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The Power and The Glory of Gentle Giant
08.18.2014
12:00 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
prog rock
Steven Wilson
Gentle Giant


 
70s progressive rock cult group Gentle Giant were known for their concept albums featuring complex lyrics (the work of Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing on mental illness inspired them, so did Rabelais) multi-part vocal harmonies, and abrupt tempo and key changes (often within the same bar). Their singular musical style featured unusual chord progressions, instrumental and voice counterpoint, “classical” and madrigal themes repeated and traded between instruments with medieval instrumentation and choral styles not often heard in the rock—or even progressive rock—genre.

Recently their 1974 album The Power and The Glory came out on the Alucard label remixed for 5.1 surround on DVD and Blu-ray by Porcupine Tree’s Steven WIlson. I asked group members Ray Shulman, Kerry Minnear and Derek Shulman some questions via email.

Dangerous Minds: What was your reaction to first hearing Steven Wilson’s 5.1 surround mix of The Power and The Glory?

Ray Shulman: Over the last few years we’d been asked by a number of people whether they could mix our albums in surround. We were always reluctant until Steven approached us. Having authored some of his other Blu-rays and DVDs I was very familiar with his work. What’s great is that he pays a lot of respect to the original mix in terms of balance and tone but by spreading it around the available sound field, in such a creative way, it gives it a new life and I would think even listeners already familiar with the album would get a new perspective on the arrangements. Hopefully you can tell I’m pleased.

Kerry Minnear: I enjoyed Steve’s stereo mix of The Power and The Glory very much finding him to be able to ‘beef things up’ but keeping the original instrumental sounds clear and vibrant. I don’t have a 5.1 system but I imagine that in that medium the counterpoint and part sharing in the music will be great to experience. I’m saving up for a new system just so I can hear it!

Derek Shulman: I was happy that Steven respected the sonic quality of original mixes. He “tweaked” parts of the low end of the drums and bass and made slight adjustments to levels of the bass and kick drum. Overall I was very happy with Steven’s work on the album.

Do you reckon that you’re seeing Gentle Giant attract new fans as a result of the 5.1 release? It would seem to me that there’s a real interest in among audiophiles about what Steven Wilson is doing, so that someone getting into Yes or Jethro Tull for the first time might pick up on his Hawkwind project, the Caravan album or your album because he worked on it. Has this been the case?

Ray Shulman: That’s a hard one for me to answer but I know that Derek, who’s out and about with other acts of our era, comes across many young fans hearing about us for the first time. More surprising is other acts, not associated with prog, who now site our band as an influence.

Kerry Minnear: There is an annual GG fan convention which I have attended and each year it appears that there is a growing percentage of fans in their twenties. I can only imagine this is the power of the Internet and the availability of GG music on it. I would certainly hope that this new release could make more potential followers aware of us, both young and old.

Derek Shulman: The ‘odd’ thing is is that after 40 years our music still seems to be relevant to both old fans and newer fans..I hope this indicated that we at least did some things ‘right’.

Steven’s involvement in the audiophile world is obviously very influential of course. We’re happy that a musician of his stature wanted to be involved with our music. If he can bring newer fans to listen to what we had recorded then we are very grateful to him.

In the way that pop culture gets recycled, at the moment, prog is the new reggae, which was the new easy listening, which was the new jazz, etc. It must be gratifying to so many new fans come into the fold, especially for a band with no intention of reforming or playing live again?

Ray Shulman: The amusing thing is how, in the late seventies and the dawn of punk, commentators hid their prog albums for fear of ridicule. Time has truly softened their stance and even the most hardened critics can now confess their appreciation of bands such as ours.

Kerry Minnear: It is gratifying, and it really was a privilege to be part of a band with such a unique set of dynamics. We could never have predicted the consistency of the music’s appeal through the years.I am often quite baffled by it all!

Derek Shulman: Well… as I had indicated I guess we may have by ‘default’ did some things right..or at least we didn’t stray too far from what we wanted to be as a musical entity. I think that in some ways the fact that new and younger fans are listening to our music says a lot about who and what a musician should be. We tried to push our own musical boundaries for ourselves first, to be better musicians for our own benefit. If we could make a living at that, this was enough. Not to sound pretentious for the sake of it ;-) but I believe fans old and new can see that our music was somewhat ‘authentic’ in that regard.

A friend of mine said that in the 70s, Gentle Giant were the band that comes after Genesis is in the rearview mirror, but Henry Cow is still off in the distance and too artsy and obscure for most people. Whereas there might be more than a little truth to that, I think it misses the fact that there was a sense of humor going on with Gentle Giant, too, at least that’s what I’m hearing. Were you guys always serious or was it more playful that that?

Ray Shulman: Although I don’t agree with your friends pecking order :-) we never took ourselves too seriously. Even though we took our music very seriously we were all too aware things could come across as pretentious or pompous. To that end I think we were always quite self-deprecating.

Kerry Minnear: It’s a fact that humour played a big part in things, it was never far from the surface. No one was allowed to be a prima donna, they were quickly de-throned. It played a big part in the music too, as did another not so typical emotion, nostalgia. So much music is self-assured and self-promoting, it’s nice to hear some different human emotions creeping in now and then.

Derek Shulman: To be honest we didn’t really see anyone in the rearview mirror or indeed in the front windshield, either. We were quite a sequestered group and not part of any scene. What we were however were very hard working musicians who practiced and played more for our own personal pleasure to try to make ourselves better for each other and then for the audience who would come to see us.

That being said we never took ourselves too seriously as people or musicians. I had deliberately mentioned pomposity previously. There is a great deal of playfulness in our music if you listen carefully… VERY CAREFULLY!!!

Below, The Power and The Glory-era Gentle Giant captured on 16mm film directed by Christopher Nupen, a classical music film director who invited the band to record this concert in a film studio in Brussels for the German television station ZDF:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch incredible ‘electronic makeup’ change and transform human face
08.18.2014
09:41 am

Topics:
Art
Fashion

Tags:
electronic makeup


 
A jaw-dropping short video of Nobumichi Asai‘s real-time face tracking combined with projection mapping of “electronic makeup” applied to a model’s face.

I see a new Björk or FKA twigs video using this technology in the near future.

 
via Gizmodo and h/t Alice Lowe

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Autobahn Road Journey Music’ krautrock playlist: Rock out with your wienerschnitzel out
08.18.2014
08:46 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
krautrock
Electric Würms


 
A krautrock mix prepared by Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of Flaming Lips. Their Electric Würms side project Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (“Music that’s Hard to Twerk to”) comes out on CD, vinyl and iTunes via Warner Bros. Records tomorrow, August 19th.

“Krautrock” - Faust
“Mushroom Head” - Can
“After Eight” - NEU!
“Aquirre” - Popul Vuh
“Spoon” - Can
“Zum Wohl” - Cluster
“I’m Goin’ Mad” - Scorpions
“Dino” - Harmonia
“Neon Lights” - Kraftwerk
“Jennifer” - Faust

Electric Würms will be playing in the UK at the End Of The Road festival in Dorset on August 31 followed by a headlining show at the Village Underground in London on September 1.
 

 

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‘The Dream of Color Music’: Abstract animator Oskar Fischinger, Harry Smith’s favorite director


 
Harry Smith, the eccentric experimental filmmaker, artist, anthropologist, bohemian mystic and record collector, first encountered Oskar Fischinger’s animated films in 1947, when he was helping organize the experimental film festival Art in Cinema for the San Francisco Museum of Art. Fischinger’s work had a profound effect on Smith. According to Rani Singh, executor of the Harry Smith Archives, Smith traveled to Los Angeles in July 1947 on the festival’s behalf to connect with SoCal filmmakers. “There he met James and John Whitney, Kenneth Anger, and, most important, Fischinger, who became a seminal influence. Fischinger was one of the few artists Smith ever credited as an inspiration for his work.” William Moritz goes a step further, claiming that Smith didn’t take up abstract filmmaking until he saw Fischinger’s and the Whitneys’ work in connection with Art in Cinema. (Smith himself claimed to have started making his movies in 1939.)

Here’s how Smith described Fischinger’s influence in a 1977 interview with Moritz, quoted in American Magus Harry Smith: A Modern Alchemist:

You can tell how much I admire Fischinger: the only film of mine that I ever gave a real title to was Homage to Oskar Fischinger (Film No. 5, in the current scheme of things). I learned concentration from him—visiting his home and seeing how he could sit serenely in that small house, crawling with what seemed like a dozen children, and still paint those stunning pictures. That great film Motion Painting makes the process seem deceptively simple—and it was simple for him: the images really did just flow from his brush, never a ruler or a compass, all-freehand—but you can’t see all the obstacles he had to overcome in order to even work at all. Something so wonderful happened in that film, and in those paintings, something so much better than all the Pollocks and other stuff that the museums fight to get hold of. Did anyone ever fight to save Fischinger’s things?

Among the “obstacles” Harry referred to might have been that one time the Nazis branded Fischinger’s work entartete Kunst (degenerate art). In 1936, Fischinger fled to Los Angeles, where he worked for Paramount, MGM, and Disney in rapid succession. Film historian William Moritz wrote “Fischinger found it extremely difficult to work in studio situations.” Fischinger designed the Bach sequence for Fantasia, but quit without credit because Disney altered his designs to be less abstract. Fischinger also contributed to the special effects of the Blue Fairy’s wand in Pinocchio according to Moritz.

The first time I saw Motion Painting No. 1, it was on a big screen with the volume cranked, and I nearly jumped out of my seat. It’s not going to have the same effect streaming from Russia or wherever on your laptop, but it’s still glorious.
 

Oskar Fischinger’s Motion Painting No. 1
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Behold the miraculous Aphex Twin jerk sauce stain (available on eBay)
08.18.2014
06:34 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Music

Tags:
Aphex Twin
miracles
barbecue chicken


 
I’m an avowed atheist, but I have to admit, the recent discovery of a nearly perfect Aphex Twin logo in Jamaican jerk sauce on a plate in a London restaurant has me reconsidering my entire belief system.

The holy plate has popped up on eBay.uk and is available for £2.20 (as of this writing; about $3.67) from user “2014ukhines” (100% positive feedback in the last 12 months). There are five bids on the plate already.

Here is the description:
 

Mysterious and miraculous jerk sauce apparition.

I have no explanation.

Jerk chicken was from Yum Yum in Clapton, London.

 
Here is a picture of Yum Yum, the restaurant from which the sanctified jerk sauce emanated:
 

 
The infamous “Windowlicker” video, directed by Chris Cunningham:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Rock snob alert: Dig the Soviet bloc psychedelia of Hungary’s Omega
08.18.2014
06:20 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Soviet Union
Hungary
Omega


 

From the Dangerous Minds archives:

One of the most influential bands ever to come out of the Eastern Bloc, Hungary’s legendary Omega have been at it since 1962, the same year the Rolling Stones first got together. Give or take a couple of early members departing and a period of inactivity during 1987-1994, they are one of the longest-running acts in rock history and with one of the most stable line-ups.

Omega’s sound has obviously changed over their five decades, travelling light years from their early Beatles-influenced pop songs towards something kinda like early Status Quo fuzz box guitar meets the Moody Blues classical rock (or sometimes like a Slavic version of schlager), then a prog rock sound in the 70s that gave way to harder rocking wail (and even disco) by later in that decade. The 1980s saw them develop a spacerock thing that continues to be their signature sound.

Since Omega recorded songs in both magyar and in English, and regularly toured in England and Germany (The Scorpions are known to be big fans) they are one of the most popular groups to originate from the Communist bloc.
 

 
In any case, it’s more Omega’s early material that I like the best, so that’s what I’m going to post here. I hadn’t thought about this band in years until one of our readers, Kjirsten Winters, reminded me of them. I was shocked by how many amazing vintage clips of this band exist. Feast your eyes and ears on Omega…

Start with the mind-bending “Tékozló fiúk” (“Prodigal Sons”) from 1969. Play it LOUD!
 

 
More Omega after the jump

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Electric Würms are ‘Fixing a Hole’: Exclusive premiere from upcoming Flaming Lips album


 
Electric Würms will be making an appearance on the upcoming Flaming Lips album With a Little Help from My Fwends, their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band tribute. In the guise of their Electric Würms alter egos, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd cover “Fixing a Hole” on the album, which comes out on October 28 on Warner Bros. Records. Other participants include MGMT, members of Wilco, Miley Cyrus, My Morning Jacket, Tegan and Sara, Dinosaur, Jr.‘s J Mascis and Maynard James Keenan of Tool.

Some of the proceeds from the album are being donated to the Oklahoma City-based Bella Foundation which helps low-income, elderly or terminally ill pet owners with the cost of their vet bills, because at some point we all might need a little help from our fwends.
 

Posted by Electric Würms | Leave a comment
Manly men doing their CrossFit workout in tight little SLAYER pants
08.15.2014
12:47 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
CrossFit


 
When you get to a certain age, you finally realize you gotta start going to the gym. I’m one of those people who it finally dawned on a few years ago and yes, I now go. Since I’ve been going, I’ve noticed the gym culture of burly, over-muscled “manly-men” doing their relentless CrossFit workout. The one that punishes everyone around them! You know the ones I’m talking about. The guys who let a thousand pounds of weight drop with a thud that could be mistaken for an earthquake (at least here in LA) whilst loudly grunting and looking you right in eyes panting like a caged panther. I’m pretty sure this is a joke video, but I’m not totally sure, either!

Anyway, this CrossFit-thingy video sums up my worst gym nightmare. But what really grabbed my attention are those nifty spandex SLAYER pants. Just look at ‘em! And if you’re all like “I must own those tiny and tight little SLAYER pants!” you can get them here.


 

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
You gotta have ‘Fwends’: Flaming Lips talk Fab Four
08.15.2014
11:15 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Flaming Lips
Electric Würms


 
In which Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd discuss The Beatles’ profound inspiration on the way they work and With a Little Help from My Fwends, their upcoming song-for-song tribute album covering Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Heavy “fwends” who’ll collaborate with the Lips include Miley Cyrus, My Morning Jacket, Tegan and Sara, Dinosaur, Jr.‘s J Mascis and Tool singer Maynard James Keenan. As their Electric Würms alter egos, Coyne and Drozd themselves cover “Fixing a Hole” on the collection.

With a Little Help from My Fwends will be released on Oct. 28 with some of the proceeds from the album getting donated to the Oklahoma City-based Bella Foundation which helps low-income, elderly or terminally ill pet owners with the cost of their vet bills.
 

Posted by Electric Würms | Leave a comment
Talking stamps: Tiny vinyl record postage stamps that were playable, 1972
08.15.2014
10:50 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
records
vinyl
vinyl stamps
talking stamps


 
Known as the “first talking stamps” in 1972, these tiny vinyl postage stamps from Bhutan were totally playable and when the needle was put on the record stamp you heard Bhutan’s national anthem and a capsule history of the nation. Talking stamps were thin plastic embossed records with removable back to expose the adhesive.

A pretty interesting concept, right? I’ve never seen one in the flesh, but from what I’m seeing on eBay, they’re highly collectable (an entire set is around $495.00) and even still legal for mailing use.

WFMU has a few samples of what these tiny vinyl stamps sound like. You can listen to them here.


 

 

 

 
via WFMU and Bhutan Today

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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