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Friday, February 15th, 2008 by Julija

norwegian composer // post-rock

Although I was introduced to the non-traditional, experimental musical approach of John Erik Kaada quite a while ago and his name was previously mentioned on Aurgasm, only now his music caught up with me. Writing a soundtrack to an imaginary film, Norwegian sound artist Kaada showcases his skills in composing haunting musical pieces made of tender melodies and wonderful textures. His entire orchestra of dramatic strings, piano, glockenspiel, glass harmonica and achingly soaring wordless chants create something strongly evocative and atmospheric.

Filled with an indescribable longing, instilling some sort of yearning.

Kaada – Smiger
Kaada – From Here On It Got Rough
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Susumu Yokota

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 by Andrew Ladd

electronic // ambient // soundscape

Susumu Yokota has released a somewhat ridiculous thirty (ish) albums over the last fourteen years, mainly in Japan and mainly in the house/techno genre. Over here in Angloland, though, he’s best known for his ambient electronica that’s a chilling sort of blend of The K&D Sessions and the Myst soundtrack. It’s all layers of hum, echoing bells, and sparsely shaken beats, and blends dreamily into one, beautifully rich canvas of sounds. The tracks here are from his 2002 The Boy and the Tree; his other ambient albums are Sakura, Grinning Cat, and Magic Thread.

Eerily hypnotic.
Susumu Yokota – Grass, Tree And Stone
Susumu Yokota – The Colour of Pomegranates
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J. Ralph

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 by Kyle

classical // operatic

Do you recall the beat of Busta Rhymes’ Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See? Now imagine a man and woman singing operatically over that beat in Italian, with a gently plucked classical guitar and accordion filling the air. If you’ve seen Volkswagen’s Big Day commercial, you’re one million miles closer to what’s in store with this adventure. So take a trip with a thrift shop warrior and hear what happens when a not-so-average Josh takes command of an 85-piece orchestra as only part of his medium.

Evocative soundscapes with lush, orchestral backdrops.
J. Ralph – Mi Ricordo
J. Ralph – Thrift Shop Warrior (Instrumental)
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Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns

Monday, June 5th, 2006 by Paul Irish

1950’s rock ‘n roll // boogie woogie
Following the footsteps of great New Orleans pianists like Professor Longhair, Huey made piano tracks to dance to. In 1957 he signed with Ace Records and formed ‘The Clowns’ with transgender artist Bobby Marchan at the helm. The two saw chart success multiple times, but none of the other records get me screaming along quite like this one. (turn it up!)
A good hearty 1958 rock ‘n roll rag.
Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns – Don’t You Just Know It
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The Music of New Orleans

Monday, September 19th, 2005 by Paul Irish
Many have been afraid that the culture and music of New Orleans being lost, but of all localized music sub-cultures, I’d consider The Big Easy’s as one of the most resilient. As the city’s instrumentalists were moving out of the city, their priority was locating their musician brethren. For now, the website of the popular N.O. venue Tipitina‘s serves as information portal on accounted and missing artists, donors providing housing and instruments, and upcoming gigs.

Well, come on everybody take a trip with me… way down the Mississippi, down in New Orleans!

Sidney Bechet – Summertime
The classic Gershwin tune. Bichet beat Louis Armstong to be the first important jazz soloist recorded, and also remains one of the finest jazz clarinetists of all time. His wide vibrato was trademark, along with forceful delivery, and well conceived improvisational ideas. He makes the clarinet soprano saxophone reed growl on this somber rendition of ‘Summertime’.

Kid Ory – Tiger Rag
This’ll probably remind you of the comprehensive Ken Burns Jazz Special. Kid Ory was a pioneer of New Orleans music, leading a band in 1911 as a trombonist. He collorated with Sidney Bechet (the two fought often for lead), Jelly Roll Morton, and a young Louis Armstrong. He retired from music to run a chicken farm, but returned by request of Orson Wells to record this scorching ‘Tiger Rag’.

Clarence “Frogman” Henry – Ain’t Got No Home
Very early one summer morning, Clarence Henry was performing on the bandstand and improvised his way into the basic riff behind “Ain’t Got No Home”. The crowd responded favorably, so he developed it further. Soon, Chess Records A&R was hustling Henry into Cosimo Matassa’s studio in September of 1956 to record. Local DJ Poppa Stoppa laid the “Frogman” handle on the youngster when he spun the catchy 45 and it stuck.

Snooks Eaglin – When They Ring Them Golden Bells
Although New Orleans is generally thought of as more of a jazz and R&B town, the streets of the Crescent City also gave birth to a quite different strain of the music. The Acoustic New Orleans Blues style embraces everything from itinerant street singers and guitarists to rag-tag “spasm” bands. The blind Snooks Eaglin was known as a human jukebox inside the town, being able to pull hundreds of songs out from his eclectic repetoire, often confusing his own band.

Dixie Cups – Iko Iko
Although they’re best known for “Chapel of Love”, the Dixie Cups wrote ‘Iko Iko’ quite accidentally. After the musicians had gone home from a recording session, the women were doing some overdubbing and started singing “Iko Iko” among themselves, using only a chair, drumstick, Coke bottle, ashtray, and drums as accompaniment. And although its roots are identified with New Orleans celebratory rituals, the song emerged as a quirky pop hit.

Lee Dorsey – Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further?
Lee Dorsey epitomized the loose, easygoing charm of New Orleans R&B perhaps more than any other artist of the ’60s. Working with legendary Crescent City producer Allen Toussaint, Dorsey typically made good-time party tunes with a playful sense of humor and a funky, gunnagetcha backbeat. The bassline here is infectiously evil.

Louisiana Gator Boys & The Blues Brothers – New Orleans
More of a tribute song than an authetic NOLA piece. From The Blues Brothers 2000, this track was the finale for the musical journey. It features a modest lineup: B.B. King, Junior Wells, Steve Lawrence, Taj Mahal, Lonnie Brooks, Eric Clapton, Nia Peeples, Darrell Hammond, Steve Winwood, Eddie Floyd, Paul Shaffer, Billy Preston, Koko Taylor, Bo Diddley, Isaac Hayes, Joshua Redman, Lou Rawls, Travis Tritt, Jimmie Vaughan, and Dr. John.

New Orleans music from the Aurgasm archives (mp3’s back up!):
Professor Longhair 1970’s new orleans funk // piano rhumba
The Meters 1970’s new orleans r&b // funk // soul
Rebirth Brass Band 1990’s new orleans brass band

Blues musician Vasti Jackson's studio was destroyed by this tree

Other blogs covering the NOLA music scene:
Home of the Groove always showcased The Big Easy’s musical output
Jazz And Conversation offers up a mix of the spirit of New Orleans
The Entroporium has a number of choice Nola tracks
Soul-Sides rep’s some Allen Toussaint and The Meters
IckMusic has some essential Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Cocaine Blunts threw together the best of New Orleans Bounce

Full broadcast of Higher Ground, a show for Hurricane Relief live at the Lincoln Center.

Rebirth Brass Band

Friday, September 2nd, 2005 by Paul Irish

big band // new orleans brass band

Every song starts with a tuba. Not just your standard oom-pah oom-pah ploppy tuba, no sir – this comes at you ferocious. Following after the famed Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the ReBirth crew throws together a vivid concoction of loud, bright brass slamming you from all angles. You can immediately hear how much they love the music they’re making – the invigorating energy just streams right out of their horns. They don’t stress about slipping a clam, they just let it all hang out.
Listen in on the New Orleans brass band jam session.

Rebirth Brass Band – You Move Ya Lose
Rebirth Brass Band – Chameleon
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Max Avery Lichtenstein

Saturday, May 14th, 2005 by Paul Irish

acoustic instrumental // film score

A month ago, I was taking a drive with my friend Christin who was in town. She was visiting her boyfriend, however after a three days of together-time, they were arguing non-stop. During our ride, she went on and on about her boyfriend and how much of an petulant asshole he was and all that. And then right in the middle of it all, she paused. I thought something was quite wrong. But Christin waited a beat and said, “I really like this song.” That’s exactly what ‘Tarnation’ will do – it’s relaxing melodies just grab you and elevate your mood. The song has a simple repetitive structure with guitar, piano, and cello forming the body. It’s the title theme from the award-winning documentary Tarnation which is set for release on DVD Tuesday.
Powerful music from a quiet sound.

Max Avery Lichtenstein – Tarnation
movie trailer for Tarnation
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The Gay Pimp

Sunday, December 5th, 2004 by Paul Irish


I’m nearly sure this hasn’t made its rounds as the next internet meme, but it surely deserves it. Gay performer Jonny McGovern crafted this catchy, sexy, and hilarious tune about doing manly things. The music video for this deliciously dirty song is even wilder; after Molly shared it around, she came back to me with, “a bunch of lmao are being sent to me.” Oh yeah. ‘I like to do manly things, but I like to do them with you. I was thinking we could go do… something dirtyyyy yeah.’
It’s so gaytasticly dirty, it’ll make you feel like you need a shower.

The Gay Pimp – Soccer Practice
The Gay Pimp – Soccer Practice (video) (at bottom)