In The Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra (1955)

In The Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra (1955)


I love this album.

"In The Wee Small Hours" feels like insomnia, in the sexiest way possible. Pacing with a Winston at 3 o'clock in the morning has never sounded so romantically sad. But of course--this is motherfucking Frank Sinatra, the man with the best voice in recording history. His rich baritone is so full of nuances and subtle inflections that you get lost in them, as he drops straight-up 1950s wisdom on your ungrateful earballs.

And the arrangements! Goddamn! The omnipotent Nelson Riddle hits solidly home with his orchestration that sounds like the night. Ranging from small ensembles to a full orchestra, each song is simultaniously rich and subtle, and accompanies and accents Sinatra's voice. Riddle has done a lot of interesting work, I'd also recommend checking out his soundtrack to Lolita for a very different side.

If you haven't heard this before, you're in for a treat.

SAD FRANK

oh, and happy new year wflm people.

controller.controller - History (2004)


A strong debut EP from an unfortunately short-lived Toronto favorite.

Moody, pulsing, dark and heavy disco-dance. Has one of my favorite tracks of all the time, 'Disco Blackout' - dare you not to dance.

They're gonna cut the lights

Keith Jarrett - Paris Concert (1990)



The master improviser (and occasional master prick) doing what he does best.

Recorded October 17 1988 - hence the first track - and released a few years after. Packed with his trademark vocalizations and interesting improvisations.

Enjoy

La Bottine Souriante - Cordial (2001)

La Bottine Souriante - Cordial (2001)


So, in light of some Québecois dude bitchin' in the comments about how "English music isn't Canadian, francophonez 4 lyf, blah blah" (not actually a quote), here's some fucking fantastic French Canadian music.

La Bottine Souriante--"the smiling boot", if my high school French is right--plays traditional Québecois music, with the addition of a jazz horn section, funky bass, and nasty keyboards. Folk music often is portrayed as boring and lifeless, but this is anything but. I dare you to play this and not dance--legitimately impossible.

My favorite track on here is "Le démon sort de l'enfer", which starts of as very straightforward folk, but with each successive verse gets funkier and funkier. However, most every track on here is just as catchy, and will make you move.

OAUY!

V/A - Folk Songs of Canada Now (2011)



Really great collection of folk field recordings, as compiled by Henry Adam Svec, and performed by some of Canada's better known musical talents (such as Olenka Krakus, Laura Barrett and Wax Mannequin).

It's presented less like an album, and more like an academic study, with extensive and informative background information and a free download available on the project's website, which I highly recommend taking a look at. (Fun fact, if you're a fan of Kate Beaton's webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, she's done all the art for this project as well.)

Enjoy, eh

La Mer and Trois Nocturnes - Claude Debussy (1984)

La Mer and Trois Nocturnes - Claude Debussy (1984)



Excuse me for echoing David Toop ("Toooop doggy, dooo-ooo-ooo-ooog!"), but I'd definitely argue that modern music's fascination with texture and tone color can be traced to Claude Debussy. One of my favorite composers, his Nocturnes are easily my favorite of his compositions--lush and rich, they are evocative and abstract without losing their ability to convey awe and wonder.

This particular recording is one of my favorites. The London Symphony Orchestra is conducted by the great André Previn through both the Nocturnes and his equally stunning orchestral work "La Mer". Part of what makes this such a stand-out performance is the recording. EMI's first commercial digitally recorded release, the engineering on this CD is spectacular. The sound stage is enormous, and every part is audible. This naturally adds a great deal to the intricate textures and timbres of the piece, putting Debussy's ground-breaking instrumentation in plain sight.

PROPAGATE BEAUTY.

Age of Mythology Soundtrack - Stephan Rippy & Kevin McMullan (2002)

Age of Mythology Soundtrack - Stephan Rippy & Kevin McMullan (2002)


I was actually playing this game earlier today when I remembered how spectacular it's soundtrack was. On listening, it turns out that the soundtrack to Age of Mythology is just as evocative and entertaining outside the context of the real-time strategy masterpiece.

The bafflingly named tracks ("Eat Your Potatoes", "Flavor Cats (In the Comfort Zone)", "Ma'am...Some Other Sunset") alternate being mysterious and ambient, and epic and orchestral, jazzy and electronic. The use of live instruments and electronics makes it sometimes difficult to identify the sound sources, but all are evocative of your Norse axemen mowing through Hydras and Egyptian chariots (or something like that).

But really, this is one of those soundtracks (like those I've been posting lately) that stands on its own, outside of the context of it's grafted video-game. Stylistically, I'd liken it to the soundtrack from the first Halo game--ambiently eerie, alien, and ultimately entertaining. So, even if you haven't played the game, I implore you to give this a listen.

I'm all about the norse. what's your mythology of choice?

V/A - Donaueschinger Musiktage (1994-2010)


it's tough keeping up with contemporary composition - it can take years for a piece to be written, premiered, recorded, and maybe released by a label. so besides going to shows, i try to pick up releases from new music festivals, like these from the Donaueschinger Musiktage, to keep me current. unfortunately, that's no easy task either, as the DM has recently swapped distributors and each year's recordings are split up into several volumes released on a seemingly arbitrary schedule. fantastic. nevertheless, i consider these an invaluable resource for trending the avantgarde and as an introduction to up-and-coming composers/ensembles worth keeping an ear on. here are some recent favorites.

1994 vol. 1 (modern pieces for player piano! borderline ridiculous)
2002 vol. 1 (vocal-centric)
2006 vol. 3 (Smolka and Mitterer fuck with the baroque)
2006 vol. 4 (large chamber works from Kagel and Posadas)
2007 vol. 3 (works for large orchestra/electronics)
2010 (new pieces for string quartet; unreleased)

Gogol Bordello + Balkan Beat Box - J.U.F. (2004)

Gogol Bordello + Balkan Beat Box - J.U.F. (2004)


First of all, if you're not familiar with Gogol Bordello or Balkan Beat Box, go familiarize yourself with them.

"J. U. F." stands for "Jewish Ukrainishe Freundschaft"--Jewish Ukrainian Friendship. It's about what you'd expect with these two projects coming together--Eugene Hütz and his oversized personality provide well placed yelps, howls, raps, and singing. Tamir Muskat, the drummer/programmer for Balkan Beat Box lays down techno beats, which are augmented by his drumming. All this provides a great pad for lots of saxophones, percussion, dub bass, gypsy violin, and whatever else these guys had lying around (i.e. bagpipes and shit).

This album isn't as good as either of the groups' best efforts, but it's still a lot of fun. It's pretty consistent, and stands up well to repeat listens. The whole thing is exellently dancy, and never seems to be taking itself too seriously--everyone sounds like they're having a good deal of fun.


culture is a cultural construction

Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight (1972)

Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight (1972)

I'm glad that in the past couple years, Fela Kuti's been getting the recognition he always deserved. Throughout his storied life (seriously, look up some of these hijinks), he made a fuck-ton of spectacular afro-beat, each release as good as the next.
Fela invented and popularized afro-beat, with it's mix of African-American funk rhythms, Yoruba drumming, psychedelic guitars, cataclysmic horn lines that hit you like a dump truck made of dump trucks, and long long long long song forms. Holding all this joy together is Fela's versatile voice, full of emotions and character.
This release has some of my favorite tracks--the title track, in particular is glorious.


Bonus: this is in a similar vein (with fela's old drummer), and is also fucking sweet. deep cuts from the wflm archives...

Ectoplasm Girls - TxN (2011)


from Sweden comes this creepy little gem of a record - let's call it dark ambient. the first few tracks settle you in, but the record really takes off near the mid-point - "If Your Mother Asks" (track 7) begins the best run of songs on the album. present are all the sound elements that are hallmarks of this type of music, but they're employed with restraint and to great effect. the strangulated drum loops seem to want to get a party started but never quite get there. it's anti-dance.

fyi, this is really good subway music

Pete Swanson - Man With Garbage (2011)

"Man With Garbage" is the accompanying CD with Pete Swanson's "Man With Potential". I don't know Pete Swanson, but after hearing this li'l bonus album, I'm certainly planning on picking up "Man With Potential".

Atmospheric, ambient, glorious noise. Earsplitting, brain-expanding, aurally-pleasing noise. Try walking around town in a foggy night with this in your headphones.

K.Flay - I Stopped Caring In 96 (2011)

I just saw K.Flay open up for some hip-hop shit. The hip-hop shit was good, but K.Flay was fucking great--easily one of the coolest performances I've seen for a while. Getting back from the venue, I looked up her recordings, and what do you know? Also awesome.

I've been so fucking hooked on the three volumes of her mixtape "I Stopped Caring In 96". It's not really the kind of stuff I usually listen to, but it's so fucking good--the beats are dirty and Fresh (with a capital 'F'), and her delivery, somewhere between spoken word and rap, is smooth and full of cool lines.

Station W.E.F.U.N.K.

Station W.E.F.U.N.K.


So this really isn't the type of thing usually posted here, but fuck it, it's worth posting here. Based out of Montreal, WUFUNK Radio is a weekly radio show featuring live vinyl mixes of vintage funk and hip-hop mixes. Using lots of deep cuts of killer tunes, this is one of the most consistent internet radio stations I've ever ran across.

Best of all? A huuuuge fucking archive of past shows.


Post your fave web radio sites in the comments, plz.

Isao Tomita - Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974)

Isao Tomita - Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974)
Riding the wave that originated with Walter/Wanda Carlos' "Switched On Bach" (a masterpiece of applying synthesizers to classical music) came Isao Tomita. The Japanese producer used a staggering array of state-of-the-art (at the time) synthesizers, including the same Moog that Carlos used on "Switched On Bach".

Tomita's subject for his synthesizer translation was Debussy, and I can't think of a better composer to be given this treatment. As one of masters at orchestration and timbre, I'm fully convinced that if Debussy was born today, he would be all over synthesizers.

Tomita's interpretations are fairly loose with their subject material in a fantastically creative way. Lush, rich soundscapes are created with his analog stallions, all retaining the evocative beauty that is inherent to Debussy's wonderfulness.

The Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One (1999)


so the olivia tremor control are back, and their newer songs sound as magical as the ones contained withing their first two albums. things are looking good, and i thought i'd share their second album, which many say is a culmination of what sounds they were all chasing - and i'd agree if i didn't think their first album was just as good. this album has all of the classic elements of the band - an adamant aptitude towards experimentalism while maintaining an incredibly high standard of pop songs. all the influences are here; from the dada movement, baroque pop melodies to the beach boys harmonies, the olivia tremor control have managed to orchestrate it all in such a colorful blend that it is impossible to call this anything but a classic. lovely sound, please do listen.


also, will, u coo

Fool's Gold - Fool's Gold (2010)

Fool's Gold - Fool's Gold (2010)
I caught a show by these cool cat's a couple years ago. Playing with two very good bands (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Local Natives), they stuck out as being particuarly wonderful. Maybe it was their burning sage in a cleansing ritual on stage before hand (always a classy move), or possibly the end of the show, with the whole band drumming as they marched through the crowd. Or it could have been the saxophone's elementally pentatonic lines, while the singer's falsetto hebrew. Or maybe it was the acid. Or the Afro-pop guitar solos?


As a side note, I picked up the Red Hot Chili Pepper's newest live show (they just teamed up with Nugs.net, the group that manages live releases for every jam band out there (HEY BANDS! DO THIS TOO!)), and was suprised to see that not only are they touring with Fool's Gold, they bring up the sax player to do a few songs with them. So if you're in Europe (maybe?), check it out.