1st October 2014

An Auditory Film


Gong & Z


More musicians should do figurative soundtracks to books. Wist Rec. did their beautiful Book Report series, where musicians such as Loscil and Christina Carter make 3″ CDs that fit inside the dust jackets of books by MR James, EM Forster and Malcolm Lowery.

Back in 1979, electronic instrument building genius and lighting engineer Bernard Szajner scored Dune. Not David Lynch’s film Dune, which came out in 1984 and is our Dan’s favorite ever movie, and sadly not even Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune – which the director had recently stalled work on. Nope, the Dune Szajner – under the name ‘Z’ – scored was Frank Herbert’s Dune. Dune: The Book.


Jodorowsky approached various European proggers – Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd, and Szajner’s lighting clients Magma and Gong - for his prospective Dune soundworld, but if he’d managed to hang on to the project for just a little bit longer, Z’s Dune soundtrack could have been the definitive aural description of Arrakis and Dune’s “Proustian” (according to Jodorowsky) narrative.

Hell, maybe it already is.


Szajner brewed up Visions of Dune while looking after his friend’s Oberheim sequencer and a two-track tape recorder for eight days. He set about making hundreds of loops, which he would apply to “mental impressions” of a character or scene from the book.

He describes the process as making “an auditory film” and of his role as “a musical illustrator.” Of course, like any beautiful illustration (the gorgeous concept art for Jodorowsky’s Dune from Moebius, Giger and Chris Foss included) the sound works well on its own.


But it was designed to be functional, and frankly we feel we’d be doing a grave disservice to both the Szajner and Herbert if we didn’t tell you to purchase the LP (newly-reissued on vinyl with long-lost never-before-heard tracks deemed “too futuristic” for its original release) and dust off that old car boot sale paper book of Dune you’ve got lying around, and soak up Szajner’s synaesthesia while acquainting or reacquainting yourself with Herbert’s biblical space saga.

Z – Dune

Buy Visions of Dune


Bonus 1973 track from one of the prog bands who nearly got the Dune gig!

Gong – I Never Glid Before

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29th September 2014

What do you know about minimal music from Japan 1980 -1986, son?  


Mkwaju Ensemble


It happens.

We feel down about the Internet. We despair at its surges of collective stupidity, the banality of its articles, comments and backlashes, at the perfect replicability it enables. We also feel self-loathing, as the inner-baby inside us shrieks and tugs at the screen for attention and feedback, rendering us unable to friggin’ concentrate on anything.

And then, like a lightning bolt of magic, someone says something somewhere in the Internet and, just like that, a window is opened and through it we behold awesome vistas. New universes are revealed. A crystalline shard of beautiful experience that didn’t exist before pierces our skin and dissolves in our bloodstream and spreads through our system and we are upgraded and renewed.

And then we feel up on the Internet.

This happened this week, when our pal Matt from Where to Now/WhereIIDance/Ye Ye Fever fame posted on Facebook about a Japanese band called Mkwaju Ensemble (his was the title of this post too). The track was called Hot Air, and it sounded like the morning stirrings of a young country at the beginning of the season of love.

Hot Air is contained in Mkwaju Ensemble’s 1981 album ‘Ki-Motion.’ We also tracked down their self-titled debut Mkwaju, and tried to find out more about them, to no initial avail We had sort of resigned ourselves to allow their music exist in the kind-of-context-less mythical space defined by our imaginations, when at the bottom of the Google search results we stumbled upon a post about them at Hipinion, which provided an etymological/organic foundation for their music, in sub-Saharan culture.

Sez Drudge, who wrote this post:

The tamarind, known as “mkwaju” in Swahili, is a large, adaptable, drought resistant tree native to Sudan and tropical Africa. A dense, durable, insect-resistant wood, mkwaju is used in the production of furniture, wheels, planking, tools, and musical instruments. Prized also for its horticultural, culinary, and medical uses, mkwaju is essential to the life and identity of the Central African grasslands.

Taking their name from the tree whose wood was used to produce some of the very first mallets and marimba, Mkwaju Ensemble’s rhythmic, minimalistic work draws on the region’s music and culture. In a brief six month span, the ensemble combined a wide array of talent and instrumentation to explore syncopation, repetition, and silence in new and ambitious ways.

Many sub-Saharan languages do not have a word for rhythm, or even music. Rhythms represent the very fabric of life, and embody the interdependence of human relationships. Cross-beats can symbolize challenging moments or emotional stress, and playing them while fully grounded in main beats is thought to prepare one to maintain purpose while dealing with life’s challenges. This simultaneous use of contrasting rhythmic patterns lies at the core of Africa’s rhythmic tradition, and is evident in much of the ensemble’s work. Marimba, vibraphone, bamboo percussion and synth intertwine to create something both traditional and new.

Which is a beautiful and enlightening explanation/description of the furious, liquid, interweaving, threaded and parallel eddies and whirlpools of minimalism, percussion and electronica in Mkwaju.

This is how it all begins.

Mkwaju Ensemble – Mkwaju

It doesn’t end there. The post about Mkwaju Ensemble was part of a wider discussion about Japanese music that began 3 pages earlier, beginning with exquisite 80s pop, continuing into Mkwaju Ensemble, and following with our beloved Geinoh Yamashirogumi and others.

We predict this will provide a rich source of awesome music for us to enjoy and convey to you in future days, hopefully making us part of that chain of connected vessels through which great stuff (and belief in the web as a force for good) spreads all over.



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  1. Never ceases to amaze me that some musicians from the “Western” world know a lot more about music produced in Japan (than here, in Tokyo!).

    I did a bit of quick googling for those curious and here’s what I found.

    Source: http://mimosa7.jugem.jp/?eid=306
    Mkuwaju Ensemble
    Midori Takada, Yoji Sadanari, Junko Arase (marimba, vibraphone, tom tom, bamboo drum, etc)

    Joe Hisaishi (composer, producer, keyboards)
    Pecker (latin percussion)
    Hideki Matsutake (computer programming)

    Joe Hisaishi became well known after this as a soundtrack composer (Hayao Miyazaki, etc), Pecker is a known session musician, Hideki Matsutake is also known for being the programmer for the Yellow Magic Orchestra.


    Yours sincerely


    30th September 2014

  2. Thank you Minoru!

    Yours sincerely


    1st October 2014

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27th September 2014

20JFG Saturday mixtape: To your scattered bodies go


20jfg & Podcast


This one is about the way it feels just as you step into the unknown. It has a sci-fi angle to it, but also a personal one. You can help us clarify what the situation is by naming some of its contents in the comment box.

20JFG To Your Scattered Bodies Go Mixtape

The title is via Philip José Farmer, and the artwork is via Jim Steranko.


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  1. Is there a track-listing available?

    Yours sincerely

    Giles J Davis

    27th September 2014

  2. Hi Giles,

    I am afraid these mixtapes don’t come with a playlist – it needs to be contributed by users like yourself, in the comments box.


    J from 20jazzfunkgreats

    Yours sincerely


    28th September 2014

  3. 10:03 is “Slipping Beauty” by Vangelis Katsoulis. The other Vangelis :)

    Yours sincerely


    2nd October 2014

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