:Episode One Hundred Ninety-Nine: 8.28.2020
|Ellis/Munk Ensemble||The Wedge||San Diego Sessions|
|Anthroprophh||Toilet Circuit||Toilet Circuit EP|
|Vestals||Pale Lips||Holy Origin|
|Coral Club||Dive In||The End|
|M. Takara & Carla Boregas||Mãe d'Ouro||Linha d'Água|
|Dylan Henner||The Peach Tree Next Door Grew over our Fence||The Invention of The Human|
|Belbury Poly||Star Jelly||The Gone Away|
|Konstrukt & Otomo Yoshihide||Fire Dance||Eastern Saga: Live at Tusk|
|Bill Laswell||Káshí||City of Light|
Open playlist in Spotify
* Not on Spotify:
Nothing this week. Sometimes, they really do have it all.
Among this week's highlights:
I haven't been to San Diego in a number of years, so this might have changed, but it seemed to me a city stuck - in the best possible way - in the 70s. The fact that the centerpiece of UC San Diego is the Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel Library, a brutalist masterpiece which looks like a locale from a 1970s dystopian sci-fi film is testament enough to this fact. Look anywhere, however, and you'll find the city has never totally shed the 101 shades of brown, all-lowercase logo, pop-psychedelic aesthetic of that era (and which contrasts directly with its northern neighbor, L.A., which seems similarly trapped in the neon glare of the 80s). Appropriately, its music scene is one of the last redoubts of 70s-era psychedelic RAWK, which is reflected in the San Diego Sessions, by the Ellis/Munk Ensemble. The album pairs El Paraiso label head Jonas Munk with Brian Ellis (of Astra and various other bands) and a who's who of local musicians, for an album of Mahavishnu Orchestra-ish psych-prog (sorry, but it's not quite Bitches Brew, despite the comparisons of the press kit).
This is all-but forgotten now, but there was in the 90s something of a remnant of the reactionary anti-disco sentiment of the early 80s, which, since disco had in the intervening years morphed into "electronica" (as it was known then), was directed at that genre. In particular, I remember a proliferation of buttons and bumper stickers taking aim at drum machines, as though they were threatening to entirely usurp human drummers. God knows how many Ford Econolines (the official touring van of that era) I saw with a "Death to Drum Machines" decal wedged between a K Records shield and a Matador pennant. Anyhow, I don't have any compelling reason for bringing up this little footnote from the recent history of popular music other than I'm reminded of it whenever I encounter an electronic artist who eschews drum machines in favor of real drums, as is the case with Russia's Coral Club.
Why does Europe get all the good psychedelic/avant-garde festivals? There's no lack of music festivals in the U.S. (well, in non-pandemic years, anyhow), but the majority are devoted to either a blend of pop music and whatever passes for indie rock these days or blues (every U.S. city with a population of at least 50,000 is required by federal law to have an annual blues festival, so that their resident Baby Boomers have at least one concert a year they feel comfortable attending). I'd kill for something like the U.K.'s Tusk Festival, so that I could see performances like that of Konstrukt & Otomo Yoshihide's, an epic free fusion-jazz freakout that, like the Ellis/Munk Ensemble, evokes the psychedelic tail-end of jazz's post-war heyday.
Plus, White Manna's latest, ARC, is probably their best (and Krautiest) album to date; Anthroprophh take us on a neo-garagey toilet circuit (whatever that is); Vestals makes lovely avant-pop; and the ridiculously prolific Bill Laswell has an album from his 90s ethno-ambient period reissued.