Music Features

Free William

Drummer and composer William Hooker follows his bliss
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William Hooker is feeling good right about now. The voice of the 61-year-old composer, drummer, and seasoned kingpin of the free-jazz world doesn't betray an inkling of wear and tear. His utterance is eloquent in delivery and animated in expression and possesses a rather youthful quality coated in optimism. Read more »

Toolin' around the Bay

Crunk legend Pastor Troy signs with Bay Area label for Tool Muziq
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Nothing's ever straightforward for Bay Area hip-hop. After the hyphy-fueled buzz of the past three years, the road to major-label glory remains beset by difficulties. Read more »

Nuggets of Water

A few highlights from the Water catalog
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COLIN BLUNSTONE

One Year

A genuine lost classic from 1971 — full of feathery, jazz-inflected vocals and sublime melodies — from the dejected Zombies vocalist after he had resigned himself to life behind a desk at an insurance office. "She Loves the Way They Love Her" picks up precisely where Blunstone's disassembled ensemble left off, with weaving boogie-woogie and an angelic chorus that dips its wings in soul's waters. Read more »

Black planet

Jazz gems on the Water label
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Heralded as one of the most important reissues of this year, the two-disc Music of Idris Ackamoor on the Em label shines a light on Ackamoor's long-neglected Bay Area contributions to free jazz. But Water's appreciation of local improvisation predates Em's work: in 2003, the imprint put out CD versions of Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music and Black Rhythm Happening, a pair of standout 1969 recordings by San Jose's Gale and his Noble Gale musicians and singers. Both might be described as sprawling if their vast reach weren't so dramatically composed. Read more »

Hot, sexy, and dead?

Combing music's back catalogs for the next cult star with a distro called Runt
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kimberly@sfbg.com

What is Water?

The best reissue independent in the country? A label fueled by Cat Power and other wistful girls strumming plaintive guitars? Read more »

I love Lucio

And you will too if you listen to Battisti's masterful music of the early '70s
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johnny@sfbg.com

"I was sad when he died and sad to have never been able to meet him and tell him how much he had done for me," Amedeo Pace of Blonde Redhead writes in the liner notes for Water's reissue of Amore e Non Amore, a 1971 album by Lucio Battisti. Read more »

Dream girl

Decades after her demise, Judee Sill — whether thief, whore, or saint — still steals hearts
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kimberly@sfbg.com

"I used to joke sometimes that I'm Judee's last boyfriend," concedes Patrick Roques, producer of Dreams Come True, Water's two-disc 2005 compendium of Judee Sill's unreleased 1974 third album and demos. "I don't mean to sound egotistic or anything, but I loved this woman like I'd love a girlfriend or wife."

Sill has that effect on listeners. Read more »

Something in the Water

Fab Italian prog on the Water label
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Franco Battiato's 1972 album Fetus, reissued by Water, is the kind of recording that transcends a record-store genre category such as Italian prog rock. For starters, the keyboard freak-out at the close of the title number is something today's army of Kraftwerk drones should covet.

Beginning with the sound of a heartbeat and moving through transmissions from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin about purple rocks on the moon, Fetus repeatedly journeys from micro to macro and back again with ease. Read more »

The hot rock

Battles blast off with Mirrored
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It's strange taking on a profile of a band so steeped in a musical language with which you were once not just fluent but even obsessed. I would have adored New York City rockers Battles when I was 19, their power-through-precision métier appealing to my penchant for all things prog and post, the words "ex-Helmet drummer" (that would be the band's John Stanier) acting as foolproof elixir. Read more »

The fundamentals of Fucked Up

This pseudonym-only hardcore band subverts punk conventions
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You needn't be too wary of the dialogue surrounding Fucked Up, Toronto's jewel of esoteric hardcore punk. The members' beliefs and their names are hidden, but they're not out to brainwash anybody. And they're certainly not hiding anything in the songwriting department: the melodies are blistering and as uninhibited as the band, which has a knack for subverting punk conventions.

"For hardcore bands especially, politics are often made out to be black-and-white," rhythm guitarist 10,000 Marbles says on the phone from Toronto. Read more »