Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Let's Talk About Dex, Baby

We are gonna close out Black History Month and February with this here dual birthday/anniversary post about a musician who ought need no introduction.
It's rare that I get to do two in a row where it's a birthday show, but there's a first time for everything so here we go.
Today's b'day brahmin is maybe most accoladed for his ridiculously expansive, lush tenor tone, itself one of the most recognizable of any instrumentalist in history.
I've blogged him before, but never on his big day, so he's getting that treatment for what would have been #96 today.
Is there, or has there ever been, a more masterful tenor saxophonist than Dexter Gordon? You might say 'Trane, but he played multiple horns and arguably did his wildest voyaging on soprano.
Of course you know how the American Race Gulag got too much for him so he moved to Paris, essentially opening the floodgates for Jazz cats to make their way over to Europe where they would be treated with the reverence their artistry engendered. 
You know how he returned in the 1970s to a hero's welcome, and enjoyed a huge career renaissance that saw him finally get his due in his country of origin.
But do you know about this 60th birthday shindig that NPR broadcast back 30-something or so years ago, that finds our hero on the hallowed ground of the Village Vanguard, delivering the goods in a killer pair of sets?
I tidied this one up a little bit, so it would be at its optimal impact, but even before that this was two hours of prime illustration of what puts Dex among the starriest segments of the musical firmament.
The whole thing is beyond the beyond, but the version of As Time Goes By is inflected with a certain feeling way past what you might expect, even from a titan such as this.
Dexter Gordon Quartet
Village Vanguard
New York City, NY
2.27.1983

Set I
01 Secret Love
02 As Time Goes By
03 Soy Califa
04 The Jumpin' Blues
05 LTD incl. band introductions

Set II
06 Hi-Fly
07 Body and Soul
08 Antabus
09 Long Tall Dexter incl. Dexter Gordon announcement

Total time: 1:52:26
disc break is the same as set break

Dexter Gordon - tenor saxophone 
Kirk Lightsey - piano 
David Eubanks - bass 
Eddie Gladden - drums

master off-air FM cassette of the Feb. 1987 NPR broadcast
tiny tweaks by EN, Feb. 2019
660 MB FLAC here
This is a criminally undercirculated performance I could find nowhere in trade circulation on the internet, and the idea that there's a bootleg CD of it in the stores and online right now from the excreble and thieving Hi-Hat "label" makes it all the sweeter to provide it here at no charge.
That's it for this month, did I pass the audition? I'll be back in March to fuck you all up with yet more jewels from the vaults, count on that.
Today you gotta get your Dex on, though, and celebrate this toppermost Maestro with this unbelievably beautiful and heartfelt concert from the day he turned 60!--J.
2.27.1923 - 4.25.1990

Friday, February 22, 2019

Breyer Engagement: Thee Revelations ov Genesis

Let's get it on with the second half of two consecutive posts tributing two absolute non-givers of fucks.
Today we have another avatar's avatar, and another person who made the music of our world bend to their will like a psychic bends a spoon.
Not just music, either. A holistic, complete and unapologetic assault on culture and its backwards, primitive norms at all levels and across all previously-extant boundaries.
They started in earnest in the first half of the 1970s, and by the middle of that decade, our honoree was already beginning to shift the sands of everything.
The band they formed as a vehicle for their cultural assault was named after the Throbbing Gristle of an erect penis, with an original logo that illustrated same.
Fast forward after six years of laying down the template of what came to be termed Industrial Music, when our birthday person started a whole new adventure, with a whole new band and a whole new approach.
This group had moderate hits! And as the 1980s progressed, they helped pioneer the Acid House movement by pretending they were part of a whole slew of UK Techno bands. When all those albums were just them!
We're talking about 45 years at not just the cutting or the bleeding edges, but the ones that carve new territory from old norms like hot knives through butter.
And this says nothing of the gender fluidity and the body modifications and the pioneering Pandrogyny.
If what you're after is sheer, in-your-face challenge to the bloodless, dehumanized cultural shitscape around you, then you've already known who Genesis Breyer P-Orridge -- born this day in 1950 -- is for a long time.
Word on the street is that GBP is ill and in decline from a leukemia diagnosis a ways back, and that they may not have much longer.
This is one person whom I'm not gonna wait for them to die before I write down what they mean to me.
Genesis likes to issue everything they've done, so archival stuff is sometimes confusing and hard to come by. But to celebrate, I've got two things: one of Throbbing Gristle, and one of Psychic TV, the equally-as-unequaled band they formed in 1981. The latter was taped on GBP's 36th birthday.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
1975/1986

i.
Throbbing Gristle
The First Annual Report of Throbbing Gristle
1975

01 Very Friendly
02 Dead Bait
03 10 Pence
04 Whorle of Sound
05 Final Muzak
06 Scars of E

Total time: 43:14

Genesis P-Orridge - vocals, guitar, violin & bass
Cosey Fanni Tutti - guitars, cornet, tapes 
Peter Christopherson - tapes, loops, found sounds, electronics
Chris Carter - tapes, synthesizers and electronics & programming

still-unreleased debut album, sourced from the 2001 boot CD on the Yeaah! label
190 MB FLAC here
ii.
Psychic TV
ZAKK
Düsseldorf, Germany
2.22.1986

01 intro
02 She Touched Me
03 I Like You 
04 Seduce Me
05 Just Like Arcadia 
06 Riot In the Eye of Sky
07 Godstar
08 I Heard It Through the Grapevine
09 Roman P.
10 Soul Eater
11 Sorry

Total time: 1:01:27

Genesis P-Orridge - vocals & percussion
Paula P-Orridge - drums, tapes and loops
Alex Fergusson - guitars, vocals
Monte Cazezza - guitars
Mouse - bass 
Philipp Erb - synthesizer & keyboards
Matt Best - drums

sounds like -- and spectral analysis confirms -- a master off-air FM capture of unknown origin
401 MB FLAC here
I will return once more at least before month's end with another blast of Black History Month, count on that.
Today, however, is the day to reveal Genesis -- 69 today -- and to say Thank You for all these decades of Art and Life completely stripped of even the barest notion of compromise. If there were even a few brave souls like them today, we might not be staring down the abyss of total annihilation at the hands of the denuded, already-dead-just-awaiting-burial Normals, who are truly starting to smell like the walking corpses they are by now.--J.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Birth of the Zeuhl

We'll take a two-day hiatus pass from the Black History Month shindiggery for two consecutive birthdays for two absolute iconoclasts of the Universe, both of whom stand astride decades-long careers altering the DNA of the music of our world.
Today we have an artist, percussionist and composer whose résumé includes some of the most striking and creatively unprecedented music of our epoch.
He's been a part of many projects and records, but the one for which he is most known is something for which there is no analog in the music of our age.
I get the gravity of such a statement, given that we live in the era that contains access for all to the most music anyone's ever had or heard. But I stand by it, and here is why.
I can't think of anything like it, what he did. To take the band concept and create an entirely fictional language with which to tell a unified story that no one can really understand the words to, yet everyone seems to understand and enjoy, simply has nothing in the annals of art history with which to compare it.
It's quite a testimony to the power of the music of Magma that they've gone on telling the tale of Kobaïa for almost five full decades, almost purely on the impetus of their sound and the compelling-yet-inscrutable mythos our birthday boy constructed out of while cloth for them to inhabit.
Did I mention he's one of the world's living drum deities, and a percussion powerhouse that hits with a precision that belies the trance-inducing effect of his grooves?
If I had to describe it in words, I'd call his drumming style something like being hypnotized... with a sledgehammer. The way he bounces from impossibly intricate jazziness to 5000 herds of oncoming elephants in a quarter of a bar makes his playing instantly recognizable from one fill, no easy feat for the noisy blokes at the back of the stage.
If I had to describe the music of Magma and of their guiding beacon, Christian Vander, I'd say they and he are where the religiously-intense music of John Coltrane, the nonsense syllabic squawk-forms of Kurt Schwitters, and the Progressive Rock of the 1970s meet. 
At the home of Robert Heinlein, which in this fantasia is in the catacombs beneath the Metropolitan Opera. Where they all do LSD. With Isaac Asimov.
But back to the basics of what appears to be linear, temporal reality for a moment. It seems Christian Vander is 71 today, and although Magma bootlegs and archival material are often notoriously dodgy -- this has to be one of the most audience-taped bands ever to trod the stage -- I have one of the best ones here today after a couple of minor repairs.
This hour of prime Kobaïan uplift dates from my personal favorite period of theirs, 1978. This is the most funkafied Magma there is, somewhat owing to their by-this-time former bass player -- yes he is a monster of basstly proportions -- Jannick Top. 
Who by the time of this performance had recently left to do his own Zeuhl-Fusion group, but whose fat-bottomed rejoindering of Vander's bonecrushing, "Elvin Jones armwrestles John Bonham for control of the kit" drumstyle took Magma deliciously towards The One for their 1977 and '78 records.
I guess I should also say that if you are unfamiliar, Zeuhl is the genre of music that sprang up in the wake of Magma, where dozens of unaffiliated bands began to play in the same way and add their adjunct mythologies to what Vander initiated.
Magma
Halle des Brasseries
Bar-le-Duc, France
9.27.1978 

01 Rétrovision (Attahk)
02 The Last Seven Minutes 
03 Hhaï
04 Ourgon et Gorgo
05 Nono
06 M.D.K. (excerpt)

Total time: 58:29

Christian Vander - drums, percussion & vocals
Stella Vander - vocals
Klaus Blasquiz - vocals
René “Stündehr” Garber - vocals
Lisa Deluxe - vocals
Michel Hervé - bass
André Hervé - keyboards & percussion
Jean-Luc Chevalier - guitar
Maria Popkiewicz - vocals

spectral analysis indicates a pre-FM source, possibly recorded for French radio
359 MB FLAC here
The origin of this tape is unknown, but it goes to 20kHz so I'd speculate it may have been, like many others in their heyday, captured by French radio in a small club somewhere in the vicinity, and is here sourced from the pre-FM reel. But it's incomplete, so it might just be a soundboard dub of some kind.
I didn't change anything, except smoothing over a couple of channel dropouts and getting a better channel balance on one of the tunes. 
The Carl-Orff-by-way-of-ancient-Plainsong vocals, the bizarre Godzilla-steps-on-Paris basslines, and all the storming, Crimson-and-Coltrane ferocity of Magma are all writ large here, as is the Catherine Wheel batterie of our birthday lad, born this day in 1948 and probably somewhere adding to his unparallelable, utterly unique and multifaceted project/object as we type.
I shall return like The Itch tomorrow with someone even more magnificently bonkers than this guy, so be on Thee watch. And HBD and many more to this guy, whose music of which I and millions more will always stand in awe. Wainsaht!--J.