Archive for April, 2010

Sonate de Concert

April 30, 2010 1 comment
Charles-Valentin Alkan – Sonate de Concert for Violoncello & Piano (1857)

Frankly, I’m excited to post my first classical record. I love classical music, especially that of the Romantic and Modern period. Like Debussy, Alkan is a composer who as a master pianist, writes challenging and intriguing pieces primarily for piano. Unlike Debussy, Alkan is vibrant with emotion as he has can turn from writing

a dramatically tongue-in-cheek funeral march for a parrot, to a social critique of war, to writing melodramatic oneiric solo piano pieces that would make John Brian feel a little uneasy.

Charles Valentin Alkan was born in France in 1813, and his circle of friends included Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Chopin. His stature as a master pianist was renown and exemplified by often playing with fellow composer, Franz Liszt. It is interesting to note that of the famous piano composers of the Romantic period (Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Schubert) Alkan is not among them although he was certainly as talented as any of his peers. My deduction is that unlike the other composers of the period Alkan was unafraid to write pieces that criticized war (Le Tambour Bat Aux Champs) and that delved into the deepest recesses of the human subconscious (before Dostoevsky was writing, mind you!) in order to expose the dark psychology of the troubled mind. In other words, the man was ahead of his time. At the ripe old age of 25, Alkan took leave from social life and retired to the countryside where he would continue to compose, not performing again until right before his death in 1888.

His Sonate de Concert is not his most beautiful, nor is it his most provocative piece, but it contains a level of refinement, a level of play, a myriad of emotions that is so masterfully crafted. I will be the first to admit that the ‘cello pieces are not the most dynamic or challenging, but the way it engages in a fantastic dialogue with the incredibly challenging piano is absolutely stunning. To me, this is less of a sonata, but rather a precursor to the idea of a jazz duet as both instruments do not directly follow one another, but rather converse in a way that seems improvisational. I wish I could read music, as I understand that Alkan often left his scores rather vague and in fact did encourage improvisation of his pieces. I’m not aware if this piece is one of those such cases, but it does in fact remind me a little of McCoy Tyner and Coltrane duking it out on “My Favorite Things.”

Frankly, this is the year 2010 and we do not listen to music in the same way that audiences were listen to music in 1857 or 1961 (“My Favorite Things”). We have been trained to listen to listen to different harmonies and melodies, to notice different elements of instrumentation, to react to music differently than fifty or a hundred and fifty years ago. That being said, upon first listen, upon second listen, you may just be in love with the sounds you are hearing, the warm buzz of the cello and the grandiose leaping piano, but listen to the conversation between the instruments and don’t be afraid to add your own element into the dialogue.
Categories: 1857, classical, france

Verbal Headlock

April 26, 2010 2 comments

Clutchy Hopkins has returned with his fourth release for Ubiquity Records and his second “solo” album, The Storyteller. For those not familiar with Clutchy, the man is a mysterious cooperative of talent (I’ve heard rumors about DJ Shadow being in the mix?) putting together some of the freshest, grooviest, mellow music around. The team incorporates elements of instrumental hip hop, dub, jazz, funk, fusion, and psychedelic rock with the end product fitting into none of these pigeonholes.

As usual, the production is something to really enjoy as the instruments (usually acoustic instruments with exotic percussion and slight touches of electronics) sound clean and the drums sound crisp, the bass deep and the jam hypnotic. Upon first listen you may not be impressed, but take a second time to look at ol’ Clutchy and listen to the way these masterminds incorporate elements from music around the world and throughout time. Accordions layered over funky basslines, andean flutes dance with electric guitars, and my favorite, humming becomes a valid instrument when paired with congas, cajon and a funky backbeat.

The single “Verbal Headlock” is the most “hip hop” sounding track on the album with the deep bass and the claps, but I can see a smoked out MC mumbling shit on top of any of the tracks. Great single, amazing album, in fact I think it is my favorite Clutchy record so far. Definitely will make it to my top ten albums of the year. Not uploading this one, go out and support the people who are making music right now.

Categories: 2010, US, video

GroovesGrooves No. 1 – Live at the Velvet Lounge

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

My first mix. Live at the Velvet Lounge explores thick bass lines, smoke-filled horn sections, dripping piano and the hip hop that could never be played on the radio. Can’t give away anymore details, but a tracklist is included. This is the soundtrack to your night at the place where champagne dreams and smoke-filled fantasies come true. Cover design by Eydie McConnell.

Categories: fusion, hip hop, jazz, mix

DOOD Records back catalog

April 15, 2010 2 comments

DOOD Records was a record label I ran from 2004-2007. DOOD was responsible for 9 releases, with the mission statement from day one being to support my local DIY punk/hardcore community in a way that was creative, fun and motivating. I released only vinyl and it wasn’t until my last year as a label that I released anything that was even available in another format. DOOD has been defunct for some time now, a lot of the bands I worked with have now broken up and a lot of these releases have not (and perhaps will never) see a reissue. For this reason I have decided to make available those releases which are not currently available. Take a trip through time with me…

DOOD01: Lachance/Occam’s Razor – Split 7″
This was the one that started it all out for me. I had been friends with Lachance (Riverside), often booking them at the shows I was putting on. They had nothing but an already years old CDR and we decided to do a record together. They suggested we do a split with their friends Occam’s Razor from Fresno. Lachance were borrowing the epic flowing song style of 90s emo bands like Julia or Still Life, but incorporated a harsher almost thrash-like attack that would blow up living rooms wherever they played. Occam’s Razor were a trio who played shorter songs, incorporating elements of grind with screamo (think Reversal of Man’s ‘Revolution Summer’ record) and I always loved to watch Jordan drum, he hit harder and played faster than most. Fun facts about this record: 1) Occam’s Razor recorded their side with Scott Crouse of Earth Crisis, thus resulting in that very metallic sound they had. Occam’s Razor would continue to record with him and Lachance later recorded their 10″ there as well. 2) Jordan of OR was one of the most creative people I had the opportunity to work with and we pieced together the intricate artwork for this recording to make it look like a criminal file. Those are actually fingerprints of his, mine and Charlie Wagner. Charlie and I spent what seems like months putting together all 500 copies. I also included in each release medical files that I had stolen from an abandoned hospital. The test presses for the record had very eerie photos that I had found at the same hospital. 3) Sergio Amalfitiano (sp?, sorry brother) of ACxDC, Liberaté, Hollywood hipster club fame helped finance this first release. He’s a good guy and I hope he’s still up to some cool stuff.

DOOD03: ACxDC – He Had it Coming 7″
The ACxDC kids had been friends of mine since day one. I had been bugging them endlessly to quit playing in the San Gabriel Valley and do a record. They pulled it together and Militant Records (Andres of Bastardäss) and I put out this now classic powerviolence revival record. This was a great record and moved very fast. ACxDC incorporated all the speed and strength of classic PV bands like Infest or Siege but added the ruthless assault of grind like Discordance Axis with heavy Harley Davidson riffs ala Enewetak. Great band, great record, and from what I hear they recently just did a reunion show. Fun fact about this record is that it was recorded by the unbelievable Erol “Rollie” Ulug who also has done recordings for Graf Orlock, Dangers, Final Fight, Jesus Christ and the Pirate Fuckers and basically every other hardcore/metal band from socal worth listening to.

DOOD04: Lachance – Nietzche Said There’d Be Days Like This 10″
Lachance were picking up steam and really coming into their own at this point. After two split 7″s (the one I released as well as a record they did with Colorado stoners Autokinoton), they were getting their first solo release on the awkward 10″ format. This record was originaly supposed to be a split LP with Mustaphamond, who had released a phenomenal cult classic 7″ on Grey Sky records, but because they were lagging and Lachance was gearing up for a west coast tour we decided to instead release the Lachance material as a 10″. Unfortunately Lachance broke up not too much after they returned home from tour. Fun fact: I silkscreened each of these jackets in my High School print shop class, but because I ran out of time/fucked up the screen I had to individually color in the covers.

DOOD06.5: Owen Hart – One-sided 7″
This is a record I still put on all the time. This was the first solo release I did for a
band not from Southern California, but the Tacoma, Washington crew (Greyskull, Owen Hart, Sidetracked) were like brothers to me at this point and I had been after Owen Hart to do a record for some time. Owen Hart was a powerhouse of Northwest hardcore that never failed to blow away everyone they played for. Mixing up the heavy style of NW hardcore ala Botch with the grind assault of bands like Pig Destroyer and adding heavy doses of Pantera riffs was the perfect combination. This record was originally released for a West Coast tour as a 5″ limited to 100 pieces but they had already sold out by the third day on tour. I rereleased the record later that year as a one-sided 7″ and Hellfish silkscreened the two-color Pantera-themed artwork for the b-side. Phenomenal record and phenomenal people. I don’t think they ever did another record which is truly a shame. If anyone has a copy of the Owen Hart demo or the Divinity of Truth demo please let me know – I don’t have a copy of either anymore!

Categories: Punk, US