Copernicus — Deeper
(Nevermore Inc. NCD2087, 1987/2012, CD)
Copernicus — Worthless!
(Nevermore Inc. NCD2093, 2013, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-09-10
Listening to Copernicus is anything but easy. Widely varying music, everything from clattering free improvisation to sloppy renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner," backs the crazed ranting of the man himself, going on about diverse topics including US activities in Latin America, subatomic particles, economic disparity, Elvis, the nature of reality, and so on (if you detect a pattern there, you're smarter than I am). What's surprising is how listenable the result can be. Not that this is for everyone — I can imagine many people running from the room as if sulfuric acid had been poured into their ears — but I find the result fascinating for the most part. It's like stepping into the alternate universe where the crazy old coot who rode your bus the other day rambling on about who-knows-what is a respected poet, and musicians are lining up to provide settings for his ruminations. The large number of collaborators who provide the backing music are paying attention and doing things that make sense (in this twisted bizarro world at least) and provide an appropriate setting for the words. Deeper was originally released back in 1987; Worthless! is a new work, and aside from Copernicus, musical director Pierce Turner and drummer Thomas Hamlin are the only names I see in common between the two (maybe there are more, but the lists are so long...). Aside from the cleaner recording quality, there's not a qualitative difference between the two, so I can't go for the easy joke that Worthless! writes its own review in its title. Certainly not for the faint-hearted or closed-minded, Copernicus (the "conceptual creation of Joseph Smalkowski") is worth a listen for the strong-hearted and open-minded, sort of like William S. Burroughs backed by an electric free jazz band. Acid ingestion not required.
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more