Friday, May 29, 2009

Barbecue Bob - Chocolate to the Bone

This is not the cold haunting of Skip James. This is motherfucking Barbecue Bob, motherfuckers, and he too is a guitar freak. Chords are practically eliminated on many of these recordings, and we are instead treated with BBQ's slide trickery. Check out Mississippi Blues, where he mostly follows the vocal melody before concluding the phrase with his trademark VI V VI I (also prevalent in Chocolate to the Bone that reappears in Jacksonville Blues).

I love the idea of having a catchphrase-style lick: Michael Jackson's "hee hee hee", Unleashed's first bar of all of their mosh parts. What a cool thing - if you can think of more share that shit in the comments.

Atlanta Moan is another great example of this tangy bastard following his voice with his guitar and inserting sparse chording as a driving backbeat - then jumping quickly into leads to transition from chord to chord in the 12 bar structure. Super secret family recipe lookin-ass.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sun Ra - The Nubians of Plutonia (1959)

My favorite music captures my fantasies and taps into mind worlds created by my subconscious, filling in the details on experiences never fully lived. Sun Ra, being one of my favorite locksmiths, has kindly opened many of these perceptual doors for me.

The Nubians of Plutonia, like many of Ra's works, is extremely percussive for jazz, bringing unsubtle, yet deceptively nimble rhythms to the forefront. Notice the bells and hard-hitting toms in Watusa - also notice the similarity to Brubeck's Take Five except in 6/8 rather than the notorious, infamous 5/8.

Africa is a great example of a real transporter of a track. I don't know if it's possible to listen to this song without dissociating from reality and having Ra's thoughts plastered all over your retinas. Once again, percussive hard-hitting toms provide the framework for textural, rather than melodic, improvisation.

The discord of Aiethopia and Africa, in contrast with the upbeat progressive big band sound of Plutonian Nights, shows Ra's all encompassing genius, as all of these songs unquestionably bear his mark. I am disappointed in everyone I know for not being as interesting as Sun Ra.

Note: This is ripped from the CD reissue, which pairs The Nubians of Plutonia and Angels & Demons at Play. The track numbers don't start at one since I only posted the Nubians tracks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Phuture - Acid Trax (1987)

I've been hitting these late 80's recently, which is pretty cool. Really good era during which to be barely alive. Man I had a tricycle and a wrap-around porch when this shit came out, now imagine all three combined. Got the life, my doggs, got the life. However, I was not yet a Chicago resident. No, I lived at the base of the Catskills, and I was a blue-eyed blonde with an ugly-ass New York accent. Lagwadia.

I usually think of 'psychedelic music' as a term with undeniably organic connotations, so experiences with acid house where samplers are used to hack into the hallucination centers of my mind and coat them with a bubbling, chirping effluvium are pretty great. I can't tell if Phuture is a good trip or a bad trip. Sort of a third way outside of the dystopia of Nekropolis and the pulsing bliss of Ash Ra Tempel. This is a new paradigm in which to experience the horrors and beauties of technology, and also in which to get naked with girls for a bit of the ol' in-out in-out!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sepultura - Beneath the Remains (1989)

A few months ago, I realized that I used to be able to play guitar a lot faster than I currently am able to. This bummed me out, as I don't like getting worse at things, so I've been working out that ol' picking hand with lots of Sepultura. Some of the parts on this record were cramping my forearm up all over the damn place, but, after watching a few tube videos, I realized that fools are alternate picking where I was downpicking. Maybe the ol' pickaroo isn't so bad these days after all! I still don't understand how Igor can play his damn hi-hat so fast, though.

Anyway, I named this very blog after a track on this album, so just apply all of the good feelings you have about my writing to listening to Sepultura, and you'll be on the right track.

The thing that makes Sepultura one of my favorite bands is their technique of rapid-fire variation on a theme. The intro to Sarcastic Existence (really cool song title) is a great example; notice how the riff slowly morphs every four bars into something just a little bit different, as rhythmic emphasis shifts and melodies come in and out. Eventually, the riff also evolves vocals, and the linear progression starts to fall back in on itself in a looping structure that abandons past adaptations only to find them again later on in slightly different form. Genius.

Also, the melodic riffing on this record is really great, as most of these songs are based upon E phyrigian with a sharp third, so the tonic triad is major rather than minor. This gives a happier sound than one would expect from most metal records, but the first four notes of the scale are still the ever-popular E-F-G#-A that have provided the basis for countless metal riffs over the years. Perfect examples of what I'm talking about can be found as the intro riff on two back-to-back tracks: Slaves of Pain and Lobotomy. Although it was quite foolish of the track-lister to place these astonishingly similar intros back-to-back, this provides great insight into Sepultura's techniques of riff-craft.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sam Mangwana, Franco & TP OK Jazz - Forever (1989)

I received a request awhile ago to post more material from Africa, and then I forgot about that request. Fortunately for you, Pat, I just remembered, and now there is a nice digital slab of Sam Mangwana, Franco & TP OK Jazz available for your hard drive's pleasure.

Franco's guitar playing is a very sneaky beast, as he uses lots of two string intervals interspersed with little pentatonic melodies and arpeggiations that make use of open strings. I'd really like to observe what positions he's playing in, since it seems like he's sliding all over the fretboard, but always ending up with plenty of closed voicings using those open strings. Likely, he's just a brainfreak with tens of thousands of hours of practice trapped in his neurons, so he can do whatever the fuck he wants.

Basically, any music with the beats on the "and" of two and four is good summer music, and when I think of summer, I think of an army of babes in my backyard, all converging on me to apply trigger point therapy to the crunchy spot between my my right shoulder blade and my spine. This is what summer means to me. Everybody come over we have a garden now and our record player is finally set up with some vinyls of the ol' Ludwig van.