ISSUE 14   WINTER 2002/2003
page 21 of 27




Another 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.”
        I’d personally 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.

From 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.

I 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 in
Shakey, 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 Basement Tapes.”
        I’d never 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 end!)

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 down
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.

ECHOLALIA: 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.

EGYPT IS THE MAGICK NUMBER: How Many Pieces of the Puzzle Can The Mind Go Without? CD (SOUND@1/

Took 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 it.

ELECTRIC EELS: The Eyeball of Hell CD (SCAT)
Just 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, 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?

I've 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: 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 Contact Fibo-Trespo at"

Finally 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.



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