issue 12   february/march/april 2002
page 6




The Temple of the Good Morning return with another release on one of America's top five or even top three labels for underground music. Blastitude regulars may or may not have noticed that I think Bullet Into Mesmer's Brain by the Laser Temple of Bon Matin is one of the best albums this whole 1990s freak underground came up with. That was sort of a big-band album, that sounded like it might have been largely recorded at one single live show, with one of the most unique drifty/jammy 'space rock' vibes around. Well, I would've been happy with a Mesmer's Part Two, but on the Bulb website I caught wind of how Mr. Bon Matin Ed Wilcox was kind of laying low, living in a condemned cabin with lots of squirrels for roommates, and at live shows playing live with his drums just strapped to him. That led me, somewhat disappointed, but still interested, to expect an album performed not by a band, but more just by Wilcox, up in his cabin, some sort of broken-down Jandekian thing. Well, now I've got it, and despite the brief intro (a traditional country blues!) it's not really a solo cabin-folk thing at all. In fact, "Muleskinner Blues" ends with a beautiful rock-band coda, like the dreamy expanse of Mesmer's condensed and hardened into just a couple highly effective minutes. The big rock drum set is still all over this album, played to flooring effect on "Shenandoah," a heavy-ass rock jam like a slow Black Butthole Sabbath Surfers dirge only huger and more blown-out. Rocks harder than anything on Mesmer's, and the next cut ("Caledonia," recorded live in Miami) rocks even harder than I'm hearing the infamous "Merzbow meets L.A. Guns" comparison which frankly never really happened on the quite mellow Mesmer's album. Then again, the next track, "Coloring Book," is a jazzy drum/keyboard duo improv. There's plenty more out and loud stuff to come, though the set-closing title track is a peach-eating sweet-side-of-the-Allmans instrumental. (The catch is that it's mixed so it sounds like you're playing it with an ounce of dust attached to the needle.) Cabin in the Sky is a pretty serious album....I think it's actually a step up from Mesmer's...

This is some nice pretty stuff, not dissimilar from other Castro music I've heard, but my favorite so far. It might be a little light 'n' fluffy for some of you harder-noise types, what with the little "whoodly" synth-type wheedles and squiggles, but it slowly gets thicker and thicker as Castro keeps piling up the loops, and the melancholic melodies that emerge late in the piece really put it all in a frame. As with this same label's Jorge Castro/Carlos Giffoni duet released a year or so ago and reviewed in a back issue of B'st'ude [and again in this one], I get a not at all unpleasant feeling of 'aural humidity' from the music. At the same time, it sounds great accompanying the big fat snowflakes that are softly pouring down outside. One track, 38 minutes.

Full disclosure: I hung with these guys back in Nebraska some. Helped put out their debut CD-R, and played some shows with 'em. During track one I was feeling like I wasn't going to be in the mood for a blaring AMM/ominous drone that ran 10 minutes. Track two features a more stripped-down trio, sounding almost like just one person, playing weird little electronics sounds, whines and whimpers, squawks and glitches. The sounds and sparseness are excellent but at seven or so minutes some focus is lost. Track three is also pretty long but has a nice feel, like worker-drones moving big pieces of heavy machinery around during a slow-paced job. Then comes track four, which might be the best single thing I've heard from 'em (although the 4th/last track on their Last Visible Dog release is gonna remain REALLY hard to top). Track five, the last track, starts out with a nicely disorienting 'live show at a house party with the tape recorder in a different room' effect with people talking and who really knows what's going on. A cavernous hum starts emerging. It silences the talkers and then grows into a blaring rumbling -- the same thing that started the CD. Track five is the first half of track one. I happened to be listening on my car stereo player, which just loops the discs if you don't take 'em out, so as soon as the track ended the CD started again, and I realized what was going on. Underground folk fans might wanna know that Simon Joyner is in the ensemble for this sly wraparound piece -- that might be him contributing some sweet occasional vocals about "St. Anne's flowers" during the first half. (Side note: The tragicomic long-form track titles poetically reveal just how indebted Nebraskan artists are to booze. I can speak from experience.)

Beyond the Fuckless is probably the greatest album title ever. That said, the music on here is kinda sweet too. This is a band I've never heard of, though. "Recorded 2001 Jan-Oct On Studio Puzzle, Osaka" suggests a possible Boredoms connection via the Puzzle Punks. Well, regardless of who the Ultra Fuckers are, what they sound like is a pretty raging lurch-punk power-band boasting some of the worst recording fidelity ever. The thrashing music is mired in the same beyond-the-red muck that Asahito Nanjo productions are, except Nanjo's shit always sounds like the muck was added later. With the U.F.'s, you can tell that the muck is coming straight out of the fuckin' amps. It's damaged shit, and a refreshing change of pace from Public Eyesore's usual strict-improv palette.

Maybe it went something like this: he started playing guitar around 14 or 15, inspired by Vai and Satriani and Eddie Van Halen, even George Lynch. He more or less mastered that stuff and wasn't ultra-excited by it, and before he graduated from high school he started taking jazz lessons. In college he finally got into Trout Mask Replica after buying it due to the Zappa connection and the Kaiser recommendations. Around the same time, also through a handful of Guitar Player features on Sir Henry Kaiser, he discovered Derek Bailey and Mr. John Fahey, all of which informed his playing, and now he records CD-Rs of instrumental guitar music. Mr. Vera Mere tagged this sort of thing as "free-form Windham Hill" -- hell, there's even a B&W closeup photo of a steel guitar on the cover. From artwork to music, this is an anomalous release in the Public Eyesore catalog.

Kinno "Onnyk" Yoshiaki is another solo guitar player who sounds like he might be a rocker who was enlightened and converted by the Kaiser Frith Bailey 'all-avant solo jam' song-form (a/k/a 'the 20-minute-plus solo improv piece'). This set is more rippin' than the amblin' Denunzio set, with Yoshiaki using noise scrapes and loud volume and super-fast jazzblues-type avant licks. I mean this is STRAIGHT-UP Bailey Kaiser style. As always (it's getting to sound like an apology) there are plenty of good moments -- hey, I kinda like this bit right now, just before the -- what is it? -- 7:55 mark of track one, kinda of a 'cascading shower of microtones' thing. Oh yeah, the shower's still going, now at the....8:55 mark (I swear, I looked up exactly a minute later). (Yeah, this is the first time I've listened to this record. I usually have my reviews 90% finished about 10 minutes into the record. Don't worry, if a review ends up being unfair due to repeat listens or the 'test of time,' I always change it. You might be reading a changed review right now!) It's good when he pulls off an actual microtone shower thing, but with the overall strictly-Incusian approach, I just don't know how important this would be to someone who's already heard, say, 20-30 hardcore improv records. It was recorded back in 1995, maybe it sounded a little more timely then -- I think I still owned a couple Superchunk records at the time. The second track is from 1997, and is still pretty much all Incus all the time, but such a high-speed approach is taken that the music takes on a 'constant small wiggle' feel that improves on the 'avant stop-and-start' tactics of the first track. Still, at 29:56 this track is WAY too long, just as the first one is too long at 24:25. I just listened to the whole thing while washing the dishes, which is often the only way to listen to your 40th or 50th (200th or 300th?) strictly-Incusian improv record.

This disc came with the 5th (and possibly last) issue of Badaboom Gramophone, so well-packaged inside that you can actually read the issue while it's still in there. It's placed tightly inside a hermetically sealed plastic sheath, which is fully attached to the inside back cover through a flawless cement-like glue-job. In fact, the disc is so well-packaged that I just now got it out after having the magazine for about five months. In fact, I had to use a letter opener to get the plastic sheath-thing open, and if the image of a 31 year old man working away at the inside back cover of a digest-sized paperback zine, with a letter opener, and trying to get a compilation CD out from a plastic sheath doesn't give you the giggles, well...lucky you!
      I've talked about compilation albums before. They have that way of not getting played too often, even when they're good. The ones that come with zines are often the most interesting, because you read about the people on the CD and get to know 'em a little bit. That's not the case here -- I don't even think most of these artists are even mentioned in the magazine -- though there is an article on Raymond Scott. I haven't read it yet, but it supplies the theme for the compilation CD: each contributing artist does a 'cover' or 'interpretation' of Scott's anomalous masterpiece "Soothing Sounds For Baby" (the world's first Muzak release?). This creates a surprisingly unified listening experience, one of the more palatable post-ironic takes on Indie Muzak imaginable. In other words, even if "The Chemist's Lullaby" by Geometric Farms sounds like a Muzak version of R.E.M.'s "Man in the Moon," never has the context for such a potentially queasy moment been so appropriate. Also Cex, Hausmeister, and the Telstar Ponies all contribute great tracks which break out of the indie muzak mold a little bit.
       I still haven't heard tracks 13 and 14 (by Dominions and Ensemble respectively -- no idea who these groups are) as they were meant to be, because the CD skips on those tracks. I'd rather it didn't do that, but that's the risk you run when the CD is packaged in a tight plastic sheath glued to the back cover of a digest-size paperback zine and you have to get it out with a letter opener. But the thing is, the way it starts skipping ends up being no less than a REMIX of the real track, because long sections of the track play in between skips, rather than short bits. It starts with this weird muted vocal bit that goes on for awhile, then it skips to a one-note bass line repeated for a really long time, then it skips to this weird hum that sounds like Eno's Microsoft Startup Theme, then....back to the weird muted vocal bit! And so on and so on, the already slow-developing tune reshuffled in a way that is truly soothing because the sounds are really good and you know they'll keep looping for you as long as you want. The article says that "By the 1950s, [Scott] was apparently convinced that machine-made music was the wave of the future"...I wonder what he'd think of this machine-instigated remix of a track recorded in his honor?

AUTODIDACT: The Blooming of One Hundred Shotguns CD-R (PUBLIC EYESORE)
These are the folks behind the Dead Angel web zine, which is always worth a look. I only read about 10% of each issue, but I always like the other 90% just as much, dig? I guess it's the same with most free/noise discs...I only actually hear (pay attention) to about 10% of 'em, but I like the other 90% just as much. Actually, I'm gonna hear a lot more than 10% of this disc, because about eight minutes in I've been listening to it all so far and I like it. The nineteen-minute title track starts with a nice heavy metal fanfare (hey droners, remember fanfares?) played by guitar or keyboard fuzz with a drony background. The fanfare is for the following jam, a languid 'n' stately acoustic guitar strum that takes up the bulk of the track. Great echoey percussion and a beautiful distorted guitar seconding the acoustic's chords. Sounds like a Pink Floyd ballad played by First Issue PiL. Around the ten minute mark, the rhythm section starts throwing down another actual on-the-one groove, somehow making tribal and heavy music that really works without invoking images of patchouli, dreadlocks, and uncomfortable body piercings. Track two is a loud drone that really works. (Cale/Conrad/
MacLise/Young/Zazeela still have the one true model, and Autodidact is in the spirit.) Good track...but there are still like 48 minutes left on the CD. Can I make it? Music like this works better on vinyl because there's an inherent time limiter: 20-25 minutes per side. You have to edit in just the right stuff.

Released in 1997. The '1970s' installment in the Trux's 'history of rock by decade' trilogy. Really and truly the most disgusting cover in the history of rock. Worse than that Mom's Apple Pie record. Maybe that's why it was pretty much either loathed or ignored upon release, but the music ain't exactly easy either. Even long-time Trux fans might balk at the high-dollar studio sheen and slickest studio playing ever (check the work of bassist Dan Brown, "the Jaco Pastorious of Drag City"), if not the actual songwriting, which is not only as discursive as ever, but even more bombastic, ornate, and prog-inflected. People new to the Trux would be confused by the bizarre riff-rock songwriting technique alone. Though the album continues in the ham-fisted arena rock tradition, most of the album's riffs are totally new-fisted, and the way they're all loosely strung together, overdubbed guitars commisserating all the while, might make a rock critic say something like "the Allman Brothers on [you guessed it] acid." While there's certainly some truth to that assessment, I feel that Sweet Sixteen is not so much a sequel to Eat A Peach (an album that already has many sequels) but Music To Eat By (the 1970 double-LP debut by the prog/southern rock group called Hampton Grease Band, who broke up for good mere seconds after the album's release, leaving it truly an album without a sequel...until now).
"10 Days 12 Nights" comes from the school of hard rocks, which says that whenever a line ends with the phrase "...a teenage rock and roll band!!", arena-rock crowd noise has to be faded up into the mix for a second or two. It's a good school, I went there for years. The song also has some of the loopiest/proggiest Allmans-meets-Parliaments synth/gtr/booty-bass riffs ever, on an album full of 'em.
       "Microwave Made" is no less than a rewrite of Rod Stewart's all-time classic "Every Picture Tells A Story," with all new lyrics and an amazing new guitar bridge, and drenched throughout in floaty synthesizer textures that may be the very sound of carelessness. "You'll Be Staying In Room 323" has an amazing prog lead guitar outro solo by Hagerty over a conga-driven rhythm section jam. The through-composed coda fanfare (hey droners, remember fanfares?) might actually be an unintentional Wings quote.
       Those are just a few of the things that slipped inside my house during this particular listen to Sweet Sixteen's smooth aquarium-like surface. It's over now, but I'm still writing about it. Apparently the CD is out of print! Jennifer Herrema: "It was entirely immediate, recorded in two days, but it took four months to mix, mind you. But the vibe was there. It was real. It had that vitality to it. Sweet Sixteen was like, um, a magnum opus. We recorded track by track, 32 fucking tracks, layer upon layer. When we finished it, I felt the same way I felt after we finished Twin Infinitives. In my own mind, it made so much rock n roll sense. But you never know what other people are thinking or whether they even have the time to put it on more than once. It's a piece of art work."

TAYLOR SAVVY: Ladies and Gentlemen CD (KITTY-YO)
"Produced and obtused by Taylor Savvy." A lot of people think that Peaches is gimmicky and not that talented. Wait'll they hear her buddy Taylor Savvy. This album is subtitled "More Slogan Songs," which refers to the fact that most of the songs are an electrolite booty muzak groove over which Savvy repeats one phrase over and over, sometimes throwing another phrase in to change things up. So in the song "Share the Dream," you've got "Me and my Dad/share the same dream/still bein' in school" for about ten times and then he starts dubbing in a response after each one: "But it's a nightmare!"
        "I Wanna Be Your Man " goes "I wanna be your man....I wanna be your man
....I wanna be your man....I wanna be your man..." about fifty times and "Indonesia" goes "When do we get to go to Indonesia? When do we get to go to Indonesia?" about sixty. It gets quite a bit more fucked up than that, too. (Wait'll you hear "She's Got It.") "Everybody Party" goes "Everybody party...everybody party...everybody party with me" over and over and over, over a Moroder-like groove, and Savvy gets different people ("the city of Berlin's finest") to sing it each time. I swear Jordy the French Baby is in there somewhere...who you might remember from such hits as "It's Tough To Be A Baby" and "It's Tough To Be A Baby (Remix)." Anyway, the Savvy slogan style could be described as kinda dumb, sure, but it's also really funny, and the music is actually slammin'.
       But the real reason I enjoy this record quite a bit is that I saw Savvy live a few months ago and the boy has got soul! Up there onstage doing "Ladies," singing "The ladies are all that I think about! The ladies are all that I think about!" over and over again in a huge ballad style along with the instrumental track on the P.A., or on "Indonesia" inviting cute girls to come onstage and do the roger rabbit, or on "I Wanna Be Your Man" picking a punk-type couple from the audience, and coaching the boyfriend to sing the slogan to his girlfriend, which he did. It's cute shit. Catch him next time he comes over from Berlin.

When it came out in 1992, Check Your Head was considered a comeback album by one of the most famous of rap acts. Looked at a decade later, ignoring the celebrity trappings, it seems like one of the few actually good organic funk records of its time. It came out in 1992....what competition did it have? What other good legitimate funk records were coming out? Was Fela still making records (only five years before AIDS took him)? Computer Games by George Clinton was already 10 years old at the time and was much more of an electro funk record than an organic funk record....about the only thing I can think of is Freaky Styley by the Red Hot Chili Peppers...I hate to even bring those guys up but my mind is slipping and that is their best album, and it was very organic-sounding, and it was produced by George Clinton...but even that was back in 1992 the Pale White Junkie Peppers had already put out Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which, while classifiable as "organic funk," ain't NO Check Your Head. Man, what black groups were playing funk in 1992? Don't even say Living Colour...the Chili Peppers were funkier than that...
      What does this bullshit about 'organic funk' mean, anyway? Well, it basically just means funk grooves played by a live band that sound like they're played by a live band, a musical phenomenon that had been almost literally snuffed out by the hip-hop and house explosion. No need to pay a whole band, and deal with multiple egos; from the Eighties on, it's been all samples and loops and turntables. The Beastie Boys were no exception; already in 1988, they had taken the sample/loop approach as far as it could humanly go with Paul's Boutique. (Although humans are certainly still trying, and still mostly not quite getting it, fourteen years later.) Dazed by this superhuman effort, the band spent the next two or three years doing nothing except lounging and counting Licensed to Ill royalties. The Paul's Boutique royalties weren't coming in nearly as fast...but so what? There was no hurry to make another album, and when they finally got around to it, they felt like doing something different. Even though they were still using loops and sampling and turntables, the three M.C.'s had mostly switched into a live funk band, a guitar/bass/drums trio augmented by vintage keyboards and percussionists. They were still sampling and making loops, but more than 90% of the time they were sampling and looping their own organic funk jams. For example, even on disparate tunes like the rap song "Finger Lickin' Good" and the novelty skank of "Funky Boss" and the hard rock anthem "Gratitude," the drum tracks all sound like they're being played on the same trap kit...because they are. (Although I still think the main riff of "Funky Boss" might be a sample from "Showdown" by Thin Lizzy...)
       At the same time, the album is as disparate and kitchen-sink-inclusive as Paul's Boutique was. The lead off single "Pass the Mic" is still the only "ambient dub rap with occasional metal riff" to ever make the Top 10 and Heavy MTV Rotation. As for the laid-back dubbed-out-and-dusted funk of "Somethin's Got To Give," I declare it the very best single track that the Lollapalooza generation gave us. The guys in Big Chief may expertly make fun of rock stars like the Beastie Boys in their classic mag Motorbooty, but when it comes to playin' even decent songs like "If I Had A Nickel" (from their 1993 album Mack Avenue Skull Game) they cannot hold a candle to the Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Internal Excellence. It even came out just a few months before the Rodney King riots, and the forlorn and dusted lines "I wish for peace between the races" because "somethin's got to give" were definitely reverberating in my head while I watched the news footage.
        Every cut on Check Your Head is a classic. It's practically an album of singles...even the song about "Peter Seschell's comfortable study in his New York townhouse" could work, as could "Mark on the Bus." And how 'bout "Finger Lickin' Good"? "Time For Livin"? The amazing "Professor Booty"? "Stand Together" is an example of one department in which the Beasties weakened, as a lot of their lyrics started to turn into motivational speaker anthems, but it doesn't matter cuz the track is so bold with its fierce jammy electro-funk basis, and you can't understand the lyrics anyway because they're run through that all-natural cheap-mic distortion.
       "The Maestro," on the other hand, has some of their very best twists on the "I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but we like hot butter on a breakfast toast" stizzy...with Mike D saying "This ain't America's Most Wanted/This is America's Most Mackin'..." And, if you're gonna go out like That 70s Show and goof on retro culture, at least do it well, and I can't think of a funnier way than MCA leading a (sampled? live?) cheering crowd in a "who's your favorite detective" game..."Is it Mannix? Barnaby Jones? Somebody say Columbo..."
      You might think the retro instrumental "Groove Holmes" is a little trite, but it always ends up sounding good, cuz it's concise at less than 3 minutes, and Ad Rock's wah guitar is brilliant, as are the second-half organ basslines by Money Mark...and don't forget the conga soloing by...who? Eric Bobo? (There's no credits...a very cool way to do an album. Tangentially, there's also a big 'photos-of-band-and-friends' collage, also a very cool way to do an album.) (See Wasteoid review this issue.)
       You might think "Live at P.J.'s" is a little trite too, with it's Brand New Heavies style rhythm guitar, but it's kind of a punky rocker at the same time...Ad Rock's vocals do the job...both on the bratty verses ("I'm gonna tell you motherfuckers why you ain't shit," or "Suckers like you just make me strong/when you be poppin' out bullshit all day long...") and his show business patter in between...("I'm gonna get my shit together, boy!") Move over Infectious Grooves listeners, you missed the true punk rap right here.
        I guess that's all I've got for Check Your Head, this issue's 'retro classic.' That's all you need, right? Okay, I'll throw in an Appendix: some cut and pasted lyrics from "Professor Booty," specifically MCA's all-time classic third-verse dis of M.C. Serch: "So many wack M.C.'s You get the T.V. bozack Ain't even gonna call out your names 'Cause you're so wack But one big oaf who's faker than plastic A dictionary definition of the word spastic You should have never started something That you couldn't finish 'Cause writin' rhymes to me Is like Popeye to spinach I'm bad ass move your fat ass 'Cause you're wack son Dancin' around like you think you're Janet Jackson Thought you could walk on me To get some ground to walk on I'll put the rug out under your ass As I talk on I'll take you out like a sniper on a roof Like an M.C. at the Fever in the D.J. booth With your headphones strapped You're rockin' rewind pause Tryin' to figure out what you can do to go for yours But like the pencil to the paper I got more to come One after another you can all get some So you better take your time And meditate on your rhyme 'Cause your shit'll be stinking When I go for mine And that's right y'all don't get uptight y'all You can't say shit Because you're biting what I write y'all And that's wrong y'all over the long haul You can't cut the mustard When you're frontin it all nit all nit all nit all nit all...."

The Trad Gras Och Stenar track on here is gonna stay hard to top...their full-length I have (Gärdet 12.6.1970) is very good, but after hearing this absolutely smoking track first, on the comp that came with the first and so far only issue of Yeti Magazine, the album is honestly a bit of a is a few minutes of rain drops falling on a tin roof recorded by Harry Smith....a very nice followup to the roiling punk hoedown before it....having tracks by Harry Smith on a compilation is the biggest licensing coup I've seen on a comp in all of the 90s...then again, knowing H. Smith he probably lost the rights to all of his work in a whiskey-driven poker game with a Siberian shaman or something ..."Dead Man's Will" by Iron & Wine is a very nice present-day folk song...I always think it's another Califone track, as it has the same startling recorded presence, but it's even more spare, no gewgaws, no country noise, just one totally in-tune guitar and two harmonizing has the same hollowed-out sound as "Wade in the Water" by C.O.B. except that it's more mellow and languid...Iron & Wine is a current group about whom "little is known" (sorta like Jungle, see this page)....L'Altra have a very nice watery melancholy pop song on fact, I love could say that these guys are 'post-rock' because they do pretty guitar arpeggios and jazzy drumbeats and they live in the same town as Tortoise, but I literally like this single track better than anything I've heard by Tortoise and Stereolab, who happen to be next...I haven't intentionally heard a Stereolab track in years, and I don't remember hearing the one on here...that's because it's a short little instrumental for solo bubbling synth...more Allan Bryant than Laetitia Sadler...actually the first thing I've really liked by them Stereolab since, I don't know, 1996? Next track: Carissa's Wierd (sic). McGonigal says that "...[T]heir self-released CD is easily the best indie-pop debut of 2000. Really." Actually, I think it's more "okay" or "pretty good." I like L'Altra's track better, as I do Califone's and Iron and Wine's...and the next performer, the rather annoyingly-named Magic Magician. It's another spacy-folksy number, with a great "Hey Now" hook on the chorus that always makes me think of Hank on The Larry Sanders Show, and an even better soul "na-na-na-na-na" hook underneath every line of the verses...'spacy-folksy pop-rock' seems to be the style of "indie music" that Yeti Magazine likes best, and I'll admit that their taste is pretty good...that was the thing about Carissa's Wierd (they might as well just add "sic" to their name), it was folksy but not quite spacy enough..."Magic Magician is John Atkins, lead singer and guitarist for 764-Hero." Heard of 764-Hero but never heard 'em...always assumed they were merely 'another' earnest/competent indie rock band...Mice Parade are next with more perfect Chicago instrumental post-rock, all instropective vibraphone melodies and feel-good dub basslines...again, it is good, instantly better than anything on the last three Tortoise albums (I'm assuming).....the trumpet hooks are minimal and spaced-out without sounding immediately like Miles Davis...(this Mice Parade guy wisely did not use a mute)....there's also a nice kalimba-like 'constant arpeggiation' thing going on which might just be in my imagination, but I still hear it every time...and the drummer actually sounds like he's going for it, rather than just supplying that laid-back Slint swing over and over again for clean-tone chord after clean-tone chord...Next track: yet more Califone-like spacy folksy indie-pop is supplied by one Tedd Pruddhome...McGonigal finds unknown spacy folksy indie-pop artists like Bryan Day finds unknown improv artists....Prudhomme might've been in the band Fuck....(some band had to call themselves Fuck, but I'm not sure the right one did)...I like Prudhomme's song, though not quite as much as the ranks just above Carissa's Wierd's, another track by Harry Smith in which he talks into the recorder...and he sounds pretty crazy and/or really drunk...he's hard to understand and I have yet to sit down and pay enough attention to even have any idea what he's talking about...he then stops talking and a nice layered ambience takes center-stage...cats meowing, dogs barking at a plane flying, a long instrumental by Chessie is great because, even though it may actually be post-rock, it isn't Albini drums and pretty arpeggios, it's more like Cluster, with washes of tones that are pretty but also hardcore electronic music...AND the closing track by Voice Bot is really quick, funny, and almost has to be taken from some weird videogame or something, but I really have no it a computer vocoder programmed to give battle instructions in really fast English speech?
     Okay, that might not be all the tracks, but that's enough of this. Go to and buy the mag! The book has all kinds of scattered stuff, like good comics by the band Virginia Dare, interviews with Cary Loren and Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw of Destroy All Monsters, tons of poetics and visuals..."General topics covered include art brut, comic art, contemporary art, cowboy poetry, electronic music, fluxus, fringe science, gospel soul, indie rock, new york school poetry, out-sound, oulipo, pop music, minimalism, oral histories, punk rock, recorded sermons, the small press movement, symbolist writing, & a lot of unclassifiable stuff."

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Shutupalreadydamn! A Prince Tribute Album 2CDR (CELEBRATE PSI PHENOMENON)
Thank god for the leadoff track...curator Campbell Kneale revealing his ability to rock out a good pop tune, with his usually avant/instrumental Birchville Cat Motel doing a note-for-note version of "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man" that would make even the highest-grossing cover band in your college town blush. And dig the perfectly reproduced guitar solo! It's a version that might make noise bands blush a little too, revealing "making a bunch of noise and then sticking a Prince song title on it" to be a common strategy, which is what Afghan Cyborg Predator do with track two, a version of "Lets Pretend We're Married." Mr. Kneale himself sorta goes that route with his other band Sunship, doing a cover of "Orgasm" that is just a "1-2-3-4-AAAGJGJGGJGGGJJHH!" sexplosion like something off of Pop Tatari by The Boredoms.
       Another tactic is the "use the lyrics but disregard the melody and chord changes" approach. In this vein, there's a creepy lo-fi version of "When Doves Cry" by Antony Milton, versions of "Little Red Corvette", by B.C. and Mr. Sterile, and "Head" by Panicsville. All the versions are pretty humorous and each track has a distinctive vocal. Panicsville is the only one of the four I'd even heard of before, and his track really stands out, because the complete lyrical text is sung by a Speak 'n' Spell or some shit. Lyrics like "You know you're good, girl/I think you'd like to go down" end up being kind of terrifying in a Demon Seed kind of way. A beautiful and haunting version of "Sign O' The Times" by A.Ra tackles the original text and original melody in a whole different way; I think it's a young kid in his or her bedroom singing a capella into a cheap recorder. It reminds me of something my 11 year old niece was doing this weekend while I was visiting her family in Omaha, but that was with some current teen ballad.
       Another song that uses the entire lyrical text of the original is Poptart doing "Manic Monday" (which was actually a Bangles song written by Christopher Nevermind, of course, but evidently some people think Mr. Nevermind was actually Prince). They start with improv noise that isn't half bad but then -- psych! -- they go into a great kicking glam-rock version that's right up there with Birchville Cat Motel's jam. The CM Ensemble might have the nicest track on here with a solo church organ version of "Nothing Compares 2 U." This same track would've also been one of the best on the Soothing Sounds For Raymond comp reviewed above. Let's see, who else is on here: The Burt Lancasters ("Let's Go Crazy"), The SB ("When We're Dancing Close & Slow"), Matt Silcock ("Housequake"), Armpit featuring Dirk Diamond ("Sexy Muthafucker"), Pumice ("Get Off"), Witcyst ("Pop Life"), Seht ("Diamonds and Pearls"), Flower ("Hot Thing"), Cancerboy ("Kiss"), 1/3 Octave Band ("It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night"), GFrenzy ("When You Were Mine"), ISO12 ("Head"), Clarinette ("U Got The Look"), and Extreme Nose Terror ("Purple Rain"). A lot of stuff on here, a lot of different approaches: noise vs. song, text vs. no text, the artist vs. The Artist.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Audio Dispatch 01, Audio Dispatch 02: Constructive Engagement, Audio Dispatch 03: Sprung CD-Rs (FREE103POINT9)
This is an underground radio station/music venue/website based in Crooklyn, NY that really seems to have a fine thing going. I'm not sure what's up with these discs...Audio Dispatch 01 seems to have been recorded in one day by tons of different people...all set up in the same room?...and then mixed a few days later. It works like both a various artists comp and a freewheeling live album, with tracks by various bands and combinations of people all segueing into one another. For example, after the "free103point9 station ID" introduces things, we go from spacy ad hoc sax+sound jamming through the aggressive motorik attack of Japanther ("better than Oneida" is my immediate reaction) through the spacy folk of Malaboo-A through more sax+sound (members of the excellent Gold Sparkle Band supply a lot of these more jazzy sounds) through dubby mellow jams through streaming noise through broken electro through NYC poetry through more and honestly reminds me of some classic records like Beyond the Black Crack by Anal Magic & the Reverend Dwight Frizzell, and the East Village Other collage disc that ESP-Disk put out. It really is that cool...other names like Nautical Almanac and Russ Waterhouse and Kyle Lapidus appear....I picked the Almanac out of the stew right away (they supply the 'broken electro') but it's a pretty dense and dreamy mix. Go to and buy this!
       Audio Dispatch 02 is titled Constructive Engagement, and was "recorded Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2002, during the World Economic Forum meetings and protests in New York." That's not even three months ago as of this writing, which is how it should be if you're gonna call it a 'dispatch.'. Starts with some kinda seasick abstract record scratching and subtle clatter -- a nice atmosphere, but nothing about the World Economic Forum. Track two starts out with more nice abstract sound but then gets really good with a killer creamy sample that takes the best ten seconds of "She's Gone" by Hall & Oates and sort of loops it. I really like this low-key kind of noise-making. Maybe it's a No Neck Blues Band influence, I'm not sure. I'm tellin' you, Hall & Oates never sounded so good....literally. Another sample starts easing politics into the stew: some old guy saying "Though he seemed loyal in public, he worked behind the scenes to foment revolution."
       The next track is the first to feature the "audio reporting," here recorded live "from Aug. 2000 Republican National Convention protests in Philadelphia and Jan. 2002 peace protests at MacDill Air Force base in Tampa." Wow, they get around -- and I don't think I ever heard about any Republican National Convention protests in 2000. I hope they went well. It's hard to tell how they went from the mixing on here -- snippets of crowds talking is about all that can be heard, and the collaging and mixing works so well as musique concrete that it's easy to ignore the actual phrases being spoken. I sort of get a vague us vs. them kinda feeling, but I can't really pick out any ideas from the talk. This is probably also because I am a fairly apolitical person who in all honesty would rather trip out to a well-mixed piece of sound than try and understand some of these issues. An accompanying essay or two would've helped; as it is, listening to 02 is a lot like listening to 01. "Sound Off" by Radical Cheerleaders does stand out, featuring a bunch of ladies saying "Kiss the back of my big white ass/Kiss the back of my butt!" or something like that. Kind of reminds me of Fellini's City of Women that I was watching an hour ago.
       Only track seven, "New York Rebuilds," actually features audio reporting from the World Economic Forum in New York. It sounds almost more like some weird tribal music festival somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Like I said, it's a lot more like music than it is like reporting, and as music it's pretty darn good.
       Audio Dispatch 03 is called Sprung. Again, it's somewhere between a compilation and a jam session, with the same names popping up more than once and in different combinations. For example, we've got a track by Seth Price, then a track by Matt Bua, then a track by Tom Roe, and then a track by Ryan Holsopple, Matt Bua, Seth Price, Transmaniacon M.C., Matt Mikas, and Tom Roe, and so on. The music is more of the quality I've come to expect from Free103, a variety of slowly shifting approaches featuring Cluster-like electronic pieces, sheet-metal drones, broken hip hop industrial type shit, saxophones, turntables. etc., all presented with that Free103 vibe. (Seth Price's second Cluster-like electronic piece, the curiously titled "A $ituation Room$," is kinda jarringly cheesy though.)
       So it turns out you can subscribe to this Audio Dispatch series. The idea is that they will come out monthly, although if you scroll down their catalog page the fine print admits that it's really "almost monthly." But apparently they'll keep sending you stuff...if not CD-R's, then "the packages in your mailbox each month might also be a video or cassette tape, a 7" single, or a painting from the free103point9 collective." Here's their WEBSITE.

No one really knows what the deal is with these guys. You thought they might be cuddle-core with the name, but then you heard they toured with Black Dice so maybe they're freaked-out and noisy. Then you see 'em live and they are freaked out and noisy but something about 'em is still kinda cuddlecore. And then there's the Can "Aumgn" comparison (made by Midheaven Mail Order) that definitely makes sense. The live show in Chicago on April 4th at the Hideout was a continuous collage of what were about 7 or so songs. Some of the songs were just noise jams....they did one great á capella quartet piece that was just them hollering into mics through mountains of effects..."Augmn" sure, but even "Starsailor"...but then they also did these joyous muted but blasting songs where the drummer (Panda Bear?) played fast hardcore style and the singer/
guitarist (Avey Tare himself?) played joyous happy metal through a silly guitar effect that made every note he played sound like a huge distorting church organ, and muttered/falsettoed/soul-sang over the top. That's what was cuddle-core about it, the fact that these were love songs and one of the members is named Panda Bear. Thing is, they actually had a rather evil presence onstage, with black face-paint, and weird subtle masks. (A fourth member who goes by and probably is Conrad Deaken just tied a T-shirt around his head so that it shrouded his face and stuck out at a weird angle that kind of made him look like a bird-man.)
     They also did a lot scat-singing and dancing to the primal tribal pulse. The LP is pretty much the same thing, quiet and mostly acoustic jams with the loose moaning vocals. Side One follows the usual post-Siltbreeze/S@1 'spend the first few minutes rustling up into an ethnic tribal-pulse and then spending the rest of the minutes chanting and singing mysteriously over that' style better than most. As I flip the record over, I still haven't heard the blasting joyous love metal style yet...
     First song on side two is kind of the blasting love metal style, except there's not really any guitar, mostly just thrashing drums, and it quickly breaks down into a quiet soul actually sounds like he's singing "Oh my Bhagvad-Gita..." and "Oh my best friend Gita"... Okay, this is good. The performances are a year old, and I bet their 2002 shit, if they have any for sale yet, is better still, but if this had been released five years ago with the word "Siltbreeze" printed on the back cover you would have probably died for it by now.

Check out the complete credits: guitar, guitar, bass, drums. For "Guiding Light" one guitar arpeggiates chords, one guitar chimes, and there's a sweet melodic bassline. The drums aren't even playing at the beginning, but the band still creates a cathedral-like arrangement that today's singer-songwriter bands with all their oboes and violins and moogs playing at once can't even come close to. And "Guiding Light" is a ballad, the slowest and sparsest song on the album. You can guess what it might sound like when they turn up the, ahem, friction, as on the song, "Friction," a bit of an angsty rave-up, and of course the joyous album-opener, "See No Evil," which sounds like the Ramones wrote a song with the Byrds, except the guitar playing and the vocals are better. "Venus" is another joyful pop number, with the great line "I fell right into the arms…of Venus de Milo." Of course the 12-minute title track is the pinnacle of the album -- of all the cathedrals the band builds, song by song, this is their most glorious structure. For those who don't know why some otherwise apparently sane people occasionally listen to the Grateful Dead, it's because when the Dead are at their soul-searching best (which is about 15% of the time, I'll give 'em that), they almost sound half as good as Television during the climactic moments of this song. And it's not a hippy jam, either…it's actually quite tough. (Side note: I can't believe Tom Verlaine gets away with that pose in the cover photo...what is this, Close Encounters of the Third Kind?)
       Postscript: A couple months ago I went to a wedding reception. The entertainment was The Grease Band, a few older fellas who play rock'n'roll sock hop hits from the 50s and 60s. While I was slow-dancing with Angelina during a version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," I heard something in the little rhythm guitar upstroke. "Television ripped this song off!" I said. Angelina said "You're right!" You know what I mean, right? I think the song is "Prove It."


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