Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Black Flag In My Head
Magical, Beautiful The Right Rock b/w Wings in the Sky CD
The Green Knight The Eternal OM CS

Espers The Weed Tree
Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy

First time I've ever heard In My Head - what a weird album. Joe Carducci calls it "a masterpiece" in Enter Naomi. I don't think I'll go that far, but even just writing about it now I'm feeling drawn back to how the songs kind of slowly ooze out via Greg Ginn's bizarre prog guitar logic, and how Rollins's vocals are buried in the mix like a dream taking place in the next room. Even if the individual songs don't stick the overall sound certainly does... I'll spend more time with this one, I'm sure... Magical, Beautiful has released a new three-song CD EP called The Right Rock on his/their own I Hear A New World label. Apparently the whole thing was conceived and written while M,B main-man T. Thurston was on a family Caribbean cruise, fueled by the endless waves and complimentary mojitos. So, we get a tuneful and wordy white-guy island lilt that immediately made me think of Van Dyke Parks's Discover America but that notion was just as quickly confounded by long stark electronic instrumental passages. Quick and intriguing sui generis listen, I've spun it three times today. The Green Knight thing is a cassette on the Thor's Rubber Hammer label and I can't recall too much about it other than it being fair-to-middling power-drug-drone.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jim Collins Music Performed By The High Mass
Terry Rojvi
Live at Rainbow's End
Boots s/t

Snake & Remus
No Tape Outside
Reality 86'd
on YouTube
Chuck Dukowski interview at Perfect Sound Forever

Chuck Dukowski Sextet MySpace page

Listened through five albums I know of by the Chicago mystery unit that goes by many names (Jim Collins aka Terry aka CC aka Boots aka Snake & Remus aka Tommy Roundtree aka Arian Sample aka probably more). All of these are worth a look - morbid, grim, melancholy psych-folk textures abound - but the more I listen I really think only two of 'em are in near-masterpiece consideration: the Snake & Remus album (available only in a box set from the HP Cycle label that also includes the CC and Boots LPs, which aren't bad) and the Terry album Rovji. Your mileage may vary, and in many ways the Tommy Roundtree Jungle Blood LP is the most memorable of all....

Reading and re-reading Carducci's Enter Naomi has got me going back through all the key Black Flag texts, and one of the biggest finds the book mentions is Reality 86'd. This is Dave Markey's Super 8 documentary of the 1986 Black Flag/Gone/Painted Willie tour, the same one that the late Joe Cole kept a diary for while working on the road crew, posthumously published as the rather mindblowing book Planet Joe. This final lineup of Black Flag was their least definitive but also pretty underrated - Anthony Martinez was a powerhouse on drums and in some ways that is what the band always missed, a no-bullshit drummer who could really drive their pummeling riffs. Robo was very close but there was something just a little slippery about his style... Stevenson was a great drummer of course but I associate him with the slowed-down prog direction of the band... and irregardless, the real draw of this footage isn't the music so much as the lives led in and around it, and seeing it all on naturally psychedelic Super 8 film, the load-ins and load-outs and goof-offs and roadwork in a world where Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow is always on the boombox and the whole world is constantly solarized... I'm telling you, it brings a tear to my eye. I would like to see this on DVD more than almost any other film, ever, but apparently Greg Ginn doesn't want that to ever happen so it probably won't. You can watch a couple clips on YouTube though, along with a lot of other classic stuff, at Markey's We Got Power Films page. I've been digging through so much Flag stuff these days I've even been listening to recent stuff by the Chuck Dukowski Sextet on their MySpace page. I guess I was scared of this band because I thought it would be some insane shredding lardacious 1972-ish hard rock fusion jazz wearing pastel collared shirts with like pictures of fruit on them.... and that's almost exactly what it is. But listen to their song "Someone Made of Me and You"... it's a very good slowburn 70s rock ballad... and their version of "My War" is actually amazing, Dukowksi asserting his authorship in a big way. But even if you're not in the mood for some serious melting-pot post-apocalyptic beach-fusion, you can't deny Dukowski's unlikely significance as one of the key countercultural figures of the last 30 years (for the trickle-down effect had by his achievement in musical performance, personal style and philosophy, booking agency, and general spokesmanship).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bulbs Light Ships CD
Sic Alps A Long Way Around To A Shortcut CD
Miss High Heel The Family's Hot Daughter CD
Alan Courtis Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals CD
Meat Puppets Up On The Sun LP
Luomo Vocalcity
Magical, Beautiful Winterlude Winterlude
Woods Family Creeps s/t

I still don't think I'll ever listen to the whole Miss High Heel album in one sitting (see previous post) but I have put it on 3 or 4 times now and I'm really starting to appreciate its internal logic. It helps to not listen to Tom Smith as a "lead singer" but simply as a powerful energy source that drives the ensemble. Thus traditional thought patterns are bypassed, which frees up the particular character of the music: dense and scrambled, loud and extroverted but also strangely distant and alienated-sounding. There are in fact silences, fleeting but heavy, and the rest of the time almost every blast beat fracture, every apocalyptic synthesizer eruption, and yes, every bellowed line of damaged Renaissance-styled verse seems to be right in place. As off-putting and exhausting as it may be, this is still high-quality large-ensemble improv music. The all-time great title track of the Meat Puppets' Up on the Sun is suddenly shedding some new layers for me today, specifically lyrically. We all know how classically weird the opening lines are, "A long time ago... I turned to myself... and said you... are my daughter." Okay, but for some reason I never realized just how high-larious the next line is: "Well then maybe we've got something to talk about." Are they saying something about a dysfunctional family confronting their problems? Or is it just a simple playful solo inquiry into the always-bending mirrors of identity? Then there's something like the song "Two Rivers," which is better than Robert Frost, here's the entire text: "two rivers rolling by/two waters side by side/never touching they remain/two rivers different names/when they meet the waters change/two rivers one name/river flows with many names/water leading water's aim/finding ways to change again/finding yet another name." Eco-psych! Also, there's an insert w/lyric sheet and drawing of the band "by Derrick Bostrom from a photo by Naomi Petersen," and here I am right now reading Joe Carducci's book about Ms. Peterson, heavy (and her name is mispelled, just as Carducci points out that it often was). Magical, Beautiful is Tyson Thurston from Orange County, CA and now Chicago, IL. He has played in Head of Femur and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, and writes and records his own music under the M,B name, although tonight's choice Winterlude Winterlude is a live mix he made, named after the Dylan song from New Morning (included), in which he DJ's some favorite records right into the board then zips it all up into an 11-track zip file and throws it up on mediafire. He does include a couple Magical, Beautiful tracks, one of 'em a wild improvisation where he lays down some of his neo-classical piano chops in a duo with a free trombonist that goes down in a dubby live-mix haze, with the remainder filled in by the likes of Eric Copeland, Holger Czukay, Keith Hudson, Arthur Russell, Brian Eno, D.A.F., Cornelius (I had forgotten about this Matador recording artist, it's a good track!), and more, all continuous-mixed. It's a very good mix, he gave it a catalog number on his label and it deserves one.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Grateful Dead s/t
Grateful Dead From the Mars Hotel
Grateful Dead
Europe '72

Man, sorry to all you Dead-sensitive people for all the Grateful Dead I keep listening to and listing. They are one of the few bands that you can literally lose friends over, and I'm assuming the same is true of readers, so bear with me, or skip to the next post, or just go run around and get some exercise or something.... I'm gonna listen to some Dead albums... their first album is similar to the first Bob Dylan album - both self-titled debuts, both recorded by a visionary artist/band before they became really visionary, both featuring only two original compositions by the artist and therefore destined to be considered a lesser work, but nonetheless a reimagining of traditional American music that bristles with a raw youthful punk energy. Their 10-minute studio version of "Viola Lee Blues" is actually awesome, I think better than any live version I've heard. From the Mars Hotel - man, this album - it's far from great but definitely better than I expected. "Money Money" is possibly the most regrettable song they ever recorded, but even it is undeniably catchy on here and in fact better than "Loose Lucy" in this album's de facto 'battle of the misogynist near-outtakes.' As for the really good stuff, the studio version of "China Doll" is pretty much perfect, "Scarlet Begonias" is a short but sweet reminder of some great live extensions, "Ship of Fools" is a bit of a revelation (great gospel rock, sweet organ playing, certainly better than anything The Band was doing in 1974), and as for "Unbroken Chain," maaaan, if it was on Wolf King by John Phillips, or some Dennis Wilson solo album, or any private press release you'd never heard of, you would be going apeshit over the jazzy/downer 1970s vibe. And I might be able to fool you with it in a blindfold test, because the not-so-immediately-recognizable Phil Lesh wrote it and sings lead. Amazing song, good album - I think I like it better than Wake of the Flood. Europe '72 on the other hand... if you don't like this album, then you'll never like the Dead, it just won't happen. I'd say the same thing about the s/t "Skull & Roses" double LP that preceded it in '71, and of course the two studio releases that preceded it in '70, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty... quite a four-album run.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mayyors Marine Dot Com LP 7"
Neil Young Dead Man OST
Ash Ra Tempel Best of the Private Tapes (thanks again to FM Shades)
Hall of Fame Live at The Mercury Paw 8/24/98 CDR
Lambsbread Purple Wings CDR

This Hall of Fame CDR is great. I like it better than the First Came Love, Then Came The Tree LP that it came with (although that was pretty good too). It's a single live set in Louisville, KY, from the year 1998, around 45 minutes long. It starts with a good 11 minutes of instrumental space-out and eventually gets into a driving song that eventually gets into other forlorn atmospheres.... one moment reminds me of the Airplane's "Comin' Back To Me" poured even slower. The Lambsbread disc is sounding great. The 4 or 5 Lambsbread releases I have all sound the same (and not in a bad way) but this is an exception - it's kinda got quiet parts, clean tone guitar, hanging space, individual notes recognizable from other individual notes... crazy, huh? Cover art is crazy too... some kind of abstract explosivist painting depicting the power and glory of menstruation... at least I hope that's what it is....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sic Alps A Long Way Around To A Shortcut CD
Various Artists Basic Channel
Sun Ra Lanquidity
Can Future Days & Past Nights
Can Soundtracks
Music From The Morning Of The World LP

Here's some fine public service by the Animal Disguise label, a collection of all the out of print Sic Alps releases from the last couple years. The first 10 tracks of the disc reissue last year's blink-and-miss vinyl release Description of the Harbor, the greatest thing they've done so far with its dreamy combination of 60s garage pop miniatures and noise-damaged WTF. Also includes the Strawberry Guillotine 7", the Semi Streets 7", the Teenage Alps CS, the Soft Tour in Rough Form 12", one comp track and one unreleased track. Get this CD and Pleasures and Treasures (also on Animal Disguise) and you've got it all until their full-length on Siltbreeze comes out...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Car Commercials Black 93 CS
Tunnels Astral Collage CDR
Rolling Stones Let It Bleed

The Car Commericals tape is on Fuck It Tapes and it sounds like Car Commercials but didn't really make a deeper impression, certainly not like their Judy's Dust LP. Tunnels is a release on the prolific psych label Abandon Ship... maybe one person, maybe two or three, doing creepy pastoral psych/drone instrumentals with some really nice moments mixed in with some stuff that is more generic... decent release overall, though, I'll keep an ear on Tunnels. Still got Let It Bleed on the turntable but now I just keep playing "Midnight Rambler" over and over. The way the band speeds up and slows down along with the "don't do that" vocal incantation, pushed by the foghorn harmonica and swaying slide guitar lick, all building up to the insane finale ("I'll stick my knife right down your throat baby and it HURTS!") .... damn.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Carducci gets Proustian

Snake & Remus No Tape Outside (from Box)
Socrates Drank The Conium On the Wings
Woods Family Creeps s/t CD
Steve Gunn s/t CDR
Isaac Hayes Hot Buttered Soul
Iron & Wine The Creek Drank The Cradle
Grateful Dead 1979-10-28
Rolling Stones Let it Bleed LP
Enter Naomi by Joe Carducci

Man, first time I've listened to the Snake & Remus LP. Don't have the actual box it came in (with two other LPs by "CC" and "Boots"), just got mp3s from a blog, and I think it's extremely good, and my pick for best release so far from these rather prolific Chicago-based anonyms. (See also Tommy Roundtree Jungle Blood LP and the self-titled Arian Sample LP - he calls himself something different with each release, y'see...) No Tape Outside starts with an extremely vibed-out acoustic guitar/crude percussion/warm synth drone ensemble, over which THAT VOICE (Tommy/Arian/Terry/Jim, it's gotta be HIM) explores psychic moods and impressions with his trademark delicate but ominous imagery. "And it tastes so good/it makes you want to run.... and you let it go/and walk away/moving through the climate/feeling all the years.... And it's more than dreaming/And it's more than meaning/And it's more than bleeding/And it's more than leaving..." Could only really be about two things, being one with the universe and/or using drugs, either way it's a great song, and I think the second song is just as good, trading the synth for gentle piano but keeping the intense ruminations - when he sings "Tryin' to piece together a bullshit life" it sounds pretty real to me. And then after a few more songs Side 2 comes along to gently wash everything out with what seem like gentle instrumental versions of the songs on Side 1, a subtle dubwise B-side move, as if not the songs were recorded but simply their dream-impressions, those potentially messy thoughts and words all just evaporated out. Socrates Drank The Conium is quite a band name and quite a sound too - heavy Greek two-guitar power-prog from the early 70's. The On The Wing album is from 1973 and the way these nimble, scorching guitars and bass wind around each other, held taut by the drums, sounds like some wacked-out SST band from 10 years later or the Hampton Grease Band from 2 years earlier playing it straight, leaving the Zappa influence at home for some serious heartfelt hard-rock business. The he-man stadium-rock vocals might give pause (Dusted mentioned Vedder) but ultimately they provide some useful grounding.... Really liking this new Woods CD. I don't know, the band may actually be called Woods Family Creeps on this release, but either way the album comes in a real nice LP-style gatefold sleeve by Time-Lag Records, and the music is a huge jump past the previous Woods album At Rear House (which was pretty good itself). The same indie/poppy/nervous songwriting is there, but there's more aura then before, something psychedelic and confident, and also a little more ancient and spooky, plus there's a nice 7-minute instrumental track right in the middle where the drummer really hits a Swell Maps/Faust stride and the rest of the band follows... the Steve Gunn is on Abandon Ship, sounded nice when I played it earlier today but I don't really remember it now, oops... longish moody instrumentals, I guess, arpeggiated guitar and hovering drony atmosphere. Not a unique approach, but it seemed pretty well-done, I might listen to it again... The Dead show is a personal find, with one of my very favorite China Riders, and Mydland era no less. In fact it's Mydland that makes it - it's early in his tenure and he's still playing funky 1970s electric piano, no Midi in sight, and Garcia is refreshingly low enough in the mix that the band ends up sounding some hazy California version of Future Days/Babaluma-era Can. After that the set gets a little rough, especially during a turgid "Passenger"-"Althea"-"Mama Tried" run. The Dead were one of the few bands truly worthy of the elusive "American Stones" title, but that claim seemed outright laughable tonight when I cut out in the middle of this 989th version of "Mama Tried" and went right into the Let It Bleed LP and the sweetly ominous opening strains of "Gimme Shelter." It's funny about Let It Bleed, ever since I got this goddamned iPod I've been keeping an eye out for (cough) free and (ahem) illegal mp3s of it and not immediately coming across any, but today I was sitting around the house and had the brilliant idea to pull out my vinyl copy and listen to it. After all it's been sitting here the whole time, like it has been for the 20 years or so since I bought it used. Sounds GREAT on vinyl. I've now read Enter Naomi by Joe Carducci two or three times and I'm not sure if I've got what it takes to write about it yet, or ever. By now you might be familiar with the subject, Naomi Peterson, the truly gifted in-house band photographer during the glory years of SST Records. She passed away in 2003 at the age of 39 and her long-time friend and coworker Carducci wrote this book to not only eulogize her, beautifully and expansively, but to eulogize his entire experience at SST Records and how the label epitomized punk as "the nihilist phase of the hippie movement" ("what was left when Hippie found out it had been wrong"), all of which he does in a downright punk-Proustian fashion, fragmented, discursive, occasionally frustrating, and not everyone may want to hang, but there is so much insight here, especially regarding how Black Flag and SST developed, that I've been going over the pages again and again. For just one example, there's the way the book deals with the city of Hermosa Beach as the petri dish where this culture incubated, laying out its history as a surf/beatnik/jazz/boho hamlet where misfits like Greg and Raymond Ginn, Chuck Dukowski, and Spot could really develop a sense of individuality, including such important details as a city highway and transportation system that made it somewhat inconvenient for tourists and daytrippers to ever end up there. The book even reproduces a two-page aerial photo of downtown Hermosa Beach, the Pacific Ocean sprawled out majestically right at the top, with all the key spots annotated. (The Church! The Würmhole! Media Arts! The vegetarian restaurant where Greg met Spot!) I've probably spent a full hour staring at this spread alone. Not to mention an extensive excerpt from Peterson's portfolio, lovingly reproduced, along with lots of other photos, postcards, letters, invoices, and other ephemera that allows these fragments of memory to really take root and grow in the mind of the reader. One of many brief anecdotes that kind of sum everything up is the one about SST Records being in between office spaces and Chuck Dukowski temporarily running the label from a bank of pay phones on a sidewalk in L.A.'s Koreatown. Sez Dukowski, "Once I got started I just grooved and kinda enjoyed what was good about the situation: outside, stuff going on, ya know." Sez Carducci, "Chuck's and the others' ability to roll with anything and enjoy it no matter how goofy, embarrassing, or dangerous was one of the fundamental building blocks of Black Flag and the SST approach." Hell yeah, that ability is one of the fundamental building blocks of any kind of life with any guts, thanks again to Naomi, Joe, Chuck and everyone else for the examples.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lee Perry & King Tubby Upsetters 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle
J.D. Emmanuel Wizards
Jimmy Giuffre The Easy Way
Steve Martin Let's Get Small
FNU Ronnies 7"
Mayyors 7"
Dry Rot Subordinate 7"
Koro s/t (aka 700 Club) 7"
Washington Phillips What Are They Doing In Heaven Today? LP
Third Ear Band s/t

Man what a great dub album, the one with the long name that is commonly referred to simply as Blackboard Jungle... the cover says "produced and directed by Upsetter Lee Perry" but King Tubby was an engineer, and really this is a historic Scratch/Tubby collabo that sounds about exactly like you might expect... paranoid and wobbly rhythms accented by mad jazzed-out soul horns (sometimes I think these horns are the most consistent Perry trademark), all shaken to hell by Tubby's armageddon mix, the perfect compliment for Perry's brass arrangements because you can hear not only the horns of Jericho but the walls coming down all around them. So many depths and nuances in Jimmy Giuffre's music, especially in the classic trio where his tenor sax is weaving with Jim Hall on electric guitar and Bob Brookmeyer on trombone. One instrument, one mind, one voice that speaks in counterpoint.... So far I prefer this 'inside' trio stuff to his 'free jazz' experiments like Free Fall, but that could change... okay, finally got the vinyl of the bizarre sci-fi 7" by the FNU Ronnies (in a sweet first-time order from Bistro Distro, excellent transaction and source for various punk records) and I'm a little taken aback because I'm used to the brighter and cleaner sound of the mp3s. The first song still sounds pretty bright as it rocks your socks off with a relatively classic punk tightness, but from there it just gets weird.... side two has vocals that sound like that 'second lead singer is a small barking gremlin' thing from 90s screamo, and each side has some sort of confouding and short second track that hangs on there like a misshapen vestigial limb. On Side B the two tracks are separated by a spaced whistling breakdown. Fuck, I'm listening to side B right now for the 3rd time in a row, no way I can get a handle on these low-end heavy movements. I think even they barely understand. This is the first time I've ever listened to Dry Rot, I have no idea what this 7" is gonna be like... before I even put it on I'm vibing off the song titles ("Skin Debt," "Trench Diggers," "Enslaved," "Points of Force," "Bind and Salt," "Release") ... feels thick too, what's in here, a foldout sheet with lyrics and artwork? Damn, it's actually a booklet with lyrics and artwork, a full-page drawing for each song, full-color cover. And now it's playing and the band is pretty raging. A little of the Antioch Arrow/Angel Hair frenzy of yore but with a different swing to it that works pretty well. Koro is a legendary early 1980s hardcore band from Knoxville, Tennessee - Uncle Tony wrote about 'em here seven years ago
(an article that incidentally singlehandedly triggered the entire w***d-punk/HC/DIY revival of the 2000s...... just kidding?) so I checked out this reissue Bistro had of their 1983 s/t EP (also known as 700 Club) and they are pretty weird and frenzied, certainly leaning towards the psycho Void and Die Kreuzen side of things that emerged in '82... regardless Koro has a different twist, maybe just slightly less weird, still very fast and alienating stuff. I think I heard that the original goes for over $1000. And finally, being based in Portland seems to give Bistro the inside track on the also Portland-based Mississippi Records label, as they have a lot of their stuff and sell it for the Nice Price. Great label, they did the Phil Cohran Malcolm X Memorial LP, a mysterious "70s Thai Orchestra" LP that has had some people muttering the name "Alan Bishop" (although the correct phrase to mutter is "Siamese Temple Ball"), some roots/gospel-type comps like Life Is A Problem, and this, perhaps their single finest achievement, a lovely LP of the music of Washington Phillips. This was a guy who recorded 16 songs in the 1920s and no one is sure exactly what instrument he played... according to Wikipedia it "has been variously identified as a Dolceola, a Celestophone, and a Phonoharp (and also is considered by some to be an instrument entirely home-made by Phillips)." Either way it creates a chiming and tinkling otherworldly atmosphere over which his heartfelt gospel vocals move and emote in unpredictable patterns of their own. Guaranteed dream-state.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Various Artists Shadow Music of Thailand LP
The Index s/t
Parasites of the Western World s/t
Velvet Underground Another View
Circle Tower featuring Verde

Thanks to Jakob Olausson for including Parasites of the Western World on his list for Dusted... I'd never heard of it before, but it's a self-released LP from 1978, two guys from Portland, Oregon making grandiose prog punk inside the cupboard under the kitchen sink, right next to the windex. Actually, Olausson's quip about filing it between Eno and the Electric Eels sums it up pretty well, tipping towards the Eno side and heavy on the symphonic synth-led instrumentals, but with a ragged blasted quality that especially comes out on the tracks with vocals. There is also a track called "Electrokill." Co-worker plays a lot of early Chicago electric blues like Muddy Waters and Hound Dog Taylor... the other day I was walking by his desk during "I'm Gonna Move Right In" from Another View and with the sharp clean-tone lead guitar and driving backbeat I just figured it was another Chicago blues rave-up until he told me who it was. And from blues/rock hybrids to jazz/rock hybrids, the Circle album is the de facto In A Silent Way tribute they put out on Last Visible Dog early in 2007, and it sounds even more sublime than ever. I can never get enough of the electric piano...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Various Artists Bollywood Steel Guitar CD
Bob Dylan s/t
Neil Young & Crazy Horse Danny by the River
King Crimson In The Court Of The Crimson King

The Bollywood Steel Guitar comp is yet another great listen from the Sublime Frequencies label. You could pitch it to the lounge/exotica 'incredibly strange music' market which is usually a bit much for me, but so far everything from Sub Freq (and that's 44 releases in less than five years) has been presented with genuine enthusiasm and none of the smugness you tend to get when any sort of post-pop post-globalization hybrid musics are collected and imported. And hey, some of these Bollywood steel guitarists could really rip. A huge thank you to the Truer Sound blog for posting a few Neil Young & Crazy Horse bootlegs... I've been looking for something from the Danny Whitten era, and Danny by the River (aka Winterlong aka Electric Prayers) fits the bill very nicely. Reading Shakey by Jimmy McDonough really crystalized just how much Whitten contributed to Crazy Horse, quoting Neil himself saying stuff like this about his rhythm guitar playing: "Billy and Ralph will get into a groove and everything will be goin' along and all of a sudden Danny'll start doin' somethin' else. He just led those guys from one groove to another - all within the same groove. So when I played these long guitar solos, it seemed like they weren't all that long, that I was making all these changes, when in reality what was changing was not one thing, but the whole band. Danny was the key." There are those moments in the extended "Down By The River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand" jams on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that all of you know (even if you don't know that you know) when Whitten's rhythm guitar under Neil's lead gives way from sharp stabs to open, ringing chords, like the band has just moved together out of a cloud and into momentarily open sky. Also, his background and double lead vocals throughout Nowhere (which is really the only studio LP he made with Young, some scattered appearances on After the Gold Rush notwithstanding) sound so natural and blended that I never even thought about who was doing them and what a great singer he was. It's actually the same as his guitar playing in that his singing isn't just one person, it's "the whole band." (Keep in mind that Crazy Horse started in 1962 as a streetcorner doowop group called Danny & the Memories.) Anyway I love this boot, two sets from the Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, 2-25-1970. I actually like the opening solo acoustic set better than the electric, the way it starts with the sublime Buffalo Springfield tune "On The Way Home" and ambles on through long Neil raps and a total of eight songs with that vintage foggy downer vibe. Neil even apologizes a little for it with the somewhat famous stage banter "I live uptempo but I play downtempo." Great versions of "Helpless," "Sugar Mountain," an early fragment of "Don't Let It Bring You Down," and more. The electric set is fine and often fascinating but a little rocky and unfocused as a through-listen, that is until they hit the "Down By The River" and "Cinnamon Girl" closing. Both songs are massive - "Down by The River" clocks in at 20 minutes and Neil's soloing is absolutely sick. In The Court Of The Crimson King is one of those albums that you hear when you're young, with little to prepare you for it other than like Genesis and Yes, and it really blows you the fuck away, and then you spend the next couple decades learning about and sometimes hearing every other bizarre and crazy underground record ever made, and then one day when you're in your 30s you pull out that dusty copy of In The Court Of The Crimson King and put it on for the first time since you've heard This Heat or whatever else on the NWW list, thinking it's gonna sound a little dated and pompous and stuffy - I mean Greg Lake is in the band - but then you put it on and the opposite occurs, now it REALLY blows you the fuck away, a lot more than it did when you were a teenager. I mean "20th Century Schizoid Man" alone will never be topped, and the always-terrifying title track now has even more weight after its stunning usage in Children of Men...

Crazy Horse, Feb-Mar 1970 lineup
L-R: Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot, Jack Nitzsche, Danny Whitten

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard
John Lee Hooker Urban Blues CS

The Hamlins "Everyone Got To Be There" mp3
Talk Talk Laughing Stock
Mayyors 7"

Magas May I Meet My Accuser

Listening to this classic Bill Evans Trio album, I can't help but think that piano jazz is like the celestial and heavenly version of jazz. The jazz afterlife. Horn-based jazz on the other hand is the earthly realm, where the funk comes in, the breath, the spit, the bodily functions. One is cerebral and the other is physical. Of course Cecil Taylor and others destroy this theory, but Bill Evans sure doesn't. Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums - really incredible nimble light-touch rhythm section. I also have a theory about the blues: I think that Beware of the Dog by Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers (recorded in 1974) was the last great blues album. The Great Migration, the move from the country to the cities, from localization to industrialization, killed the blues (and thousands of other things, literally and figuratively, but we won't go into that like I tried to when I wrote about the movie Killer of Sheep a whole buncha posts ago). Hound Dog and John Lee Hooker may have both developed their music and made their name in a northern city (Chicago and Detroit respectively) but they were both born and somewhat raised in Mississippi - their music was urbanized but not without that heavy rural foundation. No one born in the Northern cities, on the other hand, could make great blues. They could maybe make great entertainment in a Las Vegas/oldies revue sense, but not great true/new blues. Feel free to shoot this theory down, preferably by including the name of at least one great blues album recorded after 1974. The Hamlins just sang "Don't care what you may do/don't care what you may say" on this reggae B-side from 1968, on the Studio 1 label - is this very song where Bad Brains got those lyrics? Or was it a common phrase in reggae music and/or Rastafarian culture? Or a coincidence? Damn, this Magas album and its ridiculously heavy synth basslines keeping these songs in overdrive... this is probably called 'electro' music but I'm starting to cook up a new theory, that this is 2000s rock'n'roll music, like in the tradition of Jerry Lee Lewis...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wild Gunmen s/t CS
Arborea s/t CD
Burger/Ink Las Vegas CD
Luomo Vocalcity
Nirvana Unplugged in New York CS
Espers The Weed Tree CD
Leonard Cohen Songs From A Room
The Animals 07.15.00 CS
Various Artists Shadow Music From Thailand LP
The Index s/t
Hall of Fame First Came Love, Then Came The Tree... LP

New tape on White Tapes by Wild Gunmen, I think I've got that right, but it's hard to be sure from the bleary/twisted cover collage and scrawled writing. As usual with White there aren't gonna be too many explanations, but this tape immediately begs for some.... it's weird and avant, lo-fi and scuzzy, but clearly an album of songs, folk/bedroom/psych songs sung by a lady who sounds young and hip and fresh enough at first but soon you will hear the years and experience and gnarl in her voice... early Royal Trux is a valid comparison but this is actually more broken and awkward, sketchier, lower-fi, and less classic rock informed. They are googlable, turns out it's a long-running collective from Cincinnati notorious for drugs and derangement and general weird vibes, and you can hear it all here on this long anthology-style collection. I think my favorite track is this dense-thicket bluegrass-terror piece somewhere deep in Side B called "Merleeto" with the lady obsessively going "Merleeto! Come back to me, yo, come back to be, yo..." in a weird country/alien voice, wow. Arborea is a duo from Maine, a luthier named Buck Curran and his wife Shanti, joined by Helena Espvall from Espers for this CD on the very consistent Fire Museum label. It's a fine set of sparse mostly-improvised mostly-instrumental near-gothic old-world rural balladry. First track is a short overdubbed vocal suite by Shanti that is right in line with some of Christina Carter's solo vocal work, and then the creaky and spooky guitars and violins and etc. start creeping in (Espvall plays only cello, overdubbed in Philadelphia at a later date). This is kinda like the real 'forest folk' so I won't sully it with that more image-reliant buzz-phrase. Back home I was digging through the cassette box and happened to come across a long out-of-print oldie by The Animals, also on White Tapes but from 7 years ago... this is music by White Tapes CEO Russ, now with Blues Control & Watersports, playing guitar with a drummer for duo free rock jams... wow, 7 years ago... before punk re-broke! Whoah, just got the Shadow Music of Thailand LP in the mail, the third wonderful gatefold vinyl LP from Sublime Frequencies. I love this album, but it's a whole different thing than the 'guitar from the Sahara' angle of the first two. It's still a guitar album, but the guitar is from mid-1960s Thailand and the style is, well, Shadow Music, meaning music in the style of The Shadows, the backing band for pop star Cliff Richard, which recorded mostly instrumental post-surf/Morricone hits under their own name and had a very influential UK charts-topping heyday from roughly 1960 to 1963. When I was a youngster I had this book called Masters of Heavy Metal, a collection of interviews that had originally appeared in Guitar Player Magazine, and it seemed like every single guitarist in the book cited The Shadows as an influence. "Hank Marvin and The Shadows" they'd all say, first time I'd ever heard of them. Now I realize it was every European guitarist who said that - Ritchie Blackmore and the Schenker bros come to mind - and it turns out the modernized urban rock scene in Thailand was listening too. This comp is made up of 17 tracks by three or four different bands, almost all of them created and managed by one Payong Mukda, an "industry-man" who went by the stage name P.M. (hence bands on here with rad names like P.M. Pocket Music, Son of P.M., and P.M. 7, which I'm guessing is the seven dudes pictured on the cover). The whole thing sounds like the first East-meets-West glimmerings of the full-on globalization we have today, the soundtrack to a flickering super 8 film of a washed-out sunset on a hotel-free Phuket beach... back when the idea of globalization might've had some promise, maybe something like the sharing of resources (such as electrical energy, human soul, creative beauty, surf rock) and not what it became, the most brutal and ruthless (i.e. efficient and successful) exploitation of these and any other resources societally possible. Anyway, this LP is a great listen and there might even be some still available - grab it now because the first two Sublime Frequencies vinyls have already been seen going for three figures.... After listening to Shadow Music of Thailand I had to put on the greatest American Shadow Music LP of all time, the 1968 release by Michigan's The Index. "Israeli Blue" is the real chill-inducer, what a song, and the album closer "Feedback" has some of the sickest low-end 1968 ever produced, and that's saying something...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Radiant Husk Several Potem CDR
Sudden Oak s/t CS
Sacred Hearts and Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons 2CD
Mississippi John Hurt 1928 Sessions CS
Grateful Dead American Beauty
Grateful Dead Anthem of the Sun
Various Artists Basic Channel
Paperclip People 12" mp3s

Shit, this Radiant Husk disc is pretty good. From San Francisco, played on "reeds, tapes, keyboards, etc.", this music has both a relaxed contemplative outer shell (drony atmospherics) and a somewhat nervous and spooked center (insistent loops) - or maybe it's the other way around. Label is called Bezoar Formations, which are these. The Sudden Oak tape, also from Bezoar, is a fairly scorching/foggy Borbetomagian sax and guitar duet, good sounds but not really a vital through-listen, loses the momentum a couple times. I once bought a copy of the Gram Parsons twofer CD, G.P. and Grievous Angel, and I never got into it. Sold it back 10 years ago. Still have the Flying Burrito Brothers Further Along anthology though, I love that thing, but the solo stuff just seemed a little too bland or something. Anyway, today co-worker brought in this 2-disc box set thing on Rhino/WEA (slipcase, booklet, Mojo-type article and layout, you know the style) and it sounded quite good, I think I'm finally ready to get back to those solo albums. Still made me want to follow it up with some REALLY real country music, a Mississippi John Hurt cassette that I've had for 15 years now and it's quite simply one of the best records I own. To keep the American roots mood going I sidetracked into the Dead and of course they didn't disappoint, with two of the four or five essential studio albums they released. (Not that Beauty and Anthem are their rootsiest albums, but no matter how weird they got a la Anthem the roots were always poking out.) And then on to minimal dub techno to close the night out... things are getting a little luxurious around here, sheez....

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Julie Mittens s/t CD
MGR/Xela split LP (advance CD)

One Might Add
Sailing Team CD
Bob Dylan
Electric Black Nite Crash
Old and New Dreams s/t

Still quite knocked out by the scorching heavy Julie Mittens disc (s/t on Holy Mountain). One Might Add (electronics/drums duo from Portugal) started out good and are steadily improving with additional listens. The Dylan bootleg is the Hollywood Bowl show he did in 1965, his third electric concert, with Levon Helm in the band, along with Robbie Robertson, Al Kooper, and Harvey Brooks on bass (who also played on Bitches Brew, weird huh). Newport was in July, Forest Hills was in August, this show was on September 3, and it went over the best of the three. Rough sound but great acoustic set... and great CD cover! In the electric set it can be weird to hear Kooper's organ playing when I'm used to Garth Hudson's epic streaking and swirling from the UK tour bootlegs - I'm thinking mainly of "Ballad of a Thin Man" - on "Maggie's Farm" the organ is downright cute, a whole different feel than the blistering nihilistic Newport version where Kooper was basically inaudible.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Dan Melchior und das Menace Christmas For Crows LP
UW Owl Thorn Elemental LP
Projections: A Forum for Film Makers, Issue No. 2 book
Amon Duul Paradieswarts Duul CD
Old and New Dreams s/t
Paperclip People 12" mp3s
Phylyps "Trak" 12" mp3s
Hall of Fame Live at The Mercury Paw 8/24/98 CDR

I wanna like the UW Owl LP, it looks cool, and it sounds pretty cool too, but these bone-dry minimal synth improvisations don't become songs or even really tracks, more just like demonstration reels. "This is what a synth can do if you're going for a dark sound." As such, it's not a bad record, just not an especially gripping or vibed-out one. Anyone else know about this Projections series, a book-length cinema periodical, filled with interviews, essays, and opinion, entire screenplays, etc., edited by visionary director John Boorman of all people? I guess anyone who haunts the film section of your basic college-town used bookstores will know about 'em. I've got "Issue No. 2," bought at least ten years ago for $7.50 while haunting the film section at college-town bookstore A Novel Idea (Lincoln, NE). Every few years I randomly pull it off the shelf and enjoy all the stuff in it I had completely forgotten about, like interviews with George "Mad Max" Miller, Willem fucking Dafoe (interesting that he was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, went to school in Madison, and did "left-field" theater in Milwaukee before moving to NYC at age 23... I wonder if he knew Die Kreuzen... just kidding), Derek Jarman (interviewed by Gus Van Sant), the entire screenplay of Bob Roberts, and my favorite thing right now, about 30 pages of "Altman on Altman." The man from Kansas City spins some inspiring midwestern curmudgeon/dreamer philosophy in here... on being accused of misogyny or homophobia or racism: "My answer was and is that I'm not making this film to show you how I think things ought to be..." Downplaying the interviewer's suggestion that he is "debunking the American myths": "It's just another look at them. They've become rigid. They don't move enough, those myths. They all become imitated to the point where they become like granite, and they're not interesting... I'm just moving to a place where I can look at it from a different angle." I love this next line, it's often in the back of my mind, it influences me to this day: "A plot, to me, is a clothesline. For example, as I read The Long Goodbye it occurred to me that Raymond Chandler's story was merely a clothes-line on which to hang a bunch of thumbnail essays, little commentaries - because that's what he was most interested in." Or how about this heaviness: "We sense things through our skin, smells that we don't detect, visual things that we don't think we remember, things we hear that we don't know we've heard, and temperature - and all of these things add up to a hunch. I trust hunches, because I think they are the most accurate messages we get and because they are not something you can intellectually explain. Sometimes you fool yourself, and they don't work or they're invalid. But so what? Your percentages of hits and misses are about the same." And I'll leave you with one more, Altman describing the way he tells a story: "It's making something spherical instead of linear. The more and more of this I do, the more I want it to be like you're inside a universe, you're inside a sphere. There isn't any end and beginning to it." Another long-time-coming shelf-pull tonight was Paradieswarts Duul by Amon Duul. For some reason it's been a couple years. Sounded great, and 2-year-old Claire concurred: "I love this music!" "I do too, Claire!" "Who sings it?" "Amon Duul." "Amon Duul?" "Yeah, Amon Duul." "Amon Duul sings it!" Now that's good parenting, gotta pat myself on the back a little there... I've loved Don Cherry ever since the very first time I really heard him, on Ornette Coleman's Shape of Jazz to Come, the stunning lead-off track "Lonely Woman," but only this year did I learn about Old and New Dreams, a quartet of Ornette alumni with Cherry on trumpet, Dewey Redman on reeds, Charlie Haden on bass, and Ed Blackwell on drums. They first convened and recorded an album in 1976, playing on and off until 1987 and recording four albums total. This is their self-titled album from 1979 (pictured), and they were a pretty incredible group, classic acoustic jazz with a timeless quality, especially Cherry with his Universal Music concepts and Blackwell who is of course a stunning player in the "ancient to the future" style. Just like Shape of Jazz to Come, the album opens with "Lonely Woman," another great version, this one 12 minutes long, very chill on the surface but with some serious simmering going on if you listen closer. Also check out the Dewey Redman overdubbed musette insanity on "Orbit of La-Ba," and don't miss the closing cut "Song of the Whales"... Dolphy may have played with the birds, but on this one Cherry plays with the whales, which I'm pretty sure is Haden playing his bass through echoplex... he is the only credited composer... OH MAN, first time I've put on the Basic Channel 12" by Paperclip People and the track "Remake (Basic Reshape)" is great... side B is awesome too in a more sprawled-out and slower-developing way... turns out this is Carl Craig from Detroit, new mixes of some 1990s tracks by him... I didn't know any of this, I figured it was the guys from Germany using an odd name, but now I understand why this track has such a sideways fresh sound for Basic Channel. The Hall of Fame disc comes with their newly released edition-of-250 LP on Amish Records (First Came Love, Then Came The Tree). It documents a single live set from 1998 in Louisville, Kentucky, and I think I like it better than the LP. I said before that this is a band that can/could go in a lot of different directions, and they really demonstrate that here, such as starting with 12 or so minutes of sublime instrumental space-jamming before moving on into folk songs, weird interludes, other atmospheres... maybe some future members of Sapat were in the audience, getting inspired...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Warmer Milks
Live in Paris CDR
Factorymen 7"
Emeralds/Tusco Terror Vaporizer/Feral Cousins split LP
Dan Melchior und Das Menace Christmas For Crows LP

disc is from their Euro tour in early 2007 - a very sparse set of Mikey T. songs in distinctive 'pre mumble folk' style that takes a starting point somewhere between Jandek and Oldham and slowly bends and warps it further into tapped-out desolation. First song here is 9 minutes long, warped for a while in the middle by some seriously excellent post-Incus improv sketch. After that the disc winds its way not unlike the From This Room cassette, and Turner's songs and spook will surely garner various strong reactions. If I've got my facts straight Factorymen is a Homostupids side project, possibly a little more weird than the Homostupids, with more of a Ralph Records keyboard feel and less of the pounding guitars and overall snarl. I prefer the snarl, but this is pretty good too. "The Blouse" is a good song. More Ohio: played the Emeralds/Tusco Terror split and to my surprise I think I'm liking the Tusco side best. Emeralds zone out so much on here that it zoned me out of the picture, but Tusco's side doesn't so much play a track as it creates a misshapen organism that flutters and scrapes around tentatively, and yes, leaves slime trails.... gross! (Speaking of gross, a little mention of the packaging, the Ecstatic Peace LPs look great but for a guy who once said "mil bag consistency is a rule" I'm surprised to see T. Moore go with these thin resealable cello bags for his vinyl releases, I can't stand these things - they break easily and the resealable sticky part always gets stuck on the LP itself when you're taking it out/putting it in! Not to mention they are a magnet for cat hair, and I keep a clean apartment!) I'm really liking this Dan Melchior album. Third-song-on-side-one "(I'm the) Lonesome Ghost" is very good, a winsome ballad with the totally melancholy chorus "I'm the lonesome ghost/in your town/limpin' through the back streets/rummagin' around." I can relate, and I also really like the last track, a distorto psych-rock old-world fanfare/farewell instrumental. Ties the whole thing up perfectly. Lots of good songs in between. Check it out on Daggerman Records.

And there's always this:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Psalm One Bio:Chemistry II:Esters and Essays CD
Bob Dylan Oh Mercy
Bach The 6 Cello Suites (by Pablo Casals)
Parliament Mothership Connection
Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet
Sex Vid Tania
Sex Vid Nests
Sex Vid Live cassette
La Düsseldorf s/t
Lamborghini Crystal Little Deuce Coupe T.V. Dinners
Chronicles Volume One by Bob Dylan
Pete Maravich on YouTube
Food For Animals on YouTube

Psalm One is a rapper from Chicago and some of her stuff is great - check out "Dubblewood Pipe" and "A Girl Named You" and "Needs" and more from this 2005 album. Intellectual but casual, deep thoughts in a playful wordy style, loose-limbed and bouncy production... One thing though, listening to the whole album a couple times, I can't help but be distracted by what seems to be the double-tracking of all of her vocals. She does some cool call-and-response with it and some cool sung choruses ("A Girl Named You" is great) but as an albumwide thing it just doesn't feel quite right to me, like the art of mic controlling is meant to be done by one person at a time, and when it comes down to the actual lyrical flow of the verses, overdubs should be used sparingly. But who am I to set ground rules... this is some forward-looking shit. The best is "Dubblewood Pipe," I love the way she starts it out saying "Oh shit... I'll never go platinum with this one... it's cool though... if you're listening to this, god bless you..." Finally checked out Dylan's Oh Mercy after reading about it in his Chronicles memoir a couple years ago, in that great "making of" section that actually made Daniel Lanois seem interesting (especially having just learned about Lanois's connection with Simply Saucer... next I'm gonna find out he sat in with the Nihilist Spasm Band a couple times, sheez). It is indeed a good album, underrated (it has to be, it's a 1980s Dylan album), and the song "What Was It You Wanted," along with at least a couple others, is amazing. I think Parliament/Funkadelic, if we're to think of both bands' discographies as coming from one overriding unit, is one of the Top 5 American bands of all time, and Mothership Connection is certainly one of their most crucial statements. George Clinton's rap on the song "P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)" is amazing enough 30 years later on some deluxe box set reissue or iPod playlist, but you have to imagine it as it was coming out of AM and FM radio speakers in 1976, being heard for the first time in cars, in bars, in living rooms and bedrooms in the black communites. White radio stations sure as hell didn't play it, it would've been like putting psychedelic drugs directly into the drinking water. I can't believe how good Beggars Banquet is sounding right now, once you get past "Sympathy For The Devil" (which like say "Stairway to Heaven" is an amazing song now owned and rendered meaningless by corporate classic rock radio) you've got the beautiful "No Expectations," the sublime "Parachute Woman," "Jigsaw Puzzle" ambling along for over 6 minutes, "Street Fighting Man" (possibly the greatest Phil Spector production there never was, let's hear it for producer Jimmy Miller as he begins an amazing run of what are in many's opinion the best four Stones records and a fifth that is no slouch), "Prodigal Son" with its "that's no way to get along" hook, the ridiculous "Stray Cat Blues," "Factory Girl" (straight-up one of the prettiest songs ever), and oh man "Salt of the Earth," THAT'S one of the prettiest songs ever. All incredible songs - actually the only one I left off was "Dear Doctor," might as well throw that in too - can you imagine playing this record back when "Sympathy" was still completely potent? Can you imagine them playing this whole album in its entirety at next year's All Tomorrow's Parties as part of the exciting new Don't Look Back series? (I would not go.) Definitely impressed with Sex Vid - Tania is excellent, but I'd say Nests shows a pretty hefty jump even farther forward. I love the way they use the "I Wanna Be Your Dog" riff for the song "Always Home," it's a great EP closer and the moment they make the riff their own is the "tapped oooouuuutt" hook. (I mean my mp3 says it's called "Always Home," I don't have the vinyl but I'm looking.) It's the perfect evolution of the Stooges' sentiment, now with more ennui, blasted out at an even slower grinding downtempo pace, like we've been your dogs for almost 40 years now and we are fucking tapped out on all these scraps we're getting (steady pizza, internet, sex vids, window unit air conditioning, etc). Their live cassette which came out in 2007 (and can still be downloaded with band permission here) has a version of it too, actually titled "Tapped Out." It also has the Dead C cover "Bad Politics." Right now I'm finding "Time" from the first La Dusseldorf album to be the perfect song to play in memory of Klaus Dinger (1946-2008). Man, this Lamborghini Crystal... the first ten times it came up on shuffle over the last few months I couldn't stand it. Only recently did I start to grudgingly appreciate it. Tonight is actually the first time I've tried to sit down and listen to it from the beginning, and I am in fact finding it AMAZING, though not necessarily in a good way. Maybe stupefying is a better word, that music could be this weird, nervous, wiggy, dusted, delirious, and bizarrely recorded... it sounds like its coming from a TV speaker set on very low volume as the blurry image flickers at 3AM, and yes, what's playing somewhere under all the bad reception or 6th-generation videotape-dub is indeed an R-rated and nearly nudity-free made-for-cable late-night movie set in a suburban ocean community with fast cars, sexy girls, heroic cops, beach bonfires, and possibly even extreme sand volleyball, taking place 15 years in the past or 15 years in the future, the choice is yours. Stupefyingly amazing, this release is way too long, two 30-minute sides of non-stop music, I might not be able to finish Side A let alone the whole thing, but I am bizarrely fascinated enough that I really do wanna check out the record I think they have forthcoming on Holy Mountain. Pulled the aforementioned Chronicles back out to reread the Oh Mercy section and was reminded of Dylan's reverie over Pistol Pete Maravich (he wrote the Oh Mercy outtake "Dignity" in one day upon hearing on the morning news that Maravich had died) : "He was something to see - mop of brown hair, floppy socks - the holy terror of the basketball world - high flyin' - magician of the court." This sent me to YouTube for proof and I definitely got some (don't miss the elbow pass demonstration about halfway through this, I'm with Red Auerbach on that one...):

And here's a different type of flow that I checked out a couple nights ago, it's still haunting me:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Buckskin Boys Guitar Band s/t CS

"Pac Man" CS
Acres Volcanic Legacy CS
Cubs vs. Brewers on WGN Radio
Espers The Weed Tree
Terry Riley A Rainbow in Curved Air

Buckskin Boys Guitar Band is a New Brunswick supergroup featuring names like Dan DiMaggio, Dave Sutton (also of Car Commercials), the 2673 guy, Kate of the Bone Tooth Horn label, and other NB Noise luminaries, but there's no Noise here. It really is what the name would suggest, a late-night ramshackle guitar band, picking and zoning, playing some instrumental music that is rootsy and even back-porchy but still weird and psyched-out. Their name might be a Leonard Cohen reference, which is weirdly apropos, even if halfway through side two it begins to sound like the Car Commericals big band when it all crumbles into a glorious nervous mess, out of which emerges some beautiful mumble-folk arpeggios that quickly get swallowed up again. Rough-hewn tape-junk that happens to be a very nice late-night listen. Also from New Brunswick, this Pac Man thing is part of a new batch from Bone Tooth Horn, still packaged in their unmistakable uniform B&W J-card design. This is a C24 and seems to be some sorta 'reissue' of some godforsaken thrift-score quick-buck novelty-item LP from the 1980s video-game craze, in which Pac Man himself sings songs about how "if it's a game, then I want to play it forever..." or something like that. Ms. Pacman shows up too. "Our most overtly psychedelic release yet," says the label, and I can see that, actually. It is more psychedelic than the Acres release, which I had high hopes for with the volcanic imagery and the amazing label description: "the ebb and flow of molten light." Didn't quite get that on first listen, but I'll try it again sometime. After listening to mp3s of it today, I'm gonna try and find a copy of this Es album on the original double vinyl... it's all excellent modern bliss-out imaginary-soundtrack stuff, but this side-long track "Harmonia, rakkautta" is really something.... Espers' Weed Tree is sounding better than ever, the Nico and Durutti Column covers are so beautiful... love the BOC cover too ("Flaming Telepaths"), 10 minutes long, great guitar solo, lyrics that blend imagery from alchemy and drug addiction, sounds like ACID FOLK to me.... first time I've heard the Terry Riley album and it's cool but it struck me as the sparkly clean 'studio version' of his organ + time lag accumulator jams, and I can't help but prefer the awesome smoky late-night 'live versions' as heard on Persian Surgery Dervishes and the Koln bootleg with Don Cherry....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bulbs Light Ships CD
DJ Psyops Ventriloquism mix CDR
Michael Jackson Thriller CS
Tony Touch 5 Deadly Venoms of Brooklyn mix-tape CS
Cubs game on WGN Radio
Kraftwerk Computerwelt

Bulbs is a Bay Area duo featuring drums by William Sabiston (who first came across my radar a couple years ago when he was a member of Axolotl, note his fairly substantial presence in this classic show report from the archives) and guitar by a newcomer from Bakersfield, CA named Jon Almaraz. I guess the first thing I'll say about their music is that by the time the CD was over, I had completely forgotten that they were a drums & guitar duo... I just assumed they both had to be playing some sort of tweaked electronics. Putting it back on, yeah, I can pick out drums and guitar... sort of... sometimes... but that doesn't explain how they stir up nightmare/dream sounds into a soft and gentle stream of mystery that constantly unfolds outward while staying rooted in the same hazy field where ghosts of silent lightning storms, flourescent schools of fish darting through coral reefs, stoner laser light shows, and the actual entire short history of psychedelic electronic music are all are flickering together somewhere inside the fog machine. A fine debut, in other words, on the label Freedom to Spend (which is a new label run by a guy from Yellow Swans). The CDR mix made its way to my co-worker via a buddy of his who manages runway shows for fashion models... it's by one DJ Psyops... he's from somewhere in the Chicagoland area and checking out his MySpace page is a toe-dip into some sort of post-rave world that I really don't understand, but the mix is slamming! The only track I could place was by LCD Soundsystem, and that was just because I googled some lyrics... Thriller is such a flawless listen, on original cassette even... I lent a co-worker the Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists and he came back the next day, "Hey, I've got one of the mix tapes that's on their best mix tapes of all time list! I brought it!" That's the Tony Touch tape and it is great. I really like the KRS-One song "Step Into A World," the one that uses the chorus to Blondie's "Rapture".... "No past rappin, youth trackin, talent lackin/MC's more worried about their financial backin/Steady packin a gat as if something's gonna happen/But it doesn't, they wind up shootin they cousin, they buggin!"

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tommy Roundtree Jungle Blood
Arian Sample s/t
Lili Z The Two of Us CD
MGR/Xela split LP (advance CD)
Frustrations Glowing Red Pill CD
Various Artists One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found
Bob Dylan s/t
Mathematics conversation with small child
Mi Ami "African Rhythms" 12"
Mayyors Marine Dot Com LP 7"

My first time listening to some of these recent loner/mystery/private LPs that are apparently coming out of Chicago, possibly all from the same person or people (see also Jim Collins, "Terry," the CC/Boots/Snake & Remus box set, maybe more, maybe less), and even if it is just a bunch of Reckless Records employees (and therefore "fake" and "inauthentic," of course, or even, god forbid, the work of "hipsters"), I think they're excellent. The Tommy Roundtree is a man sitting at the piano, singing in a thin and reedy voice, pounding out intense songs with mystical/weird lyrics. The one that goes "Center of liiiiiiiiiight..." is the center of the album, the song that, once the whole album is listened to, the rest of the songs radiate out from in all directions. The Arian Sample takes the Roundtree mood and fills it out with excellent sparse guitar playing (forlorn acoustic accented by cycling electric mood-swinging), and though it does sound like it could be the same person singing, there's something a little more feral about the voice, especially when he closes the first song with a few repeats of the holy-shit line "I want to smell you burn." Great visionary/downer mood throughout both LPs - at first I thought the Arian Sample was better but the Roundtree gets deepest under the skin with its slicing voice, sharply defined mood, and unwavering focus. Gotta check out the box set next... Lili Z is from the Paris, France Polly Magoo camp (see also Volt) and her album is wild glammy psych-punk. I remember the sound but alas I don't yet remember any songs... not done with it though. The MGR and Xela thing is a split LP to be released by the Barge Recordings label. Never heard of MGR, but they bring a pastoral-paranoid drony instrumental in the vein of early-mid Popol Vuh and other krautscapes. It's not bad but it mainly makes me want to re-recommend the Gianluca Becuzzi & Fabio Orsi CD on Last Visible Dog called Wildflowers Under The Sofa, because it's great, in a similar sci-fi pastoral style, and risks being forgotten because the artist & title aren't that easy to remember. Xela I keep thinking I've heard of, but I'm probably just thinking of Thela. Or Thuja. You know how it is... heh heh.... but this is Xela and their side is a keeper. Started out kinda free-jazz, noisy and clattery and frankly iffy, but that evolved into a lush and vertiginous swoon-out that reminds me of crazy stuff like Skies of America by Ornette and, I'm not kidding, Brando's drunken dancing scene in Last Tango in Paris. Frustrations album sounded alright while it was on but it just didn't make an impression... maybe I just don't get Garage Rock, it just seems like plenty of "sounds alright," but hardly ever any "sounds amazing." The first Bob Dylan album is amazing - holy shit. A Dylanologist I know recently called this his single most underrated album, and apparently he was right. "Fixin' to Die" sounds like "Books of Moses" by Skip Spence - the thunder & lightning FX are missing but Bob's totally aggressive singing of the song does all that and more. Plenty of traditionals on here, "House of the Rising Sun," "In My Time Of Dying," that Coen Bros. fave "Man of Constant Sorrow," an early version of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," and you'll be sure to recognize a few more, and he does 'em all so raw, voice and acoustic going for broke... he was already electric before he went electric. I know 95% of you hate it when people talk about their kids, but deal with it, my daughter and I were talking mathematics tonight, we were at the dinner table and all of a sudden she shouts out "Two plus one is three!" and I'm like "That's right! Two plus one IS three!" and then for some reason she goes "Plus four!" and I'm just playing along, like "Yeah, three plus four is seven!" and she's like "Yeah! What does two make?" and it threw me a bit, I said "What?" so she says again "What does two make??" and she's gettin' a little impatient - I should've just said "Seven plus two is nine!" and kept it going that way, but I was flustered so I'm like, "Two? Um, two plus what?," and she blurts out "VIOLIN!" Kids are masters of absurdity and I always try to play along so I say "Two plus violin?" and of course she immediately agrees "Yeah!" so I'm trying to come up with an answer and I say "Ummmm, two plus violin makes....... VIOLIN PLUS TWO!" and she just says "Noooooo. It doesn't." The Mayyors 7" is already 'sold out at source' as they say, getting some acclaim, and I'll chime in with that... it may be more of that garage rock that I don't think I understand, but I can definitely understand the 'guitar solo' on Side B here, the way it floods out the song's driving rhythm with Buttholian brown noise and then recedes like the Brown Sea itself so that the band can keep driving on - it's the kind of move that aims way beyond any mere specific cultural location such as the "garage."

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