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Zharth's Music Log

Week 40: Eerie Instrumentals

Preface: Here's the scoop - Beltane is approaching at the turn of May, but in some places, it's referred to as Walpurgisnacht, or Walpurgis Night, and serves as a sort of anchor to Halloween, which is fully a half-year away. So at any rate, we're gonna revive that Halloween spirit just a little bit and do a week of "eerie" instrumental songs. Historical trivia: Adolf Hitler killed himself on Walpurgis Night, and some believe that this was a show of dedication to the forces of darkness he supposedly worshipped, or was in some way dedicated to.

Monday (4/21/08): Procol Harum - Repent Walpurgis [Procol Harum/A Whiter Shade Of Pale, 1967]
Comments: The only thing crazier than the fact that celebrated guitarist Robin Trower wasn't even in the band when they recorded their one lasting hit single, A Whiter Shade Of Pale - which was fated to eclipse all the rest of the great music the band was to record - is the fact that the song wasn't even on the original version of the band's debut album! But, that has nothing to do with the track we'll be listening to today. Repent Walpurgis is an amazingly epic instrumental tour de force - hear it for yourself!

Tuesday (4/22/08): David Gilmour - Island Jam [On An Island (Studio Jam Outtake), 2006]
Comments: Ironically, this in-the-studio jam during recordings for David Gilmour's fairly recent solo album, On An Island, is, in my opinion, better than any of the (albeit more polished) tracks that made it onto the album. But lucky you, you get to hear it anyway!

Wednesday (4/23/08): Neil Young - Dead Man Theme [Dead Man (Soundtrack), 1996]
Comments: Neil Young composed the avant-garde sonic soundscape that makes up the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's amazing, atypical western film, Dead Man, starring Johnny Depp as the coincidentally named William Blake, whose escape from hired assassins after getting mixed up with the wrong woman turns into a vague spiritual quest, accompanied by a riddling Indian guide named Nobody, for the world beyond this life...or something. I recommend it. This track is the main theme, which features a beautiful mixture of haunting acoustic chords and stinging electric notes.

Thursday (4/24/08): Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor [Cristo Redentor, 1968]
Comments: If you've never heard of Harvey Mandel, then relax, you're in the majority. You're also missing out. Harvey Mandel, nicknamed "The Snake", was a contemporary of other white blues guitarists growing up in America in the sixties, such as Michael Bloomfield. He played with Charlie Musselwhite in Chicago, joined Canned Heat for a bit after moving to California, and eventually joined the ranks of the great guitarists to play with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He then auditioned for the role of new lead guitarist in The Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor (who also previously played in the Bluesbreakers) left that band. But Harvey Mandel was not destined for fame, despite his talent as a guitarist, as well as his penchant for evolving the field of guitar-playing - "The Snake" has the reputation of being one of the first guitarists to use the "tapping" technique that was later popularized by Eddie Van Halen. But enough biography, listen to the track!

Friday (4/25/08): Tangerine Dream - Circulation Of Events [Atem, 1973]
Comments: Leave it to Tangerine Dream to set the mood. I was first introduced to TD through one of their synthy movie soundtracks from the 80's - specifically, Legend - but when I later found out that they had started as a fringe experimental band not unlike transition-era Pink Floyd (post-Syd, pre-Dark), I had to check them out. So one autumn, I bought an awesome collection of their first few albums and listened to them, appropriately, during the Halloween season. Now, everytime I listen to a track from those albums, it instantly takes me back to Halloween...

Saturday (4/26/08): Journey - Kohoutek [Journey, 1975]
Comments: As this track demonstrates, Journey were a completely different band before Steve Perry joined and they turned into pop balladeers. Listen as Neil Schon's often stunted talent soars to seldom heard heights in this progressive jazz rock formation.

Sunday (4/27/08): Peter Green - The End Of The Game [The End Of The Game, 1970]
Comments: After leaving Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green managed to release one album representing his newfound experimental direction in music before dropping into obscurity for the majority of the remainder of his life (giving an even deeper meaning to the title of that album). It wasn't quite the end of the game for him, at least not for good, but it's true that Green hasn't been the same ever since.