Sunday, January 14, 2007

Boy, it sucks when you're talking about a recording less than 25 years old and the only available image I could find is this one. Great cover though.

"New Music from Antarctica" (yes, for lack of a better solution I file this as though the sounds actually stem from there), hopefully but inaccurately subtitled "vol. 1", was a compilation of tracks from people in the ambit of the early 80s incarnation of The Kitchen, the music/performance/video space that was initially on the corner of Grand and Wooster in Soho before moving up to its current location on West 19th St. (just checked out their site here--looks like there are some interesting things in the video archive). I don't recall the sequence of Directors but around that time they included Rhys Chatham and George Lewis. This comp seems to have been assembled under the direction of Peter Gordon (in conjunction with video work by Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn; the video from this project is apparently for sale here), founder of the at-one-time-exciting Love of Life Orchestra. Ironically then, the two weakest pieces here are the LOLO/Gordon tracks that bracket the release, Gordon already on the downslope from excellent releases like "Geneve" and "Extended Niceties" that would ultimately extend to the less interesting "Innocent" and "Brooklyn".

Sandwiched between, however, are a number of luscious works. Two wonderful songs by Jill Kroesen (who, thanks to diligent research by Rita from Jazz Corner, we've learned owns a resort in Desert Springs CA these days!), "I'm Sorry I'm Such a Weenie" and a great cover of Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me". On the latter, she performs it as a drawn-out moan, anguished, petulant, just herself and piano--quite harrowing.

I think when I first heard it, I found "Blue" Gene Tyranny's "The World's Greatest Piano Player" to be excessively noodlesome, but over the years I've come to really enjoy wallowing in it. A trio with David Van Tieghem and Laswell, it's something of a frolic as Tyranny is all over the place, keeping it funky but not shying from the florid. I always think of Van Tieghem with Anton Fier, btw, as two drummers who concentrate on a pretty narrow spectrum--solid, precise rock drumming--but carry it off surprisingly well. The handful of things I've heard from Tyranny since then have been enjoyable as well, making me think I should check out his work further. He also does some pretty decent writing for AMG once in a while.

My personal highlight of the set, though, is Ned Sublette's extraordinary "I Ain't Afraid of Girls". Backed entirely by horns (including Lewis), this is a warped, extremely catchy C&W song, nasally sung by Sublette with lyrics delineating his, erm, machoness:

I'm afraid of Hollywood and I'm afraid of snakes
I'm afraid of tumbleweed and I'm afraid of rakes
I'm afraid of fire and I'm afraid to fight
I'm afraid of being locked in the john and I'm afraid of eatin' tripe.

But I'm the bravest man in the whole wide world
'Cause I ain't afraid of girls.
I'm the braveest man in the whole wide world
'Cause I ain't afraid of girls!

I love'em when they're hot and sexy
I love 'em when they get a little corny
I ain't afraid when they cry a lot
I ain't afraid when they get horny

I like 'em when they need me and
I like it when they don't
If they take me for stud
Or a savior on a horse

etc... (all lyrics approximated from memory)

Side Two opens with Chatham's "Drastic Classicism", I think the first time I ever heard his music and it's a pretty good one, though not quite up to either "Der Donnergotter" or much of the music on "Factor X". At the time a fascinating adjunct to Branca's work, harsher and less traditionally structured. This is followed by a humdrum Van Tieghem piece, then the Kroesen cover and finally, a sludgy Gordon number (though, interestingly, with Maarten van Regteren Altena and Rene van Aast along for the ride).

I believe this was momentarily available on disc on the Italian New Tone label in the early 90s. Wish there had been a Vol. 2, at least.


Anonymous said...

"Blue" Gene Tyranny's first record just got reissued this month... Interesting thread about it here:

A record well worth checking out.

Brian Olewnick said...

Thanks, Jimmy. I have "Free Delivery", "Just for the Record" and "Take Your Time" under his own name. Been a while since I listened to the first two (both on vinyl, iirc) but enjoyed the last one--the most recent--a bunch.

Anonymous said...

i really enjoy take your time, as well. the other two you mention are inferior in my opinion, as well. i would try to get a hold of "the intermediary" that one's a knock-out, for me. sounds a lot like what a lot of the rastor-noton/mego people are trying to do now, but with more results.

out of the blue is completely different from anything you've heard it sounds like. it's very pop oriented, and the most accomplished of any of that scene in that manner, i think.

here's a quote from that thread which i think does a great job of describing it:

"Out of the Blue gets points for having every track be a surprise compared to the previous one -- I wasn't expecting the first track to be a beautiful 70's country-indie-prog-pop epic, wasn't expecting the second track to be a brainy disco thing (which grew on me after a while), wasn't expecting a choral piece, then wasn't expecting an epic 25 minute travelogue soundscape on side two, which seems to be a letter read aloud by a friend of Tyranny's which he's set to music.

if you like Ashley (and the chord sequences & keyboard playing Tyranny contributed to Private Parts, Perfect Lives, The Bar, Music Word Fire & Atalanta, Yellow Man With Heart With Wings i.e. most of Ashley's best records), then you need Out of the Blue for side two alone, and "Next Time Might be Your Time"... should have been a hit

-- milton parker"

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Sorry for the really poor grammar in that post. The internet really does encourage laziness sometimes...

Brian Olewnick said...

fwiw, I just realized/remembered that I reviewed "Just for the Record" and "Take Your Time" for AMG.

Anonymous said...

Very cool. I notice Out of the Blue has never been reviewed for AMG, nor has the OO Disc release "Go Blue." I'd be interested in what you'd have to say. "Go, Blue" is pretty interesting, but it was performed by some kind of college ensemble I believe and the overall feel and the digital sounds employed really smudge the pieces...

Brian Olewnick said...

I'm going to try and make it a little project for myself this year to get more familiar with the Ashley "stable", including Tyranny. Saw "Concrete" last evening (a review should be forthcoming at Paris TransAtlantic) and it, along with hearing his prior operas and such, has piqued my interest again.

Anonymous said...

I assume that since you're an AMG contributor, AMG can forward copies of that stuff they have filed for you to catch up on - an enviable position.

I'm not too familiar with Tom Buckner or some of the other people that ashley employs often in his operas. I am really curious about Sam Ashley. It seems he has solo work, but none of it has made it onto record yet. Aside from Joan La Barbara, Tyranny and these folk, who else is there to look into?