Sixteenth Week: December 20th – 26th, 2015

1. Thoughts Detecting Machine – Work the Circuits [2015]

Thoughts Detecting Machine is Rick Valentine who was in Poster Children, who I don’t really know very much about. He plays everything himself (guitars, bass, programmed drums) and performs it all by himself too – just him playing guitar and singing, and a computer as a backing band. The first time I saw him live was pretty incredible and I bought his EP immediately. I’ve since seen him two more times and it didn’t have the same effect on me. One time I thought I was just watching someone look at his computer and play guitar, and the third time fell somewhere between the other two performances. Anyway, I bought this LP.

It’s alright. It’s a similar production and songwriting like what’s on the EP I have, but the songs aren’t as good. I think one song was at the level of the EP, but (of course) I only listened to it once, so maybe some things haven’t just sunk in yet.

2. Anthony Braxton – Creative Orchestra Music 1976 [1976]

This is an interesting record. It’s a mix of bebop and carnival music with some free improvisation. Some songs (like the first one) even have bebop solos. I like this mix of straight ahead and free stuff. It makes me appreciate both more.

3. Stereolab – Dots and Loops [1997]

Another band I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. I think it’s happened more than once that I’d hear this cool song and ask what it is and be told it’s Stereolab, so here I am listening to what I think is their most successful album.

It’s kind of lounge-y, a little like Jamiroquai but not as coked up (the first couple J records were great!). It’s also a long record, and those are always difficult the first time you listen to them. I think I need to listen to it where it’s more in the background than almost the sole thing I’m focused on, get used to the songs and see how I feel about it.

4. Can – Soon Over Babaluma [1974]

Did these guys jump the shark? Possibly! In terms of sonics they’re maybe being more innovative than the previous records, but the songs are kind of meh.

5. Cluster & Eno [1976]

You know who’s playing on this record.

Only listened to it once and I’m not feeling it. It’s more ambient than the stuff Cluster was doing, and sounds closer to “modern” electronic music than 70s electronic music. I feel like it’s more about sounds than actual songs, but at the same time it’s different than the Kluster record from last week. As always, I’ll give it a few more listens, but I don’t have any hopes that they’ll reveal much.

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Fifteenth Week: December 13th – 19, 2015

1. Bauhaus – In the Flat Field [1980]

My friends were talking about Bauhaus on Facebook so I asked them to recommend a record to start with. They recommended this one.

It’s cool. I only listened to it once, but I think I can get into it.

2. Bill Orcutt – Gerty Loves Pussy [2014]

I’m digging this record, but I have conflicting feelings. I really like this kind of guitar playing because it’s so weird, angular, and insular in the sense that it won’t work in any other context other than solo guitar. It’s not limited by anything, so it’s the purest, or perhaps most ideal form of expression. Its freeformness is also a problem, though. Isn’t it more impressive to work within the limits of a structure? Working within a song requires ingenuity, and really, everyone can just play a guitar on their own. I understand that this kind of music can’t be played with a band, so maybe it’s good that someone does it. I mean, this whole talk of what’s more impressive is silly, who cares if something was done within the context of a band or alone? What’s important is that it’s enjoyable and interesting. Judging it by if Bill Orcutt could have done better is idiotic.

The other “problem” I have is that my guitar playing on its own sounds like that. I mean, I’m no Bill Orcutt, but I do similar stuff and I’m not really familiar with his stuff. The problem with that is that I think 1) if I can sort of do this, then he can do better (again with the better argument?) 2) what am I going to do now that he’s already been doing the same kind of thing.

*No, you didn’t miss an asterisk in the writing. Bill Orcutt didn’t play this thing completely alone. He was playing along to a reading.

3. Mary Halvorson – Meltframe [2015]

Look at me getting in all those 2015ish records!

I like Mary Halvorson’s guitar playing, but so far this record is kind of a mix bag. Again, the playing is great, but some of the arrangement I can take or leave. Then some are good (probably good songs to begin with) and I enjoy them more. Like Solitude, Sadness, and Ida Lupino. Actually everything from that point on was great, it was just the first few songs that I thought were lacking.

The guitar sound is a little, uhh, weird. Just the distortion sounds like the stock distortion in a Peavy or something. I think she uses a rat, but I’m not sure. I’m used to distortions being huge sounds that fill a room, and here it’s this tiny sound. It doesn’t really diminishes her playing, but it’s not helping either. It was probably a conscious choice, so what do I know?

4. Bill Orcutt & Jacob Felix Heule – Colonial Donuts [2015]

I enjoyed this record, but it didn’t have a huge impact on me. Of all the records I listened to so far, I guess it can be kind of compared to Richard Dawson’s Nothing Important, except I think Nothing Important is better.

A certain description of this record says that this record “collects thirteen compact, stylistically diverse duets”, and I don’t know if I agree that they’re stylistically diverse. I didn’t hear that diversity.

I just thought of something, remember how earlier in this said I essentially said that Orcutt is a cop out because he’s not playing this sort of music in a band context? Guess what, here he is, so here I am eating my hat.

I should probably listen to it a few more times. Some of the subtleties might have escaped me.

5. Kluster – Klopfzeichen [1970]

Pre Cluster Kluster. I think some other guy played here in addition to the Moebius and Rodelius from Cluster.

This is more experimental than the Cluster records I know. Maybe less musical? Definitely less electronic. No drum machines and maybe there’s one synth here and there. Mostly loops of acoustic instruments. I like the spoken word that’s on top of it all, it gives it another dimension of ominousness.

 

Fourteenth Week: December 6th – 12th, 2015

I forgot to post this! I actually listened to it all in time!

1. Various Artists – Congotronics 2 [2005]

Part of the same series that released the Konono N1 record I listened to last week, but this one has several different artists.

It’s tough to write about an album that is a collection of different artists. I will say that so far (three songs in), it’s a little easier for me to digest than Congotronics 1, meaning that musically it’s sitting closer to western music. I mean, it’s no western music by any means, but I’m not hearing notes here that make me think “are these notes in any scale that they use right now?”

I really like Soif Conjugale, and Mulume by Basokin sounds a lot like it could be something Harmonia or Cluster did, except I don’t think Basokin uses delay; they just keep repeating stuff by playing it.

2. Miles Davis – Agharta [1975]

This is a great record. It’s a recording of a live performance, but it seems to have a “seminal” status, so I figured I’d listened to it (even though it’s a live thing). It’s totally a very long record, so I can’t point to anything in particularly. I only listened to it once.

The guitar playing was pretty great! And I also noticed that they totally played Freddie Freeloader in Interlude / Theme from Jack Johnson. Not that that’s important to anything.

 3-6. Philip Glass – Einstein On The Beach [1978]

Kind of cheating since this is one piece, but this is a 4 CD thing. 160 minutes! And even that is a little shorter than the actual performance.

It’s great. I love the counting thing that comes and goes. The additive rhythm. The arpeggios I can take or leave. I know Philip Glass later stuff, which has a lot of the arpeggios. This is an earlier piece, so I shouldn’t be judgmental and call it a shtick, but it kind of is. Anyway, by the end of the third CD I couldn’t take it, the Propher 5 arpeggios were too much, and I had to take a break. Going to listen to the last CD soon.

Thirteenth Week: November 29th – December 5th, 2015

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 [1975]

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 [1975]

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 [1967]

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 [2004]

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 [2013]

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.

Twelfth Week: November 15th – 21st, 2015

I’m making some changes! From now on I’ll listen and write about five records every week. Five is the minimum, maybe I’ll get in one or two more, maybe not. Probably not. I’ll write more about it below my writing about these five records that I listened to, so scroll down if you’re interested.

 

1. Neu! – Neu! [1972]

I think this record is the embodiment of Krautrock, which  is a funny thing for me to say considering I just listened to it and only recently started delving into Can and Kraftwerk. However, I had a peripheral knowledge and understanding of Krautrock, and what I mean is that this record is full of that drum beat that I’ve always associated with Krautrock, and the slowly evolving simple musical idea.

It took a few listens for me to warm up to this record, mostly because I felt like the songs don’t have enough variation. I know, it’s silly because I just say that the slow progression is what makes this the embodiment of Krautrock, but sometimes I feel like it’s too slow. Anyway, after a few listens Hallogallo started revealing more of itself to me.

I think the tracks that shine the most for me right now are the last two parts of Jahresübersicht. Part 2 is great for its jet sounds, the slowness, the speeding up or slowing down after the breaks, and the jet sounds (really, a guitar) harmonizing with the bass around 5:10. The harmonizing is pretty sweet. Part 3 is great for its intensity with the weird, quiet, and strained singing. I absolutely love it.

2. Neu! – Neu! 2 [1973]

This record sounds like they were forced to make another one but didn’t have enough material. For instance, one song, Super, is there in three different speeds – 16rpm, 33rpm, and 78rpm. Neuschnee is there in two speeds. A few other tracks sound like collages and I’m fine with that, but it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. Reading the Wikipedia entry for the record, it seems like they ran out of money and just reused the songs from side 1 in side 2 (hence the speed up/slow down).

Anyway, the first side is still cool and enjoyable, but this record doesn’t hold a candle to the first.

3. Can – Ege Bamyasi [1972]

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Vitamin C before, but it wasn’t Can’s version. Maybe in a movie? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s my least favorite song on this record. And in general, I’m not into this record as much as I’m into the others. It’s got some good moments and everyone brings their A game, but the songs are just not that great.

4. The Impressions – Keep On Pushing [1964]

Curtis Mayfield’s first (?) band. I think it’s interesting to hear the similarities between this stuff and his later stuff, like Roots, Curtis, and Superfly. For instance, his guitar playing is exactly the same. On the other hand, the songs themselves aren’t as good as on those three records. It’s a fun record to dance too, though, and I did like Amen. Or at least it stands out more than the rest.

5. The Impressions – People Get Ready [1965]

Similar thing to Keep On Pushing, but I wasn’t hearing as many callbacks (callforwards?) to later Curtis Mayfield records. There’s a lot of soul music out there, and it’s all good in the sense that it’s pleasing to listen to, but most of it isn’t mind blowing or making me come back to it. Also, I only listened to this record once, so I may be jumping the gun with these assumptions.

 

As far as scaling down to five: Five is more manageable than ten. Ten means it’s more than one record a day, and I actually don’t get to listen to as much music on the weekends, so 10 a week is actually 10 in five days, which is two records every day. It might be cakewalk for other people, but it’s tough for me. In the past few weeks I was stressing over listening to all 10 records every week, and I felt like I wasn’t giving each record as much attention as I should. I also wasn’t getting to listen to stuff I already know. So basically, the whole thing was starting to shift from being something that is fun to do and exposes me to new music, and into being a chore. I don’t want this to be a chore. I want it to stay fun. Also, week 12 was supposed to be last week, but I didn’t get to listen to all of the records from week 11 until halfway through week 12.

Yeah, it’s a little defeatist. I started with 10 records! High and mighty! Now I’m down to five. I’m fine admitting defeat. It’s all for the fun of it. I just want to listen to new music. I want it to be enjoyable. If I’m miserable because I’m stressing over whether or not I listen to enough music, then it’s missing the point completely.

I’m keeping the Ten Records a Week address. It’s got all the ten records weeks, and no one really cares about the address.

Eleventh Week: November 1st – 7th, 2015

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 [1967]

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 [1970]

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 [1972]

It’s good but not as good as the first. I also didn’t listen to it enough to know.

4. Can – Tago Mago [1971]

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 [1998]

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 [1973]

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 [1965]

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 [1961]

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 [1969]

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! [2006]

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.

Tenth Week: October 18th – 24th, 2015

One hundred records this week!

It’s tough listening to 10 records a week. At least for me. I’m just not one of these people who always has music on. I’m not sure why. Part of it is practicality, then another is that I just forget. Even when I put a record on, when it’s over I forget that there’s no music on and can go a few hours without listening to anything. This also means that even if I did have music playing all day, I wouldn’t pay good attention to it. The worst problem is that I don’t really have time to go back and listen to records I already listened to in order to really get them. Not to mention listening to records that I like and want to listen to again. So I might take next week off to revisit some of the records I listened to this past 10 weeks. I don’t know. We’ll see. Anyway, this week’s records:

1. Jimmy Giuffre – Free Fall [1963]

This is a cool record that I don’t fully get. It sounds like classical music, which I feel comfortable saying because I saw Giuffre’s music described somewhere as “chamber jazz”, and when I told my brother to listen to it, he said it sounded like Stockhausen, and sent me this piece. It does sound like Stockhausen, so I feel validated saying it sounds like classical music. However, it’s different from Stockhausen in a few ways, one of which is that it’s improvised.

It’s mostly a solo clarinet record, with a few songs having bass and piano. It’s all short pieces, and I really feel like I need to know a lot of music theory to really get it. There are some moments where they get some non-pitch sounds out of their instruments, which hints at other, later free jazz. That’s cool.

2. Jimmy Giuffre 3 – Thesis [1961]

Same deal as Free Fall, very classical-sounding, and requires understanding of music theory to fully get. Or maybe just a lot of listens.

These guys are good at creating a groove even without drums (same instruments as Free Fall).

Carla sounds like Blue Monk! It must be inspired by it, because it’s too similar. It also sounds more jazzy than the first track or anything on Free Fall.

Me Too is another song that sounds like jazz compared to the rest, and as I’m listening to it again I realize that it’s because it’s a blues!

3. Paul Bley – Closer [1965]

Pretty quick record. Piano by Paul Bley, and most compositions were written by Carla Bley. I can’t really tell what’s the composition and what’s the improvisation.

It’s good, but I don’t really understand it. For the most part it just sounds like a bebop or cool jazz, but I think it is a landmark free jazz record.

The bass is really subdued and quiet on this record. All I hear is just a bit of rumbling and that’s great and pushes this record into a different territory than all the other piano-bass-drums jazz records.

4. Can – Delay [1968]

I don’t know very much Krautrock and I really don’t know any of Can’s stuff. I listened to a song here and there, but never a whole record. I just always kept waiting to be in the right mood, because they have long, intricate songs. So I didn’t want to just put it on, or listen to half a song and have to stop. So this, umm, “project”, is perfect for it.

I realized that this record is a compilation of unreleased materials and outtakes after I was halfway through it. I wouldn’t have chosen a compilation to be my introduction to any band, but it’s working so far and I’m really into this record. The only thing I object to is the vocals. I like singers who sound “bad”, but this guy sounds like he’s forcing himself to sound weird, and that feels really unauthentic to me. I could be wrong, though, maybe that’s just how he sings. I also think that if he weren’t so loud in the mix I wouldn’t have minded him so much.

My favorite songs are Butterfly, Thief, and Little Star of Bethlehem. My wife thinks Little Star of Bethlehem is lame, but I really enjoy it, and Froggy is one of our cat’s nicknames. The other songs are good, but not as good.

5. Albert Ayler – Swing Low, Sweet Spiritual [1971]

This record was released posthumously, and I’m not sure I would have listened to it if I knew that were the case. Anyway, it’s good and very different from Ayler’s “hardcore” records.

All the songs are quiet ballads and Ayler’s playing is pretty much straight except for a few instances where he’ll play a couple of squeals. The cool thing is that this straight playing is soft, you know, to fit a quiet, slow song, but at the same time he sounds very strained, like he does on his other records, and that’s a cool contrast. It gives this feeling like any second now he’s going to break and play free, and it’s also just odd to hear a saxophone that has so much energy in it but he’s trying to restrain it. It’s really cool.

This record is probably a good intro to Albert Ayler.

6. Jerry Reed – The Unbelievable Guitar and Voice of Jerry Reed [1966]

I saw this video on Facebook a couple of weeks back:

And I had to listen to more Jerry Reed’s guitar-ing.

This record has good guitar playing, but not in the same way of that clip. It’s a lot of quick pop songs and his guitar playing is great, but it is appropriate to the music, so no crazy breakdowns. The songs are good, but half of them are “baby, I just gotta skip town”, or “just ain’t ready for settling down”, and I wouldn’t mind it so much if the record didn’t revolve so much around his singing.

This record is seriously, depressingly misogynist. On U.S. Male he calls “his woman” his property. Barf.

7. Alice Coltrane – Huntington Ashram Monastery [1969]

Just a trio with Alice Coltrane playing harp and piano and Ron Carter playing bass.

Alice Coltrane’s playing is really on-fleek (look at me!) here. I think some of her other records I listened to focus more on creating “a sound” and being just one big meditative piece, where this record has some of that, but it also focuses more on her playing, and her playing is great! Her solos are really good, especially on IHS. Of course, since it’s drums, bass, and piano, there’s not a lot of room for things to get really crazy, but that’s fine, they get a lot of mileage out of this setup.

8. Can – Future Days [1973]

This record sounds very “soft”, like no one is playing their instruments hard. It’s also a more coherent record than Delay.

Bel Air is great, just everything about it. Then they stop and come in with a new groove that is even better! Then it turns into another song and this one is also great!

I really like how their influences are very obvious, and usually when that’s the case, bands aren’t able to create something that’s really fresh and interesting, but these guys definitely made something new by pushing all their influences through a meat grinder of music. The mix on this record is also really interesting. First, I can hear every little detail (and there are a lot). Then, the drums are featured and are definitely the loudest thing, and everything else just sounds “in the background” – the bass, guitars, synthesizers, they’re all backing up the drums.

9. Jimmy Giuffre – Fusion [1961]

I think this record is my favorite of his so far, and it has the song that introduced me to Giuffre – Cry, Want. This record is a little more energetic than the other two (still just bass, clarinet, and piano, though), and I still don’t totally get everything that’s going on. I mean, I do hear the music and enjoy what I’m hearing, but in terms of music theory, I don’t know what’s up, which I think puts a cap on how much I can enjoy this record.

Cry, Want is my favorite, although I enjoyed In the Mornings Out There a lot also. I listened to Cry, Want two-three times before, but it was through my computer’s speakers, and I wasn’t getting all the detail. Anyway, listening to the record and hearing it through my good speakers, I realized the genius of it. It’s essentially a blues song. The clarinet is just playing a blues riff, but it’s so sparse and embellished on that you don’t really get it. Then the piano and bass come in and they really throw it off. It sounds like they’re not even playing in the same key the clarinet is in! It’s really amazing and it required me to not do anything else and concentrate just on the music to get it. Beautiful.

10. Alice Coltrane – Universal Consciousness [1971]

Maybe my favorite Alice Coltrane record. It feels least restrained. There are violins! Alice Coltrane is playing an organ (a Hammond?), and sometimes a synthesizer. It still has some of the qualities of her other stuff, and the Indian music influences are still there.

Playlist.