Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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The Sun Ra Centennial

Sun Ra celebrates his 100th birthday today. NPR has a brief Morning Edition feature on the man, and The Sun Ra Music Archive has just re-issued 21 of his albums, mastered in a 24 bit format (PDF) available exclusively from iTunes (if you can stomach using it).

Robert Mugge’s 60 minute documentary, Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, which was filmed between 1978 and 1980 and features numerous performance excerpts and monologues from Sun Ra himself, is available on Vimeo.

You can check out one of my favorite Sun Ra songs, from 1978’s Lanquidity, right here:

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The Monthly List: June’s Top 9

jackson_pollock_blue_poles

Jackson Pollock’s “Blue Poles” – the cover for “Spiritual Jazz Vol. 4”

The techno fever continues this month with a killer debut from youAND:THEMACHINES, aka Martin Müller of youANDmeBehind was released in June by Ornaments Records in three formats: CD, 3LP, and hand-painted, special edition 3LP. It is only the fifth full length from Ornaments. Two of the other four were compilations put together by Luke Hess and youANDme, so this is a special occasion. Müller mixes house, dub, and various other strands of techno together.

According to this interview, he uses nothing but analog equipment to do it and prefers creating his own sounds to using samples. I can hear that in the album’s production and in the way Müller builds his songs. He emphasizes texture and density as much as club-worthy rhythms and he shies away from conspicuous melodic themes. He also matches vocal contributions to the tonal color of his instruments and tosses ambient stretches of noise between dance tracks. I like it enough to get past those goofy house vocals, which together constitute the weakest part of the album. Though I’ll admit one or two of those songs have grown on me.

I’m almost certain the hand-painted edition is already sold out (it was limited to just 333 copies) but the CD and LP can still be found online and at certain record shops around the US. So don’t puss out and download it from some blog. Go find a copy, or at least buy the MP3s.

I finally got my hands on some of the new Erstwhile titles last month too. I plan on getting reviews up as soon as possible, but my review writing has slowed down recently due to other writing projects.

About this time of year, certain records solidify as my favorites so far, but there’s been such a glut of great new records that nothing’s become concrete for me. Only a few records carried over from last month, and I can’t decide which record among the three or four I like most is “the best.” So I want bother with a mid-year list or best of.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Others may be available. If you like any of the samples I link to, please buy the album. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.


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Song of the Night: Eddie Gale, “Fulton Street”


From Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music.

Allmusic gives it five stars:

The aesthetic and cultural merits of Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music cannot be overstated. That it is one of the most obscure recordings in Blue Note’s catalogue — paid for out of label co-founder Francis Wolff‘s own pocket — should tell us something. This is an apocryphal album, one that seamlessly blends the new jazz of the ’60s — Gale was a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra before and after these sides, and played on Cecil Taylor‘s Blue Note debut Unit Structures — with gospel, soul, and the blues. Gale‘s sextet included two bass players and two drummers — in 1968 — as well as a chorus of 11 voices, male and female. Sound like a mess? Far from it. This is some of the most spiritually engaged, forward-thinking, and finely wrought music of 1968. What’s more is that, unlike lots of post-Coltrane new jazz, it’s ultimately very listenable.

Water Records, part of the same company that issues music under the 4 Men with Beards label, currently has a CD version available on their website. The 180 gram vinyl version is listed on the same website with a release date of 4/16, but is currently out of stock. Chances are it’ll pop up in your favorite record store soon.