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HENRY KAISER

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Henry Kaiser biography
Henry Kaiser (born 19 September 1952, Oakland, California) is an American guitarist and composer. Since taking up the guitar in 1972, Mr. Kaiser has built reputation as one of the foremost musicians of his time. Some of his musical sources include traditional blues, East Asian, Classical North Indian and Hawaiian music, free jazz, free improvisation, American steel-string concert guitar, and 20th century classical.

Recording and performing prolifically in many styles of music, Kaiser is a fixture on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. He is considered a member of the first generation of American free improvisers. As collaborator, he has recorded and/or performed with Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, John Abercrombie,Terry Riley, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sergei Kuriokhin, Diamanda Galas, Sonny Sharrock, Chris Cutler, Henry Cow, John Zorn, David Torn, Bill Frisell, Joey Baron, John Medeski between others.

In 1978, Kaiser founded the Metalanguage Records label with Larry Ochs (Rova Saxophone Quartet) and Greg Goodman. In 1979 he recorded With Friends Like These with Fred Frith, a collaboration that lasted for over 20 years. . In 1983 they recorded Who Needs Enemies, and in 1987 With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? Later with musicians John French and English folk-rocker Richard Thompson they formed French Frith Kaiser Thompson for two eclectic albums. In 1999 Frith and Kaiser released Friends and Enemies, a compilation of some of their earlier work together with new recordings.

In 1991 Kaiser spent some time on the island of Madagascar, where he and his friend David Lindley recorded 6 CDs for the Shanachie label, in collaboration with various Malagasy musicians. Kaiser & Lindley's second project, THE SWEET SUNNY NORTH VOLs. 1 & 2, were recorded in Norway and features collaborations with some of Norway's known musical artists, as well as many surprising discoveries.

Another project was Wadada Leo Smith's and Henry's YO MILES!, a tribute to the mid 70's works of Miles Davis (1998). In 2001, Kaiser spent two and a half months in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant. He has subsequently returned to work as a research diver.

Slava (Snobb)

Henry Kaiser official website

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You Can't Get There From HereYou Can't Get There From Here
Fractal Music 2015
Audio CD$10.11
$28.46 (used)
Megasonic ChapelMegasonic Chapel
Single
Fractal Music 2015
Audio CD$9.95
$9.98 (used)
Garden of MemoryGarden of Memory
Box set
Fractal Music 2015
Audio CD$28.18
Hope You Like Our New DirectionHope You Like Our New Direction
Import
Reckless
Audio CD$15.50 (used)
Nazca LinesNazca Lines
Import
Fractal Music 2016
Audio CD$14.61
$9.94 (used)
Tomorrow Knows Where You LiveTomorrow Knows Where You Live
Import
Victo 1995
Audio CD$11.59
$8.90 (used)
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HENRY KAISER discography


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HENRY KAISER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.50 | 2 ratings
Ice Death
1977
2.00 | 2 ratings
Protocol (with Andrea Centazzo / Toshinori Kondo)
1979
4.00 | 1 ratings
Aloha
1981
4.00 | 1 ratings
Invite The Spirit (with Charles K. Noyes / Sang-Won Park)
1984
3.50 | 2 ratings
It's A Wonderful Life
1984
4.09 | 4 ratings
Marrying For Money
1986
4.05 | 3 ratings
Devil In The Drain
1987
4.05 | 4 ratings
Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It
1989
4.05 | 2 ratings
Popular Science (with Sergei Kuriokhin)
1989
3.05 | 2 ratings
Heart's Desire
1990
4.00 | 1 ratings
Tomorrow Knows Where You Live (with Jim O'Rourke)
1991
3.09 | 3 ratings
Hope You Like Our New Direction
1991
4.05 | 2 ratings
The Five Heavenly Truths
1993
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Psychedelic Guitar Circus (with Steve Kimock / Harvey Mandel / Freddie Roulette )
1994
4.05 | 2 ratings
Eternity Blue
1995
2.00 | 1 ratings
Acoustics (with Mari Kimura/Jim O'Rourke/John Oswald)
1995
2.95 | 2 ratings
Wireforks (with Derek Bailey)
1995
1.00 | 1 ratings
Through (with Roberto Zorzi )
1999
1.00 | 1 ratings
Domo Arigato Derek-Sensei!
2006
3.00 | 2 ratings
Blue Water Ascent
2007
3.00 | 2 ratings
Nostalgia for Infinity
2007
3.00 | 2 ratings
Where Endless Meets Disappearing: Solo Guitar 2009
2009

HENRY KAISER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Outside Pleasure
1980

HENRY KAISER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HENRY KAISER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Lemon Fish Tweezer
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Outside Aloha Pleasure
1996

HENRY KAISER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Henry Kaiser & Bill Frisell / Rula Lenzka
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Alternate Versions
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Playola - Collection of Curiosities for Airplay: 1977-2002
2003

HENRY KAISER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heart's Desire by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Heart's Desire
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

3 stars Henry Kaiser is an eclectic guitarist from California, perhaps best known in prog circles for having collaborated with Fred Frith on a couple of duo albums as well as in the supergroup French Frith Kaiser Thompson (with Frith, John French, and Richard Thompson). On his own, he has produced numerous albums, many of them of the highly experimental variety. Kaiser had a working band too, though, and this band is the subject of this 1990 live album release from the Henry Kaiser Band.

As a guitarist, Kaiser is quite versatile; he's the only artist I know of that would cover both The Grateful Dead and Captain Beefheart on the same album (he's done this twice now). On the one hand, he's a diligent student of the Jerry Garcia school of guitar improvisation, and his band's 20 minute rendition of "Dark Star" (to open the show, no less) retains the spirit of the best Dead performances while clearly showcasing his own singular and wide stylistic spectrum. It helps, too, that the legendary Tom Constanten (late 60s Dead keyboardist) is the keyboardist in his band -- shades of the "Live Dead" album flow through this rendition from start to finish. On the other hand, Kaiser is the disciplined technician, an expert at "Beefheart style" guitar, and reproduces the lovely "Flavor Bud Living" here; he has also covered several other Beefheart tracks on other albums.

Most of this set is taken up by covers (Kaiser is not known for his songwriting), with occasional originals by singer/2nd guitarist Bruce Anderson ("River's Edge" is pretty cool). Other vocal duties are handled by female singer Cary Sheldon. Both singers do a decent job if unremarkable. The covers seem to be designed to be as eclectic as possible: Bacharach/David, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Captain Beefheart, The Andy Griffith Show Theme, Richard Thompson, The Band, and good ol' Karlheinz Stockhausen. This variety keeps the long (77 minutes) concert CD fun, and Kaiser's impressive guitar stylings keep things exciting, executing a nice balance between faithful recreation and improvisational fire.

Either this album or the studio CD "Those Who Know History are Doomed to Repeat It" are good places to hear Henry Kaiser in "rock band" mode. I don't seem to hear about him much anymore, but for a while there in the 80s and 90s, he was a formidable presence on the avant garde scene.

 Marrying For Money by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Marrying For Money
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars This album, when it was first released, was my introduction to Henry Kaiser's music. It was a good place to start, since it has Kaiser's unbelievable wild soloing, the compositions are a bit more mainstream than on most of the other albums of his I own.

The rhythm section of Hilary Hanes on bass and John Hanes on drums provides an energetic and funky backdrop for for Kaiser's offbeat guitar. Especially notable is Pigs And Battleships, a piece that resembles some of Captain Beefheart's later works (Kaiser would often release cover versions of Don Van Vliet's pieces).

Kaiser has a few guest guitarists on some of the tracks, but they they mostly conform to his style, rather than the other way around.

 Devil In The Drain by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Devil In The Drain
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars This album was my second foray into Henry kaiser's music. This record has Kaiser programming most of the music into a Synclavier, then adding his bizarre, but calculated guitar solos over those tracks. The result is incredible.

The first track is Sukagaki for Conlon. I presume Conlon is Conlon Nancarrow, the composer who created impossible to play piano scolls by hand punching holes into player piano rolls, and recording the results. Kaiser's tracks have a similar feel to them. King of the Wild Frontier is a deranged take on the theme from the old "Davy Crockett" TV show.

Dark Memory takes us back to that Nancarrow style, with Kaiser playing over an impossible backing track. Smokestack Lightning begins sounding like Kaiser's take on swampy blues, but devolves into some aggressive picking. Roadside Picnic is a moody piece with guitarist Bruce Anderson assisting with guitars.

Free To Choose is a light piece, with delicate tuned percussion sounds providing the backdrop. Lost Horizon is a solo guitar piece, with Kaiser's guitar laying frenetic lines. Devil In The Drain has Kaiser playing deranged guitar, while telling a funny story of an imagined conversation of himself as a child having a conversation with the devil living in his drain. And If This Goes On... brings the album to a close with another frenetic guitar solo over a percussive backing track.

So. If you like bizarre, but very technical guitar solos, and beautiful experimental music, this Kaiser album is for you. As it is for me.

 Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.05 | 4 ratings

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Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Holy crap! The theme song to The Andy Griffith show has lyrics? Who knew? (On a side note, old Andy is still alive and kicking as I write this because I saw him in a commercial recently.)

My first encounter with Kaiser non-Willhelm was a duo album with my man Frith. It was a best difficult listening music. And with friends like these...

But, I ran across this browsing at a local record store (they still make those?) and decided to give it a try.

Why do I get the feeling this one of Henry's more accessible albums? To be honest, I haven't had the courage to dig much deeper into his work, (other than French Frith Kaiser Thompson) but I really liked this one and still do. What an eclectic set of covers this is. Theme songs, Grateful Dead (at last they are on this site indirectly, ah ha ha ha), Captain Beefheart tunes???

I think what gave me the courage to try this one was the covers of Beefheart songs l like A Carrot Is A Close To A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond, which I knew and really liked. Plus local Atlanta guitar legend Glenn Phillips and Dixie Dregsman Andy West on bass.

What can I say? One of the albums that makes a good case that the '80's didn't totally suck.

 Wireforks (with Derek Bailey) by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Wireforks (with Derek Bailey)
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars Unlike his pairing with Sergei Kuriokhin, where the Russian keyboardist was able to keep Henry Kaiser's drive to experiment endlessly in check, here Kaiser joins up with guitarist Bailey to create an almost an hour and a quarter of guitar mayhem.

Rather than any structured songs, Kaiser and Bailey pretty much stick to making random strange noises and unrelated notes in this set of thirteen duets. While I don't mind listening to these pices singularly on occasion, trying to take in the entire album at once gets tedious. But these are two great avant garde guitarists, in a pairing you will never hear again.

 Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.05 | 4 ratings

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Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Despite the fact that this is an album made up entirely of cover songs (maybe because of that) this is one of my favorite Henry Kaiser albums. Kaiser tends to get a little too far away from structured music for my tastes when he his left alone to create songs. And what a strange array of songs to cover. There are two songs by The Grateful Dead (Mason's Children and Dark Star, both of which appear, from different takes on "Eternity Blue", Kaiser's tribute to The Dead), a bunch of Captain Beefheart covers, one Country Joe & The Fish tune, and three surprisingly good country songs. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Fishin' Hole, the well-known theme from The Andy Griffith Show (with lyrics!) are an unexpected treat. But Ode To Billy Joe, with smoky vocals by Cary Sheldon, is just one of the coolest songs on the planet.

The CD version is worth getting over the LP, as it has four extra tracks, and Billy Joe and Dark Star are both much longer than the original release.

 Popular Science (with Sergei Kuriokhin) by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Popular Science (with Sergei Kuriokhin)
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Despite the fact that Henry Kaiser plays very little guitar on this album, it is quite good. The songs are all Synclavier composition (sequences, I presume), by Kaiser and keyboardist Sergei Kuriokhin. Kuriokhin shows that he is quite adept in a number of keyboard styles, classical, jazz, blues, and Kaiser's weirdness. As that statement indicates, this album explores all of these styles (and more), with Kaiser adding some solos, keyboards, and really strange percussion.

Most of the pieces are ver short excursions into the musical ideas. Only one piece would qualify as long. The Concept Of Concept flows through various musical realms, and actually sounds like it could have been split into about three of the shorter pieces.

It's hard to actually describe the music itself, but there is some romantic classical, some that sound like circus music, and lots of experimental pieces. But don't miss Kaiser's great solos in the two Rattlesnake Round-Up, Texas blues numbers.

 Lemon Fish Tweezer by KAISER , HENRY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1992
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Lemon Fish Tweezer
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars I happen to love Henry Kaiser's off the wall style of guitar playing, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to listen to over an hour of his six string insanity. It's similar to the feeling I get when I listen to one of my Conlon Nancarrow (look him up) albums. If I'm relaxed enough, Kaiser's disjointed sound poems can sound quite pleasant to me. But if I'm wound up after a hard day of work, forget it.

This album showcases Kaiser's solo guitar (sometimes with overdubs) recorded from 1973 to 1991. Some of the pieces are played on a guitar based MIDI controller, so the sounds are sampled from other instruments (piano, sax, etc.). The majority of the pieces are non- structured improvisations, with Kaiser demonstrating the weird noises he can make.

The best piece is the highly overdubbed It's A Wonderful Life, a twenty four minute blast through many different aspects of Kaiser's soloing.

I like this album, but I prefer when he plays in a group.

 Hope You Like Our New Direction by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Hope You Like Our New Direction
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars The title of this album is a bit of a joke, as this album shows Henry Kaiser and his many cohorts going off in all directions at once. There is rock, there is fusion, there are a vast number of different world music flavors. But since the central theme is Henry Kaiser's guitar, it is mostly great music.

While I enjoy Kaiser's excursions into Asian, Middle Eastern and African music, it's his wild electric guitar soloing that I most prefer to hear from him. So therefore, my favorite tracks are the cover of David Essex' classic Rock On (with not as cool vocals as the original, but much better guitar), The Mamas & The Papas California Dreamin' (with spectacular guitaring), Windham Hell, a short guitar piece referring to his time on a certain new age label, and especially High School Hellcats, a punk jazz extravaganza.

I happen to love Kaiser's guitar in just about any setting, but this one is for fans of varied types of music.

 Eternity Blue by KAISER , HENRY album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.05 | 2 ratings

BUY
Eternity Blue
Henry Kaiser RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars It's no mystery that Henry Kaiser is a fan of the Grateful Dead. His albums occasionally have featured cover versions of Dead songs. This album is a tribute to the Grateful Dead and especially Jerry Garcia. Two of the tracks on the album have appeared on other releases, and one is an alternate take from a song that appeared on another album.

Kaiser's take on the Dead is just great, especially in the improvisational jams. They make up the best parts of the album. Blues For Allah, from the Dead's most progressive studio album (in my opinion), is stretched out for almost a half an hour, and kaiser takes the band to the outer limit and back more than once. Dark Star, which morphs into John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and back again, is another fine highlight (this is the same version that appeared on the album "Heart's Desire").

I do like his version of Mason's Children, but this is an alternate take, and not quite as lively as the version released on "Those Who Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It". And I have never been a fan of the Dead's folky tunes, so High Time and Brokedown Palace just don't do anything for me.

But still, I'd say this is a fine album. A high 3.5 stars.

Thanks to snobb for the artist addition.

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