Friday Random Ten 5/11

  1. Baka Beyond, “Baka Play Baka”: This is what happens when you take a bunch of great trad Irish musicians, and lock them into a room with a bunch of great African musicians from the Baka tribe in Cameroon. I don’t know quite how to describe this. It really doesn’t sound like anything else. You can tell that there’s Irish roots, and you can hear some African things that sound a little bit like M’balah, but mostly, it’s something different. Very cool stuff.
  2. Flook, “Beehive”: Flook is, bar none, the greatest instrumental trad Irish band around. They’ve got the guy who I think is greatest tinwhistle player in the world, Brian Finnegan; Sarah Allen, who can somehow keep up with Brian while playing on a honking *huge* alto whistle while standing on one foot; John Joe Kelley, a man who somehow makes the Bodhran (a kind of drum which the scourge of sessions everywhere) into a delicate and expressive instrument (one of Flook’s album liner notes quotes a review that says something like “Saying John-Joe plays the Bohran is like saying Everest is a bit of a climb”); and last but not least, Ed Boyd, a rhythm guitarist who demonstrates just why being a rhythm guitar player can be an artistic calling. If you’ve never heard Flook, go out any buy their albums. All of them. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Flook.
  3. The Trey Gunn Band, “Gate of Dreams”: a track from the band led by former King Crimson stick player Trey Gunn. This is probably my favorite track by the TGB, which unfortunately isn’t saying that much. Trey is a brilliant player, but he’s rather dull as a composer. His band’s work tends to leave me very flat.
  4. The Flower Kings, “Days Gone By”: This is very out of place in a shuffle. It’s not really it’s own song. It’s the ending of a long piece told from the point of view of a self-hating vampire.
  5. Mouse on Mars, “Chartnok”: Noisy electronica, recommended to me by someone who thought that if I liked postrock, I’d like this. They were wrong. Ick.
  6. Peter Hammill, “After the Show”: live recording of a song by one of the founders of progressive rock. It’s an incredibly sparse performance – Hammill on keyboards and vocals, plus an electric violin and bass. One of the most intense recordings I’ve ever heard. I get chills every time I hear this. I don’t know that I’d call in beautiful music; but it’s a brilliant piece of musical art which I love listening to.
  7. Godspeed you! Black Emperor, “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls”: Godspeed – the b est post-rock ensemble ever. Everything I’ve ever heard by them is amazing.
  8. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, “Fugue” from Bach’s “Prelude and Fugure No. 20”: Ordinally, I love just about anything Bela Fleck does. Not this. There’s nothing wrong, in principle, with playing with great classical music. Hell, I’ve heard ELP take on the Prelude and Fugure, and it was great. But this is a dreadful job of playing with it. Geez, Bela, what did Bach ever do to you to deserve this?
  9. Tony Trischka, “Armando’s Children”: Amazing coincidence that this came up now. Just what I needed after hearing that train-wreck of Bela’s: Bela, along with his old Banjo teacher playing some brilliant newgrass. Now this is what I expect when I go listen to Bela – and it’s even better when it’s Bela playing along with one of the few people in the world who can keep up with – and even sometimes get a step or two ahead of him. Wow.
  10. Solas, “The Crested Hens”: Solas is another dazzling traditional Irish band. Formed from a mixture of Irish and Irish-American musicians, led by the unbelievable Seamas Egan. This is a slow air featuring the wonderful violin playing of Winnifred Horan and low whistle by Seamus. Seeing them live back in March convinced me to go out and buy a low whistle. (I also have to say, after seeing them live, that I was very surprised by the violinist. On all of the photos on their album covers, she’s always got this pissed-off look on her face, so I was expecting her to be a very grumpy performer. Turned out to be an incredibly silly, happy, funny person whose energy was dazzling. You could just see how the energy of a song would change when her violin part came in.)

0 thoughts on “Friday Random Ten 5/11

  1. JimFiore

    Trey Gunn, eh? Is it anything like Crimson or Tony Levin’s solo work? I’ve got a lot of Crimson material with Trey on it (and two DVDs) but none of his own stuff. If you’re into that genre, might I suggest Sean Malone’s Gordian Knot? It’s some of the best material I’ve heard in some time (Bill Bruford guests on the second CD). Sean is another great Stick player.
    I haven’t heard anything from Pete Hammill in a while. I sometimes wonder what folks are up to and what I have missed. For example, the last Kate Bush CD (the one with “Pi”) completely flew under my radar and I didn’t pick it up until last month. I only recently discovered that Annie Haslam is living outside of Philadelphia, and I’m patiently waiting for Dirk Campbell to release something new (it’s been years since “Music From a Round Tower” came out.)

  2. Peter Hollo

    Mouse on Mars: I suspect they were thinking of their Niun Niggung album, or something else from around that period. Idiology to a lesser extent too. MoM are a band who tend to change styles for pretty much every album, so the new one by no means represents “their sound”.

  3. Joe Fredette

    As a Fiddle player myself (Guitar and Piano too), I also get that angry face. People tell me it looks like I hate the song I’m playing every time I play. I determined that the real issue is just that it is a combination of how the violin is held (that chin rest can be unwieldy sometimes.), as well as the intensity of concentration needed to keep track of your fingers.
    Many people don’t realize that finger position is harder to track on a violin. Now, Before people start yelling that its not, it just means that you’ve been playing long enough to internalize the process. I’m not all that great at the violin, and it _definitely_ gives me problems. The issue is a matter of depth perception, having started out on the guitar, fretting notes is a horizontal process, so it’s relatively easy to determine at any point how far to move for the next note, (especially since there are fret bars). On a violin, there are no fret bars, and the “next note finding” process is an issue of depth, which is harder to perceive than lateral movement.
    A neat thing to notice is that in bands which have both a violin and a Mandolin or Guitar or other lateral instrument is that the violinist will typically not look up, whereas the guitarist/mandolinist/etc will look up far more often. It’s a handy way to determine how long the violinist has been playing, the formula looks something like*:
    Relative Experience = [(number of times looked up)/(total length of time played)]*(innate talent constant)
    For Guitarist/Other Lateral players, the inverse is true, something like:
    Relative Experience = [(number of times looked down)/(total length of time played)] * (innate talent constant)
    *= These are my first music teachers formulae, I teach them to some of my students now too. I think they’re clever, even if they’re a little inaccurate.


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