Mar 30, 2007

Negative Kite - Hey Little Know 7" Freek 1993

With that cover I had no clue what this was going to be like. I heardtell this involves a member of Vibracathedral Orchestra, who I've taken a gander or two at. So why not? Even if it does look like it might be a His Name Is Alive single.
Well, His Name ain't alive, because this is the sound of arterial blockage. I'm a little taken aback since I'm used to these twice-baked screechy drone affairs to be about 6 weeks long but, being a 7", this is barely a piece of my day. Somehow they crammed almost 9 minutes onto each side, though, which seems absurd. I tell you what, that's a packed side. Side A takes a bit to develop, but it's got a lovely down the block quality. I kept thinking the record was blank and the neighbors were practicing. But, no. Oh, there's an insert. Here's the text for Side A, complete with fussy line breaks:
startled rabbit/liquid container years
a young family's hopes for
their new home

hymas imperial broken amp

Not exactly expository. More like one of them offhanded allusions. They follow the trail marked SONG PROPER as far as they feel like it, taking their time and eventually come to a clearing where there is only primordial slate. Here's Side B:
outdoors in stimulated natural
habitat mediums give demonstrations
of their powers

more vicious body gesture

walking down satans boulevard

Sheesh. It's a party record for glaciers. If you can tell me what half of the instruments are, I'll buy you a pound cake because the line between rattling percussion and whupped axes is as slight as can be here, thereby qualifying the sunken boombox production. Ha! Production! Negative Kite crawls out of the past to laugh in my mark-ass face. Well, that laugh don't reveal much either. As soon as you think you understand the landscapes they're dragging your mangled body through, they drop you in a ditch and hop in the van. No concern for your life, your fulfillment of melodies left incomplete & elusive. The last thing you hear is the sound of them running over your copy of Stainless Steel Gamelan and peeling out into the night. Weren't stainless no more, buddy.
Good for a spin in the stinky darkness.


Crash Course In Science's track "Factory Forehead" was also featured on volume 10 of the Homework series released by Hyped 2 Death. So I didn't escape after all. Get that comp, though. Seriously. Then you can hear bands like Adults and wonder why people know the Stickmen but not them. Or the incredibly beautiful song "Judas Tree" by Black Cat Bone, which sounds like Galaxie 500 -guitars +piano. Come to think of it, just get the whole series. And then get Messthetics 1-8 and the Homosexuals discography. And then just write them a random check, because they really deserve it. There is nothing in the world that compares to the contributions H2P is making to the legacy of the US and UK DIY music heyday. Soul Jazz is somewhere way down the list. H2P take up the top 15 spots.

Oh, go here.

Mar 29, 2007

Circle X - 7" 1983

Out of the sweaty ashes of Louisville's premier punk outfit rose Circle X, all downtown-NY'ed up but giving it that Mid-South spin, like Orange Blossom Special but Mars instead of Dylan. This is way more fried than Cash's ode to bohemia, but that's to be expected. They lay on the mid-tempo slurpy dirges, with "Underworld" being the most gorgeously frumped-up jam. They harsh a buzz, I'll tell you. I found "Onward Christian Soldiers" especially apt, when you consider that almost all Catholic hymns are performed at the funeral march tempo. Something ain'ta right bout that. And anyhow, this record is as old as I am, so it's like we've grown up together. (Yeah, Murmur, too. And definitely Melissa.) Circle X went on to more academic things, collaborating with Christian Marclay and doing elaborate packaging before that was industry standard for wacked-out sounds, but I think I'll keep them just as I found them: like Flipper with a slice of brevity.

Cloudland Canyon - Requiems Der Natur 2002-2004 Tee-Pee 2006

Some folk from Panthers etc have a fashionable hoe-down, what with the ubiquitous multi-tracking, drowning reverb yadda yadda old Frusciante and on and on and Jewelled Antler and on and vaguely-posty-smudgy and yeah you get it. Took them 2 years to get together the horseshit that kids from Williamsburg lay down like urryday? Damn. I tried really hard to appreciate this as it's got at least a little variety and being named after a place I can drive to, but nothing into which my pearly-whites eagerly sank. Yo, seriously: "I have a free-folk band; we put out CD-Rs" is the new "My girlfriend sings." You can cash that.

LIVE TIMES! LIVE TIMES! WZT Hearts/Ecstatic Sunshine/Lexi Mountain Boys/Magic Markers, Drunken Unicorn ATL 3/13/07!

Hey, I did actually go to a thing! Two, right in a row. First this, then that thing with Donnie MacCormac at Northside Tavern the next night. Christ, you couldn't make that guy up if you tried. Someone oughta team him up with Tom Waits and have them tour the southern sky. [Edit: And then there was 1349 and Nachtmystium on the 27th, but that's an entirely different kinda spread.]

Lexie Mountain Boys
Slumber Party as the cast of Camp. They must be old souls.

Ecstatic Sunshine
This is basically exactly what it needed to sound like. Dual guitar Bo Hansson hoe-downs, with the fire-crotch being the vague-Asian's vicarity. I bet their car runs on a crystal radio.

WZT Hearts
Yeah, that's fine; but is my printer fixed?

Magic Markers
... The important part is I got out of the house.

Grave - Grave 1 German LP 1975

Described to me as heavy and primitive German prog. Something should've told me right there I was in for some shit. Primitive prog? Is that like Astrolopithican Baroque? Okay, it's at least German. Except they sing in English, so maybe it isn't. God, this is a semantic nightmare. Where's Wallace Stevens when you need the bastard? Wait, his mom's a lovely lady. We had Earl Grey that one time and she showed me pictures from when lil Wally wrote haiku in crayon all over the hallway. It was just darling.
So, Grave: not so prog, questionably German, super-amateur. What's to like? "Funky Stadtkommandant" is an amazing title and the opening has some long lost Texas punk riff that's kind of charming, but then they lay on the Led Zeppelin cover bandiness. Trad Gras och Retard. Basically the issue is following up on some great opening riffs and amazing titles. Uhh, "Grave Boogie"? "Father Dead"? Totally incredible carved-notebook dropout metal titles, are they not? If only I wanted to listen to them. Something tells me they pulled the plug before the gutsy and experimental Grave 2, featuring titles like "Wooden Love", "Grave Lincoln" and "Sturmundrunnnnnk." See, I don't even have to hear it to enjoy it.

Residual Echoes - Phoenician Flu And Ancient Ocean LP 2006

The title rules because it's awkward when spoken but beautiful when written. And that, in essence, is what you get on wax. It fits beautifully in your head, like remembering someone's silhouette in front of a setting sun, like you drew it with your hand and hung it in space. Residual Echoes sound like they only exist in my head, but somehow someone managed to record this and now I get to play it for people and tell them how amazing I think it is. Whereas I tell people about the noise in my head and they assume I'm being obtuse.
Speaking of obtuse, where did this come from? Oh, California. Somehow that makes sense. Nothing this screwed could come from, say, the Midwest. California is overwhelming because it's overwhelmed: too much culture, too much waste, too much coast, too much posse. It's as if, for about 45 minutes, these lovely kids felt the whole mess with their hands and took big gulps of the leftovers. My roommate and I sat enraptured & silent which hasn't happened since that big bug climbed up the heating vent and asked for a smoke.
Touchstones? I mean, yeah. I'd say any memorable, drippy noises made anywhere in the last 60 years. Sun City Girls leading the herd with Budgie and Dead C bringing up the rear. Wait, is that that one Frusciante back there? Shit, I haven't seen him in a minute. Wait, Suicide tagged in. Never too much magic bus. One of the best discs of last year. A trillion trillion stars.


It's a new thing round these parts, so rather than talk about something I probably didn't like, we'll do a new thing.


a ______-hamper.
a laboratory of ______.
grieving ______.
______ly better than Waffle House.
______ly worse than Huddle House.
______er than HUD housing.
______ than smokes.
parchment ______.
kind of like Carstairs, except ___________________, you know?
aided by ______.
unavailable to ______.
owned by ______.
heading for ______.
to mommy as ______ is to ______.

Mail your answers to
1362 McLendon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307 USA

Best answers will be laughed at, loved, and ultimately put ______ ______.

Tiny Tim - Live In Vancouver 1968

Worth it just to hear Tiny Tim sing in a warbly Western croon, "All I want is wheat germ for breakfast."

The Sounds Of Japanese Doomsday Cults - Shoko Asahara

Historical curiosity. Just read a book. Or huff sarin in a karaoke bar. Wait, don't. Okay, at least mail me some tapes first.

Sun City Girls - Fresh Kill of A Cape Hunting Dog 1987 cassette

I decided it would be right and appropriate and all to talk about some Sun City Girls, in light of drummer Charles Gocher's death, as well as to properly recognize the maybe-less-than-obvious influence on bands comin correct these days.
Torch Of the Mystics
gets a lot of breath as the Girls most "realized" album, being cohesive and singular and all those other arty, meaningless words. And yeah, songs like "The Flower" are pretty ace. Actually, that songs is quite the worldly-hillbilly thesis statement, so maybe I'm being too harsh. But, to me the quintessential Girls albums are the ones that are staunchly unstaunch, that ramble and spread out to fill the loopy canyons of their nomenclature. There have to be a few tracks where you really wonder what they were thinking, and a few that are crystal clear. The way all those Sublime Frequencies comps are laid out, with shit just being lifted straight off the radio and pieced together--like Southeast Asian versions of when you were a kid trying to get your favorite single off FM--is a more explicit version of their approach to albums. It's music filled with, not fueled by, ideas.

I'm a big, honkin' proponent of unserious music played seriously. Although I don't always love what they do, the Matmos approach is pretty mint. It's very high concept, but you don't need to know the concept to dig it. Serious music equals liner notes and undivided attention. Unserious music can be appreciated while you're flossing. So if it's going to be academic, I'd rather it be unserious.
The Girls are seriously unserious. I love the idea of them getting punk crowds riled up because they decided to sound like Henry Flynt on a bender one night and snubbing the Fluxus crew by playing straight-up unironic bluegrass the next. Sometimes you gotta use your chops to take the piss, and sometimes you use your piss and get chopped or something. Does that work? I guess it doesn't. Humor's what I'm driving at; fun's where the fear is. The Girls might be the most avantgarde (barf) band ever if only because they wore so many hats, but they wore them all in a goofily transcendent way.

I should be speaking of them in the present tense, but let's be honest: '87 was their day. Now they cut fancy solo records on Revenant. They release field recordings of bugs that sound like Alva Noto. Basically, they went all hi-hat on me when I wasn't looking! And, yeah, I can dig all that stuff, but not like when they were young and crazy. When it boils down, that's all I really want music to be: young and crazy. Or old and world-weary, because that's where you end up, I reckon. Skip the middle part. Trust me.

The Fresh Kill Of A Cape Hunting Dog is SCG in their prime: on some unnameable drugs, making Jackie-O Motherfuckers everywhere drool for the stoney and droney sound without even trying. There's your standard histrionic bit ("I Told You So"), but it's tongue-in-cheek histrionic, so you can get through it once. Okay, I'm being gentle. That song blows and the joke is pretty trite. But that's okay, because "Entrail-Littered Savannah" is it's mature brother. Still fucked up, but much closer to having his shit together. He quit drinking and only does barbs if he runs into his buddies at the gas station. He's all right. He'll make it out of this crummy town yet. The upside to this album is that the bad ideas are all short and the good ones go through the long cycle of blossoming, wilting, then blossoming again. My favorite bad idea is "Casa Loma", what with the shapeless art-fried collage fudgemania. Or "Avoid the Hyenas" because it sounds like Jerry Lewis as Screamin Jay while being backed by Instant Automatons. Oh c'mon, you try getting words around the Sun City Girls! Bend your neck, son; these Girls are starting to die. Pay your respects before the reissues roll out. Sorry. Is it too early to crack jokes? Is he planted yet or is Temple of Bon Matin giving Chuck the James Brown treatment? I mean, how many old camp sites can you revisit? Oops, I'm still doing it.
I'll close on a positive note, like people say I should: "Atomic Jackals" is POP GOLD. For reals. Spin that shit until you're green from watching the label go round and round. Play it backwards. Play it sideways. Chop & screw it for all those kids you know into Paul Wall and Black Mayonnaise. It's the blueprint for everything on Load and Bulb and Skin Graft and anything else ever to walk the mean streets of Olneyville, even if those kids were too busy listening to Slayer to notice. Someone old played it for them. Now I feel old because I'm hyping it because one of them died. I should pay more attention to my own criticism: stay young and crazy.

Mar 26, 2007

Black to Comm - Ruckwarts Backwards (Dekorder 2006)

Computers are a funny thing, I'm sure you've heardtell. Enable some things and takes a shit on some others. Going to antique stores in the sticks has all but been ruined. You're in a shop in Tyrone, Georgia, holding a wooden Tibetan prayer wheel, thinkin', "Wow. I bet I can get this for less than 50 bills, seeing as these folk probably know zilch about it." So you walk up to the counter where the guy who used to be school superintendant but retired so he could sit on a porch and hock old-timey things to his neighbors and friends and dumb yankees like myself who blunder into his town is sitting and you say, "How much for this?" And he says, "Not sure. Let me see what it's fetchin' on eBay..." And thus your remarkable find has been plucked from your consciousness like a fat plum. He can charge you whatever he wants because some guy in Nebraska has just got to have that Tibetan prayer wheel and he's set his maximum bid mad high, and some schmuck in Oxnard is tearing his hair out trying to figure out how high Nebraska set the mark, so the numbers are climbing. Then again, from the old-timer's perspective, he's just prevented some fast-talkin' yankee from hornswaggling him out of what he knows is a valuable piece. & so it goes. Actually, that guy was really nice and did know what it was and what it's for and even asked why I was interested. When I told him I'd just got this set of CDs called Buddhist Ritual Music From the Monasteries of Bhutan he may not have known about that specific release, but he made a mock-chanting sound and bowed his head. Then he only charged me twenty-bucks. Who knew? So there you go. Situations are just ripe with colors and so is this here record, which happens to have been recorded all up in a computer, thereby qualifying my jumbled, marked-out statement.
Black to Comm's built Ruckwarts Backwards out of asymmetrical vinyl loops, all scratchy and nostalghic sounding, but less kitschy than Tom Recchion and his ilk, with some layered vocals and acoustic accoutrements. No lounge records here, thankfully. There is one with a tin-pan alley type jam in the track "March of the Vivian Girls"--which is probably a reference to the Henry Darger characters, which may or may not be of interest to anyone--but it quickly evolves into something else. My favorite on here is the first, "Bees", where a field recording of the fussy insects becomes a kind of bee-karaoke, as someone does their best bee impression over the track. That one feels the most upfront and the least computery, which is probably why I like it best. You know, things assembled and recorded inside a computer tend to not have any space. It feels less like cohabitation of sound space and more like that one roommate you had who, no matter what, just had his shit all on top of your shit. Maybe the human voice became the proverbial human voice in the machine and that's why it felt personal. I mean, this record feels like it's trying to be intimate, with the scratchy vinyl and delicate plucking, slightly used instruments and homemadey cover, but I can just barely make out a silhouette of the musician it's describing. My description of the instruments and sound elements up a few lines must sound like every single record released in the last 2 years: layered vocals, acoustics, field recordings... Oh, sure. It could be Feathers, Brightblack Morninglight, Anthropological Bundt Cake, the whole damn Invisible Pyramid, anything on Digitalis Industries, anything Finnish, the Dirty fucking Projectors, and on and on. Christ, if Aquarius Records loved it, you can add it to the list, too. Which is too bad, because he's trying really hard to make this something else. And it is a lot better than most of the aforementioned if only because it makes a b-line for the future and he's got a good sense of shape, size and harmony. Maybe the new one has more space and will sound less like it's being produced by my stereo. I'll check it out soon and let you know. Then again, another entry in the bedroom four-track free-folk movement might just put me in the hospital.

Mar 25, 2007

Blues Control - Riverboat Styx cassette 2006

Old. I'm old. This is old and severely OOP, considering it comes from Fuck It Tapes and literally everything they've released is already gone. May as well eat the facts: Fusetron or a dude in aviators and a t-shirt with sloppy bird drawings on it mightcould hook you up. I say the former; the latter sounds unctous.
Anyhow, apparently someone doppled 1972 Dusseldorf into NYC's hip neighborhoods, because I'd swear these guys bunk with German Oak. Okay, maybe not at Luftschutzbunker, but you know, wherever they lay their heads for real. That's no complaint, I'll tell you what. It takes a skilled mind to get down in truly kraut terms, not just dress up your fussy haircut with the bang and clang of sweaty 70s Germans so youths can ooh + aah at what they fantasize to be your record collection (and what you're packin' in those 501s). These folk Blues Control? They don't look so fussy and barely have haircuts! (That one dude really likes hats.) So, I'm at ease, as you should be. That is, until you pop this in and dig on the spooky, murky uncoilings. Hey, c-60s can make stuff sound murky all on their own, but these two went ahead and doubled the murk factor. Who knew and hoo dang. I mean, really. And yeah, they planted their roots in krautrock, but this is it's own thing--one of the first times a new band has made me feel that in a spell. It's personal, but somehow bigger than itself.
"Rolling Fog Blues" is the obvious jam of choice, standing in one place until it's ready to stand in another, but both it and the title track do not tip their hand. I never felt ready for the change a-comin', but when it arrived, it felt right and clear like a good sound should. Dude's even got harmonica chops! Gettin' all quickly-modulated like blues on a madly-cranked Victrola. When was the last time you heard someone brag about THAT in Kim's? Shit, I wouldn't be surprised if they recorded that with one toe in the Chattahoochee, drifting with portably-powered four tracks in a burlap sack. This might also be the first time a Roland electric piano sounded like a real instrument. Don't you find they're in what you hear while perusing through cookware at a Goodwill? I don't have a clue what they did to pull that off, but I hope they keep doing it. Maybe this will be the year of the electric piano, rather than the comeback year for 80s New Wave saxophones, like I loudly anticipated in December. Oh, c'mon. You're sooo making plans for Nigel.
They've got a new one on Woodsist (FIT related) called Puff which I've heard bits and pieces of and sounds just as singular and committed as this here tape.

Crash Course In Science - Cakes In the Home single 1979

I mean, this is just some super-rompy girls repeating silly things about how to bring cakes inside and the importance of kitchen appliances over music that provides the missing link between Doctor Mix & the Remix and Arboga Teenage Riot--wait wait wait. Hang on. Did I really just lay that out like a yard sale? I must be overtired because that's absurd. To me, if it's fun it's probably stupid, but not necessarily vice versa. This is fun and pretty stupid, which is perfect. It cost practically nothing and since it's mad old, I never have to worry about having them open for a band I really love or accidentally meeting one of them while ordering another gin-and-tonic. Therefore, they exist in a space that I can deal with. It's dumb--especially since there's probably some thinly-veiled, poorly considered feminist diatribe going on--but it's also over before you're done laughing--assuming you find it funny for more than 6 minutes.
If someone throws this at you, catch it.