Posts by Ethan Simonoff

B.W.H. was an Italo-disco project featuring Carlo Favilli and Stefano Zito. B.W.H. only produced one single, “Livin’ Up,” on House of Music, a subsidiary of Best Record. The B-side to that single, “Stop,” is today’s featured track. Favilli and Zito were hugely influential in the Italo-disco scene. In addition to B.W.H., the production duo were credited on several releases, often by bands put together for a single song/release. Some of these include Mr. Master and Blackway (who also released music with Helene).

Several other musicians/performers have claimed involvement with these releases, most notably DJ and producer Casco (aka Salvatore Cusato) who is rumored to have used the pseudonym C. Salomone as a session musician. More recent represses of B.W.H. and Blackway releases have been titled as “Casco Presents…” In fact, the level to which Zito and Favilli actually contributed is disputed. Nevertheless, almost everything that Zito and Favilli worked on (including solo projects) is very good Italo-disco and comes highly recommended.

[Discogs (B.W.H.)]
[Discogs (Favilli)]
[Discogs (Mr. Master)]

This track comes from the 1986 album Cologne. I’ve got this on LP, which might make me the envy of a few collectors; it can go for some pretty high prices. Note the presence of Cindy (another J-Funk performer), who sings vocals in the chorus on this album.

Since there is almost no information available (in English) about Kaoru Akimoto, and I don’t wish to scrounge the liner notes for various English words that I can transcribe here, I’m going to briefly share with you one of my other favorite Japanese funk groups. Omega Tribe (also known as 1986 Omega Tribe, Brand New Omega Tribe, and various others over the years) put out some great stuff in the mid-’80s. In their early career, Kiyotaka Sugiyama sang for the group. Carlos Toshiki took over that role a few years later. The group kept making music well into the ’90s, and though I can’t guarantee that those were their shining years, everything I have heard from them from the ’80s is amazing; you’d be wise to check it out.

[Discogs (Akimoto)]
[Discogs (Omega Tribe)]

Loren Mazzacane Connors breaks WNUR’s Track of the Day hiatus with a song from his 2011 album, Red Mars. Connors’ career has spanned several decades, and he has performed with the likes of Jim O’Rourke, Keiji Haino, David Grubbs, John Fahey, and Darin Gray. He first began making music in the late ’70s, releasing several albums of improvised folk and blues. Before a short hiatus from music during the mid-’80s, Connors released several albums with fellow New Haven vocalist Kath Bloom. It wasn’t until 1987 that Connors, who has also released music as Guitar Roberts, Loren Mattei, and Loren MazzaCane, took up electric guitar and began releasing his characteristic ethereal guitar music.

[Discogs]
[Family Vineyard]

Wesley Willis was a Chicago-based outsider artist and musician, who passed away in 2003. His artwork consisted primarily of ink drawings of Chicago landscapes and skylines. In 1989, Willis was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia This song is one of several about ‘whupping’ superheroes. Many of the songs he wrote featured obscene lyrics, including a large number of songs devoted to bestiality. His approach to songwriting was very systematic; typically, he sung over various Casio keyboard presets, composed of a few verses and an instrumental interlude, followed by a final verse and ending with some slogan (e.g. “Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions,” etc.).

A documentary made back in 2003 by Daniel Bitton follows Willis around in his daily activities, and can be seen in its entirety here. In 1991, he formed the band the Wesley Willis Fiasco with Pat Barnard and Dale Meiners. The group also released a 7″ with Sublime in 1996.

[Alternative Tentacles]
[Discogs]
[iTunes]

This track is taken from the 1971 album Church of Anthrax, a collaboration between minimalist composer Terry Riley and experimental musician John Cale. Cale has had an extensive solo career, in addition to his involvement with The Velvet Underground. He was classically trained in viola and played with Tony Conrad and La Monte Young in Theater of Eternal Music. He has also worked as a studio musician for a wide variety of artists including Patti Smith and Nick Drake.

Terry Riley also played in Theater of Eternal Music, although he’s best known for his work as a composer. Riley’s music shows influences of Indian classical, jazz, and other contemporary minimalist composers—one of his pieces, In C, featured Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick in its first performance. Riley also experimented with sequencing electronic music. He composed and programmed his album A Rainbow in Curved Air entirely electronically.

[Discogs]
[John Cale's Website]
[Terry Riley's Website]