NEW MUSIC FRIDAY bringing you a few new and some scintillating REISSUES too.

It's a heavy list, but we promise you can feel lighter after you listen.


Starting a Psychedelic Rock band with both flute and a name borrowed from Gong is a tall order.  It greatly helps that their nucleus of singer/keyboardist Eva Muntada and bassist/guitarist Xavi Sandoval happen to be huge fans of Gong who actually met Daevid Allen twenty years ago. Some of that magic clearly rubbed off on Muntada and Sandoval who find a counterpoint to the maniacal "Camembert Electrique" and the lysergic "Angel's Egg" (without the whispering) while mixing in Pink Floyd ("The First Light") and Stereolab (Prog/Funk on the standout "Waterforms.") Credit is also due MBMS when they take their flights of fancy (the flute from Maya Rodriguez/bass vamps on "Echoes From The Clouds" and the well-composed "Arroyo del Buho") not to overplay or try to maximize their music leaving their album peaking too soon. Drummer Marc Tena leads them through all the changes with a steady hand. Magick Brother Mystic Sister mixes their own Barcelona rhythms with the needed Canterbury acidic/fanciful sheen to the point maybe they would do well to find their way into the Gong universe.

PAX [LP](Munster ESP)

1970's Peru was not a kind place to make Rock N'Roll. So it should come as no surprise that Pax's leader Ego Aguirre would wind up an enemy of the state by 1974. Looking back on its Heavy Metal thunder and Prog-meets-Power Trio lightning, Pax is like Black Sabbath - as in the next logical step after the Blues bubble burst. On their most head-bobbing tunes ("Firefly" and "A Storyless Junkie") the Sabbath nods come fast. However, they neatly counter the titanic riffage with several organ-led Prog-ish tracks including the hypnotic "Green Paper."

Various Artists - TCHIC TCHIC: FRENCH BOSSA NOVA 1963-1974 [Born Bad FR]

The tres bon French label put out a pair of very smooth cocktail-hour comps last year ("Voulez Vous Cha-Cha?" and the French Exotica collection "Cha Cha Au Harem") that were less kitsch and more exploration of the incorporation of Brazilian rhythms. They kick off 2021 with an album that is even more elegant as it pulls together all the uses of the infectious Bossa Nova rhythm and its adornments. Again, "Tchic Tchic" could easily provide a conducive soundtrack to your next soiree (especially the breathy Sylvia Fels and the dancefloor-ready Les Masques,) however it can also be enjoyed while doing any number of other activities as well. 

ABELARDO CARBONO - Guana Tangula [LP](Vampisoul)

Barranquilla's Carbono could kick his polyrhythmic grooves into high gear with quickness and ease. Originally released in 1980-81, strangely "Guana Tangula" has the markings of the "highlife" or "township jive" music of South Africa. Terse lyrics. Floating bass lines up and down the neck. Rapidly spinning guitar and those infectious rhythms. "Guana Tangula" most like a cocktail of early World music, there is a little Cuban, the uptempo music of his native land, and even a little Surf Rock to push your further head into the clouds. The son of a great cumbia guitarist (and a policeman,) Carbono gets your blood pumping to the rhythms that were coursing through his system.

SAHIB SHIHAB AND THE GILSON TRIO - La Marche Dans Le Desert [LP](Souffle Continu FR)

Released in 1972, this union of Traditional Jazz and Free Jazz is both beautiful and entrancing. The thematic pieces are boldly orchestrated in the style of both Duke Ellington and even Frank Zappa (the all-too-brief "Orcha Damibar" and its follow-through into "La Touche Noire." The main pair of compositions/improvisations are very free, but “Mirage I” and “Mirage II” manage to neatly follow the modal jazz of the Sixties (think Pharoah Sanders) into the more experimental rumblings of Art Ensemble of Chicago (especially in instrumentation.) This was obviously the future of Jazz at that time, yet even today not very many have caught up with it.


Japanese artists in the late Seventies had welcomed so many Jazz greats to their country that when they gathered to make their own music it showed through in both composition and performance. The Mabumi Yamaguchi Quartet could have been a fusion unit like most others, however saxophonist Yamaguchi leads his group through the songs like an old-time bandleader. Yamaguchi normally allows their songs to build (“Dawn” crests on waves of his saxophone, the standout “Distant Thunder” drops perfectly into a startling electric piano solo from Ichiro Doi.) Later, He and Doi duet on “Dewdrop” and then the band traditionally/tastefully wind things up with the expressive title cut. A year after leading his own band, he would record “Guardian Angels” with fresh new talents John Scofield, Kenny Kirkland, and Miroslav Vitous from Weather Report.

PASCAL COMELADE & RICHARD PINHAS - Le Plan de Paris [LP](Staubgold GER/The Orchard)

CONRAD SCHNITZLER - Paracon: The 1978-1979 Paragon Session Outtakes [LP/CD](Bureau B/The Orchard)

Pair these two together and dive into some late-night listening. Here are three artists that make synthesizers and guitars emit some trance-inducing music. Comelade created the Kosmische wonder “Fluence” in 1974. At the same time, Pinhas was putting together the Electronic/Avant-Garde group Heldon who released seven brilliant albums from 1974-1980. (1977’s “Interface” is spellbinding.) Comelade moved on from synth compositions in 1981, as Pinhas was beginning a fruitful solo career. Comelade and Pinhas together conjure up that spirit of the Seventies Fripp/Eno experiments. Having already recorded in 1999 and 2012, “Le Plan de Paris” is both artists deriving all they can from atmospherics. “Le Plan” compares closest to the chill and buzz of Pinhas’ majestic 1980 album “Iceland.” Comelade’s keyboards and Pinhas’s E-bowed guitar spin out melodies on “Du point d’orgue antipodiste” that sound like classic ambient, arc beautifully into “Le pietre tableau d’un monde riant” and conclude with the haunting, yet benedictory “Back To Schizo.” Fantastic.

Schnitzler has an equally interesting career. He recorded the first Tangerine Dream album before moving on to Kluster with Roedelius and Moebius. As a solo artist, Schnitzler was prolific, using all the influences of his education (Stockhausen and Cage) as his primary inspiration. Moving from acoustic to electronics, Schnitzler developed into a minimal synth artist starting in 1973 with the loud noisy “Rot.” While working with Peter Baumann in his Paragon Studios in 1978, his creation “Con” reduced the atonality and sought to extract all the imagery it could from these synths. “Paracon” sounds rudimentary at first, until you realize that Schnitzler seems to be working on just how his notes can initially “attack” and then arouse feelings within the listeners. While it is more striking than “Con” (which does its best to use synths to mirror real-world sounds,) the ten pieces on “Paracon” are largely about taking a patchwork of circuitry to elicit a feeling. The smallest changes then color and shade his textures convincing you that there is far more texture in those single notes than you found at first. Fascinating.


GENESIS - A Trick of the Tail/Duke [LTD COLOR LP](Atlantic/Rhino/Warner)

The story of a band in transition. Genesis, like all Prog Rock bands, had already lived through its share of arrivals and departures. However, the success of 1974's "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" and singer Peter Gabriel leaving (which he would ruminate over on the wistful "Solsbury Hill,") made progress somewhat difficult. Fortunately, Gabriel gave the band another eight months after his private announcement to them. That bridge of time provided a much-needed rest for the group where they could also discover their own solo composition chops. Reduced to the nucleus of Banks, Collins, Hackett, and Rutherford, "A Trick of the Tail" also saw the band no longer credited as a songwriting democracy. While each member was raising their playing and writing a level, no auditioned singer came in that fit the bill. So after hearing him on the bluesy-yet Crimson-esque "Squonk," Phil Collins became the new lead singer.

"A Trick of The Tail" represents mid-period Genesis refusing to settle. Take "Mad Man Moon." As much as it is Banks' song (with thrilling piano runs,) Collins quickly grows into his own as a singer finding his Gabriel-esque range but expanding on it. When they had guitarist Steve Hackett join in on the thrilling opener "Dance On A Volcano," the quartet prove themselves to be more than worthy of continuation. Later in the Prog odyssey "Robbery, Assault and Battery," you hear the band competing to take the song higher even as the compositional hallmarks of Banks (the mellotron midpoint) and Collins (the furious huge escalating ending) standout. "A Trick of The Tail" does not get as much attention as it should. As Genesis returns to the compositional standards of "Selling England By The Pound" and continues to embrace the emotional pull of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" ("Ripples...,") Genesis delivered themselves as a band capable even in a period of forced growth.

Fast forward to 1979-80, as Genesis' success grew, the trio (plus intact touring unit members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer) made moves toward the Pop chart and perhaps "indulged" on their solo albums. So after having their first real crossover hit ("Follow You Follow Me" in 1978) then losing Steve Hackett, Banks, Collins, and Rutherford reconvened to write. All three were drained and committed two compositions each into the record. Collins' emotional state shows him as a top-notch vocalist on "Duke."  He connects on so many levels breathing life into the quieter moments ("Duchess" with its soon-to-be-familiar electronic drum opening") and finds a bite on the more upbeat showcases (the stirring opener "Behind The Lines" and Rutherford's "Man of the Times.")  Banks is always on point with his modern synth work (coming off of his solo debut "A Curious Feeling.") Rutherford becomes the hidden contributor always finding a moving bass line (pushing the lumbering "Heathhaze" faster) and dives further into Pop.  "Duke" is Genesis embracing the new sound of more concise songs that can be driving ("Turn It On Again" - their foothold on AOR radio dominance") and soulful (the still brilliant "Misunderstanding" - their biggest hit yet.) 


NEKRA - Royal Disruptor [7”](La Vida Es Un Mus UK)

The UK’s Nekra uses their five songs in seven blistering minutes to demonstrate their mastery of everything a modern-day Punk needs. For example, “Amang” starts out with a Black Flag slowed-down engine turn, before racing into a double-picked, shrieking Thrash blast. Guitars sneer, drums are either played like your-heart-is racing-too-fast or they are bludgeoning-you-with-a-cinder-block. When she screams “Are you afraid?!,” rather than answer affirmatively - you have to back up the EP to hear it all again. Very promising.

BISBAYE - Le Sens De La Fin/The Sense of An Ending [LP](Cuneiform)

pron. [bees-bow-yay]

d. French quintet consisting of two guitars, two drummers, and a bass player who take all their most compelling odd-time Crimson-esque groove patterns and turn them into artistic yet hard-rocking instrumentals. Riffs carrom and bounce from player to player like some Metal version of doubles tennis. “Creosote” will blow the doors off and leave your mind in ruins. Also, it is amazing how competing with two guitar players and two drummers, the chords and punishing bass work of Vincent Savary is often the pivot point.

Well, that took us to a lot of different places. For journeys into the past, present, and future of all music - join us again next week. Bring a friend or two - if you wish.

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