Everybody loves to listen to music at work, especially here at Murfie. Our office is equipped with the Sonos System, so we can stream music right from out own Murfie accounts while we plug away. Often times when the tracks are coming from me, people will wonder what the noises are that are coming out of the speakers. Some things are new, some are older, but most is a little bit different.
Four Organs – Phase Patterns – Steve Reich
Steve Reich’s piece Four Organs starts with very short notes on a single chord. Over the course of the piece these notes grow in length by anticipating the chord and trailing after it, causing a general deconstruction of the chord and changing the way it sounds and feels. It is performed by (as you may have guessed) four organs, accompanied by a Maraca. If minimal and repetitive music are your bag, check out more of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley.
Ascension – John Coltrane
John Coltrane is a household name. What is not as well known is some of the music he made in his final few years. The early and mid-60’s was a time that many musicians, including Coltrane, started to take jazz in a new direction. Ascension is a transition from more conventional jazz into the world of free jazz. This album does not have tunes so much as it has an alternating pattern of collective improvisations and solo improvisations. Without being constrained to chords or a form, the musicians are able to express themselves in new and unconventional ways. The world of free jazz is huge, and musicians continue to add to the tradition. Check out names like Ken Vandermark and Ornette Coleman.
Tago Mago – Can
Can is one of those bands I wish I would have discovered long before I did. Tago Mago mixes groove and weird as good as any band before or after it, but sounds nothing like anything before or after. This album is from 1971 and has been described as highly influential by many artists even today. This is a good album to play loud.
Black Angels – Kronos Quartet
Here the Kronos Quartet plays two of my all time favorite quartets. George Crumb’s Black Angels and Dmitri Shostakovich‘s String Quartet No. 8. Being the Kronos Quartet, they deliver these pieces with a mastery not known by many other groups. Black Angels is an interesting string quartet in that is calls for amplified string instruments and glasses and tam-tams to be played by the members of the group. Crumb uses the numerical values of 7 and 13 throughout the piece.
Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 is one of the most emotional pieces on the earth. Dedicated to “the victims of fascism and war,” this twenty or so minute piece projects extreme sadness, anger, and eventually acceptance.
Trout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
One of Captain Beefheart’s Commandments for guitar playing included practicing in front of a bush. He instructed guitarists to “Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grain piece of bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.” This album is incredibly challenging for the first few listens, but over time it begins to make sense. It is regarded as one of the best rock albums of all time, and it was added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in 2010. “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous, got me?”