Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fricara Pacchu Midnight Pyre CD
Jane Berserker CD
Magas Friends Forever CD
Galaktlan Constance CD
Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble Singles CD
Six Organs of Admittance Shelter From The Ash CD
LOST season premiere

Continuing with the Lal Lal Lal CD batch, we have a new one by Fricara Pacchu, a member of Maniacs Dream, and therefore 1/3 responsible for yesterday's Turku Hold 'Em endurance test, but this Midnight Pyre album, and his work in general (see the masterful 2005 Lal Lal Lal cassette Waydom) is definitely song-and-pulse-oriented compared to that endless MD blast-wallage. In fact, the Pacchu release after Waydom and before Pyre, another cassette called Space Puppet, saw him moving into what could be called dance/techno waters - this release keeps the techno vibe but makes something singular out of it, almost like high-speed computer-programmed surf-rock that unexpectedly plays when you open up your 4-year-old nephew's toy box. Yeah, maybe... Also from the Drastic Plastic 99 cent bin (see previous Jane Berserker post) was a nice find, the 2003 Magas album Friends Forever. Magas was one of my favorite Chicago-based live acts when I first moved here in 2001. Of course I already knew of him from the Ann Arbor no wave explosion of the 1990s and his bands like Couch, The Many Moods of Marlon Magas, and then, after his move to Chicago, the bad-ass 'no wave supergroup' Lake of Dracula with Weasel Walter and Heather M of the Scissor Girls.... but by the time I got here he had gone 'electro' (maybe even 'electroclash') and done it particularly well, with a great goofy but also seriously slammin' solo synth-and-drumbox live act, and this CD represents those live shows just about right. Before the kids came along I would see him play quite a bit, and poke around his excellent but shortlived specialty store Weekend Records & Soap - seems like he's slowed down the activity a bit but then again so have I. Either way, this is a good record, and hearing it I'm realizing that his electro persona actually has more in common with Lake of Dracula than I thought - sure his singing voice is more reserved and cool, but it is the same voice, and more importantly the songs have a real similar running-in-place bobbing-your-head drive - I think it's just Magas's internal rhythm and it was probably pulsing away before he discovered electro, no wave, and everything else. This Galaktlan CD has been kicking around the Blastitude HQ forever - I never listened to it but a coworker rescued it from the nevermind pile and started playing it quite a bit and shit, it's pretty nice. Lush space-techno from Estonia, possibly the only record I've gotten from there.... Finally caught up with the latest Six Organs of Admittance and I'm impressed. More electric guitar based than acoustic based, Chasny rips all kinds of wild psychedelic leads on here but the real news is the songs and arrangements. I wouldn't even use the "folk" word to describe what he's doing here, maybe something more like "shivering progressive symphonic guitar ballad mini-epics." Heavy album - when he sings about getting "shelter from the ash" it honestly makes me want to get some too. LOST was pretty great and I can't believe I get to watch another one next week. (Bummer about only eight episodes though.) The Oceanic Six! Naomi has a sister! Michael Abaddon is scary! I will not get tired of this show, no matter how ridiculous or withholding it gets.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Maniacs Dream Turku Hold 'Em CD
Far East Family Band Nipponjin mp3s
Fleetwood Mac Then Play On mp3s
Kelan Phil Cohran & Legacy African Skies CDR
Philip Cohran & the Artistic Heritage Ensemble Singles CD
Philip Cohran & the Artistic Heritage Ensemble The Malcolm X Memorial LP
Kuti #4
Kuti #6
Roctober #44

It looks like the Lal Lal Lal label of Finland is putting out real CDs now, which is cool... but this new Maniacs Dream is just absurd, flagrantly thumbing its nose at the editing required by 12" vinyl capacity with one 48 minute track followed by another 23 minute track with basically no variance whatsoever in method/approach/attack, just three dudes making as much in-the-red Hijokaidan-style gtr/electronics/??? noise as possible the whole entire time (except for the tiny break of silence in between tracks, which almost sounds like the whole band just stopping on a dime to take a collective breath before diving right back in, which made me laugh but it's a pretty small punchline considering it requires almost an hour of setup)... I personally like Lal Lal Lal music best when it works from a 'beertrance' backbeat/pulse, simple as that, but maybe, just maybe, this total blitzing metallic zonkerosity that not many can or would rival does indeed become its own kind of (anti)pulse, a monument to absurd excess too large to ignore... what an endurance test... I mean I will listen to it again, ha ha.... at least once, heh heh... I mean the noise they produce is very, ha ha, PSYCHEDELIC, ha ha ha....(looks around nervously)... the artwork is notable/weird/random as always, the usual inscrutable pictures of urban/suburban Finland life (basketball hoops, sweatshirts, a motorcycle, home decorations, a thanks lists longer than some hip-hop albums, a Basil Wolvertonesque drawing of a crazed dude taking apart his own head on the cover... scratch own head NOW).... I haven't seen Saint Julian's Japrocksampler book yet but he's got the shareblogs buzzin' and I've checked out some of his Top 50 Japanese rock albums that way - thumbs up for his #14 pick Nipponjin and its lush symphonic space prog with synths, strings, heavy guitar, spacey vocals, side-long epics.... even the four-minute songs sound like side-long epics...

I've been needing to make a Phil Cohran post forever. I keep getting reminded because he lives just a few blocks from me and I see him walking around, plus I see him play on Friday nights at the Ethiopian Diamond restaurant a few times a year, but it's hard to know just where to start with this guy - he played with Sun Ra of course, he was a founding member of the AACM, members of his group the Artistic Heritage Ensemble included awesome Miles Davis electric guitarist Pete Cosey and future members of Earth, Wind & Fire, he founded the Affro-Arts Theater Black Culture Center in Chicago from 1967 to 1970, he just turned 80 years old, he has 19 sons, 8 of which are in the great Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and again, he still plays for free every Friday night at the Ethiopian Diamond (6120 N. Broadway Avenue, Chicago, also serving fine food, a little pricey but hey), he's got a MySpace page... Ah, but today I actually do have a place to start because some new vinyl-and-CD Cohran releases/reissues have come out, and I skipped lunch today and took the bus from work to Dusty Groove and bought what they had, the sweet Malcolm X Memorial gatefold LP on Mississippi Records and the Singles CD on a Japanese label called Midday Music. (They also have a new CD-only reissue of the self-titled Artistic Heritage Ensemble debut album, commonly known as On The Beach (on the Chicago-based Katalyst Entertainment label that also did a new CD version of Malcolm X Memorial), but I already have that one - when is someone gonna do it on vinyl?) When I got home, before listening to this stuff, I decided to go all out and set the stage with what is actually my favorite Phil Cohran album of all, African Skies. This has never been officially released, but Cohran makes a CDR version which he sells at the Diamond, which is where I bought it. The cover says "Soundtrack album for The Adler Planetarium Sky Shows," and apparently it is still played there every day, which may have something to do with the lack of an official release, I don't know. It doesn't have a recording date on it, but this page says it was composed in 1987, and the harpist on the session says it was recorded in 1993. Either way, this is magical floating music that easily evokes visions of Africa, its history and prehistory, the flora and fauna of its vast landscapes, and of course deep astronomical visions of the starry skies above. It doesn't have the heavy-brass soul-jazz feel that the Artistic Heritage Ensemble music does - this is something more meditative and haunting and beautiful that is closer to the solo music with backing tapes that Cohran plays at the Diamond. Seek it out! (Reckless has copies for mailorder (and for walk-in if you're in Chicago), along with some other self-released Cohran stuff that he recently brought in himself - am I gonna have to take the bus down there tomorrow??) And now on to the new stuff... the Malcolm X Memorial LP was recorded live at the Affro-Arts Theater on February 25, 1968, and it ended up being the follow-up release to On The Beach when Cohran pressed up 1000 copies in 1970. I've been hearing good things about this Mississippi Records label, and this reissue is very nice, adding a gatefold that features a great color photo of the AHE in action, as well as what is probably the best article on Cohran I've yet seen, by Nigel Ridgeway of Ground Lift Magazine. As for the music itself I can't believe how ambitious it is, telling the story of Malcolm's life in four parts, starting with blues and jump music on side one (to represent Malcolm's boyhood and years as Detroit Red), and then moving on to sweeping epic dramatic vistas on side two (representing his political and spiritual awakenings, his charisma and leadership, his assassination, etc). Great stuff, and according to his MySpace it looks like Cohran is going to play a version of this with a backing band on February 16th at the Heartland Cafe - I can walk there! I'll let you know how it is. As for the Singles release, it's great too. Unfortunately there's really no info at all on it - maybe if you can read Japanese there is, I'm not sure, can anyone tell from the label's webpage? I haven't come across any discographical background for any 45s that Cohran may have released, and it's kinda odd that there's 7 tracks on here and not an even number, right? Maybe he released a one-sided 45.... Not that I'm complaining too much because these tracks are great and I'm glad to hear 'em regardless. "The African Look" is "dedicated to all the sisters who are governed by European styles and the brothers who like it" and has a brassy and proud strut when the AHE ladies (Mrs. Ella Pearl Jackson and Patricia Ann Smith) sing "The African Look is beautiful!" Cohran's frankiphone (an electric thumb piano that he built himself) has such a burning sound on "Loud Mouth," you might just put away your Konono No. 1 records for awhile... two songs from the Malcolm X Memorial appear here as well, and might even be the same versions as the LP - same goes for "New Frankiphone Blues" from On The Beach... anyway, that's it for now, I think I'm finally done with my long-needed first Philip Cohran post... more to come I'm sure....

And to close out this post with some eyeball kicks/reading material, in this Lal Lal Lal package they threw in a couple issues of a foldover newsprint style graphix/comix mag called Kuti, and it's pretty exciting stuff. LLL label head, Avarus member, etc Roope Eronen is on the Kuti staff and contributes his own super-colorful weird-animal stories along with a bunch of other artists, and the whole thing pops with a ragged psychedelic feel that seems directly analagous to the Paperrad/Fort Thunder US scene. The comics are all in Finnish but English translations appear at the bottom of each... for more check their website.... and finally while at Dusty Groove I also grabbed the brand new issue of Roctober, the long-running mag by Jake Austen of the great Chic-A-Go-Go TV Show. I've barely dipped into it but highlights look to be interviews with Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer, punk/horror artist/zinester Dennis Dread, and of course all of the ephemera that this mag always bursts with so charmingly. Also the editor's note is inspiring, in which Austen talks about how "as many of you know, the small press world is in pretty brutal shape these days" but concludes with "Basically, we have decided that we want to publish forever, and we're just going to have to figure out how to do that. Your subscriptions help, as does your love, so keep them both coming, tell your friends, and most importantly, enjoy the magazine!" Will do!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Paulette & Tanya Winley "I Believe In The Wheel Of Fortune" mp3
Devin the Dude To Tha Xtreme mp3s
The Band Music From Big Pink (Sony HF90 cassette dub)
Boz Scaggs s/t (Sony HF90 other side of cassette dub)
Donny Hathaway Live LP
Jane Berserker CD

Walking to work from the train stop I was blown away when the shuffle pulled up "I Believe In The Wheel Of Fortune" by Paulette & Tanya Winley. Have you heard this song? I hadn't, and I didn't even know it was on my iPod, I think I downloaded it months ago from some mix on some blog by some guy. It's sassy hip-hop street-funk sung by ladies, sisters it would seem. "I believe in the wheel of fortune/What comes around goes around/And I believe I believe what my momma used to say/What goes up must come down/And you know that/And you know that/And if you don't know that/I think you better learn that." As soon as I got to work I hit google and discovered that this was a 1982 track from the Paul Winley Records label, which had been around since the 1960s as a doo-wop label and got into the breakbeat game with records like "Smokin' Cheeba Cheeba" (1976) by the Harlem Underground Band and then hip-hop with the first releases by Afrika Bambaata. Winley was also the first label to record female rappers, you guessed it, his daughters Paulette and Tanya, who recorded "Rhymin' and Rappin'" in 1979 and "Vicious Rap" in 1980 (by Tanya recording as Sweet Tee). I realize this is old news to some of you, but hey it's new to me. (And I just read Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop, how did I miss this?) Back to the hip-hop of the present, this is the first time I've ever listened to Devin the Dude and I'm underwhelmed. Sounds real g-funky and I'd rather just listen to The Chronic for the 600th time. Plenty of nice grooves but it seems like he hardly ever raps. Co-worker wanted to hear The Band so I busted out this old Sony HF90 a former employee made, Big Pink on one side and the self-titled 1969 album by Boz Scaggs on the other! Big Pink sounded as great as ever ("Chest Fever" still #1) and the funky horn-rock soul by Scaggs, recorded at Muscle Shoals with the house band, sounded almost as good. Not quite the memorable tune-power that Big Pink has but a very good pairing by Mr. Taper. Back home put on the Donny Hathaway LP I just bought for 5 bucks in Omaha at the esteemed Antiquarium Record Shop. Loved this album ever since a co-worker played it a few years ago and burned me a CDR. Driving heavy electric piano soul, 10-minute-plus versions of "The Ghetto" and "Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)", the latter with a GREAT bass solo by Willie Weeks, covers of "What's Going On" and John Lennon's "Jealous Guy"... side one was recorded in Hollywood and side two in New York City but this is bad-ass midwest soul music by a Chicago native.... the Jane CD was also picked up in Omaha in the 99 cent bin at Drastic Plastic (used to be absolutely crucial skater/punk record store, still not bad - it's been open for a good 15 years - it's where I first heard Black Flag when I went in looking for Misfits records because Metallica covered 'em - basically the whole world of underground music was opened up for me by the Garage Days EP - but that's another story - one that I basically just told, oops). I'm not really one to track down Animal Collective side projects but this one caught my eye with its digipak and nice silver & black graphics (I love digipaks) and on first listen, it seems like an excellent album - dreamy ambient music that sounds particularly influenced by minimal techno (and slightly delirious acid house on the third track), with Panda Bear's unmistakable vocal styles floating on top. A dollar well spent (although this 25-minute "extra c.d. track" called "Swan" is kind of an inconsequential drifter - get the LP).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Taj Mahal Travellers on Tour (1973, Matsuo Ohno), viewed on

When I first heard the Taj Mahal Travellers, one of those live CDs with an early-70s year in its title, I couldn't believe the vastness of their music. It immediately made me picture four or five ancient old wizards perched on top of mountains in the blackest night, calling to each other across canyons and valleys, conjuring up a sonic spell that clearly had the power to move the world. When someone told me that this feature-length documentary film not only existed but had footage of them playing music outside by the ocean, I just assumed it was my vision, common sense be damned - that they were perched high on sea cliffs, plugged in and droning deep while waves crashed on the rocks below. I didn't realize how fully I believed this until watching the first 10 minutes of the actual film and seeing the reality - different, but not at all disappointing, because this is a cool-ass movie. Just watch the opening band-introducing montage w/title cards and beautiful Herzogian shots of the sea, and watch the rest too as they travel to Scandinavia and blow minds. (Actually I haven't watched the whole thing yet, maybe there is some kind of bad-ass finale at the sea with huge amps and a gas-powered generator....)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack 5CD (disc 1 only, 1.5 times)
Rhythm & Sound W/The Artists CD (1.5 times)
The Doo Wop Box 4CD (disc 3 only, "Doo Wop's Golden Age (1957-1959)")
Raffi Singable Songs For The Very Young CD
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Soul to Squeeze" on radio at auto shop
Puss in Boots Treasured Tales CD Book
D. Charles Speer & The Helix After Hours CD
BabyGenius Classics For Intelligence CD

The drive: Chicago, IL to undisclosed location in the Southwestern corner of Iowa. Departure time: 2PM. Arrival time: 1AM this morning. I'm not too crazy about the Grateful Dead Movie itself, and the general word from the various band histories seems to be that the performances were lethargic and marred by overbearing camera crews, but I love the 5-disc soundtrack box on Rhino anyway. The lethargy is there but it somehow ends up being a plus, giving these jams a dolorous and sleepy weight in which something like "Playing in the Band" can zone out for an absurd(ly sweet) 31 minutes of fuzoid wandering, as it does here on disc 1. There's a great China Rider and Eyes of the World into China Doll on here too. This box is definitely a road-trip tradition, I once listened to all 5 discs in a row on a drive from Omaha to Chicago. The Doo Wop disc (also from a box set on Rhino!) is great when you're trying to keep the kids from whining in the back seat. When me and Angeline launch into "Get a Job" they look at us stunned and wide-eyed like we're speaking Martian, but Phil's fave is "Who Wrote The Book Of Love?" Also, this disc has all-time dream-stunner "I Only Have Eyes For You" by the Flamingos. Another fun road-trip doo-wop pastime is to read all the group names in rapid succession. "The Pastels! The Silhouettes! The Monotones! The Chantels! The Danleers! The Shields! The Students! The Elegants! The Imperials! The Videos! (Say what?) The Moonglows! The Crests! The Fiestas! The Flamingos! The Skyliners! The Impalas! The Genies! The Mystics! The Eternals!" After this we finally put in something that was really for the kids, the Raffi disc. They love this thing. Hell, I do too, super-fun stupid songs like "Willaby Wallaby Will, an elephant sat on Phil!/Willaby Wallaby Waire, an elephant sat on Claire!!", but also a real heartwarmer like the ballad "I Wonder If I'm Growing." I remember when I worked at a record store years ago and parents would constantly come in and ask for Raffi albums. I thought it was the dorkiest thing ever, but now I'm a believer, this guy is definitely the Dylan of children's folk. (Have you heard the bootleg when he went electric? Some kids booed. One shouted "Judas!") (This joke is funnier when made in person, only because you can say "Judas" in a high-pitched little kid's voice.) But hey, one more piece of Raffi trivia, this album was recorded in 1976 in Hamilton, Ontario, and none other than Daniel Lanois plays, get ready, BASS DRUM on this album. He showed up in the credits on Cyborgs Revisited by Simply Saucer too, before he became a super-producer he was like the Canadian underground Zelig. (Next you're gonna tell me he used to sit in with the Nihilist Spasm Band.) After Raffi we stopped for fuel-up and dinner at the Pine Cone Restaurant at the What Cheer exit on I-80 - total cholesterol den but I sidestepped that with the Baked Cod Dinner. It was perfect, but everything else about this stop was bad - we learned that the wind chill outside was well below zero, that I had left my wallet at home, I couldn't find my wedding ring, and when we went to leave learned we had a flat tire. Sure I could've changed it myself but I had also forgotten to bring gloves, so we called up Triple A. Dude popped right over from nearby Brooklyn, IA and changed it in like 4 minutes. He said we could get it patched at the Bosselman's Truck Stop 24-hour mechanic, about 50 miles down the road, and that we should be fine on the spare if we kept it at 60-65 mph, but then he saw the kids in back and had a change of heart, saying we could just follow him 7 miles to his shop and he'd open it up and fix it for us while we waited even though it was 9PM. Gotta love the good people in the small towns of America! He fixed that shit right up, told us all kinds of stories about his three kids and the crazy people he encounters being a Triple A mechanic located right off a major cross-country interstate, all to a backdrop of "Soul to Squeeze" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I gotta say it sounded EXQUISITE. Yes, Kiedis has a terrible voice but that's the closest thing you're gonna hear to actual SOUL MUSIC on FM Modern Rock radio, I don't care what you say. Reminds me I've gotta get Scar Tissue from the library. Anyway, back in the car roaring along at 75 mph, only two hours behind schedule, we put in this Puss in Boots story time disc to signal "bedtime" for the kids. Funny story, you should check it out sometime, complete with the requisite hunger/starvation themes that seem to populate all the classic fairy tales. Sure enough they went out like a light and I asked Angeline to pull some grown-up music out of the bag. She went right for the Blowfly - nah, just kidding, first disc she grabbed was this brand-new D. Charles Speer & the Helix number, just arrived in the mail the day before, still with the shrinkwrap on it. It sounded real good, but whenever I tried to turn it up the kids would stir. I could still tell that Speer's croak is in fine form and a real singular fusion of psychedelic and country is achieved by The Helix, with particular props going to one Hans Chew on the rollicking piano and funky organ. Oh yeah, and it has both of the songs from their great debut 7-inch ("Past or Beyond" and "Canaanite Builder"). Can't wait to play this again under proper conditions. May or may not happen here at Grandma's house.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Neil Young Citizen Kane Junior Blues mp3s
Pink Reason Cleaning the Mirror mp3s

Okay, so I got it, thanks I even broke my "no downloads from Russian sites" rule. This bootleg documents a surprise May 16 1974 performance at The Bottom Line in New York City (capacity 400!) - apparently Neil was there to see a Ry Cooder gig and decided to do some songs himself. The bootleg is revered because it has a few songs from the about-to-be-released On The Beach album that were rarely performed live. It's a so-so audience recording but it was clearly a special night - you can tell Neil felt good, the crowd was stoked, and the songs cut like you wouldn't believe. The silence of the crowd during "Revolution Blues" is deafening, especially when he takes the song down as quiet as possible right after the line "I hate them worse than lepers and I'll kill them in their cars." Not a single person in the room didn't hear him. "On The Beach" is so good I barely miss the conga and electric piano from the LP. One line jumps out harder here than on the record: "Though my problems are meaningless/that don't make them go away." Pretty much the late-capitalist North American dilemma in a nutshell... and moving on to the On the Beach of the 2000s (I mean maybe, we could discuss it), Pink Reason's Cleaning the Mirror. Still sounding like it did when it came out and I listened to it three times a night, i.e. devastating.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Robedoor Closer to the Cliff CD
Colossal Yes Acapulco Roughs mp3s
Pink Floyd Animals mp3s
Amon Duul II Phallus Dei mp3s
Neil Young Bernstein Tapes mp3s

Oh man, with all the drone heaviness I've been exposing myself to (see previous post) stakes is high for another Robedoor CD this month. This new one is from Norwegian label Interregnum, it looks nice (digipak) but it doesn't sound a whole lot different from the other two Robedoor things I've listed here in the last couple months - fine for first-timers but I don't know how essential it is otherwise - the last track had something special about though, so that'll pull me in for at least one more listen.... Okay, I'm fully on board with this Colossal Yes album. The songs may sound a little samey at first, but pay just a little bit of attention and you'll hear constant subtle and slight melodic twists that unassumingly shade the songs into nice varied directions. Lovely singing too, and a great recording job - the horn arrangements, for example, are done full justice. Full-blown addiction may be just around the corner... Even though I've been listening to Animals a whole bunch lately I just noticed these lyrics from "Dogs": "You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street/You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed." Just menacing enough to remind me that one of the real appealing things about Pink Floyd was that they were always kinda scary.... You shoulda seen it tonight, Phil was eating one of Dad's house specialties, black bean & mozzarella nachos with "party salsa", listening to the album on the stereo, and he said, referring to some harmony vocals, "Dad, whenever we listen to the Grateful Dead, I can always hear JERRY." Such a perceptive kid, I've taught him well, except that the album I was playing was Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance's Anymore for Anymore. It was the first time I'd heard it after downloading it on a whim from some blog a couple months ago (damn you, Totally Fuzzy!). Man, I wish it was the Dead...obviously it does have a similar kinda country-rock sound, or the kid wouldna said so, and no doubt Anymore for Anymore is a nice rootsy 1974 vintage rock'n'roll album, and it'd certainly be good if say The Drive 97.1 FM here in Chicago (insert corresponding classic rock radio station in your town) branched out a little and got hold of a couple of these deep cuts, but there's some things about the aesthetic that are holding me back. For one, it's got a lot of that "Music Hall" sound. What's that, you ask? I don't know, it's "When I'm 64" and "Honey Pie" by the Beatles (not to mention the entire concept of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band), it's that goddamn honkytonk section in "Something In The Air" by Thunderclap Newman, it's something pervasive that sinks a lot of British rock for me, and I'm getting it on about half of this album. I definitely like the "ballads" (like the sweet and lovely "Don't You Cry For Me") better than the "rockers," but either way as far as Faces spinoffs go you're still better off with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Rod Stewart albums. (Hell the first one too, probably, I haven't heard it.) (Fuck, I'm listening to "Don't You Cry For Me" again right now and it's so good I think I might have to eat at least some of those words up there....that was quick!) Ah, Phallus Dei.... God's Cock.... everytime I put it on I'm convinced it's not only the best-titled but simply THE BEST Duul album. That's right punk, better than Yeti. Of course it's not true, but this has still gotta be one of the greatest debut albums in history. Especially for 1969, this is such a fully formed out-of-nowhere burner... how does one explain the way these songs move - they don't just play a beat, or behind the beat, or ahead of the beat, they play something that climbs and undulates, constantly driving and scanning, snaking and coiling through all of the given song's possibilities at once. I mean we've got two drummers and assorted percussionists driving it all like it was Sun Ra's Arkestra and then on the frontline some very adept synthesizer intertwining with the guitars and violin... and as if that isn't enough how about those Nordic operatic 'phantoms of the steppes' vocals?? So many chill-inducing vocal events on here... vikings speaking in tongues, banshees riding into battle.... Wow, after Phallus Dei the shuffle pulled up Neil's Bernstein Tapes. Here I've kinda been on a Neil kick anyway and then one of the greatest of all unofficial Neil albums (okay bootlegs) comes on the player. This is a compilation of solo acoustic performances from various venues on a November 1976 US tour. Everything sounds loose, ragged, and, despite all the downer songs, somehow sparkling and sun-dappled. I just got an e-mail from an associate who described Neil's music as "pure narcotics," and hell yeah, but what's surprising is how true it still is when it's just Neil and a guitar and a stage. The Bernstein Tapes is so good that when I finally heard that Live at Massey Hall album, I was kinda disappointed because great as it is, it just didn't quite compare... btw, here's what the Shakey book says about this stuff: "Joel Bernstein (with the assistance of writer Cameron Crowe) assembled a tape of acoustic performances from the tour (since widely bootlegged) that contains some tremendous stuff, like 'Mellow My Mind' on banjo and, from the final night of the tour at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, a wild version of 'The Old Laughing Lady' that remains the definitive live performance of the song. Also from the Fox comes an amusing rap in which Young enters into a bleary discussion of showbiz with the ghost of Judy Garland." Cameron Crowe's finest artistic achievement, that's for sure.... now I just have to find a copy of Citizen Kane Junior Blues....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ash Ra Tempel "Best of the Private Tapes (The Early Years)" mp3s by FM Shades

This is too much. Here in the last month or two I've had my whole assessment of today's drone music landscape completely turned upside down by Emeralds, this young trio from Cleveland, Ohio, and just for the heck of it tonight I put on these "Best of The Private Tapes" mp3s by the early Gottsching/Enke/Schulze trio lineup of Ash Ra Tempel that I haven't listened to in awhile, as prepared and shared (still kicking! scroll down) by the great FM Shades blog, and.....FUCK. Waaaaay back circa 1971, with just guitar, bass, drums, and auxiliary electronics, Ash Ra Tempel had really already gone far beyond where even Emeralds are at. This music is simply THE BEST, pieces that last 30 minutes to an hour, the devastating "Amboss" and "Traummaschine" templates (aka sides 1 and 2 of the first s/t Ash Ra Tempel LP) worked from all sorts of angles. The "Amboss" template is basically an utterly still and silent inner landscape, thick with fog and what Julian Cope calls "heat-haze harmonics," that is eventually set upon by a thundering army of galloping demonic superwarriors (or maybe a biker gang). The "Traummaschine" template returns us to the original landscape - the warriors are gone, the dust has settled, the fog and haze reign again. You stare and stare and eventually you notice the angels that have been descending and ascending within the stillness, creating a shimmering ephemeral pattern not unlike a bejewelled mandala. Yep, angels and demons and play, as brought to you by the most droolingly focused ambient/psychedelic jam band in WORLD HISTORY. Ash Ra Tempel is the shit.
Paul Flaherty/Chris Corsano The Beloved Music CD
King Darves The Only Other CDR
De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising mp3s
Richard Pinhas Tranzition CD

The Flaherty/Corsano came on the 5-disc changer without me knowing what it was. "Hmm, sax and drums duo," went my thoughts. "Sounds contemporary. Drummer rules." It's interesting to wonder what made it feel contemporary... maybe it was the applause after each of the three pieces, because for various reasons it sounds like a post-punk post-noise type audience and not a jazz audience... but probably it's just the punk/brute spirit of the playing itself, something that David Keenan describes in rather overheated and Coley-indebted cadences in the liner notes. These guys really do bring the noise - Flaherty has always struck me as a real grinder, nuance and airiness and melody are not his strong suits. I think for this reason, I've never really gotten into the recordings - the style is just too physical to be disembodied - but I love the idea of them touring and bringing this stuff to the bars and clubs and galleries... and on that note, Keenan's notes are inspiring and totally accurate here: "Total musical, cultural and spiritual freedom may still be anathema to the fascists-that-be that dominate the upper echelons of the USA but in little enclaves dotted all the way across the country there are pockets of cultural resistance that function as a bulwark against the ever-encroaching standardisation of artistic and spiritual expression, as well as a reliable stop-over and constant source of support for new music and ultimately it's with these people in mind that the CD takes its name." To wit, this disc documents a May 2004 show that went down in the welcoming environs of Louisville, Kentucky, under the auspices of the always-ruling BlackVelvetFuckere crew. (Maybe it's just because I'm going through a bunch of old neglected stacks but it's really starting to feel like 2004 and 2005 was a peak for this decade's underground music activity. It was like those were the key middle years, AFTER the internet had given all it could as far as promotion and networking and distribution, and BEFORE it inevitably started TAKING AWAY, when the proliferation of promotion became oversaturation, and the necessity of physical distribution was fully replaced with rampant file-sharing. 2006 and 2007 seem like wind-down years, like everybody decided to just stop touring and recording and let MySpace and Soulseek (etc) do all the work. I'm not totally serious, just putting the idea out there for discussion, real or theoretical.) This Richard Pinhas album is great! I was always kinda indifferent to his post-Heldon work, not because it wasn't good, but because Heldon was so fantastic and monumental who needed anything else? I remember listening to this album briefly when it came out in 2004 and thinking it sounded like music from The Weather Channel. And I could still see that being true, but it would be the trippiest, dreamiest viewing of The Weather Channel in your entire life. These are big thick sinuous drone fields built up by violin (must be treated), laptop, and Pinhas's "guitar and electronics".... his wailing Frippian leads are downplayed so that the music is allowed to build and develop and amass various currents, just like the weather, but it is wrought with mood and melancholy and a distinct yearning feeling that is very human. And the drummer on the session, Antoine Paganotti, is terrific, coming in at just the right time to move everything along like some kind of calm and invisible but utterly forceful global jet stream. And who is that overlaid voice that appears on track two, "Moumoune girl (a song for)"? Why it's an old tape of Phillip K. Dick speaking - completely uncredited - let the Pinhas sci-fi delirium reign!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cherry Point/2673 split CDR
MySpace/YouTube vortex (Naomi Elizabeth "It's Not Easy (When You're Me)" video, Naomi Elizabeth various live, Can't live, Suffering Bastard live, Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck live, "Make the Ultra Hoodie Scarf")
Jessica Rylan/2673 split CDR
2673/Unicorn split
King Darves "The Only Other" CDR

Finally getting to a small stack of CDRs from Kitty Play Records, the semi-infamous prolific/sketchy CDR/vinyl/etc weird/noise label from New Jersey, basically the Freedom From of the 2000s (maybe, I don't know, I mean just look at their website). These have been sitting here buried in the HQ stacks for at least two years, all packaged the same way in cardboard sleeves, I think spraypainted (its subtle but they feel grainy and smell funny), with the cover art xeroxed on big-ass wraparound stickers that seal the sleeve shut. Total CDR label effluvia but the Kitty Play art is almost always cool and the music on the actual discs strewn throughout the junkyard is almost always even better. After all, this is the label that brought us perhaps the most wholly appropriate 21st Century noise release so far, P.T. Barnum's Gallery of Masturbatorial Disenchantment by Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck (from 2005, a four-and-a-half-minute spraypainted CDR packaged in a DVD case with various recycled porn for a cover). And anything Kitty Play or anybody releases by 2673 is good. The 2673 half of the Cherry Point split here is in fact very good, an intense single-high-tone-in-quiet-quiet-room staredown. Everything 2673 does is completely in awe of its own potential for silence, and so am I when I listen to it. People think it's noise, but it might in fact be the real private-press synth of today. Cherry Point is just as awesome as it is every other time with the expected and delivered psychedelically preposterous wall of noise, a perfect setup for 2673's psychedelically preposterous wall of silence. In the meantime, while 'researching' this post I noticed that a comment had been left on the Kitty Play MySpace page by "myspace spammer" Naomi Elizabeth, with a YouTube link to her new video for "It's Not Easy (When You're Me)" and I vaguely knew of her, that she toured with Jessica Rylan and Twodeadsluts, but I was not ready for this. As far as noise-scene stripper-mannequin terrible-amazing performance-art mindfuckery goes, I would say she has nailed (ahem) what Misty Martinez went for and overshot (cough, sputter) earlier in the decade......actually, you know what, now that I've checked out some of the related links and have seen the same song performed live, never mind, I take it all back. Misty was better. I mean, the Naomi video, as OTT/WTF as it is, is actually much more subtle than her live act, where the performance-art irony (not to mention the rather shrill vocals) sticks out like a sore thumb. Also compare the subtlety of Can't with Naomi Elizabeth at the same venue... and onward I go into a brief YouTube vortex featuring two by Suffering Bastard (new to me, slow grindcore in the dark, pretty good tones but can't tell from these snippets if the overall storyline is any good) and then the infamousness of Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck (now THERE'S a storyline, makes Prurient look like Francisco Lopez or something). I love YouTube vortexes, I even somehow just watched this video... And now back to the stereo: wow, I have a Jessica Rylan and 2673 split CDR?? This looks great, how could I leave this sitting in a stack for two years?? I mean, at the time I got it (2005) Ms. Rylan (aka Can't) seemed pretty ubiquitous, touring and putting stuff out, but now that she seems to have slowed down the pace a bit, the importance of ALL of her releases is becoming clear. Same with 2673, who also has a lot of releases that patiently accumulate to form a crucially subtle noise-scene statement. So naturally this split release, another sleeve/sticker thing from Kitty Play, is excellent. Rylan does some of the most minimalist sustained instrumental stuff I've heard from her. I guess I just really like noise music when it's quiet. Wait, does the first track, the a capella "Breath Control," count as instrumental? I say it does, because our breath is not our voice. Right? Anyway, seven short and totally engrossing tracks by Jessica Rylan here, while 2673 has two tracks, both quite long at around 15 minutes apiece, still working that ridiculously high-pitched tone to ridiculously quiet lengths, this time more aggressively than on the split with Cherry Point. And speaking of aggressive, on the split with Unicorn, also on Kitty Play (this time in a really nice cardboard sleeve that is very professionally printed on by Thumbprint Press), 2673 really brings the ruckus for track 2, "Provoked By The Nocturnal Aspect." Compared to his usual approach, this is like Merzbow. Track 1 "Future Pills" on the other hand is as chilled-out as ever (although this time the single tone is more low-end and it kind of drills into your skull - when you turn your head a little you can tell), while Track 3 "Psychological Space" is ultra-minimal and ultra-high-end, really a brilliant piece. As for Unicorn, some memory tells me they're from Minnesota (could be totally wrong) and I think I'm a little noise-burnt to really pay attention right now. (Plus the wife just came out of the bedroom and told me to turn it down. When we set up our new entertainment center we moved the speakers around and now it must be too loud in there. Tiny apartment, family of four, three thousand records. Great combination.) From what I can tell it's mostly pretty subtle/minimal noise, although the first track seemed to have some power electronics vocals going on. Track 7 "Old Cajun Mystic" (?) sets a single deadpan note against near-silence to a nearly absurd point. Would listen to again. Finally, also from New Jersey, also on CDR from Kitty Play and in a cardboard sleeve with killer/lotech artwork, is King Darves with an album called The Only Other. This one I actually listened to when I got it, and I remember it being a head-turner, the way this kid who had been an interesting young free-form noise artist had suddenly (to me) become an adept weird folk troubadour. (He still records solo noise, most recently under the name Jenny Haniver, and in a duo with Mr. 2673 called Asps.) Strange gothic/operatic/old-world voice, dreamy odd fingerpicking, a lot of verses and choruses, not so many of them specifically memorable, but the weird overall atmosphere is very memorable, and this is the kind of short-run album that might lead to a private press rediscovery someday. Look for a blog posting of it for free download sometime in 2042. (Yeah right, like Americans will still have electricity then.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

William Basinski "Disintegration Loop 3"

So on Wednesday night I was sitting at the computer with my iPod on my knee (sung to the tune of Stephen Foster's "Oh Susanna") and it slipped right off and, whaddayaknow, plopped right into the cat's water dish. Completely submerged while still playing. I yanked it out and dried it off but it was acting weird (like not playing), so I turned it off to let it dry for 24 hours and tried to get the potential tragedy out of my mind. After a day of extraordinary patience and deprivation (ha) I turned it on and hey, it was working! Perfectly. The very first (okay the seventeenth) song to come up on the shuffle was Basinski's 3rd, which seemed appropriate, music rescued from destruction, rising like the proverbial Phoenix from the...okay I'll stop. But this is a great piece, my second favorite D. Loop (after 1.1 of course). It reminds me a lot of one of those pieces by Gas where the house beat is removed completely and the thick choirs of mournful/ecstatic strings just rise and mass and cover....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Neil Young & Crazy Horse Sleeps With Angels CD
Various Artists The Bridge: A Tribute To Neil Young CS
Body Vehicle White (A Static Rainbow Tape Series) CS
Ulaan Kohl I CD

More Neil, this time with the Horse.... Sleeps With Angels is a sick album, underrated I think. Some of his grossest guitar playing matched with extremely bleak songwriting. 1994....I don't believe I've heard a single album he's recorded or note he's played since...I'm sure there's some more that are at least decent, but I'm not done listening to his first 25 years of recordings... plus I was digging around some old cassettes at work and pulled out The Bridge, the Neil Young tribute album from 1989 that sort of started a small fad for tribute albums in the 90s. No wonder, it's super good, I'll take notes: Soul Asylum doing "Barstool Blues" is great, mainly because it's such a great song, but still... Victoria Williams does "Don't Let It Bring You Down" and her strange little southern elf voice is perfect for the song. Flaming Lips doing "After the Gold Rush" is close to perfect, especially the way they bookend it with those Z-grade UFO-landing drum solo sections. "I was hoping for replacement," what a beat line. Fuck, Nikki Sudden doing "Captain Kennedy" is actually better than the Neil version. Speaking of beat, incredible weird ballad singing, tinny but triumphant guitar leads, what a take. "Cinnamon Girl" by Loop is OK. Nick Cave doing "Helpless" is fabulous and so is Bongwater doing a collagistic dream-ballad version of "Mr. Soul." Fuck the Pixies. I love the idea of Sonic Youth covering Neil Young but "Computer Age" is a somewhat disappointing choice and performance. Psychic TV doing a 6-minute "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" is maybe the 2nd or 3rd (or 1st) best song on here. I love it when Genesis sings lead. "Lotta Love" by Dinosaur Jr. sounds really Gaffney-damaged, is this actually by Sebadoh? Henry Kaiser does the overdose medley, "The Needle and the Damage Done"/"Tonight's The Night," and though it teeters on the brink of Laswell-esque avant-cheese in a couple places he pulls it off well. Good listen. The Body Vehicle tape has been around for a couple years and I'm not sure why I never reviewed it. I think I was just too baffled by it. It's two people from Rostov-on-Don, Russia and they would ostensibly be a noise group, but the tape starts with like four minutes of melodic/ecstatic wordless singing through tons of effects, almost like Linda Sharrock plugged into Kraftwerk's vocoder or something. The tape continues on to other things like the more expected drone-fields and static-scrapes (including some weird almost-rock guitar playing at one point), but then there's five minutes of unaccompanied spaced-out treated sax (or bass clarinet?) soloing that wouldn't be out of place on the Anal Magic album. And then there's a track that sounds like the mating rituals of swamp-dwelling dinosaurs. I mean, exactly. Like a field recording. It's on an American label, Nightpass Handmade Records. Ulaan Kohl CD is starting to click with me at home, digging the dusted/ragged shortwave-broadcast tone. Brooding and fiery instrumental psych-rock that sounds overloaded and expansive but also small and compressed and distant, an eerie combination.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ulaan Kohl I CD
Maurizio M Series mp3s
William Basinski "Disintegration Loops 1.1"
Neil Young After the Gold Rush LP
Shakey by Jimmy McDonough (section on "After the Gold Rush")

Ulaan Kohl is Steven R. Smith, who recorded some instrumental Eastern European-style avant-folk stuff earlier in the decade as Hala Strana, and a great dirgey more-or-less solo guitar LP under his own name that was called Kohl. He was also in the bands Thuja and Mirza. His new alias is pretty bad-ass and this disc looks cool in fuzzy digipak (on the Soft Abuse label) but on first listen nothing sparked. He's doing more of a noisy instrumental krautrock style on here and the sonics seem fine but I'll have to get back to you on it.... After the Gold Rush was calling me all day from the inner void so I put it on right when I got home... I've decided that it's my single favorite Neil LP, at least it is this month. While "Southern Man" was playing this thought popped in my head: "Best jazz guitar solo of the 1970s." I know that's a potentially absurd statement but I'm sticking to it, at least for tonight. The way the band is cooking does remind me of Coltrane... Nils Lofgren is making it happen on the piano... of course he's no McCoy Tyner, but cut him some slack, according to Shakey he had never played piano before but Neil insisted... the title track is one of the most over-the-top eco-psych numbers ever written, but yet it's as cuddly and calm as a lullaby... Neil in Shakey: "I love nature. To me, nature is a church." "Are all living things sacred?" "Everything. Every living thing. Smallest to the largest. The cancer cells, the spirogyras...It's all there for a reason, possibly because if it wasn't there, something worse would happen." "The 'silver seed' in 'After the Gold Rush,' it's like farming--" "Civilizations. Dropping seeds. Races. Blending. Species getting stronger. Like plants do. I see it all as the same thing. Who knows how big the fuckin' universe is? How can there be an inside or an outside or a boundary to this? I mean, this whole planet could be a fuckin' seed."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Swamp Horse CS
Celtic Frost Morbid Tales/Emperor's Return mp3s
Meat Puppets II mp3s
Nirvana With the Lights Out mp3s

Swamp Horse tape comes from the Husk label which is run by the drummer of Cadaver in Drag. I was kinda excited for this because it looked dark and shadowy and it was from Lexington (Nicholasville, even), still a very key spot for 2000s weird music....but side A was kind of a dark ambient wash-out from which nothing stuck. Side B is more like it, with slowed-down doom guitar underneath and a river of tape-sludge pulsing over the top. More Husk releases I'd like to check out too... Envenomist... Social Junk... the elusive Kraken Fury... Listened to the Celtic Frost for the first time in a couple years and it didn't really grab me. I'm honestly a little worried about that. The band still sounded great and my head did bang several times but for some reason I wasn't hearing the songs anymore, except when Thomas G. Warrior would say "Hey!" of course. I'm gonna have to play this again soon, while not at work, and see what happens. Meat Puppets II on the other hand, also listened to for the first time in a couple years, sounded as raggedly glorious as ever. I still can't believe the wavy warped dream-sound they get on "We're Here," but I think my favorite (non-obvious) track is still the "Aurora Borealis" instrumental. The backbeat is straight off the Harvest LP and played with more gumption than anyone since Kenny Buttrey himself. Co-worker played the entire Nirvana box set after that, which was pretty cool. There's some really ratty lo-fi live stuff on there, Kurt demos that sound like they were recorded in a closet, hits and unknowns, a real mixed bag of mystification/demystification which seems appropriate.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Axa Hour of Dora Blue "Clones of Eros" CD
The Better Beatles "Mercy Beat" CD
Gas "Pop" mp3s
Trad Gras Och Stenar "Mors Mors" mp3s
Fursaxa "Madrigals in Duos" mp3s
Ricardo Villalobos "Fabric 36" mp3
Miles Davis "Nefertiti" LP
The Better Beatles "Mercy Beat" CD

Axa Hour of Dora Blue is a Montreal band on the Fire Museum label. This label has an excellent track record over the last couple years (Pulga Loves You by Pulga, Madras 1974 by the Nathamuni Brothers, Whose Dream We Live In? by Keijo, and Astral Voyager by Comet III are all very good) but this one will have to grow on me a little bit more. The focus is the singer/songwriter Dorothy Geller, who was in From Quagmire (heard of but unheard by me). She plays guitar and sings and does have a strong presence, playing sparse, lengthy, and somewhat forbidding folk-type songs that lean into cabaret/Euro/avant styles, backed by a wandering and subdued electro-acoustic jazzish combo. Hell, that doesn't sound so bad, maybe I should listen to it again.... Ah, the Better glad that Hook or Crook put this record out. I'll never forget the first time I heard this band...I was doing a Lincoln, NE community radio show in 1999 or so and a special guest 'older dude' showed up with some records, including a 45 by a group I'd never heard of called............the Better Beatles. "Good name," I said. "Play 'I'm Down,' man," he said. I did and it was one of the best songs I've ever played on the radio to this day, a super-awesome nervous/driving deadpan synth-wave non-cover from 1981. "Who were these guys??" "They were from Omaha!" he said. I couldn't believe it, although then again I could because I lived in Nebraska for 13 years (1988-2001) and there was always a core of 5% or so of the music scene that was into weird shit. The Better Beatles CD (there's an LP version too) is about 30 minutes long and features 10 tracks they recorded in their 12 weeks of existence. The overall tonality is clearly more "new wave" than it is "punk" but there's something magical about the sheer bleakness and disdain of the delivery that is deeper than punk and just about everything else. At that point I hit an awkward stretch of listening - well, Pop was glorious as always but Mors Mors on the train was a strange disappointment (which might just be because I need to get some real headphones for this thing), and then at home the Fursaxa album had the quality harmonium drones and mystic moans, but it didn't really seem to have any songs on it. Then things picked up with Villalobos as our cooking and eating music and those brilliant constantly cycling themes on side one of Nefertiti for after-dinner/clean-up. At that point Angelina had to hear my new Better Beatles disc (she's an Omaha girl, born and raised) so I played it for her while we checked out the cover art and its xerox from the World-Herald ad section, all these old-school East Omaha Italian steakhouses we used to eat at like Caniglia's and Angie's. Got a chance to sit down and read the liner notes and interview by Jay Hinman with great stuff like "Q: What's your personal favorite recording from the sessions, and why? A: Paperback Writer. We did it in a more bleak and pleading way than the Beatles did. I felt we had a better grasp of the material. The Beatles original was so upbeat, as if they had no idea what it meant to find a fulfilling job that they could stand to do for three more decades."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Christmas Favorites By The Original Artists CD
Latinamericacarpet: Exploring the Vinyl Warp of Latin American Psychedelia Vol. 1 CD
Spilled Filth! Live from the MT6FEST 2006 DVDR

Yeah, I wasn't too happy about putting on the Christmas CD here on January 12th or whatever but the kids insisted. Gene Autry bugged me right out of the gate, the way he kept slipping propaganda into his "Here Comes Santa Claus" composition: "Peace on earth will come to all/If we just follow the light/So let's give thanks to the Lord above/'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight." But Mahalia Jackson singing "Silent Night" transcends any propagandic repurposing with good old-fashioned heavy-ass gnosis. AMEN. And overall this CD is pretty good, at least sonically, because it focuses on old-time recordings that have a spectral low-fi glow. The closer, Billy Vaughan doing "Auld Lang Syne," is as haunting as all get out. Warning: if you wanna check out the Sublime Frequencies CD Latinamericacarpet in order to discover the next Almendras or Kissing Spells or Tropicalia obscurities, stop right there. The stuff on here is psychedelic, but more in the sense of "I took acid and went to Disneyland." The inclusion of "carpet" in the title is instructive, because this is like the aural equivalent to red shag carpeted walls. The operative word is KITSCH. It's a compilation of various thrift-score oddities recorded in Latin America, such as children's records, surf music, space-age lounge, instructional records, etc. The "Incredibly Strange Music" genre, if you will, which honestly was never really my thing, I guess because I prefer music to actually be MUSIC and not mere cultural signage. Latinamericacarpet is a good listen, warped, woozy, weird, and even a little creepy, but if you want Sublime Frequencies to bring you some lost early psych rock from overseas that is focused on electric guitars, proto-punk beats, and heavy singing, check out their revelatory Guitars From The Golden Triangle: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar Vol. 2 CD from a couple years ago... The Spilled Filth DVDR is a 30-minute film made by N.O. Smith (he's 15 years old!), documenting the MT6 Fest that happened at the Talking Head club in Baltimore back in December 2006. It's a fast and fun presentation as we get more or less one song apiece from about 10 different bands, most of them on the weird and crazy tip. I don't mean to sound like "that guy," but this particular 2000s Baltimore scene reminds me of a particular 1990s Chicago scene, no wavey, dress-uppy, weird, ugly, wacky, crazy. Keytar? Yes. Only difference is that Baltimore's roots are more in Screamo where Chicago's were in, I guess, No Wave. Not always a lot of great music to take home with you, but there is the high energy of communal eccentricity and volume, and envelope-pushing skills are workshopped so that they can be applied elsewhere in the world. (Right?) This film captures it all pretty nicely, along with the John Waters-worthy vibe of the Talking Head club (which according to the credits is no longer open). And some of the music is good. #1 standouts on here are The New Flesh...I'd like to see more of their set than one song, but maybe the show was marred by the beer cans that seem to be flying everywhere while they play. Seriously though, they seem to be just as thunderous and skin-peeling live as they are on record. Human Host stand out with their bizarre goth/screamo/dude/sci-fi combo and sketchy/funny/unpredictable live presentation. Hex Screw start the DVD off in an attention-getting way, two guitarists playing mathy, noisy, crazy stuff along with a drum machine. Finger-tapping included! It reminded me just a little too much of some post-Don Caballero action, but I liked it anyway (because it was good). Other than that I can't really recommend anyone specifically (except maybe Heroin U.K., working a doomy sludge punk style that was almost 'there') but the whole thing is still a good watch.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ornette Coleman "Shape of Jazz to Come" CD
Planet Earth DVD "Fresh Water"
Rhythm & Sound "W/The Artists" CD
Anakrid "Unodos" 2CD (both discs)

Got an entertainment center used from the Brown Elephant - my first one ever, really, it was always some makeshift setup before. I remember for awhile I had a dehinged door laying flat on top of two empty speaker cabinets that served as table legs. On top of the door were all of my stereo components, in two small stacks, flanked by another set of speakers, these active. In front of everything: the electric typewriter. Ah, the mid-1990s.... Now that I'm all grown up, I have an entertainment center. It actually has been great moving everything around, even if only just to get some of the dust off of these RCA cables and whatnot. I even found a Skaters CDR. Thing is, while I was moving everything around and had it all unplugged, I wanted to hear some music, and I knew the kids would like some too while they worked on their various indescribable impromptu construction/art projects, so I plugged in their boombox and scanned the CD shelf, saw the Ornette CD which I hadn't listened to in years, thought for sure they'd dig the bouncy grooves and garrulous melodies. Nope. Sometime during track 2 Phil-O ran up to the box and hit pause. "I turned it off because I didn't like it!" he announced. I think he was a little unnerved by just how vocal-sounding the chit-chat, laughter, and especially cries and moans are from Coleman and Cherry's horns. The whole thing did sound more vicious than I remembered. The kids were getting rowdy and I absolutely had to concentrate on the rearranging so I put on a DVD (I had hooked the TV up first just in case) and the choice was Planet Earth. Holy shit, what a program. The kids just couldn't believe their eyes and, when checking it out between rearranging, I couldn't either. Phil had picked the Fresh Water episode and of course it has a lot of amazing stuff, especially the scenery, such as devastating shots of the tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls somewhere in South America. The water falls so far that before it reaches the bottom it gets carried away in the wind as mist, which is a pretty magical sight in a TV show packed full of 'em... When that came to an end Rhythm & Sound W/The Artists was our dinner music. "I'm like a burning fire..." That warning/threat/boast/lament is the hook that slow-burns through the first two tracks on this album, sung first by Cornel Campbell on the song "King In My Empire," and then by Jennifer Lara on the song "Queen In My Empire." The hook is so strong, and the delivery so intense, that you will continue to hear it in your head or coming out of your mouth throughout the entire album, a hook that creates its own dub versions through sheer resonance not only when the CD is played but throughout the week while you walk down the about reverberation and regeneration....the Anakrid album has been hanging around the stereo for awhile and tonight I was more impressed than ever. The first disc Father is really anomalous with its tinkling slow gamelan menace. Sometimes it bugs me, tonight it sounded rich and deep, and I'm always at the very least impressed by its distinctiveness in today's noise/experimental scene. Disc 2 Rapture of the Deep is more traditional dark drone but it's very accomplished and continues to be my favorite of the two discs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rashid Ali & Frank Lowe "Duo Exchange" mp3s
Sonny Murray "Sonny's Time Now" mp3s
Landed/Megafuckers split 7-inch
Bipolar Bear/Watusi Zombie split 7-inch

First time I've caught up with these albums from the Thurston Moore Grand Royal Free Jazz list. The Ali & Lowe is a burner of course, notably just 13 minutes or so per side. Seems a lot hotter and more aggressive than the spacier and warmer Interstellar Space duo album by Coltrane & Ali. When each player takes a solo turn, wow... they really had some shit ready... Lowe's solo is in full Black Beings bellow/scream mode.... Wow, "Black Art" from Sonny's Time Now, I can see why this album was on the list for the way LeRoi Jones shouts "WE WANT POEMS THAT KILL! Assassin poems! Poems that shoot guns! Poems that wrestle cops into alleys and take their weapons leaving them dead with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland..." alone. He's really interacting with the band, especially when he imitates an airplane -- who is the band on this again? OH SHIT, it's ALBERT AYLER on sax and DON CHERRY on trumpet, that's a pretty good band... not to mention Henry Grimes and Louis Worrell on basses, working with Sonny to create that one-of-a-kind shivery shadow world. Couple split 7-inches from the Kill Shaman label: Landed is a Providence band, right? They've got a track here called "Osama OxyContin" that is pretty sick wrong/techno/shit trashy stuff, but it's fading fast from memory. Megafuckers stand out more with a vocalist who talk/sings some pretty funny lyrics (sheet included!) like "You can't throw up your way out of everything/The police are in your house now/You better face it, you're addicted to drugs/Don't you think the world should be exploded/Don't you think it hurts to be ex-scroted/M-S-N-B-C fuck." On the other 7, Bipolar Bear I know nothing about, but they are totally standing out with a reverby slightly proggy weird-pop style, reminding me of the Strapping Fieldhands, early Rush (?), Wingtip Sloat, I don't know, but it's my favorite so far. On the flip Watusi Zombie give 'em a serious run for the title, probably the most straight-ahead garage/punk type sound of all these Kill Shaman 7's, but still weird and trashy, great "bah-bah-da-bah-bah-bah-bah" man/woman chorus vocals. I now see that they're from Osaka, Japan. Likin' the cover art here too, by Justin Wright (who records music as Expo '70, something else I've been meaning to check out).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Antler Piss "Swamp Picnic" CS
Dave Smolen "Threshold of Stranded Masses" CS
Marc Zajack "Concrete Sickness" CS
Beastie Boys "Ill Communication" mp3s
Grateful Dead "Birth of the Dead" 2CD

New batch from the Philadelphia label Deep Fried Tapes. The plastic tape boxes and simple paper j-card inserts are standard, but the artwork/design is excellent, strong usage of simple silk-screening and color, very solid typography, stuff like that. (No spraypaint - I actually still love almost all uses of spraypaint - but its absence here seems like the right move.) Side A of the Antler Piss brings a thick/sick low-end grind that hovers and devours. This is a C13, basically a cassingle, and the track is over too soon, something I feel about maybe 1 in 20 (non-vinyl) releases. Side B is more active and moving, in-your-face, more about attack than presence. Not as stunning as the A side but this is a good tape. Dave Smolen is a name I do not know but the tape has nice art and I like his titles in a post-Michigan kind of way: "Threshold of Stranded Masses," "Visceral Laminates," "Scream Ascension," and "Primitive Gate." Side A is "Visceral Laminates" part one, and musically it leans on a relentless high-pitched tone that is worked underneath with various grinds and tape-mutter and gut-noises, and then....I lost track, not exactly a grabber, but side B kicks off with "Visceral Laminates" part two which is downright gut-churning - and over too quick (once again). "Scream Ascension" gets back into that relentless high-pitched tone and does more interesting things with it, maybe helped along by the title imagery....but the tape loses me again before its over. Not a grabber but it does look really cool. Marc Zajack is I think the proprieter of Deep Fried, and I think he's Antler Piss too. One thing for sure, he played on that Church of Yuh burner by the George Steeltoe Ensemble. Only caught one side of his tape before the work crew showed up and wanted something a little more....normal? It was a weird side, definitely different than Antler Piss, a C60 for one, a long stretched-out minimal/static grinding thing. Pretty quiet. I'm gonna have to get back to you on it. Co-worker put on Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys. I love the Beastie Boys. Standout track this listen was the one with Q-Tip. "Get It Together." These guys are just goofing off, especially Q-Tip with some of the best/worst freestyles ever. Reminds me of seeing Tribe Called Quest live twice in the early 90s - they were awesome. Q-Tip was one of the best performers I'd ever seen, totally loose and funny but still nailing all the lyrics. Ali Shaheed Muhammed was having some technical difficulties at one show and Tip said, "That's alright. We're pretty good improvisers, so we gonna kick it like this," and he and Phife did an a capella freestyle for a few minutes. Totally casual, no stage seriousness or discomfort. Does anyone else think Q-Tip lost it when he grew dreadlocks? I could be totally wrong, but that's when I stopped listening to him.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Daniel Menche "Bleeding Heavens" CD
Emeralds "Allegory of Allergies" mp3s

Allegory of Allergies, originally released as a short-run double cassette on Gods of Tundra, was one of my favorites of the year, as was everything else I heard by Cleveland band Emeralds. After reading the profile on 'em over at Dusted today, I gave Allergies yet another spin. Not much going on in the interview but that seems appropriate. Music isn't necessarily the main thing I want to hear musicians talk about it (which is why Bananafish interviews were great). One telling quote is when a band member describes their early works (they've only been playing shows since summer 2006) as "simple exercises in control." I still hear mega-control, but I think they've gone beyond "simple." I'm flabbergasted, as are many others, by just how far beyond the average dude/drone scene example these kids are, even the ones who are really good. The real key is that there is hardly ever any NOISE in their sound, just sheer elegaic/haunted/spiritual inner landscapes that extend forever. The Daniel Menche album was also on my year-end best-of list, a guy who's been at it longer than Emeralds and has gotten (almost?) as deep. He does it with a lot more noise, of course, but the result is something I would also call spiritual. I guess I can't tell you exactly what I mean by that, but listen to these albums for an idea...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Art Institute of Chicago museum
Peter Green "End of the Game" mp3s
Monster Island "Children of Mu" 2LP
Rhythm & Sound "See Mi Yah" CD
Anakrid "Unodos" 2CD (disc 2, "Rapture Of The Deep")

Went to the Art Institute today for the first time in a few years. It's my favorite of many great Chicago museums and I used to take Phil there all the time on free Tuesdays, when he was young enough to still be strapped to me in the rebozo. It was the best, I'd wander through the rooms and zone out to all this amazing shit while he just slept or looked at stuff with me. I wrote about our visits a few years ago in Blastitude (here, scroll down a bit), and somehow today was the first time I've been back since then. Highlights were the statues of Buddhas (still), the statue of Samson wrestling a Lion ("He's not wearing underwear!," said Claire, "It's only his BUTT!!!"), an awesome statue of Shiva Nataraja (aka dancing Shiva), all the classics (gotta love just walking by actual shit like The Old Guitarist, Water Lilies, Van Gogh's Self-Portrait, et cetera), a new-to-me Gerhard Richter called Little Landscape By The Sea, just what the title says and as unassuming, lovely, shrouded, and haunting as Richter's very best, and finally a huge chunky and splattered Jackson Pollock that inspired Phil to say "I can do that!" The kid was pretty bored by the classical stuff and the impressionists, but he did light up a little when we got into the modern wing, especially at the hardcore minimalist stuff like De la nada vida a la nada muerte by Frank Stella, Abstract Painting by Ad Reinhardt, and Red Plank by John McCracken, which made him laugh. Oh yeah, another highlight was going down to the kids area before we left - they had one of those magnet poem sets going on, and Angelina wrote an awesome one-liner: "Talk like the flower whispers." (She added the "S" from a nearby alphabet set.)

First time I've ever heard the notorious post-breakdown Peter Green solo album from 1970, and damn, I'm digging it. Definitely ahead of its time - it starts out sounding a lot like early Ash Ra Tempel, a year before their debut came out, and then it even presages the deep-space monster-funk of Agharta-style Miles Davis, which didn't start happening until 1972 or so, when the rock-heavy Al Foster replaced the more bebop-discursive Jack DeJohnette on drums in Davis's band. (BTW, speaking of monster-funk, Tiki Fulwood was in there for a minute, right in between Foster and DeJohnette! Um, recordings?) So who's Green's rhythm section on End of the Game? Surely someone famous? Well, nope. The monstrous bass guitar is by none other than Alex Dmochowski (apparently he was in Zappa's Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka band) and the killer drummer is one Godfrey MacLean (Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, sessions with Lou Reed). The three of them alone would've made a pretty stunning album, but there is also fine background accompaniment, a less lurid take on Corea/Jarrett (even if it beat Miles to THAT GROOVE, this album is definitely inspired, probably directly, by what Miles was already doing in 1970) by Nick Buck on organ (he was in Hot Tuna) and Zoot Money himself on piano, who is by far the most famous person in the band other than Peter Green, and I don't even know who he is! (His playing is very good.) Now I'm thinking about that alternate reality where Peter Green kept it together and stayed in Fleetwood Mac and replaced Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan with Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas... I'm pretty sure Fleetwood and probably even Mac are into it, and you should hear the way Christine Perfect sounds over that groove.....

Sides C & D of the new Monster Island were right up my alley from the very first listen (first post of this blog!), but sides A & B finally clicked with me tonight. It really helped to read about all the allusions and references that are in these songs, not to mention the sources and locations of all the jarring collage elements, and that a bunch of the lyrics are in Chinese and French, because the album layout, though it looks rad, is not too easy to get song titles and information out of. But what helped the most is just that I turned it up extra-loud tonight, and learned that a lot of these songs rock in a strange exotic gypsy way that is not unlike much else except vintage Areski & Brigitte Fontaine (the French text and fetching lady vocalists help). There is also a Tom Rapp/Pearls Before Swine cover sung by Cary Loren and Aliccia Berg in duet and it is just a treat, with dare I say a bouncy Can "One More Night" feel from the band. The songs that don't rock as much all seem to be deep incantational goddess-on-mountaintop ballads, sung in Chinese at that. In some ways this surpasses Dream Tiger - the songs may have been nicer and catchier on that album, but the ambition here goes way beyond. (And meanwhile, Sides C & D, the "Creation"/"Story of Mu" suite, are as epicly zoned-out as ever.) (And the cover art, as pictured in yesterday's post, is by Gary Panter.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rhythm & Sound "W/The Artists" CD
Rhythm & Sound "See Mi Yah" CD
Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck s/t CD
Monster Island "Children of Mu" 2LP (pictured)
Leonard Cohen "Songs of Leonard Cohen" mp3s
Disney's The Little Mermaid and Friends CD
OST "Harder They Come" CD
Rhythm & Sound "W/The Artists" CD
Planet Earth DVD ("Caves" episode)
Pink Floyd "Animals" mp3s

Ah, Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck are back at it again with another 10-minute release of absurdly harsh power electronics packaged with pornographic imagery (this time a little more subtle than, say, the P.T. Barnum's Gallery release, but yes that is semen). A great way to start the day (only because the wife and kids left for a couple hours). Man, the cat hates this stuff! I think I've heard that some noise/PE people do too, probably because they think Twodeadsluts qualify for some convoluted and vague variation on whatever a poser is today, but having no real idea what's going on with noise/PE scene politics EVER, and having heard two or three blasting discs by 'em over the last couple years, I think they basically RIP as far as my 'once in a blue moon' listening tastes go. More varied than you might expect, too. I guess this CD is sold out already but an LP version is coming out very soon on Apop.... Can't believe this Animals phase is still ongoing... I am this close to declaring "Dogs" to be Floyd's crowning achievement...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Velvet Underground 3rd
Alice Cooper "Welcome To My Nightmare"
Alice Cooper "Love It To Death"
Theme Time Radio Hour w/Bob Dylan "Dreams"
Steve Martin "Wild & Crazy Guy" CD
Rhythm & Sound "W/The Artists" CD
Rhythm & Sound "See Mi Yah" CD
Rhythm & Sound "See Mi Yah Remixes" CD

Finally got Velvet's 3rd on my iPod.... stoked to now have Welcome To My Nightmare on there too... something might be wrong with me but I podded this album at the same time as stone-cold OG lineup classics Killer and Love It To Death and Nightmare is the first one I went for... this is the 2002 CD reissue with bonus tracks, and man, the alternate version of "The Awakening" is revelatory! Ghostly piano, a different vocal melody, and a previously lost Vincent Price voiceover! This digital version of Love It To Death sounds good, I sang along with every word of "I'm Eighteen," but overall it's kinda making me miss the scratchy vinyl copy I bought used when I was 13 or whatever. Specifically "Black Juju," turning off all the lights in my room and turning it up really loud to freak myself out during the quiet part... just not the same at work on the iPod. (Not to mention at age 37.)I still have the vinyl, maybe I should try and freak out the kids with it tonight... still on a Steve Martin kick after reading his Born Standing Up memoir. Let's Get Small and Wild and Crazy Guy are the essentials, with Small the real crowd-pleaser and Guy also filled with classic bits but verging on avant-garde with its constant discontinuous edits (both in post-production and in the routines themselves) and straight-up non-jokes. In fact, I am convinced that Neil Hamburger's genius first two full-lengths for Drag City, America's Funnyman and Raw Hamburger, are direct homages/reinterpretations of these two Steve Martin albums. Not only do they share the same overriding meta-joke, that of the inept yet strangely confident performer, but they also share many specific details: a very similar smug delivery, jarring edits, sudden fadeouts, lame novelty songs, mysterious non-verbal bits that do not translate via vinyl, a bit where a youngster in the audience is singled out and then told an inappropriately dirty joke, a bit where 'professional comic timing' is persistently interrupted by a horrible cough... and then you could always compare and contrast this video clip with this one.... (for the record I am not accusing Neil Hamburger of being a plagiarist...even if he is borrowing directly from Steve Martin he is redirecting and updating the material in a genius way).... look ma, I actually bought some CDs!!! I mean, sure, they were all USED, but...anyway, I've been so blown away by the self-titled Rhythm & Sound CD on Basic Channel, I searched Reckless to see if they had anything, preferably some VINYL. Sure enough, they had three things -- all of 'em were used CDs, but I zoomed over anyway and bought 'em right up, unknowingly walking right into some new territory, namely BURIAL MIX territory. I saw those words emblazoned on each CD and was like, "Huh? Burial is cool and all, but I don't wanna hear him(her) remixing Rhythm & Sound, I wanna hear the REAL DEAL." But, it turns out Burial Mix is a Basic Channel sub-label that specializes in what can really only be called a genuine new 21st century strain of straight-up reggae music. Maybe someone already has a cute name for it like techno reggae or electro reggae, but it consists of Rhythm & Sound creating genius reggae tracks (like some of the instrumentals on the s/t) and bringing in veteran vocalists to sing. Thus, you get everything great about R&S, the inimitable minimalism, focus, and sublime grime, but now it's combined with the timeless soul of true-roots singing and toasting. These two albums are fantastic -- I had to take out the trash while W/The Artists was playing and I was actually fiending for it during the 45 seconds I was gone, like running back down the hallway to my apartment in my flip-flops so I wouldn't miss more of it. See Mi Yah is just as good and even more focused, 11 songs made with one riddim mixed continuously for a mellow-but-driven hardcore trance dream. After the intense focus of these two albums, the See Mi Yah Remixes album seemed a little too flashy and frivolous. The only tracks I even noticed while it was playing were Rhythm & Sound's own "basic reshape," the pulsing/driving Carl Craig remix, and the lush sleepy Vainqueur remix. Even Ricardo Villalobos's track went right over my head. When that album was over, I quickly played the other two again. They'll both be stuck in the player for awhile.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Theme Time Radio Hour w/Bob Dylan "Classic Rock"
Theme Time Radio Hour w/Bob Dylan "Time"
Colossal Yes "Acapulco Roughs"

I don't know if it's 'legal' or 'cool' or not, but this blog seems to have all of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour shows for download, and whoah, I'm into it. I mean, it's just nuts...for each show, there is a theme like "The Bible" or "Weather" or "Mother" or "Father" or "California" and Bob plays songs from various genres and time periods that relate to the theme, sometimes directly, sometimes tangentially, sometimes humorously, sometimes seriously. This is true of the introductions he gives for each song as well, which he delivers in a strange wheezing hipster DJ patter that, I swear to you, reminds me of the delivery of the late Mitch Hedberg. And he's almost as funny as Hedberg too -- the guy is constantly cracking jokes and he clearly enjoys the hell out of being a DJ. The first one I listened to was "Classic Rock", which is actually about the real classic rock, i.e. rocks and minerals, in which Dylan plays everything from the Staple Singers to Johnny Thunders while discussing the composition of the Earth, street terms for drugs, theories about Easter Island and Stonehenge, the evolution of gravestones from the Stone Age to the present day, and much much more. I downloaded like 10 more tonight, I'm stoked. The Colossal Yes album has been out for awhile but I'm just now getting to it. I think it's the drummer from Comets on Fire, doing some lush 1970s piano rock balladry. The arrangements sound real nice, his singing is as sweet as honey, and the wordplay seems promising with titles like "A Titan's Buffet," "A Fig for Misfortune," and "Between Ass & Ophir" (say what) -- but after a first straight-thru listen (preceded by a few shuffle appearances on the iPod) I'm not sure the songs really distinguish themselves from one to the next. Of course, I do love it when a collection of songs becomes one overriding mood/feel/thing, as long as substance is the victor over style. I'm not sure if it is on this album, but I know it's damn close, and I'm gonna keep listening to see who wins. (Unless I just put on the stylistically and technically comparable but decidely more thorny and idiosyncratic Enantiodromia by Azita for the 100th time this decade instead.) (Here's something rad though - I was checking out the Colossal Yes MySpace and his great list of "all time favorite piano men" and "all time favorite piano women", the latter of which includes Lea Cho of Blues Control! I agree!)(Colossal Yes update 1/5/08: "Between Ass & Ophir" is sounding damn good on shuffle.)

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