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Philip Montoro, Reader music editor, is obsessed with . . .
Ahab, “Further South,” from The Giant This funereal German band’s website bears the slogan “Doomwards let us row,” and on their latest album, The Giant, their nautical obsession leads them to Antarctica—a voyage entangled with despair and madness. Beautiful, monstrous, and desolate, “Further South” magnifies private misery to the scale of an ancient saga: “Whither should I / Flee from myself / Further down / Further down / Further south.”
Staff Benda Bilili, Bouger le Monde! For keeping private misery in proper perspective, though, I recommend this rumba-rooted Congolese band, formed by four homeless paraplegic guitarists who rehearsed in the half-abandoned Kinshasa zoo and filled out their rhythm section with street kids. Bouger le Monde! (“Shake the World!”) is Staff Benda Bilili‘s second album, and the success of the first has changed them—they now have or are building houses, and they’re opening a school for disabled people and homeless children—but they’re still playing some of the most buoyant and indomitable dance music I’ve ever heard.
Peter Brötzmann, Jason Adasiewicz, Joshua Abrams, and Hamid Drake at Elastic on Sat 9/15 I’m glad I ended up sitting on the floor, behind the chairs, for the second set of this free-jazz blowout. I could see most of the rhythm section—they’d hit a rolling boil, glowing with the sound of Adasiewicz’s vibraphone—but I couldn’t see Brötzmann, so that when he came screaming in on tenor saxophone it was a genuine shock. For a moment it sounded like someone had let a mountain lion loose in the room.
Alex Perkolup, Bassist for Lovely Little Girls and Murmur, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are . . .
Roy Wood This singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer cofounded groundbreaking acts such as the Move, Electric Light Orchestra, and Wizzard. He played something like 50 instruments and sported one of the most impressive studio tans of the early 70s. His trademark orchestrally infused pop has an absurdist tilt and production that blurs together cellos and bass clarinets and turns his arrangements into sheetlike wholes. Unfortunately he quit ELO before they hit big, and though his other groups charted in the UK he remains relatively obscure in America.
Shub-Niggurath, Les Morts Vont Vite “The Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young.” Music is ritual. Words are incantation. To open the vortex both must be flawless. And to enter it one must not seek to fill the void within but to embrace it, penetrating its center and willing it to eat away all else. Boo! Shub-Niggurath (1983-’95) were a French avant-rock ensemble, loosely connected to the Magma-inspired “Zeuhl” school of prog but with a sound much more grounded in fear and menace. Great to listen to while reading Lautreamont’s Chants de Maldoror or anything by H.P. Lovecraft.
When, WriterCakebox: The Unblessed World of When, 1983-1998 Norwegian musician and composer Lars Pedersen is When, and this fantastic compilation—covering 15 years of the project’s existence—is a great place to start for the unfamiliar ear. Pedersen found an early audience in black-metal circles, but the music here I would recommend to fans of the Residents, This Heat, Univers Zero, and even the Beatles. Brilliantly remastered for maximum cohesion.
He asks . . .
Dan Sullivan, guitarist and vocalist for Arriver and Rabid Rabbit, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are . . .
Jamul’s cover of “Tobacco Road“ The opening track on Jamul’s self-titled 1970 album is a cover of “Tobacco Road,” which seemingly everyone covered back then, but holy shit does their version smoke. Lead singer Steve Williams has a voice that sounds like John Fogerty gargling gravel, the guitars are just as dirty, and the harmonica wail in the bridge predates Zep’s “When the Levee Breaks” (and hits just as hard). “Valley Thunder,” an original from the same album, is also good hard 70s rock. Find them on YouTube.
Andy Summers’s lead on “Mother” I recently noticed that Andy Summers’s awesome lead on Synchronicity‘s “Mother” is nearly a note-for-note rip of Robert Fripp’s solo on “Golden Hours” from Brian Eno’s classic Another Green World. They were pals and made records together, so I figure this was on the up-and-up. Maybe Summers’s solo on “Miss Gradenko” is better, but it’s a tough call.
Duran Duran, “The Chauffeur (Blue Silver)” Speaking of Eno, Duran Duran’s very Eno-esque track “The Chauffeur (Blue Silver)” was stuck on repeat in my truck last week. I despised this band when I was a kid because I (correctly) assumed it was music for 13-year-old girls, but it’s actually held up quite well—and that song in particular is really fucking cool. The harmonized flutes are a nice touch.