Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NEW AMAZING MUSIC: Oxygene 8, Days Between Stations, Marvin Ayres, Todd Grubbs & GG06

More new music on NeverEndingWonder Radio:


The driving force behind Oxygene 8 is Chapman Stick player/vocalist Linda Cushma. She creates a sound that's somewhat proggish and somewhat poppish. This works splendidly as it makes for and edgy sound that still sounds catchy. Cushma uses her voice effectively and she has some top talents working with her on this project. Drummer Tim Alexander worked with Primus and guitarist Claudio Cordero with Cast. I can find no information on synth player Steve Parrish, but he definitely adds an essential quality to the sound. The music is powerful, complex, involving. My only complaint is that it's an EP. I want more!
Oxygene 8


More proggish type fun with "Days Between Stations." This duo consists of guitarist Sepand Samzadeh and keyboardist Oscar Fuentes, who met in Los Angeles in 2003. They describe their music as art rock and post-prog. I'd add to that the genre of space rock. There's a lot of Pink Floyd here, and Ash Ra Tempel as well as Hawkwind or Ozric Tentacles. The songs range from the languid & eerie "Requiem for he Living" to the captivating rocker "Radio Song." The centerpiece of the album- 22 minute long "Laudanum" features sax, trumpet, trombone, bass, drums and classical guitar in addition to Samzadeh and Fuentes guitars and synthesizers. It's a great, meandering number that reminds one of some of King Crimson's early lengthy excursions. At turns spacey, jazzy, haunting- it's a marvelous composition. For fans of inventive, adventurous music this is well worth a listen.
Days Between Stations


Marvin Ayres refers to his music as "ambient orchestral minimalism." That can cover a lot of ground, and o his Eccentric Deliquescene album he does cover a lot of ground. "Forever Is Now" begins sounding like a piece for chamber orchestra and slowly morphs into an ethereal droning. "The Bark That is Bearing" is a traditional love song sung at first in a quiet a capella voice that is eventually swallowed up by its own echo. "Coiling Compotation" plays with overtones and dissonance. "Durdy" is two minutes of bansheelike feedback. Each piece goes its own direction on this release. It's inventive, experimental and varied. Exciting listening!
Marvin Ayres


Todd Grubbs' "Time, Space & The Electric is all about one thing- rock guitar. This is an album of rock instrumentals with Grubbs and his guitar front and center. Since he has the skill and talent to pull it off, this release is a winner. Grubbs has devoted his life to instrumental rock guitar. An unusual path, but listening to this CD, I'm glad he's doing it! It's not just about jamming out though- Grubbs realizes melody serves a purpose and his inventive tunes keep the listener interested.
Todd Grubbs


This is much more conventional music than the rest in this article, but it's just as interesting. You know these guys, even though you don't know you do. GG06 are Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman who once played together in the band 10CC, which gave us such hits as "Things We Do For Love" and "I'm not In Love." Accordingly what we have here are a collection of actual songs with lyrics that verses and choruses, instrumental hooks and the like. Here's the catch- these are REALLY GOOD songs. Why I can't hear these songs on the radio is beyond me. Well, no it's not- you just won't hear music this good on the radio any more. These gentleman have the musical experience and expertise to create interesting, involving tunes that just happen to be catchy as well. They've managed to create six new songs in three years, with no indication when there might be a proper release for these songs. You CAN go to their website and watch some videos of the new band in action, and purchase the songs if you so desire. I found the website to be a bit confusing to navigate, but if you're persistent you'll eventually find everything. Check it out- it's worth it!

All this marvelous music can be hear on NeverEndingWonder Radio

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Additions: Twitch, Two Witches, Dirty Blues and Michael Charles

More recent additions to NeverEndingWonder Radio:


Twitch were an unusual, eclectic band who defied easy categorization. In short- exactly the type of music NeverEndingWonder Radio loves. Unfortunately they didn't last long. This is their last album, which was released in 2002 on Static Records. 16 tracks of interesting and engaging post-modern music that incorporates elements of jazz, alternative, electronica and more utilizing unusual instrument choices such as trombone and thumb piano.


Two Witches are not in fact two witches. They are three musicians. Heavy Goth rock. This their first release, from 1994.


The title of this release is no hype. Everything about these songs is dirty. From the names of the artists (Snatch & The Poontangs), to the titles (Fuck Off, The Dirty Rooster), to the lyrics themselves. Blues have always been filthy, as evidenced by such early classics like Bessie Smith's 1927 recording of Hot Dog Man. There are some big names here- Dinah Washington, Slim Gaillard, Amos Milburn, Boozoo Chavis, Jackie Wilson & Laverne Baker, as well as some on the more obscure - two numbers by the aforementioned Snatch & The Poontangs and Cliff Ferre. Some numbers, like The Clovers' "Rotten Cocksuckers Ball" come out and say EXACTLY what they mean. Others, like Cliff Ferre's "Joe's Joint" prefer to let innuendo do the work. Certainly entertaining listening!


Can they play the blues in Australia? After listening to this CD the only answer I can give is HELL YES! Michael Charles plays straight ahead blues like he was straight from the Mississippi Delta. Songs like The Tune (the chords my daddy taught me) and Jumbo (a catchy blues instrumental) show Michael is equally at home with both acoustic and electric blues. Charles can do more than boogie though. "One Two Ten" is a slow Claptonesque blues instrumental. "I Can't Hear Our Song" displays a bit of Neil Young influence- and is all of 26 seconds long. There's even an instrumental reprise- which is also 26 seconds long. Certainly Michael Charles plays by nobody's rules. That's a good thing for us, as it makes for inventive, infectious music. There's even a country blues anthem of sorts, "Gave It All Away," that has a very catchy melody. This collection of 15 varied blues tunes is recommended.
Michael Charles website:
Michael Charles

All these fine musical offerings can be heard on NeverEndingWonder Radio

Sunday, May 18, 2008

CD REVIEW: James LaRocca Project "A Different Road" and "The Awakening"

Lots of music added to the station in the last few weeks so there's lots to catch up on. First up:


These two CDs tell an amazing story. James LaRocca is an accomplished guitarist who graduated from the University of Texas jazz program. Two years after graduating James was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At that time he was still able to play guitar, and his first release "A Different Road" is filled with desire and longing. You can see it in the titles- Changes, Understanding, A new Beginning, A Different Road - and you can hear it in his music. Eleven tracks of LaRocca's sensitive and passionate guitar playing accompanied by violin, string bass and drums.
After A Different Road was released James suffered another attack of MS. This time it left him so disabled he was no longer able to play the guitar. He was determined that would not end his career in music. He may not have been able to play music any more but he could still create it. "The Awakening" features 15 LaRocca compositions arranged for cello, bass, violins, viola, piano, oboe & bassoon. The title tune is full of struggle and determination and dawning awareness of new possibilities. As James writes in the liner of the CD, "the notes were flowing through me like a madman." Several compositions on the CD carry on with this theme- A Light in the Dark, A Time Remembered, A Dream Within a Dream, Out of the Dawn, The Gift.

The tale told on these CDs is one of immense hope and inspiration. And it's damn good music too. A portion of the proceeds to the CDs go to the MS Society of Oregon.

James LaRocca's website:
The James LaRocca Project

A Different Road & The Awakening can both be heard on NeverEndingWonder Radio

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Naked Carmen and Ragnarok

Well, even the blog is getting the best of me despite all intentions to keep current. I'm now backlogged on two weeks of activity on the station. On to business.

I've recently added two of my favorite albums from my record collection to NeverEndingWonder Radio. I've featured selections from these albums in the years past but now both albums have been added to the library in their entireties. First up is The Naked Carmen.

The Naked Carmen was an "Electric Rock Opera" composed by John Corigliano and David Hess in 1968. It was released on Mercury Records in 1970 and I picked it up for a dollar in a cutout bin somewhere around 1973 or so. It fit nicely with my penchant for odd and unusual music. Pairings of Classical music and pop was still pretty rare back then. There had been Deep Purple's Concerto for Group & Orchestra, Days of Future Passed and a few others. IMO The Naked Carmen was the most successful attempt at melding Classical music with modern pop music, yet it remains a little known footnote in musical history.
I don't know why it never made more of a splash- perhaps it was TOO original- but it was a great composition expertly realized by a wealth of talented artists: David Hess himself, Melba Moore, The Detroit Symphony, Pig Iron and more. The Naked Carmen was conceived of as an updating of Bizet's popular opera, both musically and thematically. Updating the music side meant featuring the Detroit Symphony performing selections from Carmen with the addition of Moog Synthesizer, rock band and even a kazoo, as well as introducing some pop/folk numbers performed by Hess & Moore and other numbers set to tunes from Carmen with new lyrics.
Updating Carmen thematically meant creating a new role for Carmen herself. From the liner notes: "In this modern version of the opera written by Georges Bizet, the traditional vision of Carmen as temptress is rejected. Today, she is a heroine.
In the last 10 years, Carmen has emerged as a compelling spokesman, not only for the concept of women's liberation, but for the whole prospect of an exciting life of free morality; a life in which new concepts of human purpose and tolerance will permit man to refashion his institutions to permit the full development of every individual." Yes, this was the 70s, focused very much on individuality, as well as class issues. This was deftly illuminated using tape montage featuring clips of Adolf Hitler's speeches and Spiro Agnew's infamous "effete intellectual snobs" quote.
The album itself got a deluxe treatment with a booklet that included full lyrics and a series of bizarre collages. Here is one:

John Corigliano went on many other accomplishments, such as penning the soundtracks for "Altered States" and "The Red Violin" for which he won an Academy Award. David Hess went on to star in Wes Craven's infamous "The Last House on the Left," as well as writing the soundtrack for that film. Hess has appeared in many film roles including parts in Zombie Nation and Zodiac Killer. He has also remained active in the music industry.

Here is a link to a webpage with a wealth of info on The Naked Carmen:
The Naked Carmen
Here's a link to David Hess' website:
David Hess

Ragnarok: Electronic Funk by Beaver & Krause was one of the first albums I bought after becoming mesmerized by electronic music. Bernard Krause was an unlikely figure to be part of the electronic music vanguard- he was a former member of The Weavers and was acting as a staff producer for Elektra Records when he met jazz musician Paul Beaver. How these two managed to collaborate on some of the most interesting electronic music to come out of the 60s and 70s is any one's guess. Ragnarok was their second album together (the first was The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music- intended as a showcase of the Moog Synthesizer's capabilities) and it's an amazing document of electronic music in 1969. Several numbers display the sheer fascination with electronic sound one could have in the 60s when all of this was still new to us. There are a couple of novelty numbers- Dill Piccolo and Dr. Fox that remind me of Perrey & Kingsley if the had made SIDs. There are also some hauntingly beautiful melodies. Altogether a well rounded example of what electronic musicians were capable of in 1969.
Beaver & Krause recorded four albums together. Paul Beaver recorded one solo album of electronic music before suffering from a heart attack. Bernard Krause went on to pioneer the field of bio-acoustics and released many albums of environmental recordings.

Both of these wonderful oddball albums lost in the cracks of musical history can be heard on NeverEndingWonder Radio