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Sunday, June 26, 2005

WHAT WE MUST

As a genre, Jazz-inflected Norwegian Post-Prog Instrumentals would probably have most of you reaching for some razor-blades and a warm-bath, but, trust me, this is a bloody great LP:



I bought some stuff by Jaga (formally Jaga-Jazzist) a couple years back when they were a, um, Scando-Glitch-Chamber-Jazz outfit, but I'd never ever expected them to so willingly embrace X'Cilvxsia, the Cornish God of Total Rock-out...

This LP should appeal to people who like an occasional bit of (sssssh...lowers voice, conspiratorially) Zappa, Henry Cow, Canterbury Scene, Van der Graaf Generator, etc...(bloody hell, if that wasn't a police photo-fit/FBI profile of John Effay, then I'll be a...)...basically, it's Prog for people who don't like Prog...three of the tracks are bordering on fucking (Jazz-)Rock Anthems...time to raise yr cigarette-lighters en mass, kiddies...

"All I know is Tonight" sounds like an out-take from "Ok Computer" remixed by Matching Mole..."Stardust Hotel" is so fucking gorgeous; there's a bit where a wall of really woozy, drunken horns (like Jon Hassel on barbs) are suddenly propelled into Low Earth Orbit by the rhythm-section; I've played it about eight times now and I still keep getting goose-bumps, so I've pencilled it in to be the theme-tune to the Hi-Concept TV-series that I wrote during the Great Glastonbury Storm..."For all you Happy People" dicks around for a while, chasing a bunch of twiddly woodwind and keyboard parts around a deserted aerodrome, sounding like, I dunno, the digital bastard son of Hatfield & The North or National Health until a muscular fuzz-riff kicks off a pompous-sounding punch-up involving a dozen or more cartoon characters (It's so wonderfully self-deflating & mock-heroic) and then the whole song tumbles downhill into a ravine...krump/bump/thummft!

It's Jazz-Rock, man, and it's great, but don't take my word for it.

If you're scared this is actually a Finnish Out-Rock record or a Fall side-project or something recorded by a couple of Texans ODing on DMT on a malfunctioning cassette-recorder (ie the sort of stuff I normally review), then check it on a listening-post in HMV or something. Incredibly, it's on Ninja-Tune and it's acres better than most of the toss they've been putting out recently.

(My only complaint is that the vinyl version don't include the demos like wot the CD does...)

Go forth, my wonderous, green, trembling childen, and send word of the New Prog, for I have seen it and it is good.

12 Comments:

At 6:34 am, Blogger the X said...

- Indeed!
I've followed them from the early days as an unknown eclectic 'jazz'-band which noone had ever heard about (-they went on stage in matching orange prison overalls and had some serious funky/1970's fusion-y vibraphone playing- i was in love!-) 'till the inevitable sell-out (-ooh, lets incorporate some "electronica" now, shall we?-) and a step back from the mainstream again with this new gorgeous LP...

(inevitably, this CD will still climb to the top of the norwegian charts, since we're a country where Tom Waits can expect a no.1, refreshingly placed amidst all the top40 crap- go Jaga!;)

(postscript: i'm still skint but am stocking up a lot of stuff to send to yr fellow idiot Loki, among that some Jaga stuff, so if Yeovil likes what it hears, i could always scan my undergroud bunker archives for more collaborations and b-side stuff)

(-Still think Ninja Tune is bloody crap, though...:(

 
At 11:10 am, Blogger johneffay said...

if that wasn't a police photo-fit/FBI profile of John Effay

Sad but true. Only last week, a couple of Norfolk Constabulary's finest were banging on my door asking questions about a raid on the Soft Machine section of HMV. I immediately pulled on an SPK t-shirt, invited them in, and directed their attention to the CD racks full of industrial and electronica. I just about had them convinced, when the little effay ran in from the garden shouting 'Daddy, Daddy can we listen to that song about the pixies and the teapot?' Pesky kids!

 
At 12:29 pm, Blogger the X said...

..."dad, what's wrong with Gong?" :D

 
At 9:00 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

"...can we listen to that song about the pixies and the teapot?"

Nuffink wrong w/ a bit of Gong now & then, mate.

But, darn, I was hoping it was something you'd personally written, John! :-)

 
At 9:49 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

Dang it, Liv...I keep forgetting you live in Norway! For some strange reason my crappy Commodore-64 of a brain keeps thinking you're in Aus with Pirate Drone. Duh!

Yeah, we'll have to do some swaps or summat sometime. That would be cool. I know bugger-all about Norwegian music, really...apart from obvious stuff like Jaga and, er, Jazzkammer...Supersilent, maybe (are they Norwegian, can't remember)...the ol' Death/Black Metal scene sounds fun, tho.

(God, what a weird, skewwed/slanted/ignorant view of an entire country...I suddenly feel v. ashamed.)

Heard something by Hakon Berge (is that how you spell it?) a while back that I quite liked...it was a modern chamber-piece that sounded kinda Zappa/Varese-ish.

Ah, what do you know about Sofa records (Oslo, I think)? I heard a bonkers track a couple years ago (scabbles around a pile of coverless CDs)...I think it was on a Wire comp....yep, here it is! It was an improv track by Wazahugy (puts it on for first time since moving house)...

Oh, yeaaah, that still sounds pretty good.

'Course, what we really wanna know is: is there anything in Norway comparable or analogous to the Finnish Freefolk/Acidfolk scene...?

 
At 9:37 am, Blogger the X said...

Yeah, Sofa records- they're Ivar Grydeland and Tonny Kluften, the somewhat old garde of 1970's prog-inspired free improv scene, with links/contacts internationally (collaborations w/the big names in Japan etc., the (improv) scene is pretty small i think), some of their stuff has been v. interesting, they're of course great instrumentalists and know their instruments inside out...they'd gone on for ages, think the Wire recognition only came fairly recently...there used to be a club night at infamous (wanky-artsy) "jazz" club Blå, called Fritt Fall, where different "difficult" osbcure improv artists met to have a free jam session, lots of the ineternational big names have been there iirc, this was also where the Wire came in as the club/nights are partly curated/supported by them...
Sofa records also have links with Ny Musikk which is the more academic end of the improv spectrum, peope who've been to the academy (Maja Ratke of Spunk and Fe-Mail, etc.)
more improv names (i'll be sending Loki some EPs of these: Lasse Marhaug, yeah as you mentioned Jazzkammer and of course Supersilent(which is Helge Sten deathjazznoisepunk producer which once was with rock group Motorpsycho but who now records on his own), Tore Honoré Bøe and the Origami Art Collective, oh there's lots of people out there on the margin and more "art" spectrum of things, i've been in contact with some tiny tiny one-man CD-R labels recently with everything from New Zealand-ish guitar drone improv which sounds like recording has taken place in outer space (i mentioned smth on my blog about them months ago, then gave up posting more about them as they never got their arses out to actually send me their records as they'd promised),
some small mailorder firms exist, although a lot of them gone now- will see if i can get on the case

Yeah, actually there are quite a blossoming underground scene atm, i'm not going out much to events like that anymore but some of the guys i know of (VERY peripherically) from my early college days are now in bands, some of them doing gorgeous post-prog stuff which i'm confident will get wider recognition pretty soon (actually, i can one-handedly with my blog get them that fame, which is why i hesitate because the music AND the scene is not ready for the crushing attention and pressure from the outside world just yet, it might destroy everything- but i'm sure that in a decade one will look back at the various scenes here and call it a kind of golden age, it's like the 60's/70's again in many ways now, stuff that before would be deemed "too obscure" are now accepted and being eclectic IS more the norm than the exception, which of course also can be a problem since it breeds many wannabes and uninteresting mediocrities aswell, but i'd rather have variation than narrow-mindedness any hour of the day!)

Actually, the best band i'm thinking of did sound like a modern-day Gong mixed with some prog +eastern european influences...But then they added a lot of superficial female vocalists and the organ player quit, and the new members just failed to make them sound as perfect as they used to...So they're already past their prime...Unfortunately

Norwegian hiphop has also had a huge upsurge in activity lately, it sounds a little bit too blueprint-wannabe american/unoriginal for my tastes, but there's a lot of vey young producers, dj's and MC's competing (and in most of the cases) being embraced by the media, the breakthrough came when people started rapping in norwegian instead of english some years ago, it was a kind of new birth for hiphop (and made the threshold a lot easier for MC's to actively submit their material without the language-barrier)

Most music here are actually pretty mainstream/boring, especially rock, there's just a handful of original, undergound people and the rest do boring retro-rock which sounds exactly like their boring UK/US inspirations...Thank god for the periperry and independent distribution, though-
!
:)

 
At 4:53 pm, Blogger Loki said...

hey Liv/X! i thought you'd forgotten about sending me the Norwayyed stuff... after roundly dissing my post on... - i forget (seems you were right) i've been waiting with all things baited to hear the good stuff...

 
At 5:00 pm, Blogger Loki said...

oh and i second the Jaga lp...just got it and liking it so far... kinda challenges you to be vaguely ashamed though doesn't it?... not sure why...especially because i've also been getting into Gong's Camembert Electrique again recently which has to be much worse... and then I bought an Earthmonkey record which progs out all over the place with bits that are just a hairs-breadth from Kenny G!

Mebbe i'll just go down to Woolies and buy me some Kasier Chiefs...

 
At 5:00 pm, Blogger Loki said...

oh and i second the Jaga lp...just got it and liking it so far... kinda challenges you to be vaguely ashamed though doesn't it?... not sure why...especially because i've also been getting into Gong's Camembert Electrique again recently which has to be much worse... and then I bought an Earthmonkey record which progs out all over the place with bits that are just a hairs-breadth from Kenny G!

Mebbe i'll just go down to Woolies and buy me some Kasier Chiefs...

 
At 5:17 pm, Blogger the X said...

-nah, sorry haven't forgotten you- i'm just really REALLY skint/broke at the moment...:(

(-dissing, what? you must be wrong, or perhaps i was just too word-strong without really meaning it!
hmm...((scans posts for clue))

i hate those top40 "retro rock" bands, i really really do...
it's fucking britpop all over again-

but it's nice to see that a lot of the old experimental/old post-rock scene has transformed into either great post-prog stuff or nerdy electronic shit...maybe there's hope after all...:)

i'm gutted your shamanic raindance didn't work on bob fucking "smugface" geldof, though- he should've been soaked and drowned in a pool of brazil streetchildren tears...a whole thunderstorm of rain pouring down and pissing royally on' im...grrrrr...

 
At 7:36 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

Wow! Great response, Liv...it deserves a post or high-lighting in it's own right. Many thanks for the info.

Sounds like Sofa occupies the same sort of Improv turf as Derek Grumpychop's Incus/Company conglom once did in the UK.

"the best band i'm thinking of did sound like a modern-day Gong mixed with some prog + eastern european influences..."

Ha! Now, you've really got me interested...any recommendations?

"...i hesitate because the music AND the scene is not ready for the crushing attention and pressure from the outside world just yet..."

Keep us informed, Liv! We'll be watching your blog like hawks...I'm a sucker for one-man CD-R/7"-single labels....!!

 
At 7:41 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

"Mebbe I'll just go down to Woolies and buy me some Kasier Chiefs..."

Don't do it - hold on and I'll give you the number of a psychological counsellor...

Oh, shit, the counsellor is you...

Looks like yer on yr own then, mate...

 

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