WARMER MIXTAPES #1361 | by Adam Jan Kaufmann [A.J. Kaufmann/Die Rote Erde] of Ex-Suns And White Buckets, Saure Adler and KakofoNIKT.
1. Bulat Okudzhava | Pesenka Ob Arbate (The Pokrovsky Gate Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
I could swear I still got flashes from a period I was too young to remember, when I was about 2 – 3 years old and my mother was spinning her Bulat Okudzhava LPs on an old Polish turntable. Maybe I remember this right, as I still got those records. Pesenka Ob Arbate tells the tale of Arbat, which is a street in Moscow, where artists and academics used to live. Perhaps this song’s subconscious influence on a Polish child shaped my entire viewpoint on Life and Music, the Melancholy and Simplicity, the Truth and the Humility I pursue. In the songs I write and record I go for a raw, primitive feeling, close to Art Brut and poetry, which is exactly what you can hear in Bulat’s recordings, and this one, his most famous song perhaps, is also one of the most haunting. The Human story, Human Voice, Reality and the instrument is what really matters here, the small orchestra of Hope.
2. Woody Guthrie | Struggle Blues
When I got interested in American Folk Music, I discovered Bob Dylan first. And Woody Guthrie thanks to Dylan’s debut album. The first Woody Guthrie LP I bought was Struggle. When I dropped the needle on the record and heard this tune first I was immediately transported to America in the 1940s, the beautiful harmonica, the rhythm, and freedom of country roads and endless skies, small train stations, but also the struggle of working men, blood and the history – including the story I’ve read in the booklet, and everything about America then was captured forever on a piece of vinyl without singing a single word. And this was merely an introduction to the album. Imagine my amazement and growing respect for Mr. Guthrie when I got to know more of his Music. No wonder not only Dylan, but also Donovan tried their best to copy him when they were starting their careers.
3. Hank Williams | Alone And Forsaken
Another true, honest song, with no gimmicks. I’ve got a sentiment for it mostly because, for me, it is the sonic equivalent of Life in a Polish high-rise block, where I was raised, and a window into harsh reality I later learned from my own life, mistakes and relationships. Hank Williams doesn’t have to do anything here, he simply has to be himself in front of a microphone with his guitar, and that’s it. Despair, desperation, disappointment – it’s all here. Nothing distracting the mood, the story Hank tells us, no other instruments, no orchestras, yet the tune tells more with one word than another orchestrated song about breaking up. If anybody would ask me to distill Country Music, it would all come down to this name: Hank Williams. The songs, the lifestyle, the story, it’s all magical, but if you look closer, it’s simply life, and nothing more. And Life can indeed be magical in the right hands. Hank made his life a journey worth living for, and in that he taught me a lesson.
4. The Velvet Underground | European Son
I’m pretty sure this track is legendary to many Sound artists/musicians, as is the album from which it’s taken. For me, it’s the first Rock ‘n’ Roll I’ve consciously heard, and a perfect combination of cheeky, Punk lyrics, Art gallery sound, and maltreated decadent lead guitar that wouldn’t sound out of place on a forward-thinking Jazz album, or a No-Wave album from the ’80s. And to think The Velvets cut the Norman Dolph version of this back in 1966, makes me wonder about endless possibilities of sung or written words and electric guitars we have now, in the 21st Century, thanks to people like Lou Reed. I was listening to this song and album while studying Polish Philology, and writing my first lyrics which weren’t Love songs. European Son changed my life and approach to Art, for better or worse, but I’m thankful it did. I dropped out of one University and went to another.
5. David Bowie | Moonage Daydream
Another classic. I first came upon Mr. Bowie’s Music when I started studying English Philology, and realized I missed something big when I’ve heard Space Oddity on the radio. Reading the Rolling Stone interview with Burroughs and Bowie, knowing Burroughs’ prose before, made me think very highly of Mr. Bowie. The instrumental section always reminds me of Cabaret, and the whole movie passes by before my eyes like an abstract painting, along with every note. The chorus has an enormously beautiful melody, and the lyrics are killer. Mr. Ronson’s solo is particularly emotional and very strong, not to mention perfectly executed. Perfect arrangement too. Personally, I can’t think of a bad Bowie song, but Moonage Daydream is the only one I can loop on my CD player and listen to it all day. And night. And another day. I was humming Moonage Daydream during my first professional photo shoot and I am a huge David Bowie fan.
6. Gil Scott-Heron | Lady Day And John Coltrane
I love both Lady Day and John Coltrane. And I love Gil Scott-Heron. His lyrics are genuine poetry, and this particular song is very soothing, makes you feel you’re enjoying a warm sunny day, even in the middle of the coldest winter. It has a great flow, lyrics, emotional vocals delivering a delicate melody of Hope and Joy, and a bassline I’d love to hear on a Krautrock record, in a different context, maybe I’m thinking Frankie Dymon Jnr? Gil indeed washes your troubles away with his melody, and comforts the ones living, or rather existing, beyond the plastic people’s rat race. I first came upon his work thanks to a friend, a Protestant pastor, who recommended his debut album, and a book of his, The Vulture. His imagery, subject matter and delivery transcend obsolete concepts like Race, Nationality, or Social Status and reach deep into the most important subject we have – our Humanity.
7. Hawkwind | Master Of The Universe
The first track that got me hooked on Space Rock, and, for me, the definition of Space Music up to this day. My favorite version is one found on the Space Ritual double LP, although the studio creation from In Search Of Space has the perfect sound and is the first one I’ve heard. Amazing Dave Brock riff, perfect Dave Anderson bassline, the phasing, and Nik Turner’s vox – the main reason why I sometimes FX the vocals so much, and occasionally phase whole tracks. I also started playing bass inspired by this track. First listened to Master… in Berlin, back in the winter of 2004. I was living in Zehlendorf at the time, reading lots of Joyce and Modern Canadian Poetry, found in my landlord’s library, smoking and writing future songs and lyrics for Sauer Adler. My landlord was Mr. Johann Gottlob von Wrochem, so I had free piano concerts every morning. Of course, Hawkwind used to work with two of my favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers, Michael Moorcock and Robert Calvert.
8. Zager & Evans | In The Year 2525
Since I first watched Planet Of The Apes in 1998 or 1999, I fell in love with early 60s/70s dystopian/Sci-Fi cinema, my favorite movies being Time Machine, Logan’s Run, Fahrenheit 451, Soylent Green, The Omega Man… Which are classics really, and lots of more obscure Sci-Fi flicks. And then this song comes creeping into my life. I’ve heard it first thanks to my then-girlfriend who used to come up with bizarre songs for me to include in live repertoire. It might be a funny Folksy ditty from the perspective of 2014, but the message is powerful, if a bit naive, and the melancholy present in this recording often makes me think, seriously or lightly, of the direction and fate we are headed for as mankind. Hippie fables, really, but I always liked them too. Sonically this makes me think of a band of Psychedelic mariachis conquering the limits of Outer Space on a flying saucer hanging from a, not really invisible, string.
9. Sonic Youth | She Is Not Alone
With this song, I realized I don’t have to make Music like everybody else. I understood that your sound expresses your soul, and that you can make your own music completely on your own, and create your own scene outside of the business. There are many DIY home-recording artists out there, with whom you can feel, or not, a connection, or work with. After all, we are all really traveling waves on one endless tape called Earth, and we continuously record/erase our improvised parts, songs, loops, layers, add or remove tracks and cut-up the surface of our existence in a Burroughsian fashion. The guitars on this track had a similar effect on me as the lead on The Velvet Underground’s European Son. I am thankful for this alteration of Perception, and even if I never really became a fan of Sonic Youth, this song, and the NYC Ghosts & Flowers album will always be close to my heart.
10. MC5 | Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)
Rob Tyner’s opening line alone is worth putting in a museum of Modern Art, were it not for the fact that MC5 Music is way too good to end up in any museum. I remember this one from crazy, and dangerous, parties in Neukölln, Berlin, where it was often played from the original LP along the likes of Magma, Hawkwind, Bang, Blue Cheer and many other classic bands from the Psychedelic era. It’s funny how close a poet and Folk musician can get to good Rock ‘n’ Roll when it comes to his lifestyle. So yes, Rocket Reducer… is Party Music for me, but the raw aesthetic and power that MC5 present here and on their LP full blast is much more than just Rock ‘n’ Roll entertainment. This here is the thinking woman’s/man’s entertainment, a bold artistic statement and kick ass Music in one mighty package, that fuels both intellectual and sexual needs of any wild rock’n’roller.