Hyper-prolific Japanese experimental/noise musician Aube (aka Akifumi Nakajima) passed away Sept. 25, it was learned recently. The cause of death has yet to be reported. He was born in 1959.
The Aube releases I’ve heard—which constitutes probably five percent of what he’s issued—stand out for their unusual and extreme tonalities, often derived from unexpected sources (e.g., the Bible for Pages From the Book, heartbeats for Cardiac Strain) and then radically manipulated in the studio. My favorite Aube work, Sensorial Inducement, plays from the center of the record outward and sounds like a frenzied debate among Venusian crickets, a Theremin being played by an octopus underwater, and your brain processing some very unnerving stimuli.
Eric Lanzillotta—local experimental musician/owner of Anomalous Records/ex-proprietor of Dissonant Plane record store—was friends with Akifumi. Below he shares some thoughts about his life and music as well as a track that the two recorded live in Japan in 2004. RIP, Akifumi Nakajima.
I have gotten the sad news that my old friend Akifumi Nakajima passed away in September. It seems the news is only just creeping out and took a while to reach everyone outside of Japan. Nakajima was probably best known for his work under the name Aube, which was one of the more prolific, and for me most interesting, noise acts from Japan in the 1990s. He had an impeccable sense of design and appreciation for the materials, taking packaging beyond just using regular old paper. His label G.R.O.S.S. presented an impressive selection of international artists and was an important part of the Anomalous Records catalog. I could really go on and on about his achievements and biography, but I think it is well documented online.
I would just like to add that I always appreciated his support and friendship, and greatly respected his honestly and commitment to quality. In 2004, I spent two weeks in Japan. Eight of those days were in Kyoto and I saw Akifumi almost every day. Seeing the temples and shrines, as well as record stores I would have never found on my own, with him gave the city much more depth than I would have found there on my own. It is heartening to know that he has left a vast recorded legacy for people to appreciate, but sad to lose such a good soul.
In memory of him, I want to share the recording of our one live performance together. This is a little different than the noise music some may associate with him, and I suppose points forward towards the analog electronic revival that started to appear not long after this concert.
Unfortunately, this also comes in a wave of other deaths in the experimental community as albrecht/D., Bernard Parmegiani and Sten Hanson have also left this world. All three had long and productive careers. These are just more reasons to appreciate those that are still with us!
De Jamaica Observer heeft het overlijden gemeld van reggae-artiest, Junior Murvin. De zanger is op 2 december heengegaan in het Port Antonio Hospital in Portland. Blijkbaar zat hij al in een vergevorderd stadium van diabetes dat tot zijn dood leidde.
Hij was het best gekend voor zijn single Police And Thieves, die te horen was op het gelijknamig debuutalbum uit 1977. Later dat jaar verscheen het ook als cover op de debuutplaat van The Clash, die zijn nummer wereldwijd bekend maakten.
This weekend we lost a real one. Seattle hiphop artist Jesse "Byrdie" Watson succumbed to complications from a long bout of cancer. If you were checking out what was shaking and baking in the Seattle scene in the early 2000s, there was no missing Pretty Byrdie, a big brother with a smile and a heart to match. Byrdie came into prominence via the Street Level Records group Full Time Soldiers; FTS and SLR's brand of g-rap, including acts that hailed from the Soufend to the North End, sold out of local shops and kept mail orders ringing throughout the country—they were unquestionably some of the most popular local product in the late '90s to early 2000s, and Byrdie was probably the most popular voice among them.
He broke out on his own with 2000's Poetic Epidemic, which featured everybody from his northend FTS comrades to Source of Labor's Wordsayer. Byrdie's "Player's Policy Pt.2" was one of the first local cuts I knew of that got regular rotation on KUBE93—this was a big deal, just listen to astonishment of the hosts of KUBE's old Sunday night show 'Future Flavors' before they play it. (The other ones I remember: Mobb Tyght Hustlers' "Let's Get Toasted" and Unexpected Arrival's "Take Control (Remix)", which featured Byrdie.)
All this feels like fucking ages ago—I know it wasn't, but just listen to the intro of "Dirty Politics," where he spat:
Man I'm so sick and tired of these rappers in Seattle, these so-called emcees. Everybody wants to be divided! There is no rap scene in Seattle! There is no hiphop community! I built a bridge but y'all built it down.
At the time, nobody I knew would've argued with this. I shouldn't have to tell you, this is about 10 country miles from where we are today.
A couple years later, Byrdie would release his N Flight album, his most polished work yet, and that radio love just increased, and he was on big stages rocking. I remember the joint video release party for his "B.Y.R.D.I.E." and the Blue Scholars' first video ("Freewheelin") at the old Vera in 2004.
Look, a lot of people I know are fucked up over this one. We'll miss you, Byrd. I know your spirit is in flight.
Innovative French electroacoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani passed away earlier today at age 86. The cause of death is still unknown. A favorite of Autechre (who turned me on to Parmegiani via an interview) and many other advanced electronic musicians, Parmegiani created incredibly detailed soundworlds that could swell to cosmic dimensions or contract to microscopic ones with equally fascinating results. His is the epitome of headphone music (high-quality cans, please), as you don’t want to miss a single infinitesimal detail of Parmegiani’s continuously evolving, ultra-refined, and unpredictable compositions.
Not that I’m an absolute authority on the topic, but in the pantheon of 20th-century composers, I would rank Parmegiani up there with Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Henry, Terry Riley, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and György Ligeti for his ability to forge unique, psychedelic sonic vocabularies.
Reader Davey Schmitt-Schrenker has brought to my attention this perceptive passage from Roger Sutherland's chapter on Parmegiani in New Perspectives in Music that sums up the great man's importance:
Parmegiani is possibly the most important figure to have emerged from the Parisian school of electroacoustic composers. Arguably, he has done more than any post-war composer to establish electronic music as a self-sufficient medium capable of an almost symphonic breadth of expression. The music resembles a flight over an acoustic terrain; seen as if from an immense height, the various strata surface one after another and finally become fused and inseparable - perhaps an apocalyptic requiem for a race of beings who perished in some cosmic disaster. These cataclysmic episodes evolve with such gradualness as to catch the listener utterly by surprise - an effect which Xenakis has likened to the onset of madness. The surreal aural impressions created by Parmegiani's music linger disquietingly in the imagination and subtly alter our perceptions of everyday reality.
Editions Mego’s Recollection GRM subsidiary has reissued two essential Parmegiani albums in the last year: De Natura Sonorum and L'Œil écoute / Dedans-Dehors. You can check out several Parmegiani works that have been digitized at Ubuweb. RIP, Bernard Parmegiani.
Just heard about this bad news today: Renowned fashion model Barbara Cheeseborough, whose animated visage graces the cover of one of the greatest albums of all time, Funkadelic's Maggot Brain, passed away Oct. 24 of colon cancer. She was 67. You can read more about Cheeseborough in this tribute here. RIP, funk icon Barbara Cheeseborough.
The SF Gate:
The family of DJ Cheb I Sabbah announced on his website Thursday that the beloved San Francisco-based musician and composer died Wednesday at his home. He was 66.
Cheb I Sabbah was born Haim Serge El Baz in what is now Algeria in 1947 and moved to Paris in the 60′s where he launched his career as a DJ, specializing in American soul records.
He moved to San Francisco in 1984 and five years later began using the name Cheb I Sabbah. He was a master of world music, incorporating Arabic, Asian and African folk sounds into his rich compositions.
Shri Durga is where East meets West. East being India and its traditional form of music, raga, and West being reggae or dub science. Though reggae is usually categorized as Third World music, here its familiarity makes it Western, and raga's strange strings, talking drums, and throaty vocals make it Eastern. To enjoy this CD properly, you must imagine the slow and deep reggae groove as a kind of long street in a Western city and that on either side of it markets, temples, cafes, and community centers have been settled and decorated by a foreign culture. The architect and designer of this particular experiment in urban globalization is dj CHEB i SABBAH, whose Western musicians (Bill Laswell and Kevin "Broun Fellini" Carnes on bass and drums) pave the way for the ornamental vocals of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Mala Ganguly, and Scheherazade Stone. This is not the first such experiment; we have heard many attempts to electrify or update some old, traditional art with electronica or dub, but Shri Durga is one of the most rewarding and seamless efforts yet. It is as if dub and raga were born and elaborated upon in the same brain for thousands of years, thousands of nights.
Most might already know that I'm a diehard Slayer fan. **I LOVE THEM** Forever. And ever! No. Matter. What. Even Tom Araya's admission of a belief in G-O-D (thanks, Trent Moorman!) doesn't really surprise me all that much.
This banner at their WaMu Theater show last Friday seemed a little weird though. I mean, wasn't there a evil-cool (with upside down crosses!) portrait of Jeff Hanneman they could have dedicated to him? He died of liver failure. And maybe I've been living in this land of the PC Police too long, but putting his name inside a beer bottle label seems a little "OUCH?" Yes? No? Let's have a vote! Also, more photos from the show, after the jump...
Last night on KBCS, Chris Martin—Kinski guitarist and host of the great, long-running radio show Ampbuzz—dedicated his show to the late Lou Reed. You can check it out here and peruse the tracklist after the jump.
Finally, Kinski play at Neumos tonight, opening for Terakaft.
If you have Spotify and you care to feel some feelings today, I made a playlist out of Dave Segal's top 20 Lou Reed/Velvet Underground songs from his excellent obit/tribute.
In this period of mourning over the death of Lou Reed, let us ameliorate the pain by trying to determine the best cover versions of songs written by the late, great, cranky man.
Below are some of mine. (I know I left out some crucial ones; sorry.) What are yours?
Spacemen 3- "Ode to Street Hassle"
The Feelies- "What Goes On"
Ride- "New Age"
Cowboy Junkies- "Sweet Jane"
Ty Segall- "Femme Fatale"
Chapterhouse- "Lady Godiva's Operation"
Subway Sect- "Head Held High"
Die Gesunden- "I'm Waiting for the Man"
Cabaret Voltaire- "Here She Comes Now"
Nirvana- "Here She Comes Now"
And... Olivia Tremor Control- "European Son"
Lou Reed's initial attempts at becoming a rock musician were somewhat exploitative; after he moved to NYC, he was employed by the budget/exploitation label Pickwick. Um, by now we've all heard "The Ostrich," right? Well, have you heard the All Night Workers? It's Reed's first writer credit and perhaps first recorded collaboration with future partner John Cale.
It's not a bad Righteous Bothers nick and it certainly foreshadows the swirlling drones later heard in the Velvet Underground.
Read Dave Segal's terrific obit. And also, this one by Leg's McNeil, author of Please Kill Me. GRUMPS. RIP, Mr. Reed.
Lou Reed was always a grumpy old man. Okay, so I did my best to ask him the most annoying questions when the Punk magazine staff first interviewed him after our first night at CBGB’s, with questions like, “How do you like your hamburgers cooked?”
Read the whole thing, on The Daily Beast.
Lou Reed, who passed away Oct. 27 at age 71, would surely hate every word of every overwrought obit/tribute that will deluge print and online publications (including this one) and social media sites—and that’s one reason why he ruled. Reed died from complications resulting from a liver transplant he underwent in May. It's safe to say that hundreds of thousands of fans will probably be in a daze for days. I know I will.
Reed was one of the greatest, most influential rock musicians of all time, stated Captain Obvious from Obviousville. From 1965 to 1970, he led the Velvet Underground, who over time have become akin to the counterculture’s Beatles in terms of inspiration to future generations of musicians. The Velvets’ 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico in itself contains enough dynamic musical and lyrical invention to spawn several universes. Who else was capable of moving from the Elysian bliss of "Sunday Morning" to the infernal chaos of "European Son"? Who else could shift from the pretty, butterfly-wing-delicate balladeering of "Femme Fatale" and "I'll Be Your Mirror" to the majestic, seductive drone rock of "Venus in Furs" and "All Tomorrow's Parties"? Nobody, really.
Their next three albums were all essential in their own idiosyncratic ways. Reed (with considerable help from John Cale on the debut and White Light/White Heat—and Sterling Morrison, Mo Tucker, Doug Yule, and Nico) brought literary storytelling and decadent, druggy subject matter to rock’s playground and infused it with elegant, high-minded luridness, inflated it with a heart of tarnished gold.
VU combined Cale’s minimalist inclinations with Reed’s phenomenal grasp of simple yet sublimely beautiful melody and thereby drew the template for thousands of rock bands who wanted instant access to an indomitable vocabulary of cool. The Velvet Underground held the keys to the kingdom for drone and deathless chord progressions. Lou made the most of his miserable monotone voice and it became a reliable vehicle—a Saab, say—for his perverse thoughts. I’m not really a big lyrics guy, but hundreds of Lou’s have been caroming around my brain and enriching it for decades. To quote a fellow Jewish wordsmith, he was a natural-born poet and he was just outta sight.
Reed’s solo career had serious ups and downs (hello again, Capt. Obv.), but it rarely ceased to be fascinating, even in its awfulness. Some people I respect swear that his 2011 collab with Metallica, Lulu, is something you need to cherish, that it is not actually a soundtrack to burning your Velvet Underground box set in grief. (Kidding, guys; put away your hatchets. It’s a respectable late-career opus that did anything but play it safe.)
Some college-educated folks believe that Reed’s monumental 1975 LP Metal Machine Music stands as his crowning achievement. The controversial double LP is the Big Bang of noise music, a demonic howl of sinphonic [sic] guitar abstraction that is the purest expression of Reed’s legendarily assholistic personality. It is timeless, placeless, and immortal. Lou Reed’s week will always beat your year… and then spit tobacco juice in its ear.
Honestly, I'm too distraught to continue. Go forth and read the 23 billion other Lou Reed eulogies rising around the world like cries of despair and awe. You deserve it. Below are 20 of my favorite VU/Reed songs, at this juncture in history—some choices immutable, some subject to whim/mood. He had dozens more life-changing tunes that will keep agitating and inspiring and tweaking your libido for as long as there’s breathable air. These 20 compositions will never not make me feel like I'm rushing on my run.
(Also: Please watch this interview for a perfect distillation of Lou's deadpan humor and poised, charming disdain for these Australian press dolts.)
01 What Goes On
02 European Son
03 Venus in Furs
04 White Light/White Heat
05 I Heard Her Call My Name
06 Hey Mr. Rain
07 Foggy Notion
08 Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
10 Metal Machine Music, Part III
11 Candy Says
13 Street Hassle
14 I’m So Free
15 Andy’s Chest
16 Run Run Run
18 It’s All Right (The Way That You Live)
19 The Gift
20 Walk on the Wild Side
Another lost Cobain interview. It was ecorded in 1993, by a journalist named Jon Savage. It's animated. And though I'm not the hugest fan of animated interviews, I can listen to Kurt talk for forever and a day, about anything and everything (Kurt talking over random photography and video in the experimental doc About A Son, is still one of my favorite music films of all time.)
The video was made by Blank on Blank, who transform lost audio interviews with cultural icons into an animated series for YouTube and PBS Digital Studios. See also James Brown, and Jim Morrison (talking about being fat!!!)
From Sonic Boom Records owner Jason Hughes:
It’s official. Sonic Boom Records signed a sublease agreement with Glasswing this morning for the remainder of the lease at our Melrose Market location (1525 Melrose Ave). We will be liquidating as much vinyl as we can in the next couple of weeks. Our 11 Vendors will be doing the same. Sale pricing from 10-50% off has already begun and silk screened show posters are on sale for $10/piece.
The closure should come as no surprise. Sonic Boom has been looking for a permanent tenant since closing our Capitol Hill store back in August 2011. Our entire focus will now be on our Ballard location which has been open since 2001. Glasswing will make an excellent addition to the neighborhood and to the Melrose Market overall. We wish them the best of luck in their new space.
This is sad news for vinyl lovers. MVM offered a lot of variety and quality music at fairly reasonable prices. I've found many gems there over the last two years. Let's hope something similar can surface somewhere else on Capitol Hill; that space on Broadway near John next to the Subway is currently vacant. Hint, hint.
Lindsay Cooper—who was British bassoon/oboe player for Henry Cow, Comus, David Thomas and the Pedestrians, and many other avant-garde/progressive groups—passed away Sept. 18. She was a co-founder of the Feminist Improvising Group and also recorded several solo albums, including 1980's Rags. She also contributed to several important prog records, including Egg's The Civil Surface, Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge, Hatfield and the North's The Rotters' Club, and Steve Hillage's Fish Rising.
Cooper had suffered from multiple sclerosis since the late ’70s and had not been active in music since the late '90s. RIP, Lindsay Cooper.
George Duke passed away Aug. 5 in Santa Monica, California due to reported heart complications following treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, according to his manager, Darryl Porter. Duke was 67.
The masterly keyboardist had success both as a solo artist and as an off-and-on member of Frank Zappa’s band from 1970 to ’79. Duke also worked with disparate figures such as Michael Jackson (Off the Wall), Parliament-Funkadelic, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Airto, Flora Purim, Billy Cobham, and others.
Duke had the chameleonic ability to play and create the slickest commercial material, dip into filthy funk mode, or delve into the wonkiest, complex fusion scenarios. He was a composer of melodic depth and feeling who also landed on the charts a number of times. Consequently, it’s no surprise that several hiphop and electronic-music producers have sampled Duke’s compositions, including Daft Punk, Madlib, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Ice Cube, and Cajmere.
You will find a cornucopia of inventive jazz-funk fusioneering in ’70s Duke albums like The Inner Source, Faces in Reflection, Feel, The Aural Will Prevail, Liberated Fantasies, From Me to You, and Reach for It. There’s so much joyful, complicated greatness to explore in the Duke catalog. Be as adventurous as the man himself was. RIP, George Duke.
I said just about everything I’ve ever wanted to say the Oklahoma singer/songwriter/guitarist in this feature from 2009, the time of his last Seattle appearance. Here's a key passage:
Like very few musicians in history, Cale has become a genre unto himself. Some artists strive to reinvent themselves with every new work. Cale is totally comfortable doing his own thing, with minor variations, year after year. Like the character in one of his best-known and oft-covered compositions, "Call Me the Breeze," Cale "keep[s] blowing down the road... Ain't no change in the weather/Ain't no change in me."
Those lyrics encapsulate the core paradox of Cale's art: He keeps rollin' along, but he remains relatively static as he progresses. Ordinarily, critics disparage such a stagnant MO. However, Cale thrives within limited parameters. There's something to be said for finding a signature sound and honing it till it becomes an artful science, while spinning minute variations on that approach.
You’ve probably heard Eric Clapton’s covers of Cale’s “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” dozens of times and perhaps you've caught the Allman Brothers’ or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s or Johnny Cash’s renditions of the motorik boogie of “Call Me the Breeze,” which Spiritualized also appropriated for their track “Run.” They’re all fine versions, but nobody could quite replicate Cale’s special brand of spare, laid-back groove and mellow vocal rasp. You should track down his first four albums—Naturally, Really, Okie, and Troubadour—and chill with one of the coolest dudes ever to step inside a studio. RIP, JJ Cale.
Alan Myers, who drummed for Devo from 1976-1986, succumbed to cancer June 24 at age 58. Playing on Devo classics such as Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Duty Now for the Future, and Freedom of Choice, Myers was renowned for his incredible precision and urgent, ultra-tight funkiness. His work on Devo's reinvention of the Stones' "Satisfaction" is metronomic, eccentric genius. Myers was practically a human drum machine, in the best sense of that phrase—the perfect percussionist for Devo's angular, spasmodic electro rock.
After he left Devo, Myers worked as an electrical contractor in Los Angeles and played in the bands Jean Paul Yamamoto, Skyline Electric, and Swahili Blonde (the latter with his daughter, Laena Geronimo). RIP, Alan Myers.