by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman

Two or three Blastitude readers asked me
if last issue's record review section, headlined "Possibly the Last Record Review Section I Will Ever Write," really was the last record review section I would ever write. Looking at some of my pissy and neglectful rush-job opinions, maybe it should have been! In particular I'd like to apologize to the Last Visible Dog label for the review of their Invisible Pyramid comp, which is re-reviewed this ish, and to the artist(s?) known as Slaw, who I held up as an example of the kinda annoying Artsy genre, which was unfair because they're actually pretty good. Bottom line is, I don't think they're wasting their time or my time by making music, and it's the people who are that really deserve the negative reviews. But that's what happens when you try to review too many albums, but . . . the same thing happened this issue. Way too many albums! That's because I seem to be ADDICTED to writing reviews. Oh well. Better than being addicted to PCP-laced crystal methamphetamine (though similar). Or booze, for that matter. I appreciate each and every person who has sent albums, especially the ones that I haven't gotten to -- I'm still trying! Keep sending me albums! You never know, you might get a rush-job review someday! (And, I'm going to start updating reviews as they get written, one or two or three at a time, so that should help.)


23 PRODUCTIONS from Madison, WI sent along tons of stuff in a package that consisted entirely of bubble wrap sheets and packing tape, with a "Priority Mail" sticker slapped on top. TONS of 3-inch CDRs inside, which is my current favorite format, and good thing too, because they're everywhere all of a sudden. I like 'em because they're a guaranteed EP, which means I just might have time to sort a bunch of this 23 stuff out, if I get started . . . . . on top of the pile we've got Craig Microcassette System, whose disc called 3-24-02 is 23 minutes and 45 seconds of modified micro cassettes rumbling and crunking and chipping and decaying in slow motion. For a while it reminds me of that Crawling With Tarts double 7-inch with the Italian title that was just sounds of motors, except that this is a more out of control and messy breed of low-down and blanked-out growl-scrape. And that's a good thing, still getting better with every listen.
     I think this next one is Metrocide with Beekeeper. It's kinda hard to tell because it's an x-ray readout altered so that the words "Metrocide" and "Beekeeper" are on there, in the same really small font as the official readout stuff. One 15-minute track. Starts with a single pulsing high-pitched tone that soon starts morphing / bending / phasing / crying. I swear to you, this makes more sense to me as "blues music" than most other things that have been recorded in that name since electricity. It gets even better from there, the single tone continuing its intrepid path through all kinds of grimy textures. Gets into some harsh scraping stuff late in the track too. An excellent taste of psychedelic noise.
     Toy Monster by Loop Ret@rd is, true to form, a bunch of retarded loops, playfully layered. At first the main thing I can come up with for this release is that it would be perfect music for a DJ to talk over on some weirdo community station. On the second listen, I'm like, "man, the ret@rd worked really hard on this, there's a LOT going on . . . and some of it is kind of scary!" Check out track four, how he creates a broken country song that goes "Blood hands! Blood hands! BLOOD ALL AROUND!!!"
     Anonche by Mumber Toes is one track of glitchy feedbacky stop-start malfunction noise. A lot of uncertain silences, awkward mic squeals, intermittent scrapes, sudden gut-spews from the black bowels of hell, that sort of thing. A weird one. I like it a lot. 23 also sent Mumber Toes' Apeiron 3", more static start / stop scrape. Sounds like someone fumbling with a radio in the other room. At times, it seems to stop completely. Kind of low-key for something called "Apeiron." Mumber Toes is an alias for Karen Eliot (which might also be an alias), and she has a style all her own.
    Next 3" in the player is actually by The Actual Pubics. Hey, this isn't noise -- sounds like a rock band. Heavy guitar, heavy drums, played in a kind of 'dream raga' style. Actually this is kind of like Side One of Burning Star Core's Brighter Summer Day LP, which is a pretty good thing to be like. Same length too, one 16-minute track.
       And, finally for this stack, the Garage Indians contribute Indian Summer, which is different from most 23 Productions stuff in that it's an actual 5-inch CDR, and the packaging isn't as sleek, it's more 'here's my band's CDR demo with a Kinko's color copy for a cover and that's me on the cover with the goofy stocking cap and horned-rim glasses.' But the 'indie nerd' look is misleading; this is actually a pretty psychedelic record of three guys fooling around quasi-electro-acoustically, sort of pretending to be a 'rock band' but the result is barely even close. Lots of dead air, vague yelling, and intermittent harshness. Track three is one of the more rock ones on here, sounding like Amon Düül 1 recorded in Sightings' practice space. Oh never mind, it's called "Cattle Trig (crash worship ripoff)," so I guess I mean it sounds like Crash Worship. Other times I get what might even be To Live and Shave and Whitehouse vibes. And, the whole thing sounds like it was recorded in a hay barn. (Actually it was an abandoned schoolhouse.) Album credits are funny: "Tim - sings, plays acoustic bass, is Axl, Greg - guitar -n- beer bottle caps, Dave - plays drums without knowing how." I guess that's not TOO funny, I just like the "is Axl" part. This is funny too: "All recorded in Wisconsin (sorry)." Some of this is fucking-around genius, but some of it is just fucking around, and of course they had to load up the whole disc with around 70 minutes worth of stuff, which is a little too much to digest. I've been spoiled by all these concise 3-inchers. If they'd pressed the best 40 minutes of this up on a nice home-made LP I'd probably be utterly blown away.
     Oh shit, I just found a bunch more 23 Productions stuff in the 'to review' bin -- man, they sent a lot! More Metrocide, that's good . . . actually quite a few 5-inch discs, some cassettes, even a nutty 4xC60 8-way split release . . . . stay tuned, it looks like there will be several more 23 Productions reviews soon!



The Breathmint label sent me the single largest amount of product I've ever gotten in one mailing. No way I could even begin to review it all, but here's a few notables.

We start with the Hair Police / Burning Star Core / Monotract collab CDR. Breathmint CEO Mat Rademan was actually just here at Blastitude HQ, on a tour pit-stop from his home in the Philadelphia area, and he told me that he wanted this CDR to get some reviews because it hadn't really been getting any notice. In fact, he said, it had yet to get a single positive comment from any of the few people who had heard it. His cohort M.P. provided that it was very "uncharacteristic" work for the bands involved. Well, I'm listening to it right now, and I'm not going to give it a single positive comment either! This CDR is an absolute waste! Let me guess: after their Philly show, all the bands slept on Rademan's apartment floor, and he snuck in there at 4:30 AM with his walkman recorder and just let it run. No one snored or even stirred. There may have been a lawn sprinkler going somewhere outside. So this is a mere conceptual art piece, a 'found' sculpture, or installation, or something. More boring than the Warhol movie.

MOZ / THURSTON MOORE: Tribute to MLK Jr. 3" CD Yeah, don't tell me, this is Thurston Moore while he's asleep too . . . actually, close, it's him playing pencil sharpener. No, make that "hyped out amped to the frikkin max electric pencil sharpener as recorded and mixed by Jim O'Rourke." Wow, did someone say Jim O'Rourke???! Isn't he supposed to be good? Okay, all kidding aside, this isn't JUST a pencil sharpener; there seems to be some ominous low-end guitar, and there's an MLK Jr. sample going throughout (this release is, after all, a tribute to the man). Hey, it's actually pretty good, and track two, which is the "same track recorded by James 'MOZ' Brand" is better yet. Good strobing noise. Apparently track three is MOZ solo (I don't know who this guy is) and it's good too, like track two, but getting even more squeezed and clamped by the mass of the universe.

No, seriously, Breathmint is a pretty nutty label, and it's fun to just grab a handful of stuff and check it out. They have this junk aesthetic, lots of handmade and homemade crap, 3" CDRs, 10 second long tapes, regular cassettes with hasty striking covers (hand-drawn, hand-collaged), day-glo 3.5" floppy discs (that include a grody html page and a couple silly MP3s), CDRs with terrible covers, CDRs with good covers, CDRs of people sleeping, lots of other stuff, and occasionally the nice handsome professional full-press CD. Breathmint is psychedelic, in that sugary breakfast cereal cartoon kind of way, but also in that rough 7-cent-xerox kind of way. The majority of these releases are by or involve Rademan's 'noise musician' alter ego, Newton. Such as . . .

This is a 14 minute live performance. Someone's playing delay-laden 'space-rock' guitar, someone's playing noise sheetage, someone sounds like they're playing a toy whistle or scratching a blackboard, and someone else is on a mic, babbling in a high-pitched voice. It's a pretty good throwdown -- even the space-rock guitar fits in pretty well. They stop and the audience seems to have liked them, and then they go into an 'encore' -- with metal guitar! He goes on just a little too long with the guitar, though . . . Oh, here's the info: "Complete live show from August 10th 2001 in Philadelphia. Destroy all Newton is a trio performance featuring newton, Greg Kerr on guitar and Keith E. Stetson on saxophone. Blew the ears off the kids that sat threw both Monotract and Bunnybrain's sets. Hoping that Arab On Radar would show up soon to stop this racket." Saxophone?

NEWTON: Zack Jones Is Fucking Dead CS
Over to some cassettes . . . these are all spray-painted with gnarly sick-glo bad-sherbert combinations like mustard yellow and toucan pink . . . hey, I knew a kid named Zack Jones when I was little, he was my buddy Gary Jones's little brother . . . I hope he's not dead, he was cool! But this was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Zack Jones I knew grew up about 40 miles from Omaha . . . . hmmm . . . . anyway, this is a live set in Omaha with THREE drummers playing along with Newton . . . and one of 'em is the drummer from The Faint! But it sounds more like the No Neck Blues Band. Yep, this is surprisingly jammy and psych-sounding -- not really 'noise' at all. Crappy recording makes for a good feel. But you know what -- it goes on WAAAAYYY too long! I can't believe how long it goes on! Man, listening to this whole thing is really gonna slow down my reviewing pace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [hours later] . . . . alright, it finally ended . . . . . oh my god, there's music on the other side too! It's probably just side A repeated . . . . but what if it isn't? Sorry, I'm not gonna listen to it. Hey, it all sounds good, just needs editing . . . . or maybe in the first place they should've been jamming more with a beginning, middle, and end in mind . . . .

This cassette is first in a series in which Newton collaborates with various other artists who also have a name that starts with N. You probably know Naturaliste, it seems like a lot of people know who they are. They're from Omaha too, although this was recorded at Newton's pad in the Philadelphia area. This is more 'noise' oriented, but also quiet, with that low-key battery-op feel to it. A lot of beeping and bloops, grinds and tinkering. A few minutes in, it gets harsher. Good stuff, I like the harsher grinding. Stick around, towards the end it gets really good.

By the way, you might not be able to fully tell from the images, the covers on this N Squared series are all cool slightly varied junk-psych-mandala-optical type things. Volume 3 features our man whose alias starts with the letter "N" jamming live in Minneapolis with that l'il ole band from Nashville, New Faggot Cunts, who aren't a band anymore (although two of them are now in a band called Tan As Fuck). Apparently the NFC drummer slept through this whole performance, which is surprising because these are some loud bleating 'nightmare' sounds. Really pretty nasty, with nice 'live venue' reverb. Also apparently, "a totally naked girl added some vocals while putting a tuba over her head and MSG laid down some rad guitar noise, but about 5 or so minutes into it he was unplugged." I can hear the naked girl's vocals (scary screaming) . . . hell, I think I can even hear the rad guitar noise!

NEWTON & NEON HUNK: N Squared Volume 4 CS
Like the New Faggot Cunts collab, this is live in Minneapolis. I'm really curious to hear this because I've never heard Hunk do anything but play Neon Hunk songs. (I hear the drummer does really cool solo stuff, and I'm sure if the keyboardist does solo stuff it's really cool too.) And hey, what was I saying earlier about Breathmint being "psychedelic like sugary breakfast cereal"? Well, apparently this jam is called "Newton's Cereal Experiment" and it's "about a cereal that Newton created at the Mall of America's General Mills amusement park." Not that I can understand a single word about anything, although I do hear some goofy mouth noises and faint ranting somewhere in all the high harsh squealing feedback. No drums, no riffs, none of the helium argument vocals, this is ten or so minutes of streaming freenoise babble that sounds a lot more like Newton than Neon Hunk. Crowd likes it.

NEWTON & ARNOUX: The Kitchen Sessions CDR
Hey, that name doesn't start with an N! Alright, more junk culture on the cover: that cinnamon raisin toast that you buy by the processed loaf! And it has faces in it! And, it's a crap color xerox, I wouldn't want it any other way. (Seriously.) As for the music: Arnoux is the performance name of L. Methe from the aforementioned Naturaliste. This is a session recorded in a kitchen: and it's totally improvised music! Quieter, sparse, plucky, and I think acoustic! Arnoux plays his trademark violin, and Newton seems to be playing banjo! Well, there's also some electronics in there, amp noise, weird hums, but this is definitely some kitchen music. As free improv music it holds its own, like Davey Williams & Ladonna Smith if they snorted some crushed ephedrine before playing . . . but I've gotta bow out here at the 16:28 mark (nice psychedelic guitar note -- where did that come from?) because I've got a lot to listen to . . .

Hey, that name doesn't start with an N either! Wow, the first track is 44 minutes long. Wonder if I'll make it through this one? Sounds great after a couple minutes: sparse (electronic?) water sounds . . . like a weird 60s moog record . . . . now the water's coming faster and there are omino-grinds in the background . . . excellent so far! . . . . . . . . . . Okay, baby woke up, had to go feed him, now I'm back and this actually sounds more like Neon Hunk than the Newton and Neon Hunk cassette did. It's at the 38 minute mark of the first track, sounds like Angela from TAF is talking though a vocoder, pretty goofy (and hence the Hunkness). This might just be the pick of the whole Newton litter, it's like a catalog of sci-fi sounds, jammed in real time, and it's excellent because it's so sparse. Track two is louder and faster and a third as long (still like 15 minutes), a fine dense digitized analog stream, but it's the sci-fi sparseness of the first track that really makes it.

CARLOS GIFFONI & NEWTON: Serious Noise Musicians CDR
Hey, that name doesn't start with an . . . oh never mind. This is burned onto a CDR that looks like a miniature vinyl record on top . . . . more pop culture effluzia (sp?). And yet another collaboration, with Carlos Giffoni of Monotract, this time live in Rochester, New York. Complete with an introduction by an emcee. Two tracks, almost the exact same length (17:44 and 17:35), self-explanatorily titled "Improvised Piece For Prepared Electronics, Damaged Electronics, Turntable, and Gameboy" and "Improvised Piece For The Motion Picture 'The Hot Chick' (on Fast Forward)." The stuff is solid -- the last 5-10 minutes of "The Hot Chick" track especially, with streaming noise vs. some carnival type shit in the background -- and the track lengths are perfect for a two-song vinyl LP. Maybe if it had been pressed that way, and it wasn't the seventh Newton and _____ release I've listened to in a row, I'd be a little more excited by it. (There I go again, with bad reviewing technique . . . the 'review the whole label all at once' thing just doesn't always work, especially when you're talking about like 37 releases . . .)

NEWTON: "Attempts To Play In The Style Of ORTHO" CDR
Jeez, he's either collaborating or imitating, does this guy ever have his own schtick? I'm not even sure what the style of Ortho is, having only heard one five-minute track on the Phi-Phenomena CD, a complete live set, that sounded like a kitchen blender being turned on and then off five minutes later (with some nice electronic manipulation going on throughout). Well, so far this is almost silent . . . let me turn it up a little . . . okay, there's some really quiet electronic tone, nice actually, and . . . YEP, a bunch of apes yelling "OOH OOH AAH!!!," and then back to those near-silent electronics . . . . nice actually! I say "YEP" about the ape sounds because this CDR seems to be subtitled APES! CLAY! WOOKIES! and has a picture of Chewbacca on the back and some Sasquatch or something on the front. So that nutty stuff we're hearing is probably Chewbacca-talk, maybe even taped from the Star Wars Christmas Special (a one-off shown on network TV back in 1978, with a special effects budget apparently smaller than that of Starsky & Hutch, and I know for a fact that Newton owns a copy). See . . . more junk culture effluxia (sp?). Well, I still don't know that this is in the style of Ortho, more in the style of the Beast People, albeit a more 'goofy' version. But take away the chimp noises and you've got a nice spooky electronics album. And then the chimp noises are kind of good too, because an album that's too goofy beats an album that's too serious in my book. Plus, it kind of reminds me of that one Cromagnon track with all the grunting.
      Track two is a 'found record' playing some syrupy children's music while the apes & wookies moan and gurgle. Some real good gurgles around the 5 minute mark. Four more tracks on here, all shorter ones, which I listened to but don't really remember. I can tell you that they didn't suck, however -- I like this release!

NEWTON: Dead Cats Don't Meow 3" CDR
Finally, Newton alone! In the style of . . . Newton! And wait'll you see the packaging fun on this one -- it's like this hammerhead-shaped 3" CDR, with two sides cut off . . . I can't explain it, so I scanned the open case, it's at the bottom of this blurb. It still works in the player, and . . . . . Newton in the style of Newton is . . . . great! Actually this is the best streaming noise yet on any of these releases. I also really like it because it's just one track, clocking in at 4:55, and I like the quick hitters. Another fun thing is that my CDDB (or whatever it's called) feature reads this track as being "Stand Together" by Bill Anderson, composed by Bill Anderson and Jim & Leslie Oosterwyk. Genre? "Religious." Say it with me: MORE JUNK CULTURE EFFLUSIA! (sp?) Also on that tip: cover art is influenced by South Park!

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Short Attention Span VHS
Alright, time for one more Breathmint review, this one of a VHS compilation with a novel concept: "9 Bands, 11 Full Sets, 2 Encores, 38 Minutes." Yep, this is a little document of this whole post-Cock ESP/Phi-Phenomena movement towards really short but generally action-packed sets. The funny thing is, I still found myself fast-forwarding a couple times to get to the end of someone's set. Highlights were Pengo & Nuuj (pretty much rocked harder than anything else on the whole tape, dig John Schoen's keyboard stabs and Nuuj's contort-yourself stage presence) and . . . . well, I can't really call Cornelius Ape a 'highlight,' but I sure do remember it and a lot of today's 'extreme artists' probably would see it and go "man, that guy's kinda fucked up." It's funny how quickly he clears the room. Were there any other highlights? I'm pretty sure I enjoyed Newton's and Cock ESP's sets. The Suck are a 'supergroup' made up of Matt "Zartan" Bacon on death metal drums, the one and only Matt St. Germaine on guitar, and Elyse Perez on vocals. Certainly a lot of personality and talent, but they kinda live up to their name with their 'make noise and yell for a 4-second burst 4 or 5 times and call it a set' concept. I'd Like To Stab You In The Fucking Eye are visually hilarious with their all-black play-in-the-dark ultra-serious screamo parody, but it would've been funnier if they'd written a few parody songs instead of just doing flabby improv for 30 seconds at a time.
       What else? It's been a while since I watched this (yeah, my reviewing technique is unassailable). I really can't remember Wrong, but I think Emil H. was kind of freaking out in this performance, doing some great body language . . . . I can vaguely remember not finding U Can Unlearn Guitar to be as funny/entertaining as I thought I would . . . . and Dixie Prix is last. I can't remember what they did at all, so I'm actually going to put the tape back in just to watch his/their set, after hearing about his/their infamous "Tales From Topographic Oceans" opening set for the Phi-Phenomena on Wheels tour. (Read about it elsewhere in this issue.) [Time elapses.] Okay, just watched the Dixie Prix and it was three kinda disguised guys breaking stuff while some Latino pop music played. Lotta people breaking stuff and falling down onstage these days . . . it's that Cock ESP influence. The video even ends with some guys (I recognize Lapidus) out on a city street breaking TVs. A lady sticks her head out of her apartment window to see what the hell's going on, and the guys breaking stuff are like "Can you give us 1 more minute? I swear, we're almost done . . ."