Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 39
Well, the time has come… my little ‘zine has been running since 1988… what started as 12 pages quickly expanded to 20… a few format changes (& lessons) later, we settled in to a routine that felt quite comfortable.
Recent adventures in music have made it too difficult to keep up with the printed edition of IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION, though… so, with this issue, we will cease (paper) publication.
The ‘zine WILL continue, however, on the WWW. I will announce more details in the next few months, but we will be publishing up-to-date music news, reviews and selected poems from people all over the world.
This will allow me to focus more clearly on a new job I have in Michigan (day job, I mean); I’ll move there towards the end of January 2000. One thing I can guarantee you… we will be using the on-line ‘zine/WWW to promote the idea that musician’s and poets can find better ways to get their music to their audience than blindly sending packages of expensive material off to editors who have no stake in the process! More later…
The Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra – FATHOM THIS (A Retrospective): If you’d never heard of this group before (they have FIVE previously released CD’s, actually), this “best of” release would be a wonderful place to start. Light & perky jazz arrangements that use all seven sizes of saxes (gourd, how’s THAT for a phrase?) to enchant & grab your ears. Th’ instrumentation comes across in a sort of “circus” sounding fashion, which tended to be distracting to a degree; but on second (or third) listen, it’s readily apparent that this group is not only musically well-educated, but totally dedicated to solid expression through clean arrangement & high talent. It’s fresh, it’s different & (though not “improvised”, per se), high energy! One of the new tunes, cut 6 (Kramal) was especially notable! If you want to listen to something you don’t hear every day, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org) Rotcod Zzaj
Malcom Dalglish & The Ooolites – PLEASURE: & thar’ she blows! A wonderful youth “folk choir” against the masterful hammer dulcimer Mr. Dalglish plays for you. Music that we all need to hear, without doubt. These pieces take me back to a meadow in the hills of Pennsylvania, picking cattails & scoopin’ polliwogs into my blue-jeans! Playful, very energetic and certainly a keeper! This is NOT your ordinary “folk” group… it’s almost like a form of “scat”… I’m sure, actually, that it’s really very well arranged, but still maintains a loose feel all the way through. The title track, from the perspective of vocal beauty, is my favorite. They are all woven so tightly, though, that it seems the fantastic dulcimer playing was just sort of meant to be there! If you’re only into “free jazz”, or strictly “improv”, this won’t be for you, but for anyone who is willing to hear the sounds of the heart clearly expressed, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us. In fact, it gets the PICK of this issue for “best integrated music”! Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to email@example.com) Rotcod Zzaj
Martin Eden – DEVOLVER: ‘nother Massachusetts band, kewl’ rawkin’ lil’ CD! They categorize their music (in th’ promo/letter sheet) as sorta’ rock, sorta’ punk. Fits, in a way, but they clearly demonstrate more talent than yer’ average out of any one of those categories. My fave cut was # 11, “Walking Underground“… snappin’ drums, clangin’ git-arz behind & a vocal that stays on top of it all! “Charting The TFG” (last cut) had a helluva’ lot of “body” to it, too! Th’ most unique thing about this group is that they are able to change paces… I mean, there are a lotta’ rock/punk CD’s that come in here with high energy, but most of them only play one STYLE… this band is able to go for different styles & rhythms in all directions, clearly a sign of talent! They get a RECOMMENDED for anyone who loves ta’ rawk with style! Contact at Grasshopper Records, 45 Hooker St., #3, Allston, MA 09134, on their web site, at http://www.grasshopperrecords.com. or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
James Asher – RAISING THE RHYTHMS: This is one of the best worldbeat CD’s I’ve heard (yet) this year! Admittedly, I am (ever so slightly) jaundiced toward music that is based on the ancient rhythms! In this case, however, it could just as well be titled “Around The World in 80 Minutes”. All the way from South America to the Carribean to Africa… & on & on it goes! It felt (to me) that Asher’s music came across most strongly on the African-based pieces… but that may just be me, not sure. He is joined by a whole host of guest artists (far too long to list here) that help to provide additional energy & vibrancy to the pieces. If you’re looking for chamber music, or lilting vox, you’ll shun this. OTOH, if you LOVE music that can make you move, while providing insights to the universal flow, you’ll agree when I say this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is email@example.com ) Rotcod Zzaj
(Kitty Brazelton’s) Dadadah – LOVE NOT LOVE LUST NOT LUST: This is one amazing CD! Rooted firmly in rock-ability, Kitty also has a clear talent for “twisting” forms into music that’s in it’s own category… HER music! & I absolutely LOVED it! Her lyrical skills will carry you away into a land of dreams that we all have had… but th’ real beauty comes in her dynamite compositional talent. No form is sacred, & the results are (always) different than you expected them to be… I mean harp start, then a movement into a blend of horns/harp/vox like you’ve never HEARD (Sex Wind Dream). Some player names we recognize, like Matt Turner & Jeff Song (who have been reviewed quite a few times in these pages before). Brazelton has a DRIVING energy in her vocals & when that is paired with her unconventional mixings of instruments, it comes off sounding like a majestic rock-improv opera! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, without a moment’s hesitation! You should watch out for this young genius, ‘coz you’ll be hearing a LOT more from her in the (very near) future! GET THIS!!! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Kitty also asked me to be sure you know that it’s available for sale in stores like Tower Records (distributed by Allegro), or you can visit HER WWW site, at http://www.kitbraz.com Rotcod Zzaj
ONOFFON – Surrender Now: A 1997 CD from this group (they sent us their latest, too, which will be reviewed soon)… some SMOKIN’ blues-based funk that’ll have yer’ fingerz’ poppin’, & get yer’ feet MOVIN’! We first reviewed them in our H-O-T files pages (http://www.olywa.net/rotcod/DABAYBULLZ.htm ), & were so impressed with their lowdown kickin’ style that we asked them to send th’ CD in. The elements of fusion jazz (some
S-T-R-O-N-G sax on track 4, “Weekend In Montreal”) mixed in are a main attraction for me, but they’ve got a strong rock presence (shades of “Cream”, verzure) crawlin’ down under, too! HIGH ENERGY music for folks who won’t tolerate syrupy smooth in their listening sessions. This is one of the best (all around) groups I’ve heard in 1999! They get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if yer’ lookin’ for some music that’ll carry ya’ over thee TOP! Contact at ONOFFON Productions, 12059 Hoffman St. Suite 110, Studio City, CA 91604, or visit their web site at http://www.onoffon.com Rotcod Zzaj
Satoko Fujii Sextet – PAST LIFE: We have reviewed a lot of this player’s work (over the last year or so), & been impressed by each & every CD. “PAST LIFE” is no exception! Not “strictly jazz”, more like “semi-composed pandemonium! Natsuki Tamura’s splendid trumpet is a standout, & there is some SMASHING brass work all around! There is a lot of tension/release in the movements, but it’s quite fluid & will be most attractive to those who enjoy piano improvisations! Bassist Toshiki Nagata’s playing on “Yami” (track 2) forms strong underpinnings for some nice movements. I think that’s what’s really striking me as different about this excursion by Satoko… a real sense of movements, almost as though it were an improvisational orchestra. Not for the weak-minded, because you must be intent, but I liked it (a LOT), & it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for improv jazz fans everywhere! Another KEEPER! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Keith Banfield and Midori – SLEEP: We have received some very interesting varieties of musical experience from Musik International (the promoter) over the last year… this CD, as you might have guessed from the title, is for those who need a way to help them on their journey to the deepest stages of sleep. This is more than accomplished (he sez’, as he drifts….. off…. to…). Well, you get th’ idea, yoh? I remember (from my time in the therapy ward) music similar to this (but it was harp-based, I think), and though effective, it was nowhere near as accomplished as this is. These kinds of albums aren’t exactly what you might expect to see reviewed in these pages, but the music is totally performed and good enough to get a RECOMMENDED from me! Contact at New World Music, 154 Betasso Road
Boulder, CO 80302, or visit their WWW site at http://www.newworldmusic.com/>www.newworldmusic.com Rotcod Zzaj
Ken Rubenstein – IS THIS MY WORLD THAT HOVERS?: Last time we heard from Ken (my gourd, how LONG ago was that), he was onna’ cover o’ Rollin’ Stone (or wuz that git-ar player?). Well, he’s back in FULL FORCE, with his amazing guitars (& other wizard instruments). This (truly) is the best I’ve ever heard him play, & if you enjoy highly creative music, you’ll HAVE to get this one! There is real movement here, even on the slower pieces… seems (somehow) influenced by middle-eastern rhythms (in places), but it’s still pure original, with no compromise. Ken even performs the vocal work, another aspect of his playing I hadn’t fully realized before. All th’ way from smooth to sad to strange (& stranger), you get thee whole BALL o’ wax on these 18 (often mystifying) tracks! I particularly enjoyed track 8, a rompin’/stompin’ fusion of melded rhythmic guitar that feels like a pissed off bee on stilts (if yer’ can grok that). Only criticism is on th’ track lists/liner notes… get that typeface in a lil’ bigger FONT next time, Ken! YOU need to BUY this one, if you’ve even the slightest interest in creativity and spirit, folks! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and the PICK of this issue for “hardest hitting creative guitar album”! Contact at Wild Turkeyneck Records, 45 Belmont Ave., Suite 4C, Garfield, NJ 07026, or via e-mail to Tellyrubes@aol.com Rotcod Zzaj
Kevin Locke – THE FIRST FLUTE: We have been enchanted by this Native American’s beautiful flute for several years now, as will you! Traditional Lakota (Sioux) melodies for the flute… & (aside from the nature sounds), strictly flute. This is not music for the background of your next party… it’s music you should be prepared to LISTEN to! If you’re looking for “crossover”, or “orchestral integration”, you’ll not find it here. That’s not a bad thing, either… his playing is so concentrated and focused that you’ll be transported (via the music) back to a time/land where life and the living of it were not complicated by ruthless and scheming politicians. Simply the man and his flute! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Contact at 208 N. 4th Street, POB 2756, Bismarck, ND 58502-2756, on the website at http://www.makoche.com or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Anthony Wilson – ADULT THEMES: Only 31 years old (or thereabouts), Anthony is far ahead of his contemporaries (& many of his seniors) in th’ jazz world. Straight-ahead jazz with totally interesting & invigorating rhythms & intermixing of different instruments, this is WAY COOL! What’s really exciting is th’ big band sound he manages to get, without it turning into some ‘30’s “ballroom scene”; I mean, the energy is (like, TOTALLY, man) THERE! We reviewed his release last year (Goat Hill Junket) very favorably, & are even more impressed with this one! Anthony lets himself stand out (on selected pieces) this time ‘round, & his guitar is SUPREME (kazoo’s not bad either)! If you love jazz rooted in traditional form, but with a tasty dose of “edge”, you’ll agree wholeheartedly with me when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The PICK of this issue for “best jazz”! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Aliya – FREE SPIRIT: Improvisation of a different flavor. A sort of “new age” improv, if you will. Despite what some purists say, there CAN be synth improv, & it doesn’t have to be all-out pandemonium (tho’ as my own playing will attest to, that IS fun, too) to achieve energy levels that reach towards greatness. These pieces (according to the liner notes) were all captured direct, as Aliya played them to the recording… with that in mind, what we have here is a (sort of) spiritually ascending improvisation. You must be in a certain frame of mind to appreciate this, as it tends to be somewhat slow… but, I found it extremely relaxing and with a depth that many players of such music (can) only aspire towards. The beauty of her music is that it feels sincere… no posturing, no phoniness. For any who enjoy music with substance and an appreciation for things outside our realm(s), this is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at Sound Temple Publishing, POB 490863, College Park, GA 30349, or on the WWW site at http://www.soundtemple.com Rotcod Zzaj
Belladonna Bouquet – THE SCARLET CEREMONIES: So, we’re back to music from thee bedrooms/livingrooms of America (& that’s a GOOD thing, since music belongs to the people, anyway)! 4-track progressed to CD, this female duo (Jenne & Sarada) takes you on a (sorta’) homespun journey through their dreams with story vox against handclaps, electric guitars & various wind instruments. I particularly liked “Broken Skies”, with it’s flavor of majestic doom, tho’ it’s a bit too short. This label (Orange Entropy Records) is in New Jersey, kinda’ makes me wonder if Don Campau hasn’t been out there stirring the pot for home-production of homemade CD’s. For a home production, THE SCARLET CEREMONIES is very interesting. Very interesting balance between vocals that come off almost like folk and ambient space tunes. Contact at POB 1198, Hightstown, NJ 08520, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Also on the WWW at http://www.orangeentropy.com Rotcod Zzaj
Hagner – A TON OF ROCK: Demo CD in from Nils Hagner (in Sweden). Accomplished rocker, without doubt, this has clean lyrical style, fine vocals & some SCORCHING guitars. It’s just th’ kind of music I’d want spinnin’ in my CD player as I drove into Y2K (if ya’ know what I mean). Sections where it approaches metal, but stays back enough to keep it comfortably in rock territory. This is a one-man-band demo, & it’s amazing how smoothly he integrates the sounds together, particularly the drums (are some of those live, Nils?). While the rock influences are clear, he also has a flair for orchestral phrasings that is far above average for musicians in this genre. Guitars sound downright dangerous, make for some great high-energy pieces! This gets an immediate MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us. Surprised there isn’t a full-blown CD out yet, & hope we get a review copy of it when it IS released. Contact at Karlsrogatan 85A S-752-39 Uppsala Sweden, via e-mail to email@example.com or on his WWW site at http://hem.passagen.se/hagner Rotcod Zzaj
Myra Melford – THE SAME RIVER, TWICE: I’ve had the good (aural) fortune of listening to Myra’s music since the late ‘70’s (both live and on recordings), but this CD is a truly novel experience for me (& will be for you too). Her piano chops are astounding (as ever), but this particular grouping will be the supreme treat for any serious listener of improvised music. She’s surrounded herself with players that genuinely understand how to play… with freedom, with energy & with (here’s th’ keyword) TALENT. Chris Speed (sax & clarinet), Michael Sarin (drums), Erik Friedlander (cello) and Dave Douglas (trumpet) contribute totally to an overwhelming array of sound that takes you through some emotional curves that are better than the best psychedelic experience you could imagine. The stuff you hear in those dreams that feature the best improvised music YOU will ever hear. Brought to LIFE, people. Though Myra’s piano is emphasised, ALL the other instruments are (an integral) part of this joyous dance. The music isn’t “simple”, it’s complex, but still firmly rooted in jazz that will get your blood UP! It gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the PICK of this issue for “best improvised music”! GET this one! The album is available in all good records stores, or contact via e-mail to Arabesque Records, at firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Tony Marsh/Steve Franklin/Tim Crowther – SHELL OF CERTAINTY: Electronic improv after MY own heart, without doubt! The first cut, Gravity Issue grabbed my ears IMMEDIATELY. I believe it was Crowther’s guitar synth, but it was hard to tell, so supremely blended was it with Steve’s keyboards… of course Mr. Marsh’s drums were identifiable, but this is one of the MOST tightly integrated groups for electronic improvisations (journey style) I’ve heard in YEARS! Sheer & raw POWER of spirit forges a pathway through even the insurmountable obstacles & lets you charge on ahead to new heights! The recording is flawless, but more importantly, the musicians are completely aware of where they are leading you! There are some similarities to forays I’ve taken with my group, “The Imaginary Band”, but this is at warp speed (something our trio hasn’t quite accomplished yet). Jazz flavorings, but only tinges… better described as original, methinks! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with a plea to ANY player (or listener) who aspires to learn how to go “out” to BUY this CD! You can do all that through Wayside (the distributor in the U.S.), or Harmonia Mundi (in the U.K.). Some samples, bios, etc., are on the artist website (http://www.visonlogic.demon.co.uk ), & you can purchase it there as well! VERY powerful stuph! You can (also) e-mail them at email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Jim Matheos – AWAY WITH WORDS: Some wonderfully energetic acoustic guitar compositions from a progger who wanted to demonstrate his talents in other areas. Well, Jim’s done it, in TRIPLICATE! All original compz (except for one piece) on this 10 track CD. Mr. Matheos is not only an accomplished player, he has a unique sense of how to arrange music that will be appealing to many listeners – without making it trite! If you’re looking for POWER PROG, you’ll have to delve into th’ shelves again. This is clearly an acoustic album; in fact, it’s the most pleasant one I’ve listened to this year (& believe me, I’ve listened to a LOT this year). It gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as an all-round enjoyable listening experience. Contact at METALBLADE Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Sun Valley, CA 93065, or check the album out online at http://www.ivorygate.com/fw/a_aww.htm Rotcod Zzaj
Steve Haun – MUSIC WITH NATURE: IMPRESSIONS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS: This is our first listening… we are favorably impressed. The appeal here (it’s certainly not freeform) is Haun’s ability to compose majestic music with full orchestral integration. It’s music you might hear as inspirational background for theater or a high-end dramatic cinema presentation. Some nature sounds (birds, streams, flutes; as you might imagine from the title) woven in as introductions, but not really as a part of the main pieces. Not that I didn’t like the nature sounds, but the I’ve heard better integrations. In the overall, though, if you enjoy music that can lift you UP, you’ll agree with me when I declare Steve’s work as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As much of a fan of improvised & freeform music as I am, I still believe that we (all) need to hear the beauty that can be painted aurally, & this album is a fine representation of that. Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org ) Rotcod Zzaj
Burton Paul – BURTON PAUL: From the (rather) sketchy CD liner notes, it would seem Burton wrote & performed this entirely on his own. It’s top-40 format (he said that, in fact, in the bio that accompanied the package). As (most of) you know, this is not my favorite type of music. The saving grace is that 3rd track (only 3, this is a demo CD)… not just thee high energy, it also uses some nicely placed sound to take it (ever so slightly) out of the “norm”. In fact, I’d like to hear a bit MORE of that “out” stuph, Mr. Paul. Those who read this rag also know that I respect any musician who does the performing/production on their own, & this has that quality in spades. Will it succeed in the top-40 market? Probably, but I’d rather hear some of that song-writing skill (& that great acoustic guitar) focused on describing a bit meatier topics. This is still good enough to merit a RECOMMENDED – & that’s a departure for me, as music self-labelled as “top-40” would usually be rated much lower. Contact at email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
The Skin Ego – MUSIC FOR THE CLEANSING: Totally indie, this is (as Charlie Looker, the guitar player in this guitar/drum (Keith Abrams) improv duo, described it) truly wierd shit! Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nicely balanced drums on cut # 2, titled “Improvisation # 2″… Charlie’s guitar steps OUT on this track, certainly to MY satisfaction! “Music for Alien Abduction Waiting Room” definitely sounds like a
back-track for the X-files. Looker has some nice chord phrasings, with a clear bent towards jazz flavorings. My favorite track was # 5, “Swamp”. A most interesting listen, & not what you’re “used” to hearing, probably because (along with all that jazz) there are little tastes of RAWK gi-tar thrown in there. For those into somethin’ different in their improv, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Not overly challenging, but not “easy”, either. Contact via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
The Great Glass Elevator – HAVING BEEN SWIMMING: 16 tracks on this “Orange Entropy” CD release. The trio is self-described psych-rock, & (surprisingly enough) had (just) a tinge of that early psychedelic energy that we used to feel when our joints set the woods on fire (out behind the Army barracks, while stationed in Germany). The recording suffers a bit from slightly sloppy intros, not quite precise enough for my tastes, but the main body of (most of) the songs could almost take one back (or izzat forward) to bananna peel frenzy. I really dug on track # 4, “Outback”… not sure why, just felt good I guess. For the retro-psych fan, this clocks in with a RECOMMENDED. Contact at POB 1198, Highstown, NJ 08520, via e-mail to email@example.com or on the WWW at http://www.orangeentropy.com/elevator Rotcod Zzaj
HomemadeMusic – SAMPLER 1: The very last person who should be sittin’ here in total amazement at this 15 track CD sampler from Bryan Baker’s HOMEMADEMUSIC.com (www.homemademusic.com ) is your friendly author. I listen to so many albums (of different genres, some very slickly produced) that th’ “state of homemade” must have been eluding me to some degree. This is a superb example of how talented (that was always a part of this scene) and technically competent (that was NOT) home producers have become. The digital format probably has quite a bit to do with it, as well. As is always true with Bryan’s projects, you know (right away) that if HE says it’s good – it IS! The other thing that’s so NEAT is that this isn’t just a clique of dried-up & hackneyed artists who’ve been reviewed in someone’s ‘zine, either… new names abound – “Secret Archives of the Vatican” (whose “Little Flower” is my favorite cut on the whole CD), “T.M. Download”, “Blind Mime Ensemble”… goes on & on – & surprise. Those who haven’t heard home-producers lately (& there are MANY, believe me) will stand (aurally) in awe! Those who haven’t heard them in a while will be very pleasantly surprised. & all of this has nothing to do (of COURSE) with the fact that I’m on this CD, too. Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & our “PICK” of this issue for “best compilation CD”. Contact via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the HOMEMADEMUSIC.com website (http://www.homemademusic.com )! Rotcod Zzaj
Book of Kills – SO FAR IN EVERY DIRECTION: This is Jim Shelley’s first digital effort (that I’ve listened to, anyway). We reviewed his earlier works (way back when) & were impressed then… but this collection of 22 toonz’ will have you in pure bliss if you love well-crafted lyrical adventures. There are sections where he reminds me of George Harrison’s early solo albums (which is a GOOD thing), but pieces like “Turn My World Around” & track 12’s “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” are without question all original compz that will make you a fan instantly! For fans of finely crafted lyrical folk music with both acoustic & electric guitar(s), this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Since this is a HOMEMADEMUSIC Association (fellow) member, I’m giving the cover/label art a rating (first ever, Jim) too… it gets a FIVESTAR ***** for exceptionally clean graphics, nice layout & perfect label placement. Contact at Ain’t Records, 206 High St., Bridgewater, VA 22812, at his shop on HOMEMADEMUSIC.com (http://www.homemademusic.com/artists/aint ), or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Keith Bear/Gary Stroutsos/Nellie Youpee – PEOPLE OF THE WILLOWS: I’ve commented (often) before that some of the best music in the world today is coming out of the Makoche label, in Bismarck, North Dakota. One of the reasons I’ve felt so strongly about that is that they have been making sure they keep their traditional music(s) alive, but (at the same time) are skillfully integrating those songs with artists of other traditional backgrounds. The real beauty in all this is that this is being done without a sense of competition… this album is the BEST example of that I’ve heard so far (& believe me, over the last couple of years I’ve heard MANY); in fact, they seem to get progressively better (as you might expect). Pianist Jovino Santos Neto joins in & must be mentioned, too, as his beautiful keyboards are a perfect example of how cultures can blend their musics! Mr. Bear’s flutes are SUPERB! It comes clear when listening to this wonderful album how interwoven we all are (whether we want to be or not) with one another, & also points out that no form belongs to any one ethnic group! I’m not (just) impressed, I’m genuinely happy to hear this supreme blending of cultures! This gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any music aficionado who wants a taste of what the (musical) world CAN be! Simply BEAUTIFUL! Contact at 208 N. 4th Street, POB 2756, Bismarck, ND 58502-2756, on the website at http://www.makoche.com or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Alan Horvath – BUSY BEING BORN: It’s been a long time since I’ve been this enthused about acoustic folk! I first heard Alan’s easystyle music when he asked me to review a couple of .mp3 files he had loaded. I s’pose th’ real attraction (for my ears) is that th’ toonz’ all feature Horvath’s splendid acoustic guitar work (with accompanying bass from Mike Toth & Bob Hart). His vocals have a totally haunting quality, creep inside yer’ head & come back when you least expect it. One of my favorite cuts is “Hard To Love Lady”, upbeat, high-energy & with a beautiful vocal. Second in line would be “Wishes”, superb lyrics… one o’ those songs that’ll cut you to thee QUICK! Alan also gets a (rare) nod of assent from my wife Kim, & that’s about as much of a recommendation as ANY musician could ask for, ‘coz believe ME, folks, she’s heard it ALL! Those who enjoy creativity in all it’s musical glory will certainly agree when I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & choose it as the “PICK” of this issue for “best acoustic rock”! Contact Alan directly at email@example.com or buy the CD at http://www.alanhorvath.com Rotcod Zzaj
M’lumbo – SPINNING TOURISTS IN A CITY OF GHOSTS: ‘nother shining release in from Unit Circle Rekkids. You’ll BELIEVE in ghosts by th’ time this conglomeration of high-mix electronic insanity (if you DON’T, you’re probably PART of M’lumbo)! “The Secret Of Fear” will have yer’ ticker twangin’, verzure! Those who want nice “chamber music” sort o’ predictability will go elsewhere, but if yer’ lookin’ for somethin’ DIFFERENT, GET this! It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me. UCR takes us into thee 21st with scads of style on this one! Contact at POB 20352, Seattle, WA 98102, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.unitcircle.com Rotcod Zzaj
Larry Kucharz – DIGICHORAL BLUE PORTRATS: We’ve reviewed Larry’s music many times over the last 2 years… electromusic with style! It is NOT to be confused with “new age”, though some reviewers (who didn’t take the time to listen to all the movements) might lump it in that way, which would be a shame. What must be realized is that the movement is “slowed”, to a degree that might make one think that it was just drone drivel… if you have a (naturally) distorted sense of time (like I do), you will hear the beauty almost immediately (of course, if you’re NOT in that “outer limit” timezone, there ARE substances that will get you there). This is the kind of orchestral grandeur that inspires poets to write… painters to paint… musicians to play! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if you’re looking for something that will settle you down gently. Contact at POB 1068, Rye, NY 10580, via e-mail to email@example.com or at Larry’s pages at http://www.hypnos.com/kucharz.htm
Strategy – INTENSE: ArtOfFact Records, up Canada way, sent this CD in based on my H-O-T pages (I believe), in which I ask for the HIGH-ENERGY groups. As you can discern from the title, this group aspires towards that high-energy field – & they MAKE it! Like a journey through a (sonic) black hole, there are inside-out stars in there! No question that the deep-space grafix help to lead you mentally in the direction they want you going. Musically, it uses some fairly standard electro tools, but their vox & rhythm shifting techniques are superior to most I’ve heard lately. Track 6, “War”, was a standout, driving forces in every direction. 21st century dancetrax that’ll have ‘em MOSHin’ all nite! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you’re looking for something that’s (both) new and danceable. Contact at 39 Coach Liteway, M2R 3J8, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.artoffact.com Rotcod Zzaj
The Beegie Adair Trio – JAZZ PIANO CHRISTMAS: If you like jazz piano (& we assume any reader of this ‘zine must) & want yer’ C-mas spirit brighter than Bing might make it, you’ll get many moments of pleasure from this trio! Ms. Adair (or is it Miss?) is an astounding keyboard player, with a joyful touch, who is unable to conceal her glee about the coming season (not that she’d want to)! Truth be told, I’d expect to hear jazz this great only in concert, or at a smoky lil’ club somewhere. ‘s beautiful & comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this writer! Also gets our “PICK” of this issue for “best seasonal album”. Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to email@example.com) Rotcod Zzaj
W.O.O. Revelator – TAKING THE LONG VIEW: Truly the stuph (W.A.S.P.) nightmares are made of. Th’ rowdies (solid, in-the-moment improvisors, in this case) are invading th’ turf o’ th’ normz’! Featuring flutes, sax & other horns by Bonnie Kane, screamin’ ‘lectric guitars by Chris Forsyth & rawkin’ drumz’ by Ray Sage, this comes as close to the pinnacle of spontaneity that all freestyle players aspire to as you could ask for. There are moments (“Eyefingers”, track 4) where I’m tempted to get right on up & J-A-M on my (own) keyboards! At the noise levels established here, the players have to be TOTALLY in touch with each other, or it would disintegrate into oblivion. “The Sum Of The Parts” (last cut) is another high-energy high-point for me, too! If you love improv that MOVES, you’ll agree entirely when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & one of the HOTTEST I’ve heard this year! Contact at 45 First Ave., # 5-0, NYC, NY 10003, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.wooweb.com Rotcod Zzaj
Aural Innovations – ‘zine: I hadn’t (actually) seen this one for quite sometime. Imagine the author (Jerry Kranitz) sent it after some e-mail discourses we had about the .mp3 postings I’ve made of Z.P. music(s) all over the WWW. A.I. covers the whole of the Spacerock/Psych/Prog scene, at great lengths! The reviews go FAR deeper than the three-liners we’ve become so used to seeing in many of the online ‘zines. Comprehensive, knowledgeable and ENERGIZED reviewing, interviewing and writing make this a ‘zine you’ll actually WANT to keep all back issues of. I’m really impressed with it, & you will be too! They seemed open to very broad interpretations of “genres”, too, which is nice, not zoning themselves out of much that could feasibly fit in that Spacerock/Psych genre. Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, & (of course) they will GET some submissions from us! Contact at Jerry Kranitz, 1364 W. 7th Ave #B, Columbus, Ohio 43212 U.S.A., via
Ernesto Diaz-Infante – UCROSS JOURNAL: Our musical friend Ernesto has sent both of his previous solo piano CD’s to us for review – & they both got raves from me. On this latest effort, he chronicled his in-residence time at the Ucross Foundation Ranch. There are 25 short pieces on this CD, each in keeping with his tradition of “simple is best”. He is an improvisor with a thorough knowledge of theory and sound in practice, and is clearly at the top of the crowded scene when it comes to being able to convey deep feeling via calm chord structures. I sometimes wonder if his piano playing is a direct contrast to the free improvisation sessions that he & I (and many others) have done… sort of like a “getaway” for him. NO music should be overanalyzed, however… the key point here is that he is playing beautiful music that will totally enchant you, if you can settle down (just) a bit. Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, without question! Simply wonderful! Contact at PAX Recordings, POB 697, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, via e-mail to email@example.com or on his WWW pages at http://www.propellerheads.com/friends/ernesto/index.html Rotcod Zzaj
We conducted an e-mail interview with the authors/editors of ACID ATTACK ‘zine in the U.K., Martyn Jones and Cris Baldwin. The focus of the questions (as it often is these days for me) was on how artists can promote themselves, (both) with online ‘zines (which we will soon be as well) and via .mp3 files/sites. Our THANKS to MJ & CB for taking time out of their busy schedules (& believe me, I genuinely KNOW what that entails) to answer a few queries for us! If you haven’t BEEN to ACID ATTACK, you should visit soon, at http://freespace.virgin.net/martin.jones10/info.htm It’s very informative, with well-written and insightful music reviews!
Zzaj: I notice you have a (rather extensive) section on Old Vinyl… is that where your interest in reviewing music came from? Or were you already reviewing when you started collecting?
MJ: ACID ATTACK (records) was started around 2 years ago online, this was set up mainly as an outlet for my small, and I mean small used record selections. After been online for a couple of months, two bands wrote to me expressing their interest in the site, one band asked if I would like to buy copies of their new release which was a 500 only vinyl pressing. I took copies on and was so impressed with it; I wrote what was to become the first “review.” After that things just snowballed and by
September 98, the first selections of reviews were posted and so was born ACID ATTACK MUSIC. I had always had a keen interest in what is called “progressive rock”, which seemed to be where the first reviews came from. But no long after this, around February this year, we had a large number of NON progressive music CD’s mailed into us. From that points I got Cris involved and now, as you well know the site has grown, to include most forms of independent rock music. As for the
“experimental pages, this was set up for the readers who wanted to go right into the world of non mainstream listening.
CB: I’ve been collecting vinyl for too many years now and am rapidly running out of storage space. I was avidly collecting lots of different genres when Martin asked if I’d like to tackle some of the more difficult and out there review submissions. My record (c.d. & tape) collection is to say the least eclectic e.g. the nearest pile of records contains from the top: Xenaksis, Tiny Tim, Material, John McLaughlin, Dr.Alimantado, The nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music and the Art Bears. I also have an extensive collection of Easy and Lounge l.p’s. My all time fave ever band is Psychic T.V. It is from these listening patterns that my reviewing came about.
Zzaj: Do you accept ANY type of music for review, or is it (somewhat) limited?
MJ: Of course we’d listen to any style of music mailed into us, as I’ve said, this really stated when I reviewed what could be called neo-psychedelic band. Since then we have covered many fields. From newage (sorry here to label things, but it’s the easiest way), to experimental jazz to the avant garde, to mainstream power pop. There really is no restriction on what we would review. Even if I don’t like what it is, I try to objective about everything we get sent, in over a year, there are maybe a handful of CD’s sent to us that haven’t at one point or another received a small listing on the site.
CB: Yes in a nutshell, that’s part of the point of the E-zine. In accepting any type of music we hope to get to the people who are at the cutting edge. I feel that any type of expression of music is valid, even if it only appeals to one person in the whole world.
Zzaj: Does the NAME of the ‘zine seem to draw only certain types of music?
“zine”, 18 months ago I would have screamed in anger at the thought or running my own “zine”, now I think this term has slipped into everyday use, and we draw readers and musicians from all areas. And in a world where any exposure, be it good bad or indifferent helps to get bands/musicians noticed as to be something of a welcome. I’m sure if I run the same type of online site for say, soul, rap or reggae music, we would get the same enthusiastic input from these musicians, as we do from the areas we aim at now.
CB: Well yes I suppose that we do attract a lot of hits on the strength of the name but hey, whatever gets the folk to your door must be good.
Zzaj: Are you going to produce a PAPER version, or will ACID ATTACK be strictly an e- zine?
MB: As for a paper version the answer is a clear NO, The costs of running an online site are small and the site can be updated the same day. Access is free and instant to anyone with a web connection, and we will stay that way too. I know that not everyone is online, not everyone reads us, but to go to print would just confuse matters more. Add extra costs and properly cut readers too. We run around 600 to a 1000 a month, there would be no way we could ever aim to get this many printed copies into homes around the world. I feel the Internet as given us the chance to get out of the starting blocks, at a very small cost, as the web grows more and more, so will ACID ATTACK.
CB: No, Acid Attack will remain a purely digital publication.
Zzaj: What do you see as the “longevity” of your magazine? Is it somethin’ yer’ tryin’ to “grow”, or just a passing hobby?
MJ: I want ACID ATTACK to last, over the last year we have worked hard to get where we are at now. Readers are growing; input is excellent, although never enough. Only time can tell if I will be sat here in 10 years time, still going on about this new CD and that new CD, but for now, we aim to stay around for as long as we can. I hope in the new year to get another couple of writers on board, increase site traffic, as long as music is sent into us, and people still want to read what we have to say, then ACID ATTACK will be online telling you all tales of delights….
CB: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Basically I would like to see us going on indefinitely getting bigger and bigger till we consume the entire web (cue maniacal laughter) We do take this quite seriously so we hope that we will continue as long as folks want to send us stuff to review. The only problem I foresee is one of time, even though I only work two days a week in a record shop I find my time is limited to catch up on as much listening as I should.
Zzaj: Do you PLAY any music yourself (or yourselves, if both are answering)? If so, what… with whom… & for how long?
MJ: HA! HA! HA! Said the laughing clown. I did once try to play bass guitar to the horror of the guy teaching me. Sorry I’ll stick to listening from now on in.
CB: I do make some of my own music but it’s still in the early stages. It tends to be either noisy sound collages or bangin’ techno. If I’m feeling brave I may send you a tape for which I apologize in advance.
Zzaj: I personally have been doing D.I.Y. music for some 15 years now… how long have you been interested in it, & why?
MJ: D.I.Y music, well I guess since I first found out there was more to music in the UK than what the weekly press had to offer. I find independent if that’s what you can also call D.I.Y music to be more real, not held back by the corporate world. Gives musicians the chance to say what the want to without worrying what the MD of some giant
company might think about it.
CB: I have been interested in this for years now. I suppose some of the Punk ethic rubbed of on me. When I was younger there was a big trend for DIY stuff caused by the absolute lack of any real alternative listening. The DIY scene is not as big in the U.K for some reason but we are getting there, although it does tend to be very punk orientated.
Zzaj: What advice can you (would you) offer those submitting CD’s, etc., for
MJ: Get items to us. Although we are web based, we also carry reviews and information on artists and bands not on the web. We try to look at all music sent into us, so whatever hits us we listen too. If anyone wants us to listen to his or her work, the only way we can do that is to have the product in front on us. The more we get mailed in the more we can review. It would be easy for us to review whatever item we bought last week, but we try and review mostly independent releases, like your own.
CB: About The only thing I would say is don’t swamp us. Recently I had a box of eleven discs from one record label. It’s just a bit daunting all at once. Also its nice if an artist supplies us with a few bio. details, even if we don’t use them in the review it personally helps me to place them.
Zzaj: .mp3 & .ra files offer artists a chance to get their music heard on a wider basis… it also seems to have some potential as a way for artists to get reviews without having to spend (quite) so much on demos. Do you (or will you be) reviewing these formats?
MJ: MP3 and RA files, I find useful to get access to music you wouldn’t/couldn’t hear anywhere else. RA files I find are a little noisy in sound quality, especially during live streaming. MP3’s are good in the way you can get so much music into a smaller file, we would consider reviewing more and more MP3’s, if it wasn’t for the cost of internet phone call’s in the UK, they run to around $5 per hour during the day. So as you could see, if I was to try and listen to all the MP3’s I’ve been asked to do, I’d be in the bankruptcy courts now. I find also that by getting a full product into us, you listen to it more so than say if I was to have to access a web site then download say 4 or 5 tracks. But I guess if I was to get a CD of MP3’s sent in, I’d give it just as much time and thought as a full music CD. Then that kills the point of MP3’s the amount of time of music you get on a CD, I can’t really see the day, when say the new Rolling Stones CD have 13 hours worth of music on it!
CB: This is a good question that will tie in with your final one. Mp3 and other methods of musical transmission can only be a good thing, anything that enables a musician to get their music heard by a wider audience at less cost is brilliant. There is one major problem in this country and that is cost! As I write this I am sitting about 20 miles away from the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge (a world heritage site no less). Yet I can’t take part fully in the Digital Net revolution because of the cost of the calls to an ISP. Yes, we still have to pay a local call charge, which makes being on-line a very expensive business for someone with limited finances. This means that long downloads are a bit out of the question We will be reviewing in any format that is sent to us. About the only thing we haven’t got access to is a wax cylinder player and we aren’t likely to be submitted anything in that format (just watch somebody prove me wrong!)
Zzaj: What do you think about Internet Radio stations in terms of how it can benefit artists?
MJ: Internet radio, like all radio has its place, the draw back again for us in the UK is the phone call charges. There is no way I could, or anyone I know afford to listen to an Internet based radio station for a long time. I used to listen to one, around 12 months ago, but this was costing me around $20 a week (just to hear one 3 hours show), a $1000 a year just to tune in is too much for us English. If like in the US call charges were much cheaper then of course it can work to help promote music that many people never get the chance to hear. The way we listen to music is changing, not for years has so much independent and self production gone on, if there are radio station around who are willing to play this, be these online station or not, then this is has to be good for all concerned.
CB: See the above answer for this but yes again this can only be a good thing if it gets new music to a wider audience. The state of broadcasting in the U.K is a joke. We get one 45-minute programme dedicated to new and unusual stuff on Radio 3 once a week. And this is on the national radio network! The state of local radio is even worse, real lowest common denominator stuff. I haven’t a problem with chart or commercial music but it seems that that is all we are allowed to hear. So yes I do feel that net radio can and should be a help to artists getting their stuff out to the masses.
Gentlemaniac – SECRETS OF THE MEGALITHS: Vague memories of a tape (or more?) from gman back when this ‘zine was in it’s infancy (over in Korea, ‘round ’90 or so, I think)… heard Bryan (Baker, of Gajoob & HOMEMADEMUSIC.com) mention him on one of their radio shows, then reviewed ‘em on the Zzaj H-O-T files page… right around the same time, this CD rolls in! Matured a bit, but still got that raw edge that attracted my earz’ inna’ first place! There are some “pop” influences in there, but th’ guitars rescue it from any hint of “commercial”… sound almost “spooky”… spots where I’m reminded of way-early Kenyata Sullivan, but though Fhall is from th’ same neck of th’ woods, he’s a PURE original! Track 5, “Political Agenda” was a favorite, tho’ it cut off a bit short. “Just Can’t Win”, track 8, is down in that “slinky-world” that I do so love (musically, anyway). A clear demonstration of how high talent & homemade production are turnin’ thee tide… gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us (especially for those who love rock mixed with true creativity). Contact (like, TODAY) at 4970 Randleman Rd., Greensboro, NC 27406, firstname.lastname@example.org or download trax at http://www.iuma.com Rotcod Zzaj
Really little to report, except that you should keep tabs on the .mp3 sites springing up all over the place.
Also, “the Improvisor” WWW site has gained some “new life” in recent weeks, as LaDonna Smith takes it by the reins & breathes into it. Check it OUT, at http://www.the-improvisor.com It’s WORTH the trek!
I suppose there will be some who wonder why I’m terminating the print version of this ‘zine. Several reasons, actually, most of them personal…
I’ve gotten a new job out in Detroit that will require TONS of attention, + which we have to sell the house, plan the move & all the normal horrors associated with big moves.
I’ve been doing this ‘zine for (over) 10 years now, & while it’s been a marvelous opportunity to meet (& play) with new folks from all over the world, my energies have declined from the writing side & gravitated ever more towards the “playing” side of the arts.
I deserve a break today.
I had originally planned (before I got this new job) to publish # 40 in print, but time constraints and my imminent move east just won’t allow that to happen.
I’ve gotten (a little) more proficient at writing WWW pages, & think it’s probably time to move in that direction… I understand the dilemma this poses for some (many) who aren’t on the web yet, but unless the ball breaks COMPLETELY as a result of Y2K, I fully expect a LOT more publications to move onto the web this year.
ENOUGH excuses, you say, right? Actually, those ARE the main reasons… in fact, I’m going to have to defer web sales of my CD’s & tapes, as well as web-based reviews of music for several months. You can rest ASSURED that I’ll be BACK… we did it once before (way back in ’95, remember?) & came back even stronger than we had been before. What this DOES mean, though, is that you should stop submitting CD’s, tapes, poetry, etc., until I’m able to come back & announce that we’re ready to receive/review them again.
You’ll still be able to contact me (through early summer, I reckon) at my current e-mail address, email@example.com & in the MEANTIME, keep on MAKIN’ that music & poetry, people! It’s YOU that’s making this revolution (& it IS a revolution) turn – so keep on DOIN’ IT YOURSELF!!!
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