bob ostertag - getting a head

||| An underground classic of tape manipulation from before the days of samplers |||

.:: Before there was sampling, there was analog tape…

Originally released 21 years ago as an LP, the 1,000-copy run quickly disappeared into the abyss of the collectors item.

Best known for his work with computers, here a young Ostertag plays an instrument consisting of a highly unstable and peculiar recording system, which uses helium balloons to hold up tape loops between three tape recorders made to malfunction in a variety of ways.

The record marks one of the first, and to this day one of the only, times that tape manipulation techniques developed by the first generation of electronic composers for use in the studio were adapted for liver performance and improvisation. Ostertag uses this rather sculptural and bizarre contraption to manipulate the brilliant guitar playing of Fred Frith, and the elusive percussion work of Charles K. Noyes.

.:: "One Side one of Getting A Head, the sounds move in short, almost breathless little impulses, always lively and alert. You know that Frith and Ostertag are listening to each other with strong, even crazed concentration (sometimes with manic glee too), never just fooling around or digging deeper ruts.

Side Two is peaceful. The search for new sounds moves much more slowly, evolving in long, supple arcs made of smaller, more weirdly twisted parts; and in between there's enough time between the beginning of one event and the end of the next to enjoy some curiosity about what might be coming next. The high, insistently lyrical final episode is especially lovely.
-- Gregory Sandow, Village Voice, January 7, 1981

download: bob ostertag - getting a head

trondheim - zum abschied


.:: Since pianos fit into laptops, one can finally set them up pretty easily in a small flat without losing one's bedding. They also get along pretty well with some other wonders of digital technology, while accepting some downsides as well of course.

Trondheim is ansgar seide, hailing from münster (Germany) and produces fragmented electronica with lots of melodies. You can download more music by Trondheim and other fabulous musicians for free on www.interdisco.net. it's all released under a Creative Commons licence.

download: trondheim - zum abschied

slon - jelenka (ep)

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.:: Slon (Russian for elephant) are a new act to the scene. The band consists of Andrei Jafarau (git), Bernhard Baumann (git), David Wukitsevits (dr) and Alexandr Vatagin on bass, cello and electronics.

On a formal level, one can say Slon are a Post Rock-band. So far, so common. But if you zoom a bit closer into the Slon-sound, you will find a million influences, a rhizomatic meshwork of inspirations and an amount of musical ideas other bands could compose whole discographies from. Curtain fall for “Jelenka”!

The intro called “Stillleben” was written by Tupolev-bassist Alexandr Vatagin. A soulful and gently aching melody, bowed cello and a few percussion sounds. Sparse and touching like a Jewish elegy. Titletrack “Jelenka” at number two introduces the rest of the band. While both guitarists unfold a simple Jazz melody, Vatagin's cello sets interesting harmonic courses. The whole sound is very intimate and close, nearly chamber musical.

Like a mixture between Karate (Jazz), Slint (sparingness) and Gastr Del Sol (experimentalism). “The Negroni Massacre” is rather ambient, a draft of piano and plucked guitar, with delicate feedback and a lot of warming noises in the back. Ominous tune! The tension unleashes with “Chisum” afterwards, the most aggressive song. Jafarau and Baumann let their guitars ring like June of 44 never split up.

Final composition “Um Leere Räume zu Füllen” (to fill-up empty rooms) is the culmination of “Jelenka”. The songs starts with an expanded electronic intro, incorporating bass and piano. The guitars take on a humble melody, drums and piano join and bring the song to a prosperous ending.

download: slon - jelenka (ep)

.zip | .rar | or .sitx

hello everybody

since i've been having some problems compressing files and some people had told me they have been having problems decompressing .rar files, i just wanna know: what file format work better for you?

personally .sitx works for me, so please let me know what you think.
.zip .rar or .sitx ???


julie doiron - goodnight nobody

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.:: For songwriters, there is a fine line between being unabashed and being unguarded. The first state intimates awareness: that one knows how she is being perceived and consciously decides to ignore, for better or for worse, any external criticism. The other, more favorable state suggests that the songwriter is not conscious of how people take her work: the songwriter as inert artist, creating for the sake of creation.

Though it is indeed a fine distinction, Julie Doiron is clearly in the latter camp. She demonstrates as much on her newest full-length record Goodnight Nobody, recorded with friends Herman Dune and Dave Draves in a few days at various studios in France and Canada.

Described frequently in the press as an "indie-diva" or "chanteuse" of the highest power, founding Eric’s Trip (name from a Sonic Youth song title) member Julie Doiron fits these well-intentioned approbations only in that she is a woman singer comfortable in her own skin. Doiron began her career in 1990s New Brunswick playing bass in Eric’s Trip, a folky, psychedelic band that was to become the undisputed underground darling of Canadian music.

Eric’s Trip was the first of many maritime Canadians signed to Sub Pop and found international recognition, releasing several albums and touring widely. Following 1996’s Purple Blue, Eric’s Trip announced their breakup and Doiron embarked on her solo career, first releasing songs as Broken Girl and then under her own name. Since then she has worked with a veritable "who’s who" of independent rock giants, including Dave Shouse (Grifters), Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, to name a few.

.:: "Fellow Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen once titled an album Songs from a Room. Montreal-based Julie Doiron apparently took up residence there and removed whatever furniture was left behind." - Rob O'Connor, Rolling Stone

download: julie doiron - goodnight nobody

john tavener - celtic requiem


.:: This work for soprano, children's choir, chorus and orchestra was commissioned by the London Sinfonietta. the first performance was given by them in July 1969 at the Royal Festival Hall with the London Sinfonietta Chorus and Children from Little Missenden Village School, conducted by David Atherton.

In 1968, the London Sinfonietta asked me to write a work for them. I wanted to write a requiem but could not forecast what form it might take - or how long it might be.

I first thought of calling my new work CELTIC REQUIEM because the idea of it came to me while spending some time in Ireland, and I wanted to set early Irish poetry. But on completion I discovered that it had become a theatre piece for children, wtih a background of Irish and Latin words, and the original title seemd less meaningful. However, I have stuck to this title, because I like it and I owe a debt to Ireland for the genesis of the spirit of the music.

The work is scored for three instrumental groups, including Irish bagpipes, A flat clarinet, bass trombone, piccolo trumpet, grand organ, piano, strings, percussion, three choirs, soloists and rather young children's voices. The music is a gigantic decoration of the chord of E flat major. Three different canti and three differen rhythmic groups embellish this chord, and the words of the mass are always allotted to whoever is bearing the 'canti'. The whole piece may, at any given point, be related to the chord of E flat. The work falls into three main sections: Requiem aeternam, Dies Trae, and Requiescat in pace.

Key words of the Requiem Mass are sung by the adult choirs, in conjunction with early Irish poetry, which is nearly always allotted to the extremely high soprano soloist; but all these things stand as 'adult embellishments' to the children's games about death and courtship. These games are the most important thing in the piece, reflecting or commenting on what the 'adults' are singing.

Much has been done to corrupt children, and television and comics have hardly helped. As David Holbrook writes in his introduction to 'Children's Singing Games', 'We have offended our little ones, and ought to have millstones hung around our necks'.

If it may seem that I am using the theatrical prop of 'child sentiment', then I can only say that the ideal of the piece is inseperable from the music. I do believe in a very strong connection between death and children; and that their enacting of the mysterious 'rite of death' in street games is very moving. The children's songs are untouched (apart from all being transposed into E flat major), and are given a context within the framework of sections of the mass that I have used.

There is a central character, Jenny Jones, a little girl who is picked as a victim at the outset to undergo the rite of death. It is over the corpse of Jenny Jones that the children dance at one point in the 'Confutatis maledictis', swirling bull-roarers to scare away evil spirits. This, though handed down to children, has its origin in a funeral rite in the lowlands of Scotland. In origin, hop-scotch represents the path through life to death, or purgatory to paradise - which perhaps is the same thing. (Incidentally, Peguy's description of Paradise contains a reference to children playing hop-scotch.)

The children play a very slow, rhythmically articulated game of hop-scotch during the 'Tuba mirum', and then later combine this with swinging games to release a soul from purgatory by attempting to pluck something off the front of the swing. Priests in Bolivia used to swing on gigantic swings for 12 hours on All Souls' Day for the same purpose. The chldren swing to nonsense rhymes such as, 'Die pussy die, shut your little eye, when you wake find a cake, die pussy die'.

This particular rhyme is changed as the swing 'dies' at the end of the the 'Recordare' section of the mass. The mock resurrection of Jenny Jones which comes after the 'Confutatis maledictis' serves as an outlet of escape from the claustrophobic atmosphere of death and mourning. Jenny Jones jumps up and chases the other children away as they shout 'The Ghost'.

Courtship games also took place at funerals, and children have preserved this rite (in certain parts of Ireland this continues to the present day). In a way that the children enact by pantomime the apparent random nature of gods choosing a victim for the rite of death, so in courtship the girl who has to choose a lover is random. An echo of the 'Lacrymosa' ends the 'Dies Irae' in conjunction with 'Poor Mary what are you weeping for on a bright summer's day?'

The final second, 'Requiescat in pace', contains much symbolism. Briefly it is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin put into the mouth of a mourner, 'that I may keen with you your own dear Son', set against the Latin text, Henry Vaughan's 'They are all gone into the world of light', and Cardnial Newman's hymn 'Lead, kindly light'. The idea of using this hymn, which I love more than any other, must have had its origin in the memorial service for Mahatma Gandhi held in St. Paul's Cathedral. Indian classical music was played by indian musicians up by the alter, and magically this music terminated as 'Lead, Kindly light' started, sung by the choir at the other end of the Cathedral. It was deeply moving, not only because of the juxtaposition, but also because of the innate dignity of the music just heard. During this last section, the children sing their own parody of 'Mary had a little lamb... her father shot it dead', and they begin to dismember a toy lamb as 'Mary sits a-weeping' in the centre of a ring. The children later put the lamb together again as all the forces gradually converge on the chord of E flat, and giant toy tops in E flat are started. Humming tops were used in primitive Christian practice on Easter morning to proclaim the risen Christ. The ghost of Jenny Jones reappears, touches Mary, who is 'weeping for a sweetheart', and the game Jenny Jones starts all over agin with the girl who was Mary before as Jenny.

I have compiled the libretto of THE CELTIC REQUIEM myself. The words are taken from the Missa pro Defunctis, poems of Blathmac, son of Cu Brettan, a poem by Henry Vaughan, a hymn by Cardinal Newman, a whole mass of children's singing games and nonsense rhymes mostly written by children....

CELTIC REQUIEM was first performed on 16 July 1969 by the London Sinfonietta, The London Sinfonietta Chorus and children from Little Missenden Village School, conducted by myself at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

John Tavener 1969

.:: El Réquiem Celta, escrita en 1969 para coros de niños, coros adultos y orquesta sobre textos de diversos autores. Su contenido ofrece una macabra comparación entre un juego infantil y el rito de la muerte. Hay un personaje central, la niña Jenny Jones, que es utilizada como víctima ficticia para este juego, pero afortunadamente el simulacro fúnebre concluye con su supuesta resurrección y escape de un clima mortuorio realmente claustrofóbico.

La versión del Réquiem Celta que presentamos es aquella grabación realizada en 1970 por el coro y la orquesta London Sinfonietta más la soprano June Barton, voces infantiles de la Little Missenden Village School y el propio John Tavener en órgano. La dirección general está en manos de David Atherton.

***lo prometido es deuda***

download: john tavener - celtic requiem

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circle - tyrant

.:: Formed in 1991 in Pori, a town on the western coast of Finland, Circle (along with its many satellites, side-projects, colleagues, neighbors and even parents) has long been one of the most prolific and internationally visible bands in the Finnish underground.

Circle is the most visible and prolific name in the Finnish avant-rock underground. Having survived innumerable lineup changes, the band and its founder, bassist/vocalist/guitarist Jussi Lehtisalo, have constantly reinvented themselves, weaving hypnotic mantras out of exacting Krautrock beats, heavy riffs, arty noise, dark psychedlia, and soundtrack-like beauty. Hard, chilly repetition has served as the lone unifying theme throughout 15 years of experiments.

Circle's line-up has constantly changed over the years as the founder, Jussi Lehtisalo, is the only member who has been in the band the entire time. Since the lineup keeps changing and they frequently collaborate with different artists who they allow to play as guests on their albums, it is difficult to list their entire lineup throughout their discography.

Tyrant sees the band in tranced-out, metallic shoegaze territory, blast beats clash with Krautrock rhythms, disembodied screams pierce the murk as time slips beautifully away... As with all Latitudes sessions, this was recorded and mixed in one day and the resulting album a testament to their singular outsider vision and live prowess.

download: circle - tyrant
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helmet - betty

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.:: Guitar thugs Helmet muscled their way into a hefty record-industry bidding war in the early 1990s, boasting an impressive use of negative space within dense guitar structures. Largely due to frontman Page Hamilton's stop/start guitar riffs, Helmet was easily recognizable in a sea of competitors.

The group's second major-label album, BETTY, growls and grinds through 14 songs simmering with post-adolescent angst. Tracks like "Biscuits for Smut" and "Overrated" couldn't be better fit for the jaded mid-1990s. Mixing nihilism with a fascination for pop-culture commodity, Hamilton drops words like "cellulite" with "karmic wealth" to create an insightful foray into an over-stimulated culture. A more dynamic outing than the quartet's previous releases, BETTY revealed Helmet as a fascinatingly restless band.

.:: On their first two albums the New York neonoise band Helmet flexed and grunted like a steroid-packing bodybuilder, flaunting the size and volume of muscular, downtuned rhythms. But while the group proved its mettle (and metal), earning a loyal following by grafting staccato guitars over agonized vocals, its songs lacked dynamics and cunning.

Learning from its mistakes, the band has broadened its scope on Betty, expressing emotional depth and musical wit along with brute strength. Helmet have realized that lashing out isn't always the most effective means of achieving sonic obliteration, that building tension by holding back a riff can be just as cathartic, and stopping mid-song to insert a volley of turbulent scree can be even more devastating.

Classically trained vocalist and guitarist Page Hamilton has always cited such jazz and avant-garde influences as John Coltrane and Glenn Branca, and with Betty, Helmet finally incorporate such inspirations. Many songs feature atonal guitar bursts, layered chord progressions and harmonic textures generally foreign to hard rock, and the band delves into the possibilities of each without ever losing its menacing, surge-n-stomp groove.

In addition to being Helmet's most experimental album, Betty is ironically the group's most accessible. "Speechless," "Wilma's Rainbow" and "Milquetoast" are replete with melodic vocals and flavorful hooks, tunefully bridging the gap between alternative and metal. And for those who thought Helmet were all anger and animosity, the band reveals its less serious side with the banjo-blues spoof "Sam Hell" and a whacked-out version of the jazz standard "Beautiful Love," which begins with a plaintive guitar intro before being crushed under a cloud of free-form cacophony.

Steroid-free, bursting with intellect and energy, Betty is the culmination of years of heavy lifting.


download: helmet - betty
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valgeir sigurðsson - ekvílibríum

.:: Ekvílibríum is Valgeir Sigurðsson's debut album, but here he has revealed that as well as being a gifted producer, engineer and musician, he is equally skillful as a crafter of songs and instigator of a cascade of emotions.

Valgeir is joined by a number of guest musicians on Ekvílibríum, such as Samuli Kosminen on drums and Nico Muhly who plays piano. The album also features vocal performances from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, who helps craft 2 of the songs, as well as Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy and J. Walker aka Machine Translations.

.:: If you’re not sure where you’ve seen Valgeir Sigurdsson’s name before, check the credits on Björk’s Vespertine and Medulla albums. Also an Icelandic native, he has been a longtime collaborator with Björk, but is just getting around to sharing his own work with the world. Ekvílibríum marks Sigurdsson’s debut album, and it is well worth the wait. Right from the opening sounds of “A Symmetry,” his input on Björk’s full-lengths is evident. Lo-end frequencies threaten to tear your speakers in half while music box tones dance across staccato static bursts on “Focal Point.”

Guest musicians and vocalists enhance the humanity behind the machines to great effect. Bonnie “Prince” Billy penned the lyrics for “Evolution of Waters” and “Kin,” turning in soul-stirring vocal performances on both. J. Walker evokes poetic imagery on “Baby Architect” with an understated singing voice that fits Sigurdsson’s intimate compositions perfectly. Ultimately the album’s strength is in Sigurdsson’s arrangements – painstaking in detail, yet fluid to the listening ear. Ekvílibríum is a triumph for his Bedroom Community imprint and no doubt will find its way onto a number of year-end lists for 2007.
Jason Randall Smith

.:: Born and raised in Iceland Valgeir Sigurdsson is a studio-collaborator in the broadest sense and an artist in his own right. Valgeir has been honing his craft in the recording studio since finding a home in a small basement studio in Reykjavik as a teenager. He studied classical guitar and attended the SAE college in London, and upon return to Iceland he was active with various local bands and as a freelance engineer and producer.

Drawing from a solid musical and technical background and a wealth of experience gained from diverse and demanding projects, Valgeir applies a combination of classic production techniques and digital surgery. He's recognized for making heavily textured electronic soundscapes and beats and for his unique ability 'to melt cold electronics into warm acoustics'.

In 1997 he set up his own studio, the Greenhouse, which in the year 2000 was relocated and built to spec as a creative hub for Valgeir and visiting collaborators. Continually improving and upgrading, the studio was equipped in 2005 with a brand new SSL desk, two full Pro Tools HD systems and a host of analogue outboard including Neve EQ's and many classic compressors. Although the Greenhouse is Valgeir's home base and studio of choice he continues to work anywhere in the world a given project requires.

In 1998 Björk invited Valgeir to perform programming and engineering duties on her Dancer In the Dark soundtrack and Selmasongs album, this was the start of a working-relationship that continued until 2006 and resulted in 4 albums (Selmasongs, Vespertine, Medúlla, Drawing Restraint 9) including 2 film scores and numerous other projects which Valgeir was involved with in varying capacity.

After finishing Björk's soundtrack for Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 9 film it was time to strike out in new directions, direct more focus into his own writing and set up a fully fledged boutique label, Bedroom Community. Since he has also produced and engineered albums for Will Oldham (under his Bonnie 'Prince' Billy moniker), CocoRosie, Maps (nominated for a Mercury-award in 2007), French songstress Camille and Norwegian/Swedish singer/songwriter Ane Brun as well as classical composer Nico Muhly, avant-garde electronic musician Ben Frost and folk singer Sam Amidon all of whom are signed to Valgeir’s label.

In September 2007 Valgeir released his first solo album, titled Ekvílibríum, which features performances from many of his past collaborators but this time in settings that are very much Valgeir's own. He recently composed a score for Mannaveiðar, a four-part TV series set in Iceland and is taking his music to the live stage in an increasing capacity in 2008. bedroomcommunity.net

download: valgeir sigurðsson - ekvílibríum

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final fantasy - he poos clouds

.:: We sat cross-legged on the cobbled floor of a temporary, intimate little room, watching one man turn himself into a thousand men, each of them with a violin. Then when the music was over we collected our coats, filed out solemnly and shut the door quietly behind us. Such was Has A Good Home, the first tangible collection of songs by Toronto's Owen Pallett.
For his return, we're invited to that same room into which Pallett has now squeezed a vast auditorium.

His strings, now attached to freshly painted marionettes, are waiting in miniature wings to be summoned to a stage where he can manipulate them in front of spotlights that cast huge, monstrous shadows into the audience, into the chair next to you. He Poos Clouds is a "preposterous statement of devotion" intended to diffuse the sort of seriousness that could be attributed to an album of music written for a string quartet and voice.

This self-aware contrast runs throughout these songs - delicate and considered, but attempting to make modern melodrama out of the eight schools of magic in Dungeons & Dragons. The opening 'Arctic Circle' acts as abjuration, the use of defensive or protective magic. Strings bounce gently in and out of frame, there's a ticking, a swell of crooning voices and a final impossible ascent - already sounds are notably grander, rumbling drums sound from mountains. This is definitely a different room.

The title track (previously known only as 'Illusion Song' - creating deceiving effects and images) sounds like the natural progression from the bareness of Has A Good Home - ambitious, lavishly arranged and thoroughly benefiting from the rejection of the looping pedal and the embrace of the St Kitts String Quartet.

Pallett's vocal presence too, is much more impassioned and immediate, as he wrestles real life and a pixelated existence ("Gotta rescue Michael from the White Witch! Gotta find and kill my shadow self! Gotta dig up every secret seashell!"). Even tracks that echo the occasionally languid pace of earlier songs like 'I'm Afraid of Japan' sound positively cinematic in comparison.

There's a precious immediacy to so many of these songs that, as soon as they've run their course, makes you want to lock them away so you can't spoil them with repeat listens. 'Many Lives -> 49mp' is easily one of the finest songs Pallett has written to date - a succinct three minute wonder that alternates between diminutive verses and euphoric gang screams as the voice of a father's wisdom ("Son you should! Invest! Son you should! Invest!") 'This Lamb Sells Condos' meanwhile is a buoyant piano and harpsichord jaunt through conjuration (summoning and teleporting objects and creatures) taking in property development, erectile dysfunction and a quickly dissolving marriage.

As the wavering, plaintive 'The Pooka Sings' (the only track besides the almost-non-sequitur '->' that doesn't explicitly use Dungeons & Dragons as inspiration) rolls out with slow motion gale-force winds and airy piano, there's a renewed calm and breeze that signals the door is opening for us to leave once more. Only this time, we're not quite so eager to leave. drownedinsound.com

download: final fantasy - he poos clouds

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john tavener - the whale


.:: Tavener attended Highgate School (where a fellow pupil was John Rutter) and later studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where his tutors included Sir Lennox Berkeley. He first came to prominence in 1968 with his dramatic cantata The Whale, based on the Old Testament story of Jonah. It was premièred at the London Sinfonietta's début concert and later recorded by Apple Records. Other works released by Apple included his Celtic Requiem.

In 1977 Tavener joined the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox theology and liturgical tradition became a major influence on his work. He was particularly drawn to its mysticism, studying and setting to music the writings of church fathers such as St John Chrysostom.

One of Tavener's most popular and frequently performed works is his short unaccompanied four-part choral setting of William Blake's The Lamb, written on his nephew's third birthday one afternoon in 1985. This simple, homophonic piece is usually performed as a Christmas carol.

Later prominent works include The Akathist of Thanksgiving (1987, written in celebration of the millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church); The Protecting Veil (first performed by cellist Steven Isserlis and the London Symphony Orchestra at the 1989 Proms); and Song For Athene (1993, memorably performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997). Following Diana's death he also composed and dedicated to her memory the piece Eternity's Sunrise, based on poetry by William Blake.

Later Tavener left Orthodox Christianity to explore a number of other different religious traditions, including Hinduism and Islam. In 2003 he composed the exceptionally large work The Veil of the Temple, based on texts from a number of religions. It is set for four choirs, several orchestras and soloists and lasts at least seven hours.

While Tavener's early music was influenced by Igor Stravinsky, often invoking the sound world of the Requiem Canticles and A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer, his recent music is more sparse, uses wide registral space and is usually diatonically tonal. Some commentators see a similarity with the works of Arvo Pärt, from their common religious tradition to the technical details of phrase lengths, diatonicism and coloristic percussion effects. Olivier Messiaen has also been suggested as a strong influence on his earlier work.

In 2000 John Tavener was knighted for his services to music.

It was the appearance of 'The Whale' in 1968 that catapulted the mop-haired prodigy to fame. 1968 was a year of discovery and innovation in the pop as well as the classical world: Tavener had six significant new works premiered, among them 'The Whale' which made his reputation. It was the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall that saw it's premiere under David Atherton.. It uses the then highly fashionable collage, pre-recorded tape, amplified percussion and a chorus using loudhailers: an Iconoclasm which Tavener has since turned his back on.

The Beatles began to take note: Ringo Starr was given a tape of 'The Whale' and Tavener met John and Yoko for a dinner and music evening in Kensington - the next day Lennon had decided to issue Tavener's music on the newly formed Apple label. The Whale, Celtic Requiem, Coplas and Nomine Jesu were issued on LP.

.:: Música sacra, música sagrada. Lo sagrado en la música. No solamente tenemos la tradición cristiana, heredada desde los primeros tiempos y afianzada en la actualidad con el furor por los cantos gregorianos.

Actualmente, los compositores contemporáneos vuelven a acercarse a esas modalidades de la música. Hubo un tiempo durante el cual lo importante era la música por ella misma y se descalificaba cualquier intento de dotar de significado (semantizar, en palabras del esteta musical Enrico Fubini) al discurso musical. Hoy en día tales consideraciones comparten territorio con la necesidad de transmitir un mensaje, siendo la música el más adecuado vehículo para ello.

Los nombres Arvo Part (Estonia, 1935), John Tavener (Londres, 1944) y Henrik Gorecki (Czernica, 1933), por mencionar a los más famosos en el ámbito internacional, han dedicado en la actualidad lo mejor de sus neuronas a la composición para la gloria de Dios. Advertencia: esto no implica que sean los únicos.

Actualmente conocemos a John Tavener como uno de los exponentes de la corriente que se ha denominado como neo-misticismo. Sin embargo, pocos recuerdan que su adhesión a este tipo de estilo, que evoca la música medieval y renacentista, se inició recién a mediados de la década de 1970, después que el compositor abrazó la religión ortodoxa. Más aún, antes de sufrir ese giro estilístico, Tavener había escrito varias e importantes obras, pero todas seguían un lenguaje bastante más experimental.

La primera de ellas, la cantata dramática Caín y Abel, fue compuesta mientras estudiaba en la Royal Academy of Music y le permitió obtener el premio Príncipe Rainero de Mónaco en 1965. Luego vino otra cantata bíblica, titulada The Whale e inspirada en la leyenda de Jonás, que alcanzó un éxito tremendo en Inglaterra, tanto que fue grabada en 1970 en Apple Records, la recordada compañía de The Beatles.

Y fue en ese mismo sello donde Tavener editó su siguiente obra, el Réquiem Celta (obra que subiré tan pronto como me sea posible), escrita en 1969 para coros de niños, coros adultos y orquesta sobre textos de diversos autores. Su contenido ofrece una macabra comparación entre un juego infantil y el rito de la muerte. Hay un personaje central, la niña Jenny Jones, que es utilizada como víctima ficticia para este juego, pero afortunadamente el simulacro fúnebre concluye con su supuesta resurrección y escape de un clima mortuorio realmente claustrofóbico.

***si disfrutas de la intensidad de Krzysztof Penderecki este album es para ti… no lo dejes pasar y bajalo***

download: john tavener - the whale
alt download

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bob ostertag - voice of america

.:: Composer, performer, historian, instrument builder, journalist, activist, kayak instructor Bob Ostertag's work cannot easily be summarized or pigeon-holed.

He has published 21 CDs of music, two movies, two DVDs, and two books. His writings on contemporary politics have been published on every continent and in many languages. Electronic instruments of his own design are at the cutting edge of both music and video performance technology.

He has performed at music, film, and multi-media festivals around the globe. His radically diverse collaborators include the Kronos Quartet, avant garder John Zorn, heavy metal star Mike Patton, jazz great Anthony Braxton, dyke punk rocker Lynn Breedlove, drag diva Justin Bond, Quebecois film maker Pierre Hébert, and others.

He is rumored to have connections to the shadowy media guerrilla group The Yes Men. In March 2006 Ostertag made all of his recordings to which he owns the rights available as free digital downloads under a Creative Commons license.

He is currently Professor of Technocultural Studies and Music at the University of California at Davis.

.:: With Fred Frith (guitar) and Phil Minton (voice). Recorded in concert in London and NYC (1982).

Bob Ostertag's re-release liner notes:

"It was the beginning of the 1980's and from my apartment on the Lower East Side of NYC, the world seemed to be going crazy.

Ronald Reagan was being sworn in as President of the United States, something that no longer shocks us now but at the time was nearly unthinkable. The hostages who had been held in the US Embassy in Tehran were coming home to a tumultuous welcome that would unleash a malignant wave of patriotism to sustain the country through the wars of the coming decade: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, and more.

I had just returned from my first trip to Nicaragua, and was experiencing severe readjustment trauma. I turned on the TV and started taping. All you got that week-end was Reagan's inauguration, the hostages' return, game shows, and American football's Superbowl, a once-a-year extravaganza showcasing everything that is macho and ugly in the culture.

Fred Frith had just come to NYC and I had a concert with him that night. Without discussing it with Fred, I took my TV tapes, as well as others I had brought back from Central America, and played them through my synthesizer during the gig. The result was Voice of America Part 1.

I was happy enough with the results that I worked on developing my cassette set-up further. This was before the days of samplers, or even affordable digital delays. I assembled a series of cheap cassette recorders, each modified to malfunction in a particular way. I also had a stack of looped cassettes of various lengths from telephone answering machines which I used to do live "sampling", then manipulated by playing them back on the screwed-up tape decks.

A few months later Fred and I were in London for a concert. Moments before going on, my synthesizer was destroyed in a technical mishap. I was left with my cassette set-up and a contact mic I either kept between my teeth or used to amplify various toys. Fred had brought only a piece of wood with a few screws at either end and guitar strings strung between them. With my synthesizer still smoking, we hastily recruited Phil Minton out of his seat in the audience and without any time for discussion began the set that became Voice of America Part 2.

That was my last concert for nearly a decade. I left music entirely and became a full-time writer and organizer around Central American issues. Fred settled in NYC and began an extremely fertile ten-year interaction with the music scene there.

As the 1980s wore on, rappers and others developed a whole new form of music out of sampled fragments of politically charged media clips.

But this was before that. It was the beginning of the 1980's and from my apartment on the Lower East Side of NYC, the world seemed to be going crazy."

"Perhaps the oddest music I've ever heard, it's also more the sound of lives lived, and lives lost, than any music I've ever heard." -- Music and Sound Output from bob ostertag's web page

download: bob ostertag - voice of america

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pooma - persuader

.:: Pooma is one of the best kept secrets of the Finnish music. The band was originally formed merely to play a gig at a private millennium party on New Years Eve 2000. Having there found something special, Pooma continued practising for a couple of years before they felt confident enough to introduce their music to a larger audience. Perfectionists as they are it took them a good 6 years to actually come up with the album...

Helsinki based Pooma has influences from the cleanest pop sounds to dark, hypnotic underground. The outcome is music that can not be described in one word.

Pooma's debut album "Persuader" was mixed by Gunnar Orn Tynes of the Icelandic band Mum, and it will be released on Next Big Thing in September 2007.

download: pooma - persuader

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minus the bear - this is what i know about being gigantic


.:: Formed in Seattle, Washington in 2001, Minus the Bear was initially formed by guitarist David Knudson, bassist Cory Murchy, and drummer Erin Tate who eventually recruited keyboardist/sequencer, Matt Bayles and vocalist/guitarist Jake Snider. Once in the same room they realized they were on to something special - and the band quickly earned a rabid and rapidly growing fan base ranging from teenagers to middle-aged parents. "I know every band says they can't explain their music, but I really can't say that we sound like one specific thing," Murchy explains. "We don't follow a particular scene or genre and hopefully that shows."

Members of Northwest all-stars KILL SADIE, BOTCH and SHARKS KEEP MOVING deliver five songs with their new collaborative project MINUS THE BEAR. The perfect mix of catchy melodies, angular textures placed just right and a hearty dose of spaced out atmosphere come together with stellar arrangements to raise the bar for debut EPs. This is essential rock and roll with a twist for the now and a focus on time-honored themes of drinking and girls that smoke. And check out those song titles!

.:: Minus the Bear is singer/guitarist Jake Snider, who also does the singer/guitarist thing in his other band, Sharks Keep Moving; guitarist Dave Knudsen, who also blazes frets in metal-core heroes Botch; drummer Erin Tate, who mans the traps in Kill Sadie; Matt Bayles on keyboards and electronics (who, to the best of my knowledge, isn't in any other bands, but happens to be one of Seattle's best known recording engineers); and bassist Cory Murchy (who, at this point, doesn't appear to have membership in any other bands either. Give him time, though).

If you've heard any of the aforementioned bands, you know that, for the most part, they're really, really good. Sharks Keep Moving play mellow, jazzy, complex emo-pop. Botch plays frenetic, mathy, metal-tinged hardcore. Kill Sadie plays complicated, art-damaged indie punk. So, whaddya get when you put members of these excellent (if very diverse) bands in a new, different band? A really, really stinkin' good side-project that may just be better than any of the members' full-time projects. Due to Snider's presence on vocals and guitar, Minus the Bear sounds a lot more like Sharks Keep Moving than they resemble any of the other aforementioned bands -- but that's only because they sound nothing like Botch or Kill Sadie.

So what do they sound like? Well, kind of like your favorite emo band that doesn't suck, mixed with The Cure, with some fun electronic undercurrents running through, minus the angst that both emo bands and the Cure tend to exude in spades. The song structures are complicated, but unfailingly melodic and catchy. The lyrical concerns seem to deal more with things like the aesthetics of pretty girls rolling cigarettes ("Her hands gorgeous, rolling a cigarette, thumbs and forefingers, rolling tobacco and the paper/she licks the paper slow twice, putting it all together") and drinking with said girls ("these girls are beautiful, and they're with us/these girls can drink well") than the typical emo fare of getting one's heart broken by the aforementioned ladies. The lyrics, delivered in Snider's pleasant croon, are plain-spoken and unpretentious.

The songs are anchored by Snider's eloquent, jazzy guitar playing, Murchy's solid basslines and Tate's nimble yet rock solid drumming. On top of this, Knudsen lays down convoluted, complex, often fingertapped guitar lines, while Bayles lays back in the background, distributing ambient keyboard wash and programmed beats over the proceedings. On some songs, the live drums cut out, and are replaced by a frantic electronica beat for a few bars -- but the live drums take over again before you know what happened.

One of the most refreshing things about Minus the Bear is the fact that the band doesn't seem to take themselves terribly seriously. Considering that they are operating within contexts that could potentially be horribly pretentious (I mean, think about it -- an emo/electronica/indie hybrid supergroup?), these guys just seem to want to get together and make cool music. The song titles themselves, which are completely ridiculous ("Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked!", "Lemurs, Man, Lemurs" and "Pantsuit...Uggghhh", just to name a few) seem to be poking fun at the post-rock convention of making song titles as long and convoluted as possible. Unlike many post-rock ditties with silly names, however, the songs on What I Know About Being Gigantic are real songs, with catchy-as-hell choruses, interesting, unexpected breaks and very high quality writing.

One slightly annoying thing about the album is that while there are only five songs listed on the back of the CD, there are actually seven tracks. My theory is that tracks three and four, which are both relatively brief instrumentals, are the songs that didn't warrant titles. I suppose that the only time this will really be an issue is if you're putting one of these songs on a mix tape, and you really need to know whether it's "Just Kickin' It Like a Wild Donkey" or "Potato Juice and Liquid Bread". In the end, I guess you can just pick whichever title you like best, and use that for the song you like the best. The thing is, these songs will find their way onto your mix tapes, as sure as you will not be able to get this CD out of your player. With their collective talents, Minus the Bear have created a big, happy genre-fuck that, if you're anything at all like me, will push all the right buttons to make you a very happy camper. -- Jeremy Schneyer

download: minus the bear - this is what i know about being gigantic

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meshuggah - nothing


.:: The kings of math Metal strike back hard with a vengeance on their long awaited CD that everyone has been clamouring for over 3 years now. This time around the band has opted for a more straight forward and grounded approach to their music writing as opposed to the cacophony that was "Chaosphere" and the now legendary: "Destroy, Erase, Improve".

The sound has more of a Hardcore tinge infused with their deadly chugging riffs that are supplied by the guitar gods: Martin and Fredrik. The guitar nuts are not flailing all over the place like on their previous CDs. They keep it right to the point for the most part which is noticeable on "Stengah". Everything remains intact here.

Tomas' ambidextrous and off the wall timing is still a trade mark as well and the thick bass that runs throughout the disc. Since there is no bass player on this release, Martin and Fred share the duties. Jens' vokills are just as intense as ever. You can just picture seeing the veins form on his forehead protrude with each track.

Another thing that the guys have done was pretty much cut their song times in half. Most are now in the four or five minute range which is actually nice. They just get to the point quicker and don't drag it on for too long where the fans would get bored. The one thing that I could never get bored with is Martin and Fredrik's dizzying solos that are just as brilliant as they are insane.

This is where you will hear their eight string guitars being played to their full capacity. Let me just tell you, they are sick and genius. It's very creative and they are on the cutting edge in terms of sound. Let's just see how long it will be before any "emo-core, post hardcore, whatever, pretty-boys-playing-heavy-riffs bands" learn about this and use it and they become revered as gods for their sound without crediting MESHUGGAH.

.:: Inspired by Meshuggah’s complete overhaul of the classic 2002 album Nothing, Adrien Begrand gives his original 2002 review a similar treatment.

When it comes to certain albums, the passing of time can often be a help, as the more adventurous records can slowly attract an audience after the initial shock they might have inspired when they were released. Anyone who listens to Meshuggah knows full well that you have to spend some serious time with their albums in order to fully comprehend just what the hell is going on.

It was a shocking departure for some fans, especially those who loved the more furious aspects of such albums as Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere, but in the years since its release, Nothing remains one of the best metal albums of this decade, a beastly, ponderously slow excursion through tempos slower than molasses in January, and guitar grooves even thicker.

The Swedish four-piece are notorious perfectionists, however, and in the months following Nothing‘s release, the more we learned of the problems surrounding the recording process. The album was intended to be recorded using custom-made eight string guitars, but the prototypes by Nevborn were too faulty to work with, so guitarists Frederik Thorendal and Marten Hagstrom used detuned seven-stringers instead, which created additional problems, as they kept slipping out of tune during the sessions.

For those of us who were enthralled by the final result, we thought it sounded just fine, but it was clear that the band didn’t feel the album sounded anywhere near massive enough. So when Ibanez provided the duo with special eight-string guitars that worked properly, Thorendal and Hagstrom wasted no time in scrambling back to the studio to make some significant alterations.

In a time where metal labels exploit the devotion of bands’ respective fanbases by reissuing albums constantly, the special edition of Nothing is something entirely different, serving as a perfect companion piece to the original, and the differences between the two are like night and day. Only the lead vocals of Jens Kidman and Thorendal’s solos remain intact.

The rhythm guitars have been completely re-recorded, stronger cymbal crashes have been added, Tomas Haake’s drumbeats have been enhanced by triggered samples, one song ("Nebulous") has been digitally time-stretched, slowing it down even further, and the whole shebang has been completely remixed. But although it is, sonically speaking, a radical change, the songs themselves have not changed one iota, and that alone remains the album’s strength. The rest is window dressing. Tooth-rattling, skull-crushing window dressing.

The combination of the off-kilter guitars of Hagstrom and Thordendal, the stuttering, jazz-like cadence of Thomas Haake’s drumming, and moments of ultra-low, subwoofer-rattling, golgothan notes get your attention immediately on Nothing, but then those insane Neil Peart-on-acid polyrhythms kick in, and we’re immediately thrown for a loop. The guitars and drums sound like they’re playing different songs simultaneously (very much like Coleman’s “harmolodics” experiments in the early 1970s), but oddly enough, they still sound in synch.

It initially sounds utterly cacophonous, but essentially, it’s very simple, as Meshuggah bases its signature sound around “rotating time signatures”. The guitars and bass plow along in ungodly-sounding time signatures, but if you listen to the first thirty seconds of a song like “Rational Gaze”, and carefully count out drummer Thomas Haake’s beats, you’ll hear he’s playing a surprisingly simple 4/4 time, hitting the snare on each third beat, for 16 bars. At the same time, the guitars and bass are counting the same quarter notes, albeit in a different time signature, and eventually, both sides meet up again at the 64th beat. It’s simultaneously dizzying and mesmerizing, and it’s so precisely performed, it never veers out of control.

The eight-string guitars play a major role on the album, the low, grinding, bent-string notes hit during the opening of “Stengah” providing as menacing a sound as we’ll ever hear from a metal band. The rhythmic syncopation by the band during the verses of “Perpetual Black Second” is astonishing, as is the sudden, mellow interlude five and a half minutes through the relentless “Closed Eye Visuals” that goes for close to a minute before exploding into a chaotic, intense final verse. Haake’s polyrhythmic drum intro in “Glints Collide” is as much a feat of athleticism as it is an example of great musicianship.

The very down-tempo, Sabbath-meets-Tool slogfest “Nebulous” is brutally heavy, as is the aptly titled album closing instrumental “Obsidian”, whose massive, repeating riff serves as a bit of a cool-down period (albeit a creepy one) after close to an hour of exhausting technical gymnastics. All through the album, Thorendal offsets the mechanical riffs and drumming with his fluid, jazz-influenced soloing style, infusing the otherwise rigid compositions with intoxicating, wonky melodies.

Written mostly by Haake, the lyrics are surprisingly contemplative; while centering on the tried-and-true theme of doom that befits the genre, they show great depth and creativity, the maturity best exemplified in the song “Rational Gaze”: “Our light-induced image of truth—filtered blank of its substance/As our eyes won’t adhere to intuitive lines / Everything examined. Separated, one thing at a time / The harder we stare the more complete the disintegration.” “Perpetual Black Second” has Haake musing about a split second of blinding rage, yet instead of taking this theme and going on an antisocial rant like most young metal bands would, Haake writes something more simple, and much more jarring: “Please forgive the evil in me.”

All the ingredients come together most perfectly on “Spasm”. Over an intricate, pounding riff that’s underscored by chiming guitar harmonies, Haake, temporarily replacing Kidman’s authoritative, almost robotic bark with a very effective multi-tracked snarl, singing lyrics that are as graphic as anything William S. Burroughs has written, and like the late Burroughs’ own speaking voice, there is a scary sense of clinical detachment in the delivery, as Haake sneers, “Vertebras and spinal columns unaligned / Joints shattered and torn apart. Spasm-rendered distortion / Organic spiral. Stretched and torn into a new creation.”

The re-recorded guitar parts make a huge difference. The tone is much fuller, far richer than the original, and when we hear that aforementioned descending riff in “Stengah”, it makes the 2002 version sound considerably weaker in the process, that positively evil note sustaining much more smoothly. The slowed-down rendition of “Nebulous” is far more effective, the signature riff in the refrain sounding absolutely commanding, and “Obsidian” benefits greatly from being nearly doubled in length. That said, because the guitars have been pushed so far up front the mix on the reissue, Haake’s drumming is far less punchy; instead of being on equal footing with the guitars as on the original, Haake’s masterful beats clearly play more of a supporting role here.

Which album is better is clearly a matter of personal opinion, as each disc has its own strengths. The orange artwork of the 2002 edition reflects the much warmer, organic feel of the original mix, while the blue art design of the 2006 version is indicative of the much colder tones of the re-recorded disc. Fans have grown to love the original, but the band clearly believes the special edition is the definitive version. In a perfect world, it doesn’t hurt to have both, but if a new listener was to chose between the two, the best option would be the 2006 version; not only is the new mix thrilling to hear, but it comes along with improved liner notes (with lyrics printed in the booklet this time) as well as a bonus DVD featuring promo videos (including some clips that show just how funny these guys are) and three live tracks filmed in 2005.

Meshuggah’s efforts on Nothing should thrill any fan of metal music who craves something entirely new and original, and nearly five years after its original release, it is still one of the most inimitable metal albums to come out in ages. The key is not to be intimidated by the music; with repeated listens, the album becomes more and more fascinating, and after a few weeks, it will hold you in its thrall. Nothing is, like Haake writes in “Rational Gaze”, “Where engines of the sane and insanity merge / The clarity. The unity.” a great review by Adrien Begrand

download: meshuggah - nothing

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stoa - zal

.:: STOA was founded in 1991. Olaf Parusel (comp./arr.) looked at this time for a new way to connect his musical and philosophical thoughts.
He found a voice in Conny Levrow. In the same year the first song "Stoa" was released on the compilation "From Hypnotic ... to
Hypersonic" (Hyperium) The CD "Urthona" (Hyperium) followed in
1992. This CD was selling more than 14.000 copies worldwide.

Both members worked a lot in other projects in the years before.
Conny played the violin for more than 10 years and performed in many orchestras. Besides this she sang in some classical choruses and as a soloist. She is familiar with barock and romantic compositions like G.F. Handel, E. Grieg or Pergolesi.

.:: Although Zal represents only the 3rd album by this German trio, it is also the band’s first release in nearly eight years. However, despite the length of time between appearances, sToa’s devotion to neo-classical, orchestral, music with delicate female vocals, which has become synonymous with Hyperium’s Heavenly Voices collection from the early 1990’s, remains constant.

Fans of that series and of sToa’s previous releases will certainly not be disappointed by Zal: a lush and somber collection of poignant and emotional songs that are at once melancholy and stunning. "I Held the Moon," one of three instrumental tracks on Zal, opens the album with nearly 3 minutes of expressive, wilting piano – providing a fitting introduction to both the album and the song that follows: "Alone" in which the vocals of Antje Buchheiser manage to be commanding while also seemingly haunted by some ancient wound.

The effect is brilliant. Lyrically, "Alone," like nearly all the tracks on the album, pays homage to a famous poet, in this case James Joyce. Other poets whose words are woven into lyrics on Zal include Keiji Sayama, Paul Verlaine, William Shakespeare, and William Blake. The one exception to this rule is Zal’s 3rd track: a remake of Black Tape For a Blue Girl’s "I Wish You Could Smile," an absolutely inspired arrangement that manages to evoke both great anticipation and luscious heart break.

Beautiful moments are so numerous on this release that it’s impossible to choose a peak. However, there are two gems not to be overlooked, beginning with the album’s 5th track "Maare," which begins with the steady rise of rhythmic synth work, (evocative of the harpsichord), and is soon joined by Antje’s vocals, as well as a brooding cello solo that nearly weeps with yearning. Another equally beautiful moment on the CD is found in the 7th track "Winter," which is also the album’s final instrumental arrangement.

Defined by soaring violins, heartrending cello, and somber piano, "Winter" paints its eponymous landscape as both bleak and breathtaking. Overall, Zal is a release that fans of sToa’s prior showings will find to have been worth waiting for, while new fans will scramble to get their hands on the band’s first two increasingly difficult to find albums Urthona and Porta VIII. However, what both new and old fans alike will share after having tasted the Zal, is the hope that its follow up will not be quite so long in the making. JENNIFER JONES

download: stoa - zal

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don't mess with texas - los dias de junio

.:: Don't Mess With Texas was formed in Zagreb, Croatia in January of 2004. After the break up of Radio Free Isaac (and prior to that, bands Nikad and Lunar), Neven, Ozren and Saša decided to form a new band and soon invited Ivana to join the band on bass. After the recording of their first album, Slobich replaced Ivana and the line up had been solidified.

Don't Mess With Texas recorded and produced their sophomore album Los Dias De Junio in a movie theatre in Zagreb by themselves, with some additional help from their friends. Final mastering has been done by Carl Saff (who has previously worked with We Ragazzi, Small Arms Dealer, Sunburned Hand Of The Man and many others).

Structured in a similar manner as the band's s/t (2004, hmrl003), Los Dias De Junio is full of glorious moments. It is a carefully constructed album with equal parts of minimalist swell and swirling tension of sound providing each instrument in the texture plenty of space.

There is an unspeakable clarity that runs through this record. Mesmerizing subtlety can be heard in aery guitars and lush piano which interweave through the solid and sturdy rhythms. Despite the despodent atmosphere, these nine songs do not appear crestfallen, but provide the sense of ease and placidity with the turbulent undertow.

On this album, Don't Mess With Texas manage to condense their established dazzling epic sound into well-defined, focused and concise songs. Hush and serene while being dynamic, but far from sounding pompous or overstuffed, Don't Mess With Texas are determined to make you calm and disturbed at the same time. This is no easy feat, but as heard on this album, Neven, Ozren, Saša and Slobich once again pull it off easily and in a successful manner.

download: don't mess with texas - los dias de junio

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morphine - like swimming

.:: Morphine's music, which connects with listeners on a very physical level, is so simple it's amazing no one's done it before. Using exclusively low-register instruments, Mark Sandman's two-string bass and baritone voice, and Dana Colley's bass and baritone saxophones, the band's songs actually reverberate in the chest, treating listeners to a low-impact massage. And anything that feels this good can't be bad.

But Morphine's blessing--that distinctive low rock sound--is also their curse. Not only do they bind themselves to an instantly recognizable sound, but they also limit themselves in their arrangements: Voice and sax can each hit only one note at a time (though Colley sometimes manages to honk two saxes at once), while the bass can manage a two-note interval at best. It's hard being dynamic using only three or four sounds.

So where does that leave Like Swimming, Morphine's fourth album (and first since signing on with the big boys at DreamWorks)? Pretty much where the band started, it seems--with a blessing and a curse. As with past records, Like Swimming is easy to appreciate, full of loping bass lines and slithery sax riffs that strut through jazzy rock numbers like "Wishing Well" and "Empty Box." But while newcomers may be happy with the band's warm swing, others will pine for the first time they heard the band's earlier breakthrough on Cure For Pain.

Only with the album closer "Swing It Low" (a title that could be a band manifesto) does Morphine hint at changes to come: With guitar, keyboards, programmed drums, and no saxophone, the song (first released as a Sandman solo project) proves it possible to capture Morphine's noir moods in midrange as well. --Roni Sarig

download: morphine - like swimming

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behold the arctopus - skullgrid

.:: Following their Black Market Activities debut, “Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning”, the instrumental power-trio has put a darker and more atmospheric spin on their sound with “Skullgrid”.

Behold have extracted the grit, rawness and obscured beauty of old black, death and doom metal—inspired by bands like Ulver, Darkthrone, Enslaved, Morbid Angel, Death, Swans—with the structures and harmonies of the classical world—composers like Berio, Penderecki, Bartok, Shostakovitch, and Varese. They used the composing style from the classical world and constructed the record straight to paper, tabbing the songs out musically and then learning how to play them after the fact.

The result of the clash of these styles and influences ranging hundreds of years is astounding. There are also elements of more contemporary influences, like that of King Crimson, Watchtower, Naked City and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Despite the mechanically perfect musicianship, the sounds have such an emotive air that paints clear pictures of various moods and landscapes.

Behold... the Arctopus play intensely virtuosic and complex progressive metal with avant-garde leanings that completely avoid sounding dated or cliche. The instrumental trio comprised of guitar, drums and Warr guitar (a 12 string instrument played primarily by tapping that covers the range of guitar and bass) combine furious virtuosity, detailed composition countered by improvised soloing and certain writing techniques of contemporary classical music to give their insanity a compositional cohesion rarely heard in rock music.

Despite their technical nature, they always rock hard and in an engaging way that is as accessible to musicians and non-musicians alike. They are a true metal band that everyone can enjoy, not just the "kult" headbangers.

Behold... the Arctopus have shared the stage with the likes of such bands as Pig Destroyer, Hella, Orthrelm, Psyopus, Kayo Dot, Pelican, Genghis Tron, All Else Failed, Exhumed, Dysrhythmia and Cerberus Shoal.

Behold... the Arctopus contains something for everyone with a love for music and an open mind.

download: behold the arctopus - skullgrid

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miasma & the carousel of headless horses - manfauna

.:: Miasma & The Carousel Of Headless Horses were a must-have for the Latitudes series. An essential live band on the London underground scene, Miasma have wowed many an audience over the last year with their virtuoso performances.

In many ways this material is their most accomplished to date. All the instrumentation has progressed from their debut recording, the excellent Perils LP, and the addition of the bassoon is genius creating new layers and a whole other dimension to the Miasma vision.

Any opportunity to see this band live and to be carried away by their sheer ability should be grasped with both hands. In the meantime let this document serve as your key to their otherworldly realms.

Daniel O'Sullivan: Guitars, Harmonium, Autoharp
Orlando Harrison: Piano, Organ
Sara Hubrich: Violin, Viola
Leo Smee: Bass
David Smith: Drums, Percussion

download: miasma & the carousel of headless horses - manfauna

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canadians - a sky with no stars


.:: The Italian indie band Canadians embodies a true success story of the current myspace era. Hailing from the city of Verona of Shakespearian fame, Canadians are a fivepiece formed in January 2005, featuring Duccio Simbeni (lead vocals, guitar), Michele Nicoli (guitar), Massimo Fiorio (bass, vocals), Vittorio Pozzato (keyboards, vocals) and Christian Corso (drums).

Their first, self-produced EP "The north side of summer" was enthusiastically received by Italian bloggers and music media alike for their breezy, catchy college pop influenced by American acts such as Weezer, Pavement, Grandaddy, and a special gift for hooks and vocal harmonies reminescent of classic 60s bands like Beach Boys and Byrds.

The first recognition outside Italy was their feature in the "Breaking Bands" column of the weekly British magazine New Musical Express. But the band also won the hearts of those at Project My World, an American reality television series in which the hosts meet with friends and unsigned bands all over the world with a myspace profile. The show visited the band in their hometown for a week; since then, the band's myspace has enjoyed aninternational, fast-growing popularity, especially among US teenagers.

After various rumours concerning deals with major labels, the band signed with the Italian independent label Ghost Records in March 2007 and then flew to Liverpool for two shows at the legendary Cavern Club, as part of the bill of the itinerant festival International Pop Overthrow.

Back in 2006, Canadians won the Heineken Jammin Contest for unsigned Italian bands. The prize was the recording of their debut full-length album, which is officially out in September 2007 with the title "A Sky with No Stars". (written by Davide Golin)

download: canadians - a sky with no stars

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keiji haino - an unclear trail; more than this

.:: Keiji Haino is an enigmatic noise troubadour from Tokyo, has exploded on the American/European scene, enthralling both experimental enthusiasts and alternative rock fans. He has performed with artists including John Zorn, Thurston Moore, Gate, and Loren Mazzacane as well as his own group, Fushitsusha. Haino has been cited as a favorite guitarist by peers ranging from Thurston Moore to Fred Frith.

Haino is a mysterious psychedelic minstrel who has been performing his peculiar blend of rock, medieval music and improvisation since the early 1970’s. Incredibly prolific, he has headed dozens of bands and released hundreds of CDs on a variety of labels around the globe.

download: keiji haino - an unclear trail; more than this

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jonathan harvey - from silence, nataraja, ritual melodies


.:: Harvey has a truly global reputation, particularly for his work in the field of electro-acoustic music (he has been commissioned by IRCAM on eight separate occasions), where he is considered as one of the most skilled and imaginative composers using the electronic medium today.

He has also composed for most other genres, including large orchestra, ensemble and solo instrumental. He is particularly renowned for his choral music, much of which is suited for church performance, most notably his church opera Passion and Resurrection. He is frequently featured at all the major European music festivals. From 2005 he is Composer-in-Residence at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He is currently writing an opera for Nederlands Opera.

Born in Warwickshire in 1939, Jonathan Harvey was a chorister at St Michael's College, Tenbury and later a major music scholar at St John's College, Cambridge. He gained doctorates from the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and also studied privately (on the advice of Benjamin Britten) with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller. He was a Harkness Fellow at Princeton (1969-70).

An invitation from Boulez to work at IRCAM in the early 1980s has resulted in eight realisations at the Institute, or for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, including the tape piece Mortuos Plango Vivos Voco, Bhakti for ensemble and electronics, Ritual Melodies for computer-manipulated sounds, and Advaya for cello and live and pre-recorded sounds. Harvey has also composed for most other genres: orchestra (including Madonna of Winter and Spring, Tranquil Abiding and White as Jasmine), chamber (including four String Quartets, Soleil Noir/Chitra, and Death of Light, Light of Death, for instance) as well as works for solo instruments.

He has produced a large output of choral works, including the large cantata with electronics Mothers shall not Cry (2000). His church opera Passion and Resurrection (l981) was the subject of a BBC television film, and has received twelve subsequent performances. His opera Inquest of Love, commissioned by ENO, was premiered there in 1993 and repeated at Theatre de la Monnaie, Brussels in 1994.

Harvey now attracts commissions from many international organisations. His music has been extensively played and toured by, amongst others, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Asko, Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam) and Ictus Ensemble (Brussels). About 80 recordings are available on CD. He is regularly performed at all the major international contemporary music festivals, and is one of the most skilled and imaginative composers working in electronic music. He has honorary doctorates from the universities of Southampton and Bristol, is a Member of Academia Europaea, and in 1993 was awarded the prestigious Britten Award for composition.

He published two books in 1999, on inspiration and spirituality respectively. Arnold Whittall’s study of his music appeared, published by Faber & Faber (and in French by IRCAM) in the same year. Two years later John Palmer published a substantial study: "Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti" (Edwin Mellen Press). Harvey was Professor of Music at Sussex University for 18 years, where he is now Honorary Professor of Music. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at Stanford University, California (Professor 1995-2000), and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. He is Composer-in-Residence at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

download: jonathan harvey - from silence, nataraja, ritual melodies

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alejandro otaola - fractales

.::Alejandro Otaola is a rock and jazz musician from the Mexico City. His name and career have been related to bands such as Santa Sabina and La Barranca, among others.

In 2007, Alejandro Otaola released a multimedia solo project titled Fractales. The album combines improvised music on guitar and guitar synthesizer with fully composed instrumental songs, including contributions played by former band colleagues from Santa Sabina and La Barranca.

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the hylozoists - la fin du monde

||| AWESOME |||

.:: Montreal Mirror
"Fans of Stereolab, Tortoise and Air (and Pink Floyd?), pay attention now ... This phenomenal octet has the familiar post-rock elements in place -- Reichian marimba riffage, space banjo and astro-slide, theremin and tiki-bar vibes and all that great stuff. The songs have an amazing way of shambling along in their ornate glory, seemingly on the verge of imminent collapse. Then they go and fall beautifully into place. (Rating: 9/10)"

.:: National Post
"The sound and musty texture of 1970s film scores ... vintage synthesizers and Euro-tribal rhythms ... puffy
studio flutes, twangy country steal ... glittering surfaces abound, as the accumulated colours flood the audible spectrum."

.:: The instrumental music of The Hylozoists lends itself well to lofty analogies. One listener might liken it to a soundtrack in search of an arthouse film. Another might find it ideal accompaniment for a macabre carnival carousel. Such comparisons could even coalesce. For example: If Fellini and Leone had started a circus, their organ grinders would've churned out music akin to that found on La Fin Du Monde -- The Hylozoists' sophomore album.

While such flights of descriptive fancy certainly allude to the majestic scope of The Hylozoists' songcraft, they speak little of its immediacy. Appreciation of La Fin Du Monde is scarcely limited to the erudite or elite. Rather, this is music that grips the listener by the heartstrings and affects them on a deeply visceral level.

The Hylozoists were conceived by Paul Aucoin in 2001 when he recorded the debut album La Nouvelle Gauche at his studio in Nova Scotia. A Halifax-heavy line-up of backing musicians was then assembled to perform the songs at a variety of festivals and other dates. However, the project was soon relegated to the backburner as Aucoin turned his focus to responsibilities both in the studio producing numerous acts and performing on stage with The Sadies.

Relocating to Toronto in 2004, Aucoin drafted a new compliment of Hylozoists. Having already commenced production on a sophomore effort, he ultimately abandoned the work-in-progress. For Aucoin, it was essential that he start fresh and capture the collective sound of his new legion of collaborators. At that point, The Hylozoists shed the shackles of "solo project" and blossomed into a group.

Drawing equally from Aucoin's formal music education and field hours logged on smoky stages, La Fin Du Monde delivers songs that are orchestral in composition and pop in actualization. Tilt-a-whirl opener "The Fifty Minute Hour" leaves the listener deliriously off-balance. Horns, strings and organs swirl dizzyingly while vibraphones serenely anchor the melody.

"If Only Your Heart was a Major Sixth" evidences post-rock at its propulsive best. Meanwhile, spaghetti western dramatics rise to the fore on "Elementary Particles" and "Man Who Almost Was." The spacey "Journey to the End of the Night" conjures dreamy Parisian grandeur. Finally, the closing title track commences with lullaby eloquence before ceding its demure music box melody to torrents of distortion and wailing vocals.

To realize his expansive musical vision on record, Aucoin (vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums) calls upon a rotating cast of exemplary players that includes Patrick Conan (vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums), Jason Ball (organist, vocals), Jason Tait (vibraphone, glockenspiel), Paul Lowman (bass), Wayne Petti (piano, vocals), Jeremy Strachan (guitar), Matthew Faris (drums), Julie Penner (violin), Dale Murray (pedal steel, guitar). Live the band consists of Aucoin, Turenne, Sandes, Lowman, Faris, Lee and Conan while numerous past members appear in and out of the fold.

Traditionally, hylozoism is the belief that all matter holds life. Evidently, these Hylozoists believe every available minute bears opportunity. In turn, a new slew of haughty comparisons is sure to follow. Don't let decadent descriptors dissuade you from experiencing The Hylozoists for yourself. myspace.com/hylozoists

download: the hylozoists - la fin du monde

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someone still loves you boris yeltsin - broom


.:: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, a band, couldn’t list a single music blog until their lo-fi MP3s and low-res JPEGs made them worldwide icons of Blogdom in 2005. Their debut record, Broom is an expertly crafted indie pop gem. Spin magazine read an SSLYBY blog, downloaded their music and declared the Missouri band “could succeed The Shins.” Then a slew of bloggers ranked them ahead of Wilco and Iron & Wine in Leafblower’s annual “Top Bands of America Today”.

“Internet fame doesn’t make sense to us,” says drummer and main songwriter Philip Dickey. “I don’t think our lead singer has an e-mail address.”

All members were babies in the early 80s. A mutual ex-girlfriend from high school introduced the original members of the band. And that’s also where the name comes from—high school. “I thought of it when I was at the mall with my mom,” Dickey says. “We’re not good at naming things or planning ahead. We only tried to make people like us a couple years ago.”

SSLYBY’s hometown used to be a beacon of pop music in the 50’s. That’s when The Ozark Jubilee was broadcasting live country music from the downtown Springfield, entertaining millions of viewers every Saturday night on primetime NBC. “We think about that show a lot,” Dickey says. “Our little town was the third highest origination point for national television…third only to New York and Hollywood. We want to bring the spotlight back here. Moving to Brooklyn or LA would be copping out. We’re not that sad about living in Missouri.”

The band released their debut album, Broom, originally in March 2005. Broom was recorded in an attic and a living room on Weller Street, Knauer’s home. The band’s ambition was simple- to make the “Local Releases” bin at CD Warehouse. However, it turned into a classic rock ‘n’ roll record: the kind where pop perfectionism meets studio experimentations and each track flows effortlessly. Relatively tame pop songs are molded by happy accidents of fate, sometimes involving unexplained swarming sounds and doubled drums tracks.

The band posted Broom MP3s on their website, and that’s how the blogging boom began. Then the San Francisco Weekly wrote a love letter to the band—literally.

“Dear Unknown Band from Middle of Nowhere Missouri, How do I love thee? …your debut is one of those rare albums where every song is crafted, delicious, and essential. This is disgusting, really, given the fact that the oldest member of your band is only 22. Yours truly, Chris Baty”

And the infatuation hasn’t ended. It’s impossible to find a reviewer or blogger that isn’t lovesick over Broom, even with omniscient help of Google.

The band is in the process of following up Broom at incessant pace. Each month SSLYBY releases 30 minutes of analog recordings to subscribers of their prolific “Tape Club”. And they proved they were a real band when they toured with Secretly Canadian’s Catfish Haven in February. The Columbia Tribune called it one of the best shows of the year….“Springfield up-and-comer doesn’t yet realize the gifts it possesses - a scary thought.”

Also scary: the reviews barely scratch the surface of SSLYBY’s virtues. Listen to what Pitchfork labeled the “Basement MP3’s”. Scour the internet. Feel the love poured into each song. And watch Google completely debase the way we discover our new favorite bands.

download: someone still loves you boris yeltsin - broom

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kaija saariaho - neiges, for 8 cellos

.:: Born in 1952 in Finland, Kaija Saariaho lived a childhood embedded in music, playing several instruments. In parallel to musical studies, she started art studies, at the Fine Arts School of Helsinki, that she quickly quit to concentrate on music. At the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, she received the composition teachings of Paavo Heininen, before to follow, in Darmstadt then in Fribourg, the courses of Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber.

Characterizing her works of the eighties, her sensual writing, descriptive and lyrical, unfold subtile transformations. Her research of new timbres has stimumlated her study of new technics in the instrumantal as well as the computer domain, for which starting in 1982, she initiated herself at Ircam. This practice constitutes an important element of her compositions. kaija saariaho

.:: A note from the composer:

“When I considered the ensemble of eight cellos, I first thought of dark textures. I also wanted to go back to some ideas on symmetry. While I was pondering all that, I saw snow flakes falling from the dark sky of the Finnish autumn. Focusing on the snow, the idea of writing variations on it and its various forms became clearer in my mind.

“Nuages de neige is a uniform and linear texture in which I realize my first impressions of that ensemble. The two Etoiles de neige are based on the idea of symmetry and repetition: the first one develops up to a certain point where it doubles back as in a mirror image, the second one consists of eight sections in which the harmonic structure is repeated, as well as a linear gesture that becomes ever more present. Aiguilles de glace focuses on different pizzicati and superimposed ostinati. With Fleurs de neige I sought to recall the texture of those harmonic trills at the end of the first section, although more airy and diversified here.” laphil.com

download: kaija saariaho - neiges, for 8 cellos

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krzysztof penderecki - te deum; lacrimosa (special edition)


.:: Born in Debica (130 km east of Krakow) on 23 November 1933. His father, a lawyer and an enthusiastic violin player, brought his son into contact with music very early. Penderecki was given violin and piano lessons at an early age and was admitted to the Krakow Conservatory at the age of 18, studying at the same time philosophy, art history and literary history at the local university and from 1954 composition at the Krakow State Academy of Music, first with Artur Malewski and after his death in 1957 with Stanislas Wiechowicz. In 1958 he finished his studies with a diploma and was appointed professor at the Musikhochschule.

In 1959 Penderecki's three works STROPHES, EMANATIONS and PSALMS OF DAVID won first prizes in the 2nd Warsaw Competition of Young Polish Composers of the Composers' Union. Only one year later, in 1960, his piece ANAKLASIS for 42 string instruments, premièred by the Südwestfunk Orchestra under the direction of Hans Rosbaud at the Donaueschingen Festival, was celebrated by the press.

With these works and other works following in rapid succession, such as DIMENSIONS OF TIME AND SILENCE, THRENODY (UNESCO Award in 1961), POLYMORPHIA and FLUORESCENCES, the STRING QUARTET NO. 1, DIES IRAE in memory of the victims of Auschwitz (Prix Italia 1968) and STABAT MATER for three mixed choruses a cappella which later became part of the ST. LUKE PASSION performed for the first time in 1966 at the Cathedral of Münster, Penderecki laid the foundations for his international reputation as a composer. For the ST. LUKE PASSION, Penderecki was awarded the Great Arts Award of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1966 and the Prix Italia in 1967. In the same year, he was also awarded the Sibelius Gold Medal.

From 1966 to 1968 Penderecki taught at the Essen Folkwang Hochschule; during this time he began his intensive work on his first opera THE DEVILS OF LOUDON (based on a book by Aldous Huxley, dramatized by John Whiting and translated by Erich Fried) which, after its première at the Hamburg Staatsoper in 1969, was successfully performed at theatres throughout the worldas were the three following operas PARADISE LOST (after the play by John Milton; première 1978 in Chicago), DIE SCHWARZE MASKE (after the play by Gerhart Hauptmann; première 1986 at the Salzburg Festival) and UBU REX (after the play UBU ROI by Alfred Jarry; première 1991 in Munich at the Bayerische Staatsoper). In 1968 he received a scholarship of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) in Berlin.

In 1970 he was awarded the Prize of the Union of Polish Composers. Since 1972 he was rector of the Krakow Musikhochschule; from 1973 to 1978 he was professor at the Yale University, New Haven. In these years, on extended concert tours all over the world, Penderecki rapidly acquired an international reputation even as a conductor of both his own compositions and works of other composers.

Other prizes awarded to Penderecki for his other 5 symphonies, small-scale orchestral compositions, solo concertos (two violin concertos, an alto concerto, two violoncello concertos, a flute concerto, some of them in versions for other solo instruments, among others), chamber music works and numerous vocal works are the Prix Arthur Honegger in 1977 (for MAGNIFICAT), the Sibelius Prize of the Wihouri Foundation and the National Prize of Poland in 1983, the Premio Lorenzo Magnifico in 1985 and the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1992 (for ADAGIO SYMPHONY NO. 4), among others.

In 1998 he was honoured with the Composition Award of the Promotion Association of the European Industry and Trade, conferred upon him on 10 September on the occasion of the Penderecki Festival in Krakow. In 1999 he received the Music Award of the City of Duisburg. In January 2000 he received the Cannes Classical Award as "Living Composer of the Year". 2001 he received the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, 2002 the Romano Guardini Prize of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria.

Since 1990 he has been holder of the Grand Cross for Distinguished Services of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and Chevalier de Saint Georges. In 1992 he received the Austrian Medal for Science and Art. In 1993 the Institute for Advanced Study at the Indiana University Bloomington conferred upon him the Distinguished Citizen Fellowship; in the same year he was awarded the Prize of the International Music Council UNESCO for Music and the Order of Cultural Merit of the Principality of Monaco. In 1995 he became member of the Royal Academy of Music, Dublin, and freeman of the city of Strasbourg. In 1995 and 1996 he was awarded the Primetime Emmy Award of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In 1998 the American Academy of Arts and Letters conferred upon him the Foreign Honorary Membership; in the same year he became a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, and was appointed to the Honorary Board of the Vilnius Festival '99. 2000 he became honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Vienna, 2001 of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. On 5 January 2003 Penderecki was given the freedom of his native town Debica, and the very same month received the Eduardo M. Torner Medal of the 'Conservatorio de Música del Principado Asturias' during his stay in Oviedo, Spain and was appointed honorary director of the choir of the Prince of Asturias Foundation and honorary president of the cultural association 'Apoyo a la Creación Musical'. 2004, Penderecki has been awarded the Praemium Imperiale and in 2006, he became both Member of the Three Star Order in Latvia and the Order of the White Eagle in Poland, which represent the highest honors of these countries.

Penderecki has received honorary doctorates and professorships from numerous universities, such as the Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., the University of Glasgow, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the universities of Rochester, Bordeaux, Leuwen, Belgrad, Madrid, Poznán and of the St. Olaf College, Northfield/Minn., as well as honorary memberships from the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), the Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien (Stockholm), the Akademie der Künste (Berlin) and the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires). In 1998 the Beijing Conservatoire appointed him as honorary professor, and in 1999 the Duquesne University, Pittsburgh (PA) conferred upon him an honorary doctorate.

***one of my favorites composers***

download: krzysztof penderecki - te deum; lacrimosa (special edition)

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