Saturday, November 14, 2009
My sole Globe Unity LP, issued on Po Torch in 1977 and a rather good one. Side one, "Jahrmarkt" was recorded in '75 and has a stellar cast that includes Evan Parker, Brotzmann, Braxton and the mighty trombone trio of Christmann, Rutherford and Mangelsdorff. It's a bit murky and clunky but, by and large, a decent semi-structured free-for-all. Still, the rewards are to be found on Side B, "Local Fair", a massive, Ivesian public performance conceived by Brotzmann featuring, in addition to GUO, a local brass and reed band (Wuppermusikanten), a Greek jazz quartet an accordion entourage whose squeezeboxes number a couple dozen. The recording is ambient, including area noise, the groups coming and going, merging and separating, free jazz, polkas, "Down by the Riverside". Excellent.
A very fascinating DG LP, I guess issued around '69 (I picked it up much later at a record fair, iirc) featuring Vinko Globokar performing a piece of his own (Discours II pour cinq trombones) as well as Berio's "Sequenza V", and works by Stockhausen and Carlos Roque Alsina (the latter otherwise unknown to me). I'd forgotten the Berio was here, having only relatively recently really gotten to listen to the entire set, spurred by Domenico Sciano's excellent recombinative release from last year. Impressive piece, as is the Stockhausen ("Solo fur Melodie-Instrument mit Ruckkopplung" (1966-67), an early (?) example of the musician being recorded, the music played back into the room after some delay, the musician commenting on it, etc. Here, much of the "commentary" comes from five people playing tape recordings of a section from "Hymnen". Very rich piece. Lot of meat in this recording, worth going back into often.
Along with Material and the Love of Life Orchestra, the Palominos (originally head by Anton Fier and Laswell, soon run pretty much by Fier) were one of the groups that forced me to re-evaluate my opinions on the viability of rock-oriented music in the early 80s, which I'd all but abandoned. I remember running across this in the jazz outlet of J&R, back when it was a small place on Nassau St., around '83. I knew most of the names, having heard Frith & Tacuma of course, but also having encountered Zorn, Laswell and Lindsay (in DNA) here and there. Most humorously, for me, was the presence on one track of Roger Trilling (credited with "Records"), who I knew a bit at Vassar in the early 70s (if you've self-googled, Hi Roger!). How could I resist? I forget if I'd already owned Zorn's "Locus Solus" at this point (right around the same time) but even so, this sounded entirely new and exciting to me. Still does! Trying to think of what else sounded like this; can't really come up with anything. That heavy, "tribal" kind of rhythm, maybe Martin Bisi or early Sharp, but this packs such a surge. Laswell and Tacuma are fantastic here, huge sound. Really holds up superbly.
Ok, I understand my credentials as arbiter of all things rock might come into question in some quarters, but damned if this isn't a great, relatively straight ahead rock album. Every track is utterly solid, fine melodies, strong, strong playing. Some, like "The Animal Speaks", featuring John Lydon, are as powerful a rock song as I know, so much better than anything in the quasi-same ballpark of which I'm aware. Even Michael Stipe sounds great! The slightly softer pieces on Side 2 (with fine Jack Bruce on "Silver Bullet") point the way to the next album but are far, far superior. Excellent sound, too.
Talk about falling off a cliff. Most of the same personnel, gears shifted almost entirely to MOR status, everything laced with saccharine. Objectively, I guess it's no worse than any dozen other things of its kind released around '87 but comparatively, this is a major step backward; I only retain it for historical purposes! :-) This was the last LP of theirs I bought. I think it was two or three years before their next, which came out on disc. I kept up with them though I thought their output was spotty. Fier navigated through a few different areas, including drone-y Laswelliana though their last (?) one, "Dead Inside" (1996) a collaboration with poet Nicole Blackman, has several very strong tracks, "Victim", a first person narrative of a kidnapping and murder, is one of the most chilling pieces I've ever heard.