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Bruce Langridge (West Wales)

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In Praise Of Learning
In Praise Of Learning
Price: £13.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Praise of Henry Cow, 23 Nov. 2008
This review is from: In Praise Of Learning (Audio CD)
I can think of no other album that re-shaped my musical head.
I can still remember the thrill of hearing the first track - War - after a friend lent me his elder brother's copy.
War sets the tone for the whole record - angry, complex, layered - sung with manic intensity by Dagmar, balanced by Peter Blegvad's calm urging to "tell of the birth, tell how war appeared on Earth".
Having been aurally assaulted from the start, the rest of the album delivers revolutionary music along with the revolutionary lyrics and song titles - the only dated aspect of this mid 70s masterpiece. I'd never heard anything like this before and to this day, I still haven't. Some people hated the merging of the two bands - Henry Cow and Slapp Happy - but I think this merger left a legacy which is still going strong today. Check out the current music distribution label created by Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler - ReR Megacorp - this'll show what a legacy has been left. There you'll also find some great live versions of two of these tracks (Living in the Heart of the Beast and Beautiful as the Moon) on the Jan 2009 released 9 CD/1DVD Henry Cow box set.

Perspectives & Distortion - Cherry Red Rarities 1981
Perspectives & Distortion - Cherry Red Rarities 1981
Price: £5.78

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The title doesn't lie, 22 Nov. 2008
When I bought this Cherry Red compilation record in 1981, it gave me a thrilling overview of British experimental 'rock/pop/alterntive' music, played by loads of people I'd never heard of.
Experimental music can date really quickly but this, largely, doesn't. It's made up of 17 different artists, but it holds together beautifully by compiler Mike Alway.
This is especially surprising because of the genre/age disparity of the time - putting arch punks like the Virgin Prunes and Mark Perry in with Kevin Coyne and Robert Fripp, for instance.
Personally, I was inspired to go out and buy new work by the likes of A.Tent, the Lemon Kittens, Matt Johnson (soon to be The The) and Eyeless in Gaza.
If you listen to it today, even 27 years later, you might also be inspired to check out some new names. Go on, give it a go.

Kinesis [LP]
Kinesis [LP]

3.0 out of 5 stars Sheffield Men Give Good Horn, 22 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Kinesis [LP] (Vinyl)
For the past 20 or so years,Sheffield has had a small but obdurate free improv scene. I first came across it in a room above the Grapes Inn on Trippet Lane - regularly on Sunday nights if my memory serves well.
Taking the money at the door, and often performing on the night, were members of Hornweb, a sax quartet, playing free improv around loosely conceived compositions. On song, they were great to listen to and their appearence on the bill gradually boosted the audience above it's normal 20 or less. Word must have got out that on their night, they could sound wonderful.
Recordings rarely capture free improv - live is always best - but this, their first LP, captures some of the magic. This is especially so in the more composed (and well rehearsed) pieces, such as The Sticks and Surfing at Windscale, and the album largely (but not totally) avoids an aspect of their performance I never used to like and still don't in jazz - the 'it's your turn for a solo now'.
Out of this city based combo, Martin Archer has made a career from his music and good luck to him. For those who have got intom his recent electronic doodlins, check out his early work.

Earthquake Island
Earthquake Island
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £39.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot, humid and Fourth Worldly, 18 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Earthquake Island (Audio CD)
I first came across Jon Hassell's music in a tent at some early WOMAD festival. It was crowded, there was smell of burning incense and the exotic looking musicians were bathed in purple light. At the centre sat Jon Hassell, blowing his muted trumpet in a style I'd never come across. Around him, I remember Nana Vasconcelos shaking a whole lot of exotic percussion, tabla players and then my memory gets hazy - but imagine a well made scene from James Bond or the Saint when they track the villain to some scary voodoo club. I was blown away -and quickly rushed out to buy this LP after the festival. It still sounds like my memory of the concert - although I later discovered Jon Hassell's Dream Theory in Malaya which I rate even more highly.

The Leprechaun
The Leprechaun
Price: £9.16

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucky Chick Goes a Bit Too Nice, 16 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Leprechaun (Audio CD)
This is one Chick Corea's mid 70's cross-over themed albums - much in the spirt of The Mad Hatter and RTF's Musicmagic.
I used to love this back then but I'm not so sure it's stood the test of time.
Based around the world of the Leprechaun and his private dream world of dancing sprites, fairy queens and imps, it's got a really distinctive sound and some kind of narrative going on.
Beautifully played throughout, as you'd expect by anything from Corea, it's all a bit too nice. Also. when it was made, the battery of keyboard instruments played and referenced here (specially on Imp's Welcome), was all the rage - just check out the contemporanious work of Herbie Hancock. Today, this looks/sounds a bit naff.
Gayle Moran's distinctive vocals (heard throughout) are, well, as one of the tracks is called, soft and gentle. Mind you, they suit well, Reverie, a short piece that still sounds good.
Maybe I've just moved on.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2012 2:11 PM BST

Price: £21.91

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Magma Jam a bit stodgy, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Inedits (Audio CD)
This always sounded like a record that wasn't meant for release.
The sound quality is poor and most of it sounds like extracts from studio jams.
This is good news for completists - specially for Magma obsessives who will find the first recorded reference to Kohntarkhosz Anteria. The jams have some classic Magma names as well, specially Jannik Tops growling bass which is common throughout but this doesn't hang together like much of their other work.
If you fancy checking out Magma - please don't start here.

More Encores
More Encores
Price: £16.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Sound terrorism at its best, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: More Encores (Audio CD)
What an amazing album.
Marclay takes the musical works of others and messes around with them.
Some of it is hilarious - oh how I'd love to play his Johann Strauss waltz to an unsuspecting ballroom audience (Strictly Come Dancing perhaps) - Marclay starts the Viennese waltz normally then just slides the sound into treacle. He gets Maria Callas to hold that high note for much longer than is healthy, Louis Armstrong is more jaunty than ever, Hendrix is plain crazy and as for Gainsbourg's Je t'aime - well you can imagine.
Marclay produced this in 1988 - perhaps not THE pioneer of cut up music but he became the master. Some of his other work - specially commissions for art galleries - can be fairly hard going but this is pure pleasure Still not sure? Just check out what he does to Martin Denny's weird world of exotica.

Price: £11.41

2.0 out of 5 stars Speechless is better, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Gravity (Audio CD)
This and Speechless came out very close together and were Frith's first proper solo projects after Henry Cow and Art Bears.
This might be Fred Frith heresy, but I've always preferred Speechless by miles. Gravity has plenty of cleverness, lots of rhythmic changes and more obvious tunes. But it doesn't have the same depth and passion for me. No track stands well in the memory apart from an ironically distorted Dancing in the Street (although I'll concede that Spring Any Day Now makes good happy sense on a light March day). The whole album has always left me feeling edgy - maybe I should have tried dancing about like the cartoon people on the original album cover..

Price: £19.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Fred Bursts with Energy, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Speechless (Audio CD)
This is one of the first solo records of one of the most creative and and productive of musicians, guitarist Fred Frith. It's crammed full of ideas, with a bubbling energy forcing through like spewing larva in places (A Spit in the Ocean has one the most thrilling opening notes of any track I know). Free from his Henry Cow collaborators Fred teams up with members of Etron Fou Leloublan (whose own LP Fredhas just produced) and with, what was the B side of the LP, members of Massacre, namely Bill Laswell and Fred Maher.
Like much of Frith's work, much of the work flows in a jarring way, and if this bothers you, chances are you're attention will drift and you'll get annoyed. But if you're happy to go with the uneven flow, like those big dipper rides that bruise your knees as they throw you around, you'll feel much enriched from this musical journey.

Six Sequences for Alfred Hitchcock
Six Sequences for Alfred Hitchcock
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £38.92

3.0 out of 5 stars Improvised Thriller, 14 Nov. 2008
The idea of asking six improvisors to come up with their idea of a soundtrack for a Hitchcock film was a good one.
By and large, most of them pull it off. Its often hard listening to uncomprimising improvisors away from the live performance but having a theme like this really helps.
Mnay years ago I remember watching one of these improvisors, Alan Tomlinson, above a pub in Sheeffield and struggled to engage with his solo trombone. But here, he captures the suffocating tenseness, and exotica, of Hitchcok beautifully. Denis Levaillant creates a virtual soundtrack with running footsteps and choking whilst Jac Berrocal takes us to late night at the Cafe Mozart. The others, Joelle Leandre, Annick Nozati and British Summertime Ends, have ideas which are less obvious but worth a listen.
This unusual record deserves to be heard.

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