Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pärson Sound (1968)

Inspired by minimalist composer Terry Riley, Pärson Sound was a 10-piece Swedish band who experimented with droning, repetitive jams. Their music is exceptionally dense, with huge guitar sound, bass, organ, flute, piano, saxophone, sparse vocals and drums by three different members. They also made use of tape manipulation, sometimes during live performances letting a tape pass two tape recorders, one tape recording and the other playing back with distortion, creating progressively layered noises and tones. Pärson Sound is not for those lacking patience for extended jamming, with two songs clocking in over 20 minutes—"Skrubba" nearly approaches half an hour—and no song under five minutes, besides the short intro. Although largely chaotic, repetitive and loud, Pärson Sound was also very capable of creating melodic pastorales. This becomes evident towards the end of "10 Minutes," as noisy jamming gradually segues—seemingly through the use of tape manipulation—into a pleasant baseline with airy vocals and nice chord changes. This lighter side of the band doesn't resurface again until the final two tracks of the album. The understated "On How to Live" consists of strummed acoustic guitar, flute and singing birds, while "Blaslaten" layers beautiful wind instruments and saxophone. One highlight of the album is the menacingly sparse "A Glimpse Inside The Glyptotec -66," which also makes use of tape manipulation. Ambient sounds dominate the track, but towards the end, haunting, breathy vocals close the song out on an eerie note. Pärson Sound would eventually change their name to International Harvester, releasing two albums, Sov Gott Rose-Marie—named for a song also included on Pärson Sound—in 1968 and Hemat in 1969. The more accessible and famous Träd, Gräs och Stenar would later form from the remaining members of International Harvester.

"10 Minutes"

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Amon Düül II - Yeti (1970)

Even though my familiarity with krautrock is vague at best, that won't stop me from proclaiming this to be one of the most innovative and genre-defining albums of the movement. Due to more ambitious musical aspirations, Amon Düül II grew out of Amon Düül, which was a radical, political and artistic commune founded in Munich. Yeti is their second album, which was originally released as a double album consisting of composed studio recordings on one record and improvisations on the other. The opening track "Soap Box Rock" sets the tone, first sounding like some standard garage rock but quickly transforming into dark, progressive rock with both far-out and melodic instrumental passages. The first half continues with some interesting instrumental pieces, the closest thing to typical rock music in "Archangels Thunderbird," and the intense "Eye-Shaking King." The second half improvisations are impressively tight, setting the standard for experimental music to come. Much of the improvisations—specifically "Sandoz in the Rain"—seem extremely influential to the modern day Japanese experimental commune,
Acid Mothers Temple. Male and female vocals are featured throughout the album, both of which are satisfyingly peculiar and distinct. Amon Düül II also make use of strings, which add another level of interest to their complex sounds. This release features two bonus tracks, "Rattlesnakeplumcake" and "Between the Eyes," but unfortunately the song "Pale Gallery" is missing three minutes of the original song. I guess it was cut short on most CD releases to keep it to one disc. Apparently the Captain Trips release features the full five minute version.

Fun fact: Apparently the chick on the cover brandishing that scythe was one of their groupies.

I just couldn't narrow it down to one song.

Check out this mind-altering performance of "Eye-Shaking King."

Download Yeti