#15    SUMMER BREEZE 2003



When 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.

Odd 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 "New Prog."

BROMP TREB MIND PHANTOM: Nuclear Heart w/Unquestionably UnKind CDR (YEAY! CASSETTES)
Here's 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.)

More 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.

BURNING STAR CORE: "White Swords in a Black Castle" b/w "Oversleep, Gloria, and You Will Miss the Wave" CDR (DRONEDISCO)
Burning 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 jam home.
      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.

COACHWHIPS: Put Your Body Next To Mine CD (NARNACK)
The 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 in.

COACHWHIPS: Hands on the Controls CD (BLACK APPLE)
Again 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.

ALICE COLTRANE: Journey To Satchinawanda CD (IMPULSE!)
Ya 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.

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.






















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