Archive for February, 2009

Andreas Vollenweider Announces New CD: AIR

February 26, 2009

After an absence of a couple of years, Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider has announced his return with a new CD call Air. Not much info yet on release dates. But Andreas has a very charming video up on his site.

Andreas Vollenweider at Echoes

Andreas Vollenweider at Echoes

Here’s the press release:

We are very exited to present to you AIR, a very special new album with a very special history; it came as a surprise, even for Andreas himself! For 2008/9 he had planned to take time off to focus on other projects than music.

Andreas: “I actually was going to make room for my passion for storytelling and I was already in the midst of an intense writing process, when suddenly an unbridled desire to play music was rising. So I ended up writing during the day and at night I went to my studio, to completely lose myself in the playing, for hours, very much the same way as in the very beginning, no strategy, no concrete purpose, no plan. After some time it became very obvious; something wanted to come out and I should follow its ‘calling’. I love the line ‘man makes plans for the amusement of the gods…’, how true this many times is ;-)”.

Andreas began to call his friends and invited them for a spontaneous gathering in his studio… and in less than two weeks AIR was recorded.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echo Location: David Darling’s Ambient Cello

February 25, 2009

Cellist David Darling, the avatar of ambient chamber music returns with Prayer for Compassion, Echoes March CD of the Month.

You can hear an audio version of this blog with music.

Prayer For Compassion David Darling is the Lord of Largo, the Maestro of Melancholy. Classically trained and jazz converted, he played cello with the Paul Winter Consort in the 1970s including the landmark Icarus album. Since then, He’s released several albums on the ECM, Narada, and the Hearts of Space labels and in the process, has become a leading exponent of ambient chamber music. His new album, Prayer for Compassion, continues his mastery of melancholy.

It’s a soulful, heartrending sound that Darling gets from his cello and it has attracted people like film director Wim Wenders to his music. ECM svengali Manfred Eicher fell in love with his sound and invited Darling to record his debut CD on the label, Journal October.
Journal October

David Darling: So I get to Stuttgart, Germany and he says okay, do anything you want and so I started playing goon-goon-bat-che-goon-gon, set the gon-gon-bah, and he walked out of the studio and said well, “I’m not so interested in that, scheise, you know,” but he said this mantra which has been with me all my life, he said, “I want you to go as deep as you can go.”

Darling has been diving deep for years, although if you see him in concert, he’ll still whip out his improvised blues howls. But it’s in the zone of pensive mood pieces, playing electric and acoustic cello that he has made his mark. His new CD, Prayer for Compassion, is born from Darling’s spiritual faith, his battle with drug and alcohol addiction and his world view. You might think David Darling is a morose, brooding musician, but that’s not the case at all.

David Darling: When it comes right down to playing the cello, my fingers seemingly will not go to major, I like some other modality. But you know I feel extremely exalted and happy in that minor place, to me it’s not sad.

David Darling’s Prayer for Compassion is a bath of textures and deep moods, with Darling’s cello arrangements accompanied by some key guests and environmental recordings from Mickey Houlihan. It’s the Echoes CD of the Month for March and I’ll be featuring it on next Monday’s show.   Watch for a full review in the Echoes Picks page.

If you want to taste some of Prayer for Compassion, you can liten to an audio version of this blog.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Vangelis Documentary

February 24, 2009
John Diliberto & Vangelis

John Diliberto & Vangelis

News is afoot that a documentary on Greek synthesist, Vangelis, has been produced by British cultural documentarian Tony Palmer.  Knowing a little about the culture surrounding the acclaimed, Academy Award-winning composer, I’m not sure if it will be more than a puff piece, but the list of commentators is pretty impressive, including all the film directors he’s worked with like Ridley Scott.     There’s more detail on the Planet Origo site, which is a good source for all things spacey and electronic.

You might also get a kick out of this earlier Echoes Blog on the True Story of Vangelis

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Mellotron from Lawrence Welk to King Crimson

February 11, 2009
Radio Massacre International Mellotron on Bottom

Radio Massacre International's Mellotron on Bottom

There’s a new movie out called Mellodrama: The Story of the Mellotron that documents the history of the Mellotron and it’s forerunner, the Chamberlain.

I haven’t seen the documentary, which just opened at a film festical, but some interesting tidbits are gleaned from the trailer and an interview with the director, Dianna Dillworth.

Who’d have thought that the sound of King Crimson, Tangerine Dream and the Moody Blues was born in the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, which apparently provided the source materiel for the original Chamberlain and Mellotron tapes.

There’s also a hilarious YouTube promo film for the Mellotron from the early 1960s.

Best Chamberlain/Mellotron Songs and/or Albums:

Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles “Strawberry Fields” Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles use of mellotron flutes on Strawberry Fields helped paved the way for this instrument and revealed that the Mellotron was’t a replacement for the orchestra, but a whole  new soundworld unto itself

Days of Future Passed The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed Like The Beatles, the charm of the mellotron in their music was that it didsn’t sound like an orchestra.  IN fact, their actual orchestral arrangements sound sappier now than they did 40 years ago, but the mellotron arrangements sound timeless.
Phaedra Tangerine Dream “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares” Phaedra The Mellotron is all over this album and other TD releases from this era.  They took the mellotron out of the orchestral mode and sent it to textural space.

In the Court of the Crimson King King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King What can you saw about this quintessential mellotron recording, creating the orchestra of doom on the title track and pastoral fantasies on “I Talk to the Wind” and “Moonchild”

Aguirre Popol Vuh Aguire I can’t tell you how many musicians I’ve talked to who cite the opening of Werner Herzog‘s Aguire-The Wrathe of God with the conquistadors descending into the mist shrouded Amazon valley to the strains of Popol Vuh’s haunting score
The Isness Future Sound of London The Isness I suspect they used samples off of lots of other records with mellotrons, but this trip into post-electronica psychedelia resounds with flutes and strings redolent of a great acid trip, coutesy of the Mellotron.
mosaic2 Richard Burmer Mosaic Richard actually used a Chamberlain of much of his debut album, a masterpiece of sampled orchestral exotica where the smokey, atmospheric sound of the Chamberlain adorned lovely tunes like Ave Plaedelio and fever dreams like “The Serum.”
Cruel Inventions Sam Phillips Cruel Inventions You wouldn’t think of this singer-songwriter as a mellotron exponent, but producer and then husband T-Bone Burnett brought the Chamberlain in to create slightly surreal beds for Phillips often tortured songs.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))


A Shaman Enters the Next World: Jorge Reyes’ Last Rattle

February 9, 2009

It’s been a while since we’ve played any music by Jorge Reyes on Echoes.  Something I now regret upon hearing of his passing this past Saturday, February 7, 2009 from an apparent heart attack.  He was 57. There is an obit on-line.

Suspended Memories - Forgotten Gods Jorge was a big part of Echoes during the techno-tribal days of the early 1990s.  I first heard of him when he collaborated with Steve Roach, who recorded a couple of albums with Jorge as Suspended MemoriesForgotten Gods and Earth Island, classics of the techno-tribal years.

At the time, many musicians were trying to get closer to the original source of music by playing ancient instruments.  But whether they were tapping clay pots or blowing into didgeridoos, few went as far as Jorge Reyes, who played stones and bones, among other ancient artifacts.  Jorge released several solo recordings, that are fairly hard to get in the U.S.  They are often marked by a sonic density and rhythmic intensity that could take you into another world or send you screaming from it.  A good entry to his music might be Mexican Music: Pre-Hispanic or Baho El Sol Jaguar, which are more open and melodic.

Pre-Hispanico I first met Jorge in Steve Roach’s Tucson home for an Echoes Living Room Concert in 1992.  Along with Spanish guitarist Suso Saiz, the three musicians conjured up the spirits in set shrouded in throbbing rhythms, and a cross-referencing of sounds ancient and futuristic.  I caught up with him again at Imaginaria 95, a conference in São Paulo , Brazil produced by Mirna Grzich.  Jorge and his friend, Jose Luis Cruz, took me under their wings in the wilds of São Paulo and gave me the best possible time.  My last contact with them was eating breakfast in Manhattan after our red-eye flight back.  It seemed like I’d made a longtime friendship, but sadly that was our last interaction.

We produced a really nice feature on Jorge in 1995, based on my interviews with him in Sao Paulo that also includes a bit of his live performance there.  If you want to hear a musicians who touched the beyond, give it a spin. Jorge Reyes Echoes Interview 1995

I was also surprised to discover some video footage of Jorge on YouTube.  They all find him in a much more primitive, acoustic state than I remember him playing, but then, it had been a while.  The long shots are murky, but wait for the close-ups.

Here’s another video that I didn’t realize existed. It’s a 10:00 excerpt from the 1992 Echoes Living Room Concert with Suspended Memories. There wasn’t much light, so the video itself is pretty dark, but the music is intense.

Jorge Reyes was a remarkable presence.  Gentle, sweet and unaffected offstage, a possessed ritualistic performer onstage.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Grammy Goof: New Age and Polka Dots

February 9, 2009

I skipped watching the Grammys Sunday night to catch a live performance by Jon Hassell that took a deep diving expedition guided by fourth world semaphores and jazz signposts.  (See earlier blog.)

Peace Time

But after I got home, as I booted up my DVR to catch the awards show, I opened an email from Will Ackerman with the news that Jack DeJohnette had taken the New Age Grammy.  It’s a crime that this amazing drummer has never won a jazz Grammy for any of the extraordinary albums he’s authored over the last 40 years or so.  But it’s a sad day that when he finally wins, it’s for a generic New Age album that would’ve been cliched 30 years ago.  DeJohnette getting this award is akin to Jethro Tull getting the heavy metal Grammy in 1988 for Crest of a Knave and Yusef Lateef for getting the New Age Grammy in 1987 for his hackneyed Little Symphony, an album which will be joined by DeJohnette’s Peace Time in the dustbin of forgotten Grammy Award winners.  One would hope that the New Age category may get a bit more respect when a musician of this caliber wins, but not for this album. As a member of the Academy, my regrets to Peter Kater, Will Ackerman, Will Clipman and Ottmar Liebert, all of whom released superior albums.

Random Observations:
Brian Eno, all he does is win Grammys for other bands.  I don’t believe Coldplay even mentioned him in any of their three award speeches.

Steve Wonder playing with the overwrought boy band, The Jonas Brothers:  They can only hope to have a fraction of his genius.

Carrie Underwood had me thinking that there’s no difference between modern country and mainstream rock, but then Kenny Chesney came on, plunging deep into a soulful country vein, complete with cowboy hat, to remind me that there is.

When is Herbie Hancock going to start looking his age?

Why is it that whenever a rap artist came on to perform with a pop singer the song turned to crap.   Jay-Z rapping  on Coldplay’s “Lost?”   Does everything t have to have a rap component or is that just me?

Rappers also detracted from the sightof  M.I.A.’s polka dot leotard bikini over her 9 months and calling very pregnant belly.

How many awards given in a 3.5 hour broadcast? 10  That’s one award every 18 minutes.

Winners at Grammy.com

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

51st Grammys: Echoes at the Edges

February 5, 2009

The 51st Annual Grammy will be broadcast this Sunday, February 8 and as usual, don’t expect to see any Echoes artists on it. Not that there aren’t some cool artists nominated in major categories, among them Coldplay, Radiohead, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Beck.

But you’ll find Echoes artists turning up in unusual categories including country with Jerry Douglas and Charlie Haden, Moby in Best Electronic/Dance Album, David Gilmour in Best Rock Instrumental and Thievery Corporation for Best Recording Packaging.

And of course, there’s always New Age, the category no one wants to be in, yet, all five nominees are core Echoes artists.

You can hear our Grammy Soundscape tonight on Echoes on the radio, and Echoes Subscribers can get it  beginning on Friday, if not earlier at Echoes On-Line.

Here’s my picks in the categories where anyone might care what I pick.

New Age

Will Ackerman: Meditations
Will Ackerman’s Meditations is essentially a reprise of his 2004 Grammy-winning album, Returning, on which he re-recorded a bunch of his older tunes.  He does  the same with half the tracks on Meditations, the others being new pieces.  It’s a pretty album with subtle arrangements from Philip Aaberg, but we have been here before.

Peace Time Jack  DeJohnette: Peace Time
DeJohnette is a  jazz drumming genius who’s work with Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and countless others.  He’s also led many of the most exciting groups in jazz, like Jack DeJohnette’s Directions and Special Edition. Why he would want to make a generic sounding new age record is beyond me.

AmbrosiaPeter Kater: Ambrosia
This is one of something like 5 albums that Kater put out in 2008.   If the Native American category wasn’t mired in traditionalism, his Sacred Earth: Wind of the East album would have been nominated there, but that would’ve been a better pick even in New Age. Ambrosia is a serene album of neo-chamber music for piano, cello, flute and “ambient” percussion that might be a little too muted.

Pathfinder Will Clipman: Pathfinder
R. Carlos Nakai’s percussionist of choice, Will Clipman makes an engaging CD of solo percussion music drawing upon his world rhythm orchestra of instruments.  Pathfinder is a brave album and something of a statement for Clipman who creates an work of shifting trance grooves with touches of melody, all percussion derived.

The Scent of Light Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra: The Scent Of Light
That would leave Ottmar Liebert’s The Scent of Light as the winner. He pushed his Nouveau Flamenco sound by expanding his compositions into quietly epic tone poems that are cinematic in scope and contemplative in form. The Scent of Light was an Echoes CD of the Month and I think it should win and I suspect it will.

Best Rock Instrumental Performance

This category is for a specific song and it has some great nominees, David Gilmour, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Rush and the Zappa Plays Zappa tribute band with Steve Vai.Ghosts I - IV

I suspect Metallica’s Suicide & Redemption will take it. I think the Academy is still trying to make up for awarding  the first Heavy Metal Grammy to Jethro Tull‘s Crest of a Knave instead of Metallica’s …And Justice for All in 1989.  I’d pick “34 Ghosts” from NIN’s Ghosts I-IV

Songs From the Black Hills Best Native American Music Album
This category is especially distressing this year, with 2 traditional pow-wow ensembles, a CD of harmonized Peyote songs and album of healing songs. I give it to Songs From The Black Hills by Bryan Akipa, a nicely produced, and fairly deep album of Native flute songs. I think he has a good shot at winning it in a thin field.

Global Drum Project Best Contemporary World Music Album
The only Echoes album here is Global Drum Project with Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju & Giovanni Hidalgo. It’s a pleasant, but fairly rote follow-up to their more expansive Planet Drum project from the early 1990s.  I suspect it will be beaten by any of the others, Lila Downs, Gilberto Gil, Youssou N’Dour or the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Best Classical Cross-over Performance
I’m pulling here for Ronn McFarlane‘s Indigo Road, an enchanting album of new music for Renaissance lute. Ronn gave a delightful performance this year on Echoes. I feel like this category has gotten more staid and traditional since it was first launched and this is the only album that swings it back a little.

Regarding the categories you’ll be seeing on TV I pick:

“Please Read The Letter” by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss or Record of the Year

Viva La Vida Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends by Coldplay for Album of the Year

“Viva La Vida” by Coldplay for Song of the Year

Duffy for Best New Artist in a weak field.

You can see all the Grammy nominees here

The live stream of the non-televised portion of the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards — the GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast will stream at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on Feb. 8. You can watch that online.
The Grammy telecast starts at 8PM on CBS.

I, however, will be catching Jon Hassell and his band creating ethno-electronic soundscapes and improvisations at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes Top 25 for January ’09: Kaya Project Tops

February 3, 2009

Kaya Project Tops our January Top 25.

Kaya Project makes it’s way to the top, no surprise since it was our Echoes CD of the Month for January.   Kaya Project’s Seb Taylor actually gets a double hit since his Hibernation album,  Some Things Never Change, also made the list.  But Kaya Project points to a resurgence of World fusion over the last two months.,  The number two selection is Bombay Dub Orchestra‘s 3 Cities.   That was a CD of the Month in November and is still riding high.  Other world fusion exponents on the top 25 list include, Uriel with his electronic Middle Eastern fusion and Ottmar Liebert, still here with his mid-summer Nouveau Flamenco album, The Scent of Light.  It’s nominated for a Grammy this year.

There usually aren’t a lot of new albums on the list in January, but among the newcomers are electronica singer, Jen Pumo with All Over the Moon and bassist Erik Scott with Other Planets.  Look for this former Alice Cooper sideman to top the list next month since he’ll be the Echoes CD of the Month for February.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

ECHOES TOP 25

JANUARY 2009

1. Kaya Project And So It Goes Interchill

Read the Review!

2. Bombay Dub Orchestra 3 Cities Six Degrees Records
3. David Helpling and Jon Jenkins Beyond Words Deep Exile Music
4. Sumner McKane What A Great Place to Be Don’t Hit Your Sister Records
5. John Gregorius Heaven and Earth Spotted Peccary
6. General Fuzz Soulful Filling Self Released
7. Motionfield Optical Flow Somnia
8. Uriel Culture Shift AD Music
9. Anja Lechner and Vasillis Tsabropoulos Melos ECM Records

10. Michel Banabilia Precious Images Streamin’ Sound
11. Jen Pumo All Over the Moon Brother Hum, LLC
12. Erik Scott Other Planets Self Released
13. Neil Jacobs 12 String Guitar Adena Productions
14. Hibernation Some Things Never Change Aleph Zero
Amazon MP3

15. Ottmar Liebert The Scent of Light Spiral Subwave Records Int’l
16. Johann Johannsson Fordlandia 4AD/Touch

17. Sounds from the Ground Brightwhitelight Waveform Records
Amazon MP3
18. Ian Boddy Slide DiN
19. Dante Bucci Reminiscence Self Released
20. Wolfert Brederode Quartet Currents ECM Records Amazon MP3
21. Jeffrey Koepper Luminosity Air Space Records
22. Thomas Newman Towelhead Lakeshore Records
23. Carl Weingarten Lost in the Air Self Released
24. Cam Newton Oregon Outback Summit Records

25. Sentieri Selvaggi Plays Gavin Bryars and Philip Glass Cantaloupe Records

Kaya Project’s

was the Echoes CD of the Month
for January 2009




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