In the mid 1980s an underground community festered in blue collared Seattle. Inspired by the DIY raucous of punk and the burly distortion of metal, grunge music was born. The region was initially ignored by the music media in favor of bigger cities like LA and New York. Acts with harder, dirtier edges like U-Men inspired early bands of the scene like Green River, Malfunkshun, Skin Yard and Melvins. The loud, fast, moody, abrasive and authentic scene eventually spread beyond the Pacific Northwest, influencing bands like Babes in Toyland, L7 and Hole. As grunge hit the cultural zeitgeist through outlets like MTV, there was a tension between attaining success and staying true to their home-grown authenticity. While bands like Mudhoney maintained their independent and punk ethos, it was Nirvana who turned grunge upside down and ushered in the transformation towards more anthemic and arena-ready rock like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It may have given way to some embarrassing post-grunge alt metal shite, but we can still look back on this important and transformative movement fondly.

 

1. U-Men – “They!” from Deep Six Compilation

2. Green River – “Swallow My Pride” from Rehab Doll

3. Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick” from Superfuzz Bigmuff EP

4. Melvins – “Heater Moves and Eyes” from Gluey Porch Treatments

5. Babes in Toyland – “Bruise Violet” from Fontanelle

6. L7 – “Fast and Frightening” from Smell the Magic

7. Alice In Chains – “Man In the Box” from Facelift

8. Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from Nevermind

9. Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” from Ten

10. Hole – “Violet” from Live Through This

11. Soundgarden – “Spoonman” from Superunknown

12. Mad Season – “River of Deceit” from Above

 

Companion Material:
Everybody Loves Our Town by Mark Yam
Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music by Greg Prato
Hype!
Kurt & Courtney and Soaked In Bleach

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Time to whisk away to a fictional paradise with our show on Exotica. Exotica was a popular jazz and easy-listening genre from the late ’50s and early ’60s that harnessed America’s interest in faux-Polynesian and tiki culture. Utilizing vibraphones, piano, exotic percussion and a healthy dose of bird calls, Exotica crafted a unique and fantastical world for its listeners to inhabit. We cover Martin Denny’s genre-defining output, Les Baxter’s essential compositions that laid the groundwork for the movement, Arthur Lyman’s gorgeous, dreamy vibes and of course plenty of oddball outliers as well. Make yourself a strong mixed drink and melt into your couch on this episode of Philosophy of the World.

1. Martin Denny – “Quiet Village” from Exotica

2. Les Baxter & His Orchestra – “Jungle Jalopy” from Ritual of the Savage

3. eden ahbez – “La Mar” from Eden’s Island

4. Arthur Lyman – “Sea Breeze” from Taboo

5. Frank Hunter & His Orchestra – “White Goddess” from White Goddess

6. Ethel Azama – “Ringo Oiwake” from Exotic Dreams

7. Elisabeth Waldo – “Festival Of Texcatlipoca” from Rites Of The Pagan

8. Robert Drasnin – “Hindara” from Voodoo!

9. Paul Conrad – “Kahuna” from Exotic Paradise

10. The Surfmen – “Orchid Lagoon” from The Sounds Of Exotic Island

11. Bud Tutmarc – “End Of The Trail” from Sacred Hawaiian Melodies

12. The Gene Rains Group – “Tropic Trade Winds” from Far Across The Sea

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You may have a definition of “post-rock” in your mind, but the prospect of encapsulating the variety of bands and sounds that have been labeled with the term over time is nearly futile. This month, Philosophy of the World goes back to the early 1990’s when the term meant, “using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes”. These artists took rock music to experimental realms often incorporating elements of jazz, electronic, musique concrete, dub, and kosmische to make something new in the face of a music scene dominated by grunge and Britpop. Listen with us as we explore the beginnings of the subgenre with Talk Talk’s irreproducible spacious jazz-inflected songs, Disco Inferno’s extreme experimentation with looped samples, the foreboding tone poems of Slint, and Tortoise’s ever-exploratory, rhythmic rock incorporating elements of minimalism, dub and jazz. Before being reduced to cathartic crescendos, post-rockers were a group of musicians unafraid to push the boundaries of what rock could be.

 

1. Talk Talk – “Ascension Day” from Laughing Stock

2. Bark Psychosis – “A Street Scene” from Hex

3. Disco Inferno – “In Sharky Water” from D.I. Go Pop

4. Pram – “Earthing and Protection” from Sargasso Sea

5. Stereolab – “Orgiastic” from Peng!

6. Slint – “Breadcrumb Trail” from Spiderland

7. Tortoise – “Glass Museum” from Millions Now Living Will Never Die

8. Rodan – “Bible Silver Corner” from Rusty

9. Rachel’s – “The Siren” from The Sea and the Bells

10. Dirty Three – “I Remember a Time When Once You Used to Love Me” from Horse Stories

 

Companion Material
Simon Reynold’s Post-Rock Article for The Wire
Fearless: The Making of Post-Rock by Jeanette Leech
Storm Static Sleep: A Pathway Through Post-Rock by Jack Chuter
Breadcrumb Trail Documentary
Half-Cocked
The Lost Generation

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In the late ‘60s, the Brazilian psychedelic music of Tropicália was led by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. These visionaries sought to make music representative of all classes and social statuses by not only embracing Brazilian music like bossa nova, but also incorporating rock, psychedelia and experimental elements from the US, UK and beyond. Their harsh criticism of an iron-fisted, CIA-backed dictatorship resulted in the forced exile of Veloso and Gil in 1969. Despite this, likeminded artists persisted. The erudite experimentations of Tom Zé, far-out explorations of Gal Costa, eclectic psych pop of Os Mutantes, beautiful arrangements of Rogerio Duprat, and the fuzzed out Os Brazões pushed the bounds of the country’s musical tradition. These are the figureheads of the Brazilian counterculture, Tropicália.

 

1. Caetano Veloso – “Tropicália” from Caetano Veloso

2. Tom Zé – “Quero Sambar Meu Bem” from Tom Zé aka Grande Liquidação

3. Gilberto Gil – “Coragem Pra Suportar” from Gilberto Gil

4. Os Mutantes – “Panis et Circenses” from Os Mutantes

5. Os Brazões – “Pega A Voga Cabeludo” from Os Brazões

6. Gal Costa – “Tuareg” from Gal

7. Lula Côrtes E Zé Ramalho – “Bailado Das Muscarias” from Paêbirú

8. Jorge Ben – “País Tropical” from Jorge Ben

9. Nara Leão – “Lindonéia” from Tropicália ou Panis et Circencis

10. Rita Lee – “Vamous Tratar Da Saúde” from Hoje É O Primeiro Dia Do Resto Da Sua Vida

11. Novos Baianos – “Mistério do Planeta” from Acabou Chorare

12. Nelson Angelo E Joyce – “Meus Vinte Anos” from Nelson Angelo E Joyce

 

Companion Material
Hélio Oiticica’s Tropicália
Nelson Motta’s “A Cruzada Tropicalista” (The Tropicalist Crusade)
Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture
Tropicália Documentary by Marcello Machado
BBC Brasil, Brasil Episode 2: Tropicália Revolution

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This month on Philosophy of the World we present a primer on German music from the 1970’s, pejoratively known as krautrock but more accurately branded kosmische musik (or cosmic music). This was music by the 1968 Generation of West Germany emerging from the various student counterculture movements. The otherworldly music they created was the consequence of seeking a new cultural identity by not only vehemently rejecting post-Nazi Germany, but also resisting imperial Americanization after the construction of the Iron Curtain. Through the adoption of the Moog synthesizer, machine-made music, and influences from not only around the globe but also from the cosmos these bands created something wholly new. This spawned artists like the pastoral and motorik-driven Neu!, the art commune weirdos Faust, and progressive electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel. Join us as we explore the many facets of this cosmic music.

 

1. Neu! – “Isi” from Neu! 75

2. Harald Grosskopf – “So Weit, So Gut” from Synthesist

3. Cluster – “Hollywood” from Zuckerzeit

4. Can – “Vitamin C” from Ege Bamyasi

5. Faust – “Just a Second (Starts Like That!) / Picnic on a Frozen River / Deuxieme Tableaux” from Faust IV

6. Kraftwerk – “The Model” from The Man Machine

7. La Düsseldorf – “La Düsseldorf” from La Düsseldorf

8. Harmonia – “Notre Dame” from Deluxe

9. Ash Ra Tempel – “Deep Distance” from New Age of Earth

10. Tangerine Dream – “Movements of a Visionary” from Phaedra

 

Companion Material
Krautrock: German Music in the Seventies by Ulrich Adelt
Electri_City: The Dusseldorf School of Electronic Music by Rudi Esch
Future Days by David Stubbs
Krautrocksampler by Julian Cope
Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany

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Breaking free and seeking a new, transcendent language for music, spiritual jazz arose under the umbrella of free jazz amidst the civil rights era of the 1960s. Lead by incredible players like John & Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith and many others. This music created melodies incorporating elements from Indian classical music and the Far East, mysticism, and more textured arrangements with uncommon instrumentation such as tablas, tambura and harps. Philosophy of the World presents a primer on this unique brand of jazz that sought the sacred.

 

1. John Coltrane – “Welcome” from Kulu Se Mama

2. Lonnie Liston Smith & the Cosmic Echoes – “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord” from Astral Traveling

3. Alice Coltrane – “Journey in Satchidananda” from Journey in Satchidananda

4. Pharoah Sanders – “Astral Traveling” from Thembi

5. Bennie Maupin – “Ensenada” from The Jewel in the Lotus

6. Leon Thomas – “The Creator Has a Master Plan” from Spirits Known and Unknown

7. Michael White – “The Blessing Song” from Pneuma

8. Don Cherry – “Love Train” from Eternal Now

9. Joe Henderson & Alice Coltrane – “Water” from The Elements

10. Sonny Sharrock – “Black Woman” from Black Woman

 

Companion Material
The House that Trane Built by Ashley Kahn
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
NTS Radio Black Classical: History of Spiritual Jazz Parts 1-4
Pitchfork’s Spiritual Jazz Primer

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Philosophy of the World episode 32 is all about the early years of post-punk. It’s such a diverse and important movement we couldn’t fit it all in so we focused on its formative years of 1978 and 1979. From the ashes of UK punk, the appropriately dubbed post-punk emerged carrying the raw DIY ethos of punk but embracing new sounds and experimentation. A disparate group of artists coalesced under the expansive umbrella of post-punk in major hubs of London and Manchester in the UK and New York and San Francisco in the US. Dig in to this rich movement with us and enjoy the angular funkiness of Gang of Four, the dub-infused rhythms of The Slits, the early synth experimentations of Tuxedomoon, and the textured, cold dissonance of Public Image Ltd.

 

1. Public Image Ltd. – “Public Image” from First Issue

2. Magazine – “Definitive Gaze” from Real Life

3. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Hong Kong Garden” from The Scream

4. Gang of Four – “Damaged Goods” from Entertainment!

5. Wire – “Practice Makes Perfect” from Chairs Missing

6. Tuxedomoon – “No Tears” from Tuxedomoon EP

7. A Certain Ratio – “Do the Du” from The Graveyard & the Ballroom

8. The Pop Group – “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” from Y

9. The Slits – “FM” from Cut

10. Public Image Ltd. – “Careering” from Second Edition/Metal Box

11. Pere Ubu – “Navvy” from Dub Housing

12. The Fall – “It’s the New Thing” from Live at the Witch Trials

13. The Raincoats – “Adventures Close to Home” from The Raincoats

14. Joy Division – “Disorder” from Unknown Pleasures

 

Companion Material
PiL on The Tom Snyder Show
Siouxsie & the Banshees’ Lords Prayer
Blaine Reininger (of Tuxedomoon) Documentary
Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds
Early Show by The Slits
BBC Four Punk Britannia (Part 3 of 3)

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This month on Philosophy of the World, episode 29 is all about the “scene that celebrates itself.” Shoegazing was a relatively short-lived subgenre emerging from the confluence of punk, post-punk, space rock and dream pop in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s in the UK. We start by listening to some “proto-shoegaze” including the noise pop of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the wall-of-guitars space rock of Loop and ethereal dream pop of Cocteau Twins. We then focus on the initial wave of shoegaze bands up to about 1993. Not only do we listen to the “big three” including My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Slowdive, but we also spin some of the lesser appreciated groups such as the harder-edged Catherine Wheel, industrial gothisms of Curve, and the hypnotic pop of Pale Saints. Enjoy this primer on a subgenre that, while brief, continues to influence underground music today.

 

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Taste of Cindy” from Psychocandy

2. Loop – “Too Real to Feel” from Heaven’s End

3. Cocteau Twins – “Carolyn’s Fingers” from Blue Bell Knoll

4. My Bloody Valentine – “Lose My Breath” from Isn’t Anything

5. Ride – “Vapour Trail” from Nowhere

6. Pale Saints – “Sea of Sound” from The Comforts of Madness

7. Lush – “Sweetness and Light” from Gala

8. Chapterhouse – “Pearl” from Whirlpool

9. My Bloody Valentine – “Sometimes” from Loveless

10. Curve – “Coast Is Clear” from Pubic Fruit

11. The Boo Radleys – “Skyscraper” from Everything’s Alright Forever

12. Catherine Wheel – “I Want to Touch You” from Ferment

13. Slowdive – “Machine Gun” from Souvlaki

14. The Verve – “Star Sail” from A Storm in Heaven

 

Companion Material
Beautiful Noise Documentary
Upside Down: The Creation Records Story
Pitchfork Classic: Slowdive – Souvlaki
How Soon Is Now? by Richard King

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