Monday, December 12, 2011

LEE PERRY Wizdom 1971-1975 LP (ASCENSION)
SKOAL KODIAK Kryptonym Bodliak LP (LOAD)
FACTUMS Gilding The Lilies 2LP (ASSOPHON)

It only takes a few seconds of introductory wah-wah guitar vamping for "You Know" by Stone Coal White to register as one of the most dusted late-night funk jams ever recorded, and that's before the moaning falsetto vocals come in and really make the case. You might've heard this track already on the Chains & Black Exhaust compilation from 2002, which was released without a track listing. "You Know" was the last jam on the album before the epilogue & encore, a perfect closer/cool-down/nod-off, and one of the last of the then-anonymous tracks to be identified by the message-board headz. No wonder, because Stone Coal White was an extremely underground band from Dayton, Ohio, more or less the wild and loose house band for a shell-shocked motorcycle gang called Bad to the Bone, and they had such a funky live show that their fliers often required a "Rated X" next to their name. They only released two 45 RPM singles, in small pressings, somewhere very deep in the early 1970s. For the preservation of "You Know" alone, and the other tracks released on the two 45s, this new record is essential, but one possible reason why the band didn't release more material when they were active is evident: things get reaaallly loose on here. A scorched warm-up jam called "Warm Up," humorous Curtis Mayfield goofs, special-guest soul sisters belting unhinged gospel, a Bill Withers cover, that type of thing... like Funkadelic, despite grim trappings, the band had a lot of fun.

I already thought single LPs by Factums were too long, with too many foreboding and severe tracks stringing too many lumbering dystopian synth riffs one after another, so how am I going to approach a double LP with 29 tracks?? It's not that I dislike this band... I think they're pretty awe-inspiring. I have no idea how they assemble these synth-punk Frankenstein monsters one after another, and I just can't process their material except in small doses, which they seem to rarely offer it in.  This release looks and feels real good (nice paper selection, nice typewriter art cover), and it's certainly as good of a place as any to start trying to comprehend what they're up to. Just be prepared, pack an extra lunch and bring some ibuprofen!  

Just popped by the internet to see what the kids were into these days, and before I knew it I had listened to the whole 24-minute debut album by Iceage, twice. When they toured the U.S. this summer, I never actually heard their music, but I heard quite a bit about 'em, which made 'em sound pretty good, and it turns out that in fact they are. Right from the brief industrial noise intro I was hooked, and they held me throughout 11 more songs of dark and rather frantic Danish teenage punk that skips around unpredictably through emotional flourishes, strange harmonic choices, and a gnarly reverbed-out twin-guitar sound. All presented in a way that does not wear out its welcome, which gives you time to think about what you heard. Canny aesthetic moves abound... for one thing, they inherently understand that the best thing you can do with a black metal influence in 2010 is to not play black metal. 

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