This week’s LP is one of my all-time favourite records and I am really excited to finally share it with you: Telectu’s nearly forgotten Ctu Telectu!
Sadly there’s not a lot of info available on the internet and I speculate that its impact on the Portuguese music scene was quite possibly minimal due to its limited pressing (if you’re hoping to get your hands on a physical release, forget it. It’s practically impossible). You will inevitably need to talk to musicians of the time if you want to get an adequate picture of its influence, I guess.
However, talking about the band itself: Telectu was a duo formed in 1982 by Jorge Lima Barreto, a jazz musician and musical essayist, and Vitor Rua (former member of the iconic Portuguese rock band GNR and who played bass/guitar on their fantastic debut Independança from 1982 – check it out, it’s their most experimental release and I’d argue the only one you should really get into). Together they decided to play a mix of free jazz, progressive rock, avant-garde, minimalism, electronica and concrete music (yes, quite the cocktail and as wonderfully weird as one could expect). Their career spanned 30 years and they released several albums, both live and recorded, a majority of them being apparently out of pressing for years now, until Barreto passed away in 2011.
Ctu Telectu, their debut, is the perfect entry point to the pair’s collaboration and displays everything people came to associate with the duo over the years (well, if they actually knew about them): unorthodox structures, inventive mixtures of apparently jarring genres, a weirdness that bordered on insanity and a free-wheeling power that seems to prove the rumours right that most compositions were just improvisations of the moment (there’s this rumour that everything they’ve ever played was never rehearsed before, they simple played and went along with whatever came out – crazy if true).
The record is up on Spotify, so you can stream it there. Sadly there’s no full stream on YouTube but you can preview the LP by listening to album opener “Lotaria Solaris” below.
This week’s album is taken from the ECM catalogue: John Clark’s disarmingly beautiful Faces from 1981.
John Clark is a Brooklyn-born jazz horn player who hasn’t made many records as a bandleader but who has nonetheless been hugely prolific by recording and playing with the likes of Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Bernstein, Chick Corea, and many others.
Faces is a very quiet record, matching its cover image perfectly with its ghostly and introspective quality. There’s a vaporous, trailing-behind sensation throughout the record’s duration which find expression in the generous reverb on both the horn and the electric cello. It sounds like you’re watching a person in a rain-soaked coat wandering through the streaks of neon reflected in water puddles while life slowly rails off someplace vague. It’s the perfect soundtrack, or rather companion, for deep introspection.
That may sound a bit sad and dreamy but there are also occasional joyous moments to be found here like in the steel-drum tropical sunshine of “Silver Rain, Pt. III” or the baroque exuberance of “You Did It, You Did It!”
If you enjoyed this record make sure to have a closer look at ECM’s catalogue if you haven’ yet, you may find pearls like Faces more often than not!
The video below states that the release date was 1980, however, that was the year the album was recorded. It saw a physical release in 1981.
Last week we had Quarteto em Cy and this week we continue the bossa nova recommendations with Antônio Carlos Jobim’s wonderful 1967 record Wave.
If you’re not at all familiar with this influential Brazilian composer, songwriter, arranger and singer, he was one of the primary forces behind the creation of the bossa nova style. His compositions have been performed by many artists and instrumentalists within Brazil and internationally. Jobim was even the first to win Album of the Year at the Grammies with a jazz album – the 1965 LP Getz/Gilberto. It also won Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical and the album’s single “Garota de Ipanema” won Record Of The Year and went on to become one of the most recorded songs of all time (240 times).
Albeit many of Jobim’s songs having become jazz and pop standards and even having recorded an album with Frank Sinatra in 1967, the Brazilian composer is still largely unknown to listeners outside of jazz and bossa nova. So here is your chance to discover at least one of his best, if not his best, record Wave:
Wave was Jobim’s first release after having signed to producer Creed Taylor’s label CTI records in 1967 and it’s a remarkably seductive record full of sparely rhythmic acoustic guitar, simple melodic piano, exceptional drumming, harpsichord and even a rare vocal performance by Jobim himself on “Lamento”. It’s a shame that he sang so infrequently because for his limited vocal ability he still performed his own songs with great charm. There’s a romantic vulnerability to his brief vocal that adds to the spirit of the tune and to the record as a whole since all of it shows a similar allure and delicacy.
Some argue that Wave’s arrangements sound dated in 2017 but I’d argue that therein lies its incredible charm and even modern appeal: its evocation of a long-gone time and place – a romantic, relaxing offering of melancholia and a nostalgia that is, and I think that’s crucially important, NOT steeped in sadness for something gone. It has a playfulness that is not usually associated with nostalgia. In 2017 Wave serves as a look at the past without taking the gaze away from the future, instead just refreshing the mind in the present by offering what has been so good but long gone and its around half an hour duration makes it perfectly suited for a quick session of refreshment.
You can either listen to it below or on Spotify.
Quarteto Em Cy is a real pearl in Brazilian music history and is arguably the most important female vocal group of the MPB. The quartet was originally formed by the four sisters Cyva, Cynara, Cybele and Cylene around 1959 and has enjoyed a prolific existence albeit suffering from many line-up changes over the years.
It’s extremely difficult to choose one particular record that would effectively work as an introduction to their rich discography but I guess if you want to comprehend or gain a great overview of an artist’s career you might as well go back to the very beginning.
So have fun discovering these swooning vocal harmonies over meandering jazz and bossa nova textures!
Last week I unfortunately was unable to write an article to Bastion’s self-titled LP from 1984 which was shared on Myosotis’ Twitter (in case you missed it) so therefore today I won’t only go back to that aforementioned record but also share a new one to redeem myself this week.
Bastion was a new wave pop group from the Republic of Macedonia (then Yugoslavia) formed in 1983 in Skopje. The line-up consisted of vocalist Ana Kostovska, bassist Ljubomir Stojsavljević, and most notably, keyboardist Kiril Džajkovski, who would later gain international prominence as a solo musician, DJ and for his movie soundtrack Dust. Additionally, their lyrics were written by the acclaimed film director Milčo Mančevski (so he was basically an unofficial member).
Their self-titled record is until this day their only official release. It’s an album filled with bouncing new wave pop that exhibit a bit of angst and grit on several occasions. If you enjoy strung out tunes built around a judicious use of fretless bass then this is definitely something for you!
There’s no full album stream online but I found a safe zip download link. Download it here.
Two weeks ago, the Hollywood remake of the classic and highly philosophical sci-fi anime Ghost In The Shell premiered in cinema halls all over the world and … well, let’s not add further insult to injury here, instead I want to incite you readers to discover (or rediscover) the anime’s original score by Kenji Kawai. Today, let somebody else click on Steve Aoki’s theme song-butchering EDM remix.
The aforementioned original theme song combines Bulgarian choral harmonies and traditional Japanese vocal techniques into a wedding song with lyrics in Yamato Kotaba (ancient Japanese). It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard, guaranteed. The theme is reprised in three different variations throughout the album and all of them are absolute mood setters. Sparse while sacrificing none of its emotional intensity. It definitely should give you goosebumps and it’s even a little bit of an earworm. This may quite possibly be only my personal perception of it but there’s something catchy and poppy about it in a very unconventional way.
The rest of the soundtrack consists mostly of murky atmospheres filling an apparently airless space: sparse taiko, submerged keyboards, ominous clanging, synthetic strings, even a Spanish guitar is featured at some point (arguably the loudest moment throughout). There’s some kind of pattern in a lot of the things shared on Myosotis and some words come up more often than others, words such as “cinematic” and it needs to come up here again because that’s exactly what this is. Even if you haven’t seen the original movie (which I recommend), these arrangements manage to paint very vivid scenes, especially if you also pay attention to song titles like “Floating Museum” and “Nightstalker”. It should definitely be enough to unravel an entire movie within your mind.
At the end of the record there’s a little curveball, a little surprise, which I really don’t want to give away. It definitely caught me off guard on my first listen. You may want to discover it on your own; see if you like that ending or not. If not, it’s usually handled as bonus track so one could argue that it doesn’t belong to the actual album and you can simply ignore it. If you do, one could also argue that this slightly psychotic ending fits very well with the fragmented personhood of the film. Either way, it comes down to personal taste.
Listen to it blow:
Bonus: A gorgeous performance by Kawai and the Cinema Symphony.
If you’re a fan of exotic new wave then this week’s album is perfect for you: Ippu-Do’s extremely diverse Night Mirage from 1983.
Ippu-Do was founded in 1979 by frontman Masami Tsuchiya alongside Akira Mitake and Shoji Fujii. The trio released five albums before disbanding – Night Mirage being the fourth release. Tsuchiya consequently returned to his solo career and continued releasing solo records as well as touring as a guitarist for Japan on their final tour in 1983 (related: Japan’s keyboardist Richard Barbieri was a support musician for Ippu-Do while on tour).
The album itself is a lively play of new wave, skewed synth pop, some exotic influences (faint hints of Spanish and African influences), experimental synth usage and here and there shades of Erik Satie and calypso. If you want a diversified listening experience you’ve found your record.
Unfortunately, the record is neither on YouTube nor on any music streaming platform, however, I’ve found a clean download link that even includes Tsuchiya’s six-track experimental LP Alone from 1985. I’m not a huge fan of sharing download links, preferring to buy or suggesting a buy option, unfortunately I didn’t find much online but in my opinion this is an album that should be heard so I’ll share a download link this time only (okay … and probably for the next few times when there’s no streaming option).
Download it here.