mercredi 13 avril 2011

Innerzone Orchestra : "Programmed"

(Talkin' Loud, 1999) Having created probably the most coherent and original fusion of electronics and jazz in modern times with their only recorded album, ‘Programmed’, Innerzone Orchestra came to be regarded as the ultimate example of what a dance orchestra could achieve. Then again, calling Innerzone a dance orchestra is to simplify things to a horrific degree. What made the group so innovative and influential to countless musicians was the scope of musical bases they covered, all in a single album. Part of Innerzone’s beauty comes from its wide range of styles and the musicians’ ability to blend together these conflicting elements, creating something intricate yet accessible - be it Carl Craig’s Detroit techno roots, to hip-hop to percussive world rhythms to future funk to a strong jazz element that characterises the whole album - everything here is crafted by the finest names in the modern business. Fittingly, listening to ‘Programmed’ also brings to mind some of the great names in modern jazz, particularly the pioneers of improv-based free jazz: ‘Bitches Brew’-era Miles Davis, the later years of John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock (whose sublime ‘Sextant’ album is particularly reminiscent during parts of ‘Programmed’), and the mighty Sun Ra, with his untouchable, other-worldy ‘Arkestra’ and penchant for improvised electronics. Fittingly, one of Innerzone’s original line-up, percussionist Francisco Mora, played in the late, great Sun Ra’s band of eccentric geniuses. Carl Craig has always been an innovator in whatever musical direction he pursues. Much of the reason he became so highly regarded was his willingness to explore other musical dimensions through his electronic work, refusing to stick to the traditional techno parameters, embracing the range of musical influences that being of Detroit’s ‘second generation’ offered. It seems that Innerzone was the perfect channel to fully explore these elements: “Innerzone, for me, was an avenue for making music that is avant-garde; a way of dealing with my inspirations from jazz. It’s an opportunity to play music that’s different to what I do as a DJ. When I’m playing on my own as a DJ, it’s focused on what I do and how I get people to respond, based on the music I play, whereas with Innerzone, it’s a collective, and people’s responses are based on the musicians and how they play.” Tristan Parker (clashmusic) ENTER

lundi 7 mars 2011

Bernie Worrell : "Free Agent : a spaced odyssey"

(Black Arc, 1997)

"Come join Bernie on this magical dragon ride through the cosmos"

“Genius” is one of the most overused terms on the planet. It’s one of those superlatives writers fall back on to pad faulty arguments about everything and everyone from the latest household cleanser to the newest album by rock stars past their prime. Swifters might be a clever tool for apartment dwellers, but they’re hardly ingenious. A tasty riff on a pop song might move you momentarily, but it’s unlikely to alter the course of civilization, “You Really Got Me” notwithstanding.
Real genius is a little more elusive. It’s made up of moments so inspired, so indefinable, that it’s almost imperceptible at its birth. That’s why it takes us years, decades, even centuries to recognize true genius. Genius is something stentorian, lurking everywhere, a parasite from beyond infecting only a few along the way. So subtle is its presence that those inflicted with it are blissfully unaware of it coursing through their being.
Bernie Worrell is one of those beings. At first glance, he’s an unassuming man in his early sixties, the sort of guy you’d hardly give more than a cordial nod were you to pass him on the street. But you’d notice a certain aura about him, as if you’d known him from somewhere.
And you’d be right. His name may have escaped you, but if you’ve turned on a radio in the last thirty years, you’re familiar with him. A founding member of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, the man who was instrumental in transforming Talking Heads from an uptight white quartet to a world-class funk ensemble, Bernie Worrell is the invisible genius behind modern music.
Genius, as it is wont to do with those it inflicts, sent Worrell on a different path, urging him to take the piano to a different sphere, to invent a new language for the keyboard. He found his voice in the clavinet and minimoog, and began laying down the rudiments of the new language in the early days of Parliament-Funkadelic with songs like “Flashlight,” and introduced it full-blown to mainstream audiences with Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” He’s since become one of the most sampled musicians in hip-hop, and is credited in some circles as being responsible for Dr. Dre’s sound. He’s worked with some of the most prominent musicians in pop music, and has shaped almost every electronic sound heard in pop music over the past four decades.
For all his contributions, though, Worrell lives in relative obscurity, a situation with which he doesn’t seem completely uncomfortable. For Worrell, it’s all about the sounds he makes, ever-shifting, always evolving. It’s as if he’s beyond words, articulating instead through the voice of his music.

Ray Ellis (Blogcritics)


Praxis : "Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis)"

(Axiom, 1992)

The battle lines are drawn
Chaos is not entropy
Chaos is not death
Chaos is not a commodity
Chaos is continual creation
Chaos never died
Oppose all forms of law & authority
In the name of chaos

A sonic odyssey conceived & constructed by Bill Laswell


Buckethead : guitar, toys
Bootsy Collins : space bass, vocals
Bernie Worrell : synthesizer, clavinet & vital organ
Af Next Man Flip (Lord Of The Paradox) : turntable, mixer
Brain : drums

« This work is part of a subversive current of which the last has not been heard »

Zillatron : "Lord Of The Harvest"

(Black Arc, 1993)

...a cyberfunk creation by Bootsy Collins and Bill Laswell, driving funk into the virgin territories of ambient, hardcore, techno and beyond, with Praxis bandmates Buckethead and Bernie Worrell-a sonic landscape of the gradual apocalypse.
Although William "Bootsy" Collins' career as leader and sideman is too extensive to document here (it includes, to begin with, 20-30 major releases under the Parliament, Funkadelic and Bootsy's Rubber Band trademarks), it's fair to say that the tireless bassist and funk icon has created more alter egos for himself than your average character actor. "Casper" and "Bootzilla," his earliest roles, were successively replaced by "The Player," "Boot-Tron," "Star-Mon," "The One," "The Count" and many more. His latest yin-yang identity matrix, as manifested on Lord of the Harvest, is as the omnipotent Zillatron ("the great Overlord of Cyberfunk") and his "lycanthropic counterpart" Fuzzface-two superheroes of epic proportions and near-impenetrable mystery.
The production on Lord of the Harvest has a general collage-like feel, with found snippets and samples flying around unexpectedly. "Count Zero" and "Smell the Secrets" employ ambient, trance and dub strategies, creating the appropriate sonic backdrop to Bootsy's mad dystopian vision of the near future. "Exterminate" and "No Fly Zone/The Devil's Playground" dip heavily into hardcore thrash, with Buckethead leading the charge. Of course, Bootsy's extra-syrupy "Sugarcrook" ballads get a nod with "The Passion Continues," while a heavy dose of his pure virtuosity on bass penetrates tracks like "Bugg Lite" and "Fuzz Face".
Eventually, Bootsy and keyboard wizard Worrell developed a whole new sound-a psychedelic update of the James Brown thang, with a few Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone) innovations tossed in: circular basslines that breathe, blasting horn sections, scratch guitars and single note unison lines, and even more funky special effects like popping and distorted fuzz-bass. All this permeates the cyberfunkic sprawl of Lord of the Harvest, and with the musical mutations of Fuzzface to back him up, Zillatron is once again poised to convert all detractors to the ways of The One. He who sows the wind reaps the funky storm.


dimanche 6 mars 2011

Buckethead : "The Day Of The Robot"


Well every once in a while people ask me about Buckethead. Why does he wear a mask and bucket. What happened to his parents. Is he part robot, will he hurt us, is he really Colonel Sanders son, on and on and on. Well I can't tell you everything about Bucket but I can tell you something.
First of all you gotta understand Buckethead grew up real lonely on that farm. He figured no one understood him. The only thing they understood about him was how to treat him bad. To this very day, believe it or not, Buckethead does not like to be shocked with a cattle prod.
It wasn't all bad, though, on the farm. As soon as he moved into the chicken coop he started to make new friends. The chickens took real good care of him, and they liked him so much they scratched his face off. Now he could wear a mask every day, just like Halloween! He was the luckiest boy he knew. He didn't know many other boys though, except those kids who lit him on fire that time.One good way to forget the smell of burning cartilage was watching movies. Down the hill from the coop, and through a knothole in the fence, was the drive-in theater. Every night at dusk the boy could watch great movies like GIANT ROBOT or THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. The speakers wouldn't reach to the coop though so he didn't even know what the movies sounded like. All he heard was chickens when Leatherface would slam the big metal door shut.
So when he got to be about THIS tall Buckethead started playing his little guitar. He would sit and watch the movies and his fingers couldn't stop moving and now all the sudden there was music. And Giant Robot would shoot rockets out of his fingers and who knows what would happen.
Buckethead practiced so much he started to get real good. But the people on the farm still made fun of him and smashed his family's eggs. One night, after he got to be this tall, somebody threw a bucket of fried chicken into the coop. Try as he might, Buckethead couldn't put the chicken back together again. So he put the bucket on his head, picked up his guitar and ran to the cemetery.
Buckethead was real sad but it seemed like he played guitar better than ever...

Ronald L. Witherspoon
Bucketheadland Historian


Rusell Mills / Undark : "Pearl + Umbra"

(Bella Union, 1999)

Russell Mills is primarily known for his extensive album/book cover art as well as for his audio/visual art installations. For the second time, Russell has taken upon constructing a musical collage, calling upon his friends and clients from the ambient/art/experimental music world. Mills has taken their contributions and reshaped them with the help of his "sonic mirror" Tom Smyth. Working together as Undark, they've pieced together a darkly invigorating pastiche, Pearl + Umbra :

"There was never a game plan to assemble some kind of virtual supergroup, it just so happens that I've been extremely lucky to have worked with and for some of the most innovative and influential sound-shapers in contemporary musics from that past twenty years. Thankfully these musicians, many of whom have over the years become good friends, entered into the open-ended "collage" spirit of the project and generously provided me with a plethora of sounds. These ranged from 80 guitar "noises" from Kevin Shields to about 10 glorious melodic drifts from Roger Eno, to solid bass runs from Bill Laswell to a vocal track from David Sylvian, amongst others.
Kurt Schwitters is a German artist who died in Ambleside and who is considered by many of the world's art critics/writers/academics as being one of the most important figures in 20th century art. Well he's been a hero of mine for years and I'd been thinking of his legacy - he worked in collage, abstract, made from the discarded everyday.
The other thing that kept fascinating me were questions of what collage is in contemporary life and culture. I kept finding a link between what Schwitters made and his writings, performances and poems (phonetic and more formal) and cultural norms of the last 40 years. The way that all contemporary forms are created and received/perceived are all prime examples of what Schwitters set into motion 70 -80 years ago. TV programmes, videos, news coverage, radio programmes, magazines, the use of sampling and other technologies in recording of sound,newspapers, novels, design, advertising, art, etc., - all are forms of collage; dislocated, disparate elements re-contextualised; all mediums capable of shifting in any direction chronologically from reality to the imagined, from dream state to known fact, from documented past to possible futures, etc".

excerpts from a (very interesting) Russell Mills interview


Dimension X

(KML Recordings, 2007)

The path-treading encounter of bassist Massimo Pupillo (Zu), drummer Chris Corsano (Bjork, Akira Sakata) and guitarist David Chalmin –rock/noise/experimental improvisers - with the universe of the 50s cult science-fiction radio show Dimension X. Based on stories from the show, each track unfolds the strange world of thinking machines, robots, chaos, Martians, madness ... and humankind’s quest for emotion, truth and hope.
Building on many hours of raw, instinctive and live improvised material, David Chalmin returned to the studio to create an album of strong personality.