Friday, August 20, 2010

Late Summer Sonic Harvest

Music cleaning out my ears, satisfying my soul and putting a shake in my hips this year.

Nuggets of the Golden Age of Gospel, a 4-CD set of rare gospel covering the years 1945 through 1958. I keep reaching for this one like a cool glass of water. Or, as in my own case, a nicely chilled Diet Coke. Sometimes 4 a day. That's 48 ounces too many. In any case the songs on this compilation have been our Sunday morning sermons for the better part of this past summer. Here's what I love: Hammond organs, gritty reverb washing over chugging guitars, swinging snares, pre doo-wop harmony beds and most of all, one soulful, sanctified lead vocal after another reaching up for glory hallelujah.

-Another favorite from this year is Pastor T.L. Barrott and the Youth For Christ Choir SINGS! and their awesome self-released 1971 gospel-soul album, Like A Ship...(Without A Sail). The great Chicago based reissue label, Numero Group put the title song from this album on their stellar '09 compilation Good God! Born Again Funk, and it just about knocked my socks off. Holy smokes! It's got, without a doubt, one of the most exalted choirs you'll ever hear. The whole album was just recently re-released by another reissue label, Light In The Attic, and the whole thing has been easing our souls of late.

The most welcome return of the year has been The Books new album, The Way Out. Along with Matthew Herbert, nobody else has done more for advancing the art of sampling.

But I'm equally smitten by the videos Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong of the Books have made to accompany their live performances. Flea market video finds, old super-8 home movies, oddball news footage and edited to perfectly syncopate with their music. The films and the songs follow the same groove. There's a lovely lo-fi aesthetic to it all while its carefully executed edits and syncopation owe more than a little to Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi and the flood of hyper-edit remixing folks have been posting to YouTube over the last few years.

On the video below for their song, Take Time, the editing is breathtaking in its execution. If anything, for the patience and time it must have taken to edit it all, an inspired collection of found-videos micro-looped to ride the songs rhythm. It's odd but equally rousing, slapstick silly at times watching the jerky movements of people repeated in rapid-fire little stutters, though surprisingly sweet. And ambiguous enough to allow the viewer to make their own story. When I saw The Books in concert a few years back at the Old Town they performed their whole show with video accompaniment and, not surprisingly, I loved the whole thing.

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