zondag 30 april 2017

Kairos, April 2017 by .No on Concertzender

And here we are yet again. Wo. dives into the musical universe of .No, hardly knowing whether he will come out musically unharmed. At least the show starts with some familiar tunes. Sometimes tips work, sometimes they do not. Let's see where this Kairos brought Wo.

No Ninja Am I has featured a few times on this blog already. The EP 'Share A Dream' was reviewed as was a live show earlier this month in Gather in Haarlem. The instrumental 'Another Dream' comes by. Soft guitar playing on a bed of atmospherics, including the sound sliding down the acoustic strings makes. Soft, delicate and soon over, before it morphs into other, more harrowing atmospherics.

Moon Moon Moon's 'Disintegration Loop', is based on a composition that is repeated over and over until the looped tape literally disintegrates. The loop itself has been taken out due to copyright issues. What remains is a strong composition where Moon Moon Moon leads us through with several layers of musical emotions. If ever a song was more dimensional, it is 'Disintegration Loop'. On several levels "things" are happening and sounds, musical or sort of industrial find their way to my ears. Disconcerting, beautiful, powerful, vulnerable. It's all there and so much more and all in just a few minutes. A masterpiece? Not yet, it's too early to tell. But who knows soon it may be.

The traditional guitar sound that takes over is soothing. Like how this episode of Kairos started. This could be the start of a Mike Oldfield composition. It isn't though. Distorted singing takes over and moves over the soft playing. Ah, music from the show .No visited, 'House Of Cosy Cushions'. I start to hear why he was so enthusiastic. The singing has something hard and harsh over it. The music hasn't, but it isn't hard to imagine this song exploding into something totally different. Like 'Nothing Else Matters' changes. The progelement of the keyboard in the background adds a third layer to 'We Make Will Keep Us Sane'. Great song.

Violins enter, announcing a move away from the pop-metal-prog music. I am in modern classical territory. To call 'Attuna' minimal would carry too far, yet there are no clear changes in Jherek Bisschoff's composition. It sort of just goes on and adds snippets of notes and instruments. Like a river meandering, running into banks, sandbanks, islands, obtrusions and low-hanging branches. The music is calming as nothing surprises, nothing comes unexpected. The volume grows though.

Until something harrowing takes over. A sound like announcing danger in a film. Danger the audience can not see yet, but knows is coming, thanks to the music. Otherwise it would just be room, door or horizon, wouldn't it? Unfortunately 'My Frozen Spirit' remains frozen. There is no release, no coming of the danger. Thus it remains an atmospheric contribution missing that little extra.

Bisschoff returns with a second composition, 'Cistern', from the same-titled album. Violins move through the dying electronic sounds of Pechenga. 'Cistern' is a composition for strings, that meander all over the mix in the high, medium and low spectrum. Some with long held notes others playing a melody or just bass notes. Ever more cascading notes are added, until most sounds drop away, leaving the basis of 'Cistern' behind. The dark basses from the bottom of the well. Slowly all return for a pleasant and ever louder finale, including some horns to. Yes, I sort of like Jherek Bisschoff.

Pauline Oliveiros is a name we have run into regularly over the past months. .No must like her a lot. Again I hear lots of atmosphere and non-lyric vocals. Sort of, yet far from, in unison with the music. Drawn notes on voice and instrument. Now a song does not have to go anywhere, but it does help to keep me attracted to it. Where the intention is concerned Oliveiros is not even so different from Bisschoff. Still, she never gets to the point, where he does. And there you have the reason I'm not getting into 'A Love Song'.

I wasn't aware that Rick Astley has a brother active in music. Enter Robert. Just kidding, Robert is called Ashley. Close in name though. Spoken word takes over, sounds. .No mixing Ashley with his own work? I have no clue what is going on here. Three voices tell some sort of a story. Canada, Columbia, New York. Drugs. Hawaii. Fish. Death. Insurance. Whatever the music behind the story, it doesn't deserve the name. Sounds is an appropriate description.

A sharp sound takes over. The voices stop there and then. High notes played on something get into my ears. Atmospherics and a knispering sound provide the canvas for some notes to escape, no, wrong word, to move one foot forward or backward while chained to a wall. Again this is not music, it is sounds Paul Glazier produces. Like an abstract video in a museum. This music could accompany it perfectly. There it might provide a great background. It does not do for solitary listening.

Another violin enters my ears. Played in an experimental way. Bowing, plucking. A piano accompanies the modern composition that holds some faint elements of gypsy music and French chansons. It's Claude Debussy's 'Finale-Animé'. A bit strange, but very welcome after Glazier's and Oliveiros' atmospherics.

A classical guitar accompanied by weird sounds takes over. Almost like a mixed-away metal guitar on utmost distortion. The guitar pretends like there's nothing else happening and plays through a classical work of Spanish descend. From the name of the composer, Girolamo Frescobaldi, it must be Italian, but its about what it calls up. Axel Wolf and Hugo Siegmeth present a rather unusual mix of music where two elements .No presents on his show regularly come together. It is beyond me why someone would want to make this, but from strange things new things often come. So who knows what experiments like these bring forth in the future?

My favourite mountain is the highest peak of the High Tatry on the border of Slovakia and Poland. Sitting outside my tent in the campsite outside of Tatranska Lomnika I can watch the mountain change for hours on end before or after having hiked on and around it. Why that mountain? Probably because the range is fairly small, easily accessible with some great hikes. Why this story? The next composition is called 'Tatry 1', the Slovakian name for the Tatra. Again minor variations on top of a bed of long held notes on a bunch of violins is what 'Tatry 1' is about. Not so different from Jherek Bisschoff's contributions to this Kairos. If there's a theme this month it is that. Pseudo minimal music played, mostly, on violins. Again I have a river in my mind's eye. That should be the Poprad then. No not really, allow me to make that the Vltava in southern Czech Republik.

Broeder Dieleman is welcome, but also fitting. 'Adriana' is in a way a vocal version of 'Tatry I'. 'Adriana' may be the most played song on Kairos. The tale of the most outward darkness has come by at least three times over the past years. Hearing it again I am impressed once again by the effect Tonnie Dieleman reaches with fairly minimal means. A few notes on a bowed guitar and piano, unorthodox percussion and desolation is right in front of me. A timeless song that could have be recorded in Medieval times. In times long ago, so far away from 2017 as it can be. Times where the devil still roamed the earth tempting people, sending them off to hell forever. And we, I am not counting out the possibility that we live in the world 'De Harpij' by A.N. Ryst has conjured up. You better read that book, if you haven't yet. A masterpiece.

We end with some more modern jazz from Poland. Ignacy Jan Wisniewski returns again to Kairos. A fragment from 'Let's Pray'. An experimental, weird rhythm is laid out, over which a contra bass plays some isolated notes before the piano enters, also playing more rhythmically than melodically. So far I had liked Wisniewski's contributions to Kairos, in a ''Nighthawks at the diner' kind of way. This is beyond me, not unlike several other compositions this month. On balance I was surprised in a pleasant way though.


You can listen to April's Kairos here:


Playlist Kairos 81. 6 April 2017 23.00 / 11PM CET.

00:12        Sander van Munster.  Another Sea. No Ninja Am I. Album ‘Share A Dream‘. Uitgave in eigen beheer.
01:05        Moon Moon Moon. Disintegration loop. Album: ‘Help! Help!’ Tiny Room Records TR015.
05:21        Richard Bolhuis. Music We Make Will Keep Us Sane. House of Cosy Cushions. EP ‘Music We Make Will Keep Us Sane – Spirit Door’. Outcast Cats.
09:40        Jherek Bisschoff. Attuna. Album ‘Cistern’. LEAF.
14:29        Cato Farstad & Rune Lindbæk. My frozen spirit. Pechenga. Album ‘Helt Borte’. Smalltown Supersound STS202CD.
17:59        Jherek Bisschoff. Cistern. Album ‘Cistern’. LEAF.
23:38        Pauline Oliveros. A love song. Album ‘The Well And The Gentle’. hat ART 2020.
27:53        Robert Ashley. Robert Ashley. Hidden similarities. Ensemble MAE. Album ‘Tap Dancing In The Sand’.  Unsounds 15U.
33:48        Paul Glazier. Brain Space. Paul Glazier. Album ‘Slow Static’. CD uitgegeven in eigen beheer. Verkrijgbaar via Paulglazier.com of cdbaby.com.
36:35        Claude Debussy. Finale - Animé. Harriet Krijgh, cello; Kamilla Isanbaeva, piano.
Capriccio C5131.
39:39        Girolamo Frescobaldi. Toccata. Axel Wolf en Hugo Siegmeth. Van album ‘Flow, Jazz and Renaissance – from Italy to Brazil’. OEHMS classics OC 1826.
41:59        Resina. Tatry I. Album ‘Resina’. FatCat CD 13-23.
48:53        Broeder Dieleman. Adriana. Broeder Dieleman. Album: Gloria. Snowstar Records 14-056.
54:32        Ignacy Jan Wiśniewski. let’s pray (fragment). Ignacy Wiśniewski trio. Album ’Jazz Shirim’. Wood and mood.

zaterdag 29 april 2017

Naturally. Rondé

Every once in a while just a single song makes it to these pages and it is time for that while again. Despite the fact that this song is on the radio for months on end and was nominated for best song of the year by 3FM, it just did not want to become a real hit it seems. It's beyond me why it doesn't and how that horrible song called 'Amigo' could trump Naturally.

Rondé featured on these pages before in my assessment of Oor's tips for 2015. My conclusion was that on the basis of the song 'Run', I'd give Rondé the benefit of the doubt.

Come 2017 I am proven right, although again on the basis of just one song. Naturally is so powerful. When I heard it come by on the radio for the first time, I could not believe my ears. Is this from NL? It sounds like a master dance track, with loads of pop and rock elements in there to dance all over breakfast, the only time I have the radio on during the day.

Singer Rikki Borgelt's voice is a little worse for wear in sound. The sort of voice from Adele to Duffy and Amy. Somehow it sounds better taken care of. There's no a moment she is sounding strained. This is what it is, no forcing. Behind her the rhythm is set free, begging dancing. A fierce drum is the force behind it all. Hard hitting is the standard driving on everything in front of it. Like the whip driving on the rowing crew of a Roman galley. Take the rhythmic playing on the piano right after the intro singing. Just as powerful.

The strength of Naturally is that not all is a driving rhythm. The song is carefully compartmented into rhythmic sessions, hard rocking and dreamy sequences. The classic Police/Nirvana build-up of course, but doing its work superbly in Naturally.

I haven't heard anything else yet by Rondé. Hereby a promise to do so soon. Whatever the album sounds like, with Naturally Rondé has produced a classic Dutch song that fits perfectly into that long line of classic rock singles starting with 'Kom Van Dat Dak Af' in 1960. Life is full of surprises, this one is so nice.


You can listen to Naturally here:


vrijdag 28 april 2017

Americana. Ray Davies

It's quite some years ago that over a dinner with colleagues I promoted starting a Ray Davies Appreciation Society when discussing the then still rather new WoNo Magazine that had been started within our erstwhile employer called OPTA. Some years before Davies released his two albums in the 00s, which of course got their rightful attention. Except for the choir record, deep silence since 2007 from the Ray Davies front.

Now I am for years of mind that the work of The Kinks is highly unappreciated. Their work in the 60s is of the highest quality and musically is only outshone by The Beatles. The Stones can't even stand in the shadow of several of The Kinks' singles musically. The impact is another matter. In the 70s and the 80s the band had several highlights, for me 'Schoolboys In Disgrace' remains one of the finest albums made in that era. The Kinks' twist on U.S. arena rock also had its moments with 'Low Budget' and 'Give The People What They Want'. After 'State of Confusion', that fine hybrid of an album, things slowly slid towards mediocrity, seemingly uninspired. Like most 60s heroes sounded in the 80s. With 'To The Bone' The Kinks went out in a grand fashion in 1996.

'Other People's Lives' and 'Workingman's Cafe' were two fine albums in which Ray Davies showed the world that he hadn't lost his touch nor his keen, observing pen and came up with some fine tunes. And then silence. Until this April in 2017. Here's Americana, which, with a word that is carefully avoided these days, can rightly be called a rockopera. Davies presents us with a full story like he did on several albums from 1968 onwards, starting with 'The Village Green Appreciation Society'.

With Americana Ray Davies seems to have taken a step backwards. Gone is the forced way he seemed to wanted to convince the world how good he is. A sort of resignation seems to be in place, making him sound so much more relaxed and strong. The music on Americana is totally familiar in sound, in its warmth. The U.S. influence is abundant. He brought The Jayhawks to the Konk Studios in London, for most of the album his backing band. Whether that is the single cause of the consistent style and sound of Americana is unprovable, fact is that the album is.

Where Americana totally succeeds, is the way Davies' U.K. background blends with the music of his American Dream. His typical The Kinks songs, the softer ballad ones that is, mix with country and blues elements to a solid pop mix. (Reminding me how well Ron Sexsmith emulated this sound on his previous album 'Caroussel One'.) The pop element in several songs reaches such a high level, that it is possible to overlook how good the songs are. Take 'Poetry'. The song has a mid-60s Dylan flavour to it, but is free-flowing in a way it could never be a Dylan song. Nothing here is just a rehearsal recorded. All is totally mapped out, under full control before being recorded. Ray Davies' voice may sound older, he is approaching his mid-70s, it still fits his music like a glove. The song is a mild rocker, the lyrics a long story on 21st century life, reflecting on his song of that title, but asking where has the poetry gone? His observational skills as apt as on 'Dead End Street' or 'Art Lover'.

I understand that a book called 'Americana' is at the basis of the album. Stories about his fascination for America. Having read 'Return To Waterloo', makes me sorry to have missed it. Ray Davies is a fine author as well. Something on my list to read. The stories were translated into songs. We hear how he "and his kid brother", who turned 70 this year, went to the States for the first time and certainly hear how the music influenced him through the years. E.g. in the song sung by Karen Grotberg, 'A Place In Your Heart, with one city after the other mentioned along the long roads of the U.S. (a theme returning in the rocker 'The Great Highway'). A song that turns out to be a duet. Again musically so strong that tingles go down my spine.

The quality of Americana really became clear to me when I was alone with the album for the first time. On my headphone not only the quality showed more in all the details that truly presented themselves. It was the nuances of the album that shone so hard and the depth of the details laid into the songs. I realised how much more dynamics the album held than I thought from just listening. The way 'The Mystery Room' rocks became so much more apparent. The contrast with the acoustic guitar and the spoken word about his conversation with Alex Chilton came through to me so much more. As did the fine pop of 'Rock 'n' Roll Cowboys'. Just listen how the piano comes in. I simply melted.

'You Really Got Me', that proto punk and hardrock first hit of The Kinks returns as an acoustic riff introducing another story, turned song. A country song to that. Ray Davies surprised the whole of the time. By then I knew that what I'd read so far on the album was true. This is Ray Davies' best and best-balanced solo album to date. I'd go a little further. Americana is one of his best works overall. The compassion, the warmth and understanding coming from this album presents the listeners with a man not only resigned to his age but in total comfort with who he is and has been in the past. A man able to write his best work without having to be in competition with his past self, which certainly live he seemed to be in the 00s. Forced and to obviously longing for recognition.

Whatever others may think of this album, my recognition is presented here. Total and in full. The Ray Davies Appreciation Society is up and running, full-strength.


You can listen to 'Poetry' here:


donderdag 27 april 2017

Wonderful Woman. Chuck Berry

Were recently two obituaries on Chuck Berry published on this blog, following his death in March, because of it I found out that he was in the process of releasing a new record, 'Chuck'. His demise at the age of 90 came just too soon to see the release. The first song of 'Chuck' is online. You can find it on Spotify and with an accompanying story here, http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/listen-to-a-new-chuck-berry-song, on the website of the New Yorker with a small story to go. The main solo is played by Gary Clarke Jr. who tosses in some fine Chuck Berry licks.

No, I was not born when Chuck had his greatest hits and released his most famous songs. I even have to admit that I haven't heard one of his albums. Just the famous songs, and on a horribly bad sounding compilation cd at that, with for 50% bad sounding live recordings of unclear origins. Until Spotify came along.

That may be about to change. 'Wonderful Woman' is a vintage Chuck Berry song, with some fine licks. Incredibly fresh in sound despite sounding so familiar. It seems like Chuck Berry will release a fine goodbye album, adding to his legacy, which already is unmeasurable. Without Berry the musical face of the world would have been very different. It is 2017, the world is getting ready for a new Chuck Berry album. Unbelievable as that may sound.


Enter The Kingdom. Frontier Ruckus

De Amerikaanse band Frontier Ruckus imponeerde net iets meer dan twee jaar geleden met Sitcom Afterlife, overigens al de vierde plaat van de band uit East Lansing, Michigan.
Het was een plaat die niet alleen een brug sloeg tussen Amerikaanse alt-country en Britse indiepop, maar het was bovendien een plaat vol popsongs waarvan je alleen maar zielsveel kon houden.
Sitcom Afterlife haalde dan ook terecht mijn jaarlijstje over 2014, maar werd in de maanden die volgden alleen maar leuker en onmisbaarder.
Met Enter The Kingdom herhaalt Frontier Ruckus het kunstje van zijn voorganger, maar laat de band uit Michigan ook op alle terreinen groei horen.
Invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en met name de alt-country vormen nog altijd de basis van de muziek van Frontier Ruckus, maar de band sleept er vervolgens zoveel andere ingrediënten bij, dat ook Enter The Kingdom zich met geen mogelijkheid laat vergelijken met de gemiddelde Amerikaanse rootsplaat.
Ook bij beluistering van Enter The Kingdom haal ik het vergelijkingsmateriaal uiteindelijk vooral uit de Britse popmuziek. Invloeden van uiteenlopende bands als The Housemartins, Belle & Sebastian, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, Aztec Camera en Prefab Sprout zijn nadrukkelijk hoorbaar in de songs van Frontier Ruckus, maar als je goed gaat luisteren hoor je toch ook de onderlaag die een breed palet van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek bestrijkt.
Net als de genoemde Britse bands heeft Frontier Ruckus een voorkeur voor honingzoete popsongs en het zijn popsongs vol zonnestralen. De instrumentatie op de plaat is vaak uitbundig en past prachtig bij de bijzondere stem van Matthew Milia, die geregeld wordt ondersteund door een mooie vrouwenstem.
Het is overigens een instrumentatie die het verdient om volledig uitgeplozen te worden. Dan pas hoor je hoe mooi de banjo, de pedal steel en andere instrumenten die zo belangrijk zijn in de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek prachtig samensmelten met de soms uitbundig ingezette strijkers of met heerlijk klagende orgeltjes.
Frontier Ruckus klinkt op haar nieuwe plaat vaak uitbundig en zonnig, maar donkere wolken liggen altijd op de loer. Matthew Milia verschuilt zich overigens lang niet altijd achter een stevig aangezet instrumentarium, want de plaat bevat ook een aantal zeer ingetogen songs en ook hierin maakt de band indruk.
Net als Sitcom Afterlife is Enter The Kingdom een plaat die opvalt door een bijzondere combinatie van invloeden en een al even bijzonder instrumentarium, maar imponeert door fantastische songs. Ook de songs op Enter The Kingdom waren me na één keer horen dierbaar, maar worden alleen maar beter en onweerstaanbaarder.
Ook de nieuwe plaat van Frontier Ruckus is weer goed voor een brede glimlach die 11 songs en 36 minuten aanhoudt en hierna wil je alleen maar meer. Veel en veel meer. Wederom een jaarlijstjes plaat van deze unieke band.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt het album hier luisteren en kopen: