These crazy Finns have tapped into something really special here. This album has it all: Strange, wonderfully over-the-top melodies, lots of lo-fi ambient noise, and an otherworldly female voice floating above it all. The constant hiss and feedback can be annoying at first, but you eventually realize that it’s integral to the music, especially on the more rhythmic tracks. It’s hard to tell whether the little jabs of static that wrap around the drums are intentional or incidental. Either way they sound pretty awesome. Here’s what their record label has to say about them:
"Paavoharju comes from Savonlinna, Finland. The group is a collective project of ascetic born-again Christians. The sound is something between Bollywood music, church hymns, beautiful pop tunes and ambient esoteric noises. The lyrics are very spiritual in sound and text. Paavoharju sing of branches touching the surface of the water and walking down a black street to an old inn."
"I tried to deal with what I guess you could call the inherent evil I've discovered in myself; excise that, use it as material."
Michael Gira is probably best known today for founding Young God Records and unleashing freak folk on an unsuspecting world. Before that he spent about 15 years fronting post-punk band Swans, releasing some of the most jarring, visceral music you’ll likely ever hear. When they broke up he formed the Angels of Light, a quieter, predominantly acoustic project with which he could explore his musical vision from a different perspective. While this album – their first – lacks the big lurching beats and screeching feedback soundscapes of Swans records, it maintains much of that band’s intensity, due in part to the rich, funereal arrangements, and Gira’s strong vocal performances, which are at times comforting and fatherly while at others distant and creepy. It’s a solid, well-written record, but long and emotionally draining; a remarkably cathartic listening experience that is just as likely to leave you feeling worn out and queasy if you’re not in the right mood.
Here’s a little mix that I put together. Just a bunch of things that I’ve been listening to lately. A couple of newer songs and a lot of older ones. I’m not really good at sequencing this kind of thing, so sorry if the pacing is a little schizophrenic. Oh, and it’s all 320kbps, so it’s a pretty big file.
1. The Revolutionaries – Kunta Kinte Version One 2. Dirty Projectors – Temecula Sunrise 3. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue 4. Tim Buckley – The Healing Festival 5. Richard & Mimi Farina – The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood 6. Point 7 – DNA Conflict 7. The Grateful Dead – Frankin’s Tower 8. Jacob Miller – Baby I Love You So 9. Lee Moses – Dark End of the Street 10. The Field – The More That I Do (edited) 11. Jana Hunter – Farm, CA. 12. The Three Degrees – Giving Up, Giving In 13. Skip Spence – Cripple Creek 14. Kouyate Sory Kandia – Chant de rejouissance 15. Annie Lennox – Big Sky 16. Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Bird in Hand 17. The Byrds – Pretty Polly 18. Bush Chemists – East of Jaro 19. Gilberto Gil – Miserere Nobis 20. Milieu – Silver Fountain Cascade 21. The Notwist – Boneless (Panda Bear remix) 22. Brian Eno – Golden Hours 23. Asakawa Maki – Doko e Iku No 24. Beach Boys – ‘Till I Die 25. Benga – Crunked Up 26. Super Eagles – Love’s a Real Thing
My obsession with Gram Parson comes and goes in phases. I can go without listening to him for months, but then there are times, like this morning, where I’ll sit and play every one of his albums back to back. I don’t know much about country music, but my favourites are guys like George Jones and the Louvin Brothers, singers that I can only describe as having a hint of tragic in their voices. Parsons’ voice definitely has that kind of quality. While he didn’t have the greatest of voices by any means, his singing was all about naked emotion; all the more evocative in its ordinariness, cracking and warbling in all the right places. And he was a solid songwriter to boot. Every album he contributed to has at least a couple drop-dead gorgeous Parsons-penned sad songs, which is kind of why I had a hard time picking just one or two for this post. So without further ado, here’s just about every record Gram Parsons had anything to do with.
The International Submarine Band – Safe at Home (1967)
The first Akron/Family album is probably still my favourite. Not that I have anything against them having turned into a hippie jam-band. Guess I just have a thing for this sort of acoustic guitar + found sounds set-up.
Experiment in Metaphysics is one of the rarest and most sought-after artifacts of the hippie era. Recorded live during a five-hour session in the basement of a shoe-repair shop in June of 1970, most of the 300 original copies of Experiment in Metaphysics were simply given away in one afternoon, yet, inexplicably, bootleg copies of the album later sprang up half-way around the world. The reason for the album's staying power is apparent: the music is gorgeous, first-rate progressive folk. Like much of the youth countercultural scene of the times, Leopold can occasionally give into mystical pretentiousness. Experiment in Metaphysics has moments -- namely the spoken-word monologue in the middle of the mostly stellar opening cut, "The Absurd Paranoid" -- of philosophical meandering. Still, even those moments maintain a period charm. Each song, even the instrumental cuts, feels like a story, with beginnings and endings and all kinds of interesting ideas and storylines sandwiched in between. The album is a relic that has not lost one iota of its power. (Allmusic.com)
Here’s The Field’s new album, to be released in a week or two I think. His last one got ridiculously good reviews from all over the place; this one probably will too. I quite like it. It’s a little different; the sound is fuller, more strident, kind of house-y with the pumping beats. Dig the Elizabeth Frasier samples on the fifth track.
Before Marc Bolan nearly took over the world at the helm of glam-rock behemoth T. Rex, he was a fixture in London’s underground hippie music scene, playing quirky little psych-folk tunes together with an acid-fried percussionist named after one of the Hobbits from the Lord of the Rings. The duo called themselves Tyrannosaurus Rex, an oddly menacing choice for a name considering that their music pretty much embodied the optimism and drugged-out harmlessness of 60s hippie culture. Bolan’s strange warbly voice and knack for writing simple, earthy melodies set them apart from most of the other cosmic folkies of the era, and inspired many of today's acts that fall under the freak folk banner. Here are three of their albums. Unicorn is probably my favourite of the bunch. Bolan’s whimsical meanderings are kept in check by some really strong production and a couple of jaw-droppingly good pop songs (namely “Cat Black”) that should have made them stars right there and then. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows (1968)
I put together a little compilation of legendary Cretan singer Nikos Xylouris’ songs. I posted his Rizitika album a while ago, but this one has a bit more variety. Here’s wikipedia with some basic info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikos_xylouris
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