Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ONE OF YOU Life Is So Hard b/w Faded Flowers (SCARAB RECORDS)

I think a onetime Chicago friend I haven't seen in at least a decade but follow on Twitter (Ms. Chambers of Ides, is that you?) posted this weird loner folk (?) whatsis, a 7" single self-released in Canada back in 1981. All I can say is wow. UPDATE (45 SECONDS LATER): Just learned the story... the singer for One of You is a Czech woman who left Prague after the 1968 revolution and relocated to Toronto. Sinking into alienation in the cold new North American city, she wrote these rather despairing bedroom dirges about her feelings. "Life Is So Hard" really lives up to the title, getting just a little scary when that "Cry little devil cry / Cry little devil cry" part goes into the chorus. The B side "Faded Flowers" is more of a church/medieval epic, or something, including spoken word, and an eerie chorale part that Ms. One of You builds through what must be overdubs. Maybe not as autobiographical, but still quite an ear-turner. Heavy music in all styles and volumes, or should I say #heavymusicinallstylesandvolumes .....

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ROBERT GLASPER Covered (The Robert Glasper Trio Recorded Live at Capitol Studios) 2LP (BLUE NOTE)

Can't believe I'm sinking deep into an exquisite, moody, delicate/heavy piano trio record on Blue Note, and not only was it recorded AFTER (not before) 1960, it was in fact recorded in December 2014. That's right, I'm actually listening to brand new relatively non-avant jazz music. I've known about Mr. Glasper for awhile, that he was a young jazz pianist who was revitalizing the genre by bringing in straight-up hip-hop and R&B (his music heavily influenced by Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett but also Q-Tip and J. Dilla). However, I didn't start listening to his records until just this week when I happened across this charming appearance on Amoeba's What's In My Bag? series, in which he boldly (and literally) sings the praises of Kenny G. From there I started going through the related videos and sampling a bunch of his albums, such as the Grammy-winning and totally-deserving-of-it 2012 release Black Radio, which is some kind of jazzy hip-hop neo-soul modern masterpiece, each song with a different guest vocalist, really some beautiful stuff. (The 2013 sequel Black Radio 2 seems just as good, really loving the song "Calls" featuring Jill Scott.) But, the record I've got on the turntable right now, and the subject of this record review as referenced in its opening sentence, is the Covered double LP, recorded live at Capitol Studios, and filmed as well, so you can listen to it, you can watch it on your TV with popcorn, you can put it on some sort of streaming service and take a bath by candle light, or you can get the vinyl and flip it all the time like I do. Either way, this is beautiful music, played by top-notch jazz musicians on piano (Glasper), bass (Vicente Archer), and drums (Diamond Reid). Reid is particularly impressive, for example the next-level beat on "I Don't Even Care," some kind of high-speed drum&bass Amen-break vibe. It isn't even immediately apparent that this is a covers album (though the album title does give pause); "Barandgrill" was the first track that seemed to ring some far-off bell, and even after learning from the YouTube comments that it was a Joni Mitchell song, I still didn't realize the rest were covers too until really digging "So Beautiful," which I assumed to be a Glasper original, or maybe even a group improvisation, but upon research turned out be a cover of a sweet 2009 R&B song by someone called Musiq Soulchild. At this point I started to catch on, and have since learned that other sources are Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Bilal, Macy Grey, Radiohead, and someone called Jhene Aiko, but above all it sounds like a really nice haunting lush and atmospheric Blue Note piano trio jazz album.

POSTSCRIPT: A few more acoustic piano trio favorites: Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach Money JungleBill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard (with the great Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian); this all-time great beauty of a track by Alice Coltrane, Ron Carter, and Ben Riley called "Turiya and Ramakrishna"Lowell Davidson Trio self-titled (with Gary Peacock and Milford Graves!); Keith Jarrett with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette Changeless (ECM) (another new record... wait, I guess 1989 isn't new anymore); Ahmad Jamal Trio At the Pershing (with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier), and, THIS JUST IN, on my morning drive to take my kids to school the tradition is to listen to the morning jazz shows on WNUR, and this week they played a track called "Redwoods" by the Eri Yamamoto Trio, which was released in 2008 on the long-heavy Aum Fidelity label.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


(Almost entirely written December 2015-January 2016, and then left in a drawer until now....)

MEG BAIRD Don't Weigh Down The Light (DRAG CITY) This is the Blastitude Record of the Year, 2015. I wonder if a folk record should be the record of such an electronically advanced year as 2015, but it's beautifully sung and played, and sinks deeper and deeper with every listen, and folk music is always back because it never goes away, and I'm certain we need it more than ever as an option for universal/societal calming, quietude, and deep-breathing. It's the AntiTrumpstitude, and believe me, on Don't Weigh Down The Light the breathing gets very deep via brilliant two-person playing, Meg laying down heavy song after heavy song on guitar and voice, Charlie Saufley's instant electric guitar arrangements equally heavy and beautiful throughout, both of them adding subtle overdubs on piano, organ, etcetera... the atmosphere is incredible.

WOLF EYES I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces (THIRD MAN) A radical new Wolf Eyes record in many ways. The first thing you hear is a Fender Rhodes piano, and instead of being obliterated by industrial noise terror, it's patiently joined by softly sketching saxophone (which will be familiar to most Wolf Eyes fans already, and especially to fans of side band Stare Case), all building into an incredibly somber track called "Catching The Rich Train" that I can honestly say is a 'genre' of music I've never heard before. And the whole album stays in that genre (#mustbetripmetal), with several more great tracks... the twisting slow (trip) metal riff at the heart of "T.O.D.D.," the devastating (actual) metal chorus hook of "Enemy Ladder," the living Stooges sample that is "Twister Nightfall"... and two more, one of which ("Cynthia Vortex AKA Trip Memory Illness") has me recalling Byron Coley's stark words regarding Skip Spence's Oar ("There's a quality of loss and disorientation on this record that has the palpable taste of LSD"). First Wolf rec (I know of) that comes with a lyric sheet, but it's barely possible to follow along with Nate Young's vocals with the ruptures and disjunctures brought about by the band's always-evolving cutting/mirroring vocal delay tactics. But then, just when I'm sure I won't get a handle on it, I happen to be looking at the lyric sheet during the aforementioned "T.O.D.D." not knowing the name of the song yet, and my eyes fall right on the words he's speaking/singing, just in time for a fully intelligible line that stops me in my tracks: "I burn my dreams just to stay warm." I haven't gone back to the lyric sheet since, as that one line has become the theme of the entire record, encapsulating the back story revealed by the band in interviews, the seemingly incongruous cover imagery now a warm fleeting vision of beauty from another burnt dream...

CIRCUIT DES YEUX In Plain Speech (THRILL JOCKEY) I can't really think of another artist who has taken the leap that Haley Fohr aka Circuit Des Yeux has in the last few years. She first came on our radar as some sort of teenage no-wave siren from the wilds of Indiana, playing what I thought (I'll admit I didn't investigate deeply at the time) were deconstructed punk howls. That was something in itself, but fast-forward a few years and she's moved to Chicago and developed her voice into a stunning operatic baritone that brings to mind Scott Walker himself, her songwriting leaping right along with it, crafting extremely honest and emotional works that leave out none of her many avant-garde inspirations but also clearly aspire to the occult grandeur of her beloved Led Zeppelin. So, like Scott Walker singing a more drummerless "Kashmir" but in the Chicago art damage milieu of a woman in her 20s in the way-too-singular 2010s. The album where this breathtaking style really came clear was 2013's self-released Overdue, but 2015's In Plain Speech, for the higher profile Thrill Jockey label, takes it even further.

ETERNAL TAPESTRY Wild Strawberries 2LP (THRILL JOCKEYExtendo jam psych that actually hits some of those Gottsching/Harmonia nodes we usually only encounter by playing records that were recorded 40 years ago. Besides, what else can you say about a band that lives in Portland but travels to a cabin deep in the woods to record extremely heady psychedelic rock improvisations, each of which they craft into nigh-side-long pieces which they name after a plant indigenous to that region, other than that they are Living the Dream? 

ANTHONY PASQUAROSA Morning Meditations (VDSQ) This is technically a reissue of a privately/barely released cassette from 2014, but that issue was so ephemeral, and only a year older, that I'm going to put this on Best of 2015 anyway. Pasquarosa has several projects and all are interesting... to name just a couple of many, he plays teenage downer punk with Gluebag, cosmic psych folk with Crystalline Roses, and brilliant solo acoustic guitar instrumentals as himself. He can be heard to great effect in this setting on the same label's VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume Seven, but Morning Meditations is a different strain of music, its structures more intensely minimalist, extremely patient and slow-developing (although 'developing' into 'something' isn't even the goal here, because it already 'is', so never mind).

SHAWN DAVID MCMILLEN On The Clock W/ JJ & Mitch (12XU)  "The title of this brand new 2015 album refers to his band; McMillen plays guitar and sings, while JJ Ruiz plays drums and Mitch Frazier plays bass. JJ and Mitch both sing background vocals as well, so it certainly works from that spaced-out roots-rock Crazy Horse trio template, but this is no carbon copy. JJ and Mitch are light, open, and swinging, and McMillen brings his own loosey goosey voice to it, really coming into his own as a songwriter. I think I saw someone (on Instagram?) compare this album to the Meat Puppets, and they might've even dropped a II into the comment. A big claim, but I really think it's an accurate description of the style." That's what I said back in November.
MAGAS Heads Plus
VIANDS Temporal Relic
MICK TRAVIS Face Disappears After Interrogation (MIDWICH
Wrote about these great records and label last year too, read it here!

75 DOLLAR BILL Wooden Bag (OTHER MUSIC) Best LP released this year of microtonal Mauritanian/North Mississippian guitar played by a Korean from New Haven and accompanied by a percussionist whose main instrument is an amplified wooden crate that he both plays and sits on, bar none!

HELEN The Original Faces (KRANKY) Liz Harris AKA Grouper, one of my favorite musical artists of the 2000s, here doing something different in the 2010s as the frontperson of a dreamy raging shoegaze band.

DAN MELCHIOR'S BROKE REVUE Lords of the Manor (IN THE REDI was already loving this material, just from seeing very heavy YouTubes of Dan and the Revue playing it live in 2014. You may remember me openly wondering if there was a studio record that had these songs on it in last year's almost-a-year-late "Best of 2014" year-end post. Well, Lords of the Manor is that studio record, and it is indeed really goddamn heavy.

KURT VILE B'lieve I'm Goin' Down (MATADORAfter loving Kurt's first few albums back in the late 00's (you can read about it in several previous posts), I kinda got off the bus with Wakin' on a Pretty Daze. It seemed like his songwriting was getting lost in his atmosphere, which allowed for pleasant-enough listening while it was on, but not a whole lot to take away. Well folks, the takeaway is boldly back with this one. The reverby wash is dialed down and the instruments and lyrics stand unadorned, leading to what may paradoxically be his heaviest album ever. Central track "That's Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)" makes me cry, and it's followed by the almost-as-devastating "Wheelhouse." Like Wolf Eyes earlier on this page, Kurt is also adding electric piano to his sound, and it's great, as on the superb track eight, "Lost My Head There," still melancholy, but more a smiler than a weeper, or the instrumental "Bad Omens," which almost sounds like it could've been one of the piano-driven instrumentals on Garcia (1972)! I'll admit I thought the lead-off single and album opener "Pretty Pimpin'" was kinda annoyingly quirky the first couple times I heard it, didn't like the title, etc., but it's actually a damn good song as well.

RYLEY WALKER Primrose Green (DEAD OCEANS) I've long been impressed by Walker's ability to execute aspects of Buckley/Drake/Jansch/Renbourn traditions at a high level, but not always sure how much from the present day was in it. Primrose Green still seems like it's of another time, right down to the Astral Weeks vibe of the cover art, but this record marks Walker and his band really starting to make this music their own. His songwriting has gotten there, and the musical interplay of a consistent full band (the core seems to be Ben Bowe on keyboards, Frank Rosaly on drums, Brian Sulpizio on guitar, and Anton Hatwitch on the double bass) has gotten all the way there and then some...

BILL MACKAY & RYLEY WALKER Land of Plenty (WHISTLER RECORDS) And with this record Walker does something different, combining his six-string skills with those of fellow Chicago guitarist Bill Mackay, both considerable, songs and traditions and freedom boiled down to pure all-instrumental guitar duo interplay, a really dreamy and haunting thing.

MAMMAL Lake & Sand (ORMOLYCKA) I know there's a small but dedicated group out there who really loved Mammal's Lonesome Drifter double-LP, released in 2007, and have waited very, very patiently ever since for the followup. Gary Beauvais, who is Mammal, told me about 7 years ago via email that the followup was almost done! I was excited, because he said it was "even more 'deserty' than Lonesome Drifter," but the record was not forthcoming... until now. Believe me, I can relate to an artist who is excited about a project but for one reason or another, or many, is simply unable to complete it or release it. (Sort of like how I'm publishing this "Best of 2015" blog post in mid-2017.) Either way, I'm glad Lake & Sand got done because it's a very good record. It is indeed more desert-y than Lonesome Drifter, certainly more subdued, less distorted; the pure-noise genre music that Lonesome Drifter still included intermittently is now almost completely gone. What remains is haunted, fragile, extremely direct and distilled. There is what I would call outright balladry on here, but composed and delivered in Beauvais's cold downer tone. Sometimes the lyrics are possibly too direct, but I like the music enough that I'll forgive certain phrases for erring on the side of precision and candor.

RAMLEH Circular Time (CRUCIAL BLAST) Absolutely monumental most recent album by this long-running British underground ensemble. I've never quite had a handle on this band/project (is it a band or a project?), and have barely skimmed the surface of the vast Broken Flag label that they emerged from. I'm finally making my way through the excellent Gary Mundy/Broken Flag career overview/interview in the first issue of As Loud As Possible, but you really need to be hearing it as you go with an article like that. If only that ALAP paperstock came with some sort of embedded sound samples... c'mon guys, where's the future tech? (Oh yeah, we do it ourselves, and it's called YouTube.) One thing I do know is that much of the Broken Flag catalog, and indeed previous work of Ramleh itself, does not sound like this. Most Ramleh is solo or small-group noise/electronics music, but this incarnation is a full-on pulverizing psychedelic rock'n'roll band. Drums, bass, and two very loud guitars, sprawling way the hell out over two CDs, and all I can say is thank you.

LIGHTNING BOLT Fantasy Empire 2LP (THRILL JOCKEY) Not too far off from what Ramleh are doing! But of course Lightning Bolt can hyperdrive it like no other band, and on this, their 7th full length album, they seem to have more riffs than ever. Sonics are terrific too, recording & pressing wise.


Ornette Coleman, Chris Squire, Edgar Froese, Daevid Allen, Andy Fraser, Chris Burden, Chantal Akerman, Anita Ekberg, Leonard Nimoy, Sam Simon, Manoel de Oliveira, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King, B.B. King, Christopher Lee, Roddy Piper, Bob Johnston, Yvonne Craig, Wes Craven, Tadeusz Konwicki, Oliver Sacks, Rico Rodriguez, Setsuko Hara, Candida Royalle, Moses Malone, Yogi Berra, Allen Touissant, Philthy Animal Taylor, Ellsworth Kelly, Haskell Wexler, Lemmy... I'm not even touching 2016 passages until next year...

So, I'm already working on my Best of 2016, and if all goes well it should be done around.... September 20........18? Confused yet? Believe me, I am too, which is why I listen to old records at least 92% of the time. (NP: Marion Brown Vista (ABC Impulse, 1975).)

Sunday, April 02, 2017



Love Story (Full Version) from Start Productions on Vimeo.


"The Tribal Eye is a seven-part BBC documentary series on the subject of tribal art, written and presented by David Attenborough. It was first transmitted in 1975. Episode 1 centers on the life and customs of the Dogon people in Mali, concentrating primarily on their masks and mask rituals." After to watch, have a nightcap while listening to "Space Prophet Dogon" by Sun City Girls (recorded in Tempe, Arizona in 1988), and by The Brothers Unconnected, aka 2/3rds of the Sun City Girls (live in Iowa City, 2008). 

Just going down memory lane watching a buncha Sonic Youth videos. So many great songs... "Bull in the Heather," "100%," "Sugar Kane," "Dude Ranch Nurse," "Little Trouble Girl," "Cinderella's Big Score," "Jams Run Free" of course "Theresa's Soundworld".... this particular YouTube rabbit hole started with the absurdity of them playing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" on the Night Music television program in 1989, jamming on Iggy and the Stooges with David Sanborn, Hiram Bullock, the Indigo Girls, and a guy with a keytar, show stolen by Don Fleming on flute: 

Speaking of the 90s, I'm now reading through this "Royal Trux Appreciation Thread" on the Terminal Boredom message board, part of an RT deep-dive kicked off by another vintage video of 'em playing "A Night to Remember" on that very-90s British TV show The Word. The year is in fact 1995, right there in the middle, they're on the world tour for their major label debut Thank You, and for these 3 minutes they are incontrovertibly the best rock'n'roll band on the planet:

Modern YouTube channel legend Jimmy is leaving?! How else am I gonna be able to stay at home in my sweatpants and still have all contemporary punk knowledge handed to me on a silver platter?? (Oh, duh.) Regardless, I wish Jimmy the best and would like to thank him for his archival work.

Still don't quite know what to think of Milk Music's new one Mystic 100s (at least it's better than Cruise Your Illusion and "Crying Wand" is pretty fantastic), so I'm revisiting what may still be the peak of their career thus far, a live performance on WFMU from the summer of 2011, as presented at WFMU's Free Music Archive:

Always enjoy reading about Dan Healy, longtime soundman and technological innovator for the Grateful Dead. Here's a 2007 profile on him from the Marin Independent Journal, which is also a profile of the good ole American can-do and stoned autodidacticism that exemplified the entire Grateful Dead organization. (Also recommended is his interview, and many other mentions, in the book Conversations With The Dead by David Gans.) Healy is now 72 years old; let's wish him well and thank him for all he's done for the world of sound.

I've had another tab open forever to the Spotify Web Player, which I've been using to listen to Robert Glasper's Black Radio and Black Radio 2 over and over.

Monday, March 27, 2017

ANNA CLYNE "Within Her Arms" (performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra) #HEAVYMUSICINALLSTYLESANDVOLUMES

Last Saturday afternoon, on March 25th, for the weekly Classical & Beyond program on WNUR (89.3 FM Evanston/Chicago), the DJs only played music by women composers, and almost completely focused on works from this still young 21st Century. It was a mind-blowing show, and I had to drive all the way downtown and back on an errand, so I got to hear long pieces by at least three different composers. The only name I remember is Anna Clyne, although I only heard the last minute or so of her piece, a rather harsh electronic and possibly improvisational work that was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label in 2012, on a CD called Blue Moth (in fact it's the opening track, called "Fits & Starts"). Now I'm at home looking for more of her music on YouTube, and ending up on a 2011 performance (embedded above) by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra of her composition "Within Her Arms," and it is absolutely beautiful classical/timeless orchestral music. Wow. She's only 37 years old now, and was only 29 when this piece premiered; it was dedicated to her mother, who passed away that same year, an event that clearly drew intensely heartfelt music out of Ms. Clyne that you will draw into yourself when you listen to it. She was born and raised in England, moved to New York City to work with the NY Youth Symphony in 2008, and as it turns out was a composer in residence here in Chicago, for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, from 2010 to 2014. And here I don't even find out about her until a piece by her is played on a college radio station in 2017... what can I say, there are 8 million stories in the naked city....

Monday, March 20, 2017


Possibly my favorite LP of all time. As a lover of all musics progressive (of which the well-known prog rock genre is a mere subset), I'm always a pushover for a heavy double LP, the most progressive of all formats (releases with three LPs or more -- box sets and whatnot -- are of course still progressive, but not as progressive as the double LP, because the sheer added volume of the extra material inherently begins to weigh down progress, whereas the double LP is just light enough that progress can continue unabated). This one in particular really hits the spot, on the exotic label Shandar, with an epic rich-colored gatefold sleeve, and on the lovely gold-tinted inside, liner notes handwritten in French and an eerie picture of haunted bald bearded psychedelic music monk Terry lurking at the bottom right, sitting on the floor playing his electric organ through his tape delay machine in full all night flight. As for the music in the grooves themselves, I will say this, Dervishes is the album that basically ruined all other Terry Riley LPs for me. Every time I listen to a different one, no matter how good it is, I'm always thinking, "But I could be listening to Dervishes." It seems to have everything that the other LPs have, all the classic Riley moves, but here so raw, so perfectly distilled. It is the true uncut funk. (It's also a double live LP, and as such stands strong next to all the heavy titans... Alive, Alive II, Live Bootleg, Double Live Gonzo, On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, even Live/DeadMade in Japan, and Live at the Fillmore East....)

P.S. Oops, forgot the actual reason I made this post, which is to finally make note of a totally killer part that I've always loved but had no idea how to quickly locate because every time I listen to this thing I'm so zoned out that taking notes seems laughable. Well, this time I actually stood up and left the zone to get pencil and paper, so now (you and) I know that it starts right around the 3:25 mark of "Persian Surgery Dervishes Performance One Los Angeles, 18 Avril 1971, Face 2," which is to say the 3:25 mark of side two (and the 24:15 mark of the YouTube above). There are several of these sudden cyclical spiral double helix zone-outs laying in wait throughout this track... something about this particular bassline mantra seems to inspire Mr. Riley into feverishly active tunnels of vision. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017


(Found this post from almost a year ago just sitting in my drafts folder, and I don't see why I didn't publish it at the time. So, better late than never...)

A new Pumice album has come down the pike on the Soft Abuse label. It's called Puddles and it was released in late 2015. This makes quite a few Pumice albums now, and I certainly haven't heard 'em all, but judging from this one, damned if the guy isn't at the top of his game right now. And it's very much his game, too... I mean sure you can classify it with your other crumbling home-taper free-folk New Zealand type stuff, but there's something about this particular combination of dream-piano, forlorn foghorn vocals, subtly edgy guitar, and carefully applied never-overbearing industrial noise, that is his and his alone. He is Stefan Neville, and he lives and works in Auckland. This is the most I've listened to one of his albums since Yeahnahvienna, which was released (CD only!) in 2006 (!), also by Soft Abuse; now I'm celebrating its 10-year anniversary by playing Puddles over and over.

Starting to dig more into various private press Xtian infamy via YouTube and, the more of it I hear, the more I think that my introduction, Dave Bixby's Ode to Queztalcoatl, is still the best. Maybe it's just because I'm more a loner folk guy than a heartland prog guy. Anyone remember when Bixby reappeared and went on a mini-tour a couple years ago? Seems like ancient ignored music news in today's internet hype cycle. I just looked it up; it was in December 2013. He only played three shows, all in his home-state Michigan. I guess I didn't really know the back story of the LP until now, but as a young counterculturally-inclined man in late-1960s Grand Rapids, Bixby burned out on LSD and, despondent and susceptible, fell in with a charismatic and somewhat sketchy cult leader, a dramatically goateed fellow by the name of Don DeGraaf. He eventually split the scene, but not before DeGraaf had bankrolled Ode to Quetzalcoatl, which was used as a recruitment tool. The story is engagingly depicted in this Far Off Sounds short doc on his reappearance tour, intercut with performances from all three cities (back where it all began in Grand Rapids, as well as Ann Arbor and Detroit). Highly recommended. See also: a video of his full Detroit set, at that crucial Trinosophes spot. As an astute YouTube commenter says, "The man still has it."

One more recommendation: this Loner Folk Playlist on YouTube. Maybe he's just too obvious of a choice, and the compiler wanted to focus on even lesser known artists, but Bixby is not included, even though his music is as lonely as it gets. As he says to the audience at the Trinosophes, after opening his set with the still heart-stopping "Drug Song": "I see it now as a piece of art. As a tragedy."


My take on #tripmetal and #psychojazz is that both are completely real, have been around forever, especially since regional/national/global electrification, and all of the following are both: Alice and JohnCybotron and PhutureBad Brains and Slayer"Maggot Brain" and The Process of Weeding Out. I mean those are just some of the most obvious; there's several hundred more, maybe even a couple thousand.

The Maximum Rocknroll Archive and Database Fundraiser is officially over, but it doesn't matter, you can donate to them year-round. They need it because their archive and database project is huge. Read interviews about it and more at FvckTheMedia and at Terminal Boredom, with head archivist Shivaun Watchorn and magazine coordinator (that's what they call the editor-in-chief) Grace Ambrose. The mag has had a great run of coordinators and I've particularly dug the tenures of Ms. Ambrose and Layla Gibbon, going back what might be 10 years to the mid-00s. The design has been cool as hell and the critical voice as sharp as ever, and not coincidentally punk in the 2010's has a more inclusive and therefore expansive multitude of voices screaming and scorching it out than ever.

Had this my-life-in-Chicago thing happen to me yesterday (Friday, June 10th, 2016) when I read a feature in this week's Reader about how Blues Fest is starting today (Saturday, June 11th, 2016) (first time I've heard about it this year), including a nice David Whiteis write-up on Lazy Lester (first time I've heard of him ever) and how in the 1960s he developed what was regionally popular in the Gulf Coast as "swamp-rock," recording for the Excello label. Whiteis adds that "he also worked as a sideman for other Excello artists, contributing guitar, harmonica, and percussion (including drums, wood blocks, cardboard boxes, folded-up newspapers, and even the studio walls)," which is funky, and as it turns out his tracks under his own name are too, so of course I want to see him, even if (especially if?) he's now 82 years old. He's playing at 3PM on Saturday, and wouldn't you know it, the great Irma Thomas (age 75) herself is playing at 6:30, but then I think how I have to take my 13-year-old son to a doctor's appointment scheduled weeks ago at 2:30, so I'll totally miss Lazy Lester, and then I've got to get him to a Magic the Gathering tournament by 5PM. so maybe I could drop him off there, then go all the way downtown for Irma Thomas and then head back home in time to pick him up around 9PM, but my 10-year-old daughter and I aren't gonna feel like riding the bus for an hour there and an hour back when we could just be chilling at home... which is just what we did, and it was made all the sweeter by this Lazy Lester Excello Singles YouTube playlist....

Stephen O'Malley made a huge Mix for Fact Magazine, and of course that soundhound came up with all kinds of things I'd never heard of before. Along with a lot more "much more" than usual, we get recordings from early 1900s Iran, Italian horror prog by Jacula and Antonius Rex, a scorching 2012 track by Fushitsusha, and stunning early 1990s Morton Feldman-esque soundtrack work by some guy named Francois-Bernard Mache. Check it out: http://www.factmag.com/2014/06/09/fact-mix-445-stephen-omalley/

I was thinking about the video for that seriously heavy jam "Eminence Front," footage of The Who playing live at some sort of sound-stage rehearsal, and it got me thinking of that great 1980s tradition of 'band showing up for rehearsal/filming/recording/etc.' videos... but the only other one I could place was Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers"! (Also a seriously heavy 80s jam, incidentally.) Maybe "Do They Know It's Christmas," but that song's gotten more than enough ink, wouldn't you say? Van Halen's "Pretty Woman" video was kind of an extended absurdist theatrical riff on the 'band showing up' idea, but it was all costume fantasy; my ideal 'band showing up' video is strictly cinema verite. In other words, the artists must play themselves. Anyway, if you think of more, PLEASE let me know.

#HeavySaturdayShuffle brings us "The Night Watch" by King Crimson (is this in contention for Fripp's greatest guitar solo?), followed by all-time classic "Christbait Rising" by Godflesh ("Don't hold me back/This is my own hell" is some basic heavy personal problems shit, pre-emo), followed by Neil's amazing "Hold Back The Tears" outtake, which would've been on the unreleased Chrome Dreams, a song that was recorded later for American Stars'n'Bars in a more mundane traditional country style with Ronstadt/Larson backing vox. I don't know who did the backing vox on the Chrome Dreams version, but they reach a pitch that is otherworldly even by Neil's standards (actually I think it's Neil overdubbing himself)... and finally, "Free Me (Version)" by Drum Bago & The Rebels. Drum Bago, also known as Drumbago, is the performing name of one Arkland Parks of Jamaica. (Check out this article including great virtual clippings from Jamaica's Daily Gleaner newspaper; typos remain omnipresent.) He was around since well before reggae developed, and in fact one of the key drummers to develop the ska beat, taking it right on into rocksteady. If I'm reading Solid Foundation right, he played on "Easy Snappin" by Theophilus Beckford in 1956, and was still active in 1966 when rocksteady took over. He passed away in 1969, before rocksteady had fully evolved into the reggae and roots that dominated the 1970s. Which makes this 45 kinda strange, because it was released in 1975, and "Free Me" is a very heavy roots/dub instrumental, the B-side to a heavy roots vocal A-side called "Set Me Free," sung by one L. Crosdale. Did Studio One posthumously use a Drumbago track that was laying around since 1969? Plausible, but was Drumbago already getting this heavy on a roots tip in 1969? That I find harder to believe, and my somewhat educated guess is that Coxsone just thought Drumbago was a cool-ass name in 1975 and stole it, or paid tribute to it, or something, changing it slightly to read "Drum Bago" just to hint that something was up.

After going to New Orleans a year ago and hearing all the random second line parades all over the streets, getting back to Chicago with a newly purchased 79rs Gang LP and playing those rhythms over and over for a couple feverish nights, and soon after reading in Bill Kreutzmann's memoir Deal that his mother was from New Orleans and he grew up listening to her Fats Domino 45s over and over, I now hear so much New Orleans in Kreutzmann's general push and kick-and-snare patterns every time I listen to his band. I mean, he's Ed Blackwell worthy. Here's my crazy opinion: after Garcia, Kreutzmann is the main reason we still talk about the Grateful Dead, the reason we forgive their many varied trespasses, the reason that the original members still draw huge dancing stadium crowds, even/especially with John Mayer as Jerry. It's all because of Kreutzmann, man, and the crazy rhythms are still there; watch/listen to this show they played just last week:

Like you, I was hesitant to enter the Mayer Zone, fearing it would be too full of Mayernaise, but went ahead with it after reading Jesse Jarnow's great review of the aforementioned show on Pitchfork. (Teaser quote: "It's hard to think of another tour this summer that's as friendly to families as it is to psychedelic users. Besides national parks, there aren't many institutions that serve both. But unlike members of the Grateful Dead, national parks don't go on tour.") I would warn you that the above YouTubes are better to listen to than to watch; Mayer's outfit and general visual vibe is very distracting, but his guitar playing is fine and sometimes top-notch. The "Bird Song" for example. As usual with the Dead in any year, any incarnation, you've gotta take the bad with the good; Bob Weir seems off all night long, to where I'm wondering if the guy's still having health troubles, but then in classic Weir fashion absolutely kills "Days Between" in the encore, singing it with even more gravity than Jerry ever did, bringing certain words ("phantom ships with phantom sails") and phrases ("a springtime wet with sighs") to sudden haunting life. It's a really heavy song, the perfect sad sequel to that line in "Stella Blue" that goes "All the years combine/they melt into a dream."

Speaking of Jesse Jarnow, I'm also reading his new book Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America right now... just 30 pages in, but all day I found myself itching to get back to it. Tons could/should be said about it, but right now I'll just say he's the most understanding writer on the Dead I can think of since Blair Jackson. (Although John Olson's short takes in Life Is A Ripoff are must-reads as well.) It really is one of the great Grateful Dead books; as its subtitle says, the book is much more than a biography of the band, but it's impossible to have a biography of psychedelic America without them being extremely central to the story.

ON CINEMA, I think a film that goes to credits with me bawling right along with its main character is probably a pretty damn good film, in this case La Strada (1954, d. Federico Fellini). A strong man doesn't know what to do when he falls into a relationship with a strong woman. Completely atypical strong woman, mind you, which makes the siutation even more emotionally complex. There's all kinds of haunting neorealist and proto-Felliniesque aspects of the film you can get lost in too, but above all it's an extremely rich character study. Quinn's Zampano is a typical brute that Fellini develops atypically. Richard Basehart's Fool is a volatile mix of good looks, great talent, and an endlessly sharp tongue. One of the great charming and tragic assholes in cinema history. And of course Giuleta, who everyone loves, taking what starts as a tribute to Chaplin into rare depths of character, especially when played off of Quinn. Throughout the film, she gets the sympathy, but Fellini has a twist ending up his sleeve, and improbably demands that our sympathy go to the strongman instead. Postscript: Interesting to hear Scorsese say in the Criterion extras that he and DeNiro never spoke about Quinn's Zampano, when Jake LaMotta punching the wall at the end of Raging Bull is probably the 2nd most Zampanonian film ending in cinema history.... Been reflecting hard on similarities between La Strada and two films that both came out a year earlier in 1953, Summer With Monika (d. Ingmar Bergman), and Tokyo Story (d. Yasujiro Uzo). All three films could be called neorealist, and all of them use what are called, in Ozu's films, "interstitials," also apparently known as "pillow shots" (I prefer the former term). Were any of them directly inspired by another? It all seems too concurrent. Or is it just that all of these filmmakers were inspired directly by Rossellini? Is he the true one-man neo-realist atomic bomb? Or did his style grow out of clear antecedents? Did Rossellini use interstitials too? These are the questions a lonely cinema geek must ponder. Speaking OF CINEMA, thanks to my son, I finally sat down and watched Good Burger (1997, d. Brian Robbins) and I'll be damned if Kel Thompson's characterization as "Ed" isn't one of the more aggressively weird comic performances I've ever seen... meanwhile, in a 1971 interview Jean-Pierre Melville said, "My guess is that the final disappearance of cinemas will take place around the year 2020, so in fifty years' time there will be nothing but television." Hello, Stranger Things!

LA STRADA (1954, d. Federico Fellini)

SUMMER WITH MONIKA (1953, d. Ingmar Bergman)

TOKYO STORY (1953, d. Yasujiro Ozu)

GOOD BURGER (1997, d. Brian Robbins)

Friday, March 17, 2017


I've been using the #heavymusicinallstylesandvolumes hashtag for a minute now, and I see that one of my favorite music writers Justin Farrar is bringing back his own "heavy music" concept as the title of his new blog (it's been his email handle for at least 15 years, inspired by the 1967 Bob Seger song by the same name). Then, just this morning I watched Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams (1981, d. Tommy Chong)* for the first time since I was like 12 or 13 years old, and Cheech says the word "heavy" at least 35 or 40 times, and then when the movie's over and I'm done chucklin' about it, I head upstairs to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. Turning the iPod on shuffle like I always do, what song should come on first but "The Great Mu Ga Ru Ga" by Sound Dimension** (or Sound Dimention as it says on the original 45), and what's the first thing the vocalist says, right at the beginning, a capella, even? Well, just listen for yourself, using the YouTube above. (Hint: it's #heavy.)

* So many WTF moments in this. I watched this when I was 12?! Paul Reubens, looking more like a member of Throbbing Gristle than Pee-Wee Herman, muttering "How about the future of rock'n'roll, huh? The future of rock'n'roll? Bruce Springsteen. He's fuckin' it all up." Timothy Leary himself also shows up and really doubles down on the creep factor as a mental asylum director who administers LSD to his patients. Cheech takes a dose and memorably hallucinates Michael Winslow doing his hilarious Jimi Hendrix impersonation (I can't help think it was somehow a nod to Apocalypse Now).

** Sound Dimension, alternately known as Sound Demension, or Sound Demention, or Sound Dimention (as above), or Soundemension, or Soul Dimension, or almost every other possible spelling or variation, were the house band of the Jamaica recording studio and record production facility known as Studio One. Their boss was the facility and label owner, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and the bandleader was Leroy Sibbles, who played bass, while also having a career as a sublime sweet lead vocalist for The Heptones. As far as I can tell from carefully reading Solid Foundation, the Studio One house band morphed from the Soul Vendors into Sound Dimension around 1968, when Sibbles took over after bandleader/organist Jackie Mittoo moved to Canada. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


From a date already quickly receding into the mists of time, waaaay back in mid-2012, here's a rather overlooked collabo LP picked up cheap from the ever-lovin' Reckless experimental bin. Long-time regular readers of Blastitude probably know the music of Neil Campbell pretty well, and let's just say he seems to be more in ASC* mode than VCO** mode here, although it's hard to say when his collaborator is Robert Horton, a long-running under-the-radar Bay Area sound artist, instrument inventor, percussionist, electronicist, polymath, iconoclast, et al. In 1981 (which really is waaaay back) he was in a "punk funk" group called the Appliances that put out a 12-inch EP with a "Paranoia Rap," and we're talking live-band-in-studio rap like Sugarhill was contemporaneously releasing, and the rapper Dominique was none other than the daughter of Amiri Baraka and Diane DiPrima (born during her parents' Floating Bear years). That track is on YouTube; the only other thing I've heard by 'em is an unreleased mutant-funk instrumental that is cool as hell. After the Appliances, Horton was completely under-the-radar for many years, until the experimental/noise underground finally caught up to what he was doing during the early/mid-00's CDR/internet boom. Suddenly, he was a recording and releasing all kinds of records, solo releases under various guises like Egghatcher, and lots of collaboration and ad hoc group work, duos, trios, and larger, with people like Charalambides guitarist Tom Carter, and Loren Chasse of the Jewelled Antler Collective. You can learn a lot more about the music he makes and all of his other interests (as well as hear that sick unreleased Appliances track) by listening to this excellent 2012 podcast in which he is interviewed by George Chen, the guy who released Trojandropper on his label Zum. As for the music on the LP itself, both Campbell and Horton play multiple instruments, program mad beats both on-and-off-kilter, and have very full sounds all by themselves, and therefore, when working together, run the risk of overdoing it. Well, risk be damned, they both seem to put everything into the stew, and to their credit the blend is seamless as it slow-boils (and often gleefully boils over). All kinds of crazy rhythms, dare I say danceable for all their weirdness, everything and several kitchen sinks layered atop, often overwhelming in its sheer noisiness, this is yet another record I enter in the 'what I wish My Life in the Bush of Ghosts actually sounded like' sweepstakes.

  * Astral Social Club
** Vibracathedral Orchestra

Wednesday, March 01, 2017


This past month I came across two great quotes about BAD BRAINS on two separate musician interview podcasts. Hearing them randomly just a week or two apart was kinda funny, but also an always-welcome reminder about how amazing Bad Brains were/are. First, on Episode 1 of The Trap Set with Joe Wong, Brendan Canty of Fugazi & Rites of Spring says, of seeing them play locally as a teenager in Washington, D.C., "Bad Brains were obviously a million times better than everybody else on the planet, like immediately." Then, on Episode 94 of the 5049 Podcast, host Jeremiah Cymerman says to interviewee Greg Fox (of Liturgy and much more), "Bad Brains will always be the greatest thing ever. In my mind there is no greater sound than Daryl Jenifer holding down a bass line while Dr. Know solos. It's literally... it's like Coltrane saxophone."

Bad Brains raves aside, both of these podcasts have amassed about 100 episodes, adding up to literal metric tons of music talk. Of particular Blastinterest might be Cymerman's interview with longtime Blastifave C. Spencer Yeh, or an excellent one with Chris Corsano (good Borbetomagus story), but he's got all kinds of people on there: Fred Frith, Mick Barr, Mary Halvorson, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, and Zeena Parkins, to name a mere 6%.... and The Trap Set has conversations with a crazy array of great drummers, not only the requisite underground greats like Mac McNeilly, Dale Crover, Janet Weiss, and pretty much every other cool drummer of the last 20 years, but also world greats like Bernard Purdie, Stewart Copeland, Sheila E., Gina Schock, and the funky drummer himself, Mr. Clyde Stubblefield (RIP).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


We all know what was happening between London and New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the very nexus of the International Post-Punk Movement, where African diasporic music was an electric link between punk and cutting-edge disco, club, and pop music, the two cities broadcasting back and forth to each other, pulling in dub reggae from Jamaica, salsa and tango from Latin America, intense and lilting rhythms from all over Africa. From this axis came Annie Anxiety's debut full-length LP genre-destroyer Soul Possession, released on Crass's side label Corpus Christi, recorded in 1983 at what seem to have been freewheeling, free-floating, ongoing sessions at Crass's studio of choice, Southern Studios in London, with none other than Adrian Sherwood at the helm and various members of CrassFlux of Pink IndiansFamily FodderAfrican Head Charge, London Underground and Art Interface all contributing. I really have no idea what's even going on here instrumentally, other than some wicked futuristic industrial hip-hop madness, very high on the post-punk evolutionary scale, backing up Ms. Anxiety's intensely witchy vocals. Wouldn't you know it, she was a native New Yorker living in London at the time, having fallen with the extended Dial House scene. Soul Possession has been reissued by current NYC label Dais Records; first pressing sold out, second pressing coming soon.  

P.S. Annie had started playing at Max's Kansas City with her punk band Annie and the Asexuals at the age of 16, apparently recording this wild tune "The Gates of Freedom" in 1978:

There's a Discogs entry for a CDR bootleg of Annie & the Asexuals live at Max's Kansas City in February 1979, with Alan Vega joining the band on vocals. I'd love to hear that one; you can certainly tell that she and Vega were kindred spirits from this live video, apparently from 1980:


Friday, February 24, 2017


Recently heard this raging contemporary hardcore band on the Spin Age Blasters radio show on WFMU, and did a double-take upon learning they're from my old stomping grounds of Omaha, Nebraska. I already knew good music comes from Omaha, but the stuff I know about is usually from the extended Sing, Eunuchs! and/or Naturaliste families, and as far as I know Bib isn't related to that at all. I guess they're a hardcore band, but they have this slow/mid-tempo driving wall of doom thing going on that sidesteps rather than locksteps, helped not in the least by the singer who puts an agonized growl through delay pedals. I personally love vocals through a delay pedal in a hardcore setting, although I'm far from an expert and the only other examples that come immediately to mind are that one DYS song and the Violent Students CD from 2004 on the Parts Unknown label. (Please give me more examples.) Anyway, this is a brand new two-song cassette, edition of 100 that the band made to sell on their February 2017 tour, which just ended a few days ago... hope it was a blast for all involved.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Tonight I went to my beloved local branch library to return a book, and what should be sitting there on the free table but about 30 records. They were all classical, and there was some actual good stuff in there! I mean get this, the 2nd record in the whole pile was that Krzysztof Penderecki/Don Cherry LP I've heard about for years, and this thing is a MONSTER. It's got Don Cherry with the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, which includes no less than Peter Brotzmann, Willem Breuker, Gunter Hampel, Fred Van Hove, Terje fuckin' Rypdal, Han Bennink, Paul "Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie" Rutherford, and a bunch of other maniacs. Side one is a stunning #sidelongjammer by Cherry called "Humus - The Life Exploring Force." Turns out to be recorded live, and starts with a kind of live chant piece for three vocalists with his wife Mocqui Cherry on tambura, and then the full band just goes off. Rypdal on here, man, it's no coincidence that the first syllable of his last name is pronounced "rip" because that's what he does on his guitar solo. Side two is a composition by Penderecki, "Actions (For Free Jazz Orchestra)," on which he conducts Cherry and Company. Both sides were recorded live one night at a German festival in October 1971. This copy is a 1980 reissue of the original 1971 gatefold release... the 1980 cover design is actually cooler.

There was also a sweet Charles Ives record in there, New England Holidays (1903-1914). Ives is just the best. He's just so off, both musically and biographically. An insurance salesman who writes pieces for New England holidays, and just calls them by the name of the holiday itself. And then the compositions themselves are like greeting card music played by a veteran marching band that has noise sections sprinkled throughout. Another monster, this one.

And of course I'm gonna grab any free record that looks like the Vladimir Leyetchkiss Plays Russian Piano Music LP (top right corner).  Unsurprisingly this thing is fantastic. Mr. Leyetchkiss plays music by no less than two Sergeis, Taneyev and Prokofiev, and then 12 etudes by an Alexander (Scriabin). I think these last are especially beautiful, like several miniature Koln Concerts!

In that same spirit of cover art with potential, this weird Bulent Arel/Olly Wilson/Robert Stern record looked like a must-grab. And hell yeah, it's got some vibes. It starts with a composition by Bulent Arel, self-explanatorily called "For Violin and Piano." The two instrumental voices exhibit masterful spiked plink-plonk duck-and-hide accretion for half of side one. The other half is taken up by Olly Wilson's "Piece for Four," the four being flute, trumpet, piano, and bass, assaying their own similar accretion-field built by breathe-and-wait hunt-and-dive long-tone-then-scatter delineations. Side two is taken up by a single #sidelongjammer called "Terezin" by composer Robert Stern (I'm not familiar with any of these guys). This is a textbook example of the 20th-century horror-of-war operetta, here for one soprano voice, cello, and piano (played by Stern himself). Dorothy Ornest is the vocalist, and the style is classical 20th Century stern operatic, capital-a Avant-Garde, but she never overwhelms, sitting out for long periods while Stern and cellist Joel Krosnick just kill it. Stern's composing and piano playing has a somewhat Feldmanesque sense of space, except he's more spiky... when he jumps back in from a long silence, he's likely to draw blood, with Krosnick sawing away in the spaces. Over these settings, Ornest intermittently appears like a sad angel, voicing the libretto which is made up of poems written by children in Nazi concentration camps. Like I said, heavy music. Anyway, this is a great record. It's on CRI - Composer's Recordings Inc. Don't tell me that's one of those lost labels that people hound like ESP, and I've been completely unaware until now. Might be the case, there's only one copy of this record on Discogs right now and it's going for $25. Oh man, I just realized the Charles Ives record above is also on CRI!  

That was all the really cool stuff in the pile, but I also grabbed another copy of Stravinksy's Rite of Spring/Firebird LP in case the one I already have is really beat... I seem to recall that it is. At some point I'll A/B'em. Also, I'll grab any Bach LP, because I love all Bach, though it is rare with these mass-market cheapo travelling-salesman Bach LPs to find instrumentalists with real Casals-level soul interpreting that sacred geometry. Also grabbed this Antonin Dvorak From the New World LP on Deutsche Grammophon, because for some reason the cover photo gave me weird mild #scifivibes (pictured below, not my copy). The music unfortunately did not follow suit; this was composed in 1893, and it's strictly pre-modern classical pomp to my ears.

Friday, February 10, 2017


From the wilds of Western Massachusets comes another of the many musical projects instigated and/or assisted by Anthony Pasquarosa. You might know him best as a solo acoustic guitarist who has recorded some excellent haunting/baroque/unique albums for the VDSQ label, with Morning Meditations being a particular favorite of mine. He's also in a basement loner/downer punk band called Gluebag, has a psychedelic folk project called Crystalline Roses, and there's several more, one of the more recent ones being, here in the last half of 2016, a new 'supergroup' of sorts with the 'supersilly' name Weeping Bong Band. The term 'supergroup' is used because the band also includes Pat Gubler, aka "PG Six" of Tower Recordings, and I believe also Wednesday Knudsen from Pigeons (which makes two members of Pigeons, because Gubler is now in that band too). Not sure who else is in the Weeping Bong Band, and watching these full sets on YouTube somewhat carefully, I believe the lineups do vary.

With each live appearance, their M.O. seems to be improvising one single piece of music that lasts in the 20 to 30 minute range (a.k.a. a 'side long jammer'). In each of the full-set videos currently on YouTube, at some point in the first third of the piece, a woman approaches the microphone and reads a short psychedelic poem over the psychedelic music, which continues after she leaves the stage. The music is heady stuff, certainly in the vein of 70s krautrock extended modal jamming, with names like Paradieswarts Duul and certain instrumental sections of Ash Ra Tempel and the Cosmic Jokers and Popol Vuh being touchstones (the bass player in the 7/16/16 video above certainly brings that loping modal psych groove to it), but with a strong acoustic presence. The band is mostly if not all string players, and together they have a delicate facility that sets them apart. They can get gossamer-thin and butterfly-quiet as they patiently and steadily navigate, capable of rippling into sudden clusters of beautiful notes that arise like bouquets of flowers. Pasquarosa plays a glisteningly effected acoustic guitar, Knudsen plays haunting electric, and PG Six plays a few different strange stringed instruments, as well as some choice wooden flute.

Having the band post these full-set YouTubes for all to hear is interesting too. In the days (not all that long ago) when physical releases mattered, rather than just getting your music posted and streaming online, these live sets might have been a run of CDRs. They might've even been edited into a mysterious/beautiful double LP of 4 side-long jammers. (Hey, there are 4 YouTubes, after all... start with the one above and then play the three below... I even took the time to place them in chronological order...)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


The legend continues to grow of the Tampa, Florida death metal explosion in the late 80s/early 90s. I myself only recently learned that the bands would practice in (and around) the same outdoor storage units where they kept their equipment, after being pointed to this footage of a 1990 MORBID ANGEL rehearsal:

This is an excellent short documentary from 1991, Florida: Thrash 'Til Death, that sheds even more light on the deal, as Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer takes us on a drive into and through the legendary facility, where he says 26 (!!!) different bands currently rent space (his interview starts around 3:54 and includes a killer Iced Earth performance video):

Hadn't heard of ICED EARTH before watching Thrash 'Til Death, maybe because they're not actually death metal, but a really satisfying power metal band with their feet more in vintage early-80s sounds rather than the death metal that was blowing up in the latter half of the decade. Just great riffs, perfect power metal rhythms, and the vocals by Gene Adam are plenty melodic, with a lot of pure singing, but also using well-placed 'evil goblin' tones on the verses. This is their self-titled 1990 debut album:

Sunday, February 05, 2017


Commercially Dead by Ron Asheton, mixed media on canvas board, 16"x20", 2004

I walk past a Blastitude HQ bookshelf. I see on shelf number four the spines of 20 or so Juxtapoz magazines. I had an enjoyable subscription for a good four years in the very early 2000s. I decide to pull one of the issues off the shelf at random and thumb through it for eyeball kicks. I pick the "SPECIAL 50th ISSUE" from May 2004 and none other than Iggy Pop is on the cover. (Iggy's been on my mind lately, because he's always on my mind, but especially lately, partly because of the Jarmusch doc, but mostly because his Post Pop Depression album is so damn good. Like, it's not gonna be as historic as The Idiot, but I honestly think it might be even better.) The cover line is "Betcha Didn't Know Iggy Paints," which is kind of the whole Juxtapoz vibe in a nutshell. But that's what I loved about it, that nexus between visual art and rock music, and they published lots of great art in their magazine, most of it not by rock musicians. Iggy's paintings are cool, but I think I like Ron Asheton's crude deathrock imagery even better. Yep, he's in here too! And there's a Q&A with him that has some interesting stuff, like the fact that his artwork has been purchased by..... Renee Zellweger. But I'll just quote this part where he describes a teeny little slice of late 60s life at Stooge Manor:

"I was doing other artwork for The Stooges. We had what was called The Wall, which we'd cover with any kind of weird article or drawing or altered magazine cover. Iggy's annulment papers from his wedding were up there. There were pictures from pop magazines of things we hated, like the Partridge Family. We'd put up foldouts of those people and throw darts at them." 

Would love some photographic evidence of The Wall, but I'm sure it's buried deep in the Southeast Michigan dirt along with the 8-track reel-to-reel "early rehearsal and performance" tapes of the Psychedelic Stooges. 

P.S. Ended up on this "tour of historic Stooges sites" article from 2011 & had fun StreetViewing a lot of these addresses. Insane to think of Stooges rehearsals blasting all the residents of that tiny block where 1324 Forest Court is.... 

Just finished DHALGREN by Samuel Delany! Blew my mind. Excited to hit Heavenly Breakfast and Driftglass next.... also on the sci-fi front: WORLDS OF JACK VANCE (short stories by Jack Vance including his masterful "The Moon Moth") and STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS by Ted Chiang (after watching the Arrival movie, which was great but the story its based on here is even better)... HACK by Dmitry Samarov (What if Bukowski was a somewhat nicer guy with better habits who drove a cab in present-day Chicago and wrote all about it with maximum pith?).... MICROGROOVE by John Corbett (Great-so-far long-awaited follow-up to his classic Extended Play book).... speaking of Iggy, DETROIT ROCK CITY by Michigan hardcore legend turned true crime journalist Steve Miller is a great oral history that starts in the 60s with the MC5 and Stooges of course, but includes Seger, the Nuge, and the Romantics, lots of stuff on John Brannon, and even works in Couch, Wolf Eyes and Andrew WK as it heads all the way up through the White Stripes... BLACK PANTHER: A NATION UNDER OUR FEET by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze.... I AM BRIAN WILSON by Brian Wilson also on deck.... 

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Glad I have a copy of this, the 2008 DeStijl reissue of the 1970 Shh! LP by late-60s Finnish ultra-radicals SPERM. Right now I'm listening to opening track "HeinĂ€sirkat I" while unrelatedly writing about 100% improvisation era Dead C, and I'll be damned if this track doesn't sound like peak improvised Dead C music. Hell, it sounds like something Throbbing Gristle might have done, and it predates TG by a good 5 years. One question though: when is DeStijl gonna come out of retirement and do the perfect exact repro of THE SPERM's only other real release, the 3rd Erection 7" EP from '68??

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Pacific NW instrumental guitar rock built on African rhythms, as well as more diasporic rhythms like rock and techno, with Derek Monypeny's guitar ranging in between the two, at times very post-diasporic in its no-wave skronk, but also working its way back to the motherland with riffs that groove & blare like Konono NÂș1 (the first track "Piece 14 (LPPZ)"), to North African/Turkish guitar taqsim (the second track "Piece 12"), and of course all bets are off when the taqsim builds into full-on blasting heavy Sabbathian/American desert stoner rock. The rhythms are by Kyle Emory and Steven T. Stone, who both have the same credit: "Drums, percussion, flute, electronics." (The flute and electronics are both excellent as well.)


Of their 2012 debut LP, written that year but never published:

ALTO! s/t LP (RAHEEM RECORDS) Literally 20 seconds ago I ran across a tweet on Twitter saying something like "There is no such thing as a good band whose name ends with a mark of punctuation." Oh yeah, it was the Chunklet twitter. He got some responses and the only consensus exception to his rule seemed to be Neu!, with one vote for Spacin'. To this very short list of exceptions, I would like to add Alto! (And, I should point out, I don't mean that in an exclamatory fashion.) They're from Portland, Oregon and Derek Monypeny plays guitar; we've liked his work for some time now (see here and here, no further disclosure forthcoming, neither full nor partial). He's joined here in a unique trio formation by two dudes who both play both trap kit & electronics, or as the Alto! bandcamp succintly puts it, "two drummers, one guitar." The three of them use this lineup to make minimalist avant-garde oft-atonal groove music... at the beginning Monypeny is barely playing guitar at all, and the first real maximal non-drumming sounds we hear could well be electronics, coming from one or both of the drummers. But it's not like Monypeny is absent -- he's just at rest, until the music might need it, and when it does he reveals a few nice modes of attack, anything from your basic Chicago-school Tar/Albini heavy machinery to high-end lead lines time-coded with sly Santana-isms. And all the while the drummers keep things moving, in an almost Reichian/Haywardian fashion...

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