BAND: 122701 LP (HP CYCLE)
remember the RH Band? Haven't heard from 'em for so long that
I forgot how damn good they were. Hearing this makes me remember
a time when Opprobrium and Halana ruled the underground music
criticism roost, before the spazz-rock/noise/no wave backlash
against 'improvised' and 'drone' and 'folk-based' took hold.
Well this album is such a fine slab of sheer atmosphere that
it's got me pulling out those back issues of Opprobrium! Two
side-long pieces that softly wrap a giant fist around you,
raise you two feet off the ground, and then let you down very
gently twenty minutes later. After I played it for the first
time, I immediately played it again, and then I played it
a third time. I started to wonder if it would be the only
record I played for the rest of my life. It didn't seem like
too bad of an idea, but eventually I started pulling out other
stuff -- such as the RH Band's First Tone CD from
a few years ago -- which is perhaps even better than this
MUSIC: BBC Sessions 1972-1973 CDR (BOOTLEG)
I work let me do the old borrow & burn for this one. All
he gave me was the disc itself, no case, and no track listing,
just the info you see in the header, hand-scrawled with that
CDR trader standard, a Sharpie marker. Despite all that spuriousness,
this just might be the most essential document of Roxy's 'Eno
period' I own, even more so than Roxy Music and For
Your Pleasure, the two official documents. Presented
are thirteen never-released live performances, nine of them
from three different BBC Radio sessions, and the other four
from an August 1972 concert, right after the debut was released.
With help from the new
"internet web" I've thrown together what looks to
be a pretty accurate track listing for this guy/man/dude.
Ten of the thirteen performances are of songs that were on
the debut, and four of these were recorded before its release,
featuring original guitarist Davy O'List (ex-The Nice), whose
raw and spacy Brit-blues style is markedly different than
Manzanera's odd Argentinian future-sheen. But whether it's
O'List or Manzanera, all of the tracks are, well . . . revelatory.
(And definitely seminal.) There are no overdubs on any of
the tracks; this is live Roxy, and they are a tight, frantic
doo-wop art-greaser punk rock band. Eno's 'electrosizzle'
spits and gnashes so far out in the foreground that you almost
forget how playful it is. His 'live post-production' techniques
are much higher in the mix than they are on the official debut,
and more than once they dropped my jaw, like every time he
processes Andy Mackay's doo-wop sax into whirling spikes,
and he makes me laugh when he takes a Bryan Ferry harmonica
solo into even more dubious territory. Anyway, I'll be listening
to this more than the actual debut, I think (but still not
as much as For Your Pleasure).
O CEMENT: High Speed Electronic Cardboard CD (TOYO)
this downright large package in the mail from Toyo. What could
be in this bag? A crazy blue blast of silk-screened art with
the word "EMENT" at the bottom, no wait it's "CEMENT,"
oh, this is a record by Rubber O Cement. Peel off the tape,
reach in, and the screen-printed paper is wrapped around a
. . . book? They printed up a book for this release?? Oh shit,
that's the back cover, it's actually just a 'found' comic
book, issue 18 of Clive Barker's Hellraiser! "The Coming
of the Harrowers -- Hell's Hour Is At End!" And the CD
is just stuck inside the pages of the comic, in a paper envelope,
along with a near-useless track listing and the usual screed-dotted
obscurist one-sheet. As a release by a Caroliner side project,
this strikes me almost exactly like the Big Techno Werewolves
release. Both are on Toyo, both come in great packaging, and
both seem to go in the same single direction from Caroliner:
a straight-down big drop into what sounds like TOTAL CARELESSNESS.
This one a little more so because the Big Techo Werewolves
at least have one vocal song. ("StarMystic," very
great.) Other than that, I know nothing about who from Caroliner
is doing what. Actually, I know nothing about Caroliner, even
though I have three of their LPs. Anyway, Rubber O Cement
initially seems so careless and faceless I don't think I'll
ever listen to it again, but then I realize that it has tons
of edits so it really isn't necessarily careless and I might
just have to keep listening to it. (Actually Track 17 is a
full-fledged melodic psych jam, very great.)
(Now, I think you should
go look up this CD on All Music Guide and see the cover, which
is a different issue of Clive Barker's Hellraiser than mine
came in -- did Toyo find 500 different copies of various Hellraiser
issues in order to package this edition-of-500 CD release?)
A Feeding Ventrolineatus (Type Species) 3" CD (IRUNRAP)
3" CDs just the cutest little things? I think I have
a crush on 'em. The music on this one is pretty good too.
Here's what the press release says: "Scutopus is a genus
of deep-sea shell-less mollusc (Aplacophora) that contains
four species. Scutopus is also the electronic music pseudonym
of Wendell Edwards. This 3" CD is the first of four releases
in the 'feeding' series. This first release, 'A feeding ventrolineatus
(type species)' will be followed by megaradulatus,
robustus, and chilensis which are the remaining
species in the genus." I know that was very Forced Exposure
of me to quote all that, but I just wanted to show y'all what
a science geek this guy is. Thing is, the guy's label is called
Rap," which is a Dr. Dooom song. So science geek
and rap geek . . . and electronic geek too, because this is
some pretty hardcore musique. No quasi-rave moves, this is
just the sound of a broken machine spitting out an unforgiving
stream of mangled 1's and 0's. One 19-minute track. Not a
lot of variation, which makes it less a 'track' and more like
a 'sculpture.' (Other notes: Scutopus has a connection to
the Panty Boys, who were reviewed way back in like the 2nd
BRICK: Shy Brick Live CDR
this band usually goes by "SB" or "The SB"
but I'm just having fun because Shy Brick (or I've also heard
The Shy Bricks) is a pretty cool ass name. Kind of a low key
band, basically just drone, sort of ominous and atmospheric.
But they do get heavy. One of the guys in this band, like
99% of all rock-related musicians, sometimes plays drunk,
and he told me that when the music gets heavy and dense he
is likely to actually pass out and sleep, or even get nauseous.
And even if he sleeps, you can't tell, because his sounds
and the sound of the band just keep going. Often pretty low-key,
like on this release they're 8 minutes in and it's still very
low-key and background, and if you listen close, very good,
just mellow black tones ringing along. They are playing melodies,
which is what makes it work. The track is called "sb213
. . . 032902 . . . free 103.9," which if I'm decoding
correctly means "the 213th release and/or performance
by the Shy Bricks, which took place on March 29th, 2002, at
the venue called Free 103.9." Okay, I.Q. test question:
Track two is titled "sb216 . . . 041202 . . . northsix."
Explicate please. Answer: "The 216th release
and/or performance by the Shy Bricks, which took place on
April 12th, 2002, at the venue called North Six."
Absolutes CD (LOAD)
thing I notice is Mark Morgan's voice and how I appreciate
it. 'Cause you know Sightings are still just a Neo Punk Brut
band, and in fact I just read that they started as an instrumental
Punk Brut band, but Morgan eventually started singing and
it all just made more sense that way. Damn right it does,
regardless of whether or not you ever understand a word he
says. (I don't think I have yet.) Next thing I notice is that
they are really breaking down the blast and trying some new
shit, but not in the same way they did on Michigan Haters.
(On live show evidence, they're already breaking it down further
in almost totally new ways.) Here you notice it with the killer
second track, "Infinity of Stops," in which the
drums are either not being played or are so tuned into the
blast that the frequency whites out just like the background
of the album cover. Track three, "Anna Mae Wong"
starts out as lumbering improv! Sun City Girls on 16 RPM.
Fuckin' HEAVY. Actually the whole 7-minute thing is a lumbering
improv. Then track four, "Bishops" (always with
the killer simple titles), sounds to me like parts of that
Caroliner show I just watched on video over at C. LoPresti's.
Then track five "Canadian Money" is like an expansion
on "Chili Dog" from Michigan Haters. I
used to listen to "Chili Dog" over and over and
over again, and it was, like, better than NNCK, but "Canadian
Money" is like the story being told again with more vocabulary.
Track six, "Right Side of the Hall" definitely has
vocals, ranting vocals, and the music rants too. Instead of
a dance-groove (which a lot of Sightings tracks actually are,
like even "Canadian Money") it's a rant-groove.
Rant-grooves aren't always my cup of tea, especially when
they aren't performed by the Sun City Girls (them again??),
but this one is so blown-out I love it. Waitaminnit, am I
doing a track by track review here? C'mon, that's not how
you review Sightings. If I did that, I'd have to use the word
"Neubauten" when I write about the last track, "Reduction,"
because I'm a lazy critic, and then you might not buy the
album, even though the track still rules. (I know that in
my entire life I've only bought two records that were described
by somehow using the word "Neubauten": Pussy Galore's
Sugarshit Sharp, and Strategies Against Architecture
by Einsterzende Neubauten.) So forget Neubauten, and just
buy Absolutes, because it's JUST ABOUT AS GREAT as
Michigan Haters. Hell, it might even be "their
most fully realized album to date," but that's one phrase
I would NEVER use in a review.
SLASHER FILM FESTIVAL STRATEGY: An Introduction to Mayhem
7-inch (LIQUID DEATH/HELLO PUSSY)
I'm reading the liner notes right, they're a duo from South
Carolina. "First pressing: 300 black, 150 white, 150
clear, 100 limited edition numbered red." I got one of
the clear ones. Strange group here -- they really do sound
like they're making soundtracks to slasher films, with eerie
keyboards hitting atonal creepy notes. And I would probably
be saying that even if the group wasn't named The Slasher
Film Festival Strategy. I don't know, everything's reminding
me of Wolf Eyes today. I listened to Mugger, and
then I listened to the Idea Fire Company's Anti-Natural
LP, and that reminded me of a slightly less horrific
Wolf Eyes, and now this 7-inch also has that horror soundtrack
feeling. Much less brutal and crazy though, this is more measured
and Residents-like. It's good. Side two seems to be regular
grooves and all, but there's no music, just silence. Art statement,
or pressing plant error? I don't care.
Snakes & Ladders CD (DOUBTFUL PALACE)
Blastitude Compound has gotten a lot of records sent to it
over the last couple years, and from looking and listening
to these disparate yet united recordings I've detected the
emergence of a "scene," a "category,"
that can't be specifically described as either Noise, No Wave,
Jazz, Alternative, Indie, or even Electronica. This sub-subgenre
incorporates elements of all these subgenres, but it has it's
own character and feel that I think can best be described
as Artsy, or Arty. Not Art Rock, just Art, because these records
usually don't really rock. Here are some common attributes
of the "Artsy" genre:
1. Even though Artsy records
are almost always self-released, the artist creates an elaborate
label name and puts it on the spine and the back cover. Minimum
of two words, and always some florid adjective/adjective/noun
2. Often packaged with a multi-page
booklet, because the artist has so much to say/explain/show.
3. Album may have a "cast
of characters." These may or may not be musicians on
the album, but are probably at least characters in the 'album
4. All of the above critique
governments vaguely, and/or contain a 'dadaist' version of
the national anthem, all of which may or may not be set to
5. Through packaging and/or
concept, the record becomes an 'art object' or 'quasi-installment.'
Slaw's Snakes & Ladders is a prime example: the
front cover is an actual fold-out board version of the classic
board game that the album title refers to. (I grew up calling
it Chutes & Ladders). There's even a little six-sided
die bouncing around under the see-through CD spine, so you
can theoretically play your own game of Snakes & Ladders
while listening! How precious! I kept waiting to play the
game with my wife while I listened to the CD so I could, I
don't know, review it properly, but jeezus, was I falling
for the precious-ness or what?! Hook, line & sinker! I
can just hear Slaw in an interview: "If we can get just
one of our audience, just one, to play the game while they
listen to the CD, then we'll feel like we've done our job
. . ."
So now I've finally just
put the damn thing in without playing the game because I know
I'm not gonna review it otherwise and uhh, you don't need
to be playing the game at all, it's just a bunch of kooky
electronic music with weird occasional processed vocals. Thirty
(!!!!!) years ago it would've been on Ralph Records. Slaw
even lives in San Francisco. Oh, wait, here's the concept:
"The game board represents the individual's psychic growth
pattern, either climbing a ladder toward perfect mental balance
or sliding down a snake's gullet toward the abyss of base
animal instincts. The participants roll their dice, move their
mice, and program their CD players to follow and support their
halting progress as they slink rat-like through the ever-shifting
topography of life's maze toward the smelly cheese of enlightenment."
I guess you play the track that corresponds with whatever
square you land on. There's 99 squares, numbered, so there's
99 tracks, which is pretty fucking mind-numbing. Oh yeah .
6. The sheer amount of
creativity on display often creates a primarily numbing sensation.
Okay here, I'll show you
what I mean by describing a couple tracks from somewhere in
the middle of the 99: right now he's singing new lyrics to
the old "In Paris France where the ladies wear no pants"
melody which is alternated with these super-cheesy hard-techno
metal riffs, which is followed by 45 seconds of dark ambient.
It's kind of like Faust Tapes, all these crazy instrumentals,
annoying little pop-ditties, harsh noise bits, even a 36-second
recreation of Eve trying to talk Adam into eating the apple,
with what sounds like the same guy portraying both parts.
Actually, thinking of it all like Faust Tapes makes me kind
of like it. Like, this could be a lot of fun to have at a
Oh wait, I just found
out that the CD actually has 100 tracks -- one of them is
virtual! Which reminds me:
7. If on CD, albums
by Artsy groups will contain some sort of virtual content!
(This one and #2 and #5 are all kind of the same thing, I
SRDENOVIC: Live at the Pack Horse -- Leeds CD (STINKY HORSE
is hands down the best album of protest folk to come out since
the Bush administration stole the country. Oh wait, it's the
only protest folk album to come out since then -- this is
the 21st Century, the Era of Complacency. Okay, it's from
the U.K., so it's about the Blair administration too. Either
way, I say all this just because of track two, which is a
cover of "Islam Uber Alles," the devastating song
by Srdenovic's countrymen The Ceramic Hobs (original version
reviewed in a previous ish). Listen as the audience laughs
nervously! Let's make Bush and Blair laugh nervously too!
And then quit their jobs! Of course the whole entire CD would
be an affront to Bush and Blair Bobbsey, even if he's just
singing about a "Pig Stealing Man," or a "Sweet
Tooth, " or how "The Cook Is The Man With The Pan."
Two other titles do carry some political connotation -- "History
is History" and "Home to Roost" -- but it's
all protest folk: protesting fucking squares who get too much
money. Or you could call the style "macabre folkie,"
like Liz Armstrong did in The Chicago Reader, and that's pretty
good, though on this disc the folkiness is pretty much flooded
out by tape loops and TG style animosity. And still the audience
laughs nervously, leaving me hoping for more of those Royal
Albert Hall style confrontations that never seem to come in
this Era of Complacency. Or is complacency the new victory?
CITY GIRLS: 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda
remember this album. It was released in 1996 as a 2 CD set.
Hadn't listened to this in like three years, and then their
great Chicago show of November 2002 moved me to pull it off
the shelf for a road trip with J.C. Crawford (not the same
J.C. Crawford who served as Spiritual Advisor to the MC5).
On the road, we listened to all of disc one but couldn't really
hear it because of the engine and conversation. The late-in-the-disc
(track #15? 17?) gamelan throwdown "Delong Song"
made us stop talking and pay attention (it's often singled
out by fans, actually), and on the strength of that track
and how it was surrounded by all this STUFF, J.C. wanted to
borrow it when we got back from the road trip. He ended up
keeping it for like three months so now I'm FINALLY listening
to it for the first time since seeing their show.
It's funny, from day
I bought it I recognized this huge album's scope and command,
but I never really fell in love with it -- like I said, I
managed to go three years without listening to it even once.
But now, after getting it back out and only listening to parts
of it a couple times, I've actually called it (once, in conversation),
"the best Sun City Girls album." Certainly many
pieces of the puzzle fit together for awhile within 330,003's
expanse. For example, "Apna Desh" (disc one, track
three) is one of their very best (i.e. hookiest) ethnoforgery
pop-rockers (It goes "BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA! / BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA!
/ BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA-DA-DA-Da-da-da-da-da-da .
. . . . . Shum num nee.....," etc. -- I also get a special
kick out of the last verse as sung solo by Brother Rick Bishop!).
Another connection I've discovered is that of "Theme
from 'Sangkala'," which I now realize is another version
of a great song from the Libyan Dream CD (CFR#8 or
someshit) as "Sangkala Suite," and that makes me
cool (because it's a great tune). "Insect Dilemma"
(disc one, track thirteen) is a new version of one of the
umpteen fantastic Alvarius B songs that he recorded solo on
his barely seen self-titled 1998 (?) double LP. The aforementioned
"Delong Song" is disc one, track fourteen. The 34-minute
(?!) "Ghost Ghat Trespass/
Sussmeier" (disc two, track four) is an astounding piece
of music (recorded live at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco),
thanks of course to Eyvind Kang. (Around the 25 minute mark
the noodle actually does get a little overcooked, but by the
end they have rallied so convincingly that another tally goes
into the 'W' column.) Anyway, thank GOODNESS I don't have
that goddamn triple LP reissue version, because I just cooked
dinner, ate it, and washed the dishes while this baby played
and I didn't ONCE have to stop what I was doing to go flip
HAND OF THE MAN: Headdress LP (RECORDS)
everyone, but this is one of my disappointments of the issue.
Maybe it's because on my copy there's a big spot right in
the middle of the first track where some paper got glued directly
onto the vinyl, so for the first 2 or 3 minutes I hear this
big rhythmic ka-CHUNK once per revolution and it's louder
than the actual opening jam. But even after the marring ends
2-3 minutes in, I still feel like AMM + Santana, big deal?
I've heard this kind of psych-rock jamming a LOT in the last
few years. I mean, I like it, I'm on their side, but I'd be
digging on it harder if I hadn't already heard a few Siltbreeze
and Majora and Sound@One releases. I'm sure I would love their
show. The band name is incredible, and the cover art is beautiful,
and for people who have missed Siltbreeze and Sound@One (there's
still quite a few) this would of course be a recommended "way
CAN UNLEARN GUITAR: No Strings CD (YELPCO/SUNSHIP/
is a one-man project (only 2 of 21 tracks have other musicians)
by one Andrew Alper. I always hear that this guy was in the
Bunnybrains, but I don't think it's the Bunnybrains from Connecticut
who've been written about before in this mag. Or was it? Anyway,
he's kind of connected to the Sunship/Breathmint/Phi-Phenomena
cartel that always team up about 17 labels to co-release albums,
which is what they've done here too. He had some wacked-out
live tracks on the excellent Phi-Phenomena compilation CD,
but this release is actually mostly singer-songwriter stuff,
definitely on the eccentric side, but often surprisingly 'straight.'
Don't let that make you shrug, because he's good, and smart,
and profane, and he mixes up the folk with wacked-out noise
and other intangible stuff -- I don't know what the F is going
on with this one live track called "Meow," but it
sounds like a really good time. Then there's "58 Days
On The Road," which is a shockingly deep confessional
about life on the rock 'n' roll road, and as deserving of
canonization as Seger's "Turn the Page." The very
next song after that, "Tell Me Sumthin'," you can
feel a Smiths/Bowie/solo Iggy hybrid, with Prince in the falsetto.
(When in doubt always compare stuff to Prince.) The album
really chills towards the end with like this toy piano 'process
music' instrumental and "A Real Live Cow," which
is actually a beautiful acoustic folk song, and even when
one stanza changes the title to "a real live fuck"
it's still beautiful. Y'know Beck was actually a pretty good
surreal folk/blues singer before he got swamped in big-money
Los Angeles production values and hipsters-at-a-costume-party
irony, but U Can Unlearn Guitar is better.
USAISAMONSTER: Masonic Chronic LP (INFRASOUND)
had heard of this band before and for some reason had them
pegged as yet another fashionably neo no wave group that,
post-W.K., tries way too hard to prove that all they want
to do is party. Boy was I ever wrong; this might seriously
be the best rock band to come along in the last 20 years.
I can't believe I haven't figured this out yet and that it
took an unsolicited record sent in the mail for it to happen.
They're a duo, and occasionally the bass-or-guitar gets run
through a pedal that makes it sound a lot like Brian Gibson's,
but this is a lot more diffuse than Lightning Bolt. This is
like pro-pot apocalyptic protest folk that turns into crazy
lo-fi Sabbath progscapes, and only then, maybe, into L.B.
territory (but it doesn't need to). It's crusty & psychedelic
freedom rock that still knows it's way all around skronk and
noise and abandon. In fact, it knows it's way around the ENTIRE
history of heavy skunk music PERIOD. Too bad this is just
a 45 RPM EP. It's over way too damn quick. Luckily there are
more releases, and I'm going to get some!
'stYe CDR (PUBLIC
their names on the cover (Jeff Surak and James Guggino) like
it's some improvised jazz release but c'mon, they're called
V. (nothing wrong with that for a band name) and they aren't
improv, they're a no wave/noise duo, refreshingly minimalist
too. Actually, maybe they're sorta "drone" -- they
are instrumental -- but there's something edgier about it.
Some of it could pass for Dome or some of the mellower loop-based
moments from Nautical Almanac or Panicsville. In fact, the
sound of freely improvised tail-chasing honk-jazz really raises
its exhausted head on here, which makes it one of my favorite
Public Eyesore releases for a while, since the Old Bombs/Wolf
Eyes split and that hellish Yoko Sato guitar album. How's
the length? Way too f********ing long. Did we really want
V. to put out a triple LP? At least the music is really good.