Alu – Solidarnosc
A friend of mine posted this song on Facebook a couple of years ago. How could I hear a song like this on such a common medium? This song deserves to be led in on one of those elevated boards noble people lounge on, carried by commoners, as they journey to their throne while they are eating little grapes dangling from a servants hand. Look, I am completely against aristocracy but this song is fucken royal.
Nadja, the vocalist has a way with the rhythm and cadence of her lyrics that really works well with the synth driven industrial beat. But it’s her non-lyric vocalizing guttural breaths that really get me. It’s a technique that is difficult to do well, but it is rightly done here. I listen and listen, repeat and repeat.
Alu is a German band from the 80s and that’s all I know about them but some Google searches lead to the info below. It was the best I could find.
From this website:
No need to be ashamed if you have never heard of Alu, a German trio, that came from the band Sand. Their ‘Golem’ LP was one of the classic krautrock records of the seventies and later on released by World Serpent on CD. After Sand broke up, Johannes Vester and Ludwig Papenberg formed Alu, sometimes together with Nadja on vocals. They released two LPs, one 7″ and two cassettes, in the period 1981-1985. I remember owning one of the LPs and the 7″ (don’t know why not anymore, but that’s a different story), which had a strong rhythm-box, synth, guitar and vocals, all in a pretty raw fashion – world’s apart from the Sand sound. ‘Autismenschen’ is not a re-issue of any of the old stuff, but rather the first LP that was never released, from 1981, except for two tracks, ‘Bitte Warten Sie’ and ‘Liebe Machen’ (which is a cover of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ from Willie Dixon), which are now included on this CD too of course. In recent years there have been many young musicians wo rking in ‘electro’ music, the synth-rhythmbox stuff from the eighties, but you may call me a retro freak, I prefer the old stuff, like Alu, or The Screamers or Suicide, with whom Alu has in common that they both combined the speed and energy of the punk rock, combined with analogue synthesizer stuff. Some of the more lengthy pieces, such as ‘Halt Dich Fest’ sound, with lenghty guitar doodlings show their krautrock background, but Alu is at their best in their shorter pieces: a screamy voice, full of doomsday paranoia, a continuous rhythm-box, simple melodies on the organ and guitar in a distorted mood. The real stuff that can’t be beaten by a groove-box and microphone. The best re-discovery of 2005!–Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
Marianne Faithfull – Before the Poison
The Stranglers – Golden Brown
Velvet Underground – Waiting for the Man (didn’t for the obvious one)
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the drug chaos in Mexico. I learned that the heroin trade in Sinaloa, Mexico was started by Chinese immigrants who moved to the region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The difficult-to-traverse mountains provided a perfect place to start a drug trade that continues to this day.
Murder City by Charles Bowden
El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
This is a quick snapshot of my life. I hear a song. I love the song. I try and find out who sings the song. I can’t find out who sings the song. The song takes on mythic proportions of greatness.
My Time was one of these songs. I heard it on my phone while out on a walk. I was listening to my favorite internet radio station from Italy. I tried to catch the name of the artist. I didn’t have a pen just my lousy memory brain. By the time I finished with my long walk, all I could remember was Roberto Ca____? I couldn’t remember his last name or the name of the song, grrr!
I spent many hours on the internet searching, trying variations of Roberto Ca (missing letters). I searched through a database of Italian last names to jog my memory, nothing. I watched the internet radio station playlist to see if it would pop up again, nope. I gave up, temporarily. I then began a futile search for another song called morceau inconnu 7, which I was soon to find out meant “unknown song track 7″ in French. Haha, the joke is always on me.
Last week I was in San Francisco. My tradition is to have breakfast at Boogaloo on Valencia and then pop into Aquarius Records to see what’s new. I usually buy something there because they’ll have stuff no one else does like, for instance, my beloved Hala Strana. I bought a CD last year, I don’t remember who it was, I ended up selling it. But who buys CDs anymore, right? It’s all about the vinyl these days. And the vinyl section is where I was looking when I saw it! The Ann Steel album by Roberto Cacciapaglia! It was a re-issue from the late 70s and they wrote a little blurb about it being electronic music ahead of it’s time. This must be the guy, I thought. I didn’t buy it though because I still wasn’t sure if it was the right person (duh) and I wanted to double check. Now I kick myself for not getting it but I was in a really bad mood that morning and about to drive back to Los Angeles. So my joy was tempered by other frustrations.
With the name of the album I was able to find the song on YouTube. It was still a bit confusing because the artist is listed as Ann Steel on many of the uploaded videos while the album credit is given to Roberto Cacciapaglia. If you look up Roberto Cacciapaglia on YouTube, all that comes up is his more recent music which is nice but not my thing. So as I have explained, finding this song was not easy but through a lucky chance my musical mission has been fulfilled, this time.
My Time was covered by the Belgium synth-pop band Telex (video below). Their version, I think, is the more popular one. I prefer the oddly-accented vocals by singer Ann Steel on Cacciapaglia’s original. It’s what made this song worthy of investigations.
Now you know what I do with My Time.
Telex – My Time
More on The Ann Steel album here.
Cerrone – Supernature
Giorgio Moroder – Chase
Japan – Life In Tokyo
Michael Zager Band – Let’s all chant
AraabMuzik – Remember
Julee Cruise – I Remember
Sibylle Baier – Remember the Day
Coolio – I Remember
MDC – I Remember
Music for an evening of shoe-gazing:
Ulrich Schnauss – Stars
Grimes – Devon
Lush – Thoughtforms
Telepathe – I Can’t Stand It
Blackbird Blackbird – Fly (feat. Steffaloo)
Time to look up!
Human League – Dignity of Labour, Parts 1 to 4 & Flexi Disc (1979)
What I’ve been doing. Not much dignity involved.
Daphni – Ahora
Nice thick beats and an echoing Eastern-sounding sample start this song off right. But when the harmonizing melody and house beats start, I’m ready to fly away with the music. Where will it take me? Ah, the break at 1:20, it feels like I’ve just flown through a fuzzy musical cloud! Nice get away, this song.
Due to the technological availability of computer music programs, a lot people are doing electronic music these days and while their beeps, bumps and drops may sound nice, many seem to be missing the arte (as we say in Flamenco) that goes with it. Some people might call it soul or depth, perhaps it’s just good old fashioned talent. This song keeps it simple, with just a bit of tweaking and nods to the sample. Daphni also adds in heavy dizzy drums and high hats punctuated by double echoing beats at just the right moments. If you don’t like electronic music, you might say “Eh, sounds like everything else” but to those of you who do like electronic music, who do listen intently, you know what I mean, right?
Daphni – Ahora (Margot Remix)
I listen to a lot of the local Banda/Norteno/Ranchero/Cumbia stations here in Los Angeles – there are quite a few! My favorite station is La Rockola 96.7 from Santa Ana, unfortunately their signal strength is not always reliable way up here on the Eastside. La Rockola station seems to have a “no Grupero or sappy love song” policy (unless it’s Pitbull or Aventura) which I quite appreciate because nothing gets on my nerves more than a sappy Banda ballad. Despite this, there are a couple of Banda ballads in this bunch, the vocal styles overcome the deficiencies of the genre.
I like the fast stuff, the music you can dance to, double beats, twiddling accordions, big tamborazo sounds and snappy tuba rhythms. The weird thing about Spanish radio is they never tell you the name of the song or the artist’s name. You are just supposed to KNOW. Where you find out, I’m not quite sure. The swapmeet? El Mercadito? Letreros on light poles announcing the latest show at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena? I’m saying this because there are songs I would have liked to include here but didn’t include for lack of information. For instance, there’s this song La Rockola plays about a “Toro Loco.” Anyone?
Below is a small offering of some of my favorite Mexican tunes from this year. The lyrics are horrible, I’ll just say that straight off the bat, all bling bling (lumi lumi), show off-y, bad ass womanizing drug dealing kinda stuff. My dream for 2012 would be a feminist and political themed detournment of Banda. Now that would be something!
Banda Los Recoditos – A Toda Madre
I’d like to include some kind of literary musical tribute to the past year but my writing skills are out of practice and I’m afraid my words would make no one happy, so it’s just the music folks!
Some of my favorite songs this year were released in previous years and time willing, I’ll post those up sometime in the next few days.
For now, take a listen and let me know if any of these were you favorites and please, tell me which songs I missed.
Cheers and Happy 2012!
2011: “Where the concrete meets the river”
Austra – Beat and Pulse (extended)
The beat is pure old school cold wave electronica, the pulse relentless and the amazing vocals by Katie Stelmanis are flavored with Siouxsie-like echoes combining to create an overall sinister kind of mood.
Brenmar – Done (Don’t Luve Me No More)
A last minute addition, awesome track. First heard from one of my favorite music curators/DJs/Record producers, Disaro. Their label is putting out some amazing music.
Burial – Halo
What can you say about Burial? He’s amazing, just listen.
Cassius-I Love You So (Skream remix)
Nu-Jungle or J-Tek (Jungle Tekno) and it’s massive! (to borrow a British term). This track has everything 90s electronic music did well, plus some: diva vocals, anthemic hooks, addictive sing-a-long lyrics and the beautiful 140 rpm Amen Break.