Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Music Library: Henry Kaiser, Henry Rollins, Henry Threadgill, Herbie Hancock, Herman's Hermits, High Llamas, High On Fire

Henry Kaiser - "Annihilation in Allah" and Yo Miles! (with Wadada Leo Smith, 1998).  The first is a collaboration with Richard Thompson on a traditional song from the Middle East.  The second is a collaboration with Wadada Leo Smith on several of Miles Davis's excellent funk/Stockhausen/krautrock/jazz compositions from the 70s.  Not as good as the originals, maybe, but still quite a bit of fun.  Other musicians on the album include Elliot Sharp and John Medeski.

Henry Rollins - "My War."  From Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs To Benefit The West Memphis Three.  'Tain't no Black Flag, but it's for a good cause.

Henry Threadgill - "In the Ring."  From Spirit of Nuff... Nuff.  Great noodly free jazz.

Herbie Hancock - "Bring Down The Bird" and Directions In Music: Celebrating Miles Davis and John Coltrane (with Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove, 2002).  The former is from the Blow Up soundtrack and provides the bassline that would later anchor Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart."  The latter is maybe a bit too reverent for my tastes. When Kaiser & Smith play Miles, they sound like they're breathing new life into the music.  That happens a bit here and there on this album, but mostly this comes across as a bit too stilted.

Herman's Hermits - "I'm Henry The VIII I Am." And they are.

The High Llamas - Cold And Bouncy (1998).  Aptly named!  Sean O'Hagan's post-Microdisney band plays music nakedly inspired by Brian Wilson with an electronica bent that seems one part tropicalia, one part Stereolab, and two parts Kraftwerk (which, I realize, isn't a huge stylistic leap from here to there, but there's different flavors about).  Anyway, this is a lovely album, but so derivative that I end up wanting to go listen to the influences more than the album itself.

High On Fire - Surrounded By Thieves (2002) and Blessed Black Wings (2005). Oh my, yes indeed.  HOF is fronted by Matt Pike, the former guitarist/singer for Sleep, which is among the greatest metal bands of all time. HOF is more upbeat than Sleep, but the sound is all seriously heavy stoner music, and the band combines breathtaking intensity with an amazing sense of song dynamics (plus some silly/creepy lyrics based on H.P. Lovecraft stories, which makes this uber-metal in many ways).  Highly recommended.


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