Show #16: Overlooked Unusual Songs, Part 1

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As I’ve said before, I’m always so busy listening to new albums that some real gems tend to be forgotten or neglected. This week, Rhythm Planet shows the love for some long-form pieces and pop pieces in a part 1 of a 2 part series. Some of these pieces run 20-30 minutes so for interests of space and time I had to excerpt them–no way around that. But, seeing that most of them have not been featured since I hosted Morning Becomes Eclectic, I figured that it was better to give new audiences a taste rather than just leaving them to gather dust. That being said, I hope you enjoy listening and would love to hear your comments on the show.


Rhythm Planet Playlist: 8/9/13

  1. The Necks/ Sex / Sex / Spiral Scratch
  2. Christian Vander / Love Is / To Love / Seventh Records
  3. Harold Budd / Bismillahi ‘Rrahman ‘Rrahman / The Pavilion Of Dreams / Editions Eg
  4. Kazumi Watanabe / American Short Hair & Mobo 2 / Mobo I & II / Domo Records
  5. Stuart Dempster / Standing Waves / In The Great Abbey Of Clement VI / New Albion
  6. Johann Johannsson/ Part 2:  IBM 1403 Printer / IBM 1401: A User’s Manual / 4ad
  7. Toyah Wilcox & Robert Fripp / The  Lady Or The Tiger / The Lady Or The Tiger / Editions E.g.

We start with an album from the mid 1990s by a New Zealand band called The Necks. Their piece “Sex” is 57′ long and takes up the whole album. The music is anchored by an obbligato bass line played by Lloyd Swanton, there are no chord changes, and the smooth drumming and hypnotic piano makes it the soundtrack for…who knows? They couldn’t think of a title so the band just called it, “Sex”.

Christian Vander was founder of the French group Magma, big in the 1970s when I was living in France. They’d have all-night-long musical love fests, invoking the spirits of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Leon Thomas. This piece, recorded in Vander’s apartment and with his less-than-tuneful singing, is nevertheless a work of great peace and beauty.

Harold Budd is a California composer who produced this stunning album in 1978 along with Brian Eno. It’s a beautiful title evocative of the music within, The Pavilion Of Dreams. It’s scored for Fender Rhodes, marimba, glockenspiel, harp and the alto sax of Marion Brown.

Kazumi Watanabe recorded this Japan-only LP in 1983. It features two bass players and two drummers, reggae and jazz icons: Robbie Shakespeare and Marcus Miller on basses; Sly Dunbar and Omar Hakim on drums. Also the late Michael Brecker on tenor sax. It’s a great interplay of top musicians.

Stuart Dempster is a classical trombonist who went to the Great Abbey of Pope Clement VI in Avignon, when that Southern French city was the seat of the Papacy. There were a full 17 seconds of reverberation in the tall, vaulted abbey. In it, Dempster builds chords in an amazing display of both recording and performance.

Johann Johannsson is the most unusual and perhaps the greatest composer in a new generation of Icelandic composers. Here he takes a recorded users manual from an ancient computer: The IBM 1401 Variable Wordlength Decimal Computer from 1959 and composes music for a 60 piece orchestra on top of it. The result is a strange and captivating beauty.

Toyah Wilcox and husband Robert Fripp joined together in a 1983 recording of spoken word and multiple guitars called, The Lady Or The Tiger. The story is by a Philadelphia writer from the 1840s named Frank R. Stockton. Here Fripp is joined by his then-group, the League of Crafty Guitarists, all of whom were adept at Frippertronics.

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