Monday, February 29, 2016

Ghédalia Tazartès - 1979 - Diasporas

Ghédalia Tazartès
1979
Diasporas



01. Un Amour Si Grand Qu'il Nie Son Objet 9:40
02. La Vie Et La Mort Légendaire Du Spermatozoïde Humuch Lardy 3:50
03. La Berlue Je T'aime 3:00
04. Casimodo Tango 2:50
05. Revient 2:05
06. La Fin Du Prologue 4:38
07. Ouverture Fragile 4:01
08. Rien Qu'au Soleil 2:19
09. Mourir Un Peu 4:47
10. Rien N'est Assez Fort Pour Dire 2:54
11. Une Voix S'en Va 2:03



Ghédalia Tazartès’ music comes from everywhere, and nowhere. One would thus be tempted to call it a kind of sonic utopia, the imaginary concoction of a place of diverse accents and melodies, a Pangaea-like state. One would be thus tempted, if the music was not so profoundly concerned with, and related to, the material realities of the now – in its use of cheesy keyboard sounds, modern recording technologies, and the most ancient and, conversely, the most immediately accessible of all sounds – the human voice, in all its guises and disguises: high, low, fast, slow, amused and despairing. Ghédalia Tazartès: voice-box, juke-box, ventriloquist, mouthpiece.
His music, then, runs the gamut: no utopia, no idealisation, but the gamut of human emotion and invention traversed, even if only dipped into by the faintest touch of the toes; a manic but scatty musical encyclopaedism which shows up the absurdity of its own project and revels in this, at the same time realising it as part of a flawed human condition, where relation is unclear and where leaps in logic and association are just part of the helter-skelter tapestry of thought and life, at once exhilarating and terrifyingly tipping to the abyss, spinning out of control into who knows what void.
I said that Tazartès’ music comes from everywhere and nowhere. But of course I should have said that it comes from himself. As the liner notes to one of his records put it, “Ghédalia is the orchestra and a pop group all in one person: the solitary opera explodes himself into an infinity of characters.” He is indeed a one-man orchestra, generating almost all of the sounds on his records and patching them together by overdubbing, though of course his use of sampled sounds and interactions with traditions, however warped and barely-recognisable, lets something else speak through him. What that something that speaks is, is what constitutes the compelling individuality of his sound, even as it seems to come from something beyond individuality. To adopt the title of one of his pieces, the music of Ghédalia Tazartès might also be ‘Le Dernier Concert’: the last music in the world, the only thing that is left but which contains within itself every other kind of music there has been; so utterly singular as to sound like very little else, in its totality, yet so peppered with reference and sonic similarity that it almost overburdens itself to the point where chaos sinks to noise, or to silence. Poised on that edge, dancing crazily all the while, one finds the enigmatic figure of Ghédalia Tazartès.
            Who, though, is this man? Paris resident, he was born to Turkish parents in 1947 (making him just over 60 at the time of writing, though it’s hard to tell his age from the available photographs, given the ever-present Trilby which covers the upper part of his head). There’s not really that much detailed information to go on, although the recent interview in ‘The Wire’ magazine has prompted him out of the obscurity in which he was immersed for so many years, since the recording of his first album in 1979. We can even view images of the apartment in which he has lived since 1967. It’s not so much cluttered as packed full of things: a mirror ball hangs from the ceiling and a set of pan-pipes hangs on the wall above a hat, next to which a globe perches precariously on the top of a very large speaker, both leaning at rather lop-sided angles, while a pair of rather antiquated-looking keyboards are wrapped in plastic as if they haven’t been touched since purchase. Such diversity, of course, makes its way into the music, and it’s therefore possible to see how the man’s life is connected with his output (he goes as far as to say that he doesn’t know if he would be a musician without his apartment). But I’d want to be cautious about biographizing things too much, as that would lose us the wonderful singularity which these works of art so obviously gift us.
            If the man’s biography is obscure, the music trail he’s left isn’t much better-known. Between his 1979 debut, ‘Diasporas’, and his latest album, ‘Hysterie Off Musique’ (reviewed in the previous issue of ‘eartrip’), he’s released a total of ten albums, not all of them full-length, on various labels. Not the largest corpus over a thirty-year period, and not the most easily-accessible, either: many of the albums are either out-of-print or extremely hard to get hold of, despite a number of re-issues, meaning that few people actually have the chance to listen to the music, even if they have heard of its elusive producer.

            I came across Tazartès quite by chance: browsing a ‘sharity’ blog under the ‘experimental’ tag, I came across a download link for an album entitled ‘Tazartès Tansports.’ I knew nothing about the artist or any other recording details – even the date of release – but the music was utterly captivating and I listened to the album repeatedly over the next few days. Utterly disregarding any generic conventions, any categorisation, I found ‘Transports’ to unfold in a manner that was both hypnotic and disorienting, full of what seemed to be echoes of other musics, but ending up sounding like nothing else I’d heard. Vocal samples wove their way in and out of the music: often, these were gravely beautiful, Arabic-sounding melodies, sometimes played normally in the midst of much complex electronic trickery, sometimes speeded up, sometimes slowing down, sometimes simply allowed to unfold in a quietly meditative haze. The same samples re-appeared on different tracks, a woman’s laughter sounding light and airy on one piece, sinister and nightmarish on another, dissonant noise building up underneath until, just at the climactic moment, the music unexpectedly switched direction for a moody, vaguely Oriental soundscape full of high-pitched electronic speaks and sqanks and something that sounded like a bird…or a cicada. Screams of “All animals have personalities” added a comedic touch to the fifth piece, and at another point, Tazartès produced something which, for a few seconds, seemed strangely like an Evan Parker saxophone solo. ‘Transports’ was intriguing not just for the sheer variety of sounds, but for the way it merged the human and the machine, the emotional and the robotic, cutting-edge electronic sounds with the simplicity of  ancient melody.
Before popping Tazartès’ name into google (as one does), I thought that this must be contemporary electronic music, of the Autechre/Aphex Twin variety (though a lot stranger) – my evidence being the dirty groove of ‘Transports 10’, and the squelchy, watery sounds heard on ‘Transports 8’, which are familiar effects in clubs today (though what Tazartès does with them this isn’t exactly what I’d call dance-able).Unbelievably, though, I discovered that it had been recorded back in the 1980s (with three more recent, slightly less adventurous bonus tracks). Such a historical disjunct, such an apparent impossibility, seems even more extreme than Miles Davis’ anticipation of so many developments in contemporary dance and electronic music on ‘On the Corner’. Stranger still because, whereas Miles’ album sprang to fame (or, to put it more accurately, to infamy), Tazartès work simply never appeared in the entire official story of musical development, even in accounts which pride themselves on delving into the most obscure corners, investigating the dustiest and most untouched nooks and crannies.
            This might actually be a good thing, as well as a manifest injustice. The fact that this is not a ‘known’ music (let alone ‘well-known’) allows one to focus solely on the sound, shatters a reliance on knowing ‘background detail’, on explaining what one hears as the manifestation of some extra-musical trend. And that is surely the best way to approach any music, not just Tazartès’ perplexions. In the rest of the article, then, I’ll explore in detail some of the man’s recorded output and see what I can make of it, with as little resource to biography or background as I can (although I’ll also try to avoid presenting it as something hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world).

            To begin, then, with the first record, ‘Diasporas’, released in 1979 on the Cobalt label. A pair of pieces which are, respectively, the fourth and fifth tracks on the album, succinctly demonstrate the mixture of more traditional sounding, acoustic work and more experimental electronics. ‘Quasimodo Tango’, a fairly straight tango piece by French electroacoustic composer Michel Chion, is nonetheless made odd both by its subject (the odd/grotesque pairing of Hugo’s hunchback of Notre Dame with tango), and the way Tazartès’ voice comes in and out of the mix. ‘Reviens’, meanwhile, is off in entirely stranger territory, and has to be heard to be believed.
Of course, there’s much more on the record than just these two short tracks, and it’s worth considering the ‘thematic backdrop’ to the whole. A diaspora is the dispersion of people from their original homeland, and so one could hear the music as reflecting some of this (often deeply distressing) sense of loss and change; but at the same time Tazartès’ diasporas create their own new homeland through music, a geographically unspecific region drawing on many cultures – a kind of cultural home. This is a new flexibility of nationhood and being, belonging. The utopian ideal realised in music! Babel vanquished! Or maybe more something closer to the imaginative visions of Rimbaud in ‘Illuminations’, pushed to the brink of meaning in an aesthetic experience which, perhaps, realises what can, or does not exist in the ‘other’ world, the ‘real’, the ‘physical one’.
            There might be a fair share of worry (even guilt) behind this, as well as celebration, and we find this a few years later with ‘Transports’. As Jan Opdebeeck puts it, “Transports is a dark, jagged record which maybe even stages a social reality; a feeling which is evoked by the (trying, aggressive, shying…) way of speaking and singing, and the diversity of contexts (which are provided with a social charge) and manipulations.”
            That’s not to say that there’s oppressive doom and gloom: indeed, the previously-mentioned ‘Transports 5’ adds a broadly comedic touch, with Tazartès screaming “all animals have personalities” in completely whacked-out fashion. Nonetheless, there are definite moments of melancholy: ‘Transports 6’ sounds like it’s a vocal with instrumental accompaniment (a dulcimer, a piano?) being played backwards, giving it that trippy effect familiar from the Beatles’ work after their return from India, but with a more introverted, mournful quality, as a second vocal strand is overdubbed at the end and the voices gracefully entwine, before an abrupt cut into the harsh chanting and grunts of the next piece. Meanwhile, ‘Transports 2’ which piles up a thicket of electronic sounds, clanging church bells overlaid with various whines and buzzings, before a pensive clarinet lays a melody over the top.
What’s intriguing about these last two pieces, and the album as a whole, is the way they merge the human and the machine, the emotional and the robotic, cutting-edge electronic sounds with the simplicity of an ancient melody. It’s the sort of concept that could easily overwhelm the work, or just come across as crude, but, as it is, Tazartès pulls it off magnificently.

‘Tazartès’ (1987) finds the artist using his new keyboard to create drones and weird multi-tracked figures that repeat round themselves in filigree swirls, all underneath his vocals, whether declaimed as on ‘Merci Stéphane’, or leading a dance on ‘Yama Yama’. Signs of the times (the taint of the 80s) are also the repeating beats, though the majority of these might as well have come from any time – the repeating guitar loop and percussion sounds on ‘Merci Stéphane’could have come from a 70s jazz-funk record. And that’s why Tazartès’ music is like ‘counterfactual’ history: a vision of what music might have been, the creation of an impossible fantasy whose impossibility is nonetheless challenged because it is perfectly audible on these records.
At this stage, it might be worth quoting Matt Ingram, a.k.a. Woebot, whose blog contains some thoughts on Mr Tazartès which seem particularly apposite to our lines of enquiry at this point. “Key to the proceedings is the character Tazartès presents to us. His is a profoundly Burroughsian vision. Like Burroughs’s story ‘the talking arsehole’, concerning the boundary between matter, flesh and character, Tazartès poses uncomfortable questions about the Western conception of “the human”. Distorting his voice into a cretinous rasp, ululating like an animal, wailing like a child, smearing the boundaries between Arabic and French pronunciations and languages he is always engrossing to listen to. In some senses the accompanying electronics, which form the score to his voice, would be of secondary interest were the concrete pile-up of found sound and prehistoric mantra-onics not so equally fascinating. Tazartès adopted the pose of Tibetan Bedroom Buddha decades before the likes of The Aphex Twin and his ilk, and it’s a cruel shame that his work isn’t more widely admired.”
            There’s a lot to unpack, and admire, in this account; most of all, I think that Ingram’s emphasis on Tazartès’ self-presentation, as character, is an instructive one. To a certain extent, there’s a really explicit sense that Tazartès is creating this identity called ‘Ghédalia Tazartès’, whether it be real or fictive, or a mixture of both. Either way, it’s the weird case of an identity created solely through music (only in recent years has Tazartès’ visage become visible, through photos in the scattered available interviews – most recently, that in The Wire – and through the concert appearances, perhaps sparked by that Wire coverage). Due to this fact, and due to the magpie, polymorphous nature of the musical identity itself, one could argue that Tazartès is enacting some sort of an escape from a fixed identity – or, to put it another way, is multiplying his identities out, constructing a hosts of selves which refuse a compartmentalisation of self off from experience, from tradition and from the world. Both more honest and more whimsically fictive than something more stable, it teases out certain philosophical profundities through its playful teasing; labour disguised as play, thoughtfulness disguised as wild, mischievous anarchism. Maybe more than this – the breakdown of such simple oppositional categorisation, so that labour and play, thoughtfulness and the mischievous, seriousness and humour, collapse into each other, in almost dialectical resolution, which one would hesitate to call a resolution at all.
‘Un Ivrogne Sur Le Mont Blanc’ – ‘A Drunkard on Mont Blanc’: the title suggests a deliciously absurd and rather precarious situation whose whimsical conception seems typical of the way that Tazartès mind works. His shivery vocals hint at the mountainous chill; underneath, the processed keyboard sounds remind one of Indian tablas, though this reminiscent is conditional on a realisation that they are an imitation. The very falsity of this imitation is highlighted – one realises that these are not tablas almost straightaway – so that these see more like the idea of tablas, the reconstructed dream, the treated reminiscence of the quality of sound present in tablas (perhaps arising from the hazy fog in the mind of the titular drunkard). Tablas, then, function as a kind of spiritual presence: abstracted from their environment (the music Tazartès spins round them has little in common with the Indian classical music where the instruments are normally found) and from themselves (these are not actually tablas), there is nevertheless a kind of affinity which one might call the ‘spirit’ of tablas.
‘Elle Eut Des Étouffement Aux Premières Chaleurs Quand Les Poiriers Fleurirent’ is a line from Flaubert’s Madam Bovary: “With the first warm weather, when the pear trees began to blossom, she suffered from shortness of breath.” It would be foolish to go so far as to seeing the piece as an explicit illustration of that line – particular as it is completely ripped from the context of the novel’s narrative, so that it suggests its own, separate narrative, becoming poeticised into a statement whose propositionality is made to suggest a hovering, non-propositional sense which surrounds it like an aura. Rather, the piece relates to its title in the same way that the non-propositional aura relates to the statement it surrounds, in a mysterious fashion which one cannot identify precisely – and which one could easily discard completely. Yet the desire is to retain it, to cling to the mystery at the same time as wishing to probe it – a conflicted urge which somehow re-imagines conflict as pleasure (and thus, might it not be too fanciful to say, attempts to negate conflict’s divisive and destructive force).
Tazartès’ declamatory, multi-tracked vocals are faintly reminiscent of a Turkish muezzin’s call to Friday prayers, before a startling jump cut creates the impression that his voice has morphed into that of a woman singing a-quasi operatic aria. I call that moment a jump cut, and I think it has the same disorienting effect as the filmic technique pioneered by Jean-Luc Godard in ‘A Bout de Souffle’: the violation of the 360-degree rule whereby two shots shown in succession must be 360-degrees apart; the result of breaking this rule is that the eyes perceives a jump, a leap between the two shots, disrupting the smooth continuity of perception that we expect from the moving image. The impression is one of simultaneous disruption and an odd merging – where what seem like two unrelated images are at the same time revealed to in fact be very nearly the same shot, and thus create a puzzling near-simultaneous conjunction and disjunction, literally in the blinking of an eye – a process too fast to be fully comprehended by the human brain before it has gone. Tazartès’ sudden switch from his own voice to that of the female singer has a similar quality, although its process is essentially a reversal of that I have described: what initially seems to be the same voice (Tazartès cuts himself off at a point when he is singing in quite a high register) is revealed to be that of a different person: what the ear, the mind perceives as the same voice is actually a different one, an odd merging which is actually illusory but which suggests a continuum of voices that once more refuses to create polite boundaries, this time between singers. The woman’s aria is at first accompanied, then slowly interrupted by short samples of applause triggered by drum taps which at first sound like firework; the background having dissolved the song, Tazartès re-enters, his gentle and tender multi-tracked song over a quiet, almost inaudible keyboard accompaniment abruptly cutting into Middle-Eastern style declamations (again, multi-tracked) over looped percussion. Appropriately enough, the track cuts off in peremptory fashion, this final section forcibly concluded by the sound of something crashing over – perhaps the singer falling off a chair.

‘Check Point Charlie’ (1990) extends the technique of ‘Elle Eut…’, bringing together a number of short fragments into one continuous piece in suite-like fashion. ‘Traces des Coups’, the 15-minute long opening track ends with a quasi-medieval instrumental passage whose strangeness is amplified by being played on a rather tacky 1980s keyboard. It is as if Tazartès simultaneously realises the absurdity of the sounds but mitigates this by treating the instrument completely seriously, playing beautiful music on an un-beautiful instrument. Yet this is the opposite of the po-faced seriousness and ersatz grandeur of Vangelis or Jean-Michel Jarre; rather, it is a seriousness which is simultaneously absolutely genuine and completely absurd and hilarious. And that is frequently Tazartès’ secret. He makes ‘funny’ vocal sounds, sings in a high-pitched shriek of a low croaky groan, enacts little dramas and dances, references styles in a manner that defies common sense, that hints at narrative but refuses to be linear, that suggests unity but only through dislocation.
The second track, ‘Charlie’s Retire’, makes use of more varied spoken word. Tazartès uses snippets and loops from an absurd English dialogue he recorded with a young woman, peppering the final cut with “bloopers,” thus playing on both levels (the fiction and the creation of the fiction) at the same time. The dialogue also seems to contain some sort of political comment, though one which emerges from associations which seem deliberately randomized, in an almost improvisatory fashion, rather than from absolute specificity of intention. What one is presented with, then, is a patchwork of voices in which one ‘reads’ or ‘listens’ to the words with new meanings in different contexts – there is talk about officers, about liking where one is, which is not here, which cannot help but suggest displacement the imprisonment, enforcement and exclusion created by the Berlin Wall, at the same time as the fantasies it might generate (the desire not to be trapped where one is, to be ‘not here’, or nowhere), all undercut by a sexual, vaguely sado-masochistic edge.

            Six years later comes ‘Voyage a L’Ombre’ (1996). The first seven tracks form a suite of short, linked pieces, the longest being 4 minutes long, the shortest only 40 seconds. ‘Voyage a L’Ombre 1’ comes across like some demented distortion of Kurt Weill, Tazartès’ high-pitched singing accompanied by the muffled, crackly sounds of what appears to be a looped recording of old-fashioned danced music. The following piece finds him again in a high-pitched register, his voice quavering in patterns that twist around opening and closing held notes, the sung phrases of similar lengths over a keyboard-loop and occasional bursts of a drum machine creating a repetitive, locked-in structure. Switching to a gruff growl, he sings over the unconventional rhythmic backdrop created from a loop of clapping hands and a child’s laughter, before his own voice drops out for a short burst of a soprano singing what sounds like an unaccompanied opera aria. This is then electronically distorted, fading in and out of the texture as if it were trying to push itself back into the pure clarity of its initial manifestation, quickly reaching complete failure as a new keyboard loop begins and establishes itself as the backdrop for the next few minutes. Over this, Tazartès once more comes in, deploying laughter as a musical device, in a hysterical and fairly disturbing way which is nonetheless near to being absolutely hilarious, especially as he adopts a ridiculous, hectoring high-pitched speech-sung register full of rolling ‘r’s and yawning vowels. The keyboard loop, with its faint delay setting, is left to its own devices for the next few minutes, and the suite ends with another brief fragment of song, Tazartès quietly spinning variations on simple melodic shapes, as if singing to himself, the faintest traces of electronic accompaniment (reminiscent of a whirring fan) and the slightest sounds of distant human activity suggesting that the setting is his apartment, the window open at a quiet and contemplative time of day.
            As indicated by this account, a significant characteristic of the album is the way in which several voices are juxtaposed: one voice or a group of voices sing out a melody or variations, which are then looped alongside a speaking voice – or a voice making sounds somewhere between music and speech, such as the gurgling baby and the nonsense syllable soothings of the parent in ‘Berceuse’. The latter is an instance which also questions notions of what constitutes a conversation – for, though neither can really understand what the other is saying, in a propositional, semantic sense, meaning is nevertheless communicated in a different way – a kind of communication poised between the meaning-based sounds of language and the less obviously significatory sounds of music, which collapses the boundaries between the two. As Jan Opdebeeck puts it, “speech, singing, and music lose their identity as it were, only to become absorbed in the abstract, choral composition.”
Such resistance of categorisation is paralleled in the piece’s other ambiguities: what sounds like a flute setting on a keyboard plays unquiet, rather unsettling chromatic lines underneath the baby’s happy gurgles and Tazartès’ own lullaby whisperings, ending with just the voice and faint traffic rumble. It’s not your conventionally peaceful lullaby, but manages an intimacy arguably far greater than in such a convention – a deeply loving and tender urge to sleep which encompasses the fears that yet lurk within this act – whether they be the fears of the child, unwilling to cease its wide-eyed wondering gaze at the world, or the fears and worries of the parent whose own experience tempers his enjoyment of such an innocent vision of the world. As such, it’s probably the most convincing musical exploration of parenthood in existence – and yet it is far from being simply this. That one interpretation, I’m sure, is just one of many that could be made, and which it would do an injustice to the piece to ascribe as the sole ‘meaning’.
The French word ‘ombre’ means shadow or shade, darkness or obscurity, and the disc’s title thus translates as something like ‘Voyage to the Shadows’. But I think it might not be too fanciful to pick up on the sonic similarity between ‘Ombre’ and ‘Homme’, man – this is a journey of man, or of a man, in and around the shadows which he inhabits and which are at the unreachable, the undecipherable parts of his actual existence – which could mean a kind of interior journey into the heart of the self, an examination of the very nature of one’s being, of the aspects of one’s being which one still knows so little about.
It could also be one of those journeys of development – the life of man, the different stages of life, though not in the traditional linear fashion. Rather, I’d see it as being an interaction between different stages, merging the perceptions and perspectives with which experience is viewed: child-like but knowing, infantile but wise – a kind of dramatisation of the relation between different generations (most specifically, as we heard in ‘Berceuse’, between parent and child) which simultaneously takes the role of all its main actors, both assuming the perspective of none and the perspective of all.
That interpretation, I think, is supported by the front cover – or, if not supported, prompted by it. A photograph shows a baby looking at the camera. Sunlight would be streaming onto his face, blinding him, were it not for the protective hand held up by the woman who cradles him in her arms – her gesture gives more than a hint of religious iconography, the photograph echoing a serene painting of Madonna and Child. The baby’s look is as ambiguous as baby’s expressions so often are: between the smile into which it will probably evolve, simple drop-jawed wonder and surprise, and an almost vacant uncertainty. It’s exactly the same kind of hovering enacted by the ‘Berceuse’ piece.
One might also reflect that the shadow which the mother’s hand places over the child’s face is a protective one. This would mitigate against the way we might be tempted to read the ‘Ombre’ in ‘Voyage a L’Ombre’ as having negative connotations – death, shades of hell, uncertainty, the unknown, the echo of originating objects which are absent or unseen (as shadows are the echo of the objects which cast them). Rather, the shadow is a protection from the blinding sunlight which would, paradoxically, not enable one to see (the opposite of light’s usual function).
“Human kind cannot bear very much reality”, as Eliot put it: this shielding off is thus a necessary reaction to an overabundance of sensory experience, that kind of overwhelming volume of data which one might expect to be a baby’s initial impression of the world and which must soon coalesce into more organised impressions, impressions which shut off certain data as irrelevant in a selection of what is relevant at that particular moment. This development might not be unambiguously celebrated – it involves the narrowing off of perception as well as its clarification, the hardening into set ways and modes of viewing the world, the development of prejudice and blinkered version.
And one might now feel tempted into another interpretation of the album: that in its gleeful refusal of boundaries and-deliberately un-categorisable, un-placeable strangeness, it reconstructs the infant state. Yet I would argue that there is by no means a regressive desire for the naively innocent over-abundance of the initial child-like perception; rather, knowingness exists alongside unknowingness in a way that is both fertile and exists as the worrisome reminder of processes that are more complex than we would like them to be: simultaneous loss and gain, a Hegelian inseparability of progress and decline.
         
There is more, much more, but for now, let’s content ourselves with Tazartès’ latest album, ‘Hysterie Off Musique’ (2007). Individual tracks are named after particular genres (Soul, Country, etc), but this is clearly ironic, for the artist encompasses and moves beyond so many genres that to limit himself to one would be not merely undesirable, but, one suspects, virtually impossible. ‘Soul’ is ‘soul’ in the sense of passion, emotion, more than the sense of a particular genre of twentieth-century African-American music. Tazartès, it seems, is more interested in the emotions and significations behind genres than in their explicit content or even form.
Perhaps no better concluding words can be found than Tazartès’ own, from The Wire Interview: “My music is like human nature, which is paradoxical. If somebody falls over, you laugh. But he has to fall over for real. If he’s pretending to fall over, nobody laughs. When it’s completely serious, then it’s funny.” And that is frequently Tazartès’ secret. He makes ‘funny’ vocal sounds, sings in a high-pitched shriek of a low croaky groan, enacts little dramas and dances, references styles in a manner that defies common sense, that hints at narrative but refuses to be linear, that suggests unity but only through dislocation. It verges on the ‘hysteria’ referenced in the title to this latest album, but, the more you think about it, the more you realise it’s the sanest hysteria you’ve heard.

Remastered CD edition of Diasporas, Ghédalia Tazartès' 1979 debut LP. Now available as an expanded individual CD, this edition was previously only available as part of a CD containing both Diasporas and Tazartès' 1987 self-titled fourth album, which is also now available in an expanded CD edition (TES 089CD). In addition to the entire original release of Diasporas, this CD includes the first CD release of "Ferme ta gueule, Zarathustra," a composition largely based on materials pre-dating Diasporas, originally issued as side A of Granny Awards (ALGA 036LP). In "Ferme ta gueule, Zarathustra," Tazartès freely connects Raphaël Glucksmann's garbled voix d'enfant with intoxicating, slow-moving, and sustained synth chords, before jump-cutting into bird calls, dissonant arabesque strings, and eccentric vocalizations with a blinding sense of freedom. Ghédalia Tazartès is a nomad. He wanders through music from chant to rhythm, from one voice to another. He paves the way for the electric and the vocal paths, between the muezzin psalmody and the screaming of a rocker. Tazartès is an orchestra and a pop group all in one person: the self is multitude and others. The author and his doubles work without a net, freely connecting the sounds, the rhythms, his voice, his voices. The permanent metamorphosis is a principle of composition. To hell with the technocrats of noise and the purists of synthetic culture; this music refuses classification and escapes control.


Basil Kirchin - 2004 - Charcoal Sketches / States Of Mind

Basil Kirchin 
2004
Charcoal Sketches / States Of Mind


Charcoal Sketches
01. Charcoal Sketches - Sketch 1 5:31
02. Charcoal Sketches - Sketch 2 3:22
03. Charcoal Sketches - Sketch 3 3:01

States of Mind
04. States of Mind - Plaques and Tangles 3:53
05. States of Mind - Spiked 1:25
06. States of Mind - My Unintended (Or Ballad of the Basal Ganglia) 0:44
07. States of Mind - Folie a deux 1:11
08. States of Mind - Face Blind 1:20
09. States of Mind - Head Steam 0:38
10. States of Mind - Forced March 1:20
11. States of Mind - Mrs. Mantus 2:08
12. States of Mind - Fugue 1:45

Side A: Charcoal Sketeches
This is the first time any of this music has been released or even heard. "Charcoal Sketches" represent the early building blocks of the prescient "Worlds Within Worlds" sessions.

Side B: States Of Mind
This was made by Basil for a medical conference - an international Conference of Psychiatrists and Psychologists, held at Earls Court in 1968.


Bass – Daryl Runswick (tracks: A1, A2, A3), Peter McGurk (tracks: B1 to B9)
Bassoon, Saxophone – Graham Lyons (tracks: A1, A2, A3)
Drums – Chris Karan (tracks: B1 to B9), Clem Cattini (tracks: A1, A2, A3)
Flugelhorn – Kenny Wheeler
Flute, Saxophone – Peter Hughes (tracks: A1, A2, A3)
Guitar – Alan Parker (tracks: A1, A2, A3)
Organ – Harry Stoneham (tracks: B1 to B9)
Piano – Basil Kirchin (tracks: A3), Frank Horrocks* (tracks: A1, A2)
Saxophone [Soprano] – Evan Parker (tracks: B1 to B9)
Vibraphone, Saxophone – Alan Branscombe (tracks: A1, A2, A3)



This is more killer Kirchin music, from the late 60s, and unreleased until now. Basically it is all pastoral beauty, with jazz and birdsong. It was the musical "sketches" Basil put down before he developed it all into Quantum.

States Of Mind is the music to a film about medical disorders. Short and weird it features Evan Parker of sax, and is an early example of Parkers weird improvisiational skills. The sleevenotes have been done by a neuro thingy person, and they are hilarious.

So, here are some sleevenotes for you to enjoy. There are only 500 LPs, and limited CDs so get your skates on.

CHARCOAL SKETCHES
PERSONNEL: Basil Kirchin Piano (3), Kenny Wheeler Flugelhorn (1,2), Frank Horrocks Piano (1,2), Graham Lyons Bassoon (1), Darryl Runswick Bass (1,2,3), Alan Parker Guitar ((1,2,3), Clem Cattini Drums (1,2,3), Peter Hughes Flute (2,3), Graham Lyons / Peter Hughes Saxes, Alan Branscombe Sax and Vibes. Birdsong recorded by Basil in the forest above Barden, Switzerland, on a Nagra.

This is the first time any of this music has been released or even heard. "Charcoal Sketches" represent the early building blocks of the prescient "Worlds Within Worlds" sessions, and are literally the musical jottings made by Basil before he built up his ideas into the magnificent avant garde opus we all know and love. The music is far gentler than "Worlds" or "Quantum", and at the time Basil knew where he was headed musically, this was just really the first step into a new sonic world. The session dates from about 1970, just before the main Worlds sessions commenced. It's difficult to be more precise but the main thing is it's here now and very beautiful it is too.

STATES OF MIND
PERSONNEL: Evan Parker Soprano Sax, Kenny Wheeler Flugelhorn, Chris Karan Drums, Peter McGurk Bass, Harry Stoneham Organ.

This music was made by Basil for a Medical Conference - an international Conference of Psychiatrists and Psychologists, held at Earls Court in 1968. It was the soundtrack for a short film exploring the different kind of mental disorders humans can suffer. All records of both the fair and the film have been lost, so I decided to send the music to a brain specialist, to get her opinions of the music composed and some new titles for the pieces. As for the music, you may find pieces a little disturbing, but that's what Basil does best. I'm also a little sorry this almost historic recording is short, but this is better than nothing at all.

Track 1: Plaques and Tangles (3.53) These are the post-mortem hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. The track represents a lack of recognition laced through with feathery hope, and the occasional threat of lucidity which is the signature tune of this degeneration.

Track 2: Spiked (1.25) An involuntary trip. This track sounds like acid, but I didn't take any.

Track 3: My Unintended (or Ballad of the Basal Ganglia) (0.44) The Basal Ganglia constitute a brain area responsible for action selection. In pathologies such as Parkinson's, this circuitry is no longer efficient, leading to loops of unwanted actions or the inability to initiate sequences. The brain "knows" what it wants to do but limbs don't listen. This piece contains circuitous cascades which smack of the Parkinsonian syndrome.

Track 4: Folie a Deux (1.11) Paranoia affecting two closely associated persons at the same time. In this composition there seems to be a reciprocal, desperate relationship between elements.

Track 5: Face Blind (1.20) Refers to the neuropsychological phenomenon of face-blindness or "prosopagnosia" acquired after specific brain damage. There seems to be a perpetual scanning for features to hold on to with this track. It reminded me of a patient who could only recognise his wife by her bunions.

Track 6: Head Steam (0.38) Another name for thoughts. This piece made me reflective in a grand way, such that a formula seemed appropriate. GREY TOOTHPASTE + ELECTRICITY = THOUGHTS AND WANTS AND MATHS AND THAT.

Track 7: Forced March (1.26) 1920's pills containing cocaine, supplied to explorers and the like for the sake of endurance. Withdrawn due to excess demand. I had a sense of the "long not high" of coke combined with the fidgets of mucho crack. I really felt the restless twang of the crack-dancer in this one.

Track 8: Mrs. Mantus (2.08) Mantus and Mania ruled the underworld and, for years hence, the latter lent her name to insanity. Now she's nicer and gets confused with happiness; nice springs of joy in this tune.

Track 9: Fugue (1.45) Point and counterpoint of internal and external voices. Also a state wherein a novel identity is gained without any recollection of a previous one. This tune fugued; went a-wandering and a-drifting over a featureless space.

Two never-before-released mini-albums from 1970 and '68, respectively. Charcoal Sketches is made up of studies for Kirchin's later works, and is three pieces of mood jazz with birdsong.  Quite lovely, but very weird, as the birdsong is very prevalent, and shows no obvious correlation to the music being played.  The strumming of guitar gives a gentle rock sound to the melancholy jazz, and in "Sketch 3", the playful bass and magical melody wouldn't be out of place in Stereolab's later repertoire.  The poor recording quality of Charcoal Sketches, in the context of being a long-lost artifact, manages to pass as texture.

But as swell as Charcoal Sketches is, it pales in comparison to the pieces that make up States of Mind.  Jarring, angular explorations of sound give way to suspenseful, downright scary passages.  It's where avant-garde classical and jazz join with all manner of strange sounds to create a horrific soundtrack.  It was composed for a film on mental disorders at psychiatrists' convention in 1968, and comes across like a demonized cabal of Béla Bartók, Bernard Herrmann, and Eric Dolphy dancing around in Alfred Hitchcock's head.  Cool stuff.

Basil Kirchin - 2003 - Quantum: A Journey Through Sound In Two Part

Basil Kirchin
2003 
Quantum: A Journey Through Sound In Two Parts


01. Once Upon A Time 25:20
02. Special Relativity 22:58

Credits
Other [Liner Notes] - Jonny Trunk
Producer - Esther Kirchin
Producer, Engineer, Written-by, Other [Liner Notes] - Basil Kirchin

Notes
A journey through sound in two parts. First issue of this recording made circa 1973.




Basil Kirchin's two experimental LPs from 1971 and 1973, both titled Worlds Within Worlds, have long been out of print and near impossible to track down. Quantum, recorded in 1973 and not released until 30 years later, offers another glimpse at Kirchin's oeuvre of sonic weirdness, which borrows from free jazz, musique concrète, and a lot of other things for something quite undefinable. The first side, titled "Once Upon a Time," starts off with the squawking of geese before a gentle drone calms things down, then a child's voice repeats "something special will come from me." More bird noises are mixed with some skronky free jazz that builds with intensity, with an ominous organ drone thrown in. At times, the horns and the bird chatter become so entwined it's hard to know which is which. Flip the record over, and again one long piece fills up the side. "Special Relativity" has less of the birds, but more noises from the autistic children Kirchin recorded off and on in a ten-year period in Switzerland. The piece moves from simple, childlike melodies to sections where the strings and brass get into intense, free-form freakouts, while the voices can shift from calm and playful to frantic. The shifting emotional mood gives the piece a theatrical quality as it moves from one strange tangent to another. Though only four musicians are listed (buried in Kirchin's liner notes, at that) at times it sounds like an entire demented orchestra is at work. One might compare him to Ghedalia Tazartes, as Kirchin has created a unique work that's unlike anything else.

Although there hasn’t been a Basil Kirchin release for over 30 years, his reputation is still intact as one of the most innovative and influential composers of the late 20th Century. This release is possibly his finest hour. It’s certainly his weirdest. His last releases, in 1971 and 1973 are both rare and highly influential. This is the man who discovered a new way of listening and a whole new sound - with his unique mixture of jazz and field recordings he became a key influence in the development of Brian Eno’s famous ambient works, and also a major influence behind the industrial movement of the mid seventies, for bands like Nurse With Wound. His influence does not stop in the seventies - bands such as Broadcast are now citing Kirchin as an influence, while artists involved in this project include the hugely important Evan Parker, Darryl Runswick, Kenny Wheeler and Graham Lyons. The result is a very different and occasionally harrowing journey through sound. Beautiful and often extraordinarily dark, imagine an early 1970s version of Aphex mixed with a bit of Bjork. Check.


Basil Kirchin - 1974 - Worlds within Worlds

Basil Kirchin 
1974 
Worlds within Worlds



01. Emergence (Part 3)
02. Evolution (Part 4)


Mixed at Keith Herd's "Fairview" studios in Willerby, Hull, Yorkshire.

Parts 3 and 4 are scored for :
1 Flugel Horn
1 Alp Horn
2 Woodwind
1 Cello
1 Arco Bass
1 Organ
and the sounds extracted from the following sources :
1 Gorilla
2 Hornbills
4 Flamingos
Various amplified insects, animals, birds, jets and other engines. Sounds of the docks in Hull, Yorkshire... and the autistic children of the community of Schurmatt, Switzerland.



Quick, think of the most unsettling, harshest early Nurse With Wound you can. Something like the "Gyllensköld, Geijerstam and I at Rydberg's" EP.

Ok, then imagine that sound filtered through the scattered, tortured lens of Krzysztof Penderecki's "Utrenja".

Now imagine that sound pushed to a level of frightening your brain isn't capable of comprehending.

Then realize that what I've just described was made and released in 1974, by a guy who five years prior was writing little three minute library music ditties like "Spring is for Love".

I don't believe I've ever actually said, "Oh my god, turn that off now, seriously" and actually meant it until this album. That's gotta mean something.

Basil Kirchin - 1971 - Worlds within Worlds

Basil Kirchin
1971
Worlds within Worlds




01. Part I - Integration (Non-Racial)
02. Part II - The Human Element


Worlds Within Worlds is what happens when tape loops of sampled environmental sounds, animal calls and random noises are slowed down so that new patterns and shapes, not recognizable at normal speed, appear with their own envelope, becoming perfectly visible new sounds, so the listeners become inhabitants of a brand new world.

The jazz sextet here playing (bassoon, marimba, organ, cello and double-bass plus Evan Parker's soprano sax) waves completely free, increasing the sound density while underscoring the dusty harshness of these scary and dark inner worlds surfaces, yet it serves to blunt and grind down their sharpness being at the same time our map, our interpreter and our only handhold to known reality.

A journey through sound that turns solid, becoming intricate dark landscapes that appears demanding and full of pitfalls but is emotionally utterly rewarding.

This is awesome.  Slowed-down recordings of animals and other sounds provide a compositional backdrop, while a small free jazz combo, well, free jazzes.  Some of the nature sounds are downright alien-sounding and the manipulation can be pretty illuminating insofar as it opens up the sound and makes it fresh and approachable from different angles.  Of course, it would just be a bunch of sound effects if the jazz combo wasn't good, and they're great--especially the saxophonist, who conjures unheard-of timbre out of his instrument in surprisingly listenable ways.  Percussion is pretty sparse, and there's a bit of guitar too.  To my ears, Side B has very little in the way of nature recordings, which is a little disappointing considering the album's stated purpose.  As noisy as this sounded on first listen, it sounds more composed with every subsequent play.

The London Studio Group - 1967 - It's About Time

The London Studio Group 
1967 
It's About Time




01. Theme One
02. First Meeting
03. Move And Countermove
04. Je Suis Pourquoi
05. Spring Is For Love
06. The Good Guys
07. Theme One (Small Group)
08. Time Link One
09. Time Link Two
10. Time Link Three
11. Time Link Four
12. Time Link Five
13. Time Link Six
14. Time Link Seven
15. Bass Introduction
16. New View
17. Theme Two
18. First Steps
19. Petal On A Wind
20. Insecurities
21. Nostalgia
21. Theme Two Link

Composed By – Basil Kirchin (tracks: All Tracks), Jack Nathan (tracks: A3, A5, A6, A11, A14, B3-B8), John Coleman (tracks: A1, A2, A4, A7-A10, A12, A13, B1, B2)



I can imagine how this was fairly unique and creative for 1967, but in the grand scheme it's pretty lame compared to stuff Charles Mingus was doing ten years earlier. I also prefer the funky grooves of David Axelrod's work from this same era, or the funkier "library" music that came in the following years. This offers very little in the way of groove. Maybe there are special charms to the tinny recording quality (and crackles), but for a kind of pastoral, serene post-jazz I could turn to the ECM catalog instead and find a lot more depth and personality.

The London Studio Group - 1967 - Don't Lose Your Cool

The London Studio Group 
1967
Don't Lose Your Cool



01. Don't Lose Your Cool 2:55
02. Action Music (Brooding Building) 1:42
03. Four Against Seven 2:27
04. Another Time, Another Place 3:24
05. Happiness is a Thing Called... 2:43
06. Inter-Action 2:04
07. The Rebel - Main Credits 1:40
08. Main Theme (Lonely Version) 1:34
09. Through New Territory 1:43
10. Main Theme (1st Variation) 1:35
11. Main Theme (Pop Version) 1:29
12. Nervous 2:01
13. Running Fight 1:02

Basil Kirchin
John Coleman
Jack Nathan


One of the better Kirchin and Co. releases that's still definitely library music to be used in film/television. "Main Theme -- Pop Version" has what's either an electric sitar or the shrillest electric guitar I've heard in an awfully long time.

Tracks 1 and 6 credited to Kirchin/Nathan
Tracks 2-5 credited to Kirchin/Coleman
Tracks 7-13 credited to Kirchin/Coleman/Nathan

The London Studio Group - 1966 - Mind on the Run

The London Studio Group 
1966
Mind on the Run




01. Mind on the Run 2:14
02. The Scene Around 2:10
03. Where to Go 2:24
04. Paranoia 2:50
05. Ticking Over 1:41
06. Link A.1 0:12
07. Link A.2 0:45
08. Link A.3 0:09
09. Link A.4 0:06
10. Link A.5 (Marimba) 0:38
11. Link A.6 (Bass) 0:20
12. Link A.7 0:40
13. The Hustle 1:27
14. A Gentle Yearning 2:19
15. A Simple Truth 1:45
16. Chrysalis 2:59
17. Club Date 1:08
18. Link B.1 (Main Title) 0:25
19. Link B.2 0:25
20. Link B.3 1:27
21. Link B.4 0:50
22. Link B.5 (Piano) 0:38
23. Link B.6 0:14
24. Link B.7 0:23



Generally promising little snippets and sketches of decontextualized post-jazz experimentation from the mid 60s that don't add up to much of anything. Some nice horn riffs. Seemingly intended as soundtrack material, these 24 tracks add up to 28 minutes and might be useful as sample fodder.
Has the same problems The New Breed did, although this is a lot better. The songs here that are actually songs are hot spy film soundtrack type tracks, with the title track and "The Hustle" being quite good. But you're probably never going to listen to the link tracks.

The London Studio Group - 1966 - The New Breed

The London Studio Group
1966
The New Breed



01. The New Breed 2:13
02. A Time for Loving 2:22
03. On the Move 1:36
04. A Time for Sighing 4:29
05. Where the Action Is 1:42
06. Duet for Flugelhorn 1:01
07. Here Today - Gone Tomorrow 1:33
08. Tensions 0:55
09. Main Theme (Orchestral) 2:09
10. The Attack 1:43
11. A Little Loving 0:53
12. Walking into the Trap 0:57
13. Insert C 0:22
14. Insert B 0:27
15. Wild Spot 1 0:01
16. Wild Spot 2 0:04
17. Insert D 0:32
18. Break No. 3 0:08
19. Insert E 0:14
20. Insert A 0:24
21. Break No. 1 0:22
22. Break No. 2 0:17
23. Interlude for Cello, Harpsichord and Bass

Basil Kirchin
John Coleman


One of the more hardcore library albums I've heard. Half the album is very straight polite jazz that would fit into a polite film from the mid 60s, and the other half is made of little crime show jazz combo four second incidental stabs and thirty second incidental segues. Or, to put it another way, half of the album functions basically as a sound effects library. Not a library for little teensy songs, like most library music is. No, the second half of this album isn't even trying to do songs, it's just a few different twenty second "dun dun DUUUNN"-ish things.

The London Studio Group - 1966 - Abstractions of the Industrial North

The London Studio Group
1966 
Abstractions of the Industrial North




01. Prelude And Dawn
02. Heart Of The North
03. The Observer
04. Conclusion
05. Neutral Background
06. Reflection
07. Packing, Printing And Light Assembly
08. Research Laboratory
09. Communication
10. Lunch Hour Pops
11. Heavy Machinery

Bonus tracks on the 2005 reissue as:
Basil Kirchin - 1966 - Abstractions Of The Industrial North



12. Mind On The Run
13. Where To Go
14. Paranoia
15. Two And Two Are One (Part 1)
16. Viva Tamla Motown
17. The Lonely Ones
18. Pageing Sullivan
19. Interaction
20. Four Against Seven

Credits
Bass - Peter McGurk
Drums - Chris Karan
Flute - Duncan Lamont
Flute, Saxophone, Whistle [Penny] - Peter Hughes
Guitar - Cedric West
Piano, Organ - Harry Stoneham
Saxophone, Flute - Tubby Hayes
Trumpet - Kenny Wheeler
Vibraphone, Saxophone [Alto] - Alan Branscombe

Jimmy Page - Guitar on 18
Big Jim Sullivan - Guitar on 18

Originally recorded circa 1966. Track 1 to 11 is the complete original "Abstractions Of The Industrial North" recording. Track 12 to 20 are selected cues from Kirchin's De Wolfe library recordings of the same period.


Experimental composer Basil Kirchin was born in Great Britain in 1927. He made his professional debut in December 1941 at London's Paramount, playing drums in his father Ivor's jazz band, and remained a fixture of the group throughout the remainder of World War II, playing 14 shows per week. After the war ended, Kirchin joined Harry Roy's newly-formed New 1946 Orchestra (one of the first true British big bands) as a featured soloist, gaining national exposure via the band's regular appearances on BBC radio. As the decade drew to a close, Kirchin signed on with the Ted Heath Big Band, at the time arguably the most popular big band in all of Europe -- in 1952 he returned to London to form his own group, installing his father as co-leader and recruiting trumpeters Tony Grant, Stan Palmer, Bobby Orr, and Norman Baron; saxophonists Ronnie Baker, Duncan Lamont, Pete Warner, John Xerri and Alex Leslie, pianist Harry South, bassist Ronnie Seabrook, vocalist Johnny Grant, and arranger John Clarke. The Kirchin band made its debut on September 8 with a year-long residency at the Edinburgh Fountainbridge Palais, followed in November 1953 by an engagement at the Belfast Plaza Ballroom that extended into the spring of 1954. At the same time, the group also backed singer Ruby Murray during a 13-week series for Radio Luxembourg.

In mid-1954 Ivor Kirchin was critically injured in an auto accident, and Basil attempted to lead the band on his own -- without a head for business, however, he struggled to keep the operation afloat before ultimately dissolving the lineup. Once Ivor recovered he returned to work, and with the formation of the New Kirchin Band -- a unit featuring four trumpeters, four saxophonists and three percussionists -- their sound veered away from traditional big band jazz to a more rhythmic, brassy approach that proved extremely popular with listeners, and after just ten months in existence, they placed fourth in a Melody Maker reader poll of Britain's most popular groups. After recording four singles and an EP for Decca, the Kirchin Band signed to Parlophone, where they collaborated with future Beatles' producer George Martin -- moreover, they were the first band to travel with their own P.A. system, and Basil obsessively recorded each live performance and rehearsal session, including now-legendary dates backing Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan. However, he felt increasingly confined by the limitations of the big band model, and at the peak of the Kirchin Band's fame, announced its dissolution in 1957, spending the next few years traveling the globe, including extended stays in India and the U.S.

After arriving in Sydney for what would amount to a two-year stay in Australia, Kirchin left his luggage -- including nine hand-compiled 7" tapes containing only the absolute highlights of the Kirchin Band's five-year run -- aboard his ship. Days later he received an apologetic phone call from the docks: In the process of removing the cargo from the ship, his luggage fell into the sea, and everything was destroyed -- in effect, his life's work was lost, with only their studio sessions to document the group's music. Although Kirchin finally returned to Britain in the spring of 1961, he abandoned traditional jazz forever, instead working with engineer Keith Herd on a series of electronic compositions written for imaginary films -- from there, he was commissioned to score a number of actual films, television programs, documentaries, and theatrical productions. In 1964, Kirchin began pursuing an approach he dubbed World Within Worlds -- essentially, he began combining traditional instruments with wildlife sounds and the amplified noise of insects, painstakingly editing and manipulating the results to create beautiful yet utterly alien soundscapes that clearly anticipated the subsequent ambient experiments of Brian Eno, as well as a generation of electronic artists like Aphex Twin. Not until the Swiss tape recording manufacturing firm Nagra issued their next-generation tape machines and microphones in 1967 was Kirchin able to acquire the technology necessary to fully realize his vision -- his source material grew more and more obscure, and his tape manipulations grew more and more extreme with each new project, discovering new "inner sounds" virtually inaudible at standard playback speeds.

Quantum While earning an income from soundtrack projects including 1967's The Shuttered Room, 1968's The Strange Affair, and 1971's The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Kirchin continued honing the World Within Worlds' aesthetic, finally releasing an LP under that name in 1971 -- a sequel followed two years later, this time featuring liner notes written by the aforementioned Eno. However, record company meddling and politics victimized both records, and a disillusioned Kirchin accepted more film and TV work in order to continue funding the equipment needed to further his more personal projects. Sadly, no new material was forthcoming for decades, and only in 2003 was Quantum -- a work fusing live performances from Evan Parker, Darryl Runswick, Kenny Wheeler, and Graham Lyons with ambient field recordings and the voices of autistic children -- finally issued on the Trunk label. The two-fer Charcoal Sketches/States of Mind -- the latter composed in 1968 for a psychiatric conference -- soon followed.


For the third release in Truck Records' archival series unearthing the unjustly obscure work of British jazz bandleader and experimental composer Basil Kirchin, label head Jonny Trunk went back to the company's roots. Trunk Records was founded in the mid-'90s to reissue music from the then little-known subgenre known as library music. Library music consists of instrumental cues and moods written and produced by staff composer/arrangers as works for hire that could then be used in television and movie soundtracks without having to pay separate royalties to the composer. In between his days as one of the most sought-after big-band players in British jazz and his later career as an avant-garde composer, Basil Kirchin spent some time working for the De Wolfe Music library, then the largest in England, and 1966's Abstractions of the Industrial North is one of his finest efforts for the company. Originally recorded in 1966, the 11 evocatively titled pieces on Abstractions of the Industrial North are mostly minor-key and melodic, with arrangements that favor flutes, vibes, and electric piano. Languid and jazzy, with an air of wistful melancholy, these pieces would have been ideal for a black-and-white kitchen-sink drama of the period starring Terence Stamp and/or Julie Christie. The Trunk reissue -- which as always with this label features absolutely gorgeous graphic design and interesting liner notes -- fills out the brief running time of the original LP with eight previously uncollected music cues by Kirchin from the De Wolfe Music library, the most interesting of which are "Viva Tamla Motown" (exactly the sort of not-quite-right imitation of real rock music that many music libraries specialized in), and a fun curiosity dubbed "Pageing Sullivan," which features an electric guitar battle between Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan, at that time two of the highest profile session musicians in London. The earliest material covered in Trunk's extensive Basil Kirchin reissue campaign, Abstractions of the Industrial North is the most conventional easy listening release of the lot, but it's an excellent example of the library music genre.

Anthony Moore - 1981 - World Service

Anthony Moore 
1981 
World Service


01. Run Right Back
02. Pieces Of The Puzzle
03. World Service
04. Fat Fly
05. Broke'n Idle
06. Outta Angels
07. The Argument
08. Nowhere To Go


Paul Bass: Bass
Charlie Charles: Drums
Glen Colson: Drums
Ollie Halsall: Guitar
Hans Hartmann: Bass, Double Bass
The Orb: Drums, Percussion, Saxophone
Anthony Moore: Composer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Primary Artist, Vocals




The immediate follow-up to Anthony Moore's career pinnacle, Flying Doesn't Help, World Service is nearly as strong though less immediately accessible. The sound of the album is quite similar to Peter Gabriel's third and fourth solo albums, with a pronounced African and Middle Eastern feel to some songs, particularly the politically tinged title track. Moore lacks Gabriel's innate optimism, however, and the album's tone veers from darkly bitter (on the ironically poppy, upbeat "Broke 'n Idle") to downright bleak (the climactic "Still Nowhere to Go," which recalls some of John Cale's late-'70s work). World Service is a richly satisfying album with layered, complex arrangements -- along with Moore's multi-instrumentalist skills, the album features Ollie Halsall on guitar and one of the earliest appearances of Alex Paterson under his nom de disque the Orb on percussion and saxophone -- and pristine but not overly slick production, and its darker tones complement the comparatively light Flying Doesn't Help. [The CD reissue of World Service features some alternate versions of songs -- reportedly selected by Moore -- that differ from those in the album's original vinyl release. In 2012 the Floating World label paired this alternate edition of the album with Flying Doesn't Help in a two-disc set.]

I really enjoyed More's Flying Doesn't Help album so it didn't take long for me to pick this one up. In its original vinyl form it's a darker edgier affair than Flying. With Flying, reviewers struggle to figure out where More fits among his peers. On World Service I feel that he's moving closer towards a Peter Gabriel vibe a la Gabriel 3/Melt. The world music and percussion are more prominent here and the poppy sheen of Flying Doesn't Help is muted down. I actually like the mood on this album better than its predecessor and the good songs are really good. The performances and production are excellent. I have to penalize the album a bit because I don't really like the songs Fat Fly and Nowhere To Go: the former meanders aimlessly and the latter sounds like a conventional song that has been given an eccentric and slow arrangement. (In fact the alternate version of Nowhere To Go found on the cd is pretty good.)

When you take those songs off you're left with a 28 minute album. Still, those are 28 really good minutes.

The cd version I have of this album substitutes radically different versions of about half of the songs and adds other alternate bonuses. To be fair, the alternate versions are all performed and recorded very well and are much better than what we normally get as bonus tracks on expanded album releases. They just do not share the same style of the originals. The album's best song, Broke'N Idle, is presented in a decent but very poppy and short acoustic based version...this alternate is nice but nothing like the tour de force original. By the way, it is difficult to determine what vintage the alternate versions are but it's possible they were recorded much more recently than the actual album. If they are of more recent vintage, one laments that More isn't still writing, performing and recording his own music as he sounds engaged and vital in these tracks.

If the original vinyl sequence had been presented intact with the added bonuses and alternates it would be an indispensable cd. As it is, the released cd version is a bit schizophrenic with some tracks original and others altered. Unfortunately the only authentic version of World Service is the original vinyl. (Which I lost about 12 years ago as part of a bad breakup... so if any kind reader has a LP rip, yours truly will be really grateful if you could send a copy our way!)

Anthony Moore - 1978 - Flying Doesn`t Help

Anthony Moore 
1978
Flying Doesn`t Help


01. Judy Get Down
02. Ready Ready
03. Useless Moments
04. Lucia
05. Caught Being In Love
06. Time Less Strange
07. Girl It's Your Time
08. War
09. Just Us
10. Twilight (Uxbridge Road)

Recorded & mixed at The Workhouse, Old Kent Road, London, England.

Peter Blegvad Composer
Sam Harley Bass
Charles Hayworth Drums
Matt Irving Bass
Anthony Moore Composer, Electronics, Guitar, Keyboards, Mixing, Primary Artist, Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Joan Manuel Serrat Composer
Bob Shilling Drums
Chris Slade Drums
E. Smith Composer
Robert Vogel Drums


There are three different versions of the cover art to this album - Red, Yellow and Silver lettering over a silver background. Records are also found with black ink over red or yellow labels.



While much of Anthony Moore's earlier work is pleasant yet dispensable, 1979's Flying Doesn't Help falls into a different class altogether. Elaborate yet accessible, the effects of More's (now minus one "o") masterwork can be felt on a number of levels. The opening track, a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold story called "Judy Get Down," is "Lady Madonna" for a new generation, both in its playful use of double entendres and in its unfailing Beatlesque melodicism. The songs that follow run the gamut from mordant to mischievous to desolate. More manufactures a musical landscape that is starkly beautiful, emotionally charged, and a tad dangerous, not unlike the best of John Cale's solo material. [In 2012 the Floating World label paired Flying Doesn't Help with an alternate version of Moore's 1981 follow-up, World Service, in a two-disc set.]

Anthony Moore is one of those musicians from the Henry Cow/Slapp Happy environment, but his "Flying Doesn't Help" is a much less complicated or top-heavy affair than the releases of the aforementioned bands. In my opinion it might stand next to Lou Reed's "Berlin", - and i mean this not only concerning the way the songs and the whole album is structured but also concerning its quality.
I recently read on the Mojo Website that John Peel was a great fan of this in 1979 and it is easy to understand why. Moore's voice really is more like John Cale's, the songs are Lou Reed fronting Ultravox, but the point is: There are great songs on this LP, songs that might have become New Wave classics like "Judy Get Down" or "Caught Being In Love". Don't get me wrong. No chart success, this could only happen in another reality, but some sort of classical album would be the correct fate for this here. Try and find it.

Anthony Moore - 1976 - Out

Anthony Moore
1976
Out




01. Stitch In Time
02. A Thousand Ships
03. The River
04. Please Go
05. You Tickle
06. Lover Of Mine
07. Johnny's Dead
08. Dreams Of His Laughter
09. Driving Blind
10. The Pilgrim
11. Catch A Falling Star
12. Wrong Again

Vocals, Piano, Synthesizer [String], Celesta - Anthony Moore
Guitar - Andy Summers, Anthony Moore, Peter Blegvad
Bass - Dave Wintour, Kevin Ayers, Steve Thompson
Drums - Barry Da Souza, Eddie Sparrow
Mandolin, Violin - Graham Preskett
Organ - Anthony Moore, Graham Preskett


On Moore's first post-Slapp Happy venture, he is joined by an impressive collection of sidemen, including Kevin Ayers, Andy Summers (who would shortly be picked up by the Police), and former bandmate Peter Blegvad. Filled to the brim with sunny tunes, string arrangements applied with a light hand, and Moore's rough around the edges vocals, Out is always pleasing, if a bit slight in comparison with his Slapp Happy material. His version of the old Perry Como (!) standard "Catch a Falling Star" is an unexpected delight.

Anthony Moore - 1972 - Secrets Of The Blue Bag

Anthony Moore 
1972
Secrets Of The Blue Bag



01. Secrets Of The Blue Bag 1 14:21
02. Secrets Of The Blue Bag 2 11:13
03. Secrets Of The Blue Bag 3 19:35


Bassoon [Fagott] – Wolf Schreiber
Cello – Rolph Braun
Composed By – Anthony Moore
Soprano Vocals – Geeske Hof-Helmers
Violin – Patrick Strub, Toni Sen

Recorded Live at Wümme, Sunday February 20, 1972.



Another in the growing series of archive exhumations that have highlighted Anthony Moore's career, Secrets of the Blue Bag was titled for a Chinese description of the sky, and was originally recorded (and released) in 1972, at a time when Moore's experiments were still known only to a select few cognoscente. Of course his work with Slapp Happy and beyond, as a solo artist, vastly increased his audience, although it will be the hardcore fans alone who will truly return to this album on a regular basis. Primarily instrumental, the music is based around the 120 combinations that can be drawn from the first five notes of the diatonic scale, and was apparently inspired by Moore's discovery of the encryption engine developed by the 13th century hermeticist Raymond Lully. Opening with a simple repetition of the scale, played on violin, the piece builds to an ensemble of strings, bassoon, and voice, and puts one most in mind of a very English Philip Glass.

Anthony Moore - 1971 - Pieces From The Cloudland Ballroom

Anthony Moore
1971
Pieces From The Cloudland Ballroom



01. Jam Jem Jim Jom Jum
02. Mu Na H-Uile Ni A Shaoileas
03. A.B.C.D. Gol'Fish

 
These are all the credits on the album:
Vocals [Uncredited] – Gieske Hof-Helmers, Glyn Davenport, Ulf Kenklies
Cymbal [Hi-hat, Uncredited] – Werner Diermaier
Design [At Zeitartwork] – Steve Lee (16)
Featuring [Uncredited] – Gunther Wusthoff
Liner Notes – Anthony Moore
Producer [Uncredited] – Uwe Nettelbeck

Anthony Moore's liner notes:
"This is a palindrome that takes nearly 20 minutes to complete based on the odd numbers 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. Palindromes are structures that can be read forwards or backwards such as 'Satan oscillate my metallic sonataS' or '?Was It a car or a cat I saW?'. Imagine a waltz, that is 3/4 time, superimposed at the same tempo over a piece in 5/4. The lowest common denominator of 3 and 5 is 15. This means that on the 16th beat, two pieces will re-synchronise, completing a circle of departing and approaching, a mirror image. To these two, add the further patterns of 7, 9 & 11 beats and it will then take the five parts approximately 20 mins to arrive at the point where, for the first time since the opening beat, they all land together"



Anthony Moore's musical career began when he met Peter Blegvad, while both were students at St Christopher School, Letchworth. They played in various bands, including Slapp Happy (the name was a reference to Blegvad's then-girlfriend) and the Dum-Dums. After school Moore studied Indian classical music with Viram Jasani in 1969, and went on to compose his first film soundtrack for David Larcher's Mare's Tale.

In 1971 Moore moved to Hamburg, Germany and worked in Hamburg's experimental music scene, recording two minimalist albums for Polydor Germany. In 1972 Blegvad visited Moore in Hamburg and, along with Moore's girlfriend (and soon to be wife) Dagmar Krause, Moore (guitar, keyboards), Blegvad (guitar) and Krause (vocals) formed the avant-pop trio, Slapp Happy. Moore and Blegvad composed the band's music.

Slapp Happy recorded two albums for Polydor Germany with krautrock group Faust as their backing band. Polydor released the first, Sort Of in 1972, but rejected the second, Casablanca Moon. This rejection prompted Slapp Happy to relocate to London where they signed up with Virgin Records and re-recorded Casablanca Moon, released in 1974 by Virgin as Slapp Happy. (The original Casablanca Moon was later released by Recommended Records as Acnalbasac Noom in 1980.) In 1974 Slapp Happy merged briefly with avant-rock group Henry Cow, recording two albums in 1975, Desperate Straights and In Praise of Learning. However soon after recording the second album, first Moore, then Blegvad left the amalgamation on account of incompatibilities with the group. Blegvad remarked that the "chords and the time signatures were too complicated." But Krause elected to remain with Henry Cow and that spelt the end of Slapp Happy.

Moore and Blegvad parted company at this point, but did reunite for brief Slapp Happy reunions in 1982–1983, 1997 and 2000. Moore, Blegvad and Krause also collaborated in 1991 on the specially commissioned opera 'Camera', which was made by the production company After Image and was broadcast two years later on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

After leaving Henry Cow/Slapp Happy, Moore relaunched his solo career in 1977 by releasing Out on Virgin Records, with backing by Kevin Ayers and Andy Summers. Out, however, was not commercial enough for Virgin, and they cancelled Moore's contract. In 1978 and 1981 Moore recorded Flying Doesn't Help and World Service, respectively on independent labels. Both albums were well received. The song "World Service", inspired by the BBC World Service, was released as a single and combines shortwave radio with heavy dance beats.

Moore has worked in various European locations as a freelance composer, writing songs and film scores. He has produced a number of albums, including This Heat's debut album and collaborated with Pink Floyd on two of their albums.

In 1996 Moore was appointed professor for research into sound and music in the context of new media at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany. From 2000 to 2004 he was the principal of the Academy of Media Arts. Moore has also travelled to many European locations, presenting lectures on sound and music.

In 2002 Moore formed a music trio with Jörg Lindenmaier and Peter C. Simon called LMS, named after the first letters of their surnames. They performed in France and Germany between 2002 and 2003.

Hints of Terry Riley in this piece from Slapp Happy’s Anthony Moore. You can also hear shades of Faust; which is unsurprising seeing as this was recorded at Wümme (Faust’s purpose built studio)

Those of you familiar with Moore from legendary Slapp Happy and Faust (the latter whom contributed to the german produced two SH albums) and his later appearance in the Slapp Happy/Henry Cow "supergroup" should not be disappointed to hear these wondrous pieces. They were produced at the highly productive german period of Moore when he was making soundtracks for the movies of Werner Nekes. They are a worthy representation not only of the actual time period but also of the wide range of compositional greatness of the artist. Absolutely recommended!

Andrea Centazzo - 1977 - Ratsorock

Andrea Centazzo 
1977
Ratsorock



01. Old And New Impressions
02. Silva And Sabra Games
03. Troubles
04. Fragments From A Long Story
05. Take Your Time
06. Ratsorock (Part One)
07. Dialogue
08. Ratsorock (Part Two)


Bass – Franco Feruglio
Drums – Andrea Centazzo
Piano [Electric] – Paolo Bordini

Andrea Centazzo - 1974 - Ictus

Andrea Centazzo 
1974
Ictus




01. First And Last Freedom 3:43
02. In The Swamp 10:23
03. Anthropomorphic Prelude 4:12
04. Social Capillary Hypnosis Part I 1:10
05. Ode To Nazim Hikmet 5:15
06. Via Casette Nr 0 4:30
07. Press-Paper Mirror 2:00
08. Who Remembers The Lestans Cement-Works? 4:05
09. Social Capillary Hypnosis Part II 2:05


Double Bass, Bass [Fender] – Franco Feruglio
Keyboards – Armando Battiston
Drums, Percussion, Flute [Wooden Flutes], Synthesizer, Vocals, Mixed By – Andrea Centazzo



An artistic career that spans over twentyfive years, Andrea Centazzo has given more than 1000 concerts and live performances in Europe and the United States, as well as having appeared and performed on numerous radio and television broadcasts. He has recorded over 60 LP's and CD's, and has authored 350 compositions and eight musicology books. His musical endeavors and creative expression range from the sublime to the passionate, from lyric opera to orchestral symphony and solo percussion. He has performed in momentous festivals as soloist of his own compositions or as conductor of symphonic orchestras. Centazzo is a pioneer of contemporary percussion. In the early years, he performed with some of the greatest avant-garde soloists and composers, including J. Zorn, S. Bussotti, S. Lacy, D. Cherry, A. Mangellsdorf, E. Parker, etc. Deservedly, Centazzo has received a number of prestigious music and video Awards (Premio Speciale della Critica Discografica Italiana, USA Downbeat Poll, International Video Festival Tokyo, Prix Arcanal of French Culture, etc.) A doctoral graduate in musicology, he has taught seminars and workshops in Europe and the USA. Since 1983, Centazzo has been dedicated to creating multi-media experiences. This expansion began with an exhibition of his scores rendered as painted ideograms, and evolved into video performances combining both live performance with video images. These efforts culminated in his directing award-winning videos and films. As a soundtrack composer, he unites traditional instrumentation with current technological advances in musical expression through sampling machines and computers. These efforts give a new perspective to the fusion of sound and image through his theatre, television, video, CD rom, and feature film scores. The music of A.C. captures and expresses the rhythm and pulse of life by synthesizing the mystery of Oriental percussive vibrations with the timbral harmonic understanding of contemporary music and the soul of jazz and rock post-culture. A.C. continues to contribute his unique artistic vision to the evolution of contemporary culture.