Groove Orient: South Asian Elements in Psychedelic Jazz

Jazz’s engagement with South Asian musical ideas and instruments in the 1960s and 70s didn’t just make ‘spiritual’ or ‘world’ jazz. Out of the extraordinary variety of jazz experiments with Indian musical traditions came all kinds of funky, soulful, groovy, exploratory and just plain far out sounds. We collected some of our favorites. 

Saturnalia: Deep Jazz for Long Nights, 1969-1980

The days are growing shorter and the holidays are upon us. In the interest of making everyone’s lives slightly easier this season, we returned to the golden era of electric jazz and put together a long compilation of cocktail funk and rare groovers to spin for a house full of family and friends. Press play and let it spin. One less thing to worry about.

Every Angel’s Terrifying: Explorations in German Jazz-Rock, 1970-1980

… reverberating flutes, amplified saxophones, liquid Fender Rhodes keyboards The guitars are jazzy and lysergic in turn, sometimes in the very same track. At times, the drums sit right in the pocket; moments later, they are thundering out for the old gods. It was not so much a fusion of jazz and rock as a continuum where these forms could mutate one into another and back again. All of this music is compelling; some of it is sublime. This darker corner of the krautrock era of the 1970s deserves a good deal more light.

Bill Laswell Research Institute: Vol I & II

The Bill Laswell Research Institute was coined by a group of like-minded record heads based in Philadelphia. Time and time again, someone in the crew would bring something mind blowing to a listening session and Bill Laswell’s name would pop up in the credits. It’s truly astonishing how Laswell collided with vastly divergent musicians and genres while somehow still representing complementary musical spheres.

While pulling together tracks to compile a mix that we felt would best represent Bill’s work, we realized it was going to take multiple volumes due to the sheer magnitude of his output. As such, we decided to compile the mixes based on two 15 year blocks.

Absolute Sons of Bitches: Global Fusion Grooves, 1970-1977

In the smoking aftermath of Miles Davis’s landmark Bitches Brew, musicians across the planet tried to come to grips with its dense, freaky, electric grooves. Aquarium Drunkard scoured the globe to bring you five hours of seismic seventies funk and fusion from far and near. The weather’s changing. Nights are growing longer. And this is the way we all keep our heads right.

Who Knows Where The Time Goes: Twelve Years of Turquoise Wisdom

Aquarium Drunkard turned 17 a few months ago, and Zach Cowie (aka Turquoise Wisdom) has been a part of it for 12 of those years, beginning with the third entry in our (then new) guest selector series. A music supervisor by trade, Cowie’s mixes span myriad decades, genres, and moods, always aesthetically maintaining an empathetic through line. Now totaling a baker’s dozen, we have re-upped each individual mix beginning with the first volume from 2010.

Mwandishi: Wandering Spirit Songs

Unlike Bitches Brew’s monolithic density that, at times, obscured the band, it was Mwandishi’s individual players who got the machine up and running. If one part of the equation were to be removed, the entire unit would collapse. It was one of music’s most successful experiments in Group Dynamics and set the tone in jazz for a decade. Here, we have assembled these players at the height of their creative powers in the early seventies. All are accompanied by at least one of their Mwandishi compatriots, and most feature much of the ensemble. The breadth of this universe is expansive but listen closely and the sonic tether keeping them connected is revealed.

First & Last: Japanese Private Press, Vol. 5

Fourteen humble, cosmic and fragile tracks scanning folk and rock. Welcome to the fifth installment of First & Last, a series of mixes providing a glimpse into the world of Japanese private press, or 自主盤, pronounced “jishuban”, which loosely translates to “independent board.” A proper companion for these lingering, dusky summer days.

Radio Is A Foreign Country :: Electro-Folk Sounds of North Sumatra (Mixtape)

Radio Is A Foreign Country is a not-for-profit radio platform and mixtape series that exposes listeners to obscure (and mostly vintage) regional folk and pop music from the global hinterlands, featuring cut-ups of international radio broadcasts (AM, FM, shortwave), field recordings, ethnographic film, vintage records and cassettes, and digital ephemera from the far reaches of the internet. For this special mixtape, the Radio Is A Foreign Country crew brings us a cross-section of North Sumatran electro folk.

First & Last: Japanese Private Press, Vol. 3

For much of Japan’s youth, the five nationally televised Beatles concerts of 1966 were transformational. Japanese academic Toshinobu Fukuya stated that the Beatles embodied a new identity for the country’s youth. Their presence had signaled that “one did not always have to obediently follow arrangements prescribed by adults; it was possible to follow one’s own path and still be socially and financially successful in life”

In this vein, we open this third installment of First & Last with a track from 1974 by 田中寛 (Hiroshi Tanaka) & 不破洋一 (Yoichi Fuwa), who in their liner notes written by a friend, dub the band as the “Late-Arriving Heirs of the Beatles.”