The Sentinel

micro-blog from music lovers sharing their passion

Category Archives: Avant-Garde

George Crumb – Night of the Electric Insects

Dunno if you were planning on sleeping tonight, but here’s a section of Crumb’s 1971 work “Black Angels”, executed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted by Leonard Slatkin. This is the version that made it onto the Exorcist soundtrack.

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Renaldo & the Loaf – Absence

Strangely beautiful oddball music from Portsmouth’s finest. This is from their debut album (or debut 0.1 seeing as this was from the vinyl Ralph release that differed from their self-released cassette) that was a stunning piece of work with incredible tape loops and use of the home studio (which was a far more impressive feat in the late 70’s compared to these days). This track has eerie sax and clanking percussion bolstering a song about business trips and caraway cake.

Freshly Wrapped Candies – Think

A playful track from the US bands 1989 album ‘I Like You’. This was released on Ralph Records and you can hear an influence of The Residents here for sure. Also, rumour has it that Jay Clem was involved with this band so……

Biota – Tinct [full album]

Biota’s 1988 album ‘Tinct’ is, like the vast majority of their work, a winder to behold. The music defies categorisation and, seemingly, the natural laws of physics. This is music that constantly shifts in and out of focus, disintegrating and re-forming before one’s very own ears. Hints of warped Folk, Jazz, and Rock (?) move in and out of one’s field of hearing, all knotted together with noise (albeit very quiet and subtle “noise” at times); rendering the listener queasy and unsure of their footing. Oddball stuff, and certainly the “real deal”. All of their albums are incredible, and this is a perfect one to start with, though this music is certainly not for avant-beginners.

Renaldo & the Loaf – Cast Iron Smile

Rare R&tL track that appeared on a 1984 compilation titled ‘The History of Jazz’. The compilation was released just after  the ‘Arabic Yodelling’ album, although the style of this track is far wilder than that album, and brings to mind their earlier work.

The Body Lovers – Track 9

A track that sits on the fence between creepy and melancholic, switching to one or the other at various points. This was Michael Gira’s side project from Swans, and possibly grew out of the aforementioned bands ‘Soundtracks For The Blind’ sessions. The Body Lovers produced a single album, which was 1998’s ‘Number One Of Three’.

Negativland – Yellow Black and Rectangular

The insanity of repetition used perfectly from the US outfit on their classic 1987 album ‘Escape From Noise’.

L.Voag – The Way Out

Boogie on down to the mutated Doo Wop grooves of L.Voag from his 1979 album of the same name.

Biota – Tumble (Full Album)

Now, we’re not usually one’s for the full album experience on The Sentinel, but there are sometimes extraneous circumstances that propel us to post them. Biota are a vastly, and criminally underrated band from the US, who have dragged Folk, Jazz, Rock, and Noise elements into their constantly morphing, avant-garde improv. This album, from 1989, is one of their easiest going albums, in that there are musical forms that are recognisable, even though the sands shift from time to time (on some other albums the bands sound morphs constantly; rendering the listener almost dizzy). There’s also a real Americana feel to this; something that features in the bands music in general, but really comes to the fore on this. Imagine John Fahey drunkenly jamming with AMM with a wild and experimental Lee Perry on the mixing desk, and you may start to imagine what this sounds like. Better yet, give it a listen.

Nurse With Wound – Elderly Man River/Dance of Fools

Mind-boggling head-fuckery from the mighty Nurse With Wound, with 2 tracks from 1985 (the first of which also appears on their classic album ‘Sylvie & Babs; also released in 1985). ‘Elderly Man River’ sounds like Faust on Benzodiazepine’s, whilst ‘Dance With Fools’ is oozing with moronic evil.

“Never eat anything bigger than your head”.

Laurence Johns

Curator of Counter-Culture, Personal Development Consultant & Writer

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