Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jerry? ... Xerxes?

Ice, "Ozan Kouklé," The Afro-Instrumental LP (France, '78?)

Seriously high-gloss faux-Afro-funk from these Franchmens, who I think may have been largely or completely erstwhile members of the also notable faux-Afro-funk troupe Lafayette Afro-Rock Band (why this sort of inexplicable and excellent mummery apparently ended in 1980, I'll never be sure). This goes in for some Big Sleep exotica harmonies one would be hard-pressed to find on an actual African record of the era, but the groove maintains a certain unimpeachabillity.

Lula Côrtes & Zé Ramahlo, "Trilha de Sume," Paebiru (Brazil, '75)

Some ridiculous shit from a digger's-dream Brazilian psych LP of which virtually the entire original pressing was destroyed in a warehouse fire; not having contracted that particular brand of fetishism myself, I'm among that rare and pitiable minority which cares mostly about what the music sounds like, and Paebiru is no-disappointment territory. The rest of the LP tends more toward addled, effects-ridden chamber folk, but "Trilha de Sume" rides out a Holger Czukay bassline, ritualistic chanting and percussion, and manic Liebman/Grossman flute and soprano sax runs to fantastic effect.

Bohemia, "Horké letni stmivani," Zrnko Pisku (Czech, '77)

Young, aspirationally, terribly naïve record nerds of the world: you'd do well to develop a congenital suspicion of anything called "funk-fusion," lest you wind up owning hour upon hour of facile riffing around the chromatic scale by studio dudes too ashamed to give full reign to the inner funk-gloss d(a)emons but too damned lazy actually to write a worthwhile fusion record. The Czech group Bohemia is a happy exception: "Horké letni stmivani," which I assume/hope doesn't mean anything ideologically offensive, has Elton Dean-style sax over psychy pools of wah-guitar and nearly atonal through-composed sections on the transgressive seam-bursting tip -- dig the Zappa-esque guitar/soprano doubled lines around 6:00.

Planetarium, "Infinity," Infinity (Italy '71)

Juice from the ever-productive Italian Mystery Rind; a learned sociocultural scholar such as, if I may be so humble, myself should at some point inquire deep into the post-fascistic social structures that compelled Italian youths to band together across beard-bridges and record hip-as-fuck one-off prog records for the first five years of the '70s, only to vanish into undeserved but perhaps sought-for obscurity. "Infinity (A)" future-jacks the hand percussion and burning Hammond organ from Santana's brief period of experimentation and, though the utterance possibly verges on harshness, cultural value (I'm thinking Caravanserai in particular); I'd post the second half of this very, very loosely-conceived 'suite,' but it's frankly some half-competent blues guitar and samey organ riffing over a "Lust for Life" drumbreak redeemed only slightly by some distant choral-orchestral frameworking, and I'm curious to see to what degree your lives will suffer as a result of its lack.

Wigwam, "Hot Mice," Fairyport (Finland '71)

Some fantastically tactile through-composed chamber-fusion from the frozen lands, apparently the work of bassist Pekka Pohjola in rather obvious nominational tribute to Zappa's then-recent Hot Rats; particularly during those scored clarinet runs, he gets damn close, and the thing-in-toto (as if it were a possibility) is better than its self-consciously derivative status might imply. Wigwam and Pohjola fans, for whatever reason, seem to be among those groups that take the objects of their interest, to use the polite term, really, really seriously, so I shan't pretend to any further or more penetrating knowledge as is my usual modus operatic ...

Island, "Zero," Pictures (Switzerland '77)

Really quite shockingly good post-symphonic prog (Présent plus Gentle Giant wouldn't be too far afield) regarding which even Thee Dread Interwebs fail to turn up much information; probably safe to assume that they were fairly into Alien and had rough experiences in high school, which would make them indistinguishable from me along a certain rubric, except of course for the fact that their country is presently banning minarets and delivering 1920s rhetoric about "the Islamic invasion" in a country with about as many Muslims as go to my university whereas as 'my' country considers simple not-in-my-back-yard xenophobia some amateur shit and actually extends its Randian military phallus into the Middle East, creating neo-Vietnam revolutionary states with which it hasn't any goddamn idea how to deal ... music?

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