Moondog - The Viking of Sixth Avenue 2xLP
Label: Honest Jon's
In our minds, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century was a man with a long white beard and a viking helmet on his head - Louis Hardin (aka Moondog). Whether it was how he incorporated field recordings into his compositions, unleashed riveting vocal cannons or created confusional worlds of percussion that were light-years ahead of their time, he had such a singular touch and far reaching vision, it's no surprise he's an all time shop favorite!
While we love so many avant composers of the 20th century, there tends to be an undeniable academic angle to their work which sometimes leaves us a bit cold. Moondog on the other hand employed such a playful approach to his work. Whether he was building his own instruments, creating new scales, experimenting with field recordings, inserting fun wordplay into otherwise austere pieces, you get this amazing sense of playfulness, childlike wonder and a totally unique strangely sophisticated kind of joy. The outsider that he was, Moondog answered to no one. No movement, no school, no tradition. He took his love, appreciation and deep running knowledge of classical music, his poetic mind, and his free spirit and created sounds that were like nothing of its time. Losing his eyesight at an early age he began writing scores in Braille. Like most truly special artists, he spent much of his life in relative obscurity, he spent much of the 50's and 60's on New York street corners where he would sell his poems, record the sounds of daily life, and soak in all aspects of his atmosphere. Most New Yorkers just thought they were walking by some crazy homeless guy in a viking costume, they had no idea they were passing one of the most brilliant musical minds of the last century. Thanks to the help of some of his big fans like Janis Joplin, who covered All Is Loneliness on her first outing with Big Brother Holding Company, he got a record deal with Columbia and eventually recorded with the London Symphony, and then spent the last 20+ years of his life in Germany where a rich family supported him while he continued to make music, up until the time of his death. His influence runs so deep and continues to spread among the musical underground, but also slowly but surely permeates into mainstream music. There is talk of a tribute album coming soon, in the '90s many hip-hop and electronic producers sampled his works and many avant electronic folks were definitely influenced by his strange musicks, including Mr. Scruf, DJ Shadow and Aphex Twin. Antony and The Johnsons have been doing an amazing version of All is Loneliness in their live show, and you can hear echoes of Moondog's sounds in everyone from Rhys Chatham, to Jon Brion, to Steve Reich, to Philip Glass and even The Residents. We urge you to let these 36 songs introduce you to what will no doubt be a life long love affair with one of our favorite musical minds of all time!