Monday, February 18, 2008

Recent listening:

I'd taken out my sole Cannibal Ox disc, "The Cold Vein" (their only release?), a few weeks ago, some thing I hadn't listened to in quite a while and pretty much enjoyed it, especially the opening track, "Iron Galaxy". Doing some research, I saw that one of the Anticon producers, going by the nom Odd Nosdam, had released a disc last year that received much good press, "Level Live Wires". The reviews cited the great amount of noise and field recordings he interwove with hip hoppish music. Sounded interesting. Well, that'll learn me to believe mainstream reviewers when it comes to things like "noise". It's like someone eating bland Indian food and putting the tiniest pinch of spice on it, then pronouncing it "really spicy". It's not bad and overall it's listenable but way routine, only mildly imaginative and not noisy enough by several powers of ten.

Speaking of buying mistakes, somewhere in the recent past I read about this band, Dengue Fever. They're a California-based (should've been fair warning right there) band that melds Cambodian pop into a jazzy mix, including a Cambodian lead singer (female). Now, I loves me much of what Southeast Asian pop I've heard, including some from Cambodia. Detty Kurnia kills me. So when I stumbled across this at Other Music, I figured it was worth a shot. Well, no, not really. Some catchy numbers, the vocalist, Chhom Nimol, is ok and winning on a couple of tracks, but too many of the songs fall into regulation fusion, no bite and not enough over-the-top sweetness to compensate.

Happily, I managed one good one out of the three purchases that day, Volume 6 of Obscure Tape Music of Japan, featuring the work of Kuniharu Akiyama. More later when I digest is further, but on first blush, it was a winner.

Later in the week, trooped over to Erstwhile Command Central, picking up the Magic I.D., Graham Lambkin's "Salmon Run" (pictured above) and Tandem Electric's "Intaglio". I have an issue or two with Magic I.D., exclusively centered around the vocals and lyrics (I love the clarinets) but I'll get to that later as well after more listens. Kinda liked "Intaglio" so far.

But portions of "Salmon Run" knocked me out, the opening track especially. Last night I played it at Record Club and wowed the group, a couple of members insisting on acquiring the disc. On this piece and several others, it's not so much that Lambkin is working in a very new area, just that the choices he makes are near perfect. The decay on the string and piano piece when it returns packs an emotional wallop for me, casting an extreme and beautiful melancholy over the music. Again, maybe more later on, but I'd highly recommend picking up one of the scant 300 copies of this.

Some other good stuff played at RC last night. Guest Richard Brown, in from Calgary (!), played an intriguing track by MGMT, an area I'd normally have little interest in, but they seem to use lessons derived from bands like Godspeed! You Black Emperor in an interesting way. Dan played a very nice Milton Nascimento song from '74 and Chris brought back the memories by offering up "Train Time" from Cream's "Wheels of Fire". Actually, given that the live performance is just Bruce (harmonica, vocals) and Baker (brushes), I was thinking that perhaps they should be called, for the occasion, CRM II.


Alastair said...

I used to hate "Traintime". Isn't that on the same side of "Wheels of Fire" as "Toad"? A side to skip, if ever there was one.

Brian Olewnick said...

Well, since I probably won't get to my "Wheels of Fire" for a while yet, I'll skip ahead: A few years ago, I was up visiting my folks and my dad says, "You know, you have some old LPs down in the basement." I checked it out and, indeed, there were a handful that seemed to have escaped trade-in, likely because my brother Glen wanted them. Not much I felt like revisiting (a few Doors albums in there) but I picked up WoF and said, "Huh. Wonder how this would sound some 30 years later?"

It actually sounds pretty good. The most interesting thing to me was that the live, bluesier portions were what I liked most today, not the song-oriented disc, the opposite of what I felt at 16. (This was my first double album btw!)

Traintime doubtless pales beside any quasi-similar piece done by an actual blues musician, I'll give you that. But maybe it's just that its second-generation-ness sounds relatively good compared to the eighth or ninth generation versions one might hear today by whatever Cream's equivalent would be.

Dunno, but I thought Bruce's mouth organ playing was pretty decent, his vocals heartfelt and Baker's brushwork quite adept and supportive.

Bring on "Toad"!!!

Jon said...

if no one else is going to acknowledge it, the CRM II thing was clever.

not a fan of the band, though, I'll take "the actual blues musicians"...

Brian Olewnick said...

Jeez, glad someone noticed....

No doubt about preferring originators to copyists, but as time goes on there's often aspects of interest with second generation workers in a given area, especially when compared against progressively weaker strains. Even if "Traintime" isn't entirely honest, it's more so than most subsequent efforts.

It's sorta like listening to Canned Heat...or even Beefheart. There's enough there, for me, to render it palatable. If I were ten years older, familiar with the progenitors of the music, I might well have a different opinion.

Jon said...

I don't think your age matters much on this, I think it's that this was formative music for you and the actual blues wasn't. I'm younger than you and feel the opposite way (even though I heard Cream at a decidedly younger age than any actual blues). anyway, I'll take the Allman Brothers first four records over anything Cream did, but it's not like I listen to them any more either.

Brian Olewnick said...

I was never all that into the Allmans, though I liked the live album and Eat a Peach well enough. Something too clean about their sound maybe. I remember a friend back then chastising me, "You like jazz, you should like the Allman Brothers!" But they never really clicked for me.