I threw this on last night as we sat down for dinner. Halfway through we kind of just gave up on eating and fell into a trance. Keith Jarrett’s solo piano concerts are some of the most remarkable feats of improvisation ever recorded. The Koln Concert from ’74 is his most famous, but La Scala, recorded 20 years later in an 18th century Italian opera house, might just be his masterpiece. The first track is a single 45 minute improvisation that weaves together the lyrical worlds of jazz and classical with dissonant, indian-sounding drones. This is a musician reaching for something far beyond music - a state of grace where the music plays the musician and the musician dissolves into the instrument. On my desert island list.
(La Scala on YouTube)
In the nineties, Moby released a punk rock album called Animal Rights. Snuck inside some copies was an extra disc of ambient music - a sonic soother to pacify the ravers who were traumatized by the sound of guitars. I tossed the punk record after one listen but have always held on to Little Idiot. A lot of ambient music relies on the space between sounds to create atmosphere. Moby went in the other direction, building a wall of sound. A timeless gem.
(Little Idiot on YouTube)
I had this on the speakers, left the house for a bit, and when I came back I thought there was a dog trapped in the furnace. But it was just Yoko screaming. Don’t let that discourage you. This is actually Yoko’s best album. A Fluxus freakout forty years ahead of its time. Stereolab lifted the 18 minute track, Mind Train, cleaned it up and turned it into Metronomic Underground on their album Emperor Tomato Ketchup. But there’s something in the original that can’t be synthesized in a lab. Worth a listen if dada daydreams are your thing.
(Mind Train on YouTube)