Feb 28, 2008

LONESOME WINTER WAILING (Whaling?) - More Black Metal Tapes For Dat Ass

This week was a bag of shit until my tape order came in. But rather than regale y'all with stories of The Girl That Disappeared or What Officer Bates Did, I'll jump right to the turning point(s). Okay, so black metal is meaningless as a term, right? Kind of like industrial, or any genre, really. Is anyone actually making things specifically rooted in genre anymore? I think there's enough influential back-clapping goin' 'round to have successfully killed the notion, what with everyone listening to everything, but that don't mean it's left anybody's lips. Tis a shame, I reckon, for black metal's one of them there ghettos, in much the way Vonnegut termed sci-fi. Then again, maybe "black metal" oughta stick around, as a "for fanatics only" kinda thing, in much the same way some smartypants termed Lovecraft. It does have that "dig it or leave it" vibe, doesn't it? I'll let real critics work it all out. For now, I'm going to love it, contradictions and mainstream cultural irrelevance and all. At any rate, here's the first installment of the 8-piece whateveryouwannacallit tape order.

Korium - Hradby Samoty, demo tape Ravenheart, 2005
I raved and convulsed about the 1st Korium tape, which sounded like cavemen perverting the Slovak
Price Is Right, and so was monstrously pumped for this. What's unfortunate, in an ostensible (read:irrelevant) way, is that all the instruments I loved from Mraziva Noc Prinasa Pokoj are gone. No keys, no drum machine. I kinda thought the boy was on ta sumpthin there, but I guess I was only half-right, because Hradby is equally compelling in a totally different way. I'm guessing some of the stuff from Frisco and Germany found it's way into Slovakia, because this one smacks of Xasthur, Drastus, and all those super-cold blade-at-the-ready choons made by guys that carry whiskey and rope wherever they roam. But then there's a sideways Trad Gras Och Stenar tone to a lot of the strings, which has me puzzleder than whatall. Korium is dragging an eraser behind him, and for that, I love him. The boy's got me guessing, and that's a smart way to keep me around. Maybe I'll check out the split with Trist from last year...next.

Circle of Ouroborus - Shores, Heidens Hart 2007
Circle of Ouroborus - Streams, Northern Sky Productions 2007
Speaking of guessing, hoo! I've been following these two Finns ever since the split with Ethum Burzman-sounding* outfit Urfaust, where they put some Yeats to some mostly-acoustic stumblemumps. Some of it was like if Alice In Chains channeled Henry Flynt's I Don't Wanna, and then some of it straight up sucked. (Sorry to bust out the crate-digger analogies, but sometimes the music just demands it!) Anyhow, I was hooked. I'll take wacky and only-half-successful over wack and always failing about as often as the next guy.
Admittedly, I slipped a little. Never heard the Star/Rise acoustic tape since the press was mad ltd or the Night Radiance demo, but I did check out the Knives Beneath 7" what came out a little before Shores dropped. What a beaut. But, per usual with CoS, it was a mcguffin: too straightforward compared to what they usually concoct, but still brimmin with the ideas they'd later expand on with these two LPs--which is what an EP's supposed to do!
Shores got a ton of press in 07, thanks to Siltblog and some other folks thinkin it was the outsider masterpiece of the year. I'm here to tell you it is, even if it actually came out in 06. But, whatevs. Time's a bagattella. Point is, it worked then and it worked me over this week. On Shores, CoS channels a fussy blend of 80s Italian hardcore and contemporaries like Aluk Todolo (specifically songs like "Burial Ground" and the self-titled single) and Black Vomit into something sort of dementedly new. And like all great convoluters, they aren't quite technically up to those assignments, making the whole mess way more compelling to me. The cover of "She's Lost Control" is understandably impassioned, soaked in atonal dub singspeak and drums covered in sugar glass. Did I mention it's also really heavy?
Streams is rapidly becoming my favorite. I been squatting on a review of it for months now, tryin'ta to lay it down the way it laid me out. I mean, it's the vocals from Crash Action Winners doin "Hurricane Fighter Plane" backed by a dissonant-er Acid Drops, but still wasted and bleak enough to be called--there it is, again!--black metal. Hope making this was as much of a relevatory moment as hearing it. This is getting more play than anyone I know. Finland is definitely not for lovers.

Next up: 2x Lascowiec, Tomb Of..., Hills of Sefiroth/Sapthuran, and the self-released Peste Noire demos collection. Start the foam and light the piano; I'll be there in a minute.

*Ethel Merman+Burzum=Ethum Burzman. It's algebraic!

Feb 12, 2008

DO YOU KNEAD ANYBODY? The Better Beatles - Mercy Beat LP, Hook Or Crook

A friend of mine called me weeks back and left the following message: "Hey. I just wanted to call you...because I'm listening to Nick Cave and Lydia Lunch cover 'Some Velvet Morning'...? And it's...awful! It's... [long pause] uhhhhhhhhh!" Click. I figured I oughta find it out before I call back otherwise it'd just be more of that. Only when I heard it, I was at a comparable loss for appropriately-pissed-and-insulted jive. Of all the Top 20 horseysauce to mash your fingers in and call it painting! Why does "Some Velvet Morning" deserve a piss-take? Who wakes up in the morning, wonky and fried from the previous evening, and says, "That Lee Hazlewood is gonna get a piece of my mind today." What a tubesteak. Fuck a Nick Cave and fuck a Lydia Lunch. I hated the cover of "In the Ghetto", too, but I can at least understand which way it was going. It just happened to be stupid.

On the other hand, I've been spinning this Better Beatles LP for weeks now and it never gets tired. In fact, it's lit a little different every time. Some folk finna tell you this is some wry DIY cats from deep in the heart of Nebraska knockin' the Fat Four off their throne as some arty/pissy punk gesture, but I'm here to tell you that's some boiled air. I don't think it's anywhere near that incendiary. The indifference to the legend of these songs ("I'm Down", "Hello Goodbye", "Penny Lane", "Eleanor Rigby") is definitely in there, but the key is the exhaustion. How many times do you gotta hear "Penny Lane" as you're passin Big D one-oh-three good times/grating oldies before the craft and the beauty and all that is finally lost & you're psyched that JL is molting beneath the Earth? Not many. In fact, it probably already happened. So what you end up with is a song drained of whatever significance it had back when it was still wet from birth, wandering the airwaves like a lobotomized hippie trying to remind us of the days when music meant sumpthin. "Maybe," the Better Beatles might've pondered, "what these songs need is to literally sound exhausted and indifferent for once and, in doing so, they'll become new again; like a funny little awakening." Scott Soriano of Static Part/Crud Crud/Z-Gun/S-S Records fame said their take on "Penny Lane" got him to "actually appreciate the old saw and that is tough to do." Hey, what else are great covers for?

Get this on wax or plastic from Hook Or Crook or S-S Records, as I think Soriano's still got a few. And while you're at it, throw out your Nick Cave records. Do it for me. Do it for Lee.

Feb 7, 2008

OPEN MOUTH, WIPE SOCK, or A BIG SWEATY REPRIEVE - Blank Dogs - The Doorbell Fire 7", Sweet Rot Records, Repress

You know that dream where you're naked at school? Well, writing this here blargh is like living that: learning in public, naked.
While back I'm pretty sure I dug Blank Dogs a hole & told him to hop in. Now, I'm glad he didn't and I don't really know why I ever asked him in the first place. I'm sure I had some half-cocked reasoning where I drew some conclusions and judged the conclusions rather than what inspired them (i.e. the fucking music). Even if I'd been on to something, that's a bad system.
So just in time for The Doorbell Fire to get repressed so late-comers like me can froth and gape at our record players like you always dream of doing when you bring something home, I'm here to say I was wrong. There was and is something in this Blank Dogs business. Somebody somewhere maybe in person maybe on a screen pointed out the loner element, then it started to sink in. (What can I say? I'm a slow poke in the thinkin dept.) So I listened to it all anew and ended up liking it much more. That was a lil more than a week back. Now I've had plenty of time to live with them under new circumstances. If it were a perfecter world, "Outside Alarmer," one of the B-sides on this record, would be trumpin that Times New Viking business as one of them there anthem thangs of last year.
The thing I'm starting to appreciate is how familiarly-unfamiliar all the noises are on this and the other BD releases. The first few notes of the A-side coulda been lifted from the opening of Steve Treatment's "Danger Zone", but then it drops me somewhere where the clothes and food are the same, maybe even the same stores, but my shoes are on the opposite feet and the hummus pita in my hand's turned into a wad of chicken wire. How'm I gonna get outta here? Am I sure I want to?
I don't think so!
Whatever prompted my earlier attitude or my current 1 isn't really important, right? What's important is I got over it and have something else to spend my money on. There are no proper venues on the island, so why not play the front yard? You bring your equipment, Mr. Dogs, and we can run them through the stereo on the second floor. Deal? I'll have the papers to you in a fortnight.



Whilst I wait for my order from Northern Sky Productions, so I can continue on my black metal filibuster, there ain't no use in sitting all up on my hands. So usually you have to pay for good music? So what? That don't mean there ain't places you can go to get it gratis, and I'm not talkin bout no multi-digited discount neither. Lost Frog works both sides of the street: the official, physical, ducet-requiring releases and the for-the-taking mp3 albums, both from a litany of international and domestic white people. Oh, and Tsuyama Atsushi of AMT etc and someone called Tenouti Yomezou, repping Lost Frog's Nippon origins. A chunk of it is made up of bike ensembles and Sockeye. Rather than write about songs named "Poopy Dildos, Mommy", I figured I'd actually write some things I legit enjoyed.

Avarus - Arus (LF061MP3)

Great thang bout these Finnish boys is you always know what to expect. They gots a keen collective ear for what parts of a druggy, stumbly rollick are worth sending to friends and family and which are best committed to closets and boxes. Plenty of ink has been spilled bout the Finnish underground--which I'm pretty sure nullifies the underground part--so I will say this is a fine and free way to get your foot in if you're lookin to do so.

R. Stevie Moore - Hobbies Galore (LF060MP3)
See, it's kinda awesome being ignorant to lots of things, movements, people, because at some point, logic would follow, you'll have a moment when that changes. And if you go around proporting to have already seen and done it, those moments will pass and you'll be left wondering whose life you've been trying to augment with that attitude. Good luck to you. I was completely ignorant of Mr. Moore until earlier this week and his 5-decade contribution to homemade musics.
"Yeah so it's historically significant. Is it actually good?" For rill. As a matter of fact, it's only historically significant in a temporal sense; I doubt many folks have been stealing from him over the years. That's because most of what he pedals on this 16-track career-spanning best-of is legit tunesmithery. A little bit skewed, but never the same way twice. Sometimes it's the hospital-gowned Syd Barrett kinda-skewed, and, on "Don't Let Me Go to the Dogs," it's the Dennis Wilson sort. Fans of Nick Nicely will also appreciate this in a way I can't quite unpack.

Tsuyama Atsushi - Raichou (LF073MP3)
Atsushi's kinda the unsung Acid Mother, or maybe just one of the less-exposed. Then ya hear something like Raichou and it makes even less sense than when you marvel at his playing in AMT. Somewhere there is a leather- and fur-covered time portal, and you know when you find it, Atsushi will be holding the flap open. So go on in; not like it's costing you a cent.

Stop stealing for a minute and go get these (& many others).