Carla Bley – Tropic Appetites 12” LP

Carla Bley-tropic appetites

A wonderful piece of Avant-Garde class from 1974. Carla Bley was the Norse arch-bohemian Blanca lookin’ nut-case & composer bad-ass running with a crew of super cool NY envelope-pushers. This is also the first outing on her long-running record label Watt that she co-produced (& I assume founded?) with trumpeter Michael Mantler. Mantler is on this recording as well along with the great Dave Holland on bass, Howard Johnson on tuba & a whole gaggle of loons (seven in total) all enabling a herculean scope of detail & depth. I have chased-down a fair few of Carla’s records after first shoring on Tropic Appetites, but have thus far found none of them as kooked & delightfully odd as this one. Carla is of course a formidable composer as well as a pianist & vocalist & is responsible for the formation of all music on this LP. It splays dramatically from nursery rhyme alluding material, to chaotic improvisation, traditional Far Eastern themed/influenced tonics, Jazz, dirge, Avant-Garde, Progressive Rock & otherwise in an exultant & exotic pastiche. Rich in theatre, poetry & prose (the words on this album come from poet Paul Haines), mirth, darkness & plenty of raunch & ribaldness, the LP produces a pretty much perfect platter of eccentricity & unidentified sensory peculiarity. Daring, playful & mad with what seems like a tremendous effort from Carla to construct intensely varied & dramatic set-pieces of vivid sonic surrealism, backed by the resoundingly excellent musicianship of the supporting cast to take it direct to the envisioned destinations. What else to say? It’s the kind of beautifully bonkers shit that really puts a smile on my face. The inner LP-sleeve itself is as well a splendid & perfectly complimentary montage of various deities, totems, carvings & miscellaneous “tropical” looking randomness to serve as the records palanquin. Thoroughly Delectable!

Rekd: 1973-1974

Label: Watt