Learning about David Bowie via his opinion on 25 diverse albums in his record collection. Really, a must read!


Let me count the reasons that I love this:

  1. The diversity of the picks and unimpeachability of the selection.
  2. His recall for when and where he bought a record. Absolutely a sign of a true obsessive.
  3. He remembers the people who ran his local department store record section, from his childhood, by name.
  4. This statement about the above mentioned store and his relationship with a certain clerk: “Jane Greene, their counter assistant, took a liking to me, and whenever I would pop in, which was most afternoons after school, she would let me play records in the “sound booth” to my heart’s content till the store closed at 5:30 P.M. Jane would often join me, and we would smooch big-time to the sounds of Ray Charles or Eddie Cochran. This was very exciting, as I was around 13 or 14 and she would be a womanly 17 at that time. My first older woman.” Smooch big time!
  5. That he remembers the Psychedelic Art collective, The Fool.
  6. 6. He credits Daevid Allen’s Bananamoon with being Proto-Glam
  7. He gave his vinyl copy of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s, Forces of Nature, to Mos Def, incorrectly thinking he had CD copy, and was looking for a replacement copy.
  8. He discusses the awkward introduction of Scott Walker’s influence.
  9. He refers to Glenn Branca’s music as having “an effect akin to the drone of Tibetan Buddhist monks but much, much, much louder.”, and knows that David Rosenbloom and Lee Ranaldo were members of the ensemble.
  10. He knows that Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, former Fugs, had currently rejoined forces for a new album, and says that the CIA had them on watch as The Fags.
  11. His acknowledgement of his own trendsetter status as the first to record a Velvet Underground cover, pre-VU and Nico release (though the Downliners Sect covered a pre-VU Reed and Cale song, Why Don’t You Smile Now, in 1966)
  12. Anyone who gives it up for Harry Partch gets points.

My only complaint is that he uses the plural, with “s”, when referring to vinyl, an admittedly petty pet peeve of mine, which I will attribute to his being British. But it’s Bowie, so you know it was charming as hell when he said it.

From Vanity Fair, November 2013.


Aguirre Records to reissue iconic Shandar Records label discography

Throughout the early-mid seventies, Shandar Records released legendary recordings from masters of Free Jazz, Minimalist, Drone and Avant scenes including La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Charlemagne Palestine, Cecil Taylor, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pandit Pran Nath, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Ragnar Grippe, Dashiell Hedayat and Sunny Murray. The first two announced in the Les Series Shandar are Steve Reich’s Four Organs/Phase Patterns and La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela’s Dream House 78’17”, available on Feb 24th . Reissues are limited to 1000 copies, and expect that first round to sell out immediately, so plan accordingly. Head to discogs for the complete Shandar listing…





Happy birthday, Don Cherry

Best known for his work with Ornette Coleman, and pioneering World Fusion Jazz, Don Cherry has also played with an impressive and diverse list of collaborators (see links below), including John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Dewey Redman, George Russell, Karin Krog, Terry Riley and Krzystof Penderecki, to name but a few.

Krzysztof Penderecki







Though Nico is best known for her association with the Velvet Underground, as a solo artist she charted a career every bit as unique and interesting as her Velvet cohorts Lou Reed and John Cale. Her first single, released on the hip Immediate Records label in 1965, was orchestrated Mod Pop not unlike her contemporary Marianne Faithful, or dozens of others, for that matter. Written by Gordon Lightfoot, I’m Not Sayin’ is the most cautious of love songs, reflecting an emotional honesty not typical of the era, but perfectly suited for Nico’s unmistakable monotonic accent and melancholia. Add to that the twelve string guitar Jimmy Page, and a production from Brian Jones and you’ve got an impressive musical debut.

The following year, at the insistence of Andy Warhol, Nico was brought into the Exploding Plastic Inevitable/Velvet Underground fold, on whose debut she would sing only three songs, despite the album being titled, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Well, as everyone knows by now, that album, despite modest sales, went on to become one of the most influential albums of all time, and cemented Nico’s role as an outsider icon.

So much ink has been, rightly, spilled on the debut, that discussing it further here borders on pointless, so I’ll just add my own random aside: a girlfriend of mine once asked me what song I would play at my wedding. I, never having seriously considered it, can’t even remember what song I said, mostly because whatever it was, she totally trumped me with, I’ll Be Your Mirror. Ever since then I’ve known that, should I get married, that song will be playing. And yeah, I woulda married her then and there, were it meant to be.

Released hot on the heels of the VU’s debut, Nico’s solo LP, Chelsea Girls (named for the Warhol film in which she starred), featured songs written by Reed, Cale and Morrison, in addition to paramour Jackson Browne, Tim Hardin, and an unreleased Dylan nugget, I’ll Keep It With Mine. In addition to songwriting credits, her fellow Velvets performed on the album, and VU producer Tom Wilson again manned the boards. Musically it’s a continuation of her debut single, the orchestrated Pop, while fitting perfectly alongside her Velvets cuts.

Nico’s sophomore album, The Marble Index, saw a dramatic change in sound, as she began her love affair with the harmonium. The droning pump organ was a natural progression from John Cale’s La Monte Young influenced viola in the Velvets, and naturally lent itself to Nico’s world weary melodies. Nico wrote and performed the songs solo on harmonium, then brought them to Cale, who would arrange all subsequent instruments. Though his influence looms large, there is no mistaking that Nico had found what would become her signature sound.

Frozen Warnings is my ultimate winter song.

Look out for another of Nico’s boyfriend’s Iggy Pop in this promo clip from Evening of Light.

Desertshore would see Nico developing that sound, this time with Cale sharing production with Joe Boyd, a legend for his productions of sixties Psychedelia and Acid Folk.

It would be four years before another Nico LP hit the shelves. The End centers on the titular title track, a very Nico reading of The Doors psychedelic magnum opus, and the occasional synthesizer work of a freshly Post-Roxy Music, Brian Eno.

Following The End, Nico would not record until the eighties, at which point she had become an icon to Goths and Punks around the world.

I absolutely love this performance of Chelsea Girls shot in the Chelsea Hotel.

Happy birthday, La Monte Young

Here’s a link to a rip I made of rare La Monte recordings, with added, and unfortunately brief, footage of him and wife/collaborator Marian Zazeela, with Terry Riley and their mutual teacher, Pandit Pran Nath.


Happy birthday, Glenn Branca

Watching Glenn Branca conduct this performance of Symphony 5 is like watching Nic Cage in a full body seizure; dramatic to say the least.

Similarly, this solo guitar performance from 1978 is a violent catharsis.

Live 1980 footage, augmented by Lee Ranaldo, Ned Sublette and David Rosenboom.

And a few from his No Wave bands…

This past year, I got to see some of the original Robert Longo drawings from the series that produced the cover for The Ascension, in an art museum in Florida. Impressive in person, I imagine much like a Branca performance.

Happy birthday, Steve Reich

One of my favorite Minimalist composers, and a pioneer of audio sampling via his sixties work with tape loops, on such pieces as It’s Gonna Rain, and Come Out, Steve Reich is recognized as one of America’s most influential living composers. Here’s some of my faves and some of his most significant works.

Come Out was my first exposure to Reich’s work, the moment of which I still remember distinctly. From wiki: “The 13-minute Come Out (1966) uses similarly manipulated recordings of a single spoken line given by Daniel Hamm, one of the falsely accused Harlem Six, who was severely injured by police.[10] The survivor, who had been beaten, punctured a bruise on his own body to convince police about his beating. The spoken line includes the phrase “to let the bruise’s blood come out to show them.” Reich rerecorded the fragment “come out to show them” on two channels, which are initially played in unison. They quickly slip out of sync; gradually the discrepancy widens and becomes a reverberation. The two voices then split into four, looped continuously, then eight, and continues splitting until the actual words are unintelligible, leaving the listener with only the speech’s rhythmic and tonal patterns. In 1999, Rolling Stone magazine dubbed Reich “The Father of Sampling” and compared his work with the parallel evolution of hip-hop culture by DJs such as Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash.”

Another clip of the rhythmically challenging, Clapping Music, featuring the same dancers as in the Come Out clip.

And finally, a documentary from The BBC’s, The South Bank Show

Happy birthday, Rhys Chatham

Maybe eight years ago, I was working for a club with a 900 person capacity. Frequently they would ask me about some of the weirder things that they were considering booking and one time, that weird thing was Rhys Chatham. I, having first learned of Chatham’s guitar armies in 87ish, with the release of the Die Donnergotter LP, was pretty excited about the idea of getting to see Chatham live, and immediately launched into some effusive tirade about his work, convincing them of his reputation and merit, as a composer. During that tour there was some Sunn O))) connection and I figured between that and the coterie of musical oddballs, both local and regional (there were no other shows scheduled anywhere near us), we could amass the staggering sum of maybe 200 people. Now, when you’re a venue of 900+, your booking agent isn’t so psyched on 200, but they’ve still got a schedule to fill, so with this in mind, the date was set. Long story short, on the day of the show we’ve sold maybe 40 tickets, end up giving away as many as possible, and my legacy as the guy whose interest in a show was inversely proportional to ticket sales was cemented (around the same time, I also went to bat for LCD Soundsystem, who had maybe 200 people at their show, making it one of the club’s biggest losses, and 2 years later they would have sold out a week’s residency.) . Anyway, for those interested in Chatham, it was a great show of his heavy, repeating, slowly evolving minimalism, and I’ve still got a stack of tickets as a momento.

Here’s a rare clip of Chatham at Max’s Kansas City in 1979, blasting away his particular brand of  No Wave Minimalism.

Guitar Trio was Chatham’s first composition in the mold for which he became famous, and through the years he has been assisted by Glenn Branca (his most prominent rival for the title of King of The Guitar Army), Nina Canal of UT, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo, Alan Licht, Robert Longo, Tony Conrad and original Circus Mort / Swans drummer and member of La Monte Young’s Forever Bad Blues Band, Jonathan Kane.

A Crimson Grail, performed by 100 guitarists and 8 bassists, in the Liverpool Cathedral.

Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, slowed down, is a thing of beauty

I already love Wuthering Heights, but slowing it down has given it an ethereal presence which is stunning. Plus it’s been effective for me as a sleep aid, so there’s that. Call it the DJ Screw Chopped and Screwed version. Okay, not chopped, and probably too ambient for fans of the sizzurp, but you get the drifffffft.

Watch composer David Rosenboom hook John and Yoko up to a biofeedback machine and process it through synths

This has gotta be one of the weirdest moments on the Mike Douglas Show. John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Chuck Berry and Mike, all seated on the floor, while David Rosenboom and partner (unknown to me), hook all but Chuck, who remains silent, up to a biofeedback processor, producing sounds then manipulated by the use of synthesizers (any info on what synths would be appreciated), as they discuss the nature of biofeedback therapy. A time piece for sure.

From the Whitney Museum of American Art’s (with whom Rosenboom has frequently worked), Rosenboom bio: “Since the 1960s David Rosenboom has explored the spontaneous evolution of musical forms, languages for improvisation, new techniques in scoring for ensembles, multi-disciplinary composition and performance, cross-cultural collaborations, performance art and literature, interactive multi-media and new instrument technologies, generative algorithmic systems, art-science research and philosophy, and extended musical interface with the human nervous system.”

A very Terry Riley-ish recording from 1975’s, Brainwave Music.

From Rosenboom’s 1980 release, Daytime Viewing, with longtime Robert Ashley collaborator, vocalist/designer/graphic artist, Jacqueline Humbert…

unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip of Rosenboom’s collaboration with Anthony Braxton.