Some people have been saying that there are no really good zines or music writing these days. They've even been touting Blastitude as the "only zine that matters" or something like that. I certainly agree with them, except for one exception: BANANAFISH. For some reason, Bananafish never gets mentioned. Maybe it's because it is so fucking dauntingly good. I just bought issue #17 today -- it came out this week -- and I am in awe, even having read not even one quarter of its vast contents. And it's not just the extremely good writing; for sheer volume, attention to detail, critical fearlessness, intelligent interviewing, brilliant curating, and much more, it's the best music magazine of all time as far as I'm concerned (besides Bangs-era Creem, of course). Maybe you haven't noticed because you didn't look past the "weird" veneer, but spend more than 15 minutes actually reading it, and you'll see . . .

So I got this e-mail today, and the subject was -- and this is exact, not a single letter changed -- "Wsr everything pharm q." And, it was from "bonnar farstad," and I'm like, "Is this spam or did someone subscribe me to the brutal sfx mailing list??"

Anyone ever seen Maciste in Hell? Just saw it last night . . . 1924, Italy, about a Joe Millionaire type dude who for some reason (didn't catch it) goes down to hell and does battle with hordes and hordes of demons. Surprisingly insane movie, while watching with the sound down and something cranking on the stereo, I was thinking that it rivalled some other classic films: This Midnight I'll Possess Your Corpse (for the depiction of hell as a place, even if just a movie set) and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (for the battle scenes!). There's also one shot that reminded me of Saló (a brief long shot of a torture field!), and another moment that was like Evil Dead trilogy, in which a decapitated demon got his head thrown back to him, and was shown reviving himself via primitive claymation or some shit. And, at the same time all this was going on, I was like, "This is the predecessor to the dumb Schwarzenegger and Seagal movies."


Current faves (8/17/03)
Omit, all. The drawings too.
Bananafish comps, all. Someday someone is going to have to release all (seventeen?) of these as a box set and call it the American Anthology of Noise Music. Smithsonian, you still around? And by the way, Seymour Glass / Earl Kuck / whoever is one of the best music writers of the century. Somebody has to say it. More people would be saying it, but nobody, including me, has a clue who/what they are reading during all the voluminous review columns. Fiona Finesse? Helen Twelvetrees? I. Vern Beezer? That guy who dictates all his reviews over voice mail? My personal theory is that they're all one person, who is named Seymour Glass and/or Earl Kuck, with some exceptions here and there, like Stanley Zappa and guests like Tom Smith and Scott Foust, and they're all great too. Just great music writing, really.
Hive Mind Tunnel Birth CS. Hearkens back to Klaus Schulze Black Dance or something, that classic one-piece-per-side dark-analog lowdown.
Ceramic Hobs, all. My good friend C.M. Von Bligablum recently laid 4 CDRs on me which collected something like 72 releases and 3,086 tracks by Rudimentary Peni. It's good disturbed 1980s UK material ("post punk"), but it doesn't hold a candle to the Hobs. Not that they're peers or anything, they're a decade (or two?) apart. But there's a similarity there, and I think it's more than just the UK location. Migidum Bligablum is the primary United States distributor of the Ceramic Hobs.
Sun City Girls, natch, this month it's Box of Chameleons! Live at the Empty Bottle 2-disc bootleg! Grotto of Miracles (side one)! Self-titled first album! Torch of the Mystics (back again)! Wah (but not so much Flute & Mask)! The Nat Pwe DVD! Sugar: The Other White Meat!
Tubular Bells LP. Not the Mike Oldfield version, the Glands of External Secretion and Decaer Pinga versions. Decaer Pinga version especially, it's pretty damn heavy!
You Gan't Boar Like An Eagle When You Work With Turkrys: Amarillo Label Sampler CD. Right now Faxed Head is playing. Today's Sounds is coming up. What a crazed label. I like every track on this sampler. Along with Mr. Show and maybe a couple other things, Amarillo Records is one of THE exemplars of the post-Kaufman & Letterman school of fin de 20th siecle humor. And mostly excellent rock music to boot.
Help Yourself: Beware the Shadow LP. Every time I think it's going to be mere hokey hippie laid-back country boogie, guitarist Richard Treece melts the song into mellow fuzzy lava right in front of my ears. And Malcolm Morley (not the guy in Can or the guy in Dead C) is a great singer of melancholy blues. And it's barely boogie or the blues, it's mostly epic lost-zone balladry. Don't miss the 14-minute "Reaffirmation," and make sure you spend some time exploring the nature of the cover art, "by Annie."
Thin Lizzy: Jailbreak LP. I really like the song "Runnin' Back."
Ozzy Osbourne: Diary of a Madman LP. Really great! Possibly better than Blizzard of Ozz. A little less poppy anyway, the proverbial "darker sophomore effort." I love the band photo on the inner sleeve, and it's underneath these runes that I couldn't read, so I held 'em up to the mirror to see if they spelled something satanic, but I still couldn't make anything out, so I guess they're just nonsense runes.
Deep Purple: Made in Japan 2LP. As good as both Live Dead and the Velvet Underground Quine Tapes, and it was only a dollar!

Metal adds (10/31/03)
Warfare "Burn The King's Road"
Nachtmystium Reign of the Malicious
Metallica "Disposable Heroes"
Metallica "Call of Ktulu"
Metallica Kill 'Em All
Budgie "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman," "Young Is A World," "Crash Course In Brain Surgery" ["show me how to neutralize the night..."]
Thin Lizzy "Massacre", "Boogie Woogie Dance," "Bad Reputation"
Deep Purple "Fireball"
Black Sabbath Sabotage
Black Elf Speaks "Creation Story"
Pentagram (1970s)
Mercyful Fate Melissa

Random albums previously reviewed in Blastitude and still sounding great:

Fukktron & Hair and Nails CDR
(Public Eyesore); Dead Raven Choir / Furisubi / Timothy the Revelator 3-way split CDR (Last Visible Dog) -- REALLY good shit by all three artists -- get this disc from LVD!; The Somnambulist by Delayed Sleep CDR demo thing -- DAMN I like this album as much now as I did a year ago when I raved about it -- SO mellow, nodded up, nodded out, just not nodded OFF . . . .

First time in a long time dept.:
The Terminals. That guy's voice is odder than ever . . . I'm especially noting a little trill he puts towards the end of almost every single line. At least on the song "Deadly Tango" he does. Brian Cook actually sings, I think, three songs on here, and his voice his interesting, like Keith Richards, except even mealier-mouthed! Y'know, Brian Crook, from the Renderers, and Flies Inside The Sun? The band itself is great, even better than I remember it, hammering out romantic chords crudely with lots of reverb and Pere Ubu noise creeping through it all. But that singing . . . I don't know man . . .

Current faves (12/19/03)
Tony Williams Lifetime Emergency. Damn this album is sounding good. McLaughlin at his most gnarly on guitar, Young playing that technicolor psych organ, Williams all over the place and contributing his nutty vocals. And what about this "Spectrum Road" jam?? Is that McLaughlin singing? I've never heard the later albums that had Jack Bruce on bass . . . . that must've been over the top.
Ash Ra Tempel Ash Ra Tempel, Join Inn. Jeez, speaking of great drummers, how about Klaus Schulze??! Especially on the track "Freak 'n' Roll" from Join Inn, on which he expands and contracts and syncopates and plays around with the groove at will. And I won't even mention that he was even better than Florian Fricke when it came to synthscapes . . . . .
Heldon I/III Electronique Guerilla/"It's Always Rock 'n' Roll". The last time I went on a Heldon binge was exactly three years ago. Barely listened to 'em in the interim, but I just picked up Vangelis's Spiral album for $2.99 and when it comes to synth-swoosh it's pretty damn lame compared to Heldon so back in my player they go. I used to not totally swoon over Heldon until monster-drummer Francois Auger joined the band (fifth, sixth, and seventh album), but now I can't even get past their first and third albums, reissued as this 2CD set by Cuneiform Records. They didn't even have a drummer on these, but they are still monumental works of robot-drone sci-fi synth paranoia.
Charalambides Home. Released on CDR only back in 2000 or thereabouts, I feel really lucky to have this one. The approach is 'quiet' here, just two guitars plucking and chording away in late-night-of-the-soul mode with no hurry and absolutely nothing to prove, and the result has melted my entire being into my own carpet many, many times. Time seems to stand still and calm every time I play it. I've played it hundreds of times and I'm terrified of the day this starts skipping -- Kranky, are you listening? Thanks for reissuing Unknown Spin, that was a good choice, but can you PLEASE reissue this one soon?
David Bowie Scary Monsters. This was my favorite Bowie album when I was 15. This is the first time I've listened to it since then, and it's still my favorite Bowie album. The first five songs are all pop hits, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, one after the other. They're also all weird as hell, thanks in no small part to Robert Fripp's mind-blowing guitar.

A bunch of other people have already quoted this, but jeez, just read it, how could I not quote it too? "My joints ache so much that I walk weird. Improvisation?? Improvisation??!? I've never seen it, heard it, or played it. You say that you're uncomfortable. I felt so good that I stopped laughing. I love silence because I am so brutal, but because I breathe there can be no silence. I call it Rock 'n' Roll. Because I breathe -- because I have a mouth. Duo 1988, Ju/A Brute, Urklang, Soingyokusaiseyo -- Improvisation can eat shit, that's what I've always said. Musicians are the scum of the earth, and hell's a lie, that's what I've always said. Do you know a word that means both look at me and leave me alone? I'm so fuckin' glad that I've got no reasons, no dreams, nothing to believe in. I'm so fuckin' glad that I have no interest in the occult, in salvation, in playing my part, in meanings. I'm so fuckin' glad I met you and left you. I'm so fuckin' glad that I'm not you. What I really mean is that I'm so fuckin' glad that you're not beautiful. What I really mean is that I'm so fuckin' glad that you mean nothing to me."-- Masayoshi Urabe, from his linernotes.

"Videodrome came out just when I was really getting into starting to think about writing about horror movies and I was watching fucking videos, like five, seven, ten tapes in a session, smoking tons of dope. Taking loads and loads of drugs: acid, heroin, speed, anything and watching all these fucking movies endlessly. It was insane - when video first started, I had a couple of friends with machines and we were heavily into drugs and videos - we just watched everything. Every fucking lousy gore movie that ever came out, you know, Italian Barbarian movies, anything, just any piece of trash we could find. Videodrome came along just when I was really getting into that, so it just seemed perfect. You know, that's what it seemed to be all about, it seemed to capture that kind of madness we were going through." -- Stefan Jaworzyn, from interview at . . . . . .
"ALL MEMBERS OVERWEIGHT AND/OR GAY-ACTING." -- written on WHPK copy of Whitehouse Bird Seed CD by DJ Seth Sanders, capitalization his . . . . . . . Surreal sci-fi Phil Dick headline of the week, from my #1 news source: "Transfer photos from cell phone to jewelry."

SYNCHRONICITY #1: Over the span of the last two weeks I have heard three different punk or punk-related versions of "The Batman Theme" (a/k/a "NUH Nuh Nuh Nuh NUH Nuh Nuh Nuh etc.") without planning to or expecting to. They were performed by the Sun City Girls (Seattle WA, 1990-present), Terrifying Sickos (Hattiesburg MS, 1986), and then someone at work on a record I didn't bring, I can't remember what band it was (they weren't that good). Three months later . . . . . . haven't heard the theme since then, but just about 5 minutes ago I read this in an interview with highly regarded Chicago jazz drummer Hamid Drake, talking about his elementary school band: "I had a friend named John Watson, he was in the stage band. He played piano. I had another friend named Clark Taylor, he played clarinet. So as time went on the students had to form different groups to do a recital, so Clark, John, and I came together. And we did a rendition of 'Batman!' (laughs) That was our recital." [from 50 Miles of Elbow Room #2.]
      SYNCHRONICITY #2: It all started with the Double Leopard's enjoyable list for Dusted Magazine, in which they wrote, "Late-era Cecil Taylor sweatsuit style tucked into flourescent tube socks …. music goes without saying…as well as endurance thanks to the coca leaf…" What? Did they mean that he drinks a lot of coffee before he plays, or could Cecil be a cokehead? Hmm, I thought. It actually kind of made sense . . .
     Then, just a couple weeks later, I was reading an interview with NYC-based jazz keyboardist Masako Yokouchi, who I think I saw perform in Chicago with Sabir Mateen a year ago, and she dropped this bomb while talking about her unnamed NYC-based trio with Daniel Carter and Matthew Heyner: "And, Matthew (bass player) is a member of Cecil Taylor's Pthongos which is a big band and performed at Knitting Factory recently. But Cecil isn't there whenever I go to his live . . . He was stoned in his home!" Wha....? Cecil, are you some kind of crazy partier or what? (Go here for the whole interview -- it's fun.)
      And THEN, I come across this, in an online essay: "I've seen Cecil Taylor and his group emerge onto stage from the back room in a monstrous cloud of marijuana smoke and do just fine." What, Jimmy Lyons too?? Maybe even . . .William Parker???
      SYNCHRONICITY #3: Well, this one . . . let's just say it's a thing that reminds me of another thing.
It may not exactly be synchronicitous . . . in fact, none of these examples might be textbook synchronicities. Anyway, if you read my Top Ten List about the Chicago Cubs, do you recall what I said about their catcher, Damian Miller? That his work behind the plate was so solid that it was hard to even notice, or realize, how solid it was? So solid it bordered on invisibility? Well, SHIT, dig this exchange from a very recent interview between Mark "The Great" Prindle and Kira "Black F***ing Flag" Roessler:
      "Who do you think are the best bassists ever?"
      "I always talk about the bass player from ZZ Top. Because for me, a bass player is great if he does exactly what’s right for that band."
      "I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed a ZZ Top bass line in my life."
      "Exactly! He does what’s exactly right for that – exactly! He’s just 'the guy'! The guy that makes that band sound like that band without being noticed. I think it’s so important if you’re a bass player."
      Um, the Damian Miller Award For Bass Playing Excellence?
      SYNCHRONICITY #4: I've got in the comps for both Bananafish # 13 and Bananafish # 11, both of which happen to have tracks by Witcyst. And the changer just played the Witcyst tracks back to back!
      SYNCHRONICITY #5: Also changer-related, I've just discovered that there are two completely random CDs in the changer right now that were both mastered by Thomas Dimuzio at Gench Studios, the Neung Phak CD (2003) and Noothgrush's Failing Early, Failing Often CD (2001).

It just hit me today that the Laundryroom Squelchers and the Vibracathedral Orchestra have the almost exact same modus operandi: "get it up and flying" drone maximalism. Except the Squelchers use darker tonalities and more "noise" influence.

Funny stuff from J. Niimi, that appeared only on his review on the WHPK station copy of a CD by Chicago band Vortis: "A caustic fusion of three potent irritants: vocalists trying to be 'relevant,' rock critics trying to be playful, and inept rock bands trying to be anything."

Signposts of the New Psychedelia

1. Foliage. Nature has always been psychedelic -- oceans, mountains, deserts?? Sheez, of course. But how about that tree outside of every one of our homes? Look at that thing sway and shimmer in the breeze and light! Then try tripping on the blades of grass in your very own postage-stamp yard for a few hours. Then go to Seattle or one of these other super-lush "city in a garden" type places and have your mind blown just walking to the convenience store.
2. Wolf Eyes. You know the thing from Woodstock, "Don't take the brown acid," the scary stuff, that gives you a bad trip? Well, Wolf Eyes music will make you think you took the BLACK acid. The BLACK VOMIT acid. Talk about room spins!
3. No brainer: Fort Thunder (see also Paper Rodeo, Paperrad, Retard Riot, Here See, Little Cakes, and many more
4. Life. Totally.
5. Everything. Everything is now psychedelic.

(This list didn't run on Blastitude's new Top Ten List page because I only came up with 5. There are 10, though, at the very least!)

Weird lost record alert: A single released by Bruce Cole (of the Screaming Mee-Mees) in 1996, "Nine More Lifetimes"/"Ow, My Finger!"/"Beware, the Third Assault," b/w "Angel's Carcass." Sounds like a Dr. Demento novelty record from the 1950s, except for all the sick synthesizer bleat and ominous vocal intonations, which sound like an electronic and/or satanic record from the 1960s, so it's like . . . 1996?? And then the B side, "Angel's Carcass," my God, what a title, and it lives up to it, being a deep-space duet for the world's loneliest guitar and some far-off mega-dark synthesizer ripple. With 30 seconds to go, vocals come in, more lost than even the instruments. [Actually this record was just reissued by Gulcher Records as part of the Screamin' Mee-Mees' Live in a Basement CD.]

Rambles Over The Changer

For people who ask me what kind of music I like, I've figured out the simplest possible answer: "Music with heart." That way I don't have to say "psychedelic retro neo no wave folk noise rock -- but I also like a lot of country music, the good stuff, not that Music City U.S.A. bullshit." All I mean is that I like "Music with heart." Same goes for noise. It really sucks if it isn't from the heart. I think that's what I've always meant by quirk vs. soul: the more quirky it is, the less from the heart it is. Apparently people in this "modern age" are getting more and more heartless; at least plenty of bands are, in order to show how "heartless" the masses are, but their shows and albums reveal them to be the ones who are especially heartless. To "clarify," Wolf Eyes' music may be about the condition of Heartlessness, but is itself played with great heart. It illuminates, where others merely indict . . . . Who's this on my stereo? Kind of derivative, like Johnny Rotten singing, and the drumbeat sounds very much like . . . Mac McNally? Was that really the name of Jesus Lizard's drummer? [Close, it was Mac McNeilly -- ed.] It sounds like him, anyway. Whoah! Now the vocals got a lot less derivative and super intense. Shit, now the song's over and the changer's moved on and I really couldn't tell you who that was, but good band . . . Now it's back to Delayed Sleep, also a good band, but tonight they're suddenly sounding extra-meandering to me, less trance-inducing than the last 13 times I listened to this disc. Very strange . . . Now I've figured out who the band was that reminded me of Jesus Lizard: Lake of Dracula. Funny, huh? They were both from Chicago. Yeah, LoD is surprisingly "Shellac-y" in some ways. Having no bass throws it, as does Marlon Magas as the front-man, as I pointed out when I didn't know who he was, when I thought he started as Rotten-derivative but quickly transcended it for the song-ending flame-up. His lyrics were great too, they were reprinted in an issue of Modern Rock Magazine, alone worth the cover price. See if you can still get it from Tim Ellison. Shit, Blastitude should do an online reprint, whaddaya think, Tim? . . . Now we've got something that sounds like the Sea Ensemble, I have no idea what this is, I just put in a bunch of brand new discs and they were whatever was on top of the pile, I barely even looked at 'em and at the age of 33 I have NO short term memory. Don't worry, I'll figure it out . . . the track is like 20 minutes long so I'll have plenty of time . . . Hmm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . really does sound like the Sea Ensemble, mysterio-flute over sparse, percussive string-saw, but I know I didn't put anything by them in . . . still don't know . . . I guess I should just surrender and walk over to the stereo where I stack the 5 cases for whatever's in the changer at the time. Hell, I'm gonna have to do it . . . NO WAIT! I just figured it out, it's the No Neck Blues Band, the Sticks and Stones one on Revenant Records. Ah, Sea Ensemble, that's a good comparison, this is just like The Wire Invisible Jukebox. See, I don't have any friends OR fans so I have to play games like this myself. I interview myself too, trust me, it's even been published in Blastitude a few times, with the names changed of course. ANYWAY, NNCK, I've been catching a lot of internet wind that says things about these guys like "overrated" and "they suck." One friend who borrowed and burned 5 of their LPs from me said, when he returned the records, that a lot of it was "really boring." Bananafish Magazine, where I first heard of and heard NNCK, turned on them with a one-liner in a recent issue. Sometimes I think they're all right, like it's just feedback and barely-there drum circles, but then I really listen for the 7th time and it blows my mind again. This track is sounding pretty good, the vocals are really good, and when the beat comes in loud they prove they can really play it hard and for real . . . . . . . Now it's some really annoying kazoo bluegrass that a super white guy introduced. This is NOT my thing right now. Man. I know what it is, it's the CD that came with the latest issue of Roctober, all about the music and films of a guy named Sid . . . Laurentes? Something like that. His music is REALLY annoying, both kitschy and screeching. Oh wait, that sounds like most Neo No Wave, a camp that Roctober does keep a pinky toe in . . . 'nother LoD tune, this is one with "The Manhattanite" on it, who appears on random LoD songs "from another dimension," apparently the one where he's the lead singer for Chicago band U.S. Maple. Always a nice touch . . . Next is a song by Paul Harrison, actually by Expose Your Eyes. Great shit, total techno but total bad-ass. As good as the Michigan scene if not even better . . . now some totally harsh shit, still some kind of gabber pulse deep in there, so it could be more Expose Your Eyes, but that doesn't seem quite right to me . . . again, I'm not sure what all is in the changer right now . . . totally harsh shit, it's great, I'm gonna play this on my next "all gnarl radio" special . . . Oh, right on, it's a CD on FDR Tapes! Excellent 3-way split by label CEO Brian Noring (recording as "E.H.I.") and friends "Hal McGee" and "Separation." This track right now is by Hal McGee, who lives in Gainesville, FL and if I remember right is kind of an older guy, with glasses and wild hair, sort of a Eugene Chadbourne librarian kind of guy. Go get 'em Hal! I'm gonna have to pull Noring's zine Scraps out again . . . This is great, I've been wanting to pull my FDR stuff back out . . . more LoD . . . I think I'm ready to take this one out, 4 or 5 hits is enough for now, since my changer stack is like 30 discs high gotta keep 'em moving. That's one of the drawbacks of the changer is that you never listen to an album consecutively anymore . . . CD technology made 'consecutive' more irrelevant than ever . . . oh, another LoD song, two in a row! Okay this one is coming out . . . and what's replacing it? Oooh, the Bananafish comp My Baby Does Good Sculptures! We'll see when and how that one surfaces . . . Now a really pretty tinkly spaced-out piano piece . . . what is this, Tubular Bells? No, it's much better . . . this just might be Expose Your Eyes, and if it is, he's possibly the greatest underground musician ever. Oh, it's not, I just had to look . . . Oh my god, it was Hal McGee again, this guy is GOOD. I reviewed this CD back in THE VERY FIRST issue of Blastitude . . . Man, now it's the Mike Boner song from that Blastitude comp, c'mon, sing it with me: "Here comes the pussy monster from outer SPAY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YACE....." Kind of annoying. Oh, it's supposed to be. OR IS IT?? There's also the "giant penis from beyond the grave." And "the nose who can smell the end of time" . . . Now some casio-drone mixed with bubbling electronics . . . not bad, thought it might be Noring in his "Cluster" mode but it's not . . . It's not the Bananafish comp either because we just heard the Mike Boner song from that and according to the LED readout, this is the first track to be played from this particular CD . . . I'll have to let you know in a bit . . . The track is fifteen minutes long . . . What can we talk about while we're waiting? How about . . . my son Phil Dolman? HE'S SO FRICKIN' CUTE. "Cuter than shit," as Jay Bayles once put it, with absolute pathos, talking about his own son, now in college, and still pretty damn cute, if no longer quite cuter than shit. Anyway, Phil's four months old, still very much in his cuter than shit phase . . . Still don't know who's doing this bubbling droner is . . . doesn't quite have the gnarly echo I've become addicted to after overdosing on King Tubby but it's good, actually pretty relentless . . . I'm gonna have to go look -- unless it's Expose Your Eyes, that's still in there. If it is, it's kind of uncharacteristic -- actually I could see him doing a drone piece like this, and the "relentlessness" is apropos, but the production should be gnarlier -- this is almost like IDM production. I'll be damned, it is E.Y.E., with a track called "Trepidation." Interesting! And really, I've gotta stop doing this, especially considering that you've probably already stopped reading.