A KIND OF 2015 LIST

Biggest crush

What does it mean when you go, in a mere few months, from never having heard of an artist to buying four albums new? Probably that you have too much time on your hands and money in your pocket. Nevertheless, I became very taken with the lively retro-electronica of Zombi. They combine elements of late 70s Tangerine Dream (think Thief, for example) with touches of Heldon (who I simply must write about soon), a knowledge of dance music and techno and a sense of horror-movie fun to make engaging and enjoyable music for the second decade of the twenty-first century. Sure, it does not invite too much musical scrutiny, but when it is this much fun, who cares? And there’s some pretty vinyl in the mix too.

Zombi Anthology/Surface

Although unable to name a clear favourite at this  point (too much music, too little time, ho-hum), Cosmos (2004) really grabbed me and the 2015 album, Shape Shift, sounds terrific too.

Zombi - Cosmos/Shape

Best new album by a veteran

No surprises here. The latest Bevis Frond album was a hands down winner. Having devoted more column inches to Nick Saloman’s music than any other artist this year, I’ll just drop in the link for those who may have missed the previous instalments. The album is called Example 22.

Bevis Frond Example 22 vinyl turntable

Best album packaging

Readers may remember that I wrote about Starfire, the new Jaga Jazzist album, with great enthusiasm; its meld of rock, jazz and progressive styles was adventurous and refreshing (though quite demanding in places). I thought about seeking an interview, communicating with their record company and trying Facebook. Nothing. No matter, the album was terrific and it was fun devising the questions (thanks for your input, Joe!).

Did I say nothing happened? Wrong. Three months later, I discovered a message hidden away somewhere behind one of those FB buttons where the brother of the main man invited me to communicate directly. There had been no ignoring of my approach at all. On the contrary, the response could best be described as prompt. To my embarrassment, the time that had elapsed due entirely to my utter incompetence at social media proved a barrier to pursuing Mr Horntveth for an interview. To my even deeper embarrassment, nothing had changed by year’s end. Fortunately, nothing has changed in the vitality and complexity of the music either. Nor in the absolutely brilliant packaging. It’s called ‘anamorphic’ which means it does hypnotic things if you jiggle it about. Like the legendary Vertigo swirl label, this is not recommended for anyone affected by epilepsy, but for others it is mind bending. Like the music.

Maybe I’ll try for an interview for their next album.

Jaga Jazzist Starfire 1

Most disappointing album

I really liked the 2014 album by Kind Gizzard and the Lizard’s Wizard, I’m Your Mind Fuzz. I rocked out to its ramshackle psychedelia and cruised to its jammy space grooves. It was even included in the ‘favourite covers’ post a short while back.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

So when I heard another LP was out, I handed over a wad of my hard-earned and took it home. Oh dear. A half-hearted collection of poorly developed and none too interesting musical ideas wrapped around some of the most sloppy and tedious lyrics I’ve ever wasted time reading. Try this for starters, from ‘Infinite Rise’.

Set straight

Vibrate

Need a hug

Coffee mug

More? OK.

Free style

Meanwhile

White wash

Kibosh

Bosh indeed.

Admittedly both those examples are from the same song, but there is little lyrical joy in other songs either. Here is a sample from ‘God is in the rhythm’ that would result, if it were a poetry recitation, in the reader’s own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilisation, leaping straight up through his neck and throttling his brain.*

Earth by the stars

We have all come from Mars

We all know it too

We belong to the soup

On reflection, the words on Mind Fuzz weren’t great either, but were distorted enough that you did not notice, and were hidden inside, not on the back cover. There is a hint there, lads.

King Gizzard Quarters back

Four songs, each exactly the same length (10 minutes and 10 seconds), might have been fun if there was creativity or wit brought to the process, but here it sounds like a gimmick unsupported by anything even remotely innovative or thoughtful. If the photo on the back cover is anything to go by, it took seven young men to produce this deeply under-whelming album. The cover is beautiful though.

King Gizzard Lizard Wizard Quarters

* With thanks to Douglas Adams, who was writing about Vogon poetry at the time (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 7) but might well have been reading the back of this record sleeve.

Best free magazine CD

The so-called free CDs that come with many music magazines are a blessing and a curse. The good part is that you can sample a diverse range of mostly new music and subsequently pretend that you are hip and with-it and know where the good shit is at. Yeah right. The down side is that you end up with metres of shelf space devoted to discs you never play but can’t give away because they belong to the magazines (that fill up meters of bookshelf elsewhere).

Grateful Dead Uncut CD

 

Rarely does a magazine CD excite enthusiasm. But this one did. Uncut researched, curated and assembled a compilation of Grateful Dead tracks that not only provided a great listen, but genuinely added something to knowledge of and appreciation for the band. By mining the massive archive of ‘live’ recordings (Hands up who owns all forty-odd volumes of Dick’s Picks) plus some rare studio tracks, they managed to assemble a pretty fair facsimile of an album that might have been recorded/released in the fertile but under-studio-ed 1972 – 1973 period. Clever and wonderful. Full marks to Uncut and high-fives to Rhino for co-operating.

 

Grateful Dead Uncut CD back

Most ridiculous purchase

There was a full and feisty field vying for this particular title and you can trust me that competition was tough. In the end, the winner came in at a canter. I’ll present the salient details and you can probably draw your own conclusion.

  • Triple live album (Vinyl Connection’s obsession with these beasts is well documented)
  • The 1972 original is unbelievably rare. (VC has never sighted one in the wild)
  • It came with a satchel full of extras, including a build-it-yourself pyramid.
  • Akarma, a re-issue company of extremely dodgy provenance (in terms of artist-sanctioned releases) re-released it a few years back.
  • The re-issue was sighted in a Melbourne record shop last year. Missing the original plastic outer cover and having muck on several sides, it nevertheless had a three-figure price tag. I passed.
  • Ordering records from Europe for shipping to Oz costs and arm and a leg. But if you are going to be visiting the UK and have a kind relative who allows you to use their postal address…
  • Although it looks spectacular, it is not, in the end, especially good. Many of the tracks are either studio/home recorded or live recordings from elsewhere. The rest is merely interesting.
  • In sum, a massive, costly, sprawling, musically mediocre curio. But when you visit, I’ll surely bust it out to show you.

GLASTONBURY FAYRE

Glastonbury Fayre  1971 [Akarma 2007]

Essential box set

For this forty-year krautrock veteran, the no contest winner had to be Harmonia – Complete Works. Krautrock motherlode that continues to delight.

Harmonia box

Ambivalence Award, 2015

Having (and liking) several albums by Aussie band Pond led to the early purchase of Man It Feels Like Space Again in early 2015. Almost a year later I’m still somewhat ambivalent about the album, which is why I have not written about it. Love the  cover, though, despite being entirely perplexed by the Cheap Thrills homage.

Pond-Man-It-Feels-Like-Space-Again

That’s still better than the other local release I sprang for in all its vinyl packaging glory later in the year. Go to JHubner’s blog for a positive review of Tame Impala’s Currents,  because I didn’t like it much at all. Clever, certainly, but processed within an inch of its life. Or maybe over-polished is closer; edges of any kind removed, leaving little to grab on to. Perhaps Currents will become my ‘Most misjudged album of 2015’, but somehow I doubt it.

tame impala currents

Most exciting non-vinyl purchase

One of the more unusual posts was penned at 30,000 feet en route to the UK in August. The album was one of the more unusual too, being an exploration of sound, space, guitar and experimentation by that most interesting of musicians, David Torn.

So it was a thrill to receive the 2015 ECM album as a gift from Ms Connection. Sounds even better on a terrestrial stereo than up in the sky.

Torn, David - Only sky

Here’s to the music and stories to come…

23 comments

  1. Excellent, diverse list – as I’d expect. What was your triple live over-indulgence? I don’t recognise it from its’ innards.

    I couldn’t make it very far through Quarters – although I have tried and I think I like the Pond LP more than you do though, despite having given up on Tame Impala after their (for me, disappointing) 2nd.

    Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey man, Diversity is my middle name, even though it looks very odd on the credit cards.

      Listening to Pond again today I think it might be slowly growing on me. As for Quarters, a quarter is more than enough. The first Tame Impala I like very much indeed.

      The triple has now been captioned.

      Off to Wales now, for yet another bloody list.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chuffing lists, eh? Just rampant self-indulgence if you ask me!

        I’ll inherit a copy of the Glastonbury LP one day, not very mint condition – funnily enough I’ve never really looked into it. My parents were there.

        I like the Pond, especially when they get a bit funky.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do envy you the Harmonia box set. It’s on my wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great read! There’s some things here I need to add to my collection, and soon. I knew I wanted that Harmonia set, but after seeing it in all its fantastical glory I know I have to have it. Such an amazingly beautiful set! And that Starfire looks and sounds interesting. And Zombi’s ‘Surface To Air’ is on my list as well. Great to see them make your list.

    I know ‘Currents’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Still, there’s something about that scrawny Parker guy I can’t get over. I’ve been hooked since the beginning, and I’ll probably continue to until he goes full blown techno.

    Enjoyed this one a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You tried Pond?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have. They haven’t clicked for some reason. Maybe I’m iron deficient or something. I should give that new one another spin.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Really glad you enjoyed the post JH.

      The Pond album I really dug was Beard Wives Denim (2007). Here’s the Wiki link for the band (who share a Kevin Parker connection).

      Pond @ Wiki

      Liked by 1 person

      1. An old one. Nice!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Currents would earn a spot on a favorite covers list for me! Thanks for continuing to broaden my musical horizons…other than ones you’ve mentioned in earlier posts, these are all new artists for me.

    Like

    1. Currents is very nice art work, true. It came with a neat set of matching postcards as well, and the initial run was on rather gorgeous vinyl: one disc yellow, the other purple. It’s the kind of thing that makes record collectors drool. Pity the music didn’t quite match up (for me, anyway).

      Thanks for visiting and picking up on things in your unique way, JDB.

      Like

  5. Holy diversity, Bruce! An excellent read …

    I too discovered the joys of Zombi in 2015 and really enjoyed Shape Shift (although I haven’t bought it on vinyl – yet!). I intend on investigating some of their other albums – Cosmos next, I think?

    Example 22 and Starfire are on my list of albums to pick up soon, as is Kind Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Paper Mâché Dream Balloon and I’m Your Mind Fuzz (purely for the cover art!). I’ll stay clear of Quarters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks J. ‘Fraid I don’t quite get listening to only one genre of music. There’s such an incredible diversity of sounds out there.

      Yesterday I was at a rural Flea Market (in Kongwak, mentioned in these pages before) and a record seller asked me what I collected. I was a bit non-plussed for a moment, eventually offering the reply, ‘Music’ with an apologetic grin to let him know I wasn’t intentionally being a jerk.

      Yep, Zombi are great fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the creative awards, nice ceremony Bruce!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Geoff. All the best for NY.

      Like

  7. That Harmonia – Complete Works does look nice, I just can’t bring myself to spend £100 on one thing (although it’s more than one of course), even though it’s most likely worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right – it’s not cheap. But I’m sure you’re worth it!
      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my, is this the L’Oréal of vinyl? The most I’ve ever spent on a single item was for the box set of CODY by Mogwai, which was £45, although to be fair I did buy 6 albums for £76 at the weekend, with vouchers I received for Christmas, so you never know, I may well splurge one of these days.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Fascinating site and an educative rundown of 2015 – good to hear about the Grateful Dead release. Will follow. Glad you liked my post on the Pretty Things. Their concert was great but the sound was poor – young soundperson probably more into drum’n’bass than proper rock dynamics but hey ho, old codger rant over. Cheers!
    https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/theres-a-whole-generation/

    Like

    1. To get that Dead CD, you’ll have to track down the edition of the magazine Uncut. Maybe eBay?
      Amazing that the Pretty Things are still performing. Long may it be so.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very nice. Thanks for the want list additions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am happy to say that I am now fully on board the Bevis Frond train, as you know Beyond that, the Grateful Dead, and a tiny pinch of Tame Impala, I only know of any of these other bands/artists through the suberb posts I’ve read on your site. (I note especially the David Torn sky-high post as one I remember very well and very fondly.)

    Unfortunately my ignorance leaves me bereft of anything interesting to comment other than noting shyly that the Douglas Adams Vorgon poetry criticism call out made me immediately remember one of the song titles played by the band Carcass when I saw them at a Metal Fest in South America a few years back: Vomited Anal Tract. Not sure if such a thing is physically possible, but “Need a hug, Coffee mug” might be a good start at an empirical test of the hypothesis…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have heard Douglas Adams is big in Metal circles though it is not really the kind of empirical investigation you’d really volunteer for I guess.
      Thank you for your encouragement, Victim. It does make a real difference. Not sure where VC will go this year, but it will continue in some form…

      Like

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