Sunday, August 17, 2014


UK-based RareNoiseRecords is a unique enterprise in our times: an outlet for musicians from which one can conclude that artistic freedom coexists with indifference to genre, a place where taste and commitment to interesting sounds seem to carry the day.

Which is not to say that "interesting" has to pander to be accessible. While the label, and this episode, boasts much music of the the avant garde or experimental variety, there is seldom dissonance at the expense of melody, rhythm or harmony. When the playing does get "out", the sensitive listener is never left behind. This is music of engagement, not alienation.

Also contributing to every RareNoise release is a tremendous leveraging of modern recording technique. Like the classic jazz and world imprints of the past, there is no sense of shoestring budgets here. The music is done right. Whether the sounds are acoustic, electronic, ambient or tightly arranged, a RareNoiseRecords release can be counted on to sound terrific.

The label has been featured here before, notably in our end-of-2011 podcast episode, but also in reviews of several of their releases which we published on this site as well as on All About Jazz. While this is the first episode of the Burning Dervish Podcast dedicated to a single label (with one exception, noted below), there was no sponsorship or business arrangement. We are fans, not paid advocates.

Many artists featured on RareNoise releases have been in our wheelhouse for ages. A superlative example of this is Bill Laswell. Substantial amounts of his output of the last 35 years has been covered on this site. A few episodes back, Laswell as a player, writer and producer featured quite prominently in What the Future Used to Sound Like. A perusal of our archive will reveal his repeated presence.

The playlist for this episode is:
  1. Indigo Mist from Cuong Vu and Richard Karpen's minimalist tribute to the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, That the Days Go By and Never Come Again
  2. The Bill Laswell Dub Remix of Strange Dream, from the self-titled Helio Parallax release, on M.O.D. Technologies, a sympatico label devoted to the music of Laswell - with a track that fits too well here to leave out
  3. Avant Buddha by Chat Noir, the opening track on their on the album,  Elec3cities
  4. Step Lively, from the jazz trio record, The New Standard, by Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte, the most soulful drummer this side of Joey Baron or Brian Blade...
  5. Twinscapes, by bassists Lorenzo Feliciati and Colin Edward, gives us the track In Dreamland
  6. The 21st Century's own organ trio, Interstatic, is represented by In the Beginning, from the album, Arise
  7. Laswell rears his head again on the track Nork, from the self-titled release by super group (what else can you call a band featuring veterans of King Crimson, John Zorn, Peter Gabriel?), Mumpbeak
  8. Not since Sonny Sharrock and Peter Brotzman lit it up as Last Exit has metal met free jazz so beautifully. In this case the ensemble goes by the name Free Nelson Mandoomjazz and their track featured here is a cover of none other than the title song of the self-named debut album by stoner-metal forerunners Black Sabbath. It must be heard to be believed
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Hopeful Melody

Propelling ritual and identity, rhythm is the musical staple food of Africa. What of melody?

Whether the product of voices in English, French, or a thousand tribal dialects, the breath through a horn or flute, or a plucked kora, it is melody that tells the true stories of struggle, liberation, celebration and despair so contrasting on the continent.

This episode weaves melody over, through and around rhythms from Addis Ababa to Cape Town and includes these tracks:Download (right click and save) | Subscribe to all episodes | Subscribe in iTunes

Monday, July 07, 2014

What the Future Used to Sound Like

All of the music in this episode was recorded before 1984, some as early as 1978, and ties many experimental strands together as it firmly establishes the foundation of the "No Wave" movement (which sprang from the art scene in downtown New York City).

The roots of this musical family tree spread all the way back to the underground music scene of mid-60s London, to bands like Soft Machine and Gong (members of which feature in the episode). In fact, perusing the lineups of those two groups in particular, one is led to artistic endeavours as diverse (and important in their own ways) as Manfred Mann, The Police, Sonic Youth, Carla Bley, jazz fusion, prog rock, ambient noise and countless others. This is music that influenced - and influences - high and low art from the late 20st century through today. Dig deeper, starting with the artists here. Whether you move forward or back in time from them, you will be astounded by the scope of the reach and impact.

Much of the music in this episode is truly of the "timeless" variety. An overused word, for sure, but rather than stretch for synonyms, let's call it what it is. Whether it is recording techniques, instrumentation, or composition, a significant portion of the songs in this mix could have been recorded today. Or 35 years ago.

This is what the future used to sound like.

Process / Motion - Material
Materialism - New York Gong
Panther Burn - Curlew
America Is Waiting - Brian Eno and David Byrne
Conversations With White Arc - Fred Frith
Shadow to Shadow - Kip Hanrahan
Reduction - Material
Square Dance - Material
Fastfather - Daevid Allen
Lizard Point - Brian Eno
I'm Sorry, I'm Such a Weenie - Jill Kroesen
Gate - Massacre
Filter - Elliot Sharp

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