Agitated Atmosphere: Alvarius B – Baroque Primitiva

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Alvarius B.

Alan Bishop’s impression upon the musical world continues to grow deeper and larger with each passing year. As a founding member of dearly departed Sun City Girls, Bishop contributed to the bastardization of pop music, mutating its rotten ribonucleic acid into a corrosive genome. As the world went along its way, choosing to focus on the pretty sheen of pop rather than its true gnarled form, Sun City Girls embraced its Quasimodo’d fashion for a brand of twisted music only deviants could love. Under the guise of Uncle Jim, Bishop meshes free form jazz, bebop, and lounge for venomous prose; a modern Tony Clifton or Lenny Bruce with enough vitriol to make it comical, if a bit too close to home. As purveyor of Sublime Frequencies, Bishop has brought the Western world a notable slice of Sub-Saharan, Middle Eastern and Pacific Rim music without stonewashing it in PBS and NPR docility. The world is much richer with Group Doueh and Omar Souleyman in our midst.

But it’s as Alvarius B that Bishop’s disparate world vision coalesces into cohesive action. Baroque Primitiva went as fast as it came on vinyl, now reissued on compact disc for the huddled masses not fast enough to press a PayPal buy button (myself included). Yet the album’s motifs of well traveled melodies, pop time signatures, and Bishop’s playful lyrics slowly unfold, so there’s nothing hurried concerning the contents of Baroque Primitiva. It speaks to Bishop’s all-knowing third eye that he can easily combine oddball ideas into delicate and thought-provoking compositions, never abandoning the folly and one-world mentality that has infused itself onto much of his work.

Listen to “You Only Live Twice”:

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Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose many works can be viewed via his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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