October 26, 2009
Butter 08 was a collaboration of several musicians from different groups, including Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori from Cibo Matto, and Russell Simins from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Intended to be a side project, they released only one self-titled album, on the Beastie Boys' now-defunct Grand Royal label. I was really into Cibo Matto at the time (still am), so I was compelled to see them during what was probably their only tour, at Lee's Palace in Toronto. It was an incredible, high-energy show that included a big freaky guy in a Yoda mask who busted out on stage and started jumping around and providing "yelling" vocals (you can hear him on the track "Degobrah").
The music is a mish-mash of raucous neo-punk ("9MM", "It's The Rage", "Degobrah"), laid-back lounge ("How Do I Relax"), funky guitars ("Shut Up", "Hard To Hold"), and Beck-esque lo-fi grooves ("What Are You Wearing", "Sex Symbol"). It's not for everyone, to be sure, but if you like any of these genres, or if you're a Cibo Matto fan, you'll likely dig some of the stuff from Butter 08.
Listen for the incongruous Hall & Oates homage at the beginning of "It's The Rage". They also made a video for the track "Butter 0f 69" that I didn't know about until I started writing up this blurb - it can be found here:
[Link to "Butter Of 69" video]
October 19, 2009
Last year, we went to New Orleans, hopped over to Greece, went back to the Americas into Trinidad and Tobago, and then finished our world tour in India.
This time, let's start in the east and head west: this year's world tour will start in China, then to South Africa. After that, we jet over to Brazil, and then relax for a while in sunny Barbados!
Paul Horn is an American jazz/New Age flautist known as an innovator who has recorded a number of albums in "sacred" places, such as the Taj Mahal in India and the Potala Palace in Tibet. On this album, simply titled "China", he is given permission to play in the Temple of Heaven outside the Forbidden City in Beijing. Accompanying him is David M.Y. Liang, who plays along on other Chinese instruments.
The pieces on the first side are best described as a fusion of modern jazz and traditional Chinese, but the second side (track 4 onward) is where the more traditional pieces are found. Particularly beautiful is track 7, "Riding On The Wind", a sparse, ethereal piece featuring a bass flute and a Chinese zither called a ch'in.
Amaduduzo is a Mbube group from South Africa. Mbube is a musical genre popularized in large part by the group known as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and may sound familiar to anyone who has heard Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland.
A good chunk of the music on Siyabamukela consists of a cappella voices, while some passages feature light instrumental backup by traditional African instruments. A few songs are complete with full-on synthesizers and thumping bass beats. Personally I prefer the more subdued, traditional stuff, so if you're like me, you may want to skip the title track (track 1), and its reprise on track 5.
I bought this album several years ago, and have always enjoyed listening to it. Unfortunately I have not been able to find much info on Clara Petraglia online, but one source put the release of this album in 1958. I can describe it as very simple folk songs sung in two-part harmony - Ms. Petraglia's voice is double-tracked and she accompanies herself on the guitar.
Sadly, some damage on the edge of this album has rendered the first track of both sides unplayable, and the album is a bit scratchy, so getting rid of all of the noise was neither easy nor entirely possible. Nevertheless, I think you'll enjoy this just the same.
The Merrymen are a very popular and long-running group from the island of Barbados. Formed in the early 1960s, they became key players in the popularization of Barbadian calypso in the 60s and 70s. They became popular beyond the shores of Barbados, particularly in Europe, and even played at Carnegie Hall, in New York City, early in their career. They are still releasing albums as of the mid 2000s.