#18, SUMMERFALL 2005



by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman

One track just under 20 minutes, starts with prototypical Devillock buzz which REALLY smooths out to some glorious space-shit around the 9 or 10 minute mark, then by the 11 minute is real loud again, a high-pitched metal-tone particularly crying its ass off. "Recorded June 2004 using only weirdo tape players and Charlie Draheim's March of Slimes." Gotta love music made using only weirdo tape players, expressly for weirdos with tape players (even though this one happens to be a CDR). As for Mr. Draheim, Tone Filth is going to be putting out a full-length 12-inch by the Michigan-based gore-guitar specialist soon. We're certainly looking forward to that, as we are to digging through the rest of the large stack of sickness Tone Filth sent our way. Stay toned!

This guy is a singer/songwriter who lives in Brooklyn, New York. At first I thought his music was a little too old-timey, with the overt banjo and comedy/vaudeville stylings, and the certainty I felt that he wears a fedora hat and probably even suspenders when he plays shows. But the more I listen, it's starting to sound LEGITIMATELY old-timey, like that modern master of sick time-warp vaudeville Charlie Gocher (of the Sun City Girls) is old-timey, like Wisconsin Death Trip is old-timey. Not a bad one, this Al Duvall. "Dagger D" is a weird one, with the lyrics "His name is Dagger D / A dagger does have he / And a hearing aid he made from someone's ear." In fact, all of these songs have an underlying twistedness to them, as if not a lyric goes by that couldn't be sung by some personable and charming serial killer, somewhere.

BOB DYLAN: Chronicles Vol. 1 book; New Morning LP (SIMON & SCHUSTER; COLUMBIA)
Damn. It's like the great Minnesotan oracle himself is suddenly hanging out on your couch and having a beer, revealing all his secrets and explaining what used to be mysteries, right to your face and in his very own voice. When he's done, you realize the Big Answer you've been looking for is that he's just another American, a hick from the sticks way up north in small-town Minnesota, which ends up being another Big Question after all: how can such regular origins lead to such uncanny powers?
       My (ahem) colleagues are saying it's not an autobiography, it's a memoir, which is pretty much true, but at this rate (293 pages covering a grand total of about two years' worth of actual living) his life would make for about 20 volumes. And believe me, I'd love to see 'em all get written. He's already been compared to Rimbaud -- how about Proust? And then again, it's not so much a memoir as it is a book of highly personal art criticism. He talks about his life, yes, but the things he keeps coming back to are records and performers and artists. He likes to listen to records, and he can describe what they do and what they sound like very well, illuminating them while still preserving their mystery, as expertly as he preserves his own. This is a guy who loves music.
       Earlier, writing about folk music in general, Dylan gets at something that I've always ineffably felt about his music in particular (p. 71): "Folk songs are evasive -- the truth about life, and life is more or less a lie, but then again that's exactly the way we want it to be . . . A folk song has over a thousand faces and you must meet them all if you want to play this stuff. A folk song might vary in meaning and it might not appear the same from one moment to the next. It depends on who's playing and who's listening." Talk about evasive, just three pages later he's reminiscing about hearing Cecil Taylor and Don Cherry play music at his old Greenwich Village hangouts, and he's always one step ahead throughout the book, whether he's on modern jazz, pop charts, New York City, California, Duluth, a brief episode in Nashville passing a guitar around with Kris Kristofferson and the Carter Family -- as you might have heard, the book jumps all over the place. It starts suddenly, not with his birth or boyhood, but another beginning: Dylan having just arrived in the Village to sing songs for people, making the rounds of the folk clubs, meeting people like Fred Neil and Dave Van Ronk. That's 20 pages, and he stays in that setting for the next chapter, a stunning 82-page reverie called "The Lost Land." Not only does it also take place in the Village pre-stardom, but in its very Proust-like maze of memory and association, it pretty much takes place in one single apartment, belonging to the Village couple Ray Gooch and Chloe Kiel, where the impressionable young Dylan, barely 20 years old, fell down the rabbit-hole of their book and record collection. At that point, through their taste in media, this couple changed the tide of cultural history. I'm still reeling from Dylan's memory of insights like, "He questions everything. His clothes catch fire on a candle. He wonders if fire is a good sign. Balzac is hilarious." And, "I began cramming my brain with all kinds of deep poems. It seemed like I'd been pulling an empty wagon for a long time and now I was beginning to fill it up and would have to pull harder. I felt like I was coming out of the back pasture." He also gets into deeply felt descriptions of New York City in the 1960s, ruminations on the Civil War, Jesse James, 19th century newspapers, and even a detailed two or three pages on how he arrived at his stage name. (At one point, for a couple hours anyway, it was Bob Allyn!)
       When this "Lost Land" reverie eventually ends, the next chapter "New Morning" suddenly jumps us right past some very heady years, straight to Dylan's home in Woodstock in the middle of 1968, and ends with him in the studio making the relatively obscure "comeback" album New Morning. From there, he fearlessly jumps right up to the mid-1980s and the making of Oh Mercy in New Orleans. Whatever you think of that album (I haven't heard it), it's yet another mindblowing chapter that talks about touring with Tom Petty, ducking out on rehearsal with the Grateful Dead because of a loss of faith in his own abilities (and then coming right back after walking to a crappy jazz club and being inspired by the unknown afternoon singer), having Bono over dinner (Mr. Vox brings a case of Guinness and they apparently finish it), discovering a numerological approach to guitar accompaniment that makes absolutely no sense, working through stressful recording sessions with Daniel Lanois while exploring the mysteries of New Orleans . . . and more! And as if that wasn't enough, there's yet one more chapter, which begins during his last months in Minnesota, continuing through his move to New York City, his meeting John Hammond, getting signing to Columbia Records, etcetera -- but Dylan's still a music-lover most of all, and he uses the biographical sketch mostly as an excuse for more great music writing, this time on Woody Guthrie, Kurt Weill, and some amazing stuff on Robert Johnson. Here's the first time he ever heard Robert Johnson (p. 282): "I put it on the record player so we could listen to it. When Johnson started singing, he seemed like a guy who could have sprung from the head of Zeus in full armor. I immediately differentiated between him and anyone else I had ever heard. The songs weren't customary blues songs. They jumped all over the place in range and subject matter, short punchy verses that resulted in some panoramic story -- fires of mankind blasting off the surface of this spinning piece of plastic." Holy shit, now that's a metaphor -- the spinning piece of plastic is the record, of course . . . but is the spinning piece of plastic also America's plastic-inundated place on post-war earth, orbiting the sun in its universal motions, with constant eruptions from mankind, some of them -- the really big ones involving firearms of some sort -- momentarily visible from space? And the small fires of mankind, basically invisible, erupting sonically in the small hearth of the stereo speaker, sending messages from America's pre-war pre-plastic past?
New Morning LP by Bob Dylan         Even with all this, I think my sentimental favorite chapter of the book is the one about the New Morning LP, partly because it does have some great writing (several pages renouncing his cultural sainthood, a long piece of vomit that's like a prose sequel to "Like a Rolling Stone"), but also because reading it set off a nice little cluster of synchronicities, the kind that Dylan often leaves behind when you least expect it. And, not really synchronicitous, but best of all, the chapter made me pull out New Morning again, for the first time in probably a year, and I always loved this album but now I'm REALLY loving it. It strikes me as a great GOSPEL album, one of the best I've ever heard, and even though there's like three guitarists on every track, the real rhythm instruments on every song are keyboards -- piano, and a freewheeling church organ, played by Dylan and good ol' Al Kooper. These gospel rock songs are mid-tempo and generally quite pretty, but Dylan still takes 'em to the edge with exultant choruses, bursting out of every song with what sounds like sincere passion, a ragged and happy-sounding croon that isn't quite like anything he ever did before or since, shouting to the heavens lines like "And the locusts SANG! Off in the distance!," and "Take a WOMAN LIKE YOU! / To get THROUGH to the man in me!"
       As for the synchronicities (I know, I know, this is just one step above dream diaries, but bear with me) . . . . in Chronicles I learn that a few of the songs on New Morning were written for a play by the poet Archibald MacLeish. I know MacLeish's name, of course, but I've never really read anything by him. Dylan makes him sound good: "MacLeish, Poet Laureate of America -- one of them. Carl Sandburg, poet of the prairie and the city, and Robert Frost, the poet of dark meditations were the others. MacLeish was the poet of night stones and the quick earth." Dylan writes about his meeting with MacLeish, and how they worked on the songs together, and how it wasn't easy, and how they were ultimately rejected by MacLeish for not being dark enough, which suits Dylan just fine because he didn't really feel in tune with the project anyway. He doesn't name any of the songs, so I listen to the album wondering which ones they might be. I learn elsewhere that one of the MacLeish songs is the title track, which I've been singing to my son lately, "Always a neeeeeeww morning, with yoooouu," I sing, pointing to him and he smiles and tries to sing along, and the best he can do is "la laaa!" Then he leaves the room, and comes back a minute or two later with a book for me to read to him. It's called My Little Prayers, a gift from his great grandmother with the expected misleading painting of bearded white Jesus on front, lording over a couple sweet little praying children (one of them's an Asian, that's interesting). I start at the beginning and read him some nice little prayers, New Morning still blasting in the background,
and get to page 14, from which I read, "For this new morning with its light...." The biblical resonation of Dylan's work is intense, and not just during his Saved period either -- it's there in every song he's ever written, every title he's ever given.
       Me and the kid decide to get some fresh air. I stop by my local used bookstore and right there on the poetry shelf is a copy of the Collected Poems of Archibald MacLeish for $2.50. I read 10 pages or so there in the store and it's actually pretty great. Who knew? Couple days later I'm reading Howard Zinn's People's History (it's always close at hand) and stumble across this, on p. 414, in the chapter about the aftermath of World War II: "The poet Archibald MacLeish, then an Assistant Secretary of State, spoke critically of what he saw in the postwar world: 'As things are now going, the peace we will make, the peace we seem to be making, will be a peace of oil, a peace of gold, a peace of shipping, a peace, in brief...without moral purpose or human interest . . . " These words mean a lot to this very day, but, one thing's for certain, even in these times without moral purpose, I know there will still be a new morning. Thanks Bob, from one music-lover to another.

What the hell, the Mexico-based imprint Stomach Ache (Dolor Del Estamago) has been defunct for about five years now, right? Why would their Comeback Release be a cassette of a live show by Endless Boogie? Did Endless Boogie even approve this release? Is this even the REAL Dolor Del Estomago? Actually, who are Endless Boogie? I'm not quite sure, but they have been mentioned in Blastitude before by Daniel DiMaggio, so they do exist, and I'm pretty sure they're a New York City band, and . . . . maybe . . . . . someone in the band is a member of a more famous band like the Double Leopards or something?? Regardless, whoever this particular Endless Boogie and Dolor Del Estomago are, the results are pretty damn sweet. Nice looking tape that offers real-time documentary evidence of a big chunk of a rockin' live bar show, whatever fits (could be a C30?). Tranced-out good-time rock groovin', and I do NOT mean 'Trance', these guys aren't near that generic. Just driving psyched-out boogie-rock of a stripe that simply is not heard much anymore (but those left-field Trad Gras Och Stenar comparisons are appropriate). Word is there are currently TWO debut vinyl LPs by this band out on a rather subterranean barter-and-exchange market, so keep your ears to the ground.

ES: Kaikkeuden Kauneus Ja Käsittämättömyys CD (FONAL RECORDS/K-RAA-K3)
Whoah, and I'm not just talking about the album title. This is more new Finland psych-or-whatever-you-wanna-call-it, but whoah -- if you're expecting more of the slap-happy slip-jams of the Ystavat/Anderzen/LalLalLal realm, well hold your horses, because this is really something different. Es is a more song-oriented artist who makes albums with high-quality studio craft. But, as with the Lau Nau album, even though these are clearly songs, they are hardly traditional songs -- something much more mysterious is going on. The first track is like some invocation by Enya herself, except that it's substantially creepier. Second track is an instrumental and I think it was mostly silence. Third track has a weird groove that some might even call trip-hop, but there's no DJ beat of any kind, just a dirging keyboard. Very weird tune, and it also has a short lovely woozed Beach Boys-on-16RPM coda. Fourth track is like an organ-drone from a major motion picture soundtrack, at least for the first 30 seconds, after which it just gets kinda scary for another 8 minutes. Very powerful instrumental, with symphonic piano and great dream-violin melodies wafting in the middle distance. Next track is another weird-trance keyboard part with vocals sung by women . . . right? Or is Es just a weird falsetto master? Doesn't really matter when a jarring crystalline carousel keyboard overdub comes clipping in over the top, and segues the song into a more pleasant land of loops, Kraftwerk-like but undanceable. Other instrumentals go into New Age territory with defiance, complete with bird-song, wind-chimes, and pleasant keyboard tones, but the shit is still too good for it to matter. Reminds me all at once of Floyd, Popol Vuh, Faust, even a little bit of soul/R&B, and it's the closest thing I've ever heard to Nuno Canavarro's Plux Quba. Super deluxe glossy gatefold packaging, super deluxe psych mood music -- this is my first experience with the acclaimed Fonal Records, and believe me, I can see what all the fuss is about!

This is a group that consists of Robert Beatty and Trevor Tremaine of the Hair Police and their significant others, so it's two pairs of lovers making some weird lovely psychedelic music (for lovers). If this music was being made in, say, 1996, it would be a prime candidate for side 2 and 3 of a double LP on Siltbreeze . . . I mean this is some totally strange huff . . . you can tell it comes from somewhere in America deep down but you can just barely tell . . . I hear this band plays songs and has even revealed themselves to be some kind of an orchestral psych folk thing, but this tape is just 30 minutes excerpted from some lost bell-chime symphony, sounding like it's happening in an extremely abandoned and haunted cathedral . . . . spooky and weird but also very pretty white magic . . . . now bring on the songs!

EYES AND ARMS OF SMOKE: A Religion of Broken Bones LP (CENOTAPH)
Well, I said bring on the songs, and with this, their first full-length, Eyes and Arms of Smoke have indeed -- but I didn't think they'd sound quite like this! This one of the proggiest new bands I've heard in years, in many senses of that overused word: helium prog, Canterbury prog, chamber prog, free prog, twee prog, prog-folk, prog-psych, and even prog lite, to name a few. They play lots of intricate parts and there are a couple moments that really remind me of Gentle Giant -- there will be Hair Police fans who will hate this! I'm still pretty taken aback myself, but I'm pretty sure I love it. I know I love the way the synthesizer and clarinet don't quite harmonize on songs like "Black Hoists of Dawn." And I love the terrific lyrics and singing. And right now I'm listening to, and loving, the album closer "Nemesis," 14 minutes long and all-ethereal with a constantly busy undertow, and a gorgeous intensity-build towards the lingering end. Sweet album cover (lovely drawing on nice paper) housing songwriting, arrangement, orchestration, and true psychedelia, all fully formed.

Hey, this is the music they were playing when I saw 'em on a Chicago tour stop back in February 2004. Maybe they were playing the whole piece, "The Void #1-7," beginning to end. I can just see it, at the first practice, Weasel's like, "Okay, you're the new guys, here's a composition that's around 40 minutes long called 'The Void.' It's going to be our next CD, but for now, we're going to play it beginning-to-end every night of our three-week tour that starts in a month. When we get back, we'll go right into the studio and record it. Here's sheet music." You gotta love it -- haven't seen that kind of work ethic since Anthony Braxton! Then again, Weasel does call this album "the simple rock stuff" on his website, so who knows, maybe rehearsals and recording were a breeze. (Yeah right.) Either way, The Void is a very kicking piece of weird-attack avant rock blister. I will say this, and this is merely the way I'm reading it: the music is so aggressive in its cliché refusal -- and how does one carve out a void in today's overcrowded cultural climate without being aggressive? -- that it seemingly never catches a groove of any kind (until track 5, which is "The Void part four" -- that one really catches a groove, but even then it's a hyperspeed blur and over quick), due to lots of delays and squall-stalls and builds that build and build only to seemingly reach the beginning of another build. Which isn't to say it doesn't rock -- it's one of their rawest and most direct albums. A good place to start if you're new to the band. (And breaking news: Mick Barr of Orthrelm, Octis, Crom-Tech, et al is currently playing with the Luttenbachers on second guitar. Catch it while you can!)

For those who liked Henry Flynt's "You Are My Everlovin'," here's a big hunk o' more o' the same, just two simple elements (a tambura droning and a violin sawing out heavy lows and wailing ecstatic highs) combining to create one hell of a sound compound for 42 minutes. Recorded in December of 1981, the same year as "Everlovin'," for a couple minutes I thought this was a little too more o' the same, but Flynt just kept digging into that fiddle and knocking on my ass, again and again and again. While it is the exact same set-up as "Everlovin'," I'd say his playing on here is notably thicker and more low-end than it was on the predecessor, which was more ethereal and upper-partial. "Everlovin'" came from the sky where "Purified" gets down into the dirt. Minutes turn easily into hours and as the tambura drones on lovely the sawing gets thicker and keeps digging deeper into places you never knew a good ole fiddle could find . . . . saw on, brother, saw on . . .

DREDD FOOLE: A long, losing battle with eloquence and intimance LP (ECSTATIC YOD)
A powerful musical force, this guy, proving once again that you don't have to have good pitch to be able to sing in tune . . . . . . . . . . . . with the cosmos, that is! (No rim shot, please.) I mean, this is technically a very 'out-of-tune' album, which makes it kinda punk -- just Dredd and acoustic guitar, singing songs, and seriously, on first listen, you might not be ready -- it might be too raw and too personal. Not in any kind of tortured self-mutilated way, not even a broken downer way -- there's something warmer and friendlier about Dredd's songs, laid-back and beatific -- but they're still Punk, very weird and off-key, piercing to the bone, very heavy. And when they really pierce, the agent is almost always the voice, that most powerfully human element of song, and Dredd's highly strange vocalise peppers the songs with startling flavors, like venusian muppet falsetto bits, extended hyperventilation breakdowns, and sudden super-loud long-held monotone-drones. Just one man, vocals and acoustic guitar, but the songs are still rich enough in their weird ugly beauty to call me back for many repeat playings . . . . waitaminnit, ssshhh, I think I can hear 'em right now . . . . if you'll excuse me . . . .

Solo CD by the singer from Chicago/Midwest groups Children's Hour, Born Heller, and The Supposed. Folk music is what people will call it, but what they might not say is that it sounds like it comes from at least two different centuries at once. She plays all the instruments and creates sparse arrangements while hitting a very unexpected hybrid, her voice sounding to me for all the world like the second coming of Billie Holiday, a phenomenon sorta like the next Dalai Lama being born a young white boy in suburban Texas (cf. episodes of both King of the Hill and Mr. Show). However, this Billitude, this Holidayness, is tempered by something strange that is a little old world (Edith Piaf? La Scala?) and a little eccentric (Tiny Tim??). Is it from Illinois? Indiana? Appalachia? Italia? The 18th Century? The 17th Century? This isn't wyrd, it's weird!

Another killer hit from the Pfinland psych pscene. A lot of the music coming from this camp sounds like a bunch of people shaking things and blowing other things like crazy, which is usually pretty cool, but I like it even better when they use an electric guitar or two, lock in on some circular riffs, fall into a heavy backbeat, and make the whole thing shine like glowing embers. That's exactly what's going on here with Fricara Pacchu's Waydom cassette. We're talking LOCKED in -- hell yeah, these are grooves. Like all the best Finland stuff, it sounds like droned-out Sun Ra-meets-Dead C ethnic music that you can worship pagan concepts to with no persecution complex whatsoever. Apparently Fricara Pacchu is just one person, from the band Maniacs Dream, but he or she sounds like a band to me -- one of the best in Finland!


Whoah, a CD reissue of an actual 9" lathe cut record that was split between Gang Wizard and Friends Forever, the latter being the stars of an article in this very issue of Blastitude. (Waitaminnit, that article was written by the guy who runs this very label, Deathbomb Arc! Major conflict of interest! Good thing I don't care!) Friends Forever aren't listed first, but they go first with tracks 1-9, Deep Space EXPLORE!!!, yes, a concept album, about, yes, the exploration of deep space. Opens with a krautrockin' space jam, which I'm guessing was started by FF as a joke (the old 'let's play serious space-rock' gag) and then immediately script-flipped into serious-for-real, because as slacker space-rock goes, it's not bad at all. They digress from there into stuff like Frogsy faux-folk ("Shoulda never done PCP!!! Shoulda never gone to Vietnam!!!"), and then eventually get to the actual deep space exploration, signified, of course, by bendy atmospheric casio tonedrones and echoey cymbals and water sounds. As slacker Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy goes, it's not bad at all. And when they go into harsh noise for a bit here and there, it's really good. These guys could've been great noise artists, but they chose not to define themselves that specifically and opted instead for their goofball freedom-rock route. Ah, sweet freedom . . . there really is something about Friends Forever that is so fully tapped into not-giving-a-fuckness that they pull the same feeling out of you.
         As for Gang Wizard, they take up the second half of the CD with a small handful of longish tracks. It's been awhile since I spun one of their recs and JEEZ -- I knew they were vicious, but this has got to be their most vicious work yet! "Yowling and surly California improv" was a great description, and still is, but this isn't just "yowling and surly," this is "sticking your head inside a giant beehive while the Iraq war plays on your headphones." This is a hate and destroy rock band, without any pooping and peeing onstage or self-mutilation or playing No Fun Fest necessary -- it's all in the sound. You know, the whole "hate vibe" thing has gotten pretty popular lately, and rightfully so, but Gang Wizard were doing it just as well back in like 1998, so hey, props, and if any of you shoppers are interested, this is probably their most hateful yet.

GARLIC YARG: Somewhere Over The Rainbow Blue Wolves CDR (NOKAHOMA)
I keep coming back to this under-the-radar CDR of occult free-form psych-noise improvisations that I'm pretty sure involve Smolken of Dead Raven Choir and I don't know who else. It's not like it's some "great album," it's more just like a "strange missive" with a cool occult cover and just the right kind of blasted late-night zone-sound to go with it. It's weird and it seems confident with where it's sitting. Like an old-time band of gypsies with banjos and whiskey that keeps getting interrupted by UFO landings, or at least the Rowe/Cardew/Prevost/Gare lineup of AMM.

"Instructions: Match up the sides and play at the same time for maximum mind melt!" says the insert -- hey, I'll take the challenge, even if it means dragging the family boom box into the, ahem, Blastitude Editorial Offices. Alright, here goes, gotta push both "play" buttons at the same time . . . alright, Devillock starts with full-on crushgrind while Gate to Gate starts with a more subtle high-pitched tone . . . . nice, nice, now Gate to Gate is amping it up with their own sick brand of crushing grindcrush -- total shit static! Wow, this IS melting my mind! This is better than Zaireeka! Seriously folks, Tone Filth is definitely a label to watch -- not only is the artwork great, this double cassette release even comes in one of those old-school double-sized boxes like the one Slayer's Decade of Aggression came in. Devillock is the solo noise project of the Tone Filth perpetrator, one Justin C. Meyers, while Gate to Gate is a power duo of Mike Connelly (Hair Police, Gods of Tundra label, etc.) and Greh (Hive Mind, Chondritic Sound label, etc.). An all-scar line-up brings you an all-scorched sound-stream.

"We might be retarded, but we're gonna kill you in the end." I know that costume-rock and goof-rock and watch-the-ugly-guy-strip rock is often some of the most annoying shit ever, but we're talking about Ultimate Donny here. Gil Mantera's Party Dream is a synth-pop brother duo act from the inimitably seedy Ohio underbelly (been to Youngstown or the wrong side of Columbus lately?). Gil plays the synths, sings all the choruses through a vocoder, and shows some truly excellent dance moves while stripping down to a disgusting G-string, all while sipping on whatever free stage beer the club allows. As for the verses and really, everything else, his brother Ultimate Donny comes on as an outrageous wigga, and I never use that word, except that Ultimate Donny truly demands that I do. He struts the stage, swearing like a pimp and name-checking his #1 influence, "Richard Pryor." He wears his hair in corn-row braids, for goodness sake, and over Gil's strangely pleasant and harmonious Kraftwerk schtick he belts out some heartfelt New Jack balladry. If you listen closely, he's just making up words about the club or whatever his brother is doing, and saying "motherfucker" a lot, but when it comes to melody and delivery -- you know, singing -- Ultimate Donny is not fucking around. He's as good as the guy from Jodeci. It's with the actual content of the words, and especially the between-song banter, that he truly is fucking around, with the entire world. Take us out, Donny!
         "Somebody hook us up some Yuengling Draft, we dyin' up here...."
         "Man, I'm gonna suck your ass out the fucking door, motherfucker!"
         "This next song is called 'Mountain Song', feel it or don't! Feel it or don't. Competition is none, motherfucker!"
         "If you can't feel it, you probably got a couple darts stuck in your balls!"
         "We mighta fucked a grandmother's ass but you shoulda seen the shit she did to us when we was three and four...." (???)
         "Oh, shut up -- just cuz we're on a higher level...."          "Why's it smell like midget perfume in here? Where you goin' you piece of hell?!"
          "I researched the bible for 45 of my years on this earth, and I researched Barbara Walter's pussy for 36 years on this motherfuckin' earth, and I came to the conclusion that if I don't gets mine, I'm just gonna keep reachin...."
         "Hey those are our printers, asshole! Keep 'em on stage, piece of hell. My brother real stupid....huh? Yeah, dot matrix! DOT MOTHERFUCKIN' MATRIX!!" (Much more at partydream.com.)

GIL MANTERA'S PARTY DREAM: "Feel it or don't."

Um, is it okay if I think this band is better than Big Black? I only ask because they're kind of from that era and are no-doubt similar to Big Black, right down to the drum machine, the tin shrapnel guitar flare-ups, and the disaffected/affected suburbane white guy vocals. But the differences are key -- where the Big Black guitars were trebly, shredding, and speedy, Gutters mute the tones and play in a somber style. In fact, it's more like Joy Division, and that includes the vocals. But anyway, who the hell are/were Gutters? Well, they were an unknown band of suburbane nihilists from Western Massachusets who put out one cassette back in 1992, here given the 'deluxe CDR reissue' treatment, complete with jewel case and booklet with liner notes and lyrics. Indeed, the Gutters seem to have been much-loved by those few who loved them -- maybe everyone who bought their cassette went on to form a band! Guitarist Bill Shafer is excellent, and the real hero is the singer Adam Rachie. You've gotta hear the way he opens the first song, "She's A Killer," in an inimitable pissed deadpan: "Fucking kill / Likes to kill all the neighbors / Gonna kill all the neighbors she sees...." (I'm sure you're already in agreement that "Fucking kill" is a wonderful opening line for a song, but wait 'til you hear the way Rachie sings it, it gets even better.)

Oh man, I know I always give Hair Police records rave reviews (actually, I wasn't that crazy about Blow Out Your Blood) but this is IT. This might be their very best thing. Aw, fuck that, it's a split 10-inch, it's only one track and it's under 10 minutes, how could this be their best release, I'm just raving, I know, I know, their very best thing is Obedience Cuts . . . but this is a damn fine track. "Straps and Straps." It seems to condense every approach on Obedience Cuts into one 10-minute jam. This is their "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," their "Dark Star," their "Impressions." The musical language just happens to be not 1970s jazz-influenced hippie guitar rock but post-2000 stark raving doom-psych gut-noise.
       Dunno who Crystal Fantasy is, but I already like the record, so they'd have to really be bad to screw this one up, and . . . . . hmm, they're not bad at all, but they are markedly different from Hair Police. This is a much more benign bit of electronic weirdness, one with a slow (trip-hop??) groove, bubbly electro-nerd squiggle-tones, and such words as "forests" and, um, "crystal fantasy" intoned a lot, in a slightly British accent. The influence of both Animal Collective and Kraftwerk can be surmised, which means some of the more "gnarly" HP fans might reject it on principle . . . but probably not. Good record, I just listened to both sides twice in a row. (I also just learned that Crystal Fantasy is apparently a Neon Hunk alter ego.)

Did I read in this CD's press materials that the band spend $50,000 on the marketing of this CD? Yes. Can I believe that shit? No. Am I a fairly jaded and burnt-out hack record reviewer? Yeah, pretty much. That would explain this ridiculous Q&A style 'concept review', wouldn't it? Yep. Does the extremely well-made (and -budgeted) generica of Hammock deserve better than this hack review style? Yeah, it does. A whole lot better? A little better. Would I recommend Hammock to a Cocteau Twins fan? Yes. Would even the most hardy Eno freak find a satisfying bubble-bath ambient new age mellow-rock fix from this CD? Yes. How long would the fix last? About as long as the bubbles in my evening bubble bath. So what's that, about 15 minutes? Yeah, about that. But are there any standout tracks? There is one early in the disc (I can't tell you which because the CD got lost somewhere at work) with breathy female vocals and I simply cannot deny it's beauty. It's gorgeous, but after a couple more tracks go by I'm barely noticing the album anymore.

HUMAN HOST: Invisible Arteries CD (MT6 RECORDS/

Damn, weird one. This Baltimore-area band has at least one member who is also in the wall-of-hate maestros The New Flesh, and the 'frontman'/main-dude is from a band called Charm City Suicides. Haven't heard them, although I was certainly hoping for some more of that New Flesh insanity. What I got was insanity, all right, but of a much different stripe -- this is sci-fi horror synth-pop! Singer sounds tortured and blood-curdled (although he is an actual good singer), while strange keyboard processions wind their way underneath and a drum machine progresses at a funereal pace. And the lyrics! "Blood shot skull drone/Greased arm kontrol/Mind mend pill, rising sphere/The color pyramid appears/Disembodies cyborg mouths lick/vanilla silk atop the squirm/intendered rainforest mountains./Machinery crash-shivers the gluttonous birds/into clumsy, flapsy waves of feather and graw./The clouds grumble textile-like syrup structures/as their arrogance goes unchallenged/and unstinted thanks to gravity's lack/of contribution/to these truly overrated/and over admired sky tools." Damn, read The Sheep Look Up lately? Anyway, this is some pretty weird complex synth-punk-something, I feel like I've barely gotten started with it.

The cover photo is enough to put you in a different frame of mind -- a coupla bespectacled goofs barely in the frame, looking like a young Peter Boyle and Harry Dean Stanton, posed in front of some colorful and wistfully dilapidated Americana. Not that any of that really matters when the sounds start taking over -- this disc coulda been packaged in tupperware. For some reason this is just the album I've been looking for, a full plate of sparse non-noise experimental improvisational home-tinker electronics, by nerds and for nerds, played with tons of space and zero attitude except genuine exploration. The key word is SPARSE. It's like Morton Subtonick went over to visit Angus Maclise and check out his electronics setup. Maclise talked him into sharing a joint and doing some duo jams and, even though they had to keep it quiet cuz little Ossian was sleeping in the next room, Subotnick got FREE. But, this was recorded in Louisville, Kentucky in 1997 (a mere 8 years ago!) by the guys on the cover, Norman Minogue and Steve Good (with some guests on two or three tracks). And it's not all electronics -- Good plays only bass clarinet and clarinet throughout -- he's so "Good" at playing free music clarinet I thought I was listening to duo electronics! And shit, Minogue's credits are just "shortwave radio, turntable, cello, theremin, spoken word." Like Queen said, no synthesizers! Shortwave radio, turntable and theremin are three of the most abused instruments in experimental music history but Minogue plays 'em all with as much subtlety as Good plays the reeds with. The only slight mistep for me are 3-4 short spoken interludes where dream diaries are read . . . . dreams still rule of course, I just don't get too excited about dream diaries anymore . . . like drugs and (ahem) music and (ahem) pretty much everything else in the world, dreams are better experienced than described . . . . but all the instrumental stuff on here is pure spaced-out tweep-gold.

JOHNSTON BROTHERS: Johnston Brothers Christmas CS (HERESEE)
Hey, it's December 22nd, might as well get in the spirit and put on this Johnston Brothers Christmas cassette. I don't know who the Johnston Brothers are, but I think they're from Baltimore. Sez the Heresee website: "Some say a shure sign of loosing grip with your musical purity is when the christmas album is released, well the bros decided to throw a monkey wrench to that idea and have theire first release be a Xmaszz album!" That's funny, as is the fact that this music has NOTHING to do with Christmas. (Except that, according to the insert, "This recording was made on Christmas.") No words, no melodies, just free-form electronic nuts-voidness, very much in the spirit of Heresee guiding lights Nautical Almanac. Great mixing and sound placement going on, generating steady aural interest, with a perfect running time of 23 minutes. Thanks, Johnston Brothers! Oh, shucks . . . . Merry Christmas, everybody!!

KITES/PRURIENT: The Hidden Family/+White+ (Load Split Series #4) LP (LOAD)
Excellent graphics that give either band an opportunity to have "sole front cover treatment." Love that witchy Kites "night-vision" photo. And the Prurient cover has lyrics on it -- often a rad touch, as here. It also has a bunch of milk cartons on it too -- always a rad touch. Kites side is a great mix of freaky noise styles. (I'm still having a hard time picking out the creepy campfire/folk song aspect that's apparently threaded through this guy's work -- to me it's all freaky freenoise. But I may be stupid.) The Prurient side goes through some low-key movements before building into a slow-drilling electronic pattern over which Dominick Fernow screams -- and I realize that what makes Prurient great is that Fernow is a great rock'n'roll screamer. And he doesn't overdo it, spending most of the track letting the slow-drill dominate and tweak through sublime degrees of harshness. (CD version tacks on a bonus K/P collabo track, a unit they call Young Lords. Cool name, 5 minute or so track. Starts with uncharacteristically heartfelt moody acoustic guitar arpeggios that will make you say "Which CD is this again?" but then something happens that might make you jump.)

At first I thought maybe this Lau Nau was a group but it's a solo act, a woman from Finland named Laura Naukkarinen. Then, I thought I was going to hear my first Finland record in a while that was unrelated to the Kemialliset Ystavat & Avarus scene -- but she is from that scene, as she's also in (at least) the Anaksimandros and Pãivãnsãde, which means I've probably already heard her playing through my speakers because I have records by both groups. Solo, she's real soft and spooky but also sweet. Songs are pure and very simple, lilting mystery chants, kind of circular. Sung in Finnish with ungraspable loveliness. There's a Far East kinda influence lurking (one track is "a Nepalese trad."), but the key ingredient is that sweetness I mentioned earlier. And, some buzzed-out free ukulele (?) playing on track six really made me smile as far as honest/tough/funny/human(/gnarly!) soul improv goes. Speaking of sounding like at least two centuries at once
. . . . Lau Nau might hit about four. Play it for a Bjork fan and see what happens!

LAZY SMOKE: Corridor of Faces CD (ARF ARF)
A man I truly respect dismissed this disc about 20 seconds in with the comment "Beatles much?" Now, I think that's a pretty funny little retort and a lot of Beatle-posers deserve it, but jeez, my man, not the Lazy Smoke! I mean, I understand why this guy said it, because he's the music director for a really busy up-to-the-minute college radio station and every day he has to listen to about 60 totally shitty CDs, and then about 40 more CDs that are "pretty good but not his thing," and somewhere in all that are about 10 CDs that he actually really likes or outright loves, so in order to get to those great ones and give them the attention they deserve, he's always in "dismiss mode." A lot of music freaks always are, because if they can dismiss an album, band, and/or show within 20 seconds of hearing it, a whole lot of time is freed up for them to think about all the undismissable music out there that they're already thinking about every second anyway. I do it myself all the time, and I'm sure anyone who reads my review column has noticed. But man, NOT THE LAZY SMOKE!
      I'll admit it, I too thought of the Beatles for at least the first 20 seconds, the way the opening song "All These Years" was chugging along, but it was also throwing off all kinds of sparks that were making it quite new. First spark: the way the lead guitarist responds to each of the singer's first-verse lines, tearing through the British Invasion veneer with splintery spiky leads, just reckless enough to poke holes into the tune itself so that (psychedelic) air currents can form and get the whole thing shimmering. Second spark: in the same first verse the smooth lead singer-songwriter Joe Pollano drops a line about "She's been dead for years and years and years...." Wow, talking about death already, and it gets discussed a lot more as the album continues -- it's no Berlin but it's closer than you'd think. And then comes the biggest spark of all, an explosively sweet chorus in which the British Invasion chug drops into sky-opening heavy-yearning half-time as the voice kills softly over the top: "Save yourself some misery / And get away from here / I'll help you disappear," that last line changing the tone just right, from rejection to sympathy. There's plenty more fine songs of this caliber, not to mention that this CD reissue comes with like 13 bonus tracks, which are a lot of the same songs, but played and sung by Joe Pollano solo as he lays down a one-night reverb-heaven demo session that rivals some of the Chris Bell demos on I Am The Cosmos.

I don't think I've ever heard of Tom Boram before, and Jason Willett I've only heard on a couple (fine) duo CDs with Jad Fair, but Leprechauns Catering is a duo of Boram and Willett, and it's really something, stripped-down (possibly no overdubs??) f'd-up new wave miniatures, usu. one riff of a rock nature, or at least a herky-jerky dance theme, a weirdo nerdbeat groove, which the other member takes and destroys with electronics, sound, the truth, a lie, etc. Really works well on vinyl -- comes at you like it's 1982 all over again and you just picked up the one good record on Celluloid or some shit. Or a My Life in the Bush of Ghosts that can actually be listened to. Lovely sickscreened cover art too.

LSD-MARCH: Suddenly, like flames CD (LAST
Relatively new rockers from the perennially heavy Tokyo psych underground. This CD is a reissue of the band's second full-length album, which originally came out in 2002, on "dirty white vinyl" in an edition of 300, but they were formed in 1997 when singer/guitarist Shinsuke Michishita was 17 years old. People can't seem to mention LSD-March without mentioning original 1970s Japanese psych monsters Les Rallizes Denudes in the same sentence, but I can't really comment on that because -- full disclosure -- I have yet to hear Les Rallizes Denudes. Someday I will hear them, I know, and I will continue to welcome this day, but for now I'm havin' a pretty good (i.e. bad, downer, heavy) time with LSD-March. You could say they're a bit youthful, but they certainly have a firm grip on the style, which is sheer black downer asceticism peppered by well-timed destructive guitar explosions (see also: such relatively current groups as the blown-out Shizuka and the slightly more upbeat Miminokoto, with whom LSD-March shares a bassist). It's a certain Crazy Horse/Velvets/Haino mixture played with a grimy flat blackness, heard choicely here on the second track "Black bouquet" and the huge ballad "After the storm." But LSD-March are not a post-PSF one trick pony.....Album opener "The Lamp -- Tomorrow's Godard" is an odd slightly new-wave number in which the vocals sound like they're being sung from underneath an entire pool of psychedelic lightshow bubble-oil, "Clepsydra flames" is frantic and mean, and the instrumental title track is mostly just a big full-band Metal Machine Music/"L.A. Blues" blow-out. Plenty going on here, if you ask me . . . .

LSD-MARCH: Kanashimino Bishounen LP (HP CYCLE)
A new LP, recorded in 2004, their third proper full-length, in an edition of 415. This time the first song is a devastatingly heavy lo-fi blues dirge ballad, a good 8-10 minutes long (that's what it feels like anyway, I haven't timed it). After that the album gets kind of strange, vicious, and biting -- don't quote me on this, but it seems to get a little more gutter-rock than expected -- maybe even like Pussy Galore if they were, you know, fronted by Haino Keiji instead of Spencer Jon. Nasty, crude, and pretty weird stuff.

MALEDETTO/OTTAVE: Ottave/Maledetto 3" CDR

This may be the 54th 3" CDR I've gotten in the mail this week, but I've listened to the deepscape dronespace art-sound within quite a bit. Five quick tracks by some Italians who really do have a sense of how to pour the concrete in a StockHaflerHausen Trio kind of way. It's well-recorded, so all you HC-primed subterranean gore freaks might not be feelin' it, but if you're in a mood or situation that calls for something that's creepy, loud, and fast but a little more sonorous, by all means . . . .