by Larry "Ratso", oops, "Fuzz-O" Dolman



FORCEFIELD: Lord of the Rings Modulator CD (BULB)
This record has also been released by Bulb as a double vinyl LP -- that'd be the version to get, if any are left. It's worth getting in any format, because this is a fine gnarly throw-down epic-length electronic noise album with sci-fi / fantasy overtones. But, although the shiny silver and black cover is nice on CD, just imagine it being the size of an LP, screenprinted as only the Bulb factory can (so that the ink is like still wet and gets on your other records). I also picture the LP version more likely to be talked about in a future interview with a future Don Bolles. There's just something more fun and timeless about this kind of endless nose-diving electrosplunge being spread out across four vinyl sides than crammed onto one little compact disc.

I think this is the only band I've heard mentioned on both the brutalsfx yahoogroup and in Maxim Blender. Yeah, I bought that issue of Blender with Mariah Carey on the cover, to kill time at an airport, and I ended up HAVING FUN with its cheap-but-effective mix of trainspotting lists ("The 50 Mad Geniuses of Rock!"), novelty interviews (Snoop Dogg on marriage: "I don't know, man. It ain't all good. The motherfucker go up and down. We're arguing right now. We're gonna still be together; it's like any other relationship. Motherfucker gets on your nerves, though."), cheescake photography (Mariah, Hallie, Shania, Shakira, Xtina, LeAnn, Beyonce . . . . . ) and, occasionally, actual notable information (like that Elvish Presley are a crazy live band to see, according to the mag's one-inch-tall "Weird Band Alert!" feature).
       So anyway, I think both members of USA Is A Monster are in Elvish Presley, and there is some overlap in the sound of the two bands. This CD, called Black Elf Speaks (which I thought was their band name, not Elvish Presley -- what, did they get so stoned that they got their own band name mixed around with the CD title?) takes the decrepit fuzz / troubadour folk mix of Masonic Chronic and imbues it with more of the bouncy and gay (original meaning) melodies of Tasheka Compost or whatever that was called. Oh yeah, Tasheyana Compost. Some listeners might get a little queasy from all the 'faerie' melodies but the heavy tones and production keep me interested. I like it better than Tasheyana Compost, but not as much as Masonic Chronic.

The second sick singles retrospective from one of the illest labels ever. This one has a lot more tracks than the first -- 31, in fact. There's good early stomp by the Demolition Doll Rods; the Tweezers, a very insane group that I know nothing about; the classic post-Couch goofball split between The Many Moods of Marlon Magas (an all-star big band featuring such names as Weasel Walter, Aaron Dilloway, Chad Organ, Nandor Nevai, and "Justin's Dad") and Mr. Velocity Hopkins (guitar noise up there with Jojo H.); The Heroin Bench, the classic 7" EP by Galen, back when A. Dilloway was 'totally no wave' -- now it kind of reminds me of Barnacled!; an evil organ jam by Quintron b/w Flossie and the Unicorns' puppet show, the latter of which makes NO sense on vinyl, in a good way; all five songs from the 25 Suaves' totally fucked-up Chinese Students Study Abroad! 7" EP -- I saw the Suaves back in the summer of 2001 and was so blown away I bought this 7", got it home and was like "Huh???????!" -- for example, the song "Exercise is good for health" has the exact same fidelity as Profanatica's "Of Pestilence" . . . . . . . The King Brothers do their freaked-out Japanese screech / skid / shatter that, to quote Cimarron Weekend #6, "makes Guitar Wolf look like John Prine" . . . . . . Voodoo Boots (Voodoo WHOots?????!) contribute more garage gut-rock with wrecked and bleeding production, and it keeps up with champs like the Suaves and the King Bros . . . .
       And finally, this disc also compiles the infamous Wolf Eyes 12-inch single, featuring "Wolf Eyes Rules (What Kinda Band?)" I always thought that was a funny title, and now I realize just how funny -- this sounds like their bid for the Judgement Night soundtrack! They couldn't get Onyx, but they did get Andrew W.K., and the dudes rap out nu-metal lyrics like "What kinda band lives on pot smoke?" First time I heard it, I had the changer on shuffle and I didn't know what it was, and I was like "How did this god-awful shit get into my disc player?" Then I figured out that they were saying "WOLF EYES RULES!!!" on the chorus, and then it was over, and I was like, "That was great." Couldn't believe how much it sounded like Limp Bisquick themselves, if they'd been discovered by Am Rep instead of "Flip/Interscope." The other tracks are pretty fuckin' good, and in a more serious vein -- they don't really sound like this anymore but they would've been one of the top three bands ever on Am Rep, kna'mean? "My Recipe is Lust" has one of the great Nate Young vocals and is a killer stomper. "Fortune Dove" and "Bone and Skull" rule too, but it's still hard to believe how beyond/below this sound they are now, only three or four years later.



Edition of 500 on this one, so by the time anyone reads this, they might already be sold out. It's a real nice record, with a deeply lovely silk screen cover photo of Dora Doll that takes on Renoirian, Man Rayvian, and Pagian/Klawian proportions. Insert is on lovely paper, record itself nice and thick. (My only quibble is that the layout uses so much of the Helvetica typeface, but that's obviously a personal preference and really more for students of typography and I have no room to talk because I'm using Helvetica right now.)
      As for the MUSIC, side one is Mssrs. B and then Nyoukis taking approx. 12 minutes solo each, and then side two is 24 minutes of them collaborating. I was really anticipating this baby, and you might've been too, in part perhaps because you read their conversation in ish #15. (You can still read it.) However, first spin of side one left me only just whelmed. Al B.'s 12 minutes of music seem to have taken approx. 12 minutes to conceive, compose, record, mix, and master! (14 at the most.) Second listen: First track is just like Al kind of singing words but mostly sorta giggling while he tosses off a modal riff. It clocks in at 1:03 and it's called "Always Now, Fuckface!" which means that it is great. Now track two "Eldorado" is starting, but some fuckface outside has his motorcycle so loud that I simply can't hear it whatsoever. There now, drive off, you obnoxious slum-dweller . . . . Okay, he's gone, but I still can't really hear what's going on, because it's such a quiet song, now my goddamn TYPING is too loud. Okay, stop typing for a second . . . . . . . . right, this is Al just kind of muttering while he sort of hits the body of the guitar and sounds the E string. One-note song with an insistent rhythm and muttering. Okay, I turned it up really loud, and the muttering, though still hard to make out, sounds like an overheard argument in the style of Raymond & Peter. Oh man, I think I hear a woman sobbing. Now a macho Italian gangster accent, fairly melodramatic . . . is this a movie? . . . he recorded it while watching TV! Awesome. And, that one-note-with-insistent-rhythm thing is kind of intense when you turn it up. Track three is some wacky improv between Al's voice and what sounds like a lone cymbal and drum, and it's kind of energized, and he does that high-pitched muezzin thing, like he's trying to recreate the SCG Cloaven Theatre style all by himself, but the twist is that he still sounds like he's whispering, like it's 2AM and he's trying not to wake up the family. "Palatine Flip," on the other hand, is really LOUD and scary, and almost 100% guaranteed to make you get up and turn down your stereo if it's 11:44 PM and your six-month-old is sleeping, just ask me. But if you're gutsy, just stay in your chair and leave the volume where it's at, because it only lasts 48 seconds. That's really the end of Al's portion, except for an encore / intermission / cool-down called "DJ South Bitch" (my favorite Alvarius alias since "Uncle Tompa"), five minutes of downtempo melancholy booty-rap, probably taped right off the radio. It's a little jarring but it won't surprise anyone who listened to all two hours of the Sun City Girls' Carnival Folklore Resurrection #11 radio show, which aired exactly once, on WFMU (91.1 FM, New Jersey) in November of 2002.
      Then Dylan Nyoukis offers his 12 minutes, a single track called "The Galloping Fingers Of Biscuit Meek." On first listen this good but nowhere NEAR the movement of Nyoukis's insect folk masterpiece LP The Shield That Pierces The Earth (issued in 2002, also on Catsup Plate, in an already long-gone edition of 300), nor the Decaer Pinga side of the Tubular Bells LP (split release with Glands of External Secretion, released by the Starlight Furniture Co.). On second listen I'm still not quite whelmed by the "sanshin" intro -- banjo ostinatos I have heard before, and even 3 or 4 Jandek imitators is a couple too many. But sit tight and the repetition starts to sound like a record skipping and then other murky loops start bending it into something altogether different and I'm sold with six more minutes of fine brain salad to go.
     Ah, and then comes side two, a nearly 25-minute piece called "Interested in Fashion, Harmonica?" Shit, I've anticipated this so much that I almost can't help but be underwhelmed. So far it's too hushed and lo-fi to play quiet, but too piercing to turn up. Still close to the beginning, and I think I hear Harmony Korine leaving what is credited as a "fuck song" on the "answerphone." SSAB SONGS, anyone?? Is that Brian Degraw in the background?
Humdy, hum, more slow-massage tape spunge, and believe it or not I'm still not quite whelmed . . . oh, here comes Alvarius B, doing another folk song with creepy quiet falsetto . . . pretty good, pretty good . . . .ah, and here comes a pretty fucking nice mangled small wall of noise, and it literally OVERwhelms the song . . . alright, I'm committed, now I have no choice, because this is a gorgeous wall of noise! Thanks dudes, I was startin' to wonder . . . oh yeah, I'm into it now, even after the noise is gone, because Al's folk song is still going and becoming more creepy and intense and . . . WHOAH, more noise! Except this time it's different noise. Still only halfway through the piece . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and now just a couple minutes to go. I lost my way a few times in those ellipses, believe me. The last couple minutes are flat-out gorgeous. I'll be coming back.
      And, to finally close this dumb review, I'll quote the ENTIRE story of how this LP came about, from the Catsup Plate website, because everybody loves a little Harmony Korine content: "Sugar was originally conceived by Harmony Korine to be a four-way split between Alvarius, Nyoukis, Will Oldham, and Absalom (Korine’s ‘White Metal’ band). But Korine went MIA and Oldham hadn’t heard of the project when Dylan asked him about it later. By this point, Alvarius and Dylan had already finished their respective contributions and, rather than scrap the project altogether, decided to create a collaborative piece to take up the missing second side of the LP. Dylan sent over source material, which Alvarius cut, spliced and mixed in with his own sound sources (including some drunken answering machine messages from Mr. Korine)."

I've heard of this character for probably three years now without actually hearing him. I do know that he is a home-taper avant folk musician from South Carolina and that everyone who's heard him seems to like (if not LOVE) him. And now that I've heard this LP, I have to say that I like (if not LOVE) him too. Why? Because he gets the song/collage tradeoff happening on LP better than most. The songs are kinda cheeky, unassuming, but they're stewing in atmosphere, and the collages put the stew right in the bowl in front of you. Talk about metaphors in a mixmaster! Two minutes in I'm like "Well, he's already as good as Johnny Dowd." Four minutes in, I'm like, "Better than Johnny Dowd." Now that I've listened to the whole thing I'd like to add that it's better than Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, too. I'm serious, I think Waits is pretty damn overrated, but that's really a topic for another day, dontcha think? In the meantime, you really should hear these McAlister collages, they're even better than the songs . . .



Man, I used to listen to Galbraith's shit quite a bit -- a singer / songwriter home-taper who sounded like he didn't so much write and record music as just dream directly onto tape. Really good, but I kind of stopped paying attention around 1999 or 2000 -- last thing I heard of him doing was that Wire Music thing, where he and another guy would perform in complete darkness, making big wires they'd strung across the room hum. Now, this Radiant CD is a violin / drum duet, kind of related to the Wire Music thing in that the result is a drony 35-minute 'theater of eternal music' kind of performance. Don't think this is anything like that hellish violin war-drone on the Burning Star Core Brighter Summer Day LP, though -- this is a much more folksy and contemplative affair. Still a lot of nice squealing and Ms. Karlis is an interesting and gutsy drummer (her main band is called High Dependency Unit and they're on Flying Nun) -- her playing on here actually reminds me of the way Dale Crover of the Melvins bangs around under those Buzzo sludge-riffs! (Album also includes another track called "4 Orbits" which is like a little remix / highlight reel / dreamed version of track one.)

This sounds good on paper: a member of Thuja and the Jewelled Antler Collective records cinematic 'old world' folk instrumentals on "guitar, cello, violin, harmonium, optigan, drums, 6-string bass, gourd guitar, accordion, clay flowerpots, glockenspiel, bottles, laundry cart, melodica, harpsichord, tapes." But "cinematic" should mean that your imagination is inspired to see unexpected visions that unfold like cinema, not just "this would sound cool in a movie." All tracks are good -- "Streets of Raised Platforms," "Millstones," and the rousing closer "A Second Fall" come to mind -- but for me it never quite leaps up to being "great."

I like one of the singers' voices -- kinda sounds like Steve Marriott in Humble Pie, that really ragged torn-throat falsetto thing -- but the singer on track 5 is doing a Bob Dylan joke, singing it like "Stuck Inside of Mobile" and the song even has one of those toy "wheee!!" horns going off like in "Highway 61." I don't know if I think it's that funny . . . . and The Crack Pipes is kind of an annoying name too. I mean, if a band that sounded like the Hair Police or Sightings or most things on Bulb or Load Records were called The Crack Pipes, it might be an appropriate name (not that any band on either of those labels would call themselves The Crack Pipes -- they're too artsy for that!), but these guys are just kind of mellow rockin' blues jammers. Hey, the grooves are alright, here and there, with various unknowns (organs? turntables?) lurking in the corners, but after all the crazy Bulb/Load shit, not to mention Royal Trux and No Doctors, the white-boy blues have gotta be more, I don't know, involved than this if they wanna keep up. Track 12, "Save Me," gets a little something going with a hammering outro and the smooth singer's cries of "Save me!!," even if the song is just rewrite #2,013 of "Gloria." Would make an excellent end to the album, but for some reason they tack on track 13, "I'm Going To Change The World," not an excellent ending because it sounds a lot like at least 7 other tracks on the album.

Didn't know if I'd be into this or not -- I was worried that they might be another one of these dime-a-dozen post-Terrastock 'space-rock' bands -- but, good news, this is a good record and a good band. They know how to space-out and meander-jam with the best of 'em, and all the guitar effects and electro effects and the "triwave picogenerator" effects are in the service of actual songs -- they're fragile and intermittent songs, but they are actual songs, and I can even think of how some of them go when I'm not actually listening. (Track #2, "There Is A Time," is my current fave, an eerie & melancholy ballad.) They have a guy named Otis Cleveland who plays "alto sax, flute, clarinet, ocarina, raita, mizmar, bass clarinet, jews harp, wall socket sounds, sleighbells, electric nun," and, like the utility/reeds/ woodwinds guy in Ghost or Nik Turner in Hawkwind, he really helps the jams melt down. He also arranges the final track, a cover of "Kinky Sex (Makes The World Go Round)" by the Dead Kennedys. I'm not really hearing any trace of the Dead Kennedys in it but it is a good loopy closer for the album.



KOH / NAKAGAWA / TANO / WIESE / YOSHIDA: Frankenstein and Dracula Girls Tokyo Headlock CD (HELICOPTER)
Got a bunch of nice stuff from Helicopter, the imprint run by (and mostly for the projects of) John Wiese, who as far as I can tell is the leading 'noise dude' in Hollywood. Here's something documenting a visit to Japan where Wiese played in different combinations with the four other noise artists whose names are on this CD. For example, the first track is by a trio of Nakagawa, Tano, and Wiese, track two is a duo of Tano and Wiese, track three is a duo of Nakagawa and Wiese, and so on. Actually that third track is the first screaming harsh thing on here, which sounds great coursing in after the first two spacey, 'curious' tracks. Track four is back to the 'curious' style, another duo of Tano and Wiese, and this style is starting to grow on me with its weird deserted cubicle atmospheres. Only 55 seconds.
      Koh and Wiese get together for two real long duo tracks, an 11 minute and a 28 minute. The first is also atmospheric, distant and sparse, deserted, although some of the sounds are more aggressive and harshness creeps in through the cracks in the walls. TONS of edits and crazy psychedelic volume fluctuations, definitely reminds me of the glory days of tape music, "The Pierres" et al. Is this a live performance? It's recorded at "Emulsion Project in Tokyo," I don't if that's a venue or a studio . . . . The second and extra-lengthy Koh / Wiese collaboration is more traditionally 'ambient' or something, no edits, just long, soft ominous tones. I prefer the more concrete cut-up stuff, but the track doesn't make me want to turn off the stereo or anything.
      Track 6 is Wiese solo, only 22 seconds long but still has at least 10 or 15 edits, shifting suddenly from harsh to spacey to silent to ???. It's fantastic for 22 seconds, and probably wouldn't be bad for, I don't know, 300 or 400 seconds, at least.
       Anyway, there's more, but that's enough to know it's a good 'un. REAL nice design on this too, the typesetting, paper stock, everything: perfect. Not typical 'noise' packaging, this is more like IDM or glitch packaging, but this isn't a typical noise release either, at least not for more than a couple minutes here or there.

Wow, 78 tracks on this CD, and it still only lasts 23 minutes! Sissy Spacek appears to be a duo in which Wiese plays bass and drum machine and "noise sound" and then this guy Cory Ronnau does vocals and "noise sound." (He also did the great cover art.) Ronnau kind of has a screamo look, and on wax he does do his share of screaming, but I immediately like this better than any of the many Locust imitators. For one thing, they're not Locust imitators, and another thing is that the 'super-short tracks' approach works really well -- they just kill and repeat and kill and repeat and kill and repeat and kill and repeat and the result is high energy blowout at its best, with well-placed 'sparse tracks' here and there to break things up, like a series made up of, oh, tracks 36 through 45 or thereabouts. Wiese is also responsible for the "edit," which is really what makes all of his music stand out -- those thousands and thousands of edits that he meticulously prepares for you, the listener, so that you don't have to 'edit' his records yourself (i.e. turn them off prematurely).

SISSY SPACEK: I really liked her in 3 Women.

Isn't that also the name of a Deep Purple album? Something like that, but this one is quite a bit different. Two mammoth tracks here, a 43-minute and a 30-minute. No titles as far as I can tell, and no venue information either. Killer cover though. First track is quite the quiet drifter! Not what I expected. Well, there's still 35 minutes to go in this track . . . . . check with me in an hour or so . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . well, it's been 30 minutes, and it's still the first track, and it's building up such a nice head of steam with five minutes left to go that I just had to mention it . . . . . . wow! it's cooling back down now, and I just have to say that these guys are VERY GOOD. This is NOT a harsh noise record, as the name Bastard Noise might imply . . . people would probably call it Dark Ambient but that's not right either. It's just a slow, heavy, and even resigned mood that requires a little patience but really does reward. My wife just walked in and she immediately liked it too. Track #2 also rewards -- it's ultra-quiet, but when you turn it up loud enough to hear it, it's almost too scary and you want to turn it back down.

Not much info here either but it does name the personnel: "Nelson, Wiese & Wood." That's Eric Wood from Man is the Bastard. I learned that from Not sure who Nelson is, though. One 46-minute track this time, also in the quiet and sinister style of Live in Japan. Maybe these guys are always like this, low-key sinister cyborg drone . . . ooh, it's getting louder . . . there's always some tension with this stuff because you think it could start getting louder and scarier at any second, but it never completely does . . . I think this disc is scarier than Live in Japan though. You should hear how it's blending with the creeping noise of my radiator right now . . .