Let's just rattle on about a buncha things... As you can see, I've been absent and away from the land of blogging, so I should attempt to make up for lost time and write about a bunch of things floating my boat the past few weeks.
Firstly, there's the new CD by local experimental wunderkid, Anthony Pateras. It's entitled Chasms and is out on the Sirr.Ecords label. Anthony's a buddy of mine, which probably means I shouldn't be reviewing it, but since it's an honest-to-Pete recommendation of a very fine CD, I feel there to be no conflict of interest. Pateras is also responsible for one of my favourite Australian albums of the 21st century, 2002's Malfunction Studies, a more orchestrated affair which, if memory serves (I stupidly gave my copy to a friend in Sydney a few years back, thinking I'd always be able to buy another copy down the line... Umm, Anthony?), sounded like a cross between '70s Euro avant-prog and Penderecki. If you can locate a copy, gobble it up toot sweet. 's funny, just the day before I received this CD in the mail, I was commenting to a work colleague how "avant-garde" music featuring primarily prepared piano bores the bejesus outta me. I mean, have you ever sat all the way through a John Cage prepared-piano CD? Me neither. Well, along comes Chasms and I'm proven wrong again, or at least a touch prejudiced. Chasms comprises of three long pieces containing prepared piano and nothing but. There's no plinking, plonking or abstractions involved; the sound is dense, relentless and the effect is dizzying and mesmerising. Unlike any other recording I've heard involving piano strings and screws, Chasms brings to mind Terry Riley or Conlon Nancarrow as played by a Gamelan orchestra. Overwhelming and overwhelmingly good, this'll be in my Top Ten of '07, you can count on that.
Keith Hudson's Entering The Dragon is a disc that's certainly been played out 'round these parts the last couple of months. It was reissued as part of Trojan's ltd.-run Fan Club series last year, and I've learnt the hard way before: if you want anything in that range, get in quick. Unlike possibly every other deal ever offered by a record company, their claims of "limited" actually appear to be true. Hudson is also responsible for another bona fide dub masterpiece in my possession, Pick A Dub, though I'll take 1974's Entering The Dragon as the hit pick, if only because it contains some cool vocal work. Of course, as a friend and reggae egghead noted to me a few weeks back - that Hudson couldn't sing to save his life - it's his wonky pipes which make it work. I mean, let's face it, I think I could hold a note better than Hudson, but the sincerity is there. Lots of far-out studio wizardry and even fuzz guitar abound, and is usually the case w/ these Trojan deals, you get more bonus tracks (this time it's 17) than you could possibly care for, but the consistency herein never has me hitting the skip button. A-grade dub. mon.
I've been reading Michael Walker's Laurel Canyon, which attempts to document the Canyon and the music scene which sprung forth from its loins in the '60s/'70s, namely folks like Frank Zappa, Byrds, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, etc. There's nothing too eye-opening to behold, other than the usual cliches of youthful idealism beset by egos, coke, self-indulgence and greed, and if there is one outfit who remain the living embodiment of a group of individuals who completely ruined themselves through all of the above, it would have to be CSNY, whose Deja Vu LP I've been playing a bit as I slog my way through Walker's book. I bought it a year back, it being one of those purchases which surprises oneself. Despite my 20-year rabid fandom for Young's work, as well as my love for Crosby's songs he wrote in the Byrds, for myself the quartet known as CSNY remained a no-go zone, an outfit so coated in hippie cheese that even I wouldn't dare approach them. However, something clicked in the back of my brain when I heard this LP at a friend's place and didn't instantly feel like killing everyone in the room, and so I threw it into my possible-purchases pile. Well, it's sitting right next to me, it's playing as I write this, and despite my concrete knowledge, after having read Laurel Canyon, that Crosby, Stills and Nash (Young is spared) were indeed complete and total flaming hippie assholes who perfectly encapsulated all the hipocrisy and self-indulgence of the era in question, the complex vocal harmonies at work here, coupled w/ some extremely fine songwriting, may just please half-a-dozen people reading this. If you think that "rock" is the only music worth a pinch, you'll steer clear. CSNY couldn't rock if their lives depended on it, a point discussed in Walker's book. Coming from folk-music backgrounds, these guys (Nash included, despite being an ex-Hollies man) didn't even know what the hell rock 'n' roll was until the Brits came along and tought them the tricks of amplification, which is probably why the weakest songs on Deja Vu, such as "Almost Cut My Hair", are when they attempt to "rock". They fail w/ a resounding thud and stink up an otherwise fairly OK folk-pop disc. Your mind is already made up? OK, I'm outta here...