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Henry Bruce-Jones Robert Gerard Pietrusko & Courtney Stephens resurrect lost ecologies with The Room: Remastering Eden

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Meg Woof presents Adventures In Sound And Music

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Watch: Mabe Fratti “Que Me Hace Saber Esto”

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Allan Jones John Murry – The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes

John Murry

“Bought fertiliser and brake fluid/Who in the hell am I supposed to trust?” John Murry’s new album opens with a song about a man building a bomb that somehow introduces Oscar Wilde into a narrative about American unrest. Domestic terrorism, the Oklahoma bombing, gas chambers, low-flying police helicopters, natty Oscar playing bridge. Longstanding fans will take these uneasy juxtapositions in their stride. Nearly everything Murry’s released to date has sounded like a dispatch from one war zone or another – both his previous solo albums tackle the issue of trauma.

There was more to 2013’s The Graceless Age than a plainly autobiographical song about flatlining after a heroin overdose. But the album was eventually dominated by the nine pain-wracked minutes of Little Coloured Balloons. It’s still the song everyone wants to hear him play when they see him live, a man who came back from the dead singing about his own resurrection.

A Short History Of Decay (2017) was written in the aftermath of a nasty divorce, Murry simultaneously rocked by the death of former American Music Club drummer Tim Mooney, who produced and, over the four years of its making, helped shape the songs on The Graceless Age. Mooney gave the album a dense, textured sound: layers of keyboards, strings, crackling radio broadcasts; synthesisers and sundry electronics. Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins produced the follow-up, the whole thing taped and mixed in just five days. It sounded like it had been recorded in a lost, lonely place. A holding cell or isolation ward, perhaps.

At first listen, The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes comes from a similarly dour location at the end of the line, ill-lit and funky. Its mood is generally heavy but a frailty prevails, something vaguely tranquilised about a lot of the record. There seems initially to be not much body at all to bits of it. At one point or another, most of the album sounds in fact like it should be on life-support. Even the handclaps sound worn out. The songs mostly are reduced to sinew and gristle, as if the meat has been chewed off them by passing coyotes.

Play it again, however, and it’s neither listless nor inert. Murry and producer John Parish know a thing or two about creating compelling atmospheres out of meagre resources. The album is built from vocal and instrumental tics and spasms. Guitars that crackle like burning wallpaper. Glitchy electronics that course through the tracks like syntax errors in a
computer code, Nadine Khouri’s timelapse harmonies. Scraps of pedal steel, piano, cello.

Oscar Wilde (Came Here To Make Fun Of You) casts individual turmoil alongside wider public derangement. Ones + Zeros starts as a frayed ballad about dashed hopes that decides it’s time to reject oppression. “Spit on your hands, raise the black flag/ Cut each throat, drown the old hag…” An unexpected version of Duran Duran’s Ordinary World that turns it into an insidious stalking blues with pustulant guitar also pits singular distress against a broader disintegration.

Mostly, though, Murry is concerned with personal emotional plight, the scorched earth of his own life. Perfume & Decay is a song about an imploding relationship that sounds like a drugged message on an answerphone. The title track essays similar territory, carried by the fuzz-box malignancy of Murry’s writhing electric guitar. Murry carries grudges like an old-school Mafia boss with a hundred recipes for dishes best served cold. Revenge runs through these songs like a virus, infecting track after unvaccinated track.

“God may forgive them for what I can’t forget”, Murry sings grimly on Time & A Rifle, over a messy, slithering guitar riff. The otherwise beautiful Di Kreutser Sonata turns a fierce gaze on his adoptive family (“They didn’t adopt me, they bought me,” Murry recently wrote on his website), the track ending with whistling and a dreamy instrumental coda that sounds like the closing theme to a film that’s left everyone dead in a Mexican desert. I Refuse To Believe (You Could Love Me) is a desiccated glam stomp, Murry baffled by his romantic predicament over a Moe Tucker backbeat.

1(1)1 is two minutes of ugly noise as superfluous as a ‘hidden’ bonus track, possibly called You Don’t Miss Me, a thrashing thing. The album as advertised properly ends, however, with the reptilian loop of Yer Little Black Book, Murry sitting in his car, singing along to a radio playing Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control, thinking about his own worthlessness as the last light fades on another day in paradise.

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Richard Williams Alice Coltrane – Kirtan: Turiya Sings

Alice Coltrane

The recent popularity of Alice Coltrane’s music among a new generation of listeners can be a puzzle to longtime admirers of her late husband’s work. A distinguished John Coltrane scholar who teaches at an American university told me earlier this year that, while his students are extremely enthusiastic about Alice, they listen to John and don’t understand what the fuss was about. And one of the less ecstatic reviews of the recent Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders album observed that the music seemed to be doing little more than trying to replicate the mood of Alice’s recordings at their most trance-like and undemanding.

Yet from the work of her nephew Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus) to explicit homages paid by Paul Weller, Laura Veirs, Sunn O))) and others, the textures and flavours of the albums Alice made between her husband’s death in 1967 and her own departure for other planes of being in 2007 are now a common resource, forming a part of the fabric of modern music and an object of reverence for exponents and admirers of “spiritual jazz”.

What does the enthusiasm for spiritual jazz really amount to? A sceptic would say that its protagonists are looking for an easy way to enjoy or play jazz, entering through a gate beyond which lies little of the challenge that characterised the music of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and, of course, John Coltrane himself, whose late work will provoke heated arguments for as long as people still listen to recorded jazz.

But it was Alice’s husband who can be credited with laying the foundations for spiritual jazz – not least with a composition called Spiritual, included on an album called Coltrane “Live” At The Village Vanguard in 1961. The grave incantation of its slow, hymn-like melody by Coltrane’s tenor saxophone established a mood of solemn meditation that he would develop over the ensuing four years and into his masterpiece, A Love Supreme, which countless other artists, from Pharoah Sanders to Jan Garbarek and Kamasi Washington, would take as the basis of their personal explorations.

Alice McLeod and John Coltrane were married in 1965, when she was a modern jazz pianist with a minor reputation and he was receiving global acclaim. She replaced McCoy
Tyner as the “classic quartet” broke up and a new lineup veered into freer and more expansive, exploratory realms that were seemingly influenced by John’s experiences with LSD, as well as by a search for spiritual fulfilment already made explicit in album titles such as Meditations and Ascension.

By this time, John was allowing even semi-pro musicians to join the band on stage and occasionally prefacing a performance with the Sanskrit chant of Om-mani-padme-hum. To some, the presence of Alice was an unwelcome symbol of the break with the rules, routines and conventions that had kept her husband’s music within the boundaries of jazz even as it pushed against them.

After his death, her music began to incorporate the sound of the concert harp that he had given her. Its sweeping glissandi both emphasised the reassuring stability of modal harmonies and evoked sounds of other musical cultures, notably the drone of the Indian tambura and the rippling of the Japanese koto. Thus suggestions of Hindu and Buddhist religions were combined with the Christian traditions within which both Coltranes had grown up, and which formed a part of John’s pantheistic beliefs. The music that Alice made after his departure could be seen, according to Ben Ratliff, his biographer, as the product of his most devoted disciple.

In the early ’70s, Alice became attached to the teachings of Swami Satchidananda – whose followers also included Carole King – and her music gradually moved further away from the relatively straightforward jazz represented by her early solo recordings, such as A Monastic Trio and Huntington Ashram Monastery. The acquisition of a Wurlitzer organ and an Oberheim synthesiser gave her the tools with which to create cinematic soundscapes illustrating the spiritual journey that she was on, further expanded on Universal Consciousness, Lord Of Lords and World Galaxy by the use of string orchestras.

She was searching, she said, for music that didn’t require pauses for breath: “The instruments which require breathing are more in line with what’s happening on an earthly level. But the instruments that can produce sound that’s continuous, to me express the eternal, the infinite.”

Away from the public eye, however, her music was being constructed on a different scale, first in the Vedantic Centre she set up for her family and fellow devotees in Woodland Hills above Malibu in Southern California and then in an ashram in nearby Agoura Hills. Having taken the name Turiyasangitananda, she was performing bhajans and kirtans, songs of praise to the deity: some of them sung as solos accompanied by a keyboard, others as choral chants with percussion accompaniment, occasionally featuring other solo singers from within the community. She recorded many of these in the 1980s and ’90s, making them available to fellow adherents on cassettes whose titles included Divine Songs and Infinite Chants. A selection of them received a wider airing when Luaka Bop released a compilation titled The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda in 2017.

Kirtan: Turiya Sings is drawn from the same source as the 1982 cassette Turiya Sings, but is a very different affair. Here the concentration is entirely on solo songs, stripped of all the decoration – the strings and synthesisers – from their original incarnations, leaving just Alice’s voice and her Wurlitzer organ. Something like the opening Jagadishwar benefits greatly from the removal of the trimmings. It might be blasphemous to say so but the result is curiously reminiscent of hearing Nico performing the material from The Marble Index and Desertshore in concert, the clarity and directness of her voice and harmonium revealed in the absence of John Cale’s arrangements.

Funnily enough, the comparison is not entirely inappropriate, even if the artistic intentions were wholly different. Alice’s singing voice is also a deep contralto, strong and sure, notable for an absence of inflection, although never strident. Similarly, the organ is required to do no more than play sustained chords with a modest, rustic, harmonium-like tone. The songs are slow-paced and even in cadence, their repetitive melodies and simple harmonies generally held within such tightly defined limits that the slightest variation – as in the modest melodic wandering of Krishna Krishna – comes almost as a shock.

The listener is drawn into a world of solitary devotion, very unlike the infectious choral chanting, banging and rattling on display in the Luaka Bop album (and also familiar from the chants of the followers of Krishna who once operated in London under George Harrison’s patronage). Any spiritual ecstasy on offer here appears to be of a more private kind, although no doubt offering a glimpse of the divine to believers.

On other listeners, particularly those unfamiliar with Sanskrit and either ignorant or dismissive of the belief system of which these songs are an expression, its effects will be less certain. But the longer you listen, the more you’re drawn in and the less aesthetically confining the music’s self-imposed restraints seem. What’s clear to sympathetic listeners is the direct emotional link between John Coltrane’s pioneering Spiritual of 1961 and the sound of his wife’s songs released 60 years later: very different means, same search.

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Richard Williams Chris Barber – A Trailblazer’s Legacy

Chris Barber

By any yardstick, Chris Barber was one of the most influential figures in 20th-century British popular music. His death in March, just before his 91st birthday, inspired tributes to a man whose instincts and enthusiasms helped lay the foundations for just about everything that happened in the 1960s and beyond. This set of four CDs, meticulously compiled and copiously annotated by Alyn Shipton, handsomely illustrated and limited to 1,000 copies, presents an unanswerable and probably definitive case for his significance.

Barber played trombone, but that was the least important of his accomplishments. A natural-born bandleader, he was an encourager, a facilitator, an enabler. The 69 tracks making up A Trailblazer’s Legacy, ranging over his entire career, demonstrate the breadth of his interests, his inclusive approach to making music, and his knack of playing a part in events that would later be seen as historic.

The Hertfordshire-born son of left-leaning parents – an insurance statistician and a headmistress – arrived on the British jazz scene just after the start of the New Orleans revival, forming his first amateur band in the late 1940s. While recording an album in 1954, Barber included a track reflecting his habit of presenting a short set of skiffle songs as an interlude in a club or concert appearance. Rock Island Line featured the singing of the band’s banjo and guitar player, Lonnie Donegan, with Barber on bass and Beryl Bryden on washboard. Released as a single under Donegan’s name, it fired the imagination and reshaped the thinking of an entire generation.

Soon Barber would be risking the wrath of Britain’s traditional jazz purists with such heresies as expanding his band’s repertoire to include compositions by Duke Ellington, inviting the Jamaican saxophonists Bertie King and Joe Harriott to make guest appearances, persuading the Musicians’ Union to let him bring Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee over to make their first UK appearances, and recording with a host of other American musicians, mostly with a New Orleans background, such as the veteran clarinetist Edmond Hall and the singer-pianists Eddie Bo and Dr John. All except Waters are represented here, along with other distinguished guests including Louis Jordan and Van Morrison.

What Barber understood was that jazz was never a purist’s music, and therein lay its
special quality. The only purity it needed was an authentic feeling for its core components:
the rhythm, the blues, and the directness of emotional expression in evidence at all the many thousands of performances in which, over the course of more than 60 years, he shared his unquenchable enthusiasm. Long before the invention of postmodernism, Barber and several generations of skilled sidemen were persuading audiences to see the music’s many strands as threads of a single cloth.

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Will Richards The Rolling Stones announce rescheduled No Filter US tour dates for 2021

The Rolling Stones have announced rescheduled dates for their No Filter tour of the US.

The legendary band were set to tour North America in the summer of 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic scuppered the plans.

With live music now returning for vaccinated fans across the States, the band have now outlined plans to go through with the tour.

The new rescheduled dates begin in late September in St Louis, Missouri, and run until the end of November where the tour wraps up with a show in Austin, Texas.

See The Rolling Stones’ new No Filter tour dates for the United States below.

September 2021

26 – St Louis, The Dome at America’s Center
30 – Charlotte, Bank Of America Stadium

October 2021

4 – Pittsburgh, Heinz Field
9 – Nashville, Nissan Stadium
13 – New Orleans, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
17 – Los Angeles, SoFi Stadium
24 – Minneapolis, U.S. Bank Stadium
29 – Tampa, Raymond James Stadium

November 2021

2 – Dallas, Cotton Bowl Stadium
6 – Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium
11 – Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium
15 – Detroit, Ford Field
20 – Austin, Circuit Of The Americas

Elsewhere, the Stones recently released footage of their iconic Copacabana Beach concert in full for the first time.

The band’s historic performance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil took place in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel on February 8, 2006. With 1.5million people in attendance, it’s one of the biggest free concerts in music history.

Now, the Stones have released the concert as a film for the first time, remixed, re-edited, and remastered. A Bigger Bang: Live On Copacabana Beach arrived on July 9 on multiple formats, including DVD+2CD, SD BD+2CD, 2DVD+2CD Deluxe, 3LP (pressed on blue, yellow, and green vinyl), 3LP pressed on clear vinyl (exclusive to Sound Of Vinyl) and digital.

The post The Rolling Stones announce rescheduled No Filter US tour dates for 2021 appeared first on UNCUT.

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Will Lavin Paul McCartney shares trippy new video for “Find My Way” featuring Beck

Paul McCartney's 'Find My Way' video

Paul McCartney has shared a trippy new video for his latest single, “Find My Way”, featuring Beck.

Taken from the Beatles legend’s most recent album, McCartney III: Imagined – a reworking of last year’s McCartney III – the “Find My Way” visuals sees a digitally de-aged McCartney dance the halls of a hotel before being transported to various other locations.

The colourful, disco-inspired video – which has a big reveal at the end – was directed by Andrew Donoho (Janelle Monae, The Strokes) and co-produced with Hyperreal Digital, which specialises in the creation of hyper-realistic digital avatars.

“The technology to de-age talent and have them perform in creative environments like this is now fully-realised, even with one of the most recognised faces in the world,” Hyperreal’s CEO Remington Scott said of the technology used in the video.

Watch the video for “Find My Way” below:

The digital version of McCartney III: Imagined was released back in April. It will be available on vinyl, CD and cassette from July 23. Shop here.

Earlier this month, Disney+ confirmed that Paul McCartney‘s forthcoming docu-series McCartney 3,2,1 will air in the UK on the streaming service next month.

The upcoming six-episode documentary series already premiered in the US on Hulu last week but it has now been confirmed that viewers in the UK will get to see the first episode on August 25.

Meanwhile, Beck has rescheduled his forthcoming UK tour to 2022 and has added several new dates.

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Will Richards Joni Mitchell to be given lifetime achievement award at 2021 Kennedy Center Honors

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell is among the artists set to be honoured as part of the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors.

Mitchell will receive a lifetime achievement award at the live awards ceremony on December 5 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Others set to be honoured at the ceremony include Bette Midler, Motown founder Berry GordySaturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels and more.

“This year’s Honorees represent the unifying power of the Arts and surely remind us of that which binds us together as human beings,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter in a statement.

“After the challenges and heartbreak of the last many months, and as we celebrate 50 years of the Kennedy Center, I dare add that we are prepared to throw ‘the party to end all parties’ in D.C. on December 5th, feting these extraordinary people and welcoming audiences back to our campus.”

Elsewhere, Joni Mitchell recently shared a rare video message in which she reflected on the 50th anniversary of her classic album Blue.

“I’m so pleased with all of the positive attention that Blue is receiving these days,” Mitchell said in the video. “When it was first released it fell heir to a lot of criticism. So 50 years later people finally get it, and that pleases me. Thank you.”

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