donderdag 31 maart 2016

Kairos, January 2016 by .No on Concerzender

Photo by Astrid van der Meys
Each month Wo. delves into .No's radio program. He is still lagging some months behind, but hey, he made it into 2016! This month there are some, by now, familiar names for the Kairos listener, but also two extremely long compositions that take you on a meditative trip; if you let them that is. This is a Kairos to really just sit down and listen. Of course that is always the deeper meaning behind the program, but this one is really good for an hour of relaxation. The Magical Mystery Kairos? It may well be.

A familiar voice opens the music on Kairos. This time she sings in her Swiss German dialect: Sophie Hunger. Accompanied by just her piano, she lays a little magic on the world. 'D'Red' is a beautiful song. When the band comes in it is in a late night jazz style. So soft and subtle, with Hunger's voice right on top of it all. I can't state enough that Sophie Hunger is one of the largest talents in Europe at this point in time. Her mix of music is mesmerising in which dozens of years of music comes together in an oeuvre that is more and more original by the year.

'D'Red' morphs into a modern classical composition with a clear sounding cello playing darker notes. The harp in the background does not perturb me in any way. This is the sort of accompaniment that works for me. The music floats. When I close my eyes I would be totally at rest with 'Chanson Exotique, lento' by Hidayat Inayat Khan. The two musicians, Larissa Groeneveld, cello and Gwyneth Wentink, harp, play beautifully and interact, making the song come alive.

Sophie Hunger played Tivoli-Vredenburg on 6 December 2015 and opening the show was Jesse Mac Cormack with a very idiosyncratic performance that touched me despite his musical antics. So it is no surprise to find music by him in this Kairos, as .No and I were there together with Mrs. No and Wo. present as well. In the song 'He Knows' I can't find nothing that reminds me of the show. McCormack didn't shun a single trick to go against the grain in sound, chords, in his singing and performance. 'He Knows' is a singer-songwriter song in which he harmonises with himself in a clear voice and playing just guitar. Later in the song some other instruments are allowed in. Together it is a beautiful, very clear song.

.No has this trick with music. While McCormack is still playing his guitar, a choir comes in and it fits. Not that Jesse would ever have contemplated this combination and neither would the Eric Whitacre Singers. The singers move into the a capella Whitacre composition 'Oculi Omnium'. High singing ladies and sonorous gentlemen. The poem of the month by Marion Snoek is laid over the final deep hums of the song.

What happens yet is a bit beyond me, but we are listening to a fragment of 'Klankhealing 29' by Gary Barnham. Little bells and tinkles that move into another cello and harp piece. 'Asturiana' from ‘Seite Caonciones populares Españolas’ by Manuel de Falla. Groeneveld and Wentink play this somewhat darker composition well, but it is somewhat dissettling I notice, compared to the contemplative restful moments before.

Another Kairos veteran returns next, Douglas Dare. He accompanies himself on piano in 'Caroline'. I truly like this song. There's nothing else to say in this song about a woman who writes page after page for the singer. Were it not that things start happening in the song. Is it .No doing some of his soundscapes? My guess is yes.

The next mixed-in song is not something fluent. Simply because it is so different. Broeder Dieleman's humming that is the accompaniment of 'Lovenpolder-Boerengat'. The song is about a hamlet that disappeared for the future, a chemical plant, where his grandfather used to live. All sung is the local dialect of Zeeuws Vlaanderen. The song is an excerpt from Dieleman's latest album called 'Uut De Bron', that is one piece of work of songs, soundscapes, experiments and spoken work. A total triumph. 'Lovenpolder-Boerengat' holds that all within it and shows what a piece of work 'Uut De Bron' is. And birds of course.

'Timeless prayer' by Anders Holte is the next composition. A deeper voice sounding like recorded in a cathedral sings over the final tones of Broeder Dieleman, taking over. Slow, the total unhasting in music. There are faint sounds in the background and a constant drone. Holte's voice reminds me of Jon DeRosa, but aims more for the eternal than the worldly passions. Modern church music is how I would describe 'Timeless Prayer' if asked. Again music to become totally relaxed with. To fall asleep with and be called back by another sung phrase. A full 18 minutes Anders Holte takes his listeners on a trip that is meditative, contemplative and a full surrender if one allows him/herself that pleasure. There could be nothing else if you close your eyes and let it all go. (When you're at work, like I am reviewing this Kairos, unfortunately there is almost no end to the composition.)

Broeder Dieleman returns with another song from 'Uut De Bron', 'Omer Gielliet'. Again a drone composed of voices over which Tonnie Dieleman sings. The text is about a 95 year old priest remembering what inspired him to become a priest, walking through a field as a boy. That's all it took. "At first I drank from the tab and now straight from the source". There you have the title of the album 'Uut De Bron': "from the source". The production takes more and more lines from the text and mixes them all together, over that drone to which a little is added or taken away. The voice of Dieleman goes around and around in my head from all sides and angles.

Januari 2016's Kairos ends with snippets of William Basinski, some sounds that are looped and barely a minute of Howard Skempton's piano that sooths ever so much, but is too short to really have an effect and wash Broeder Dieleman's voice out of my head.....


Wo.

You can listen to this Kairos here:

http://www.concertzender.nl/player/?mode=rod&provider=cz&program=rod&date=20160107&hourcz=23&pid=82987

This is the playlist:

00:10      Sophie Hunger. D’Red. Sophie Hunger & band. Album: 1983. Two Gentlemen Records, twogtl 009-J
03:11      Hidayat Inayat Khan. Chanson Exotique, lento. Larissa Groeneveld, cello; Gwyneth Wentink, harp. Album: Chanson Exotique (STEMRA 200692).
07:12      Jesse Mac Cormack. He Knows. Jesse Mac Cormack, gitaar en zang. Album: Crush. Secret City Records 6 80341047002 3.
11:36      Eric Whitacre. Oculi Omnium. Eric Whitacre singers. Album: Water Night. DECCA 2796323.
14:38      Gary Barham. Fragment uit klankhealing 29 november 2015. Opname in eigen beheer.
14:48      Manuel de Falla. Asturiana uit ‘Seite Caonciones populares Españolas’. Larissa Groeneveld, cello; Gwyneth Wentink, harp. Album: Chanson Exotique (STEMRA 200692).
16:59      Douglas Dare. Caroline. Album: Whelm. Erased Tapes Records ERATP 057CD.
21:30      Broeder Dieleman. Lovenpolder Boerengat. Broeder Dieleman. Album: Uut de Bron. Snowstar Records/eigen beheer.
29:35      Anders Holte. Timeless prayer. Anders Holte, zang. Album: Lemurian Home Coming. uitgegeven in eigen beheer.
47:37      Broeder Dieleman. Omer Gielliet. Album: Uut de Bron. Snowstar Records/eigen beheer.
56:37      William Basinski. Fragment uit dlp 1.1. William Basinski, tape & computer. Album The Disintegration Loops. Musex International (bmi) 2062 (2013 Temporary Residence reissue).
58:56      Howard Skempton. Campanella 3. John Tilbury, Piano. Album: Well, Well, Cornelius. Sony SK 66482

woensdag 30 maart 2016

No Place Like This. Town of Saints

Town of Saints is an odd one out in the Snowstar Records stable. Where the standard is subdued, atmospheric music, this band makes a pleasant form of indie pop, that has links with bands like Sunday Sun and others who like to have fun in singing and playing their music. Similarities stop there as Town of Saints takes a left turn from there.

Town of Saints' origins go back to 2010. After three EPs the band released its debut album, 'Something To Fight With' in 2013. In the meantime the band grew from a duo, to a trio, to a quintet. Frontman Harmen Ridderbos now fronts an indie rock band with serious guitars (Ridderbos and Berend Rombouts), bass (Jukka Kiviniemi) and drums (Jesse Bosman). The special feature is the violin of Heta Salkolahti, which adds a distinct sound to the music of Town of Saints that sets some of the songs apart from the fold.

The second contribution of Ms. Salkolahti is her harmonies. Her angelic voice drapes itself around the voice of Ridderbos and together they sing like they mean it. The singing lifts songs up and makes them spark.

In the opening song the band tries to please the most. With faint Caribbean influences 'Modern Life' flirts with pop the most. The higher sounding guitars remind me of African guitar playing that I was introduced to a long time ago in 'Rock Palast night' with King Sunny Adé (I went to bed early, I'll admit) and later on Paul Simon's 'Graceland'. A sound that came out of New York a few years back as well by already nearly forgotten bands like Vampire Diaries and Local Natives.

The deeper I delve into No Place Like This, the more indie rock and alternative the album becomes. I'm the winner. There's enough pop music going nowhere as far as I'm concerned. 'Short Circuit Breakdown' rocks hard and does everything right. I'm "singing along to a new song" already.

The biggest song on the album is the title song 'No Place Like This'. The band that influenced the song is so easy to spot. Arcade Fire all the way. The good news is that 'No Place Like This' could easily have found its way on an album of the Canadian band without falling out of place in any way. Large, pumped up, the violin taking the lead role and the listener on a rollercoaster ride.

There are a few songs in the middle of the album that I have a harder time liking. There's nothing that makes them attractive, a quality that a lot of the other songs have. Listen to the beautiful ballad 'Shapes', sung by Heta Salkolahti, everything falls into place here. Her singing, her harmonies and the violin. The strong drums behind her give the song a skeleton to look out for. The rest of the band serves 'Shapes' in all the right ways, creating perhaps the best song of the album.

Ridderbos and Salkolahti in a duet take on the competition with 'It's Beautiful'. A larger song, with a huge sound that shows the prowess of Town of Saints. A band not afraid to make a statement, even if it is not totally original. A few other man-woman fronted bands come to mind in sound. Nowhere it's written in law that one has to be original to be good.

No Place Like This ends with another great up tempo rocker. 'Hold On' is a dream of a last song. Most bands would have put a song like this right up front of their album. Town of Saints ends with it and every time I feel great, thinking what a fantastic album this is. The last four songs may actually be the best on the album. Which is very unusual, I find. Or it may well be that there's something wrong with my musical taste where the band is concerned of course. The Arcade Fire link again is strong here and I'm not a large fan of that band. In fact 'Hold On' is better than most songs I know by Arcade Fire.

Summing up I notice again how good I feel when No Place Like This falls silent. The bunch of weaker songs all forgotten, but they are there. I like the larger sound better and there is that one ballad. No worries, No Place Like This is on my good side.

Wo.

View the stories the band tells on the album here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/townofsaints

or buy on Bol.Com


dinsdag 29 maart 2016

Oh Dark Hundred. Roald van Oosten

Does coincidence exist? Very recently I heard a singer and thought of Roald van Oosten and in the same second I added another thought: will there ever be a new album? And look, here it is, Oh Dark Hundred.

In 2007 'Caesar', the band Caesar's fourth studio album, and last it turned out, made it to the first position of my WoNo Magazine end of year list. An album in which all that Caesar stood for seemed to come together. Perhaps that was also why the band called it quits. It may not have been able to ever get better.

This is proven in 2016. Oh Dark Hundred is not better than 'Caesar'. It just doesn't compare, but wait, that is meant as something positive. Van Oosten takes us on a trip down memory lane. The music is laidback, relaxed, in an indiepop kind of way. His strange, high voice is the lead instrument on Oh Dark Hundred. It is singing "to beat the dark" and "straight from the heart". And it shows. Although I had to get used again to his voice after so many years, it is landing again after a few spins.

My review does not need to be long, there's no need to go all-out in-depth. Oh Dark Hundred is an extremely sympathetic album, with the right kind of alternative melodies, all spiced by that voice. The keyboards give it a hint of the mysterious, like ghosts flying through a wall in an old, haunted English castle. There's no need to be overly alarmed, it adds to the atmosphere.

Promo Photo
Van Oosten refrains from real rock outings, and keeps his songs in the slower to faster midrange. The challenge is to keep the songs interesting over a whole album, and I have no reason to complain here. Most songs have a distinctive feature that make them stand out. A mysterious keyboard, a piano, bringing his voice more forward or an interesting lead guitar. They do the trick.

Over the past years Roald van Oosten may have written several original soundtracks, that is something that does not reach me usually. Not all soundtracks come from 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. So for me Oh Dark Hundred is a return to form. This album is not a new 'Caesar', for that it is too tame. The album is a lot that I'd hoped for in a new album by either Caesar or Roald van Oosten solo though. So enjoy.

Wo.

You can listen to the album teaser here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay8L1DFnKnQ

or buy on Bol.Com


maandag 28 maart 2016

Right On! JennyLee

It's two years ago that 'Warpaint' by the band with the same name was received favourably on this blog, although there remained mixed emotions about the record. There was one song in particular that I have listened to a lot. "Love Is To Die' is a great song; a 10s classic of undercooled passion as I ever heard one.

JennyLee (Lindberg) is the bass player and sometimes vocalist of Warpaint and released her first solo effort last December. Often a solo album by a "lesser" band member is not something that is necessary to take notice of. Who remembers Carla Torgerson's solo album? Or Radiohead's drummer's? What makes JennyLee's effort worthwhile writing a review of?

What caught me at first was the dreamy environment JennyLee creates, where it is pleasant to frequent. Her voice is light, without a lot of power behind it. "Breathy" it's described. (Not a nice description, is it? It personally reminds of men that breath into your ear after picking up the phone. Does it still exist in 2016? Haven't heard about it for years.) JennyLee's voice hovers over her music in which her bass plays a main role.

Things seemed to go amiss when I tried to establish a deeper relation with her songs. It didn't happen. For that they are too distant. The atmosphere that most of her songs are built on, works like a fog instead of a warm blanket.

The complex rhythms that some of the songs have within them are admirable. A lot of work must have gone into establishing them and make them perfect to work for the songs. It works really well in The Cure influenced 'Never'. The effect on me is in the end distancing. The sound is extremely clinical, aloof. The music of JennyLee is withdrawn into its own cocoon. In other words close to the music of her mothership, Warpaint.

That does not mean that the songs are devoid of quality. The atmosphere that is laid down in 'Long Lonely Winter is superb. Instruments and voices, not necessarily vocals, melt into each other making a whole that is extremely attractive to listen to. In general I like the softer songs better on Right On!, better than the busy ones with hard-working drummers. The difference is what makes Right On! work when all is said and done. The contrast is what makes this album come alive.

JennyLee walks a very thin line with this album, for me that is. My mood is a catalyst where the album is concerned. There are days that I do not come beyond the second song. On other days I am totally at ease, like now when I'm writing the second instalment of this post. Even the cringing, slithering 'Riot' works for me today. Even when the rhythm seems to fall apart at a certain point in the song.

Right On! is far from an easy album to listen to and to judge on. JennyLee proves that a solo album can add to the oeuvre of a band. That is a compliment to start with. She has more than enough to say. And although the atmosphere is undercooled, perhaps even cold, it is on days like these that a ray of light is the most welcome. Every time she lets one through I'm very grateful. Mixed emotions? Yes, but Right On! is worthwhile to invest time in.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Never' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ9Wkg7O7P4

or buy on Bol.Com:

zondag 27 maart 2016

A Coliseum Complex Museum. The Besnard Lakes

De Canadese band The Besnard Lakes weet zich tot dusver nauwelijks te ontworstelen aan de vergelijking met stadgenoten The Arcade Fire, maar de band uit Montreal maakte de afgelopen jaren wel drie hele mooie en bijzondere platen.
 
Het zijn platen die eerlijk gezegd maar zelden aan die van The Arcade Fire doen denken en ook bij beluistering van A Coliseum Complex Museum vind ik het meestal geen relevant vergelijkingsmateriaal.
 
Op haar nieuwe plaat kiest The Besnard Lakes voor een wat ander geluid dan we van de band gewend zijn. A Coliseum Complex laat zich nadrukkelijk inspireren door de psychedelica uit de jaren 60 en verraadt hiernaast liefde voor de muziek van The Beach Boys. Dat laatste hoor je in de verrassend sterke harmonieën en de bijzondere structuur van de songs; het eerste in de breed uitwaaiende en heerlijk dromerige muur van klanken.
 
The Besnard Lakes is echter niet het zoveelste bandje dat psychedelische muziek uit de jaren 60 probeert te reproduceren. De invloeden uit onder andere de slowcore, de indie-rock en de shoegaze en dreampop, die een voorname rol speelden op de vorige platen van de band, worden subtiel verweven met de door de jaren 60 geïnspireerde klanken. De liefhebber van prog-rock uit de jaren 60 en 70 zal bovendien nog wat invloeden uit dit genre horen.
 
A Coliseum Complex laat zich beluisteren als één lange track, maar ook in behapbare songs van een minuut of vier weet The Besnard Lakes makkelijk te overtuigen. A Coliseum Complex overtuigt overigens het makkelijkst wanneer je je volledig overgeeft aan deze plaat en je laat meevoeren op de tapijten van authentieke syths of  betoverend mooie gitaarlijnen.
 
Vervolgens is het genieten van de klanken van weleer, van songs die zomaar van Brian Wilson zouden kunnen zijn en van de vele meer eigentijdse details die The Besnard Lakes in haar muziek heeft verstopt.
 
Uit de schaduw van The Arcade Fire komen ze waarschijnlijk nog steeds niet, maar dat deze mooie en bijzondere plaat heel veel respect en aandacht verdient is wat mij betreft zeker.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'The Plain Moon':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ01b5Y_hNE

of kopen op Bol. Com

zaterdag 26 maart 2016

Steve Waitt live. Q-Bus Leiden, 24-03-2016

Photo: Wil Nievaart
Like the tweet from the Q-Bus account tweeted: "Worth Waitting 7 years". Over six years ago Steve Waitt performed at the same venue, solo, making a lasting impression on this writer. After that silence and the musician slowly slipped away from my conscious. His album somewhere among that wall of records, like the buried books in the mythical library imagined by author Carlos Ruiz Zafón. All that came back to life with a single news letter: Steve Waitt and band to perform in Q-Bus. Out came 'Blue Parade' and entered 'Stranger In A Stranger Land', reviewed recently on this blog.

A story on a show by Steve Waitt starts with his voice. Supple, with a hint of roughness, concealed by a layer of honey. Steve Waitt is a great singer, with total mastery over his voice. His singing seems strainless. It sounds so easy. Even at the end of a twenty show tour things, at least from the outside, seem like a piece of cake.

The compositions have been discussed on this blog in the past weeks. 'Blue Planet' received an online re-run. That is not the whole story though. There were so many magical moments in which it all seemed to come together on stage. The four men were able to play with the compositions, making the most of those moments where dynamics within a song can be used to the max. Dropping the volume to come back in with a loud snap on the snare drum, by the appropriately nicknamed drummer "Crash". Waitt playing solo, with the band slowly coming in. Although these are totally normal musical tricks, in a small venue with a totally attentive audience, they work like a dream.

Photo: Wil Nievaart
Steve Waitt's band played immaculately. Guitarist Greg Tuohey created sounds that I don't ever remember coming out of a guitar before. Not unlike Geoffrey Burton with Sophie Hunger. Tuohey has to work harder though, as he is the single guitarist. Released from his role as accompanying musician he played a few blistering solos. At other moments he laid down beautiful atmospherics under the piano of Steve Waitt, using all of the guitar, body, neck, strings and a load of effect pedals.

And here I am, not in general a fan of piano based pop rock, liking Steve Waitt's music not just a little. His mix of classic 70s pop rock, indie/alternative rock and jazzy ballads work really, really well. Not unlike, and here she's mentioned again, Sophie Hunger. A duet between the two artists ought to be only a matter of time.

Superb sound, once again, in the Q-Bus gave the show the finishing touches. A sound so clear is an audience's dream and all a musician can hope for.

Hearing what I have heard this Thursday in Leiden, a bigger audience ought to be a matter of time. The several dozen present were all convinced: this was a great show by a great musician.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Hey Pretty Baby' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z20gjFyvvAo

or buy on Bolcom

vrijdag 25 maart 2016

Hurt & The Merciless. The Heavy

Every once an album is let loose in the cd player that surprises. The description did not really entice me. The cover is horrendous. A chance is easily given, as nothing is as easy as taking a cd out of the tray again when an album disagrees with me. The mix of soul and rock that jumped out of my speakers sounded like I could take another song and another and this way the end of the album was reached, again and again.

'Since You've Been Gone' is the sort of song that seems a balled form of energy, caught in the guise of music. The Heavy goes all out with the funky guitars, horns, organs and a rough sounding singer who gets some vocal support here and there. From the very start the song just blasts away, like a Formula 1 poll position car.

The Heavy is from Bath in the U.K. The town with a Circus, with acorns on roofs there and is releasing its fourth album. To my surprise I've found its second album, 'The House That Jack Built' (2009) in my collection, which I have no recollection of at all. Too much music is not good for establishing a relationship with albums and songs. With Hurt & The Merciless things are different as I've played this album multiple times already.

The rough voice of singer Kelvin Swaby carries most of the songs as it draws The Heavy into an interesting mix of soul and rock that is not so much unique as extremely powerful. Dan Taylor's guitar give the music a funky glow, the rhythm section, Spencer Page (bass guitar) and Chris Ellul (drums), gives The Heavy its force and depth. Around the band a wall of sound is built that moves the music into Rhythm & Blues of the Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, if we skip Otis' ballads, variety. Add to that some touches of Lenny Kravitz and it is possible to get a complete picture of what The Heavy stands for. A band that can kick up a musical storm and tone down without losing credibility in any way.

Hurt & The Merciless does have a few dips, e.g. 'Miss California' is not my favourite, although the chorus has a touch of melancholy that makes up a little. They are excusable as a funky track like 'Turn Up' takes over and it's not hard to imagine Wilson Pickett singing this song. The horns and backing vocals lift the song up even more. Great fun.

The album cover is extremely ugly, but then not all can be pretty in life. There would be no comparison. It suggests something of a comic strip album and The Heavy is all but comical or a comic. Larger than life? Okay, I'll settle for that.

In short, I haven't had so much fun with a soul album since the soundtrack of 'The Commitments'. The Heavy can take that as a compliment.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Since You've Been Gone' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrw3Su6TFxg

or buy on Bol.com


donderdag 24 maart 2016

The Expanding Flower Planet. Deradoorian

Angel Deradoorian was de afgelopen jaren te horen op platen van onder andere Dirty Projectors, Slasher Flicks en Flying Lotus, maar maakte eerder dit jaar als Deradoorian haar eerste soloplaat.
 
The Expanding Flower Planet is een krankzinnige maar ook buitengewoon fascinerende plaat geworden.
 
Deradoorian gaat op haar eerste soloplaat aan de haal met invloeden uit de wereldmuziek, complexe ritmes en volop bijzondere geluiden. Het levert een fascinerend muzikaal landschap op waarin werkelijk van alles gebeurt en waarin je constant op het verkeerde been wordt gezet.
 
Angel Deradoorian voorziet de bijzondere klanken en tegendraadse ritmes van overtuigende en over het algemeen makkelijk in het gehoor liggende vocalen, wat zorgt voor een bijzonder contrast. Dat contrast is overigens ook in de vocalen zelf te vinden, want de mooi verzorgde vocalen worden heel incidenteel afgewisseld met ruwe kreten of ontsporende koortjes.
 
The Expanding Flower Planet is zeker geen alledaagse plaat, maar heel ontoegankelijk is de muziek van Deradoorian ook weer niet. De Amerikaanse muzikante met Armeense roots begint meer dan eens aan een popliedje met een kop en een staart, maar slaat vervolgens zoveel wegen in dat je het spoor wel eens bijster bent. Heel vervelend is dat niet, want er is heel veel moois te horen op The Expanding Flower Planet.
 
Het afwisselend organisch en elektronisch klinkende geluid op de plaat is lang niet altijd terug te brengen tot benoembare instrumenten, wat het magische effect van deze plaat nog eens versterkt. 
In alle wegen die Deradoorian in slaat komt ze de nodige invloeden tegen. De invloeden uit de wereldmuziek heb ik al benoemd, maar The Expanding Flower Planet citeert ook net zo makkelijk uit de Krautrock, de klassieke muziek of de hedendaagse indie-rock of avant garde.
 
Het debuut van Deradoorian klinkt uiteindelijk totaal anders dan elke andere plaat die je dit jaar hebt gehoord en dat is een groot goed. Heel lang wist ik niet of ik het nu mooi moest vinden of niet, maar bijzonder was het vanaf de eerste luisterbeurt. Nu enkele puzzelstukjes op hun plek zijn gevallen hoor ik ook de schoonheid van de plaat. Die kan nog wel eens flink gaan groeien, want ook na talloze keren horen liggen de meeste puzzelstukjes nog los.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Komodo':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaH_cA5LsCk
 
of kopen op Bol.Com

woensdag 23 maart 2016

Keith Emerson (1944 - 2016) IM

Recently Keith Emerson died. He took his own life, for reasons unknown to me, at the age of 71. To me he is mostly a famous name, not a musician I revered. At the age of eight I certainly had heard him play his organ on 'America', The Nice's cover of that famous song from 'West Side Story', that I already knew because my uncle had that album and played it regularly. Although I did not fully realise it at the time; this is what an extremely musical mind can do with music. To be an original with someone else's compositions. Fairly recently I reviewed the first The Nice's album on this blog in my 1968-1969 albums containing hitsingles of the day series. It showed some mixed emotions on the album.

Keith Emerson joined Emerson, Lake & Palmer of course, but that was too much classic rock for me. 'Lucky Man', 'Fanfare For The Common Man' and 'Peter Gunn' were hits, but after that silence in my universe as far as Keith Emerson is concerned. After having read the below, I am tempted to retry over 40 years down the line. 

For me ELP is three songs and a single try at 'Pictures At The Exhibition'. 'Fanfare' and 'Peter Gunn' are mind blowing versions of the original songs though. The above is just my introduction. This is what this post is really about.

On the passing of Keith Emerson I received an e-mail from a colleague from the U.K. that I discuss music with regularly, having discovered each other's passion. A colleague of Mark, Gary joined in. A story developed of musicians having made a lasting impression on these men in their younger days. I was allowed to share the conversation with you.

As I wrote, it all started with an e-mail from Mark, without me having an inkling of what would happen next:

"Just heard the shocking news about Keith Emerson's suicide. This is turning into a very sad year for our generation of music fans. I remember Wout saying when we met earlier this year after Lemmy's and Bowie's deaths: "who's next?"  We are now finding out, very sadly".

I responded as follows:

"Every time I open Twitter and see a pop star of a certain age trending, my heart skips a beat. I have never been an ELP fan, but they certainly have made some impressive music.

And, let's not forget George Martin".

Mark responded: 

"Yes, George Martin's passing was very sad news for Beatles fans but not such a shock as he was in more ways a link back to the previous generation and we might well have asked "oh, yes George Martin who produced the Beatles records: er, is he still alive?". He was a critical factor in the magical Beatles mix of converging genius and fortuitous opportunity. He guided them on the essentials in the early days - for example how fast to do songs like Please Please Me so that they were catchy enough to chart. They soon learnt that themselves and George Martin helped in a very different way from 1965's Help album onwards when the group started to innovate in the studio: he helped them do that because he had the skills from working with studio musicians in the 1950s, for example how to orchestrate their ideas; technically because he helped to make sure EMI invested in new technology like multi-track recording; and artistically he proved to be on the same radical wavelength as John and Paul so knew instinctively how to enhance and realise their ideas. 

I think you could say Keith Emerson in The Nice and ELP represented our generation's effort to link rock'n'roll to classical music and to be transformed and inspired by it. Although progressive rock proved to be a dead-end artistically of course, it was important for exploring how rock music might mature and be recognised for its artistic worth -  so it was a key phase that rock music had to go through and Keith Ermerson truly shone at its zenith. His apparently desperate death by his own hand makes his passing even more shocking. As my personal tribute I will go out and buy a replacement vinyl copy of Trilogy for the one which I bought and proudly sported in my penultimate year in secondary school all those years ago".

After which Gary joined:

"This is just too sad.... Keith Emerson was my musical idol and inspiration. As Mark will know I am a huge ELP fan, seeing them for the first time at Wembley in 1974, it was the most spectacular concert I have ever seen, quadraphonic sound, (for the time) innovative lighting effects and the bass of Emerson's Moog made the hairs on my legs vibrate in sympathy! The music and musicianship was superb.... 

I can honestly say that it was the best gig I have ever been too and nothing I have seen ever since could match (except maybe ELP at the Albert Hall 18 years later in 1992)....

I am heart broken at Keith's passing not only as I felt a close connection to him, the fact of his death and the way he went, but also because it means I will never see ELP play live again...

RIP Keith, your music, musicianship, showmanship and inspiration will live on forever.... I will never forget, and I think many others will cherish your memory...

Wout, you are right.... what is it with 2016? A huge part of our musical heritage has now passed and I fear we will never see its like again.... A golden age of music is passing....".
 
As things go in the U.S., some things are not private. So for those interested Mark sent the following link:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/16/keith-emerson-death-suicide-emerson-lake-and-palmer

Gary followed up with his post to the Emerson, Lake and Palmer Appreciation Group on Facebook:

"It occurred to me yesterday that if Keith was able to see the profound outpouring of grief, tribute and love from everone on this FB Group as well as from other sources, I think he would be astounded and amazed..."

"Even though I am still pretty much in denial that he is gone, I am starting to feel a deep connection with all of you who so publicly are declaring their sadness, feelings, thoughts and memories. I hope that you all feel as I do, that we are no longer alone, even though Keith has left us? And that we can be sure that all of us will never forget him, his music and his legacy?

I hope that if Greg and Carl, Keith's family and close friends see this huge outpouring of emotion from this FB group, that they will also not feel quite so alone and that there is at least some comfort knowing others also are grieving?

I also hope that Greg and Carl will feel that they are also held in such high regard by us all (and if anyone is in contact with them, please do let hem know on our collective part).....

Please do not forget Keith, ...please do let Greg and Carl know that they are also loved, highly respected and revered..... I think Keith, Greg and Carl became a very important part in all our lives. I hope that they will now know this and also begin to understand that it will always be that way...... From the Beginning....."

For those on Facebook, you can read more on the impact of Keith Emerson on his fans here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/162530520477144 

The way music and musicians impacts men could not have been described in a better way, I think. This happens at a time when we are most impressionable - or it does not happen at all, is my experience. All that comes after is compared to what we see as our standard. Unfortunately this means that the three of us have to brace ourselves for more rockers of the 60s and 70s to pass away in the near future. Their music will live for ever. Just click on the link below and you are catapulted back to the 1970s. Music, long hair, psychedelia and all. But above all: music. 

With many thanks to Mark Carvell and Gary Hunt for sharing their thoughts, emotions and appreciation of Keith Emerson,

Wo.

You can listen to 'Pictures At An Exhibition' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4igIQ2TOASg

dinsdag 22 maart 2016

25. Adele

It's months ago that I wrote this post, just after the new year. Why publish something so negative when there's so much positive news on music? After months I put on 25 once again to listen whether I had heard wrong. The volume turned a bit up, deliberately, to find out whether I'd hear things I'd missed. Admittedly I found some more dynamics in the music, but after what I think is the best song of the album, 'River Lea', I gave up. So here is the original story any way.

It is some years back by now that a now ex-colleague wrote in WoNo Magazine that he had discovered a new great singer called Adele. Knowing his taste, it was something I ignored straight away. I'm not one for R&B singers (of the latter kind, but only slightly more of the 1960s ones). It was only with 'Rolling In The deep' that I was truly exposed to the by then, unavoidable Adele Adkins. She won me sort of over with all the great singles that followed and then 'Skyfall', the best James Bond single to the best James Bond movie. Did I become a fan? No, but I had learned to appreciate the voice of Adele and come to like several of her songs. They had spice, dynamics, were full of life or full of suspense, like 'Skyfall'. Full of life.

And that is what I find missing in 25. '21' Had the same sort of songs as well, but also had the other ones, 'Set Fire To The Rain', 'Turning tables', just to mention two. Life can be found in 'Water Under The Bridge', but that is about it on 25. The rest are all ballads with so little going on that Adele's voice doesn't save a song, for me.

25 May be #1 in the whole of the western world for weeks on end. I truly wonder whether that is on the basis of her reputation.

The song that tops all on 25 is 'River Lea'. This song allows the gospel element that makes most songs of Adele so exciting. The guitar notes in the background even give the song a U2 feel. One of her better songs for sure.

The big single is 'Hello', of course. Number 1 (and then there's this Bieber fellow), huge, but it doesn't have IT. I wasn't impressed, like 'Rolling In The Deep' impressed me back then.

Is it true that an artist can only come to his biggest successes when in deep turmoil and/or personal pain? No, there are examples of the opposite. Perhaps for Adele it is the case. Time will tell.

No, I'm not an Adele fan, you guessed that right. Still, I had expected more of this album, simply because Adele set such a high standard with '21', that even I came close to becoming one. Did she delve deep enough into herself this time around? Perhaps not. Perhaps this is it. We'll never know.

P.s. as a form of solace for all concerned. My non-performing, every other week playing, nameless band, will take on 'Rolling In The Deep' tonight for the first time. As a tip: listen to the Giel 3FM live version. It's fantastic and you get to see the real Adele, before things went totally crazy for her.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Hello' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQHsXMglC9A

or buy on Bol.Com


maandag 21 maart 2016

AapNootMies. AapNootMies

Als iemand me verteld had dat dit de nieuwe cd is van zingende lerares Aafke Romeijn was, dan had ik het direct geloofd. De stemmen lijken op het eerste gehoor veel op elkaar. De muziek is iets anders, de manier van zingen kent overeenkomsten.

Aapnootmies bevalt me echter een stuk beter dan de nieuwe cd van Aafke Romeijn. Die laatste begint heel sterk, maar slaat daarna een richting in die mij veel minder bevalt. Vooralsnog geen recensie dus en wel van 'Aapnootmies'.

De recensie van 'Aapnootmies' hoeft niet lang te zijn. Het zijn meisjes luisterliedjes. Zacht, lieflijk en vooral dromerig. Dromen van "supersoakerkracht". Met een hoge, zachte en wat astmatisch, hijgerige stem laat Dinaira Scheffers ons kennismaken met haar belevingswereld. De overeenkomst met Aafke Romeijn zit dan ook het meeste in de stem of beter het stemgebruik. De liedjes zijn veel zachter, weidser uitgewerkt en liefdevoller.

Promo foto.
Ik zal toegeven dat er momenten zijn dat ik spontaan jeuk krijg van de liedjes, maar als ik in de stemming ben -en dat ben ik opvallend vaak, valt mij op- dan zit ik stilletjes te luisteren naar de liedjes van Aapnootmies. Er is sprake van een weelderige instrumentatie, met veel ruimte voor blazers, die maar net uit het muzikale tapijt mogen komen, dat achter de stem van Dinaira Scheffers geweven is. De mix klinkt heel compact, waaroverheen de stem ligt. Gedrapeerd als een sjaal om een hals op een koude winteravond. Dat komt het allerbest tot uiting in 'Saartje Kom Je Buiten Spelen'. Een heel luchtig onderwerp op een prachtig donkere achtergrond. Zoals een keer, lang geleden dat ik, te ver, van huis aan het spelen was met mijn vriendjes, een prachtige dag en er een enorme onweersbui aankwam. Dat was rennen. Zo voelt dit prachtige nummer.

'Aapnootmies' wordt voor een groot deel gedragen door de sfeer die het album oproept. Daarin is het album helemaal geslaagd te noemen. Dat het erg braaf is en geheel ongevaarlijk, neem ik graag op de koop toe. Zulke albums heb ik bij de vleet. Alles overziend, trek ik hier de conclusie dat een nieuw talent zich aan Nederland openbaart. Aapnootmies verdient een groter publiek en de daarbij behorende aandacht. Als ze deze muziek kan vertalen naar het podium is er niets wat Dinaira Scheffers tegen gaat houden.

Wo.

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Mevrouw, Vandaag Gaat 't Om Jou':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNb7tTROa_U





zondag 20 maart 2016

Sprained Ankle. Julien Baker

Erwin speurde ieder jaar, zoals altijd de jaarlijstjes van "de concurrentie" af op zoek naar over het hoofdgeziene pareltjes, maar ...
 
Het heeft me weinig verrassingen opgeleverd, tot ik het jaarlijstje van Paste Magazine aanklikte. Op nummer 49 van de top 50 van Paste Magazine kwam ik immers Sprained Ankle van Julien Baker tegen.
 
Julien Baker is een singer-songwriter uit Memphis, Tennessee. Ze is pas 19 jaar oud, maar uit de wijze waarop ze vanaf het hoesje van haar debuut de wereld in staart blijkt direct dat ze het in het leven tot dusver niet voor niets heeft gekregen. Julien Baker worstelt met de liefde en worstelde met de drank en drugs die haar bijna het leven hebben gekost (ze had zelfs een bijna dood ervaring).
 
Voor haar debuut trok Julien Baker, die er inmiddels een wat gezondere levensstijl op na houdt, naar de studio van Matthew E. White in Richmond, Virginia, en wat is het een mooi en bijzonder debuut geworden.
 
Op Sprained Ankle vertrouwt Julien Baker volledig op haar stem, op haar akoestische en elektrische gitaren en aan het eind van de plaat op een piano. Hier en daar zijn wat lagen vocalen opgenomen of wordt het gitaargeluid voorzien van wat extra vervorming, maar over het algemeen is de muziek van Julien Banks puur en eerlijk.
 
Het gitaarspel is gevarieerd en doeltreffend, maar de meeste aandacht wordt getrokken door de vocalen van Julien Baker. Julien Baker heeft de afgelopen jaren nogal wat meegemaakt en dat hoor je en voel je.
 
Sprained Ankle is een sombere en donkere plaat vol indringende verhalen. Julien Baker vertelt deze verhalen soms met enige afstand, maar meer dan eens is de enorme pijn van de jonge Amerikaanse voelbaar in haar zang, waardoor Sprained Ankle enorm veel impact heeft.

De songs van Julien Baker zijn lang niet altijd even volwassen of bijzonder, maar door alle emotie en pijn die de Amerikaanse in haar muziek stopt, komt Sprained Ankle aan als een mokerslag. De eerste keer dat ik Sprained Ankle beluisterde had ik 33 minuten kippenvel en dit herhaalt zich iedere keer dat ik de plaat opnieuw beluister. Het wordt eerder erger dan minder.

Laten we hopen dat Julien Baker haar leven weer op de rails krijgt, want na Sprained Ankle wil ik nog veel meer platen van haar horen. Sprained Ankle schaar ik ondertussen onder de grote verassingen van 2015. Het doet bijna pijn om naar Julien Baker te luisteren, maar wat is het ook mooi. Om te janken zo mooi.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Sprained Ankle':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmGVIvf8Q6s

Of kopen op Bol.Com


zaterdag 19 maart 2016

Rocking jive party time: Maison Du Malheur live in Bitterzoet, Amsterdam, 18-03-2016

Photo: Wo.
Bitterzoet is a small venue on the edge of the city centre of Amsterdam. A venue where the audience is sent down a set of chairs immediately, into the cellar to don coats and other apparel before we ascend another flight of stairs to come back to street level into a cozy hall with modern glass art, as if in a church, with unfit for church depictions high on the wall. The stage was filled with instruments. It all barely fitted.

The studio version of 'Midnight Rambler' by The Rolling Stones came on and was played louder than the songs before that. Warming up, introducing the show. That was not the smartest of moves, I thought, as 'Midnight Rambler' has some pretty superb up tempo sequences that are extremely exciting. During the first song I couldn't shake off that feeling. It took me a few songs to be honest.

Photo: Wo.
During the first two songs an image came to my mind that is rather surprising at a rock show. I felt like in a spy movie of a long time ago. The jazzy rock and roll songs, played in a more laidback way. The bass player with a Lenin cap and revolutionary beard, the girl in front of me with short hair and a long, leather coat, a man with woollen suit with grey and white pattern, all suggested a showdown between Americans and communists. The band kept playing. Adding to the tension, while oblivious for what was about to happen.

Photo: Wo.
The vision left me when Maison Du Malheur added vigour, volume and pace to the show, which was built up superbly. With each song more rock entered the mix of jazz, rock and roll, soul, rhythm & blues, New Orleans, jive, Jellyroll, Latin and a hint at the exotic. A seven men strong storm was cooked and served to a very appreciative audience. Limbs started moving more and more, as they should with music like this.

This band knows its music and adds a lot of enthusiasm to it all, so that the comparison with bands like The Hackensaw Boys, Kaizers Orchestra and Dropkick Murphies are well-deserved. No matter how different in music, the attitude is the same. A layer of punk is laid on top of the traditional music, changing the game almost beyond recognition.

Photo: Wo.
With solos by a (bariton) saxophone, guitar and piano, the sound was varied as well. The trumpet embellished where possible. If not, the trumpet player simply left the stage to work on his Facebook or Twitter account on the side. Modern addiction on display. The voice of JP Mesker tops it all off. Rough, drenched in echo, he sings like he means it and the guy has a stage presence, but that goes for most of his band members. They are all there with a flair. In short, Maison Du Malheur stands for what it plays. With a fun album like 'Stomping Ground' to tour behind it has every right to do so.

There are not many bands with a name that really does not fit. Maison Du Malheur is one. Huge smiles all around at this show. And The Rolling Stones? Totally forgotten for the evening.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Stomping Ground (live uit Lloyd)' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT2q44hh8BA

or buy on Bol.com


vrijdag 18 maart 2016

Glow EP. Jo Goes Hunting

Usually I would have spent a few words, or even a post, on the support act playing before De Staat in Gebr. De Nobel, but due to unfavourable circumstances I arrived late. There was only one song left when I finally entered the venue. A song I rather liked, by the way, called 'Confusion'. This turned out to be a new song and not a part of Glow. After the show I decided to take my chances and bought the band's EP.

Jimmi Jo Hueting is Jo Goes Hunting, a bedroom lo-fi solo project it turns out, helped on stage by four friends. Hueting does it all by himself on record. That makes it the more surprising that he is the drummer on stage.

The music on Glow is estranging. Take it or leave it, seems to be the adagium. Not that the Jo Goes Hunting goes way out there. No, it's more that the please factor is not very high. The music faintly reminds me of what Michiel van Poelgeest aims at with his band Villeneuf and the minimalist approach of The Future's Dust. What I personally miss is the warmth of instruments, that were certainly present in that one song I heard live.

I do hear the promise in the music of Jo Goes Hunting though. In the way a song can take a turn, or an instrument is added. 'Act Of Leaving' is a strange song with the few notes played on a banjo (?) but the vocal melody does what it is supposed to do. 'Act Of Leaving' fleshes out and becomes so much warmer than the other songs on Glow. Hueting grabs me here, just like he did on stage.

The minimalist electronic songs on Glow are a lot harder to grasp for me. The songs seem more sketches than really finished songs. Looking for the right way forward. Take 'Run Away'. The incidental bass is great. The moment the percussion comes in. The multitracked "aahhh" is beautiful. At the same time things seem missing. Hueting made his choices obviously.

Glow is an intriguing EP, but I have the idea that more interesting things will follow. Didn't Torre Florim start out on his own and called himself De Staat? Who knows where Jimmi Jo Hueting is with his four friends in two years time?

Wo.

You can listen to 'Act Of Leaving' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpi75YAz-Yw

donderdag 17 maart 2016

Stomping Ground. Maison Du Malheur

An album that for some reason remained on that large stack of records that come by. Released a few months back it came into my life last month any way and in such a way that I am going to see the band play in March in Amsterdam.

Maison du Malheur play everything but music that chagrins. A large smile on my face is more like it. The rock and roll, soul and rootsy elements in the music of the band give nothing but pleasure. An extremely rough voice, of singer and bandleader JP Mesker, leads the eclectic mix of music that is associated with 50s and 60s American cars, enormous greasers and jiving. The fun of Maison du Malheur is that it doesn't stop there. Jazzy horns, a large wollup of soul and a little Tom Waits is added, giving the music its own signature. An electric version of Pokey LaFarge is a fairly accurate description.

Maison du Malheur recorded Stomping Ground while playing live in the studio. In four days it had the album down. Eight man strong the band captured its energy in a way that must do right to its live reputation. From a singer-songwriter JP Mesker developed his project into a a full fledged band, that has its third, pleasantly entertaining album out.

Promo photo
An album that contains a lot of different sounds and moods. The jazzy 'The Connection' is one of the most traditional jazz songs. With a clarinet opening over a banjo it is not a sound one expects to hear in 2016. This song is kept extremely small compared to full force outings where rock and roll is mixed with a lot of soul. 'The Connection' is as fragile as the song is. A delicate ending to a mostly upbeat album. So there may be several moods, Maison Du Malheur convinces in all.

'Join The Weeds' opens Stomping Ground with a New Orleans death march rhythm. Strangely enough Maison du Malheur is not that far away from De Kift or Kaizers Orchestra. There is something eastern European shining through here as well or Tom Waits depending how you look at the music.

There's a lot to enjoy on Stomping Ground. I just love some of the horn arrangements. They add so much flavour to the songs. A whole century of influences is allowed to seep into the music, which makes Stomping Ground a retro album. The energy infused into the music makes it a very modern one. A perfect match, I'd say.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Join The Weeds' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tlaNnLTwV4

or buy on Bol.Com



woensdag 16 maart 2016

The Waiting Room. Tindersticks

Ik was tot voor kort eerlijk gezegd toch een beetje uitgekeken op Tindersticks. De band uit het Britse Nottingham heeft sinds haar debuut uit 1993 weliswaar geen slechte plaat gemaakt, maar de magie van Tindersticks, Tindersticks II en Curtains ontbrak toch wel wat op de laatste platen van de band.
 
Deze magie is terug op The Waiting Room. Het valt niet mee om uit te leggen waarom dit zo is. The Waiting Room wijkt immers niet heel erg af van de vorige platen van de band en klinkt ook niet heel anders dan de zo bewierookte klassiekers uit het verleden.
 
Tindersticks vertrouwt nog altijd om een lome en uiterst ingetogen en opvallend stemmige instrumentatie en vooral op de uit duizenden herkenbare stem van Stuart Staples.
 
Stuart Staples manifesteert zich ook op The Waiting Room weer als een crooner van formaat en ook in muzikaal opzicht maakt Tindersticks weer indruk. The Waiting Room is een plaat die begint te groeien wanneer de zon eenmaal onder is en verandert de woonkamer in een zwoele en donkere nachtclub.
 
Als er al iets anders is op The Waiting Room zijn het de impulsen uit de funk of zelfs de disco, die Tindersticks langzaam in de richting van Roxy Music manoeuvreren. Verwacht nu niet dat de muziek van Tindersticks opeens de voetjes van de vloer krijgt, want de wijze waarop Tindersticks invloeden uit andere genres en blazers in haar muziek toe laat loopt over van subtiliteit.
 
Ook The Waiting Room klinkt daarom weer als een typische Tindersticks plaat, maar op een of andere manier bevalt hij me beter dan zijn directe voorgangers. Dat gevoel groeit wanneer de al weer zes jaar geleden overleden Lhasa de Sela opduikt in het bijzonder mooie Hey Lucinda. Ook het duet met Savages zangeres Jehnny Beth weet overigens te verrassen en behoort ook tot de hoogtepunten op de plaat.
 
Met The Waiting Room heeft Tindersticks weer eens een plaat gemaakt die me na afloop niet aanzet tot het opzetten van een van de drie genoemde meesterwerken van weleer. Het zegt heel veel over de kwaliteit van deze nieuwe Tindersticks plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'We Are Dreamers':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8GNxVHFHhw

of kopen op Bol.com