Do you want to hear one of the greatest piano solos in the history of rock music, what Tropicália sounds like, and a kick-ass blend of Arabic and disco? Read on.
Recommended setting: when planning your next backpacking trip, studying the map and getting excited about the journey ahead.
The mastermind behind the remarkable 1988 Talk Talk album Spirit of Eden (one of my favorite albums ever) was in a league of his own. Defying the conventional trajectory of successful musicians who usually start from a raw place before bending to the forces of the music industry to create radio-ingratiating records, Hollis went the other way around. The more his career advanced, the more weird and adventurous his sounds became. In 1998, he recorded his only solo album, a self-titled project that is sparse, minimal, and contemplative.
Previously performing under Smog, Bill Callahan started releasing work under his name in 2007. The lo-fi pioneer recorded Dream River in 2012 with the idea of creating an album to listen to at night. With each song forming so deliberately, the result is warm, balanced, and serene. 'Ride My Arrow' is a soft ballad morphing slowly and worth taking the time to absorb patiently.
The Beach Boys were Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson. The troubled middle brother and only true surfer of the three is best remembered as the band's drummer, but in 1977, a couple of years before dying and while struggling with substance abuse and depression, he recorded Pacific Ocean Blue, a bluesy hit of ocean-worshipping psychedelia. Widely regarded as a cult masterpiece, the dark album is a stark confession of primal emotion and deep pain. With deeply soulful vocals, a groovy bass harmonica, and hailing horns, 'Dreamer' deals with the promises/lies of stardom.
Antonio Morales Barretto was a Filipino singer and actor based in Spain. He began his artistic career in 1958 by joining Jump, a group that stood out for introducing the electric guitar to a Spanish scene that was primarily acoustic-focused. I spent a few days in Madrid this month and landed on this feel-good song while searching for forgotten Spanish treasures from the 70s.
Inspired by nostalgia for New York, guitarist Dave Harrington (best known for his collaboration with Nicolas Jaar in the duo DARKSIDE) joins forces with saxophonist Ilhan Esahin and percussionist Kelly Wollesen. The three are rooted in jazz and although they have been regularly jamming together, Invite Your Eyes is their first official release. With a luxurious atmosphere drawing from funk, krautrock, spacey stoner jazz, and noirish electronica, this is an album that deserves a full listen.
Soul Mining, the debut album of this British post-punk synth-pop band, dropped out of sight after its release in 1983 but was eventually acclaimed as a masterpiece. On 'Uncertain Smile', a love song in the obsessive vein of the word, Jools Holland delivers one of the greatest piano solos in the history of rock music. I still shake my head in disbelief at the genius of it.
With a career spanning over six decades, composer and political activist Gilberto Gil was one of the first musicians to mix native Brazilian rhythms like samba and bossa nova with British and American rock and folk. Alongside Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé, he led Brazil's Tropicalia movement. Listen to his distinct eloquence and fresh compositions on his 1979 album Nightingale. Cooking with tropicalismo heat, 'Maracatu Atômico' is utterly happy, carefree, and effortless.
Head to the Jan 2022 mixtape for a little introduction on Ziad Rahbani. In 1978, the Lebanese musician recorded a 13-min disco gem, the only disco single to be found in his repertoire. Legend has it that the album was only pressed at 500 units. To the delight of Arab Funk collectors though, the highly sought-after rarity got a reissue a couple of years ago.
'Krautrock' came to define the music of a handful of German bands pursuing a mix of rock, jazz, experimental and electronic influences back in the late 60s. With their psychedelic, ambient and spatial music, the Cologne-based four-piece act C.A.R. draws inspiration from bands like Kraftwerk, CAN, and Neu! to provide their own take on this genre.
With the just-released Everything Is Beautiful, J Spaceman and company return with familiar sounds to deliver an ethereal space rock album. The English psychedelic rockers behind the classic 1997 Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space blend gospel, blues, and pop to create sounds layered upon rich vocals and dreamy instrumentals.
Following up on their critically-acclaimed 1971 Tago Mago, CAN released Ege Bamyasi in 1972, another treasured and timeless krautrock album. The icon German group was the most talented and consistent experimental rock band in Europe at the time. With infectious grooves, industrial-psyche beats, and confrontational compositions, they delivered omnipotent sounds of the highest caliber and influenced various artists who came after them.
Taken from their upcoming album A Murmur, Boundless To The East, this polymorphic post-rocking single from Montreal-based experimental trio Yoo Doo Right (April 2021 mixtape) is a clear reminder of the band's dynamics and depth. Sweeping in its cinematic nature, the track curves, bends, and meanders at its own pace, drawing us into a psychedelic soundscape filled with atmospheric synths, thunderous drum machines, and gritty guitar textures.