zaterdag 31 oktober 2015

Poison Season. Destroyer

Daniel Bejar heeft een flinke vinger in de pap bij de Canadese gelegenheidsband The New Pornographers, maar maakt ook al bijna 20 jaar platen als Destroyer.
Het zijn platen die lange tijd leken veroordeeld tot een bestaan in de marge, maar sinds het in brede kring opgepikte en ook nog eens door de critici bejubelde Kaputt uit 2011 doet Destroyer er waarschijnlijk meer toe dan de gelegenheidsband die eerder met zoveel succes aan de weg timmerde.
Kaputt, dat in 2011 meerdere jaarlijstjes haalde, wist me heel makkelijk te overtuigen, al bleef er door de wel erg duidelijke inspiratiebronnen ook wel iets knagen.
Dat overkomt me vooralsnog niet bij Poison Season, dat inmiddels al enkele weken een trouwe metgezel is. Net als op Kaputt lijkt Daniel Bejar ook op zijn nieuwe plaat weer vooral geïnspireerd door muziek uit de jaren 70, maar Destroyer kiest dit keer voor meer avontuur en diepgang.
De belangrijkste inspiratiebronnen voor Poison Season zijn overduidelijk: Bruce Springsteen en zijn E-Street Band, Roxy Music en vooral Lou Reed en David Bowie. Het ligt er soms vrij dik bovenop, maar aan de andere kant ken ik geen Lou Reed of David Bowie plaat die over de hele linie is te vergelijken met Poison Season van Destroyer.
Zeker wanneer Destroyer uitpakt met grootse songs vol saxofoonuithalen ligt de vergelijking met de groten uit de jaren 70 voor de hand, maar Poison Season bevat ook flink wat meer ingetogen en veel lastiger te doorgronden songs, waarin invloeden van de platen van Robbie Robertson doorklinken, maar ook invloeden uit de jazz een belangrijke rol spelen.
Poison Season is hierdoor een plaat die af en toe op grootse wijze vermaakt, maar minstens even vaak intrigeert met bijzondere klanken en songs die maar blijven groeien. Uiteindelijk is Poison Season absoluut goed en bijzonder genoeg om los te worden gezien van al het aangedragen vergelijkingsmateriaal en dat is knap.
Destroyer heeft een plaat gemaakt die teruggrijpt op het verleden, maar alle invloeden vervolgens op bijzondere wijze het heden in sleept. Het levert een plaat op die net als zijn voorganger de jaarlijstjes zal gaan halen. Dit keer knaagt er bij mij niets en kan ik me er dus alleen maar bij aansluiten.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Girl In A Sling':

of kopen op Bol.Com

vrijdag 30 oktober 2015

In Through The Out Door. Led Zeppelin

Until this year, 2015, I only had one Led Zeppelin album on vinyl: this one, as that was released in the years that I had enough money to buy albums on a regular basis. In the years that followed I sort of lost my interest in the band, only to be restored after I got reintroduced to the band in the student dorm I lived. Since those days I remained a fan, although this album never gained any prominence. The first five albums remain my favourites. As I tasked myself to reassess all albums, it's time for this one.

Do you know that I had forgotten what the sleeve lookes like? The album was sold in a brown paper bag at the time and the album is still in its original package. A barscene is behind the brown bag, which makes sense if you are from the U.S. Less so when you're from NL though. The same goes for the music at this point in time. I could not name one song from the album, except 'Hot Dog', and just don't ask me to sing or even hum it for you. You are about to read an almost blanco assessment of Led Zeppelin's final regular album therefor.

My guess is that I do not have to explain that In Through The Out Door is the last album before it all came down in crash of booze, pills and powders. Probably something like a lack of true inspiration and will to continue came into the mix as well. Would a miraculous revival of John Bonham, really have made a difference?, is a fair question. Although there is one more album to come, 'Coda', this is the final album of the band. Here we go.

In Through The Out Door starts off with a band in great form. 'In the Evening' rocks like one expects from Led Zeppelin. The riffs fly around, John Paul Jones' organ is very present and Bonham is whacking away in his heavy, lumberjacking style. The stop-start riffing of Jimmy Page and the strong vocals of Robert Plant are present. A great Led Zep song with a pleasant change here and there. What is noticeable also is a harsher sound of the guitar in some places. The influences of punk on the proclaimed rock dinosaurs? Generation conflict in rock if there ever was one. Looking back nearly 40 years later we know who won this race gloriously. In fact there's no comparison.

What surprises me is the second song. 'South Bound Saurez' is a lighthearted song that is almost un-Led Zep like. The piano drives the song forwards, the melody has a pop feel. Led Zeppelin comes close to The Rolling Stones but then years before 1979. An interesting look into what the band may have become had it been able to continue?

The same goes for 'Fool In The Rain'. Latin influences and David Paich keyboards? "I like Pina Coladas"? Led Zeppelin doing Toto? Jimmy Page overdubbed a guitar solo, but they are standing out as if not belonging, nearly a sore thumb. Jones and Plant are in control on this part of the album. Page and Bonham were in physical trouble by then and not always showing up. This severely changed the sound of the band. Is that a bad thing?

The boogie of 'Hot Dog' is completely endearing. Again John Paul Jones takes the lead, this time on piano. Led Zeppelin does a Jerry Lee Lewis rock and roll ditty. Again there's nothing wrong with this song. It's, again, nothing that one would expect from this hard rock monster, but who cares if it is playing with this much fun.

Four songs into In Through The Out Door it is easy to conclude that I am listening to a band that is totally of its little path. Or a band that is reinventing itself? Another way of looking at the album is that the band is having fun with all sorts of music that influenced it along the way, except going back to the blues it came from once upon a long ago. Listening to it for the first time since the lord knows when I have to conclude that I'm surprised in an extremely positive way.

The fun continues with 'Carouselambra'. Jones' new keyboard does a lot of things and the rest of the band picks up on cue. 'Carouselambra' is extremely alive. Rocking, whopping, jumping, jiving. How can it be that I never heard this in the past? For one my musical context is so much larger. There is even a small section in this song that bands like Marillion built a whole career on. This influence is so clear. Led Zeppelin may do a Genesis here though. The song takes many a curve and is close to a masterpiece. Unexpected and very welcome. All 9 minutes plus long.

'All My Love' can't carry Jimmy Page's consent. That may be the single factor why the band never got back together as it is the blue print for Robert Plant's solo career. This song is delicate in its total execution. The drumming is as close to subtlety the role model for Animal could ever come. Jones' work is all telling and Page fulfils his role with some beautiful parts. The new Yamaha synthesizer is doing overtime again. This is a new Led Zep and it is working.

That leaves the final song. 'I'm Gonna Crawl' is a slow, bluesy ballad. With again all this electronic keyboard work going on overshadowing a lot of what Page is doing and I don't mind. His work on the previous two albums were often a bit bland or not outstanding what the level of Led Zeppelin used to be. Plant and Jones have taken control on In Through The Out Door and show that there were many talents within this band. And then comes the guitar solo in this ballad and Page rips it all apart. A great ending to a career.

This listening session just baffled me. This album is so good. It was not what millions of fans probably wanted the band to be in 1979. In 2015 it is clear that Led Zeppelin could have gone anywhere in the 1980s had the band continued. In Through The Out Door may not be a masterpiece but it is very close to one. I thoroughly, utterly enjoyed listening to it today. A swan song if I ever heard one.


You can listen to 'Carouselambra' here:

or buy at

donderdag 29 oktober 2015

Moths. Einfach Kurt

Interesting. Planning to write a review, I can't even find the cover of the album anywhere. Speaking of being able to keep a secret. Now I've had the pleasure to be let on into this secret for a while and it's time to report.

In his bio Einfach Kurt (for unknown reasons I keep writing Einfach Karl) tells a story of murder ballads, darkness, nights and virtually nothing about himself. Except that he's a singer-songwriter. I also remember something about coming from Nijmegen, but why I can't even reproduce any more. So the band is as mysterious as its music. So let's focus on just that: the music as there is a lot to tell here.

Let me start with dropping a name and not just any name, Nick Cave. Now I had nothing with the Australian bard until his last album, Push The Sky Away. Einfach Kurt is on the one hand far more basic in his approach, while on the other is so much more varied in styles, but plays with the same atmosphere in his songs. That's where comparisons stop. This band is so much more in its approach to music. A much darker version of De Reisgenoot. Einfach Kurt isn't afraid of changing a lead instrument. Guitar, piano, organ, it all comes by, making Moths an album with a lot of variety musically in sound. The band also isn't afraid to switch between musical styles. Count the ways the singer dares to use his voice. Adding it all up, makes Moths a barrel full of surprises.

Although the general atmosphere may be tending beyond a darker grey and beyond towards pitch black, an acoustic guitar driven song like 'Postpone' shines like a torch anyway. 'Here I am', it is screaming in a combination of lightness and darkness. The title song goes even a step further. Again the singer sings with a higher voice and the lead piano notes give the atmosphere a hint of a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon.

It is in songs like this that Moths starts to creep up on me even more. Opening song 'Push Where It Hurts' is impressive with its whistle and all. The songs after that become even darker. 'Moths' is the kind of song that shows the proficiency of Einfach Kurt. This band is out to impress. With 'Midnight Conversation' true singer-songwriter territory is entered. Fingerpicking on an acoustic guitar and a duet with a lady singer called Tenfold. Although I think there are better songs on this album than the title song, it again shows how much the songs on Moths differ from each other.

Luckily the cd helps a bit with information. Koert van Essen is the singer-songwriter behind Einfach Kurt. His helpers are Martijn Kruisselbrink on drums and Jory de Kort on Double bass. The link with Nijmegen at a minimum is the recording studio. Sebastiaan Bijlevelt, producer.

Moths is an album very much worthwhile checking out. Einfach Kurt shows itself from many an angle and does so in ways that convince. The different roads taken all fit the band and by then I forgive the band the final song. In a way the listener gets several albums in one. Not all bands give that much.


You can listen to 'In Your Words' here:

or buy on

woensdag 28 oktober 2015

The Avenues. Lera Lynn

In het prachtige tweede seizoen van de HBO serie True Detective (aanrader!) bevinden de hoofdpersonen zich af en toe in een wat desolate nachtclub, waarin een vrouwelijke singer-songwriter aardedonkere en zeer beklemmende muziek speelt.
Het is muziek die na een paar keer de aandacht begon te trekken, waarna ik op zoek ging naar de naam van de singer-songwriter die de al zo beroerde levens van de hoofdpersonen nog net wat donkerder kleurt.
Dat was niet zo moeilijk want in diverse fora werd al druk gediscussieerd over de muzikale bijdragen van ene Lera Lynn. Deze Lera Lynn blijkt twee platen op haar naam te hebben staan en het zijn hele mooie platen.
Op The Avenues uit 2014 maakt Lera Lynn stemmige country-noir vol avontuur. De muziek op The Avenues is niet zo aardedonker als in True Detective, maar donkerder dan de gemiddelde alt-country. Het is muziek die opvalt door een mooie stemmige instrumentatie en een werkelijk prachtige productie van Joshua Grange (k.d. lang, Beck).
Het is een productie die de songs van Lera Lynn een bijzondere lading geeft, maar het is ook een productie die een beeldend geluid oplevert, dat inderdaad gemaakt lijkt voor de wat duisterdere films en series. Het stuwt Lera Lynn in de serie de kant van Portishead op en dat is een associatie die ook bij The Avenues een aantal keren opduikt.

Het is bovendien een geluid waarin de warme, dromerige maar ook licht onderkoelde stem van Lera Lynn uitstekend gedijt. Het is een stem die indruk maakt en dat doet Lera Lynn ook met haar persoonlijke songs die indringende verhalen vertellen, maar in muzikaal opzicht ook de wat lichtvoetigere uitstapjes (die haar muziek de kant van Cowboy Junkies of zelfs Fleetwood Mac op duwen) niet schuwen.
Het is te hopen dat True Detective Lera Lynn op de kaart gaat zetten als een singer-songwriter om in de gaten te houden, want de twee platen die ze tot dusver heeft uitgebracht verdienen veel meer aandacht dan ze tot dusver hebben gekregen. The Avenues durf ik zelfs een waar pareltje te noemen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Out To Sea':

of kopen op

dinsdag 27 oktober 2015

Macrocosm Microcosm. Pauw

Pauw was one of the bands that were promised a great future in the first Oor Magazine of this year. This blog took on the challenge and gave its own view on Oor's choices for 2015 and yes, Pauw was a band that sounded like the promise was only a matter of time to be fulfilled. Come October and the debut album is there. Wo. delves in and checks whether the promise is fulfilled.

In a sense Macrocosm Microcosm is a double anachronism. The music is out of fashion since almost forever and it was in fashion for a very short period of time. Let's give it a little over a year around the original Summer of Love. The musicians on this album were not around at the time, perhaps some of their parents even weren't. That somehow makes it a bit weird that Pauw plays this kind of music. It only has a very limited time span to draw inspiration from and there is an end to how retro one can remain.

This is something different from whether Macrocosm Microcosm (MM) is a bad or superfluous album. It isn't, to give pause to potential uneasy feelings. There are many things that speak in favour of the album, a few that do not.

What Pauw does in a great way is to recreate something that went before in a grand style. Close your eyes and you can project yourself in any hippie venue in 1967 with hashish scents all around you, tripping people and fluid injections projected on walls until the moment you can't perceive what's real and what's not any more. The music on MM is of a fleeting and floating quality. The sounds coming out of the Mellotron take care of that in a beautiful way. The soft voice of Brian Pots does the rest. Layers of sound, carefully smeared out over the total soundscape make MM inescapable.

The second feather in the band's hat is for the songwriting. It obviously has listened to the best in the genre and with a critical ear too. Pauw took the sound and took notion of the craft of writing and continued to skip all the insanity and crazy stuff that made some of the music in 1967 and early 1968 so unlistenable. Instead they added some progressive rock into the hippie sound. The song that ends this album, 'Glare Pt2', may be a great pointer towards the direction Pauw may take in the future. The song is huge with layers of sounds and instruments that may take at least ten people to recreate on stage. A great way to end an album.

MM starts not unlike Jacco Gardner's debut album, one of the only negative reviews I've written on this blog. Because I had the impression that Gardner never came free from his icons or better the sound of his icons and forgot about himself in a few senses. Pauw starts MM this way as well. Despite the bite that 'Memories' has in the intro and the drums, it stays a bit to obvious throughout the song. Although I can understand Pauw wanted to start with this song, at the same time it's left its aces up its sleeve. The band grows by the song, incorporates a David Gilmour guitar lick here and there in an upper tempo song. A song like 'Visions' shows a band that incorporates familiar elements into its own vision and grows to another level. Feather three.

That brings us to the fourth feather, the arranging. Pauw is not afraid to go bombastic without going all out. Most of the time the album presents a delicate balance between a full and a too full sound. Often the band found an interesting melody or two to pursue throughout a song, with enough left to discover with every next listening session.

Key song remains 'Shambhala', with its sitar and Indian flavour. The über hippie song of MM that was on the EP as well. The main melody reminds me of Kula Shaker, but both bands have the same origins in musical taste. What else shines through? The early Pink Floyd (and David Gilmour in the 70s), Traffic, The Beatles are all influences, without becoming irritating for one second. Pauw takes the best and went to work with that. The organ on repeat from 'Who's Next' is on this album in a soft and unpretentious way, in 'Abyss'. This song combines the best of '2.000 Lightyears From Home' with a Calexico desert twang. Another great song.

On a bad day I think the voice of Brian Pots is too mellow and soft. I take to another sort of album straight away. Just like I cannot stand this hippie music all the time. Taking that away, Pauw has made a debut album it can be most proud of. The band succeeded in taking a musical idiom that was all but dead and buried (no, I know I've reviewed a dozen other bands at least in the past two years playing this music) and made it into something that is almost of today. Macrocosm Microcosm turned out as good as I had hoped after listening to the EP this winter. An EP that sold out all to fast by the way. Time to do some repressing.

Pauw has released an album that in nothing can't compare to anything I heard in this genre over the past two years. In fact it may score better than many of these records. The band must be as proud as a pauw I guess.


You can listen to 'Visions' here:

or buy on

maandag 26 oktober 2015

Betty Soo, Amanda Pearcy, The Small Glories, Saturday 24 October 2015. De Oude School, Warmond

Photo: Wo.
It's been awhile that I've seen it, that fabulous spaghetti western with Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and Eli Wallach: 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In De Oude School I saw something similar play when three acts took to the stage under the name Continental Roadshow 2: the Beauty, the Hardship and the Storm. That's the best way to describe them. My first visit to Hans van Polanen's new venue in Warmond called De Oude School (The Old School), a late19th century building which is just that, the old village school, was extremely pleasant.

Photo: Wo.
The room filled fairly well and so a lady from south-east Asian decent took the stage, accompanied by a gentleman behind a snare drum and electronic bass drum. Within a few lines it became clear that total disarming beauty was standing in front of us. A voice so clear and soft that she quieted everyone and everything. Even the refrigerators stopped humming during her songs. Betty Soo writes her own songs, but also excels in interpretations of songs from Texan singer-songwriters of old. Townes van Zandt, Butch Hancock, to name two. To me all songs were new, so if she hadn't said, I would not have noticed. What I did notice though, is the beauty of Betty Soo's voice. Her voice moves heart strings and if necessary can bring tears to anyone's eyes. Her guitar playing can be in an extremely delicate fingerpicking style, with only an accent here or there. It tells it all no matter how soft, with a song called 'Last Night' hovering above all else. Over this playing she sings with an angelic voice. A beautiful opening of the evening. She ended her set with a love song she wrote for her percussion playing husband David Terry, who in return dutifully carried the stuff to the car at the end of the show.

Photo: Wo.
People who follow this blog will not be surprised that I had come to listen to Amanda Pearcy. Her albums have been reviewed, a previous show was and an interview can be found on this blog. With a fabulous new album, 'An Offering', in her bag, Amanda toured the low countries for over a week and luckily also close to my hometown. Together with her lead guitarist Cole Hanson, she played several songs from her previous album 'Royal Street' and from her new one. If looked at from a technical point of view, Amanda Pearcy has the least baggage musically of the three artists, but brings something else: her soul. She has lived and that shows in her songs and stories. Stories told to introduce a song come alive in her songs. Listening to the inspiration for 'Comfort the Soul of a Man' makes those present understand from how deep this song comes and how close to her heart and mind this song must be. Hence the Hardship.

By the way, we didn't just listen to any singer this evening, but to a singer with the current #1 album in the EuroAmericana list of October, by a landslide of votes. 'An Offering' is an outstanding album that deserves this position, in my opinion. Amanda Pearcy translated these songs to the stage with economical tight guitar strumming and the reverb and delay laden lead notes and solos played by Cole Hanson. Her voice does the rest. The southern drawl that sometimes is lain on a bit thicker, gives the songs this little extra authenticity. It's time to raise the bar.

Photo: Wo.
The evening was built up just right. The Small Glories from Winnepeg in Canada whipped up a veritable storm in Warmond. Great playing, great singing, loud footstompin' and harmonies to die for. This new duo was playing our country for the first time and did everything right. Cara Luft and JD Edwards have found each other or more precisely each other's voices. The music they play together is drenched in English folk of the 60s and 70s, although the folk that was played in the coffee houses of the U.S. in the first half of the 60s definitely sounds through as well. Recently I wrote that Natalie Ramsay and Tim Claridge of Hymalayan have the Slick-Balin factor, well, I've found another Canadian duo that has just that. Luft and Edwards' harmonies reach into the highest registers, then take that little extra step and to leave me in awe a few times. Their proficiency on their instruments, including a great sounding banjo, is telling and the enthusiasm is totally catching. And then I'm leaving out the fantastic guitar playing by Clara Luft in a Jimmy Page folk riffing way (and Bert Jansch's) in 'Black Waterside' What a song. Expect more on The Small Glories here soon.

Photo: Wo.
Everyone came back for 'Ode to Billie Joe', the cover of Bobbie Gentry's hitsingle on Amanda Pearcy's album 'An Offering'. All of a sudden there was an accordion on stage (Betty Soo). A beautiful ending to a special evening. The Beauty, the Hardship and the Storm could play together as well. With this long tale of Billie Joe jumping of a bridge, the mood was brought down just enough that would allow us all to fall asleep later that night after all that excitement of The Small Glories.


zondag 25 oktober 2015

What Went Down. Foals

This is not the first time Foals enters this blog. In the winter of 2013 the band's previous album. 'Holy Fire', received a positive review (read more here: A modern rock band with some pop influences from unexpected corners was the message I shared at the time. Some two and a half years plus went by. Where is the band from Oxford at this point in time?

Foals never was the band for taking the easy way out where its music is concerned. Never afraid to take an unexpected turn or change within a song. This has not so much changed, as that whole genres get the Foals treatment on What Went Down nowadays. A lot has been going on and digested, listening to Foals' latest.

The album starts with some electronic organ sound. When Yannis Phillipakis opens his mouth to sing it is as if I'm listening to a new song by Coldplay. This illusion last exactly one sentence. The band kicks in with an oomph, playing three chords ta-ta-ta in a way Coldplay has not been able to do since its second album. The sounds build it into a rockbeast, changing to maniacal wildness. The title song is a statement of intent if I ever heard one. A monument of a song. Foals manages to hold back and completely let go within one song. The driving instrumental part working towards the verse, where the storm is cooked up also holds this beautiful 'ooh' singing part. 'What Went Down' is one of the better songs of 2014. Simple but true. Foals gives it its all, Philippakis screams out his lungs. Whoever it is he wants, there is no denying his intent here.

Not all powder was burned there and then, luckily for us listeners, after this opening statement. 'Mountain At My Gates' is a song that begins small, has a beautiful melody. Slowly the song transgresses into maelstrom territory, sucking everything downwards within its grasp. Again Foals cooks up a storm in an utterly convincing way. The change to Bee Gees disco is an unexpected one. Not that we're singing 'Staying Alive' or 'Tragedy' here, but the voices are somewhat raised into higher registers, the drums play a disco rhythm as does the guitar. The synths have an 80s flavour with a hint at EDM sound. 'Birch Tree' will never be a floor filler and isn't meant to be one, but lends some aspects from an era long gone in a successful way.

Coldplay is an influence on Foals, there is no denying. 'Give It All' has that too simple singing melody like Coldplay excels in more and more. It also is built more on sounds than chords. It goes for largess with a minimum on sounds. For me it is hard to maintain that Foals is more artistic here. Yannis Philippakis's voice is rougher than Chris Martin's that's where things stop here. A dance remix is also something that is easy to imagine listening to this song. The tension can be built up before release easily in 'Give It All'.

I'd rather listen to What Went Down than to anything Coldplay has released after 'X&Y' any day, the album I started to have serious doubts about Coldplay. The excitement Foals creates is as high as Coldplay mastered on its second album, 'A Rush of Blood to the Head'. Above that Foals has this wild side that it doesn't mind walking on. 'Snake Oil' slivers like a snake does and sounds as dangerous.

'Nightswimmers' can't possibly be described like that, but brings this tough sounding guitar later on in the song. At the same time Giorgio Moroder seems to have crept into the room as well to add some 1977 in the 2015 music. You can actually sing 'I Feel Love' over the rhythm. A weird hybrid of alternative rock and disco this song is.

The on and off switches remain for the rest of the album. Listening deeper in I'm not (yet?) convinced to be listening to a master piece. Just like the reviews I've read up to now move in two directions. From hosanna to a big disappointment. For me it is one part hosanna and one part more neutral, making up my mind. Fact is that there are several songs on What Went Down that are extremely impressive. This could well be a record to be turned into vinyl.


You can listen to 'What Went Down' here

or buy on Bol.Com

zaterdag 24 oktober 2015

Then Came The Morning. The Lone Bellow

In de winter van 2014 introduceerde Erwin Zijleman de Amerikaanse band The Lone Bellow op dit blog. In 2015 gaat het verhaal verder. Is Erwin opnieuw zo onder de indruk? Lees het hier.

Het titelloze debuut van The Lone Bellow haalde ik in december 2013 uit de jaarlijstjes van PopMatters, dat het debuut van de band uit New York uitriep tot de beste Americana plaat van het jaar.
Daar viel niet eens zo heel veel op af te dingen, want wat maakte The Lone Bellow indruk met haar gloedvolle debuut vol emotie en weemoed en muziek die door de band zelf werd omschreven als ‘Brooklyn country music’.
Omdat de muziek van de band aansluit op in Nederland zeer succesvolle bands als The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons en The Civil Wars, had ik eigenlijk verwacht dat het debuut van The Lone Bellow ook in Nederland zou worden omarmd, maar de plaat deed helaas helemaal niets.
De tweede plaat van de band behoorde in de Verenigde Staten de afgelopen week bij de belangrijkste releases van de week, maar in Nederland gaat The Lone Bellow ook met haar tweede plaat waarschijnlijk maar weinig aandacht krijgen. Het is werkelijk doodzonde, want wat is Then Came The Morning een prachtplaat.
De door Aaron Dessner (The National) geproduceerde plaat knalt er direct in met de zwaar aangezette titeltrack. 60s koortjes, aanzwellende strijkers en blazers, vocalen die uit de tenen komen en spanning die langzaam steeds verder wordt opgebouwd. Ik was eigenlijk direct al om, maar Then Came The Morning blijkt vol te staan met prachtsongs.
Waar de band op de vorige plaat nog flirtte met lekker in het gehoor liggende folk, is Then Came The Morning een veel ambitieuzere plaat met een bijzonder eigen geluid. The Lone Bellow klinkt een stuk hechter en veelzijdiger dan op het debuut, wat mede de verdienste is van producer Aaron Dessner en de extra muzikanten die hij heeft ingeschakeld. Het zorgt voor een prachtig klinkende plaat vol muzikale verrassingen. 

In muzikaal opzicht heeft de band een flinke sprong gemaakt en ook wanneer het gaat om de invloeden die The Lone Bellow verwerkt in haar muziek, is Then Came The Morning niet altijd goed te vergelijken met zijn voorganger. Country en folk zijn nog altijd belangrijke bestanddelen van de muziek van The Lone Bellow, maar de band verkent hiernaast alle uithoeken van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek uit verleden en heden. The Lone Bellow kan hierbij flink uitpakken, maar is ook niet bang voor kleine en intieme songs.
Sterkste wapen van The Lone Bellow is ongetwijfeld zanger Zach Williams, die keer op keer garant staat voor kippenvel. Williams zingt zo af en toe of zijn leven er van af hangt, wat de plaat een intensiteit geeft om bang van te worden.
Dertien songs en drie kwartier lang maakt The Lone Bellow op Then Came The Morning een onuitwisbare indruk. Dertien songs en drie kwartier lang begeeft de band zich op het snijvlak van meerdere genres en keer op keer pakt het geweldig uit. Dertien songs en drie kwartier lang maakt The Lone Bellow muziek die overloopt van passie en emotie en je genadeloos bij de strot grijpt, maar over-the-top is het geen moment.
Then Came The Morning is een ontstellend mooie en indrukwekkende plaat. Het is, nog meer dan het debuut van de band, een plaat die iedere liefhebber van Amerikaanse muziek moet horen. Voor mij het onbetwiste hoogtepunt van 2015 tot dusver. The Lone Bellow, wat een band. Then Came The Morning, wat een plaat. Kippenvel van de eerste tot en met de laatste noot.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'You Never Need Nobody':

of kopen op

vrijdag 23 oktober 2015

The Long Answer Is No. Douglas Firs

In 2013 Douglas Firs featured twice on this blog. In 2015 the band is back with a new album called The Long Answer Is No. Intriguing title, isn't it? Makes me sort of wonder what the short one is.

Again a great record from Belgium features on this blog. The new album by Douglas Firs is somewhat more solid than I remember the band's previous one to be. 'Shimmer & Glow' (read my review here: captured me immediately. The Long Answer is No took the long route. It took me several listening sessions over a longer period of time before the album found its way in. The first songs reminded me of Tim Knol too much, which isn't a reference that helps in my case. Douglas Firs is rocking in a very direct way in the first two songs. By song 3 things change and a great ballad is presented to those who chose to listen. It is here that everything falls into its place and the great enjoyment begins.

Douglas Firs is Gertjan van Hellemons with some people helping him out, who play, like is the rule in Belgium, in other bands. Cross-pollination is the way the Belgian musicians work best. Simon Casier of Balthazar plays bass, Christophe Claeys of Amatorski and Magnus is on drums. People from several other bands do guest appearances.

Let me start with the song that was released as a single for the upcoming Dutch tour Douglas Firs is embarking on this fall. The aptly titled 'Summer's Leaving' has that West Coast super hit magic, where the more serious verse morphs into an heavenly chorus driven by perfect harmonies. The intro to the song is telling all that is to come if we are patient and it does. The quality is like Douwe Bob's in his best songs.

The Long Answer Is No changes between these two sort of moods. The harder rocking intros and west coast balladry, heave(n)ly influenced by the Eagles, CSN(Y), etc. As such there is a hint to Admiral Freebee as well. That is still not all. 'The Kind of Thing' is a singer with his acoustic guitar. Folk in its pure form. Gertjan van Hellemons gets away with it easily.

Opening song is a song that could have been on Douwe Bob's latest album, with Tim Knol singing. In 'Caroline' a lot is going on. The drums in a few sections make the whole song fall apart. A little more productional hints would have helped here. The whopping around drums are not exactly pretty, where the rest of the song certainly is. Just some beautiful harmonising on a quite commercial song. Perhaps Douglas Firs simply felt too guilty about how West Coast poppy the band sounded?

The pleasant riffing continues in 'Can You Tell Her I Said Hi?'. What an intro the song has. The harsh sounding guitar, echoed by a voice. The song remains this direct. A memorable melody, but not necessarily pretty. Douglas Firs changes moods without being afraid to tread on a toe or two of the more sensitive listener.

Just when it must start to hurt the song ends with a harsh cry demanding to say hi more than asking. Next this soft melody sets in on an electric piano and soothes the aching parts with violins and all. The mood may swing, the quality does not waver for a single note.

A ballad like '22.22' is a little bit too much for my taste. Like Tim Knol is a bit too much for me in general and Douwe Bob at times. The pleasant thing about a song which is sort of o.k. but not exceptional is that the ones that are stick out even more. Of course that doesn't make The Long Answer Is No a better album, it does add to the way it varies in songs. Like the way the intro to the already mentioned 'Summer's Leaving' kicks in. Smiles all around here.

Douglas Firs is two album into its career and I'm enjoying myself here. Let the fun continue. The band is touring NL extensively. Let me find a date that works. It seems like December though.


You can listen to 'The Long Answer Is No' here:

or buy on Bol.Com

donderdag 22 oktober 2015

Honeymoon. Lana del Rey

Last year Lana del Rey surprised me with her fantastic second album, 'Ultraviolence' (read more here: A little over a year from my review there is a new album already. Totally out of line with the one album every three years limit most highlining artists adhere to. 'Ultraviolence' made my top 10 of 2014. Where does that put Honeymoon?

In a way Honeymoon takes me back to my very early youth when my mother used to play albums that she brought from Canada on this small record player she had. The likes of  Frankie Laine, Pat Boone, Debbie Reynolds, Doris Day. At the same time of course Lana del Rey's music could never have been made in the 50s. The title song has those violins, those soft candy layered sounds that flow from the speakers. The other distinct feature of the song is its total bareness, leaving Lana del Rey totally vulnerable. She dares to expose herself in this song, not unlike a band like The xx does with minimal beats underneath the vocals. Even when the piano joins and some vague rhythmic sounds, it doesn't change the singer's position. The dark voice 'dreaming away her life', is cool and aloof, but also totally seductive. This strange mix is fully representative for Lana del Rey's singing.

For 'Ultraviolence' Lana del Rey worked with The Black Keys' frontman Dan Auerbach, which gave her a ton of credibility and guitars. Honeymoon she co-produced with Ron Nowels and Kieron Menzies, which brought her back to the sound of her breakthrough, second album 'Born To Die'. This is far from a punishment. If anything it shows how much Lana del Rey is original. She has a clear view on who she is and what her music stands for. It may sound full of nostalgia for times gone by. For music that is not of today but of times long gone by, but is 2015 all the way..

Yesterday I heard a song from 'Kind of Blue' for the first time. A song like 'Terrence Loves You', including the "Ground Control to Major Tom" quote, is definitely acquainted to that blue, blue Miles Davis instrumental. Lana del Rey has that late night bar quality over her. The patron saint of all barflies, Saint Lana. Singing to them "Let there be light", just before they disappear into the dark, cold night, having to get up soon, far from sober, for another day. It is so easy to imagine her standing on that late night stage, with just a few jazz musicians backing her up.

Playing Honeymoon once again, I have to start admitting that Lana del Rey is an original talent. I hadn't realised that at the time because of all the clamour and hyping a couple of years ago and the speed with which these hypers dropped her again, hard. The third album in, for me, it's easy to admit that I'm a fan. Something special is happening here. Whether she is nihilistic because she only wants to "get high at the beach" or dreams of better times, Lana del Rey sounds sincere in her aloofness to the world and in her dreams. She knows how to create a mood that sucks you in, that gets you involved despite the coolness.

The songs themselves all are in a slow tempo. Some sound old, others have modern dance rhythms of the slowest variety, where they mix with the oldness and stillness. Above all the songs are all a support for the dark, seductive voice of Lana del Rey. It carries the whole album. There are no solos, no inventive guitar or keyboard parts. All instruments are like bold strokes on a canvas of a Cobra painter, but not half as wild. The music and voice are all in control. Total control, total constraint, building a tension that is near unbearable at times. When does this woman let go? At the beach probably. Not in her songs.

The album contains a poem by T.S. Elliot and a cover of 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'. By Nina Simone, I just learned. The oldest version I know is by The Animals and then that flamengo-disco version of Santa Esmeralda of course.

If there is a critique to Honeymoon, it is that it is very uniform overlooking all the 14 songs. So be it. Honeymoon is not hard to sit out in one go. Far from I have to add. Like the French "zuchtmeisjes" of old, the voice of Lana del Rey keeps intriguing on this album.

If anything Honeymoon shows that an artist can come up with two good and solid albums without adhering to the two to three year time span. The only way an artist can have a true career. Lana del Rey shows just that with this beautiful album. She's here to stay and may surprise us some more in the future with a great, unexpected move or two.


You can listen to 'High on the Beach' here:

or buy on

woensdag 21 oktober 2015

En Hoe Het Dan Ook Weer Dag Wordt. Maaike Ouboter

Het is al weer ruim twee jaar geleden dat Maaike Ouboter een werkelijk verpletterende indruk maakte met haar auditie in De beste singer-songwriter van Nederland.
Het ontroerende Dat Ik Je Mis ging vervolgens in onwaarschijnlijke aantallen over de al dan niet virtuele toonbank, maar Maaike Ouboter heeft vervolgens, mede geholpen door het niet winnen van de talentenjacht van Giel Beelen, gelukkig de rust bewaard.
De afgelopen twee jaar werkte ze aan haar debuutalbum en werd eindeloos geschaafd aan de elf songs die uiteindelijk zijn terecht gekomen op En Hoe Het Dan Ook Weer Dag Wordt (in het opvallend fraai uitgevoerde boekje gevolgd door 'En Hoe Het Ooit Nacht Heeft Kunnen Zijn').
Het is een debuut dat opent met het inmiddels overbekende maar nog altijd indrukwekkende en ontroerende Dat Ik Je Mis. Een riskante openingszet, die de lat direct flink hoog legt, maar het is een openingszet die fantastisch uitpakt. Het debuut van Maaike Ouboter blijkt immers een plaat van een bijna onwerkelijke schoonheid, waarop iedere andere track de vergelijking met de zo succesvolle en indrukwekkende eerste kennismaking met de muziek van Maaike Ouboter aan kan. Met gemak aan kan durf ik wel te zeggen.

Voor haar debuut koos de jonge Nederlandse singer-songwriter voor de samenwerking met  Joost Zweegers, beter bekend als Novastar, die de plaat produceerde. Zweegers heeft gezorgd voor een hele mooie productie, waarin de inmiddels al zo herkenbare stem van Maaike Ouboter centraal staat.
Het is een hele mooie en bijzondere stem, die bijna dwingt tot luisteren. De wijze waarop de songs op En Hoe Het Dan Ook Weer Dag Wordt de aandacht te trekken heeft ook alles te maken met de eigenzinnige wijze waarop Maaike Ouboter zingt. Alle songs op de plaat vallen op door teksten die klinken als gedichten en ook als zodanig worden voorgedragen. Het geeft de songs urgentie en overtuigingskracht.

Maaike Ouboter blijkt een meester in het vertellen van mooie en indringende verhalen, waarin de kleinste details van groot belang zijn. De liefde staat centraal in de teksten, maar Maaike Ouboter is niet de gekwelde singer-songwriter die alleen maar leed over je uit stort. Natuurlijk zorgt de liefde soms voor diepe dalen, maar ook de hoge pieken die de dalen rechtvaardigen blijven niet onbelicht op dit debuut, dat ook een ode aan de liefde is.
De elf songs zijn niet alleen in tekstueel opzicht ware kunststukjes. Ook aan de instrumentatie is hoorbaar lang gesleuteld, wat steeds weer zorgt voor een net wat ander klankentapijt. De instrumentatie is vaak ingetogen en akoestisch, maar En Hoe Het Dan Ook Weer Dag Wordt bevat ook een aantal meer uptempo songs, die laten horen dat Maaike Ouboter ook uitstekend uit de voeten kan in net wat lichtvoetigere popliedjes.
In de instrumentatie duiken soms verrassende accenten op, zoals bijvoorbeeld in het uiterst sober openende Smoor, dat vervolgens wordt voorzien van de honingzoete klanken die in de jaren 70 de basis vormden voor de soundtrack van menige Franse softporno film.
Door de hoofdrol voor de teksten raakt de muziek van Maaike Ouboter zo nu en dan aan muziek die in het hokje kleinkunst past. Dat is voor mij bijna een vies woord en meestal een synoniem voor gekunsteld, maar Maaike Ouboter ontwijkt gelukkig met speels gemak alle valkuilen.
En Hoe Het Dan Ook Weer Dag Wordt is een debuut vol goudeerlijke popliedjes. Het zijn popliedjes die ontroeren en vermaken, maar het zijn ook popliedjes vol spitsvondigheden en memorabele momenten.
Maaike Ouboter is er in geslaagd om een geheel eigen geluid te creëren en heeft een debuut afgeleverd waarvan ik alleen maar zielsveel kan houden. En Hoe Het Dan Ook Weer Dag Wordt maakte direct een verpletterende indruk, maar inmiddels kan ik alle elf de songs op de plaat dromen. Desondanks worden ze alleen maar mooier.
Dat Maaike Ouboter een uniek talent is, was twee jaar geleden direct duidelijk, maar je moet het vervolgens nog maar waarmaken met een eerste album. Maaike Ouboter doet het. En hoe. Een diepe buiging is op zijn plaats voor een plaat die de competitie met alles en iedereen aan kan.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Lijmen':

of kopen op


dinsdag 20 oktober 2015

Hymalayan (EP). Hymalayan

This winter Natalie Ramsay and Death Goldbloom featured on this blog (as did King Karushi). All the music came through Edwin Zijleman's contribution on Natalie's album 'Fly To Home' first and then through the links Natalie provided to musical friends she thought worthwhile to bring to my attention. Tim Claridge promised more music soon as he was working together with Natalie in a project. Sounds confusing? Perhaps it is, but the first EP of Hymalayan is here, called Hymalayan, They are joined by Death Goldbloom's drummer Tomek and two other musicians on bass and violin.

The short version? This EP blew me away like an avalanche from said mountain range would have. Now I'm a cautious guy. Why go to a place that is dangerous in the first place? Total bullocks of course, getting into a car is more dangerous by far and each single time at that too, I know. So let me change that to why go where it is certainly cold and uncomfortable? Musically I like myself being swept away like the music on this EP does. There is a truly hidden danger underneath this soft spoken music and singing. There is a tension that is not being released. Knowing, understanding and accepting that Death Goldbloom is only a twist of the volume knob and the push of a pedal away, makes it comprehensible. The band name is a aptly chosen. Hymalayan creates music at lonely heights

Hymalayan is just a three song cd. Over before I know it. And it holds all the music an alternative, indie pop and rock fan could wish for. A dark guitar, great singing, a hint at the best of the 60s and all things indie. In fact I haven't heard such strong male - female singing in a band since I truly discovered Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship in the late 70s. Ramsay and Claridge have the Slick - Balin factor in abundance..

This EP holds music that is fleeting. Like air so thin, while laden with intensity. If you listen to 'Iris' you will know exactly what I mean. The song just floats. Claridge and Ramsay's voices circle round each other as leaves in an eddy of wind. Or like a ghost moving through a wall. With me being just as amazed at the quality of 'Iris'.

The toughest song is 'Warrior', doing justice to the title of the song. Claridge allows his guitar to go off for the only time on this album with the "I" in the song down on his/her knees for the soldier warrior. Again a song that reminds me of Jefferson Starship in the second half of the 70s, without the cosmic escape topics.

'Burma' has a tight electric rhythm guitar intro, but isn't a tough song. The singing is subdued and holding back on emotions, until we arrive at the beautiful chorus. The violin is there and an acoustic guitar solo, giving 'Burma' a totally different atmosphere than the start of the song hinted at.

Hymalayan is only three songs long, but just begs for more. This trio, together with their friends, is onto something huge. I've been told that there is a lot more coming in the near future together and apart, which I truly look forward to, but my advice would be: "Tim, Natalie, this is it!" See where this can take you. I'm absolutely, totally a fan.


For more information and music see:

maandag 19 oktober 2015

Blaster. Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts

A record that remained on the stack for too long. I never really was a fan of Scott Weiland's first band, Stone Temple Pilots, simply to top heavy. A rendition of second generation grunge that took itself too seriously. Velvet Revolver never was as good as it could have been. With the Wildabouts Scott Weiland just rocks out. The rock riffs splash from the record. Although some of the vocal melodies are extremely recognisable, the lighter tone of the music makes them totally alright.

At the same time Blaster holds enough variation to make the album super listenable. Some classic rock and roll elements get woven into 'Beat It' riffing. The king meets the king of pop in 'Way She Moves'. Why not. There's a first time for everything.

Blaster de facto is Scott Weiland's fourth solo album that is also credited to the Wildabouts. Together the band cooks up a storm here and there. Weiland also plays guitar and keyboards, Tommy Black plays bass, Danny Thompson is the drummer (although Mike Avenaim plays drums on 4 songs), Jeremy Brown plays the other guitars. Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha plays guitar on 'Blue Eyes'. Come to think of it, is there a grunge band left, if we forget about Pearl Jam?

Isn't there anything more concrete to write about Blaster, you may start asking yourself dear reader? A good question. I find that the answer is sort of no. The reason simply being that Blaster blasts along in a quite pleasant rocking way. Not that everything is so straight forward, several songs rock hard and have some nice sidetracking moments that make them very interesting to listen to. There is a Bowie moment in 'Youth Quake' with "Hold on" for example. There are these little moments in the bigger picture that make Blaster more than an average album. There is just not that much more that need to be written about. Good is good enough here.

Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts have made a great rock record. It's that simple when all is added and subtracted.


You can listen to 'White Lightning' here:

or buy on

zondag 18 oktober 2015

Primrose Green. Ryley Walker

Erwin Zijleman introduceerde Ryley Walker bijna één jaar geleden op dit blog aan de lezers (lees hier verder: Nu laat hij ons kennismaken met het nieuwe, tweede album, Primrose Green, waar hij geen gras laat groeien over de kwaliteit van het gebodene.

Vooral dankzij de inspanningen van het Nederlandse muziektijdschrift Heaven, kreeg het debuut van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Ryley Walker vorig jaar uiteindelijk toch nog de aandacht die deze plaat zo verdiende.
Op zijn debuut ging de pas 24 jaar oude Amerikaan op indrukwekkende wijze aan de haal met invloeden uit de psychedelische folkmuziek uit de jaren 60 en 70. In de keuze voor deze invloeden stond Ryley Walker zeker niet alleen, maar de invulling die de jonge Amerikaan er aan gaf was bijzonder of zelfs uniek te noemen.
De combinatie van complex akoestisch ‘finger-picking’ gitaarspel, bijzonder mooie vocalen, fraaie bijrollen voor piano en viool en veel ruimte voor experiment, maakte diepe indruk en schaarde All Kinds Of You uiteindelijk onder de beste debuten van 2014.
Op zijn nieuwe plaat Primrose Green gaat Ryley Walker verder waar All Kinds Of You vorig jaar ophield, maar de Amerikaan heeft zich er zeker niet makkelijk van af gemaakt. Vergeleken met zijn voorganger graaft Primrose Green nog net wat dieper en is er bovendien nog meer ruimte voor experiment.
De muziek van Ryley Walker heeft nog altijd wortels in de Amerikaanse psychedelische folk uit de jaren 60 en 70, maar biedt dit keer ook meer ruimte aan invloeden uit de Britse folk uit deze periode. Hiernaast klinkt Primrose Green meer dan eens jazzy. Dat laatste is overigens niet zo gek, want de band die Ryley Walker om zich heen heeft verzameld op Primrose Green bestaat uit een aantal gelouterde jazzmuzikanten.
Waar op All Kinds Of You de piano en de viool de belangrijkste bijrollen naast het ingenieuze gitaarspel van Ryley Walker opeisten, is het geluid dit keer veelzijdiger en veelkleuriger, al zijn er ook zeker raakvlakken met het geluid van het debuut van Ryley Walker.
Ryley Walker kon dit keer een beroep doen op betere en veelzijdigere muzikanten dan op het debuut en dat hoor je. De instrumentatie op Primrose Green is meer in balans dan die op het debuut en valt hiernaast op door de vele spannende accenten. Bovendien is er meer subtiele dynamiek tussen de band en Ryley Walker en tillen ze elkaar met enige regelmaat naar grote hoogten. Het levert een bijzonder fraai klankentapijt op waarin folk, jazz en psychedelica op even mooie, trefzekere als onnavolgbare wijze samenvloeien.
De prima muzikanten bieden Ryley Walker de mogelijkheid om te groeien en die kans grijpt de Amerikaan met beide handen aan. Bij beluistering van Primrose Green keer je nog altijd vrijwel onmiddellijk terug naar de jaren 60 en 70, waarbij ook dit keer met name Tim Buckley en John Martyn zinvol vergelijkingsmateriaal aandragen, maar ook de betere platen van Van Morrison uit deze periode nooit heel ver weg zijn. Op hetzelfde moment laat Ryley Walker, nog meer dan op zijn debuut, een eigen geluid horen.
Ook op Primrose Green overtuigt Ryley Walker weer nadrukkelijk als gitarist en als zanger, maar hiernaast maken ook zeker de complexe songs dit keer een onuitwisbare indruk. Ryley Walker leek de lat met All Kinds Of You erg hoog te hebben gelegd voor zichzelf, maar met Primrose Green gaat hij er met speels gemak overheen. Jaarlijstjesplaat, let maar op.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Primrose Green':

of kopen op

zaterdag 17 oktober 2015

Space Oddity/David Bowie. David Bowie

Another album on which I cheat a bit in the 1968-69 series on WoNo Magazine. A little because I do not own this album. I have heard Space oddity before, but not as often as a lot of his 1970s early 80s albums. So here's another one in that series that looks back at my early youth, discovering those amazing singles, where I now turn to the albums. Before you could read about Shocking Blue, Bee Gees, The Nice, Donovan, ....

David Bowie was a hard working, ambitious young man who had been recording for circa fiver years, from the age of 17 onwards, before he finally scored his first hit: 'Space Oddity'. Before that he jumped on every novelty, every trend he could hook up with. A load of flopped singles, an album or two, nothing really scored, despite the fact that he was on British national radio a lot. See his BBC album. There even is an early version of 'Space oddity', but this version misses the space, the oddity, in short the magic that the hit version does have. That little extra in sound, experiment and depth, that makes it one of the great singles in 60s pop.

It took Bowie in the U.K. another two years to really break, in NL even longer. His next hit was 'The Jean Genie' in 1973. For a while he could have become a one-hit wonder. He didn't and is respected as an artist to this day.

'Space oddity' is attached to an album that comes under three different names. The original title is 'David Bowie', the original U.S. title is 'Man of Words/Man of Music', later it was named Space Oddity and since the re-release is 2009 is back as 'David Bowie'. Let's stick with the title of the single, Space Oddity.

Enough of the history. This album starts off with the title track. Another one of those incredible singles that determined my taste in music. A monument of a song, a mini rock opera in its own right. Major Tom floats around his tin can and is losing his way fast amidst all these sounds, things I had never heard before at the time. Nothing came even close. 'Space Oddity' will always remain my favorite Bowie song. I can sing it in my dreams. So here is an artist that had only flops to his name for something like five years and was given a free reign to come up with a song like this. There's nothing comparing to the musical times either.

There's no song comparing to 'Space Oddity' on Space Oddity either. There are song of very different elk on the album. Acoustic guitar runs sounding like Paul Simon, a song ending in laughter after 40 seconds. Top heavy songs can be found that nearly or totally topple over. What David Bowie is doing, is finding/defining himself musically. There are hints at the near future, while that pre 1969 arty pompousness that often characterised his music, is somewhat left behind. Not that the music here can be characterised as pop, far from. Bowie is telling whole stories, still needs to find the right balance between telling all and telling what is necessary to tell. Something he would become very good at a few albums onwards, but the basis for 'Five Years', 'The Bewley Brothers','Station to Station' and 'Moonage Daydream' are all here. But 09.35 'Cygnet Committee'? A bit overdoing things, isn't it? Not that the song is horrible, just far too long.

The directness of 'Janine' is a pleasant surprise having sat through the nearly 10 minutes. The same of the folk of 'An Occasional Dream'. Fleeting, thin, dreamy. The song hits directly home as it is very effective.

And again here is this artist without hits, only misses and what do we do as record company in 1969? We let him record a song with a full orchestra. 'Wild Eyed Boy From Free Cloud' is another monument of a song. Bowie does not really know how to rock yet. This is another song that is very hard to pinpoint to anything. As such it is perhaps closer to classical music that rock let alone pop. A very serious song, yet extremely beautiful without excelling particularly.

It all ends with .Memories of a Free Festival, parts 1 and 2. A bit not going anywhere isn't it, but there is a sort of 'Hey Jude' like ending. (With or without Mick Ronson hand clapping?) What I can imagine could be the summing up of this album not knowing what we know now (for years). Is this going anywhere? Looking back these many years it is easy to note that Bowie is flexing his muscles towards a whole career. A good question is whether without him having a novelty hit in 'Space Oddity' there ever would have been a 'The Man Who Sold the World'. We'll never know. It doesn't matter. Bowie became one of my favorites of the 70s and 80s and then that one song, 'Space Oddity'.

Let me end with an anecdote. Rotterdam 1969. In the summer to be exact. Together with my neighbour friend Hans who was some years older than me (probably 2,5) I went in the direction of the city centre again. On the way we stopped in this little record shop. There were several neighbourhood record shops in those days. He went in a asked to listen to 'Space Oddity'. We both held one of the headphone handles. I was so enraptured that I never saw Hans leave. When the song was over I looked up, found Hans gone and the gentleman behind the counter asking me whether I wanted to buy the song, with me not having a single cent on me. The fright of my life. The impact of music was ingrained on me also. What a profound effect.


You can listen to 'Space Oddity' here:

or buy on


vrijdag 16 oktober 2015

.No's Kairos of September on Concertzender

Another month, another Kairos review. Well, almost. Wo. seems to be lagging a bit, but never mind. Here's his take on the September 2015 Kairos in which he emerges himself in the sometimes esoteric musical choices of his WoNo Magazine partner, .No. Let us step back and give the floor to Wo.

Last month I gave my self over to an experiment by listening to the one hour program without doing anything else and not commenting on the spot on what the music actually was doing to me. My instant effect-response to the music on offer, by writing down the way it moved me or rubbed me, left behind for surrender to the show. That led to interesting insights, but no more of that, this month. Although I will definitely try that once again.

We start with an ambient work of Brian Eno, the balding, long blond haired Roxy Music member of 1972, but not long after. Since Eno made many records, was a successful co-producer and one of the major influences of David Bowie in his Berlin period. 'Long Way Down' is an electronic composition in which Eno talk sings his way over the fleeting sounds beneath him. Not that I care a lot for this sort of music. I've never really been a fan. This is quite listenable, so no complaints here.

Adyen & Elayne are certainly different. Much more organic but also somewhat struggling. Is it a harp I'm hearing? If it is, is it joined by a hurdy gurdy of a violin? I'm almost certain it is the latter. Ah, a voice. That one is easy. Where Eno's music is soft flowing, 'In Between' is everything but. Almost as if the next note is revealed just before it is played and the player hasn't a clue before hand. That does make the music somewhat edgy. At the same time, paradoxically perhaps, it has a soothing effect and prepares for the next contribution.

This album is in my possession since I honestly can't remember. Long. And I knew large parts of it before I owned it. To my shame I have to admit that I do not recognise a single note. It is the sound of the guitar that gives something away though. The influence of David Gilmour is very clear. The famous central motive of 'Tubular Bells' is not in the excerpt, so that makes something of an excuse. Still, beautiful. The church organ sound underneath it all makes it easy to forget that there is no percussion present at all. The short story is that I need to play my old LP soon. The long one irrelevant here. Mike Oldfield never topped his first album, that is for sure.

Bregovic? Goran? The Serbian star musician? (Well a mix of a lot former Yugoslavian, but operating form Serbia.) I can't tell from this description. The sort of music and the language point that way. What I always find listening to this sort of music is how close all the music on the Balkans and further east and Turkey lay together. It sounds eastern, it has a sort of melancholy that we do not know. Even should this song be a happy one, I have no way of telling, it sounds so sad as if somebody died in the family. There is a real divide in music between eastern and western Europe. In the case of 'Bylan Roza' it is extremely beautiful.

Things get more serious with the long held, soft flowing tones of 'Hamningberg'. The mood was dark already, but now also becomes cold. The long held synthesizer tones remind me of the 80s, a time of doom and gloom, the atomic bomb and the end of the world or at least as we knew it. Polar winds scrape the dying land after the nuclear holocaust. People struggling in their remaining rags, all sounds muffled by the wind and snow. A very convincing mood Lindbaek and Farsted present me with.

Next up is a composition by Arvo Pärt called 'Psalom'. The NYYD Quartet plays this silent string work. With lots of silences in between. A perfect spot for the monthly poem. This time about Death, where I associated last month's poem with death. The two fit together as the few notes out of which this composition is built up sound so serious. They are without joy. Without hope and full of despair.  Yet they touch me instantly, although I could live without ever having to hear them again.

Next up is Jean-Pierre Jolicard who plays a composition of Jorge Milchberg called 'Cora se Durmo'. The classical guitar would have fit in with Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' I notice. They have the same lightness that can be found there. The main difference being that there are no other instruments chiming in one after the other. Jolicard's proficiency is so on display here. So many things going on at the same time. Quite impressive. By half as good as Mike Oldfield, but not quite in fame.

Cees Sax's 'Green Flowers' is up next. It reminds me a lot of what Grace Slick was doing in the 60s, 70s and early 80s with either one of the Jefferson incarnations and solo. Something jazzy mixed with some pop and rock. Everyone who has ever listened to 'Triad', although a David Crosby composition, will know what I mean. Sax records himself, but it is time someone started to notice this musician. 'Green Flowers' is the best one I've heard so far though. And then a flute comes in and the comparison becomes even larger. Wow. 'Green Flowers' isn't over when I thought it to be. There is a real mood change in which singer/flutist Marijke Faber really takes off on her flute. Followed by a piano solo. Like a real jazz orchestra each gets a turn. There's a third turn in which we only hear the guitar of Cees Sax, before we return to the original theme.

The fourth section isn't Cees Sax, it's .No doing one of his mixes. This one is somewhat more obvious though. Jason Kolb and Jonas Munk's 'Calumet' is what I'm listening to now. Again a darker composition with long held notes and little shifts and direction. Some long held chords are added or taken away. More soundscapes than music. More mood than anything else. The notes wash over me like the waves on the beach. There's no stopping them, as long as I remain where I am that is. This is what 'Calumet' does to me. I only have two options. Should I stay or should I go? I opt for the first, but only because that is the only way for me to reach the next contribution.

Church music is what we reach. And here is one of .No's perfect mixes. A choir, a wave, the choir. 'Requiem Aeternam' by Herbert Howells is of an eternal beauty. The sort of music that belongs in a centuries old cathedral with all the acoustics it offers. Nothing compares. The sort of music that touches me immediately. I do not own a single note of music like this, never play it. It reaches me when it does and usually by coincidence when a choir is rehearsing in a church I happen to visit. And in Kairos of course. Howells' Requiem is extremely beautiful and the rendition by the Gabrieli Consort directed by Paul McCreesh of a serene, eternal, inner stillness.

The switch to Broeder Dieleman's 'In Excelsis Deo' isn't huge in mood, but a Grand Canyon in expression, yet so close. Of course we have these birds again first, but after that the Sealand accented singing of Tonnie Dieleman sets the tone or ..... I expected it to do so. Instead it is the sadly toned piano that leads the way here. Somehow .No has managed to find the instrumental version. The elementary playing of Doeleman reaches a great effect. There's obviously for all to hear no piano wizard playing here, but all notes fall in the right place, setting a mood that complements the choir just before.

Silmus returns to Kairos with 'Deeply Beloved' from the 'Shelter' album. It can't be long before we have heard all compositions. Again I notice how Silmus manages to integrate new age like music with elements from pop. It is basically the guitars that are guilty of this. Strum the chords played in lose parts in 'Deeply Beloved' and a pop song will come forward that could support a melody. There are enough elements present that take care of the variations a song needs to be more successful. It's all in 'Deeply Beloved', which is a beautiful composition in its own right.

Next up is a piece from the album 'Montauk Variations'. I know the town, the book, but had not heard of the variations. Matthew Bourne plays the piano on 'Infinitude'. A dark sounding, elementary song which makes a lot of use of the innards of the piano. The strings resound for so long. In other words, that is how little notes are played here. Bourne uses the resonance of his instrument to the extreme to great effect.

We end this month with some music from an album that I've been hearing about for years, that was lauded in WoNo Magazine over a decade ago, but that I never listened to. Jazz, bebop, need I say more? But now it's time to listen to Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue'. It's the piano that takes over the piano before a blue muted trumpet chimes in and brushes touch the skins of the drums. The sort of music that goes with that famous painting by Edward Hopper, 'Nighthawks at the Diner'. Late, late night and the musicians doing one final round before packing it in. The last dancers keeping each other on their legs. Yes, I totally understand why people think this is beautiful, but I need something else to satisfy my musical cravings. Something that involves at least two guitars, but again, yes, this is beautiful music and totally different from what I expected, I have to add.

There remains one question. What is that metronome doing in the background or is it .No's inner clock transcended into his mix? Once I heard it, it became very distracting from the music. 


You can listen to the September Kairos here: