avant-garde Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 9 of 10

Gary Ritchie – Poptimistic Style: powerpop Melodic, good-natured powerpop is the order of the day on Ritchie’s new album. Musical touchstones include the obvious ones (Beatles, Raspberries, Romantics) and some perhaps less obvious ones (he reminds me a good bit of Donnie Iris). There’s always room on my shelf for some quirk-free rock ‘n’ roll,

Album Review: John Cage Meets Sun Ra

A musical summit between avant-garde legends John Cage and Sun Ra is the kind of thing that – had it not actually taken place – history might have had to invent. While the idioms within which each of these giants worked were quite different from one another, both men shared a commitment to pushing the

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 4

Five more quick ones. All these albums bear further investigation. Wild Man Fischer – An Evening with Wild Man Fischer Conventional wisdom holds that while Gail Zappa was alive, she prevented reissues of many albums originally released on Frank’s Bizarre/Straight labels. Whether that’s true or not, Gail’s gone now and we finally have a legit

Asheville Electro Music Festival: High Technology, Human Scale

In his influential 1982 book Megatrends, author John Naisbitt observed that “whenever new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response, or the technology is rejected.” The very human and innovative nature of 21st century synthesizer-based music is a real-world example of Naisbitt’s observations in action. A local group of musicians

Roomful of Teeth: Putting Music Where Their Mouths Are

“It’s all about the voice,” says Brad Wells, founder of Grammy Award-winning Roomful of Teeth, a nine-person modern classical vocal ensemble dedicated to “min[ing] the expressive potential of the human voice.” Through use of a wide array of supremely challenging and/or obscure vocal techniques, the group creates a sound like nothing else. “Pretty much all

Rehabilitating Herbie, Part 2

Continued from Part One… “In the ‘60s, Herbie Mann wanted to appeal to younger audiences,” observes Cary Ginell, author of several books including The Evolution of Mann: Herbie Mann and the Flute in Jazz. “And the way to do that was through rock ’n’ roll. He always enjoyed challenging his audiences and thumbing his nose

Rehabilitating Herbie, Part 1

Previously-Unheard 1969 Live Tapes from Jazz Flautist and his Band Nominally a jazz musician, flautist Herbie Mann (1930-2003) enjoyed crossover appeal and success that brought his music to a much wider population than simply jazz aficionados. Mann released dozens of albums, and restlessly explored different styles of music. He sold a lot of records, won

Album Mini-review: Matthew Bourne — moogmemory

File next to: Philip Glass, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Brian Eno The Memorymoog was the last synthesizer produced by Moog Music during the original company’s run; while a deeply versatile and expressive instrument, its complex inner workings made it highly unreliable, and that contributed both to the damaging of Moog’s reputation and to the

Album Mini-review: John Cale — M/FANS

File next to: Leonard Cohen, Diamanda Galas, Einstürzende Neubaten John Cale has never been one to trade on his Velvet Underground fame; he’s long since left behind the music of those days. His main instrument these days is keyboard, not cello. On Music for a New Society/M:FANS, he presents a deeply melodic, meditative approach. His

DVD Review: Frank Zappa and the Mothers — The Lost Broadcast

For an artist who seemingly documented nearly every moment of his live and studio performance – and, not unlike John Lennon and Yoko Ono, considered the entirety of it as a single body of work – the early work of Frank Zappa‘s Mothers (of Invention) was, surprisingly, not as extensively captured and saved as one