vrijdag 21 juli 2017

The Adventurist. Cindy Lee Berryhill

Cindy Lee Berryhill dook halverwege de jaren 80 op als een van de belangrijkste exponenten van de Amerikaanse folk beweging die in de geschiedenisboeken is terecht gekomen als de anti-folk beweging (Cindy Lee Berryhill noemde het zelf overigens “new folk”).

 De folk van de in Los Angeles opgegroeide, maar op haar twintigste naar New York vertrokken singer-songwriter liet zich aan de ene kant beïnvloeden door de folk zoals die in de jaren 60 in New York en in Los Angeles opbloeide, maar stond aan de andere kant open voor invloeden uit de punk die halverwege de jaren 70 in New York ontstond.

Het vloeide prachtig samen op de eerste twee platen van Cindy Lee Berryhill. Who's Gonna Save The World? uit 1987 en Naked Movie Star zijn vergeten klassiekers uit een periode waarin folk op weinig sympathie van de critici kon rekenen. Ik was de platen eerlijk gezegd zelf ook al lang vergeten, maar tot mijn vreugde staan ze inmiddels wel op Spotify en Apple Music.

Aan het begin van de jaren 90 keerde Cindy Lee Berryhill terug naar California en halverwege dat decennium ging ze ook weer platen maken. Het zijn platen die maar heel weinig aandacht trokken en nog steeds niet te vinden zijn op de streaming media.

Cindy Lee Berryhill trok de afgelopen twee decennia vooral aandacht als schrijfster en werd verder in beslag genomen door de zorg voor haar zieke echtgenoot. De afgelopen jaren was het volledig stil rond de vergeten muzikante, maar bijna uit het niets is Cindy Lee Berryhill terug.

The Adventurist is Cindy Lee Berryhill’s eerste plaat in tien jaar tijd en het is een verrassend sterke plaat. De jarenlange zorg voor haar inmiddels overleden echtgenoot speelt absoluut een rol in een aantal songs op de plaat, maar The Adventurist is vooral een plaat over het leven.

Cindy Lee Berryhill laat zich nog altijd beïnvloeden door folk uit de jaren 60 en en de muziek van met name Patti Smith uit de jaren 70, maar de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter heeft ook meer eigentijdse invloeden in haar muziek verwerkt en is bovendien niet vies van invloeden uit de psychedelica en de lo-fi.

Het levert een plaat op die anders klinkt dan de meeste andere platen van het moment. The Adventurist bevat flink wat invloeden uit de rootsmuziek, maar klinkt ook rauwer en steviger dan de meeste andere platen in het genre, wat weer contrasteert met het bijzondere gebruik van strijkers op de plaat.

Het zorgt ervoor dat Cindy Lee Berryhill de aandacht opvallend makkelijk vast houdt en vervolgens steeds meer indruk maakt met haar bijzondere songs en intense voordracht. Ik vond het in eerste instantie vooral bijzonder, maar wat ben ik inmiddels gehecht aan deze intense en emotievolle plaat van Cindy Lee Berryhill. Ga dat horen!

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar The Adventurist:


donderdag 20 juli 2017

Baby, I'm Bored. Evan Dando

This June Fire Records re-released Evan Dando's last solo album too date. (Though two The Lemonheads followed this album. Since 2009 all is quiet.) Baby, I'm Bored passed me by at the time, as I sort of was never really caught by The Lemonheads at the time and stopped to follow the band. There were so much more interesting bands to follow. like .e.g., fellow Bostonians Buffalo Tom.

As I received the album I decided to take a listen. Although the album came to me in small waves, I did start to hear the beauty within. I also noticed that Dando's voice was starting to sound the worse for ware. Being only in his mid 30s, that is troubling if you're a singer.

What is not so hard to hear, is that Evan Dando is a fine songwriter. No matter how ramshackle the songs may be recorded, the flow of them in obvious. Even when estranging sounds are laid out over them, take a listen and you know exactly what I mean, the inner beauty of the compositions remain in the background or upfront, depending on the song. At times it is like all Dando's inner demons are parading like zombies over main street. Or he's so intoxicated that he has trouble to really hear what he has recorded, who can tell? Fact is there are some great songs on Baby, I'm Bored. He just doesn't seem to want a lot of people to know about them.

Promo Photo
Baby, I'm Bored was Dando's first recording since 1996 and his first and only solo album. His production seems to have come all but to a halt in the past 20 years.

The re-release is a smart thing though. It shows a few things. Dando gets away with quite a few different sort of songs. Whether there is a more indie feel or moving towards alt.americana, Evan Dando stands his ground. A quality that several people may have forgotten all about and a new generation gets the chance to discover this exponent of the 1990 surge of east coast alternative rock bands. Always somewhat softer than Dinosaur Jr., the band that paved the way in Boston and Buffalo Tom, The Lemonheads infused just a little more pop into its music.

It is that quality that comes by on Baby, I'm Bored. This softer touch comes with Dando's voice. Even when the distorted guitars chime in, like in 'The Same Thing You Thought Hard About Is the Same Part I Can Live Without' (what's in a title), the voice comes in and the tambourine. That sound makes a lot of difference in the whole. A small rhythmic detail, having a great impact on the whole. It's details like this that make this album fun, even if it is the weird parts in some of the songs. Certainly when I get to cd 2 with the left overs and rarities. That moniker does right to some of the recordings. Probably never meant to be released, but good to hear anyway.

Is Baby, I'm Bored a brilliant album? No, that would be too much. It does make me wonder whether I have to go back into my backlog of 90s albums and see if I can hear now, what I could or did not then? Perhaps this is the album that helps me in.


You can listen to and buy Baby, I'm Bored here:


woensdag 19 juli 2017

Kairos July 2017, by .No on Concertzender

Each month .No creates his Kairos show that Concertzender broadcasts at the beginning of the month. After that it may be online until perpetuity and beyond. As long as there is a search engine supplied with electricity and a server that hosts the program.

Each month Wo. listens to Kairos and shares his thoughts and ideas, puts them online and as long as there is ...., you get the drift. Let's not while our time away and let's get down to it: the verdict on this month's Kairos is in.

Each month the show begins with the same mysterious music and the dark voice introducing the show. Slow moving piano notes move in. Kairos has truly started. I recognise the kind of music from last month and indeed Charles Henri Maulini it is. I am listening to his musical rendition of Paris. Now I'm not sure which Paris this song shares with me, but it can't be the city of light nor the one in Texas. Only in the most abstract of ways this can be Paris, so full of grace and elegance. More like the slow moving clouds in the sky on a blue, summer's day, than anything to do with the bustling city below. Not even at night there is this tranquillity. So where then? Père Lachaise? The Bois de Boulonge? It is any ones guess where Maulini imagines this Paris in his composition 'Paris'. Perhaps it only exists in his imagination. 'Paris' is beautiful, like the city is in its own way. So there you go, I found the key.

Someone we are hearing for months now is Richard Bolhuis and his House of Cosy Cushions. This dark song inhibits my calm, tranquil world created by Charles Henri Maulini. Bolhuis sings softly, the repeated music in the background is menacing. It is a loop but not quite as little changes are allowed in. Just another instrument added to the whole. I find it hard to really make something of 'Girl with the insect dress'. With a, maybe even any, different background, it would have been a lot less hard, perhaps even beautiful. This looped music is devoid of emotions. Like someone who sees the dress but has no feelings any which way because of the dress -nor the girl for that matter.

It's time for some lute. Stathis Skandalidis plays 'Reunion Dance' by Gilbert Isbin. From an album full of Isbin's songs. Where does one find an album like this? I'm fairly sure it is nowhere near where I frequent to buy albums. This evening I played 'Led Zeppeling IV'. Strangely enough I'm reminded of a few of the folk songs on that album. No not of 'Black Dog' or 'Rock and Roll, although it would be something if that latter song was to turn up on Kairos. One of the best rock songs ever recorded. Skandalidis plays anything but rock. You notice my mind wondering? There you have it.

(Somewhere, with me pondering Led Zeppelin the composition switched to 'Cantio Lodomerica XIX', played by Massimo Marchese. .No fooled me there. Never noticed it.)

My two best friends go to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam together regularly for years now and never miss out on anything composed by Dmitri Shostakovich. With me wondering what all the fuss is about. .No is giving me the needle in the haystack as a small part of a fugue is part of this show. Deep dark sounds and some milder ones are played by the Calefax Reed Quartet. It's not my music, but this is far from a punishment.

All sorts of church bells enter the sound. Why, I have no clue. They fade away again and are replaced by a single piano chord, heavy handed, solitary, with some sounds in the background that have nothing to do with the solitary chord, that is repeated every so many seconds. Minco Eggersman, was introduced recently on this blog by .No in his very well "read" .NoWordsNeeded. In this composition called 'Tblisi calls' Eggersman seems to work with time and space in notes. So much air is allowed into the music that it seems more like a fata morgana than music. I was fortunate enough to have visited Tblisi for a conference with a few hours to spare to see something of the city. I remember a Dutch musician sitting on the plane with me going there to work. It was more a DJ type if I remember it correctly, but then who knows? In 'Tblisi calls' Eggersman mixes several styles. There are faint traces of pop and rock, the free form of jazz is mixed with a classical mood, while avant garde soundscapes support the soulful saxophone of The Crusaders and those other soul-jazz types of the late 70s. All this comes together in over 11 minutes in a convincing way. What it has to do with the Georgian capitol I can't tell, but that it can be proud of this work baring its name is clear to me.

The bells take me to a second work from the same album, 'Kavkasia'. 'Deda Ena' is very different, more pop like, with some folk added to it. A beautiful acoustic guitar and a violin determine the mood of this song, which is very melancholy. A sad goodbye. Again I'm struck by how subtle the instruments are added along the way. This works very well. Too bad there is no real lyric, that would have made the song perfect.

Back to Ireland. Where I wondered last month what it was I was hearing until I read the location of recording, I know now right from the start. Béal Tuinne plays 'Briotánach Óg ó L’Orient'. (How do I pronounce that? I really have no clue.) The Celtic folk comes through every once and again. This is the solemn variant though. Fit to be played in a church. Folk it is though. Béal Tuinne is a band, if I can call it that, of singers and players from West Kerry. The uniqueness of the music comes from the adding of a harmonium to the whole, which explains the church sound some more. Again I have to say that this music touches me. Some googling tells me that the title means "A Young Breton from l'Orient".

Soft piano chords and notes come in. This time it is Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch with her compostion 'Strelka'. Nothing is what it seems as some weird sound, fairly out of place, moves through the whole, before lighter notes join, taking the mood in a totally different direction. When weird sounds return it becomes hard to focus. What is real and what not. Donald Trump shouting "Fake News" while it is all true in the end. Something like that is going on here.

Ah, a familiar piece of music. Moon Moon Moon returns to the show once again. The lightly sounding 'Deathbed' comes by. Again I am touched by how close Mark Lohmann's voice resembles Conor Oberst's (formerly) of Bright Eyes. Moon Moon Moon somehow seems so much more real to me. The elementary guitar progression is repeated again and again and it is enough. Slowly the other instruments and sound envelope themselves around the progression until it is taken out of the whole and the atmosphere led by the brushing percussive sound is all that is left. The deathbed is now empty.

A high voice enters and I'm thinking 'I know this also'. And I do. My latest tip to .No has already found its way to Kairos. Low Roar is the musical project of Ryan Karazija, who by way of Iceland, as Californian by birth, released his second album called 'Once In A Long. Long While'. 'Poznan' is a beautiful track. Light as a feather. I have to sit so still, otherwise the movement I produce will just blow it away. Beyond my reach. Recently I reviewed the album, so go and peruse on the blog (later, please), while I move on to ...

... another veteran of Kairos, who we have missed for several months, Jesse Mac Cormack. 'He Knows' fits well with the songs that came before. Like certainly Moon Moon Moon but Low Roar as well, Mac Cormack is someone who does his own things. Armed with a loop pedal he takes on the world. 'He Knows' is one of his best songs in my opinion. He touches a level of maturity here, without going off the deep end, although in the middle section it does become a bit eerie when he starts to harmonise with himself. Everything comes together again quite nicely in the end.

Ben Lukas Boysen also returns. Long, deep sounds are held for a long time. Not a lot happens in the introduction, until a piano enters and a violin (or two). Boysen is not in a hurry. The album this is taken from is called 'Mother Nature' and when is she in a rush? It's us that are rushing around and sometimes one of the externalities of Earth, beyond our control. The music is contemplative, full of rest with a small burst of change here and there.

Eggersman returns as well. This time with a Middle Eastern melody that I can not really make head or tails from. Thijs van Leer without the yodle and high voice. Something like that. More voices join and then a guitar.

That instrument belongs to Will Samson. That has also been a while since I heard him on Kairos. It is high summer, the days super long and .No preludes on the next season, autumn. Sorry, .No. but I still have my holidays ahead of me, so I could do without this. The music does touch me though, as the slow, meandering moves of the song take me to a forest with a small brook running though it. Plants every where, ferns, insects, butterflies, the light shining through the leaves on the branches above me, playing its game with the forest. Total tranquillity. And as I have used this word before this Kairos, I declare that my theme of this month. (Perhaps for lack of having found a better one.)

The Real Group sings something a capella in a language that will be from somewhere in Scandi country. It's all over before I really can get into the Group. It sounds modern but churchy, which is o.k.

This Kairos ends with more piano notes of the solitary kind. A kind of musical style .No really likes as I hear it so often on Kairos. It is not for me, but it certainly brings me into a pleasant mood once a month. It is Gabi Sultana who plays darts, I mean 'DART', a composition by Benjamin van Esser. It is the end, I notice that I've lost my attention span, and hear my girlfriend opening the back door, coming home after a long day. So what a timing. Time to close shop.


You can listen to this month's Kairos here on Concerzender:


This is the playlist:

00:11 Charles Henri Maulini. Paris.
Album ‘Peaks’. Volkoren 72.
03:10 Richard Bolhuis. Girl with the insect dress. House of Cosy Cushions.
Album ‘Spell’. Outcast Cats CAT 0C002CD.
06:00 Gilbert Isbin. Reunion dance.
Stathis Skandaldis, luit.
Album ‘Stathis Skandalidis plays Gilbert Isbin’. Tern Records, Tern 007.
09:02 Roman Turovsky. Cantio Lodomerica XIX.
Massimo Marchese, luit.
Album: ‘Dialogues with time’. Da Vinci Classics C00028.
10:26 Dmitry Shostakovich. Andante E min. uit Preludes & Fugues op. 87.
Calefax reed quintet.
Album ‘Calefax plays Shostakovich’. MDG 619 185-2.
12:21 Minco Eggersman. Tblisi calls.
Album ‘Kavkasia. Volkoren 73.
23:32 Minco Eggersman. Deda Ena.
Album ‘Kavkasia. Volkoren 73.
26:55 Béal Tuinne. Briotánach Óg ó L’Orient.
Album ‘Live at St James’Church, Dingle. TARA CD 4022.
32:54 Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch. Strelka.
Album ‘Like Water Through The Sand’. FactCat Records CD13-20P (130701).
35:55 Mark Lohmann. Deathbed. Moon Moon Moon .
Album Help! Help! Tiny Room Records TR015.
39:17 Ryan Karazija. Poznan. Low Roar.
Album ‘Once in a long, long while’. Nevado Records 823674059620.
41:11 Jesse Mac Cormack. He Knows.
Album: ‘Crush’. Secret City Records 6 80341047002 3.
45:33 Ben Lukas Boysen. To Nature.
Album ‘Mother Nature’. Hymen Records ¥807.
49:10 Minco Eggersman. Melisma & Gurian.
Album ‘Kavkasia. Volkoren 73
51:00 Will Samson. Music for autumn.
Album ‘Balance’. Karaoke Kalk 69CD.
54:48 The Real Group. Om alla Berg och Dalar.
Album ‘Stämning’. Virgin 7243 812535 2 6.
55:22 Benjamin van Esser. DART for piano and electronics.
Gabi Sultana, piano.
Voor zover bekend niet op album uitgebracht. Zie https://www.youtube.com

dinsdag 18 juli 2017

Crack-Up. Fleet Foxes

In 2008 verscheen vrijwel uit het niets het debuut van Fleet Foxes. Het debuut van de band uit Seattle, Washington, verraste met betoverend mooie folksongs en flink wat echo’s uit het verleden.
Door de meerstemmige zang lag de vergelijking met Crosby, Stills & Nash het meest voor de hand, maar de titelloze eerste plaat van Fleet Foxes herinnerde ook aan roemruchte platen van onder andere Fairport Convention, The Beach Boys en Simon & Garfunkel.
De band uit Seattle verwerkte deze invloeden in songs die je na één keer horen dierbaar waren en het was dan ook niet verrassend dat de plaat in flinke aantallen over de toonbank ging en aan het eind van 2008 in flink wat jaarlijstjes in de hogere regionen opdook.
Op het na een pauze van drie jaar verschenen Helplessness Blues ging Fleet Foxes in 2011 verder waar het debuut drie jaar eerder was opgehouden en maakte het opnieuw indruk met prachtige folksongs, die hier en daar voorzichtig het experiment opzochten.
Sinds Helplessness Blues is het precies zes jaar stil gebleven. Lang leek het er op dat de band rond voorman Robin Pecknold er het bijltje bij neer zou gooien, maar de laatste maanden waren er toch weer flink wat geruchten over een nieuwe plaat van Fleet Foxes. Volgens deze geruchten zou Fleet Foxes volledig hebben gebroken met de indie-folk van de eerste twee platen en zou de band de progrock hebben omarmd.
Nu Crack-Up eindelijk is verschenen blijkt het allemaal wel mee te vallen. Een ieder die op zoek gaat naar invloeden uit de progrock, zal op Crack-Up hier en daar wat invloeden van de vroege platen van Yes ontwaren, maar op hoofdlijnen heeft Fleet Foxes een plaat gemaakt die een logisch vervolg is op het zes jaar oude Helplessness Blues.
Ook op Crack-Up maakt Fleet Foxes muziek die in het hokje indie-folk past en zijn er flarden te horen van de grote platen van Crosby, Stills & Nash en Fairport Convention. In vocaal opzicht doet het me wat meer denken aan Simon & Garfunkel, terwijl in muzikaal opzicht meer invloeden van The Beach Boys hoorbaar zijn.
Fleet Foxes verrast ook op Crack-Up weer met hele mooie songs, maar het zijn songs die weer net wat dieper graven dan op de vorige plaat van de band. Fleet Foxes zoekt op Crack-Up nog veel nadrukkelijker dan op de vorige plaat het experiment. De songs op de plaat zitten vol dynamiek en verrassing, Ingetogen passages worden afgewisseld met eclectische passages en met name in de passages waarin de vocalen ontbreken verkent Fleet Foxes nieuwe wegen.
Hier en daar is zoals gezegd een vleugje progrock te horen, maar invloeden uit de psychedelica zijn veel duidelijker aanwezig. In 55 minuten komen 11 tracks voorbij en met name de wat langere tracks op de plaat moet je meerdere keren horen voor je ze op de juiste waarde kunt schatten.
De experimenteerdrift van Fleet Foxes moet ook direct wat gerelativeerd worden. Hier en daar wordt de plaat al vergeleken met platen waarop het roer volledig werd omgegooid als Radiohead’s Kid A of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, maar dat vind ik wat overdreven. Fleet Foxes zoekt zeker het experiment, maar heeft haar vertrouwde geluid behouden.
Het is een geluid dat dankzij de vernieuwende impulsen de afgelopen 9 jaar alleen maar mooier en interessanter is geworden, zodat de niet meer verwachte comeback van Fleet Foxes er een is om heel blij van te worden.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Fool's Errand':


maandag 17 juli 2017

Waiting On A Song. Dan Auerbach

The first albums of The Black Keys sort of passed me by. I jsut did not like them all that much and stopped bothering about what followed. This all stopped of course with the album the whole world embraced, 'El Camino'. After that things started to go wrong privately for frontman Dan Auerbach. After that event he wrote a divorce record for his band, but in the meantime started to put out and produce records with a host of other artists. Which makes one wonder what the status of the mothership is in 2017.

Recently Auerbach released a new solo record in which he collaborated with a host of mostly older musicians and put out songs at a prolific pace, some of which are collected on Waiting On A Song. He wasn't waiting for a song to come, no writer's block for Dan Auerbach. He's waiting on songs, so taking care of them meticulously. So let me dive in and see what I hear.

The first impression is that Waiting On A Song has nothing to do with The Black Keys. Which is a good thing, otherwise this record could just as well have been released under that name. Auerbach is diving deep into the past of America's music from some decades gone. Songs that the likes of Ricky Nelson could have sung. Take the title song that opens the album. The production obviously is more modern in sound, but from Ricky Nelson to a softer song by Creedence Clearwater Revival 'Waiting On A Song' could have been on either's repertoire.

I will not continue in this vain, as the likings are only logical when the intention of the album is to collaborate with older musicians and songwriters from a previous pop generation. In that the album has succeeded. The songs have an authenticity and a feel that brings me back to yesteryears. The songs are pleasant enough and are obviously crafted with the combination of the fun to make them and the skills to hone them just right. The album provides a careless ride down memory lane with a list of new songs, infused with references that will trigger the sort of emotions one needs to feel to get into the mood of Waiting On A Song.

There's is only one point into which I run into trouble with the album: the music Auerbach brings back alive mostly is the sort of unpretentious, U.S., music that I passed by as much as possible in the 70s. Exactly the sort of songs that I didn't like by Creedence or even John Lennon, when he became overly nostalgic. The U.S. sort of music that I just wasn't a fan of.

Does that make Waiting On A Song a bad album? No, far from. In fact at the right moment I rather enjoy the sort of (fake?) violins in 'King Of A One Horse Town' and the softly swinging sound in which he even comes close to his famous band. Barry White meets Dan Auerbach? Why not. I can hear that the songs are made with a shot of love and makes it hard for me to dislike them. Over time I may play the album again, but it will not be often.

Waiting On A Song explores some soul, country pop, singer-songwriter like Ron Sexsmith is so good at, soft 70s rock and whatever the music of bands like Atlanta Rhythm Section played was called, in a successful way. The collaborations obviously paid off. Auerbach may be the man on the cover and the singer, he is a part of the whole and not "the" star. He has made himself available to the song and his surroundings, to the collaboration. He is, in the truest sense of the term, waiting on the songs.

This last observation is perhaps the compliment Auerbach is due here. He's the big star and sits back to have the songs have their way. In that Waiting On A Song has totally succeeded, whatever my reservations are. Those are just a matter of personal taste.


You can listen to 'Waiting On A Song' here: