In case you didn’t notice, Alloy has been on hiatus for the past two weeks while WDCV upgraded the central sound/mixing board used to broadcast live shows each and every day. Now that the new equipment is in place and fully operational it was “all systems go” this week. The time away meant more time to explore new music (Anthony Wilson, Allison Adams Tucker, Paul Simon, Marconi Union, and Derrick Lodge, to name just a few ), as well as digging deeper into some classics (Pink Floyd, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Moby, and more).
Don’t forget that you can listen to all of the music from the last episode, “Sound/Color” from the comfort of your browser (click here). This week’s artwork is a photo detailing some of the classic electronic components from the old soundboard at the station and was taken by yours truly.
“Frogtown” by Anthony Wilson
“Frogtown” is the lyrical title track from the album of the same name, Frogtown by Anthony Wilson, guitarist, composer, and longtime member of Diana Krall’s backing band. This composition, like the balance of the album features some very tasteful guitar work and reminds me of another excellent guitarist, Bill Frisell. Wilson is joined on this album by some heavyweight musicians (and Frisell collaborators as well)—the likes of saxophonist Charles Lloyd, drummer Matt Chamberlain and vocalist Petra Haden and many others fill this album with some top flight work.
“No Blood 976” by Wayne Horvitz
An overview of this track from Wayne’s bandcamp site:
Today’s download is, like last week’s, from the Snowghost project and is entitled “No Blood 976", which is, in fact, a working title - sort of. Unlike last week, this is more of a tune, and in this version, the electronics are a prominent part of the entire track, especially in what evolved into a rather lengthy coda.
The working title refers to the silent film “No Blood Relation”, directed by Mikio Naruse in 1932. 976 refers to the measure number of the score that begins this piece. I wrote the score a few years back and can be found on the Naruse box set released by Criterion.
This is a rough mix (still needs some work) from a project started a few years back, entitled “Snowghost” (at least for now). Essentially Brett Allen, who has a studio named Snowghost, in Whitefish Montana, offered me some free studio time in exchange for a performance for a house concert of sorts.
I talked Geoff Harper and Eric Eagle into joining me, and we spent 4 or 5 days recordings a lot of tracks, mostly sketches.
Eric Eagle and I have been working ever since, in fits and starts, to finish the project, and all the tracks are in various states of limbo, waiting for some free time in both of our schedules.
As I wrap up a year of 52 downloads, this one points to the future instead of the past. And as always, I hope you enjoy the music.
“Always and Forever” by Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny’s solo album, Secret Story was released back in 1992. It remains one of several “favorite” Metheny albums. This album was a bold and deep musical statement with full arrangements. As the wiki illustrates, it:
includes collaborations with the Pinpeat Orchestra of the Royal Ballet (of Cambodia), the London Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Jeremy Lubbock, the Choir of the Cambodian Royal Palace, Toots Thielemans, Lyle Mays and many earlier members of Pat Metheny Group.
The particular reason for featuring this gorgeous track, this week, is that the music community lost another great artist and harmonica virtuoso, Toots Thielemans, who is featured prominently on this track. Toots played and recorded with the likes of Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Werner, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Elis Regina and Paquito D’Rivera, and more. He lived to the fantastic age of 94 and touched many. He will be missed.
“Juju” by Wayne Shorter
Since the last Alloy broadcast Rudy Van Gelder, a legendary audio engineer involved in numerous iconic albums, passed away at the age of 91. If you are unfamiliar with Van Gelder’s work, checkout the NYTimes obit for a solid overview. Here is a snippet from the article:
The many albums he engineered for Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse and other labels in the 1950s and ’60s included acknowledged classics like Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Davis’s “Walkin’,” Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” Sonny Rollins’s “Saxophone Colossus” and Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father.”
In short, Rudy. Van Gelder was involved in so many legendary recording sessions at a time when jazz was exploring many different sounds and approaches. I can only imagine what it must have been like working with Coltrane, Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Miles, and Horace Silver on those iconic albums. Wow. To have worked with only one of them would be exceptional.
Another fantastic recording featuring Van Gelder’s engineering influence (and one of my favorites) is the classic Juju by none other than saxophone legend, Wayne Shorter. Featured here is the title track with its angular melody lines and Wayne Shorter at his confident and assertive best on tenor sax. Wayne is backed up by three members of Coltrane’s band, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman, and none other than Elvin Jones on drums. Two jazz worlds and approaches collide and pollinate on this recording—Coltrane’s and Shorter’s.
“Star Animal” by BOUNCE Trio
Learned of this track from the excellent music review site (and more!) Bird is the Worm. This track is from the 2014 self-titled release, Bounce Trio. The band includes: Matthieu Marthouret (organ & keyboards); Toine Thys (tenor saxophone); and Gautier Garrigue (drums).
“Hagro” by Ponga
From Wayne Horvitz’s band camp site:
Ponga was my favorite band that I always forget to remember was my favorite band. It was short lived, although we played quite a bit for a year or two, mostly West Coast and some European festivals and a week in Japan.
With Bobby Previte, Dave Palmer, and Skerik it was the beginning of getting my NY people together with my Seattle people. Dave has gone on to considerable success in LA playing sessions and touring. Bobby and Skerik remain longtime collaborators and have done a lot of stuff together on their own, including a number of projects with Charlie Hunter, Steve Bernstein, etc.
The music was always 100% improvised, and usually with some sort of groove, albeit ever changing and evolving.
I loved how we could play in “one”, and Bobby was a master of this (still is). Dave’s LH was a force of its own- and with both hands an incredible soloist, as is Skerik obviously. Frankly Dave would scare me, and I was honored that he put up with me. But what I liked the most was that solos were not the point, it was the collective. Skerik could “take house” anytime he chose, but instead he would loop, add interjections, and let the music breathe and build as a single entity.
This track does have a sax solo towards the end, and starts with a solo of mine, of sorts, although it certainly isn’t the feature- it’s more like the icing on the cake.
Sometimes whole gigs would go by without a “solo” per se. But I chose this track because it gives a good sense of the energy of the band.
From the album “Psychological,“ the track in entitled “Hagro”.. Recorded by Mell Detmer at Aleph studio, the OK Hotel (live) and the Showbox (live). I am almost positive this is from the Showbox, which I believe was a double bill with ”Maktub" - Reggie Watts’ Seattle band before he moved on to comedy fame and glory.
Self released and mixed by Skerik and myself in my house.
As it says on the back of the CD, “Ponga is Improvised, No Overdubs.”
“The Second” by Derrick Hodge
This is the title track of two-time Grammy winner, Derrick Hodge’s latest, The Second. He is joined by drummer, Mark Colenberg on this track. Amazingly, on most of the tracks on this album Hodge is playing all the instruments. Quite impressive, to say the least.
“Sinus en Snaar” by Michel Banabila and Oene van Geel
Here is a real nice overview of the album/collaboration that this track is taken from (courtesy of Michel Banabila’s blog):
Michel Banabila and Oene van Geel first met during their collaboration for the Cloud Ensemble EP (vinyl, 2013). Excited by the idea of further combining their sound-worlds, they embarked on a new venture to continue their electro-acoustic narrative. Much of the creative process of this album emerged during the recording process itself. On the track ‘Echoes from Hadhramaut’, their mutual friend Bruno Ferro Xavier da Silva joins them, with a multilayered bass texture. Sometimes compositions of Michel are the core of the music and in other occasions Michel created a lot out of improvised viola sounds and melodies of Oene. When Oene added viola melodies and textures, sometimes he was thinking with the mindset of a composer and sometimes he was floating on intuition, looking for what the story had to tell. Michel’s very first steps on his brand new Doepfer A–100 modular system blended well with Oene’s viola and Stroh violin improvisations, and after several sessions together, they transformed their sound sculptures into these 5 new tracks, now presented on CD as : “Music for Viola and Electronics”.(with much thanks to Joeri Mol & Marc Weidenbaum)
“Interstellar Overdrive” and “Bike” by Pink Floyd
These two psychedlic classics are from Pink Floyd’s 1967 album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn featuring then frontman, Syd Barrett. Ihave been listening to inordinate amounts of Floyd of late—both new and old—and have particularly enjoyed visiting this album, a highlight of the Barrett years. No surprise, I have immersed myself in Wish You Were Here again and again. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1–5 and Parts 6–9), a song about, at that point in time, then departed and non-bandmember (due to serious mental health issues), Syd Barrett. Such an amazing opus filled with some of the finest minimal, lyrical, bluesy guitar work by David Gimour. More on that album in future Alloy episodes. If later Floyd appeals to you, check out the fine documentary about the making of Wish You Were Here. Also, for the serious Floyd fan, soon to be released is a “27 disc boxset across CD, DVD and Blu-ray, with 5 exclusive 7 inch vinyls and memorabilia”. In short, wow.
“Devoto (Devoted)” by Deus Ex Machina
This the title track from the most recent album, Devoto from the Italian prog rock band Deus Ex Machina. Each song on this album features excellent and unexpected melody and rhythm changes. Both Deus Ex Machina and another Cuneiform Label recording artist, Bent Knee will be headlining at the 22nd Annual Prog Day held at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, NC on September 3 & 4, 2016. For more information checkout the event’s website. Deus Ex Machina will be headlining on the 3rd and Bent Knee on the 4th.
“Black Tar Water” by Bent Knee
Couldn’t resist featuring another fine prog-inspired track from Say So, the latest release from Bent Knee. As noted above, Bent Knee will be one of two headlining acts at this year’s 22nd Annual Prog Day held at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, NC on September 3 & 4, 2016. For more information checkout the event’s website. Not familiar with Bent Knee? Here is an excellent overview from their Cuneiform page:
The Boston-based group seamlessly connects the worlds of rock, pop and the avant-garde into its own self-defining statement.
On its third release (and Cuneiform debut) Say So, the band focuses on the sound of surprise. It’s rock for the thinking person. The group’s lyrics are dark and infused with themes focusing on the emergence of personal demons, unwanted situations and the difficulty of conquering them. Its mercurial sound matches its subject matter. It’s a thrilling aural roller-coaster ride with arrangements designed to make listeners throw their arms up in wild abandon as they engage with them.
They will also be playing live in the general “Alloy area”: On 8/27/16 they will be in Philadelphia, PA at The El Bar; on 8/28/16 in Baltimore, MD at the Metro Gallery; and on 8/29/16 in Washington, DC at the Black Cat DC. Catch them live if you can.
“The Clock” by Paul Simon
Paul Simon’s latest album, Stranger to Stranger features this very short sound/ambient piece. I couldn’t resist adding to this week’s musical offerings. The album is a solid Simon outing with some great melody and vocal—he is a master of both. Well worth a listen beyond this fine track. Of Simon’s more recent releases, my favorite is still 2010’s Surprise. If you haven’t given that one a listen, give it a try.
“Wanderlust” by Allison Adams Tucker
This track is the title track from the brand new release, WANDERlust from vocalist Allison Adams Tucker. This is a cover of the excellent Bjork track of the same name. Nearly two years ago I did a show that featured Bjork covers. This one can be added to the growing canon of Bjork covers. I have listened to this track several times of the last week or so and I really enjoy the jazz-infused arrangment. It is an unusual song to cover, which likely makes it more compelling. Compare this version with Bjork’s (see below).
The original by Bjork:
“Cello Song/Without A Song” by Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson
This new release recently snuck through the mail slot. A number of interesting cover variations are sprinkled throughout the album. Of them all, this one caught my ear.
“Live Forever” by Moby
The excellent syndicated radio show and podcast, Sound Opinions, featured a thoroughly engaging interview with Moby on a recent episode where he talked about the early days of his careerand about his recently released autobiography, Porcelain (currently in my stack of “to read” books). I enjoyed the interview so much, particularly Moby’s calm, honest, and frank descriptions of himself and his career at different points—both the highs and the lows. All of this inspired me to checkout Moby’s catalog. For this week’s show I am featuring a real nice ambient track, “Live Forever” from Moby’s album Hotels which was released back in 2014.