2017 August 14 • Monday

Remi Kabaka's music for Black Goddess is the 478th Soundtrack of the Week.

Most of the pieces are very groove oriented. It's almost impossible not to tap your foot. "The Warrior", in fact, is for percussion only.

It's a small ensemble, just four people. Three of them play percussion and between the four are keyboards, tenor and soprano saxes, bass guitar and electric guitar.

"Brothers and Sisters" has a Stevie Wonderish feel to it and is sunny in tone.

"The Quest" sounds a bit like Fela but without his monstrous band and urgent saxophone sound. Still, I'm guessing that he was an inspiration for this track.

Things slow down and get heavy with "Slave March", which has a hypnotic quality to it, mostly one phrase repeated over and over..

The title track is more upbeat, with some active saxophone lines and nicely layered rhythmic figures underneath.

Which leaves the solo keyboard track "The Quest", a meditative and spacious tune that stretches out for almost seven minutes. It's not the longest piece on the record but it is just solo keyboard. Fela's influence might be here again, and perhaps also Sun Ra's.

It's a shame that despite the strengths of the compositions, the sound of the band isn't as good as it could be. The drums all sound great but the electric instruments just don't sound like they're very good quality. A re-recording or re-interpretation of this music could be really great.

But this is the original and it is quite good!

2017 August 09 • Wednesday

A new addition to the Gutbrain Records Casual Collection of Mostly Mid-Century Ephemera is a few issues of Hot Rod magazine from the 1950s.

Here's the first one.

It's a nice cover and of course my eye was drawn by the postage stamp.

This issue is notable because it has an article about a woman in the very male hot rod scene.

The hot rod scene itself is something I don't know much about. It appears to be made up of people building their own cars or modding cars that are ten, twenty or thirty years old.

Hot rods and hot rodders come up often enough in music, movies and books from the period, but it's taken for granted that the audience knows what it needs to know about it. I'd like to know more.

2017 August 07 • Monday

The 477th Soundtrack of the Week is this brilliant re-recording of several Jerry Goldsmith compositions for the television series Thriller.

Re-recordings of film music from conductor Nic Raine, the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tadlow label are always intensely rewarding. With this program of relatively obscure early Goldsmith, they've done something really special.

While a complete and chronological collection of every piece of music, ideally from the original recording sessions, would still be very desirable, this CD of three tracks each for six different episodes (each including a suite of cues) is exhilarating, brilliantly produced and a very listenable album.

"The Grim Reaper" has some of the modernistic small-ensemble ideas that Goldsmith loved so much back in those days, as well as some Herrmannesque lyricism and use of space. There are some intriguing uses of instruments such as accordion and exceptionally strong violin playing.

"Hay-Fork and Bill Hook" allow for some pastoral themes and lovely melodies that are alternated or layered with stings and other suggestions of menace and suspense. Fiddle traditions as well as traditional European music seem to have been inspirations and the flute does a lot of work as a primary voice.

After that we go into the "Well of Doom". It opens with dark, low and loud instruments surging out of the speakers toward the listener. There's also some lovely ethereal harp and vibes playing but the looming and bellowing voices of the lower register brass instruments are never far away.

For "Mr. George" Goldsmith came up with a theme that has a childlike innocence to it. It sounds like it might be played on the glockenspiel and has a soothing beauty to it. This lovely theme is heard quite a bit but inevitably things take a disturbing turn...

The harpsichord gets a workout in "The Poisoner" as does the string section. Sometimes it sounds like the strings are blended with an electronic instrument as well. This is one of the most relentless dramatic of the scores here, very strong and solid.

The last episode featured is "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper", which has a Weill-like theme in 3/4 and some spacious and extended playing from effective combinations of just a few instruments at a time. Percussion is used especially well here.

Finally there's a medley of all six of the "End Titles" from these episodes.

This is really a fantastic recording! We can only hope there are more like this to come!