Winter Music

Some of you might have heard me talk about this before but I’m going to write about it anyway, particularly since a few of us are going to be seeing Mark Kozelek tomorrow evening. Based on his output over the past few years, I think Mr. Kozelek is gradually turning into James Taylor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, his music is still beautifully written and performed but he has moved almost entirely away from the full instrumentation of Red House Painters or even the earlier Sun Kil Moon releases to the point that nearly everything, whether it be a Sun Kil Moon release or a solo release, is all just him alone with a guitar (what title it bears appears to be rather arbitrary at this point.) Honestly I was quite surprised to see that Among The Leaves actually bears the Sun Kil Moon moniker, although listening through it again as I am typing this, there are few songs here that are slightly more involved than anything from the Admiral Fell Promises album, such as The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman VS. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man (and yes, that is all one title.) For anyone familiar with the Red House Painters catalog you might notice that distinctive RHP percussion sound on this one, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising considering some of the old RHP crew have been with him all along although in an obviously limited capacity. Overall Among The Leaves is, to me, a good, solid album which I’m sure will continue to grow on me with subsequent listening, but I really miss the days of Mark with a real band and fully fleshed out songs whereas some of this newer stuff can sound like very well produced sketches. Either way, I still love you Mark.

Here is Black Kite, the closer from Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves.

Now take a listen to Last Tide/Floating from Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts Of The Great Highway.

Strangely that song is split into two tracks on the album despite the fact that it clearly is meant to be played together as one song.

And finally, have a listen to Moments, from Red House Painters – Ocean Beach.

Okay, so if you listened to all of that then you see what I’m talking about.

Anyway, there you have it, it’s cold outside and it seemed like some cold weather music was in order. I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but certain  bands or songs just seem to be as synonymous with winter as heavy coats, like anything from Red House Painters. (Ocean Beach strangely has the ability to transcend the winter album to be an ‘at the lake’ album as well.)

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Pre-blog post (11.01.13)

November 1st, 2013

After trying very unsuccessfully over the past two hours using every electronic device at my disposal to watch episodes of Sleepy Hollow that I have missed, I have succumbed to the despair and exasperation that I will never see those episodes as the universe has once again conspired against me. You may wonder why the universe would assail me with such paltry things, well, I’m here to tell you that that is exactly what it does in order to destroy you. You are welcome.
Anyway, I fought off the urge to kill someone after being so vexed by the universe in lieu of doing something moderately more productive; I’ll vent my spleen to you fellow readers to suppress my aggravation and in the process drop some new(relative) music for you.

So Halloween was yesterday, Samhain and the first day of Día de los Muertos is today which means darkness shall come your way dear reader.

Has anyone listened to Umberto? It is absolutely some of the best horror inspired music out there, on par with some of the better Goblin stuff, only a bit more contemporary. I use that term loosely though as it is clearly made to inspire an older era of film and music.

Selection from: Umberto – From the Grave

Just listen to that and tell me that you can’t close your eyes and see the lovely Janet Agren being painted with gold by a bunch of busty natives or grisly cannibals disemboweling a poor defenseless european porn actress employing her skills in a “real” acting gig.
I have this album on vinyl but it is another one of those that didn’t initially come with a music download coupon to my chagrin. If you like it you can check out some other samples and possibly purchase some stuff at the bandcamp site at:

http://www.umberto.bandcamp.com

I do have have Umberto – Prophecy of the Black Widow for you. So give it a listen and then go give ’em some money, or me, whoever. I won’t judge.

I went to the art museum last night and watched Night of the Living Dead so I feel more than compelled to post this next selection.

Brighter Death Now – Great Death I / Great Death II

This is Roger Karmanik the founder of Cold Meat Industries creating some very Romero inspired/derived sounds. I don’t listen to this as much anymore, I used to listen to it quite a bit a few years back when I was listening to much more power electronics and noise stuff. There is a third installment of this series but the only way you could get it was to send in a certificate found in the Great Death I & II box-set. I have the box and the certificate, but that does little good for procuring the music now (is it music?) since it was released many years ago(1994). I seriously doubt that it would still be honored.

Henrik Nordvargr Björkk, aka Nordvargr or Goatvargr or Marvargr, kind of depending on the style of the release, is also part of half a dozen other bands such as Mz.412FolkstormToroidh, etc.
I love this guy. I am always listening to this stuff when I work. The music itself is some of the most soothing and layered ambient sounds at times blended with very dark black metal which works quite nicely, as is the case with The Betrayal of Light. Great album. Also he is capable of creating some of the most stomach churning, disquieting, unsettling, however you want to describe it bleak amazing music, also almost danceable at times.
In keeping with the theme here:

Henrik Nordvargr Björkk – The Dead Never Sleep

Hahahaha, my Dad just heard some of this album playing and then with a confused look started examining the ceiling fan because he thought it was bearings grinding.
Oh, Pa-pah.

Nordvargr also has a bandcamp site where you can and should buy some of the later stuff.

http://www.nordvargr.bandcamp.com

Most of the older material is long out of print and generally wasn’t widely available to begin with. Yeah, another one of those.

I have been thinking that to make this a little easier I am going to switch over to a blog type setup that way people can comment and interact far easier, or at all. (Yeah I’m talking to you!) We’ll all just keep trading music the same way though. It should simplify things, I hope.

OH, and last minute here I decided to give you guys something a little more musical that sort of ties in with all of these other selections.

Nadja – Touched

This is the earlier version, not the re-recorded version released later. I actually kind of prefer this version because it is a little more metally than the newer version and most of their other recordings, more akin to Godflesh or JESU (Justin Broadrick), but still has that droney atmospheric post-rockish sound, kind of like some of the MAIN (Robert Hampson) releases, since I am restricting myself to only Godflesh related artists as reference points for some reason. So I think there is something here that will appeal to most of you on some level. I would tell you all to go and buy it but it’s a very slim chance that you would even be able to find it and even if you did to be willing to part with the amount of cash that would likely be asked for this gem. You can still find the newer version in mp3 format from sellers like amazon, but even that version is going for around $30+++ for a hardcopy. If you are going to buy anything though I strongly urge you to go to their bandcamp site and purchase it directly from the artist, Amazon makes enough money without any more help from me.
I’m a big fan of bandcamp and so should you be.

http://www.nadja.bandcamp.com

If you are a completist, don’t even get started. The number of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff releases, individually and all the related works is stupid big. The number of Nadja releases alone is daunting, just trying to collect only Nadja and ignoring everything else would be nigh impossible.

Okay, bye for now.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (09.13.13)

September 13th, 2013

Hello everyone and happy Friday the 13th!! (You guys probably won’t see it because I am doubtful that the font is embedded and you will be unlikely to have it on your own machines, but I used the Friday the 13th font for that. If I cared that much I could make it visible to everyone, but it doesn’t seem that important. Use your imagination, you lazy bums.)

I’m not spending a lot of time on this one because I want to get something out today and I honestly don’t have a ton of time. It’s mostly random stuff.
I trust that everyone has picked up all that they want from the previous posts because it‘s gone now. I gave everybody an extra two weeks after the deadline for when I was taking everything down, so no whining if you missed something.

So first up, Chris asked if anyone wanted Yank Crime, Nathan said yes, but Chris couldn’t find it. Here it is:
Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime

I wanted to put up something that I hadn’t already traded with Greg. So here is:
My Bloody Valentine – M B V
This is the latest album after almost 20 years of waiting, so enjoy it, you may not get another out of them. Sorry if you already have it Greg.

Alex and I are heading out this evening to see Death in June. They are playing at Infest in Austin tomorrow night. So I thought I would drop a little classic DIJ bomb on ya’ll.
Death In June – Brown Book

I noticed that this album had almost eighty!! plays on my itunes, I obviously like this a lot. It is one of those that I like to play while I am drawing, and this might sound weird but I like to sleep to it occasionally as well. You guys need something creepy for Friday the Thirteenth anyway. So here you go:
Elegi – Sistereis

I‘ll be back soon with new stuff.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (08.07.13)

August 7th, 2013

Hello to anyone reading this. I am cramming it all in here to finish up the This Mortal Coil series.

So the next song from the album, if you have been keeping track, is number 7:
This Mortal Coil – Another Day
I’m not going to bog you down with a ton of info on here as I have tended to do on some of the previous posts. This is a cover of a song by Roy Harper which is performed by Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins). Roy Harper is probably most well known for having worked with Jimmy Page although his stuff is not rock at all, mostly folk songs. The only song on the album that I am giving you that resembles rock is actually pretty bad. It’s the last track on the album, “Hell’s Angels,” unfortunately it really leaves a bad taste after an otherwise well put together and fluid album. I’ve read some apologists for his crappy throw away songs, defending them as somehow making some kind of statement, but I’m not buying it, I want enjoyable music.
Anyway, here it is, and I might just be bogging you down despite the aforementioned claim that I wouldn’t. I’m trying to keep it minimal.
Here it is:
Roy Harper – Flat, Baroque and Berserk

Song eight is:
This Mortal Coil – Waves Become Wings
Okay, this one is basically just Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance doing her typical thing, although it has more of a Cocteau Twins feel to it than Dead Can Dance, and for that it is better. On it’s own, I am not a big fan, but taken as a whole with the rest of the album it fits in nicely, especially with the Simon Raymonde song that follows it up. As you can probably tell from previous comments in this and other posts, the flow of an album is rather important to me. I’m going to give you the first disc of:
Dead Can Dance – 1981– ’98
The funny thing is that I am giving this as an example because it is more enjoyable to me than a lot of their other material, partially because there is a lot more of Brendan Perry’s vocal in this as well as more traditional songs even though I’m doing it in response to a song sung by Lisa. Most of their later material focuses on Lisa’s vocals and songs that jump around from world music to chanting and medieval sounding stuff. If I had my way I would put Brendan in the lead and have them stick to the structure of this early stuff, which is a sentiment probably shared by Glen Johnson, considering that he got Brendan Perry and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance, conspicuously without Lisa Gerrard, for Piano Magic’s album Ovations. The result of the collaboration is a good example of what DCD could (should) have been, but sadly never were. Lisa doesn’t have a bad voice, but her Enya type moaning and chanting can become annoying, just sing words already. Gahhh!! There are actually two more discs in this box set, but I don’t want to fill up all this space with a bunch of material, that I honestly don’t think anyone is going to like that much despite how much it pains me to post something incomplete. If you guys want the rest I can put it up later, I just won’t do it now.

Up next is:
This Mortal Coil – Barramundi
This is some more instrumental noodling by Simon Raymonde, again of Cocteau Twins. I’m sure you guys have had enough of them by now and I don’t need to expound on this. So that is that.

Now we have:
This Mortal Coil – Dreams Made Flesh
Lisa Gerrard does some singing and banging on a dulcimer, and Bob’s your uncle.
To me this song goes for about a minute too long, I got the point at around the two minute mark.

Now back to something fun:
This Mortal Coil – Not Me
This song is a Colin Newman track that is now included on expanded versions of his album A-Z, I believe it was originally recorded for it but never actually made it onto the LP. If the vocals sound familiar that is because this is more or less a Wire album from back when they had a temporary split in 1980 and Colin went on to start a solo career with this being his first album. Incidentally another track from this album, “Alone,” was covered by This Mortal Coil on their second release, Filigree & Shadow, it also appears in the film, Silence of the Lambs.
The TMC version here is interpreted by Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins) and Robbie Grey of then 4AD’s Modern English, before they had any inclination of becoming the authors of the ubiquitous “I Melt With You.” Modern English was a much darker, more abrasive band back then more akin to Joy Division. It’s pretty good stuff, although I still think their second album, After the Snow, though losing a lot of the edge, still retains elements of the darkness from Mesh & Lace while beginning to formulate the pop sound that would produce their hit “I Melt With You,” and is a far more accessible, polished and overall better album.
Despite that I’m presenting:
Modern English – Mesh & Lace
I’m doing this because a lot of you are probably already very familiar with the material from After the Snow and also because I think it is very interesting to see where they were when they were starting out. Plus, some of these songs would be the material that was covered by This Mortal Coil on the Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust EP just before the release of It’ll End In Tears.

Lastly is a lovely song that closes the album very nicely:
This Mortal Coil – A Single Wish
Again we have Gordon Sharp pulling the album together with a somber, yet almost uplifting sounding track that washes you with warm feelings while telling you, “It’ll End In Tears.” Lovely, a perfect end to the album.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (07.07.13)

July 7th, 2013

Hi, here’s some more stuff for the “It’ll End In Tears” series.

This Mortal Coil – Holocaust
Holocaust is another Big Star song from the 3rd: Sister Lovers album, which I put up before, so there isn’t much need to add to that unless you want a demo version that I have from one of the many collections available. Howard Devoto of Buzzcocks and Magazine fame is the person doing this interpretation.

Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady

This Mortal Coil – Fyt
This one is an original piece, primarily Ivo playing with keyboards and drum machines. He’s allowed, the whole project is his conception as well as being the person behind 4AD’s existence, plus I feel like it flows well into the next song which is…

This Mortal Coil – Fond Affections
I absolutely love this song. It doesn’t fit, but it is another one of the songs that I want included in my memorial despite it being rather dismal, I still think it is beautiful. (You guys are taking notes, right?) The vocals are again, Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk and the song is a reinterpretation of a Rema Rema song. It is hard to believe that they are the same song when you put them side by side. Rema Rema only had this one release, and although you probably cannot tell from this output, every one of the members went on to do some pretty amazing stuff, but that is solely my opinion. One guy left to do Adam and the Ants, which is the reason behind Rema Rema disbanding. Another guy went on to be a part of Psychic TV, what was left was then Mark Cox, Gary Asquith and Mick Allen. Allen and Asquith had put the group together in the first place so they pulled in Danny Briottet to reform as MASS. This again was short lived, but Allen and Cox became The Wolfgang Press and Asquith and Briottet became Renegade Soundwave. Very cool. All of this was released through 4AD incidentally, so props to Ivo again.
So, I will put up:

Rema Rema – Wheel in the Roses

Just for kicks I’m going to also give you:

Mass – Labour of Love

Renegade Soundwave – Soundclash
This is RSW’s fantastic debut album. Very different from what was going on with Mass and Rema Rema.

The Wolfgang Press – Bird Wood Cage
This is TWP’s third album. The first two are darker and more akin to the Mass and Rema Rema stuff, so I thought I would give you something a bit different, plus this a really good album once you warm up to it.
I’m gonna sink my teeth into KANSAS…KANSAS…KANSAS…KANSAS…KANSAS…KANSAS…KANSAS…KANSAS
I listen to it a lot.

Also, so you can get a different perspective of Cindytalk, I’ll give you one of their later albums which has a beautiful opening track of Gordon singing acappella that is equally as impressive as Fond Affections.

Cindytalk – Wappinscaw

And then we have:

This Mortal Coil – The Last Ray
This one is essentially Ivo with the Cocteaus minus Elizabeth Fraser. And unless you guys are especially fond of Cocteau Twins, or put in a special request for more, I think I’m going to assume that the two albums I already posted are going to suffice for now.

I have some exciting new stuff to put up after I finish up with this series.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (06.20.13)

Jun 20th, 2013

(the almost forgotten This Mortal Coil series)

Hi, I put this post together back in March, but never sent it out. I’ve been preoccupied with other stuff and neglected
to continue with my plans on here. Initially I wanted to wait a bit to make sure everyone got everything they wanted before I started removing things (if you’ve got the basic, free plan without any referrals, then you’re probably at your space limit.) I’ll get more stuff up pretty soon. I have some new stuff, and because of my injury I am having to stay at my parent’s house which means I have a constant internet connection, unlike my house. I also have a lot of free time on my hand… hahaha, Okay.

Anyway, this one is easy. It’s basically Cocteau Twins (namely Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie) performing as This Mortal Coil for a cover of a Tim Buckley song. Even if you haven’t heard this album, you’ve probably heard this song. If you’ve watched Lost Highway you would have heard the song playing muffled while the cabin burns in reverse for the first time, right before Fred changes, then it’s played in full later while Pete and Alice are nakedly passing the time in front of the same cabin waiting for Robert Blake to do more creepy stuff. It sounds really weird, and it is, but it is actually almost cohesive after a few viewings, unlike the impossibly convoluted and indecipherable, yet thoroughly entertaining Mulholland Drive. I digress, you guys aren’t here for a discursive exegesis of David Lynch films.

First off of course:
This Mortal Coil – Song to the Siren

Since I just put up a Cocteau Twins album I’ll post:
The Moon and the Melodies, this just has a title, there really isn’t a band name on this one. Instead of the group name there is just a listing of all the musicians, which in this case the only difference in the lineup from the Cocteaus is the addition of Harold Budd. In the end it pretty much just sounds like a CT album. In the metadata on the tracks I have it listed as Cocteau Twins and Harold Budd. This is the dreamy ethereal kind of stuff that I was talking about in the previous post. Personally, some of this makes me feel like I should be sitting around meditating with a bunch of crystals and crap like that but it isn’t bad, and I guess if you are going to listen to junk like that you might as well listen to something good instead of wind chimes and flutes.

I’ve been thinking about this while listening to some more CT and have changed my mind entirely.
Cocteau Twins – Head Over Heels, this is altogether a better album so that is the one you are getting. Sorry. I believe it is their follow up to Garlands. It’s ’83 and Garlands is ’82 so…

And lastly we have:
Tim Buckley – The Dream Belongs To Me: Rare And Unreleased Recordings 1968/1973

Be back later with more musics. I am probably going to compress a bit more in a few of these, so it isn’t actually going to be one song at a time.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (03.31.13)

MAR 31th, 2013

Road trips, Easter and red Korean birds (probably Chinese if we’re going to be honest.)

Hi,

I had a post ready to go for the next part of my series, but I put it on the shelf this morning in lieu of doing something more upbeat. (At least, for me it is.)

Since I am heading out on a road trip to Denver on Tuesday I want to give you something that is the aural equivalent of a road trip. This is something to which I used to listen while driving around aimlessly, dreaming of staying on the road, stopping wherever appealed to me, and picking up again whenever I felt like moving on. Chris, Greg, and Nathan probably all remember that I used to disappear from time to time for a few days without any indication to anyone of where I might have gone. I don’t know how many times I would drive all night and seriously consider continuing as I approached the state borderline just to end up turning around and heading back, thinking, ‘next time I’ll keep going.’ Of course this was back when gas was around a dollar a gallon and I could fill my Geo for under 10. I believe that if I had had the proper cowboy hat my dream would have been realized. I could have been a gypsy, minus all the thievery and dogs.
Magnetic Fields – The Charm of the Highway Strip

Today is Easter, so I’m giving you something unrelated. Oh boy! With the exception of a song titled Easter Everywhere.
Happy Easter.
Julian Cope – My Nation Underground

North Korea seems determined to try to be a menace to everyone forever.
COIL – Musick to Play in the Dark: Vol. 1

Oh, I also have Bish Bosch if anyone is interested in hearing the new Scott Walker weirdness. Just throw me a Yea in the requests if anyone wants me to put it up.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (03.27.13)

MAR 27th, 2013

Okay. So I decided to add some more stuff since I have been lax in my duties as postmaster lately and I just wanted to anyway.

So, I am going to do the series thing anyway whether you like it or not, but I it’s going to be a bit unusual. I am going to base it off of, This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears, but you are going to get it one song at a time. Hahahahaha… sorry.

Phase 1

This Mortal Coil – Kangaroo

This is a Big Star song written by Alex Chilton, interpreted here by Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk and Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins. (Incidentally this was also covered by Jeff Buckley.)
Therefore, you’re also going to get:
Big Star – 3rd: Sister Lovers
I’m kind of torn as to which Cindytalk album to post, because there isn’t a great starting point, and they are kind of unclassifiable which is good, but bad when you are trying to talk about their music. I guess I will just give you the first and you can figure it out for yourself, I just don’t want to put anyone off with a bad introduction, because I really think they are worth giving a chance. Gordon Sharp actually has a good voice. Just imagine how incredibly odd sounding this album must have been to hear back when it was first released in 1984. Not that I can really say it is the same but I remember hearing My Bloody Valentine – Loveless for the first time and just having all my preconceptions of music just smashed against a wall, in a good way. As you might guess I didn’t really plan this, I’m figuring out this one as I type.
Enough talk.
Cindytalk – Camouflage Heart
Again I don’t really know which Cocteau Twins to post either, but I think I will follow suit and post their first album despite the fact that it gets a lot of trash talk from later Cocteau fans that are more about their dreamy ethereal stuff, complaining that it is too dark and gothy. Screw those guys, I like it. Plus, if you listen you can hear Gordon Sharp on Dear Heart, which is fitting for this post. He sat in with them on some Peel Sessions and live shows back in the day.
Cocteau Twins – Garlands
This is one of the later issues with bonus Peel Sessions where you can find the Gordon Sharp vocals.

Now listen, and let all that gestate in your brain for a while. I’ll be back soon for the next step.

– J. Sparks

Pre-blog post (03.26.13)

MAR 26th, 2013

Hi guys,

I have been contemplating trying to do some series posts. I have been thinking about doing something based on the fact that I seem to keep having similar conversations with people around the idea that a lot of us seem not to be big fans of female vocalists. With that in mind I was wanting to post some stuff with primarily female vocals that I DO like. What do you guys think?

Another one that I have been thinking about is starting with one album with a lot of tangential connections to other bands and expanding out from that seed. I think I have a pretty good idea about what I want to do with this one.

Anyway, none of that has any bearing on what I am posting now.

Hold your breath, here it comes…

Matt Elliott – The Broken Man !!!
I am very excited about this. I have had this on vinyl since Christmas (thanks Avery), but for some insane reason it didn’t include a digital download. Crazy right? Anyway, in an attempt to get something up here that I’m pretty sure is new(ish) to everyone I went ahead and bought a digital copy for you guys. You’re welcome. No really, I needed a digital copy for myself anyway, it’s not like I can travel with my rekkid playa.
I just love this guy, I can honestly say that after coming across his music a few years back it has maintained at the top of my playlist. I will post some more of his music later if you guys like it. I would recommend hiding in a darkened space alone, contemplating my artwork while listening. Seriously though, I probably listen to him more than anything else while I am working so it is pretty close to a soundtrack… well, that and Current 93, and Piano Magic, and Nordvargr, and strangely a lot of Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack music for the Silent Hill game series, creepy stuff.

I feel like I should post something else as well.

– J. Sparks