Saturday, May 14, 2016

Kay Gardner - 1975 - Moon Circles

Kay Gardner 
Moon Circles

01. Prayer To Aphrodite 3:20
02. Changing 4:40
03. Beautiful Friend 4:32
04. Moon Flow 5:49
05. Wise Woman 3:35
06. Inner Mood I 1:30
07. Touching Souls 5:45
08. Inner Mood II 1:29
09. Lunamuse 8:55

Cello – Martha Siegel
Flute, Vocals, Guitar – Kay Gardner
Viola – Nancy Uscher
Violin – Dora Short, Olga Gussow
Piano – Althea Waites
Drums, Cymbal – Bethel Jackson
Guitar – Meg Christian
Bells [Attar] – Angie Walls
Cowbell [Queen] – Jenny Smith

Born in Freeport, New York, Gardner wrote and performed her first piano composition at the age of four. She subsequently went on to gain performance experience in chamber, orchestral, and vocal music. Gardner is considered a founder of the women's recording industry, and founded her own independent record label, Even Keel Records. She produced 17 albums, both of her own music and of others'. Gardner composed works for flute, piano, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and choir. In 1974, Gardner and Alix Dobkin recorded and produced a nationally distributed album with explicitly lesbian-feminist lyrics (Lavender Jane Loves Women, Women’s Wax Works). In 1977, Kay Gardner wrote her first piece for orchestra "(Rain Forest"), and conducted the premiere (her conducting debut) the following year at the National Women’s Music Festival in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, with Antonia Brico in attendance. Between 1976 and 1984, Gardner worked on A Rainbow Path, a large musical composition designed for meditation on the eight energy centers, or chakras, of the human organism. She conducted a women's music orchestra production of it in 1988 at the National Women's Music Festival. Gardner also co-founded the New England Women’s Symphony. She was a choir director, radio personality, and a staff writer for HOT WIRE: The Journal of Women's Music and Culture. She is credited with envisioning the Acoustic Stage venue at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (with cellist Rachel Alexander).

Kay Gardner was a true pioneer, someone equally experienced in the theory and the composition of what became known as healing music. Her belief was that music could do both good and evil; indeed, the basic, driving 4/4 beat of rock'n'roll (and, indeed, almost all modern dance music) was anapaestic, meaning it clashed with the heart's natural rhythm and was, therefore, a destructive, weakening abomination. For Gardner, known for a time as Cosmos Wonder-Child, rhythm was just one of nine musical elements she believed could cure disease, the others being drone, repetition, harmonics, harmony, melody, instrumental colour, form and something she called "Composer Intent", which in essence, meant wishing your listener well. Gardner had been performing for years when, aged eight, she took up the flute. A year later she decided upon a life as a conductor. In the early sixties, when barely into her 20s, she performed in coffeehouses across California, while in 1972 she was a founder member of the feminist and (openly) lesbian band, Lavender Jane. A painful divorce when she was 30 set Gardner on her life's true path, creating music that celebrated women's spiritual empowerment. It was her belief that certain sounds could change the physical body at a cellular level. A proponent of meditation, Gardner once noted that after her Kundalini awakening she could hear entire symphonies in ocean surf. This remarkable and wonderful record arrived in 1975 on Urana Records and no one will ever be able to make something as clear-eyed and unashamedly openhearted as this ever again. The instrumental Touching Souls (with guitarist Meg Christian) could be a cut from Nick Drake's Bryter Layter sessions, while Moonflow has pioneering black concert pianist Althea Waites playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as a base for Gardner's own fresh and flutey imaginings. Changing is just magnificent, a string quartet-led piece in which Gardner sings (beautifully) of a "woman in the moon, I can see her when she's whole". Wise Woman ("strong woman, what do you know of life?") – all zithers and xylophones – seems to have been captured live at some magnificent medieval poetry workshop somewhere. My favourite, today, is Inner Mood 1, which is just Gardner, her breathing and her flute and it is utterly captivating. There's nothing like enough room to do this odd and brilliant thinker justice here, but suffice to say she packed an incredible amount in to a life that was cut cruelly short by a heart attack when she was just 61. Oh the irony, etc

Peter Michael Hamel - 1986 - Organum

Peter Michael Hamel 

01. Part 1 25:32
02. Part 2 8:34
03. Part 3 17:16
04. Part 4 5:40

Peter Michael Hamel / All instruments

Hamel was a kindred spirit to Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke: a visionary keyboard artist possessing a wide academic knowledge of world music and musical theory (he would later gain renown as an author and educator). This was his eighth solo album, essentially a one-man live performance on a massive pipe organ at the München Academy of Music, enhanced by discreet overdubs of Tibetan cymbals and Vedic conch. The music is closer to legitimate Western classical sources than to modern Progressive Electronics, presenting 56-minutes of truly celestial Old World minimalism, with the occasional Oriental accent reflecting Hamel's interest in other cultures and alternate beliefs.

The album is generally very quiet. And like any true piece of devotional music it doesn't require any Born-Again bombast in order to reach a higher plane. But what truly separates the effort from the usual keyboard-based New Age karmic noodling is the depth and integrity of its scholarship, and the powerful serenity (not an oxymoron) of the music itself.

The album's cover illustration was borrowed from a 17th century allegory, "The Harmony of the Divine Creation"...the perfect title for any true act of musical invention, and in particular this small miracle of spiritual understatement. "Sic Ludit in Orbe Terrarum", reads the cover inscription, in part. In other words, Play it Loud.

Peter Michael Hamel - 1983 - Transition

Peter Michael Hamel 

01. Transition 17:17
02. Mandala 25:15
03. Let it Play 13:06
04. Transpersonal 9:38
05. Apotheosis 21:34

Peter Michael Hamel / Piano, Prepared Piano, Pipe Organ, PPG Wave Computer Synthesizer

 A masterful exercise in modern classical piano mostly composition.
It is not surprising that Peter M Hamel's musical route always stood closer to contemporary classic music songwriting than prog, any kind of it. Adopted here in PA in the electronic sub genre, does not change that fact a bit.

So "Transition" 1983, as guessed, has all the type of qualities and attributes, to be forgotten or underrated by the average prog audiophiles, who dig mostly unending repetitions of the same formulas with their respective preachers.

As mentioned, this work main proposals run in a different musical universe. Piano, pipe organ, PPG Wave and synthesizers conform the instrumentation, but soloing fast and slow micro-minimalism piano compositions are the frequent environment found, among an excellent electronic percussions song and a 20 minutes, obscure and massive, pipe-organ and organ composition.

Musical references for those interested in this small-masterpiece of an album are Claude Debussy, Steve Reich, Phillip Glass and of course another invited master figure, Terry Riley.

Peter Michael Hamel - 1981 - Bardo

Peter Michael Hamel

01. Dorian Dervishes 21:47
02. Bardo 26:18

Engineer - Ulrich Kraus
Organ [Pipe], Organ [Electric], Synthesizer - Peter Michael Hamel
Producer - Ulrich Kraus
Synthesizer - Ulrich Kraus

Peter Michael Hamel - 1980 - Colours Of Time

Peter Michael Hamel 
Colours Of Time

01. Colours of Time part 1 22:05
02. Colours of Time part 2 18:05

Organ [Electric Organ], Synthesizer - Peter Michael Hamel
Organ [Electric Organ], Synthesizer, Engineer - Ulrich Kraus

A master of the relationship between vowels and chakras - something our old friend Kay Gardner knew all about - in 1978 Munich-born Hamel looked at the world of avant-garde, jazz and pop music and deduced a trend toward a more soul-oriented, introverted musical language. Now, whether that’s right or not is, as so many other things, open to as many interpretations as you care to indulge in, but what’s certain is while keyboard player/synthesist Hamel may have once been lumped in with a lot of other New Age composers, he has always been able to transcend genre and create music with real depth and purpose.
A truly visionary sort of chap, Hamel emerged from the progressive end of the Krautrock scene at the very start of the 1970s. A wildly talented composer, his group Between (named after his dream of “the blue flower growing between the milestones on the road to a future world-music”, obvs) recorded a handful of wonderful albums before Hamel went solo. A theorist obsessed with Indian classical music, free jazz and the meditative experience of self-exploration, Hamel’s 1980 LP Colours Of Time is an absolute masterpiece of skull-bursting, synth-led ambient-minimalism. It’s pointless me telling you about what each track sounds like as both 20-minute (or so) pieces go, “widdly-diddly-ohhhhmmmm-oooohhhhhh” in the most wonderful and enlightening way. The following year’s Bardo is more classical, more ecclesiastical even, suffused with high church drama and stained-glass gloriousness. All instrumental, no choruses, nothing to whistle, just a lot of brain-stroking beauty. Pull the curtains, lie flat on your back, whack the headphones on and drift away to somewhere between east and west, up and down, day and night.

Peter Michael Hamel - 1977 - Nada

Peter Michael Hamel

01. Nada 6:20
02. Silence 5:15
03 Slow Motion 5:00
04. Behind The Wall Of Sleep 23:40

Line-up / Musicians
-Peter Michael Hamel / All instruments

Fans of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream should enjoy the ambient works of Peter Michael Hamel. The tracks "Nada" and the 23 minute "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" are meditative, ambient synthesizer masterpieces. The track, "Silence" is an experimental piece for prepared piano and "Slow Motion" is a New Age sounding piano piece.

Peter Michael Hamel - 1973 - The voice of silence

Peter Michael Hamel
The voice of silence

01. The Voice of Silence (15:59)
02. Panta Tantra (20:40)
03. Ego-Loss (Let The Red Buddha Amithaba Sweep You Along) (6:22)

-Peter Michael Hamel / Voice, Piano, Organ, Harmonium

 'The Voice of Silence' from 1973. Hamel was a man very actively concerned with the meditative and therapeutic properties of music, founding the Freies Musikzentrum institute for musical education and therapy a few years later.

On side-long opener 'Panta Tantra' he pieces together swift repetitive piano shapes and droning organ, harmonium and voice with heady and mystical results which draw from compatriots such as Popol Vuh and American minimalists like Philip Glass, Terry Riley and La Monte Young. The piano tinkles pile on top of each other in an unending blur that in places reminds me of Lubomyr Melnyk, providing detail and energy to the shimmering raga-esque drones.

Overleaf are two shorter pieces. First the title track takes the bubbling energy of the first side down a bit, eliminating the vibrant piano tinkling for a spooky voice and harmonium meditation, while the shortish closer 'Ego-Loss (Let the red Buddha Amithaba sweep you along)' has a dark, pained edge that I wasn't expecting, full of haunted vocal mumblings and flat foreboding drones. The key words here are "mystical", "meditative" and "droney".

Peter Michael Hamel - 1972 - Hamel

Peter Michael Hamel 

01. Storm Over Asia And Calm 4:10
02. Baliava I 5:10
03. Baliava ll 8:22
04. Fire Of Holy Eyes 9:55
05. Song Of The Dolphins 7:30
06. Sinking Sangsara 3:55
07. Aura 20:05
08. Gomorrhaga 8:45
09. Cathedral On C 9:20

- Peter Michael Hamel / Organ, Voice, Electronics, Piano
- Anatol Arkus / Synthesizer
- Ulrich Kraus / Synthesizer

Releases information
Limited to 500 copies. Gatefold cover reproducing the original artwork by Guntram Holdgrün from the 1972 Vertigo issue. Insert/ w liner notes. Remastered from the original mastertapes by Tonmeister Ulrich Kraus and re-released 2002. First ever reissue of this hard to find album.

Peter Michael Hamel is a German musician who was born in 1947. He is mostly known around these parts for his Krautrock band Between, which he founded back in 1970. Already then he showed obvious penchants for the Eastern way of thinking ? along with the more freely flowing music such as Indian ragas and the improvisation these could entail.

He studied musical composition, psychology and sociology in Munich and furthermore attended several workshops with Karlheinz Stockhausen. This is conveyed both through the music of Between, but also in his solo works that tend to explore meditative, improvisational and easternly tinged music that incorporates dreamy atmospheres and influences from all over the world.

During his studies he also got to work with artists such as John Cage, Morton Feldman and Terry Riley ? who all shared his love of the abstract and unfathomable in music.

Also known for his work outside of music, but still evolving around the same, Hamel wrote a book about no-European music in 1976 called Durch Musik zum Selbst (Using music to reach the Self) These thoughts around fx Indian vocal styles and tonal systems ? were catalysts on which much of work sprung out of in the 70s, and incorporating these with the improvisational approach of Krautrock.

Later on he tried removing himself from the improvised ? focusing more on the compositional side of things ? and almost eliminating the Eastern influences that were the foundation of his early work.

Since 1997 he has been functioning as professor for composition at the music academy of Hamburg. His orchestra and chambermusic is published by Schott, Bärenreiter and E.R.P./Celestial Harmonies. He composed four operas, many pieces for orchestra as Gestalt, violin and piano concertos, spiritual compositions as Missa for soprano, choirs and orchestra, Shoah (radio-composition about the Holocaust), a lot of chambermusic like four stringquartets and he is constantly working as a selfperforming artist (piano, prepared piano, pipe organ, voice and live-electronics). His first symphony has been premiered by Sergiu Celibidache in 1988, his second symphony had its premiere in April 2008 with the Munich Philharmonic.

In 2007 Hamel's Of the Sound of Life for great pianist Roger Woodward has been published by Celestial Harmonies.

Maybe also, a not so distant connection to Terry Riley's ideals and aesthetics in music composition ("Fire of Holy Eyes", track 4 is proof of it).

Michael Peter Hamel founder member of "Between" a Krautrock 70's band, kind of got his way out of the average "prog" scene, due to his actual work with not exactly "rockers" or "proggers", John Cage could hardly be considered neither.

In short, "HAMEL", 1972, has everything in terms of proposals in musical language. Some are true to the progressive electronic spirit (his own of course), others are more inclined to Cage's sonic experimentations with unorthodox approaches and intervention of their acoustic instruments. (eg: the use of the acoustic guitar's body as a percussion instrument.). Others are slow minimalistic "drone-like" pieces, which as Riley's music, also project a more "spiritual" cadence with enticing and mysterious musical lines.

Rich and sober, original in its variety of musical ideas and true to its own musical quest, this project has stood the test of time, by sounding in this 2016, fresh as new.