#15    SUMMER 2003



This one just feels good to me. It's a cassette, and I love cassettes more than ever. Then there's the black & white xeroxed look to the thing, with fucked-up artwork -- that's the way DIY cassettes are supposed to look. Then there's the misspelling in the title -- very promising. Hell, the lineup is good too. With the cassette format sometimes it's kind of hard to tell when one track switches to the next. (See my "review" last ish of the great but impossible-to-keep-track-of-when-one-track-switches-to-the-next double-C60 comp Sounds For Collector Scum on the Seagull Tapes label, which, like Unread, is from Omaha.)
       But here, I'll try to run it down: King Frog = suburban gamelan. Baby crying, which makes me think it might be my baby for a second. But it isn't. Mattin = field recording of a vacuum cleaner? Heavy and short. Sistrum = the apparently non-metaphorically titled "Yahtzee vs. Tub Draining." Will Simmons = 'oriental' guitar. Charlie McAlister = lo-fi violin drone. Mammal = short, noisy, not as beat-oriented as a lot of Mammal stuff, but beats are in there. The Thunder Perfect = mellow naked wasted 'pretty' guitar. Sort of like a lower-key and a slightly less evil version of Pengo's "Ill-Fitting Tourniquet." Honeymuzzle = noise, good. Title: "oven." Perfect. Arnoux = excellent crunchy guitar sounds. Short. Made me think of Don Miller's Little Treatise On Morals. Remember that album? Classic, especially the cassette edition. Decaer Pinga = never quite know what to expect from these guys. Very large room-drone. Sort of like Birchville Cat Motel material that uses "vacuums." Smack Music 7 = Ms. Pinga (there's a picture of her on page 3) treats her shriek/screams. I like it better than Diamanda, definitely. Draw a straight line back to Yoko, but in Ms. Pinga's case the execution is every bit as good as the theory. James Davis = "Naturaliste Remix." More fine crunch and tape-tweak. I think he's remixing that "toy music" track from A Clamor Half-Heard. Okay here's where I kind of lose the play-by-play: for all I know I've heard both Nutrition Fun and The Mikroknytes and both have done more excellent short noise crunch pieces. Maybe we're already into A John Henry Memorial and their track "more bored." These three kind of run together for me, but I do know that the tape closes out with Das Torpedoes, doing a long-ass, super-stretched, ultra-slow hum that you have to turn up the stereo to really hear, and when you do, it's beautiful. I'd love a 74-minute version of this track on compact disc.

This one's historical. If the spirit-of-1993 No Wave revival didn't start in Chicago, it definitely started in Ann Arbor with the first Couch single (and Ann Arbor No Wave and Chicago No Wave was in fact the same scene -- not only were members shared, but they were only a couple hundred miles apart, so if you look at it from a global perspective they sort of were the same scene). Said single starts off this collection of the first eight Bulb Records 7-inch singles. I'm hooked right away with the first song, "Haters of Couch," and how the two guitar lines play off each other, one super-chugging pure motion, the other one a soft melodic descending line, possibly meant as a joke. The vocals are a little more run-of-the-mill than the music, but they are still definitive pressure-cooker nerd rantology, the kind of thing that second-tier no wavers are still imitating today.
      Next band is Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink. My favorite band name of all time, but they only put out a couple 7-inches I never tried to order, so this is the first time I've heard 'em. Great singer and a nasty band! They make a lot of fun of themselves being totally shitty on their totally shitty hand-scrawled covers, with slogans like "98% Talent Free!" and "Years of Practice" and "We Found A 4-Track," but I think they're pretty damn good. Among other things, they write a song called "I Love You" and make it new (it's an unabashed ballad, with the guitar strumming folk chords that are only slightly out of tune -- the WHPK writeup advises "Skip it, sounds like G&R," but I had already played it on the air by the time I read that because I thought it was great). "I'm a Spy" actually makes you say that Comets on Fire may be damn good but they weren't there first. Who knew?
       Cornelius Gomez also bring noise-rock. It's interesting how in place the David Wm. Sims influence is, but it's totally subverted by the "since it's summer and we're recording in my bedroom I'll play drums on my fan" percussion and the vocals, which sound like at least two different people yelping uncontrollably. (And the David Wm. Sims influence is really the Tracey Pew influence, which is why you'll like it better than just another Jesus Lizard jam anyway.)
       Next is The Monarchs, the most trad thing on here. Garage punk that could actually be described as "Estrus-like." There's enough tape-gruk for Bulb to wanna put it out, but if one of these songs came on the Maximum Rock 'n Roll radio show, you wouldn't bat an eyelash. Not one. Which is still a compliment, because I usually really liked that show.
       The first Monarchs song ("Wanted Man") is followed by like five minutes of silence. It must be there to represent the time it takes to go and flip a 7-inch single over from the A side to the B side, and they couldn't put in for every 7-inch because there wouldn't be room on the CD, so they just did it once, in the middle of the album, where it in turn represents the time it takes to go and flip a 12-inch record over, except that this is a CD comp and not vinyl. Or, maybe it was a mistake: OOPS!                              Normally I just sit still for (and enjoy) these kind of art statements, but about an hour ago I bought a boom box from Best Buy, and then when I got home Bulb Singles #1 was in the mailbox, so it's the first disc I'm playing in my new piece of equipment, which I'm already a little leery of, because it was only $29.99, and the Best Buy's entire stock (of three) were sitting on the shelf in boxes that had already been opened. I grabbed the one on top and from what I could see the boom box looked fine. The young lady who rang up my purchase informed me that my item had been discounted another ten dollars because the box was open, and she had to call her manager over to sign for the discount. So that was all kind of shady, and then, at home, when I open the CD tray to play the disc, there's already a disc in there, which is actually a disc-shaped piece of paper that reads, "STOP! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RETURN THIS PRODUCT TO THE STORE! For Fast Help, Call us first! 1-800-705-4986." Just the phone number -- no company name, no logo. So, naturally, this all makes me wonder if maybe this big gap of silence isn't just "the Bulb aesthetic" but my sketchy new purchase, already fucking up on the fifth song, and that Best Buy manager really was trying to do me a favor when he pushed that $5 warranty at checkout. But no, eventually the second Monarchs song starts, so it is just "the Bulb aesthetic."
      Eight singles are collected on this comp, and they appear in chronological order. Next is the second Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink single. The vocal structure sounds like an homage to Iggy's clarion calls on Funhouse, where the vocals on the first P.M.S. single were a little more Fair-ish (no reference to Gerty Farish intended but probably fairly app. too). Last Skink song "Kenneth" is killer -- someone actually doing the right thing with the Joy Division influence, without being all boy-band about it. (Not to mention doing the right thing with the stop-start rock technique as long ago ruined by all loud Emo bands and all Jesus Lizard imitators).
      Bullet In The Head is like a guitar noisescape like something by Bruce Russell! (Or at least Terry Kath.) Intriguing and heavy. I can't believe how obscure this stuff still is. Type in "Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink" at AMG and what do you get? Nothing. As for Couch....remember how there was that confusion in the underground a few years ago when there were three different bands named Couch? There was this one from Michigan, another one from Germany, and the other one I think from Texas. Well, the usually impressive AMG has no listings for a band called Couch. Even the most traditional band on here, the Monarchs, straight-up Estrus-like garage rock, has no listing. Not to mention "Bullet in the Head" or "Mr. Velocity Hopkins." (Another weird thing is that when you type most of these bands in the search engine, the screen just goes blank, which I haven't seen before. That's how hard it is for the mainstream to handle "the Bulb aesthetic"! The computer just freezes and smoke starts coming out of it and it starts shaking like there's an earthquake.)
       Anyway, there's a couple more 7-inches: Shriek, who I also know nothing about, another spazz band that almost sounds like the culmination/reductio ad absurdum of everything Couch/Skink/Gomez have put on the table. It's probably all the same members. Then there's one more by the Monarchs. Can't wait for Bulb Singles Vol. 2!

This Jewelled Antler thing isn't just a label, it's the name for a collective of musicians that record in different combinations under different names. The flagship band seems to be Thuja but there's tons more, as you can learn by reading the lineup of this comp. Thing is, listening to this album beginning to end doesn't feel like you're listening to a Various Artists CD, it feels like you're listening to one big long masterwork by a really big varied group called Jewelled Antler. Members trade instruments and some people leave for a few songs before returning for a few more, but it's all Jewelled Antler. And the result is pretty much perfect, like a summation of everything that was ever good about both Ashtray Navigations and Richard Youngs, except better than that, and as a compilation every track is short and it moves and flows like one big unit. And, the field recordings that pop up every three or four tracks might sound to you like a cliche, but the result is LOVELY. We've got Hala Strana, The Floating Birthday Children, The Muons, Of, Kemialliset Ystavat, and right now, The Blithe Sons & Daughters. Mmm . . . now we've got banjo . . . that might be just a little too obligatorily alt-country for this comp's rarefied atmosphere . . . woah, actually now we've got a full-fledged alt-country vocal going on for the first time on the album -- I mean comp -- except it's more avant- than alt- . . . oh, never mind, this is our old friend Smolken from Dead Raven Choir. He kind of breaks the mood, but something like Dead Raven Choir always breaks the mood, and it always ends up being in a good way, especially if you don't really follow the Palace Brothers anymore. Anyway, Heat & Birds is one of top 5 for the issue.

I totally plan on writing a review of this thing, I just never make it past the first track, by Kawabata Makoto and someone named Roco, playing as Karma, which is officially the 398th band that Kawabata has worked with or recorded as. The track is like 9 minutes long and has plenty of great 'atmosphere' -- Kawabata never does anything badly -- but this one isn't especially heavy and it doesn't go anywhere too quick. It's kind of like psych souffle.
      Second up is someone and they don't exactly catch on like a house of fire either. Again, like Karma, it's not bad, with more perfectly adequate 'atmosphere,' but I do wish something more was happening by now. Okay, now we're around the four-minute mark and there's some serious bowing going on -- this is good, I guess you just have to 'earn it.' I would've edited out the first four minutes. Oh now I remember: this is Flies Inside The Sun. They're always good, but again, you don't need too much of it. Two records'll do ya. (I remember a joke some rockwriter made about their album An Audience of Others (Including Herself). When he called it by name for a second time in his review, he called it An Audience of Others (Please Don't Make Me Type That Whole Title Again). It was funny, I wanna say it was Jon Bywater writing in Opprobrium. That Bywater guy was pretty good, anybody else catch him?)
      Third up is Fursaxa, who I've been wanting to hear more of because I like this whole "free folk" movement of "the new weird America." All I have by her are two comp tracks, and I don't even know where those are buried. Now I have three comp tracks, and this third one is real good, and short. Good vocals, a real mellow strummer. Would've been better first or earlier.
      Fourth is good old Campbell Kneale, playing as Birchville Cat Motel. (Check out his other band Sunship too.) Everybody knows: Campbell's shit is always good.
      Fifth is Pelt. These guys are just hitting their guitars funny. It has to be more than just hitting funny -- that style hasn't even worked for Pelt since the classic Burning Filaments Rockets album, and that was just because there was a rock drummer making it all work. Man, I swear it's been a good 4 years since I've heard anything special from Pelt, since the Empty Bell Ringing In The Sky album, which marked the pinnacle of their 'high drone' phase, which now seems to have given way to a 'I'll play drony and you hit your guitar funny and Jack Rose will play bluegrass' phase. (At least that was their show at the Hideout last year -- granted, I only
heard like 7 minutes of Ayahuasca, couple years ago, but what I heard didn't stay with me.) On this track, Jack just seems to be playing either drony or hitting it funny, no bluegrass.
      Sixth is the Iditarod. I've heard of these guys mainly through Mr. LVD, as they're one of his favorite bands from Providence. Of course, a completely separate 'scene' than the Fort Thunder/Load side of town. Oh yeah, it's that no wave vs. free folk thing again. Two different worlds, folks. Except in Blastitude Land. It's good, more of that Fursaxa vibe, i.e. a weird nature strummer. I like it quite a bit but I think it might be a little long -- c'mon, you gotta keep it short for comps, except for the Scenes From Ringing Isle comp, the whole point of which was to have long tracks, same with the Fog People comp on Animal Disguise.
       Seventh is someone I just read but already forgot (short term memory loss), and eighth is someone I don't recognize. Okay, let me think hard about seven....nope, it's gone. I think track eight was someone from Japan. Track nine is someone I definitely recognize: fuckin' REYNOLS. Sounding great too after all those long slow-developing tracks. You know, my one quibble with the awesome Reynols sound is that Tomasín sings too much. I mean, I LOVE Tomasín's vocals, and he's honestly one of my favorite rock drummers, but just like I never get to listen to the city summer outside my windows without hearing the usual 29 neighbors standing in front of my building yelling, you never just get to hear the Reynols band jam without Tomasín's space-moan in the foreground, drowning the background out. And believe me, it would be cool as shit to just hear the way Anla and Moncho tickle their guitars over that slow and endless Tomasín drum groove. Psychedelic as f******k. Reynols actually do tracks 9-12 here. All four tracks sound exactly the same.
      And, damn, that's all the farther I've gotten on this one and I've got to go to press with this. Obviously there's a lot more tracks on this massive comp, like, for example, the entirety of Disc 2. Sorry! See, it could've been edited a little snappier but I know LVD likes things to be massive and if you like free folk and new psych music get it immediately. Great cover too, very "El Topo."

You might've read the column called "A No Wave Guide to ELP" in the last ish, by Tim Ellison. You might've thought, "This is fun but jeez, is ELP really No Wave??" Well, if Tim didn't convince you, your final lesson will be to watch their performance of the song "Knife-Edge," collected here on yet another murky Gravedigger Video treasure-trove. Keith Emerson's disgusto blue sequin jumpsuit alone is practically the visual essence of No Wave, and during his super-long solo he freaks out masturbatorily on a stick-like theremin-like contraption, jams a knife into his organ, then leaps over it and plays it from behind, and it's all a bunch of calamity and silly pomp, and is that not the goal of almost every single No Wave band working today? And then there's Blodwyn Pig, also on this compilation, who for some reason remind me a little bit of No Doctors! They're smoother and more antiquated, but not a whole lot smoother, and they have a sax guy that really almost reminds me of CansaFis's sax role for about a minute. (Except the Blodwyn Pig guy plays two saxes at once a la Roland Kirk, which is something CansaFis should do some day . . .) There's tons more on here, like Jethro Tull rocking out live on that laid-back heavy song "Teacher" and a great clip of Yes playing in what kind of looks like a big high school gym or something. There's also Yes playing on Beat Club, Germany's infamous "show of 1000 cheesy psychedelic effects," doing a killer and confusing version of "Yours Is No Disgrace" that seems like it's about 26 minutes long and includes at least 930,000 notes, a few of which are contributed by Jon Anderson via two of his fingers and some antique chord organ. There's also the Edgar Winter Group doing "Frankenstein," which is kind of amazing to see live and at the same time kind of nauseating, for reasons too numerous and varied to go into now. The last clip on here starts with a title that reads "King Crimson & Black Oak Arkansas," and I'm like "whuuhh?," but unfortunately it's not a collaboration, it goes into Wetton & Bruford-era Crimson, a pretty cool jam, and then the tape ends before I get to see any Black Oak Arkansas. Bummer, but I'm already thinking of No Doctors again, because I think I've figured them out: they're the EXACT midpoint -- sonically, physically, aesthetically -- between King Crimson and Black Oak Arkansas!

A fine sampler from the fine North Central U.S.A. (Kalamazoo, MI) Scratch aNd Sniff Entertainment label (a/k/a SNSE). The real surprise is the last track, "Merhorse (live in NYC)" by Mommy Won't Wake Up. I've never even heard of 'em before but this jam "Merhorse" sounds like a much noisier and crapped-out International Harvester/Parson Sound, like those guys if they hadn't been Swedish Art Students and had been Midwestern Community College Students.
        Mammal's track stands out from the crowd in the middle, with the instantly-recognizable-as-Mammal "Fog Rhythm" . . . I honestly can't really recall any of the other tracks, all of them being introductions to artists I had never heard before, and never really heard of: Girls Throwing School. Leather Monument. Pig Exam. Basement Parade. Mechanik. (Okay, I've heard of him, I think I reviewed his split 7-inch with Viki in the last ish.) Jockesses. Kitty Cat Pirate. Night Doctors. (Not to be confused with No Doctors.) I think I remember Pig Exam being some good harsh noise. I did pretty much enjoy the whole disc -- I was never bored. (Addendum from a couple weeks later: other standout tracks are by the Jockesses and Kitty Cat Pirate and Night Doctors, all in a row after the Mammal track. Which gives me a hunch that the whole thing is good. So check out the label.)

Pretty hard to get through all of these, but pretty fascinating none the less. Especially if you know all the groups/individuals represented, but also if you just really like to scratch your head in confusion, you should check this out. Lineup is: Crank Sturgeon (good satire of political correctness without taking the easy route of political incorrectness), Kyle Lapidus (short and funny), Hermit (actually like a slam poet, except a fucking killer metal/punk slam poet), Weasel Walter (a live-in-concert standup routine, included here to prove to his detractors once and for all that he indeed does have a sense of humor, even though this particular routine STILL barely does the job -- poop jokes and Bill Cosby impressions? -- and he rips off Neil Hamburger without credit!), La Persona (I think this guy likes to talk), III (didn't catch it), Carlos Giffoni (killer stoned poem in Spanish, I have no idea if he was actually stoned, but I am), Panicsville (X-rated and rather amazing!), Bill Exley (a confuso-rant that gets the audience laughing), Roesing Ape (didn't catch it), Zartan (another prank phone call, if I remember right), Burning Star Core (didn't catch it, sorry Cincy!).

Damn, talk about raunch epistemology. First song, "Gotta Let You Go," by Joe Hill Louis, is positively bru-tal (rhymes with ti-cal), just him beating the shit out of a couple blues chords on a guitar that sounds like it's going to break, and then howling the title in between mean raps. He's got another one on here called "She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometimes)" -- ha ha, you tell 'em, Joe Hill. Then there's a couple by Howlin' Wolf, so you know those are pretty raunchy, and a couple animal-themed Rufus Thomas cuts ("Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog)" and "Tiger Man (King of the Jungle)") where he gets all feral and shit. A lot of other stuff is kind of suave-o supper-club jump-blues, but it all goes down pretty easy, especially with all that grease in between. Even the sweetest song on here, a ballad called "Just Walkin' in the Rain," is by a band called the fucking Prisonaires. I mean, they were all criminals. Been reading John Fahey's weird-ass book, where he's talking about how freaky and mean and evil bluegrass music sounded to him back in 1953 -- well, Sun Records was the next step in the trail of evil -- they are to Fahey's bluegrass as, I don't know, Hair Police are to Black Flag, or Darkthrone is to Maiden.

WATERBLOOP/JOEZEF K: A Sampler of 3" Singles CDR (UCR 1004-1006)
Waterbloop is a free jazz kind of band, starting with an explosion of acoustic scream-noise and then going into a quiet, naked, searching section that I'm kind of digging. The saxes and flutes and whatnot work their way back in, dropping little quick caterwauls and yelps, and it all builds into some dense scuffle, without falling prey to tired and easy soft-loud juxtapositions. Wow, and it eventually gives way to a psychedelic/electronic kind of mood! They're the first jazzish band I've heard to specifically remind of New Zealand's CM Ensemble.
       That's their 3" CDR called "Chimes At Midnight," gathered on this sampler along with "Live At Wild Weekend 19," which is also them doing the sparse/dense scuffle trick, except now they're doing it in a goddamn FOREST. More psychedelic/electronic tweaking too -- these guys are friggin' excellent! I've heard enough dry jazz improv for two lifetimes, but I've never quite heard this before.
       Also collected is Joezef K's "Nuclear War," which is one man doing psych meandering on guitar while tapes of . . . politicians play? The whole thing was kind of daunting, so much so that I can't really describe it here any further . . .

WOLF EYES: Fuck Pete Larsen LP (BAD GLUE)
A compendium of inexplicable deep Michigan basement shatter that most of the world has missed from WE's confusing amount of homemade tiny-run cassettes and CDRs. Halfway through, I forget what record I'm listening to while the music just moans. Sometimes you'd almost think they're using the exact same approach as your average New Zealand band circa 1998, or, as Weasel Walter heckled at the last W. Eyes show I was at: "Dark ambient!" But that's wrong, because this stuff just hurts more, and a Wolf Eyes record NEVER goes on too long. (All dark ambient records go on too long -- notice that they never use the LP format -- too concise!)

The reason I like Dead Hills so much is the vocals on the last two tracks. Nate Young's vocals always blow me away and I search for them on these more limited Wolf Eyes releases like I used to search for bad-ass DJ scratching on dodgy mid-80s hip-hop records. Malcolm McLaren's D'Ya Like Scratchin'? was a major disappointment, but Wolf Eyes records aren't, even when they don't have very many vocals, because they still HURT. And, when vocals finally become momentarily clear somewhere in the middle of track three it's like HOLY SHIT: if this was the soundtrack to whatever scene in an 'independent horror movie' the film stock would suddenly decompose, as if cursed. "Dedicated to Shock Treatment," the band, not the science.

From the press release: "Am 277 Words of the Encryption Convict 'London Marrow' C60. Part one of streets London mangled grime field recordings. Subways, English Breakfast joints, quails, weird talk, the tube, etc. Processed in inzane studios." Apparently that was written by Words of the Incryption Convict themselves, and I don't have much to add to that, except that the key word is processed: this shit is HEAVILY processed. It fuckin' rules, but you already missed it: "Edition of 16, painted slip case, numbered."

Just when I was sure I was D-O-N-E with freely improvised music (see Evan Parker/Joe McPhee write-up), along came this CD. It took me a few months just to get the nerve up to put it in the changer: a duo of saxophone and cello? Damn, sounds like kind of chamber improv that Cadence would approve of, right down to the helvetica type face and abstract painting on the cover. Two guys using their, gasp, given names, and picturing themselves on the back in a 'chummy' photo, and they're two old guys too! If Parker & McPhee didn't even turn my head how was this CD even going to make it in the changer?
        Well, one thing that finally got it in is that I've admired Mr. Wright for a long time -- back in Lincoln he would come through twice a year, usually solo, and play at a coffee house or art space to like 4 people, and I was usually one of them. There's always been something about Wright's delivery that make what could be the same old artsy tail-chasing lines come out as what Revenant Records called "raw music, punk." Really, Wright is sort of a punk -- I've read about how he had his 'anarchist' years back in the 70s when he renovated old rowhouses in run-down Philadelphia for a living, and he's still punk the way he travels the country and blows his guts out through the saxophone to audiences of almost none.
        Sure enough, that's all in here. However, it's a pretty low-key album -- it doesn't beat you up with attack and volume -- but Wright does constantly slap you upside the head with surprise. His sax constantly reinvents himself -- it almost never sounds like the same tone for more than a second. As for Marsh on cello, he's admirably less of an in-your-face sawer or 'radical reinterpreter of tradition' than he is a ghostly presence that Wright whips and flutters above and within. Marsh also plays violin and processed voice, but I have yet to discern when he changes from any one to any other. Believe me, I'm as surprised as anyone to be highly recommending a free improv duo CD -- but you should hear this!

I slept on the LP issue of this by Destijl Records last year, and too bad because it's one of the greatest albums EVER. This is hard guitar Noise Wave like Sonic Youth's Confusion Is Sex, and it was done in 1968. The vocals are totally scary -- at first they might sound like campy goth to you, but keep listening. He starts throwing in some second vocal overdubs and early electronic studio effects, and besides, the songs themselves really are as SCARY as his style makes them out to be. There's just something that sounds absolutely HAUNTED about the first 7 songs on here, the ones that made up last year's original LP release by Destijl (if you have it, you're a very wise person -- I fuckin' SLEPT on it). For one thing, this is one of the most devastating anti-war albums ever recorded, Yonkers using his delivery and imagery to get way beyond the 'war is hell' ethos of the movies, into a zone where he's not so much saying 'war is hell' as he is that HELL is hell. And I believe him. This stuff reminds me of my favorite Vietnam movie of all time, Deathdream, because it's not just about the horror of war, it's about the horror back home, the horrors behind teenage bedroom doors. My favorite guitar solo of all-time is on the track "Boy in the Sandbox."

ZARTAN: Sidekick, Collected Works 1991-2001 (SUNSHIP/

"Cock ESP side project"? Prank phone call album. You'd never know by the packaging, but this is straight-up prank phone calls. Actually not straight-up -- this isn't jokesterism as much as it is method acting, which then becomes the joke, but it's a much slower process than the Jerky Boys or Neil Hamburger. Then, just when you've decided this is just so-so as prank phone calls but effin' great when it comes to modern theater, you realize hey, most of these prank phone calls are actually hilarious after all!
         For example, there's a series where Zartan calls a series of grocery store clerks to get a price on T-bone steak by the pound. On the third guy, he goes into a profane rage that is kind of terrifying and definitely noise music. After a couple more of those, the series ends when a younger-sounding clerk named "Dave" picks up. Dave sounds like he could be a punk, and he's not afraid of this yahoo on the other end. The ensuing confrontation is priceless. (Actually, it's 10 dollars post-paid from the Sunship website.)
         Another great bit is when Zartan calls radio station DJs as "Bocefus." A lady DJ who sounds like she's partyin' answers and he does the old "I want to request a song but I can't remember the name" bit, singing her songs by Hank "Bocefus" Williams, Jr. and Rick Springfield. She can't place either of them, but she's playing the Chemical Brothers, which Zartan says sounds like "dishwashin'." He flirts with her in his inimitable 'metal' way ("I ain't fuckin' drunk") and she flirts back, for like 6 or 7 minutes, which is an ETERNITY in prank phone call time. Even better is when he talks to a hapless Metal DJ: "You got any Zartan? You heard their shit? How about Black Witch?....oh, how about Infection? They've got this one song that goes [unintelligible fast death metal vocals]." They bond over a Cannibal Corpse song, but when the DJ mentions Metallica, Bocefus says "Never heard of 'em."
        And track 6 is one of the funnier prank phone calls I've ever heard, in which Zartan portrays a record producer ("Beaux Hill") calling from his "convertible on the Pacific Coast Highway" to some big-fish-in-a-small-pond local grunge rocker to tell him that he really wants to sign him to a huge contract . . . and the local rocker haplessly believes him! For almost 15 minutes! But I don't wanna give it all away -- don't worry, not one of the CD's 74 minutes is unused, so there's plenty more for you to discover on your own.

ZEEHAS; 12 WAIT: To The Maxxxxxxxxxxxx CD (SELF-RELEASED)
I don't know, maybe the artist is just Zeehas and the album's called 12 Wait and the label is called To The Maxxxxxxxxxxx. There's an egregious 80s-pop vibe to this whole thing, mixed with a tough and knowing post-noise avant-garded-ness (track 7 "geisha grin" fluctuates schizophrenically from the former to the latter). In the meantime, there's these comical he-man vocals throughout, like it's Bono singing for Animotion produced by Squarepusher. And it does rock. Ends up quite unique and well worth a listen.

ZIEGENBOK KOPF: The Architecture of Dark Dance CS (TOYO)
Man, cassettes rule. It’s just so nice to get a good old classic cassette in a basic sturdy box with a nice j-card, well-printed on sturdy paper. Have you seen those Emil Beaulieau cassettes where he takes like an old cassette of Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits and makes a new cover out of it? I haven’t heard ‘em, but they rule just to look at.
       Ziegenbok Kopf’s release The Architecture of Dark Dance is a cassette released by Toyo Records of Oakland, California. You might’ve heard about Z.K. I’ve heard about ‘em, because there’s this essay by one of the gay guys in Matmos because Ziegenbok Kopf is a joke band that does a faux gay faux German schtick, and Matmos Guy kind of calls Z.K. on the gay-but-not-really-gay schtick while being smart enough to not be P.C. about it. I’m not P.C. about it, but I also haven't really been anywhere near 1000 miles of this band, ever, and the joke doesn't seem all that funny to me on paper. I'm sure it's funnier live, but on paper, it sounds a little SNL circa 1988. In 1988, the cast of SNL consisted of Al Franken, Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, A. Whitney Brown, Jan Hooks (va va voom!). Victoria Jackson (va va VA voom!). Dana Carvey! Phil Hartman! Kevin Nealon! C'mon, folks you know 'em all . . . you even know that season's supporting players, who happened to be a couple of guys named, well, Ben Stiller and Mike Myers, the latter of whom that year debuted a bit known as Sprockets, effectively making Ziegenbok Kopf's gag ten years too late.
       No, I don't know, once again, I haven't seen 'em live. Maybe it really works live, and either way, the schtick really isn't evident on this tape, which is just kind of ruling hard breakcore with croaked lyrics that sound as much like European death metal as they do gay slut schtick. Actually I have heard one first-hand account of this duo performing, but it wasn't an onstage music show; they went out after-partying in character after a hometown San Fran show, attending some dull indie hipster bar where they actually picked up unsmiling strangers, off the ground or right off their chair, and carried them around the bar for little rides in an attempt to get them partying. Well done, lads, you've conquered indie hipsters, but have you tried that in a gay bar? I hear there's a couple gay bars in San Fran that you could try that at. Anyway NONE of these Matmos-type issues end up mattering at all because put in the cassette and it's just really good new heavy music.

ZIEGENBOCK KOPF: Nocturnal Submissions CD (TIGERBEAT 6)
Okay, now I'm starting to understand the lyrics, such as the clear-cut opening question on this one: "So you're ready for sex with a man? C'mon, take me on if you can." Dwyer better be careful because some big gay dudes might just take him seriously some time. Hey Dwyer, if you happen to be in a community shower with some big gay guys who've heard Ziegenbock Kopf, DON'T DROP THE SOAP!! Y'know? 'Cause those gay guys, they'll get you, man, ESPECIALLY IF YOU DROP THE SOAP!!! It's because if you bend over like that, it really kind of exposes your nude bunghole, which gives the average gay guy much easier access, y'know? I mean, especially if a nearby gay guy already has an erection, he can just walk up and POP! It's all over, y'know? Just a warning.
       Okay, so that was 'over-the-top' humor, sort of like Ziegenbock Kopf. Of course, you could compare this to The Frogs' It's Only Right and Natural for its gay-but-not-really-gay approach, but I think this is more like the gay-but-not-really-gay equivalent to 2 Live Crew. Which is to say it rocks, it's funny, and you can dance and party to it. Like "To Do List," which goes "Fuck/Fuck/Fuck/Dance/Dance/
Dance." That's pretty funny. The back cover photos make their live show look pretty cool too, and anyway what's important (and appropriate to the comedy theme) is that the music really does ROCK HARD, even as hard as 2 Live Crew. The bass lines (check the very opening seconds) are HUGE, heavy as hell, evil, undeniable, etc., and at the same time anyone could dance to it, which doesn't let up for the entire album (which, at 33 minutes, is, if anything, too long). As the Tigerbeat 6 website says: "Their bass is too loud and the highs are acrid. You can smell the cum steaming out of the monitors." It's true, that's why I say these guys should be careful. Cuz it's dirty and slutty, and they are fronting. The good news is the music rules, and I don't even like darkwave danse.

Jesus, do I have to review ANOTHER Ziegenbock Kopf release? I'd rather just go see 'em live. (This could be their best -- so far they're all pretty similar.)