There is a strong underlying theme of experimentation on this week’s mix – part of the purpose of the KLOF mix series, of which this is only the second, was to return to those days of virtual crate-digging which I’ve been doing a lot more of recently. This mix series has no rules and even if it did, I’ve never been very good at conforming. Eclecticism is bountiful with a healthy sprinkling of psychedelia, jazz, alt-folk and Gnawa. There are also two brilliant and extensive improvisations: one from Ian Kearey and Paul Wigens and one from Elkhorn, you can read about both and all the other music played in the extensive notes below. Some of the tracks have been waiting for a home for a while now so it was a very satisfying experience to finally pull the whole thing together.
KLOF No. 2 Liner Notes
Cortina Deluxx – Just the Same
I had to hunt down this eponymous five-track EP by alt-folk trio Cortina Deluxx after Folk Police Records used it in an early FRUK mix. Cortina Deluxx were Jojo Thomas (vocals, piano, chord organ), Danny Norbury (cello) and Jon Thorne (double bass). The was the first release on Humble Soul, way back in November 2006, a stunning eponymous five-track EP. I recently spoke to Howard Mills of Humble Soul about the album. He recalled: “It was recorded live in the front room of my old house in Manchester – the studio was in the basement, but the front room had this lovely “live” sound which was particularly suited to Danny’s cello and Jon’s double bass.
Velly Joonas – Stopp, Seisku Aeg!
Stopp, Seisku Aeg! was released in 2015 by Estonian artist Velly Joonas. If the music sounds familiar it’s because it’s a cover of I See Red, the song written by Gerry Rafferty’s brother, Jim Rafferty which was first recorded in 1982 by Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA, under the name “Frida” for her first English-language studio album, “Something’s Going On”. One you’ll need to hunt down.
The Heliocentrics – The Sunshine Makers
A great trippy track from London psychedelic jazz collective The Heliocentrics. This is from the Soundtrack to the Documentary The Sunshine Makers which the band put together 18 tracks for. It’s released on Soundway Records and is well worth seeking out…as is the documentary which is still on Netflix – it charts the rise and fall of Tim Scully and Nicholas Sand, improbable pioneers of the drug counterculture during the 1960s. The Sunshine Makers – Bandcamp
Goat – Let it Burn
Hold onto your socks as things get fuzzy with the new single from Goat which was used in the short film Killing Gävle. You can read more about it here. Let it Burn – Bandcamp
Hassan Ben Jaafar, Itamar Ziegler and Balkan Beat Box – Lala Mira
Hassan Ben Jaafar who hails from Morocco is a true master of Gnawa music which is a mixture of sub-Saharan African, Berber, and Arabic religious songs and rhythms. Its practice is concentrated in north Africa, mainly Morocco. We feature a couple of Gnawa tracks in this mix.
“We first met Hassan at Vibromonk Studios in Brooklyn to collaborate on a song for Balkan Beat Box’s debut album. Since then we all anticipated another collaboration. When that day arrived we decided that a live, unrehearsed, acoustic session would best capture Hassan’s brilliance. The project was completed with more sessions at my studio (my living room at the time). Nass Al Hal is a soulful album and an important one as it documents a beautiful musician who otherwise might not be heard.” Itamar Ziegler – From Nas Al Hal / Hassan Ben Jaafar & Friends – Bandcamp
Anandi Bhattacharya – In Between Us
We recently shared the video for this lead track from Joys Abound, the international debut album from Anandi Bhattacharya, the daughter of the legendary Hindustani slide guitarist Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya. Joys Abound. Read more about the album in our article here. Joys Abound – Pre-Order https://www.worldmusic.net/store/item/TUG1116/
Majid Bekkas – Soudani Manayou (Cervo edit)
More Gnawa which has some great jazz lines part way through. This secular music is still considered the “healer of souls” from Essaouira to Marrakech, easily understandable when you listen to the spellbinding sound of Bekkas’ voice, guembri and guitar. Soundani Manayou / Mrhaba (Cervo Edits) – Bandcamp
Pram – The Owl Service
From their 2000 release – Roundly disproving the thin theory of a diminishing return from long term groups, Birmingham’s chosen few triumph on this wonderful set, inspired as the title says, by a museum of imaginary animals. Reminding the listener in places of Herbie Hancock-era Miles and the deepest dub cuts, but mostly Pram’s own wonderful world, it really says more about the terrible state of the music media that this record seems almost to have slipped past unnoticed. The Museum of Imaginary Animals – Bandcamp
The Saxophones – Mysteries Revealed
From Songs of the Saxophones, the debut album of The Saxophones (husband & wife duo Alexi Erenkov & Alison Alderdice from Oakland, CA) – we featured the video for Mysteries Revealed here. The Songs of the Saxophones – Bandcamp | Full Time Hobby
Own Road – All My Problems
From Simon Skjødt Jensen’s one-man project from Copenhagen. It’s music that exists in a twilight space between American folk, singer-songwriter and nuanced psychedelica. Taken from his recent album Another Country which has a really nice diverse laidback mix, Definitely worth checking out. Another Country – Bandcamp
Ian Kearey and Paul Wigens – Feast of the Unknown Gods
I was sent The Golden Section on vinyl a little while ago. The album was recorded at Bristol’s Cube Cinema 13 years ago and features Ian Kearey, who last year produced and played on Shirley Collins’s Lodestar album (2016), played the six “Fahey”-influenced improvisations on a 1934 Regal Model 27 12-string resonator and a 1967 John Bailey hanjimer which, alongside the incredible jazz drums of Paul Wigens, delivers an intoxicating mix of American primitive, English folk, and early British experimental jazz.
The idea for the album came from Gerald Langley (Blue Aeroplanes) who originally had the idea of putting together a Sandy Bull / John Fahey improvised guitar and drum duo…The six tracks reveal more on repeat listens with the cream being the two longest tracks – A Far Cry and this beauty – Feast of the Unknown Gods which features some improvised takes on some familiar tunes which I’m not going to mention as I feel you’re better listening to this without preconceptions. The connection between Kearey and Wigens feels almost telepathic, some ingenious playing and magical moments – sublime. The Golden Section – Forced Exposure.
Elkhorn – Lion
The final piece comes from Elkhorn’s latest album on Eiderdown Records – Lionfish. The following is taken from the release notes but is worth telling in full, as befits a brilliant 18 minute improvisation.
“In the fall of 2017, Drew Gardner, the electric guitarist in the guitar duo Elkhorn, had a life-changing, mystical experience eighty feet underwater while scuba diving in Belize. Exploring the lush barrier reef fifty miles off the coast, he saw a particularly intriguing lionfish, and, mesmerized by its great beauty, reached out his hand to this wondrous animal.
Lionfish are gorgeously proportioned, elaborately decorated beasts, plumed in the manner of Quetzalcoatl with eighteen hypodermic spines, each holding a payload of powerful neurotoxic venom. Making contact at the exact point where man and God fail to touch in Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, the lionfish injected Gardner in the tip of his right index finger. At that moment, Gardner says, “the spirit of all creation was delivered instantly to the core of my heart.”
Gardner brought back samples of the venom and shared it with the other half of Elkhorn, the twelve-string acoustic guitar-fingerpicking Jesse Sheppard. Raised by a father with a storied career as an expert psycho-pharmacologist, Sheppard had inherited extensive expertise on the preparation and testing of psychoactive drugs. He quickly refined the venom into a powdered form just as potent as the original.
As a band, Elkhorn spent several weeks experimenting with different dosages of the drug, using it to fuel long electric/acoustic guitar improvisations exploring the fabric of the universe from within the intertwining spaces of mind and sound. As they experimented, it soon became clear that Gardner’s right index finger would continue to bear a scar from his encounter with the lionfish, to which he credits a permanent improvement in his guitar tone.
At 11:09PM on the evening of December 2nd, 2017, a day now known as “Lionfish Day,” Gardner and Sheppard each snorted two enormous lines of lionfish powder from the surface of a mirror adorned with the silkscreened image of Bill Kreutzmann’s face. They then proceeded to capture the recording you have in your hands at the band’s Sharktooth studio in New York City.
Each of these two extended improvisations, “Lion” and “Fish,” were timed to correspond with the peak effect of the lionfish venom as it opened and focused their minds, connecting them with the ambiguous beauty, danger and mystery of nature.” Lionfish is out now on Eiderdown Records – Bandcamp
Aktuala – Dejanira
From Aktuala, a pioneering band from Italy, formed in 1972. This is taken from their S/T debut album (1972). The lineup includes Lino “Capra” Vaccina whose new solo album was released last year. Read about it in our article here. Amazon