/ July 11, 2017 / Comments Off on African Head Charge: Songs of Praise (1990)

African Head Charge: Songs of Praise (1990)


We might not all be able to know the way to get on that righteous path but there are signals that could help us get there. These are ones found merely by observing that walk to it, in others. Adrian Sherwood’s experimental reggae and dub label On-U Sound wouldn’t have been what it came to be if he hadn’t felt divine inspiration from other sources. “Songs of Praise”, released a decade after the label’s creation, was the culmination of Adrian putting faith in an idea of a “psychedelic Africa”, one inspired by the visionary Fourth World music of “My Life in the Bush” by Brian Eno and David Byrne. That only gets you halfway. The true work and effort that allowed On-U Sound to reach that peak was derived from the hard toil of percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah who set a goal: create a new kind of experimental African music that could come from “a hole in the ground”, within the most humble places.

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/ July 7, 2017 / Comments Off on Takashi Toyoda: Big Bang (1985)

Takashi Toyoda: Big Bang (1985)


Takashi Toyoda’s Big Bang promises in the back cover “total spiritual stability and stress relief” through 40-odd minutes of Japanese New Age music. What really stands out, though, is the word “BIG BANG” in the album title. Attempting to provide some respite from a stark external world, Takashi tries to create the first 1/f fluctuation or alpha wave music to do so. Thankfully, all the bad pink noise one expects out of modern YouTube-based pseudo-healing music doesn’t make its appearance here. What makes an appearance is Takashi’s overwhelming sense of dense musical space. One that has rooted those ideas into genuinely captivating musical ideas.

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/ July 6, 2017 / Comments Off on Anne Dudley: Sound Stage 6 (Melodic Lightly Rhythmic Underlays) (1982)

Anne Dudley: Sound Stage 6 (Melodic Lightly Rhythmic Underlays) (1982)


So cool and forgotten. Very little is explored from such an integral member of the Art of Noise, that’s what makes this work enticing and exciting. Anne Dudley’s bite-sized background music for audio visual, television, radio, films, jingles, slide presentations, and advertising – part of a larger, less interesting “muzak” series – achieves exactly what it states on the cover: provide Melodic Lightly Rhythmic Underlays. More a collection of really fascinating snack size ambient, minimal, and New Age music, than background music, somehow Anne’s musicality takes what could be a very boring and injects it her own awfully pretty sentimentality and emotion.

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/ June 29, 2017 / Comments Off on Akira Ito: Marine Flower (Science Fantasy) (1986)

Akira Ito: Marine Flower (Science Fantasy) (1986)


There is a time in any good musician’s life when they absolutely nail down whatever they had to place. Akira Ito, one time keyboardist for influential Japanese psych rock outfit The Far East Band, could have stayed with that group rehashing “out there” musical troupes – variations on psychedelia with The FABs or Kitaro-like, Jean-Michel Jarre-aping electro-prog as in his early, solo career – or he could, you know, grow the hell up, and accept that music evolves, and so must he. There’s only so much Ummagumma aping one can do in a lifetime. That’s what makes Marine Flower his first release under his own Green & Water record label truly interesting. It shows his shift to a particular electronic aesthetic that his country was cultivating at the time. Read More

/ June 23, 2017 / Comments Off on Steve Shehan: Arrows (1990)

Steve Shehan: Arrows (1990)


Heavy, shamanic, tectonic Fourth World music from French-American composer, of Cherokee descent, Steve Shehan. Primarily a percussionist, Steve developed his own improvisational recording method to be able to capture the moody, spiritual, polyrhythmic music of his favorite Indonesian music tradition, working to translate it to modern environs and add other non-Western influences from the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere.

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/ June 20, 2017 / Comments Off on Dan Gibson: Harmony – Exploring Nature With Music (1989)

Dan Gibson: Harmony – Exploring Nature With Music (1989)


There are so many sides this next recording could fall under: New Age, ambient, environmental music, muzak, tone poems – I choose to give Dan Gibson’s Harmony: Exploring Nature With Music a personal tip of the hat in the direction of worthwhile music. A native of Montreal, Dan Gibson was the internationally renowned wildlife film-maker who basically created and popularized the whole nature soundtrack industry. Irv Teibel may have pioneered environmental music through his “Environments” series but Dan truly was the person who took field recording as a serious artform, pioneering various recording techniques and tools (the parabolic microphone for one…) to actually capture nature sounds as they weren’t possibly before. It was his own “Solitudes” series which convincingly – through your hi-fi stereo turntable system – put you in the woods of the Pacific coast, by the raging waters of Niagara Falls, or among the mountain canyons and valleys of the American southwest.

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/ June 16, 2017 / Comments Off on Mich Live: Plant Planet’s (1988)

Mich Live: Plant Planet’s (1988)

Plant Planet's

Let’s try a little tenderness from Mitsuru Sawamura, otherwise known as Mich Live, one-time member of Japanese band Interior (with whom he wrote songs like “Luft” and “Park“) and brilliant session musician for others like Yukihiro Takahashi, Hajime Tachibana, Pierre Barouh, and Mari Iijima. In 1988, Mitsuru released under the Newsic label (home of Yoshio Ojima) something that straddles the lines of cool jazz, New Age, and electro-acoustic minimalism floating around Japan in that time. Plant Planet’s sounds like someone’s precious origami creation, a delicate, intricate thing from very simple material.

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/ June 13, 2017 / Comments Off on Morgan Fisher: Look At Life (1984)

Morgan Fisher: Look At Life (1984)


I’m truly thankful I live in a world where circumstances led Londoner Morgan Fisher to visit Japan, fall in love with country, and proceed to sell nearly all of his life’s work to make his living there. Some would say it was a foolhardy move but it’s a move that proved essential to his reinvention as the rare Japanese New Age/minimalist artist that is decidedly not Japanese. Veetdharm (his Buddhist spiritual name you see on the cover) serving to underscore this important change in his life and that gorgeous album conveying a dramatic change in his life.

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/ June 9, 2017 / Comments Off on Juan Martin: Painter In Sound ft. Mark Isham (1986)

Juan Martin: Painter In Sound ft. Mark Isham (1986)


Simply sublime. What else can you say? From the man who literally wrote the definitive word on Flamenco technique, comes a work showing the full expanse of his personal creative method. Juan Martin is one of the most iconic names in Nuevo Flamenco. Somewhere, down the line, his lifelong interest in art and painting (owing a lot to him being a dedicated painter himself) spurred him to reimagine what you could do with such a style, to begin exploring sound much like a painter would use palettes and brushwork to discover new ways to hone their art. Painter In Sound is the culmination of that experimentation.

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What’s this? Just some sweet, sweet Lusophonic magic, from the great African island nation of Cabo Verde. Music fitting that jaw-dropping album cover. The self-titled debut from brothers Gérard Mendés (also known as Boy Gé Mendes) and Jean-Claude Mendés displays the intriguing combination of Creole Portuguese-African polyrhythms, American boogie, and Brazilian samba the duo became huge stars among the Cabo Verde diaspora (and we somehow lost to time).

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