NEKTAR – 3 key albums (1971-80)

Recently did the discog of Gentle Giant, eczema and wasn’t as thrilled with most of it as I’d hoped. I then turned my sights onto English-born, Germany-bound Nektar, another band that ran the entirety of the ’70s, produced many an album and evaporated right at the point when most proggy veterans gave up the ghost in favor of either: a) solo careers; b) “real” jobs; c) raising families; or, d) creative bankruptcy.

I found that three albums really stood out, while the rest were either middling or disappointing. Most online prog resources point towards their second album, “A Tab In The Ocean” (1972) as being their greatest, but it’s really two side-long excursions into murky, mostly-forgettable, slightly modulating tunelessness. Sounded like they were trying for “Close To The Edge”, and only got a third of the way there.

Their debut LP, however, “Journey To The Centre of the Eye” (1971) is KILLER. True psychedelic phased-out repeat listening.

One needs to skip ahead to their sixth album “Recycled” for evidence of truly memorable off-the-wall uniqueness. A concept album about environmental disaster (with side one being a suite of songs about recycled energy being the only energy left on Earth).

Finally, their swan song (before their mostly redundant 21st-century reunion material), “Man In The Moon” (1980), released at a time when all ’70s survivors were busy mutating their sound into more commercially viable and/or pukey directions. This is no exception, but it is a shining example, much like Yes’s “Drama” or Rush’s “Moving Pictures”, of a band actually trying not to wuss out when going in the aforementioned “brighter” place.

Nektar – “Journey To The Centre of The Eye”, 1971 (ZIP file)
Nektar – “Recycled”, 1975 (ZIP file)
Nektar – “Man In The Moon”, 1980 (ZIP file)

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Some seriously heavy tuneage! This one grabbed me recently, sale as I went daytripping through my entire collection, looking for things that I’d downloaded years ago but somehow never managed to listen to. Man, was I sore at myself for having let this one sit for a few years before getting to it. One Final Note sez:

Those who remember the late Herbie Mann only for crossover cheese like “Memphis Underground” or “Push Push” (with its horrifying post-coital cover) may be surprised to learn that the flutist once had a record imprint that was home to Ron Carter, Miroslav Vitous and Phil Woods, among others. This disc, recorded in 1970, was a fascinating opportunity for Mann arranger William S. Fischer to indulge himself under the auspices of Mann’s Embryo label. And indulge is the word. On hand were five cellos (a special obsession for the arranger), guitarists Eric Weissberg (of “Duelling Banjos” fame) and Hugh McCracken, a CCNY track athlete, Bill Robinson, on vocals, and jazz ringers Ron Carter and Billy Cobham.

In addition to the psych-jazz on display, there’s a fair amount of bleepy-blorpy early Moog experimentation. Avanti!

William S. Fischer- “Circles” (ZIP file)

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MAGMA – 3 heavy, physician heavy live sets (1975-80)

It’s a toss-up as to whether or not you have to be a true dyed-in-the-wool Magma fan in order to appreciate these three live sets. Personally, symptoms I’d hope that the power and the fury, oncologist the sheer denseness of what’s on display would wow into oblivion any newcomer. But then again, if you’re a newcomer, then I’d definitely recommend starting with Udu Wudu (1976), which contains Magma’s magnum opus, “De Futura” — a towering jazz/rock/skronk saga like no other. Of the first download, “Utopic Sporadic Orchestra: Nancy ’75″, Wayside Music sez:

“…a legendary recording which was the very 1st recording of De Futura, live 10/16/75 by a big band version of Magma!”

And, of “VanderTop: Paris ’76″, RateYourMusic sez:

When Jannick Top briefly reintegrated Magma in 1976, the band toured under the moniker Vander-Top. Recorded in Theatre de la Renaissance on November 2nd 1976, this is a wonderful and dynamic live performance from one of the more underrated periods of Magma’s history, with Top’s bass and Vander’s drums featured prominently.”

Magma – Utopic Sporadic Orchestra ’75 (ZIP file)
Magma – VanderTop: Paris ’76 (ZIP file)
Magma – Retrospective Vol. 3: Live In Paris 1980 (ZIP file)

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BLEEP BLURP BORP I LOVE YOU!!!! This album never fails to bring all work in my office to a halt, illness so we can all do the chicken dance.

This is fast becoming one of my fave library records. It’s full of short analog synth compositions on the theme of “extremely annoying and devolved.” Kinda like how total madness-seeming an album of circus calliope would be, for sale but more circuit-bent. This is music to bash your brains out with a hammer to! The online record shop French Attack, when selling a sealed LP copy of this for 40 Euros, described it as a “definitive collector item for any Dada/absurd/Monthy Python fans.”

Roger Roger was one of the kings of library music, and this album is part of the Neuilly series out of France (easily one of the best and coolest libraries, one which also employed library composer giants Janko Nilovic, Cecil Leuter, Yan Tregger, Jean Bouchety and Nino Nardini!) claims:

French library label founded 1970 by Louis Delacour after his period as A&R and label manager of Editions Montparnasse 2000. Musicians like Janko Nilovic, Guy Boyer and Roger Roger often switched between Neuilly and MP2000. Neuilly uses its sub-label Crea Sound Ltd. to release their TV background music in Canada (Quebec) and France.


Roger Roger – “Musique Idiote” LP (ZIP file)

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Here’s one I’ve plucked from the awe-inspiring Mutant Sounds pile. I must’ve downloaded this a few years ago, web and only gotten around to listening to it now. Apparently, this is a side project from the bass player of L.A. goth-tinged post-pun band 45 Grave (which featured Germs drummer Don Bolles).

This one’s a scorching slab of freaky-deaky, criss-crossing from psych to punk to skronk, from muttering to pure unadulterated shrieking!

No-Y-Z – “Sheer Electronic Din” (ZIP file)

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Let everyone ya know know that I’m finally back doing regular postings! It feels good —


Just caught the new Harry Nilsson doc (“Who Is Harry Nilsson? And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him”); I enjoyed it greatly, contagion although I think it focuses a little too much on his family life, thumb and needs a little more critical analysis. But that’s just me. It also has one of the coolest pieces of found footage I’ve seen in a while: a TV commercial for Harry’s “Duit On Mon Dei” (1975) album, recipe in which he casually makes a half-court shot in a deserted basketball stadium, while Ringo Starr cheers away on the sidelines. Check the TV spot out here!

Right after, I went through the entire Nilsson catalogue, and completely forgot that this one was in there. “Son Of Dracula” is the 1974 film starring Nilsson and Ringo, as a vampire and a wizard, respectively. I remember trying to watch it about 10 years ago, when the VHS bootleg thing was still a reality. Unfortunately, boredom was a still a reality too, and I switched it off after about half an hour of fuzzy, 4th-generation cinematic meanderings (perhaps I was bummed that it didn’t have the zippiness and zaniness of “Son Of Schmilsson”. Whatever — no one else I know has ever been able to finish the thing either.) The film’s never been on VHS or DVD, so the world of torrents and gray-market DVD-Rs is your only hope, if you wanna see it.

The film’s soundtrack is pretty rad; it’s a combo of previously released Nilsson songs, some orchestral film score bits, and the song “Daybreak”, which might possibly be the best Harry song you’ve never heard! A hell of a catchy melody, and a hint of the calypso/island sound that blossomed full-force on “Duit On Mon Dei” (likely an influence imparted by longtime Nilsson friend Van Dyke Parks, whose “Discover America” (1976) album is awash with the sound.)

Harry Nilsson & Paul Buckmaster – “Son Of Dracula” soundtrack LP (ZIP file)

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Is this New Age? Is this experimental? Is this awesome? Is this a pain in the ass? It’s a little bit of all four.

All the tracks on this album are played entirely on bells and gongs, remedy and then electronically treated, adiposity warped — futzed with! It can be meditative, and it can also cause extreme anger in co-workers when played on a communal office stereo system. I have a high tolerance with for this stuff, so I dunno if you’re gonna be into it — but try it, will ya?

Cylob is the pseudonym of UK musician Chris Jeffs. who was originally signed to Aphex Twin’s record label in the mid-’90s. I haven’t heard anything else he’s done, but I’m gonna assume it’s a little harsher and freaky than this record.

Cylob – “Mood Bells” (ZIP file)

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DAVID LYNCH & FRANK HERBERT – “DUNE” interview audiocassette (1982? 3? 4?)

Been a David Lynch fan for a very long time, adiposity and I quite admire Frank Herbert’s novel “Dune” as well (I’ve tried to get into the later books in the “Dune” series, but it’s just too dry for me. I’ve got all six of the original series on a shelf, waiting to be read. Cheers to me if I can actually do it.)

Ever since the box office disaster of Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation, the director rarely speaks of it at all. I was quite surprised to read his brief notes about it in his recent quasi-autobiography/quasi-self-help book “Catching The Big Fish”!

Anything “Dune”-related in the Lynch world is a bit “holy grail”-like to me, and so I was super-stoked to see the audio of this cassette on YouTube recently. It’s a promotional item for the film, an interview with Lynch and Herbert sitting in the same room together. Herbert is quite the self-important blowhard here, but I forgive him most of it, based upon the sheer insanity of realizing the “Dune” universe.

Lynch bows out of the conversation about halfway through the tape, leaving the interviewer (whose style resembles the dry, self-absorbed crackle of Tom Snyder) to provoke Herbert into pontificating on a variety of bullshit-y subjects. For Lynch fans, I recommend you download just the first three parts below. For completists — well, I hardly have to tell you what you already know you have to do, eh?

David Lynch & Frank Herbert – “Dune” interview audiocassette, part 1 (MP3 file)
David Lynch & Frank Herbert – “Dune” interview audiocassette, part 2 (MP3 file)
David Lynch & Frank Herbert – “Dune” interview audiocassette, part 3 (MP3 file)
Frank Herbert – “Dune” interview audiocassette, part 4 (MP3 file)
Frank Herbert – “Dune” interview audiocassette, part 5 (MP3 file)
Frank Herbert – “Dune” interview audiocassette, part 6 (MP3 file)

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VYTO B – “Tricentennial 2076″ & “Automatic Vaudeville (1976/1985)

One blog post that mentions Vyto B categorizes the music as simply “Psych”, but I’m not sure that applies here. This music is in a category of its own, a little corner at the intersection of Billy Joel and Captain Beefheart! “Tricentennial 2076″, released in (of course) 1976, is a marvel of whacked sci-fi lyrics, sensitive singer/songwriter touches and killer piano playing, and the title track is intoxicating. “Automatic Vaudeville” is more New Wave, but don’t discount it.

There doesn’t seem to be any one central source of info on the dude, but I’m gathering that he’s from the Chicago area –

Vyto B – “Tricentennial 2076″ (ZIP file)
Vyto B – “Automatic Vaudeville” (ZIP file)

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TRAILER for Bret’s Punk Film Fest!

My compatriots and I just finished this awesome trailer for the “Destroy All Movies” punk film fest we’re doing on Nov. 20-21 at The Cinefamily in Los Angeles. Check out the full festival listings in my previous post!

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