Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Jon Gibson "Cycles" (New Tone)
Phill Niblock "A Trombone Piece (1978-94)" (XI)
Remko Scha "Sweep" (Kremlin)
Gerry Miles "V" (Atavistic)
Gerry Miles "VI" (Atavistic)
Lee Rockey "[untitled, from Underground Series 1 cassette]" (Hanson)
David And The Dorks "Triad" (The Internet)
Sun Ra "Say" (Celestial Recordings)
Ornette Coleman "Bourgeois Boogie" (Columbia)
Pete Fine "Sunrise" (Shadoks)
Pete Fine "Life" (Shadoks)
Perry Leopold "The Windwill" (Gear Fab)
Dead C "Bone" (Siltbreeze)
Muslimgauze "Zionist Leather Clad Koran" (Staalplaat)
JVC Force "Strong Island" (B-Boy)
Biz Markie "Pickin' Boogers" (Prism)
Impact Allstars "Easy Come Dub" (Blood & Fire)
Faust "Jennifer" (Caroline)
Hawkwind "You Better Believe It" (United Artists)
Motley Crue "Too Fast For Love" (Elektra)
Landed "Bahdi Odour" (Load)
Landed "War/Us Vs. Them (And You)" (Load)
Landed "How Little Will It Take" (Load)

Lightning Bolt "Dracula Mountain" (Load)
Lightning Bolt "Fleeing The Valley Of The Whirling Knives" (Load)
Remko Scha "Thrash" (Kremlin)

Starting the show today with some selections from Alan Licht's first Minimalism Top Ten, as published in Halana No. 1 back in 1996. (Thanks to the Allegory of Allergies blog for supplying the music.) Jon Gibson's 1977 22-minute pipe organ piece "Cycles" is a nice way to ease in, followed by Phill Niblock's rather more ominous "Trombone Piece." Next, one of the potentially rarest discoveries Licht hipped us to back then, Remko Scha's Machine Guitars album from 1982: "Scha is a Dutch composer who uses metal brushes, saws, ropes, and bars to 'play' open strings on electric guitars 'without human control or interference'." The sound of these machinations can be surprisingly calm and meditative, as on "Sweep," the track played here. (Another track from the album, "Thrash," will appear at the end - it's definitely more machine-agitated than "Sweep," but still programmed as a cool-down after the merciless Lightning Bolt track that precedes it.) After that we play some of Licht's own music, a track from his one-off Gerry Miles group. You may remember this Atavistic label CD from 1996, in which he convened a quartet to play and record in the acoustically rich St. Peters Cathedral of New York City - it's a good one. Keiji Haino did vocals and percussion, Lucy Hamilton (aka China Burg from Mars) played bass clarinet, Melissa Weaver played piano, and Licht played some heavy church organ (probably thinking about Gibson, who played and recorded "Cycles" at another NYC church). An exquisite somnambulant vibe can be heard on the two back-to-back tracks here, chosen because Haino sticks to percussion. (The tracks where he does vocals are cool too, but they're pretty wild.) The Lee Rockey track is minimalist in its own way, one man playing musical violin against stark electronic patterns. He lived from 1926 to 2002, came from Vancouver, went to New York City and worked as a jazz drummer (first Herbie Mann album among others), got his head turned around by Ornette et al, then went back to the Northwest and settled in Portland where he eventually hooked up with Smegma and all the while made the kind of home recordings that can be heard on the Destijl LP (pictured below) and the Hanson Records comp played here (love that cassette-only Underground Series, now at four volumes, check it out here). Maybe my definition of minimalism is a little too broad, but David and the Dorks are a pretty damn minimalist rock band, especially for an offshoot of the rather maximalist and many-voiced Grateful Dead and CSN(Y). This is Crosby on rhythm guitar and vocals, backed by Garcia on lead guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass, and Mickey Hart on drums. They played a few shows at San Francisco club The Matrix under the D & D name in December of 1970. The exact date of this particular recording is one of those slippery deadbased details.... these mp3s are labeled the 12th, but the great deadlists.com site has the Dead playing a full two sets that night in Santa Rosa so it's highly doubtful... only two David & the Dorks dates are listed, the 15th and the 17th, with a recording circulating that is always labelled the 15th, except that apparently at some point on it Crosby can be heard saying "put limiters on it, I overblew their mics last night," which implies that the recording is from the second night of the run... however, this recording I'm listening to has a different track order than either the 15th or the 17th, which could mean that it's the 15th with the songs presented out of order (because all the songs are the same), except that this page lists another show on the 20th with the same track order as mine, and it might just be real because this other gig posters page lists there "probably" being a David & the Dorks poster for the 20th, while listing another poster that exists for Jerry Garcia & Friends playing a three night stand on the 15th, 16th, and 17th.... got all that? As for the music, heads will of course know that this is the same band that backed Crosby for most of his great 1971 solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name. That record is notorious for its bleak Sixties-hangover comedown vibes, but this show is so enveloped in Nam-rock gutter-ballad San Francisco fog it makes Name sound like Sergeant Pepper. Every tune stretches into 8 or 9 minute territory, with Lesh playing some very lugubrious low-end, slowly pushing these songs along like a stoned tortoise while Hart sort of quietly disappears into the rhythm. Crosby's rhythm guitar is a lot sharper and to the point than Bob Weir's one-of-a-kind discursive playing, which throws Garcia's leads into unusually sharp relief... his solo on "Triad" is pretty much glorious... great song too, previously a great Byrds outtake from 1967, a rather more sprightly and filled-out version (the rest of the band didn't want the song on the album because it was about a three-way relationship... I'll admit the lyrics are pretty ridiculous but they're easy to overlook because the song is so sublime, both versions). Anyway, this is a really striking set, thanks to Justin Farrar at Strawberry Flats for tipping me off. The Sun Ra track is from the Strange Celestial Road album, one of his late-70s groove-inflected albums (see also Lanquidity). The Ornette Coleman track is from the somewhat-maligned Virgin Beauty album, perhaps the apex of his maximal slick-funk sick-muzak Prime Time approach. It was released in 1988... man, how often do people talk about records from THAT year... if you think of a good one, let me know in the comments section, just so I can get a bearing on it... anyway it's certainly not one of his greatest but it's still pretty great because he is Ornette Coleman. And speaking of Jerry Garcia, he plays third guitar on three of the tracks... not this one though... and jumping off from Ornette at his most rococo, we take a brief excursion into rococo early 1970s orchestral acid-folk. The Pete Fine album (On A Day Of Crystalline Thought) was recently mentioned here but Perry Leopold and his album Christian Lucifer are brand new to Blastitude and, though both albums are large ensemble works that are incredibly ambitious and big-sounding for private-press projects, the Leopold album has a little more of that good ol' lone-man downer gravity than the Fine. Also notable was that I was looking at this personnel listing for the Leopold album and thought I might just recognize a name, you never know, and sure enough, 11th on the list is Mr. Charles Cohen, Philadelphia's resident master of the Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, last seen around here playing on The Valerie Project album (from the Drag City label) and in a great improvised music duo with drummer Ed Wilcox (Those Are Pearls That Were His Eyes from the Ruby Red label). (And oh yeah, that Planet Y album from the Public Guilt label was actually quite good as well...) This Perry Leopold album isn't too far from the Valerie Project, actually, except with haunting and moody male vocals about Christ and Lucifer and that sort of thing. Impact Allstars "Easy Come Dub" might have the best echoed tinkling-piano hook in dub history and, yeah, that is saying something. Collected on the Dubwise & Otherwise Vol. 2 set from the Blood & Fire label, and thank you, I thought the transition from it into "Jennifer" by Faust was genius too. Going into Hawkwind was pretty sweet as well, and a Too Fast For Love appearance is always welcome. I've been listening to this new Landed CD a lot, it's a retrospective kind of thing with tracks from their whole decade-plus-and-counting career. It comes with a 3" CD as well, and it's out on Load Records. They were/are kind of a missing link between early-mid-90s Jesus Lizard grind and the 2000s post-everything noise-punk explosion. There's a certain glazed-eyed trance-out aspect to what they do that really has me hooked, whether it's a slow doom tempo with an agitated riff, or a pummeling uptempo riff that they'll drive up towards the 10-minute-mark. There's a lot more that could be said about this band and maybe I'll do it one of these days. After this I had to pull out another late-1990s Fort Thunder/Providence/Load staple and play two Lightning Bolt tracks, my favorite from the Wonderful Rainbow album ("Dracula Mountain") and my favorite from their debut (the ridiculously heavy "Fleeing The Valley Of The Whirling Knives"). And by the way, as we listen to the aforementioned Remko Scha cooldown, I've always wondered, who is that guy with the accent on the first Lightning Bolt LP saying "I thought I'd let you know, uh, next time you go to buy a record and you think you're really alternative and groovy and everyone is into the alternative charts...."? What is that from? And by the way once again, this first Lightning Bolt album RULES. Sure, I'm like you, I got sick of the crowds and them playing on the floor too, and stopped going to see 'em a good five or six years ago.... and yeah, I thought Hypermagic Mountain was actually very strong but still not quite essential... and no, I haven't actually put on this, their first LP from 1999 for like... man.... at least not since the day this CD reissue came out, which I guess was 2002 or something? (The Load Records website says that the LP came out in 1997 and the CD reissue was in 1999 but I SWEAR THAT'S NOT TRUE.... I heard it streamed live on Tom Smith's WFMU radio show in 1999 and then ordered a copy of the LP direct from the label, I'm sure this was in 1999, there's no way the record had been out two years when all that was happening, right?) Either way, I had forgotten how often I played this those first couple years, and it sounds incredible coming after Landed, because it takes Landed's structural innovations (extended repetition, 8 minute plus song lengths, controlling of extreme noise in a rock-band context) and just plays the shit out of 'em, with Chippendale's non-stop scribble drumming and Gibson's ridiculous bass tone. And really, this first Lightning Bolt album makes their next two records seem almost 'pop'... it's noisier, especially a couple of the shorter tracks, with brutal edits and lots of distortion in the mix... also, even though the opening track is a song played live, based on a complex riff, the playing is kind of 'free jazz' for the first few minutes, which will have its detractors, but by the time the riff becomes 100% you've got Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Black Flag, Cliff Burton, Hawkwind, Merzbow, and Phil Glass all fighting in the mix, so it's hard for me to complain. That was the track Tom played on WFMU, "Into the Valley," and it blew my mind. I literally have not listened to The Ruins since. Anyway, memories...


1. It's not a real radio station.
2. It's not an iTunes radio station.
3. It's not a podcast.
4. You can't listen to it except with your imagination.
5. All playlists document an imaginary two-hour DJ shift by Larry Dolman, but often run long when the next DJ is late, he's a total flake this quarter.


Anonymous said...

Hi Larry, great blog -- I've been reading it since 2002 or so.

The vocal sample from the Lightning Bolt album ("...next time you go to buy a record and you think you're really alternative and groovy...") is Claude Bessey (aka Kickboy Face) of Slash Magazine introducing Sonic Youth at a live gig in the mid-80s. It was on the SY bootleg double-LP "The Walls Have Ears."

Claude was telling the audience about how one of Sonic Youth's record covers (I think it was the "Flower" single) was censored or banned somewhere (Perhaps by their label? I forget the exact circumstances). But anyway, he was making a point about the "alternative" culture being just as stifling as the mainstream, only "a bit stranger."

Larry said...

Hey Curt - I thought it might be Claude Bessey, I actually rewatched his stuff in Decline to see if it was in there and I had missed it or something. Never did hear Walls Have Ears - thanks for the info!

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