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 shelving unit #4B 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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