By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
VARIOUS: THE SEXUAL LIFE OF THE SAVAGES: UNDERGROUND POST-PUNK FROM SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
From NoNewYorkto NaoSaoPauloin eighteen quick slashes: these are Brazil's real mutantes,sleeping all day and waking at night just to plug in the Echoplex. While no one on Savagesis quite as poisonous as Lydia Lunch or Mars, it can't be coincidence that Chance ("Samba De Morro") sounds a lot like the Contortions; Gang 90's Linndrum-urbane beats and sad-girl vocals reinforce Vivian Goldman's "Private Armies," and As Mercenarias amplifies ESG into something more like Even Worse. But post-punk was a British export first, and Brazil was obviously listening . . . to pretty much one band, at least on Savages:Ian Curtis flapped his arms in Manchester, and there was a tornado in Sao Paulo. Joy Division gets plenty of sincere flattery here: Akira S Et As Garotas Que Erraram ("Sobre As Pernas") steal the stentorian vocals, Smack ("Mediocridade Afinal," in a bizarre contrast to their wall-of-Morricone track "For A Daqui," also included) grab the Warsaw guitar crunch, Fellini get Hooky's bubbly bass ("Rock Europeu"), and Harry (a band) sample some H-h-h-h-hitler! soundbites ("You Have Gone Wrong"). Well, to be fair, that's probably more a Heartbreakers' precedent, but somebody's got to grimly reference the horrors of fascism or it's just not post-punk, is it? Jah Wobble and Keith Levene get their moments in the mix too (Nau's "Madame Oraculo," whose flamenco/death-disco breakdown is probably the last idea PIL didn't use), as do New Order, whose pop influences let in the only sunlight (Cabine C's "Tao Perto," or Harry again) on an otherwise vicious, gloomy and enervating compilation. Which is a post-punk compliment. This is angry, serious and speed-y (but still dance-friendly) music, until it finally turns into disco pop (Gueto's "Borboleta"). Which is kind of what happened to the whole post-punk thing, anyway.
SEE ALSO: More south-of-the-equator post-punk from Australia's Can'tStopItcompilation, with Fall-y fuzz pop from the Moodists and the Take's icy, uh, take on the Slits.
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VARIOUS: NEW THING!
In 1965, John Coltrane and Archie Shepp traded sax back and forth to make NewThingatNewport,a dramatic warning shot that announced a new wave of jazz. This Soul Jazz comp borrows the name but lets the shock value rest, offering instead a collection closer to sixteen jazz-funk greats—a loop-the-loop around the soul-jazz of musicians like Pretty Purdie and Jimmy Smith and an avant-vanguard like Pharoah Sanders or Elvin Jones (Coltrane's famous drummer, who appears both on this NewThingand the original NewThing!)That's sort of a rattled recap of history, and Dustedmagazine was right to call NewThinga "conceptually misbegotten mixtape." Sun Ra's "Angels and Demons at Play" (a typical example of early Sun Ra, as much as Sun Ra can be typical) was a new thing in 1956, and Art Ensemble of Chicago's "Funky AECO" was too late for the trend in 1984. But with Soul Jazz, it's the movement, not the math: each of their generally excellent comps, whether post-punk or reggae or voodoo drums, just piles the good things everyone loves (reverb guitars, fiery female singers, deep dusty bass) on top of an unstoppable beat. And so "Angels and Demons" and "Funky AECO" find strange but complementary echoes in each other and the rest of NewThing.Under flute and Korean reed (East New York Ensemble's "Little Sunflower") and arkestral harp is a locomotive making time. Robert Rockwell III's 1974 "Androids" uncoils from a knot of dissonance to serpentine funk; Eddie Gale's "Black Rhythm Happening" dots a cheerful lyric with blasts of brass; Stanley Cowell's "El Space-o" puts pie pans on the piano strings and tiptoes through a slinky track with a cinematic sense for drama. It might be a sloppy thesis, but it's an irresistible collection: listeners hopeful but inexperienced will find a truly new thing; open-minded purists might find a little new perspective; everyone together will find the confidence and courage to skip past the first chunk of Steve Davis' "La Lune Blanche" (where he's cooing something in creepy-guy French) to the part where the sax comes in and the song wakes into wild life. Since Shepp gave the comp its name, it's natural that he also contributes one of its best tracks, next to Alice Coltrane's electric piano re-vision of her husband's "A Love Supreme." The nine-minute "Money Blues (Part 1)," from Shepp's stark 1971 album ThingsHaveGottoChange,chews and worries a rumbling drumbeat until the song opens into a full and ferocious horn section and a chanted chorus that sounds like the overdubbed voices of thousands: "Work all day/And don't get paid/Gimme my money!" That's an early peak for the album, but a great one, and "Money Blues" still sounds fresh and fierce. "Archie Shepp? That's just noise!" said the guys at the record store last time I asked. Well, sure, and isn't that still something?
SEE ALSO: The JazzActuelCD box set, culling avant jazz from Sunny Murray to Sonny Sharrock off releases by the Actuel label, with liner notes by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. Or the StereoUltraor EasyTempolibrary music series of compilations; start from number one and work up!