Moondog - Viking Of Sixth Avenue (Uk) | RECORD STORE DAY
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Moondog, much like Sun Ra, was a notorious musical eccentric whose reputation almost certainly reached more ears than his music (the use of a Mr. Scruff remix in a commercial doesn't count). Also like Sun Ra, Moondog was a serious and idiosyncratic composer/musician who jumped from label to label and even resorted to self-releasing material back before there the D.I.Y. ethic was a movement. Viking of Sixth Avenue is the first compilation that spans more than one label, and therefore serves as probably the best introduction to Moondog's music that's out there. The music covers a lot of territory: from full orchestras to solo performances and from brief rhythmic percussion exercises to vocal rounds to swinging horns or dulcimers. Moondog was affected early on by Native American music when his father took him to an Arapaho Sun Dance, and this rhythmic pulse played a prominent role in his music. There are also a number of animal "tributes" ("Rabbit Hop," "Dog Trot," "Snaketime Rhythm"), including "Big Cat," which uses the sounds of a lion or tiger in the tune. He gets to the heart of the matter on "Enough About Human Rights!" where he inquires about the rights of other members of the animal kingdom. Some of the tracks feature his odd, homemade percussion, sometimes recorded on the streets of New York City with busses and traffic making their own contribution. "Lullaby (2 W 46th Street)" is very Asian sounding, while the first occurrence of "Oasis" could almost be mistaken for Sun Ra-style exotica. "Rabbit Hop" has some remarkably hip trap drums, while the second occurrence of "Oasis" wouldn't sound out of place in church. "Chaconne in G Major" is a beautiful piece for string trio and the concluding track, "Invocation," is simply majestic. The liner notes are quite informative about the life of Moondog, but a bit more annotation as to when the material was recorded and where it came from would have been helpful. Moondog is surely a major figure in avant-garde music, but it's some of the most listenable and even catchy avant-garde music you're likely to hear, and Viking of Sixth Avenue is probably the best place to start.