#19, AUGUST 2006




by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman


Since I truly love every single thing they've ever released, the SCG have never really been in consideration for the Blastitude Album of the Week -- it just wouldn't be fair to everyone else. But this brand new Djinn Funnel album has to get the honor, because not only do I love it, I'm pretty sure you will too. Look, I know how it is for some of you folks out there -- you want to dig the SCG, but every time you try out a random album, something's not quite right. In fact, sometimes things are terribly wrong. You just never know if you're gonna get soundtrack-worthy instrumental elegance or offensive noise or kooky banjos or demonic theater or someone messing around with a radio or Tibetan jazz or amuck theory or spoken-word nonsense or live-to-boombox shit-rock or something else completely. Me, I love it all, but if any of these things bother you, let me reassure you that Djinn Funnel is one thing and one thing only: five long cuts of molten power trio raga rock, or as the SCG website calls it, "electric rock psych blues." Track one "Nites of Malta" is a new classic that sounds like they're retooling Can's "Mother Sky" into something even weirder and more thrashing. "Dukun Degeneration" is one of their finer downtempo raga-bubble meltdowns since at least the Wah album. Side one closer "Dark Nectar" is a drift-off, wandering somewhere into a high desert black hole -- and it sounds great on vinyl. Side two opener "Red Sea Blues" isn't quite like any improvised jam extension they've yet tried, hard-edged and uptempo, but the sweet real folk world blues are in there a little more than usual too. And, the rec closes with a definitive version of SCG standard "Drifters of the Grand Trunk." I've been way into this funereal creeper ever since I first heard it, live at the Empty Bottle in 2002, and then many, many times after that on the ensuing crappy but legendary SLSK bootleg of that show. And, it turns out, there had also been an odd little version of it hiding out there toward the end of the great 2001 release Sumatran Electric Chair -- but this Djinn Funnel version is the best one of all. They never leave the groove, but they twist it inside out and then back again, and they do it in so many ways . . . . Djinn Funnel also boasts impressive color artwork, and lots of beautiful Arabic text, probably because the label is Egyptian / Algerian. That's right, edition of 570, import only!


I've had this album on vinyl for over 10 years and it was always a nice one, a warm homey/homely collection of go-for-broke live-to-boombox white-knuckle detuned world-folk "wooden guitar" solo instrumentals by Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls. The album was released in 1994, just as the whole Fahey/Takoma rediscovery boom was really starting to pick up, though it definitely predated that trendfest when it was recorded (from 1981 to 1989), and, while appearing deceptively simple on the surface, it still touches on more idioms, in more radical combinations, than almost all of the boomers' LPs have. The new news is that Alvarius B has now been reissued on CD, twelve years later, with a different cover photo (seriously, the cows have moved), some additional interior photographs, and 4 fine bonus tracks that presumably just didn't fit on the original vinyl, because they're right in line with the rest. And the newest new news is that this thing sounds great on CD, and is jumping out at me all over again as some fine timeless homespun music. The only thing missing is those hand-burned inserts ya got with the original (as described a little bit at the bottom of this page) . . . .

Even though I've had this LP for the better part of a year, and have listened to it quite a bit, I haven't been able to write anything about it. Maybe it has something to do with how this photogenic group (I mean, look at the cover and the inside poster) has been keeping a low profile in the lifestyle mags, when this whole "free(k) folk marketing frenzy" has surely cast a few well-baited lines their way. Whenever I try to write something about 'em, it just comes out sounding like hype, and I feel like I owe it to Feathers to preserve the mystery for once. Apparently, they've now "signed" to Devendra Banhart's label Gnomonsong, who are reissuing this album on CD, and a couple of 'em are playing in a band with J. Mascis called Witch, so they are kinda getting into some would-be hyped territory. But really, this LP release from last year should've been enough to do that, though it is a hard nut to crack, and it tastes pretty weird once you do. Woozy ethereal folk stylings, lots of warbling ladies (male and female), the kind of folk record that always sounds like something might just be slightly wrong with the turntable speed, but never is..... and if you know that's a compliment, I suggest you check 'em out.

If you're like me, you could lay around the house and listen to people play synths and keyboards and barely noticeable electric guitar in a spaced-out improvised fashion at least, oh, seven nights a week. And one recent record that's been fitting this particular bill around here is the new one from K. Salvatore called Ashmadai. You might recognize K. Salvatore as a duo offshoot of the No-Neck Blues Band. They've put out a record here and a couple records there over the last few years, with no real sense of consistency or urgency, and the music itself seems to work the same way, only occasionally bubbling to the surface of your own reality even when it's playing all night long. It goes in and out of focus, sometimes hitting you with a surprising dose of harshness, but more often hovering somewhere just behind your ear with whispers of synth-and-guitar mystery that you can always key into if needed. Don't expect it to 'go anywhere,' because hey, it's already there. Weird thing about this one, it's a double LP but it plays at 45 RPM, "wide grooves for maximum impact..." Swank cover too, featuring a big-ass devil (the album is named after "the prince of demons in medieval Jewish legend," according to some page on the web). Oh, and here's my kid's summary, while listening to Side B: "A buzzing bee and a coughing cow and a talking duck!" I don't know man, I think he's been reading too many children's books . . . (P.S. Actually, his reviewing skills are improving! Tonight I was jamming the sprawling blast that is the Double Leopards' "Draun," as heard on the exemplary CDR compilation We Didn't Come Here To Make Friends (Warm Freedom of Tongue), and he said, "It sounds like a helicopter with guitars in it!!" And then, believe it or not, he said, "It sounds like a two-guitar helicopter!" Right on, Li'l Dolman!)

It's 9:30 PM on a Tuesday night in May. Windows are open and the block outside is dark and very quiet. Inside I have one lamp on and the new CD by Metalux & John Wiese playing at a medium volume on the stereo. A deep tone like a plane flying by eases into the fabric of the song, and in fact actually is a plane flying by. The sound of jumbo jets high in the sky above fits perfect with this deep-doppler music and its erosion rhythms. And yes, I did say that these are songs. Metalux (MV Carbon and Jenny Graf) have always played songs. Wiese I'm not so sure -- he plays noise -- but either way he sure blends in good with the eternal deadpan onslaught that is the Metalux sound. It comes in a nice digipak too.

OM: Conference of the Birds LP (HOLY MOUNTAIN)
Yeah, I read the magazines, and for some reason I always get worried whenever I read about a new Om album before listening to it. When the first album came out and I read that they were just a duo, I worried that I would miss the guitar. Then I heard the album, and I did not. At all. For this new second Om album, I was worried because I heard they were playing quieter. Quiet Om? What's the point? Then I heard it, and um, quiet Om RULES. THAT'S the point. Check it out: "At Giza," taking up all of side one. Spooky, restrained, getting heavier and heavier as it goes but never exploding. A great song. Someone else said this new album sounded '60s psychedelic. They were right too. Something about the production, the vocals of Al Cisneros now dubbed in deep reverb, as opposed to their notoriously high and dry location in the first album's mix. The second song "Flight of the Eagle" sounds more like a continuation of the first album, but the lyrics are getting even further out, repeating "Traverse Cheopian field / Rides out from red sun high above" at odd intervals like a chorus, mixed into long verses that say things like "To send -- the mainderite candescent wills now merge with red orb of freedom." Lebanon gets mentioned a few times too, in both songs, and not politically. Nice quality on this release too, with very sturdy vinyl and sleeve, the latter featuring a beautiful photo by one Beatrice Friedli. Reckless was out of the CD so I paid $15.99 for the vinyl, and I do not feel ripped off!

OVO: Miastenia CD (LOAD)
Remember when this woman/man duo from Milano (Italia) toured the USA a couple years back? Everybody on the internet was talking about Ovo, the wild Italian band with the lady that mic'd her dreadlocks and played 'em with a violin bow. Now all of a sudden a couple years later, Load Records has put out a CD by 'em, the first time I've actually heard 'em instead of hearing about 'em. And believe me, they really nail . . . something. There's only one Diamanda, but this dreadlock-bower Stefania Andretti is a hell of a singer in the tradition, holding her own and offering some wild variations. And the instrumental racket these two make can really be pretty ridiculous, mostly in a weird-sounding low-ended guitar-and-drums format . . . the one-sheet calls it "doom," and you know, it is. But it's weird duo doom, Diamanda doom, cabaret doom, no-doom, nü-doom, Noh-doom, Italia-prog doom, you know . . . . . . a pretty gutsy CD.

OVO: No, seriously, this is the band. He plays "timpano, rulante, piatto, basso, floor tom, snare, ride" and she plays "voce, chitarra, violincello, pianoforte, armonica." So, if you like The White Stripes.....

One of the sweetest spots in the nation these days for weird underground music is Lexington, Kentucky. The mighty Hair Police hail from there, and their presence in that town over the last five or six years seems to have blasted away so many potential cliches and stumbling blocks that, in their wake, Lex folks just can't help but make music that is original and beautiful. Rampart Tapes is the soul psychedelic noise label that seems to be the primary headquarters for this stuff right now, the going concern of Trevor Tremaine, who plays in the aforementioned Hairs, as well as Eyes and Arms of Smoke, Attempt, Burning Star Core, Giffoni's Death Unit, and probably a few dozen more past and future. (For example, he played bass on Warmer Milks' massive "Penetration Initials" cut.) Rampart Tapes just put out five new releases, so here's a look......
        Deal-sealer of 'em all is a plain gorgeous cassette by Ara called Vacant Vessel. I'm assuming this is a debut release, because I know nothing about Ara, though the Rampart website explains this much: "Ara is a project masterminded by Sara O'Keefe (Eyes & Arms of Smoke, Auk Theatre)." Masterminded might imply that she has others helping her, but to me this sounds like the work of just one person, playing heavy spaced-out melodic saxophone through supremely weird (though still mostly subtle) electronic effects. Someone else could be doing the electronic tweaking, but this is still wide-open solo horn-thought all the way, broad deep strokes erasing notions of time and connotation, so that the brave questing melodies and phrases can beam directly into the soul of the listener (bypassing the head). By the time things get just a little noisy somewhere on side two, believe me, I'm ready......
         The other real knockout of the bunch is First Attempt, the debut CDR by Attempt. I was already aware of this band, a new ensemble featuring Tremaine on guitar and vocals, Mikey T of Warmer Milks on drums, along with a bass player, a second guitarist, and all that normal rock band kind of stuff, and I had gleaned that they were playing in some kind of now-rare extended-prog-pop mid-period-SST style. And yep, that's pretty much it, and even though this disc is Tremaine solo, playing three snappy progged-out instrumentals (demo-style with a snappy drum machine backing his extremely grungy but very cleanly picked practice-amp guitar playing), from the very instant it breaks out of the gates with the rippling main riff of opener "Leisure To Explore," this is clearly some of the freshest stuff going. I'm amazed by all that it incorporates -- the intelligent bravery of chops-metal, the sunny skip of African high-life guitar, and the sturm und klang of Confusion-era Sonic Youth (particularly on the 14-minute closer "The External Language"), just for starters. Now, maybe the second Attempt release will feature vocals and the full band that has already played at least a couple live shows. Watch their MySpace page to find out!
        Close runner-up for third-best is the cassette joint by Coptic Nausea called Caustic Gnosis. If that sounds like some kind of weird metal imagery, well, this is basically a weird metal tape, in a real minimalist way that is always as weird as it is metal. We start in deep space, where eventually a zonked-out doom riff happens. So does noise, the ghost-trail of the riff endlessly reverberating through the cobwebbed sound chambers of the cosmos. This continues for a good long time, which is good, because this is a good zonked-metal riff. On side two we're still going strong, including when the riff eventually decomposes into an awesome ass-flattening tunnel-drone. Loses its way a little after the drone devolves further into wobbling and power-whining electronics, but by then it's too late for this tape to not be great.
         And shit, this Caves tape ain't too bad either....It was one of the coolest-looking of the batch, Caves being a cool name, as is the title Flood Room, and it's all wrapped up in fine artwork. As for the music, nothing really hooked first listen, but for the second time I've turned it up louder and oh yeah, there's plenty going on here. It does have a long slow start where not much happens, but five minutes in and some worlds really do start colliding (at least a little bit, planetary bumps in the night). Still don't know what to say about this tape, except that it's dark, weird, and has a lot of strange things happening under the radar. Another Kentucky head-scratcher.
        And the last tape of the batch is a 30-minute blaster by a combo called Intense Electric, apparently a duo of Tremaine and the oddly elusive Walter Carson. This is just a power electronics homage jam-out, two side-long throwdowns that probably kept going longer than the side allowed. Really unhinged and screaming stuff -- if it happens to be near the player and you need a cobweb-scouring, by all means pop it in. It might technically be the least interesting release of the batch, with the obviously least interesting cover (although the headless mannequins on the inside look pretty good), but hey, in this company, fifth place is still pretty great......

ARA: Sounds just like it looks!

ATTEMPT: The full band.

As if that wasn't enough Lexington action, how about all the stuff issued by former/current/forever Rampart Tapes recording artist Warmer Milks on its own Ladron Tapes imprint thus far? It would seem this already weird group is just getting weirder all the time. Heavier too, and I don't mean that Southern Lord is going to be signing them up anytime soon. This is the type of "heavy" that doesn't have a whole lot to do with distortion pedal settings or amplifier brands. Blastitude readers might know my own Warmer Milks saga, how their 29-minute dream-anthem "Penetration Initials" came from out of nowhere and put me on at least cloud thirteen, and how I was kept high by their "Rwanda b/w Walken Agoraphobic Penn (Version)" 7-inch, and how we did an interview with 'em and all that, and how they're putting out a 'debut album' this summer for Troubleman Unlimited called Radish on Light, doing shows with Bonnie Prince Billy, The Magik Markers, The Howlin' Rain . . . . . but really, any preconceptions you might have about this band, please just crawl out your window, and take 'em with you while you do. Even if you've already heard some or most of their stuff, enough to know better and expect the unexpected, they will still keep your ears rattling and your head permanently scratched. Nonetheless, I will attempt a Ladron rundown thus far......
        First we've got LA001, and even though it doesn't say so anywhere at all, I'm pretty sure this is Permanent Drool / Lucifer's Twins. Two 30-minute tracks, and the first, which I'm gonna go ahead and think of as "Permanent Drool," is simply one of the weirdest moves into post-jazz voice-and-instrument tension in centuries. As the label description says, "Everyone was told to go 'one at a time' but things went really wrong." It has crying, whimpering, moaning, I think clanking chains, and best of all, lots and lots of silence. Sometimes you think you're suddenly listening to a killer unaccompanied arco bass solo on side 2 of some self-released 1972 free jazz record (with a B&W paste-on cover) from St. Louis, but then whatever that was suddenly stops and the 4AM-in-the-torture-chamber moaning starts again. The second track, "Lucifer's Twins" I presume, is very heavy too, but in a different way, taking a bunch of old records and no-speed record-players and turning all minds to mush. It ain't your grandma's plunderphonics, that's for sure. And that's the short version of Ladron 001 -- for the long version, you'll just have to listen to it, learn it, and live it!
             LA002 is a messed-up concoction called True Village. As the WM "Rotted Family Corpse of God" blog has told us, it documents two July 2005 tour stops at two record shop venues, True Vine in Baltimore and Twisted Village in Boston. What we weren't told is that the two shows are documented here simultaneously, one right on top of the other. This doesn't always work for me -- I mean hey, sometimes it just sounds like two shows are being played at the same time and they're not supposed to be. I wanna hear 'em separately, but since I wasn't hired to mix this release, I guess this will have to do. Because after all, the two shows happened just three days apart, back in 2005, and if you take a real longview millennial perspective, happening three days apart basically IS happening at the same time. And if you take a real longview geographical perspective, like viewing the Earth from Mars, the cities of Baltimore and Boston, which are a mere 400 miles apart, basically ARE in the same place. Right? So really, these two shows basically DID happen at the same time in the same place. Right?? And it is pretty sweet to hear, after all, the way one show's slippery weirdo out-jazz walking bass concurs with another show's nasty scouring vocals . . . I think. Is that special guest Lexie Mountain doing the vocal shred? Could be . . . other guests of note include Ian Nagoski and Angela Sawyer.
       As for LA003 and LA004, the "one at a time" ethos of Permanent Drool seems to continue -- each is a solo album by a different member of the group. For 003, a project and/or album called Pax Titania, band electronicist Chris Cprek has the conch, and oddly enough, this is one of the few Warmer Milks recs you can buy to hear something they played at the show. The opening track is the super-heavy repeat-melodic crawler they opened with in June at the Empty Bottle (more on that below) -- it's called "Procession of Giants," an appropriate title, great to hear this deep rich tune again -- and the last track, a crude thumper called "Being the Bigger Man," was also used in the same set, there incorporated into a freakish song. Here it runs instrumentally for 5 minutes of weird power, and the disc ends. In the middle is "Tallest Obelisk," a surely solid starfleet drifter, though in a less distinguished style, and at nearly 17 minutes long a weirdly casual album centerpiece.
        Which brings us to LA004, a project and/or album called Nephalim1, another solo work, this time by "T/S," which I think stands for Travis Shelton, who I think is the guitarist of the group. Either way, his piece is monumental, and I'm beginning to see a long steady line of monumental Warmer Milks epics . . . first there was "Penetration Initials" and then there was "Tendertoe Blues" and then "Permanent Drool" and "Lucifer's Twin," and now this, a 45-minute piece that fractures just as hard in an entirely different way as all the previous have from each other. Now, be warned -- this is simply Mr. T/S all alone with a Wurlitzer electric piano, playing very simple lines for the duration. But he is SO alone, and the lines are so sad, and patient, and deep, and cold.......this album has been taking over my life. I hear it all day long, and I can finish its sentences.
        Ladron 005 is in the works, but hasn't been released. Mikey told me some goofiness they were cooking up for it, but I forgot. And speaking of goofiness, I'm pretty sure he told me that the Ladron name is going to be retired after 005, to be replaced by some other label called . . . Juicy Fruit? I don't know, bar talk. But, while we wait for LA005, we can enjoy another Warmer Milks CDR release (edition of 100) on the Warm Freedom of Tongue label. It's called Aja Braun, although the cover says "Dummes Unkraut" which is German for . . . . "Stupid Weed"! You know, because kraut is German for cabbage, so weed is unkraut, the uncabbage. And certainly Aja Braun is imbued with the sensibilities of 1970s German krautrock, which should've been called the Unkraut Rock, if you know what I mean -- talk about stupid weed! The album starts with two or three long minutes of weird running water sounds -- sorta like in the middle of Ege Bamyasi by Can! -- and from there about 144 different weirdo sometimes-rock approaches get slammed up into each other -- sorta like The Faust Tapes! The wurlitzer piano of Nephalim1 makes another appearance, as do the moaning and whimpering and graveyard bone-rattles of Permanent Drool, as do wasted laughter, wasted humming, extrapolatory electric bass guitar. Is that "March of the Witch's Castle"? Is that "Louie Louie"?? Is that Bonnie "Prince" Billy recording something during a 25-minute salvia trip instead of a few days later? Nah, it's just the Weirder Milks......
        And shit, just before listening to all of this, I got to see the Weirder Warmer Milks play a show for the first time (Empty Bottle, Chicago, 6/10/06) -- in fact, that's where I got all this epic merch. No, they did not play "Penetration Initials," and yes, they are just as changeable and unpinnable on a stage in front of me as they are when they come from inside my stereo speakers. Their opening song was the opening song on the Pax Titania CDR, with the Cprektronics joined by killer compositional cymbal swells by Mikey, while the band's 'real' drummer sat behind him twiddling on a guitar. Then came an okay heavy instrumental gtr/drums piece, kinda half-formed, still interesting, but when Mikey switched to vocals things really started movin'. Some kind of evil Depeche Mode riff came out of the electronics (see above, "Being the Bigger Man"), and Mikey fractured off of that into some Lex-style Connelly-in-a-firepit shrieking, and what made it new was that it wasn't over a wall of sound but this weird stiff-legged electro jam. After that, the set meandered with genuine WM brilliance through a surprising number of approaches, not unlike the Aja Braun album -- I swear there was some 'spoken word' (like you've never heard) in there, and even a wistful ballad that Mikey sang kinda like 'sensitive' Darby Crash, and of course the centerpiece was this raging tune called "Violent Creation" that may have been a cover but probably wasn't and either way I'm not hip enough to know. I do know I liked it, and T/S's guitar tone was perfect (i.e. shitty) and the drummer didn't try to 'kill', he just played. In the meantime Mikey had the mic clutch/burning stare down cold-blooded. Is there a recording of this song?

WARMER MILKS: Left to right we've got Mikey T, then I think T/S, and uh . . . that's all I know. Those guys with the baseball bats might not even be in the band. That might be the Cprek guy in the middle, sitting on the table....not sure....

reviews by

Ones – II cassette (Palsy)
I have written about Ones in this publication before, though not in any informative or decisive way. You see, I had never heard their music before in any sort of controlled situation. Now I have and my initial impressions were right, awesome band. This tape is kind of short, like maybe 15 mins on each side, which on one hand makes me feel sort of ripped off (this tape was like 5 dollars or something) but on the other hand is good cause I’m not trying to listen to any long tapes. And in any case it doesn’t really matter as both sides “rule ass”, short and sweet I guess it is. Both pieces fall into the avant clatter genre of overdubbing antics, with the first one being a bit more fancy sounding, as it starts out with some folky guitar and environmental type sounds. Then it sounds like the dude playing the guitar gets too nervous or scared to play right and the other sounds get more prominent and we’re off for a wild safari through the domestic jungle in the Bkln apartment where this was probably recorded. The second side is more straight up chains and banging on pots and pans and gets LOUD, rules. I totally endorse this cassette.
PS. I just found out that one of the members of Ones is in the band Matt Pond P.A., whose picture was in Rolling Stone this past month. Ones is getting famous! Coming for that number “ones” spot!!

Niwesqom Eli Ckuwapok/Penobscot & Passamaquoddy Indian Drum Group – Spirit Of The Dawn/To All My People
I got this at the church rummage sale up the street from my house. It has a pink Xeroxed cover, and I was expecting it to sound bad and new agey. This is ok though, it’s just like typical Native American drum music I guess, some guys chanting and a steady unchanging drum beat. Not that good really, I was hoping there would be more drums and it would sound like Psychedelic Underground by Amon Duul, no jk. But this isn’t that good, don’t go out of your way to get it, like don’t send $12 to the address in the tape booklet like it says. It also says to look for Vol. II, TRADITIONAL SONGS coming out Winter of ’95. Don’t know why this one has so many titles.

Frankenstein And The All Star Monster Band – s/t (Mystery)
My thesis for this review is that this is the weirdest and most retarded record I have ever heard. It is definitely a very multi-faceted album, and thus requires some explanation. From 1984, this record was written, produced, and directed by “Doctor Dog,” who is in fact Kim Fowley. This is not stated anywhere on the record and the Fowley name appears nowhere in the credits (because of contractual obligations perhaps?) but I’m pretty much absolutely sure its him; the picture of Doctor Dog looks exactly like Kim Fowley and the album’s liner notes (which mention post-Runaways Fowley protégés Venus And The Razorblades), monologues, and singing all bear Fowley’s distinctive stamp.

        So this is Kim Fowley’s Halloween album, a prospect which excited me greatly. I am an enormous fan of both Halloween and Kim Fowley, so this album represented an unexpected combination of two of my favorite things, the like of which had not been seen since 50 Cent made a song that interpolated “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” a couple of years ago. (I realize that this is the second time that I’ve mentioned 50 Cent in Blastitude, which may make me seem like a 50 Cent fanatic. I’m not though, I only like his earlier work for the most part. I guess I just think about him a lot.) The title of this LP suggests a typical kitschy Halloween album, which would be awesome in of itself, but even a cursory scan of the record makes it clear that the listener is in for something more confusing. The cover is made up of six pictures, two rows of three, one of each member of the “All-Star Monster Band”. They are as follows, from left to right: “Jumbo Frog” (dude with werewolf mask and fake werewolf hands playing violin in purple, pink and yellow sweater and red cape), “Doctor Dog” (head shot of Fowley with shiny blue scarf and extremely heavy white pancake makeup), “Larry Lizard” (dude with half devil/half gorilla mask, gorilla hands, and yellow captain’s uniform, holding a guitar), “Video Pig” (dude with partial ugly man mask and vampire teeth, rope around his neck, and normal arms, playing bass), “Dorothy Dinosaur” (little girl in witches hat), and “Empress Of The Underworld” (kind of hot blonde lady in pretty normal clothes, wearing one of those handheld masquerade masks).

        As one listens to the record and reads the liners, it sort of becomes clear that the whole Halloween thing is sort of a cover-up, or maybe metaphor, for the main theme of the record, specifically that of the ugly people of the world and how they are treated as outcasts by society, and also how they find kinship with other ugly people, though like, frankly, I’m sort of just going off the first few songs here, as the whole album is pretty hard to follow. This may make it sound like the album is like sad or solemn, but this is far from the case. Any serious emotions caused by the lyrics (none probably) are offset by retarded monster voices on each song. The voices are straight up “I vant to suck your blood” monster accents, but saying weird Fowley shit like:
        (Doctor Dog): “Where did you ever find all that blue mud?” (monster voice): ”In the classified ads from the canyons of my mind.”
(Doctor Dog): “Are you coming tomorrow to the midnight movie?” (monster voice): “If I’m on the backstage guestlist.”
(Doctor Dog): “Who’s that werewolf over there?” (monster voice): “Jumbo Frog from the fiery garbage can!"
(monster voice): “I the Sea Wolf, captain of the vampire navy, guarantee your safety.”

        The music is generally funny/bad 80s synth rocking, similar kind of to Let’s Dance-era Bowie, and Fowley/Doctor Dog follows suit vocally on a couple of tracks by turning in very Bowie-esque performances. It would be misleading tho, to suggest that all of the record’s tracks follow one uniform style. Each song is pretty distinct, both stylistically and in terms of subject matter. Appropriately, Fowley/Doctor Dog provides individual track descriptions, describing each song’s theme. About the song “What Happens To People Like You”, he says: “A more serious subject than one night (sic) expect from Frankenstein, but quite in line with Doctor Dog’s new approach to the old boy: What makes us what we are? What makes us different from one another?”

        If I tried to describe every funny thing about this album I’d be here (the computer) all day, but I’m gonna go ahead and talk about some of my favorite cuts. I think the most emotionally affecting number is the first one, “Midnight Movies,” on account of it tapping into the same goth loner/loser vibe as “Science Fiction/Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Indeed, Fowley references the RHPS in the liner notes for this cut. The next track, “Red Phantoms Of Zombie Island”, is similar, but has a nautical/pirates theme. And “Looking For Work” is a businesslike dustbowl-via-Springsteen rocker about looking for work that is pretty unassuming until:
        (Doctor Dog): “I sold my blood for 15 bucks.” (Dracula voice): “That was much too cheap, I would have paid twice the price.”
And: (Dracula voice): “I just got a job in a day care center, telling ghost stories to shadows on the wall.”

        From Fowley’s notes for this song: “If it’s hard for the average citizen to find a job, imagine what it’s like to be a six foot seven, slightly green skinned and sort of ugly guy like Fankenstein between gigs.”
       The reason that the album’s overall vibe is so weird is that all of these stupid things I’ve described aren’t presented in an intentionally funny or outrageous way; it’s more like Fowley assumes that everything on the album makes sense and expects the listener to understand it and take it seriously, aside from the obvious comic relief bits. So yeah, I sort of feel like I’ve failed to convey how insane this record really is, you really just have to hear it. Again though, the music itself is quite bad, so don’t get like too psyched up for it. I don’t know if it’s rare or whatever, but I can’t imagine any place selling it for a lot of money, too stupid.

Matt Weston – Easthampton 2005 3” (7272 Music)
Barn Owl – My Very First Barn Owl EP 3” (Crank Satori)
I picked up these little guys when I saw the percussionist Matt Weston perform a solo set on the Princeton University campus this past fall. When I first saw him, with a starched white classical-style shirt, some khakis (?), big lips, and sitting at his kit in a position suggesting an invisible metal pole welded to his back, I thought he looked like a real chump and that I was in for some idiot highbrow nonsense. However, as soon as Weston began to play, he ferociously hit every piece of his kit in a cascading manner that suggested thunder(ing) and lightning (fast) equally. A very exciting set, and Weston made good use of all of the many cymbals and surfaces he had brought with him, specifically by hitting them in a way that was somehow methodical but at the same time quite fast and free.
        After the set, I realized that Weston also seemed like a real nice guy when this fucking kid that I hate that looks like Ben Folds (that’s the best thing about him) that was in my music class at college went up to him and was all gushing, and essentially asked Weston to teach him about free jazz. Matt Weston threw out some names, and though the kid had never even heard of Ornette Coleman, Weston took this in stride and was still very amiable and kept talking to him about free jazz I think. I hate this kid, look out for him dying later this year probably.
        The first of these 3”s is Matt Weston solo percussion and electronics, similar to what I saw that night, though perhaps more spare in parts, according to my memory. It’s also live, this time at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA! A lot of these free improv guys, you think they’re just some guy, and then they turn out to be all famous (on the internet it says that Matt Weston has also played with Kevin Drumm, Milford Graves, Bill Dixon, and Jack Wright, and appeared on VH1, though I assume not all at the same time). So yeah, each track is very good; things start out kind of busy with some rolling and thundering toms framed by what sound like chimes and cymbals, and progress into more spatial areas, with some scraping stuff, as the electronics make their appearance on later tracks. I’m not gonna give you like a play by play here, but trust me that this is a quite worthwhile release.
        Barn Owl is a group featuring Weston on the skins again, with two guys I’ve never heard of, Andy Crespo and Chris Cooper, on bass and guitar respectively. The guys present 9 presumably improvised miniatures (they call them songs on the CD) in a style that is a bit more disjointed and “squiggly”, I’ll say, than on Weston’s solo disc, mostly because of the increased instrumental palette and the fact that the songs are short, many under 2 mins, and have choppy sounds. The same skillfulness of improvising is present though, as each instrument takes on a non-traditional but defined role for every piece. The shortness of the tracks combined with the smallness of the CD and the pictures of a rollerskating rabbit and worms with little mittens on the artwork land this one just this side of “cute”, in a good way. Like nothing cute is really bad, as long as it’s seriously cute and you’re not just like making fun of it by calling it that.

Tetuzi Akiyama – Pre-Existence (Locust)
I figure maybe Larry Doleman might review this one too as he seems to be all over the Locust releases, but I’d like to throw in my 2 cents as to what a corker of a solo guitar album this is. I thing the only other thing by T.A. that I have heard is the Don’t Forget To Boogie LP of solo boogie rock guitar and that rules too, so I guess he’s batting 1000, whatever that means, in my field of vision. That record is totally different from this one tho. Pre-Existence is all solo acoustic guitar and maybe 60 percent of the sounds on it sound like Tetuzi falling asleep “at the wheel” and his slide falling down over the strings and making a scraping sound. It is all extremely artfully performed though, and with exquisite attention to spacing and small scale sonic events. There are some more melodic fingerpicking bits, but these sound a member of the Takoma roster trying to play while under the influence of some “downer” (I won’t try to bluff my way through a drug joke here). An entry into Locust’s “Wooden Guitar” series, and more than enough to make up for the only other record I’ve heard in the series, the horrendous Sir Richard Bishop solo guitar album, which was on the radio once and my friend thought it was the soundtrack to Brokeback Mountain.




BACKGROUND TILE: photo by Beatrice Friedli,
cover of Om Conference of the Birds LP (Holy Mountain)