Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CDs non reviews: the CDs I bought in the last months #2

As I’m currently travelling on some remote island, with no scanner and limited access to the Internet, it’s the perfect time for a new batch of vaguely reviewed CDs. Like last time, there are too many of them for real reviews, and again I insist on buying CDs – for me the safest support for long-term music storage (I don’t believe in the sustainability of our society and I think that virtual music can very easily vanish, together with our high technology and wobbling economy – but that’s another story…)

So, first you have Magma’s Mekanïk Destruktïẁ Kommandöh – it should have been in the previous non-reviews post but I forgot to put it in –, one of the few hundreds vinyl LPs I was listening to during the first half of my life, and haven't been fully replaced so far... When you want to listen to something that sounds like absolutely nothing else, go for Magma, one of the greatest band ever, with its unique mix of rock, jazz, choirs and avant-garde music. I’m amazed how musicians in the 1970s could be so steadily crazy and create and perform such radical music, when it’s so difficult nowadays to put a post-rock band together! Then comes Natalie Dessay singing Haendel – the kind of voice you need hearing just once on the radio to order the CD right away – can be rock or baroque music, it’s the same for me! Vic Chesnutt I just discovered recently – too late unfortunately –, and what caught me was the sound of the guitars on Splendid, the mix of heavily effected electric and acoustic guitars… I’m not used to this kind of music, the only thing I can relate it to is Neil Young – and Neil Young is grand!

Stephan Orins Trio is a piano/bass/drums jazz trio from France whose subtle music I enjoy a lot – it’s their third CD, and they are part of the jazz and improvised music collective Circum that has released good music in the last years – and that I cheerfully recommend to you (the fact that they are friends from my hometown doesn’t influence my judgement, I swear!) The Rolling StonesLet it Bleed and the Doors’ first eponymous album were also in my vinyls collection and I listened to their music avidly as a teenager (secretly, since I was in the post-punk/industrial music scene!) Still as good, fresh and wild as on the first day!

Gil Scott-Heron’s last CD should have been his great comeback, would he have survived it… I love how he respects no rules, and recycles any kind of music – from folk to batcave via electronica, hip-hop or blues – to support his soulful voice (BTW, have you seen the excellent video Chris Cunningham made on his own remix of New York is killing me?) H.F. Thiéfaine is probably unknown out of France, and it’s a shame since he’s been one of its best rock musician – if not the only one – for over four decades, and this album from the 1980s is a landmark in a long series. You’d be surprised, look for his live videos on YouTube! Kouyate and Neerman are two percussionists – one plays traditional balafon from West-Africa, the other plays vibraphone enhanced by electronic effects, and together they play quite unique music! The album is not as intense as their live performances – but it’s often the case with jazz…

Here comes the controversial stuff – well, the storm-in-a-glass-of-water kind. I do listen and enjoy a lot Lou Reed + Metallica’s Lulu and I’m amazed by all the hateful comments I could read from Metallica’s fans and rock critics about this album! I never really listened to Metallica before, and I understand that with Lou Reed, they do something different than what made them sell a lot of albums before, but the lack of tolerance of their own listeners should make them quit the business out of shame! Anyway, who cares? Energetic, hypnotic, inspiring, deleterious, that’s the good surprise of last year. Marc Ribot’s Exercises in Futility is my first Ribot’s album in years – he’s one of my favorite musicians ever but I kind of lost him in his Cubanos Postizos phase… This fresh and joyfully provocative minimal solo acoustic guitar album reveals again how Ribot can shake conventions of guitar playing to create his own music. And last but not least, Pat Metheny’s Zero Tolerance for Silence was a CD I listened to a lot ten years ago – until I lent it to someone who never gave it back to me –, and I needed to listen to it again. Falsely controversial for the same shallow reason than LuluMetheny is not playing the music he’s famous for –, it’s also an album showing a free mind – even free of the canons of free impro or noise music…

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