An EP compiled from Strawberry Rain’s essential issue The Lizard Years coming to our subscription service, Now-Again Deluxe, on August 3rd.
While he maintains a dubious claim as kickstarter of Indonesia’s private-press rock scene in the 60s and 70s, we can definitively say one thing about guitarist/singer/song writer/producer Benny Soebardja: He is one of the most important musical figures to arise from Indonesia in the latter half of the twentieth century. Having been a member of bands such as The Peels, Shark Move and the infamous prog-rock juggernaut Giant Step, Soebardja left his mark with many memorable albums throughout the years. It was his work as a cultural ambassador that made our recent Those Shocking, Shaking Days anthology possible.
During the mid 70s, Soebardja also recorded solo efforts, which Southeast Asian enthusiasts regard as some of the best music to surface from the region. With the help of British poet Bob Dook, Soebardja recorded numerous English language songs brimming with progressive musicianship and melodies. Backed by the almost unknown Lizard – an ensemble which contained members of both Giant Step and Indonesian poet/philospoher Harry Roesli’s Philosophy Gang – Soebardja’s solo efforts are in line with the sound of his other bands, yet unique. With The Lizard Years, Strawberry Rain and Jason Connoy present to Soebardja’s first three solo efforts: Lizard, Gut Rock and Night Train.
This album is not on Now-Again, but Strawberry Rain has agreed to allow us to present an EP’s worth of music to our subscribers at Now-Again Deluxe. And, if you’re interested, all three albums are included in Strawberry Rain’s 2CD set with a thirty-six page booklet full of concert photos, album covers and extensive liner notes. Strawberry Rain has made a special offer available for followers of this label – $15, including shipping, to customers in the USA and Canada, and $18, including shipping, for international customers. If you’d like to support what they’re doing, the Paypal address is firstname.lastname@example.org . We would like to suggest that you do!
Download: Benny Soebardja and Lizard “18 Years Old.”
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More Info: Strawberry Rain’s Website.
Listening to this remarkable album for the first time you’ll surely be struck first by the deep, soul-piercing voice of that great Brazilian singer, Seu Jorge. Yes: he’s a singer first and foremost. Many may know him as an actor for his screen-stealing performances in the likes of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic and Fernando Meirelles’ City Of God but Seu Jorge has known since he was a child that we was destined to sing. He’s a Brazilian singer who speaks the truth through samba, to paraphrase a well-known Seu Jorge quote.
But this project is about a band: Almaz. Drummer Pupillo and guitarist Lucio Maia from the stalwart Nação Zumbi; bassist and composer Antonio Pinto from the soundstages of Hollywood and Brazilian blockbusters such as City of God, the film that showcased Seu Jorge’s star-turn as Knockout Ned. They came together naturally to record a song for a Walter Salles film; they enjoyed the experience so much that they recorded an entire album of music that inspired them. Songs famous within the Brazilian diaspora (Tim Maia, Jorge Ben) mesh with classic American (Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson) and European (Kraftwerk, Cane and Abel) soul songs begging for a bit of psychedelic samba.
They enlisted producer and fellow Brazileiro Mario C. (Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson) to put the finishing touches on the project. And now Almaz, looking to only “common sense” as bandleader, spring forth with an album both warm and dark; an album that is psychedelic and yet grounded, uplifting but at times somber. To listen to Seu Jorge and Almaz is to join them in the studio, where the only bandleader is the music and the only agenda is to follow your heart.
An inventive showcase of what’s possible when armed with just a sampler, a few studio toys and a fertile imagination, Paul White & The Purple Brain is the intriguing sophomore album from South London producer Paul White, and the only album the producer released on Now-Again.
A collaboration of sorts, the entire record is based around and inspired by the work of little-known Swedish psych-rock guru S.T. Mikael. Heavy on Eastern influences and otherworldly concerns, Mikael’s music ranges from searing electric guitar-led dirges to dreamlike ballads to ghostly atmospheric experiments – sometimes all within the same song. The strange and wonderful home recordings of this cult hero have been issued in tiny quantities since the 1990s on the Subliminal Sounds label.
Having been granted access to S.T. Mikael’s back catalogue, Paul White found a unique source of inspiration and challenged himself to create an album using the Swedish multi-instrumentalist’s work as the sole basis for his output. The result is Paul White & The Purple Brain – a remarkably diverse album that defies easy categorisation. Marshen Signals brings to mind the brooding atmospherics and jeep-rattling bass of mid-90s D.I.T.C. productions, whilst Alone Again nods to the pioneers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Sitar-led tracks such as Pride share common ground with the likes of ‘60s English psych band July and My Guitar Whales – the first single to be taken from the album – could be a classic rap banger remixed for a Hungarian fairground.
Praised as someone who “embodies all that is good about a new generation of producers” (Dazed & Confused), Paul White has won over fans of left-leaning sounds and interesting hip-hop, including Diplo, Mary Anne Hobbs, Benji B and Gilles Peterson. His 2009 debut album The Strange Dreams of Paul White introduced a hip-hop producer with a deft touch, a quirky sense of humour and a refreshing lack of regard for the conventions of the genre. There was also something very British about his avoidance of the traditional soul, jazz and funk sample sources of his hip-hop forebears in favour of prog and psychedelic rock, reggae and the abandoned vinyl of English charity shops.
Ask the likes of Hudson Mohawke or Flying Lotus and they’ll tell you the same thing: Dimlite’s production was astounding from the start. His EPs of 2003 and debut album Runbox Weathers two years later revealed a Swiss producer beholden to no one, possessing a style as nuanced as his friend Prefuse 73 and yet enriched by a careworn romanticism and quirkiness that rewarded repeat listens and has, over time, made him something of a ‘producer’s producer’.
Another album, singles, remixes and side-projects followed, taking Dimlite’s sound further left, further into a singular world where soul music, latin rhythms, hiphop and more are reconstituted into dreamy, lovelorn beat constructions. And so he took his place at Now-Again, home to a cadre of similarly singular spirits such as The Heliocentrics and The Whitefield Brothers, each bent on refracting music history through their own unique lenses.
And while copycat producers abound, Dimlite’s uniqueness is only throw into sharper relief. Now Again Records presented Grimm Reality,his third album, in which Dimlite incorporated the techniques and artistic attitude of two of his alter-egos (Misel Quitno, a fanatic in low-fidelity electro-acoustic composition; the Slapped Eyeballers, a two-headed, world-rock-folk combo) to color a progressive sonic vision. Dimlite’s precedents that spring to mind are all cherished outsiders – Neu, The Residents, Beefheart, Philip Glass – footnotes in mainstream music history but, in an altogether preferable parallel universe, titans of the recent past.
But Dimlite doesn’t create the patchwork of a tasteful record collector though – he eschews samples entirely, imbuing his music with the spirit of his heroes but never once grabbing for their sound. In so doing, he creates music that is highly singular and – despite its relatively ancient influences – altogether new.
Download High Res Photo 1: Dimlite by Matthias Guenter.
Download High Res Photo 2: Dimlite by Matthias Guenter.
Now-Again first signed Brasilian guitarist Fabiano do Nascimento when he was part of the Triorganico band. Dança dos Tempos is his debut album as a solo artist, and it features legendary percussionist Airto Moreira in his first album project in over ten years. Dança dos Tempos follows folkloric Brasilian music as experienced through the mind and able fingers of an expansive musician, not yet thirty years old, and combines the heady ‘60s and ‘70s experimentalism of Hermeto Pascoal and Baden Powell with the childlike elegance of music played and passed down by native Brasilians for generations. It is the second Brasilian album released on Now-Again, following Seu Jorge and Almaz.
Moreira, the bandleader, songwriter and producer who recorded a bevy of titles under his own name, with his wife Flora Purim, and whose resume contains the names of – seriously – every musician worth mentioning from America or Brasil from the past 50 years – plays percussion on the album and is joined by do Nascimento’s long time drummer, Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas on trap drums. Do Nascimento and his girlfriend handle vocals on what is otherwise an airy instrumental album that allows the guitarist’s virtuosity to shine through originals, folkloric Brasilian songs, and select covers by the likes of Pascoal and Powell, both formative influences on the guitarist.
These duets show the camaraderie that two master Brasilian musicians – of two different generations, but of the same spirit – share with comrades of ages past as they imagine music for the years to come. These tracks were recorded live in the studio with no overdubs by producer Luther Russell and engineer Jason Hiller – straight to 2” analog-tape, and only sparingly mastered to focus on the subtleties of the performances.
Triorganico, now disbanded, recorded Brasilian flavored, minimalist Latin jazz a la Baden Powell and Hermeto. Waxpoetics, amongst others, uh, waxed poetic about the band calling Convivencia, their sole album, “….something you’d expect to hear floating from a smoky Bossa Nova club in the 1950s – not downtown LA… Triorganico finds comfort in history and hindsight.”