Great piece about William Pester - The Hermit of Palm Springs who was born near Leipzig and left Germany in 1906 to avoid the military and ended up on the West Coast.
“In Germany, it seems, where around the turn-of-the-last-century, the "Naturmenschen” arose – “men who rejected industrialization and the unnatural trends of urbanization and who adopted a ‘back to nature’ creed.” Various communes soon appeared, the members embracing then-shocking pagan concepts such as pacifism, vegetarianism, homeopathy, eco consciousness, and of course, optional clothing.
At first (and superficial) glance, one could easily view these men (and women) as the first “hippies.” As it turns out, “Children of the Sun” author Gordon Kennedy has indeed shown a link from Germany to southern California to the ‘60s hippie culture (and thus to many of us ex-long-haired rock and rollers who emulated the “peace-love-dope” mantra of our musical heroes, albeit from the comfort of our parents’ suburban basements and garages).“
Haunting field recording of Kenyan folk music from 1950, inspired by country singer Jimmy Rodgers (Chemirocha)
There’s a song drifting around the backwaters of the internet called “Chemirocha.”
It’s a scratchy field recording made in Kenya, in 1950, of a little village girl singing with her friends. Someone in the background strums a sort of makeshift lyre called a chepkong. The entire recording is only 90 seconds long, but it has an arresting, unearthly beauty. It’s the sort of thing that once lived only on freeform radio stations at the left of the dial, or on worn-out mix tapes passed between obsessive collectors. Now it’s on YouTube and Soundcloud.
Anyone can hear the song’s appeal. But there’s something that turns simple fans of chemirocha into fanatics—enthusiasts and evangelists who bring up the song at dinner parties or cocktail hours; who use it to enliven a weary work happy hour or impress a date with their acumen. And that is its backstory.
1978 was a good year. I was born in East Germany. After the break of Berlin wall and the whole shit I was able to explore punk rock. I dig into DIY scene, fanzines, obscure tape and 7" releases, mostly early (East) German Punkrock from the eighties.
I never felt connected to the alcoholic losers with colored hair who called them self punks. Maybe I was a part time punk, but I don’t think so…
Late in 1998 or early in ’99—during the winter that straddled the two—I spent a night on and off the telephone with a person named John Fahey. I was a junior editor at the Oxford American magazine, which at that time had its offices in Oxford, Mississippi; Fahey, then almost sixty and living in Room 5 of a welfare motel outside Portland, Oregon, was himself, whatever that was: a channeler of some kind, certainly; a “pioneer” (as he once described his great hero, Charley Patton) “in the externalization through music of strange, weird, even ghastly emotional states.” He composed instrumental guitar collages from snatches of other, older songs. At their finest they could become harmonic chambers in which different dead styles spoke to one another. My father had told me stories of seeing him in Memphis in ’69. Fahey trotted out his “Blind Joe Death” routine at the fabled blues festival that summer, appearing to inhabit, as he approached the stage in dark glasses, the form of an aged sharecropper, hobbling and being led by the arm. He meant it as a postmodern prank at the expense of the all-white, authenticity-obsessed, country-blues cognoscenti, and was at the time uniquely qualified to pull it. Five years earlier he’d helped lead one of the little bands of enthusiasts, a special-ops branch of the folk revival, that staged barnstorming road trips through the South in search of surviving notables from the prewar country-blues or “folk blues” recording period (roughly 1925–1939).
Nick Drake - Cello Song
Edited and Produced by Eel Pie’s Nick Kennerley for broadcast on Vintage TV.
It’s one of those songs that evokes great memories. Nick Drake was at Cambridge University when he wrote Five Leaves Left, the album from which “Cello Song” comes. He had lost his schoolboy interest in sport (he had been an accomplished sprinter) and preferred to stay in his college room smoking marijuana, and listening to and playing music - hence the footage of Cambridge in the late 60s. The rest of the footage reflects what was happening around the same time including the legalise pot demos and the 1969 Isle Of Wight pop festival that could so easily have been a showcase for Nick’s talents, had he been less reluctant to perform live.
Sadly after only three albums, at the tender age of 26, Nick died from an overdose of antidepressants. His melancholic style has grown in popularity hugely in recent years, and now he is a much bigger star than he ever was in his lifetime.
So what makes an improvisation a free one? Does a truly free improvisation require that one create new combinations of notes every time? New timbres? New instruments? What is the improvisation free from? Composition? What is composition? Are Fluxus pieces “compositions”? Does realization of these “compositions” require improvisation? If you’re improvising within the context of a composition, are you really improvising? Are you really free?
Stunningly beautiful harmonium improvisations recorded in 1949 by spiritualist G.I GURDJIEFF. Many who heard these performances live, found themselves crying uncontrollably. After this cathartic listening experience they reached a place where they felt happy & whole. We hope this record can bring a similar experience to the modern day listener. It doesn’t get much more pure than this. Cover is silkscreened with gold ink. A co-release with Psychic Sounds Research.