Friday, May 27, 2011


Shelby Cobras, photographed May 27, 2011

I'm not exactly sure why today's post reminded me of Brother Seanford's words during Guilty Pleasures Week, but it did, and in case you don't already have those words memorized (you really should), they were posted HERE and went something like this:

"...sometimes we as bloggers are compelled to post things based on a criteria that uses something other than quality as a measuring stick, a criteria which uses rarity and trueness to determine whether or not something is postable. Now im not accusing any particular blogger of posting records they’re not crazy about, I’m simply acknowledging an impulse which I believe exists amongst bloggers, perpetuated by a need for social dominance. Is it possible that posting obscure records has become too competitive? Is it possible that even the true catch themselves posing?"

Excellent observations on the part of our beloved second-in-command indeed, observations that do in fact make me question the motives of most music bloggers, observations that make me myself look inward at my own reasoning and internal impetus. Why do I do what I do? Am I looking for some sort of "social acceptance" by posting "obscure" music that may or may not be deemed "good" by my peers via the internet? Are my reasons for spending time almost every day sharing music with the public at large entirely altruistic, or are my attempts at connecting with people via shared opinions about music some sort of psychological compensation for other inadequacies?
I think the answers to these questions boil down to one common denominator, hinted at by Seanford in his earlier quote. The denominator is this: Do I (and other music bloggers) post stuff because it is GOOD or because it is COOL? Let's take a closer look...

- GOOD MUSIC: I guess saying that one posts only "good" music would imply that motivation for sharing comes from some sort of internal barometer of quality, that the blogger in question writes, listens, and works solely out of love for the art form, not from any sort of desire for acceptance or need to be considered "cool" or "fashionable". Sounds which are pleasing to the ear, no matter who makes them or how they are delivered, will be propagated and shared, not through any prism of social judgment or peer approval, but through a sense of benevolence and, to drop an old phrase, sincere BRONESS.

- COOL MUSIC: The idea of posting about "cool" music would seem to indicate that the blogger in question is writing and uploading more out of a sense of inner emptiness and desire for heightened social standing than any real need to share good art. The hipster plague is no stranger to this concept, and while I try not to throw too many stones here in my glass pyramid, I think that many online publications (Pitchfork or Vice perhaps, maybe even certain sites closer to home) tend to hype COOL music rather than GOOD. But I digress.

I think my point is already pretty clear. We here at IllCon love GOOD music, and to prove it, I'm going to post four albums today that absolutely nobody else will like. These are tunes that are indeed close to my heart, that I believe with every fiber of my being resound with talent, integrity, heart, and intelligence. But they are also tunes that will earn myself and Illogical Contraption ZERO fuckin' "cool points" with the In Crowd. YOU won't like this music either, but you know what? I don't care. To me, these four releases are the summation of GOOD MUSIC. That's right: SHELBY COBRAS IS THE ONLY PURE MAN IN THE INDUSTRY.

If you're looking for quality jams, you need look no further than the collected works of Japanese synthesizer maestro Isao Tomita. Sure, I've posted about him in the past (three times, actually), but I've been on a major Tomita bender in the last couple weeks, and felt that it was time to purge a large section of my library.
Some people might write Tomita off as some sort of second-tier Japanese Wendy/Walter Carlos clone, but in all honesty, I find Tomita's compositions to be far more creative and listenable than Carlos' (and I do consider myself a big Carlos fan). Dude shreds balls, and the intergalactic/transdimensional/alien aesthetic of his work vibrates in tune with my own inner Icke. He rules.

Anyway, this intro is way too long already. We've still got four albums to get through.
Let's do this.


Tomita released this collection of tripped-out pop music standards under the moniker "Electric Samurai" way back in '72, between his early years composing themes for film and television and his mid-seventies forays into Moog-ified classical music. The track list here is pretty cheezy (4 Beatles songs, "Jailhouse Rock", and a couple Simon & Garfunkel jams can all be found herein), but Tomita's psychedelic interpretations breathe spastic new life into these tired numbers, and although the album takes a song or two to really get moving, it's fucking unstoppable once it hits stride.
The fact that Switched-On Rock appeared a full four years after Walter Carlos' Switched-on Bach does little to further Tomita's case for artistic independence, but this album is nonetheless an excellent cocktail-party soundtrack and/or late-night hash-smoking companion, depending on your intoxicant of choice. Super mellow but pretty freaky too.

Download HERE


Tomita's electronic interpretation of Claude Debussy's Children's Corner "tone paintings" earned him three Grammy nominations (including one for Best Classical Album) in 1975, and, if that weren't enough already, also contained the theme for the PBS series Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer ("Arabesque No. 1").

From Wikipedia: "The use of the term tone paintings here describes the nature of a large portion of Debussy's work, which was concerned with mood and colour, eschewing traditional tonality in favour of constructions such as the full-tonal scale, parallel chords, bitonality, and to a certain extent atonality, in order to achieve a greater degree of musical expression not allowed by strict adherence to a single key. Thus, the term tone painting is quite appropriate, in that Debussy's compositions often experimented with a much broader palette of tones, allowing each to behave similar to a colour within an illustration."

Also endearing to me is Tomita's penchant for listing every single piece of equipment he used during recording in the liner notes of each album, a list that, for Snowflakes, read as such:

- Moog synthesizer

One 914 extended range fixed filter bank
Two 904-A voltage-controlled low-pass filters
One 904-B voltage-controlled high-pass filter
One 904-C filter coupler
One 901 Voltage-controlled oscillator
Three 901-A oscillator controllers
Nine 901-B oscillators
Four 911 envelope generators
One 911-A dual-trigger delay
Five 902 voltage-controlled amplifiers
One 912 envelope follower
One 984 four-channel mixer
One 960 sequential controller
Two 961 interfaces
One 962 sequential switch
Two 950 keyboard controllers
One 6401 Bode ring modulator

- Tape recorders

One Ampex MM-1100 16-track
One Ampex AG-440 4-track
One Sony TC-9040 4-track
One Teac A-3340S 4-track
One Teac 7030GSL 2-track

- Mixers

Two Sony MX-16 8-channel mixers
Two Sony MX-12 6-channel mixers

- Accessories

One AKG BX20E Echo unit
One Eventide Clockworks "Instant Phaser"
Two Binson Echorec "2" units
One Fender "Dimension IV"
One Mellotron

This is a relatively short list, compared to his later releases.

Download HERE
Purchase HERE


Another standout in a seemingly endless stream of classical-via-Moog releases in the mid-70's, Tomita's reworking of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition (released the same year as his excellent Firebird Suite) finds him at the top of his game creatively, melting faces not only with his nimble fingers but also with a constant barrage of special effects, delay, oscillation, and all manner of other assorted electronic tomfoolery.
The original Pictures, written in 1874, was a tribute by Mussorgsky to his recently-deceased friend, painter Viktor Hartmann, and is meant as an aural analog to attenting one of Hartmann's art shows. It is by far Mussorgsky's best-known work, being interpreted by many a conductor over the years--none of whom could match Tomita's Technicolor treatment, of course.

Wiki again: "Mussorgsky links the suite's movements in a way that depicts the viewer's own progress through the exhibition. Two "Promenade" movements stand as portals to the suite's main sections. Their regular pace and irregular meter depicts the act of walking. Three untitled interludes present shorter statements of this theme, varying the mood, colour and key in each to suggest reflection on a work just seen or anticipation of a new work glimpsed. Mussorgsky, not generally known for cutting a svelte figure, wrote to Stasov: "My physiognomy can be seen in the interludes." A turn is taken in the work at the "Catacombae" when the "Promenade" theme stops functioning as merely a linking device and becomes, in "Cum mortuis", an integral element of the movement itself. The theme reaches its apotheosis in the suite's finale, The Bogatyr Gates."

Download HERE
Purchase HERE


Our final Tomita effort today is The Bermuda Triangle, which, unlike the other albums posted here, contains quite a bit of Tomita's own composition.
Other sections by Prokofiev and John Williams (you'll know it when you hear it) round this one out, with the whole package being a diverse and wholly sci-fi excursion into creepy, spacey realms of pure fantasy and high weirdness. Bermuda is probably my favorite of the four records presented in this post, not only for the completely top-notch music, but for the track listing as well. Check it out:

1. The Round Space Ship Landing on the Earth While Emitting Silvery Lights (The Arrival of UFO and the Mysterious Electric Waves)
2. Look Out the Bermuda Triangle, Look Out the Bermuda Triangle, Look Out
3. Strong Electromagnetic Waves
4. The World of the Different Dimensions
5. The Giant Pyramid Sitting at the Bottom of the Sea of Bermuda and the Ancient People
6. The Venus Wearing the Space Uniform Shining in Florescent Light Color (The Return of UFO)
7. The Children Playing in Agharta, the Deep Underground Kingdom
8. The Hollow Vessel Called the Earth
9. The Song of Venus
10. The Dawn at Bermuda
11. The Mysterious Electric Waves (Computer Data Signals)
12. The Dazzling Bright Cylindrical Object Which Had Crashed Into Tunguska, Siberia
13. The Harp Being Played by the Ancient People and the Venus and Her Space Children Singing the Song of the Future
14. The Visionary Flight to the 1448 Nebular Group of the Bootes (The Departure of UFO)
15. Now, You Have Been Carried Away from the Earth

That's right, my friends: Hollow Earth Theory, UFO's, the Bermuda Triangle, and an insurmountable wall of swirling Moogs all in one place. Please try to contain your excitement.

Download HERE
Purchase HERE

PS: If anyone has a link for Tomita's soundtrack to Catastrophe 1999: The Prophecies of Nostradomus, please send it my way. I have, as of yet, been unable to locate it through conventional means....

Tomita Last.FM

Past Tomita offerings on IC:
Firebird Suite (1975)
The Planets (1976)
Kosmos (1978)



difference_engine said...

Fuck "cool" people. This shit's rad.


Aylmer said...

I'm changing the name of my blog to Unflinching Micropenis.

Anonymous said...

Cobras got tha yellow fevah!

Shelby Cobras said...

Maybe the dingo ate your micropenis.

Manslaughter said...

Electric Samurai cover KILLS it. The pic of the micropenis made me barf in my mouth though. Gag.

teepeetoye said...

Carry that torch. never seen the bermuda triangle or the samurai cover arts. they're amazing. the snowflakes are dancing still makes me feel like i'm hanging out in bladerunner watching replicant swans duel off like that joust game

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Prepare to love me long-time...I believe I've located yer missing soundtrack. I'll re-upload it for ya and send you the link. Don't say I never do nuthin' for ya.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Isao Tomita - Nosutoradamusu No Daiyogen (AKA Catastrophe 1999: The Prophecies Of Nostradmus) OST

Bon appetit!

Shelby Cobras said...


Manslaughter said...


elEmme Enzo said...

Considering his recent passing, would you consider reuploading these?