April 7, 2012

Playlist Week of 4-07-12

* Vivaldi: La Stravaganza (Arete Dei Suonatori/Podger) (Channel Classics 2SACD)
* Vivaldi: “Manchester Sonatas” (Romanesca) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (Chicago/Reiner) (RVA-Victor SACD)
* Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (excerpts) (Columbia/Legacy 6CD)
* Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Grateful Dead: Winterland June ’77: The Complete Recordings (d.7-9) (GDP/Rhino 9CD)
* Grateful Dead: Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL 2-27-81 (d.1-2) (SBD 3CDR)
* Jerry Garcia Band: Cats Under The Stars (Arista/Rhino HDCD)
* Pink Floyd: The Pier At The Gates Of Dawn (Deluxe Edition) (d.1,3) (EMI 3CD)
* Pink Floyd: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Saucerful Of Secrets (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Music From The Film ‘More’ (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Neil Young: Archives Vol.1 (d.1-3, 5-6) (Reprise 10BD+CD/DVD)
* Joni Mitchell: Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (Asylum HDCD)
* Joni Mitchell: Night Ride Home (Geffen CD)
* Joni Mitchell: Turbulent Indigo (Reprise CD)
* Joni Mitchell: Taming The Tiger (Reprise CD)
* Jethro Tull: Aqualung (40th Anniversary Special Edition) (Chrysalis/EMI 2CD)
* Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Deluxe Edition) (Island/Universal 2SACD)
* Boston: Boston (Epic LP)
* U2: The Unforgettable Fire (Deluxe Edition) (d.1)(Island/Universal 2CD)
* The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots 5.1 (Warner Bros. CD/DVD-A)
* The Flaming Lips: “Fight Test” (Warner Bros. CDEP)
* Guided By Voices: Do The Collapse (TVT CD)†/‡
* Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard (GBV, Inc. 2LP)
* The Mars Volta: Noctourniquet (Warner Bros. CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Signify (Snapper/KScope 2CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Stupid Dream (Lava/Transmission/KScope CD/DVD)
* Porcupine Tree: Lightbulb Sun (Lava/Transmission/KScope CD/DVD)
* Porcupine Tree: Recordings (KScope CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Blank Planet (Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: The Incident (Roadrunner CD/CDEP)†
* Steven Wilson: Insurgentes (KScope CD/DVD)
* Steven Wilson: Grace For Drowning (KScope 2CD)
* Meshuggah: Koloss (Nuclear Blast CD)†/‡
* Opeth: Still Life (Peaceville/Icarus CD)†
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Opeth: Damnation (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner CD)†
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Deluxe Edition) (Roadrunner CD/DVD)
* Katatonia: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (10th Anniversary Edition) (Peaceville CD/CDEP)†/‡
* Baroness: Red Album (Relapse CD)†/‡
* Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse CD)†/‡
* Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino CD)
* Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop CD)



In just about every interview I’ve seen with Mikael Åkerfeldt, he has made a point of name-checking Joni Mitchell as a big influence on him and his music. This may seem surprising, given Opeth’s “death-metal” roots, but if you listen closely, you can hear it going all the way back: the unusual guitar tunings and idiosyncratic harmonies, the intricate fingerpicking and intensely personalized songwriting. Knowing all this, I can’t help but fantasize about what a Joni Mitchell/Opeth collaboration might sound like.

It’s actually not such a far-fetched idea. While casual fans associate Joni Mitchell with her early, folky hits like “Big Yellow Taxi,” Åkerfeldt routinely cites her 1974 LP, Court And Spark, as one of his all-time favorite albums. While this record yielded one last big hit (“Help Me”) it also marked the beginning of her collaborations with hardcore jazz musicians, including heavyweights like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorious and Pat Metheny. Ultimately, she collaborated with the legndary Charles Mingus on what would be his final recordings in 1979. As the story goes, when Mingus heard the rather clumsy tape splice in the otherwise beautiful twenty-minute epic, “Paprika Plains,” he decided she had “balls” enough to work with him on his last album. Indeed, Mingus is, like the experimental Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, an ambitious failure—yet it demonstrates Mitchell’s fearlessly eclectic creativity at its absolute peak. After some hit-or-miss records in the ‘80s, she came back with a trilogy of mature, near-perfect albums in the 1990s. Sadly, she has (loudly) renounced the music business ever since and remains true to her word except for a halfhearted ballet commission, Shine, released on the ill-fated Starbucks label in 2007. There are rumors of a big retrospective box set due out this year, but that doesn't really get me excited. Maybe Joni would be interested in making new music again—especially if it were a challenging and truly collaborative venture.

As for Åkerfeldt, Opeth continues to evolve and move way beyond the “death-metal” ghetto from which it sprang and he has long talked of making a solo acoustic record that would further confound his fans (naming Nick Drake as a primary inspiration). Then there is the long-rumored collaboration with Steven Wilson, which has finally came to fruition: the Storm Corrosion album will be released in May on LP, CD and Blu-Ray(!). By all accounts, it sounds like nothing either of them has done before (complete with 16-piece orchestra and concert choir) so it could be completely amazing—or an ambitious failure—either way, I am sure it will be worth hearing. That’s just how creative this guy is, continually pushing his music farther along, oblivious to anyone else’s opinion—just like Joni in her heyday. I swear: I can hear in my mind just what Åkerfeldt could bring to Joni Mitchell’s music—and, obviously, what she would bring to his. You know, I bet he would make room in his busy schedule to make it happen, if he got the call. Hey, get Steven Wilson to produce while you’re at it.

The more I think about this idea, the more aggravated I get. Yeah, I know: this is just fanboy fantasy stuff and I should be embarrassed to even bring it up. Even so, the possibilities intrigue me to no end. Come on, Joni, make one last amazing album: defy expectations (even your own) and blow people’s minds one last time! Then tour the world with Opeth! Come on, Mikael, make it happen! Dare to fail! It would be totally awesome—I just know it!


Back in the real world, friends in Portland and Boston have informed me the opening shows of the Opeth/Mastodon "Heritage-Hunter" tour were excellent. Oddly, neither came close to selling out—come on, people: this is a top-shelf bill for a crazy-cheap ticket price—go see ‘em if they come to town! Personally, I can’t wait ‘til the 16th!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Interesting concept. maybe playing with Opeth would make Joni M. interesting to me :) I just can't get there otherwise.

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2012-04-09:

*John Cage: 2007-09-28: Milano Musica Festival, Event 1 (Ives/Schonberg/Cage/Varese)
*Muhal Richard Abrams: Lifea Blinec
*Derek Bailey: 1972-01-11 Berlin (CDR)
*Brand X: Morrocan Roll (side 2)
*Anthony Braxton Ensemble: 1976-06-27 Newport Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall (CDR)
*Bill Dixon University of the Streets Orchestra: 1968-??-?? NYC (CDR)
*Office Ladies: Brains in Bed, Brains and Boots, No Boots in Bed
*Howard Riley-Tony Oxley Orchestra: 1970-01-23 Hamburg (CDR)
*Sun Ra: Space Probe (Art Yard)
*Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
*Beatles: Help! Studio Sessions: Back to Basics (boot CDR) disc 2
*Beatles: Rubber Soul (2009 stereo remaster)
*Big Star: Keep an Eye on the Sky (disc 3)
*Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard
*Dark Carpet: Let’s Make a Deal (CDR compilation)
*DJ Spooky: Riddim Warfare
*Earth Wind & Fire: I Am
*Mike Elder/Greg Jordan/Harry Forrest/Sam Byrd: 2012-02-09 (mp3)
*Grateful Dead: 1968-03-29 Carousel, SF (CDR)
*Grateful Dead: 1968-03-30 Carousel, SF (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Olivia Tremor Control: Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle
*Opeth: Watershed
*Tad Thaddock: Silence for Bunny
*Tad Thaddock: Attitude at the Movies
*Thinking Plague: In Extremis
*Various artists: At the Club
*Stevie Wonder: 1979-12-18 Pasadena CA (CDR) discs 2, 3
*XTC: Apple Venus Vol. 1

Reading List 2012-04-09:

*Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler (started)
*Smith, Zak. Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow (started)
*Whitehead, Colson. Zone One (started)
*Cage, John. Silence (finished)
*Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow (reread/finished)