Commissioned by the city of Mannheim (Germany) for its 400th anniversary, UTP was co-composed by Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto) and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The work, whose title is deducted from the word "utopia," is scored for electronics, piano, and chamber ensemble, the latter being Ensemble Modern. It consists in extremely slow-paced tableaux of stretched out octaves and skeletal motives, a Butoh-like performance. The piece is solemn and entrancing, like Morton Feldman's music – more elegant, perhaps. It marks a new step in the evolution of Nicolai and Sakamoto's music, together and apart, as neither of them had yet concocted something this sparse, this naked.
Sporting the cover of the CD/DVD set is a very strange looking Ian Anderson with a typically normally looking Martin Barre. Anderson looks like he is getting ready to do something perverted with his flute again. Glad to know 31 years on nothing much has changed in that respect. Live At Madison Square Garden (CD/DVD) is one of several live Jethro Tull DVD's that have become available over the last few years. I am glad that I didn't miss this one because it's a real gem. It contains a 93 minute concert recording in 5.1 DTS (96/24) surround sound (+Dolby Digital 5.1 & LPCM 2.0) and within all of that is 50 minutes of video footage from the groundbreaking (an often over used term in music but in this case true) of an international broadcast via satellite on October 9, 1978. The CD is a 78 minute edited stereo version of the concert. The only difference in tracks between the two is the "Bagpipe Intro" on the DVD and obviously the visual impact of a live Jethro Tull performance that is so strikingly brought to life again.
Two years after the band’s great With Us Until You’re Dead, which came along as an emotional manifest fusing orchestral, electronic, sentimental and progressive elements, London-based collective ARCHIVE is about to strengthen their inventive genius and creativeness. Axiom, their epic new album, features all the before mentioned characteristics, however adding a spiritual level full of haunting metaphors.
There aren’t many artists whose personal life overshadows their musical output but Serge Gainsbourg wasn’t like most artists. His early career was spent smoking Gitanes, lurching between love affairs with various screen sirens and drinking his way through the nightclubs of Paris. Later he would become a dishevelled regular on French television, setting fire to a 500 franc note and drunkenly declaring his wish to bed Whitney Houston, before dying of a heart attack at 62. It’s little wonder that, apart from a bar of heavy breathing in ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus’, history can’t handle Gainsbourg’s musical accomplishments and some of the singer’s best work remains largely forgotten.
Give 'Em Enough Rope, for all of its many attributes, was essentially a holding pattern for the Clash, but the double-album London Calling is a remarkable leap forward, incorporating the punk aesthetic into rock & roll mythology and roots music. Before, the Clash had experimented with reggae, but that was no preparation for the dizzying array of styles on London Calling. There's punk and reggae, but there's also rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock; and while the record isn't tied together by a specific theme, its eclecticism and anthemic punk function as a rallying call.
If punk rejected pop history, LONDON CALLING reclaimed it, albeit with a knowing perspective. The scope of this double set is breaktaking, encompassing reggae, rockabilly and the group's own furious mettle. Where such a combination might have proved over-ambitious, the Clash accomplish it with swaggering panache. Guy Stevens, who produced the group's first demos, returns to the helm to provide a confident, cohesive sound equal to the set's brilliant array of material. Boldly assertive and superbly focused, London Calling contains many of the quartet's finest songs and is, by extension, virtually faultless.