John Carpenter is obviously well known as a horror director (though he’s done work in other genres, too), but he’s also composed and performed the scores for most of his films. His electronic music is deeply underrated, as far as I’m concerned, so this mix of his soundtracks is the perfect thing for the season.
Mwandishi was Herbie Hancock‘s greatest band, straight up. Over the course of three albums – Mwandishi, Crossings and Sextant – they took jazz and funk deep into space, and by the time they figured out a way back down to Earth, shit was permanently altered. The band included Hancock on piano and Fender Rhodes, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, Bennie Maupin on soprano sax, flute and bass clarinet, Buster Williams on bass, and Billy Hart on drums. On the second album, Patrick Gleeson joined, playing synthesizers.
There’s very little film of Mwandishi at work, unfortunately. But they did make an appearance on French television in 1972, and you can see three pieces below.
Here’s “Sleeping Giant” (which was nearly 25 minutes long on Crossings, by the way):
And here’s “Water Torture”:
There’s a new-ish book by Bob Gluck, You’ll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band (buy it from Amazon), that I haven’t read yet but am very interested to check out. Also worth hearing: various solo albums made by Mwandishi members during the early 1970s, like Eddie Henderson‘s Inside Out and Realization, Buster Williams‘ Pinnacle, Bennie Maupin‘s The Jewel in the Lotus, and Julian Priester‘s Love, Love.
Radiate (Bureau B)
by Phil Freeman
Camera are a German trio making instrumental music in the classic Krautrock tradition, but rather than come up with a style uniquely their own as the pioneering artists did (Can, Neu!, Cluster/Kluster, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream, et al.), they have created a synthesis of various approaches. They employ the trancelike and occasionally trance-inducing “motorik” beat of Neu!, with the swooping guitar and keyboard riffs of latter-day, movie-soundtrack Tangerine Dream layered on top, and occasionally, on their quieter, more psychedelic numbers, they’re reminiscent of Soon Over Babaluma or Future Days-era Can.
Naturally, they’ve been embraced by the Krautrock fanbase, as well as the veteran musicians who pioneered the style and scene in the early to mid-1970s. Here’s a video of Camera jamming with Michael Rother (Neu!) and Dieter Moebius (Cluster/Kluster, Harmonia) one year ago today, on October 22, 2011:
On their own debut album, though, the challenge before them is to establish a unique identity beyond being mere imitators of their idols. They manage it, mostly because of their history as a live act. Camera prefer guerrilla performance to traditionally structured shows; they play in the subway or under bridges, and sometimes (more interestingly) they even sneak into official parties, plug in quickly, and play until security realizes they haven’t been hired to be there, and throws them out. This provocative, take-the-music-to-the-people sort of artistic stance will turn almost any band into a highly disciplined unit very quickly, and as a result, there’s not an ounce of fat on Radiate. The album offers eight tracks in 52:19, all but one running between four and seven minutes (“Lynch” nudges the 11-minute mark). They alternate between rockers and placidly trippy interludes, but even at their mellowest, they’re never self-indulgent. Melodies emerge, are explored through repetition and subtle, slight variation, then retired. The music is layered, almost like techno, despite being created on relatively minimal instrumentation (guitar, synth, a four-piece drum kit) and recorded live in the studio. It’s easy to imagine these guys’ work appealing as much to fans of retro-minded synth/trance-rock acts like Trans Am, Zombi, or even Circle as to gray-haired Krautrock obsessives seeking a band of youngsters to push their nostalgia buttons.
Here’s the band’s somewhat retina-frying video for “Ausland”: