ReRVNG05_PROMO_PIC_PRINT_07_1417462029_crop_550x715Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 382: Jean Michel Bernard – Generique Stephane ++ Whitefield Brothers – Rampage ++ JD & The Evil’s Dynamite – Beer (So Nice, Right On) ++ Ebo Taylor & Uhuru-Yenza – Love And Death ++ Mor Thiam – Ayo Ayo Nene ++ Nora Dean – Angie La La (Ay Ay Ay) ++ Alex Chilton – Jumpin’ Jack Flash ++ Rob Jo Star Band – I Call On One’s Muse ++ Bo Diddley – She’s Fine, She’s Mine ++ Alton Ellis – Whiter Shade of Pale ++ Nina Simone – To Love Somebody ++ Los Issufu & His Moslems – Kana Soro ++ Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale ++ Roy Ayers – Pretty Brown Skin ++ De Frank & His Professionals – Waiting For My Baby ++ Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows ++ Lil’ Ed & The Soundmasters – It’s A Dream ++ Willis Earl Beal – Take Me Away ++ Tom Waits – Books Of Moses (Skip Spence) ++ Africa – Paint It Black ++ Black Rock – Yeah Yeah ++ Yaphet Kotto – Have You Ever Seen The Blues ++ King James Version – He’s Forever (Amen) ++ The Budos Band – Up From The South ++ Dorothy Ashby – Soul Vibrations ++ Kukumbas – Respect ++ F.J. McMahon – Sister Brother ++ Sandy Denny – Late November ++ Sweet Breeze – Good Thing ++ The Samurai – Fresh Hot Breeze Of Summer ++ Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ Simon & The Piemen – Cut It Out ++ Ike & Tina Turner – Cussin’ , Cryin’ & Carryin’ On ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un Con ++ Vanessa Paradis – Paradis ++ Nancy Sinatra – Drummer Man ++ Ryley Walker – Sweet Satisfaction ++ Arthur Verocai – Sylvia ++ Scott Walker – On Your Own Again ++ Henri Debs – Bidonville ++ Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Tortoise – It’s Expected I’m Gone ++ Ariel Kalma

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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Some creative unions take time and labor to coalesce. For Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Ariel Kalma, an artistic connection was established at lightning speed. A few conversations, a meet up in San Francisco, and then to Byron Bay, Australia, where the two took a few walks, got some coffee, and created We Know Each Other Somehow, the twelfth volume in RVNG Intl.’s FRKWYS series of collaborative albums. It’s a gorgeous LP, a gentle unfolding of astral jazz and cosmic drones.

As electronic composers, the two are accomplished individually: Lowe is known for his Lichens project and work with bands like 90 Day Men and Om; The French-born Kalma began making music in the late ‘60s and has continued since, exploring Eastern modalities, ecstatic melodies, synth soundscapes, and jazz-inflected free sounds. Coming together, the elder Kalma immediately recognized a shared spirit in Lowe.

“The interesting part was I felt this familiarity with Robert through conversations we had, from the first moment,” Kalma says.

Following the release of RVNG Intl.’s archival collection of Kalma’s work, An Evolutionary Music: Original Recordings: 1972 – 1979, label founder Matt Werth expressed interest in releasing new music by Kalma. Werth suggested a collaborative effort with Lowe, whose admiration of Kalma’s 1978 album Osmose served as reference point for the project.
Osmose was “a record I had cherished for quite a while,” Lowe says. “When I first heard that record it really resonated with me, I think because of my particular aesthetic and how I listen to things and sort of take them in…it was something that resonated very strongly with me.”
Osmose featured Kalma’s ambient musical textures blended with Borneo rainforest field recordings by Richard Tinti, and the incorporation of natural sounds gives We Know Each Other Somehow a hypnotic quality, featuring bird calls on “Miracle Mile” and the gurgling sounds of moving water on “Magick Creek.” The process of “tuning” synthesizers and reeds to the sounds of nature is one Kalma has long employed.

“That’s what I’ve learned to do with Osmose,” Kalma says. “That’s why we call it ‘osmosis,’ because it’s really the intimate connection between nature and instruments.” The approach has roots in Kalma’s first visit to India, and his impression of the natural harmony he observed there. “You know, they have the sacred cows in the streets — but they are silent — but the halls, the bicycle rings, the trains, the hoots; everything is relatively tuned,” Kalma says. The same can be said of the album. Occasionally it drifts from meditative drones toward a kind of cosmic dance music, but there’s an internal logic that shapes and unites each sound.

A film, Sunshine Soup, by directors Misha Hollenbach and Johann Rashid, serves as a companion piece to the album. Capturing serene scenes from Byron Bay and moments between Kalma and Lowe on handheld HD and 8 mm cameras, the film offers a visual display of the spiritual intimacy Kalma and Lowe share. It’s this connection which inspires the title, We Know Each Other Somehow, a phrase Lowe came across in a science fiction novel.

“For this particular instance, coming together in this way,” Lowe says, “those words together made a lot of sense.” words / j woodbury

Ariel Kalma / Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe :: Mille Voix

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Native American tones and folk meditations. A thirty seven minute guiding light through April.

American Dreamer – A Medley

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“Waiting For My Baby”, via Psychedelic Man — Ghanaian drummer and percussionist De Frank Kakrah’s 1976 lp with the Professionals.

De Frank & His Professionals :: Waiting For My Baby

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Matthew E. White’s “Tranquility” is lovely. It’s about a fatal heroin overdose. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose, to be precise. And it’s lovely.

I’ve spent three months listening to Fresh Blood, White’s latest record, as often as I can take it. In nearly every pre-release interview I’ve read, he mentions that spending two years playing 2012’s Big Inner on the road made him want to be a better songwriter, and while Fresh Blood doesn’t groove quite as strongly as its predecessor, its songs are tighter, his characters more sympathetic. “Circle ‘Round the Sun,” which chronicles the suicide of a friend’s religious mother (“Put your arms around me, Jesus, like the circle ‘round the sun”), is strong enough to derail half a workday.

But White’s newfound energy for songcraft is what makes “Tranquility” such a confounding listen. It’s not lovely and bitter like “The Needle and the Damage Done.” It’s not lovely and defiant like “Needle in the Hay.” It’s simply, unequivocally lovely. And that feels problematic for a song about a heroin overdose.

Musically, it’s a fitting tribute to Hoffman’s work. It’s slightly burly, unflinching in its depiction of Hoffman’s end — a scorch of guitar interrupts White’s gentle piano line — but it’s also touching, tender. “Angel of the cosmos, turn your heart to me/And give me just a minute of your infinity,” he sings in response to the guitar threat.

A few moments later, though, the song shifts into its two-minute coda. Over quietly moaning pedal steel and a shuffling beat, White coos “I rid my heart of all that resists tranquility” over and over. A string movement rises and becomes thin, nearly translucent. It’s a stunning, gorgeous moment on an album built around stunning, gorgeous moments. It’s no surprise that White used it as the soundtrack to the album’s trailer. Free of context, it may be the album’s strongest passage.

But it doesn’t exist free of context. “I rid my heart of all that resists tranquility.” How are we supposed to hear that line? It’s a strange thing to say in a song about a life-crippling drug whose principal effects are an inflated sense of tranquility and an exaggerated ease and detachment from the world. Is White speaking for himself, disavowing the pain of mourning? It doesn’t seem likely. The song’s narrator is almost perversely nonjudgmental — “We feel no bitterness,” goes the line just before the coda — and White has no qualms addressing pain head-on elsewhere on Fresh Blood.

That leaves Hoffman. And I don’t know what to do with that. Because the song’s structure, the way it drops into the coda and sits there in rapture for so long, suggests that tranquility is a victory over the noise and frustration of addiction. And from what I understand, it most certainly can be, when that tranquility comes from years of hard-won sobriety. But I’m not so sure that’s the case here, where the release comes in defeat. I’m not an addict, but I understand that the temptation — “temptation” doesn’t even seem close to being a strong enough word here — to relieve the relentless pressure must be unbearable. People don’t typically talk about relapses as victories of peace and ease over the hardship of staying sober, though. That’s why “Tranquility”’s loveliness is so confounding; it seems to confuse the psychic effects of the drug for spiritual effects.

There’s something in the moment itself, though, in the way White deftly allows minor percolations of percussion to meld with his piano playing and the wordless backup vocal. It’s beautiful enough to live in. He repeats the phrase so many times that the two minutes unmoor themselves from the rest of the song and become an almost physical place. You want to believe him. It takes fifty listens, maybe, before you begin to hear how sad he sounds. His voice trails off at the end of the line, barely able to finish the word “tranquility.” He doesn’t even get the “I” in there at the beginning, either; it’s a minor rolling of the “r” in “rid.” Rid my heart of all that resists tranquility. It’s a command. Or a supplication. Which means that it’s Hoffman here, singing to the pile of bags in his lap. And that means that “Tranquility” isn’t about a triumph of any kind. And it certainly isn’t lovely. words / m garner

Matthew E. White :: Tranquility

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Here I was given the great opportunity to interview Masaki Batoh. I became aware of some of Batoh’s work in the mid-1990’s when a relationship between Batoh’s band Ghost was begun with the Drag City record label (I have had a long and satisfying relationship with Drag City dating back to the early 1990’s). When Ghost first came to the USA to tour, my brother Paul was hired to travel with them as a sound engineer. My friend David Pajo and I decided to follow the band for a few shows, and asked Ghost if they would mind if we recorded their sets. One of my favorite memories of any live music performances was Ghost’s show in Vacaville, CA, in a small space in the back of a standard strip-mall musical instrument store. Ghost had visited Haight-Ashbury that afternoon, and the set was wild and celebratory; it felt to me like we were in another dimension, in another time, on another planet.

This interview was conducted via email, as my Japanese is nonexistent and Batoh’s English is halting. Even written, Batoh’s English is not always ‘smooth’ and so what you will read below has been edited and polished by me with Batoh’s explicit permission. Here and there you will still find artifacts of our language barrier. Forgive and enjoy! – Will Oldham

Will Oldham: These questions, unfortunately, are not all simple. But they are what I want to ask you. It is easy to remember when we met, as I think that Princess Diana died while we (David Pajo and I) were traveling in tandem with Ghost. That makes it about 17 years ago. Is that possible? That’s not the question. The question is (and this is meant to contextualize our exchange here): what was your impression of Pajo and me at the time? I feel like I remember some misgivings on Ghost’s part about our request that we record a few of your shows…

Masaki Batoh: Hi, long time no see. Thank you so much …17 years!? I can’t believe it… Time passes so. Well, regarding the story of that trip, I remember your proposal to tape our performances. I must make it clear first that we didn’t feel bad about the idea of our shows being recorded, but were just wondering why you were interested in us, since our music was totally rough and broken. Actually we were afraid to confirm what we’ve done after the show; it was so rare to tape our performance before then. We were late-arrived hippies (from the early 80’s) unable to measure ourselves.

You impressed me as a modest person from the first. I remember the music you played during that trip was much different to your current style. But your voice was beautiful, same as now. David seemed to be a very talented musician. And we were impressed by his warm personality. Your brother Paul was quiet and cute. We really loved all the great American buddies on the road!

Will Oldham:
This is not a simple question. Please feel free to go into detail or to answer simply and broadly. How have the calamitous events at Fukushima after the earthquake/tsunami in 2011 infiltrated your musical life, if at all? (note: for this question, Batoh took an extra 24-36 hours to respond)

Masaki Batoh: First of all, I would like to thank you for being the first one to respond to the devastating earth quake in japan back in 2011 by sending courage spritually along with sizable donations. We will always remember your (act of )true compassion.

Masaki+Batoh+PNGWe continue to suffer from the problems – there are still 20 thousand people taking refuge in temporary housing, including people who were evacuated from their homes due to nuclear radiation. Another significant issue is the new government who took political control after the earthquake. They began to promote the resuming, and expanding, the nuclear power plant operations.

However, I believe we can hope to recover. People are becoming aware of politics and watching the politicians and we continue to do what is right for the country, for nature, the people, and the earth.

I had become more aware of myself after these both natural – and human-created disasters. It increased my desire to create and communicate. I had to communicate my frustration, my sadness, my anger, my fear…and my soul…all to the world by means of music. Music was my only means to communicate to the world with any degree of fluency and experience.

Back then, I had no desire to promote (my activity as a leader of) the band Ghost. Ghost had stopped creating after a concert in Berlin back in 2009 and I was not able to even create any musical sound from my guitar, nor any melody from my throat. Luckily, I discovered a device which was under development back then, called a “Brain Pulse Machine”. This device had been developed as a self-training product for people with developmental disabilities such as ADHD, ADD, LD or Asperger’s. This device provides stable brain waves so that the user can carry on normal life without panic and with peace of mind. I won’t go into too much detail about the device, however I thought I could use this device as an improvisational tool using subjects’ brain waves to create music. The resulting work became a tribute album for victims of the earthquake, called Brain Pulse Music, and led me to participate in a tour intended to raise awareness about the danger of nuclear power. The tour took place in the United States, Canada, and Europe. (Drag City eventually sold Brain Pulse Machines; that limited run is sold out).

After the earthquake, I was fortunate to get to know some new people. I started to wonder, “What if I can create music with a fresh approach, a new form?” Originally I thought about creating my own 4th solo album, and began to work towards that end. But since the musicians who were contributing to the recording were so marvelous, we agreed (decided) to form a new band, The Silence. Ghost completed (closed its history with ) 9 albums in their 30 yrs of creation. Soon after the announcement of the dissolution of Ghost, it took only one month to complete the songs which became the first album of The Silence. Last November we started the recording of the second album; it was completed in February. Now we are on our third album…which scares the hell out of Drag City!

DOC101We were big fans of Ryley Walker’s debut LP on Tompkins Square last year, but his latest, Primrose Green, shows that the Chicago singer-songwriter was just getting started. A whole review could be devoted to calling out Walker’s vintage influences — Pentangle, Van Morrison, John Martyn, Tim Buckley, just to name a few. They’re obvious and undeniable, even down to that His Band and the Street Choir-aping cover art. But Primrose Green manages to take those tried-and-true vibes and make them feel fresh and vibrant. He may be looking back, but the music here has plenty of forward-moving momentum.

A big contributing factor is the dynamic interplay between Walker and his backing band, including guitarist Brian Sulpizio, drummer Frank Rosaly and pianist Ben Boye, all talents drawn from Chicago’s fertile experimental/jazz scene. The performances are crisp and lively; Walker lets the musicians stretch out, whether easing their way into the lovely melody of “On The Banks of the Old Kishwaukee” or grinding out the hypnotic, noisy finale of “Sweet Satisfaction.” It may be Ryley’s name alone on the cover, but Primrose Green sounds like a record by an inspired, powerful band. Keep it coming. words / t wilcox

Ryley Walker :: Sweet Satisfaction

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The Aquarium Drunkard Session: Previewing five songs from her just released lp, Short Movie, Laura Marling cut the following session for us last December in Los Angeles. The set airs Friday on the SIRIUS show — first taste for AD readers, below.

Laura Marling :: False Hope (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Laura Marling :: How Can I (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Laura Marling :: I Feel Your Love (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Laura Marling :: Strange (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Laura Marling :: Warrior (Aquarium Drunkard Session)

angeloMichael Angelo’s self-titled 1977 LP is an earnest fusion of post-Beatles psychedelia and “out there” lyrical incantations, but reflecting on its 2015 re-release by Anthology Recordings, the Kansas City songwriter would like to clear up one popular misconception: “To this day, people hear the album and they say, ‘Were you doing LSD?’ And no, I didn’t do LSD. I don’t do any of that stuff. No really — I was absolutely straight on that record. A couple of beers and that was it,” Angelo says with a chuckle.

It’s not hard to hear why inquisitive heads might wonder. In addition to the album’s prominent placement in the late Acid Archives editor Patrick Lundborg’s favorite private-issue albums list, Angelo does have a penchant for fantastical sounds – hear the swirling synths of “Field of Lonely Eyes” and cosmic folk of “Flight of the Pegasus” and “Oceans of Fantasy. But it’s not just the trippy textures that make Michael Angelo a rewarding listen 38 years after its release — it’s the songcraft, the Beatles-esque chord progressions of “Lost in the Pain,” the cresting lo-fi power pop of “The World to Be,” and the strident piano pop of “Checkout.”

The album was recorded at the Liberty Recording studio in Kansas City, Missouri, where Angelo worked as a session musician. He and drummer Frank Gautieri cut the album, during off-hours when the studio wasn’t booked throughout 1976. “The studio itself was in, believe it or not, inside of a cave,” Angelo says. “This cave had been cut out and they had put in these offices. You’d drive through this cave and you’d get to this one door and that was Liberty Recording.”

Upon completion, it became clear that Liberty wasn’t going to release the unmixed album, so Angelo took the recordings to another Kansas City record company studio, Big-K Records, to see about mixing there. “One thing led to another and before I knew it I was a studio musician up there, too,” Angelo says. He completed the self-titled album at Big-K, which released it via its Guinn Records label in 1977 in the limited quantity of 500 copies.

Angelo cites standard rock influences on the album’s fuzzy, tuneful sound — Beatles, Cream, Beethoven, the Moody Blues – but says that the lyrics, about disenfranchised youth and mystical headspaces, were drawn from his own mind. “I was getting into Greek mythology, The Iliad, that affected me a lot,” Angelo says. “But a lot of it was just my own imagination. At the time I just didn’t want to be boxed in to “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.” That was too earthbound. I wanted to be somewhere else in my head, to some sort of magical place. It’s kind of hard to describe, but when I got there I got some pretty far out lyrics and music, I know that.”

After years of bootleg pressings, the Anthology Recordings’ reissue finds Michael Angelo finally benefiting from its sales, and while he’s not complaining about the money, it’s the recognition of the record that excites him the most, a sort of validation of his lifelong dedication to playing music. “This whole thing’s been a weird ride. I’ve probably written a thousand songs in my life, and I’ve done a bunch of albums under different bands, different names,” Angelo says.

The debut marked the start of his musical career, capturing a youthful spirit that was present in the caves of Liberty Recording. “I remember sitting at the grand piano, and above me there was these cave walls, and the whole atmosphere of the thing, and I’m sitting there playing ‘Checkout’ and I’m going, ‘This is just way too cool,’” Angelo says. “To this day I remember the feeling of that. There was something magical going on, something up there in the ether. It was nice for sure.” words / j woodbury

Michael Angelo :: Oceans of Fantasy