Ligeia Mare — Songs We Never Thought Of
(Concrete 0002, 2013, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-12-12First of all, I must say that Songs We Never Though Of is a great title for a collection of improvised music. This collective features an unusual combination of instruments: accordion and percussion are the first things we hear, followed by trumpet, some kind of electronic keyboard, and wordless vocals. Other things in the mix are guitar, spoken word, and a drum kit. In all cases, the instruments are sometimes played in the "normal" way and sometimes not. There are funny little squeaky noises from Ron Miles' trumpet, nonsense lyrics both sung and spoken, and Farrell Lowe's guitar is prepared — you'd have to have been there to see how he prepared it (or maybe it was a surprise!). This is not frantic, phrenetic, everybody-screaming-at-once improvisation, but moody, atmospheric stuff, like a soundtrack for an abstract art film of constantly shifting colors and shapes. There are moments that seem almost coordinated, where multiple players out of the blue start playing something that really meshes, but I'm sure it's actually the result of sympathetic listening. There's a real collective spirit here, a willingness to subjugate ego for the greater good, that leads to some beautiful moments. For example, the first track, "Dust and Tides," ends with only Miles along with Dave Willey's accordion, with the others just listening and not feeling the need to get in the last word (so to speak). At the beginning of "Cover Me in Water," Elaine Di Falco starts a rhythmic pattern on the keyboard, and Ernie Crews picks it up with a loose groove on the drums which lasts in varying forms for the eight minute duration; Willey plays a bass part with some nasty fuzz, but it's mixed so that it doesn't overpower the rest of the ensemble as a fuzz bass often will. There are moments of growling, whispering, and distortion, but somehow the result is never sinister sounding; the serious artistic ambition is tempered by a sense of whimsy that keeps procedings light without getting silly. There's a lovely bit near the end of "The Old Road Near Home" where the trumpet, accordion, and drums lock into a jerky groove while the guitar totally freaks out. Songs We Never Thought Of is what happens when talented musicians let their imaginations run wild, spontaneously creating a new world of sounds no one ever heard before, and it's a privilege to be invited in.
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more