Cheating here again. Technically, I started the week before last, on the 22nd, but that was Thanksgiving week, and I was gone for most of the week, so I didn’t get very much listening done. I only listened to Neu! ’75 that week, so I appended that to this past week. In other words, this was 5 records in two weeks.
1. Neu! – Neu! ’75 
I read on Wikipedia that for this record Michal Rother wanted to go with quieter songs, but Klaus Dinger wanted to rock! So the record is essentially a split where the first side is all Rother and the second is Dinger (and he sings and plays guitar).
The first side does sound a little ambient-y. Michael Rother plays a piano on a few of the songs and that makes it sound a little like Music for Airports (even though Neu! ’75 predates it).
The second side is not bad, although it still sounds Krautrock. I guess I thought he wanted to make a Rolling Stones record or something. E-Musik sounds like it could have been an outtakes from the first record.
2. Anthony Braxton – Five Pieces 
Found this Braxton LP in Flat, Black, and Circular in East Lansing, MI. I never heard it before, so I decided to get it.
The first track is You Stepped Out of a Dream which is a famous song that I never heard of. The playing is not at all like Braxton. It has hints of free jazz, but nothing too crazy. The bass playing is alright until the bass solo and then I think it’s sublime.
The second track is more like what I’m used to hear from Braxton, but not as hardcore. I’d be lying if I said I remember every Anthony Braxton record I listened to. I actually only remember his record with Joseph Jarman, Song For. But I have a memory of what his records that I listened to sound like, and this record doesn’t strike me as the same.
The first track on side B, 489 M 70 – 2 — (TH – B) M, is probably my favorite so far and is more like the Braxton material I’m familiar with.
I have to say that the last song, BOR – – – – H – S N – K64 (60) – – M, is also pretty good. It’s got more momentum and groove along with interesting improvisation.
3. Miles Davis – Miles Smiles 
This is an all-star band. Herbie Hancock on piano, Wayne Shorter on saxophone, Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams who played on Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch.
I’m liking this record. It’s not exactly cool jazz, but also isn’t bebop. I wouldn’t call it free jazz, but some of the improvisation goes in that direction a bit, I think.
Superbly recorded, of course. The brushes on the snare sound so intimate, like I’m sitting next to the snare. The whole track, Circles, feels very intimate and the playing is super delicate.
Freedom Jazz Dance might be my favorite song on this record. It’s got a great groove. Tony Williams keeps playing 8ths on the ride and hihat (with his foot, you know). I wouldn’t call it rocking, but I think it hints towards Miles Davis’s 70s records.
4. Konono N1 – Congotronics 
Since I started this blog, this is the first record I listened to that I feel is truly not western music. Well, I guess Mohammed ‘Jimmy’ Mohammed wasn’t that western either. Anyway, the reason I say this is because these guys use scales that definitely don’t fit in western music, and most if not all their instruments are African and not common at all in western music. There’s this one instrument, I think it’s a Likembe, that sounds like several amplified cowbells with sustain. This thing has overtones that don’t make sense and it never fits with what the rest of the band is playing in a traditional (western) sense. The bass is insane, and I think that’s a bass Likembe, but I really don’t know.
After a couple of tracks, the amplified, dissonant cowbell was getting to me. I guess that’s to be expected, but also, this isn’t music that is listened to at home while I do whatever. This is music to dance to.
5. James Plotkin & Paal Nilssen-Love – Death Rattle 
Yes! This is the music I like! Just one guitar and a drummer just going at it.
The first track, The Skin, The Colour, is really incredible because of how they both play. Just completely bonkers, and non-effected for a while. Then the guitars has more effects on it, but the play is still incredible.
The second song, Primateria, is almost like and ambient track.
Third and fourth songs felt to me like James Plotkin was mostly playing with an expression pedal and whatever effects he’s using than actually playing his guitar. Not saying it’s good or bad, but I like it more when there’s more actual guitar playing.