Tuesday, March 29, 2011

V/A - Psychedelices 1969 - 1972

Here's a compilation I ran across on the file sharing networks. Searches for "Psychedelices" (which I think could be roughly translated to something like "psychedelicacies"... correct me if I'm wrong here) only turn up a highly questionable album by some modern French singer who is probably referred to as a "chanteuse" even in her English-language press kit. So anyway, I don't think this is actually a real compilation available anywhere. It's in a similar vein to the mind-blowing Finders Keepers The BYG Deal disc, to the point where I actually wondered if this might not be an early version of that compilation that got leaked onto the web. There is a bit of overlap, although this one's missing some of the more leftfield inclusions from The BYG Deal (the Kuhn brothers' Bloody Rockers, Art Ensemble of Chicago's "rock" song, and that fucking Vangelis tune!). What it may lack in breadth, however, it makes up for in depth... Some rare 45-only tracks by French pop-prog space invaders such as Alice and the Alan Jack Civilization, with multiple songs by most of the artists featured. I mean...
...you do realize you need to download this, right?

Yat-Kha - "Yenisei Punk" (1995)

Out-of-print second album by the only Tuvans to grace the pages of Mojo magazine. Combining traditional Tuvan throat singing and instrumentation with electric guitar and a distinctly modern sense of songwriting, to my ears this is where these guys really got things right, before they opted for that glossy production sound that world music fans seem to go in for and started doing Joy division covers. Here, the only covers you're going to get are disgruntled takes on Soviet-era propaganda hymns (as in the video below). Maybe it's just me, but that seems way more badass. The arrangements are incredible, the songwriting strong, managing to strike that delicate balance between tradition and innovation.

V/A - Psychedelic Trip Through Bulgaria

And we're back in the former Eastern bloc, this time with a compilation of prime Bulgarian brainmelt. I'm often skeptical of these Nuggets-type country-themed psych compilations, which many times turn out to be nothing more than versions of early Rolling Stones tunes sung in Czech or Afrikaans or whatever. But this... This little collection covers that period from the very end of the '60s through the early to mid-'70s, when bands around the world were starting to break free of their Merseybeat chains and spending time locked up in their room/basement/practice space with a load of effects pedals, even more drugs (I'm just guessing here) and their amps cranked to 10. What's interesting about the rock music coming out of the Balkans at the time is that in many cases the only record label in the whole country was state-run (Balkanton in Bulgaria, Electrecord in Romania, etc.). In the stricter of the Communist countries, this meant no rock or Western-style music, period. But in the Balkans, if you mixed in a bit of folk melody or an odd time signature here and there, this was sufficient glorification of the people's heritage for the censors and you could get away with electrifying your music (and your audiences). And thus we have the music contained on Psychedelic Trip Through Bulgaria. While some of it is standard comp. fare (I mean, there is a Bulgarian-language cover of "(I'm Your) Venus," which, by the way, is great), there is also traditional polyphonic chant blasted into orbit, reverb-drenched Slavic proto-metal and enough other oddities to make this an essential listen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Outrageous Peruvian Fuzztones, Vol. 2: Grupo Trebol

Another hole in the wall find, this time with some wooly mammoth fuzz from Cusco, the "bellybutton of the world," circa 1973. As is often the case with psych rock albums from that era, this one is not necessarily killer all the way through, but... Just take a listen below to the flip side opener, "Caballo," which sounds like an army of drunk Santanas stumble-charging down from the Andes. And then there's the track that kicks off the album, "Algún Día Alcanzaremos," about which I would go so far as to say that it's the closest that Latin America ever got to Blue Cheer. Out-of-tune dual guitar solos never go out of fashion around here.

Grupo Trebol - "Buscándote" LP

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Outrageous Peruvian Fuzztones, Vol. 1: El Medio Grupo

J.L. Carvallo and Chacalón
First in a series of over-the-top distortion from purveyors of fine Peruvian fuzztone, the stars of this installment are Saul Casahuaman and his Medio Grupo. Picked this up on CD-R in a hole in the wall in the backstreets of Lima, so I have neither cover art nor a great deal of information on these guys. It is apparently a selection of tracks from different albums and 45s, ripped from the vinyl by the guy who sold it to me. Saul Casahuaman was the little brother of Victor Casahuaman, the leader of Grupo Celeste, one of the major Lima-based exponents of the '70s chicha sound and an early showcase for cumbia superhero Chacalón. The Big Jackal sings here, too, along with his little brother, "Chacal" and, uh, another gentleman named Oscar Hidalgo. The real scene stealer, though, is the guitarist, José Luis Carvallo (more to come from him) and his direct-into-the-mixing board fuzz stylings. Throw in a bit of moog, cowbell and some of the best bass playing this side of the Cordillera Blanca and you've got some classic chicha. It's worth noting, I think, that this is what people mean when they talk about chicha (as opposed to cumbia), being the Lima-based variant of the cumbia style that spread from Colombia down through the Amazon and the Andes to the city, with a lyrical focus on class issues, getting drunk, and... that's about it.

Download the Medio Grupo Mix

4 Hermano Pobre by The Silent Partner

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hamlet Gonashvili - Hamlet

Moving east from Poland to Georgia, here's one that took me a few years to track down. Not so much because of the rarity of the album, but because it took a bit of detective work to figure out what I was even looking for. Good to know that everything isn't at our fingertips even in the age of internet.

It all started with this scene from Werner Herzog's Nosferatu:

While most of the soundtrack was done by the mighty Popul Vuh, this scene uses a bit of Georgian polyphonic chant credited to the Vokal Ansambl Gordela. Good luck tracking down their lone LP from 1969, "Georgian Folk Songs" (though I wouldn't mind if someone did and uploaded it for the rest of us!).

What I was able to find was a compilation of music by one of the founders of the group, Hamlet Gonashvili. I'll skip the Shakespeare jokes and just say that he has an awesome name. The music's pretty decent, too.

Hamlet Gonashvili - "Hamlet" CD

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alibabki - Kwiat Jednej Nocy (1969)

For those who have wondered what it might sound like if David Axelrod had been hired to arrange a bunch of Central European cabaret tunes for the Polish Supremes... Well, probably no one ever wondered that, but here's your answer: the female Ali Babas and their "Flower of One Night." The song titles may not have much of a ring to them in English, but the music more than makes up for that. Whistling solos, overcompressed drums, angelic harmonies and handclaps in 5/4 time.

Alibabki - "Kwiat Jednej Nocy" LP

The video seems to be a non-album (and not-as-good) version of the single, taped off of Polish national television, but it's got some nice flower shots to compensate: