all the history of noise and performance art, this is the first
time I know of somebody doing just a straight food-chewing record.
I mean, oddballs like Henri Chopin and Elklink have done records
that were more or less all swallowing, but as far as I
know food was never involved. The back cover, complete with seal
(reproduced below), is really all you need to know, and that the
people we're hearing cook and eat the food is Roger Rimada of
Monotract and Emil W. Hagstrom of Cock ESP. Because the cooking
and chewing of food makes noise, this is a noise record, and as
such, really a nice listen. The sounds are all harsh, and bring
to mind Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, but Carnitas offers a much
lower-key type of theater. Nobody's slapping anybody around; they
just sit there and chew. Ah, but the violence is there, under
the surface; after all, they're rending cooked animal flesh apart
with their teeth, chewing it into a pulp, and then gulping it
down into their guts.
Quatervois CD-R (DRONEDISCO.COM)
is Ron Ostovich, who plays electronics for Death Beam, and his
Quatervois release features some pretty austere harsh academic
shit. Reminds me of that David Tudor Three Works for Live Electronics
CD which I hardly ever listen to but totally respect. (Will NEVER
sell back to a record store.) I could see Quatervois treatin'
me the same way; this is some harsh process music. Really puts
me on the edge of my seat. It's more academic than a noise record,
while still being every bit as harsh as a noise record. Right
when you start to wonder if you're gonna be able to hang, the
crazy grinding stops and it's all quiet except for what sounds
like a plate getting broken every few seconds, in alternating
speakers, and then track is over at seven minutes. Cool! When
I say I'm sick of noise records, what I really mean is 30-minute
or longer noise tracks with no narrative whatsoever. Since it's
hard to do narrative over 30 minutes, why not try 30-minute collection
of five or ten shorter tracks, with some variety of approach?
That's what Iovae does. Por ejemplo, track three on here may offer
more grinding, but it's a different kind of grinding. Variety.
Narrative. Ah.... Good too is the last track, less than two minutes
of "Machine Gun Assortment courtesy of Knob Creek Range,
Fort Knox, Kentucky." Non-academic academic southern noise
compositions which contain an allusion to quality bourbon! Go,
all this time I'd never really heard pre-Dread Wolf Eyes,
when they were just a duo or even just Nate Young solo. This is
duo stuff from 1998 and 1999. A lot of their techniques are already
in place, such as the 'slow doom-beat with crunchy glitchy weird
sounds bubbling throughout' technique, but you can tell it's 'early'
Wolf Eyes. It more of a pastiche than an original, like they're
still borrowing directly from hardcore and industrial culture
(Negative Approach and Throbbing Gristle, respectively, as the
legend has it), with a little bit of soul and quirk in there too
(this time via Prince and Ralph Records). Track 9 "Give It
Up" is filled with quirky synth-type sounds and could almost
pass for the Residents if it wasn't for the shadowy Nate Young
vocals. A newer version of the same song appears as Track 2, with
the quirk gone. Track 10 "Imagine Yourself As Me" actually
has a house groove, along with weird vocals that veer towards
what could be called 'poetry reading', and bar-band rock guitar
that sounds like it could be on a mid-period Sub Pop release.
On other tracks they sound like Nautical Almanac (and I'm not
talking about Track 8, "intermission," which actually
is by Nautical Almanac, and marks where the new stuff ends and
the reissue of the first EP begins), but hey, isn't Wolf Eyes
a Nautical Almanac offshoot anyway? Even on the earliest stuff,
you can hear that shadowy New Suicide sound, and how it's going
to blossom soon into something great -- but, unlike Dread,
the best reason to own this record might be the cover art, an
incredible cover painting of Nate and Aaron chilling at some tropical
cove. The back cover looks good too, in that mystique-ridden black-on-white
w/SPYKES CD-R (HANSON 078) and JEAN STREET CD-R (HANSON
Eyes w/Spykes marks the transition from the Wolf Eyes of Wolf
Eyes to the Wolf Eyes of Dread, the pivotal moment
being when Spykes (a/k/a John Olson) joined the band. And indeed,
on this CD-R the amazing sound of Dread is almost completely
in place. Track two (no titles on my copy) is a 15-minute EPIC
that's almost better than even the long tracks on Dread.
It starts with scary loud space improv a la Cluster 71.
It's really kind of proggy like that. This might be an early version
of that air raid thing they were opening their late 2001 shows
with. And, just like live, after a couple minutes a big crushing
beat comes in. Definitely good loud. When vocals eventually come
in, they're rather calm and sparse, while deep electro-bombs dive
in between his phrases. It's killer, and like I said, it could've
replaced either of those long tracks on Dread without weakening
(And those two long tracks
on Dread are good, in fact that might be what makes Dread
so 'best': the sequencing is so good. I mean, come on, starting
with "I'll Burn Your House Down," a three-minute punk
rock song, and then sprawling way out for twelve spaced-out evil
electro-prog minutes of "Desert of Glue/Wretched Hog,"
and then mirroring that same structure on side two with two more
songs, the first one long and the second one short. And, could
there be a better possible title for a 12-minute electro-prog
epic than "Desert of Glue/Wretched Hog"?)
Anyway, this long ass
track two on w/Spykes, at the seven minute mark, goes into
a super-sparse swallowed-mic Chopin-backed-by-the-Beast-People
section, and then the bass sirens come back in, and then a super-slow
and broken beat comes in, and by around the twelve minute mark
the beat has worked itself back up into total pounding hardcore,
with tones diving all around the pounding beat and the haunted
vocals. The whole album is good (and brief: 6 tracks @ just under
40 minutes), but this track alone is worth the price of admission.
Street is the band-name for Wolf Eyes lead singer Etan Gnuoy
solo, and if the catalog number is an indication, this was recorded
just after Wolf Eyes w/Spykes. Again, it practically sounds
just like the whole band, and again like a warm-up for Dread,
except there are no extended electro-jams, in favor of an explicit
pop sense: almost every track has vocals, and none of the (eight
-- a very good number) tracks are longer than five minutes. (Okay,
there's one that's 7:26.) The first song is a classic, with a
backbeat you can't lose and Nate spitting "It's sick!"
every now and then for a chorus of sorts. Track two has an even
doper chorus: "Ha ha ha ha ha." There's more hits to
follow, one of which even gave me a lowdown creepin' hip hop vibe,
right down to the vocals. Maybe it was track five? Six? (My copy
has no song titles.) Let me check ahead here....ah, it was track
five, with its actual kick and snare drum program.
Vi Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes CD (FULL MOON PRODUCTIONS)
inside of the record says "This album is dedicated to 'Evil',
who could not participate in the recording." I thought that
was really strange that a black metal artist would say that Evil
could not participate in a recording -- talk about an admission
of defeat in front of a jury of your peers -- until I found out
that Abruptum is normally a duo, a guy named It and a guy named
Evil, and the guy named Evil really just couldn't make it for
this recording. Therefore, I'm bummed, because I finally spent
some money at Metal Haven (one of Chicago's finest specialty stores,
at Belmont & Broadway) in order to finally check out the legendary
Abruptum, and instead of some raging metal I end up with this
half-assed one-man overdubbed improvised shit. I guess I just
like my metal to at least have a rhythm section, you know?
So anyway, this is supposed
to be a seance. Overly ominous vocals, and what are probably tapes
from something like "Carmina Burana," are faded in and
out of the mix with a chilling enough effect, but it still doesn't
add any narrative to the half-assed improv-plod behind it. Okay,
around the 8 minute mark someone, It himself, speaks one line
in a very deep, evil voice. And...oh shit!...those banshee-like
vocals a few seconds later get REALLY loud. It's like listening
to Whitehouse and getting to that 'somebody go turn the stereo
down already before we attract too much attention here' point.
So anyway, where is this going? It'd be acceptable if this improv-plod
faded out right about now, and another track started in which
It/Abruptum got down to the business of playing something that
shreds, but no such luck. It just gets quiet again for more nodding-out
feedback and crude guitar 'prov. Come on, It! Give me a beat!
A rhythm of any kind, please??
Oh well, it's only one track.
If Mr. It has any sense, it'll fade out before the twenty minute
mark, and this album can be an EP, with at least curiosity status.
Here, I'll hit the "time" button on the player and find
out just how much time is left here........hoshit!!! 51 more minutes!!!
Now why in the HELL (no pun intended) would someone go and feedback-noodle
like this for an hour straight and put it out on CD. Even the
Dead C wouldn't do that. I can only assume that It/Abruptum was
on a serious heroin nod while he did this, or otherwise so incapacitated,
by some kind of ritualistic derangement of the senses in praise
of evil, that he had no muscle ability to really even pick up
his guitar, let alone play it.
Nope, sorry folks, I don't think
I'll be listening to all of this one. The painted portrait of
It on the back cover rules, but the music really doesn't live
up to the warning message next to the painting: "Remember
that Abruptum is the audial essence of pure black evil and listening
to it is at your own risk." If this is pure black evil, then
what Sonic Youth said is true: Satan is Boring. I have a feeling
the Emperor disc I bought will be a lot better.
In The Nightside Eclipse CD (CANDLELIGHT)
it's a lot better. Abruptum may have reminded me that "Satan
is Boring" but Emperor remind me of the Louvin Brothers'
message that "Satan is Real." Or at least Emperor is
a real metal band, rather than a incapacitated one-man improv
artist. Emperor actually have a backbeat, blurring buzzing speed-riffs
with harbinger-of-doom chorales and keyboard-aura that makes the
embers glow. And the lead vocalist has a fine black whisper-scream
style. According to AMG, this was recorded in "the Memorial
Hall of Edvard Grieg." It sounds like it was recorded in
some portentous mystical hall, I'll agree. Also, that guy Mortiis,
you know, the one who has a crush on Rocki Roads and had himself
surgically altered to look like an evil troll? He was the original
bass player, co-writes almost every song on here, and "has
been credited with the band's initial interest in Norwegian folk"
(AMG again), and those classic folk melodies and moods are the
secret ingredient that makes black metal so epic and mystical.
That, and the lyrics are imagistic, extremely atmospheric, and
melancholic. Contrary to popular consensus, there is really nothing
cartoonish about any of this. Just check out "Into the Infinity
of Thoughts": "As the Darkness creeps over the Northern
mountains of Norway and the silence reach the woods, i awake and
rise... Into the night I wander, like many nights before, and
like in my dreams, but centuries ago. Under the moon, under the
trees. Into the Infinity of Darkness, beyond the light of a new
day, into the frozen nature chilly, beyond the warmth of the dying
sun. Hear the whispering of the wind, the Shadows calling... I
gaze into the moon which grants me visions these twelve full moon
nights of the year, and for each night the light of the holy disciples
fade away. Weaker and weaker, one by one. I gaze into the moon
which makes my mind pure as crystal lakes, my eyes cold as the
darkest winter nights, by yet there is a flame inside. It guides
me into the dark shadows beyond this world, into the infinity
of thoughts... thoughts of upcoming reality." And here's
where it gets Evil: "In the name of the almighty Emperor
I will ride the Lands in pride, carrying the Blacksword at hand,
in warfare. I will grind my hatred upon the loved ones. Despair
will be brought upon the hoping childs of happiness. Wherever
there is joy the hordes of the eclipse will pollute sadness and
hate under the reign of fear. The lands will grow black. There
is no sunrise yet to come into the wastelands of phantoms lost.
May these moments under the moon be eternal. May the infinity
haunt me... In Darkness." Whew!
Jerusalem CD (MUSIC CARTEL)
often as I like to listen to music, I just can't wear headphones
in public. I would never go jogging with headphones -- I'd rather
know where the speeding cars are and whether or not any muggers
might be lurking. I'm never comfortable listening to CDs at record
store listening stations, because I can always still hear the
music the store is playing, and it feels weird to stand with my
back to an open public space wearing headphones which cut off
all the sound cues of my environment.
I say this because
a year ago I was at a strip-mall CD store in Lincoln, NE and they
were selling Sleep's Jerusalem for $5. Instead of just
buying it, I decided to go over to the headphones and "see
what it was like." I noticed that the CD was just one 52-minute
track called "Jerusalem." It opened with really slow
and heavy guitars just going VROWWWMM, VROWWWMM, VROWWWMM, VROOOOOMM........and
it seemed like it was going to go on like that for quite awhile.
It was good, but I'd already heard it done just as well by the
Melvins (whose Lysol, now called Melvins, starts
the same way). As expected, having felt like I'd heard it all
before while being stuck in a public place, facing the wall, with
the sound of the public behind me almost completely blocked out
(Hostile Ambient Takeover indeed!), I began to get restless. In
past CD listening station experiences, this is the point where
I would just start nervously jumping through the rest of the tracks,
never listening to more than 15 seconds of each, but this was
"Jerusalem." I would have to fast forward -- egad, press
a button -- and then have to hold down on it. After doing
this, I finally heard what might have been sped-up vocals in the
mix, digitally whizzing past. I stopped, and they were vocals.
Sounded good, but I was fed up. I put the CD back.
A year goes by. More
than once, I read a small flurry of praise for Jerusalem
on music list-servs. I should've just bought it, I think. Another
year goes by. I'm in Reckless Records on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.
The employees are spinning some pretty heavy rock music, and what's
more, it's been going for five or ten minutes with nary a vocal.
Stoner metal done right, and instrumental to boot. And then, just
as I'm leaving the magazine stand (my traditional first stop)
after a particularly long sneering bout with The Wire reviews
section, the vocals enter, and HOLY SHIT they're even heavier
than the guitars! Stoner metal done right, indeed. I go about
my business, but as usual with Reckless, the combination of not
having $100 to spend and, in order to even wishfully think, having
to dig through their way-cramped card-catalog-style CD bins, had
me ready to leave before the epic stoner metal had ended. I bought
something, one thing, can't remember what. Actually, I do remember,
it was the first album by Bootsy's Rubber Band, for like $3.99,
and I bought it because just a week or two before I had heard
its great song "I'd Rather Be With You" on the soundtrack
to the John Singleton movie Baby Boy. Can you dig that?
You can??! Good, now let's get back to this: as I was buying the
album, I asked the store-clerk what was playing. "Uh, this
is..." he said, handing me the CD Jerusalem by Sleep.
"Oh, snap!," I said to myself. "How much?"
I said to the clerk. "It's not for sale," he said with
a smile. "Okay," I said with a smile. Damn record stores
clerks, snappin' up all the good new arrivals. I still haven't
found it anywhere.
Metal Machine Music CD
now, I had only heard a 4 minute excerpt of Lou Reed's 64-minute
"electronic instrumental composition" called "The
Amine ß Ring," released in 1975 as the double LP Metal
Machine Music. The excerpt was on some artsy-fartsy John Cage
tribute CD that I always kinda liked. The Ann Magnuson track was
great, but that might have been because I had the hots for her.
At 4 minutes, I thought "The Amine ß Ring" was
pretty great, but even at just 4 minutes I felt like I'd had enough.
I once saw the original LP selling for something like 50 bucks,
but despite the very cool cover art, there was no way I was going
to need it for that price.
But, last week, I saw
it in a used CD bin for the first time, some slightly cheap-looking
European reissue with a different cover that was going for 9 bucks.
(Record Exchange on Belmont -- not a bad store, but kind of drab.)
On closer examination, I saw that Lou's paranoid liner notes and
humorous technical specifications ("No Synthesizers/No Arp/No
Instruments?/ --10 db + 57db/--20 hz--+30,000 hz/--12 kz --+28,000
kz," and much more) were nicely reprinted, and I decided
that they alone were probably worth 9 bucks. So now I'm at home,
somewhere in the middle of track two (which used to be side two
when this was a double LP) and I don't think I'm really gonna
listen to the whole thing. After all, as Lou told Lester, "Anyone
who gets to side four is dumber than I am." Hell, he says as much
right in the liner notes: "No one I know has listened to
it all the way through including myself. It was not meant to be.
Start any place you like." See, noise records were intentionally
overlong right from the beginning.
But even if you only
listen to four minutes, it's still an unforgettable sound. What
makes this record good is the classical music he's constantly
mixing into it. (Lou has called himself "the original rapper,"
and it looks like he's got a claim on "original sampler"
too.) When Lou revealed this process to Lester, it sounded like
another deadpan Lou Reed joke ("Just sit down and you can
hear Beethoven right in the opening part of it. It's down here
in, like, you know, about the fifteenth harmonic. But it's not
the only one there, there's about seventeen more going at the
same time. It just depends which one you catch. And when I say
Beethoven, y'know, there are other people in there. Vivaldi...I
used pretty obvious ones..."). Now that I listen to it, I
don't think he was joking at all; I (think I) can hear the classical
music throughout. Thing is, you don't actually hear violins or
brass or even really melodies, because the samples were so run
through crazed horrific pedal settings that all the genteel violin
strains shimmer and rapidly pitch-shift in a most deranged psychedelic
way. Also battling for space in the mix, most of the time, is
what sounds like a single electric guitar letting out a single
feedback tone. This looks forward to post-70s rock music's wholesale
appropriation of NYC loft minimalism, but it also mostly sounds
like wailing bagpipes, and offers a nice buffer between the listener's
psyche and those insane cubist/sonic refractions of classical
I mean insane.
It was nice of Lou to keep those low in the mix. There's also
what occasionally sounds like weird little kids on helium screaming,
and I'm glad it's occasionally. This could easily be interpreted
as some weird echo-chamber refraction of warfare. You know, Vietnam
music. The next step after Jimi's "Machine Gun" and
"Star-Spangled Banner." (Lou, again to Lester: "I
could take Hendrix. Hendrix was one of the great guitar players,
but I was better. But that's only because I wanted to do a certain
thing and the thing I wanted to do that blew his mind is the thing
I've finally got done that I'll stick on RCA when the rock 'n'
roll shit gets taken care of." He was talking about Metal
Anyway, this is more
of an event than an album, more of a manifesto than music, etc.
This CD's kinda cool, but let's face it, if I didn't pick up the
original 2LP for list price $6.98 back in 1975, I missed out.
For example, this reish's different cover image, totally misses
out on one of the great rock-star-as-sci-fi-super-villian moves.
Who would even be in second place? Bobby Digital??
VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Nature of Systems CD (CARBON)
comp documenting the Rochester, NY post-free scene, one of the
few places in America where the improv/jazz camp and noise/punk
camp seem to be willing to party together. Here's some notes on
a few of the tracks:
Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble weighs in with "Flue Song,"
which also appeared, in a rather more thunderous 'full-band' version,
on his Live@The Cooler CD of four or five years ago. Compared
to that album's rockish lineup, The Electro-Acoustic Ensemble
has no Rudolph Grey guitar, and thus sounds smaller, or at least
much more restrained, which puts Doyle's queasy flute melody into
a much different context. I think he did well to hook up with
these cats. And the song deserves to be a Doyle standard -- it's
a memorable melody with a great title. The way Doyle overblows
really does bring to mind the sort of queasiness one associates
with being ill, and the "e" added on the end of "flu"
makes it sound like it could also be the name of a musical form,
like "fugue." But then it would be called "Flue
named Andy Gilmore weighs in with a track that has some MazzaCaney
guitar work and some post-production treatments going on...or
maybe it's all recorded live with the help of a pedal or two.
Either way, a nice if not especially original bit of subdued hum/huzz,
that elevates a bit when a weird (backwards?) voice sample scurries
by halfway through, preluding a striking chime-driven ending.
Charalambides donate the most uncharacteristic thing I've heard
'em do since maybe that song "Gypsy Woman." Uncharacteristic
in a different way, though. Very minimal and glacially-paced,
it starts off with more MazzaCaney bended guitar notes. They sound
recorded in a high-tech digital studio, and there's tape editing
and backwards stuff goin' on. A minimal low-string guitar riff
tries to enter -- a little more characteristic, sorta like Low
and lot like the Home CD-R and much of the Houston CD
-- but it gets confused by the tape-masking. Eventually, a loop
of Christina Carter's voice at it's most beautiful takes over,
gets pitch-shifted and double-tracked, and rides the track out
in a blooze of glory. In a way, it's the most 'hi-fi' and dare-I-say
New Agey thing they've done, but it's still just as devastating
as their more raw works.
do their usual shambolic garage-rock, although "John Henry
vs. The Smog Monster" infuses it with a country blues vocabulary
that is new to me for them.....Mick Turner defies low Dirty Three
expectations by doing a rather wild cut-and-paste plunderphonic
'contemporary classical' type piece.....Sheet is a Rochester-ite
doing 'sheets' of noise. Kind of John Wiese-y, though it doesn't
rank quite as high on the 'super-loud digital shock' scale. Not
bad, not startling....The
Flying Luttenbachers appear in their now-defunct improvised-with-cues
free-jazz-meets-death-metal mode. I still think that Weasel Walter
is a goddamn important drummer -- his technique is serious,
and his weird-ass kit selection adds as significantly to the free
jazz timbre as anyone since Han freaking Bennink, but Michael
Colligan on sax and Kurt Johnson on contrabass play more in the
tradition and even at less than 5 minutes, the track seems a little
long and a little unfocused. What was it, a Phi-Phenomena set?
The title "maximum cruelty" seems picked at random from
Weasel's piggybank of slogans, and isn't especially descriptive
of the sound itself. I do applaud the Luttenbachers' current 'brutal
prog' direction as a death-defying way out of the nowave/freemusic
never have felt like the Golden Calves Eskimo Live Band have quite
gotten out from under the shadow of the Tower Recordings. This
track doesn't have singing, so it's a little distanced from Planet
TR. A brief duet between a roughly Jandekian acoustic guitar and
what might be the weird recorded laughter of a battery-operated
talking doll, it's nice but a little slight.....Pelt's
track is recorded live and is more of their basic ethno-forgery
drone sound, although it has less loud bowed guitar than usual,
and in fact maybe none at all. Instead, it's a very cavernous/ominous
jam by an actual violin quartet. It reminds me a bit of the first
part of the really long track by Sun City Girls with Eyvind Kang,
on disc two of 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda.....Pengo
end the disc with a jam called "new loft elevation 2001."
At the raucous beginning, John Schoen's 'sound sources' create
a feel more like To Live and Shave in L.A. than what I expect
from these guys, although it soon dissipates and out of the dust
emerges a percussion-driven ethno-forgery jam with weird multi-tracked
reed playing by Joe Tunis. The last few seconds are really good,
as the percussion groove morphs into a lurching electro-glitch
groove. So there you have (most of) it!
PERFECT ME: The Very Best of The Perfect Me CD
one of my top discoveries of the year, a band from Los Angeles
called The Perfect Me. Well, they live in L.A., anyway; vocalist/
instrumentalist Jim Shaw is from Michigan (you know him from the
original 1974-1976 lineup of Destroy All Monsters). His wife,
artist Marnie Weber, is the other vocalist/instrumentalist in
the band -- I don't know where she's from. She, and the other
three band-members (Jamey Blair, Sarah Seager, and Thaddeus Strode),
who I haven't heard of before, might all actually be Angelenos.
Either way, they all live there now (as far as I know) and make
this great music.
What's great about it?
I don't know. I didn't fall in love with it right away, but I
did kinda like it. In an accompanying letter Cary Loren described
this album as an "amazing psych CD," and I could hear
it, but not in a traditional KrautRockWind sense. This is more
like Devo/Residents/Pere Ubu psychedelic. All the melodies could
be traced directly to girl groups and 50s and 60s soul-rock, which
is why The Perfect Me are already more to my liking than the entire
career of The Residents. The all-avant approach of the Residents
and their kindred, while a respectable, and probably outright
necessary, rejoinder to the all-pop approach of The Beatles and
their kindred, will eventually lose every time with me. No matter
how avant you get, you've gotta have some girl-group soul-rock
in there, just a little bit of "Please Mr. Postman."
At least figuratively, but I digress.
There is one krautrock band
that The Perfect Me remind me of: Faust, the most girl-group soul-rock
krautrock band of all. This CD reminds me of The Faust Tapes
in the way it's packed with short tracks that go from rock
grooves and instrumentation into electronic freenoise and back
and forth. The Perfect Me also reminded of their contemporaries
The Tower Recordings, just in the way they have a discursive free-ranging
style via which, 22 tracks later, quite a few soul-rock (i.e.
folk) songs pop up out of the experimental/free atmosphere.
Yep, there's like 22
tracks on here, and I sure don't think I've heard each of 'em
yet. Of course I've heard the first track, and I love it. It's
called "I Know I" and it's a trancey pop number, with
a vocal hook that actually sounds like a music-box playing an
underwater Ronettes sample on 16RPM over and over again. That's
the Marnie Weber part anyway (I'm assuming), and Jim Shaw (I'm
assuming) comes in a little later singing "Sometimes I'm
happy....Sometimes I'm sad...." in a beautiful croon that
I've been copping myself while daydreaming at work. Speaking of
Jim Shaw's croon, wait 'til "Astral Thighs," in which
you hear him take a girl-group hook and wrap these lyrics around
it: "I've got an object in my neck/That no one knows but
some suspect/They've got me strapped to some device/It milks my
brain for good advice/My DNA is on their tapes/We're all just
laboratory apes/I know it should humiliate/In me it just exhilarates/I've
got an object in my head/And all those who know just wind up dead/My
DNA was grabbed by thugs/We're all just laboratory bugs..."
Can you say "okay"?
The second track, "Egg
Fuzz Kiss," has fuzzy guitar and vocals that create a psych
mood that totally describes the song title. To top it off the
CD also features the photo reproduced below. (I can't identify
the film that is the source of this photo, although it is clearly
the greatest film of all time.) That's all for now, really. I
don't want to write a book about it before you just buy it.
TELEVISION: Disc 3: Marquis de Johnny Moonjewel CD-R (CHICAGO
disc is notable for containing the original Ork Records 7-inch
"Little Johnny Jewel" in its entirety, the only record
the band released previous to the Marquee Moon LP on Elektra.
The fade out and fade in that got you from side A to side B is
preserved, and the whole thing clocks in at 7:44. For my first-ever
listen of this song that I had previously heard so much about,
I was almost literally shocked by how sloppy and out-of-tune this
was. Now I love it. (Actually, I heard it once before, a damn
good live cover version by Mike Watt and his band with Nels Cline
bootleg CDR features only two songs: 4 versions of "Little
Johnny Jewel" and 3 versions of "Marquee Moon."
The first "Marquee Moon" is called the "Eno Demo"
version. I'm sure I read about Eno producing Television demos
in From The Velvets To The Voidoids, but I don't "recall,"
to quote Tom Verlaine himself. The thing that steadily grows on
me as I listen to these three versions is how BAD they are. Like
bad in the sense that you can see why these recordings were never
officially released. I mean, they're GOOD, because they were by
a great band at their peak, but on the Eno demo, for example,
the guitars and Verlaine's singing are all out of tune and the
mixes are weird (Lloyd is almost inaudible throughout the first
half). Somehow the song only lasts 7 minutes and 7 seconds. There
are nice moments in here, though
.....the "droplets of electricity" comedown at the end
is pretty remarkable in a different way than it is on the LP,
where it is one of the most remarkable rock guitar moments of
Being out of tune seems
to be a running problem with these guys, but on the live and of
"unknown origin" version, they're also having trouble
just playing together. The infamously interlocking main riff just
ain't happenin', folks. Verlaine's vocal is straining and not
quite getting it. Next comes a nearly 18-minute version from the
"Earth Tavern, Portland 07-03-78". The band is crushingly
out of tune this time -- but they're also pretty damn heavy. On
vocals, Verlaine either sounds like he's joking, has a really
bad cold, or took a quaalude. Maybe all three. A very weird performance
-- although during the instrumental sections the band still approaches
glory. (Now, so what's up with that cat I keep hearing throughout
the performance, and especially at the end, when it is so loud
and sudden that it made my wife and I spontaneously laugh out
loud, and made me ask her, "Didn't you hear that earlier
during the song a couple times? Like farther off in the distance?"
She claimed she didn't. "I did, like three or four times,
every few minutes. I thought it was just some weird audience member,
but I think it was actually a cat the whole time!" She didn't
really know what I was talking about. We were driving at the time,
down I-94, on our way to Detroit, passing through Paw Paw, Michigan.
We stopped there and ate at the Chicken Coop, which seemed like
it would be fun until we got inside and waited in line for 20
minutes behind a bunch of octogenarians. Kind of took the wind
out of our sails, but the fried fish we finally got was pretty
good. Later, as we were back in the car leaving Paw Paw, I realized
that it was the town where "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch"
of Brian Eno fame was from. But I digress.)