On Recent Vinyl Rotation: A Daily Journey with Diana Biernat

I started the day waking up, with the plan of writing the first column on #vinyloftheday, planning to take you on a musical journey throughout my day. Writing the article brings up a bit anxiety and excitement at the same time – time to clear the head with a cup of coffee and the first record of the day:

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Dino Valente – Dino Valente (Epic, 1968)

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The smooth voice of Chet Powers aka Dino Valenti (Valente was actually a misspelling by the label) matches the subtle instrumentation of this Psychedelic Folk gem perfectly.

Before he was able to record the first album with his band Quicksilver Messenger Service, he went to jail for drug possession. He later re-joined the band, but leaving jail he started to record this wonderful album now spinning.

Do you know the feeling of listening to an album completely, and when the needle reaches the lead-out groove, you just want to get up, turn the record over and play it again from the start? Here we go.

This album is not so much Acid Folk by the style of instrumentation, but his very unique voice makes it utterly trippy. His voice has an underlying melancholy which shines through ever so often, making this a calm but compelling listen. It weaves an intriguing net with tales of yearning, love and loss, always accompanied with a certain lightness and frail beauty. The outro “Test” ends the album hauntingly.

Realizing this goes pretty well, I was ready for something a bit more adventurous and put on.

Pharoah Sanders – Jewels Of Thought (Impulse!, 1969)

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This is another startling outlet by the Free Jazz / Spiritual Jazz saxophonist and mastermind Pharoah Sanders, basically a seamless continuation of the predecessor Karma.
Hum-Allah, a 14-minute piece, starts beautifully smooth with Lonnie Liston Smith on the piano and Pharoah soulfully tuning in on his sax and only needs a few seconds to cast a smile on my face. Afterward, Thomas starts something I only can label as soulful yodeling, but it fits the light, breezy mood of the song perfectly. This is followed by the twice as long piece Sun in Aquarius, which is almost a mix between a storm and a calm sunny day – intense free jazz drums and African percussion phases with frenetical piano play alternate with light-hearted saxophone play and a stellar bass solo by Cecil McBee and Richard Davis as a bridge.

This album is an intense and captivating journey from start to finish – it keeps me glued next to the speakers, wanting me not to miss a second of the record due to it’s diversity.

This record put me in the mood for more challenging Free Jazz in combination with spoken word poetry, so the next record I pull out the shelf is

Full Moon Ensemble – Crowded with Loneliness (AKT, 1970)

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Full Moon Ensemble? Rings a bell? In case you are a Free Jazz enthusiast: They played the two “Live In Antibes” Actuel sessions with Archie Shepp.

The drummer Claude Delcloo founded a fanzine called Actuel which was later the basis for the well-known sub-label.
This album combines Free Jazz elements with a French spoken word tribute to the Beatnick and surrealist poet Bob Kaufman, who itself was largely inspired by Jazz – a neatly closed circle. Sarah, the vocalist of the group, recites his poems about war, love and a lot of other stuff my dusty French is not capable of grasping. The spoken word parts contrast the melodic, intense and sometimes wild instrumentation beautifully and takes you on a wild ride to Paris in the early 70’s.

Ok, time to calm down a little. The sun bursting through the window makes me want to step to the Brazillian section of the shelf.

Jorge Ben – Forca Bruta (Phillips, 1970)


This album oozes summer and breezy sunlight out of every groove. The Brazilian musician Jorge Ben has a vast and impressive catalog of records under his belt, and Forca Bruta is definitely a timeless MPB classic. It combines samba with soul and funk elements and his mellow, gentle voice seamlessly. The subtle use of strings makes this album even more interesting. This album instantly drew me into it’s spell at the first listen – even though I have no idea what he is singing about. But thankfully, music is transcending – the vocals and instrumentation fit each other like a glove, making me admire this piece of music anyway. And making me want to pack my bags and head to the beach.

Only a crazy mind would go from Jorge Ben to Aesop Rock – so, may I introduce myself?

Aesop Rock – Labor Days (Definitive Jux, 2001)

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Aesop Rock holds a special place in my heart – if you read my collector series, you will already know I have started my musical journey with Hip Hop (if you haven’t, you can read it here: Diana Biernat’s Record Collection). I was intrigued by his mind-bending lyricism right from the start – his flow make you kind of drown in a flood of his cunning and often highly metaphorical lyrics and it takes some time to fully absorb what he is saying.
Hey, that guy even has the largest vocabulary in Hip Hop! (see here.)
And with infamous lines like

Life’s not a b*tch life is a beautiful woman
Your only call her a b*tch because she won’t let you get that pu**y
Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests
Or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess

Well, do I even need to say more?
In times where lyrics often play a mere secondary role, getting back to this record is always a breath of fresh air.
The song “No regrets” easily has one of the most gripping song concept I ever came across.

Daylight is closing in. Almost done with writing. The last album of the day needs to be a relaxing one:

Eternal Tapestry – Beyond The 4th Door (2011)

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The Portland, Oregon-based Psychedelic Rock group with their hazy, droney soundscape are perfect for ending the day. Slow drum rhythm, an enthralling bass melody and matching finger-picking guitar play makes this album incredibly hypnotic. Sometimes, eerie, whispered vocals are added, finalizing the dense atmosphere. The elaborate and meditative guitar and synth outlets remind me of trippy Krautrock like Ash Ra Temple, A.R. and the Machines, Neu or Scandinavian Psych like Träd Gras Och Stenar.
This is a flawless album, taking you on an atmospheric journey on their psychedelic tapestry of sound.

Every day has so many different emotions and moods, and a totally unique soundtrack. Thanks for following me through one of mine!

In the video below you will get needle drops of the records mentioned above as well as additional rambling:

 

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