We continue to build the worldwide selectors & diggers community with your help! This time we got a tip from our friends in Glasgow to get in touch with Fergus. He’s young but already has a sophisticated taste, just check this mysterious and delicate selection of 5 his favorite records.
This record is a very recent buy, and one of my favourites from the label (or from what I’ve explored of it anyway). Grabaciones Accidentales, which means “Accidental Recordings”, was started in Spain in the 80’s and is perhaps best known in certain circles for the Finis Africae related stuff they put out. It was actually a relatively major label that also dealt with Spanish distribution of big bands like Primal Scream and The Pixies. Pep Llopis released three records on the label in 1987, this one being the stand out but the first one is worth looking out for too. The tracks on this are made up of vibraphone, marimba, piano loops, clarinet, violin and flute. Spoken word flutters in and out over the music, always coming in at just the right points to give you that spine tingling feeling. A1 and A2 especially have that lovely hypnotic sort of repetition which I find myself drawn to so often in music.
Lovely Music was a New York based record label started in the 1970’s by Mimi Johnson, who was actually married to Robert Ashley. It’s also her voice which he uses and manipulates on this piece. To try and describe ‘Automatic Writing’ in words would be near impossible for me as it sounds so other-worldly and beautiful. However, looking at the youtube comments for this, it would appear a lot of people disagree (apparently it is ‘scary’?). I’ve had the record for a few years now and would highly recommend listening to it on good headphones for full enjoyment. Below is a brief summary of the recording taken from the labels website.
“Composed in recorded form over a period of five years, Automatic Writing is the result of Robert Ashley’s fascination with involuntary speech. He has recorded and analyzed the repeated lines of his own mantra and extracted four musical characters. The result is quiet, mysterious, melancholy and an early form of ambient music.”
The duo of Midori Takada and Yoji Sadanari take their name from the tree whose wood was used to produce some of the very first mallets and marimba instruments. Both musicians graduated from the Tokyo University of Arts and went on to work as freelance solo players making some timeless music, Takada’s “Through The Looking Glass” which came two years after this record is an absolute classic. For this album, the basic concept is a heavy pursuit of percussion and rhythm, indebted to and inspired by the sub-Saharan climate in which the mkwaju (tamarind) tree grows and thrives.
Every track on this LP is great, from the relaxing yet fast-paced Zindo Zindo to the proper mental cosmic sound of Angwora Steps, but the B2 track Hot Air is so calm and peaceful it’s probably my pick of the lot. I managed to get a copy about a year ago from The Living Mountain; a great but small record shop in Edinburgh ran by Lindsay Todd who also works out of a print studio adjacent to the shop space. It is a great new addition to the slightly depressing world of Scottish record shops and I would recommend anyone visiting the city to drop in. The first Mkwaju Ensemble lp was also released in 1981 and features some proto-house tracks (the A4 in particular) that would really stand out in a club I reckon.
I think the first time I heard this was about five years ago, it was doing the rounds on some blogs at the time. My knowledge of library music was next to nothing at that point (all my money was going on old chicago house and new dance records) but the cover grabbed me straight away and sort of remained on my mind. It’s a painting by Jacques Poirier, a lot of his art doesn’t really do anything for me but there is something in the childlike dream world this painting exudes that fits so perfectly with the melodies and rhythms contained within Bulots music. It’s your typical library sort of affair with many different styles and tempos, but on this album every track is good, something often not the case with library records. Short and fast korg jingles sit next to moody and moogy (couldn’t resist, sorry…) experiments which then fade away to be replaced with more organic and acoustic sounds such as guitars, flutes and tablas. Serge Bulot plays everything on the record himself, as shown by a lovely black and white photograph on the back cover of him sat by the wide array of instruments wearing a particularly comfortable looking sweater. His hair is pretty good too. The pick of the record for me is probably the title track, and it also fits in nicely with the other pieces of music I’ve talked about so far.
This is a collaborative album by two Portuguese musicians, and I believe it was produced in conjunction with the Galeria Graca Fonseca, an art gallery that was open in the 1990’s in Lisbon. Perhaps another obvious pick in certain circles, but this is up there with some of the most beautiful music I’ve been lucky enough to hear. There is such a giant range of instruments used including okinawa flute, marimba, harmonica, ukulele, tabla, flugel horn, m’bira, organ, piano and samples and more. This first came on my radar probably 2012 or so and a year or two later I decided to try and track down a copy by finding either Carlos or Nuno online and getting in touch. Maybe 6 or 7 months after I mailed Carlos there was a reply from him in my inbox and it went from there. He had four copies left to sell, so both myself and my best friend Ruaidhri took a copy each and the other two went to my friend Sebastian Stang (he does a great radio show called ‘For A Better Tomorrow’ on radiox.de) in Frankfurt and to JD Twitch from Optimo.
Although very different to “Automatic Writing” which I talked about earlier, some of the short tracks on this where vocal samples are used very much remind me of its otherworldly qualities. I suppose the thing tying all of the tracks I’ve picked together is the sort of heart-warming and mysterious elation I get when I listen to them, as opposed to a particular genre or place acting as the common thread. Somebody summed this feeling up perfectly in a comment on the youtube video for Robbie Basho’s “Rocky Mountain Raga”, by saying that the song makes him ‘nostalgic for a time that may or may not have ever existed’. “Antica/Burun” from this LP evokes that exact state of mind, and has been the final track of countless late night listening sessions for me that it seemed fitting to use it as my final choice.
Pics & words Fergus Clark
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