other stuff encountered on the Reynols/American John(s)
POLICE: History of Ghost Dad CD-R (GODS OF TUNDRA)
Matt St. Germain of the American John(s) introduced me to
this record by playing the first couple tracks at the New
Faggot Cunt house in Nashville, I asked him which one of
the Pussies it was, Galore or Harry. I was leaning towards
Galore but MSG informed me that it was in fact the Hair
Police, a band of 20-year-old kids from Lexington, Kentucky
that the John(s) were gonna play with that very night and
the two after that. (We were on tour.) Indeed, less than
two hours later I met them as we all loaded in for the show,
and I watched 'em play three nights in a row before hearing
the rest of the record.
I didn't totally know
what to make of their shows. I certainly enjoyed hanging
out and drinking beer with 'em, but onstage their youthful
compulsion to ROCK OUT ALL THE TIME frankly made me feel
my age (10-11 years older than these whippersnappers). The
lineup is mostly standard: a drummer, bassist, and two guitarists
(sure, one of 'em's a toy guitar, but still), but the music
was completely fucked up and almost entirely beatless spastic
noise, kind of like rock but only because bassist/singer
Mike struts around and kicks stuff off of the stage and
the drummer sings while wearing sunglasses.
Without this visual, who
knows what the fuck you're hearing. I left my walkman recorder
onstage during their Nashville show while I worked the merch
table in the other room. I didn't see their set and barely
heard it through the walls, but on tape the whole thing
sounds like I recorded it on half-speed with low batteries.
The funny thing is, I didn't. Over the next two nights they
started to make a little more sense. I started to recognize
when songs started and stopped, and by the last of the three
shows I was joining the crowd in singing along. ("Shirts
versus skins! Only one wins!")
This CD-R is really just
as noisy, but it works quicker for me because I can always
hear when the songs start and stop, which they do often,
with intent and focus. The opening song ("Superfly
'won't work'") is a much more cohesive riff than I
ever heard from them live, and by the time it breaks down
into the kind of bratty freakout I know them from, they've
earned the right to do it. And they keep hittin' too --
the tracks speed by faster than I keep up with 'em, and
by track 8 ("RUDON 1 KIBO") when they go into
a fucked horn and percussion march, it's like it's back
in 1993 and I'm listening to the Dog-Faced Hermans only
now they've got some Dirty South funk to 'em. New elements
keep sneaking in; later in the album, track 17 "A.S.
Down 1 Pizza" actually features a jazzy recorder flute.
Normally, I would take this as a sign that things were running
a little long, but the next track, "Teen Age,"
is another great dirt-rock song with an actual drumbeat
that breaks down into a ferocious abstract jam that sounds
like it has The Beast People themselves guesting on vocals!
And, you want electronica? Don't miss the 21st and final
track, "Mommy's Little Jazz Angels," the finest
piece of electronica I've heard in 6-8 months, I shit you
not. It's so good, it ain't even electronica. It's electro.
CS (GODS OF TUNDRA)
Connelly runs Gods of Tundra and plays bass in the Hair
Police and records solo noise as Zombi. A guy who runs a
label and plays in a noise-rock band and has a solo noise
side project? Not the most original setup in the world,
but Mike's a pretty suave MF so he can get away with that
shit. Still, this tape of ongoing continuous abstract solo
harsh noise wasn't what I wanted to hear on the drive home
from a week-long noise tour. I mean, at home I listen to
America and Bread, and I needed to get mellow again.
But now that I've been
home for awhile, and I've listened to all my America, Bread,
AND Ambrosia LPs a few times, I get a hankering for a little
noise again. In that mood, this cassette actually kicks
it out pretty good. The first quarter or third is pretty
much just over-amped room hum, complete with occasional
nearly inaudible conversational patter. It's pretty normal
squall, but a little ways in there's some nice stop-and-start
strategies with a broken drum machine in the mix somewhere,
and then it gets better still when he starts jamming on
real instruments, probably with another person or two. It
sounds like they're trying to play Harry Pussy songs from
memory, which is actually a really great thing for a band
Even so, my favorite
part of the cassette is the last third, in which Killa Mike
fills out the side by recording tracks from one of his hip
hop CDs right onto your tape. I mean, that's the thing about
noise music: even when it's good, it always makes you wanna
hear something else. Mike understands, and deejays the rest
of your evening for you so you don't have to get up and
go to the stereo after yet another truncated noise record.
It's good hip-hop too --
The Roots? Something from the Wu Tang dynasty? A mix CD,
like the Soundbombing series on Rawkus? "A future flavors
exclusive..." says a sexy woman announcer, and then
it cuts into a really hard funky guitar sample. "Hip
hop motherfucker...I rap like a savage..." he says,
and then he describes himself "sippin' ice-cold mamosas"
and how "when I awake I can make a wish and from my
rich servant some steak and fish." And whaddayaknow,
all of side two is filled up with more hip hop! They keep
talking about "future flavors" and "MCA"...They
mentioned Rahzel, from the Roots...ah, so they're actually
talking about MCA the big-time record company...okay,
now someone's chanting "Pete Rock! Marley Marl! Pete
Rock! Marley Marl!", probably Pete Rock and Marley
Marl themselves, which is definitely who this record is
by, and they're working with Rahzel from the Roots, Black
Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli), Common Sense, and probably
some more names I didn't catch during the introductions.
It took 'em a while to introduce themselves...with hip-hop,
it usually doesn't take over half the album. As for Zombi,
his opening act for Pete Rock and Marley Marl's Future Flavors
was pretty exciting, but I can barely remember it.
MYTH, NONDOR NEVAI, FRED WARE III: Without the "C"
- October 5, 1996 CD-R (GODS OF TUNDRA)
Live and Shave in L.A. is, of course, one of the inventors
of the kind of glam/noise/cock/surrealist/cut-up rock that
the Gods of Tundra label aspires to, so it's only natural
that Shave 'bandleader' Tom Smith/Om Myth would do something
for the label.
This 'found object' CD-R is a bit of
a curveball, though the 12-minute spoken intro might be
my single favorite Om Myth recording. It's Tom as giggly
solitary intelligent raconteur, and I like the style with
which he tells the story of what you're about to hear: a
verite recording of he and two friends going to see Blue
Öyster Cult, "22 years past their sell-by date,"
playing at a chili cook-off in a park outside of Atlanta
in 1996. Om performs a bit of the B.Ö.C. classic "Cities
On Flame With Rock And Roll," and reminisces on the
effect the band once had: "They were fucking great,
those first three albums. I mean the whole [sings]
'three thousand guitars [laughs; quits singing] they
seem to cry' shit was pretty goofy, but fuck it, man, it
was B.Ö.C. That was radical shit. Not Alan Silva playing
bamboo flutes with fuckin' Buckminster Fuller or something,
but it's kinda close, you know?" Then, only a few seconds
later, he fully admits to his own "excessive posturing."
Later, while meticulously introducing Blue Oyster Cult's
lineup that fateful night, he even goes into a sort of 'apathetic
surfer dude' character: "Bloom...what the fuck's his
first name...Eric Bloom...the singer dude...guitar dude...whatever."
It's by turns casual, funny, enlightening, and discomforting,
like a lot of conversations with interesting people are.
Either way a fairly balls move on Om's part -- it's notable
that the whole thing is performed in one take.
Track two is almost
as good, depicting the morning of the concert, starting
with Om's "extremely poor" attempt to be "goofy
on cue" at Nandor's "bidding," that is, Nandor
turning on the tape recorder and sticking it in Om's face.
Om's performance really is pathetic, unless you find lyrics
like "Black metal is my mind/It's my shmind..."
to be enlightening. Nandor proclaims "that's the worst
shit you've ever recorded in your life," to which Om
replies as if he was Pootie Tang in Russia: "It's the
best shit, because it's fantashtisha. Nothing I do sucks."
Om says he has to go out for a morning run so he can wake
up, offers Nandor some coffee, makes fun of Lake of Dracula
being recorded by Jim O'Rourke, and then, as introduced
during track one, he attempts a "face-saving endeavor"
for his earlier poor attempts at goofiness by recording
some "on-the-fly tape manipulations" of his voice,
presumably using the varispeed switch on his recorder. In
the introduction, Om giggles as he says he'll "let
history be the judge" on how successful his endeavor
was, but I say they're as natural (PRE, right?) a hunk of
musique concrete sound poetry as we've had in the last 50
years, no shit. A 'true' artist would've edited out the
poor attempts at goofiness and left only the 'successful'
moments. Om leaves 'em both in, side by side, and is a 'true'
With track three and
the (also described in the introduction) sounds of the recorder
sliding against Om's "very expensive silk shirt"
while opening act Randy Bachman emotes in the distance begins
the cheese-metal bootleg piece de resistance. Here,
the entertainment level of the disc drops considerably.
Those hoping for a "MSTK3000 with Om and Nandor"
type show will be disappointed, as their yakking is pretty
much buried in the 'mix.' This is probably because the recorder
remained in Om's pocket throughout, but I also think these
guys are probably a little lower-key at public events than
the 'legend' would have you believe. Even if the concert
portion of the performance isn't as entertaining as the
protagonists' witty commentary, it is still just as enlightening.
What's being taught is that musical posturing is like food;
over time, even the best of it can turn stale, if not completely
On "The Drive Home"
(fifth and last track) we get some music that isn't stale:
an a capella version of B.Ö.C.'s "Workshop
of the Telescopes," sung by Om in his quite singular
'free glam' voice. Lyrics like "By silverfish imperetrix,
whose incorrupted eye / Sees through the charms of doctors
and their wives / By salamander, drake, and the power that
was ondine/ Rise to claim Saturn, ring and sky..."
will always be fresh -- we just have to know where to buy
FAGGOT CUNTS: The Little Purse CD-R (self-released)
speaking of drone-blues tenors, how about the drone-blues
alto singing by Angela "Funky Cold" Messina on
track five ("There, you're on the floor") of the
self-titled CD-R by her band The New Faggot Cunts? Tenor,
alto, either way it's some of that lost wordless blues,
the good kind of lost, over the good kind of light-groove
broken percussion. Mostwheres else on the disc (and live)
the Newfangled Cunts (as they threaten to rename themselves)
serve a much harsher cup of live-band noise-tea, lotsa hard
metal drones and amplified furniture, which ace-in-the-hole
drummer Chris Davis coheres into a particularly scathing
and entertaining brand of jammed-out space-rock. It's all
on here, though from evidence of recent live shows, I'd
say they've gotten more ROCK than they were when this was
recorded, which is a good thing too. To get one of these,
or maybe something even newer, write halcyonbooks
@att.worldnet.com and ask for "The Cunts."
Tell 'em Blastitude sent ya. I can't guarantee it'll still
come in the cute little cloth pouch that mine did, but here's
TRANSMITTING KOOT HOOMI:
The Myth of Fingerprints CS (OUTER ORBIT)
what whatty? Actually this is some solo music by the guy
who does the Outer Orbit label and plays in Cult of the
Dead Wizard, one of Chattanooga (Tennessee)'s most important
bands other than the Shaking Ray Levis and Shadow Builder.
I haven't heard 'em yet myself, but I can guess they're
pretty important, can't you? Besides, I've slept on Robbie's
floor, and I know for a fact that he's at least got an important
This tape ain't too
damn bad either. It's pretty low-key and pretty much drony,
but it's got a heavy slow pulse that'll sneak up on the
inside of your head, not the outside. Very atmospheric,
excellent room music. Like the Pimmon CD-R, this promises
the bacchanalia of noise buried somewhere within but never
resorts to pummel. Just slow heavy massage. Nice Jandekian
cover image too. Contact:
SHIRT CO. split cassette (FREESOUND)
Lexington, KY stuff, I'm guessing...dare I say it...pre-Hair
Police? Each side is a single live performance by the respective
band. Hexose is a Mike Connelly band that offers more of
that ole shoutin' adrenaline no-wave noise-rock blues I've
come to associate with the Tundra camp. Much respect, but
my apologies, I'm just a little old for that shit. Still,
keep the tape on for ten minutes and what started as a set
of songs somehow becomes an extended (like 10-minute) stomping
chant-fest with screaming and general insane revelry that's
fucking great. It's the groove that makes it, same reason
I still dig the Godz better than Pussy Galore, and I'd rather
listen to trance anything than power violence 4 times out
of 5. That fifth time can really be a doozy, but the first
couple songs on here aren't quite up to that level.
But the midset breakdown...wow!
Very invigorating. And it just keeps going and going. I
can't help but think this is what 'hippie' era Boredoms
would sound like if they'd stop having Jimmy Iovine produce
their albums. The crowd likes it too, and even chants "Hex-ose!
Hex-ose! Hex-ose!" at the end because they "want
more." They don't play an encore, but we do get the
next fifteen minutes or so of post-set audience chatter.
What sounds vaguely like grunge-rock is played over the
P.A. while people hang out and flirt. After a while someone
starts playing grunge-rock guitar live, probably 'soundchecking'
for the next set. In my life, when it comes to listenable
post-noise subgenres, recordings of audiences talking are
right up there with recordings of shoutin' adrenaline no
wave noise rock blues sets.
The Shirt Co. is another
Mike Connelly band, a duo with another Hexose guy, recorded
live at the same venue (a venue with a great name, by the
way: Yats, as in "live at Yats") like three months
later. It instantly sets itself apart with a trippy slammin'
drum machine beat. Not instantly different is non-stop guitar
shriek, and more of those extremely distorted hollering
vocals--them Tundra kids go for the jugular every time.
The second track is pure churning noise, no drum machine,
just noise, and much more vocal bellerin', now buried even
deeper in the huge muck. It's kind of a huge jam, and coming
where it does in the set (second, after a first piece that
wasn't "just noise"), it's kind of startling.
After this epic centerpiece, the set artfully becomes a
triptych when The Shirt Co. go back to the drum machine
and emerge into a more chilled-out bit of ominousness, a
bad-android trip hop number that ends up being the last
song. Pretty good set! (Though an audience member doesn't
seem to agree, and lets them know as soon as they finish.)
Contact for the Freesound label: email@example.com.
Reynols and American John(s) also played with two Cincinatti
bands featuring one Spencer Yeh and compatriots: Death
Beam, a gtr/elec/drm trio that kicks out excellent
jams with occasional Russian vocals, and Burning
Star Core, a violin/electronics/percussion trio
that played one of the more elegant extended free-sounding
compositions I've heard in a while. For some reason, I didn't
get any Yeh-affiliated records, but I'm gonna. Heard the
Death Beam CD-R on the drive home and it was as good as
the live show. Here's links: www.dronedisco.com,
And, at Chicago's Empty Bottle nightclub, the Reynols &
John(s) were joined by Panicsville, the harmolodic cock
rock of No Doctors, and Michigan's mighty Wolf
Eyes. I've heard the Eyes can be hit or miss
live, but on the evidence of their show at the Bottle, they
are the best live 'rock' band on the planet right now. The
set started with some fire-drill drone that had me going
"And...?" but very soon they answered that question
by getting their groove on...slow cavernous dubbed-out broken
beats, like hearing gabber techno in a really loud club
only it's somehow playing at 6 RPM and every huge monster-beat
sounds slower and more stretched-out than the last. In between
these vast spaces comes echoing electro-crinkle, the hint
of evil metal, and punk vocals. For one particularly slamming
number, John Olson took off his Misfits shirt and just,
like, rocked out. I did too. In retrospect, the fire-drill
drone opening was right on -- for the whole rest of the
set, they earned it. They're going to be on tour in November
and December, perhaps even as you read this. Go to www.hansonrecords.com
for dates. And while you're there, place an order for their
LP Dread if you still can -- like Big Whiskey's Don
Rettman said in the last ish, "It's a ripper."
Only Seat in the House by Chris Heine