Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Experimental

Even for Tom Waits, The Black Rider is eccentric if not downright weird. He was already making odd records, but at least Bone Machine or Swordfishtrombones have identifiable rhythmic structures and some coherent melodies. Here, you’ve got intentionally grating train whistles and William S. Burroughs guiding you through what sounds like an early 20th century rendering of hell. More than any other Waits album, The Black Rider must be heard as a full record to even make sense; otherwise, it sounds like some raving lunatic is about to attack you.

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André 3000, one of the greatest rappers of all time, picks up the flute and makes his first solo effort in 17 years with an intriguing triple album of rap-free, mostly improvised ambient music.

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genre Experimental Ambient format Vinyl

There is a moment in the 1950 French film of the Orpheus legend by legendary poet and director Jean Cocteau when the hero enters the shadow world to find his dead wife by passing through a mirror. He stands before the mirror - tentative - and then as he reaches out his hands to begin his journey, they appear to pass through the mirror’s surface.It’s an indelible image that remains iconic to this day, achieved through simple analogue means, that still brings gasps to... Read More

genre Experimental Ambient format Vinyl

Louis Hardin, who renamed himself Moondog, was one of the most unusual composers of the 20th century. Tall, bearded, and blind from a childhood accident involving fireworks, he spent much of the 1960s living on the streets of New York City, often standing ramrod straight at the corner of West 54th Street and 6th Avenue, dressed in square-patch clothing of his own making, his head cased in a Norse helmet (some dubbed him “the Viking of 6th Avenue”), playing his music,... Read More

genre Experimental format Vinyl

Following a decade's worth of Asylum albums almost all of which were produced and engineered by the great Bones Howe, and none of which were originally commercially successful but they sure did sound good, and over time the audiences caught up with what he was doing, Tom Waits self-produced his Island debut Swordfishtrombones. Waits traded in his bar fly hipster small jazz combo recorded live in the studio thing for a far more experimental, heavily produced and... Read More

The late British jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill famously referred to this record as "Tubercular Balls"—and that's before he knew that his first name was short for "laughing out loud". For many reasons this album was and remains a phenomenon. Nineteen year old Mike Oldfield had already been in and out of many bands. He'd been a folkie with his sister Sally in a group called Sallyangie, the 'angie' part taken from the Bert Jansch... Read More

Subtlety is a delicate art form. Too little, and one runs the risk of being too obvious, clunky, or blatant. Too much, and no one gets the joke, takes the hint, or catches the drift. Finding the right amount of subtlety makes comedy funnier and mysteries more intriguing; it can also lead to music that is full of the magic that leaves the listener wanting to hear more. Performing and recording together since 2007, Balmorhea has often explored the auditory world of... Read More

(This review, written by Glenn Hammett, originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)Remember the supergroups? Sure you do! In the late 60s, if a musician had a successful backlog of material, or simply looked the part, he could combine his talent with others of similar rock-royalty status. After months of grooming and preparation, they would announce themselves to the world as the next best thing. Shortly thereafter, egos would flare and they’d break up (usually to... Read More

genre Experimental format CD