Friday, February 29, 2008

Sir Richard Bishop Elektronika Demonika
Sir Richard Bishop Fingering the Devil
Sir Richard Bishop While My Guitar Violently Bleeds
Grateful Dead Dick's Picks #12 (disc 3)
Grateful Dead Workingman's Dead
Various Artists The Doo Wop Box
John Martyn Solid Air

Like other maniacs I first heard about Elektronika Demonika back in the 1990s when Rick Bishop was interviewed by Popwatch magazine (online reprint by Perfect Sound Forever here). Back in those pre-knightdom days he described the piece as "ear-shattering, dark electronics and radio communications gathered from various uncommon global frequencies, some of which were recorded from unauthorized satellite systems. Pretty odd stuff," and then added, "It probably won't be released for awhile." Sure enough, it wasn't released until 2006 and I'm just now hearing it today for the first time. In some ways it's more groovin' than I expected, certainly for the first few minutes, but in other ways it's a full-on solo noise piece, in the heavily overdubbed and edited 'soundtrack' vein, more reminiscent of certain 1980s noise than 2000s. And, especially for an album released in an edition of 666 on the date 6/6/06, the 'scary voice' moments at the end of side one and beginning of side two REALLY WORK. Playing this sheds yet more light on why Sun City Girls sound like they do, and just how many different things each member of the trio brought to the table. (As the Sir Rich website says, "There is NO GUITAR on this record.") As soon as Demonika ended and the iPod went right into the ripping solo acoustic version of "Abydos" that opens the Fingering the Devil album, I immediately knew I was gonna listen to that whole thing too, a fiery studio session recorded during an afternoon off in London, England during a 2005 tour. I think it's his best all-acoustic no-overdubs album, rippling with the combative confidence that can only be honed by taking your show on the road. And from there the iPod went right into another SRB album, the great While My Guitar Violently Bleeds. This one starts acoustic with another 7-minute flamenco rippler but then the electric guitars get broken out and the blood starts flowing for the next two tracks, each one twice as long as the previous. Actually, the closing side-longer is a pretty beautiful raga in which bold and flowing acoustic extrapolates over an electric tampura-style drone. Another excellent album that in places rivals Elektronika Demonika for darkness, except this time with guitars. This is my first time hearing anything by John Martyn whatsoever, although I do own a 1998 issue of The Wire that has a great Sun City Girls article by Douglas Wolk and John Martyn is on the cover! Truly, everything has come full circle and I have aligned with the cosmos, just in time for this Martyn stuff to knock me right back on my ass. He's a real soul singer who can really power-belt, and I also wasn't ready for how groovy and funky the music gets, weird tribal disco fusion rock, heavy on the looped/echoed guitar, that honestly sounds 5-10 years ahead of its time for 1974, but then again very much of its time due to all the wah-wah clavinet. And Martyn can also do the melismatic croon, as he does on the rather stunning album opener/title track, with his gloriously and ironically liquid delivery of the line "when you're living on solid air.........."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Elektronavn Cosmic Continuum CD
Om Pilgrimage
Cubs vs. Giants (spring training game on WGN Radio with your hosts Pat Hughes & Ron Santo)

The Ikuisuus label from Great Britain put out the surprisingly scorching/thundering Taurpis Tula LP Cadillac Sitting Like a Ton of Lead last year, and now they've sent along a batch of 4 or 5 new CDs. I've listened to two so far, Salt of the Sun by Family Underground (see last post) and Cosmic Continuum by Elektronavn. Had no idea who Elektronavn was but there was no resisting this thing with its crude psychedelic Quasigyptian pasted-on chipboard gatefold cover art, weird ancient/future artist name (actually one guy playing all the instruments and his real (?) name is even better: Magnus Olsen Majmon), two 'side-long' tracks called simply "Cosmic Continuum I" and "Cosmic Continuum II," with a shout-out in the thanks list to "Yoga and Buddhistic Philosophy," and the music itself completely lives up to all of that, while still being a massive stretched-out left-turn from that. More on 'that' later, I guess... this is the first time I've listened to the newest Om album since a flurry of spins when it came out back in October. I've always liked it but today it sounded better than ever... couldn't believe it when coworker turned on the radio and there was Pat & Ron right in the middle of calling a Cubs game, absolutely live, as if it wasn't 20 degrees outside and every spare space in the city covered with 5 inches of week-old frozen snow. The game, of course, was taking place in the 75 degree weather of Arizona - the Cactus League, they call it - and the Cubs even won, 10-1 or some shit, against "the Giants" - I guess that's San Francisco, right? I don't follow any of the details but I do like the game, and Pat & Ron are a fine comedy team, both intentional and un-. In between pitches Pat brought up a player, I forget his name, who had recently gone vegetarian. Now it is well known that Ron has diabetes, so you'd think he'd be conscientious about how changes in diet can improve or degrade one's overall health, but he could not believe this guy was a vegetarian - in fact, you could hear him sorta scoffing and growling about it. Pat said that the player changed his diet after reading an article on the meat industry in one of his wife's magazines, to which Ron blurted out, "Well, there's a lot of that going around!" Right after that there was a base hit or something and they never got back to it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Velvet Underground Gymnasium
Family Underground Salt of the Sun CD
Metallica ...And Justice For All
Guided by Voices Bee Thousand
Stars of the Lid The Ballasted Orchestra

Alright, this just-discovered Gymnasium boot is ridiculous. If you're at all interested grab it now. It's probably the sharpest sounding VU boot I've ever heard, made sharper still by some vicious playing. This was from a show at a NYC club called the Gymnasium, some time in the spring of 1967, just a few months before the September recording of White Light/White Heat, and in fact the set includes what is purportedly the first ever live version of "Sister Ray," indeed about 19 minutes long and right in line with what they were about to lay down in the studio. (Was this version Side A of the Sweet Sister Ray 2LP? One song on here - "Guess I'm Falling In Love" - did already appear on the Peel Slowly and See box set.) You might've also heard that the new never-before-heard song "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore" is a good one, and indeed it is a great one, a 7-minute steamrolling pissed-off scorcher with a slashing semi-Eastern guitar riff by Morrison, great Lou vocal hook ("Heeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy I'M NOT A YOUNG MAN ANYMORE!!"), nutso Lou guitar chords & leads that link the raveup in "European Son" to the raveout in "What Goes On," great Cale bass-playing (the way he flurries it up a little on the turnarounds, much like he did in "Waiting For My Man" underneath Lou singing "feeling dirty more dead than alive" etc), unbelievable. Apparently 100 vinyl copies were pressed up of this and sold out in a few minutes on eBay. And from Velvet Underground to Family Underground, first time I've heard this acclaimed current band from Denmark, their new CD Salt of the Sun on the Ikuisuus label in a nice double-fold-out digipak-thing. Powerful heavy psych-drone stuff, three long tracks in the 25 minute range. Powerful, yes, but I wonder if this is all they do - they inhabit a big valley but I don't know if they ever leave it, or if they can leave it, or if it matters either way.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Current 93 All the Pretty Little Horses
Groundhogs Split
Metallica Master of Puppets
Pink Reason Cleaning the Mirror
Les Rallizes Denudes Deeper Than The Night
Nest/Mhfs 3" CDR
Gown For The Maples CD
Les Rallizes Denudes Deeper Than The Night

Sunday, February 24, 2008

King Tubby & Friends Dub Like Dirt 1975-1977 CD
Long Way Blues 1996-1998
Ashtray Navigations
A Monument to British Rock 3LP (sides 1, 2 & 5)
Nest/Mhfs 3" CDR

I truly love this Bassholes album. I missed out on the Gibson Bros when they were happening, not to mention the first three Bassholes albums, so this album on Matador became my introduction to the genius of Don Howland. I checked out a couple other Bassholes things after this but nothing matched it - I think because only 4 or so songs on here are 'band' songs (the band being the raw duo of Howland and drummer Bim Sherman), and the rest are Howland solo, super-lonesome weirdo 4-track songs, usually just a couple eerie and hollow electric guitar tracks, with Howland sorta croaking out the words in a bone-chilling quiet style, like he's trying to hide the songs from his kids upstairs (you can hear them stomping on the floor above his basement 'studio' during one track). And with some of these lyrics you can see why he would hide 'em, stuff like "Did I really kill my wife/Or was it just a dream?/It felt like being there/Purple is the color/Of her lover's pubic hair," or "I loved you/Your tits and arms/Je t'adore/Your tits and arms," or "Afrodite, your hair bushy black/The love in your brown eyes is stronger than crack/Born of Uranus's castrated schlong/Your magic girdle has inspired this song." The album closer "Turpentine" has some incredibly bad-ass rock'n'roll lyrics like "Some folks like water/Some fucks like wine/But me I like the taste of uh TURPENTINE". And of course, there's always the horrific revenge song right before that, "Angel of Death," which I'll just let you hear for yourself some day. So, maniacs, tell me, does Howland have any other recordings in this particular shivery style? Didn't he release an album as Don Howland at some point this decade? Maybe it's similar - I wanna hear it no matter what it sounds like, but this shivery spooky fragile stuff w/the sick lyrics is amazing. Nest is a New Zealand duo of Andrew Scott, who now lives in Los Angeles and is also part of the excellent Metal Rouge duo, and one Nigel Wright. On this 3" they collaborate with another NZ artist called MHFS on an excellent little 12-minute power-glow drone piece. I mean seriously, it's good shit - here's what Mr. Scott himself sez: "Keep an eye out for MHFS - all his best stuff is out of print, but he's a fucking genius and NZ's best kept secret, I cannot rate him highly enough...."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ashtray Navigations Monument to British Rock 3LP
Grateful Dead Harper College '70 bootleg CS
David Newlyn A Nervous State of Mind CS

Finally finished A Monument to British Rock tonight in a single sides-three-through-six sitting. I had already listened to Side 3 a week ago, but needed a refresher and the album flowed along very nicely from there and I easily went the distance. Three of the six sides are by the Phil Todd/Ben Reynolds/Alex Neilson trio as heard extensively on the Love That Whirrs CD for Last Visible Dog - together they play a weird shuffling skiffling free-folk meets negative-space fusion/drone hybrid, here for three side-longers. Side 4 is also a side-longer in which the duo of Phil Todd and Melanie Crowley achieve the same feel but with no drums, and less of the relatively rococo string action that Reynolds brings. Sides 1 and 5 are Phil Todd solo and each feature four shorter overdubbed tracks. Side 5 is my favorite one of the whole thing, with each track a separate brilliant glowing setting, more varied than the strange 'electro-tampura' drone-fields he plays on the jam sides, which aren't especially distinguishable from each other, but in a good way that fully inhabits a rich weird atmosphere that really doesn't have much to do with British Rock or anything else except maybe some strange unnamed symptoms of the universe and how they play out when you're lazing on a sunny afternoon. Nice fat LP sleeve too for those three slabs, cool B&W graphics. The Grateful Dead tape was at the rad Gallery Bookstore on Belmont (the one with the sign that says "Town Cleaners") for seven bucks, stuffed right into the music books section. I think this is the first time I've seen a pre-computers Dead tape and figured I should grab it as a totem of those tape-trading days, before its legacy evaporates under the weight of a million external hard drives. This tape has a generic J-card design that could be used for any show - the spine says "GRATEFUL DEAD" with a " / / " thing so you can fill out the date yourself, and the 'cover' is a crude xerox graphic that sets the classic skull & roses image in between "A" and "B" track listing forms. This particular trader just wrote "70" instead of "5/2/70" and even spelled Harpur College wrong, but's all good. This show was one of their "An Evening With The Grateful Dead" marathons in which they would start by playing an acoustic set, then sit in on a New Riders of the Purple Sage set, and then come out again as the Dead and play a full electric set, often two. On this night they played two, and it's thought by many to be the band's GREATEST SHOW EVER, available in its soundboard-recorded entirety (except for the NRPS set) as Dick's Pick #8. This version is an audience recording and, being on a mere 90-minute cassette, is naturally incomplete, but it's still a great way to hear the show. For the first time I can really see why some people prefer AUD's, because you do get a lot more of the energy of the night and the venue. Heard from the audience, the acoustic set sounds really raw and surprisingly energetic, with great versions of "I Know You Rider," "Friend of the Devil," "Dire Wolf," possibly the best "Black Peter" ever into a "Candyman" tease right into a rip-roaring "Cumberland Blues" and more, every song is great. Also, AUDs make a whole lot more sense on a hand-made cassette than they do as downloaded or streaming mp3s. When the music has to travel from 1970 stage to somewhere in the 1970 audience to tape to tape to tape to tape and etc all the way to your stereo in 2008, it just feels like that much more of a privilege to be hearing it. The electric side features a Stephen>Cryptical>Drums>Other One>Cryptical medley and then ends with "Cosmic Charlie," only about half of the actual 2nd set, but sweet tape and right now I think I prefer it to the poorly tagged iPod-only version I have of the Dick's Pick... Still liking the David Newlyn tape, fine warm/cold weird/sweet electronic avant pop instrumentals, and good length at 32 minutes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Pope Do You Wanna Boogie? 3" CDR
Nessmuk Flies Free 3" CDR
Gang Wizard Live In Paris 3" CDR
Panda Bear "Bros"
Tony Allen "Ole (Mortiz Von Oswald remix)"
Surface of the Earth Interference LP
Enos Slaughter On Sunday LP
Dave E & the Cool Marriage Counselors Searching For Sears 7"
Panzer Talk s/t 12"

The Pope is another band I've never heard of before released by the Abandon Ship label. Heavy metalloid noise rock that does in fact have a boogie/shuffle feel in places but mostly heavy prog/thrash with absurd squeaky distorto vocals. Very "Providence, RI". Anyway, it's kinda odd to be at a place in time when I listen to something and say "It's good!" and "I probably won't ever listen to it again" in the same breath. Basically there is a huge class of bands across the world that are good enough to, let's say, be part of a good show where every band puts on a good set and the energy never drags, but yet they haven't figured out how to make a record that can really be cared about or considered important. Should these hundreds of bands still put out records? Sure, might as well, especially if it's on CDR or cassette... their not-so-essential record can always be someone's introduction into the idea of non-traditional music and the independent short-run releasing thereof, all important concepts, and the act of putting something out there usually still moves things another step on the evolutionary trail, whether it's upward to something that is actually great or important, or downward into an early retirement. I don't mean to get all thoughtful like this in a review of The Pope, for the record they're a not-bad noise-rock band. Alright, let's throw another Abandon Ship 3" by someone I've never heard of into the player and see how it fares... this is Nessmuk with Flies Free. This goes back to the shadowy psych-noise that I associate more with the label. Still not exceptional, though a longer and rather ecstatically-played electric drone/raga called "The Diamond Hard Grindstone of Heaven" stands out. I would play it on the radio, probably even more than once! And hey, we've got time, let's get the remaining new 3" from Abandon Ship in here... it's good ol' Gang Wizard (someone I have heard of!) with Live in Paris. Ah, Gang Wizard... always prolific, always jamming, always piercingly noisy and aggro as hell... they never really put out a bad record because they always just do what they do, but how many Gang Wizard records does any one person need? I would say one or two, with three acceptable in some rare cases. I probably have about seven. The best is Byzantine Headache, a CD they put out on Load a couple years ago. It's great, and I think it's because it's a collection of various recordings from different places and/or times and therefore more edited and considered than their usual release, which is "Here's a crazy 20-minute jam or three we played live not too long ago". Like this one, recorded Live in Paris, which sounds fine and Gang Wizardy, but again, I don't really plan on listening to it a second time, but then I just read the blurb Gang Wizard member Brian Miller wrote about it over on the Abandon Ship website, which makes it sound really interesting because it supplies lots of context that describes the show itself, which kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier, that so many of these bands are important in that they can be a crucial part of an exciting show/event, even when the records don't match up. Anyway. "Bros" by Panda Bear came up on the shuffle and deserves a mention by itself - yes I think he sounds like Brian Wilson, and yes I think his music can be awesome. This song is anyway - what a joyous epic. I don't know what the rest of the album is like yet and I'm not even sure I need to. Went to Reckless and someone who probably shopped at Fusetron a lot in the late 90s-early 2000s had recently dumped a lot of their collection there. I picked up two used LPs, and I'm very happy to get something by Surface of the Earth on vinyl. This band from Wellington, New Zealand was kind of revered for a minute or two in certain freenoise/drone/NZ nerd-circles back in the mid-late 1990s heyday. I was in Wellington in the year 1999 and my host actually made it a point to show me Thistle Hall, the building where SotE recorded all their music, as a cultural landmark. Well, listening to this LP it's easy to see why. I'm not sure if the amassed sound of humming flatlined guitar/amp combos has ever been more beautiful. (RST is the only other artist I can think of that rivals it.) They are masters of controlling a soft/loud balance, and I don't mean that some parts are soft and some parts are loud, I mean that ALL OF THEIR PARTS are both VERY SOFT and VERY LOUD at the EXACT SAME TIME. I was always kinda interested in hearing the Enos Slaughter LP, and now that D. Charles Speer & the Helix (featuring two of the same members) is on a roll the curiosity has been re-piqued. It's an interesting album and an interesting band, but now seems like kind of a semi-awkward transitional album, like psychedelic bluegrass music is trying to emerge out of the cavernous black hole that is the NNCK oeuvre, and it's still awkward and nascent, covered in protoplasm, not quite finding its legs. For every wicked thicket of strange-strings future-bluegrass burn there's an equal or greater amount of time given to freenoise fumbling. I prefer the CDR they put out on the Tequila Sunrise label - I think that was a live set and it has a more focused feel... love the Dave E 7-inch even more than before, "Searching Through Sears" is such a great song!... Y'know, I'm sorry I called the Panzer Talk record 'lite' a few posts ago. That's not really fair, that's a word for like smooth jazz or dentist office music. I think I was referring mostly to the vocals, they're kind of awkward and indie sounding, but what's wrong with that? If anything, this record harkens back to 1990s indie-rock nicely, when as a genre it sounded more post-punk than post-Pitchfork, a pre-Pro Tools sound, when that clean-tone two-guitar interplay could still sound bleak and dusty even when the songs were poppy. I don't know what I'm talking about really but the record has grown on me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Melvins The Maggot
The Melvins The Bootlicker
The Melvins The Crybaby
The Modern Lovers s/t
Corleone 10 Yrs Everything I Own Is Broken Or Bent comp DVD

The Melvins put out so much stuff and I'm pretty sure it's all worth hearing (even when it's not worth hearing - they're one of those kinda bands) but The Maggot, from 1999, is the last one I really paid attention to and I'm still chewing on it. "AMAZON" is one of their greatest jams and the whole album is heavy and satisfying in a classic almost-no-bullshit Melvins way. I remember when this album came out it was the rage of the pizza place I worked at. Every delivery driver had a dubbed cassette of it for their car and we would come back from deliveries humming the riff from "AMAZON" and other workers would start humming along while working, sorta like we were in a musical. It was part of a conceptual trilogy of releases that came out within a few months of each other on the Ipecac label, in fact referred to as "The Trilogy". I liked the quiet record too (The Bootlicker), also a good delivery-driving soundtrack, but I never did hear The Crybaby until today (more on that in a minute). They actually came to town on the Trilogy tour (this is Lincoln, Nebraska so cool touring shows were pretty rare) and no less than three delivery drivers called in sick that night to go to the show. I was the third - not too cool, even though my shift was only a 5 to 8 (it was an early all-ages show). I told the shift manager I couldn't make it and he just said, "Oh, you're going to the Melvins too? [big sigh] We'll be fine." The show was amazing - they played two sets with no opening act, and the first set was their 'annoying and/or cover songs' set, starting out with a impressively straight-faced cover of "Tequila", moving on to things like "Okie From Muskogee," a few songs from the The Bootlicker, asking for a volunteer to come up and sing a song that turned out to be "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and amidst it all raging through a barnstormingly awesome and note-perfect version of "Now I'm Here" by Queen. They all wore like hooded friar's robes (except Dale who of course wore nothing but a speedo) and bassist Kevin Rutmanis (ex-Cows, a Lincoln native, he had family in the audience!) had shaved off his eyebrows. ("It's a good look," he said off-mic when Buzz pointed it out.) After about 45 minutes of this goofery they left for intermission, and then the second set was inaugurated with touring guitarist David Scott Stone (a founding member of Get Hustle and the increasingly legendary Slug as well as a reknowned Los Angeles noise/etc musician) walking out and laying down a solo amp-hugging mad-scientist noise piece that seemed to last for about 25 minutes before Buzz came out, adding free-form dirge guitar for what seemed like another 29 minutes, and then Kevin and Dale came out and I swear they went right into something like "Night Goat" and proceeded to go OFF from there for at least an hour straight, Melvins play the hits, one dirge-pummeling epic after another, including "AMAZON". I think the only classic they didn't play was the "Hung Bunny"/"Roman Dog Bird" suite. Today I listened to the whole trilogy back-to-back and it brought back this fine show-going memory. The Maggot and The Bootlicker still sound excellent. I'm hearing The Crybaby for the first time today and it definitely has its moments but I'm not too crazy about it. I do like the 14-minute song that Tool plays on, it's pretty gross and noisy and it has a phone conversation where someone (probably someone in Tool, maybe even Maynard!) says of someone "she has a voice like a fuckin' modem, dude!," which is amazing. After sitting down and watching a good chunk of this new DVD on Corleone Records that puts together almost two hours worth of music-video-type footage by bands on their roster, I was thinking how all the eccentricity and obscurity and creativity reminded me of watching Night Flight when I was 13. I kept skipping around, checking out different things, and ended up watching a video by Ukes of Spaces Corners County with the commentary track on (the DVD has two or three different ones), when one of the commentators said, "This reminds me of watching Night Flight when I was 13." And even if I don't know or care about all the Corleone bands, that's a pretty special warm feeling. Fuck YouTube, I wish there was a nationwide TV channel that was programmed with just random weird post-punk post-everything music stuff. C'mon, it can be from midnight to 8AM, just let me do it. And when you do let me, I'll definitely bring along a copy of this Corleone thing for the library, because there are quite a few careworthy bands on here - the aforementioned Ukes, the great Barnacled whose live performance clip is ridiculous, Mindflayer, Snake Apartment (hilarious weirdo clip with disgusting 'special effects' and is that a southern boogie undercurrent I detect in the music?), Colin Langenus from USA is a Monster, the rather crazy Landed (live clip from like 1999 and Brian Gibson of Lightning Bolt is a pretty terrific drummer), Night Wounds, an impressively progged-out live clip of Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores, hip-hop duo Lorna Doom, and more (I haven't seen everything on here yet).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Diamondhead Dirty Realism CDR
David Newlyn A Nervous State of Mind CS
Nuno Canavarro Plux Quba CD
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour (Women's Names)
Silent Running DVD

Diamondhead is the new thing by Lonnie Methe, he of Naturaliste, one of my favorite local bands from my Nebraska daze.... now he's in Austin, TX working with some new players and they're doing jammy improvised stuff that is a little less noise and a little more rock than Naturaliste, actually ending up somewhere close to an xNOBBQx vibe... I realize that won't be a recommendation for some of you but it is for me, I dig that xNOBBQx LP, it's downright chilling. On the other hand, this Diamondhead disc is kind of long and seems indifferently assembled, but there are excellent moments and I'd like to hear their jams presented with the more rigorous editing and conceptualization that went into some of the old Naturaliste stuff (and Methe's solo stuff as Arnoux). But hey, the title is "Dirty Realism," so, you know.... the David Newlyn tape is on Abandon Ship, who just keep cranking things out I have barely or never heard of. No idea who Newlyn is but he's put out a pretty great tape, oft-perfect retro-future keyboard dream music that works in would-be room-clearing high-pitch test-tones without subverting the beauty. You might remember my Popol Vuh award, well, I'm gonna start giving out a Plux Quba award and David Newlyn is the first guy to get it. In fact I put on Plux Quba next, and as far as today was concerned the Newlyn tape actually sounded better. Canavarro's classic just got drowned out by the workplace, which certainly happens often and to albums that are substantially less quiet and/or even greater musically. This Theme Time Radio Hour is singlehandedly notable for introducing me to the amazing and otherworldly Martian doo-wop "Zindy Lou" by The Chimes. Other highlights include Buddy Holly doing "Peggy Sue", Sandy Denny doing "Pretty Polly", girl group The Jaynettes doing the great "Sally Go Round The Roses," and the man, Bo Diddley doing "Mona." Seeing Danny Boyle's Sunshine a couple days ago inspired me to rent Silent Running, a 1972 movie that I've only seen a few scenes from once on very late-night TV (too late for me to stay awake) and other than that via stills in Starlog magazine when I was 8 years old. I could probably get into it, I was digging the space freighter design for sure, but the mis en scene of the interior sequences was reminding me of CHiPs or something, and it wasn't as 'contemplative' as I hoped it would be, mainly thanks to Bruce Dern and his character's frequent outbursts of overzealotry. Didn't even make it to the part where he starts silently running before I had to return it... I guess once the other humans are out of the story and he doesn't have anyone to yell at it probably gets better... I'm not very good at watching movies.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Velvet Underground Legendary Guitar Amp Tapes
Velvet Underground Columbus 1966
Stars of the Lid The Tired Sounds of...
Michael Yonkers No Kidding CD
Neil Young Dead Man
ANP Quarterly #9
Harmony Korine on Letterman

VU bootleg day... no matter what the fidelity (and the Columbus recording has gotta be one of the most infidelic bootlegs ever) I could listen to this stuff all day... the sound of the Columbus one of course ends up working in its favor, spreading out a shadowy and oozing dream cosmos entirely upon the head of a pin in the middle of the deep space inside an atom. Set opener "Melody Laughter" (31 minutes long) sparked a nice discussion with co-worker about how what they were doing was basically ancient music, a raga played on one chord, so it ignored all that bullshit like time and progress, and it could really only be learned by community practice, so it ignored all that bullshit like authority and scholarship, so it was true American freedom/trance music that rang of not only Native American sweatlodge pulses but also droning cracked folk songs like Clarence Ashley's "Cuckoo," which brought Henry Flynt's 'novabilly' classics You Are My Everlovin' and Purified By The Fire into the discussion. All that from "Melody Laughter".... The Michael Yonkers disc is new stuff on the quality Portugal label Ruby Red Editora. It's billed as "SOLO NOISE GUITAR" and it's intense, a definitive document of the absurd industrial techno noise that he gets out of that homemade future cyborg guitar. 11 tracks, 37 minutes, what you see is what you get, very basic presentation, and if you have it on at low volumes it might not sound varied or especially interesting, but turn it up and there are chasms and canyons and all kinds of lost zones in this stuff. Picked up the great new issue of ANP Quarterly with a definitive non-obfuscatory interview with cover subject Harmony Korine, and stuff on artists I'd never heard of like Tomoo Gokita and Leigh Ledare and Uta Barth - the large-scale reproductions of their work are amazing. On the magazine's advice I checked out Harmony Korine's appearances on Letterman. There's one from 1995, right after Kids came out, and it's great, but the one I came across first was this one from 1997 promoting Gummo, and man, of course people are gonna talk about his nervous and bedraggled appearance (not to mention the horrid disgustovision YouTube quality) but his deceptively skillful comic delivery is really something. Go watch it now before I spoil some of the jokes, like when, talking about James Cameron's Titanic, also out that year, Dave asks, "Would you one day like to direct a film on that scale?" "Yeah, the second one. I'd do the sequel." Which is a great joke in itself, which Dave may or may not realize as he asks, "And how would that go??" "I'd use a rowboat. I don't know if it'd sink." Dave pulls out a copy of Korine's just-published book A Crackup At The Race Riots and makes fun by flipping to a page that has only one word on it: "Hepburn." Korine says "Yeah that was supposed to be the first page... but it ended up being like page 67." Just before that, Dave asks "Are you a novelist?" Korine says, "I wanted to write the Great American Novel. Or just a novel. Well, I just wanted it to be American." So good.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cosmic Jokers s/t
Prince Dirty Mind
Prince 1999

"Little Red Corvette" is sounding so good right now... nothing can kill this song... listen to the production on the verses, those synth atmospheres, that ill drum machine that occasionally clatters and snaps like some new kind of 1982 dub, to say nothing about the vocals and ill extended metaphors over the top ("I guess I must be dumb/She had a pocketful of horses/Trojans, some of them used")... and I can't even begin to discuss a song from the future like "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)"... as revolutionary as the nervous punked-out garage synth/farfisa/guitar sound of Dirty Mind is, I always thought the songwriting was about 30-35% corny, a slightly higher percentage than usual for His Purpleness... I mean, it's still a great album... things really pick up on Side Two... "Head" has the best stone groove and the dirtiest lyrics, basically as far as that particular kind of catty funk falsetto songwriting can go. The choked and hushed Dirty Mind falsetto stands alone in Prince's career and really the history of music, like he is indeed whispering the lyrics to you, because they are indeed dirty secrets. I think album closer "Partyup" is the masterpiece though, the way the sparse chicken-scratch guitar and piano stick to that swinging bass line... it's a pretty heavy antiwar song too.... and Morris Day gets a cowriting credit!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

lunch at Noon Hour Grill
Les Rallizes Denudes Mizutani - Les Rallizes Denudes
Sunshine DVD

A Korean place opened up around the corner from HQ and right now I am thinking I could eat bibombop and kimchi every day for the rest of my life. As for today's music... if we're gonna talk about Les Rallizes Denudes as one of the few true successors to VU (and I think we should) then Mizutani is definitely their version of VU's 3rd album, the quiet one. Maybe it was intentional, I don't know, but these songs are just beautiful and haunting and perfect. Nothing about the Denudes discography really makes any sense at all to me, and sites like this really don't help, but it seems that the random shareblog download I'm listening to here is either the 'official' 1991 CD Mizutani - Les Rallizes Denudes (mostly recorded in 1970) or the German bootleg LP called Deeper Than The Night... either way it's such a good album, and even if you don't want hear Denudes mess around with ballads (understandable), when the quiet songs are over you get a nice 22-minute track of totally ragged zoned-out scorch... I hardly ever watch movies. I'd like to watch a lot more, but every night the stereo always wins. Music is just more important to me. But when I saw Sunshine described as a psychedelic sci-fi epic, I immediately rented it, plus I'm kind of a fan of Danny Boyle - I mean Trainspotting, sure, and I thought 28 Days Later was great... I might even rent The Beach. Underrated, right? As for Sunshine, I had a few issues with it but overall it was pretty great and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes contemplative sci-fi plots featuring ridiculously unwieldy spaceships and 2001-worthy imagery. Despite a slasher movie side trip about 3/4 of the way through, I really dug the man vs. the sun conflict and the way it drove the plot without getting caught up in traditional action/suspense set-pieces. Had no idea what was going on in the last 20 minutes whatsoever but it still looked really cool.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Harmonia Live 1974
Jim Cicatko The Vault
Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD

First time hearing this Harmonia album and it is a great supplement to the two awesome studio albums they made, Muzik Von Harmonia and Harmonia Deluxe. Recorded live, apparently in concert, "at their peak on March 23, 1974 at Penny Station in Griessem, Germany," they're basically doing the exact same thing as they were in the studio the previous November and following June - in fact the song "Veterano" from Muzik Von is played here, a fantastic extended version called "Veteranissimo"... as far as I can tell the rest is new material, although a couple themes sound familiar. Every bit as good as the other two albums, and in some ways better, with a rough-and-ready casual feel that sheds new light on those one-of-a-kind rhythms and atmospheres. Not to mention really good sound (must be a soundboard recording).... For those who read the Jay Bayles post a couple weeks ago, he has a friend who he knew back in Boston or San Francisco named Jim Cicatko who also still records music in total obscurity, now living in Seattle. Jay has given me two recordings by Jim over the years, one called Hammond Notebook from back in 2000, and now this one called The Vault that is a serious and impressive 68-minute piece of contemporary avant-garde classical music. The basic ingredients are loops and cello - it starts very drony and abstract but that old-world acoustic instrument can be heard in there, sneaking around the corners, and around the 18-minute mark it comes out of hiding for some utterly gorgeous overdubbed quartet-type shit before sinking back underneath drones and oddities. That's Jim Cicatko and fans of contempo avant/classical, not to mention indie stuff like Godspeed and Rachel's or whatever else, should be all over this. Oh hey, he has a website and he does more than just music.... man, "Space Forklift" and "Slow Talkers," the 3rd and 4th songs on the Kurt Vile album, what a lost-psych space-ballad one-two punch...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kraftwerk Radio-Activitat
Kraftwerk Trans Europa Express
Magas May I Meet My Accuser
The Move Message to the Country
Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness' First Finale
T. Rex Electric Warrior
Velvet Underground The Quine Tapes (disc 2)
Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um
Chick Corea Now He Sings Now He Sobs
Herbie Hancock Headhunters
Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia Side Trips Vol. 1
Locrian 7"
Billy Bao Fuck Separation 10"
Los Llamarada 7"
Die Kreuzen Cows And Beer 7"
Dave E & the Cool Marriage Counselors 7"
Burning Star Core Body Blues 7"

Never heard of DINOWALRUS before - it came in the mail with a Brooklyn return address, no one-sheet, just a CDR. The band name was kinda goofy and coupled with the crude silkscreen/envelope packaging led me to expect some kind of noisiness. And that is in fact an aspect of their sound, but only one, as they are some kind of groove/shoegaze/New Romantic/experimental hybrid. That might sound amazing to you, or it might sound awkward, and while they do at times hint towards the former, I think a little more often they lean towards the latter. Unsure but intrigued, I'm going to listen some more... After that I went to the iPod to program some workday music and randomly chose Radio-Activitat by Kraftwerk, followed by Trans Europa Express by Kraftwerk, followed by the next 9 albums the thing happened to play, which lasted all day at work and for awhile at home. Apparently they were sorted by how recently they were added, because all of them (except for one) were 1970s rock and jazz that had been added at the same time. Funny because I randomly downloaded three Kraftwerk albums and it turns out they're the German-language versions. I'd rather have 'em in English, just to hear him sing the "Eeeeeven the greatest stars/discover their face in thee looking gloss...." lines alone. No hurry though, because whatever tongue the words happen to be in, the universal language still comes through crystal clear, and that language is non-stop cold-sweet glorious electronic Teutonic funk. Speaking of funk, Magas stopped by a few posts ago and sharebeed us his most recent album May I Meet My Accuser, which turned out to be the only album less than 30 years old that the iPod played today. It's a pretty harsh one - the songs have a similar structure and drive as before, but the synth bass tone is ridiculous, it's on almost every track and it tears the songs/album apart. I'm scared of it and I don't even know what it's gonna sound like next time I listen (BTW the opening instrumental track does not sound like anything I've heard Magas do before, I can't describe it but it's kinda upbeat 70s world music or something, short but really cool).... The Move album is about half-awesome. Absolutely everything that is fantastic about 1970s hard rock power pop is in the heavy yearning and keening first track, "Message From The Country." I honestly couldn't tell you how any of the other songs go, except for "Do Ya" and "California Man," and those are both bonus tracks. Actually I do recall "Ben Crawley Steel Company," just because it's annoying - I love the Wizzard Brew album, but beyond that I never really know how a Roy Wood song is gonna jibe with me - he can be fantastic, but Music Hall and Kitsch keep rearing their head... "Creepin" by Stevie Wonder is so awesome... T. Rex played, I was in and out of the room, co-worker was like "Hey, this song was in Billy Elliot! Great song! Hey, I know this song too! I'm a T. Rex fan! I didn't know it!" Ah, VU Quine Tapes was a nice call, my favorite disc of the three, featuring the great 17-minute "Follow the Leader," versions of "White Light/White Heat," "Venus in Furs," and "Heroin," and then the monumental 38-minute "Sister Ray" - too bad it isn't longer. After the VU came a fusion jazz vortex kicked off by Mingus Ah Um, definitely some fusion jazz but this is a pre-Fusion fusion of Duke Ellington and the Civil Rights Movement and old-time jazz and future jazz and urban blues and juke joint stomp and booze and sweat and last tangos in Paris. Tough act for Chick Corea to follow, especially if he dares to call his album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (aw Chick can I get you, I mean HIM, a tissue?), but some of this album is pretty great. Roy Haynes on drums helps a lot, and Miroslav Vitous on bass doesn't hurt. The tunes aren't that memorable but the playing really can be, especially when they get quiet and/or avant-garde. Miiiiight not keep this on the iPod though. Herbie Hancock album sounded good... I mean it better sound good, it is after all THE best-selling jazz album of all time, although as a jazz album it is kinda corny - it makes a better funk album, and an even better pop album. I've already got a trusty dollar-bin vinyl of this though, I don't think I'll keep it on the iPod either. Ah, and the Garcia/Wales thing... man, I always like it when Wales sits in with the Dead, but Garcia sitting in with Wales is kinda wack. The playing is strong of course, by the whole band, but there are no tunes and they kinda settle on blues and R&B vamps that are just begging for the multidimensional fluency and bounce of the Dead. Definitely removing this from the iPod... see, I'm not completely brainwashed yet... Not too long ago, in response to their relatively pastoral track on the split cassette with Daleth, I said that I wanted to hear a Locrian recording more like their loud and aggressive live sets, and they've gone and done just that with their 7-inch on the Bloodlust! Private Series, two guitar-driven noise/drone attacks, sewn together by weird tech-metal riffing. Just what the doctor ordered. Side two ends in a seamless lock groove that I listened to for probably a little over two minutes, over at the dryer folding the clothes, spacing off, when I suddenly figured it out and snapped to attention and, I shit you not, whispered out loud: "Lock groove!" I ordered some records from S-S that I'm pretty excited about, and the Billy Bao 10" sounds about exactly how I was hoping it would, pure slow-driving dirge-pummel, two ten-minute tracks, Brainbombs-worthy repetition and the singer has an excellent tone. I like heavy music. Will probably get the LP that just came out. Side one of the Los Llamarada 7-inch reminds me of their LP in that it sounds cool and raw and weird while it's on but after the needle picks up I don't really remember the song at all. Side B on the other hand is great, apparently a Peggy Lee cover that the girl in the band sings and she is very good. Reminds me of the way the Geeks "Too Fat Pig" 7-inch, also on S-S, has a girl singing on the A side and a guy on the flip, except this Llamarada vocal has a cooler soul punk feel, less paranoid and more melancholy, hands down my favorite Llamarada track so far - hell, it's the only one I can remember. Also got the reissue of Cows and Beer by Die Kreuzen ("2007 official reissue 25 years later"), actually my first time ever hearing it (I wasn't "there"), and it's awesome as most of you are probably well aware. I didn't really know what to expect from the Dave E 7" but it was recorded in the 1970s, not too long after the Eels' demise, and to me it picks up right where that band left off. Sure the music is a little mellower (most is), emphasizing the jazz and blues undercurrents that were always in there somewhere, but hey, that is a manic Art Tripp-y toy xylophone banging away through the first song "Searching Through Sears," and that is DAVE E FROM THE ELECTRIC EELS singing, and he's still singing about our modern lives as consumers in a way that is poisoning and pissed-off and funny and perfect. On Side B he does an a capella number called "Love Meant To Die" (complete with hummed guitar riffs, grab your axe and play along) and then spits out another aggro-swing number with band called "Psychology 101". This is my pick of the S-S order. Die Kreuzen and Billy Bao are tied for second. And finally, last Friday at the Burning Star Core show I got his recent 7 on the Hospital label, Body Blues. Anything Yeh does is quality and this is certainly no exception, side A an ugly psychedelic mud-drag and side B a soft space-prog come-down, one of his most overt 1970s moves yet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Fas'ners/The Wurst Live @ Sarasota Succulent Society split CS Kraus The Facts CS
"LET THEM EAT INTERNET, Pt 5: Impressions of Post-Communist Beijing, December '07" by Elvis deMorrow (article at
Slayer Seasons in the Abyss
These Are Powers Terrific Seasons
Thelonious Monk Best of... CD
Siloah Sukram Gurk CD
Panzer Talk s/t 12-inch
Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD
Metal Rouge Winter Calling CDR
Fossils CDR
Lorna Doom The Diabolical EP CD
Steve Hauschildt The Summit CDR
Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD
Charalambides Likeness

First record of the day (7:40AM) is a split tape from the west coast of Florida documenting a couple bands in and around the Sarasota scene, the inaugural release from the label Roofless. The Fas'ners is "a one man synthesizer dynamo from Tampa, Florida," but he doesn't play any kind of death-drone or space-rock, opting instead for bold horror/classical arpeggios spat out in a basement/punk style. Pretty nice and not-normal stuff, and cool to hear the wasted youth chatting, cheering, and making comments like "Death metal" and "Where are my smokes?" On the flip are The Wurst, from Sarasota, a boy/girl synth/guitar duo that wear lots of masks and, well, I'll quote the letter that came with the tape: "Allie, the guitarist, played inside of her pet dog's cage which was on top of a table in the middle of the room. She was wearing a gorilla mask and had a strobe light going. Jimmy, on synth, taped flowers to his face and at the end of their set (about 6 minutes) began screaming at and shaking the cage, as if he were beckoning forth a mutant creation." Maybe, just maybe, Jack Smith would've been into it... sounds pretty awesome for Sarasota, or America for that matter, but devoid of visuals, the 5-minute set on here doesn't really distinguish itself from the post-noise live-mess churn-and-burn masses (although here's a snippet of 'em on YouTube that has a cool electro-void shake to it).... Back over to the Dreamtime Taped Sound label for another tape, this one from Kraus, called The Facts. Not too easy to figure out any info on this one, but apparently this is a member of The Futurians, that NZ band that released the great disc Spock Ritual in I think 2006. And hey, this tape is pretty great too. Varied instrumental tracks that get into particularly crude and spacey post-SCG ethno-punk, floating electronics, and I'm not even sure what else but I know I liked it. He has a website here where you can get more info and maybe download some tracks. While listening to these two records I read the rousing conclusion to Elvis deMorrow's 5-part travelogue on his trip to Beijing (posted on 2/01/08 at, scroll down, or go here for all five parts) - check out the insights, even if you don't have a Kraus tape to listen to while doing it. Suave author's photo too! Speaking of Beijing, I am loving the These Are Powers song "Little Sisters of Beijing" so much right now. Incredible rock'n'roll singing by Anna Barie and that 'prepared' bassline by Pat Noecker is a hook that can pound in my head all day long. "Makes Visible" is also a great song. Excellent album and it comes in one of the best gatefolds I've seen in a very long time... go see them on tour right now, dates here.... Panzer Talk, huh? This came out of nowhere with not a whole lot of promise (it seemed like another one of those 'college pop'/'career rock' bands that has constantly sent Blastitude stuff ever since our address was for some reason listed in the Billboard Magazine directory a few years ago, I never asked them to) but at least it came on vinyl and the colorful formal/abstract peacock cover art looked nice so I gave it a spin... and it does sound pretty lite and college-y but I swear there is something else here, something kind of forlorn and cracked about this stuff and the twin guitars sound pretty good playing around each other... I go to their MySpace and see that they're from Youngstown, Ohio, which is bleaksville, which might explain the tone of this stuff... and they do have "panzer" in their name, and that refers to like Nazis and war, which are also bleak.... more on this band later? And hey, that's not a typo, I really am listening to the Kurt Vile CD a lot....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Emeralds Grass Ceiling
Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD
Charalambides Likeness

Okay, Kurt Vile.... never heard of him before, but he's "Philly's constant hitmaker," a one-man band, maybe even a singer/songwriter, new CD on Gulcher, props from Tom Lax, okay I'll give it a listen, and what do I hear but 1980s-style one-man pop-rock, earnest strums over radio-ready drum machine, and for a second I'm not sure what's going on, but I think something's happening, something beautiful and home-recorded, and a few seconds in when he sings "I got a freeway mind!" into a reverb mist, it's practically the hook of the year, followed closely by the line "I've got a trumpet/I know where to dump it".... And indeed, the hits just keep (constantly) coming, there are so many excellent songs on here that I'm putting this right up there with all the other home-psych curveballs I can think of from the last decade... Jakob Olausson's Moonlight Farm... vintage lo-fi Guided by Voices... Flying Canyon (RIP).... there's even this hollow-but-bubbly electronic undercurrent (including a couple short avant interludes) that I'm tracing to, like, mid-period Cluster... I know, right? And I just now got the joke, that his name is a reference to Kurt Weill, that cabaret composer or whatever beloved by Tom Waits fans and anyone else who listens to NPR. No thanks, I'll take this Kurt Vile, the one from Philly... (and hey, in case you haven't noticed Gulcher is really on a bit of a roll with this Newline series....) Jeez, I've had two listens to this most recent Charalambides, both at work and not fully attentive, but I think this thing might be a masterpiece. You could say it's their most accessible album, with Christina taking her most traditional 'lead singer' role yet (every song has lyrics taken from old-time traditional songs), but at the same time more psychedelic raw nerve is exposed than ever before, mainly because they never really go for the loud wash-out, instead leaving everything still, sparse, trembling, and vivid. The vocal and electric guitar performances are totally heroic - if I have any complaint it's that the music is way too intense for the album to be 70 minutes long.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Led Zeppelin In Through The Out Door
Peter Green End of the Game
Gown For the Maples CD
Gown Preserved & Shared CD
Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Tony Allen "Ole" (Moritz Von Oswald remix) mp3
Kyuss Sky Valley
Keith Jarrett Koln Concert
Muddy Waters various songs
LOST season 4 episode 2 "Confirmed Dead"
Dettinger Oasis

Leadoff song "In the Evening" came up on the shuffle while walking to the train so I decided to just let the whole album play. Zep always played hybrid music but this album is just strange, recorded in December 1978, combining clashing elements like 1950s-style rockabilly goofing, a seasoned and subtle awareness of punk and new wave, John Paul Jones's elegant keyboard schmaltz, Robert Plant's angst over losing his young son to a respiratory illness a year before, some of Jimmy Page's grossest lead guitar playing ever, and quite a bit more - how else can you explain epic hybrids like "Fool in the Rain" and "Carouselambra"? The Peter Green album came on next so I let that roll too and MAN, like I've said before, what a monster rhythm section performance by Alex Dmochowski on bass and Godfrey McLean on drums. This album makes me think of punk too, because despite this rhythm section going off, Green just kind of hangs out over the top, intermittently spitting out these weird guitar leads, which reminded me of a review someone wrote that called this album "surly and indifferent" or something like that, and hey, that's punk! In 1970! I mean it's no Stooges or MC5 but still... (Actually it was and they called it "bitter and rambling", close enough.) Okay, now listening to the CD version of this new LP by Gown called For The Maples (it's one of those vinyl releases that comes with a free CD version as well, on the Three Lobed label). The backing band on here is Sunburned (I think they call themselves that now instead of Sunburned Hand of the Man), and I thought this album might follow End of the Game nicely, what with Sunburned's 'dark funk' past and Gown's shredding guitar capabilities. Not really, though - the style is more 'windswept dirge' than 'avant blues', and the first track has vocals that sound somewhere in between Alan Sparhawk and Matt Valentine. The rest of the album is instrumental, all of it moody heavy/washy psych not unlike the most recent Trad Gras och Stenar stuff or a rambling Bardo Pond style. It's good, I'll give it some more listens. Three Lobed has also released this solo Gown album called Preserved & Shared, currently available as a bonus for preordering For the Maples. It's a solo guitar album, maybe no overdubs, not sure, quite a bit noisier, pretty heavy but I don't remember much beyond that..... I'm officially done paying any attention to new Flaming Lips happenings but I love a good 4 or 5 of their albums and this Yoshimi album really is so good, their last great one... Thanks to a reader tip I checked out this Tony Allen track remixed by Moritz Von Oswald - he's one-half of the greatest band of all time, Rhythm & Sound, and Tony Allen you might know from the second greatest band of all time, Fela Kuti's Africa 70. So odds are pretty good, and once you get through the 'world music' sheen and the bassline and groove get a chance to sink in, oh yeah, it's more Basic Channel bliss.... the Kyuss album has a couple great extended instrumental workouts - I might start listening to this band again, I haven't for over 10 years.... it's been that long for the Koln Concert too. I had this on vinyl way back when and I thought it was kinda great, but years later, as bright and brittle mp3s, it's sounding a little corny and schmaltzy and far too ornate for where my head is at... whoah, now coworker is playing some Muddy Waters and jesus this is some punk music. Who's the lead/slide guitarist? Is that Muddy himself? Talk about a machine that kills fascists, this guitar is just brutal and tearing right out of these songs and jabbing you in the eye, ears, heart, mind, ego, essence, soul.... good LOST episode (purchased for $1.99 and watched on iTunes a whole week after airing, I never get to see it live because the kids are still up at 8PM and they don't get to watch violent TV shows), I'm liking these new characters, the producers/writers are confidently throwing a lot on the table for Season 4 and I'm looking forward to watching it play out.... So yeah, in my neverending quest to hear more music that sounds like Basic Channel, I usually end up listening to, well, something on Basic Channel. I certainly don't listen to Echologist, but here's something non-BC that fits the bill much better, Oasis by Dettinger. As minimal as say Pole and Pan Sonic or whatever, but I hardly ever listen to them either because, I don't know, it's just not quite house enough. I've gotta have at least some string patches and soul smears in there, the more subtle the better, and Dettinger obliges just about right...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oubliette Self Hate CS
Funkadelic Hardcore Jollies
Funkadelic Electric Spanking of War Babies
Theo Angell Auraplinth CD
Scion Arrange and Process Basic Channel Tracks
Jimmy Giuffre 3 The Easy Way
Lilypad Twin Holes
Datetenryu 1971
Robert Anton Wilson Maybe Logic DVD

Sometimes a noise recording is best judged by the shut-off effect. Listening to side A of the Oubliette tape, a full-on super-loud squalling piece between 10 and 15 minutes long, I was zoned out and indifferent until the piece abruptly ended and the sudden silence became the most intense moment of the whole thing. The 10 or 15 minutes of noise music that preceded it is no longer shocking, contact miced pedal chained whatever, but the sudden realization of what we have become inured to is. If I remember right Side B basically just does the same thing again, 10-15 minute onslaught with awesome shut-off effect, which is cool. Not necessarily original music but it is a powerful tape, good artwork too, on the Teenage Whore Tapes label from I think Florida. Oubliette is from somewhere in Georgia. For a while there in my youth I was a rabid collector of Funkadelic albums, but after I had found about 10 of 'em I decided it was time to start digging for other things. Two albums I had always passed on and never did buy, thinking they were 'past their prime' releases, were Hardcore Jollies and Electric Spanking of War Babies. However, now that rampant album-sharing has reared its online head I just can't say no any longer, and I was definitely wrong about Hardcore Jollies - I think I had it in my head that they lost it when Eddie Hazel left, but what the funk was I thinking? Michael Hampton is awesome in his own right and this is a fine vintage Funkadelic album - in fact it's the last time "Original P" vocalists Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas sang with the group (they did still record with Parliament). My first inkling that I had misjudged was hearing its leadoff track "Comin' Round The Mountain" on Chic-a-Go-Go, and it sounds great here too, even without the visual of Ratso and Pedro Bell and a buncha other awesome people jamming out to it. Some confidently claim that it is Hazel and not Hampton playing guitar on "Mountain," but even if it's true the axe-wielding trio of Hampton, Glen Goins, and Garry Shider more than hold their own on the rest of the tracks, bringing a rumbling techno metalloid low-end that really isn't like anything else in funk or heavy metal before or since. The live version of "Cosmic Slop" sounds like it has about 14 simultaneous guitar solos. War Babies, on the other hand, isn't clicking like Jollies. It is after all from 5 years later with their best-selling stylistic change-up One Nation Under A Groove in between, but there is something weird going on here that is distinct from even the usual Funkadelic weirdness, and of course I'm gonna get both of these on vinyl anyway, for the Pedro Bell gatefolds if nothing else.... Further exploration of solo Emeralds stuff has led me to Lilypad, the solo project of "Big John" who is the "synth guru" in the band. And as much as I thought Steve Hauschildt's solo stuff (see previous post) sounded like it could be the whole Emeralds band, well shit, so does this, though I'm starting to see how the parts fit together and, more importantly, stay out of each other's way. Lilypad is more minimal and soft-drone oriented than Hauschildt, more of a straight-up early Popol Vuh style. Two long tracks, great album. Whoah, 1971 by Datentenryu (pictured) might be the single craziest Japanese rock album I've heard yet. Well yeah, except for certain Flower Travellin' Band, Les Rallizes Denudes, Magical Power Mako, Fushitsusha, Merzbow, etcetera, but Datentenryu do throw a serious curve ball in the form of insane ELP/Deep Purple/Young Rascals organ rock madness played with a nonstop searing punk soul attack. I feel like there were about 200 'indie rock' bands in the 1990s that would've loved to have sounded like this (Delta 72 come to mind)... Man, the Robert Anton Wilson DVD was pretty intense. It's not exactly a great production, kinda made-for-cable, complete with cheesy public-access-studio 'sci fi' effects during a couple segues, and it is disorienting to see how aged and infirm he was at the time of the filming, and then to have that filtered through a wry and fairly soft-spoken Irish Catholic Brooklynite demeanor, none of which I expected from his literary voice... but the various shortcomings of the human nervous system when it comes to dealing with these kinds of filters and presuppositions is just the kind of thing Wilson eloquently deconstructs, and after about 15-20 minutes of adjusting I could just relax and listen to the man's philosophy, and I like just about everything he has ever said. Glad he wrote books, because it's hard to keep up with all the ideas he talks about, especially when you realize that he talks about them rather disarmingly in person, a little out of the side of his mouth, Brooklyn style... there's plenty of RAW stuff on YouTube, here's a little taste to get started... I love his three reasons why people believe in conspiracies...

And in case you missed it, Pedro Bell 'interview' and 'performance' on Chic-a-Go-Go, followed by "Comin' Round The Mountain":

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fantastic Magic Witch Choir CDR
Steve Hauschildt The Summit CDR
Long Legged Woman Newtown Nights CDR
BabyGenius Night Night Classics CD
Fossils CDR
Monopoly Child Nightlife Band Pacific City Barbeque Pit Levitators Method (Levitators Anonymous) CDR

Funny about this Fantastic Magic disc. It came out last year on cassette, where it sounded like a murky and eerie dream. Now the same label Abandon Ship has reissued it for 2007 on CDR, and I am admittedly analog-biased but this sounds so bright and sunny it could practially be a Polyphonic Spree side project. I still think the first two songs offer some of the very best hook/vibe combos in the last 5 years of the much-maligned freak folk subgenre (you better believe it) but after that the disc loses me, where on tape it all just sounded pleasantly lost to begin with. There's a Tiny Tim vaudevillian undercurrent here that just didn't sound so obvious on the cassette, and I don't think I'm quite into it... But I can say that I still have no idea who Fantastic Magic is or where they came from and that's pretty cool.... Steve Hauschildt is a member of the Emeralds trio, and his solo disc The Summit is a revelation in that as a solo act he sounds a lot like a full-band Emeralds recording - while I listen I'm kinda forgetting what it is the other two guys might do. A somewhat long album, about 60 minutes of music, 9 tracks in the 5-7 minute range, with some of the deep and soft non-noise drone approaches that Emeralds perfects, but also with a lot of other progressive approaches - maybe like early Genesis instrumentals on 16RPM? And tracks like "Path Through A Bamboo Forest" and "Gumball Machine" make me think of Tod Dockstader and even Plux Quba by Nuno Canavarro. After Hauschildt the kids seemed to need something a little less 'internal landscape intensive' so I put on the BabyGenius classical CD, another one of those soccer-mom comps and actually one of the most crucial CDs of my last 5 years. The theme of this volume is baby bedtime and it's all soft gorgeous shit. I probably played it over 300 times in my son's first 18 months - we're talkin' ritualistic application of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", "Moonlight Sonata", "Gymnopedie #1," and more, night after night. And with that (goodnight kids) now it's time to get back to the merch I picked up at the Skaters/Axolotl/Lambsbread/C. Spencer Yeh/Animal Law/Binges show - at the gig I asked Spencer the tall Skater what I should buy of his off the table if I was only gonna buy one, and he said, "Oh, that'd be Monopoly Child Nightlife Band." "Okay..........uh, could you point that one out to me?" I didn't even know exactly what he had said and I assumed it was another over-the-top Skaters album title, but as he talked I realized that Monopoly Child Nightlife Band was the name of his new solo thing, and by then he was on to an extended rap about the Chilean surrealist painter Roberto Matta, and how one of his recordings (not sure if it was the one he was recommending or something more recent) had been directly inspired by corresponding Matta paintings that were "totally fourth dimension." It was kinda awesome and frankly I didn't know if the disc would live up to that conversation, because the last 2 or 3 Skaters things I'd listened to sounded kinda, uh, stuck in place (the cat-in-heat yowls were getting predictable!), but no, Spencer was right, this thing is great. One 31-minute jam that actually edits a few separate jams (I think he said it was four) into a suite/medley, and I'd have to say that the drum-powered soul-psych zoneout he's doing here just might be the one-man heir apparent to a piece like "Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda," and not a single copulating cat to be heard!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Henry Kuntz Speed of Culture Light 4CS box
Xul People CS
Iron & Wine The Creek Drank The Cradle mp3s
Magical Power Mako s/t mp3s
Rhythm & Sound s/t mp3s
Fricara Pacchu Midnight Pyre CD
Metal Rouge Calling Winter CDR
Binges/Animal Law/C. Spencer Yeh/Axolotl/Lambsbread/The Skaters live @ AV-Aerie, Chicago
Lorna Doom The Diabolical EP CD
Eagles "Lyin' Eyes"
Roxy Music "Love Is The Drug"

Dreamtime Taped Sounds from Belgium did the LP reissue of J.D. Emmanuel's Wizards last year, and here's another archival release that's like a little world opening up, a four-cassette box set by Henry Kuntz. I don't think I've heard of him before, but he's from the Bay Area, played on Henry Kaiser's 1977 album Ice Death, formed his own "free jazz troupe" OPEYE in 1986 (there's a rather Sun City Girlish live shot in the liner notes here that shows Kuntz "presenting bat masks"), has played lots of solo music on various instruments, travelled the world, recorded prolifically, etcetera. I'm just getting started here, and much like Ashtray Navigations' new triple LP release A Monument to British Rock that came in the mail last week, records like these are kind of like novels, you don't plan on finishing them in one sitting. Get your bookmarks ready.... so far I've just listened to side one but that's been plenty: a wacked-out solo vocal piece from 1982 that reminds me of the "transverse" vocal pieces by another Henry (Flynt) - a long section of "TRIO OPEYE" live stuff from the mid-80s, weird gutsy free improv for violin, ukuleles, "Mexican hollowed-out log violin" and more, not your typical trio instrumentation, a collision of AACM and Chadbournean sensibilities - a couple Kuntz solo pieces from 2001, a long crazed harsh whistling number for tenor sax and the other on that same Mexican hollowed-out log violin, a piece that gets pretty trancey while still sounding broken and ragged. I could listen to a whole album of THAT - maybe not a whole 4-tape box set, but hopefully there are more solo log violin tracks spread around here, I'm only 1/8th done. It really is a box set, a see-thru plastic box that holds the four tapes and a plastic dinosaur nestled in a bed of cotton, along with a rather extensive insert that says heavy Don Cherry-type shit like "The True People of the Northwest Coast are Nomadic by nature. Spiritual and Physical Travelers. World People. Universal People. They are residents of nowhere and Everywhere. And this is reflected in their music, a nomadic yet specific expression that is culturally open-ended and of their Cultural making. A True Expression of A True People." Which is an interesting sentiment to keep in mind as the next Dreamtime tape goes in the player, the mysterious C40 expression by the True (?) People known as the Xul People. The handwritten note in the package called this tape "African S.F.," and online the label says "the XUL PEOPLE are a tribe of people who developed a higher form of self and inteligence. it is believed that this tribe communicates with "higer lifeforms" or e.t. lifeforms... XUL PEOPLE allways have been a big mystery for both outhoroties and antropologists. maybe this tape hold some of the secrets and facts?!" What it sounds like is a tape of modern-day field-recordings of African drum rituals, slowed down just enough to make the chants sound like roars and groans and maybe, just maybe, possession by demonic "higer e.t. lifeforms." Then again the custodian here at work came in while it was on and said, "This is music from Angola." Either way, it's a weird tape...makes me feel fact it makes me feel like I'm getting a.....a.....STOMACH ACHE. (Clase como de un dolor de estómago, non oui?) (Update a week later: actually I keep thinking about this tape, it's pretty fucking scary and I haven't had the guts to put it back in the player.) Funny story with this first Magical Power Mako album... none of us here at work had ever heard it before when the shuffle pulled up "Open The Morning Window," a dreamy and sweet femme-sung piano ballad, and everyone was like "Let's listen to the whole thing!" So we did, from the beginning, and we got quite the opposite, a harsh collision of post-war shock and cultural spasm that may be Faust-inspired but doesn't look back so much as it does forward, to stuff like Psychic TV. There are a couple more dreamy songs tucked away for the intrepid but this album bad-vibed everyone out, even me...not that I won't take these mp3s back to HQ for further study...although it's pretty clear that this thing needs to be heard on vinyl, preferably an original, for proper context. Bet they cost a lot. And speaking of back home, tonight's dinner music is this new Fricara Pacchu disc, which suddenly sounds about 200 times more mental than it did the first time I listened - this thing is like Martin Rev on 78RPM with all kinds of other genres bursting out of his drumbox - the expected noise/psych/spacerock melange but also cartoon/videogame/thrift-score/mood/lounge/tiki/surf/thrash/pop-punk/industrial/lo-fi. The second track is like a 1990s Roy Montgomery 4-track piece being interrupted by the actual footsteps of Godzilla, right outside.

CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT CHICAGO SHOW REPORT And after dinner I got a babysitter to put the kids to bed and took off to this insane show, a six-band bill where I actually intended to watch all six bands. Also my first time at the AV-Aerie, which is a great venue - totally chill no-frills bar, tons of room to spread out and mingle, acoustics are fine, high ceilings, huge windows opening on sci-fi nighttime cityscape, clean, organized - I won't go on, hopefully you'll get a chance to visit it yourself. First band was Binges, from Chicago, who I first heard of a year ago, but had not actually heard until this night. They set up on the floor and while the electronics/tabletop/gtr/etc dude got his patch chords together, the drummer set up facing him, his back to the audience, and started playing pitter-patter free-flowing warm-up type stuff which slowly began to take on weight and draw the crowd. It was clear they were underway when the sparse soundchecky electronic pings and squelches that had been intermittently coming from the table-top started coalescing into weird sparse loops that were playful and even a little funky. The two took this mellow/aggro vibe and moved it very nimbly into more spacious and downtempo rock feels as well. Second song was louder and more wall-of, good but not as memorable as that great first jam. I tried to buy a disc but they didn't bring any. Animal Law was next, a 'Chicago supergroup' of Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded, Bloodlust! label, et al) on vocals, Jason Soliday (Jason Soliday, et al) on baritone guitar, Dylan Posa (Flying Luttenbachers, Cheer-Accident, et al) on drums, Blake Edwards (Vertonen, C.I.P. label, et al) on percussion, and Geoff Guy (Gary Glitter's Hard Drive, Gays in the Military, et al) on guitar - when I first heard they were playing together I thought "this could be good," then I saw on MySpace that they were playing in the style of "Swans, Khanate, Bauhaus, Harvey Milk, The Goslings, My Bloody Valentine, Flipper..." and I thought "this could be really good." And judging from this show I'd say that it pretty much is, although they definitely played too long for being the second band on a six-band bill, and they are still working some stuff out here and there. First song was a great spaced-out dirge that had Solotroff staring down the crowd with cold melancholy for a good five minutes while Soliday's thunderous ax and Posa's minimalist drums held down the riff, Guy did psychedelic stuff on top, and Edwards placed the judicious scrap yard accents. When Solotroff finally came in it was on the attack, in a screaming Bloodyminded style. A couple other songs had a disarmingly poppier approach, with Solotroff doing a fairly explicit Ian Curtis thing on one, and some quirky changes attempted and not necessarily nailed. The dirges were pretty exquisite, though - looking forward to hearing these songs recorded. After Animal Law the locals were done and it was time for the touring party to begin. C. Spencer Yeh (aka Burning Star Core) went first, I think the first time I've seen him play a real solo violin set, that is low on the FX pedals, no laptop, no backing at all, just loud and heavy instrument. I realized while watching/listening that the reason I always love Yeh's stuff is that, no matter how 'noise' and 'experimental' it is, he always plays MUSIC. The first violin piece tonight was a blistering free-improv arc that dragged a laser-beam tonic on the low end with ragged-claw scuttle and spider chatter up top (it was that droning humming tonic underneath that made it fully musical). The second piece was noisier and shorter, using two bows to make heavy dismantling sounds, and then the set was over, kinda like a tape from his Solo Violin cassette-single series - maybe a little longer, a 10-inch record or a 3-inch CDR. Of music. Axolotl went on next, a strong surprise replacement for the disappointing cancellation of Emeralds. He played music too, totally solo set, looking like he walked straight out of Over the Edge or at least The Bad News Bears, long hair/T-shirt/blue jeans/sneakers, down on the floor hitting pedals. It was real loose and shaky, especially at first. A violin was sitting there, and after awhile he picked it up and slowly sawed out a low drone, just long enough to loop it into a light glow that allowed the whole thing to finally start moving, and it got really loud and wallish and sheets-of-celestial... but only for two or three minutes, after which he shut it off and the loose shaky vibe came back as he started to hook up something else. Second piece I actually don't really remember... wait, was that when he was sitting on the floor holding his mic between his knees and wailing into it? I don't know, it wasn't perfect but it was a laid-back and convivial set with flashes of the intense glows we've heard in flashes on his records. And then came Lambsbread. I seriously didn't think they were gonna play, cuz you know, I had heard that they'd "broken up" and everything, but there they were just like it was early 2006 all over again. There were differences though - it's still total go-for-broke improv insanity, but the guitar is playing more riffs and less leads, more low-end and less high-end and it sounds great. Second guitarist seemed even more indifferent than ever to what she was playing, but it hit me that her role in the band is to play 'tampura' to the 'tabla' and 'sarod' of the other two. Hell yes this was a killer raga, all 7 minutes of it. And hey, only one more band, I will be home before 3AM! Sienko wasn't sure, saying "It's the Skaters, I could see 'em playing for two hours," and I was a little more optimistic, like "Yeah, but I could also see 'em doing like one 30-minute piece" and he was like "Yeah, and then saying 'thanks do we have time for a couple more?'" No but seriously folks, they only did one piece and it was about 30 minutes, but they did light about 20 incense sticks right before they started, which did indeed cause a little grumbling here and there, but I love the smell of incense and I don't get to light it at home because of the kids. It made the room seem ill and foggy, which suits their music too, especially at the beginning of the set, when they tore right into something involving a crazy conga loop and these great weird funky Casio SK-1 garbage keyboards, actually quite jazzy. Not quite sure where the piece went from there, I just remember Spencer the tall Skater pacing the stage in his huge straw hat and grunting into the mic in a pretty groovy way.....after that I kind of got lost in a couple conversations, lost in the fog, all in a pleasant way. Nice comedown. MERCH HAUL: Monopoly Child Nightlife Band Pacific City Barbeque Pit Levitators Method (Levitators Anonymous) CDR, Burning Star Core Fascination 2CDR, Burning Star Core Body Blues 7-inch, Steve Hauschildt The Summit CDR. CAR MUSIC ON THE WAY TO THE SHOW: The Metal Rouge disc is a great desolate drone-blues album that I've been listening to for over a year without writing anything about it. Perfect wintertime urban wasteland music - probably be good as summertime desert wasteland music too - in fact it reminds me of the wire music of Alan Lamb, straight outta the Western Australia outback, which all you Halana readers out there will remember, but Metal Rouge scores it for guitars and electronics... CAR MUSIC ON THE WAY HOME: Lorna Doom was perfect as it kept the party going a little bit... drop off Sienko and then over to the radio (97.1 FM The Drive) for the glorious bringdown of "Lyin' Eyes" - I'm no Glenn Frey apologist, but I've thought that song was gorgeous and heavy since I was about 7 years old... and jeezus, then "Love Is The Drug" comes on... you will not hear a groove like that anywhere else at any time on commercial FM radio.... you won't hear vocal phrasing like that either, still can't believe the way Ferry sings "limbo down" and "you can guess the rest"...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sun City Girls You're Never Alone With A Cigarette: Singles Vol. 1 CD
D. Charles Speer & the Helix After Hours CD
Bran(...)Pos Coin-Op Khepri CD
Jane Coconuts mp3s
Planet Earth DVD ("Shallow Seas")
Ashtray Navigations A Monument to British Rock 3LP

There had been rumors of Sun City Girls releasing some singles compilations on CD, and the time is officially nigh - Volume 1 has a release date of March 4. But, as anyone following their Cloaven Cassette reissues might have expected, these aren't gonna be straightforward. For example, Volume 1 here bears the cover art and title of the band's 2nd single from 1990, You're Never Alone With A Cigarette, and reissues both of its tracks, including a 12-minute version of the B-side "The Fine Tuned Machines of Lemuria" (5 minutes long on the original), but the band's first single, And So The Dead Tongues Sang from 1989, isn't dealt with here, and their third single, the double 7-inch Three Fake Female Orgasms from 1991, is only half-dealt with, the first 3 of its 7 songs appearing. To round things out we've got three previously unreleased songs from the Torch of the Mystics sessions (including a fantastic version of "Amazon One" that I already prefer to one on the Live on Planet Boomerang), plus all 48 seconds of the "Harmful Little Armful (For Will Shatter)" track that appeared on the Bruce Lee, Heroin, and the Punk Scene 3x7" box set from 1993. See how annoying it can get, discography-chasing? Especially when the band has put together such a non-annoying and highly listenable album in its own right, capturing a time around 1987-1988 when they were fully evolving out of their raw so-called 'weird hardcore' beginnings into the highly singular and terrifying unit that recorded Torch and couldn't be so-called anything. The remastering by Scott Colburn has to be mentioned as well - the tracks sound fantastic. It felt like I was hearing opening track "100 Pounds of Black Olives" for the first time ever, which had me running back to my share-blogged mp3 rip of the original vinyl to see if it was even the same music. It was, but I won't be listening to it again now that this version exists... I took commenter Benjamin's advice and checked out the 'other' Jane release, Coconuts, and I think I do like it a little better than Berserker. The title track is probably their best thing anyway, a tranced-out drum-machine piece, more krautrock than techno. Track two did nothing for me, though... well, it did make me jump to another song before it ended.... New Bran(...)Pos CD on the C.I.P. label (Crippled Intellect Productions) - he's one of those Bay Area noise surrealists that have been going strong for awhile - see also the Resipiscent label and of course Brutal SFX. I like the first track, impossibly slow vocals over creepy yet somehow pleasant organ - after that it dives deep into total Bay Area-style weird-noise, squiggly, squeedly, surprisingly diverse, hard to put a bead on. I'll have to get back to you if I ever do draw a bead or two... Still working my way through the massive Monument to British Rock release, summary to follow.... so far I'm only on Side 3 out of 6... definitely some deep drony psych so far, more of a time machine to the 1990s tape-label scene than it is the rock gods of yore that are ostensibly homaged by the title, but we'll see what else emerges before this thing is done... it does look good with its ultra-wide black & white sleeve (no gatefold), on the Smokers Gift label...

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