Tag Archives: classic album

Elephant Micah Plays…KLF

ElephantMicah1High

Elephant Micah aka Joe O’Connell is an artist I was hugely excited to discover.  The multi-instrumentalist from Indiana writes and sings proper songs, the type that make you catch your breath, cry or smile wryly to yourself. Considerately and poetically penned and – although experimental in parts – they possess an old fashioned gravity.

As a musical entity Elephant Micah spans over a decade, from the debut LP Low Energy Dance Music in 2002 to the latest endeavour Globe Rush Progressions. Here Joe talks about an intriguing influence, notorious acid house pioneers The KLF and their classic album Chill Out, recorded live in 1989.

Elephant Micah

Elephant Micah Plays…KLF ‘Chill Out’

I was doing some free-form internet searching on “ambient music.”  I wanted to know what albums people consider to be part of the “ambient” canon.  A citation of the KLF caught my attention.  Is this the same 1990s pop group that set fire to a million pounds sterling?  My focus shifted entirely to the KLF—their ideas, their antics, and their music.  The group’s story continues to hold my attention.

Chill Out belongs to a tradition of club music for relaxation and repose, styled in contrast with dance music itself.  The KLF designates the sheep as Chill Out totem animal.  Sheep occupy the album cover, resting at pasture, and the early moments of the album audio, bleating in a call-and-response with their human shepherd.  In addition to appreciating this album as a work of sound collage (mixed live from mostly pre-recorded sources), I take interest in it as a kind of “techno pastoral”—an idealization of the countryside by electronic musicians.

Check it out the album here:

You can listen to Joe’s most recent Elephant Micah release ‘Globe Rush Progressions’ below, ‘Marie’s Hair’, ‘Ever Greener’ and the jingle bell tinkling ‘Jesus Christ’ are my personal highlights.

I’m also a huge fan of this collaboration with Hiss Golden Messenger

…and this track from 2012 release Louder Than Thou. If that’s not enough to make you buy the entire backcatalogue more fool you.

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Eugene Twist Plays…Mose Allison

A tragedy befell me last week. I woke up, got up and my laptop would not turn on. If you’ve ever been there you might follow my exact train of thought: that is EVERYTHING I own!! And no I don’t have it backed up, idiotic as that might be. So while I have been dreaming of finally buying a Macbook and trying to retrieve all my data it’s been a bit hard to post this up – a sublime discovery from Glasgow solo talent Eugene Twist.

With his stunning eight track album The Boy Who Had Everything notching up a fair amount of acclaim Mr Twist is an artist I was excited to feature, here’s his eloquent take on a little listened to Mose Allison track, minimalist, carefully crafted jazz…

EUGENE TWIST PLAYS…MOSE ALLISON

Thumbs up for Mose pals

Someone once said Mose Allison was cool before Dylan was cool. I first heard him on the documentary ‘Ever Since I Stole The Blues’, which features everyone from Frank Black of the Pixies to Van Morrison confirming his significant and varied influence. He is revered in certain circles, yet it amazes me how many musicians and musos I speak to haven’t heard of him. He’s always operated within jazz and blues – I’m no aficionado but to my ear he’s one of the greatest pianists to straddle these idioms in terms of ideas and technicality. However, this is just a platform for what comes next: a voice, narrative and songwriting approach that feel exclusively his own…

 
The Style: A lazy, prolonged, Mississippi drawl, steeped in the kind of profound blues that makes you want to kick a tin can around a deserted street with your hands in your pockets, somehow feeling OK about the weight of the world being on your shoulders.
 
The Attitude: Mose is very much an existentialist who brings a deadpan (almost Scottish) sense of humour to mortality, poverty and loneliness. His lyrics more than anything take the sentiment of the blues to another level, where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Song titles such as ‘What Do You Do After You Ruin Your Life’ – a case in point.
 

The Legacy: Mose’s journey bridges legendary and cult figure. He’s an extremely humble dude. I saw him play the Fruitmarket in Glasgow a while ago, he came on in jeans and bright white trainers, sat his fleece on top of the piano lid and started playing. I wasn’t surprised to hear that a friend saw him play in Pizza Express a few years ago and there’s videos on youtube of him playing to just a handful of people, amazing considering his influence on everyone from Jools Holland to Bono. Someone’s uploaded to youtube the song of his I’d like to share – it’s had less plays than my own youtube tracks…

 

So I’d like to share ‘Hello There Universe’. Like all great music in its intangible power, this puts me in a place transcendent of time and lets me float through the cosmos whenever I hear it. Without appearing retroist, something about the vocal and delivery still feels aesthetically fresh too. Enjoy.

I did a little rooting around myself and discovered that Mose Allison wrote loads of material which has been covered by other bands, just one being The Clash who featured this jazz led track – Look Here – on their album Sandinista!

Once you are done going through Mose Allison’s back catalogue get Eugene’s album on rotation! With a gravely voice his songs bleed into retro styles, echoing of the likes of The Beatles, Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan. A record which is diverse in delivery it swerves from the jive friendly ‘If There’s Love Where I’m Going’, heart fuelled ‘It’s Down to You’ and melodrama ‘The Boy Who Had Everything’: picture painting lyrics, psychedelic guitar riffs and ska fuelled melodies all to follow.

Watch the brilliantly vintage vibed video for ‘Bohemian Hotline’ here…