A Black Tape and other CDs

A Black Tape and other CDs

Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.

Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.

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Ratings are (1) = :(, (5) = 🙂

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Black Tape for a Blue Girl
The Scavenger Bride

Black Tape for a Blue Girl is the hallmark group in the darkwave movement and
from this leadership position they present a beautiful concept album of mysterious
minimalism and vocal beauty. The great vocals come from new singer Elysabeth Grant,
long part of the Projekt fold. The ideas come from a fusion of the artwork of
Marcel Duchamp and the writings of Franz Kafka. Besides reaching, and successfully
reaching, thematically, this is the most instrumentally dense of the Black Tape
for a Blue Girl albums. The substrate is still Sam Rosenthal’s layered electronics
and piano. Beside Grant, additional vocalists telling the tale of Prague’s tragic
1914 scavenger bride include Audra’s Bret Helm and Spahn Ranch’s Athan Maroul.
Beside the usual flute accompaniment a mini-string section of Vicki Richards (violin),
Grant (viola) and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina, cello) fleshes out the sound. The
dramatic presentation mostly succeeds in this consistent album setting a new high
water mark for the group. This was well worth the nearly three-year wait since
their previous release. (4)

Listen to or Buy at Amazon.com

The Ray Vega Latin Jazz Sextet

Veteran trumpeter Ray Vega performed salsa and Latin jazz in the bands of Tito
Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria and more. Also, a percussionist, composer
and arranger, Ray Vega continues on Pa’lante the modus operandi of his other solo
releases: marrying jazz horn melodies, often in straight jazz styles, onto rich
and exotic Latin rhythms. Pa’lante is the fusion of equals in a way that Dizzy
Gillespie introduced Latin jazz to the world. Vega learned much from Dizzy playing
alongside him in Mongo Santamaria’s outfit and also sees no need here to sublimate
the melodies of classic jazz or the spicy Caribbean rhythms in forging his energetic
and sophisticated hybrid. (4)

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Dave Leslie
The Brim
Louie Records, 644 SW 5th, Corvallis,
OR 97333

The opening number here, the jovial accordion jazz song “Crackers ‘n’ Sherbet,”
instantly breaks the ice. There is serious playing here, but if this jazz is serious
music, it is done with a wink. Later tracks similarly roll and leap with the bubbling,
percolating percussion of Dave Storrs. Storrs joins Leslie (keyboards, accordion,
sequencing) on each track accompanied by a revolving cast of horn and guitar players.
The differing instrumentation and maintained cheeriness of compositions keep The
moving along as a cup running over with fun. (3.5)

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Whirled Jazz
Louie Records, 644 SW 5th, Corvallis,
OR 97333

Reeds player Tom Bergeron leads his quartet through a half-dozen roomy original
compositions on Mukilteo. The space in these tunes allows for exciting
group dynamics in the delivery, especially between crisp and fluid Bergeron and
the understated trombonist Keller Coker. Both the horn players teach at Western
Oregon University. Basic and reliable bass lines on the title track from bassist
Page Hundemer (Louie Records linchpin)
can be misleading, in the shifting focal point of this album, Hundemer gives some
great bass melodies on the opening to “Hum-Sah” and elsewhere.

Listen to or Buy at CDNow

Lush Life
Groove Note

The title of this album, also the name of the excellent Billy Strayhorn song,
Jacintha covers here, suggests the rich, sensual, soft delivery that characterizes
Jacintha’s lyric. Showcased in a classic jazz setting as she is here, these sounds
are exquisitely framed in a full string section the size of a small orchestra.
Top-notch sound quality marks this recording of Jacintha’s subtle phrasing and
the interaction with piano, flugelhorn, the strings and more. Lush Life uses Sony’s
Direct Stream Digital way of digital-encoding an analog signal. DSD was developed
by Sony’s engineers in order to archive Sony Music’s priceless catalog of recordings.
Like other jazz divas in that vault, for instance Billy Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald,
Jacintha produced here a treatment of standards that will itself rightly be preserved
and cherished for years to come. (4.5)

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Ted Piltzecker
Standing Alone
Equilibrium Records, POB 301, Dexter, MI

Master vibraphone artist Ted Piltzecker recorded this solo CD away from his normal
ensemble, the George Shearing Quintet. While he is himself a composer, Ted chose
for this album to instead apply his performing talents to the work of other composers,
for instance Duke Ellington (“In a Sentimental Mood”), Dave Brubeck (“In Our Own
Sweet Way”), and Jobim (“Trieste”). Piltzecker’s solo vibes arrangements are very
full; there is not a lot of playing with space here. However, in the absence of
a rhythm section, the music is still very light and airy, it is very spacious
“below.” Standing Alone is an exquisite collection of standards he knows
well in sophisticated and delicate form delivered from four mallets applied to
the vibraphone and nothing else. (Excepting, that is, “La Malanga” where he accompanies
himself on the djimbe.) (4)

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Mon Seul Desir
Cruel Moon/Cold Meat Industry

Led by neo-period chanteuse Francesca Nicoli, Ataraxia performs original music
(there are only two traditional covers here) in a medieval style with tone-coloring
synthesizer. Sometimes the antique pomp becomes overwhelmingly ostentatious, but
generally their faux-strings, classical guitar and Enya-styled vocals work very
well. Steeped in the Middle Ages, Ataraxia created Mon Seul Desir as a
concept album based on the “La Dame à la Licorne” cycle of tapestries and “Song
of Solomon.” Another key to this unique music is the chitarra battente, the “renaissance
guitar” of Italy used by 17th Century Calabrian peasants to channel the same muses
Ataraxia now communicates with. (3)

Mother West

Plexus is a New York trio that performs live the electronic dance music that is
now identified with DJs. Producer/guitarist Allen Towbin brings into the live
mix samples, loops and synthesizers while drummer Tobias Ralph imitates breakbeats
and bassist Ernie Adzentoivich through in the deep, subsonic tone coloring. On
“Telephone,” a collaboration with composition professor Ran Blake (The New England
Conservatory) on piano, the sophisticated trio successfully mates their styles
of post-modern intellectual sounds. A plateau above both the jam band and rave
camps, Plexus creates not utilitarian beat music, but advanced drum-n-bass making
the group the cerebral art rockers of techno. (4.5)

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Switchblade Kittens
Hey Punk! Try Heroine[s]
Switchblade Kittens, POB 93755,
LA, CA 90093

This peppy female power pop band needs no guitar. Among the two bassists singer
Drama plays on her invention, the guitar-sounding “bassorama” arrangement of playing
through her own effects processing recipe. This earned them an endorsement from
the Aria bass company. Their punk rock take on “My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme
from Titanic)” earned them an impressive Internet following as an MP3 download.
Their fun-spirited punk-pop music is infectious and driving; energetic indie rock
with a velvet bite. (3)

Listen to or Buy at CDNow

Lou Christie & The

Egyptian Shumba: The Singles and Rare Recordings 1962-1964
RPM Productions

They called him ‘the Pharaoh of the falsetto’ and his piercing, nasal wail marked
a pop vocal style that has generally become, like hieroglyphics, a ‘lost art’
since the decade ending in the mid-Sixties. This excellent overview of Christie’s
career contains not only singles and other recordings of the five-octave baritone,
but also a half-dozen rare sides from his girl-group, The Tammys. Revisiting the
sharp-edged harmonies, crisp and clean in some in their first stereo releases,
is like handling a Stone Age hand axe and marveling at a forgotten talent that
may never again emerge. (4.5)

Listen to or Buy at CDNow

Various Artists
The Best of Young Blood Records
Cherry Red Records/RPM Productions

Young Blood Records existed in the UK during the 1970’s. This was a time when
exciting, dynamic sounds were being cut in the styles of Northern Soul, Pop Rock,
Glam and innovative extensions to folk and R&B. Young Blood Records was very
successful with producing great singles in these genres. The label had Top Ten
hits in several countries. The label started in 1969 and ran out of steam by 1975,
but during those years it burned bright. During this transition time when a solid
pop record also had to be good for the discotheque, Young Blood Records married
urgent, bright vocals to undeniable funky rhythms in songs like “I’ve Found my
Freedom” (No. 1 in Holland, Belgium and France) and “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”
(US, Top 2) by Mac & Katie Kissoon, and Don Fardon’s “Belfast Boy.” Fardon,
ex of The Sorrows, was also a hit maker earlier at Strike Records with Young Bloods
owner Miki Dallon. Interestingly, this compilation contains Billy Ocean’s debut
with the group Scorched Earth. (4.5)

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