Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Entourage Music & Theatre Ensemble - The Neptune Collection (Folkways [US] 1976)

Now that I have revived this blog, I thought I would take us back to my very first post!

If you can remember correctly, Entourage was a collective beginning in 1971 and active for over a decade. They were a performance art group that incorporated music, poetry and dance, occasionally featuring as many as fifteen individuals. The group cites world music as an important influence on their sound and it is notably obvious in their use of various percussion instruments. Because of this influence, along with an aesthetic that can only be described as quasi-spiritualism or mysticism, I would consider Entourage early architects of the New Age movement. Their sound is a freer, unconstrained by melodramatic melody or programmed hifi world percussion, but the hallmarks are there.

The Neptune Collection is the follow up to The Entourage Music & Theatre Ensemble's eponymous debut, and it's more of the same free-form, experimental acoustic loveliness. This album features Wall Matthews, who had recorded previously with Biff Rose and went on to record a fusion record on Fretless followed by an odd, categorically easy listening acoustic piano record on Clean Cuts. At some point in the near or distant future, I will post an updated recording of Entourage's debut, as well as Matthews' subsequent releases for any completionists out there.

In the meantime, I'm going to listen to this record whilst I sit here with my cats and a dark beer, watching the sun set on my little island, enjoying a cool, late summer breeze.

If you would like to do the same, download HERE, and while you wait, watch this video of a performance by the group set to the first song on this album:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Léon Francioli - Nolilanga (Evasion Disques [Switzerland] 1970)

Léon Francioli is a Swiss bassist and cellist, b. 22 May 1946 Lausanne, Switzerland. Following his studies in piano and upright bass at the Lausanne Conservatory, Francioli worked in studios performing rock and classical. He was a founding member and guitarist of the instrumental rock group Les Aiglons. In 1970, he recorded his first solo album, Nolilanga, which is his foray into free jazz along with one of my favorite percussionists Pierre Favre. The ensemble also features English jazz saxophonist Alan Skidmore who is known for his solo work and participation in many UK jazz fusion/prog groups, i.e; Soft Machine, Keith Tippett's Centipede, The Nice, Elton Dean's Ninesense, etc.

Download here.

Jean- Claude Risset - Mutations (INA-GRM [France] 1979)

Jean-Claude Risset is a French composer and respected pioneer in the field of computer music. Beginning in the mid '60's, Risset worked alongside Max Matthews at Bell Labs. Using Matthews' MUSIC IV software, Risset digitally recreated sounds of brass instruments. He is also credited with undertaking the first experiments in FM synthesis (think Yamaha DX series synthesizers) and waveshaping. Risset is also widely acknowledged for his elaboration on the discreet Shepard scale, an auditory illusion of a tone continually ascending or descending but ultimately never getting higher or lower in pitch. Risset's development, referred to as a Shepard-Risset glissando, has a tone that seems to rise or descend continuously in pitch, yet always return to its starting note. Risset created a similar rhythmic effect using drum samples. Both of these effects can be heard here. A further interesting development occurred in 1986 when psychologist Diana Deutsch  reported that when a pair of Shepard tones are played in unison, seperated by an interval of a tritone, the pitch can be perceived as either ascending or descending. This is referred to as the tritone paradox.

Mutations features four compositions. The title track was commissioned in 1969 and composed for magnetic tape and synthesizer in 1970 at Bell Laboratories. "Dialogues" was composed in 1975 for a chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, piano and percussion. The ensemble is processed on magnetic tape. "Inharmonique" (1977) is a collage for magnetic tape consisting of synthesized tones and sparse soprano singing. "Moments Newtoniens" was comissioned by Radio-France for the 50th anniversary of the death of Isaac Newton. Its written for a chamber ensemble featuring a string quartet, two trombones and one piano processed with magnetic tape.

Download it here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nic Jones - The Noah's Ark Trap / From The Devil To A Stranger (Shanchie [US] 1977; Highway [UK] 1978)

Here are two albums from one of my favorite guitarists Nic Jones. Jones is well known for his heavily percussive finger picking style and melodic, contemporary arrangements of traditional songs. This is not the version of The Noah's Ark Trap that I shared in the past, though it is a transfer from the same vinyl copy. I'm still desperately searching for a cleaner copy, however, I have done my best to clean up the audio on this transfer.

Both are here.

Gay & Terry Woods - Backwoods (Polydor [UK] 1975)

This is a good one to kick start some diversification here at The Magnetic Garden. Gay & Terry Woods were both members of seminal folk rock group Steeleye Span. In 1970, they departed the group, formed The Woods Band and released an eponymous album that is now highly desirable. Four years later, The Woods Band separated and the two formed a group under their own names. Backwoods was the first release by this incarnation and it began a more focused direction towards folk-influenced popular rock that would be explored further on the later albums Renowned and Tender Hooks.

Available here!

NOTE: I failed to mention in yesterday's post that I have updated my equipment and software!  I am now recording with a Technics SL1210 equipped with a Stanton 600EE cartridge running through a vintage Realistic solid state preamp, though I will be upgrading to a tube preamp shortly. In the meantime, the Realistic pre works surprisingly well. I've upgraded my software to AlpineSoft's VinylStudio, which I highly recommend.