Blastitude 9
issue 12   feb/mar/apr 2002
page 4




Michigan just keeps on blowin' up. Based in the Detroit area, Animal Disguise is like Hanson Records Two. Even the cassette spine design looks the same except that the band names are different and the serial numbers start with "ADR" instead of "HN." But that's okay, because Hanson is quality and Animal Disguise records is quality too. Here's what was inside a big box that Mr. ADR just sent to the offices:

MAMMAL: We Are Real CS (ADR006)
Track two ROCKS and reminds me of Peaches, not because there's a naughty girl who looks like Rhea Perlman rapping over the top, but because Peaches is the only other thing I've heard from today's underground scene that SLAMS quite like this. Wolf Eyes are totally slamming but they would never throw down a groove like this one...their beats are more broken and, especially live, they obliterate them in total noise. Who else is slammin' these days in the post-noise underground? I just got the Adult. Resuscitation CD, and they're pretty slammin', but in an awfully dispassionate way. In fact, this single Mammal tune out-slams the entire Adult. album. Magas is great live, doing straight-up beat music. His record will probably be a little more fist-pumping than Resuscitation. We'll see. Misty Martinez is kind of danceable...I saw her once, I should see her again....though I remember her music being more quirky than slamming. Cock ESP actually put out some slamming tunes, but those were gabber techno and they only did it a couple times -- except for the If She Says You Can Have It Tell Her No LP, which has a lot of beats and is in my opinion their single best work. (Gotta have Menasha Red Light District for the early shit, though...from the jams to the interviews, there's something very pure about it.)
       And what do I mean by "slamming"? Well, as Bootsy Collins once taught me on a PBS program called Rock School, for a song, or a beat, to be slammin', it has to be "on the one." In all forms of underground music that aren't hip-hop or house, everyone seems to be trying to keep the beat OFF the one, whether its glitch techno, or Derek Bailey improv, or Merzbow noise, or the whole No Doctors Live And Shave Hairy Police Pussy scene, keepin' it WAY off the one. Two Chicago artists, The Flying Luttenbachers and Kevin Drumm, seem to be trying to keep techno, jazz, noise, and rock off the one all at the same time, all the time.
       Yeah, so for now I'll give the slammin' crown to Peaches for the bass line on "Fuck The Pain Away" and give Mammal runner-up for the second track on here. (I think it's called "Keep it alive in 85" or "October" -- or maybe neither, due to a minor 21st century malaise known as "cryptic liner notes syndrome.") Bronze medalist: the song Wolf Eyes was opening sets with on their last tour. (You know, the jam that kicked in after the opening air raid that on a record yet?)
        Even so, Mammal ain't afraid to get off the one himself -- in fact, I'd say out of, I don't know, six tracks on this tape, only two or three have beats. The rest are more-or-less 'classic noise' (more below) except that there are several tracks instead of just one, and they have more variety and quasi-melodicism than your basic classic noise. The last half of the tape is an entire 15-minute-or-so live set, which is also more loose than slammin', but still pretty cool. Flip it over, and you get the same EP again. Ah, the repeated one-sider: a good way to do tapes, both for ease of use ("Never rewind again!") and brevity's sake (EP's are great -- more music than a 7 inch, less time commitment than a full-length).

MAMMAL: 10-31, 11-28 2001 CS (ADR009)
Here's another Mammal, again starting with a huge, slamming beat that gets overlaid by wild electro squiggles. Good and wild! Like someone playing Run D.M.C.'s first album and Heldon's last album at the same time on separate boom boxes at a Survival Research Laboratories event. You know, like under an overpass an' shit. Sounds like a show somewhere, though, recorded on the old hand-held. Crowd-members yell during the jams, not just at the end. (A sign that you're either totally in hicksville or that things are going really, really good. Often both at the same time. But if someone yells "free bird!" you should just stop the show right there. And we already know "Foghat" is the new "free bird!" so you can't yell that either!) I'm assuming the dates that make up the title of this tape refer to two different live shows, recordings of which are presented in their entirety, back-to-back, on this cassette. Oh the third or so jam of this 10-31 set (oh shit, that's Halloween, which is by all accounts a BIG deal in Detroit) sounds like a live version of the SLAMMIN' track off of We Are Here (see previous review). The crowd loves it too, natch. A well-done live LP.

CHARLES LAREAU: The Madness Inspiration CS (ADR012)
Omaha in the hizzy...Mr. Lareau plays synth and more for those hard-drinking Nebraska urbanites in The Naturaliste. Nice to see a solo work by this soft-spoken talent, especially one this satisfying. Reminds me quite a bit of the cassette by Transmitting Koot Hoomi reviewed a couple issues ago....both have that deep dark heavy soul massage vibe, both sound 'ambient' from a distance and 'noisy' up close, both have B&W Jandekian cover art...hell, Lareau and Mr. TKH even kind of look alike, or at least they would from, like, forty yards away. Actually side two kicks off with some positively cosmic tones (for mental therapy) in the form of shaken heavily echoed percussion...then it's back to the deep dark heavy black soul massage for the rest of the side....and the rest of your life...

ZOMBI: The Toes Are Tickled Pink CS (ADR013)
Here's a band that has appeared in our pages before. Zombi is the very noisy alter ego of Mike C, also known as "the bass player of the Hair Police and Mr. Gods of Fucking Tundra himself." This is a little different from Mammal and Lareau in that there really aren't any 'interludes' or 'acts' or even 'tracks,' it's just 20/30-minutes-nonstop screamin'/streamin' old-school cut-it-up NOISE. There's the scream-while-you-swallow mic technique, there's the constant intentional distortion, there's horrifying pedals that won't shut off, there's...shit, you know what it sounds like. This is the style I call "Being Beat Up Again For 30 Minutes," to paraphrase a track title by Âmes Sanglantes (another practicioner of BBUAF30M style). You gotta be in the mood, and even though I kinda was I still had to turn Toes Are Tickled off about halfway through the first time, because it was a beautiful spring Saturday night and my windows were open and I just couldn't give it the attention it deserved without turning the volume up into the eviction zone.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Fog People Vol. 1 CS (ADR014)
A comp can be a great way for a label to nail down an aesthetic. With the Fog People Vol. 1 cassette comp, ADR not only nails down an aesthetic for themselves, but for their entire region. The cover art, for example, incorporates a John Olson influence whose shroudy monster-movie aura can be traced back to Southeast Michigan's Destroy All Monsters (1974-1976) and the Iggy/Funkadelic/Alice freakshow just before that. The musical aesthetic is nailed down as well, with a concise and classy artist list: Nautical Almanac, Viki, Meerk Puffy, Charles Lareau, Hair Police, Neon Hunk, and Football Rabbit. Or maybe that's two bands, Football and Rabbit. If so, I haven't heard of either, and I haven't gotten to that part of the comp yet. I'll do that in a minute. Nautical Almanac, the seniors here, start off with a salvo of what sounds like a caveman playing a free jazz drum solo underwater. Then you realize it's a guitar. Or keyboards. Or a drum machine. Or a computer. The best part is that it's underwater....until you realize it's at a live show because people holler and the hand-held recorder must've been low on batteries and stuck under a pillow. It's a long track, possibly a whole live set. It's a treat to hear Viki because she put on a pretty phat show at the Empty Bottle back in January, and this is the first time I've heard her since. She's still pretty phat, with what seems like several layers of beats/tones going. A beat towards the end is actually very ON the one. This track is instrumental, though she usually sings into her little Madonna/Garth Brooks/Hagar headset mic. Meerk Puffy is next. They're from the Providence, RI/Fort Thunder scene. More of that crazy juddering broken-everything noise, really LONG this time. This comp gives everyone a chance to strut their stuff, it's like practically a live set by each contributor. And the length is good because Meerk P. Diddy gets to go from juddering to SLAMMIN' before their track is done. Side two kicks off with everyone's favorite Omaha range-rider Charles Lareau. If you liked his dissertation-in-drone that was The Madness Inspiration, you will probably totally go for this number too...don't let the spoken word scare you, because it's pretty right on, and the drone that follows is frickin' cavernous. Next is the Hair Police...good to hear new stuff from them. I think about the three rather violent shows they did with Reynols last year quite a bit. After their torrential set at the Southgate House show in Newport, Kentucky, Robbie Dead Wizard said it all when he said "I needed that!" The track here is more of the same. These guys are just plain FUCKED, and it's live, so you can hear the effect they have on a crowd yourself. Next is the first time I've heard Neon Hunk when they weren't playing on a stage in front of me. This is live also and features a mighty dose of their electronic helium argument prog. Next is Football, or Football Rabbit. Again, I've never before heard of this act/these acts, but the song is actual hardcore, the genre, not the adjective, meaning, it's almost like a pop/punk song compared to the rest of the tape. Thing is, it's instrumental, and only about 30 seconds long. And I guess it was Football Rabbit, cuz there's nothing on after it. Good comp!
       Oh shit! Hidden track after a long stretch of silence! Someone playing a toy party favor! Someone in the background saying "dude"! More talking! Maybe they're in a van! I think they're talking about No Doctors! Okay that's it.

PARAFFIN HAND: This is Demonstration CS (ADR019)
Mammal is Gary Mlitter, and Paraffin Hand is Gary Beauvais. They might be the same guy, because Mlitter is a rather otherworldly surname and it sounds like it could be made up, and Beauvais is kinda odd too. At the same time they are still plausible as actual surnames. David Cronenberg always has names like that in his screenplays, but never mind. Like Zombi, the Hand is more in a classic noise style. No beats at all, just free-flowing improv-sounding skree. The instrumentation is more recognizable, though: partly because there's much less tape distortion, and mostly because the instrumentation is credited in the liners: "guitar, bass, voice." Still, the shit has got some sort of pedal-sheen on it, and I think it's overdubbed, so it's got that process to it, and doesn't sound like anyone I've ever heard play guitar and bass since Rat Bastard. And I think I just figured out what the vocals are doing...a high, quiet, creepy hissing style that I figured was a guitar or something for the first few minutes. Maybe some of it's backwards. Later there's some normal-guy vocals in there, but pretty deep in the vortex. Pretty disorienting jam, really. When you're into it, it's raging heavy metal noise. And it is just one raging thing for quite a long time. BBUAF30M, once again. Still, right when you know it's gotta end, it cuts right off, never to be heard from again, unless you fast-forward to the end of the side and then flip the tape other because it's another one-sider repeated.

MAMMAL: Other Realms CD-R (ADR001)
This is actually the first Animal Disguise release, but I listened to it last because those cassettes looked cool sitting in a row and that's what I went for. Having heard the slammin' We Are Real first, this one does indeed sound like "early Mammal," more on the soundscape tip, featuring low-level low-key synth/noise explorations. I compare things to Cluster a lot, and this too is roughly like Cluster, say Cluster '71, only more evil and more mellow, both at the same time. Track six isn't mellow at all,'s called "Tunnel Time" and I think it's the jam that opens the live sets on ADR009. (See review above.) This is good but unfortunately Mr. Mammal seems to have submitted to the CD format temptation to make the album a little longer than it needs to be, and what's here sounds more like rough sketches and basic tracks then a fully grown statement.

So that's all the Animal Disguise material I've got, which is actually quite a lot. Pretty nice work so far...and their cassettes look great lined up side by side on your shelf....although you might wanna keep 'em separate from the Hanson section! To find out more and to buy buy buy go to the ANIMAL DISGUISE RECORDINGS offical website. Mammal will also be on tour quite a bit this summer, so look for these records at a merch table near you. In fact, he's on tour right now, and I just saw him rock the Fireside Bowl last night. Viki played too and outdid her own set at the Empty Bottle, partly because she had a superkool gal in a tight red dress onstage shaking it and doing Flavor Flav vocals into a toy megaphone. Wolf Eyes played too, and jeez, when they weren't exploring their new appalachian boogie and freestyle rap sides, they were basically DESTROYING the stage. So yeah.



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