AMN Capsule Comments: Mike Eisenberg’s Recent Playlist (July 20, 2021)

From time to time, AMN writer Mike Eisenberg revisits older albums that he has not listened to in a while and provides comments.

Hughscore – “Delta Flora” (1997)

This one has been on my radar for about a month now. Two basses (Hugh Hopper handling the fuzz and Fred Chalenor both RIP!), Elaine di Falco on keyboards (mostly Rhodes it sounds like and vocals…love her vocals!) and Tucker Martine on drums and percussion. There is also an added horn section on many of the cuts.

Here is the thing that makes this album a completely unique listening experience for me…it sounds like a downtempo dubstep record most of the time. This is something that comes totally unexpected given the players and the Soft Machine legacy. I would never expect to hear Hugh doing something like this…the thing is, it works!!! I’m a big fan of “the deep”, and the deeps on this record are staggering. The bass overtones cover everything like a warm blanket during a raging winter storm. The drumming reminds me of a 90’s DnB record, but the thing is, the deeps totally overpower the drums (and especially the cymbals), putting them in the background and causing them to sound, um…mushy at points. (Same thing with the horn sections.) Don’t get me wrong, this is an awesome sound and huge kudos go out to Tucker Martine who produced and engineered this thing…if he didn’t play drums on this, I would absolutely consider him a 5th member of the band. Also, there is a few moments on this record with Elaine di Falco sounding very much like Susanne Lewis…that tiny little element would seal the deal on any recording for me. This might be my favorite Hughscore record! 

Lacrymosa – “Bugbear” (1993) 

I recently listened to “Bugbear” by the Japanese band Lacrymosa. This was the 1993 cd version of the original album which was released in 1983. The cd has some bonus live material on it.

The band is the baby of bass player Chihiro S and the tunes fall squarely into the early Univers Zero/Art Zoyd acoustic chamber prog camp. The big differentiator here is, instead of coming from a European Classical music perspective, a lot of this (but not all) comes from the lens of the Far East. It seems that the only electric instrument on this is Chihiro’s weird, plucked bass lines. Everything else is acoustic (piano, violin, recorder, sax, clarinet, harpsichord, flute, oboe, cello, etc). I liked it ok, I guess but…it seemed something was missing…maybe drama or tension. The music was beautifully played and produced but, at the end of the day, there was nothing memorable that made me want to say “yeah!”

Becker Lehnhoff – “Solo: Observed” (1989)

Every once in a while I come back to this one but this time, I don’t know what happened, maybe with my 20-year love affair with Acousmatic music I’ve become more receptive but…I really, REALLY loved hearing this again.

From the little that I know, this is an alias of a German artist by the name of Stefani Schwedes. This release was her only one on a label (Badlands) but I think there is another one out there that was self-released. At first blush, it may sound like a very “German” (???) sounding electronic foray, of which there was quite a bit coming out around this time. But, on this last listen, it struck me that there is a whole lot more going on here. Recognizable signposts can be Eno’s short, non-vocal tone poems on “Another Green World” or, maybe even more so, Faust’s longer extended Krautrock(ish) type jams done more in a live setting than on record.

It’s pretty hard to unpack this album but, keeping it short, some of the elements on display are found sounds, field recordings, concret sound elements, repetitive bass lines, repetitive acoustic guitar motifs, extended low-end drones, and a little glitchy electronics thrown in here and there. As I said, there is a ton going on and, if you are a “careful” and “active” listener I think you would really dig this release. I really don’t expect anyone to know this but, if anything I wrote above resonates, check it out! 

Michael Eisenberg