BRAXTON: History That Has No Effect CD (JMZ RECORDS)
this CD showed up in the mail, I was like, "Isn't this
guy some singer I read about in Vibe Magazine? Or some house
DJ that was in XLR8R or some shit?" Well, Tyondai Braxton
is neither of those, but he is the son of Anthony Braxton,
meaning the Anthony Braxton, "the one true god,"
as Tom Smith called him last ish. But this ain't jazz either.
I guess it's rock. A comparison with Black Dice's current
direction makes sense, because both artists just sort of hum
mysteriously into microphones and then tweak and loop those
hums into big-sky symphonies.
The difference between
Braxton and Black Dice is that of one guy instead of four,
so the results are a little more minimalist. Track one sounds
like evil guitar feedback drone, but it's actually just "voice
through guitar pedals." Track two is also "voice
through guitar pedals," but this time it sounds like
a dusted keyboard playing a sparse two-note funk riff. Track
three is quite a bit more apeshit, almost like Nautical Almanac!
Four, on the other hand, is kind of a post-rock 'clean guitar
arpeggio' jam that, after the first three, sounds practically
"Mogwai-esque." I prefer it when he's solo and things
are more stark and dark. Also dubious are a couple virtually
'pop vocal' numbers that close out the disc. Dubious, but
the last one did get stuck in my head. Either way, T. Braxton's
one to watch, and the live shows could be cool.
HUSSIES: Ya Ba CDR (PEANUT RECORDS)
pop! By a Canadian living in London, England! I really liked
the grotty xeroxed one-sheet that came with the disc, and
not just because it had naked chicks on it, but when it came
to actually listening to the damn thing, well, it was the
43rd album I've reviewed this month, so I was naturally just
trying to ignore all the attention-demanding weird changes
and brief, orchestrated noise guitar sections so I could get
the review done quicker.
But . . . the very last
track suddenly caught my ear and made me pay attention, being
a very proggy 'guy alone at a piano' track, sounding like
some Soft Machine/Gentle Giant/troubadour shit. Unfortunately,
it wasn't even two minutes long, but it was enough to make
me listen to the disc again (I wouldn't have otherwise), this
time while thinking "Robert Wyatt, Robert Wyatt, Robert
Wyatt" to myself, and that helped. Then I listened to
it a third time, right after that (it's an EP, 5 songs, only
20 minutes, which also helped a lot), and that's practically
a record for this issue. In other words, I kinda like it.
For example, by the time track four has run its 7-minute course
from basically Zep-grunge to soul-sista Zappa vamps to some
sort of found Casio karaoke symphony I'm not only thinking
of Wyatt, I'm thinking of loony Roy Wood himself. File under
TREB MIND PHANTOM: Nuclear Heart w/Unquestionably UnKind CDR
an eye-and-ear-catching new label from the wilds of Northampton,
MA. Yeay! Cassettes knows how to utilize a few things well,
such as b&w xerox design (all of these CDR releases look
good), brevity (none of these CDR releases are much longer
than a 45 RPM 7-inch), and, believe it or not, they even know
to utilize a 'dub influence'! With Bromp Treb's material,
it comes through more in the post-production and overall deep-space
attitude than it does in the actual musical material. (In
other words, Bromp Treb music contains no ultra-serious reggae
basslines played by white guys who in their free time do things
like go out for Sunday brunch, shop at IKEA, and read novels
by Dave Eggers. Actually I've done all those things, except
play ultra-serious reggae basslines, and, of course, read
novels by Dave Eggers.) One more thing Bromp Treb does well
is . . . No Wave! . . . because that's the subgenre I think
this odd bird is closest too. (More so than Electronica or
Psych anyway. Some of it could pass as Noise.)
TREB SOUND SYSTEM: Summertime Attack Module CDR (YEAY! CASSETTES)
good shit! Now, in addition to the No Wave Dub sound, Bromp
Treb bring a thinly veiled Funk component! Bromp Treb draws
on hip-hop and dance culture as acutely as he/they draw/s
on noise and psychedelic/dada culture. Each of these CDRs
could be pictured as a 12-inch single. For example, check
the track listing on this one: "1. Bossa Dub Brute, 2.
B. Dub Scratch Mishap, 3. Autoberserk PCP Enemy Vocal Mix,
4. Enemy Deverberated, 5. Pampy Lo Mo One, 6. Pampy Lo Mo
Two, 7. Pampy Lo Mo Three." Everything's a remix or a
'version'. No track longer than three minutes.
STAR CORE: "White Swords in a Black Castle" b/w
"Oversleep, Gloria, and You Will Miss the Wave"
Star Core is C. Spencer Yeh of Death Beam, often but not necessarily
solo. Regular readers might already know that. On this one
he's solo, credited only with "computer." (I put
that "b/w" in the title, not Yeh. it means "backed
with," but regular readers probably know that too because
you're all record heads.) Good title, "White Swords in
a Black Castle." More of that metal imagery which is
catching on quite a bit. (Like the title of that recent Kevin
Drumm opus, Frozen By Blizzard Winds, but Drumm isn't
catching on, he was there from the beginning! Shit, he's the
guy who turned Weasel Walter on to black metal!) For "White
Swords," Yeh takes sound sources from three artists (his
Death Beam band-mate IOVAE, a trio configuration of Burning
Star Core, and some live performance by those ragamuffins
the Hair Police) and creates a 13-minute piece that starts
like 15 car-horns stuck and blaring for a really long time
before buried by raging blizzard winds that just might freeze
your ass. This chaos is then framed, as it were, about halfway
through when a mournful keyboard part enters and takes the
The song on the "flip
side" is a quieter affair, with a deep echoey voice saying
the title over and over and a few other words. Sounds like
George Clinton on "Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts"!
Meanwhile the music is sort of like a computer drone that
breaks up and does skittering dances. Almost IDM! In a good
way! Nice compliment to "White Swords." This is
a great (theoretical) 12-inch single.
Waitaminnit! There's another
disc on the back on this one! This is one of those "two-fers,"
like my ZZ Top cassette that has both Deguello and
El Loco on it. That Yeh, always coming up with new
packaging ideas. So this is what he was describing in that
cryptic postscript to his last e-mail update: "P.S.
- most copies will come with a bonus disc of a reissued cassette
of 'bass guitar and electronics' that was remembered and found
recently -- xerox of original insert included too (complete
w/ out of date email address crossed out)!!!" So there
ya go: basically 17 minutes of Yeh hacking away at a distorted
bass guitar, possibly with a violin bow. The liner notes say,
in their entirety, "10:51 AM / 10.17.98 / TABLETOP BASS
GUITAR." Pretty screeching.
Put Your Body Next To Mine CD (NARNACK)
cover photo, capturing the culture of the urban American corner
store/bodega/whatever your city calls it, and the photo on
the CD itself, capturing the culture of a totally fuckin'
demolished cassette tape, are both great . . . but the music?
Well, at first I was surprised how much this sounded like
my Grandma's Estrus Records collection. The Coachwhips lay
down a sound that would've been normal back in, like, 1993.
Almost totally trad bluesy garage, and the vocals are all
run through this one distortion setting that never varies
and kind of flatlines any ferality or expression. But then,
that becomes kind of cool, the way it sets this monotone throughout,
and you start to appreciate the drummer's locomotive powers,
and just how distorto-drenched the guitar is, and yeah, they're
a good solid band. I just expected something more than 'good'
and 'solid,' but that's probably where the live shows come
Hands on the Controls CD (BLACK APPLE)
with the great cover art, and again with the almost totally
trad bluesy garage rock. This or Get Your Body Next To
Mine are pretty much equal as far as an intro to the
band, but I prefer this one. Reasons why: I love the song
"The Ride," because it's kind of a ballad, with
great lady vocals and a two-finger organ. Album has cover/homage/rewrite
versions of both "Everybody Wants Some" by Van Halen
and "White Light/White Heat" by Velvet Underground,
and the idea of a band being equally inspired by VU and
VH makes a lot of sense to me. There's a raunchy blown-out
song with the incredible title "Look Into My Eyes When
I Come." The addition of sax on "These Things Belong
To Someone Else" is pretty hot and freaky. Once again,
the drummer displays a definitive locomotive power. The liner
notes dedicate the album to "Everyone who dances and
parties at shows!" It all ties together pretty well.
COLTRANE: Journey To Satchinawanda CD (IMPULSE!)
gotta have an Alice rec or two. They're easier to find used
than her husband's LPs anyway, unless that's already starting
to change a little bit. Got this one used on CD for like $5.
On CD she's good -- you don't have to get up to flip the record
and her big harp strums just spread out for the whole duration,
which is five tracks that are practically the same piece five
times and all the better for it. Powered by tamboura drone,
Cecil McBee (bass) and Rashid Ali (drums) just play a two
chords, really a blues vamp, or a camel loping along the savannah
vamp. Pharoah Sanders does his wacky flutter, and then comes
all that harp. She plays piano on here too, it's great, but
I really don't even notice her switching from one to the other.
BEAM: Wedding Music CD-R (DRONEDISCO)
It's duo Death Beam. Drummerless. It's cool because it was
recorded outside at the University of Chicago Summer Breeze
Festival in 2002, and there was a wedding going on in the
chapel across the street, so you can kind of picture all that
while Ron's electronics dive and Yeh's vocals tongue-trip
and his guitar spits. Also, at the beginning it sounds like
Yeh is trying out an excellent new black metal croak-whisper
vocal style (which apparently he was also working on his recent
'solo laptop' tour as Burning Star Core). But dude, it just
ain't quite the same without Roesing.