November 26, 2010

LOS DESTELLOS - Los Destellos (1967) + Constelación (1971)

Enrique Delgado began learning guitar from his mother at age 5 in the slums outside Lima.  By 13, he joined his first touring group.  Growing tired of his son's continual absence and questionable lifestyle,  Delgado's father eventually kicked him out.  For his remaining teen years, he stayed with friends when he wasn't cutting his teeth on the road in mariachi backing bands.  In 1955, Delgado struck out on his own with his folk group, Los Palomillas, but he didn't break new ground until he switched to the electric guitar with Orquestra Fantasia in 1962.  Delgado found himself at the forefront of Lima's Nueva Ola (New Wave).  Beat bands inspired by Anglo pop were a phenomenon the world over, and Peru was no exception, producing a rich variety of garage, pop, and rock records in the 60s and 70s.  In 1966, Enrique Delgado started a new group, Los Destellos, imposing South American folk stylings on his Beat bandmates.

Los Destellos incorporated lilting Andean slum melodies into rock 'n' roll music for their self-titled debut, but the addition of a timbalero is what made them a true innovation.  Timbales were used to keep time in many South American musical styles, but Enrique Delgado used them to incorporate cumbia into the standard Beat ensemble, making him the fathering pioneer of cumbia Peruana.  He would expound on this idea in the years that followed by taking an ever larger ensemble of folk players in a more psychedelic direction.  In this way, Los Destellos also anticipated Chicha, their seventh LP Constelación being a proto-standard of the genre.  In 1975, Delgado's sister, Edith, also joined the band, which by that point had grown to include a sprawling number of musicians and a sizable hype crew.  Enrique continued leading the group until his untimely death in 1996 from medical malpractice.  Edith continues touring today with the current incarnation of Los Destellos.


• Might I also suggest Purple Chicha: Peruvian Cumbias Rebajadas (A Murky Recess Mix)?
• DATO CURIOSO:  Los Destellos originally had a female singer, but she left the group before they recorded their first record.  Her name was Elsa Salgado, and the band pays her tribute with two of their most popular songs, "Elsa" and "Para Elsa."
• Find Los Destellos' illustrated discography here.

Lumen Aura (Hand of God)

Gotta Get Outta Here!... Gotta Get Outta Here!

Charlemagne Palestine is a peformer/composer/video artist originally from Brooklyn and still active today.  Best known for his compositions in the seventies, he has often been compared to minimalists Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Palestine, however, emphasizes ritual over repetition, and the power of trance is specifically integral to his work.  In "Island Song," Palestine drives a motorcyle down a backroad in Hawaii with a an early model video camera strapped to his person, seemingly looking for a way off the island.  Having studied under Pandit Pran Nath, Palestine skillfully harmonizes his voice to the hum of the motorcylce engine, creating an interactive dialogue with his environment.  Shot the same year, "Island Monologue" follows similar themes with Palestine wandering through an impermeable fog, voicing his unbroken solitude.  But this is not the isolation of modern life Antonioni tuned into.  Palestine's work vibrates with human warmth across the chasm, and it is objectivity, the evironment bereft of human inference, which feels vapid..  Palestine stayed busy in 1976, managing also to release these two full-length albums:  Strumming Music and Four Manifestations On Six Elements.

[right click;save target as] or better yet, visit Ubuweb.]

November 25, 2010

TI-THO - Traumtänzer (1981) + Elefantenjäger (1983)

Ti-Tho-- a dimunitive of the duo's Christian names, Christina Marisa Calcagno and Thomas Stelter-- formed in the early 80s as a part of the emergent Hamburger punk and New Wave scene.  Like many other coagulations of disenchanted young people confined to urban centers, an assemblage of artists, musicians, and political activists began to stew in Hamburg.  In the late 70s, Alfred Hilsberg, a music journalist for the magazine Sounds, coined the genre term, Neue Deutsche Welle, describing the attitude and sound of Hamburg's music scene in his article, "Neue Deutsche Welle - Aus grauer Städte Mauern" (German New Wave - From Gray City Walls).    Speaking with several future luminaires of the genre, Hilsberg discusses in depth the distinctive effect German language and cadence had the NDW sound, and alludes to the environmental influence the fully-realized Economic Miracle had on Hamburg's middle-class. 

Ti-Tho released their first 7" on Hislberg's Zickzack* label.  The A-side is almost radio-friendly, but the strangely underrated B-side, "Die Liebe ist ein Abenteuer" pulses abrasively not unlike Crash Course In Science or Grauzone.  In 1983, the duo moved to the larger TELDEC label for their more accessible but equally great second 7".  Ti-Tho then signed to Polydor in 1985 and released two more 7"s in support of their big crossover LP which never came to pass.  Not an altogether uncommon story.  Very few New Wave bands survived the transition to a major label, and equal few of the cookie-cutter bands crafted in their image lasted any the longer.  If you come to this post a neophyte in NDW, Ti-Tho's first two records are not only a great point of entry, but overlooked masterpieces of the genre in their right.


*In 1980, Hilsberg started the Zickzack label and released essential Hamburger NDW from the likes of Xmal Deutschland, Abwärts, Leben und Arbeiten, and Kosmonautentraum. In 1984, he started the What's So Funny About? label, which became a major platform for the emerging Hamburger Schule scene as well as a German imprint for Test Dept. Nikki Sudden, and Scratch Acid, etc.

November 19, 2010

Illuminated Belle of Ball Plains

November 18, 2010

Hell Is Here, Welcome: Kenny Hill's Garden of Salvation

Leaving behind a wife and three children, bricklayer Kenny Hill up and moved to the gulf coast town of Chauvin, Louisiana in 1988.  With less than 3,500 residents, the Cajun shrimping community along Bayou Petit Caillou was scarcely aware of the reclusive Hill when he began renting a plot of land there for $250 a year.  While living out of a tent, he built a unique, one-room home and earned money as a construction worker.  In 1990, he quietly began making sculpture, combining paint and cement with wire mesh.  Within the decade, Hill made over 100 individual pieces of sculpture and an ornate lighthouse made with over 7,000 bricks.

Angels feature prominently throughout Hill's "Garden of Salvation" in a variety of forms.  There are some angels who help while others condemn.  Paths wind their way to visions of heaven and hell.  Cowboys, New Orleans jazz musicians, angels with shrimping boots, and many self-portraits give the sculpture garden both a broad sense of Americana and a personal story of despair and redemption.  His self-portrait on his lighthouse centerpiece [seen above] depicts Hill with a face half-white and half-black, denoting his own struggle with good and evil.  Under a self-depicting sculpture of Hill with his heart bleeding, an inscription reads:  "It is emty [sic]."

Around 2000, some who knew Hill said he'd lost faith in God, and with it, the desire to work on his creations.  "This part of my life is done," he told one man.  When parish officials demanded he clean up the property or leave, he disappeared overnight, leaving several works unfinished.  When faculty from the Nicholls State Art Department visited the property, they found Hill had knocked the head off one of his Jesus statues, and left a note behind which read, "Hell is here, Welcome."

The sculpture garden has survived four major hurricanes in the ten years since Hill vanished.  Neighbors who knew him say he's living in Arkansas with his brother.  Others say he found a job overseas.  The fact that there has been little damage to his Garden of Salvation is testament to Hill's superior craftsmanship.  Within 30-50 years, the entire gulf coast of Louisiana will most certainly be underwater.  There's always the chance that, some two hundred years hence, Hill's expression of his inner turmoil may be rediscovered largely intact in some future archaeological excavation of submerged Cajun country.

November 11, 2010

Cha Cha Cha!