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13 – BLACK SABBATH – 2013


With ominous imagery and a typical vacuum Iommi riff we are off to the races!! Hello, everybody, tis’ a new Black Sabbath album with the original lineup except for Bill Ward who is replaced by Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine fame. 34 years in the making and here we are, quivering in anticipation. Oye, what is this I see in the opener, modern rock influences in riff salads around 4:00?? While crafted with care and devotion this song “The End of the Beginning” will not be timeless – and that, ladies and gentle men is the story of the day. The next song “God is Dead” makes heavy use of 70’s Sabbath tropes – a very enjoyable track that hearkens back to classics like “Lord of this World” and “Into the Void”. But there is something here that leads me to introspect.Black_Sabbath_13

Sometimes I fear that the emotional connection that I had with music I heard when I was 16 will never form again with the music I hear now. I do not know if I will ever again relish Sabbath like I did when I first heard “Fairies Wear Boots”. This works against the comeback albums of revered gods. We think that they will capture the spirit of the original zeitgeist, that we will be transported to a musty, ancient world that haunted as, that we will see a figure in black beckoning us to come closer. That this will not happen with 13 is not surprising – and maybe I find Morbid Angel to be more relevant than Sabbath – joyful head banging to “Electric Funeral” has been replaced by mournful introspection to the tune of “The Ancient Ones”.

The riffs are awesome and Ozzy is in good form – lucid and clear. However – I feel tired and washed out – for some reason the simple direct riffs, the Iommi hooks and the Butler bass interplay is not very enthusing. Where do we go from here, where music from hither? I like what’s next, a “Planet Caravan” esque ballad. It draws me in and amuses my mind for a few moments. Not bad. However, I have to switch off “13” when it gets over and listen to “Snowblind” and “Wheels of Confusion” to regain my confidence.

I guess Sabbath’s “13”, while technically perfect and made with the best intentions, fails to truly inspire my imagination. Enjoyable but with a mediocre shelf life, and that’s the bottom line.

Recommended Tracks – God is Dead, Zeitgeist, Loner.

-Baba T


Devotion – JESSIE WARE – 2012


In my angriest moments while writing about music I turn my fury on vacuous popular music that expresses nothing of value. However there are phases or moments when a pop song touches my strings and remains etched for – say longer than the usual 2 minutes.Jessie_Ware_Devotion

Jessie Ware has stuck with me for months now – alongside all the chest thumping and head banging – I have been listening to Devotion – firstly because this is very aesthetically pleasing. The production smooths over rough edges and lets the synths shine and allows the vocals (of a rich, deep hue) to flow seamlessly along with the electronic beats and rhythms; the vocals are as smooth as one of the synths and almost one with the music. Ware never tries to show off her voice at the expense of the music (She ain’t no Mariah Carey, for sure). It is a very integrated, unified album. It feels whole. It doesn’t sound like a collection of singles bunched together so that they could sell a cd.

However the most important reason that this clicked for me though is because it doesn’t feel empty and fake – though Ware doesn’t use obvious emotional pop music cues to evoke or mimic a certain feeling or mood – in fact there are heavy techno – house – electronica influences (Moby, anybody?) which are not directly heart stirring like a simple combination of a few major chords would be – but it works – because of something intangible – under the surface – something subtle.

A soft, tender record meant for delicate summer evenings – maybe embellished with a glass of red wine – in the arms of a suitable companion.

Recommended Tracks – Wildest Moments (Yes, this is the song that Durex is using for their condom ads), Running, No To Love, Night Light. 

-Baba T


Aske – BURZUM – 1993


Yes, this is the one with the burned church on the cover. In the same mold as “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” with the same stylistic leanings, this remains essential to black metal lore. Burzum hadn’t reached the trance like stylings that were later achieved on Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or on Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger – there are frequent riff changes and variety.Burzum_aske

However these tracks remain classic black metal – they are primal – basic – feral. There is an ancient feeling here – the sound evokes something that existed long before even though the music is produced by modern instruments – the music feels as ancient as Stonehenge – as old as the cultures who worshipped nature and lived in caves. It hearkens back to the time when man adapted to nature and not the other way around. (Nature might adapt but the consequences of such adaptation are often disastrous for the human species – refer the recent natural “adaptation” in India where “developmental” activities led to floods in which many locals and pilgrims died. Maybe we should ask the pilgrims if their God would help them now.)

Black metal as espoused on this record is an experience – a feral one that lays bare the nature of this universe – unforgiving, unpredictable, primal and without a conscience. Burzum is the peak of black metal and along with the debut, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Aske, forms the perfect soundtrack for a modern society intent on consuming itself.

-Baba T


Out of Time – R.E.M – 1991


This album is the most straight-forward, poppy, simplistic and emphatic album that R.E.M ever wrote – it is delightful. I am particularly attached to it, this being the first R.E.M album I ever heard, and among the first 50 albums I ever heard. There goes objectivity – or not – such a thing as objectivity in music doesn’t exist whatever Pitchfork or Rolling Stones might try to tell you- yes, my feelings are colored by my past association but what use is music if not to color your feelings.

As I noted, I am comfortable with this album – its like my bed in my old room – I know every twist and turn – every nook and cranny – I’ve had time to grow up with these songs in my head. I could’ve regaled you with my multiple interpretations of “Losing My Religion” but unfortunately have forgotten all of them but I still love the video and the song – Michael Stipe is in fine form as usual, he sounds as vulnerable and human as ever. R.E.M._-_Out_of_Time

They have used the tracklisting to make sure that we move through multiple moods and not stay in one spot too long – from happy, frolicking rhythms (Radio Song/Shiny Happy People) to meditative introspection (Losing My Religion/Half a World Away) to whimsically sad and angsty (Low/Country Feedback) to a peaceful and quiet slumber (Near Wild Heaven/Endgame/Me in Honey)

Apart from the interminably long Low most of the songs are good, and at the time this album ushered in a new era for R.E.M – 60’s pop-rock era updated for the 90’s. An album for contented, happy people – or for people who want to feel that way – this one has been my stalwart companion through the years.

Recommended Tracks – Losing My Religion, Half a World Away (covered later by Oasis), Country Feedback, Near Wild Heaven.

-Baba T


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