(Welcome to a new part of my humble endeavors, which will introduce you to snippet reviews/reactions to music to which I’m listening at the moment, in order to spread the word about a lot of little (perhaps) known but wonderful recordings out there. I’ll try to be somewhat substantive, but these are just largely reactions, sparks of my enthusiasm or any other gut feelings that strike me. I’ll write as much as I can cram in 30 minutes. All of the selections can be found on Bandcamp, either on the website or on the app.)
1. TaboTago Sessions 04: Live at Zionskirche, Berlin 2017/12/10
I’m not versed on German electronica, and I came across this and was intrigued by the concept of an ambient concert in a historic church, divorced from any theological content. European churches (the older ones, at least) are vast stone resonators for the choirs and organs that used to (and still sometimes do) inhabit them. If there was a better place to do atmospheric ambient, I can’t think of one. That said, I didn’t know what to expect from a long-track recording in concert from a group that draws on inspiration from Germany’s 1980s electronic scene (mainly Krautrock and Tangerine Dream), whether or not it would be poppish nasal synths or something else. What unfolded over the next 45 minutes felt as organic and yet unexpected as anything I’ve heard yet. The encore is much trippier, slightly Jon Hassell-esque than the first track, and one I like even better.
2. Hiemal: Aether
Hiemal is a French composer of what is described as “dark drone ambient”, but I find it as anything but! Listening to his long-track pieces reminds me of the effect of standing in front of a Mark Rothko painting, looking at (seemingly) stationary colors and finding them in actuality to be in a state of flux in terms of brightness and intensity. Profoundly meditative with a high, HIGH ceiling.
3. Dur Dur of Somalia: Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Analog Africa records)
I’m listening to this as I write, something I came across today. There was a time when Mogadishu (the much-suffering and bullet-pocked capital of the equally suffering country) wasn’t a war zone. There was a time (in the 1970’s and 1980’s) when the capital played host to a flowering of bands, playing music that blended Arabic-language Somali song with the style of funk music that reigned in many corners of the musical world at the time. Dur Dur was one of them, one of many bands whose musical legacy has persevered through the times of war and famine that followed. Analog Africa is a German label that has devoted itself to finding and preserving as much of these historical recordings as possible. A delightful postcard from a different time.