David Lange – Return of the Comet

David Lange is an independent film maker and space music/electro composer.  This album is one of Hearts of Space’s earliest releases (1985) and Mr. Lange performed the album live to digital tape in a San Francisco studio with a Yamaha DX7, a Korg Polysix and a borrowed E-mu Emulator.  Hearts of Space, for those that don’t know, is a syndicated radio show that has been championing ambient and new age music for decades, airing on public radio stations and XM satellite radio.  Anyhow, Lange also recorded the material for a second album Mars Rising during the same sessions but, due to the limitations of vinyl, could not unite the session’s output until several years later when Mars Rising was added to the CD reissue of Return of the Comet.

The music itself…well, it’s new age alright but on more of a space vibe.  Lots of ethereal pads, LFO’ed washes that spread out like shooting stars, etc.  It is definitely on more of an early Vangelis tip than on a Yanni sort of thing.  This is the sort of album one would find in a POP endcap in some incense and candles New Age tarot sort of shop.  While most of that shit is R. Carlos Nakai or such vaguely ethno-world hooey this album still has enough of that initial Berlin School/ambient space vibe to keep it from getting positively corny.  One thing is for certain.  The longer I collect these odd synthesizer records I have learned that there are definitely differences in new age.  Something I didn’t understand at 16 when an English teacher was foisting Ray Lynch on us to help us focus on creative writing.  All it aided me in doing was having an unfounded 15+ year hatred of new age!

Anyways…this one’s fairly common on cassette but the original vinyl fetches $100+.  Have a listen here before hefting the mighty coin.

SOURCE: The original 1985 Hearts of Space pressing of the album -> Sony PS-T22 turntable with the V series cartridge -> Technics SA-EX310 stereo receiver -> Lexicon Lambda USB i/o -> Adobe Audition.  No EQ, no cleaning up, no click removal, etc.

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A Flock of Seagulls Live 1982

A Flock of Seagulls are probably best known for their awesomely bad hair and awesomely bad VH1 comeback.  In 1982 though A Flock of Seagulls were no joke.  “I Ran” was a big hit for MTV and radio.  Great, a big hit.  What was awesome about it was that AFoS hit it big on the back of a concept album about modern alienation that sounds still fresh today.

I don’t understand why more post-punk/semi-goth peeps don’t dig on that early Flock of Seagulls sound.  It has all the ingredients.  Big pseudo-disco drums, upfront melodic bass, the super-chorusy chimey guitar thing, booming and brash vocals and a wash of synthesizer on top.  I definitely hear the influence of their contemporaries on A Flock of Seagulls’ sound, especially Killing Joke.  I don’t think the band had much in them past that initial debut album.  While the first album has that stridently doomy sound, their subsequent work was crafted to maintain a certain level of fame.  I have friends that will disagree with me about that, and will swear that the follow-up album Listen is just as essential, but I am not one of those.  It is all about the artificial claustrophobia of their debut that seals the deal for me.  A Flock of Seagulls’ debut self-titled album belongs on the shelf of every red-blooded gloom pop/post-punk fan.

At the time a lot of attention was paid to lead singer Mike Score’s one-finger synthesizing in the video for “I Ran”, and that somehow was the metaphor for their lack of musicianship.  Ya see, these synth pop bands got no talent!  Look!  That dude plays his instrument with one finger!  Yeah, ok.  But A Flock of Seagulls were actually a decent live band and were able to present the album live effectively.  Hear them live from that tour here on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, from the Metro in Boston, August 4th, 1982. Post-punk’s last hurrah as a commercial entity.

SOURCE: Hard to say.  The ultimate original source was an on-air broadcast of this professional recording.  It sounds like it was captured on cassette before it made its way to me via CD-R.  Ripped @ 192k with iTunes.

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Vangelis – Ignacio

Yeah, Vangelis.  I first became curious about his music 20 years ago when I went through my first wave of prog rock obsession.  When I would comb through used vinyl I would often run into copies of the Jon And Vangelis albums and, being a big Yes fan, thought I’d give one of them a try.  Yawn.  Big yawn.  Super disappointing.

Fast forward 15 years and at that point I had become an electronic musician.  I started to pay more attention to classic electronic music from sources that I had previously disdained.  Jarre and Vangelis in particular.  It took until a couple of years ago that i finally found the right Vangelis era, with a used vinyl copy of Heaven and Hell.  Then I began to find the right Vangelis.

I say that as though there’s something wrong with his music.  I think it’s more a matter of Vangelis being a somewhat singular musical talent.  He straddles the fence between groundbreaking New Age electronica, impressionistic orchestral tone poems and over-the-top Wagnerian bombast, sometimes really cool and sometimes really cheesy.  And that’s sometimes in just one side-length song!  The album I present today consists of Vangelis’s soundtracks to what I think are a couple of European films from the late ’70s.  The album compiles “Ignacio” on one side and “Entends-Tu Les Chiens Aboyer” on the other side.  The music is definitely in the film score vein, more mood than song.  Side one is much more 20th century, side two has more piano and a serious prog rock intro.  If you liked Heaven and Hell then I think you’ll dig this album too.  It looks like both the vinyl and the CD are long out-of-print and run for serious coin online so try ‘er out here before you buy.

SOURCE: The original 1977 EGG Records French pressing of the album -> Sony PS-T22 turntable with the V series cartridge -> Technics SA-EX310 stereo receiver -> Lexicon Lambda USB i/o -> Adobe Audition.  No EQ, no cleaning up, no click removal, etc.

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Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes

There is a debate amongst the fans of Ultravox.  There are some who say that Ultravox! died the day the exclamation mark was removed, as it signified the departure of original lead singer John Foxx.  Early on Ultravox! was a quirky punk rock band who at the end of the Foxx tenure began to add synthesizers.  It was later with the addition of Midge Ure to lead vocals and synthesizer duties that the band became the synthpop juggernaut most of the free world knows.  If all you know is “Vienna” then you will be in for a shock with much of their discography.  While that ballad is definitely beautiful and artful European electronic pop, the intensity of the rock on songs like “Rage In Eden” and “All Stood Still” is somewhat more exciting.

Later on Ultravox became really too smooth for me as the hand of Midge began to better shape the band’s focus.  Its last classic rocking synthpop single came with 1984’s “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes”, a nice upbeat way to dance through your nuclear fears.  Also check the impressionist downer of the b-side too, something a little more artsy and Japan for the true fans.  A fine double-sider of a 7″.

SOURCE: The original 1984 Chrysalis Records English pressing of the single -> Sony PS-T22 turntable with the V series cartridge -> Technics SA-EX310 stereo receiver -> Lexicon Lambda USB i/o -> Adobe Audition.  No EQ, no cleaning up, no click removal, etc.

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Michael Hoenig – Xcept One

Continuing along with Michael Hoenig, we fast-forward from 1978 to 1987 to his second solo album, Xcept One.  While that is quite a gap, it’s not like he wasn’t busy or anything.  He spent most of those years scoring films, doing the occasional one-off project with Manuel Gottsching of Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra fame and basically learning how to program the new digital synthesizers and computer-based sequencers.  Xcept One is the fruit of those labors.

If you are expecting more of that classic Berlin School sequencer-driven sound…well, it’s not here.  What you get is that very digital ’80s sort of sound.  That’s not necessarily bad.  “Spectral Gong,” a duet of sorts with minimalist musician and Brian Eno cohort Harold Budd  is worth the download alone, and while that sampled orchestral hit cliche is all over this record and the electronic drums make it feel like you’re listening to bad ’80s TV show soundtrack music, there are hints of Hoenig’s former greatness throughout this album.

This album is long out of print.  On vinyl it’s affordable used but the CD is damn ridiculous ($150+ usually) so sample it here before you commit to buying it.

SOURCE: The original 1987 Cinema Records pressing of the album -> Sony PS-T22 turntable with the V series cartridge -> Technics SA-EX310 stereo receiver -> Lexicon Lambda USB i/o -> Adobe Audition.  No EQ, no cleaning up, no click removal, etc.

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Michael Hoenig – Departure From the Northern Wasteland

For my first post I give back one that the MP3 blogs introduced to me.  Michael Hoenig has collaborated with many familiar names: Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel and so on.  He has two solo albums to date under his belt, this one and 1987’s XCEPT One (which I will probably post next week).

If you love that sequencer-driven mid ’70s Berlin school electronica sound then this album will tickle you pink.

SOURCE INFO: The original 1978 pressing of the album -> Sony PS-T22 turntable with the V series cartridge -> Technics SA-EX310 stereo receiver -> Lexicon Lambda USB i/o -> Adobe Audition.  No EQ, no cleaning up, no click removal, etc.

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Hello world!

Just the world needs, another blog.  Yeah, but I don’t intend on using this platform as a place to inundate you with my uninformed political rhetoric, pictures of my lovely family, trite aphorisms, instructions on how to replace an oil pressure sensor on a Jeep Cherokee or anything remotely useful in such a fashion.  Nope. 

What Redchapterjubilee will do is to give back to the community that has turned me on to vibrant and extremely rare music.  Once a week I will hit you off like the A/V department of the public library would do back in the day, preserving awesome musical culture that otherwise might’ve slipped into ephemera of our throwaway culture.

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