Manhattan Research Inc: The Magic of Raymond Scott

 

Tonight’s magical listening comes following a heartwarming post by The Bob Moog Foundation and The Raymond Scott Archives. The Archives had recently published a recording of Bob Moog talking about his time with Raymond Scott in the 1950’s when Bob was barely 20 years old. Scott was one of the first musician clients that Bob had direct exposure to, and the experiences with Scott marked Bob’s early thinking about the expansiveness of the musical universe.

It inspired me to pull my copy of the Manhattan Research Inc 3LP set issued by Basta Records in The Netherlands to revisit the wonders of Raymond Scott’s work.

For those unfamiliar, you may know Scott from the recording, “Powerhouse” famously used in several classic Rube Goldberg machine sequences in Merrie Melodies cartoons. The track was also sampled in the intro of Soul Coughing’s “Bus to Beelzebub.”

Here is the original recording:

And here is an official “machine montage” cut by Warner Bros and hosted by The Ramond Scott Archives:

And Soul Coughing’s classic track:

Here’s my copy of the 3-volume set.

Fortunately, the entire set is archived on YouTube – check it out!

It is also worth mentioning that the set features a collaboration with a young Jim Henson from around the time of Henson’s existential college film, The Cube. You can watch the full film here –

The short was titled, LIMBO: The Organized Mind and an animation sequence was produced for it in the early 60s.

Enjoy!

Something Special for Close Personal Friends of Al

I’m really upset with Pledgemusic because they know so very well that every few months, they shoot me an email saying, “Hey! Remember that thing you love? From way back in the day? Well check this sh*t out!” 

Pledgemusic is a direct-to-fan music platform, and their sole focus is raising funds for musicians. They don’t get their grubby hands into ownership or rights over the content, they encourage artists to contribute to charities as part of their projects, work with artists to offer all sorts of exclusive content to pledgers, and is accessible internationally to unite fans worldwide toward the creation of wonderful and unique musical items for the most rabid of a band’s fanatical followers.

Presently en route to my home is the Orb’s Further Adventures Live 2016 25th Anniversary DVD+3LP box set, which was my first encounter with Pledgemusic. But today, they popped up in my email saying… “Psssssst! Look at the thing!”

Now available for pre-order is something special for Close Personal Friends of Al Yankovic. Having grown up with every Al album from his self-titled debut to the present, my nerdcore childhood would never have been the same without him. And to celebrate his discography and 34 years of mandatory fun, Pledge has pulled out all the stops and created the ultimate Al treasure.

SQUEEZE BOX, as it is titled, contains all 14 studio albums plus a bonus Medium Rarities album of demos and rare tracks. All albums have been remastered and pressed on 150-gram vinyl. The set also includes a 100-page collector’s book of rare photos and memorabilia.

It is available in multiple levels of insanity, the highest of which includes a signed test pressing of your choice of any one of the original 14 studio albums, a Zoetrope-animated  turntable mat, retro-style “WEIRD Al” pennant, a magnetic build-your-own-Al, Commemorative t-shirt, and a CUSTOM PAIR OF WEIRD AL SOCKS!

And for $1500 they’ll ship you a signed test press of every one of the albums in the collection… though all 27 copies quickly sold out.

And, oh yeah, the entire set is packaged in a custom-created replica of Al’s signature accordion!

Shut up and take my money.

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Introductory Nomenclature

Just arrived from Ann Arbor’s Ghostly International label – the sky blue limited edition reissue of Telefon Tel Aviv’s majestic debut, Fahrenheit Fair Enough. Fahrenheit was originally issued by Chicago’s Hefty Records, and fit smashingly alongside their other downtempo and IDM recordings.

Ghostly International is home to Tycho, Gold Panda, Com Truise, and other crafters of what Sundae Club playfully dubbed “Technostalgic Tunes”. And Fahrenheit is no exception. Here, Telefon Tel Aviv expertly weaves together sparse melodic fragments and the occasional jazzy licks with intricately complex abstract glitch patterns. What results is a marriage of the warm, nostalgic instrumentation one would expect from a band like Boards of Canada seamlessly fused with the atonal mechanical rhythmic constructions of Richard D. James. It is a wonderfully satisfying record which warrants repeated listenings both active and subliminal.

This limited edition release also includes a digital download which features additional Archive ’99 material capturing more of the best sounds the artist has to offer.

A review from the BBC called the album, “Gorgeous, yet completely devoid of cliché… a quiet, unpretentious beauty of a record.” Fahrenheit Fair Enough is certainly some of the finest downtempo IDM music released this year.

Telefon Tel Aviv - Fahrenheit Fair Enough.JPG

Is anyone else getting rid of their physical media altogether?

Now that I’ve purchased my first home, it seems a great time to shed some dead weight from my material possessions. My top 3000 LPs will stay – I’ve got them neatly shelved and organized in my office. I enjoy the ritual of interacting with the medium and nothing beats gatefold artwork. But everything else – cassettes, VHS, CDs, and DVDs, all seemed pointless to keep anymore.

Today I boxed up hundreds of CDs and traded them at a local Disc Exchange for 25 cents each. The cash I made was well worth the space it freed up on my bookshelves for music literature. (Most of the reference texts I enjoy I much prefer to read in a physical format than as an ebook.)

Of my ~750 CDs I kept only a handful from artists who really shaped my listening in the 90s. I kept several 20-bit remasters of classic jazz LPs and several debut singles like Reznor’s HALO 1 Down in It, Manson’s Get Your Gunn single and the Live at the Snakepit bootleg, and the 1989 Caroline Records debut single by White Zombie, Make Them Die Slowly. But other than a handful of cassette and CD promos, it really seemed time to let the rest go.

Honestly they will function more as interesting artifacts and conversation pieces rather than as a medium for audio/video playback.

I also spotted a large box of my fiance’s home-taped VHS tapes today. I offered to have her top 5 tapes converted to AVI and the rest we can dump.

Still, I confess – I’m keeping bargain bin VHS copies of cult classics including Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, YOG: Monster From Space, and the Pee-Wee Christmas Special… this is the shit I’m going to force my grandkids to watch someday.

So what about the rest of you digitally-savvy ladies and gents? Do you still hold onto physical media?

Published in: on October 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm  Comments (2)  
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Wolfgang Voigt – Lost in Königsforst

Wolfgang Voigt - GAS - Nah Und Fern 2LP
Through a wonderful stroke of good fortune, I am now honored to have claimed a copy of Nah Und Fern for my vinyl library.  A milestone compilation – both for Wolfgang Voigt, performing under his legendary moniker GAS, and for the incredible impact the recording had on my own musical experience.

GAS is ambient minimal techno in its purest form.  Voigt’s samples are ghostly sonic elements – formless and featureless.  There is no melody, no key, no pitch, and no progression for the listener to cling to.  Instead, the pieces, (all untitled), pulse steadily in place, with no discernible beginning or end.

Voigt, himself describes it as “GASeous music, caught by a bass drum just marching by, that streams, streams out through the underwood across the forest soil.”  The music of these projects were inspired by Voigt’s LSD experiences in the Königsforst forest near Köln.

There are four albums in the GAS project – Gas, Zauberberg, Königsforst and Pop.  Released between 1996 and 2000, the albums were later compiled into a 4CD box set titled Nah Und Fern in 2008 on the Kompakt label.

This limited vinyl release consists of four side-long edits, the first of which is exclusive to the LP.

GAS was my initiation into drone music, and led me on a rewarding path of discovery with albums like Jimmy Cauty’s Space, Robert Rich’s Somnium,  Black Swan’s vinyl-only releases, and later to Voigt’s own influences – namely Wagner and Schoenberg.  A delightful friend and ambient guru first played GAS for me in his bookshop, and the rest was history.

But Nah Und Fern does not come cheap, and I confess that I approached the purchase with some hesitation.  Thankfully all my doubts were vanquished when I learned that the gentleman who sold me his copy was a fellow member of the Youtube Vinyl Community!

Critics have called it many things – zero-gravity club music, tunes for lucid dreaming, underwater techno, or as Wire put it, “an outdoor rave, heard floating through the air from a neighbouring village.”  One thing is certain – this is drone music at its finest.

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 10:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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Miles has arrived, and he is LIVE.

The Miles Davis official website and Facebook page have been brimming with news about the March 25th release of MILES AT THE FILLMORE Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.  I’ve really enjoyed discovering Miles’ work for this period, and the notion of new live material certainly caught my attention.

Sadly, these recordings are set for release exclusively on CD, with no option for vinyl or digital download that I could see.  The official site does make mention that many of Davis’ recordings are currently being “remastered for iTunes…” (and I will bite my tongue here.)

Not to have my excitement shattered, I hurried over to discogs.com.  The official site stated that these recordings had for the most part only been available as bootlegs before this new release.  A few minutes of digging and I learned that a sampling of both shows were issued on an official compilation double LP on the Columbia label in 1970.  I instantly dismissed this option and pressed onward.  Surely, I could secure a copy of at least one of these legendary performances complete and in a vinyl format.

While on the hunt I found that these two performances are said to have been a pivotal moment for Davis – introducing the deadheads and other rock and roll cultures of the Fillmore scene to fusion and Davis’ own brand of new jazz.  Furthermore it is said that these performances are what secured Miles Davis’ induction as the first instrumentalist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And that’s when I found it.  Apparently, the Fillmore West performance was released in its entirety as a double LP in 1973, exclusively in Japan.  But before I scrambled for the discogs marketplace, I acted instead, on a hunch.

I phoned the Bop Shop in my old home town of Rochester, NY.  Tom at the Bop Shop has been the core of the jazz scene in the city for over 30 years.  He’s brought countless jazz acts to the city, and his shop is a must-visit for any discerning music fan.

I told him what I was looking for, and he breathed deep.  “Jeez, I’ve never come across that record,” he confessed.  But before ending the call, he asked me to hold on while he dug around in his back stock just in case.

30 seconds later, he returned to the line.  “Here it is!  Black Beauty, 1973!”

This evening it was waiting on my doorstep.  There’s nothing better than finding great music you never knew you wanted.

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And here’s a 30 minute sample from the performance.

The 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time

Last week I saw a post from redditor bsparks who found The Franklin Mint’s 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time at his local Half Price Books at a great price.  He evidently lugged home all 100 discs (nearly 150 pounds of wax) and spent the next year taking them in, one disc at a time.

Franklin Mint - 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time (Cover)

If there’s one thing at which The Mint excels, it is deluxe packaging.  bsparks kindly offers a gallery exploring the collection in great detail.

From the official text:

The 100 Greatest Recordings of all time from the Franklin Mint has been called the ultimate private library of fine recorded music. Every recording was selected by a distinguished panel of music authorities (Martin Bookspan, Schuyler G. Chapin, Franco Ferrara, Irving Kolodin, William Mann, R. Gallois Montbrun, Marcel Prawy, Andre Previn, William Schuman and H. H. Stuckenschmidt).

The library was first announced on the 100th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph. Each recorded treasure was pressed with a special vinyl formulation that enabled a clear, quiet playing surface on a more rigid LP disk. Every record was pressed in an atmosphere controlled “clean room.” There are 50 library cases. Each library case houses two proof-quality long playing records, with each record resting, fully protected, within its own dust free compartment. The record is firmly supported within the closed compartment in such a way that the grooved playing surface never touches any part of the case. Each library case includes a specially written and illustrated commentary, by a respected music expert. The composers and their works are discussed in detail, and background information is provided on the orchestras, conductors, ensembles, and featured soloists. This is a truly unsurpassed private library of recorded music.”

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As an archivist, I was instantly intrigued by this mammoth set, though the sheer volume of the beast gave me pause.

Thankfully, I found the next best thing on the Web.  Some wonderful, dedicated man or woman took the time to rip all 100 discs to FLAC.  Each of the discs were pre-cleaned with wood glue, played on an Empire 598 Turntable with an ADC XLM MKIII cartridge, powered by Bottlehead Seduction and Bottlehead Foreplay Tube Phono Preamps, and expertly ripped to 24 bit / 96 kHzFLAC using GoldWave.  The tracks were then ClickRepaired and separated, log files were generated, and the final cuts were meticulously organized and tagged into their respective volume folders.

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But perhaps the above-and-beyond effort of the collection was the 672 professional photographs of every center label, every page of each book accompanying each of the 50 volumes, the cross-reference index, the pamphlet and the letter signed by Stanley Walker, Director of the Franklin Mint’s Music Dept.

A standing ovation – this is archival FLAC as it should be!

If you’re not quite up to downloading this 80GB library, there is also a 320VBR available, transcoded from the same source audio at the more manageable size of 17.1GB.

I am going to keep an eye out in the event that an affordable copy of the actual set surfaces within a reasonable distance from my home… because there is no way in hell I’m going pay shipping for this baby.

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing to you in a state of pure euphoria.  I am awestruck by the explosion of recent musical events.  So much, in fact, that I must present the latest news to you in three parts.

These three posts will come once every five days as I do my best two maneuver about the chaos that is relocating my audio lab.  In just four days, I will take command of a new home with a dedicated audio engineering and listening space, in the company of my beloved lady and fellow music critic.  These are exciting times, but all my own excitement pales before the news that greeted me upon returning home from work this evening.

ENO & HYDE 2014

The words stared back at me from my monitor, and it took several self-checks to ensure that I had, in fact correctly deciphered and interpreted the Roman glyphs before me.  The article which followed confirmed the headline, and I found myself slipping into a Zen-like ancient ancestral hunter-gatherer trance.  In a few swift motions I seized my credit card, connected to UnderworldLive, converted GBP to USD and locked in my pre-order.

The day has finally come.

After Karl Hyde collaborating with Brian Eno for This is Pure Scenius in 2010, producing acoustic-ambient-art-rock for the masses, and after the release of Hyde’s first solo record, Brian and Karl teamed up again in late 2013 and have just publicly announced the pending release of their first collaborative record – Someday World.

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The 2LP is scheduled for release May 5th, 2014, but those who reserve their copies in advance will receive downloads of 2 pre-release tracks, the first of which will post March 4th.  The gatefold double-LP is sure to be a milestone of music history, perhaps the first of its kind since Byrne and Eno released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.  In fact, an article on the official UnderworldLive website described Eno and Hyde discovering a mutual love of afrobeat… so there may be a hint of Ghosts detectable in the DNA of the new release.

Shipping included from the UK, Stateside buyers will secure a pre-order for just over $49 USD – a small price to pay for such a piece of history.

And UnderworldLive has kindly offered a high-res promotional wallpaper shot of the gents for you to gaze upon while you count the seconds until your copy arrives.

I honestly cannot express my excitement at learning this news – Hyde was the first piece of music I heard in my life which was not from a top 40 radio playlist, and Eno is responsible for initiating me into the world of cerebral, contemplative sound art.  And now, they’ve cut a record together.

See you in 5.

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Psychedelic Sunday

I had a fantastic day antiquing with friends today!

You come across some unique characters at flea markets and antique shows and today I learned that the man I always see with a table full of archived science fiction radio broadcasts is a good friend of Mark Evanier and has personally met Sergio Aragones on numerous occasions!  This man has encyclopedic knowledge of all his archived programs including all 26 seasons of Doctor Who.  When I asked him if he had any of the rare merchandise of the 1960s The Prisoner series, he smiled and replied, “you mean the three paperbacks?  No… but the third one is the best.”  This blew my mind because few Americans I’ve met have heard of The Prisoner, let alone read the books.

But on to the records of the day…

A sealed limited edition colored vinyl landed on my doorstep last night.  After verifying the catalog number I promptly re-sealed the packaging and shelved it away until the end of June.  It’s going to be a little birthday gift to myself.   Stay tuned for my birthday post where I’ll unveil the album.

The first table I hit at the antique market was a routine stop, and this time I found not one but two Miles Davis LPs from his electric period.

The first, Big Fun is one I’d seen at the local annual record show just a week prior.  The copy at the show was $30 so I couldn’t pass up the double-LP for the $4 it was marked this time around.  Big Fun is a collection of outtakes, but as a Miles Davis record even the outtakes shine.  The standout track is the 20 minute, “Great Expectations.”  The Allmusic guide calls it a disc for fans, because it fills in the puzzle of what was happening between 1969 and 1970.

I was delighted when I read the closing sentence of their review which stated that others should look to Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, Jack Johnson, or Live Evil as starting points.  This rang especially true for me as my in-progress introduction to Davis followed that precise path of albums, with Live Evil as the next on my list.

Miles Davis - Big Fun

The other Miles Davis record was one I’d been eying at the market for the past 4 weeks and luckily, no one had purchased it.  A Tribute to Jack Johnson is a wonderfully funky album.  Herbie Hancock had been passing through the building where the jam session was taking place and ended up sitting in on the Hammond organ.  I later learned that the first twelve minutes of the second side revolves around a single bass riff lifted from James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

Before leaving the vendor’s booth, he noticed the album had a very minor seam split on one corner.  He taught me a great fix – you first place a 12″ fitted poly bag around the album jacket with the open end on the same edge as the open end of the jacket.  The tight fit holds the seam together rendering it unnoticeable and prevents further tearing.  You then slide it into a 12.5″ poly bag with the open end at the top of the album.  Finally, insert the disc and dust jacket vertically into the outer sleeve.  The disc can now be easily accessed and the album back cover is still visible.  Soon you’ll forget all about the seam split.  This is just one of the many reasons I love the markets I visit.

Miles Davis - Tribute to Jack Johnson

The cement statue vendor I was looking for was away for an estate sale this weekend, so I continued on to another booth where I found a table of LPs all in poly bags.  I instantly spotted Pink Floyd’s A Nice Pair which is a double album of their first two LPs.  The copy has the generic “dentist” sticker at the upper right instead of the original ” W. R. Phang’s dental surgery” photo, and the nude center image is covered by the round pink “A Nice Pair” sticker, so I believe this is the more common version of the disc.  Still, it is a temporary remedy for not owning a vinyl copy of “Piper…” so I picked it up.

I did however discover that there are a few differences in the audio between the original releases and the US pressings of A Nice Pair.  The most disappointing change is the substitution of the live version of “Astronomy Domine” from the Ummagumma LP instead of the original recording from Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  As that was one of the tracks I was most looking forward to, I will likely be putting this double LP up for sale once I secure an original pressing of their first album.

Pink Floyd - A Nice Pair

Pink Floyd – A Nice Pair (original cover uncensored)

Pink Floyd - A Nice Pair (Dentistry sticker)

Pink Floyd – A Nice Pair (Nude Sticker and Dentistry sticker)

I’ve also just ordered two Funkadelic recordings – one which has been missing from my P-Funk library for too long and the other will serve as a replacement for a copy I bought at a record show which has significant needle wear.

More to come, thanks so much for tuning in!

UPDATE: I made a few additional discoveries about the Miles Davis recordings which I would hate to leave out of this post.

In the year 2000, Columbia Records released a double CD version of Big Fun, catalog #C2K 63973.  This version featured four additional tracks which did not appear on any of the prior releases.  I researched the bonus tracks and discovered that originally appeared on the 1998 four CD set titled The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (C4K 65570).

One of these tracks is a beautiful near-ambient piece titled, “Recollections” which nearly 20 minutes in length.  If you enjoyed a single moment of In a Silent Way, you should give this track a listen.

The other track I discovered is quite different from “Recollections.”   I had been further exploring Davis’ electric period and came upon a live album titled Agharta from 1975.  The lengthy opening track, titled “Prelude” was unlike anything I’d heard before.  The Allmusic Guide stated simply that Agharta is “the greatest electric funk-rock jazz record ever made — period.”

Turn your speakers up and check out Pete Cosey’s guitar solo.  Start viewing at the 7 minute mark of this clip.  During the next sixty seconds the band falls silent and Cosey goes absolutely wild.   Enjoy this outstanding minute of music.

I am already on the hunt for an original copy of Agharta.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again!

Most Satisfying Find of the Season

I picked up a near mint 1964 stereo pressing of Kind of Blue from a local antique shop last Sunday. It had been in the seller’s personal collection for over thirty years and he decided to sell it only after tracking down the original 1959 mono pressing which he called his desert island holy grail.

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What could I possibly say about this monumental recording that hasn’t been said in the last 50 years?

I am just getting started started with jazz. Davis’ Carnegie Hall LP and Bitches Brew were my first.

I really love the modal theme of the album, and as a lover of ambient music the smooth, cool feel is just my style. I welcome any other recommendations of similar records so that I can further explore jazz.

UPDATE: A few days later I spotted a new issue of Davis’ In A Silent Way at a local shop.  I went home and gave it a listen online.  It’s essentially two ~20 minute tracks, and apparently it divided the jazz community due to it’s usage of electronic instruments.  Herbie Hancock joins in on keys and both tracks journey deep into space-jazz territory.  What more could an ambient aficionado ask for?  I’ll be picking up an original issue of In A Silent Way just as soon as I can.

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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