#17, NOVEMBER 2004



by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman

REYNOLS: The Bolomo Mogal F Hits CD (AUDIOBOT)
The reports of Reynols' recent 'break-up' have been a bit exaggerated. Maybe it's an American thing, or maybe just a bored-people-worldwide-with-internet-access thing, but people just go into a tizzy when bands break up, expressing their condolences, spreading gossip, lamenting about how they're gonna miss 'em, etc. I've never understood it myself, because last time I checked there were something like 8,000 more records, with release dates varying from sometime in the late 19th Century to approximately five seconds ago, that I've 'totally' 'gotta' hear, so when a band breaks up I think they're doing me a favor! Lightening the load a little bit!
      Anyway, I think the reaction kinda freaked Reynols out because they quickly sent out a follow-up announcement saying that it wasn't a 'break-up,' it was a 'holiday,' and that they were still going to keep putting out the occasional releases. I mean, here's a band that's already put out, what, 200 or so releases? What, are people worried they're not gonna get 7 (or 70) more?
     See, here's a brand new full-length CD (not CDR) by 'em already. Now, as for the music, we all know that Reynols are a pretty odd one. I've listened to at least 10 different releases by them extensively, and I'm just now starting to realize that they usually do more or less the same thing. I mean, sure, there's the conceptual stuff, like the dematerialized chickens and the melting ice and the singing cacti and all that stuff, and the fact that they are more famous than a frozen glass of wool, but when it comes to actually putting sound on tape I'd say 90% of the time they're a psych-rock trio, playing a certain dirge of their own creation over and over again; Tomasín plays the perfect slow-plod drums and moans out lost vocals, while the tinny alien processed guitars of Courtis and Conlazo grind out endlessly unhurried post-punk psych moves. Sometimes there's no drums, and the effects on the guitars vary from track to track, but . . . . but . . . . see, as I listen to this I'm starting to wonder, all over again, if maybe it's NOT usually the same . . . . . Indeed, this Belgium-released CD features a 'grab bag' of Reynols approaches, and as such is almost as good of an introduction to the band as the Reynols/No Reynols 2CD (2001) on Freedom From was. It's got stuff from the Argentinian daytime TV show, watched by millions of viewers, that they infamously served as the house band for (1998), and it's got outtakes from their Pauline Oliveros collab (1999) and from their Blank Tapes concept/release (2001). And, it's got plenty of the good ol' psych-trio moan & drone that I was talking about. So really, if you're curious, and you can't find any of their Freedom From releases, why not start here?

REYNOLS: Clearly one of the best band photos ever. (There's a dog inside the floor tom.)

"Sabbatical Thanks and Hellow to: Iron Pegasus Records/Tales of the Macabre, Janne Sarna & Isten mag, Opyrosathanas, Wim Baelus, Volker (Merciless), Sulphur & URN, Kolgrim & UNPURE, Azter & DENIAL OF GOD & Horror Rec., HMSS Rec, Demonos & BARATHRUM, COUNTESS, MAYHEMIC TRUTH, DESASTER, Black Star/Warlord Rec., Luca (Iron Tyrant), FOREVER WINTER, GEHENNAH, Shaxul (HIRILORN/Nihil Magis Zine) & EAL Prod., Ylva & Static Age, Iron Pages, Ivars & Sadistic Sodomizer, Pavel Tusl (View Beyond Rec.), Hellion Rec., Kabbala Mag, Legion Mag, Lou (Holycaust Rec.), Mega Therion Rec., NIFELHEIM," and many, many more. And I am not smirking. In fact, I am LOVING IT. Sabbat are another in a long line of Japanese tributes to something Western, and in this case the Westerners being feted are Cronos, Mantas, and Abaddon themselves, that's right . . . Venom. The bassist/vocalist Gezol even 'dresses' like Venom bassist/vocalist Cronos, and the drummer's name is Zorugelion (!), which is almost a better name than Abaddon. The production is loose and raw, and they can play better than Venom (which isn't saying much, but these guys are good). They also add plenty of their own touches, such as a freaky falsetto 'madwoman' voice used on a couple tracks, and they can go epic if they want, as the awesome 13-minute "Nekromantik" proves. Thing is, I'm a late-comer -- this is like their tenth full-length album, and they've been a band since 1983! Sounds good to me though.

SABBAT: That's my man Gezol on the left, and on the right is their original guitarist, from 1983-1985! His name is Ozny.

Here's a great interview with Gezol: http://www.chroniclesofchaos.com/Articles.aspx?id=1-582

SAPAT/THE SB: Seed and Surgery CDR (FREE103POINT9)
Well, the Free103Point9 Audio Dispatch series is up to #15 now, which is this split release, one track apiece by Sapat and The SB, recorded live at the Free103 gallery on September 13, 2003. Both bands have been mentioned in Blastitude before, favorably, with good reason. (In fact, I just realized that these sets were reviewed in Daniel "Dis Master" DiMaggio's New York Show Report, last issue.) Sapat are essentially based in Louisville, Kentucky, but I get the feeling they're one of those "Well we've got our core of 5 but tonight we're gonna be augmented by those two guys from the other touring band, and the doorman, and did you ask that dude outside with the broken shopping cart yet?" type bands. On this recording they start with a basic post-NNCK drift jam template and waste no time taking it to the Magic City Interzone, via firey saxes and trumpets. Free jazz, except that it's not free jazz. A little bit hotter than your average Jackie-O jam. (This just in -- Roy Campbell, Jr. was sitting in with the band on trumpet on this night.) As for The SB portion, it's more of their 'cold drift' style that you know, this time featuring black hole suction sounds that are kept within the earth's gravity by the efforts of one nimble mellow bass guitar. Around the 10-minute mark I'm almost sure the black hole is going to swallow this unassuming anchor completely, but at the end the bass is still there, nimbling along. Nice release. Good cover, too.

SCREAMIN' MEE-MEES: Live From The Basement 1975-1997 CD (GULCHER)
Wow, last issue I was talking about a 1997 single by Bruce Cole as a "weird lost record." Well, it's been found, and reissued on this CD, which collects the "complete singles & EPs" that this band has put out in three different decades. If you don't know what the Mee-Mees were/are about, well, you could call it 'punk,' or maybe it's just 'garage rock,' or it might even be 'proto hardcore' -- but the only thing I can call it for sure is 'a couple dudes from a hick St. Louis suburb totally fucking around in their basement.' This music is 100 percent scene free, and I know that you know how hard it is to find that anymore. The couple of dudes in question are the legendary Bruce Cole and John Ashline using a shitty guitar and drumset to play rock 'n' roll mixed with weird electronics, "green monster guitar," guest vocals by 10-year-olds and harelips, totally absurd humor, all played and recorded with totally crappy equipment. One of the most definitive songs on here, recorded in 1978 (but not released until 1995) goes "I'm too young to shave! / I ain't no Indian brave . . . / I'm too young to shave! / Don't call me a knave . . ." What more do you need to know? Well, here's a couple more things: right in the middle of the disc are a couple early 90s hard-ass throwdowns ("Family Tree" and "Life Never Stops!") that sound like Behemoth and Laughner fronting Rocket From The Tombs if they had read less poetry chapbooks, more Hustler and Mad. There's also songs about drinking hot soda pop, covers of Silver Apples and The Twinkeyz, titles like "Goin' For Grease," "Pigs," and "Pull My Finger," and, once again, that amazing left-turn atmo-weird 1997 Bruce Cole EP. 20 tracks in all. All hail the Mee-Mees, perhaps the first ever in what has been an impressive lineage of St. Louis post-punk goofballs: Drunks With Guns, Strangulated Beatoffs, the Dazzling Killmen/Grand Ulena, Panicsville, John Wiese/Arrmy of Robots, the guys who started the Skin Graft label, Max Prairie Pusher, and then right back to the Screamin' Mee-Mees, who are still fuckin' around in the basement . . .

SCREAMIN' MEE-MEES: Debut 7-inch single, released 1978. "The sleeve looked ridiculous -- crude even by 1977 DIY standards," writes Eddie Flowers in the Live From The Basement liner notes.

Have you noticed how Detroit currently has this 'shimmery 50s/60s pop' scene? Bands like Saturday Looks Good To Me, the Alphabet, Slumber Party . . . okay, I've never heard Slumber Party, but I wouldn't doubt they have a little of that classic girl group sound. This album certainly has it, and it features Gretchen Gonzales, who is a member of Slumber Party, as part of a duo with another woman by the name of Faith Gazic. They're basically a guitar and accordion duo, with I guess some keyboards and drum machines and a whole lot of shimmer, and both sing in voices semi-wasted and a little cynical but also undeniably sweet. It's a good record.

"Eclectic compilation of independent music from Providence including noise, grind, hardcore, electronic, and experimental." If you're at all into, say, the Load Records artist stable, you will probably really like this comp, as all the roots, branches, splinters, fallen leaves, and infested mud from the legendary Olneyville ecosystem are represented very well. (Um, I think I just compared the Providence/Olneyville scene to a tree.) Dig the way the comp goes from Beefheartian panic rock (via Landed) to 20 seconds of straight harsh noise (via Noise Nomads) to instro panic metal (via Necronomitron -- these guys are good!) to Mindflayer music (via Mindflayer -- almost free-jazzish drumming by Chippendale while Brinkman makes space monster sounds) to toy synth damage (Knights of Timbre) to black techno metal (Em Dath Rir) to deep horror noise (Prurient) to old-school Olneyville screamo (Dropdead -- from 1996, live in Finland??) and on and on, making a nice little mosaic of noise, foolishness, recklessness, levity, gravity, experimentation, and blastedness. Over at his Agony Shorthand joint Jay Hinman already recommended this CD to the people who read Blastitude -- and Blastitude seconds the recommendation! I mean, don't forget, we also like other stuff, like 70s rock, hippie psych, country music, country rock, folk, blues, jazz, hip hop, hardcore, and much, much more, and we hope our readers do too, but YES, when it comes to fucked-up noise and noise-rock, this is a truly excellent comp! Good design, too, utilizing the see-through jewel case and subtly weird color scheme.

Remember that issue of Vice Magazine I reviewed in #16? Well, I forgot to mention this free CD that came with it, a collaborative effort between Vice, Insound, and Outward Sound. If that doesn't have you running for the hills already, just check out that 'ironic' title so you can be sure to vomit all the way. Anyway, feeling journalistic, I decided to listen to the damn thing, and it's even worse than I thought it would be. The Stills . . . Lucero . . . Atmosphere . . . Radio 4 . . . Laguardia . . . I don't even remember how any of these bands specifically sounded, except that Atmosphere was third-rate Eminem and Radio 4 are yet another 'dance punk' band that actually named their song "Dance to the Underground" -- are they serious? I don't know, maybe I'm out of touch, or way too prejudiced, but everything on here sounds like it could be from the Dawson's Creek soundtrack. Even the one band on here I thought I would like, Young People, have a disappointing song. (Although I'm guessing that the MBA's behind this comp just pulled the most 'upbeat' Young People tune they could find so that Old Navy employees playing this over their store speakers wouldn't turn it off.) Surprisingly, there is one band on here I didn't think I would like, My Morning Jacket, that has kinda blown me away with a lost 'verbed-out ballad called "Run Thru." I could almost swear it sounds more like something that would come from Tony Rettman's turntable during one of his 'nothing recorded after 1974' weekends than from a free hipster 2004 jeans-store comp like this one. So, um . . . . do I dare check out their album?

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Space Is No Place Volume 2 (PSYCH-O-PATH)
I usually don't get into comps that much, even when they're good, but these two Space Is No Place comps on Psych-O-Path are two of my favorite 'new releases' of the past year. And I didn't even think I liked any New York City bands! Okay, I knew I liked five or six of 'em, but with these two comps there's over twenty bands and I swear there's not really a single 'duff track'. And, volume 2 is better than 1, even though it has even fewer bands on it that I've ever heard of. I mean, Tuba Mirum? Spaceman? Beard-o??? Chaw Mank? Cocaine???? Squaw????? Have YOU ever heard of these bands? I didn't think so. It turns out three of 'em are (possibly one-off) projects revolving around Sightings and/or Mouthus, e.g. Beard-o is Axolotl + Mouthus, Chaw Mank is Sightings + Mouthus, while Cocaine is Excepter + Sightings. (Axolotl and Sightings and Mouthus were on Volume 1 but have no tracks on Volume 2.) All three of these tracks are great, especially the one by Cocaine. Squaw, aka John Lee (gtr) and Henry Till (perc, el), are also impressive, with the best two-man rock-band wall-of-noise I've heard since the Mouthus track on Volume 1. Other 'most memorables' are some band called Verbalala which kind of sounds like Schooly D except the rapping is by a big city white girl who might be a grad student. Jah Division are good -- apparently their deal is doing "dub versions of Joy Division songs" but when I heard it from the other room I just thought it was good new punk basement dub. Another thing about this comp is that it starts out really low-key (Aero & Anderegg with mellow new-age krautrock and then Tuba Mirum, which is actually sparse and academic-in-a-good-way solo tuba), and then steadily gets noisier and noisier, which means that attention is paid to an overall narrative arc, which is something all albums, including compilations, should try to do.

I had to hear this album when Eddie Flowers of Slippytown described it by saying, "This buries the kind of fuck-you posturing that too many American puds have recently (re-) embraced." What he was talking about was American underground rock and noise scenes. Now, of course, fuck-you posturing is part of underground rock and noise music -- always has and always will be -- and that's what gives it its particular edge, and makes it "crucial," as the Bad Brains would've said, or "hot, blue, and righteous," as ZZ Top would've said. The problem isn't the "fuck you" at all, and it's not even the "posturing." The problem is with the "too many" and the "embracing" part. Ya'll are squeezing too tight! Relax a little. Be yourself.
     And Crawlin' Eddie's right about Leaf Rain 1995-2000. Julian Williams isn't some imaginary message board's idea of what a noise-rocker should be -- he just's being himself. Take the album title -- sounds like a laptop folk album or something, right? Ah, but it's actually fuck-you electronic drone/improv/noise music that moves in many different directions, and moves well. Williams is an Australian who was in that band you might've heard of a few years ago called the Hi God People. I heard one of their discs for about 5 minutes once back in the 20th century, but that didn't prepare me for this. Hell, a lot of this sounds like (Williams's countrymen) Volvox! (Which means, roughly, the sound of a bunch of loudly mic'ed industrial rubber bands being played by a small group of sea lions, one of whom happens to be moaning lead vocals. Played at 16RPM.) Meanwhile, the first track is death-disco that might even be almost as good as the Excepter LP!
      There's a lot more here -- and in fact it might be a little too long -- but the good news is that Williams has given thought to how to present the length, splitting it up into four theoretical 'sides', so you can imagine it like a double LP, and I think the music herein would not sully even that holiest of formats. For now, the CDR is available from The Rhizome Label of Australia.



First of all, I can't even really evaluate this novel from any sort of objective critical distance, because it's about a kid growing up in the seventies who loves comic books, and I also was a kid growing up in the seventies who loved comic books. In fact, this book refers to specific issues that I owned, such as Omega the Unknown #1, Logan's Run #2, and more. There's also more knowing music references than you'll even find in a George Pelecanos novel, with a sharp appreciation for 70s soul and funk on vinyl, the beginnings of hip hop, and even Genesis's "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" getting some play.
      But really, on top of all that pop culture stuff, there's a pretty serious epic sweep to this book that really depicts modern life, the brief bursts of joy, the more general stretches of melancholy, the bouts with confusion and general trippiness of perception, the complex relations between family and friends and neighbors, the way we are framed and molded by the cities and regions we move in. I'm favorably reminded of two other American epics of recent years that ambitiously got into all that stuff: Infinite Jest by Dave Wallace and The Corrections by Jon Franzen. Fortress of Solitude has flaws, but even those mostly end up being part of its big daring charm. For example, he tries to get all magic realist on us by giving his main characters actual superhero powers. When I first got to these scenes, I almost automatically groaned -- I didn't think it was going to work very well at all -- but I ended up really enjoying these scenes, because Lethem is aware, as film critic Dave Kehr once wrote regarding the work of Luis Buñuel, "how much realism is required in surrealism."