Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sound of Wonder!

India's madcap Bollywood filmi songs have become pretty familiar to Western ears lately, but India's neighbor to the north, Pakistan, apparently had their own musicals-obsessed film industry. The thoroughly delightful new comp The Sound of Wonder! highlights this weird world of '70s Moog/ lounge/cheesy/sleazy/disco.

These songs are similiar to Bollywood fare, but without the ubiquitous female voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, who seem to do every single filmi female vocal part. I didn't realize how integral those two were to Bollywood's sound until I heard this collection - I kept waiting for those high-pitched voices to come in. Instead we get a suave male singing about playboys, an apologetic female mournfully telling some fella "I am vedy sorryyyyy," and this twangy guitar/ accordian/ scat-singing nutty nugget. The funniest part is when the flatulant Moog comes in.

Tafo (feat. Nahid Akhtar) - Karya Pyar

Listen to those Amazon sound samples. See? Am I lying?!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Denizens of the Deep" - Ferrante & Teicher

Art Ferrante of Ferrante & Teicher just died at age 88, following the death of his musical partner last year. And so ends the lives of one of the very first avant-pop bands. Decades before The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, fused pop music with experimentation, the two pianists were crossing the aisle. The academic avant-garde was way over on this side, and the mainstream popsters were all the way on that side - two groups that scarcely knew the other existed.

But in 1950
Ferrante & Teicher went into a New York studio to start recording this album, playing short catchy piano instrumentals with whimsical titles that unlike, say, Lawrence Welk or Montavani, also used all manner of Space-Age studio effects, and a John Cage-like "prepared piano" technique, inserting objects within the piano strings to produce unusual sounds, tho they claim that they came up with the idea on their own.

They abandoned that session, but went on to record similiar albums in the '50s like "Soundproof," "Blast Off!" (courtesy of Mutant Sounds) and "Hi-Fireworks" (courtesy of Music You (Possible) Won't Hear Anyplace Else.) By the '60s they had largely dropped the weird stuff in favor of a hugely lucrative EZ career, but a half-century later they rediscovered the tapes of the 1950 sessions and finished the album you now hold in your hands (as they used to say in the days of record liner notes).

It's moody (dare I say 'ambient'?) stuff.
At a mere 27 minutes long it hardly wears out it's welcome. Track 11, "The Loch Ness Monster Stomp," is a particular fave - an alternate-universe '50s sock hop classic.

Ferrante & Teicher "Denizens of the Deep"

1. Underwater Expectations
2. Things to Come at Sea
3. Whiptailed Stingrays
4. Barracudas on the Chase
5. Spinning Steelheads
6. Floating Manatees
7. Plunging Sharks & Diving Swordfish
8. Crafty Bowfin
9. At Sea Watching Voracious Piranha
10. Searching the Seas
11. Loch Ness Monster Stomp
12. Electric Eels
13. Treacherous Octopi & Devilfish
14. Manatees & Dolphins
15. Sneaky Spiny Sturgeons
16. Ink of the Giant Squids
17. Underwater Reflections
18. A Whale of an Aquarian Finale at Sea

Monday, September 21, 2009


Al Duvall is a contemporary New Yorker with the soul of an old time American snake-oil salesmen, a P.T. Barnum of bad puns, black humor and banjo pickin'. He's the Tom Lehrer of bluegrass, cheerfully singing surreal lyrics unpredictably capable of eliciting gasps of astonished laughter.

His thoroughly entertaining album "Coroner and Knives" came out a few years back and it's contents range from almost-punk energy levels (tho all instrumentation is acoustic) to bluesy dirges:

Al Duvall "William Knave"
Al Duvall "Croaching in the Thicket"

This comes to us courtesy of dualPlover records from Australia (famed for M4M fave Singing Sadie), a label run by a guy who crushes his face into a bloody mess with glass outfitted with contact mics. Good news! The Free Music Archive has some of Duvall's tuneage available. I especially like "Where The Comet Falls" from his "Recluses Unite" album.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


New York's Dr John Clarke put down his stethoscope and picked up a mic, spitting rhymes about how to protect yourself from the swine flu virus. It's "edu-tainment"! I recorded the music off of the video.

Dr. Clarke - H1N1 Rap

Looks like he's been at this for a while. This tune's even better:

Dr. Clarke - The Rules (Diabetes) AUDIO
Dr. Clarke - The Rules
(Diabetes) VIDEO

Dang dawg, look at all these albums he's dropped! (Well, they're EPs, mostly.) The video tracks are just one minute long public service announcements, but the album's have the full-length versions. I'll be ordering some of those. Something tells me we haven't seen the last of the "Physician Musician" 'round these pages.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Two retro-techno acts have new albums out. Well, the Thelonious Moog album is new, Tipsy's latest came out last year, but I just got it, so, hey, it's new to me.

Thelonious Moog's debut was, as you might expect, jazz cats playing Mr. Monk on vintage synths. Their follow-up, "American Standard," ditches the music of their namesake for an unpredictable, irreverent romp ranging from heavy cats like Gershwin, Brubeck, & Zappa, to the EZ kitsch of those thrift-store inevitables "Alley Cat" and Al Hirt's "Java," all getting the same zany Space-Age treatment. Duke Ellington's exotica standard "Caravan" goes surf-rock (+ odd noises) and one of my fave kooky '70s glam classics, "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, gets tackled here twice. All quite silly, but played by pros, and plenty fun.

Raymond Scotts' "Powerhouse" gets the full-on wacky cartoon sound-effects treatment:

Thelonious Moog: "Powerhouse"

Tipsy made two albums in the '90s that were very well received by the Cocktail Nation for their "liquor-delic" sound: sampling snippets of '50s records and drenching them in echo and disorienting production. After spending much of this decade in commercial music production, they have finally dropped their third album "Buzzz." It still has their trademark dreamy late-night weird feel to it, but I don't think that they're using much sampling this time out. Rather, they are making original music that sounds like it's been sampled, if that makes any sense. Except for some wispy female Japanese vox, it is, like the T.Moog album, all instrumental.

This tune sounds like reggae dub from a Sid & Marty Krofft show:

Tipsy: Chop Socky

And San Francisco's theremin-driven lounge combo Project: Pimento released their thoroughly non-new second album "Space Age Love Songs" well over two years ago. I actually do not have a copy of it yet - all I can do is lamely link to a track off of it. But I mean well.

Project: Pimento: You Only Live Twice - killer version of a James Bond theme originally done by Nancy Sinatra.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


"Phillip Garrido who is accused with his wife Nancy of kidnapping and raping Jaycee Lee Dugard and holding her captive for 18 years in their backyard, gave two disturbing CDs to Marc Lister in 2006, according to his local newspaper.

Mr Lister, who was a client of Garrido's printing business, initially put the music away unplayed...But he has now listened to the collection of suggestive rock songs and trippy synthetic ballads apparently written by Garrido - and has discovered repeated clues to his warped sexual tastes. " So says this report, which analyzes some of the lyrics.

I found a 20 minute audio clip of Garrido's music lurking on the website of Northern California station CBS5 which I then recorded, and chopped into 4 smaller sound clips. Whoever posted this didn't include the entirety of each song, just a minute or two of each. Which is plenty, believe me.

So what does the music of a crazed religious-fanatic pedophile kidnapper who fathered two children from his victim sound like? Lightweight rock that occasionally suggests the likes of Chicago or Foreigner - and those are the best songs. A crappy demo, like countless others from not-too-talented would-be rock stars. Actually, the bouncy bubblegum that begins the second segment threatens to be a fun tune until the unappealing vocals kick in.

And that's what evil sounds like. Nothing like death-metal or gangsta rap. Just a bunch of routine Dad-rock. The songs aren't even religious, as I was expecting. Sure, the lyrics declaring his love of some "little girl" are now creepy in context, but I didn't hear anything explicitly depraved in them. If it was anyone else singing, no-one would raise an eyebrow, any more then when the Beatles (or Stooges) sang about their "little girl." Apart from some lyrics referring to his time in jail for a previous offense, there's nothing remotely dark or menacing here. They're love songs. The truly evil don't think that they're evil. He thinks he's full of love and the Holy Spirit. And Charles Manson wrote mellow folk songs, and John Wayne Gacy painted pictures of clowns.

Phillip Garrido1
Phillip Garrido2
Phillip Garrido3
Phillip Garrido4

Friday, September 04, 2009


The University of Utah has this insane idea to record all non-human areas of the American West. There are hundreds of wildlife/ambient recordings up so far.
Read all about it.

Right now I'm in the
Alaskan Arctic tundra (Brrrr!). At least, for 11 minutes. Some of the ambient soundscapes last for over an hour. It makes for addictive listening, and from both a scientific and aesthetic viewpoint, it's absolutely crucial.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge-Beaufort Lagoon-Tundra (060605-81)

The recordings can be detailed, but you gotta pump up the volume - the levels are pretty low.

All this Arctic stuff reminds me of Tanya Tagaq. She's an Inuit (Are they Eskim
os? Or are they not called Eskimos anymore?) from far northern Canada who makes singing/grunting/beat-boxing a capella music that ranges from scary death-metal growls to orgasmic moans, sometimes coming off like Bjork choking on a whale sandwich, electronically looped into rhythmic dementia. It's supposedly based on traditional folkloric styles, but with artsy folks like Mike Patton and the Kronos Quartet guesting on her albums, I'd say she's sled-dogging off into fairly uncharted territory. In any case, it is some deeply weird stuff, even for this blog.

Tanya Tagaq
- Qimiruluapik

Her most recent album has the string quartet backing, but I prefer the stark (mostly) voice-only sound of her debut. And it goes well mixed with the Arctic ambience I posted above.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Strange music for strange weather: As you may have heard, out-of-control fires have made it positively Satanic here in L.A. (well, more Satanic then usual): hot, a brown haze in the air, an acrid smell, and a blood-red sun, at least where I live in the Valley where I can see the flames from my house. It reminded me of a mix tape I made in the '90s that I've set about for the last few nights re-compiling called "Strange Interludes." Not exactly noir or Halloween musics, these were mostly '40s-'60s early jazz, EZ, and Space-Age pop songs with a weird, moody feel. The tracks were mostly plucked from otherwise-normal albums, like there might be a collection of soundtracks hits with one theremin tune on it, or an organ collection of pop standards with a dark exotica track thrown in between the Beatles and the Bacharach covers.

My tape was inspired by an early '60s album recorded by Lew Davies & his Orchestra for Command Records called "Strange Interlude," which you can get HERE. I loved it. Unlike your usual Command stereo hi-fi upbeat gimmickry, it was low-key, creepy, with songs like "The Witching Hour," "Old Devil Moon" and "In A Mist".

Using my old cassette as a guide, I re-recorded the songs from my thrift-store vinyl. But a number of these tracks have since been re-issued on CD so I've tried to include as many good digital copies of these songs as I could. I've also added some songs that I've discovered since I made the tape, as well.

Apart from the afore-mentioned theremins, there's also harmonicas, Phantom-Of-The-Opera pipe organs, sound effects, ondiolines (an early electronic keyboard), a capella vocal groups, and plenty of percussion (e.g.: tuned bongo drums) mixed with the usual '50s EZ lush orchestrations.

Strange Interludes

1) Johnny Kemm "Taboo" - Man, I loved this track so much, I've scoured the net looking for any info; all I've found was that he was a popular organist from Joplin, Missouri who, according to this newspaper archive (scroll down) died a bizarre death, and had "been employed as an organist by the Missouri State Hospital for the Criminally Insane"! Huh? Any Maniacs live in the area who can do some research on this guy?
2) Marty Gold And His Orchestra "High On A Windy Hill"
3) Duke Ellington "The Mooch" (Buy it!)
4) Dick Hyman "Stompin' At The Savoy"
5) John Buzon Trio "Mister Ghost Goes to Town"
6) The Four Freshmen - "Crazy Bones"
(Buy it! tho this is taken from my vinyl)
7) Phil Kraus "Buffoon" (Hey, entire album posted here! I agree with Mr Purse - this is one of the best songs on it)
8) Georges Montalba "Anitra's Dance" (never expected this obscure pipe organ record to be not only in print but a collector's item for being mistaken as an Anton "Church of Satan" Levey album)
9) David Carroll - "Hell's Bells"
10) Billy May & Samuel Hoffman "I Dream Of a Past Love" (B
uy it!)
11) David Rose - "City of Sleeping Dreams"
12) Dick Schory & The Percussive Art Enemble "Cloud 9" (at 1:50 or so, doesn't this sound like Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express"?)
13) Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, arranged by Lew Davies "Bidin' My Time"
14) George Gould - "Dark Eyes"
15) The 3 Suns "Autumn Leaves"
16) Eartha Kitt - "I'd Rather Be Burned As A Witch"
(Buy it!)
17) George Shearing - "Bewitched"
18) Lionel Hampton - "Blue Moon" (Buy it!)
19) Creed Taylor Orchestra "Monster Meet"
20) The Mulcays - "Kiss Me Again"
21) Carl Stalling "Skeleton Dance" (audio recorded from a cartoon)
22) Leroy Holmes & His Orch - "Spellbound"