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.


ommyth said...
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ommyth said...

Hi Larry,

Recently, while transferring tapes for the '09 Shave box set on Menlo Park, I found three, utterly forgotten Miss High Heel mixes, each an isolation of James Marlon Magas' voice. I listened, and was again blown away by that peculiar insouciance known all too well by fans of Couch and Lake of Dracula. It may help those unable to summon the will to fully immerse themselves in The Family's Hot Daughter to remember that Weasel, Jim and I conceived of the group as sort of a heretical Sam & Dave (backed by a dyspeptic Weasel T & the MGs), wholly, almost blindly suffused with an animus toward Chicago-style No Wave nostalgia. (In that regard, I believe we succeeded in conveying our mission. ) While my singing is usually described as "singing," or bellowing, or moaning, or crooning, or whatever the fuck it's usually perceived by others to be, I always found Jim's heroic bark to be just as formidable an aesthetic rejection of normative "aggressive" tropes 'n hog-calls, often even more so. Give the man his due.



Larry said...

Hey Tom! I never know quite how to describe your stuff, or sometimes even process it, and yeah, I still haven't zeroed in on Magas's Family's Hot Daughter vocals. I'd love to hear those mixes... I've certainly been blown away by his singing on many occasions. Great lyricist too (thinking specifically of Lake of Dracula). Don't know if you've seen it but I had an initial reaction to the Miss High Heel album here that may have touched on some of the aspects you bring up. Good to hear from you...

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