added to the Archive since the last post, so I’ll dive right in and highlight some of the more memorable recordings I’ve heard as of late.  I’ve been exploring my library of over 100 Nurse With Wound albums and singles, and especially enjoyed Shipwreck Radio Vol 1, which was recorded in Lofoten, Norway between June and July of 2004.

The opening track is a slow build of metallic clamor with a few melodic notes and minimal percussion which gradually become lost in the cloud of noise.  It’s beautifully rhythmic atonal music which I grooved along with for the full 15 minutes of the track.  Great stuff.

Next I finally added Jean Michael Jarre’s classic [1978] Equinoxe and [1976] Oxygene LPs to the digital side of my library.  I hadn’t played his albums in at least five years and it was wonderfully refreshing to hear them on my new Denon rosewood turntable, particularly as my Focal floor speakers perform better in the new, smaller space.  Deep sawtooth waves reverberated from my concrete walls and created a lovely bass pocket right in front of my velvet sectional.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I’m still building my Jean Jacques Perrey collection, which began with my acquisition of Perrey and Kingsley’s The In Sound From Way Out.  Moog Indigo is another classic I’m after, featuring the hit, “E.V.A.”  And Perrey recorded a musique concrete electronic album in 1963 – Musique Electronique du Cosmos which I’d love to pick up as well.

On to more modern recordings – I’ve loved the first two LPs by minimal drone artist, Black Swan since their release in 2010 and ’11.  Black Swan composes what are perhaps the finest modern classical works I’ve ever heard.  Quite sadly, the Wikipedia, allmusic, rateyourmusic, and discogs offer absolutely no information about the artist.  And the Black Swan official homepage presents little more than snapshots of their minimal but breathtaking album covers.

Fortunately, a user review from Discogs sums it up nicely:

The anonymity of this New York-based artist has an effect on the listening experience. The music is given the right to exist on its own, as if it had always existed. It stakes its claim in the mind, making the listener a collaborator in a seductive narrative-noire that travels through a hall of horrors and memories, an escort to a final resting place. One might encounter spirit animals, forgotten lovers, faceless apparitions, leviathan rifts, or a cozy blanket of stars. It is easy to become comfortable in the soothing darkness, and when it seems like eternity has arrived, Black Swan pulls the plug.

And so I was absolutely floored when the artist posted a first-ever listen to a pre-Black Swan double album they, (he? she?) produced all the way back in 2001.  The previously-unreleased album is called Alone Again With the Dawn Coming Up: A Tribute to the KLF.

It took a moment for the sheer awesomeness to fire across my synapses.

BLACK SWAN… POSTED A 12-YEAR OLD TRIBUTE RECORD… TO THE KLF.

In its entirety.  For free.  Complete with album art (a la Chill Out.)

Once you’ve scooped your cerebral matter off the back wall of your room, head over to swanplague.com/ and download it NOW before it disappears.

AloneAgainWithTheDawnComingUp_WEB

The moment Black Swan decides to release this gem on vinyl, I plan to hire a private detective, discover the true identity of the band, drive to their house in NYC and order a copy in person.

It’s that good.

And the Chill Out tribute serves as a perfect segue into our next featured rare recording – The KLF Recovered & Remastered EP -4.

“Oh,” you say, casually.  “You mean the [2012] 6 EP limited edition set of the KLF Recovered & Remastered which you featured in your previous post?”

It’s actually one mark better than that – as this is from the new series-in-progress of “MINUS” releases.  The first came out in August of 2012 – KLF MINUS-ONE featuring four new mixes of “It’s Grim Up North.”  You can order it here.

The latest disc in the series is [2013] MINUS-FOUR (The KLF Remix Project Part III).  Watch this link for copies to surface.

I’m through the first three tracks at the time of this posting and have loved every second of it.  Just as with KLF 006 RE (Live From the Lost Continent), this is a disc that requires that you:

1. Turn off all the lights
2. Put on you finest circumaural studio monitors
and
3. Turn it up to eleven.

Cheers to Mr. Ward for your magnificent work keeping the KLF alive into the new millennium.

The next minimal techno masterpiece to land on my doorstep was Pantha Du Prince’s
[2007] This Bliss [DIAL LP09].  Have a listen to “Walden 2.”

And just a few days later – Aphex Twin’s legendary [1994] Selected Ambient Works Vol.2 (2012 3LP reissue) was waiting for me when I got home from work!  Here is “Blue Calx.”

Other ambient space music treasures of the week include Tangerine Dream’s [1985] In the Beginning 6LP Box Set (COMP), which includes:

[1970] Electronic Meditation
[1971] Alpha Centauri
[1972] Zeit
[1973] Atem
[1973] Green Desert (Released 1986)

This is, by far the most affordable way to pick up all the early (pre-sequencer) Tangerine Dream  for under $75.

699255

And finally, I must highlight a few early krautrock records which approach Berlin School space music territory.

The first is Cosmic Jokers’ [1973] jam session – The Cosmic Jokers.  This is the krautrock super-group that never was, and an album that never should have been.  Thankfully, it was captured to tape and commercially released, so track this baby down and order a copy!

The next gem is Popol Vuh’s [1972] Hosianna Mantra – the most spiritual German ambient album ever conceived.  I’ll let the album speak for itself.

Also featured this week is Mr. Klaus Schulze.  Schulze worked on the first Tangerine Dream record and the first Popol Vuh LP before setting off on his own legendary solo career.

My favorite album from his extensive discography is his first record – the proto-ambient/proto-drone, Irrlicht from 1972.

I’ve also picked up [2000] The Ultimate Edition 50 CD Box Set and will report my findings once I’ve put a considerable dent into the collection.

And finally, after hearing what is quite possibly the greatest Kraftwerk live concert of all time (K9 Radio Bremen, Germany 1971), I was astounded to find the limited-edition Russian clear double LP in a record shop ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY APARTMENT this afternoon.  Here’s the full show, and remember – this is Kraftwerk before synthesizers and sequencers became their trademarked sound.

That’s This Week’s Listening!  And as always, I welcome my readers’ own recommendations for similar recordings.

Thank you.

Top 10 Drone Albums

After the positive response I received to yesterday’s ambient/ethereal post, I’ve decided to share my top 10 drone records, complete with links to the media so that you can preview (most of them) in their entirety before you order.  So here they are…*

My All-Time Favorite Drone Top 10:

Gas (Wolfgang Voigt) – Nah Und Fern (4 CD set of Gas, Zauberberg, Königsforst and Pop)

Disc 1: Gas

Disc 2: Zauberberg (album playlist)

Disc 3: Königsforst (album playlist)

Disc 4: Pop

Black Swan – The Quiet Divide

Black Swan – In 8 Movements

Alvin Lucier – Music on a Long Thin Wire

William Basinski – Disintegration Loops

La Monte Young – Dream House

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath 1972

Brian Eno – January 07003 Bell Studies For the Clock of the Long Now

Robert Rich – Somnium – the greatest sleep concert you will ever hear (7 hr DVD)

And finally,

Sound And Silence: ‘Remembering Sept. 11th At The Temple Of Dendur (feat. The Wordless Music Orchestra’s premiere live performance of Basinski’s Disintegration Loops.)

Download the complete concert from NPR here.

I would love to see your own drone top 10 lists.  Please feel free to share!

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* DISCLAIMER: The Innerspace Connection does not own the rights to any of the media content in this post, nor do we receive any financial benefit directly attributable to said media.  At the request of the copyright holder we will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the infringing material.

First 25 LPs at the New Lair

Greetings friends!  It’s been a crazy month but I’m finally moved into my new Lair (which you can check out here).  I apologize for neglecting the blog but I’m back with the last 25 LPs I’ve picked up.

One of the first people I met at the new apartments is close personal friends with Mark Burgess of the Chameleons, and we went out to the first goth night at a club in town.  She turned me on to proto-industrial, post punk and minimal wave music and so I assembled a collection of 319 essential albums from artists like Cabaret Voltaire, the Chameleons, Einstürzende Neubauten, Fad Gadget, Muslimgauze, the Residents, Solid Space, Suicide, Television, The Normal, Throbbing Gristle and others.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon two NM Chameleons singles at a flea market two days later!

Chameleons, The - As High As You Can Go

Chameleons, The - Singing Rule Britannia (While The Walls Close In)

Just before the move, I found a little hole-in-the-wall used record shop which had sprung up in town.  I was delighted to find a few LPs I’d had on my list for some time, and I traded a small pile of duplicates and got them all free!

Hugo Montenegro - A Fistful of Dollars
I have his Moog LP and this was a wonderful addition to my library.

St.-Elmos-Fire
St. Elmo’s Fire – filed beside my copy of The Breakfast Club Soundtrack

Best of BBC Themes
Best of BBC Themes 2LP (feat. the original Doctor Who Theme)

Jimmy Castor Bunch - Supersound
Jimmy Castor Bunch – Supersound.  Funky!

Jimmy Castor Bunch - Butt of Course
But THIS was the Castor EP I’d been after!  “The Bertha Butt Boogie!”

The next two record stores I visited each had a few Miles Davis LPs I had been looking for, and I picked up each for no more than $4 apiece.  I am trying to assemble the complete Columbia recordings on vinyl.

Miles Davis - Round About Midnight

Miles Davis Sextet - Jazz at the Plaza

Miles Davis - Porgy and Bess (6 eye)
The week of the move I visited my old home town to pick up my items from storage and happened upon still another new record shop.  I was blown away to find a mint original press of Portishead – Portishead, Tom Waits’ Big Time (one of the few discs I was missing), and, believe it or not, The Black Rider!

Portishead - Portishead

This is an absolutely essential Trip Hop / Downtempo disc of the 90s and was a proud addition  to my collection.

Here’s the biggest hit from the album, “Only You” performed live in NYC.

Tom Waits - Big Time

I don’t know how I’d gone this long without ordering a copy of Big Time.  What a great disc!

I had to pass on the copy of The Black Rider, however as it was stickered at $100 and I needed to pay for the U-Haul that day.  Next time, Gadget.  Next time.

I received a few Discogs alerts for classic singles I’d always wanted from Underworld (I have over 250 of their releases between vinyl, CD and FLAC.)  Not passing up another opportunity I grabbed them both.

The first to arrive was the limited white vinyl edition of “Rez”/”Cowgirl”, two of their best-known songs.  This copy was still in its original shrink.

Rez Cowgirl

Here is the best-ever live performance of the two tracks, from the Everything Everything Live DVD.

But the real treasure came two days ago – an original first pressing of JBO29 – the first single featuring “Born Slippy.nuxx”.

Born Slippy Nuxx jbo29

If the title of this floor-stomping anthem isn’t familiar, you might know it better as “that song from Trainspotting.”

Next I visited my favorite antique market and didn’t hesitate when I found Steve Reich’s Desert Music.  I have a huge thing for 20th century minimalism and the next box set I buy will be Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach.

Steve Reich - Desert Music

I did make it to a record show just before the move and didn’t get a chance to post the one item from my list which I was able to find.  I’ve been on a HUGE experimental German music kick and felt like a kid at Christmas when I found Amon Düül II’s Phallus Dei on vinyl.

Amon Duul II - Phallus Dei
File under “creepy German psych shit.”

Also in the mail last week was a milestone recording – Nick Drake’s Pink Moon.  I had recently purchased a mint pressing from the late 2000s but flipped it for cash to order this elusive pink wax pressing as soon as I saw it post to discogs.

Nick Drake - Pink Moon

Speaking of colored vinyl I also sold off my mint sealed Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space 2LP and quickly snatched up a copy of the same album on blue vinyl, a Record Store Day release from 2010.

Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen (Blue Vinyl RSD 2010)

This is my all-time favorite shoegaze record.  There is also a fantastic 3CD expanded edition which I highly recommend.

In my recent travels I’ve also been looking for Ken Nordine’s Colors and Word Jazz LPs.  So far I’ve only found Son of Word Jazz, but rest assured, I will find the others.

Ken Nordine - Son of Word Jazz
The interest in Ken Nordine was rekindled when I heard his guest vocals on DJ Food’s Kaleidoscope, an early release on Ninja Tune which I couldn’t resist ordering.

DJ Food - Kaleidoscope
Here’s the track feat. Ken Nordine – “Aging Young Rebel.”

Still on the Ninja Tune kick I ordered an original pressing of Cinematic Orchestra’s Remixes LP as well as the pressed-to-order reissue of their greatest album – Motion.

Cinematic Orchestra - Remixes

Cinematic Orchestra - Motion

And finally, I received another discogs alert when a seller posted the first two limited edition mint Black Swan drone music LPs for a total of only $15 including shipping!  The first, In 8 Movements was limited to 300 copies worldwide, and the second (my favorite) – The Quiet Divide was pressed on red vinyl and limited to 100 copies.  What a steal!

If you’re into drone this is some killer music.

Black Swan - In 8 Movements

Black Swan - The Quiet Divide (ltd ed red vinyl 100 copies)

Special thanks to The_Dig for kicking me in the butt to get blogging again.  So sorry I’ve been gone so long, but thanks for sticking with me!

It’s good to be back.