Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Troyka (1970)

Troyka is a band which justifies our perilous questing across used record stores and spooky abandoned blogs. Although given a major label release (via Atlantic's then new Cotillion branch) Troyka's self-titled 1970 album remains obscure to say the least. Which is pity, because it's truly magnificent. Consisting of Mike Richards (percussion & lead vocals), Robert Edwards (guitar & mandolin) and Ron "Rumor" Lukawietsky (bass) and hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, these fine Canadian gents crafted this album out of a series of jam sessions overseen by Velvet Underground producer Shel Kagan.

This kind of record building can easily result in a schizophrenic end product, each song differing too greatly to give any semblance of cohesion. Though each song is different, ranging from growling biker stomp to lysergic pastorale, fortune favored the bold and the album holds together as a single solid entity. Singer Mike Richards has a "unique" voice but even if you don't warm to him, you'll still find plenty to enjoy, over half the tracks are instrumental.

This is from the 2000 CD reissue put out by Black Rose Records, and there's a bit of noticeable static and hiss in some of the silent sections, perhaps indicating a remastering from vinyl. But don't let that stop you! This is a lost classic.

1. Introduction
2. Natural
3. Early Morning
4. Life's OK
5. Burning of the Witch
6. Rub-A-Dub-Dub Troyka in a Tub
7. Troyka Lament
8. Troyka Solo
9. Rolling Down The Back Road
10. Berry Picking
11. Dear Margaret
12. Go East Young Man Beautiful Pink Eyes
13. Troyka Finale

Listen to Early Morning:

Troyka (1970) mp3 320 kbps

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crocheted Doughnut Ring/Doughnut Ring Singles

Thanks again to the It's Psych Forum, I give you a collection of singles from a band known as the Crocheted Doughnut Ring and apparently just the Doughnut Ring at some other point. I'm having trouble finding much information on them, so drop a comment if you can fill me in. A range of sounds can be heard throughout these eight tracks, including some perfectly crafted psych-pop, minimal-far-out-sound-
collage-type-shit, good old rock 'n' roll, a tune with some hispanic flavor and a "cool island song" (to melt your icy heart). The collection starts off with "Havana Anna" which is the cool island song I speak of. It's a catchy tune that has yet to grow old for me... definitely one of my favorites. Another stand out song is the ballad "Maxine's Parlour," although the highlight of the collection is the Crocheted Doughnut Ring's last two tracks. "Nice" is the sound collage, which is a pretty shocking listen considering it was created by a late 60s band with obvious ambitions to write pop songs. Although I'm pretty unfamiliar with musique concrète, I suspect it was heavily influenced by it as well as early electronic music. Modern lo-fi indie bands that get off on occasional experimental sound wish they could make this shit. Just when you think this band couldn't get any sweeter, "Nice" segues into "Two Little Ladies (Azalea & Rhododendron)." Packed with catchy melodies, tinkering harpsichord, swirling psychedelic effects, and frequent shifts in tempo, "Two Little Ladies (Azalea & Rhododendron)" epitomizes 60s psych-pop. I find the song very reminiscent of the Idle Race's debut album Birthday Party, which is no small compliment. The two Doughnut Ring tracks don't excite me quite as much, but I still get dibs on sampling the first eight seconds of "Dance Around Julie." In case you were wondering, that's not the real artwork.

Update: Check the comments of this post for some detailed information about the Crocheted Doughnut Ring/Dougnut Ring.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gilberto Gil - Gilberto Gil (Frevo Rasgado) 1968

Former political exile and current Brazilian Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil was also — in the interest of this blog — one of the original tropicalistas. Along with Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé and Gal Costa, Gil was a pioneer of the short-lived, albeit highly influential, Tropicália movement. Gil's second album (subtitled Frevo Rasgado), recorded in 1968 during the height of the protest movement against the recently installed military government, is deceptively upbeat. And while my understanding of Portuguese is very limited, songs like "Marginália II" reference the end of the world and I'm pretty sure "Domingo no Parque" is about someone getting murdered in a park. Anyway, politics and pessimism aside, this album is extremely enjoyable. Gil pulls from all types of sources including, but not limited to, native styles such as bossa nova and samba, as well as ideas gleaned from British psychedelia and good old fashioned American rock'n'roll (check the "Hang on Sloopy" reference in "Pega a Voga, Cabeludo"). The product is ultimately something altogether unique. Os Mutantes also make an appearance on the album, as they often did live (see: "Domingou"). Full of upbeat numbers, there are some slow burners like "Pé da Roseria," as well as the obligatory (yet totally dope) freak out "Questão de Ordem " which foreshadows some of Gil's more experimental work to come. Polyrhythmic percussion— see: "Marginália II", "Ele Falava Nisso Todo Dia" "Procissão" — and some deftly arranged strings (reportedly courtesy of Tropicália's resident composer/arranger Rogério Duprat) are the highlight of this album. Long story short, this joint has become one of my favorite albums if for no other reason than the fact that it's so fun to listen to (see: novel idea). While Gil's next album, Gilberto Gil (Cérebro Eletrônico), may be considered more "psychedelic", it's not (in my opinion) as consistently entertaining as this release.

For those of you interested in the Tropicalismo movement and the conditions that produced it, check out Caetano Veloso's Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil

For those of you interested in YouTube, check out:

Listen to "Domingou":

Download Gilberto Gil (Frevo Rasgado)