A YEAR IN MUSIC: GYORGY LIGETI – Requiem/Lontano/Continuum (1968)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 1968
Review by: Alex Alex

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There is a perpetual problem of credibility with any type of the „new“ music. People want to learn new things, never a new language. A new language will fail, same as the old one – and we know it from our bitter, unsaid experience. Rather than helping, the new devices will stand in the way — it is not that «The Dark Side of the Moon» benefits much from the Wall of Sound — however the sight of that wall of sound resisting, in its quiet desperation, the tides of the old-fashioned, rhymed truths – that sight is spectacular.

Yet, what if there is something new in the “new” music? We must take the old instruments to reveal that which is new. Which is what Ligeti does or, rather, did at that moment of time – today we do not really understand why he didn’t use the plain old synthesizers as all those musicians of old. Time has flatten things – we can do ambient noises on all kinds of devices and it just so happens that the “electronic” devices fit for that much more than the plain old orchestra.

Yet, what is interesting, the music of Ligeti needs no handicap in the form of any explanation – no Stockhausen aliens, no Pink Floyd drugs, no John Cale’s Lou Reed, nothing whatever. Same as with pornography – once we hear a requiem we know what kind of music it is.

Of course, it was ideally suited for the Kubrick movie – as double-sided as the movie is – sci-fi and the evil AI for the young, a tale of an old man dying without acquiring a slightest understanding of ANYTHING – for the elder.

This is what music does – it defies language and thus glorifies human existence. It never cares about the new synthesizers-alphabets, the same musicians use the same instruments as before, – and for a brief moment we have something new, something which has not yet been labeled, tape-recorded and manufactured – which is still Requiem and which we understand without understanding. Something, which makes us the Kubrick astronauts for a very brief moment – just before everything gets buried under the monolithic satanic synthesizer falling down on this Earth from the skies.

A YEAR IN MUSIC: DOUG HILLARD & GENE CLARK – The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark (1968)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 1968
Reviewed by: Charly Saenz

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There are some musical genres that will split the audience in two, and I’ll readily include Country Rock in that lot. I ain’t been a fan myself, after all, liking some faux cowboy british stuff, like Dead Flowers or Muswell Hillbillies, however cool, won’t mean that you’re in the Country Music appreciation business. No more than taking a selfie with a dead cow on Route 66.

So it took me a couple of feverish months of listening to heaps of Gene Clark music, going back from its magnificent 1974 masterpiece to the point where he broke up with those nasty Byrds guys (Silver Ravens?) and he started a low profile but endearing career playing the music he loved, with lots of folk and bits of psychedelia and even soul; but firmly rooted in Purely American Country rock. At least he didn’t have to fly anymore: pun intended, but in fact it was actually like that.

And this is some Country Music that really appeals to me. As an opener, “Out On The Side” is a nice classic folkish tune by Gene, not that far from that Cosmic Soul Country Music from 1974 (add some gospelish backing vocals and there you go). And these words, I do gracefully understand now:

“No I’m not looking to find any holes
From what I think has been denied
That’s not the feeling of love when it flows
I hope I can lose that much pride”

Doug Dillard brings authenticity to the roots sound with his majestic banjo playing; He’s really outstanding in “She darkened the sound”, and Gene brings a more subdued singing style that matches Bernie Leadon’s great backing vocals.

In fact Leadon really put a lot in this album both in his musical performance (he plays several instruments) and in the songwriting area: listen to “Train Leaves Here This Morning” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Eagles, in your face: You cannot really start to compete. But well you know, a future Eagle, Bernie Leadon co-wrote it with Gene, so well they had some right to play it. Instant classic.

“With Care from Someone” is awesome, a perfect amalgam of the three main musicians talent, there’s a vocal line by Gene almost opposite to the intricate banjo/guitar/harmonica interplay. Pure ear candy for the country uninitiated. “The Radio Song” follows with an even more delicate delivery, with some added piercing keyboard (is that a xylophone?) for utter pleasure.

But don’t let the laid back vibe fool you: there’s touches of colour from the pop/folk rock sensibility by the author of “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”. “Don’t Come Rollin'” is such a song; you might have included it in The Beatles’ Help, that nice Byrdie folkrockish album.

Towards the end of the album, “Git It On Brother” doesn’t do it for me, this is way too .. country, not much rock here, and it feels quite like a cliché. But it’s just a little spot clocking under the 3 minutes, so I’ll let it go. The album closes with “Something’s Wrong”, a perfect song-song in any genre. The bass pulse and the heavy guitar plucking really make it a pretty instrumental match to Gene’s gloomy singing.

So – this is quite a groundbreaking album for its time; it’s probably less rootsy (or shall I say authentic) than say Willie Nelson or Cash, but for me it’s just like a Screwdriver (no, not the tool, the drink): you need alcohol but the juice must be there, else you’d be drunken in a few minutes… WAIT, this might not be a good selling point for the album…

Let’s start again: There are some genres that will split the audience..

A YEAR IN MUSIC: PINK FLOYD – A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 1968
Review by: Victor Guimarães

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A Saucerful of Secrets is a very meaningful album for an iconic band such as Pink Floyd. Not only because the album was referred to by drummer Nick Mason as his favourite, but because of the events related to it and to the band’s progression – band leader and lead singer, guitarist and composer Syd Barrett left due to (drug related) mental illnesses and, to replace him, the band recruited David Gilmour as new guitar player. This makes A Saucerful of Secrets the only album to feature all five members, which is another meaningful milestone (even if they only play together in one track).

The record kept the same space rock and psychedelic approach as its predecessor, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. On the time of release, it divided critics, mostly because of Syd’s contributions, now far less numerous. Better recognition came with time, specially after the band’s golden age. For this reviewer, this 7-track piece of work is not anything less than great. Expect amazing instrumentals, with beautiful guitars riffs and solos, strong and creative drums, captivating bass and the distincts time signatures, distortions and production-added stuff that marked the genius of the age of psychedelia. The record is also filled with a somewhat gentle mood, full of the expected space-like sounds, but touches darker and more distorted sounds that would be more present on the band future works. The lyrics are varied as well, reflecting the same past/future Floyd progression that makes the record iconic. Lyrics include: the full instrumental track who names the album, tracks based on past-Floyd themes, such as childhood, on future-Floyd themes, such as war, and there is the emotional final track, Jugband Blues, the only composition by Syd Barrett, who probably was aware of his incoming departure. The lines “It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here / And I’m most obliged to you for making it clear that I’m not here” make me chill every single time.

And, as I want to be fully honest here, I gotta say I kinda agree with the general reviewing perception of this record. And why? I confess I didn’t like it the very first time I listened to it, many years ago (and way before reading any reviews on the album). But! – and emphasizing that “but” –  After a second or third try, I actually started to enjoy it. And why is that, mate?!? I could say my critics are like either: a) while the songs are mostly great by themselves, the album may not function too well as a whole or b) this album may be too much for the untrained ear, even if you’re used to and like Pink Floyd’s golden age albums or c) both of the previous letters.

Finally, I could only say there’s no reason to refrain from listening to A Saucerful of Secrets. Both the fanbase and the band itself revere it as an iconic album, the start of their independence from Syd and harbinger of their future potential. May your reason be to dig into Pink Floyd early works, check out the only collective work of all band members, see why it divided critics, love for psychedelia and space rock, see if this review is accurate or just sheer curiosity, it definitely deserves one or two tries. And for that I mean for you to get your phones ready. It’s time to unveil the secrets of that saucer.

Roland and Nina’s DECADES IN MUSIC – 1973 – LATTE E MIELE – Papillon

Review by: Nina Anatchkova
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn

What I lamentably discovered at the tender age of 17 is that generic prog albums aren’t exactly a commodity that’s hard to find. And in the internet age, they’ve crawled out of everywhere and are cool once again. For some reason. And while Latte e Miele get bonus points for singing in Italian (possibly due to the fact that they themselves are Italian) and therefore making this album at least slightly distinct, I feel Papillon suffers from the general syndrome of interchangeability of 70s prog records. Yes, Latte e Miele, you play it really well and I bet you have meticulously arranged like every second of this and that you have precisely thought out how to use bombast to bring out the instrumental intermissions in “Terzo quadro l’incontro” for instance or taken care to have the fusion breaks in “Quatro quadro l’arresto” but what new and breathtakingly unexpected are exactly trying to tell us here?

No, this record unfortunately still remains in my mind just as “70s sounds”, even after a couple of listens. It’s cool, I guess, but I don’t see why anyone would waste time listening to this when there’s so much else you can be enjoying and oohing in surprise and delight at.

Oh, there are the classical pieces reinterpretations too… Vivaldi and Beethoven. Why? Who knows, who cares.

Roland and Nina’s DECADES IN MUSIC – 1971 – EDDIE PALMIERI – Vamonos Pa’l Monte

Review by: Nina Anatchkova
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn

It took me ages to review this record and here is why: I just can’t bear sitting through the whole of it, and the thought of even putting it on for a bit fills me with terror. Stuff like Buena Vista Social Club and jazz music are two musical directions that I can borderline tolerate, you know, when the stars align and my mind is really occupied by something else, but having the two of them together just overloads my senses.

I assume Eddie Palmieri is really good at what he does and this record probably represents some sort of a musical pinnacle, it sure sounds like it does, but please, please, please, don’t make me listen to it ever again.

Roland and Nina’s DECADES IN MUSIC – 1970 – GRATEFUL DEAD – American Beauty

Review by: Nina Anatchkova
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn

The Grateful Dead sound excellent on this record, and I can definitely see why it gets such high ratings everywhere. In fact, were I an American dadrocker, listening to American Beauty would bring a proud tear to my eye. But I am not, and the most I can come up with is “wow, this sounds so real – it’s really cute how it oozes american country sensibilities and roots rock earnest steadiness”.
Steady is the rhythm section here, of course, while the close harmonies throughout the record soothe your soul and the folksy guitar work really brings it home. In fact, the effect of the close harmony really stands out on the penultimate track “Attics Of My Life”, where there are a lot of chords held for long enough to achieve maximum effect by the vocals crew. There is a good variation of rhythms – even the blues makes an appearance on “Candyman”, and the bluesy shuffle closer “Truckin’” is one of the highlights on this album.

My initial impression of this album is that it really belongs in your car audio, at dusk, while you are eating mile after mile of the wide american prairie (my father likes to call every unpopulated stretch of land in the US “the prairie”), which stretches out to the horizon. But after some relistening and reconsideration, I’d say it is perfect for other even not that highly romanticised situations. Just be sure to have a quiet enough environment that will not overpower the delicate nuances on here, and you will too have a chance at some american beauty.

Roland and Nina’s DECADES IN MUSIC – 1969 – GAL COSTA – Gal Costa

Review by: Nina Anatchkova
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn



Gal Costa (or Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos as her mandatory 15 names go) is a Brazilian singer of popular music, and Gal Costa is her debut solo album (although not her first record – Domingo from 1967, for instance, is a collaboration by her and Caetano Veloso and also deserves praise), released in 1969. 

The album opens on a cacophony suspended for a moment or two, and I was just about to steel myself for yet another psychedelic 60s record, when the noises gave way to a peaceful and lushly arranged piece of melancholy that builds and builds and finally dissolves into the same tense cacophonous sound that gets released. Er, or something.

The second track, “Sebastiana”, is so very close to scat singing territory in the nimble intensity of vocal delivery although it probably never crosses the line, and up next is the only song sung in English on this record, “Lost in Paradise”, a very jazzy piece that is incredibly well coloured by the musicians and instruments that back up Gal Costa and also impressively carried through by her powerful but subdued vocal performance. Perhaps my favourite track on the first side is “Se Você Pensa” – a true showcase of vocal control – passionate and with a edge to the voice and yet holding onto some really cool intervals that I’d  dare you to try on your own.

Indeed, this record contains 12 songs, contributed by a roster of writers (among which Caetano Veloso), but they are all given an excellent rendition that holds your interest throughout the piece (especially in the instrumentation department) and all of them showcase Gal Costa’s abilities as a performer. She doesn’t go quite as wildly experimental and fascinatingly hysterical in delivery as she does on her follow-up of several months later Gal but still, even if sprinkled with some occasional bossa nova flair (a rare fruit of delight that best be enjoyed very sparingly, at least in my opinion) this record is no bore. In fact, even if some of the sonic details on it are very typical of the era, I’d venture as far as to say that it sounds quite timeless and probably even a little bit profound, and heavenly melancholy on a summer sunset somewhere near the sea is probably its main area of expertise.