Music in Snaketime

Moondog - Moondog 1969

“Machines were mice and men were lions once upon a time. But now that it’s the opposite it’s twice upon a time.”

Moondog is one of the most pivotal and iconic figures of the classical avant-garde. The man certainly commanded attention – a blind, long-bearded fellow often adorned with a cloak and Viking-style horned helmet living on the streets of New York, he quickly earned the moniker, The Viking of 6th Avenue. But his eccentricity was far from superficial, and Moondog (1969) serves an as exquisite specimen of his unique compositional style and his expertly-seamless fusion of classical and jazz musics. And how many individuals can claim to have ascended from street musicianship to conducting the Brooklyn Philharmonic in their lifetimes?

In the early ‘40s when Moondog moved to New York City, he met Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Parker, and Benny Goodman, the influence of which is certainly evident throughout his catalog, but particularly so on Moondog (1969). The upbeat tempos and often humorous compositional style of this LP are likely the result of these encounters.

The album’s opening selections, “Theme” and “Stamping Ground”, (aka “that song from Lebowski”), are instantly indicative of the sort of ride you’re in for with this record. The tracks are epic and theatrical, with a lush orchestral quality. But simultaneously, there is a humbling intimacy and a flare of smart minimalism at play all throughout the album, adding an understated intellectualism to the whimsical interplay of traditional and invented instrumentation. Tracks like “Symphonique #3 (Ode to Venus)” and the brief vocal interludes sprinkled throughout work brilliantly to counterpoint the captivating rhythmic energy of selections like “Symphonique #6 (Good for Goodie)” and “Lament I (Bird’s Lament).”

There’s a curious and mysterious mannerism to the music on this record, and its inspiration reveals the nature of its oddity. In an interview with Robert Scotto, who went on to publish his biography, Moondog described his music as being directly inspired from street sounds, characterized by what he called “snaketime”, described as “a slithery rhythm, in times that are not ordinary,” and saying, “I’m not gonna die in 4/4 time”. It is this snaketime that gives Moondog’s compositions their enchanting peculiarity. There’s an off-beat, quirky eccentricity and playfulness to every one of the songs here, and together they form a cohesive and rewarding listening experience unlike any other.

10/10

An Endless Boogie, Onward Into Oblivion

Through a wonderful stroke of luck, I have come upon two beautifully rare discs from a fantastic band.

Endless Boogie is a band out of NYC who Pitchfork took notice of when they released their first major disc in 2008.

They accurately summed up the band’s formula in a few words:

The concept that guides Endless Boogie is a relatively simple one: Take the moment at which any good blues-rock jam crests– the four bars of transcendent face-scrunching and pull-off-laden glory– then extend that moment onward into oblivion.

The discs I’ve come upon are legendary in collector’s circles.  The band quietly released two albums in 2005 – Volume 1 and Volume 2.  The first was limited to 500 copies, and word is that 50 of them have been rendered “less-desirable.”  Volume 2 was limited to 299 copies, though my copy is mysteriously hand-numbered 90/’150.

Both of the albums and their jackets are NM with their respective inserts.  They sound absolutely amazing.  The opening track of Volume 1 is a 24 minute epic anthem.  The closest I could come to a sample for your enjoyment is the first track of Volume 2, courtesy of youtube.

And here’s a slow, bluesy cut from one of their CDs – “Slow Creep.”

Pitchfork went on to describe them as a cross between Captain Beefheart and Dr. Teeth… which couldn’t have made me happier!

As much as I’d love to keep them for my own collection, I’ve decided to offer them as a set and have just posted them as the lowest-priced copies available on Discogs.com.

Click here to check out the copies I have for sale!

Endless Boogie - Volume 1 (Black)

Endless Boogie - Volume 1 (Black)

Endless Boogie - Volume 2 (White)

Endless Boogie - Volume 2 (White)

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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