Classic Melting Pot

Los Angeles’ very own DJ Frane was our guest this past Sunday on Melting Pot at the nicely decorated studios of KPFK. Wide ranging set as Frane makes excellent use of the 40+ minutes he had, expertly mixed and selected, with some real surprises (Cookie Monster gets funky?!!?!? WTF?!?!?) and some seriously heavy super cuts (Nite-Liters doing the theme from Buck & the Preacher…so very necessary). Check the breakdown of the show for the interview we also did which included a little bit of Frane’s own music, but here’s his stellar set archived in case you missed it the first time around.

Guest DJ Set from DJ Frane on KPFK’s Melting Pot

Back on the air after a successful fundraiser for our all vinyl soiree at the end of the month. I spend a little time paying tribute to dearly departed friend Matthew Africa in the first set, rest of the first hour features a couple of Halloween inspired tracks and other goodies. Real star of the show is DJ Frane who delivered a dynamite guest DJ set in the second hour and also chatter with me for a bit about his views of vinyl vs. Serato DJs as well as his own music. Enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #103: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #103: Second Hour

Playlist: 10-28-2012

{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Darling Dears & Funky Heavy – I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Love Another – 7″ (Orivious)
David Axelrod – The Human Abstract – Songs of Experience (Capitol)
US 69 – I’m On My Way (A Patch Of Blue) – Yesterday’s Folks (Buddah)
Billy Harper – Capra Black – Capra Black (Strata East)

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Howlin’ Wolf – Evil – The Howlin’ Wolf Album (Cadet Concept)
Dr. John – Black Widow Spider – Babylon (Atco)
Erkin Kora – Asik Inanmiyorum – 7″ (Istanbul)
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra – Popular Myth and Destruction of Sodom / Chichen Itza Temple Of The Virgins – Chariots Of The Gods (Polydor)

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Tim Maia – Nao Vou Ficar – Tim Maia (1971) (Polydor)
Black Sabbath – Hand Of Doom – Paranoid (WB)
Ame Son – Eclosion – Catalyse (Actuel)
24 Carat Black – 24 Carat Black Theme – Jazz Dance Classics Vol.1 (Luv n’ Haight)

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DJ Frane – Guest DJ Set & Interview – Recorded Live at KPFK

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{Closing Theme} The Corporation – India – The Corporation (Capitol)

David Axelrod – The Human Abstract
David Axelrod – A Poison Tree
David Axelrod – The Sick Rose

{got a note from Beni B, noted Oakland DJ and one of Matthew’s best friends, that his birthday was actually on Oct. 23rd, so next year we’ll shift MKA Day to it’s proper place}

Today would have been Matthew Africa’s 41st birthday. I miss him terribly. I’ve always been much more fond of celebrating birthdays for the dearly departed, and so it’s very likely that every year on this day I’ll be posting a record that relates to Matthew in some way, whether it’s something he turned me on to, a record he’d played in a mix that I tracked down or sounds that we talked about in the past. David Axelrod was one of the first artists that Matthew and I bonded over. In 2001 shortly after I joined KALX, there were some vinyl reissues of Axelrod’s music that I am 99% sure that Matthew wrote the reviews (KALX has one of the most exceptional music libraries I’ve ever seen at a radio station, cared for by a music librarian and curated by the music department and a record acquisition team (affectionately referred to as “the R.A.T.”) of which both Matthew and I were a part of during our time at the station). I’d heard the music of Axelrod in a couple of places, probably initially on Blue Note collections, and then through tracking down his records, especially after DJ Shadow sampled “The Human Abstract” on his song “Midnight In A Perfect World.” The first time I owned this record, during the very early days of Ebay, I got involved in a bidding war and paid entirely too much for it (actually the most I’ve ever spent on a record to this day). That copy got sold off in 2004 along with most of the rest of my records. More recently I ran into a moderately priced copy at Atomic in Burbank and since it’s pretty rare to run into this record for less than $25, I was more than happy to pick it up again.

Memory hasn’t been entirely kind on our conversations about Axelrod, but I recall us talking about this album, either as he was about to leave and my show followed his, or as I was filing things away at the start of his show (KALX shows were applied for and given for something like 6 month periods of time, and for a while it seemed like Matthew, Kitty and myself played musical chairs around each other, particularly on Fridays). I can remember talking about “The Human Abstract” and what a fantastic sounding song it was. I seem to remember Matthew thinking that Shadow didn’t directly sample the song because of a slight variation in the melody. I didn’t know enough about samplers to be able to offer much, except to my ears it was pretty clearly sampled from this recording (likely chopped up as opposed to just looped). I also seem to remember that Matthew didn’t think much of “A Poison Tree” perhaps saying it was the weakest song on the album. I disagreed partly, I wasn’t fond of the way the track began (though I might have done the little dance I always during those first couple of minutes), but I remember sticking up for the second half of the song, from about 1:53 on, which I think is just absolutely gorgeous. Matthew agreed with me.

Songs of Experience was Axelrod’s second album inspired by the poetry of William Blake, an artist that is definitely worth looking into. Like it’s twin, Songs of Innocence, the sound of the album is what many of us call “Classic Axelrod,” even though describing the sound is bloody difficult. Matthew mentioned as much in a tribute post to Earl Palmer in 2008:

“Axelrod’s music is really hard to pin down genre-wise; it flirts with jazz, rock and orchestral music, but never settles into any one groove for long. “

It is a heavy, dark, brooding sound, sometimes seemingly uplifting, sometimes possessing a creeping malevolence, often in the very same tracks. One listen to a song like “The Sick Rose” and you can instantly recognize Axelrod’s influence on a number of musicians and producers, from Shadow, to Diamond D, to Adrian Younge, to very clearly Geoff Barrow of Portishead (“Sick Rose” and “A Divine Image” almost sound like Portishead instrumentals). Axelrod has always been one of my favorite artists and was one of Matthew’s as well. A gigantic part of the Axelrod sound is the rhythm section, featuring “Wrecking Crew” stalwarts Carol Kaye and Earl Palmer. Those basslines are so slinky and those drums pop like few ever have. So much of what makes Axelrod’s sound so distinctive boils down to the interplay between these two musicians, along with the series of players that filled out the other important roles. Aside from Kaye and Palmer it’s really hard to tell who else is playing on these records. There’s a long list of musicians that Axelrod thanks, but that mainly only helps in terms of who is not on the album. I’m sure Matthew had figured it all out, but I think the guitar on “Human Abstract” is from Al Casey, who was known as a bit of chameleon in terms of his style and it seems he’s doing a Howard Roberts impersonation, attempting to build on his explosive solo from Axelrod’s (via the Electric Prunes, in name only) “Holy Are You.” Though Shadow’s sample led me to Axelrod, this uniqueness of the music has made these albums so much more than just “breaks” or “sample material.” I know a lot of DJs who feel the same way, including probably a few who never would have heard Axelrod if Matthew Africa hadn’t played him so much on his KALX shows or tracked down the albums for the station.

Interestingly, it’s only really been today that I paid much attention to the poem that this song is based on, which is reproduced in the gatefold of the LP:

William Blake – The Human Abstract (1794)

Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody Poor;
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.

And mutual fear brings peace,
Till the selfish loves increase:
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the grounds with tears;
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and Fly
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the Raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea
Sought thro’ Nature to find this Tree;
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the Human Brain.

My days of critically analyzing poetry are far in the past, but it seems that the poem presents a series of interesting juxtapositions all of which relate to Humanity, the first few lines seem particularly poignant, how concepts such as “Mercy” or “Pity” only exist because of the very conditions that produce mercy or pity. Life is such a strange and funny thing. As cruel as it is kind. Musically, much of that sentiment comes across in Axelrod’s work. The complexity of which reminds of my friend Matthew.

Peace be with you,

Michael

foto © by Sung

I was just raving about his new album Until The Quiet Comes, if you want to see one of the most visionary producers making music right now, make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com by 12noon, Thursday October 25th for your chance to see FlyLo live in Los Angeles!

Maybe Badu will be there…

Or maybe Thom Yorke will be there…

But who cares as long as Flying Lotus is there doing his Astral Plane thang:

Meshell Ndegeocello – Either Way I Lose

Up to my neck with papers to grade, so here is an absolute no brainer…Meshell Ndegeocello + Nina Simone = Perfection! I can’t believe it took Meshell 10 albums to record a tribute to Nina Simone, but let’s all be thankful that she did and hope (despite her own great talents as a songwriter) there’s a #2 and #3 on the way in the future. Hopefully we won’t have to wait for album #20 to see that happen!

Directions – Untitled #1
Directions – Untitled #4
Directions – Untitled #5

It struck me earlier in the week when I decided to pull this record off the wall that I rarely post up any music from what I like to call the “Heroic Years” of indie rock. Though this period of time still falls within my boundaries for this section of “20th Century Vinyl Archeology” for the most part I’m more focused on rare soul, funk and psych. For whatever reason sounds from this album popped into my mind earlier in the week and without a show this Sunday due to a fundraising special I thought I’d share it.

For years and years I always talked about this record as “Directions in Music” when it seems the actual name of the project was simply “Directions” and the album was titled “In Music.” The project featured multi-instrumentalist Bundy K. Brown, well known in post-rock circles for his work with Tortoise and Gastr Del Sol, Doug Sharin, drummer for Rex and June of 44, and guitarist James Warden. Back in 1996 when the album was first released, I was a co-music director at Album 88 in Atlanta and the record seemed pretty enigmatic. There were no song titles, didn’t appear there was a band name, and no lyrics either.

The title “Directions In Music” (a subtitle for Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew sessions) combined with the interesting use of repetition gave the music a very improvisational quality. The music is easily classified in the post-rock vein, but this collection of 8 songs always separated itself from the usually quiet then loud musings of Tortoise, Mogwai, Mono, Explosions In The Sky and other post-rock bands. I enjoy the music those bands have produced, but I’ve never cherised any of the records the way I do this one. I’m not entirely sure why. It is beautiful at times, such as the washes of feedback that begin “Untitled 4,” or the pastoral groove of “Untitled 1,” or the pensive charms that build and build in “Untilted 3” and “Untitled 5.” In addition to the gorgeous sound produced from the interplay of these musicians, there’s just something special about the way they lock into particular grooves and play around with their themes that’s continually drawn me in for almost 15 years. Very pleased to see that Thrill Jockey reissued this record earlier in the year in celebration of their 20th anniversary. It’s not a record a lot of people heard the first time around, and likely few will hear it this time around too, but those that do will find a unique and lovely bit of music that I look forward to cherishing for years and years.

Cheers,

Michael

After a 20+ year hiatus, Australia’s Crime & the City Solution are returning to music and to the stage here in Los Angeles on October 23rd at the Fonda! They began as a post-Birthday Party outlet for Rowland S. Howard and Mick Harvey, along with Harry Howard and vocalist Simon Bonney. Over the years many players have come in and out, but in its latest incarnation Bonney’s deep and dark voice remains along with violinist Bronwyn Adams, guitarist Alexander Hacke as well as Dirty Three’s Jim White and former 16 Horsepower frontman David Eugene Edwards. If you want tickets to see Crime & the City Solution, make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before 5pm on Monday, October 22nd!!!

It’s been over 20 years so you might need some refreshing, especially since we don’t get new music from the collective until 2013, so here are three of my favorites from the band’s history:

“Six Bells Chime”

One of my favorite “gothic” styled songs, perhaps because it’s featured in one of my favorite films of all-time, “Wings of Desire,” which is where this video comes from featuring Rowland S. Howard careening from side to side on stage, playing as if he’s fighting the guitar and stalking around like a tiger as all that beautiful feedback washes out.

“The Kentucky Click”

More fire from the Rowland S. Howard period of this band, almost a “Tramp” like groove on this one amid all the darkness.

“The Adversary”

My favorite track from the later period of the band, one of the last recordings until their recent re-emergence. Also finds it’s way into a Wim Wenders film, and sounds like pure menace until everything brightens mid-way through.

Flying Lotus feat. Niki Randa – Getting There

Three full-length records into the career of Flying Lotus and while little has changed in his overall style, each successive record still manages to astound. Until The Quiet Comes is his latest masterpiece. While this album shares quite a lot with his previous long players, albums that were best heard as full compositions, the tracks here seem a bit more fragmented. This doesn’t take away from a deep ethereal and dreamy quality to the sounds, perhaps nowhere best represented than on his collaboration with Blank Blue vocalist Niki Randa “Getting There.” My only complaint, and it’s even more pronounced on Until The Quiet Comes than previous albums, is why are these songs so SHORT!!! “Getting There” is one minute and fourty-nine seconds of heaven, I understand we’re not supposed to partake of the heavenly while still here on Earth, but if you’re gonna give us a taste, give us a good sized bite please! Then again, when we were bearing witness to genius this pronounced, can we really complain? I’m just thankful Mr. Ellison continues to build on his already legendary status in the world of electronic music.

Here’s a hauntingly beautiful and terrifying short film created to promote the new record by Khalil Joseph. As is the case with the album, I wish this film wasn’t so short, I would love to see this entire album expanded into a film in line with the images here…nothing short of genius.

Second week of fundraising, not as strong as our first week, but still all told we raised $2,000 for KPFK which has been our best total in quite a while. Morgan Rhodes sat in with me to chat about the music and radio station that we love. Had a little issue with the recording so the second hour had to be spliced together and cuts off at the end. We won’t be on the air next week as the fundraiser wraps up, but will return at the end of October for our usual all-vinyl freeform, perhaps with a special guest DJ. If you didn’t get a chance to support KPFK during our shows, you can still pick up some of our premiums for your pledges if you click here.

Melting Pot on KPFK #102: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #102: Second Hour

Sapo – Been Had
Sapo – Ritmo Del Corazon
Sapo – Get It On

Been hard at work, grading for school and getting ready for the second round of fundraising on KPFK, so here’s a no-brainer. I’ve been on the lookout for Sapo’s lone album for years, since hearing “Been Had” on a Soul Jazz compilation and immediately recognizing those distinctive drums from Jurassic 5’s “Lesson #6 The Lecture.” I’d rarely run into a copy when I was at stores, and wasn’t willing to drop $50 for it, but eventually I ran into a nice copy at Atomic and finally got a chance to hear the whole record. Sapo was a part of the San Francisco latin rock scene that produced Santana and Malo. Singer Richard Bean was the lead vocalist for Malo (singing on their biggest hit “Sauvecito”) and formed this group shortly after leaving that one. Sapo treads in a lot of the same water, upbeat, hard driving, latin based rock music. What sets them apart are the B-boyrrefic drums and conga work from Bobby Gaviola and Raul Rekow. As good as the drums are that start “Been Had” the rhythm that follows is even better. “Get In On” has some similar breaktastic moments.  Just tailor made for dancers who know how to rock.  Well worth the wait to finally track this one down.

Cheers,

Michael

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