CRITIQUES MUSICALES VOLUME UN (ESSENTIAL LOGIC, YELLOW WALLPAPER, HENRY COW, CODY BRANT & AUTECHRE)
Ah, so okay, here it is: AMATEUR MUSIC REVIEWS. Clueless humanoid "writing" about sounds. World peace to all.
Essential Logic- "Land Of Kali"/"Prayer For Peace" (Hiss and Shake, 2022)
Back in 2003 (during my tenure as music director in college radio) Essential Logic's back catalogue was reissued in a two cd set as "Fanfare In The Garden". I was instantly enraptured with the cover featuring Lora Logic in forefront with her loose fitting sock hat mid groove, mic to mouth while two gentlemen on guitar and sax linger behind in what looks like a live performance. As soon as I hit play, I was in the crowd dancing and once again having my perception of rock-n-roll scrambled like an egg. I played this compilation on the radio and at home constantly. "Aerosol Burns" drove me crazy every listen, so much power! There's the obvious notes that EL ran with the Rough Trade crowd, Lora Logic is formerly sax player of X-Ray Spex and lazily tossed in the "post-punk" box but it goes deeper. Then again, everything goes further than a couple of words shoved together to make it easier for radio stations, record stores, distros and labels to push their wares.
A couple of weeks ago, Terry started raving about the new Essential Logic 7" "Prayer For Peace". My heart skipped a beat and I instantly threw it on. What I was hearing was definitely Essential Logic but it was more laid back. It was healing music. Full of hope, spiritual jazz funk reggae dance pulse. "Prayer For Peace" was originally recorded with Poly Styrene on Poly's 1996 album "Conscious Consumer". The two had a tumultuous relationship but were in sync around that time due to their devotion to Krishna Consciousness. The funny thing is I have been listening to Poly's 1980 album "Translucence" before "Prayer For Peace" came out so I got some goose bumps off that ride for sure. Starting to ramble...
The "Land Of Kali" full length came out this week. Lora/Essential Logic nailed it. This album is meeting me right where I'm at and I am grateful. A true heart workout of space movement and voice flow with the chillest funk rhythm section. Hints of disco and jungle(!), drone, and of course, that beautiful 50's rock-n-roll sax but syrupy and slowed down for an ultitmate meditative experience. "Land Of Kali" is the type of record that broke my heart in order to put it back together again. I needed it.
Edit: Also, be on the look out for the Essential Logic boxset, "Logically Yours", which is a collection of Essential Logic's entire studio output. Very exciting!
Yellow Wallpaper- "Killjoy Division" (self-released, 2022)
Lo-fi/dark/anarcho/proto-bat dance/zoner/atmospheric rompers from Lexington, KY, US. This is their first physical release and apparently this recording will see a pro repress down the line. I'm imagining that experiencing Yellow Wallpaper live in a packed out club at midnight is where the real action is but I will have to settle for the Bandcamp version as I go to bed at 9p and live in another country. I hope the goth kids in Lexington are getting their fill as this is legit classic spook vibes. Am interested to hear how Yellow Wallpaper's sound develops over time. "Gravel Switch", "Two Ships Pass" and "Fucking Dramatic" are a few favourites but the tape is solid all around.
Henry Cow- "Western Culture" (Broadcast, 1979)
I must admit something before I begin to ramble about this group and this album: My knowledge of Henry Cow is minimal. But I've spent some time with them on my headphones and they FEEL good to me. A few months ago I threw their discography into a mix on everyone's favorite streaming site and pushed the shuffle button. I do the dishes to them, I walk to work to them, I do my grocery shopping to them, I do laundry and pick up toys off the floor to them. Another thing of note is that I remember watching a live performance with "Little Sean" back in day late at night on Youtube (very stoned as was the way it once was) and thought to myself, "this is really weird and beautiful and I need to be listening to this more often". Well, fast forward to 2022 and here I am, shoving this band into my brain as much as I can.
So, "Western Culture". It's the last Henry Cow studio album. I felt the need to put their closing bow on and write about it. I do know that half of the group at this time was about pushing as far, wide and deep as possible on the instrumental end then some of the other band members wanted to focus on vocal based song structures. The vocal material apparently went on the first Art Bear's album "Hopes And Fears" which to my ears is a terrifying counterpart to "Western Culture". "Hopes And Fears" is weird on a whole other level. Highly recommended as well.
One of the reasons I wanted to write about "Western Culture" is that the Chris Cutler designed album cover is speaking to me this morning in a big way.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the socks that adorn the other studio albums:
"Leg End" (1973)
"In Praise Of Learning" (1975)
It is these Ray Smith sock paintings that initially drew me into the Henry Cow universe this year. So, thank you Ray.
And while you're wondering, I do love the music on those records as well. But "Western Culture" has a bit more of the togetherness and punch that I love in the previous releases and you can really hear them pushing harder on this one. I'm also getting a cinematic feeling from "Western Culture" more so than in earlier releases. At the same time, the music still quite strange. This isn't Henry Cow "cleaning up their act" per se. "Western Culture" could even be construed as "weirder" than previous titles, but in more of an orchestrated way.
All of the Henry Cow catalog I've heard is great. Another thing to mention is I haven't checked out the collaborations with Slapp Happy yet. I believe there are two studio records with them? Will definitely do as soon as possible. Also I need to deep dive into Art Bears, Residents and so on. There's a whole universe to explore. I've also yet to dig into Henry Cow's political stances/situations but from what I've heard, they worked around the fringes and were largely self-sufficient in order to survive as a group. I'm also about to start reading a Robert Wyatt biography that my father-in-law gave me for my birthday and I'm hoping it talks about Henry Cow a bit.
I'd like to write further on this topic in the future when I have a tighter grip on the subject matter but I thought it would be nice to gab a bit on Henry Cow while their music is fresh on my mind/soul.
Performance around the time of "Western Culture" (1978)
Cody Brant- "Found Cassettes Volume 2" (Research Laboratories UK, 2021)
There's a comfort for me in listening to these recordings. Another world/dimension lulling me into my own imagination/headspace. It takes me back to childhood where recording oneself blabbing on cassettes was a common place for individuals. I remember hearing my own voice being played back and laughing at how weird my voice sounded. If a friend was present, it made for even more fun. Anyone could be a radio (or whatever) star. Another level of playtime.
These are (obviously) tapes found by an artist/sound maker by the name of Cody Brant who brought new life into these findings by organising the recordings into a specific order. Cody also decided on a cover photograph (I'm guessing found as well?) and went with the cassette format to house said sounds and image.
Thanks to Cody for putting this together. Quite a nice collection.
Cody making sounds in his garage a few years ago:
Autechre- "Warp Tapes 89-93" (Self-Released, 2019)
So yeah, gonna show my ignorance a bit more in this post and admit that I don't know a whole lot about Autechre but this 2+ hour collection of music has been in heavy rotation for me in 2022. From what I can find, these were either demo tapes sent to Warp and/or odds and sods from early Autechre releases. But really, who cares. The music herein is completely bonkers, especially for 1989-1993. Easily giving other techno artists of the time like Orbital a run for their money. But for a group as forward creating as Autechre, this shit is funky as hell AND it's progressive. Like Aphex, it takes a lot to decipher where the movements are shifting to from one second to the next. The moment you think you might have cracked the code, they shift on to the next wave of insanity. I highly approve of this mix and haven't gotten around to checking out any of their other material yet. No telling what lies around the corner for me. This music was made in the future. Gratitude.