About a year ago, the Fire Museum label put out a CD reissue of the very first 1967 album by Alan Sondheim and his Ritual All 770 group, and now the label has followed up with some brand new Sondheim recordings, an album called sk/inn. This time he's solo, playing strange strings ("1927 martin tenor guitar, 19th century parlor guitar, 1920's prime alpine zither, 1860's elegie alpine zither") in a flipped-out ancient-to-the-future folk setting. It's basically a solo guitar album, and this release totally reminds me of the Alvarius B instrumental LP, both of them go-for-broke twisted-roots solo jammers by an 'older dude' named Alan. My only quibble about ski/nn that it goes on for a long time, over 75 minutes. Would've made a very fine 40-minute LP (or CD for that matter), because Sondheim's music is a lot of things -- fluid, inventive, timeless, borderless, lovely, but also very open to chaos, weirdness, risk, and ugliness. (And as always, check out

Afternoon Dream CD (FIRE MUSEUM, 2006)

You can probably forgive me an MV comparison here, after all Mr. Amlee does live in Northampton, Massachusets, which isn't too far from Maximum Arousal Farm, and both a straw hat and a strange stringed instrument figure into his cover photograph.....ah, but the differences are just as big. Where MV and co. are wont to take the music into spiky and jarring territory, Amlee keeps it a little more drony, a little more traditionally beautiful and free-floating. Some might even say 'new-agey', but this Afternoon Dream sounds too nice for it not to be a compliment, with longish tracks that ripple and hover with sublime sitar and acoustic guitar sounds, delicately FX'd into subtle blankets. Now, Amlee is no virtuoso Shankar acolyte on the sitar -- he's using it more as a resonator, a mere vehicle for the deep strange sounds that mostly come from beneath the frets. I dug Amlee's solo sitar-in-a-room record Sitar Vol. 2, that was a nice one too, but Afternoon Dream really takes it to another level with the addition of the acoustic guitar and those sweet FX.

NOV 2 2006 (ALL SOULS)

BONUS: Double Odyssey CDR (FATHER)
Damn, a little bit of house-cleaning turned up this disc sent from who knows where and who knows how long ago. I'm not sure why I put it right in the player, casually jumping it past all of the deserving titles sitting here in these sprawling 'up next' piles that probably amount to something like, oh, eight or nine months of listening. Maybe it was simply because of the psychedelic xerox fold-out artwork on the cover -- I'm telling you, nothing beats good artwork for making a release stand out of the glut. Anyway, I put it on, and was kinda immediately and unexpectedly floored by some heavy, deep, and rather MEAN power-synth trio-drone aktion. This stuff is from the gut, for the gut, and it grinds away in there for 49 minutes. I'm impressed. From what I can tell Bonus is from San Francisco, or Seattle, or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, and I can't tell you much more than that.


For The Great Slave Lakes CD (THREE LOBED)

I dug the first couple records by this Brooklyn duo, but I haven't kept up too well since then and they've been very busy. And, judging from this brand new album, on Three Lobed's subscription-only "Modern Containment" series, they've really (d)evolved into something SICK while I was looking the other way. This is twisted blackened riff-shit shot through with total industrial damage, in the form of horrendous broken-mechanical loops that stomp forward like damaged androids, guitar feedback and amp noise hanging off the frantically lumbering robot limbs like radioactive moss, sometimes (always?) propelled by a horribly misplaced rock'n'roll drummer who somehow keeps hold of the reins. Just check out the awesome track 2, "When We Were Graves." I think everything I just described is in there, with just enough room somehow left for the ghost of a far-off voice to sing a melody right out of Uriah Heep. And that lumbering loopazoid android Heep vibe is maintained throughout the whole album, no mercy, no quarter, culminating in a 30-minute reductio ad absurdum crescendo that I know I'll never get all the way through unless I fall asleep to it, which is still unlikely because before it's finally over I will probably wake up in momentary terror and confusion . . . you know the style . . .


More events have been announced by the Hyde Park Art Center to tie in with their current Sun Ra exhibit. Nick Cave and Thurston Moore are both showing up. I visited the exhibit for the first time today and it was cool. I was definitely impressed by the artwork of Claude Dangerfield -- it's always looked great on the album reissues but it also holds up very well in the museum setting, and it's cool to see the original printer's color separations and rough sketches that went into the finished product. This guy should've painted covers for sci-fi books! Also a treat to see Alton Abraham's sketches for the projected 10,000-acre El Saturn Research complex, which unfortunately never came to fruition. Anyway, here's the schedule so far:

TRAVELING THE SPACEWAYS: The Astro Black and Other Solar Myths

Hyde Park Art Center - 5020 S Cornell Ave, Chicago IL 60637 or call 773-324-5520
Symposium: November 11 & 12, 2006: 10 am - 5 pm

The Hyde Park Art Center presents Traveling the Spaceways, a landmark symposium devoted to the musical legend Sun Ra. Informative panel discussions, musical performances, and readings will investigate the impact Sun Ra and Afro-Futurism have had on American history and visual culture. Bringing together contemporary artists, major writers, and scholars who have focused on this prophetic jazz band leader, composer, pianist, and self-proclaimed extraterrestrial, this free event will enlighten and intrigue those interested in African American art and music of the postwar period. For a detailed schedule and list of panelists, please visit

Panelists include:

* Adam Abraham
* Robert Campbell
* Nick Cave
* John Corbett
* Anthony Elms
* Calvin Forbes
* Malik Gaines
* Terri Kapsalis
* Glenn Ligon
* Graham Lock
* Victor Margolin
* Kerry James Marshall
* Hamza Walker
* Kevin Whitehead


All screenings are free, begin at 6:00 p.m., and will be held at the Hyde Park Art Center in room 4833 rph followed by a discussion.

November 28
Film: The Cry of Jazz (1959) by Edward O. Bland
Discussion led by Chuck Kleinhans, Associate Professor of Radio, Television and Film at Northwestern University

December 5
Film (double feature): Sun Ra: The Magic Sun (1966) by Phill Niblock and Last Angel of History (1995/6) John Akomfrah
Discussion led by John Corbett, curator

Please note different host locations and prices.

For the Love of Music
A FREE acoustic concert series presented in the gallery with AACM Chicago on the following Sundays, from 3-4:30 p.m.: October 22, November 5, & December 17

November 10
The Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia Avenue, 9:00 p.m.
Music for Tomorrow's World: A Dedication to Sun Ra
Starring Thurston Moore, Rollo Radford, Avreeyal Ra Quartet, and Jim Baker with Intergalactic Myth-Science DJ sets and an opening performance by My Barbarian. Tickets are $20 – call (866) 468-3401 or visit

December 3
Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 3:00 p.m.
Sun Ra in Chicago: Musical Recollections
An ensemble of original members of the Arkestra and other Ra associates, including Robert Barry, Art Hoyle, Ricky Murray, Hattie Randolph, and Lucious Randolph gather for an intimate exchange of anecdotes along with performances of favorite Sun Ra compositions. A FREE event moderated by John Corbett.

December 10
Phil Cohran
An intimate look at Sun Ra from one of his key associates, Philip Cohran, who played trumpet with the Arkestra in the late '50s, before starting his own influential group the Artistic Heritage Ensemble. John Corbett will interview Cohran, who will also narrate a slideshow of rarely seen Arkestra photos.

Visit for more information



The Herzog maniacs will know about this book. I first learned of it while watching his Fata Morgana film with the commentary track on. The film's narrator is Lotte Eisner, a German film historian who Herzog considers "the missing link" who brought German film culture through the crucial period just after World War II. He says this on the commentary track, where he also tells the story of when he heard that Ms. Eisner was on her deathbed in Paris France, November 1974. He told her he was going to come to see her, but that he was going to walk there on foot, and that she would be alive when he got there. And, even though he was 425 miles away in Munich, Germany, across some fairly alpine winter conditions, that's exactly what he did. It took him three weeks, and not only was Ms. Eisner still alive when he arrived, she lived for almost ten more years after that.
        While Herzog was making the trip, he kept a diary, and a few years later in 1980, a small imprint from New York called Tanam Press published it in a humble, slim little paperback edition. It was never a widely distributed item, and has become very hard to find -- copies were recently seen selling online for well over 100 dollars. I borrowed this copy from a friend of mine who is borrowing it from someone I don't even know. He gave it to me with a strict one-week deadline. I'm going to his apartment to return it tomorrow, six days later. We are Herzog maniacs. We don't mess around.
        Of course people will consider this 425-mile walk to have been just another show-offy stunt by the 'eccentric' or maybe even 'egomaniacal' Werner Herzog. Those who scoff may still recognize that Herzog is trying to blow their mind, but what they're missing is that he's trying to blow it out of A TRAP, out of a certain hypnosis which Alan Bishop describes in an interview at "Outstanding beings are difficult to find. Most of what every human says to me, I have already heard via the collective media or from public opinion. They are under hypnosis without realizing it. So I am attracted more to those who can break through the epidemic of hypnosis and operate at much higher levels."
        30 years earlier, in his road diary, Herzog writes, "I am wondering about the smugness with which people move about." This modern world's mass epidemic of smug hypnosis has been caused by the collective media, of course, but also perhaps just as much by modern travel, by the immensely powerful fuel, priced artifically low for a century now, that powers automobiles, trains, and planes. To use Herzog's word, we have become completely smug about distance and the massive lay of the land. No wonder we carelessly pollute it; we barely even realize it's there. Maybe this is another reason that he walked 425 miles -- to cast a spell of scale over the entire region, to demonstrate to a hopelessly modern world what it looks like to give the land the respect it deserves.
        Naturally this attracted the authorities, who caught up with Herzog for the first time just after he crossed the border into France. He writes, "Just past Piney I was stopped and checked by astonished patrolmen who wouldn't believe a word I said and wanted to take me with them right away." In any overdeveloped so-called 'peaceful' nation, the real role of the police is to preserve the hypnosis, and to do this, they must be largely hypnotized themselves. When they encounter someone like Herzog, an outstanding being whose motives are clearly unique, they are momentarily snapped out of hypnosis and react by trying to regain control. This is dangerous, because they are in an agitated state, and they are trained and authorized to use force and violent restraint when necessary. Herzog understands this game, and has no choice but to protect himself by calmly putting them back under hypnosis: "We only came to an understanding once the city of Munich was mentioned. I said Oktoberfest, and one of the policemen had been there and remembered the words Glockenspiel and Marienplatz, he could say this in German. After that they became peaceful."

NOV 8 2006 (OWL)

On the day after the apparent mid-term 'triumph' by the Democrats, I can only think of a quote by my all-time favorite analyst, William S. Burroughs. Elvis just posted it on, but I've had it up on the wall at work for over a year now so I don't mind copycatting: "To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth." Another good quote to remember is John Dewey's definition of American politics: "The shadow cast by big business over society." That's why it isn't a surprise that most of these Democrats we are cheering as saviors actually want to increase defense spending. I'm sure plenty of bulls out there would passionately argue the point, but I sincerely believe that there are far better ways to change your neighborhood, city, state, country, and world than voting. For starters, ride a bike as much as possible, and eat more fruits and vegetables.


For about a month I had been planning to do a post about For years it has been my #1 source for keeping track of all the many worthwhile shows going on in Chicago, but when I recently discovered that it also contained a big archive of photos that the webmaster had taken over many years, it got even better. There were great shots of a wide spectrum of live music, cityscapes and landscapes from all over the world, playful stuff and serious stuff. A personality started to emerge, that of a committed and passionate music lover and anti-war anti-corporate activist with a sense of humor, a kind of person I've always associated with Chicago. It made sense when I came across a self-portrait or two and recognized him immediately as "that guy who is always at the same shows I'm at," particularly free jazz shows, always with microphones and recording equipment. Turns out he had taped over 2000 shows and his recordings had been used for over 50 album releases. Although I never got his name, he and I had chatted a couple times, as fellow music-lovers who were always at the same shows eventually will. Well, this morning I learned that his name was Malachi Ritscher. At 7AM this past Friday morning, November 3, he went to a landscaped area next to a statue in downtown Chicago, between the Kennedy Expressway and one of its on-ramps. Sitting in view of rush hour traffic, next to a homemade sign that said "Thou shalt not kill," he doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. Before doing this, he had written a powerful mission statement and obituary and placed them at the end of his photo archive, just after a page of self-portraits, the last of which is captioned "one last shot, october 2006." War is still hell, and he was a brave man. I'm more than a little shocked and conflicted, but I think right now I'm leaning towards "To burn oneself by fire is to prove that what one is saying is of the utmost importance…. The Vietnamese monk, by burning himself, says with all his strength and determination that he can endure the greatest of sufferings to protect his people…. To express will by burning oneself, therefore, is not to commit an act of destruction but to perform an act of construction, that is, to suffer and to die for the sake of one’s people. This is not suicide." -- Thich Nhat Hnah, as quoted by Michael Zerang, down a ways in the comments section on Peter Margasak's definitive writeup on the event for the Chicago Reader...... and there's another important comment about halfway down by someone named Sarah: "the impact of his death was important, but not because it will get his message out - i think everyone is already well aware of that message. his death is important because it signals the path we are on. it is a perfect metaphor for the inevitable conclusion that our current methods will have. he spent his life looking for action that will change things, but ended it for the same message that he spent his life preaching, without success. his message will reach those of us who are concerned with the movement. the importance of his message will be acknowledged by those of us who agree with it, but anyone else, anyone outside of our belief system will dismiss it as mental illness. the media won't pick it up, of course. it may receive momentary coverage around the area and among "us liberals," but the mainstream media will never go within a 100 mile radius of it. it's not digestable enough for the media, and the fact that people seem unaware of this is shocking. the status quo will not be disrupted. his death is a wakeup call, that's for sure - but not to post his manifesto across indie messageboards (although that's certainly an appropriate response) - it's a wakeup call to find new solutions." Once again, I would recommend riding a bike whenever possible, and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.


Pink Reason, Home Blitz, Cheveu and Sapat. These aren't four bands from the same 'scene', far from it, unless Wisconsin, New Jersey, France, and Kentucky are now a 'scene,' but they did all put out amazing DIY 7-inches this year, all of which are probably completely sold out by now. You see, all the other music blog-type sites (that is, the ones that matter) have written about this stuff up and down, and they did it many months ago. I wanted to be chiming in right there with 'em, but I just didn't get it done. Better late than never? I dunno. At this late hour, this is more just a way for me to say thanks for the tuneage......

First of all, what a gem of a 7-inch by Pink Reason, two sides of gloriously weird underground pop/rock/something from Green Bay, Wisconsin -- how often does that happen? First song "Throw It Away" is the one that slays me the most -- acoustic guitar pounding out a three-chord mantra, with droning electric guitar melodies winding over it, and really strange multi-tracked venusian/manphibian vocals singing great hooks. The two shorter songs on Side B take the same basic elements and actually dress 'em up a little weirder by slowing down the pulse and adding even more helium to the vocals, along with other odd overdubs like flutes and music-box keyboards. 300 pressed here, probably long gone, West Coast tour coming up in November (see dates below), and word is that Siltbreeze is putting out a full-length soon, which I honestly can't wait to hear. (

Because he has long been a 'staff writer' for Blastitude, young Daniel DiMaggio didn't think I should review the already legendary Home Blitz 7-inch that he recorded and released, citing conflict of interest. So I never did. But of course I love it. How can you not love the way the first song's inappropriately gigantic power chords back the sweet line of questioning, "Hey cute girl / How's it goin'? / How's your week been / so far?" He fearlessly rhymes that with something about his "ELECTRIC GUITAR!!!," and this is all seconds before he fearlessly stops the song to go and get some gum. I'm sure you know all about it, and you probably know all about the follow-up 7-inch too, which I haven't even heard yet. I guess sending me TWO singles for review was REALLY a conflict of interest, eh Danny Boy? (P.S. Check out the Home Blitz press blitz: Rettman interviews 'em for Slippy Town Times, and Young Steve interviews 'em for Terminal Boredom! Hilarious stuff! Oh yeah, and check out this Home Blitz show report! And, oh yeah, too.)


And then there's Cheveu. Ah, Cheveu. Apparently it's French for "hair." Someone in France sent me a CDR of the two 7-inches they released in 2006, with a letter that said they were "the best band in France, probably," or something like that. And from the evidence here, probably is probably right. In fact, they're probably the best band ever from France (besides Heldon of course). Their first 7-inch was released by US DIY label S-S Records (who is going to release a new Pink Reason 7-inch soon -- like Joey Harrington would say, "everything connects"). I gotta admit Side A "Dog" took a little getting used to, with its corny drum machine beat, blatant punk 101 (not hardcore 101) guitar riff, and rinky-dink keyboards, but side B "Make My Day" was really working for me right away, with the bouncy/moody guitar riffing and incessant growling of "Come Susan here and lay! / Come Suzy make my daaaaaayyyy!" This guy from Cheveu has a calmly bizarre bray/growl/murmur for a voice, like no other 'blues-punk' 'showman' before or since. After the brilliance of "Make My Day" I went back to "Dog" and it was a real A-side after all, a funny and twisted story of sexual menace, something about a dog really coming on to a kitty cat. Their second 7-inch, co-released by the SDZ and Royal labels, is possibly better, with the steamroller rant of side A, "Clara Venus," and its scary chorus refrain of "KKKKKKRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRR-OWW!" (or something like that), backed with the maniac surf rant of "Superhero," over which a race-track announcer gives the play-by-play to some sort of weird "Sister Ray"-style action. I'm telling you, everything this guy says sounds like he's describing a drugs-and-sex orgy..... Now, I have yet to even see actual copies of these 7-inches, but I'm still happy to have this CDR version because it has some unreleased bonus tracks tacked on that are frankly blowing my mind. Especially the 12-minute "Unemployment Blues," recorded live, unhurried style, with a great endless guitar riff and bombed-out echo all over the animalistic vocals. There's also my possible favorite Cheveu song "Lola Langusta," a totally catchy mix of chirpy keyboard cheese, grimy drumbox sleaze, and drunk-on-the-corner vocals begging some slum goddess for help. ("So sick I can't breathe / Sick as the rainbow / Hey Lola / Show me show me what ya got / Please come and treat me now," etcetera.) "Sick as the rainbow" is my new motto, thanks Cheveu! (Here we go again:

And finally, throwing this Sapat 7-inch into the mix, their Tongue-Tied & Staid EP, really confirms for me that the 'DIY scene' (oh yeah, that's the scene that unites Wisconsin, New Jersey, France, and Kentucky) has no limits. Sapat remain true to the ethos, while bringing in a combination of rare ingredients with confidence, such as clarinets, beards, jazz, occult use of whiskey, and even Dr. John the Night Tripper. At least that's who the ongoing narcotically drawling vocal sounds like to me (if he was being played on 16RPM). Beefheart is the more 'household' reference point, but either way, it's the music that snakes underneath the vocals that really digs deepest. On the surface it's almost a 'funk jammer' but as the side winds on we get treated to several possible meanings of the word "funk," as the band slides through unthinkable change-ups, drifting into full-on Don Cherry cross-chatter linguistics and back into meaty punk/glam guitar switch-offs without faltering once (and this is long after faltering has become an underground style). About 12 minutes long, 6 minutes per side, titled as 3 songs but it sounds like 1 to me, and every time I listen it gets a little deeper. These folks also have a full-length coming out early 2007 on Siltbreeze. And no MySpace page! So hey, Pink Reason, Home Blitz, Cheveu, Sapat . . . . thanks. You're all geniuses. Now go record some more mind-blowing shit -- or don't. Either way, history will be kind.


11/17/2006 Warehouse Party (?!?!)
Oakland, CA
w/ Goodnight Loving, Night Terrors

11/18/2006 Delta of Venus
Davis, CA
w/ Nothing People

11/19/2006 The Hemlock
San Fransisco, CA
w/ Nothing People

11/20/2006 The Dunes
Portland, OR

11/21/2006 Funhouse
Seattle, WA
w/ Nice Smile, Kount Fistula

11/22/2006 The Other Space
Vancouver, BC
w/ Fun100, Hot Loins, International Falls

11/23/2006 Pub 340
Vancouver, BC
w/ Shearing Pinx, No Feeling

11/24/2006 Rotture
Portland, OR

12/02/2006 How To house
1515 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles
w/ Off Peru


photo by Lars Knudson

Get this, when I first heard Burning Star Core, I thought it was a Death Beam side project. I'm sure a few of you remember Death Beam. For those who don't, this was back in mid-2001 when, ahem, Midwest Noise was really gaining some momentum, and Death Beam was this barnstorming Cincinnati-based destroyed-rock trio that C. Spencer Yeh played guitar in and sang freaked-out vocals (in Russian) for, while Chris Roesing (aka Roesing Ape) played great crudely jazz-damaged drums and Ron Orovitz (aka Iovae) did the ol' replace-the-bass with great bombing electronics. They were a real wild power trio and couldn't help but command some attention. At the same time, Burning Star Core was doing gigs in an inevitably more low-key fashion that seemed appropriate for a side project. However, I quickly learned that BXC (the "X" isn't a letter, it's a picture of a star!) had existed well pre-Death Beam because BXC was simply Yeh, whether playing solo or joined by various others. And as the 21st century continued Death Beam seemed to power down and recede into the background while BXC suddenly started touring and recording non-stop, a huge artistic run that's still going strong a good five years later.
         And somehow I missed almost all of it. The last time I have seen a BXC gig was (a crushing 10-minute solo violin-and-loop throwdown) in November 2002 for crying out loud. The great White Swords in a Black Castle CDR came out a couple months after that, and it was the last thing I had heard other than the great "I Am Legend" track on the last Bananafish comp (mid-2004) -- until now. I've finally gotten hold of some FULL-LENGTHS, and they are all simply great. The weightiest piece of evidence is Mes Soldats Stupides '96-'04, a massive double-CD in a nicely done gatefold digipak by the Cenotaph imprint. This is a veritable BXC career-spanner, compiling all kinds of out-of-print tracks Yeh has released over the last eight years in on-the-fly short-run woodshed editions, many of them on his own label Drone Disco, but also via such venerable outlets as Gods of Tundra, Gameboy, and Chondritic Sound. The sequence is not chronological, but it is still very clear what a wide swath of sound this guy has cut through the last eight years, with almost every track having a different conception, whether it's post-Wolf Eyes gut-tones slowly bending and blending into the celestial harmonies of grand opener "I Wanna Make A Supersonic Woman Of You," or the (in his case literally) jaw-dropping solo-voice sound-poetry histrionics of "Live at Gameboy Compound," or the screaming and shimmering violin/drums duo jazz fire music of "Rehearsal Excerpt," or the unfinished guitar solo of "Unfinished/Guitar Solo" (actually harsh-noise electronics obliterating a simple Enoid melodic-fantasia keyboard loop) .... and believe me, I could go on for many paragraphs, because every track is amazing, and in many different ways.
       So here I had spent a month or so, ass blown through chair by the variety on Mes Soldats Stupides, and then along comes this 2005 joint Let's Play Wild Like Wildcats Do (Hospital/RRR), which immediately goes into something even more completely new and fantastic, some sort of looped-out epic rock track featuring sampled disco horns and a killer bass-and-drum groove that hits like fucking "Swingtown" by Steve Miller Band, no shit, with a viciously celestial drone dragging through the whole thing. There's only one other track on this disc, called "Clouds In My Coffee." It's a little longer and a lot mellower, a simple and effective heavy cooldown for a possibly perfect LP.
          After this monstrous funk bomb, I continued to backtrack, ending up at his/their 2nd 'real' full-length, the possibly even more perfect The Very Heart of the World, on the Thinwrist label. Recorded 2002-2004, it heavily features the BXC trio configuration, in which Yeh is joined by Robert Beatty and Trev Tremaine (both of Hair Police, Eyes and Arms of Smoke, Sick Hour, et al), most notably on the 15 minute closer "Come Back Through Me." The album starts with the sound of a car crash (no, I mean literally, like a sample), and once again Yeh keeps you guessing with the constant overt/covert change-up of approaches, but I feel like this his most overall ethereal and celestial release. Tremaine's drumming on "Come Back" is even kind of majestic, as are the electronic caterwauls ululating in the background from Yeh's freaked violin, which makes me think of some kind of serious post-Coltrane motion. And another thing, the artwork and design is top-notch yet again, especially on the inside of the gatefold with its old-time film-poster tint. (Is this what the LP looks like too?? That would be sweet.....)
        And, for the perfect digestivo after this many-course meal, how about a 10 minute cassette by C. Spencer Yeh called Solo Violin 9-10. Apparently fifth in a series of edition-of-50 solo violin 'cassingles', in-the-moment woodshed-style on Yeh's own Drone Disco imprint. Side A is totally nuts, Yeh seemingly taking apart his axe-strings fiber by fiber at perfect harsh-acoustic volume. Side B on the other hand is treated-to-all-heaven float-out stuff. A fun little way to blast your mind open in less than ten minutes -- feels just like playing a killer 7-inch. (And dig Yeh's Doc Ock style on the cover....)
       So there you have it -- how far a Death Beam alum has come. In the time it took me to write this roundup, there's been a spate of limited LPs, one on What The...? label, one on the No Fun "Rotten" series, and one on Gods of Tundra under the C. Spencer Yeh name, already surely hard to find (which means check with for last copies), apparently one side solo voice and one side solo violin, no overdubs. That's gotta be wild.....but then, Yeh has been known to play wild.....much like wildcats do, as a matter of fact......

Match the BXC song-title with its source:

1. "Let's Play Wild Like Wildcats Do"
2. "Clouds in my Coffee"
3. "The Very Heart of the World"
4 . "I Wanna Make A Supersonic Woman Out of You"
5 . "Nothin' But A Heartache"
a. Freddie Mercury
b. Bonnie Tyler
c. Robert Plant
d. Carly Simon
e. Guy Maddin?

photo by Lars Knudson


Frank Zappa "Apostrophe" (Rykodisc)
Crawlspace "Just Seventeen" (Gulcher)
Ethnic Minority Music of Northeast Cambodia "Six Phnong gong players (4 men, 2 women standing holding their CINGs or flat gongs), 1 male singer, 2 female singers, in PATENG (MONDOLKIRI) May 2005" (Sublime Frequencies)
Larkin Grimm "Link In Your Chain" (Secret Eye)
Alva "Racstasy" (Menlo Park)
Alva "World of Lonely Afterthought" (Menlo Park)
Alva "March to Underneath" (Menlo Park)
Breakout "W Co Mam Wierzyc" (Polskie Nagrania)
Amon Düül II "C.I.D. in Uruk" (United Artists)
Jerry Yester & Judy Henske "One More Time" (Radioactive)
Mothers of Invention "Are You Hung Up" (MGM/Verve)
Mothers of Invention "Who Needs The Peace Corps" (MGM/Verve)
Mothers of Invention "Concentration Moon" (MGM/Verve)
Mothers of Invention "Mom & Dad" (MGM/Verve)
New Age Panther Mistique "[track 1]" (Wabana ORE 45)
New Age Panther Mistique "[track 2]" (Wabana ORE 45)
Stars of the Lid "Requiem for Dying Mothers part 1" (Kranky)
Stars of the Lid "Requiem for Dying Mothers part 2" (Kranky)
Sandy Bull "Electric Blend" (Vanguard)
Crawlspace "Sympathy for the Devil" (Gulcher)
Frank Zappa "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" (Rykodisc)

Breakout     Amon Duul II

Hester and Yenske     Sandy Bull

"The brain processes four hundred billion bits of information a second but we're only aware of two thousand of them. That means that reality is happening in the brain all the time." -- some nerd in the movie What The Bleep Do We Know? Not a very good movie, I only watched about 25 minutes, but I like that statistic.

"Sensation and perception do not exactly come from outside, and the unremitting thought and image-flow are not exactly inside. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us. There are more things in mind, in the imagination, than 'you' can keep track of -- thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden. The depths of mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches, but the bobcat that roams from dream to dream." -- Gary Snyder, from "The Etiquette of Freedom" in The Practice of the Wild (North Point Press, San Francisco, 1990)


All The Birds Are Gone CDR (RLE RECORDINGS)

Illinois + noise + 'noisenik' + Nick = Nick H. from down in Champaign, who records and publishes music as Silvum. Says on the back "This is the earliest Silvum work anyone will hear." I thought it was gonna be pretty harsh stuff, but this thing is a calm, patient, and kinda beautiful take on the eternal fragile shimmering gloom. I mean, sure it's creepy and depressive, but who said that can't be beautiful?

"Decapitation Fetish," artwork by Silvum


In Romance 1600 LP (PAISLEY PARK)

Still got the vinyl copy I bought back in 1985, the week it came out. Sheila E. and her then-svengali, the mostly forgotten Jamie Starr, really went over-the-top for their second album together, taking the rather successful timbale synth funk of their debut production (In The Glamorous Life) and cranking up the weird. The "Romance 1600" concept is both vague and vast, as one can tell from the front and back covers and inner sleeve (a quasi-medieval quasi-aristocratic bodice-ripping thing going on), as well as all the preposterously fiery progressive jazz-funk and high concept prog-funk tomfoolery, with the choicest style of all being the cold new-wave synth-funk approach that makes the dreamy melodramatic ballad-swirl of "Dear Michaelangelo" and the futuristic skinny-tie sock-hop dance number "Romance 1600" the best songs on here.



Curated by Sarrita Hunn, Marcella Faustini, and Museum of Viral Memory
December 13, 2006 – January 19th, 2007
Closing Reception: Saturday, January 13th, 6-8pm
with Caroliner performance starting at 8pm

"This is some lost American Baroque, retrieved at rummage sales...Caroliner holds on to an old-fashioned esthetic of sensory assault, raised to anunusually high pitch of musical sophistication" -- Alex Ross, New York Times, April 15, 1993

23 Years of Hernia Milk and Ergot Dreams: A Retrospective of Caroliner and its Homage to a 19th Century Singing Bull

Echo de Pensees Sound Series in conjunction with The Museum of Viral Memory presents 23 Years of Hernia Milk and Ergot Dreams, the first ever opportunity to see the internationally recognized band Caroliner's extensive ephemera (propitious props, salutary sets, corrupted costumes, random releases, maligned missives, reviled relics and loquacious lyric books) collected in one place!

Caroliner was formed in San Francisco in 1983 when a ragtag band of temporally misplaced troubadours ran afoul of an astrally displaced gang of misbehaved minstrels. Initial violence blossomed from the dead bull ghost into corporate confusion when deep inside a mould induced hallucination they copyrighted the original songs of a singing bull,Caroliner, who was tragically killed and eaten by its starved owner in the mythic age of 1833. Taking ergot-poisoned pills through a Wisconsin death trip, the group began recreating their hallucinatory dream state through hypnotic sound, flamboyant costumes, and glowing props. Two decades later they are still digging through Caroliner's prodigious aural droppings with day-glominer's helmets and home made shovels of calcium-welded bone. The sounds are a heady mix of toxic shock and shocking talk, folk confusion and percussive dissolution. For Hernia Milk and Ergot Dreams concerned folks have dug through the group's checkered past and black-light warehouse to choose the cream of the crop of 23 years of Caroliner props, costumes, instruments, records, books, flyers and assorted other detritus. The show will close on January 13th with Caroliner's first performance in a year and a half. The set will take place at California College of the Arts' Graduate Center in San Francisco, with Luz Alibi and Georgio Marauder, Theremin Barney and Ploc Monster. 23 Years of Hernia Milk and Ergot Dreams exposes Caroliner's tragic trail of tears through the American dream and across the world.

PLAySPACE California College of the Arts
1111 8th Street (at 16th and Wisconsin)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Regular gallery hours are Wed., Thurs., andSat. 12-3pm. or by appt.

Friday December 1st
9pm til late
2 floors

X.0.4. - members of Vampire Can't / Slaughterhouse Percussion
HZMT - aka Max Cloud
G LUCAS vs NONHORSE - of The Vanishing Voice

DJ PORKCHOP SS - of Excepter
DJ CASEY BLOCK - Eat Records / Just Music

free beer while it lasts

at the
Raven's Den / Silent Barn / Club Krib
915 Wyckoff Avenue Ridgewood Queens, New York City

near the Halsey L stop
or the Myrtle/Wyckoff L/M stop



Some time ago -- maybe it was after the most recent Test album came out, in 1999 -- I stopped keeping up with new free jazz and moved onto other forms. When an Evan Parker/Joe McPhee duo show in 2003 failed to move me, it really felt like something had ended inside. A renaissance has definitely been going on this year, however, at least as seen through my tunnel vision. The old forms are getting tweaked, recombined, and sometimes even destroyed again. Some CDRs by Jack Wright on his long-running Spring Garden Music imprint got me going, and then the Graveyards rustled to life in Michigan with a whole bunch of touring and releases showcasing their heavily reductive sax/cello/drums creep sound . . . of course in the Northeast, Paul Flaherty has been blowing strong all along in a scene of his own (check out his 2006 solo CD Whirl of Nothingness CD on Family Vineyard) . . . there's the Kark LP that will be released sometime in early 2007 on HP Cycle (Kark are from Louisville, Kentucky -- I've heard an advance burn and it's some top-notch large-ensemble heavy blowout) . . .
         And now, here's yet another absolutely ripping new free jazz vinyl LP, this one by some folks I've never heard of before called George Steeltoe Ensemble. There are 9 musicians listed on the back cover, and the only name I recognize at all is Daniel Carter, the great multi-instrumentalist from Test (them again), and even he only appears on side two. Each side is a single long piece by a sextet, but only three musicians appear on both: Jay Dunbar (bass), Lathan Hardy (alto & tenor saxophones), and Brian Osborne (percussion). The respective trios that join them don't bring a lot of traditional jazz instrumentation, favoring multiple electronics, guitars, keyboards, tapes, and a guy who plays "contact mic, tin can, tone generator." Carter is the only exception; on side two he manages to get to alto & tenor saxophones, flute, trumpet, and piano before the runout groove hits.
        The result of all this various input is some noisy, cluttered, and refreshingly nasty garbage jazz all the way, maybe even a new kind of fire music, some shitty city fire like a stolen car burning in an alley behind some slum apartments next door to fledgling condo conversions. Makes sense that it was recorded in Brooklyn, even though, get this, I'm just learning that this collective originated a few years ago in Lexington, Kentucky! And the aforementioned Kark is from Louisville, Kentucky! And then with Graveyards from not too far away in Michigan.....maybe it's just that this is the decade for free jazz from the MIDWEST......the East Coast had their say in the 1990s, and certainly the Midwestern jazz capital Chicago is still going strong, even if you long since gave up on it for being "post-rock" or something.....folks like Dave Rempis, Nicole Mitchell, Jeb Bishop, Jim Baker, Josh Abrams, Jason Ajemian, Tim Daisy, Frank Rosaly, Uncle Ken Vandermark, and many others who I'm forgetting and/or haven't even heard of yet (because I don't get out much) could all make some killer garage jazz vinyls if they shook the 'classy' CD culture that seems to predominate in Chicago......c'mon, any of you, put out something in an edition of 200 with a paste-on cover! Oh yeah, and I can't forget Fred Anderson, still ruling and running the Velvet Lounge at age 77....he's even great when he puts out CDs! Hey, don't mind me, I'm just raving, but seriously, keep an ear on Chicago, visit lots of Graveyards, and make sure that at least every Sunday you drop by a service held at the Church of Yuh....


Friday 11.24 @ 42 Comstock St. (New Brunswick NJ) w/ Vehm, Car Commercials, Earth Crown, and Namarrgon

Saturday 11.25 @ a/v (Rochester, NY) w/ Joe+N , Tinnitustimulus

Sunday 11.26 @ The Lucky Cat (Brooklyn, NY) w/ Slasher Risk (members John Wayne) + tba 9:00

Lineup: Lathan Hardy (alto sax) / Brian Osborne (perc.) / Marc Zajack (guitar, tapes, voice) / Michael Barker (electronics, guitar) / Thomas Clark (electronics, keyboards)


So it's the day of the rusted machine, which sounds about right for what's on the stereo, the Mouthus Bigger Throws CDR (2005, Our Mouth Records). And by the way, I'm getting all these day-names from Angus MacLise's 1962 calendar poem Year, as recently reprinted in The Nightjar Review (2005, New York City), a very nicely appointed volume of excellent higher-key psychedelic poetry -- how can you deny an opening salvo like "whale opened old wings deep from the hollows of sea whale wrote frequency inscribed on shells fire and sand gave glass the rainbow people drank sand and moon made pearls the clouds were crowned on antler registered the sound the wind moved," by someone known only as Yvonne? That level of intensity is sustained not only throughout her poem but really for the entire book. There's another 10 contributors, most of them current writers, though MacLise's Year isn't the only archival piece -- there's also one by Lionel Ziprin, a nice small chunk of stuff from his much longer mid-1950s poem called Songs for Schizoid Siblings. From "a man who rides / the lunar tides / rarely decides / on other guides" to "the seven seas are really one / all are poured from the single sun," I'm telling you, it's primo stuff.....

Lightning to the Nations LP (HAPPY FACE) (as burned to CDR)

Haven't written a whole lot about metal lately. Fact is, I don't have a whole lot to tell anybody. I like that Xasthur Funeral of Being platter alright and my co-worker's got this Nachtmystium EP that's good, but I'll leave it to Brandon Stosuy to keep track of the rest. If you asked me to name my Top 5 black metal albums of all time I'm pretty sure they'd all be by Darkthrone. Even back when I was listening to metal every day and wrote this column, just look who I was talking about (besides Darkthrone): such 'kult' artists as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Thin Lizzy. And now, a couple years later, I've really only been listening to one metal album, over and over again, and trust me, you've heard of it too: Lightning to the Nations by Diamond Head. Geoff Barton said the average Diamond Head song had more good riffs on it than the first four Sabbath albums combined, and it might actually be true. Note that he didn't say "better," he said "more"; where Sabbath has 2 or 3 killer riffs per song, Diamond Head has 2 or 3 per pre-chorus, and wait'll you hear the outro. The riffs just keep on steamrollering, but also stay laid back (coiled and hissing?), in part because of the singer Sean Harris and his strangely casual style. And don't forget this crucial fact: the album was originally "released in a plain white sleeve decorated only with the four band members' autographs" (Christe, Sound of the Beast, p. 44), and only referred to as Lightning to the Nations later, by fans, in reference to the opening track.

1. Darkthrone Transilvanian Hunger
2. Darkthrone Hate Them
3. Darkthrone Ravishing Grimness
4. Darkthrone Panzerfaust
5. Burzum Aske (surprise non-Darkthrone choice!)

NOV 23 2006 (DAY OF THE AXE)


I just heard myself applauding on the radio in 2001. Sunday, December 8, 2001, to be exact, the day I went up to the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois, to see an afternoon event called the WNUR Jazz Fest. I remember it being a dismal cold and grey day, par for the course in Chicagoland. I had just moved to the city and, amazed by all the cultural stuff going on nightly, felt like I had to try and take in some musical or artistic experience every chance I got. This quickly led to the inevitable urban malaise, because of course I couldn't keep up, financially or logistically, and even though I was surrounded by 6 million people, I really didn't have anybody to share this nerdy stuff with anyway. I had half-heartedly asked a couple friends if they wanted to go, and it was like "Um, maybe. Who's playing?" "Well, Chicago Underground Trio....." "Okay.....anybody else?" "Yeah, Fred Anderson, and a couple others. Uh....David Boykin." "Yeah, sounds good, but we were gonna rent a movie and just chill out here so we'll probably just do that." I just drove up there myself, paid the very cheap $5 admission, went into the rather staid and sparsely populated auditorium, and sat down lonely. I was starting to think renting a movie would've been a good idea.
          Onstage, the David Boykin Expanse were playing, and did a pretty good job changing my mind. Jim Baker, one of Chicago's best, was on piano and synthesizer. I was impressed by Chad Taylor's drumming and especially Nicole Mitchell's wild flute playing and heavy earth-vibe. But even though Boykin's sax-playing, composition, and band-leading was strong and stirring, it was still a polite matinee performance, stuck in the auditorium on a rainy day. After a while Chauncey Chaumpers wandered in, so I at least had someone to chat with while the Fred Anderson Trio set up. We were still shooting the breeze when they started their first long and winding piece, but after a few minutes the music started to draw us in, and I'll never forget the conversation stopping cold when the band dropped down to an extremely gutsy unaccompanied bass solo by Harrison Bankhead. I didn't know Bankhead's name at the time, but after that solo and the way it mixed some raw arco, swinging pizzicatto, and heavy vocalise, I made sure to find out. I never did get the drummer's name -- a younger kid in a baseball cap, possibly still in his teens, maybe someone from Anderson's extended family, maybe even a grandson -- but he was excellent too. And of course Anderson was impressive, this old man hunkered down, ripping long complex and soulful lines out of his tenor sax while the rhythm section jabbed and rippled.
         They played about 45 minutes, and after that was the Chicago Underground Trio. I was excited to see them too, having always liked 'em on the radio, especially the stuff with electronics, but at the Jazz Fest they were entirely acoustic and it just wasn't quite doing it for me. Don't get me wrong, it was just a gloomy day. I'm sure 9/11 had something to with it, right? Plus, Chaumpers had to leave and go do something. The Underground Trio was good, Rob Mazurek blowing some hard bop trumpet, Noel Kupersmith taking the bass way down during an unaccompanied solo, Chad Taylor again impressive on the drums, but I decided to split before their set was over, making the long and, yes, very lonely drive from Evanston back down to Humboldt Park.
         That was almost five full years ago, and I've seen Fred Anderson play only one other time, in September 2003 at the Empty Bottle, night two of The Wire's first annual Adventures in Modern Music Festival. A fantastic show, again with Bankhead on bass, and this time with the great Hamid Drake on drums. James Chance played second, and Jackie-O Motherfucker headlined, but the Anderson Trio, despite playing first, ended up having the largest and most enthusiastic audience. That was the night his/their style really hit home for me. Everything was there from the 2001 set, long free-form modal pieces shot through with the gutbucket blues roots that are more I(nfinity) than I-IV-V, but what I learned at the Empty Bottle, with all the people gathered, standing up, crowding the stage, beer flowing, well after dark, was that Anderson's music is also party music, timeless deep and intense party music. He comes to throw down, and the night-time crowd responded.
        Other than that, I've heard album cuts by him 4 or 5 times on the radio, roughly once a year. Also excellent, but I still don't have any records by him. I have been to the Velvet Lounge a couple times, the jazz club he runs on the near South Side, and not only is it one of the best and longest-running extant workshops/woodsheds for Chicago jazz, it's also a friendly neighborhood bar. Not a neighborhood too many people go to, mind you, unless it's to see great Chicago jazz music (or eat at the barbecue place next door), but even for just a drink, you could do a lot worse. Unfortunately, this is Chicago in 2006, with growth capitalism at its most viral, and of course even this nondescript block has been slated for condo development. Forced to relocate, Anderson has found a place around the corner, but it's going to cost him a lot of money. There have been several benefit shows to raise funds, and there will surely be more, and hopefully the new Velvet Lounge will get up and running and take on a character of its own. The music will certainly be good, we know that. (AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was written back in the Spring of 2006 when the Velvet Lounge was still in its old location, before its Fall 2006 reopening around the corner at 67 East Cermak Road.)
         So anyway, I don't often turn on the radio when I'm at home, but tonight I did. For some reason, it was set on the crappy local hard rock station, Chicago's WLUP 97.9 FM ("The Loop"). I think my 9-month old daughter had been messing with the buttons. The song was "Shoot To Thrill" by AC/DC, from their last great album Back in Black. It sounded incredible, but damn, I'd never noticed what a tortuous piece of songwriting that thing is. I swear there's about three different bridges, and who knows how many chorus repetitions. It's at least two minutes longer than it needs to be. When it finally ended, it was right into "Magic Man" by Heart, still as awesome as ever -- "you don't have to love me and let's get high awhile," and those guitar solo breakdowns we've all heard hundreds of times? They're still intense, with all those sudden hangs, clipped subversions, and strange declining moans -- probably influenced by extended-mode Neil Young.
        And after "Magic Man", the pièce de résistance: "Rooster" by Alice in Chains. The kid asks me to turn it off -- maybe he's a little scared by Layne Staley's balladic bombast. Before putting on John Wesley Harding or Steely Dan's Greatest Hits for the 20th time this month, I decide to give the FM dial one more chance and flip over to WNUR 89.3 to see what's doing. If it's some wild and wacky screamo no wave, or some faux-tense indie puke, it's Dylan or Dan here we come.... but hey, it's jazz, and it sounds like pretty good jazz too. A trio of sax, bass, and drums. Pretty out there, but the sax-person has got some serious blues chops, which keeps it all from going too far out. It's live, with what sounds like a mid-sized enthusiastic crowd. Not at a nightclub, but a concert setting of some kind. I'm thinking it might be the Fred Anderson Trio, but I can't say for sure. Good stuff though, the rhythm section digging deep to make foundation for the classic tough sax chops. Sounds like the station is playing the whole concert -- maybe this is that WNUR Airplay show. For the first time in a couple years, I decide to call the station and find out what they're playing. I still know their number, 847-866-WNUR. "Hello, Airplay show." "Yeah, who have you been playing here?" "This has been the Fred Anderson Trio." "Oh, okay, you're playing the whole concert?" "Yeah, this was recorded here actually, at the Jazz Fest, with Harrison Bankhead on bass, and I think Chad Taylor on drums, in 2001." "Oh, okay. Hey, I was at that show!" "Oh yeah? So was I!" I tell him that I don't remember it being Chad Taylor on drums but a younger unknown kid in a baseball cap. He's like, "Oh really?", and now I'm even starting to doubt myself, but one thing I do know more than ever, thanks to this magickal radio reminder, is that (gimme a Chad Taylor, Hamid Drake, or kid-in-a-baseball-cap drum roll, please) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fred Anderson (and company) rules.

NOV 24 2006 (WILD SUN)


Do which in my what with who? Whatever that's all about, I'm pretty sure this group has nearly the same lineup as that PeeEssEye group from NYC, especially since this Damnation Road disc seems like such a followup to last year's PeeEssEye disc Burnt Offerings. This one is even better -- the basic formula is the same (harsh concrete industrial AMM improv tactics stirred, by nerds, into the shrouded guise of sheer cutthroat black metal ritual) but the overall pacing of the attack is even more precise. The section early-on where it sounds like a disgusting troll talking for 5 minutes is much better than the Apator tape, some of the rest occasionally puts me in a Runzelstirn & Gurglestock frame of mind, and what can I say, the whole thing is pure . . . . Pee In My Face With Surgery.

Commuting Between The Surface & The Underworld CD (EVOLVING EAR)

Oh man, talk about a followup to Burnt Offerings, check THIS out. Pee Ess Eye has taken it to yet another next level -- this is practically some Current 93 type shit. Like Offerings and Damnation Road, it's got a real 'extended suite' feel to it. In fact, it's starting to sound like they're just playing one long song and it's too good to stop. The harsh electronics and horror vocals are there from previous releases, but there's also endless swathes of lovely acoustic guitar (no, really: swathes), in gorgeous fidelity. And halfway through, when it's ten minutes of high-frequency feedback braindrill? That's in gorgeous fidelity too. Foldout packaging is nice too -- don't let the weirdo cover snap of the band 'scare' you off!


LIVE 11/25/06 ON WBLSTD (66.7 FM CHICAGO) Special 3-hour show!
Frank Zappa "Peaches En Regalia" (Bizarre)
Frank Zappa "Willie The Pimp" (Bizarre)
Nothing People "4 Miles High" (S-S Records)
The Geeks "Visiting Day At San Quentin" (S-S Records)
Mouthus "[Bigger Throws track 1]" (Our Mouth)
Terracid "Can Water Eat Of Itself?" (Foxglove)
Broadcast "Pendulum" (Warp)
Them "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (Polygram International)
13th Floor Elevators "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (Collectables)
Bob Dylan "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (Columbia)
Bob Dylan "Rollin' and Tumblin'" (Columbia)
Asnaqètch Wèrqu "Mela Mela" (Buda Musique)
Asnaqètch Wèrqu "Fegrye Tereda" (Buda Musique)
Jan Dukes De Grey "Call of the Wild" (Breathless)
Jan Dukes De Grey "Mice And Rats In The Loft" (Breathless)
Egghatcher "Shimdaw" (Spanish Magic)
Aufgehoben "Manotgog" (Holy Mountain)
Hototogisu + Burning Star Core "[track 3]" (Dronedisco)
Blizzards "Of All The Spheres Of Time In The Forest of Neon, You Had To Choose Mine?" (Colour Sounds)
Blizzards "Fantastic Ions" (Colour Sounds)
Three Legged Race "Mourning Order" (Mountaain)
Frank Zappa "Black Napkins" (Warner Bros.)
Frank Zappa "Zoot Allures" (Warner Bros.)

Hototogisu + Burning Star Core    Three Legged Race "Mourning Order"

     Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats"    Frank Zappa's "Zoot Allures"

Don't worry, I'll work this Zappa thing out of my system eventually. But until then, I'd like to remind you: "Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best."



There's an excellent profile of him in the December 2006 Harper's Magazine, written by Tom Bissel, called "The Secret Mainstream: Contemplating the Mirages of Werner Herzog." One part that stands out is an appreciation of Herzog's 2004 documentary The White Diamond, pointing out that it was unfairly overshadowed by the success of his Grizzly Man in 2005. Herzog even says "The White Diamond simply has more depth than Grizzly Man." I'd been meaning to check The White Diamond out anyway, but this article made me rush right out to the video store and do it, and goddamn, yes, it's beautiful. I haven't done the math or anything, but it just might be in my Herzog Top 10. As is usually the case with Herzog documentaries, it starts with a central story but welcomes related tangents and chance sidetracks. The ostensible story is that of a fairly eccentric British scientist named Graham Dorrington designing and eventually flying an airship, but it's equally about what he wants to do with it when it's airborne: get quiet detailed close-up film of the flora and fauna that lives in the rain forest canopy around Kaieteur Falls, Guyana, South America. Early in the film, a voiceover by Herzog describes this area's natural harmony and biodiversity, and for me it is simply biodiversity that becomes the real subject of the film. For all Herzog's much-publicized talk in the past about the cruelty and indifference of nature, The White Diamond plays out like a fairly awestruck and loving hymn to the majesty and power of the biosphere, with the central image of intricate flocks of speedy swifts flying in and out of a huge cavern behind the massive waterfall. During a scene in which Dorrington is unpacking the deflated airship and untangling various cords and ropes, he muses that things become more complex with time, and the film illustrates this with all its depictions of the startling organic complexities that have evolved in Guyana. This appreciation of biodiversity clearly extends to humanity, as the film is happily sidetracked by the local Guyana diamond miners who are hired by Dorrington to help with the airship project, particularly a melancholy but kind-hearted cosmic thinker and herbal specialist named Mark Anthony Yhap, whose presence looms large over the second half of the film. There's just so much in here, such as quirky guided tours of Dorrington's laboratory outside London, incredible stock footage of the crash of the Hindenburg and, just minutes later, incredible footage of an angry silverback gorilla charging a documentary film expedition in Africa. There's herbal gathering tips by Mark Anthony, Herzog appearing on film to give a tricky lecture about the difference between "dignified stupidities, courageous stupidities, and stupid stupidities," an entire emotional subplot (or is it the main plot?) about Dorrington's guilt over a previous airship accident that led to the death of a colleague, which leads to further musings on the interplay between levity and gravity . . . there's even some serious goddamn moonwalk footage, and yes, I am talking about the dance move that Michael Jackson popularized in the 1980s. I'm sure I'll be piecing all the images and ideas and metaphors together in different combinations for months, if not years, to come. And the beautiful thing is that Herzog probably will be too.....

MV & EE w/the Bummer Road Play Ellas McDaniel's Who Do You Love CD (Three Lobed)
Sun Ra & His Astro-Solar Infinity Arkestra My Brother The Wind LP (Saturn Research)
The Skaters CDR (American Tapes)
Various Artists (mixed by Paradise Camp 23) Mandragora Sampler CDR (Mandragora)
Almendra -- 1st LP (burned to CDR)



I realize that lots of people probably get annoyed when I write about my kids. I know this because lots of people in America really seem to dislike children, and love to tell you so -- I never really noticed until I became a father. The world is certainly overpopulated, but I personally know at least 30 people, probably more like 300 if I really sat down and counted, who swear up and down that they're never going to have any children. And a lot of these people are well into their 30s, if not older, so I tend to believe 'em. Which makes me think that my associates and I are still ahead of the game as far as depopulating the planet gracefully. And in the meantime, one of the greatest things about having a three-year-old son is how much he's teaching me about wildlife. Seriously, it is blowing my mind daily and giving me a much deeper understanding of the biosphere, and I have a feeling I'm going to need that, for a lot of reasons, over the next, oh, 40 years or so. Here's just a few random things we've learned so far:

A giant clam stays in one spot for its entire life.

Even though the blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived on earth, humans still don't know where its breeding grounds are. (Photo by J. Calambokidis)

Everybody knows that salmon breed in rivers then live in the ocean, but anguillidae eels breed in the ocean and then live in rivers.

Ladies and gentlemen, the original electric eel, NOT found anywhere near the waters of Lake Erie off the coast of Cleveland, but in the basins of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. And it's even cuter than John Morton! Wikipedia sets the record straight: "Despite its name it is not an eel at all but rather a knifefish."

The Kuroshio Current, known as the "Black Current" to sailors and fishermen, has the same effect on Japan as the Gulf Stream does on England, sending tropical water far to the north to make these would-be wintry island nations more hospitable. Funny how both are a, if not the, major economic hub for their respective hemisphere, almost like a mirror image of each other, with North America in the middle. But I digress; it was in the Kuroshio Current, off the coast of Yokohama, where the rarely seen goblin shark was first discovered by fishermen in 1898. They were so weirded out by its appearance that they gave it the name "tenguzame," literally "goblin shark." Despite its appearance, the tenguzame is not harmful to humans.

And speaking of horrific looking sharks, what Australians call the wobbegong, a/k/a the carpet shark, is one gnarly looking dude. Looks like it was supposed to be an octopus but Mother Evolution slipped on a banana peel or something and, OOPS, it got dropped into the "shark" category. Those fringe-like things around its mouth are called barbels, which also appear more famously as the "whiskers" on catfish. They contain the fish's taste buds, and are used as feelers to find prey in murky water.


I also get a 'Mother Evolution was a little sidetracked' vibe from the narwhal, because it strikes me like a great big swimming penguin with smaller flippers, or a huge aquatic kiwi bird. My theory is that the Narwhal was going to eventually get smaller and evolve into a flightless land bird, but somehow never made it, and stayed a whale. A major problem with the theory is that penguins and kiwis live down around the Antarctic, and narwhals are the, um, polar opposite, living up around the Arctic.....

Lions used to be found all over Southern Europe. Didn't Hercules once tussle with a few? That was in Greece, right? More 'proof' that what we know as Southern Europe is really just Northern Africa. (Pictured above is the Terrace of the Lions, from 600 BC, on the now-uninhabited Aegean Sea island of Delos.)

Muskrats live in the wetlands of North America, in places where the water is 4 to 6 feet deep. They have webbed feet and are excellent swimmers. For some reason I really like this line from Wikipedia: "In brackish waters of New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, the black muskrat lives with the brown muskrats."

Snacktime at the San Francisco Zoo -- photo by this guy.

Adult male gorillas eat around 45 pounds of food a day, and adult female gorillas eat about two-thirds that amount, and it's entirely vegetarian except for some grubs and worms, which are probably mostly eaten by accident! Being so close on the evolutionary scale, and so much more susceptible to beef industry and junk food advertising, shouldn't humans take note? For some awesome feeding scenes, check out the Imax film Mountain Gorilla. Barbet Schroeder's 1978 documentary of Koko the Talking Gorilla is great too, and not just for the way Koko eats bananas like her 'more evolved' descendants pop pills -- the gorillas in that movie taught my son how to paint!

I know, I know . . . you're wondering what the hell's going on with this article, but Blastitude has always been about biodiversity, just look at any Reggie Queequeg column! (New one coming in about a week.)

P.S. There are SO MANY different kinds of fish (24,000 in fact).....

The archerfish is a little guy who can shoot water for up to 3 feet out of its mouth. It uses this skill to knock tasty insects off of low-hanging branches, or just right out of the air. Watch this video (pictured above) for a very graceful example -- somebody put this on YouTube!

The ocean sunfish might be the weirdest of all fish. The longer you watch it swim around, the less sense it makes.

The glass catfish, native to Southeast Asia: "They are transparent and most of their gut is located near the head."



"CHRISTMAS BLUES" by Little Howlin Wolf
 (id/passwords here)
When the Chicago Tribune went to the city's Magnificent Mile shopping district six days ago to do a photo piece on Black Friday, "the undeclared but increasingly observed holiday celebrating the start of holiday shopping and retailer prospering," they sure did end up making a kickass Little Howlin Wolf music video. They also made an increasingly rare reminder that journalism really can be high art. This piece is amazing, and seems to make it clear that it really is almost over, and by "it" I mean, I don't know, end-stage capitalism? My co-worker watched this and said, "These all look like old Depression-era photos. The only difference is that now people have goods to carry around." It does seem like people are depressed, and that the leisure and goods that define the 'high-end' consumer economy just aren't gonna be a solution much longer. It's about goddamn time. Six years of Bush/Cheney and five years of war-for-war's-sake really has stirred a lot of feeling in the American public, and you can see it on the faces of every single one of these people, feelings that are just maybe starting to assemble into something like actual self-ascertained knowledge, the knowlege that maybe, just maybe, everyone playing out this particular imperial experiment in end-stage capitalism, whether shopper or soldier, is on a fucking treadmill that is unnecessarily pointed at a prematurely dead end. Maybe soon, maybe even before the next Black Friday, they'll figure out some ways to step off, or at least juke and jive it a little bit. That's where people like Little Howlin Wolf can really help, and somebody give a Pulitzer Prize to E. Jason Wambgans (Tribune photos and audio) for capturing a little bit of the process.

Chicago Reader article


Little Howlin Wolf singles vol2 cdr
(both discs are highly recommended)
Excellent recent LP Brave Nu World
(scroll down just a little)

on the Chicago River draw bridge, Michigan Avenue, 1982

by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman
all day names from Year by Angus MacLise


(OCTOBER 2006, new monthly broadsheet style)