1981 debut album by new age pioneer JD Emmanuel.
Texan musician JD Emmanuel’s career story is, in a way, a story about how the passion of fans can make a difference; about a gifted musician whose music may have been lost to the ages had it not been for the efforts of a new generation of vintage electronic and new age music enthusiasts and collectors.
The tale begins in 2005 when young music journalist, collector and record label owner Douglas Mcgowan stumbled on several dusty boxes of two JD Emmanuel vinyl albums – several hundred of them, all still sealed – at a discount book and record store in North Dallas, Texas. (The composer explains: “When we moved back to Houston in 1988, I left several cartons of them in my attic because I could not even give them away. The new house owner apparently found them and sold them to the bookstore.”) The vintage of both albums – early 1980’s – immediately caught Mcgowan’s attention, as he was a big fan of early private issue new age music. He purchased 50 copies and took them back to the West Coast where they found eager buyers via a local collector’s email newsletter. This discovery set in motion a chain of events that led to a series of critically acclaimed album re-issues and, in 2010, J D Emmanuel’s return to recording and performing again.
The majority of JD Emmanuel’s studio recordings date from the 1980’s, when new age music in America was still an indie scene and corporate interests were yet to hijack the genre. Whether you call his albums new age or not, the meditative vibe, spiritual underpinnings and self-releasing are all hallmarks of the genre in its original form. Yet his cyclic, organ-based music is so very different from most of his contemporaries of that era. Back in 1970 he was was deeply impressed by his first taste of classical minimalism when he heard American minimalist composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich. As he recently told e-zine Ricochet: “Terry Riley’s ‘A Rainbow in Curved Air’ and Steve Reich’s ‘Violin Phase’ totally defined where I wanted to go in music. But it took me another ten years to discover how to develop my own style.” Prior to creating his own work, he was also immersed in modern jazz and long-form rock jams, attracted to their improvisational basis and ability to lull the listener into deeper states of consciousness.
Minimalism and improvisation, then, became the foundations of his art, and the evocation of trance-like states his goal. In 1980, with his newly acquired Crumar Traveler-1 organ, analog synths, guitar and various effects, he began building a body of warm, melodic, usually stripped-back ambient trance with a certain mystical vibe that’s difficult to put into words. On Rain Forest Music he builds gentle, short cycles of notes into floating clouds of sound, mostly improvising around single chords. The “minimalism” in his music lies not in repetitive patterns that barely change – the extreme end of classical minimalism – but more in the spare arrangements. There’s also an open, loving optimism to the melodies that has obvious appeal to new age listeners.
Originally designed to enhance relaxation and meditation, as a background for massage or for counseling to help a person relax and open up faster. The original publishing of the LP in 1981 was through the generous support of Bob and Frances Pennington. Album cover is from an original water color created especially for the LP in 1981 by a local, Houston artist, Molly Khan. The sunrise photo was taken one morning in Virginia Beach, VA, during the 70s.
Imagine being on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is early morning. As the sun breaks the water you begin moving to the rhythm of the music and ocean.
The Great Thunder present a reissue of Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia, originally released in 1976. Garson is well known as one of the pioneers of electronic music in the late ’60s and some may have heard of his contributions to quite a few pop hits back in the day when he wrote and conducted orchestral arrangements for a few popular artists. During the second half of the 1960s, Mort Garson and his sidekicks Paul Beaver and Jacques Wilson among others, discovered the newly invented synthesizer courtesy of Robert Moog and made it an integral part of the future pop music even before Wendy Carlos released Switched On Bach in 1968. Plantasia was recorded and released a few years past Garson’s monumental works: The Zodiac’s Cosmic Sounds (1967), The Wozard Of Iz’s An Electronic Odyssey (1968), and Lucifer’s Black Mass (1971). Plantasia, originally released in 1976, has been labeled “warm earth music for plants . . . and the people who love them.” So you as the listener can imagine that this is a rather bright affair, far from the dark and seething atmosphere of the earlier electronic pieces. A shining diversity of stylistic devices used as the foundation for dreamy and colorful compositions, which works like a soundtrack for a non-existent movie. The warm, yet haunting Moog melodies can still create a rather sinister vibe in their most playful and surreal moments, similar to what you would expect from a mid-seventies horror flicks from Italy. It is a feeling that, despite everything seeming peaceful and relaxed on the surface, something utterly dire is about to rise up. These are certainly just a few passages and when Mort Garson and his mates move on from lush orchestral soul arrangements to something white men always consider to be tribal music of the North American natives, you will drift with them from one scene of your inner mind movie to the next. At this point in the seventies, the technical requirements had already been a bit better with new inventions such as electronic percussion which gets used here and there, conjuring memories of records by German electronic pioneers from the same era, such as Cluster, Kraftwerk, and Tangerine Dream. And despite the twinkle-toed harmonies and big arrangements, which point at the big band music and orchestral pop Garson originated from, the whole work is futuristic and intriguing.
Limited to 1.000 copies only! This 1967 Yé-Yé debut album is as scarce as gold dust and fetches high prices among collectors if they may score a copy in good condition. Tunisia born Jacqueline did fairly well with her music over the past 50 years and here we witness her more than adequate start into the world of chanson and pop. Her intense brand of fiery late 60s beat refined with tinges of garage rock can be considered as an ear candy for 60s aficionados. Some rather lightweight tunes twang around you like flock of colourful butterflies and could easily have been a great success for the one or another star of the American West Coast pop scene. Melancholic ballads straddle into this chequered round dance and seize your heart. The waking call happens instantly with well placed gruff beat tunes you would not expect from such a tender and angelic young lady. It feels like an innocent girl slipping out of her cocoon and become a proud woman. In the next moment a passionate French chanson drags you back to the opposite side. From well-behaved to cheeky and even charming… And due to the very memorable and substantial compositions this jewel of late 60s pop music is a classic among fans of such greats as ROLLING STONES or THE SHOCKING BLUE.
This album has been quite an obscurity already by the time of its release. Recorded by 19 year old Mark Fry for an Italian sub label of RCA it presented a beautifully naive kind of psychedelic folk similar to what the INCREDIBLE STRING BAND laid down at the same time just a bit more straight forwarded. We saw originals in good condition go for about 1600 Euros already, therefore such a reissue is always welcome among fans of totally psyched out music, done by mostly acoustic instrumentation and vocals. Young Mark enchants his listeners with dreamy vocal melodies of utter beauty which create an outmost peaceful atmosphere. The picturesque tunes take you onto a trip out to the English countryside on a gentle and warm spring morning and into a fairytale world. You might get lost within this colorful dream and not be willing to return to grey reality anymore but this music indeed burns on as the flame of love within your heart. The direction despite all psychedelic elements is definitely determined by British folk music of the 60’s and 70’s. One charmingly odd aspect of the album is that the title track has been split up over the whole album as short sections flanking the longer tunes. I cannot recall anybody else ever doing that, so this is making this nifty little record a unique effort. If you are a fan of PERRY LEOPOLD or the above mentioned INCREDIBLE STRING BAND this record will fulfill your wildest dreams but will also please those into STEELEYE SPAN, WOODS BAND or PENTANGLE. Mark Fry plays his acid folk from the bottom of his soul without thinking about satisfying the demands of the mainstream audience. This is a must have for all fans of acid folk from the late 60s to the early 70s era. This music is intriguing, keen and absolutely one of a kind with a mood changing from rainy days to sunny mornings out in the meadows.
Victory present a reissue of Pacific, originally released in 1978. Reuniting the best session musicians Japan had to offer to make an album that would evoke the atmospheres of the South Pacific islands, the kind of places Japanese people spend their vacations. Pacific is a treat to the ears; its theme of the southern Pacific ocean and its warm cerulean waters relax its listeners with a fusion of city pop, soft jazz, and that good old 1970s funk while remaining surprisingly fully instrumental throughout all contributions from artists Haruomi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki, and Tatsuro Yamashita. A true cult LP and an inspiration for a lot of so called “vaporware” music. LP includes insert.
A reissue of Robbie Basho’s Basho Sings, originally released in 1967. It’s become an oft-quoted statement that John Coltrane was the Father, Pharaoh Sanders was the Son, and Albert Ayler, the Holy Ghost. It could arguably apply to the holy trinity of steel string guitarists as well. Many claim John Fahey to be the Father, Kottke was considered the Son, and Robbie Basho would certainly be considered the Holy Ghost. The Basho/Ayler similarities are many, and both pushed their idioms further physically and emotionally than all of their respective contemporaries. Basho Sings was Basho’s fifth release for the Takoma label and as the title proclaims, Basho Sings showcases a unique voice that transcends the limitations of the vocal form. He’s left the pentatonic raga scales of his previous releases and showcases a unique and unparalleled take on the folk/blues song idiom. A truly outsider take on the American primitive genre, Basho Sings is finally reissued for the first time on vinyl 50 years after its initial release. Beautifully remastered; Edition of 500.
Palto Flats and We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records present the highly-anticipated reissue of Japanese percussionist Midori Takada’s sought after and timeless ambient/minimal album Through The Looking Glass, originally released in 1983 by RCA Japan. Considered a holy grail of Japanese music by many, Through The Looking Glass is Midori Takada’s first solo endeavor, a captivating four-song suite capturing her deep quests into traditional African and Asian percussive language and exploring contemplative ambient sounds with an admirably precise use of marimba. The result is alternatively ethereal and vibrant, always precise and mesmerizing, and makes for an atmospheric masterpiece and an unparalleled sonic and spiritual experience. Midori Takada is a composer, multi-percussionist, and theater artist renowned in Japanese vanguard circles.