The Hidden Talent of Modern Music, Part 1: A Sampling

Faust

With the debut LP of Can in 1969, a new wave of rock music formed in Germany with its golden age taking place in the seventies. It blended the jam stylizations of jazz, the cerebral elements of psychedelic rock, and pioneering forms of electronic music. The name of this new genre was dubbed krautrock by British journalists, though it wasn’t exactly embraced by the musicians themselves.

Formed in 1971 in the rural region of Wümme, Germany, Faust was one such band to arise from this movement. Originally composed of Werner “Zappi” Diermaier, Hans Joachim Irmler, Arnulf Meifert, Jean-Hervé Péron, Rudolf Sosna and Gunther Wüsthoff, Faust would spend the next four years issuing some of the most creative and symphonic rock albums of all time, granting a classical, artistic quality to the genre.

Essential Listening: Faust, Faust So Far, Faust IV

Flipper

Though many great albums resulted from the progressive rock movement of the seventies, nearing the end of the decade, there was a backlash as both critics and listeners alike considered it overwrought and pretentious. Its heyday drew to a close with the punk revolution of 1977 – the Ramones often having been considered the first band truly identifiable with the genre. It was seen as a breath of fresh air, bringing rock music back to its rebellious roots after a decade of needlessly complicated compositions.

Perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects of the punk revolution was how it didn’t take long for musicians to start experimenting with the basic template. A favorite of the late Kurt Cobain, San Francisco’s Flipper put a unique spin on punk rock by slowing down their tempos to level atypical for the genre and adding electronic feedback into the mix, giving them a dissonant, yet intriguing sound. After an incredible debut album and a reasonably good sophomore effort, the band’s original run concluded when bassist and vocalist, Will Shatter, died of a drug overdose.

Essential Listening: Album – Generic Flipper

Morphine

A power trio from  Cambridge, Massachusetts initially consisting of bassist Mark Sandman, saxophonist Dana Colley, and drummer Jerome Deupree, Morphine was one of the most unique alternative rock bands of all time. How so? Did you notice something interesting with the description of the personnel in that first sentence? That’s right – this band had no permanent guitarist. Morphine created a unique sound derived by combining jazz and blues elements with traditional rock arrangements, which can be heard when listening to the saxophone that features prominently in their music. In other words, Dana Colley would play the saxophone the way one would usually play a guitar. After releasing five LPs, the band meet a tragic and unfortunate end in 1999 when Mark Sandman suffered a fatal heart attack while performing onstage in Palestrina, Italy.

Essential Listening: Good, Cure for Pain, Yes

The Pop Group

Another notable result of the punk revolution would be post-punk. It’s an umbrella term used to describe the music many indie outfits played in the late seventies and into the following decade. They followed the basic, do-it-yourself ethos of punk, and used it to create more complex compositions, often blending various genres together. Though the scene didn’t quite get mainstream attention, post-punk proved influential in the development of alternative rock in the eighties.

One such band to emerge from the post-punk crowd was The Pop Group. This band hails from Bristol, England and formed in 1977 by teenagers, Mark Stewart, John Waddington, Gareth Sager,  Simon Underwood, and Bruce Smith. Going into their first album, Y, they sought to fuse the cacophonous, experimental style of Captain Beefheart with the funky hooks of George Clinton. While it didn’t receive much mainstream attention and the band broke up shortly after they issued their equally impressive sophomore effort, many artists such as Nick Cave, Mike Watt of Minutemen fame, and St. Vincent have all cited The Pop Group as one of their inspirations.

Essential Listening: Y, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Hidden Talent of Modern Music, Part 1: A Sampling

  1. Based on your description of The Pop Group, I am not surprised they served as inspiration for Nick Cave.

    I had never heard of any of those artists you mentioned, so it was definitely an interesting read. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could definitely hear their influence with his first band, The Birthday Party, and to a lesser extent, his first couple of albums with the Bad Seeds. Then again, the amount of artists The Pop Group ended up influencing in the long run is staggering. I find it interesting how works can slip beneath the radar and still end up leaving a significant impact on the medium.

      Thanks for reading! I’ve never written about music at length before other than when I was commenting on the blogs of other fans, so I was wondering how it would turn out. I admit it’s a bit laconic, especially compared to your reviews, but my goal is to get more people interested in these artists, and I found that music, being probably the most subjective medium out there, makes a better case for itself than I could.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had the first Bad Seeds albums in mind as well, especially the first two. And yes, it is surprising how forgotten works can have a huge impact on the music world by influencing other artists that make it “big”. The Velvet Underground could be an example of that, at least until the point when they started getting their dues.

        It may be concise or laconic, but it is pretty accurate and it is enough to raise awareness around unknown groups. Keep it up!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s