My view for most of the evening so far involves a lit fireplace, hung stockings and Tina the Cat’s fat ass.
Tina the Cat sure thinks so.
And, yes, I have a Ouija board in my house. Don’t judge.
However, the girls are home now from their party and have more or less retired to their comfy spots (Kelly in her chair quieting crushing candy, and HRH downstairs wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket and watching the evil that is the 2nd season of ‘Fuller House‘) which leaves me to more or less continue embracing my Jazz Boner (and maybe another plate of Christmas cookies), this time with another self-titled album by Moondog.
I got this album by complete accident. I had originally thought that I had ordered his 1969 album which, if you remember, blew me away exactly one month ago (click HERE). Unfortunately, as it turns out that album is out of print and this earlier self-titled album from 1956 (Prestige Records) showed up instead.
Anyway, by the standards of the mid-’50s, or indeed or any era, this was so far-out and noncommercial that it’s difficult to believe it was even released in the first place. Moondog, by this time well known as a New York street musician, drives these pieces along with maraca and clava percussion, often in odd time signatures. The percussion lines are the backbone for unusual melodies, often Asian- or Japanese-inspired, with a movingly mournful (but not unappealing) quality. Washes of wind-like sounds and animal noises are often used to embellish the pieces. Bits of ‘Tree Trail‘ and ‘Frog Bog‘ even come close to exotica, but this ain’t no Martin Denny (who, of course, was also using frog noises on record around this time); Moondog’s music is much less frivolous in intention, and the round-like repetition that flavors all his work is present through most of this disc.
To add to the unpredictability of the proceedings, there’s a Japanese lullaby sung by his wife Suzuko (yup, the crazy blind Viking guy was actually married believe it or not), a percussive duet between Moondog and tap dancer Ray Malone, tribal/Cuban drum passages, and a ‘Street Scene‘ track that mixes Moondog’s drums and poetry with Manhattan traffic. There’s also a ‘Surf Session‘ which is kinda cool given my current reading material.
And then this happened:
Surrealism at it’s finest.
Anyway, it’s all very enigmatic yet attention-holding stuff, ripe for discovery by new generations that will appreciate his defiantly idiosyncratic mix of styles and formats. As Kelly put it so eloquently on her way to bed, “this is, umm, interesting”, which is more or less her way of polite saying “what the fuck, Terry?”
And it’s not like I can blame her as it’s random collections of tweets (the actual bird kind), roars and ribbits, Japanese lullaby’s, babies crying, kooky clapping, New York City traffic, drums and weirdly intriguing instrumentation. In fact, the album features the “Oo”, a triangular stringed instrument struck with a clava, and the Trimba”, a triangular drum – both invented by Moondog himself.
It’s like I’m tripping out, but I’m not.
So, yeah, about them Christmas cookies…