Music Has The Right To Children

boc_tea_and_almonds

The Preample:

I’m hungry.  I mean really hungry.  Today’s the midpoint of a week-long cleanse my wife and I are doing.  Hump day.  I won’t get into the specifics of what I can eat or drink, the one biggie that’s disallowed is alcohol.  Hence, no spirits this listen.  Instead it’s a hot cup of peppermint tea & a handful of almonds.  To make up for leanness I’m spinning a double LP today, Board of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Music.

I’ve loved BoC’s MHTRTM for a long times now.  I’m pretty sure I owned the CD at one point, but it’s always been an mp3 album for me.  When I returned to vinyl this album was part of the first wave of “must have” albums I started searching out.  This first wave also awakened me to the reality of what 90’s vinyl goes for on eBay and other online sources.  Shit’s expensive.  So alas, you stay patient, hit whatever stores you can at home and abroad, record shows too, pick & choose your moments, and hopefully that patience pays off.  This album was one of those pay offs.  Not the most I paid for a used record, but hey…it is a double LP and fucking awesome.

BoC just released their first LP in quite a number of years, so I decided to run the vinyls thru the record cleaning machine last night and giver a listen.

The Record:

Artist: Boards Of Canada

Title: Music Has The Right To Children

Label: Warp / Skam

Year: 2004 pressing (original released in 1998)

Catalog: warplp55 / skalp 1

Country: UK

Notes:

What the fuck has music done to these poor kid’s faces?  This cover is fucking spooky.  Gives me the E-B-G-Bs.  My wife can’t even lay eyes on it.  I’m guessing it looks like a family vacation pic from the 70s.  Mom and the kids are posing for the pic and dad (or is it a stranger?) has his back turned to the camera.  Everyone’s face is blanked out.  Dunno, just creepy.  But still cool, and NM so I’m not complaining.  This albums ever only been released in the UK from what I can see.  The original 1998 included braille on the cover.  This one does not, and everything points to it being a 2004 pressing.  From a fidelity perspective I guess it shouldn’t matter much since this was mostly likely recorded in hi-rez digital.  The LPs were pressed at UK’s defunct Damont Audio with no mastering credits in the deadwax.  The 4 sides average VG+ with maybe one or two sides warranting another + in the grade.

Interestingly, the grooves on Side 1 when held to light exhibit a spiral graph-like pattern.  Maybe this music is fucking math!

Matrix:

Side 1 – WARP LP 55 A2 DA MONT

Side 2 – WARP LP 55 B2 DA MONT

Side 3 – WARP LP 55 C2 DA MONT

Side 4 – WARP LP 55 D2 DA MONT

Barcode: 5021603055117

Mastering: ?

Pressing Plant: Damont Audio

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/1182271

The Accompaniment: 

Yup, you read that shit right…I’m drinking tea this evening.  Twinning’s peppermint tea to be exact.  Not the best peppermint infusion out there, but the shit’s cheaper than the tea in China.  I prefer a loose leaf peppermint/spearmint blend myself but the tin’s empty (got to schedule a trip to the local tea monger).  Twinning’s OK I guess, but not great.  I do like their Lady Grey though.  Also munched on a handful of almonds.  I’m pretty sure these are of the US variety, not Mediterranean or Middle Eastern.  I’m gonna say California?  Whatever, I love almonds and I’ve been eating them by the truck load during this cleanse.  Oh yeah…why are nuts so fucking expensive?

The Listen: 

Side One’s first song is Wildlife Analysis, a spacey ditty with someone getting off on the keyboards setting the atmosphere.  The song opens as a low passage and there’s a touch of surface noise heard during the run in and maybe the first 30 seconds of the song.  It’s a short song that segues into the eeriness that is An Eagle In Your Mind.  A break beat starts its thing a few rows behind my speakers and there’s a lot of other shit going on…stuttering static, bass, male voice murmurs and a high hat…all presented brilliantly.  This LP’s going to be a fucking trip!

I LOVE YOU

I should be rattling the windows with this song, but everyone’s asleep but me.  After a few minutes the song finally evolves into its second act, a down tempo ambiance.  I stare stupidly straight ahead between my speakers and am loving the ride until The Color Of The Fire starts.  Don’t know what to say about this one except it’s a syrupy interlude where I think a child is telling someone they love them.  Trippy.  To be honest I don’t know if that was the end of AEIYM or TCOTF.  Anyways, a new tune opens up…is it Telephasic Workshop?  Who knows unless you have the CD or staring at the bands on the record?

TW has that similar far away, stuttering sample.  Simple but beguiling.  A bit of lit crackle is noticeable at the end of the song and a few revolutions of ticks that continue into the start of Triangles And Rhombuses.  Another ambient song that plays tricks with my mind before it’s rather short end.  Then another song comes on…so I guess this is TAR, but it only lasts 15 seconds.  Who knows?  Who cares?  Great opening side and except for a small bit of surface noise, great sounding too.

Sixtyten opens up the second side.  The songs are already beginning to sound the same yet entirely different (themes emerge if you know what I mean).  This song’s got a dominating bass break.  A minute or so in a crazy bass permeates from my left speaker.  Unfortunately it lacks the authority I remember during past listens on my solid state amp (I was warned by Ed…).  A second break joins the fun; this song is a genuine craft.  What I think is Turquoise Hexagon Sun opens as a stripped down keyboard solo (to be honest I don’t know if the solo is the end of Sixtyten or the beginning of THS).  It’s definitely a new beat, so let’s call it THS…its fucking great, one of my favs on the album.

Five minutes pass without notice.  Trippy.  Kaini Industries is yet another keyboard intermezzo.  It’s a good one, lasting about a minute before a non-squinter transition into Bocuma.  It’s another great tune with inter-playing keyboards that seem to be distanced at two sides of a great hall.  The lack of any break in the song allows some surface noise to come through.  A fugue-like organ breaks the party in what I think is the start of Roygbiv.  A hip hop break beat provides the rhythm with a wash of keyboard sounds swirling between my speakers.  End of the first LP.

Rue The Whirl inaugurates the second LP with a break beat straight out of early 90s UK trip-hop.  I liked those sounds back then and I’m enjoying this song immeasurably.  I’m pretty sure there are birds chirping in the distance on this track.  It’s one of the longer songs on the album and it keeps the same intoxicating beat throughout.  Very easy to lose yourself in this one, as I do once or twice.  A second act finally materializes, still with the chirping birds…and a few revolutions of clicks as the song ends.  Masterpiece.

Aquarius is another crazy beat with what sounds like a funk sample coming out of my right speaker.

Yeah, That’s Right.

What a great fucking break, bass and what is now a very familiar ambient keyboard.  I think the adults are saying “Orange” while the children giggle away.  The album’s first true lyrics on the album are a woman counting to 70 or so before it becomes rubbish.  This song was a beast.  Olson is another keyboard intermission, albeit with a bit of growl to finish the side.

I grabbed a peach before dropping the needle on Side 4.  I do a double take as I could have sworn I played this side already.  Pete Standing Alone opens quietly, exposing some lite surface noise before the bass break interrupts.  The soundscape is the most up-tempo of the album, with a static like ripping noise mixed front center.  Such a simple sound, annoying by itself but contributing to the song as if an instrument…and once again I have no clue what the male vocals are trying to say.

Smokes Quantity…I’m thinking the name of this one must be an inside joke.  I must confess songs are starting to blur together, sounding somewhat alike.  Open The Light opens with a keyboard confessional with a lazy bass doing its thing back in the last row.  Fantastic.  The mood conveys the end of a night of partying while hanging out in the chill room.  One Very Important Thought isn’t really as much a song as a public service announcement.  Set over a last keyboard ditty, a woman expounds against censorship.

The Postample:

One thing about this album, it’s as if everyone is speaking in tongues.  Although the record doesn’t have analog lushness it is beautifully mixed with layers of soundscapes in the front, middle and back rows.  As mentioned in the listen, the album has themes running throughout with the inter-playing keyboards, references to ‘love’ and the one or two intermezzos per side.  By itself, many samples on this record have annoying qualities, but they just mesh and fit perfectly within the finished product.  Great mixing resulting in pure psychedelia.  This is an album I’ll be spinning during house parties.

boc_dnd

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

The Musings Of Miles

_Musing_and_Tequila

The Preample:

Tequila!  The drink, not the record.

First off, my wife noticed I’ve been using the nonsensical word “preample”  instead of the correct “preamble”.  Oh well, at least I got “postamble” right.

I decided to use Discog’s Random Item button to select a LP for tonight and the rand() gods gave me The Musings of Miles, a six song jazz recorded June 7, 1955 by a quartet fronted by Miles DavisOscar Pettiford on bass, Philly Joe Jones on skins, Red Garland on piano and of course Miles on trumpet.  The Obi says something about this being the forerunner of the Miles Davis Quintet.  Originally released on Prestige, this is the 1982 reissue from Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series.

After I took the dog for a quick walk, I warmed up the tubes with some Thin Lizzy and Lenny Kravitz while sipping on 1800 Reposado.  With Miles coming up, who says that jazz and tequila don’t mix?

The Record:

Artist: Miles Davis

Title: The Musings Of Miles

Label: “Original Jazz Series” / Prestige…and distributed by Fantasy

Year: 1982 OJC reissue, originally pressed in 1955

Catalog: OJC-004 / P-7007

Country: USA

Notes: Great condition record.  The cover’s a solid VG+, just a few weird orange spots on the back jacket away from a NM grade.  Side 1 is mint and if it wasn’t for a very lite scuff/scratch on the flipside it would be a NM record.  As it stands, giving it a VG+.  It’s got the original shrink wrap and Obi.  The Obi states the original price of $5.98.  There are two dated price stickers; $4.99 in December 1985 and $2.99 in February 1986.  Some record store really really needed to clear some shelf space for those indestructible CDs everyone wanted I guess.

I don’t know the full arrangement between Fantasy’s OJC series and the original labels, but there seems to be quite a bit of Prestige reissues in this series.  I tend to stick with the older OJC pressings with the OBIs as the new, sealed ones have Scorpio written over them.  This old one’s got George Horn’s initials in the deadwax, so it’s legit.   Who knows what’s on the newer ones.  One day my curiosity will peak and I’ll grab one.

Oh yeah…although not listed anywhere on the record, its mono.

Matrix:

Side 1 – OJC 004 A-T1- T1 GH

Side 2 – OJC 004 B-T1- T1 GH

Mastering: George Horn

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/1454556

The Accompaniment: 

I work with an associate in Mexico City which brings me a bottle of reposado every time he’s in Toronto, which is one or twice a year.   I’m not going to lie; it’s a nice fringe benefit.  Tequila’s not overly expensive in Toronto, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes for $2 in Mexico.  Who knows?

I’m admittedly not a big tequila drinker.  Tequila conjures up memories of the Spew Crew back in college when tequila poppers and puking twice in a night was the norm.

I won’t be popping this tequila.  This stuff is really really good.  From what I gather, “reposado” is akin to a VSOP.  This one’s called 1800.  Never heard of it before, but its 100% de agave and sipping it neat reveals character and complexity (this is not the shit you lick-shot-sucked back in college).  This is my third time imbibing this spirit and it’s enough to get me perusing the tequila aisle at the LCBO next time I’m there.  Who knows…maybe even spring for a bottle of Don Julio Añejo?

The Listen: 

I drop the needle and the record makes barely a peep as Miles leads the band into an up-tempo jazzy beat called Will You Still Be Mine?  Although not outlined anywhere on the release, it’s no surprise that the recording is in mono.  All the instruments shine through clearly and after a few minutes Miles takes a break for Red Garland’s first solo.  It’s an objectively quick one before Miles takes back the lead and finishes off the song.  It’s hard not to be impressed with how great it sounds.  Although the record is about 30 years old, we’re talking about a recording that happened about 60 years ago!

Between the songs its whisper quiet…CD quiet.  I See Your Face Before Me opens with a subdued pace, all thick, smokey and shit.  Mile’s horn sounds like it may have one of those mufflers on it…another piano solo backed by the rhythm section keeps the mood going.  The bass has a great depth of sound, with each note nourishing my speakers with sustain.  Great pressing!  The last song on the A side is another bop beat called I Didn’t.  It plays along with a bit too much urgency for my tastes; not a bad tune but not a great one neither.  The horn and bass still sound great though…and another piano solo…will Oscar or Philly Joe ever get a chance to shine?  That said, it is my favorite of Red’s 3 solos so far…this song is starting to grow on me.

Drum solo!  Well, not really…just some interplay between Miles and Philly Joe.  That was cool and I wish it lasted longer.  The song and side ends and not a click tick or pop to be heard!

I make a mess of cuing the tone arm for the second side and it harmlessly rolls off the record.  Let me try that again.  Second time’s a charm but it doesn’t take long for the first sign of surface noise to be heard.  A very light tic is occurring with each record revolution, localized at the right speaker throughout the whole first song.  A Gal In Calico is a mid-tempo number with Red getting his hands dirty with a fourth solo on four songs.  Although not as complex as the others it has a fun feel to it.  The clicking is still audible as the song fades out, and it’s all but disappeared by the time the second song; A Night In Tunisia starts up.

ANIT opens with a bass solo backed with a marimba or some instrument like that.  This beat’s definitely different.  I like it, it almost has a kitschy 60’s soundtrack vibe to it and it’s actually my favorite Miles trumpeting so far.  By now the record’s completely silent again…looks like it’s just the first track on this side.   That said, a stray pop rings out right before Miles hits a few high notes that segues to another Red solo.  It’s an interesting solo, re-channeling itself making it seem like 2 solos in one.  Philly Joe’s drum work really adds to the ANIT’s cool factor.  The song takes on a North African jazz beat right before the song meanders to a close.  This is the closest we’ve come to a bass solo thus far.

Green Haze is a thick and hazy song.  It’s the first song to open with a piano solo, giving this one a dimension of its own.  By now I’m fully marinated in tequila and truly love the beat.  The song goes thru a slight change in pace and back again…or did I imagine it?  And then there it is!  Oscar’s first solo!  And it’s an awesome one.  It hits all the right notes and I wish it goes on longer.  The solo ends and so does the song shortly after.  My favorite on the LP.

The Postamble:

Although the jazz style played on this record does not hit my jazz sweet spot, there was enough variation to make it a worthwhile listen.  The recording, mastering and pressing are all top notch.  It makes you wonder how it compares to the recent Analogue Productions reissue now that the masters are another 30 years older.  My favorite tunes A Night In Tunisia and Green Haze.  Although Miles Davis and Red Garland were great, I would have liked a few more solos by the rhythm section.

Tonight’s accompaniment was great.  I can definitely see myself branching out to fine tequilas in the future, although with hot summer weather around the corner I should learn how to make a daiquiri.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

Freedom Flight

shuggieOban

The Preample:

Caught the recent Shuggie Otis show a few weeks back, The Phoenix in Toronto.  And I’m glad I did, I knew I was going to watch an old cat, but the dude shows up with his brother and son and all his shit was produced back in the day by his dad.  So cool.  Cool is what I thought he sounded like the first time I heard him.  Probably never would have heard of Shuggie if it wasn’t for the internets and torrents.  There are some major pluses to digital music and stumbling on this guy was one of them for sure.  So the recent show obviously obligated me to give this one a spin, Freedom Flight.

This is one hep record for sure.  I usually throw it on whenever someone requests “you pick” and its funk/soul blues rock melodies will always get approving nods.  I’ve got two copies of this one; a second US pressing and the semi-recent Sony 180g reissue.  Gonna spin the vintage platter.  A bit of noise here and there, but this record’s as old as me so I won’t fuss.

The Record:

Artist: Shuggie Otis

Title: Freedom Flight

Label: Epic

Year: I’m going to guess 1973…original pressing was ’71.

Catalog: E 30752

Country: USA

Notes: The covers got a bit of ring wear and fuzzed up sides.  A slight seam split on the bottom, but the spine is the cleanest of the 3 and legible.  The record labels are orange Epic so definitely not original pressing but definitely a second.  Both sides have minor visible marks with the first side looking cleanest, a solid VG+ record.  The original sleeve with some kind of “Epic Times” newsletter is in great condition.

Matrix:

Side 1 – PAL 30752 1-C

Side 2 – PBL 30752 1-C

Mastering: ?

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/3929165

The Accompaniment: 

Sipped on something special tonight.  Polished off a bottle of some west highland single malt which my wife graciously gave me this past Christmas.  According to the label, Oban used vintages 14 years or older.  There’s an immediate nose when you uncork this mofo, even with only 3-4 inches left in the bottle!  The only thing better is its taste.   Honey on your tongue.  I try and hold the sip on my tongue for a whole minute in a miserly fashion, trying to extract every last second of pleasure before a smooth finish delivers the enjoyable burn.  I don’t think I can wait till Christmas for my next bottle of Oban.

The Listen:

Ice Cold opens up the first side in full funk mode.  So fucking pleasing to the ears…ear sex.  The record stays nice and quiet, letting the center vocals and right chimes come through nice and clear.  As expected the guitar is front and center, with the drums behind Shuggie.  I get lost in the song’s goodness and don’t notice until Strawberry Letter 23 begins.  Another great opening full of shit going on…Shuggie’s credited with all the instruments on this one, a One Man Fucking Band he is!  The bells (sleigh bells?), organ, bass…this song’s a real treat.  A little knob twisting at the end is making everything go psychedelic.  I’m tripping out!  The song ends and I get the first taste of surface noise (focused in the right speaker) between tracks.

Sweet Thang unveils a meandering guitar riff with the surface noise still evident.  The song flows into a blues jam and the noise dies off.  This jam is slow and twisty with the solos crystal clear and intoxicating.  Dunbar (Ansley not Sly) on the skins btw.  Me And My Woman starts with Shuggie harvesting a funk bass line, blues guitar and a jazz piano, all the while porn guitar music streaming out of the right speaker.  For the uninitiated, this is Muther Effing Fusion.  The right channel noise returns as the song dies and into the start of Someone’s Always SingingSAS has a nice balanced mix, Shuggie and the backup vocals centered with his guitar coming out of the left speaker.  The background solos sound great, as does Sly and Shuggie’s solos.  I close my eyes for Shuggie’s last solo as the song ends with some flute.

This side has a bit of surface noise, bearable but of course showed up during the quiet moments.  Side two only has two songs.  Purple is another pure blues number, with incredibly phat bass and a snare that draws you to the Shuggie solos.  Supe shows up with a harmonica solo and this shit’s just oozing cool.  So cool in fact that Shuggie drops a bass solo.  Wicked!  Not a short one either!  Next up is a Shuggie guitar solo that’s marked with a bit of surface noise.  This one’s over 60 seconds and finishes with a cool drum roll.

The last song is the title track, Freedom Flight.  The song starts with chimes battling surface noise on the right speaker.  Shuggie’s guitars comes in and the song has an almost “new world” feel to it.  It’s a quiet song at the moment and the right channel noise is starting to irritate.  There’s cool shit coming from every direction…sax, chimes (metal & wood I believe), bass, cymbals…sounds like a band warming up.  I’m wondering where this sonic wonderland is heading.  Dunbar finally starts something on his kit and the rest of the instruments fall into line.  There’s a crazy phat bass mixed into this tune and the sax solo sounds like spiritual jazz at times.  Next it’s Shuggie’s turn to solo his guitar over a floor of sound.  The solo is more doodling then playing, but it fits just right within the song’s atmosphere.  The song enters a quiet passage and the record holds up, which is good cuz there’s some crazy psychedelic shit going on when the oboe takes off.  The solo ends and the jam returns with a bass line leading.  I sit here motionless and slack jawed for a good 30+ seconds, mesmerized by the sound.

Wow.

The Postamble:

That was fun.  I’m usually playing this one for folks and rarely get to sit back and critically listen.  Five stars.  I really should play the 180g reissue right after for a shot out.  Not today, but let it be said that I’ve conducted some quasi-shootouts between the ’73 and recent pressing and the differences were minute.  Don’t hesitate to grab the reissue!  I’m good unless a Yellow Epic label falls into my lap.

Oban, how I love thee.  If you’re looking to impress me on my next visit (or just burying relatives), have some on hand.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.