Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Bryan Ferry,
Live at the Royal
Albert Hall 1974

Bryan Ferry’s solo discography commenced in deceptively lowkey fashion with a pair of covers albums in 1973-’74. The setlist for BMG’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1974 draws from those records as it showcases the man’s sturdy, distinctive pipes and equally unique interpretive skills plus a killer band including guitarist Phil Manzanera, guitarist-musical director John Porter, pianist-violinist Eddie Jobson, bassist John Wetton, drummer Paul Thompson, and saxophonist Chris Mercer. It’s out now on LP and CD; both are included in a box set that’s loaded with extras.

An eternally sharp dresser with an erudite croon, Bryan Ferry can be synopsized as the high priest of chic. However, the sheer brevity of this designation ignores the atypical and occasionally downright oddball aspects of his personality; the art-school (big on Duchamp, he was), the art-rock (bandmate of Eno, he was), the smoky late-night lounge (a persistent component in his image, it was), the jetsetter (ditto), the student of pop (as revealed in numerous interviews and journalistic portraits over the years). All are traits that have fortified his work both with Roxy Music and as a solitary operator.

If you know Bryan Ferry’s solo debut These Foolish Things and its follow-up Another Time, Another Place, then you’re already hip to what transpires on Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1974. With the exception of “A Real Good Time,” a Ferry original from Roxy Music’s Country Life (released roughly a month prior to this performance), all the songs are drawn from his first two, and the only other non-cover is the title track from his second.

If you don’t know those records but do know Ferry, perhaps picking up the career thread at Roxy’s Siren (with its big hit single “Love is the Drug”) or maybe having just absorbed a latter portion of his long tenure as the Svengali of suavedom, this archival set needs a little contextualizing. Because for some, the contents, at least as represented on those solo LPs, inspired some head-scratching.

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TVD Radar: Stone Crush: Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987, 2LP with bonus 7” in stores 4/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Light in the Attic Records adds another entry to its acclaimed catalog with Stone Crush: Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987, the definitive overview of the modern soul scene of Bluff City’s post-Stax years.

Over a decade in the making and compiled by renowned Memphis collectors and DJs Daniel Mathis and Chad Weekley, Stone Crush is an expertly curated anthology of these home-grown slices of Memphis stylings, from the “Singing Dentist” O.T. Sykes’ private press soul to the visionary bedroom funk of Captain Fantastic & Starfleet—rare sides whose original copies are considered holy grails by DJs and collectors all over. The accompanying full-color booklet includes unseen archival photos and extensive liner notes by Memphis curator/writer Andria Lisle and Grammy Award-winning writer Robert Gordon.

Available now for pre-order, the long-awaited release will hit the streets on April 3rd on 2-LP, CD, digital. “Galaxy Haze Orange/Red” color vinyl will be available to U.S. indie retail stores and as an exclusive to the Light In The Attic Online Store, “Blue/Orange” color vinyl will be available with a bonus 7” single of Mark Anthony & Lyte Speed’s rare roller skate boogie funk classic “I’m Just A Boogie Roller.” Exclusive merchandise available from the Light In The Attic Online Store includes a newly-designed Stone Crush t-shirt, a “Home Of The Blues” tote bag, and a hat emblazoned with Lyte Speed’s iconic logo.

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TVD Radar: Cat Stevens, Matthew & Son and New Masters vinyl reissues in stores 3/27

VIA PRESS RELEASE | UMe will reissue Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ first two albums Matthew & Son and New Masters on March 27, available on vinyl for the first time since 1982. Exquisitely ‘De-mixed’ with enhanced vocals at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, both albums will be available on 180-gram vinyl with fully restored artwork.

Featuring newly enhanced vocals, Abbey Road Studios have used their revolutionary ‘Demix’ software on the original master tapes to reinvigorate and breathe new life into both albums. Where vocals have always been buried by the subsequent orchestral backing track, ‘Demixing’ enables the studio to digitally extract and enhance the original vocals to create a superior listening experience for fans. As well as vocals, ‘Demixing’ has also considerably helped amplify the bass, something that was commonly strenuous to achieve with mixes in the late 1960s.

Matthew & Son and New Masters provide a fascinating insight into the beginnings of one of the UK’s greatest singer-songwriters. Having grown up above his parents’ cafe in the West End, Cat Stevens emerged from the early ‘60s folk club scene to release his highly successful debut album, Matthew & Son, in 1967; notably around the time he toured alongside Jimi Hendrix in the UK.

The album reached number 7 in the UK charts and was supported by the single “I Love My Dog” and “Matthew & Son” – the latter reaching number 2 in the UK charts; quickly elevating him to the status of a teen pop idol. Notably the album also featured John Paul Jones. Simultaneously, Cat’s songs were being recorded by other artists such as The Tremeloes, who also had a 1967 hit with “Here Comes My Baby,” which helped to establish his reputation as a truly gifted songwriter.

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Graded on a Curve:

Bambara formed over a decade ago in Athens, GA, with a move to Brooklyn thereafter. The release of Stray on February 14 via Wharf Cat Records finds them four LPs deep in a discography that has evinced considerable refinement. Consistencies include attention to texture and dynamics as they resist cliché in the development of a sound that’s literary and cinematic; think Southern Gothic and New Hollywood neo-noir and you’re cruising through Bambara’s part of town. Offering vivid imagery but with sparks of spontaneity, the new record continues the expansion of their style with no loss of potency.

Comprised of twin brothers Reid (vocals, guitar) and Blaze (drums, vocals) Bateh and William Brookshire (bass, vocals), Bambara’s earlier material resides nearer to the noise zone. This isn’t exactly an uncommon scenario with bands as the members start settling down from energetic beginnings and become more adept at working up songs.

But on that note, with the exception of a pair of cassette EPs, “Rings” from 2012, which features live vocal pieces recorded with a telephone mic by Reid Bateh, and “Night Chimes” from 2015 (also issued as a lathe-cut 7-inch in 2017), which is “12 minutes of manipulated vocals and collected samples” broken into five tracks, everything I’ve heard by them has been rooted pretty firmly in song structure (and “Night Chimes,” while textural, isn’t exactly abstract).

As specified above, with the emergence of Stray the count is now four albums (using the math in the press release, as the internet documents a self-titled 2008 CD and a 2010 CD EP “Dog Ear Days” that I’m guessing the band is evaluating as formative). The first was Dreamweapon from 2013, initially self-released but quickly given a wax pressing by Arrowhawk Records, followed by Swarm in 2016 (also on Arrowhawk) and then Shadow on Everything, their first for Wharf Cat, in 2018.

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TVD Radar: Nina Simone, Fodder On My Wings reissue in stores 4/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Recorded in 1982, not long after she moved to Paris, Fodder On My Wings was one of Nina Simone’s favorite albums yet has remained one of her most obscure.

Originally recorded for a small French label and only sporadically available since its initial release, Fodder On My Wings will be reissued in a variety of formats including CD and LP, as well as widely available digitally for the first time, in both standard and hi-res audio, on April 3 via Verve/UMe. The original album will be expanded with three bonus tracks from the recording sessions from a rare French reissue released in 1988. The effervescent opening track “I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive,” a song that Simone often performed live in her later years, is available now to stream and as an instant grat download with digital preorder.

A lesser-known but important part of Simone’s musical history, Fodder On My Wings contains deeply personal songs, including the aforementioned, “I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive” and “I Was Just A Stupid Dog To Them,” as well a searing lyrical improvisation about the death of her father on “Alone Again (Naturally).” At the time she recorded the album, Simone was living in France and extremely lonely; her mental illness was worsening and her family life was fractured. It’s out of this despair that one of the many album standouts, the near title track “Fodder In Her Wings,” was birthed.

As Pitchfork wrote in their list of 33 of Simone’s most iconic songs, the composition “captured with startling intimacy the pain of this period, and she returned to it frequently through the next decade, cutting another studio version three years later (the synth-heavy take on Nina’s Back!) and including it on several live albums, including an awe-inspiring performance on 1987’s Let It Be Me,” continuing, “Simone’s vocal makes a song of weariness and defeat carry an air of defiance, a wise word from someone who survived to tell the tale.”

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Kat Hamilton,
The TVD First Date

“My parents gave me their record collection when I was 15. It had loads of classic albums—Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Blondie, The Rolling Stones etc. That’s when I found Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.That album changed my world.”

“It rotated my entire identity off axis and aligned me in a new reality. Stevie was the sun, the moon, the stars: she was everything. I would move the needle back to the beginning of “Dreams” over and over again. I just wondered how anyone could sing like that. Like she was inside of my room, telling me how she felt with no pretense. That record pointed me to Tusk and their self titled. I like to think that Stevie is woven into the fabric of my voice.

I always knew I’d make music. Even as a little girl, there wasn’t much else that I would even entertain. I didn’t do sports. I dramatically quit swimming during the try outs, demonstrating a lack of awareness as to what trying-out actually meant. I thought Girl Scouts was a waste of time and convinced one of my friends to sell my cookies for me. I felt like this weird adult, trapped in a kid body and expected to do kid things. But when I found Rumours, it finally clicked. I was meant to sing songs the way that Stevie sang “it’s only me who wants to wrap around your dreams and have you any dreams you’d like to sell?”

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Graded on a Curve: Darkthrone,
Transilvanian Hunger

Darkthrone vocalist Nocturno Culto sounds like Sonic Youth in dire need of a tonsillectomy. Which is fine by me, seeing as how Kim Gordon can’t sing her way out of a Chinese restaurant takeout carton and Thurston Moore’s cooler-than-thou vocals make me want to call the nearest hipster removal service. No, I’ll take Culto’s cartoonish Cookie Monster gutterals any day. He’s that enraged guy in the 12-items-or-less checkout line going full roid rage at the asshole ahead of him trying to sneak by with 13.

But what, I’ll bet you’re wondering, does Norge’s Darkthrone have to do with the East Village’s most renowned (and long defunct) art shlock band in the first place? Just this. Darkthrone’s that most unexpected of things–a Norwegian art rock death metal band.

On 1994’s Transilvanian Hunger, the duo of Culto (who sings) and Frenriz (who plays everything else) say to hell with melody in favor of a relentless metal drone. Subtle modulations in tone are the order of the day, all of the songs sound pretty much the same, and what you’re left with is a monotone wall of sound that will either bliss you out like a month in an orgone accumulator or leave you trying to squeeze your way through the dog door to get away from it. As a founding member of The Metal Machine Music Fan Club, I fall squarely into the former category.

Are there differences between the songs on Transilvanian Hunger and those on Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex? Yes, and here’s the surprise–like it or not all you NYC art rock elitists, Darkthrone’s the more avant-garde noise rock band by far. Fuck the East Village; seems Norway’s long polar nights are enough to turn your average Ansgar with a guitar into the next Glenn Branca.

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TVD Radar: Jimi Hendrix, Band Of Gypsys 50th anniversary vinyl reissues in stores 3/27

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Jimi Hendrix’s immortal 1970 live album, Band of Gypsys, is one of his most influential releases, with the charismatic guitar icon testing the bounds of his creative approach to produce some of the most ambitious music of his career. Capitol/UMe will honor this landmark record on March 27, almost exactly 50 years from its original release, with special 50th anniversary vinyl editions of Band of Gypsys that recapture the album’s boundary-breaking spirit.

This new, all analog edition of Band Of Gypsys has been mastered from the original analog stereo tapes by longtime Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer and will be pressed on 180-gram audiophile black vinyl by Quality Record Pressings, along with a limited color pressing on 180-gram translucent cream, red, yellow and green swirl vinyl. The unique color vinyl edition will be available exclusively through All editions of the Band of Gypsys 50th anniversary LP will be packaged with an eight-page booklet filled with rare images from the concerts and an essay by John McDermott. This special edition will feature a 24″ x 36″ replica of Capitol Records’ original promotional Band of Gypsys poster. Pre-order Band Of Gypsys now.

“This is more than the commemoration of an anniversary,” said Janie Hendrix, President and CEO of Experience Hendrix, “that, of course, is something momentous, but it is also the celebration of a cathartic event in Jimi’s life…a sort of changing of the guards. He demonstrated that there was no limit to his musical landscape. It was broad and beautiful, and like the leader of a true band of gypsies, Jimi could go anywhere on the spectrum of genres and be at home there musically! This is our way of celebrating that part of Jimi’s journey.”

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Seth Glier,
The TVD First Date

“I love the smell of vinyl. The polymers. The fresh crisp clean of card stock. It’s like the smell reaches out to remind you ‘this is real.’”

“My first time with vinyl was when I was 22. I didn’t grow up in a musically active household (though discs where frequently being played on the stereo). I had a girlfriend who had a Crosley turntable from Target. Within a few weeks I had quickly become someone who would add to her vinyl collection. Living in Washington, DC at the time Mobius was my favorite stomping grounds. That and sometimes Crooked Beat.

I’ve always been highly inspired by the songwriters of the ’70s. Carole King’s Tapestry, Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty, Springsteen’s Darkness On the Edge of Town, and of course Randy Newman’s Little Criminals. This was my opportunity to get the real thing. I stared deeply at Joni Mitchell’s Blue album cover and tried to understand why songs were like tattoos and how she’d been to sea before. Blue made me a better songwriter. Miles’ Kind of Blue made me a better cook—the soundtrack to many meals in our small Alexandria, VA kitchen.

My favorite thing about the process of listening to vinyl is that after 20 minutes I have to stop what I’m doing and I’m forced to actively re-engage with the experience I’m having by flipping it over. In a world where everything is becoming automated, the interruption can seem like a radical act. As an artist, rituals are deeply important to me and I believe the whole physicality of vinyl makes listening to music a more intimate experience. I do not take it for granted. There is a power hidden in the process.

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Graded on a Curve:
Scumdogs of the Universe

Gwar has a serious attitude problem. These interplanetary Huns arrived on our sorry excuse for a planet to kill or subjugate everyone on it because, well, we’re inferior beings and they hate us for it. But here’s what puzzles me. How is it these mutant metal barbarians first stepped foot on the shithole we call home in 1984 and we’re still alive? Is it possible they’ve developed an affection for our loathsome species?

More likely we’re only around for their amusement, and they take special delight in spitting the tender sensibilities of America’s puritanical classes on the broadsword of their disdain. Your typical fundamentalist tends to go full howler monkey over Gwar’s outre lyrics, which revolve around violence, sex, and violence, bodily functions and violence, oh, and before I forget, the rank hypocrisy of your Moral Majority types who love to condemn them for their words while doing much worse in real life.

There are some who would have it that Gwar’s a fraud, and its crew of vulgarians actually hail from earthly Richmond Virginia. Gwar would no doubt deem this a blasphemy punishable by torture and death, but it makes a certain sense–Northern Virginia has long been a melting pot for your hardcore punk and thrash metal types, and this crossbreeding has led to some real musical mutations over the years. But the stage dominators in Gwar–whose grotesque rubber outfits make ‘em look like cartoon predators from the movie of the same name–actually fit the part. Compared to Gwar, the guys in Kiss look like the briefcase-carrying corporate greedheads they really are. With Gwar, to see ‘em is to flee ‘em.

Gwar has released 14 schlock-rock classics since 1988, but my pal and Gwar fanatic Eric Berthoud swears by 1990’s Scumdogs of the Universe, and who am I to argue with an expert? With the late Oderus Urungus (earth name Dave Brockie) handling lead bellows and Flattus Maximus, Balsac the Jaws of Death, Beefcake the Mighty, and Jizmak Da Gusha crushing bones behind him, Scumdogs of the Universe is both comedy record and brutal demonstration of world domination expressly created to put we paltry humans in our place.

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TVD Radar: At the
Birth of Bowie
by Phil Lancaster and Kevin Cann in stores 3/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | At the Birth of Bowie is a tribute to the legend himself, cataloguing the early years of his career.

Like many of the greats, David Bowie was not an instant success. The legendary artist went through many reincarnations of himself before he became a beloved cultural phenomenon. Phil Lancaster had a front row seat to the evolution of David Bowie, and his unique perspective gives him fresh insights on Bowie’s early life.

In At the Birth of Bowie: Life with the Man Who Became a Legend (John Blake, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK, March 1, 2020), Lancaster shares never before published anecdotes from his friendship with Bowie. Before Bowie, there was David Jones, front man of Davie Jones and The Lower Third. Lancaster played drums for the group, and from behind the drum set he witnessed the development of Bowie’s musical and artistic spirit. An essential read for music enthusiasts, At the Birth of Bowie is more than a glimpse at one man, but also an exploration of England’s vibrant music scene in the late 1960s.

Kevin Cann is a Bowie expert who has worked as a designer and writer for the last 35 years. His publications include Any Day Now: The London Years: 1947-1973, which was highly regarded by David himself. Phil Lancaster is a professional drummer. He was a member of Davie Jones and The Lower Third.

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TVD Radar: Chuck Berry: Brown Eyed Handsome Man premieres beginning 2/29 on PBS Stations

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Chuck Berry: Brown Eyed Handsome Man is a collection of performances by the greatest rock icons in history performing favorite songs by their self-proclaimed hero Chuck Berry.

A historic record of the decades-long and continuing impact of the father of rock-‘n’-roll, the program presents — for the first and possibly only time ever — full performances from the legends of rock music honoring the man they agree started it all. Artists include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, Linda Ronstadt, Jeff Lynne and more, filmed at the heights of their own careers, performing the work of Chuck Berry. Berry himself is also featured in a number of solos and duets. Narrated by Danny Glover, Chuck Berry: Brown Eyed Handsome Man is part of special programming premiering on PBS stations beginning Saturday, February 29, 2020 (check local listings).

A celebration of Berry’s inimitable legacy and influence on rock ‘n’ roll, the program opens with a timeless performance of Berry and Keith Richards trading guitar licks on “Carol” from the legendary concert film Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, and spans more than four decades of riveting performances through a mix of classic, rare and not widely available footage of some of the biggest artists in the world paying tribute to Berry.

There’s The Beatles at their first-ever concert in the U.S. performing “Roll Over Beethoven” to the deafening masses at Washington, D.C.’s Washington Coliseum, The Rolling Stones that same year putting their spin on “Around and Around” in front of a frenzied crowd in the U.K., Jimi Hendrix taking on “Johnny B. Goode” in Berkeley, California in 1970, just a few months before he passed, and Berry himself joining Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for a once-in-a-lifetime performance of that signature song at the Concert For The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

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Graded on a Curve: Earth, Wind & Fire,
The Best of Earth, Wind
& Fire Vol. 1

Today we remember Maurice White who passed away for years ago this week with a look back from our archives.Ed.

Of all the things I’ve loved during my tenure on this planet, it’s hard to beat Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White. And not because he’s a musical genius and head honcho of one of the Seventies’ best soul/funk outfits. No, I love him because he’s the guy who sings, “Yowl!” on several occasions on the great “That’s the Way of the World.” They never fail to thrill me, those yowls, not since I was a young sprog and loved the hell out of MFSB’s “T.S.O.P.”

EWF’s songs dominated Top 40 radio when I was young, because unlike Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic they were unapologetically middle of the road. But that doesn’t mean that their songs weren’t great, just that they were more like the black equivalent of Elton John than, say, Randy Newman. As the critic Robert Christgau noted about one of their prime LPs, “Most of these songs are fun to listen to. But they’re still MOR–the only risk they take is running headlong into somebody coming down the middle of the road in the opposite direction. Like The Carpenters.”

But so what? Earth, Wind & Fire have produced their fair share of timeless songs, and if they’re slick, the slickness works. Under the direction of White, EWF’s drummer, songwriter, and vocalist, the band’s sound was—and still is—an eclectic brew of funk, jazz, gospel, rock, smooth soul, blues, folk, African music, and disco, and what made them particularly remarkable were their group vocals, and especially the vocals of Maurice White and Philip Bailey. Unrelentingly positive, their songs were a balm for the soul, and I for one think “That’s the Way of the World” is a slice of mystical brilliance and a song for the ages. All of those vocalists throwing in; it’s a sound so soulful I sprout an Afro every time I listen to it. And their horn section, the four-member Phenix Horns, also merits special attention; one listen to the opening of “Shining Star” and you know you’re in the presence of genius.

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The TVD First Date

“I’ll never forget the moment I finally gave into the vinyl craze. I had believed it to be a trend that would come and go in a year or two and be quickly forgotten about. That was until my buddy, Max, gave me a spare record player he had lying around his house that wasn’t getting any use.”

“I remember it being such a kind and unexpected gesture. I also remember feeling somewhat ‘obligated’ to buy at least one record to try the thing out. A couple of weeks later I went to see Rayland Baxter open for Fruition at The Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO. I picked up Rayland’s Feathers and Fishhooks LP for $20 and took it home with me. I’ll never forget sliding the vinyl out of its sleeve and discovering it was an opaque green record. I was instantly hooked.

I remember flipping that record back and forth 4-5 times that first night I got it—listening to every song on repeat. I think that was the first time I really appreciated a collection of songs and their ability to tell a story. I felt so stoked about buying a record that didn’t have a single song that wasn’t so enjoyable to listen to. I let that idea fuel my passion for vinyl.

I started wondering about other albums some of my favorite artists had produced that I could throw on the turntable and never worry about wanting to skip a song. Lief Vollebekk, Hippo Campus, The Oh Hellos, and Coldplay were a few of the first records I bought.

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TVD Radar: Jon Hassell, Vernal Equinox vinyl reissue in stores 3/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Ambient music pioneer Jon Hassell’s debut album Vernal Equinox is being reissued on March 20. It’s been fully remastered from the original tapes and is being made available on vinyl for the first time in 42 years, and CD for the first time in 30 years. The re-issue features sleeve notes by Hassell and Brian Eno. Back in record shops on the day of the 2020 vernal equinox, it’s the second release on Hassell’s own Ndeya label.

Hailed as one of the 50 best ambient albums of all time by Pitchfork, Vernal Equinox was the first commercially released work by Jon Hassell, originally put out by Lovely Music in 1977. It is also the debut of a pioneering new form of music that would become known as “fourth world,” a subtle blend of field recordings, electric jazz, ambience and global music influences. Hassell’s trademark FX-soaked trumpet is carefully embellished by a studio ensemble including the master Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos and David Rosenboom on synth. The result is a quiet, meditative and highly original work of outstanding beauty.

A trumpet player, composer and musical conceptualist, Jon Hassell’s career bisects a multitude of strands in the history of the avant-garde and the development of genuinely new forms of music. Having studied under Karl-Heinz Stockhausen in Cologne (alongside future members of the band Can), he played on the original recording of Terry Riley’s In C (1968), was part of La Monte Young’s Theatre Of Eternal Music and studied Kiranic singing with Pandit Pran Nath, all of which informed his own instrumental technique and treatment of the trumpet with various electronic effects.

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