Blastitude Number Seven
number 8  june/july 2001
page 4


(Public Eyesore page)

The Public Eyesore label just keeps getting more and more ambitious. Based in Decorah, Iowa, on initial glance the label seems like some sort of Minneapolis-region harsh noise kind of thing…the label name, for example, would reflect that....…but upon closer inspection, it's clear that CEO Bryan Day is on a whole different level. Like this release, for example, a recording of an improvisational trio from Sapporo, Japan that plays sax, stand-up bass, and electronics. The whole thing could easily be released on some sort of 'art music' imprint…it reminds me not a little of the Nachtluft CD that just got reissued as part of Atavistic's "Unheard Music" series. The difference is the tenor sax and stand-up bass, which give Kangaroo Note more of a 'trad' jazz sound. While several tracks (notably the first one) offer way-out rumbling and blasting in a very impressive style from the get-go, here and there the disc slows down just a little with either the saxist or bassist taking a ballad/blues approach against which the other players juxtapose more avant sounds, most notably the edgy electronics by Aso Takashi. I prefer the purely out stuff, but the trio interplay is very good throughout, and just the fact that this disc exists is impressive…Sapporo, Japan? I've gotta reiterate the question that Dead Angel e-zine asked: "Where does Bryan find this stuff?"

Hey, I like these bands! Fukktron is Vanessa & Dino and Hair and Nails is Walenska & Dino. This 71+ minute disc features about 17 tracks by each of 'em. Fukktron kicks it off with a dense stew of wild, churning noise, mumbled vocals, and weird guitar playing. It's great, but you've maybe sorta heard it before, so it's the next track, "pudding pampers," that really sets a distinctive tone, featuring a funky scrambled-beat chant hip-hop kinda thing that is basically the underground antidote for PJ Harvey and/or late-period Prince. It's funkier and grittier than both of 'em; when female vocals emerge from the noise-funk background haze Twin Infinitives comes to mind, but the cry of "yeah!" at the end of one line sounds just like Valerie Scroggins from ESG, and that might have been Dino singing because it sounds like Vanessa's doing the rapping. Or is it the other way around? Sexy/funky androgynous noise, right on! And besides the whole track is only two minutes long, followed by several 98% instrumental tracks, no-wavey lurch-huzz and extended garbage rumble.
       Towards the end of the Fukktron portion of the release, on "bc" the vocals are sped up beyond gender over a warping guitar jam that starts to sound like The Melvins playing under a pillow. The next song, "cd", sounds more like The Melvins playing in their practice space, or at least like a real rock band, with guitar and drums playing heavy riffs, and a great pan-ethnic vocal chant coming in halfway through. "cd" is definitely one of the best new rock songs I've heard this entire year. Remember rock songs? 17 Fukktron tracks in all, with titles like "darkroom televator," "k-y firebird,' 'charlene's diploma,' 'you are samantha," "no shuts," "red pill," blue pill," "do done," most of them short, all right to the fucking point. Their last track, "do done", starts with a blast of tape skree that turns out to be room hiss on a cheap recording of someone watching TV. Some ominous sounds start coming from the background, but they might just be someone working in the kitchen. At 5:36, it's most likely the longest track on here. Okay, the insane noise guitar playing in the background at the three-minute mark is definitely not someone just working in the kitchen. There is some post-production.
        Hair and Nails, again, is another duo featuring Dino, but with Walenska instead of Vanessa. Pretty similar approach, lots of garbled garbage-burrowing sound experiments, without the occasional song-like vocal thing a la "pudding pampers." (Though vocals can be heard, or at least felt, on the great "red vidwhirl," two manic minutes of hazy super-abstract burrowing crunching microcircuitry jamming...waitaminnit, those aren't vocals, just some whirling high-pitched electronic sound that sounds like Little Richard himself goin' "wooh! wooh! wooh!") Track 22, "punctured face," ends with twisted carnival sounds from a keyboard. Track 23, "centuryshifter," starts with a weird percussiony thing that gets drowned out by moaning/squelching noise. Track 10, "no shuts," is a grinding bit of slowed-tape slurpage, sorta the sound Non was getting mastering old thrift-store records played at 16 RPM to even shittier vinyl and drilling three holes in the middle and then etching into the vinyl so when the needle hits certain parts an added layer of horrid hiss comes out of the speakers. Oh wait, that's a Fukktron track, and I'm on the Hair and Nails portion of the review. Oh well, no matter; this is one of those rare occasions I feel comfortable quoting a hippie: "It's all good!" -- Brad Sonder

Yep, I'm like you, whenever I get a compilation album of any kind, I usually listen to it once or twice, and then it ends up stowed away in the back of my collection. This is strange, because I don't even subscribe to the cliche that compilation LPs feature just "leftovers" and "outtakes that were taken out for a reason". In fact, compilation records often blow me away. For example, the CDs that come with zines like Bananafish, Muckraker, and Ptolemaic Terrascope are always great. I've got a three-record set on Impulse called Energy Essentials that I wouldn't part with for anything. Hell, I've even got an '80s pop compilation that I'll never part with, because it has Spandau Ballet's "True" on it. This LP from Public Eyesore seems destined for the same lofty status -- it might even be the most impressive various artists record in my collection right now. Hats off to Public Eyesore CEO Bryan Day. Here's what he's assembled for us, in order:
       3 minutes of great stark & squelching solo electronics by one Ando Kunihiro. A few seconds in it reveals itself to be cello (actually contrabass -- ed.) run through effects. Puts me in the mind of Motoharu Yoshizawa's solo bass improvising, of course, but also of Michigan resident John Olson's naked-ass barely-released "improvised handmade electronics" trilogy (Bone Columns, Sand-Bagged Lagoon, and Double Right Hands). Ends suddenly to the applause of 3-4 people. Ando plays in the group Kangaroo Note, with a CD-R also on Public Eyesore. (See elsewhere this page -- ed.)
        Monotract continue to get weirder and goofier, here using gibbering echoey vocals to elevate a dada-improv opening into a no-wave rocker into a very suavely done backwards-tape collage-type thing. With this track, Monotract have practically become the Boredoms -- they really are on that level.
         New Port are an improv electric guitar duo that continue to carve out a unique sound in a limited genre. I have yet to hear a New Port full-length (one is forthcoming, yet again on Public Eyesore), but the two short comp tracks I've heard (on EFCSSCDR and here) have been totally head-cleaning. They use the same harsh tones as their Minneapolis improv electric guitar duo forbears Negro (a/k/a Modehji Freeman), but with a more sparse approach -- not necessarily quieter, but leaving much more space. (Note: the only Negro I've ever heard was on the cassette that came with Muckraker #...6? New Port is much more spacious (chill?) than that release, anyway...)
          Solmania is/are one of the biggest 'stars' on this comp, a somewhat "old-school" Japanoisician with releases on the Alchemy label. His/her/their track is great; it's called "'loop 7," and features some stopping-and-starting squelching electronics that don't actually sound looped, just minimalist, and are soon overlaid with great streaming noise that cuts in and out and changes frequencies, and also doesn't actually sound looped, just minimalist.
           Flying Luttenbachers contribute "dog death," a very strange track that starts with dirgey bass drone that is quickly overtaken by crazy loud-but-strangely-airy electronic treatments. After this shitstorm subsides, aggressive free drum music emerges from the mix, and I finally start to believe that this is actually a Luttenbachers track. It is rare to hear a free music drummer, even the good ones, and hear a truly distinctive approach. Graves, Murray, Bennink, and Oxley are distinctive, to name four....and whaddayaknow, Weasel Walter is right up there with 'em. Here, his playing is mixed strangely enough to be distinctive by default, but his singular musicality burns through anyway, particularly the willfully superhuman volume and power and weird boxing syncopations. Believe the hype -- he really is combining death metal with free jazz, and he seems to be getting better as he goes. I'm guessing this track is a fervent duo for contrabass and drums recorded in an empty warehouse in Chicago and then post-produced to hell for inclusion herein.
          Fukktron chip in "cd," which you might remember as also appearing on the Fukktron & Hair and Nails CD-R, also on Public Eyesore, also reviewed on this very web page. Up there, I call it "one of the best new rock songs I've heard this entire year," so I certainly don't mind having it show up again, especially here, as it's backbeat is a welcome rock foundation in the fairly raging sea that has come before it.
          Thurston Moore floats you all the way to shore, that is, the end of side one, with a calm pretty piece called "o michigan." Soft woodsy chord strums that hum softly and evolve into a drony shuffle. Ends with a snippet from some record, Alice Cooper I believe. No obligatory obvious 'noise' or 'improv,' just calm soulful hush-folk, a style also heard to great effect on the "Lydia's Moth/Not Me" 10-inch by the Moore/Tom Surgal duo. And, when I think about it, the Klangenfarbenmelodie performance released by Corpus Hermeticum, even though it's louder, is still basically languid hush-folk.)
           And now for side two! Jonas Lindgren kicks it off with "myrornas krig - vit." It starts with Sukora-ish silence (room hum and eventual quiet crinkle). Not so Sukora-ish is the way the crinkle gets steadily louder as the piece goes. After a bit, other electronic night-time insect whirrs and skipping runout groove ambiances creep in, and, because you'll probably have your stereo up loud because of the intro, it might get kind of scary.
         I don't know who Billy? is, but they're next with "y-tok," which is more on the computer/digital/'glitch' end of the noise spectrum. Is this what Pimmon and Seht sound like? I think so, as I've heard both of those bands, er, guys, er, projects before, and I think I like both of 'em. Like I say elsewhere in this issue of Blastitude, it's my elevator music, and Billy? does it well too.
          Laced Blue offer "A Pool Wound," a short, cavernous guitar droneout. Very short, in fact; before you know it, you're right into the next track, Kazumoto Ondo & Yoko Sato's "Yoko Is A Punk Rocker." It sounds more like Nurse With Wound than it does the Ramones, as echoed lamenting/
chanting female vocals duet with icy French art-woman vocals, alternated with harsh blasts of noise and a couple other disorienting effects. The eerie lamenting/chanting vocals really put a nice spin on this track.
          Next is Cornucopia, from Puerto Rico; I've heard one-half of Cornucopia, Jorge Castro, play some calm and pretty guitar stuff in a duet with Carlos Giffoni (see review last issue), but the Cornucopia track on here is some harsh, screaming noise. However, whenever the noise intermittently breaks into strangely funky lock grooves, I somehow catch a whiff of Castro's more 'ambient' sound.
          Following that particular Cornucopia track with a track by harsh, screaming noise maven John Wiese is striking, as they both work at a very similar intensity and within more or less the exact same tonal frequency. If you're not actually looking at the vinyl to see when the needle goes from one band to the next, you might easily mistake them for the same track. In retrospect, the obvious difference is that Wiese never breaks into the lock grooves that Cornucopia do.
          Next is "She's Laughing At Me" by Sickness, another band I've never heard of, and surprise, it's ALSO in the same frequency/intensity parameter as the Cornucopia and Wiese offerings, the compilation's third straight track of harsh streaming noise. You could say that the programming of the LP isn't balanced or varied enough, but now that I know what's going on, I like to see it in theoretically visual terms, the three consecutive harsh noise tracks forming a little monochromatic clot on one little section of one side of the LP.
          Demarcating this theoretical clot further is the final track by Automobile. It also uses noisy sounds, but they seem more acoustic in nature, and are played live in a room, rather than run direct into a recording unit. Most importantly, the sounds are made spaciously and calmly, creating a piece more still, empty, and quiet than the last three. Public Eyesore CEO and presumably, the compiler of this LP, Bryan Day is in Automobile, and possibly may be involved with some of the other otherwise-unknown-to-me artists on here. In fact, I'd like to know more about most everyone on here, which is the sign of a good comp.

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