Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Orchestra Baobab, bummer

Last night, we were all going to head up to Hanover to see Orchestra Baobab play an outdoor show on the green at Dartmouth, but alas, around 2:30 p.m., the skies opened up and the lightning crackled and all weather-permitting events were, er, not permitted. They moved the show inside and back to 8 p.m., but nobody wanted to go (i.e. Sean and Bill didn’t want to go), so we stayed home, what a bummer.

I also got caught for the third day in a row in a lightning storm on my run…started out in bright sunshine, heard some rumbling over my shoulder, turned around to see the biggest, blackest thunderhead imaginable behind me. I hadn’t even wrapped up my shuffle in plastic, so I was freaking a little, but Bill and Sean came to get me in the car and I avoided most of the rain. Two hours later, it was sunny again and I went out again to do the remaining six miles…I got up early this morning, because I’m so sick of getting caught in the rain. I’m getting lighter and faster and stronger, I can tell, but the marathon schedule is still taking a bit of a toll.

So anyways, music…lots of stuff up today.

At Philadelphia Weekly, those two records I was whining about last week, Bardo Pond and Alejandro Escovedo (drastically curtailed, I thought the word limit was 150, but it 100, oops):

Alejandro Escovedo Real Animal (Back Porch)

Rating: Instant classic, like Edgar Allan Poe.

Alejandro Escovedo’s life unspooled before his eyes after his near-death experience at the hands of hep C, and his ninth solo album reads like an autobiography. There are some fine, slow-paced beauties—the elegiac “Golden Bear” and pedal-steel-fueled “Hollywood Hills.” Still, the best by far is the Stooges-esque “Real as an Animal.” Animal fulfills the promise of The Boxing Mirror, no longer just celebrating survival but bursting with life itself. Everything—from the rattling guitars to Escovedo’s own fine, strong voice—is one long rage against the dying of the light. (Jennifer Kelly)

A sort of trailer for Real Animal:

Bardo Pond Batholith (Three-Lobed)

Rating: Excellent, like John Oates’ mustache.

Batholith collects six droning, slow-tempo explorations of the inner space by Philly’s longest running psych rock outfit. These cuts have been around for years on the live circuit and various compilations, but have never made any of the band’s official albums. They’re of various vintages, some reaching back into Bardo’s older, heavier incarnations where obliterating blasts of guitar feedback storm-surged around Isobel Sollenberger’s trance-slackened moans and howls. “Slip Away,” recorded for a Peel session, is the most structured and songlike of these selections. (J.K.)

It looks like my review of the goofball, prog-fusion, drum-and-keyboard-centric Mats & Morgan band is up today at PopMatters, but damned if I can get in to see it.

Oh wait, there it is:
Mats Morgan Band
Heat Beats Live
[Tourbook 1991-2007]
US release date: 12 February 2008
UK release date: Available as import
by Jennifer Kelly

He's the drummer man

The live DVD Tourbooks, included in Mats/Morgan’s career-spanning compilation Heat Beats Live, opens with a tight shot of drummer Morgan Agren’s hands, still for the moment, but poised over a vast drum kit with perhaps a dozen cymbals, a snare, and four main toms, and four to five tiny timbales. When he starts, his hands fly over the set, impossibly fast but light-tempered and playful. His expression is a strange combination of grimace and grin, the grimace, one imagines, for the difficulty, the grin for the sheer joy of drumming. His long-time musical partner Mats Oberg takes up just a corner of the screen, hunched over a double keyboard. The records, both the live one and the reissued debut Trends and Other Diseases, may feature the two of them equally, but on screen it is clear that Agren is the extraordinary one in the duo, a drummer’s drummer who can flit from cool trad jazz to proggy rock to howling Swedish metal, without dropping a stick, without batting an eye.

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