Touching Extremes (and the 2001–8 archive, housed separately) houses a wealth of reviews of obscure, avant, experimental, or otherwise not-terribly commercial music by Massimo Ricci, formerly of Bagatellen and Paris Transatlantic (both defunct), and occasionally still also of The Squid's Ear. [more inside]
Bernard Stollman, founder of the influential, otherworldly ESP-Disk label, has passed away this week at 85. New York Times obituary. The independent label was home to blazing, provocative recordings from avant-jazz greats like Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra, as well as underground rock outsiders like the Godz, the Holy Modal Rounders, and the Fugs. The label's discography is deep, strange, and still largely unexplored by everyone but hardcore music geeks (who tend to be highly passionate about it). From Stereogum: Remembering Bernard Stollman: 10 Essential ESP-Disk Albums.
Black Dog in the Sky; Final Moments of the Universe; The Vile Stuff; Wooden Bag; Poor Old Horse: some songs by the English (specifically Geordie) singer & guitarist Richard Dawson. ‘[A] distinctly English folk equivalent of Captain Beefheart’s deconstruction of the blues,’ opines The Guardian, of his recent album Nothing Important. ‘Syd Barrett’s freewheeling poetry teamed with the guitar strangle of Eugene Chadbourne or Derek Bailey’ hazards Rolling Stone. Of his own work, Dawson has said ‘I have come to think of it as ritual community music. Perhaps you could call that folk music, but it is certainly not in the folk tradition. I hope it belongs to part of a wider tradition of north east artists, people like Jospeh Crawhall, Jack Common, Basil Bunting, John Martin and Peter Beardsley.’
Jamestown Baloos (1957) [SLYT] by Robert Breer [PDF] (previously) "is a frenetic, three-part stop-motion animation that features an army of everyday forms and figures — geometric shapes, a piece of string, newspaper clips, a pin-up girl, even Napoleon Bonaparte — flashing across the screen. Placed in increasingly compromised situations and choreographed to a jingoistic tune, the figures essentially become puppets of their former selves. Such unrelenting visuals recall not only Fernand Léger’s early experimental film, Ballet Mécanique (1924), as Breer himself has mentioned, but also early twentieth-century Dadaist collage. Dada artists like Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch created witty, unapologetic works that reflected the chaos and violence of modern existence. Jamestown Baloos serves, as their works did, as a pointed indictment on the absurdity of war."
"We were so dumbfounded at the noise that was coming out of our instruments it took us a while to get a handle on what we were hearing, let alone thinking in terms of how any records would be structured." Music journalist Ned Raggett assembles the oral history of British experimental rock group Disco Inferno's five EPs.
Using his "file card" technique to create the title piece "Spillane" (whereby musical ideas written on note cards form the basis for discreet sound blocks arranged by way of a unifying theme), John Zorn forges an impressionistic narrative out of stretches of live-music jazz, blues, country, lounge, thrash, etc., and a variety of samples and spoken dialogue inspired by Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer detective novels (recited by John Lurie). - AllMusic [more inside]
Music From Other Minds is a radio program of art music by living composers from the folks behind the other minds festival.
The Avant Garde Project is a series of recordings of 20th-century classical, experimental, and electroacoustic music digitized from LPs whose music has in most cases never been released on CD, and so is effectively inaccessible to the vast majority of music listeners today. Until now, of course. [more inside]
A favorite of John Cage and Gyorgy Ligeti, the latter describing his music as "so utterly original, enjoyable, perfectly constructed but at the same time emotional...the best of any composer living today," Conlon Nancarrow's musical ideas were nevertheless too complex and technically demanding for human performers, and his political ideas too radical and leftist for McCarthy-era America. Expatriated to Mexico, the Texarkana-born avant-gardeist lived most of his life in isolation, in a cluttered, dusty studio surrounded by records, piles of books, empty Vodka bottles, newspapers, cigarette cartons, and the tools of his trade: 2 old player pianos and a custom-built piano roll press. [more inside]
Connecticut's Have a Nice Life is responsible for one of the year's most acclaimed, highly conceptual albums this year, Deathconsciousness. The two discs (entitled The Plow That Broke The Plains and The Future, respectively) feature music spanning over five years of collaboration between the two artists, and are accompanied by a 75-page booklet on medieval Italian heretics in lieu of liner notes. Combining elements of shoegaze, new wave, ambient drone, post-rock, experimental industrial, avant-garde dark metal, and electronic music, and citing references such as My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division to their credit, the original and only pressings sold out within hours. Full stream of all 85 minutes available here. Direct mp3 samples here and here. [more inside]
Demetrio Stratos's 1978 solo album of experiments in vocal technique Cantare la Voce in RA format. "Settembre Nero" [mp3], by Area, which he fronted. Some links in Italian.