Thursday, September 3, 2015

King Crimson: Knife Play (2015)

This is an interesting one... In an effort to create the definitive post Power to Believe Crimson record encompassing what I call Crimson's signature "Blade music" - meaning Robert Fripp's tendency to play dark, modal music with his razor sharp tone, often improvising around a motif - I created what I deem the quintessential blade record: Knife Play. 

Knife Play is culled from two main sources, Robert Fripp and Theo Travis' Live at Coventry Cathedral, which I personally found more Crimson than the current lineup in many ways, along with ProjeKct 6 featuring Fripp with Adrian Belew on drums.  

The main point worth taking home is that this record is meant to be a musical statement in evoking a kind of sensual if almost erotic sense of mystery that I feel is what is lacking from the recent Live at the Orpheum record from the new lineup. Theo Travis' sax and flute against Fripp's dark, razor sharp guitar is something that can't be put in words. The tracks with Ade from ProjeKct 6 are the faster pieces meant to balance off the slow, moody tracks from Fripp and Travis.

I basically wanted to create the sexiest Crimson record ever, bringing the vibe closer to Swans territory with a hypnotic, emotion driven sound that one would associate with post-rock or goth music.  My only dream is that Crimson reforms in a year or two with Michael Gira as the singer and primary songwriter. Just imagining the magic combination of Fripp and Gira gives me chills. They could hire Theo Travis and Swans' bassist (forgot his name) to really give them that edge.  That would be a dream come true.

The art I chose is meant to evoke that kind of mystical decadence that I feel permeates the choice of tracks.


Track list:

1. The Apparent Chaos Of Stone
2. Persian Blade
3. Duet For The End Of Time
4. Threshold
5. Mission Possible
6. The Silence Beneath
7. The Offering
8. Time Groove
9. Angels In The Roof
10. Queer Jazz
11. End Time

King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black (Revised Edition) (1974)

So I've been on a Crimson binge lately since the new lineup is currently touring. 

This is an alternate version of the 1974 album Starless and Bible Black with better improvs switched in for the originals. I've always felt that the improvs presented on the original record were some of the blandest improvs of the period. 

The improvs I've chosen I believe show Crimson at their most daring and dangerous: wildly experimental and chaotic - a kind of paranoid, dark, gothic expansion of psychedelia. In many ways I think that through these recordings, Crimson has more in common with bands like Swans, Tool, or the Birthday Party than their progressive contemporaries like Yes and Genesis. For one, there is nothing baroque about Crimson in the slightest as Yes, Jethro Tull, or Genesis were. Crimson is much looser when it comes to composition, often letting raw ambience and emotion come through via noise and chilling tension build-up, something that I feel is more common with 80s goth bands.  

Its no suprise that this lineup went on to influence the likes of Nick Cave, Swans, Black Flag, and later Tool. In some sense, the 1974 lineup Crimson could be seen as the genesis of grunge since the album Red went on to influence Black Flag's My War which in turn provided the musical genesis of both the Melvins and Nirvana. Melvins and Nirvana have also cited Swans as an early influence which in turn were influenced by this very Crimson lineup.

As Bill bruford once said, if you want to know what music will sound like in 20 years, just put on a Crimson record.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Nirvana - I Hate Myself And Want To Die (1993)

Woohoo!  Another Nirvana release in one week!  This is my version of the original idea behind the album that became In Utero.  Kurt had intended the album to be titled I Hate Myself And Want To Die and be a sarcastic, bitter critique of the grunge movement which they had helped spawn with the success of their previous record Nevermind.

In creating the record, Nirvana opted for a rough, confidently cool, smoky and abrasively caustic sound.  In doing so they employed Steve Albini of Big Black fame to record and craft the loud explosive dynamics of the band in sharp contrast to Butch Vig's polished Nevermind.

In Utero was a great success!  Rather than a relatively "perfect" sound that emcompassed Nevermind, In Utero is alive with character, warts and all.  Adding to this Kurt's bitter and sardonic lyrics with the overall minor-key compositions, the album comes off as strongly cool and cocky.  The kind of thing you'd imagine playing in an arts cafe at midnight around a group of pretentious (and attractive) college artists lounging around.

The two missing tracks of I Hate Myself And I Want To Die and Moist Vagina have been added to the track list to complement the flow.

Track list:

1. Serve The Servants
2. Scentless Apprentice
3. Heart Shaped Box
4. Rape Me
5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
6. I Hate Myself And Want To Die
7. Dumb
8. Very Ape
9. Milk It
10. Pennyroyal Tea
11. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
12. Tourettes
13. Moist Vagina
14. All Appologies
15. Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip
mp3 320 kbps

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Horrors: Hidden Away (2013)

I got into The Horrors after a big breakup back in 2013.  I discovered them through a mention in an interview with Savages after they had just risen to fame with the release of Silence Yourself.  Needing more goth music I quickly devoured their discography and spent much of 2013 indulging in their musical essence.

The Horrors are one of the top bands of the 2010s in both musical quality and conceptual consistency.  What started as a horrrrific teenage mod garage group with a stunningly raucous debut reminiscent of The Birthday Party and New York Dolls soon transformed into a gothy progressive/art rock collective of epic proportions.  Their second album Primary Colours, while going in many different directions, is musically flawless.  They really are just that good.  

Around this point I thought it would be great to create a b-sides and rarities compilation album much like Nirvana's Incesticide.  This proved relatively effortless as there is a literal ton of recordings of serious musical quality available on singles and EPs that were released intermittently between their first three albums.  Their last album Luminous was released this past spring, and boy is it good.  

The great thing about the Horrors is that they are also serious music fans, so it is no surprise that their range of songwriting is rather wide while still remaining relatively accessible.  To add to this, the Horrors are probably the most EMOTIONAL band I can think of.  Unlike their emo adversaries who release overproduced plastic music whose only emotional element is that of a whiny 13 year old going through puberty, the Horrors write and arrange music that makes you seriously FEEL things. 

Where a band like Pink Floyd or King Crimson make music that transports you places which in many ways you enables you to SEE things, the Horrors' music is less visual but entirely sentimental.  They are the perfect band to listen to after a bad breakup or alternately while fornicating.  Their songwriting abilities on a communicative and emotional level are close to Beatles or Nirvana in appealing to the sentiment of young people who feel too many things.  This might explain their large female and queer fanbase rather than the dude-brahs who are more commonly fans of more seriously minded music (think progressive rock or metal).  While the Horrors are very musically progressive in their compositions and arrangements, this sure ain't your daddy's prog rock. They are, if anything, the definition of prog-pop.  

Culled from numerous releases are the following songs which I arranged to best create a smooth flow.  The material ranges from their early garage rock songs to the beautiful synth/guitar art rock balladry of their more recent material.  The album closes off with a 12 minute radio version of Moving Further Away, the standout track on their third album Skying.  

Track list:

1. Best Thing I Never Had
2. Suffragette City
3. You Could Never Tell
4. You Said (Alternative)
5. Crawdaddy Simone
6. You Think I'm Lonely
7. No Love Lost (Live)
8. A Knife In Their Eye
9. Whole New Way
10. The Witch
11. Hysteria
12. Horror's Theme
13. Kicking Kay
14. Moving Further Away

Saturday, April 4, 2015

King Crimson: Islands - Ultimate Edition (1971)

King Crimson are a favorite of mine, being a band that has gone through many phases and dabbled in or started many genres of rock music, notably progressive rock, jazz rock, art rock, math rock, grunge, new wave, alternative rock, psychedelic/industrial/jazz improvised music and finally alternative metal.

Islands, the fourth studio LP holds an odd position in the Crimson catalog.  Released after the critically loved In The Court Of The Crimson King and before the underground and highly influential Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Islands was an album for a short lived iteration of Crimson.  This 1971 band were the first to tour since 1969 after the dissolution of the original lineup.

Replacing grand symphonic dirges with free jazz rockers and moody chamber ballads, Islands is probably the most schizophrenic record in the Crimson catalog.  The original record began with Formentera Lady, a moody free jazz ballad/jam that set the mystical and loose tone for the record before blasting into the prog/fusion epic rocker The Sailor's Tale, a notable Crimson Classic.

Following this was the anxious death ballad The Letters which was largely inspired by a 1969 unreleased Crimson song called Drop In, which itself was an anthemic, anti-drug rocker. Rather than follow the latter's tone and theme, The Letters takes the basic musical elements of Drop In and transforms the song into a morose and haunting jazz-rock suicide ballad with lyrics penned by Peter Sinfiel surrounding the angst of a jilted lover.

Side two finds Crimson doing an ironic Beatles-esque blues number dedicated to the band's groupies. This is one of the more less-liked Crimson songs by fans as it has been dubbed as sexist.  However I see the hidden irony here and I do appreciate the composition of the piece.  The last two tracks are quiet ballads, one a classical instrumental called Prelude: Song Of The Gulls and the title track which is a soft and pensive end to the album.

Islands is definitely a more introspective record than the jazz/noise explosion of Lizard or the jarring and angular "psychedelic punk" of Lark's Tongues In Aspic.  Here we see Crimson revelling in texture and ambience to more or less good effect.

The problem with the record and why I decided to tackle it for a revisit lies in its length.  As a rather jammy jazz/ballad record, the 40 minute running length does not adequately convey the grand tone the Crimson purports to display.  The tracks being avant-garde are rather lengthy, and so just when you start to get the feel of where the record is going, the tracks switch to a different tone and upset the flow.  Side 2 only has one solid rocker on it while its tail end is made up of lengthy ballads. Because of this, the record feels like it is over too soon.

So in looking at Islands, I knew that I wanted to turn the record into the great free-jazz/art-rock record it was intended to be.  My inspirations for this were albums like Bitches Brew by Miles Davis or Giant Steps by John Coltrane.  If Crimson were intending to make a chilled out, slightly stoned art rock record from the bare bones of what was the initial LP, then I knew I needed to truly fill the album out and extend the jams to properly convey the kind of mystical journey that the concept suggests.

Luckily there is a wealth of material from the 1971 tours that show the band in a much more unhinged and explosive state than on the studio recordings. Fripp has been oft quoted as saying "Studio albums are a love letter.  Live recordings are a hot date."  This is entirely true with the Islands era, and thus there was no difficulty in finding appropriate material of good sound quality to really flesh the album out as a whole.

The first LP contains the original tracks of Formentera Lady, The Sailor's Tale, and The Letters, however I've added in live sections of Formentera Lady that really showcases Mel Collins' incredible sax playing as well as more quality licks from Fripp before segueing into the studio section of Sailor's Tale.  The Letters comes in third as I felt the transition of mood between Sailor's Tale and The Letters is perfect after the end of the sonic assault.

Following The Letters is a studio track performed by the 1969 band called Groon (renamed Groon: Phaze I) which was released as a single after In The Court was released.  The first LP closes off with a great live free jazz jam of the song Get Thy Bearings by Donovan.  This segues into Summit Going On, an improv, before the lengthy calm ballad of Pharaoh Sanders The Creator Has A Master Plan. I felt the middle of the album's experience should be the most relaxing, like a calm journey at sea or a lucid dream through the cosmos as the artwork suggests.

The second LP starts with Ladies Of The Road beginning the disk with a bang and waking our senses after the soothing Creator Has A Master Plan.  This is followed by A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls, an unreleased studio jam left off the album that served as the basis for Lark's Tongues In Aspic.  As my version of Islands is a double album, there is space to put it back. This transitions abruptly into Groon Phaze II, the extended improvised version of the original studio jam with amazing sax playing by Mel Collins and a drum solo by Ian Wallace.

After all this tumult comes the transitional track Prelude: Song Of The Gulls which transports the listener to the warm beaches of Islands, the calm end of a lenghthy cosmic journey.

Track list:


1. Formentera Lady
2. The Sailor's Tale
3. The Letters
4. Groon (Phaze I)
5. Get Thy Bearings
6. Summit Going On
7. The Creator Has A Master Plan


1. Ladies Of The Road
2. A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls
3. Groon (Phaze II)
4. Prelude: Song Of The Gulls
5. Islands

mp3 320 kbps part 1, part 2

Friday, April 3, 2015

Nirvana: Bliss (1988)

In one of the many YouTube interviews with Kurt Cobain from the early 90s, he mentioned quite notably that there should have been an album before Bleach.  This is an interesting opinion as there is a literal slew of unreleased Nirvana songs that were never properly given release on a full LP. This is now going to change.

Between 1987 and 1988 Nirvana was trying out various drummers before landing on Chad Channing in 1989 prior to recording Bleach.  An early session had been done somewhere mid 1987 with Jack Endino at SubPop Records with Dale Crover from the Melvins filling in on drums.  These sessions were never revisited as the material used on Bleach was entirely new and more streamlined at the request of their producer.

The material recorded between 1985 and 1987 shows a very different Nirvana, one much more in tune with its sister band The Melvins.  The tracks presented during these early sessions show a stronger sense of humour and experimentation in the band.   Much of this material was made available on the 2002 box set With The Lights Out however organized by date.

The mission of this release is to give Nirvana its true "first" album its due.  The first two tracks are from Kurt and Dale's Fecal Matter Days in 1985 when Kurt was still in high school.  These are some of the most humourous tracks he composed showing a similar sensibility to Frank Zappa in his lyrical portrayal of small town high school life.

The remainder of the record is taken from Jack Endino's early sessions.  The final track Spank Thru I am unsure of its recording origin.  Spank Thru was one of the first songs Kurt composed and was in fact the song that sold Krist Novoselic on joining Nirvana after he was introduced to Kurt through Dale Crover.

Strangely enough, there was a short period between 1985 and 1986 where the Melvins and early Nirvana (then Fecal Matter) were so intermingled between their members that it was highly possible that Kurt could have joined the Melvins and vice versa.  Had things worked out differently we might have seen a King Buzzo/Cobain Nirvana with Krist on bass and Dale on drums or a Kurt/Buzzo Melvins with Lori Black on bass and Dale on drums.  Having two highly talented songwriters in one band could have been the punk equivalent of the McCartney/Lennon duo 25 years prior.

Luckily for us, both bands eventually found their own separate ways and we got two highly influential bands to come out of the grunge movement.  I cherish my copies of Bullhead and Incesticide equally! :D

Track list:

1. Sound Of Dentage
2. Buffy's Pregnant
3. Don't Want It All
4. Clean Up Before She Comes
5. Anorexorcist
6. Raunchola including Moby Dick
7. Mrs. Butterworth
8. If You Must
9. Pen Cap Chew
10. Blandest
11. Token Eastern Song
12. Spank Thru

Edit: Use the back cover posted above.  The one in the zip folder is missing a track in the graphic.

mp3 320 kbs

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pink Floyd: Labyrinth (1969)

This is my first edition of Rock Reimagined.  This latest project was inspired by Albums That Never Were's Pink Floyd Massed Gadgets of Auximines available at

My goal for this album was to turn both the initial concept of Massed Gadgets as well as all the available material from Pink Floyd in 1969 into a cohesive whole.  The only way to properly do this was to create a triple album (!).

Pink Floyd in 1969 was experimenting with great effect after the loss of their band leader Syd Barrett who had provided much of the songwriting prior.  Entering the studio to record a concept album titled Massed Gadgets of Auximines, Pink Floyd had a vision to create a metaphysical journey showcasing the "Life of Man" and "The Journey".  As soniclovenoize explains on his blog, little is known about the concept as a whole besides the premise of the day in the life of man and the journey, whatever it may be..  This project ultimately was scrapped and the material from the period was repackaged into More and Ummagumma.

The band have described this period as painful, having not found their signature sound yet. However, I disagree with this assertion.  The material presented is daring and musically engaging, especially for experimental music which is a hard genre to tackle. I believe had the band stretched farther in developing a grander concept, this material would've shone much brighter. Instead we were left with a disjointed film soundtrack and a double album with one LP being live and the second a studio effort where the band separated the tracks by composer.

Thus, here I've come with a vision to redeem 1969 for the Floyd.  Taking inspiration from the main concept of Massed Gadgets, I've expanded the concept with inspiration from the track "Labyrinth of Auximines" and created an album simply titled Labyrinth.

Labyrinth is a triple album divided into three sections.  Most of the tracks have been renamed to fit the theme and tone of the record.  The first LP is titled "The Man" and is a meditative journey to the center of the nature of man.  Like the cover, this journey is labyrinthian in its trajectory beginning with the waking of man and following the course of his life through a day.

Much credit goes to soniclovenoize for the edits on the original jams by Pink Floyd into what he created as his version of Massed Gadgets.  I follow the relative structure of his album, except I've extended what was one side of a record to a whole LP dedicated to The Man.

The Second LP is titled "The Maze" and is the opposite of The Man.  Rather than a meditative journey, it is a journey fraught with confusion and challenge.  This is the metaphysical transition from a life in stasis to a life of action.  Journeying through The Maze is intended to be difficult and not without its rewards.  The tracks used in The Maze are culled from Ummagumma and More and arranged in a sequence to convey a chaotic and meandering journey.

The third LP is titled "The Journey" and is the final journey in the series.  Rather than an adventure through chaos, The Journey is the climactic travel through the actualization of the self.  From out of the depths of the maze, The Journey turns inward and upward towards to an unknown destination of a higher nature.  Tracks 1, 2 and 3 are taken from Zabriskie point while the rest are culled from soniclovenoize's Journey side of his Massed Gadgets of Auximines project.  The final track is taken from More and is meant to convey the potential start of another journey with sounds and melodies of a vagabond country.

I hope you enjoy listening to this record as much as I enjoyed making it!

Track List:

I: The Man

1. Let The Games Begin!
2. Awaken
3. Take Me Down
4. Daybreak
5. Work
6. Afternoon
7. Doing It
8. Evening
9. Midnight (When The City Calls)
10. Sleep
11. Nightmare (Cymbeline)
12. The Descent (Of Man)

II: The Maze

1. The Grand Party I: Enter The Grand Vizier
2. The Grand Party II: Dangerous Games
3. The Grand Party III: Exit Of The Damned
4. The Nile Song
5. Confusion
6. Eye Of The Maze
7. The Slaying Of Agamemnon
8. Plastic Meadows And Rubber Mountains
9. Dance Of The Minotaur
10. The Narrow Way

III: The Journey

1. Heart Beat, Pig Meat
2. Heart Of The Matrix
3. Death From Above
4. Dying Light
5. Enter The Eye
6. The Pink Jungle
7. The Labyrinth Of Auximines
8. Behold The Temple Of Light
9. The End Of The Beginning
10. Smoke And Mirrors

Covers and gatefold included.

Credits: soniclovenoise, rivendude and PF of course!

Artwork by Michael Palladino.

EDIT:  New gatefold version.  Disregard the old one contained in the files.


(edit: link fixed May 11th)
mp3 320 kbps: 1, 2