Experimental music composer Jos Smolders is a friend of these pages, and it warms the heart a bit to see him pay tribute to Frans de Waard, the composer known as Kapotte Muziek and Beequeen who has also been one of the editors of the crucial Vital Weekly for eons. It is because of both Frans and my old friend, David Cotner, that I was inspired to start this blog. I am indebted to all three men.
Judging by the quality of the music and the fact that this is Ed Palermo’s third full-length album dedicated to Frank Zappa’s avant-big-band interpretations, I think that the album title is apropos. Eddy does indeed loves Frank! From his Bandcamp site:
Ed and his amazing 16 piece band (+ guests) return with his third album of his distinctive, big-band interpretations of the great 20th century composer, Frank Zappa. This body of work has won them huge acclaim from both new and old fans of the music and they even appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition for a short feature which was heard by millions of listeners in 2006. For those not already familiar with Ed’s colorful, jazz-based arrangements of Zappa’s compositions, Ed has led a big band for 30 years (!) and has had his band performing the music of Frank Zappa for 15 years. Many years of playing these pieces in front of hugely enthusiastic crowds have honed the band’s skills interpreting Zappa’s beautiful but notoriously difficult material to where they are able to perform these challenging charts with apparent ease. All of these musicians are high caliber, hugely talented NYC professional players, and most of them have been playing this music for a decade and a half with this group, not because it is a good paying gig (it isn’t) but because they all admire and appreciate the genius of Zappa’s work and they love having the opportunity to be able to perform these terrifically exciting charts.
“Wonderful, breathtaking, fantastic, exhilarating, great sound, great production, great musicianship…I run out of superlatives…”
“Palermo developed these charts during years of live shows with these musicians, and their mastery of the material shows in the performances, which turn on a dime yet feel fierce with spontaneous invention…. Palermo’s arrangements and these performances are precise, dedicated, raucous and incisive—just like Zappa himself.”
“Palermo uses Zappa’s compositions as a framework for inspiration, rather than simply trying to recreate what is already available on CD.”
It’s a very happy occasion when I get to review a new album by Santiago Fradejas! Our friend, guitarist and composer now based in Barcelona, Spain, comes at us with another disc full of soundscapes which sit well between the more mellow compositions of John McLaughlin, the usual powerful post-Industrial soundscapes, and maybe because I have been listening a lot to him lately, some bits that would not sound out-of-place in a Charles Mingus album.
Along with Benjamin Aït-Ali, I think it’s safe to say that Bérangère Maximin is the best thing to come out of France in terms of avant-garde music. For a long while, I kept seeing her work pop up on my Facebook feeds, and each piece left me impressed. Things stopped around 2016 or so, but by that time, I found out the she had been working with Sub Rosa Records, and I figured she was in good hands. Judging by the quality of this release, she certainly is.
Rắn Cạp Đuôi Collective are Ho Chi Minh City’s finest experimental group. Their sound reminds me of the lo-fi bedroom vibe Xpressway Records in New Zealand had. Think of projects run by Roy Montgomery, like Dadamah, to get an idea of how wonderfully drony this material is.
Kalamine Records is an experimental music label out of Bordeaux, France. They have a very impressive roster of composers and groups who have a amazing command of studio techniques, making filmic, creepy compositions. This is essential headphone listening.
What is particularly remarkable is the fact that time stands still for a good portion of this album. One can feel like they fell into a bottomless pit and know that there is no place you’re going to crash at. You simply fall and fall into the music, and the coldness and terror emanating from the album never seems to cease.
This is dark ambient music that would have been stellar listening during the 1990’s. It’s incredibly well-done.