15 Aug On Diana’s Recent Vinyl Rotation: Smooth Operator!
Recent Vinyl Rotation: Smooth Operator!
Things you could do when life is stressing you out:
smash your head against the wall, create little voodoo dolls of annoying people, play God Of War, shave your hair off like Britney, listen to whale sounds while sitting in the bathtub, getting drunk while watching Yoga instructions on YouTube…
Or, preferred: listen to smooth and calming records.
Sibylle Baier – Color Green (2006, Orange Twin Records)
Sibylle Baier is a German actress who had a small role in a Wim Wenders film (later she composed some music for one of his films).
The album was recorded between 1970-1973 in Germany, late at night at her home when she came back from work and the rest of the family was asleep – it was never intended to be released by her.
The night setting defines the atmosphere here – for the great majority, only acoustic guitar accompanies Sibylle’s frail and melancholic voice and creates a heart-aching intimate atmosphere.
Her son Robbie released this stunning and flawless gem in 2006 and made it accessible for the world.
Listen to this when: you are having a sleepless night.
Träd Gräs Och Stenar – Tak för koffet (2017, Subliminal Sounds)
(translates to Thanks for the coffee!)
Träd Gräs Och Stenar is a Swedish prog/ psych rock group which has been active since 1970.
I am a big fan of all the albums which they released throughout the years – this is the 2017 release with the last recordings of bassist Torbjörn Abelli (passed away in 2010) & drummer Thomas Mera Gartz (passed away in 2012). The album is dedicated to the two late band members and all musicians who were ever part of the band are participating on this record. Old concept ideas of both late members were used to write new songs – they create a melancholic, organic and spacious atmosphere.
Tak för koffet is a timeless piece and one of my favorite releases this year.
Listen to this when: you are in desperate need for coffee.
Skip Spence – Oar (1969, Columbia)
Skip Spence was a remarkable person – if you haven’t heard of him before, here is the gist:
He played briefly with Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane, formed Moby Grape afterwards, got lost a little and one day, high as a kite, he tried to trash down the door of the hotel room of his band mates with a fire axe… because he thought one of him was the antichrist and he wanted to redeem him. Well, we all know that feeling, right?
This resulted in him spending the next 6 months in the Psychiatric Ward of Bellevue. He wrote several songs there and after he was released, he was approached by the producer of Moby Grape and recorded this engaging and haunting piece of music. This is basically an one-man-show: he recorded it all alone, played every instrument (guitar, drums, bass) and sang everything himself.
The producer was not present at the recordings since he thought this would distract Spence, but he advised the sound engineer to keep the tape running at all time to capture everything.
Spence thought this would only be demos, but the recordings were released, being Columbia’s worst selling album at that point. Nowadays this album has gained some kind of cult status and I am absolutely in love with this album –
it feels like getting an unfiltered glimpse into his bare, wounded soul. A lot of songs lean more on the country-folk side, songs which stand out for me are: “Diana”, a beautiful, heartfelt song, “War In Peace” being incredibly psychedelic, “Books Of Moses” with a great blues vibe, and the album closer “Afro/Grey”, a trippy, spacey piece.
There are more songs from the session as Extra/Unissued Oar released, and with “More Oar” a tribute album with greats like Tom Waits, Beck and Robert Plant was released. Beck even recorded a complete version of Oar.
This is a rough, but fragile and skin-crawling musical gem which never tires me.
Listen to this when: you realize we are all a little weird and that is okay (but please, do not trash doors with fire axes, okay?).
Peter Walker – “Second Poem To Karmela” Or Gypsies Are Important (1969, Vanguard)
Light In The Attic has teamed up with the Vanguard label in order to release some more obscure pieces of their back-catalog, this being a prime example for that:
This album is a beautiful blend of Folk, Psychedelia and Indian and Eastern traditional music.
Peter Walker was the musical conductor of countless of Timothy Leary’s LSD trips, as well as a political and human activist: he organized festivals against the Vietnam war and was collecting for beneficial organizations.
He studied the sarod with Ali Akbar Khan as well as the flamenco guitar.
This album is hypnotizing, transcendental and mesmerizing; calm and meditative moments alternate with rhythmic ecstatic climaxes.
Listen to this when: you want to know what Leary’s trips sounded like.
Velvet Morning – Gorilla (2015, EXAG)
Velvet Morning is a London based band, consisting of 22-year old Samuel Jones (the songwriter), Charlie Carmichael, Jordan Dreadman and John Kirkwood.
I bought this record in Brussels, after stumbling across it due to a YouTube suggestion. Gorilla mixes Psychedelia with Pop and Shoegaze, which results in a super laid back, psychedelic, soft and introverted soundscape. The mumbled, often unintelligible vocals enhance this atmosphere even more.
This album is perfect for a balmy summer night or for lazy Sunday mornings: the tracks fit into each other like a glove and it’s a fantastic dreamy, atmospheric and hazy album.
Listen to this when: you are too lazy to get up on Sunday morning.
Novos Baianos – Acabou Chorare (1972, Som Livre)
(translates to No More Crying)
This is the sophomore album of one of the most revolutionary and influential Brazilian groups. Interestingly, it was voted #1 in the Top 100 Brazilian Albums Ever list of Rolling Stone.
It’s a great fusion of MPB, samba, bossa nova and rock, heavily inspired by Gilberto Gil: the title song refers to a story which he told about his daughter. But “No More Crying” also frames the theme of trying to make a counterpart to the sadness and melancholy displayed in Brazilian commercial songs, replacing it with bursting joy and lively Tropicalia.
This record features terrific guitar play, heavy drums, and catchy melodies. The whole album is enthralling and energetic and sounds like they had a blast recording this.
Listen to this when: you need a little pep up talk before heading out on Friday night.
Collin Walcott – Grazing Dreams (1977, ECM)
The second album Collin Walcott made for ECM features an all-star cast: Don Cherry, John Abercrombie, Palle Danielsson and Dom Um Romao. I am a big fan of sitar play and this album is a perfect example for this, Collin’s sitar play harmonizes perfectly with Cherry’s flute and trumpet play.
“Song of the Sorrow” paints a melancholic and yearning picture and takes the listener right into this atmospheric woven dream-like sequences, “Gold Sun” starts out very minimalist, “Jewel Ornament” is heavy eastern influenced, and the title track is a very subtle piece. It’s the perfect follow-up to Cloud Dance and is enchanting me again and again.
Listen to this when: you sign up for the “Yoga and Beer” class near you.
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Check out the needle drops of the records above in the video below:
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