Yowzers! I’m very late with this one. I got a good start, was listening a lot and writing about the records I was listening to, and then sort of didn’t. It was one of these weeks (and a half) where I really feel like 10 records is way too much.
Anyway, I took what was supposed to be the 11th week off, and it was a great idea. I went back and listened to some records from the past 10 weeks and also some favorites that I didn’t get to listen to a lot lately.
From TRAW I listened to The Topography of the Lungs, and I like it more, but I’m still not that into it. There are just other free jazz records I would rather listen to first. I also listened to a bunch of Coltrane (Meditations, Kulu Se Mama, Ascension) and I like these even more than I did the first time around. I listened to some Mingus records – Black Saint and Sinner Lady and Money Jungle, and also Duke Ellington’s New Orleans Suite, which keeps getting better with each listen. I listened to a few other records, but these are the notable ones.
1. Morton Subotnick – Silver Apples of the Moon 
I learned of Morton Subotnick from this movie (available on Netflix). It’s a really cool movie and is inspiring in the same way anything you watch or read about innovators is inspiring. Anyway, Morton Subotnick commissioned the first or one of the first Buchla synthesizers and later went on to make Silver Apples of the Moon using the Buchla. I was surprised by the name because The Silver Apples is a band from about that time and they’re a drummer and a guy with oscillators and filters. It seems like they’d be aware of each other and how similar the names are.
Anyway, Subotnick didn’t want his synthesizer to have a piano keyboard because he knew that would make him create conventional, western music, and yeah, you hear it in this record. It doesn’t sound like anything conventional or western.
Part A sounds like what someone would have imagined in the 60s to be communication from outer space. We’re talking bleeps and squeaks, no real discernible rhythm or melody. It’s pretty cool, and I appreciate it as an exercise in synthesis, but it gets tiresome after a while.
Part B is awesome. There’s an actual groove that is made of white (pink?) noise and some percussive sounds that I have no idea how he produced. There’s also a weird melody playing, and on top of that there’s the whole “random noises from space” thing. Pretty great.
2. Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk 
Yeah, I don’t know this record. In fact, I barely know Kraftwerk, and right now can only list two of their songs.
This is an awesome record, and it’s more krautrock-y than their stuff that I’m familiar with. You know, the stuff that makes you think of electronic music, like The Model, and Autobahn.
I should have gotten familiar with this record in high school. Back then I was really into progressive rock. I still like it a lot, but it was my jam back then. Anyway, I like(d) it for a lot of reasons, but one in particular is that the songs were really long, had a lot of subtle elements, and there was always a really stretched out bulldup. They were jams. Not as in, jams like Phish, but as in “this song is a jam!” So for instance, Pink Floyd’s Echoes was really fun to listen to, and once you get past the schmaltzy singing (which I loved and thought was the best thing about the song at first) you find the kind of krautrock jam in the middle. I wanted to hear more of this type of music but didn’t know what it was or what to call it. All the krautrock stuff I listened to so far would have fit that category, but I think this record, or at least the first side would have been a great starting point. Man, oh man. I would have listened to this record so much the needle would have cut through to the the other side.
I wanted to put Stratovarius on the playlist, but it’s not on Spotify.
3. Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk 2 
It’s good but not as good as the first. I also didn’t listen to it enough to know.
4. Can – Tago Mago 
I think this might be my favorite Can record so far. Also, they have a different singer and I like the way he sings a lot more. I’m realizing that his singing (when he’s quiet) is very familiar and I think he influenced a lot of the singing in more modern loud bands. For instance, I’m immediately thinking of Justin Trosper from Unwound.
Ok, I don’t really have much more to say except that this is a really awesome record and has amazing guitar playing. I mean, talking about how I should have listened to Krautrock as a kid. Totally dropped the ball on that.
5. Autechre – LP5 
Autechre is another “band” that I’m only familiar with a few tracks and not full albums. I also haven no idea how their name is pronounced. Anyway, I’ve known Acroyear2, which is the first song on this record, which is why I got it.
Acroyear2 is pretty great and insane. It’s massive. The “drums” are bursts of noise and an godly low kick coupled with an even lower bass. It’s very aggressive, but the “melody” is really soft somber, which is something that a lot of the IDM people were (still maybe?) doing.
Rae is similar to Acro in its somberness, but it’s nowhere as aggressive.
Woo boy, Vose In! Fold4,Wrap5, Arch Carrier, Drane2 are all extremely dope.
6. Kraftwerk – Ralf and Florian 
I think this is even more abstract than Kraftwerk 2. I don’t think it’s abstract like free jazz, but it doesn’t have the same structures as the first two records. It sounds like they got together and just started playing with their synthesizers seeing where it would take them. Anyway, it’s a fun record, and yet again I’m not sure what else to say other than that.
7. Ornette Coleman – Chappaqua Suite 
I have even less stuff to say about this record. It’s really long and I only listened to it once. From that one listened I could gather that it’s different than all the other Ornette Coleman stuff I heard. I want to say it’s more classical oriented in its structure, but what do I know?
8. Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth 
Pretty good record. The solos were the usual bop stuff, but the themes are all superb, particularly because of how the band harmonizes them in an awesome way.
Another cool thing about this record is that it has an understated groove. For instance, the first song, Stolen Moments, is very laid back but has an amazing groove.
9. Can – Monster Movie 
I listened to this record a lot actually because I was trying to figure out the guitar sound, particularly on Yoo Do Right. It’s that very sustained, fuzzed, possibly delayed and reverb-ed sound. It pierces through everything. It’s an uglier (in a good way) David Gilmore guitar sound. It has the first singer, who I am not crazy about, but at least the vocals aren’t super loud in the mix.
Yeah, it’s a good record.
10. Mohammed ‘Jimmy’ Mohammed – Takkabel! 
My friend Neal gave me a bunch of CDs to listen to. This is one of them.
This record has some elements that remind me of Arab music that people like my mom listen to. Just something about the scales they use and the overall attitude. However, since this music is by Ethiopians (so you know, different place, and different culture), it has its own identity and characteristics. Also, Hahn Bennink plays drums on this!
Really liking Mela Mela.