Doug McComb’s first album as Brokeback is imbued with pastoral Impressionism, experimentalism, and a sense of Zen contentment. The record is mostly centered around his Bass VI, a short-scale bass with six strings that is trebly enough to function in both guitar and bass roles. This versatile instrument is usually wet with chorus and reverb that sculpt a fluid, aquatic tone to complement the slow, tranquil melodies. Outside of some solo pieces Doug is joined by a variety of accompaniment including lap steel guitar, synth, upright bass, Rhodes, vocals from Mary Hansen, and light percussion provided by producer/Tortoise bandmate John McEntire. This is a record that can be appreciated from a passive impressionistic standpoint, as well as under the microscopic attention of an engaged ear. (Follow link for full review)
Recommended for fans of Tortoise or Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western soundtracks
Released in 1996 on Happy Go Lucky Format: 12″ EP
The third album from the Melbourne (Au) violin/guitar/drum trio consists of loose, drifting instrumentals that conjure images of vast, open plains. Though the music here is often melancholic and lethargic, it is occasionally swept up with bursts of passionate energy and possessed by cathartic longing (especially the pleading and utterly beautiful violin solo on “Warren’s Lament”). All three instrumentalists have very individual styles that complement and dialogue with each other in refreshingly unique ways.
“Side one features a collection of songs performed by a pliant and almost pristine quartet playing songs by Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian, Chris Schlarb, and Shadduck himself, while side two finds Anthony leading a loose, rocking and roiling double quartet performing more obliquely structures pieces and employing a healthy dose of spontaneous improvisation. Both ensembles strike my ear as CLASSIC, spanning the areas of jazz impressionism and edgy-yet-controlled “free jazz” with dedication and distinction.”
[From the liner notes, written by Nels Cline]
Pulling away from the jazzy psych-pop of their first two albums, Soft Machine gears towards sprawling sidelong compositions of spacey prog infused with thematic jazz fusion improvisations, compositional edits, and heavy doses of experimental post-production (for the more psychedelically inclined). Motivic electric-bass grooves, multi-tracked saxophones, loose swinging drums and fuzzy organs reign supreme. The whimsical and diverse musical nature of founding member/drummer Robert Wyatt was relegated to the eclectic C-side, “Moon in June”, which was his last composition for the band due to the other members not being a fan of his vocals and preferring the seriousness of jazz fusion to Wyatt’s child-like playfulness and spontaneity.
Released in 1974 on Virgin Records
“Side A is cut at 45rpm and features “Moya”, a broiling cascade of upward scales that repeatedly explodes beyond its own threshold. “BBF3” on Side B clocks in at 18 minutes, and was the band’s most lyrical, multi-movement music to date — more elaborated melodic figures wind around an angry spoken-word field recording (infamously culminating in the recital of the speaker’s poem — verses lifted straight from Iron Maiden)”
“World Music” is often a cheap umbrella term for non-Eurocentric music, but when acoustic guitar shredders Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah, from Costa Rica and Iran respectively, bring together a Cuban rhythm section, South Indian violinist, and Kuwaiti guitarist, the music they create truly does have a sense of cultural unity deserving of the term.
For fans of flamenco, Arabic folk, and acoustic guitar virtuosity
Released in 2014 on Invada Records Format: LPx2 Tannum Brown vinyl, limited to 1000 copies
On Towards Language, Norweigan trumpeter Arve Henriksen creates a blend of meditative and suspenseful ambient-jazz, demonstrating a more soothing side to his playing than his noisier output with electro-acoustic improvisers Supersilent.
Released in 1977 on RCA Recorded live on a European tour in 1963 Format: LPx2
Originally released in 1969 on Columbia Records 1977 Pressing
Dynamic and uplifting house music characterized by filtered drums and enveloping synth textures. With its driving arpeggiations, danceable 4-on-the-floor grooves, hypnotic build-ups, and soothing ambient tracks, Singularity is extremely well-paced, and it’s most beautiful moments full of sublime wonder.
Released in 2004 on Constellation Records Format: LPx2, Side D is blank
On Automaginary, the Gnawa-inspired cosmic jazz of Natural Information Society is augmented by the flowing textures of Chicago new age trio Bitchin Bajas to create an album of enveloping drones and trance-inducing rhythms. (Follow link for full Review)
Originally released in 1996 on Thrill Jockey Records 2012 pressing
An acoustic trio of piano, upright bass, and drums utilize creative extended techniques to play evolving minimalist compositions of mutating grooves, polyrhythms, and textures.
Released in 1966 on Blue Note Records 1971 United Artists Repress Format: LP
Categorization and comparison are the least of lojii’s worries, instead prioritizing creative expression and finding spiritual truth and power in this dimly lit dystopia. He delivers his prophetic words with a focused, unwavering determination, while the beats are gritty and nocturnal with their open percussion, eerie synths, and negative space. Don’t miss out on this one.
Recorded August 19-21, 1969 Originally released in 1970 on Columbia Records 2008 Legacy Pressing Format: LPx2
Groovy soul instrumentals decorated with sweeping orchestral arrangements, jazz soloing, and psychedelic guitars, all inspired by William Blake’s writings.
Lushly cinematic folk-rock draped in sweeping string arrangements and spacey synth atmospheres. Damien’s reverbed falsetto recalls Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Bon Iver as he softly sings of God, “spaceships”, and other imagery blending Christian themes with science-fiction.
For fans of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, and Beck’s Sea Change
Recorded Dec 3-4, 1965 in Stockholm, Sweden Released in 1966 on Blue Note Records Ornette Coleman – Alto Sax, Violin, … More
Recorded live at Cafe Monmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 23, 1962 Released in 1976 on Arista Records
Released in 1971 on Columbia Records Format: LP
Released in 1959 on Atlantic Records 1970’s Pressing
Information: Released in 1974 on Milestone Recorded on July 7, 1973
This fantastic compilation album consists of 2 hours of unreleased recording sessions ranging from 1970 to 1974. Despite some incohesiveness, this release contains some of the most exciting, creative and uncategorizable music of Miles’ career.
Three volumes of instrumental heavy-psych jams from Denmark, inspired by Black Sabbath, jazz fusion and krautrock.
Information: This album was released in 1969 on Bizzarre Records
Information: Released in 1978 on PVC Records Format: LP
A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.
Information: Released in 2002 on Constellation Records
Five intuitive and melodic duets performed by two longtime musical soulmates. Charlie Haden plays upright bass and Ornette plays tenor saxophone and trumpet on the last track.
On his debut album, the guitar and banjo virtuoso starts off with a 22-minute droning epic fusing American and Arabic Folk music with Indian Raga on his acoustic guitar (often trying to imitate the feeling of the oud). Here, he is accompanied by the fluid, driving drums of Billy Higgins. Side 2 is made up of 4 shorter solo pieces, mostly for the banjo, including an impressive rendition of “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff and a folky mountain song.
This is what I imagine a black hole might sound like. “Zeit” translates to “Time”, yet time feels completely suspended here, filled instead with vast negative space in which burbling VCS 3 synthesizers, suspenseful organs, and a droning quartet of cellos float in and out. These four sidelong pieces erase all traces of rock or any kind of beat from Tangerine Dream’s sound, leaving ominous space-ambient music in its purest form.
Album Information: Compilation of 3 EPs, released in 2013 on Temporary Residence Format: LPx2, etchings on each side
Album Information: Released in 2014 on Constellation Records
Album Information: This album was self-released on CD in 1997 This pressing was released by Constellation Records in 2013 Format: … More
Album Information: Released in 2012 on Editions Mego Format: LP
Album Information: Originally released in 1971 on Impulse Records This pressing was released in 1997 on Impulse/MCA Records Recorded November … More
Album Information: Released in 2008 on Important Records
Album Information: Released in 1973 on CBS/Columbia
Abstract fusion grooves, driving hard bop, and spacious modal jazz with horn overdubs and spacey synthesizers.
Album Information: Released in 1978 on ECM Records Recorded November 1977 at Talent Studio, Oslo Engineered by Jan Erik Kongshaug … More
Album Information: Released in 2013 on Mexican Summer Hand numbered: 777/1000 Format: LP
Album Information: Released in 2014 on Mexican Summer Hand numbered: 139/1000 Format: 12″ EP
Performed on acoustic guitar and an early delay pedal, Christopher Idylls is a soothing, reflective way to ease into the morning. It fits somewhere between ambient, new age, and American primitive guitar.
Album Information: Released in 2017 on Temporary Residence Records
While living in London I had an apartment with a small garden. During he summer around 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, just as the day began, Birds would gather here one by one and sing together, each declaring its freedom in song. It is my wish to share the same spirit with other musicians and communicate it to the people. -Dave Holland
Album Information: Released in 2017 on Blue Chopsticks Records (Imprint of Drag City Records) Eli Keszler – Drums, Percussion (Tracks … More
Brian Eno and German kosmiche duo Cluster collaborate on a spacey synthesizer album with diverse moods, including peaceful ambient swells, sinister sequencers, industrial drum machine grooves, and suspenseful piano motifs. The release is mostly instrumental but Eno songs sparingly on a couple tracks. The last track features Can’s Holger Czukay playing some pulsing, harmonic bass grooves
Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Includes 15-page book of stories and song notes
Meditative jazz explorations of space, rhythm and textures inspired by Miles Davis’ ambient jazz pieces, Gnawa ceremonial music of North Africa, the spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry, and the mutating minimalism of Steve Reich.
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Album Information: Released on Milestone Records in 1972
Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records This album was originally released on 100 copies in 1959, but was … More
Shakti means “Creative Intelligence, Beauty & Power” and trust me, these are all in abundance on these devotional jazz ragas. Featuring John McLaughlin joined by a quartet of Indian master musicians, this album is a blissfully uplifting and meditative release.
In this energizing exploration of Hindustani classical music from a jazz perspective, John McLaughlin joins a virtuosic trio of Indian musicians who inspire some of the most impassioned and impressive playing of his career. His acoustic guitar shredding veers close to the bendy sounds of the sitar and fits nicely with the dense web of percussion created by Vikku Vinayakram and Zakir Hussain. Violinist Lakshiminarayana Shankar’s emotive themes and fiery solos make him a perfect foil to McLaughlin.
“Recorded in an old wooden barn, this second album is swaddled in twilight autumnal ambiance. While the record is bookended by the band’s awesome psych-rock explosions, much of the material here shows increased referencing of jazz influences (modal horns, brushed percussion) and a more organic deployment of micro-electronics. Raw and polished, visceral and cerebral, the band combines rock and jazz traditions of space music with the ‘instrumental’ potentials of mixing room to present a true gem of a record.” (Press Release)
A fingerpicking folk odyssey that traverses through passages of delicate piano motifs, tribal drum circles, meditative ambience, celebratory horn arrangements, reverent organ drones, and even a cathartic drum solo, all within a single 40 minute track.
Album Information: Released in 2009 on Constellation Records Tracklist A1 – Do A2 – Make B1 – Say B2 – … More
Godspeed’s last album before their 10 year hiatus was produced by the legendary Steve Albini, resulting in what might be their heaviest and most direct album to date. Coming off the heels of September 11th, Yanqui U.X.O. seems to be a reaction against the ramped up military-industrial complex and its promotion of fear and xenophobia, as well as protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The back cover even goes as far as connecting each major record label to some type of weapons manufacturer.
An introspective, instrumental journey of pastoral fingerstyle guitar, occasionally joined by piano, synth and horn arrangements
Soothing, cosmic drones constructed with with tape loops, synths, organs, guitars and flute.
A dense fog you can sink into and never want to leave…Glacial, enveloping waves of sound meticulously sculpted from processed organs, piano, and distorted guitar feedback.
Somber ambient-folk with layers of delicate, circular fingerpicking and sparse arrangements of droning harmonium, piano, guitar feedback and the occasional chirping crickets. The soft reverb dampens everything like a light drizzle over the American prairie
Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Original album recorded and released in 1964, but was re-recorded in 1967 … More
Album information: Released on Takoma Records in 1969
Primitivist acoustic guitar instrumentals in the form of droney ragas, jovial ragtime, and pastoral fingerpicking
The past, present, and future of jazz converge on this progressive new release from the legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette, who’s played on everything from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew to albums with Keith Jarrett, Alice Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, and numerous other masters since the late 60′s. Joining him are two descendants of the classic John Coltrane Quartet, Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano sax and Matthew Garrison (son of Jimmy Garrison) on electric bass and electronics. Rather than dwell in the shadows of their fathers, these two have already developed their own powerful and unique voices which are welcome additions to the jazz lineage.
A couple of months before his death in 1967, John Coltrane went into the studio with drummer Rashied Ali to record some of the most free recordings he’s ever made, the freest of free jazz. Perhaps this freeness is due to the absence of other tonal instruments, leaving Coltrane untethered to harmony and 100% free to play whatever raw, unhindered creativity flows through him.