Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Planet Pimp

Punk jazz in the spirit if not the style of the first Lounge Lizards album, a rabbit decked out in earrings and a lot of bling staring impassively from the cover of the new cd by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions. Basically, what this full-throttle collection by the Japanese inventors of what they call “death jazz” most resembles is a high-quality 80s fusion action film soundtrack. Jazz purists will find this hamhanded and monochromatic, but the band’s looking to reach a vastly wider audience. This is subversive stuff.

 

If nothing else, the group gets props for most bizarre band name of the year. Which one’s Soil, and which one’s “Pimp?” Or is soil a verb? And maybe pimp too? And why the parentheses? So as to discourage the yazuka from believing that real prostitution is involved and wanting a piece of the action? Whatever the case, it’s a lot of fun. Right from the cd’s first moments, it’s all drama with a big thunderstorm, Bach’s Toccata in D blasting through a cheap electronic organ patch…and then they’re off to a somewhat rough start with what sounds like a shredding Steve Vai guitar solo (could be a synth player – hard to tell – this band has a good keyboardist). Then things get interesting. It’s a very vivid, cinematic ride, and you can dance to it. A couple of piano-driven latin jazz numbers, what sounds like a big adventure movie theme, a couple of Keystone Kops chase sequences and a brief, barely 90-second Mingus homage whose energy threatens to rip off the roof. One of the latin numbers here is titled Sea of Tranquility, and it’s anything but. But there is a smooth, loungey trip-hop number that you can download for free. The whole cd is also available on itunes.

 

The group actually evolved out of the Japanese disco scene. When a group of promoters imaginatively began interspersing jazz amongst the dull, computerized thuds and blips, they discovered to their delight that audiences loved it. Beginning as the promoters’ house band, S&PS have become big stars in Japan. They’re not in it to wow the critics, they’re just here to bring the party and they do that massively well. For years, the major labels tried to sell computerized music to an American audience because it’s so ridiculously cheap to create, and met with utter failure. But an entire generation of Europeans and Latin Americans grew up, as Black Box Recorder acidly noted, to the sound of the synthesizer. They learned to dance to the beat of electronic drums. S&PS seem to want to change all that. A lot of people forget that not for years but for decades, jazz was the default style of dance and pop music throughout the western world and elsewhere as well. It might be wishful to think that could happen again, but if S&PS get their way, a lot of “celebrity djs” will find themselves unemployed.

March 10, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, Rant, review | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 2/23/09

Because we didn’t give the ladies enough props last week we’ve packed this week’s Top Ten with beautiful voices. Except for #1 which is so good it doesn’t need a beautiful voice.

 

1. The Brooklyn What – Gentrification Rock

Oh yeahhhh babee the Brooklyn What at the top of the charts again. Someday all those the luxury housing sites turning into crackhouses and squats. This is a ferocious youtube clip from the show last summer that  made our Top 20 NYC Area Concerts of the Year list. They’re at Don Pedro’s on 3/5.

 

2. The Blasting Company – Sinking Ships

Balkan noir cabaret from San Francisco that we discovered looking for a completely different band. Good stuff.

 

3. Black Sea Hotel – Makedonsko Devojche

Brooklyn‘s own all-female Balkan vocal quartet have an amazing debut cd coming out and this characteristically haunting number is one of them. Good guess is that the title means “Macedonian Girl.” They’re at Trophy Bar at 10 on 2/25

 

4. Hope DeBates & North Forty – Pink and Mean

This is a soul song, but the South Dakota expat also sings country. One of the most impressive voices to hit town in a long time, with a great band behind her. She does a marvelously deadpan-sultry cover of the Tom Petty AM radio monstrosity Breakdown

 

5. AE – Across the Blue Mountains

OK, even more beautiful voices. This an old Appalachian folk song, but the duo of Aurelia Lucy Shrenker and Eva Salina Primack are also part of the Balkan underground scene.  

 

6. Balthrop Alabama – God Loves My Country

The Bush regime may be over but the memory lingers. Lest we forget, here’s something funny and spot-on.

 

7. Randi Russo – Swallow

This is a brand-new one, one of her quieter, hypnotic post-Velvets songs. Unrecorded, but she’s been doing it a lot live recently. Get well soon Randi!

 

8. Helen Reddy & ELO – Poor Little Fool

OK OK OK, this is the schlocky Aussie singer from the 70s responsible for the odious I Am Woman (written by a guy – figures, right?). But since she didn’t write any of her songs, once in awhile she’d do something good and this is a good example, a Jeff Lynne pop song, with what sounds like the band playing it behind her! Weird or what! Just discovered this on youtube…

 

9. The Ahn Trio – Dies Irae

Absolutely beautiful violin/cello/piano composition from this sister act playing Barbes on 3/7 at 8.

 

10. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Crush

Fast groove jazz with a wild sax and a tinge of hip-hop. From Japan. Fun stuff. From their new cd now up on itunes.

February 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top Ten Songs of the Week 2/16/09

As you probably already know, the old American Top 40 had about as much to do with actual popularity and record sales as…well…as much as this page does. Nothing at all, in fact. This is just another way for us to spread the word about some of the best under-the-radar stuff out there.

 

1. Jay Bennett – The Engines Are Idle

This big, vicious, 100% acoustic ballad is the centerpiece of the former Wilco multi-instrumentalist’s brilliant new cd Whatever Happened, I Apologize.

 

2. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Storm

Wild stuff by the Japanese inventors of the “death jazz” genre (actually the most live sound you could ever want to hear, right from the wall of horns that hits you upside the head as the song opens). From their upcoming cd Planet Pimp, scheduled for release on Koch on 2/24.

 

3. Our Vision – The Game

A big, sweeping, gorgeous janglerock anthem. Sounds a lot like the Church! They’re at Ace of Clubs on 4/3  

 

4. The Mad Dukes – Gone Gone Gone

Hauntingly rustic Steve Earle-esque murder ballad with a trick ending, a remake of the version that first appeared on Kim Simpson’s 1996 Midnight Apparitions cd.

 

5. Julia Haltigan & the Hooligans – All I Can Think of Is You

Really cool, noirish jazzy Americana. Click on this and then try tuning out. You can’t. She’s at 11th St. Bar on 2/24 at 10.

 

6. The Great Deceivers – Starless

Live cover of the epic King Crimson classic. In two parts, one here and the other here on youtube.

 

7. Ten Pound Heads – Paint Manhattan Black

A pop song as Iron Maiden or King’s X might have done it – fast new wave bassline, organ in the background. Good stuff.  

 

8. Destroy All Monsters – Party Girl

Yeah, we’ve been surfing youtube. This is a golden oldie, Ron Asheton’s late 70s band with Detroit cult vocalist Niagara. She looks great and the footage of Ron’s characteristic wailing solos is choice. Turn it up.  

 

9. The Brooklyn What – Soviet Guns

Wouldn’t be a Top Ten without a Brooklyn What song, right? And it makes a great segue with Ron Asheton. This is a characteristically snarling live take from the Brooklyn Lyceum show last year that made our Top 20 shows of 2008 list.

 

10. Rocketship Park – Birthdaydeathwish

The beautiful lushness of the string section and the soaring melody of this big ballad makes you forget about the flat, weak, stereotypical indie vocals. They’re at Monkey Town on 2/21 at 10:30 PM with the smartly amusing Balthrop Alabama.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment