A weekly tally of memorable things Steve Smith has stuck in his ears.
Spotify jukebox does not correspond precisely with the selections listed, but maintains the playlist’s continuity and personality.
Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton – Zafiro (Maya; 2006)
The week began with the welcome news that Maya, the long-running indie label operated by bassist Barry Guy and violinist Maya Homburger, has opened for business on Bandcamp. (Since this magisterial session isn’t on Spotify, I substituted a session with pianist Marilyn Crispell added in the jukebox above.)
Jakko Jakszyk – The Bruised Romantic Glee Club (Iceni; 2006)
Still buzzing from those four King Crimson shows I attended last week two weeks ago, and further prompted by reading this interview, I dug up my copy of the latest solo album by the band’s current singer and second guitarist: one disc of catchy originals, one of quirky covers. (On Spotify, a live King Crimson rendition of “A Scarcity of Miracles,” which Jakszyk and Robert Fripp created collaboratively in 2011.)
Company – Company 1 (Incus; 1977)
A thrilling free-improv outing by four masters: Maarten van Regteren Altena, Tristan Honsinger, Evan Parker, and Derek Bailey. It’s long out of print and I don’t own a copy; in such cases, YouTube to the rescue.
Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno – Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks (Editions EG/Virgin; 1983/2005)
Sometimes the mood just strikes and you pull out an old favorite. Plus, I was anticipating the arrival of a new album by Roger Eno…
Roger Eno – This Floating World (Recital; 2017)
…which soon turned up, courtesy of Sean McCann’s consistently fascinating label, Recital. A lovely, dreamy mix of solo piano gymnopedies and lusher concoctions like this.
Celer – Ecco (self-released subscriber exclusive; 2017)
As I mentioned last week, I get a lot of Celer as a subscriber to Will Long’s Bandcamp releases. (Again, not available on Spotify.)
Sarah Hennies & Tim Feeney – Nests (Rhizome.s; 2017)
This spare, absorbing new duo release by percussionists Sarah Hennies and Tim Feeney was a timely arrival as I was preparing to conduct an interview with Hennies, which will appear this week. (An earlier Hennies project mentioned in the interview, Clots, turns up later in this playlist.)
Ben Reimer – Katana of Choice (Redshift Music; 2017)
> John Psathas (arr. Ben Duinker) – Drum Dances – Architek Percussion; Nicole Lizée – Ringer; Lukas Ligeti – Lakoni in Kazonnde for Two Drumsets – David Cossin, Ben Reimer; Eliot Britton – Train Set; Nicole Lizée – Katana of Choice – TorQ Percussion Quartet
A Canadian project on the always worth watching label Redshift Music, this LP (yes, vinyl) demonstrates a variety of approaches to writing scored music for drum set, with and without accompaniment. (On Spotify you’ll hear yet another piece composed by Nicole Lizée and played by Reimer.)
Jason Brogan – text pieces (2009) – Cristián Alvear, Gudinni Cortina (self-released; 2017)
Though not a member of the Wandelweiser Collective, Jason Brogan shares techniques and concerns with members of that circle; I’d be very keen to see the text that prompted guitarist Cristián Alvear and sound artist Gudinni Cortina to respond as they do here, but even without it this is an absorbing 15 minutes and a dollar (!) well spent.
Anahita Abbasi – Distorted Attitudes IV/Facile Synthesis – Mivos Quartet (Indexical; 2017)
An appealingly itchy, disorienting piece offered as a sample meant to entice subscribers to the Indexical series, which documents new music happening in and around Santa Cruz, CA.
Kevin Drumm – Less Than Half As Loud (self-released; 2017)
Kevin Drumm – Accelerate (self-released; 2017)
Kevin Drumm – Freedom from Tape (Freedom from Records/self-released; 2001/2017)
The mercurial improviser and electronic composer Kevin Drumm supplies his subscribers with new music at a fierce clip on Bandcamp, for an impossibly low price. It can be tough to keep up, but every now and then I try; these three recent releases range from blissful stasis to crackling noise and indie-concrète.
The Hafler Trio – No Man Put Asunder: 7 Fruitful And Seamless Unions (Die Stadt; 2003)
Continuing an investigation sparked last week by an essay from composer and blogger Simon Cummings.
Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter (Dark Descent; 2017)
Enslaved – Live at Roadburn (ByNorse/Roadburn; 2017)
Funny that just like on last week’s playlist, listening to Canadian black-metal trio Thantifaxath (in this case, the band’s first new music in three years) prompted an Enslaved chaser. It’s less that the groups are similar, more that both show epic flair and a taste for adventure that outstrips most of their contemporaries. Admirers of Ligeti and Messiaen shouldn’t miss the title track on the Thantifaxath EP.
Sarah Hennies/Clay Odom/Sean O’Neill – Clots (Weighter; 2014)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky – Verdi Arias – Russian Philharmonia/Mario Bernardi (Delos; 2002)
What a glorious artist. R.I.P.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Polygondwanaland (self-released; 2017)
The fourth of supposedly six new albums this popular Australian psych-rock intends to release this year (best get cracking on the last two…) is available for download absolutely free; the gimmick, evidently, is that indie labels are encouraged to manufacture their own creative versions. Or something. Anyway, as usual, it’s a gas.
Anthony Braxton – Solo Willisau (Intakt; 2007)
Cecil Taylor – The Willisau Concert (Intakt; 2002)
Learning that the genius composer and woodwind player Anthony Braxton has released a new solo album recorded this summer at the Victo Festival, I rushed to find a recent solo recital on Spotify and came up with Willisau. Then, since I was already there, I cued up another master musician’s solo recital—one of Cecil Taylor’s last recordings, one presumes, and definitely among his finest.
Evan Parker – The Ayes Have It (Emanem; 2001)
A shotgun wedding of two disparate sessions united by the common presence of saxophonist Parker and bassist Paul Rogers. A long 1991 blow with trombonist Wolter Wiebos and drummer Mark Sanders is exciting enough, but an earlier 1983 session with percussion shaman Jamie Muir is reason enough to buy now, ask questions later.
Joshua Adam Acosta – Finding (self-released; 2015)
Remember what it was like to dig through your records and stumble upon a release you forgot you owned? Same thing here, only I was tidying up a hard drive. I don’t recall who recommended this New York-born, Colorado-based creator to me or when, but I’m glad to have unzipped this example of immersive, deep-focus sound art. (Bonus: It’s free.)
Louis Armstrong – Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (Columbia/Legacy; 1954/1997)
A classic of Armstrong’s too easily dismissed celebrity years; a deep dish of soulful playing. Pulled up in honor of the late George Avakian, who produced this and so many other great recordings of the 20th century—and who you’ll hear interviewing Armstrong if you spin the deluxe reissue.
Bruford – Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977-1980 (Winterfold; 2017)
A spiffy new limited edition box set containing the three studio albums made by English drummer Bill Bruford (who played with Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Gong, U.K., and other essential progressive-rock outfits) with his eponymous jazz-rock fusion band. The set also includes two live albums (one previously released, one not) and a disc of rough ideas—very, very rough—for a fourth LP that never materialized. An impressive band whose idiosyncratic quirks set it apart from routine flashy-chops machismo. The initial run of this set sold out in a flash; a second and final run is close to gone, too. (If you’re interested, check here or here by Nov. 30.)