307 CDR bootleg (CHICAGO MEDICAL SOCIETY)
one from the CMS. I had never heard of Dg. 307, and CMS
didn’t seem to have too much info, just that they
were from the Czech Republic, and rather shockingly atonal
for their time. Upon listening this has turned out to be
true. Dg. 307 are impressively weird and crude, kind
of the same Bizarro-world dirge music that Magma were the
kings of, but Dg. 307 are on the complete opposite end of
the skills-scale. As far as cromagnon art metal goes, I
think Cromagnon is the only similar thing, but Dg. 307 are
paradoxically both quieter and more brutal, and the paradox
sustains the length of an entire album a little bit better.
Who were Dg.
307? Where are they now? Typing it into Google gets back
a dizzying array of non-English sites. I really only found
one basic English-language home page, and even it says,
at the bottom, “Other parts of these sites are mostly
in Czech only.” Apparently the band started in 1973
and was a duo, featuring one member of the legendary Plastic
People of the Universe, either just before, during, or just
after that band's original lifetime. That's about all I
can gather. They’ve got a song embedded on the web
page, presumably of some current material. It’s kinda
prissy-sounding compared to this early ultra-crudity, but
on the page they apologize for their scary past, describing
their new music as “substantially more harmonious
and melodic structures than the pieces created in their
pre-exile years. Songs which were on the borderline between
music and raw ritual have over the years mellowed into a
more palatable and accessible repertoire.”
rather hear their “raw ritual” than their “substantially
more harmonious and melodic structures.” For an odd
and rather spooky example of the former, check out the a
capella fifth track on here, something called “SV.”
It’s not a song, it’s a whispered-and-shouted
spoken ritual of some kind, possibly satanic. Play this
really loud in a dark room at your next community haunted
house fundraiser and you will freak people out.
But, again about
the website, it does end with this evocative line: “It
has been said, that the world will not end with a mighty
bang, but with a howl. In the music of Dg.307 we can already
get a foretaste of the persistent whimpering...” They
got that right; before No New York made persistent
whimpering a cause celebre, Dg. 307 were THERE.
DUKE FAME: Regrets CD (GEEVES RECORDS)
Atlanta, “Duke Fame is an all-original Alternative
rock band…very proud of its Power Pop influences.”
I like me some Power Pop, like Big Star, Cheap Trick, the
Raspberries, the Shoes. Hell, the Who as collected on Meaty,
Beaty, Big & Bouncy. Bands that were Power Pop
before it became a term that bands could become self-conscious
about. Let's see, Duke Fame: the bass player is good, with
a bobbing/moving Entwistle kinda style. First song has a
good opening couplet, “You made a lot of mistakes/And
now you’re headin’ out of state,” which
kind of reminds me of one of Neil Young’s soft putdowns.
Fourth song “Born Ugly” starts with a feedback/chord
duet that could sit in there with the Xpressway Singles
comp I’ve been listening to, but that’s just
for the first five or ten seconds, after which another middle-of-the-road
rock song kicks in for the next four or five minutes. The
subject matter of "Born Ugly" might be a little
interesting; the first couplet is “New York City,
1972/Born in the Central Park Zoo.” On track eight,
another MOR strummer with a chorus hook that repeats “You’re
beautiful/and you’re so far away,” the guy sings
“Between your thighs/I wish I was there…”
and it doesn't work for me. Cheap Trick got away with that
naughty stuff because they had more exuberance and the language
was more veiled. Guitar solo on the last track “Sad
But Beautiful” kind of soars, but the songs never
quite do like the good/great Power Pop.
BOB DYLAN AND THE BAND: The Basement
Tapes 2LP (COLUMBIA)
finally listened to this for the first time in 1998 or thereabouts
when I borrowed it from the Bennett-Martin Library in downtown
Lincoln, Nebraska. I was immediately intrigued by it, puzzled
by and smiling at the sprightly lo-fi soul rock and long-gone
balladry. As the record went on, the smile got bigger, and
I think it was during "Yea! Heavy And A Bottle Of Bread"
when I actually fell in love. Before returning it to the
library after two weeks, I made a cassette dub of it, which
I listened to over and over in my car while delivering pizzas,
three ten-hour shifts a week. My cassette player flipped
sides automatically and I swear the album stayed in the
deck for a month straight that summer. I binged on it so
hard that I was mumbling the melodies of its phrases in
my sleep, and making up new words to their cadences during
my waking hours. I was so intrigued by Dylan's near-constant
lyrical chicanery that I started obsessively fast forwarding
past the Band songs (except the sublime Richard Manuel tour
de force "Katie's Been Gone"). I was finally knocked
back on the wagon when I bought a very nice copy of the
album on used vinyl ($10) and gave the tape away so I wouldn't
be able to listen to it in the car anymore.
And hat's how
I kicked The Basement Tapes; now, I only pull out
the vinyl copy once in a blue moon. The reason I've got
it out right now is that I just read a certain few sentences
the new Neil Young
bio by Jimmy McDonough, that made me want to hear
it again. “By Christmas of [1967, the year the Beatles
released Sgt. Pepper], stores would be full of
overblown concept-album ‘masterpieces’ impossible
to duplicate for a live audience... Predictably, the only
one who didn’t lose his head was Dylan, who retreated
to Woodstock with the Band to record the most unproduced,
spontaneous and truly psychedelic music of his life: The
quite thought of The Basement Tapes as psychedelic,
but of course it is, with that bleary, hazy, somewhat
moldy basement sound, and Dylan’s lyrical flights
of fancy. (I mean, what's that one line about “One
bird book and a buzzard that crawls" or is that even
what he says??) And still one of the great albums of white
soul music. (Which is really all this is, no matter what
kind of genius tag you ascribe it.) That achingly Garth-drenched
ballad “Goin’ to Acapulco” is the song
I really wanted to revisit, drawn out sooooo slow, Dylan
emulating Helm with his vocal approach, whether he knows
it or not. (He possibly does.) I can't believe that
the chorus goes “Goin' to Acapulco/Goin' on the run/Goin’
down to see soft gut/Goin’ to have some fun."
I mean, "soft gut"?? And then, I can't believe
how the band stops on a dime and Robertson continues with
that double-stop turnaround stuff and the singers stretch
out that “YEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!”, and then, after
The Band starts up again, add another “Goin’
to have some fun,” with what seems like irony, or
resignation, or disbelief. It’s one of the most heartbreaking
choruses I’ve ever heard. Hello, my name is Greil
Marcus. I have to go now. I leave you with the complete
lyrics. (Count the innuendos; check your answers at the
I'm going down to Rose Marie's
She never does me wrong.
She puts it to me plain as day
And gives it to me for a song.
It's a wicked life but what the hell
Everybody's got to eat
And I'm just the same as anyone else
When it comes to scratchin' for my meal
Goin' to Acapulco
Goin' on the run
Goin' down to see soft gut
Goin' to have some fun
Goin' to have some fun
Now, whenever I get up
And can't find what I need
I just make it down to Rose Marie's
And get something quick to eat
It's not a bad way to make a living
And I ain't complainin' none.
For I can blow my plum and drink my rum
And then go on home and have my fun.
Goin' to Acapulco
Goin' on the run.
Goin' down to see soft gut.
Goin' to have some fun.
Goin' to have some fun.
Now, if someone offers me a joke
I just say no thanks.
I try to tell it like it is
And keep away from pranks.
Now everytime, you know, the well breaks
I just go pump on it some.
Rose Marie, she likes to go to big places
And just set there waitin' for me to come.
Goin' to Acapulco
Goin' on the run.
Goin' down to see some girl
Goin' to have some fun.
Goin' to have some fun.
Solid State Alone CD (BENT RECORDS) Chicago
one-man project that seems to be aspiring to the whole soft-drone
post-rock style that seems to be well-liked in (t)his city.
However, there’s something about Echolalia that doesn't
sound especially Midwestern, which is to say it doesn't
dwell in the usual monochrome way-too-post-Slint melancholy.
(Can anyone actually listen to entire Mogwai songs?) Echolalia
is playful and tries different things; some of Solid
State Alone reminds me of the utter twee-quirk of Cluster’s
weird masterpiece One Hour, which was to 90s psych-improv
as the Sparks were to 70s glitter rock. “810iRu”
may be in a basic Krautrock instrumental style, but I love
the jammy bass line its built around so much that it's a
great track anyway. I don't know, this is just a solid album.
IS THE MAGICK NUMBER: How Many Pieces of the Puzzle Can The
Mind Go Without? CD (SOUND@1/
me a year or two to get around to getting this NNCK-related
release even though for a time there I was an actual NNCK
collector. (Stay tuned for the primer!) When I did finally
buy it for $3 at
Omaha's Antiquarium (discounted from $12.50), I took
it home and it came up on the changer right after To Live
and Shave in L.A.’s 30-Minute Mannercreme.
I thought the raging Shave sound would make any NNCK-related
project come off as pretty mellow, but the record holds up
to it surprisingly well, even as a piece of rant-rock. Sure,
it is technically mellower, but not as mellower as you’d
think. The first track is like 29 minutes long and stays surprisingly
interesting throughout. No drums or anything really besides
just spaced-out guitar and vocals that build and release several
times, slightly differently each time, with the grunting vocals
bringing the rant. Three shorter tracks round out the CD nicely,
the last one being a straight-up and spaced-out new urban
country blues song. Of course, with the rather vast NNCK discography,
this record runs the risk of answering its own title's question,
but if you're a fan at all, I wouldn't be too quick to overlook
EELS: The Eyeball of Hell CD (SCAT)
this month I’ve come across two similar quotes about
a band we all know called The Sex Pistols. First, Tom Smith
wrote, as you can read elsewhere
in the pages of this very e-zine, that “a photo of
the Sex Pistols in an April ’76 issue of Melody Maker….was
almost as significant as actually hearing their music.”
Second, Mr. Seymour Glass, in an interview by/at 5minutestolive.com,
said, “I remember reading about the Sex Pistols and
being extremely unimpressed when I finally heard them. I
thought their music would be artier.”
I can’t help but
think that the sound both Smith and Glass were expecting
from the amazing-looking Pistols was almost exactly that
of the even more amazing looking Electric Eels. Even in
1973, when the Eels first started playing together, the
world was ready; after producing both the Vietnam War and
the Stooges' Raw Power, how could it not be? But,
as the All Music Guide tells us, "[The Electric Eels]
played a total of six gigs (all of which ended in violence
and/or arrest)..." By 1975, they were broken up for
good, two years before the Sex Pistols had even formed.
The Pistols were still the first band to get a record deal.
No wonder Smith and Glass heard 'em first.
The only Electric Eels record
ever put out that wasn't a posthumous anthology was a posthumous
7-inch 45, "Cyclotron" b/w "Agitated"
(Rough Trade, 1978). Not only did they only play six shows,
they also "never saw the inside of a recording studio."
They did record some practice space demos, though, all of
which could surely fit on one CD. There have been four different
attempts by mostly fly-by-night labels to assemble the definitive
Electric Eels LP. They're all great, because the Eels were
great, but they're just barely different from each other,
and none of them are quite complete. Two of them are already
out of print. The Scat Records website even has this
chart that painstakingly documents the similarities
and differences between the four titles, which somehow makes
it even more confusing. Having a Philosophical Investigation
With The Electric Eels (Tinnitus, 1989) has been called
"their long-lost LP," but I'm not so sure if the
Eels ever even so much as drew up a track listing. The Eyeball
of Hell liner notes are by original Eels John Morton
and Brian McMahon; though both say a lot, they say nothing
about any planned LP.
All of the Eels
anthologies, including Having a Philosophical Investigation
With..., are built around the same slew of demos, recorded
on three separate nights in April and May of 1975, with
drums played by future Cramp Nick "asleep on the floor
tom" Knox (as Morton dubs him). The thing is, and correct
me if I'm wrong, the Eels didn't even have a drummer for
most of the time they were a band. For that reason, I think
the Those Were Different Times collection (also
on Scat) is perhaps the most definitive Eels release, as
it heavily documents the drummerless period with a smattering
of wild & crappy practice and live tapes that are to
this day on no other collection. Times also includes
similarly great exclusive material by Mirrors and The Styrenes.
It's a 3-way split CD (the format of the future) and the
vinyl version is a triple 10-inch. You should get it.
Get The Eyeball
of the Hell too. It's the only anthology to reissue
the actual tracks of the Rough Trade 7-inch (for some reason,
the others all used a different version of "Agitated").
It also has a never-before-released standout in "Girl,"
which is almost like a ballad, but like Iggy's "Gimme
Danger" was almost a ballad, it seethes with both loathing
(the lyrics) and longing (the music and performance). Just
listen to that guitar lead, and listen to the way Dave E
sings, making even the line "You're a....girl!"
mean just as much as everything else. Another new favorite
is "Bunnies," which was on the other anthologies
but I guess I didn't really notice. It's a Morton composition
which goes, "Little baby bunnies/They are warm and
friendly/Watch them as they play/Watch them as they work,"
and actually gets nicer from there. Then there's the exquisite
guitar mayhem swing of "Spinach Blasters," with
fucking amazing sci-fi lyrics by Dave E: "Scream miracle
cortex fall and aligned out of view/On the windowsill in
you room look at that line on view/On cortex mineral liquid
scars, Liquitex and marzipans/Melt on photon rays,/Lasers
happen to you again....Like duck blinds, the ones I used
to live in, I pass them all the time/Spin age blasters radio
cortex falls on the screen/Like video images of myself I
like them to be seen/Happens all the time..." (Now
who was that you said invented cyberpunk?)
The song that's really
melting my face right now though is called "Accident"
(which was on everything but Having a Philosophical...,
which I can't believe I didn't notice), a McMahon composition
that carries on the great tradition of revved-up rock 'n'
roll about the automobile, except now the subject matter
has gotten EXTREMELY sardonic: "Hope no one sees me
in this accident/With my feet down through the floorboards/And
my head up through the busted glass/With my face smashed
against the dash/There's no attraction like a fatal crash,"
and the line-ending "Ah ah ah-ah" hook is GARGANTUAN.
The song also features a stunning effect, explained thusly
in Paul Marotta's Recording Notes: "John had recently
bought a phase shifter and asked me to hook it up to one
side of the mix so that all the instruments went through
it." You could call this the first 'American punk dub'
car song, but I'll just call it a long degeneration away
from Gary Usher.
So yeah, The
Eyeball of Hell is my pick for an Electric Eels anthology,
but I still could've just burned it off of a friend or made
do with the other releases. But nope, I actually bought
this one, one because it was cheap, only $10 postpaid directly
from Scat, but mainly because of the package, a full-color
collage by Morton on the cover, in his trademark 'disgusting
digital' style, and the copious liner notes, which include
complete lyrics and the aforementioned lengthy remembrances
by band members. All of this was just too involved and essential
to be photocopied. Let that be a lesson, major labels. If
you put out an essential package, you won’t lose money
off downloads. ‘Kay?
FAIR & R. STEVIE MOORE: FairMoore CD (OLD
always admired the Old Gold label for the way they've stood
alone for the furry-freak cassette-tape underground of Atlanta's
most interesting. Of course, that's just from magazine ads
-- I've never gotten my hands, or ears, on an Old Gold release,
until this review copy of FairMoore came along,
and whaddaya know, it's one of their rare non-regional artists.
Oh well, you gotta love Jad Fair, but jeez, having him team
up with R. Stevie Moore sounds like a little too much of
a nerd-rock summit. I mean, why not just throw in Eugene
Chadbourne, Donald the Nut, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny
and make it a supergroup?!
Nah, this is good.
It's basically Jad Fair with R. Stevie Moore as his back-up
band. Fair's credit reads simply "vocals, percussion
looping," while Moore plays "guitars, bass, keyboards,
tapes, turntable, drums on 14, 15, 16, 21, percussives,
backing vocals, lead vocal on 11." Only one lead vocal,
but the music he produces is endearingly weird.....trip-hop.
That's right, folks, this is pretty much Jad Fair's rap
debut, or at least Moore's trip hop music makes you realize
that Jad has always been one of the original white rappers
(like Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman). At 48 minutes and
21 rather similar songs, the album does feel a little long,
especially because Jad's new rapping/reading style doesn't
really create a whole lot of hooks. (Though a couple doozies
do pop up here and there when Jad sings a little bit, like
on "Evil Eyes.")
8.01% Action CDR (HUMBUG)
Action: as performed by Kjetil D. Brandsdal and Sindre Bjerga
during 1996. This recording was originally released as a
cassette on Kylie Productions (UK). This 're-issue' is Humbug
007." A lot like AMMusic, right down to the post-Rowe
vague-scrape and Tilbury-esque piano haunting. There's no
Eddie Prevost counterpart, though; Fibo-Trespo is a drummerless
duo (for this release anyway). And, where AMM has a museum
vibe (because that's where their career has taken them),
Fibo-Trespo have a living room vibe. Good rainy day music,
with its own particular melancholy, almost always a saving
grace. Unfortunately, my CDR has some glitches on it that
are pretty disruptive (although they have their way of blending
in to music that is this....abstract). Damn, it really is
too bad about the glitches….track one, now at the
25 minute mark, is going into some really quiet and sparse
shaken metal passages while a distant electronic delay pattern
makes like a helicopter just overhead, and I really want
to be able to hear it. [.....] Holy shit, it's now almost
10 minutes later and I was doing something else and I just
realized that this whole time the CD has been skipping,
stuck around the 26 minute mark, playing various short passages
over and over again! It’s working exactly like a lock
groove! But it never quite skips the same way twice! Did
they do this on purpose?!
Holy shit, ten
minutes later and I’m still listening,
and still hearing new stuff. According to the LED, the track
has worked its way from the 26-minute mark back to the 23-minute
mark. The random skipping segments are still producing the
same beautiful hum. I really think I could listen to this
for hours. And, as with all Humbug releases, the ultra-cheap
flat-bag CDR packaging is surprisingly aesthetically pleasing,
thanks here to a lovely inserted color painting,
printed on quality cardstock, as seen as the background
tile for this page."Contact Humbug at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Fibo-Trespo at email@example.com."
LUTTENBACHERS: Infection And Decline LP (TROUBLEMAN UNLIMITED)
picked this album up and listened to it for the very first
time. This after seeing the band play this material like
7 times in 6 months last year, and publishing a review of
this album a couple issues ago by John Ruhter, a review
that sparked a little not so playful badinage between Ruhter
and Mr. Luttenbacher himself, C. Weasel Walter. I'm sure
Weasel knows that if his band is going to talk about Destruction,
Chaos, and Trauma, he can expect some negative feedback.
But, see, here we go again, another review about all this
sort of thing and not about the music.
So about the music:
in my opinion, for a band I watched pretty closely this
year, Infection and Decline is a smashing success.
The now-defunct bass-bass-drums trio, the lineup that first
brought Walter's brutal prog concept into actual execution,
has been encapsulated almost perfectly. I think the sound
recording is excellent. I don't notice the excessive treble
that Ruhter did; what I hear is a sort of 'dry' approach,
a legacy from Walter's, ahem, jazz background, production
that makes the Luttenbachers' reductio ad absurdum random-number
theory compositions sound more like obscure fingers pecking
away at an adding machine than ever, quite a break from
the usual shit-soaked-and-screaming noise-rock aesthetic.
As for the album-closing
Magma cover (all 18 minutes of "De Futura"), apparently
I saw the Luttenbachers play it live a couple times but
at the time didn't know the Magma original well enough to
recognize it. I don't remember them playing any particular
song that seemed like it was 18 minutes long, either, but
that often happens to me during 45-minute all-instrumental
sets of well-rehearsed fast-change random-number theory
chaos-metal compositions with very little time in between
songs. Having recently grown to REALLY LIKE the Magma version,
I was expecting to be disappointed by the cover....but it's
more or less reverential and almost perfect. I didn't think
it would do justice to the honest-to-goodness FUNK of the
Magma version, but it really does.