Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the sounds of electrical wonder

Sunnyland Slim Blues Band - Decoration Day (listen) Branching off the Lafayette Afro Rock Band post, we land on Sunnyland Slim's 1994 album Decoration Day, what seems to be on the surface, your standard likable Chicago-style blues record, but there is something else made my antennae quiver. Eddie Taylor's guitar on this record, sharp and piercing, high up in the mix, suspending in the clouds of Carey Bell's harmonica, set this slightly apart from most Chicago blues. That guitar on the opening track sounds like it is stretched taut from the delta to the South Side, if I may be allowed as corny an image, the harmonica embodying the hum radiating from the current snaking across that wire.

Speaking of the sounds of electrical wonder, dig the Theremin-like warble (slide harmonica?) that occurs about two minutes into the title track.

Orem Ambarchi - Lost Like a Star (listen) Australian guitarist Oren Ambarci's music is about as far from blues as a guitarist can get, focusing everything on the hum of those coils and wires, the sound moving past like a ship out in the bay, like a gong pealing out across an extended timeline. This would be meditation music except that Ambarchi never quite settles in an easy frequency; there is always something warping the weave even if at first it appears that nothing is there.

Flanger - Nuclear Jazz (listen) This is shaping up to be one of the least cohesive playlists of all time! Like the time I accidentally played Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" right after a particularly dense Skinny Puppy number on a college radio show. Three people called me up, including the music director, wondering what the hell I was doing. I'd had some song picked out that, believe it or not, made a hilarious and profound segue between the two songs, but in the general mayhem of the radio station, still with vinyl records and cuing up songs and generally being pleased with my cleverness at radio DJ-ing, I'd forgotten to put my bridge track on and had to just roll with it. But like electricity, we must jump to the nearest thing that will conduct our existence, and as semi-existent almost smooth-jazz with little static-y glitches goes (that also isn't the Fennesz album I was looking for) Flanger isn't too shabby.

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