ISSUE #2          NOVEMBER, 2000
page 4 of 8


                               "the records issue" continued

C.O.B.: Spirit Of Love CD (LADY ELEANORE)
Just now listening to this for the second time, and I like it better than the first run-through...this is considered an all-time well-worth-crying-tears-over classic in the 'psychedelic folk' genre, but I'll admit the first time through I was just a bit underwhelmed. It seemed good, certainly a little strange, but maybe only a little, the same way I thought old Sun Ra stuff was maybe only a little (strange) the first couple times I listened to that. Now I think all Sun Ra stuff (old and new) is fully strange, and it gets more that way the more I listen, and I'm sure this Spirit Of Love album will behave the same way. Yep, as it moves on (now on track seven "Evening Air") it's getting better and better -- so many albums require a second listen or even third listen to sink in -- like the warning on the Spectrum album, "Play Twice Before Listening." Like that album (Soul Kiss Glide Divine by Spectrum) there are no drums on Spirit of Love, just hovering songs driven by simply acoustic guitar, bass guitar, occasional flute and mandolin, natural room reverb, and especially the haunting one-two-and-three-part vocals, leads mainly by Clive Palmer (C.O.B. stands for "Clive's Original Band" or "Clive's Own Band," depending on who you ask) with great harmony backing by multi-instrumentalists John Bidwell and Mick Bennett. I still think the opening title-track is a bit too cute or cheeky (Tower Recordings improved it when they recast some of the lyrics for a track of the same name on their Fraternity of Moonwalkers CD), but something was starting to happen to me the second time through the next track "Music of Ages," when I started reading along with the hand-printed lyrics about "A whisper from the river/Of gracefully gliding swans/In ripples steady circling/The silence of the ages gone/For time entwines my very soul/A tangled briar kills the tree/I cannot hear--The music of the ages/The silence of a million tongues...." as Clive Bell sang them over the trademark C.O.B. groove, which is slow, forlorn, softly droning, and in a minor key. Weird, on this seventh track "Serpent's kiss," which is also slow, forlorn, softly droning, and in a minor key, Clive Palmer sounds a lot like Ozzy Osbourne does on "Planet Caravan," same kind of phase effects on the vocals too. He even sings a tritone in the melody (the flatted fifth, an interval that was actually deemed "Satanic" and ommitted from most early Christian music, hence a favorite note in Ozzy's repetoire). Holy shit, on this next track, "Sweet slavery," he still sounds like Ozzy, without the effects (and without the tritone, though the melody is just as mournful as anything from Sabbath's black-cloud oeuvre). Not only does he sound like Ozzy, but "Serpent's kiss" is a pretty sinister song that seems to be about pagan ceremonies with the word 'sacrifice' in the chorus, and I wish I could quote you on that but I returned the CD to Mr. Rolfsmeier without copying the lyrics.
         Okay, in the time it took me to write and revise the previous paragraph a few times, the disc started over again and is now on the second track again, the already-even-better "Music of Ages." And the third track is the real stunner this time, Mick Bennett singing the eerie, wobbling "Soft Touches Of Love" backed by Clive on acoustic guitar and Mr. Bidwell contributing sweet, haunting, echoing recorder accompaniment that really makes the song. Hell, "Spirit of Love" sounded better this time too -- it still has this 'cute album intro' status, where all the songs that come after are really very melancholy, but its cheekiness did sound more dusted and dragged (almost like cynicism) this time (and I mean cynicism in a refreshing way). Ah hell, Spirit of Love is a classic, sure, just like all those early 'swing-era' Sun Ra albums....I'll just stop doing this track-by-track write-as-you-play gimmick review right now, 'cause I don't even wanna try and describe track four "Banjo Land".........oh nevermind, "Banjo Land" isn't even on here (although it is on the cover art), I guess they omitted it from this reissue. Instead we go straight to "Wade in the Water," which is another cheeky cute song, but like "Spirit of Love" also quite dragged and hollowed out. (The only other potentially cute song on the album is "Skranky Black Farmer," although it's really as gritty and menacing as it is cute, and also quite zoned out...)
          Er--anyway, I'd better wind this review up so I'll just end with some band history, as written by Billy Kiely on the Forced Exposure website: "C.O.B stands for Clive (Palmer's) Original Band; he had originally formed The Incredible String Band in 1965 with Robin Williamson, who were later joined by Mike Heron and recorded ISB's self-titled debut in 1966, signed to Elektra by Joe Boyd, who said at the time they were reputed to be a 'Scottish' bluegrass group. After the first ISB LP was released, Williamson split to Morocco to gather exotic instruments, and Clive went to Afghanistan for some other reason. Upon his return he hooked up with John Bidwell and the remarkable vocalist and player Mick Bennett."

Now I'm listening to this for the second time right after listening to Spirit of Love for the second time, so I just did the unthinkable, I broke Blastitude's record-reviews-in-alphabetical-order policy. I did it because I thought it was neat that I'm listening to two psych-folk classics recorded in another continent during the same year (1971), and this way I can give ya the goods on My Baptism by Classic Euro Psych-Folk as it's happening, right?
         I gotta say, even just about ten seconds in, I like Broselmaschine better than Spirit of Love. note There's just something dusted about the spare and melancholy acoustic guitar arpeggios, something dusted that all Krautrock shares, whether it's from the zoned-out moaning swarm-jamming of Amon Duul (both I and II, in different ways) or the spacious trance-funk of Can or the jump-cut weirdness of Faust or the gauzy bliss of Neu! and Harmonia, that I don't quite get from British stuff in general, even though the instrumentation is much the same (acoustic guitars, recorder flute, choral vocals...). Of course, track two on here is as genteel sounding as C.O.B., and not near as melancholy...let's see, it's called "Lassie," and it's a traditional song, so no wonder it sounds more 'trad,' but as it continues on it begins to take a pretty stretched-out shape after all, seeming longer than the listed 5:06, a length illusion that creates a cumulative folk-rock glow.
         Track four, "The Old Man's Song," features almost harsh but ultimately spacy female vocals by Jenni Schucker, as well as creamy-mellow wah-wah guitar soloing by Willi Kismer. I don't know, maybe Spirit of Love is a little least it has more discernible hooks, such as the winding melody of "Music of Ages," but Broselmaschine is still very good -- ah yes, the wah solo is being pushed along by congas and tablas of Mike Hellbach as the song builds -- and Ms. Schucker comes back in with a whisper-chant and more spacey wordless vocals while a couple of the guys do a goofy chant over very loosely played James Brown guitar chords! Ah yes, there's the Krautrock/Ohr Music/Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser spirit we've come to expect....I didn't mention track three, "Gitarrenstuck," which is probably something about a guitar, although you can't tell from the lyrics, because they aren't in German or English, just a wordless, sad, mystical multi-tracked performance by Shucker. Only two minutes long.....track five, "Schmetterling" is a nine-minute journey with spoken, slightly distorted vocals from Jenni, much propulsive but laid-back interplay between the guitars and hand drumming, and late in the game, an appearance by that psych-folk ace-in-the-hole, a solo from a recorder flute!
         I could go on, but again, you get the picture. I don't want to blow all the rest of the songs before you hear it for yourselves...actually that only leaves you one song, the sixth and final track, "Nossa Bova." That's another thing that makes these albums classic: they're concise. Broselmaschine is 35 minutes, Spirit of Love is like 38. Albums that are
made to be listened to in one ritualistic sitting. I fit 'em both on one CD-R, so it's like going to a really intense epic melancholic C.O.B. show and then having this nice mellow and loose cool-down set from Broselmaschine. Ah, those were the days...which brings us to our NOTE: Which is this sentence, written a couple weeks later, to say that Spirit of Love has grown to become a much more important album to me than Broselmaschine, which I still like but after say four or five listens, the melodies and moods of Spirit of Love found their way deep into my heart, and I have fallen very much in love with it, where Broselmaschine remains merely a good friend. Thank you. back to the review

COMUS: First Utterance 2LP (GET BACK!)
Okay, back to alphabetical order to round up this little 'as-it-happened at-home musical baptism by the hand of the forefathers of British and German psych-folk' trio of reviews. Comus, Comus, Comus...I've heard so much about you, so I knew you'd be something....but I didn't know you would be so beastly. This is one of the strangest albums I've ever heard. I knew it would be strange -- apparently there's actually a genre tag for this kind of thing called "wyrd folk." This genre was defined by the folks from mail-order service New Sonic Architecture as "[a combination of] pseudo-medieval reels and airs with a psychedelic dementia by turns gentle and harrowing." Either way, I can't imagine actually saying the words "wyrd folk" out loud, but reading about it did prepare me for this record to be a weird one -- excuse me, "wyrd" one....
          It still didn't prepare me enough, though. About fifteen seconds into the first track I had to get up and check to make sure it was playing at the right speed, due mainly to the helium-inflected vocals of Roger Wooton but also just because of the overall herky-jerky scary oompah band nature of the track, "Diana." And lyrics about "steaming woodlaaaaaaaannndds...." What the hell is going on here? And then things get intense, Wooton starts yelping and screaming, an arsenal of hand drums starts pounding at high speeds, and I feel like I'm falling into the same trap door that Amon Duul II open up on Phallus Dei and Yeti. Beneath this trap door, as Marcel Koopman says on the Forced Exposure website, "the music twists and oozes as a vile bunch of snakes," except that Comus is indeed vile and make Amon Duul II seem sort of cute in comparison....
       Vile might even be an understatement. This is horror-folk. I had already read in The Wire that "two songs...on First Utterance draw onA blood-red artist's rendering of the band Comus! mythology and Milton's poem Comus, about threatened female chastity..." but I forgot about that until I listened to the album and started to hear weird (excuse me, wyrd) subject matter on the occasions when I could discern Wooton's yelping lyrics. Looking at the lyric sheet confirmed this as I read lines like these from "Drip Drip": "You dangling swinging / hanging, spinning, aftermath / Your soft white flesh turns past me slaked with blood / Your evil eyes more damning than a demon's curse / Your lovely body soon caked with mud / As I carry you to your grave my arms your hearse." Jeez! He's singing about cold-blooded murder! Of a girl with "soft white flesh" and "a soft breast." It's not just vile, it's downright lurid! And, as I listened and read more, I realized that no less than three of the six songs sound like they're about the same woodland sexual assault -- the "two" that The Wire refers to are "Diana" and "Song To Comus" (with its creepy absurd prog-rock lines like "Chastity chaser virile for the virgin's virtue") -- but I think "Drip Drip" is about the aftermath of the same terrifying scene, with the rapist killing his victim. It's the closest a folk album has ever gotten to Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left...
There's also "The Bite," which is an explicit account of the hanging of a Christian prisoner, and "The Prisoner," which is such a frank account of mental illness that it actually begins with the lines "I was mad and was accepted for treatment at a hospital / For the mentally sick." It continues with hardcore shit like "Then they gave me shock treatment / And when I awoke I was numb and remembered nothing / Probe me mould me reassemble my brain / Schizoid paranoid just terms just names / Why can't you leave me don't drive me insane."
        And amidst all of these churning folk-rock rave-up investigations into really dark shit is the song "The Herald," the second track on the album, and one of the most mystical things I've ever heard. It's eerie rather than vile, contemplative rather than churning, and boasts the album's only lead vocal by the glorious Bobbie Watson. She sings lyrics like "Herald of morning walks across the earth eternally / And somewhere in the black distance / Another herald puts down his flute / And the dewy day creeps on / And the night withdraws" in a high diaphanous register that mingles with the violin and flute melodies as they come and go, hovering, alighting, fading out into the mist only to emerge again from above (the song completely fades out for a few seconds two different times during its epic 7-8 minutes)...listening to it on beer and a bit of marijuana with C.L. and B.A. one night we all envisioned it as the soundtrack to some spectral early-70s Disney animated feature, during a melancholy and/or eerie scene in which sprites and nyads emerge from matte paintings of leafy glens that reveal mist-enshrouded streams. For "The Herald" alone, I recommend this album completely. I recommend the rest too...but I honestly don't think you're gonna be ready for how evil it is.....

a good article on Comus

As you might have noticed in this issue's letter's section, "it's all about the Black Dice in the year 2G." So many people are talking about 'em, I just had to head down to the only independent record store in Lincoln, Nebraska (Zero Street) and see if they were selling anything by 'em. They were sold out of the infamous 10-inch on Troubleman Unlimited, but they did have this little 7-incher on Baltimore's Vermin Scum label. So I plopped down $3.75 and bought it. Kinda expensive, 7-inchers these days, especially in this case when it's just a one-sided 7-inch to be played at 45 RPM. Comes out to about two or three minutes of music, and then when it's over and I want some more I don't get any because the other side has no grooves. It's blank! (I even tried it out and sure enough, the needle just skated right to the center....) So, I feel like this record should've only cost $2, the silk-screened artwork isn't THAT great. (In fact it's pretty damn creepy in that punker-kid-drawing-shit-while-on-bad-acid kind of way.)
             But the music, all two or three minutes of it, is pretty damn great. I'd heard how Black Dice blended noise and hardcore, expecting something like early Gravity Records output with a welcome Dead C inflection....but this sounds more like Discordance Axis or something, tightly structured death-metal-influenced exploding hardcore with screaming vocals and the 3001% intensity that this kind of madness is usually played with. The grooves on the record and the printing on the insert suggest that there are five songs here: "Printed Paper," "Studdered," "Ten Days," "Godliness," and "The P Document." I played it before noticing all that and I thought for sure it was just one long stopping and starting belch-from-hell song. That's a compliment, of course -- I even thought the whining guitar feedback that happens in between each song was a composed element bridging one 'verse' to the next. This is a damn good record, but it's too short and with 7-inch prices what they are these days, it might leave you feeling a little ripped off too....

Troubleman Unlimited

DE LA SOUL: Buhloone Mind State CD (TOMMY BOY)
What a blasting album! Starts with a chanted manifesto "It might blow up but it won't go pop…" over some laid-back Stax sample-groove shit….the beats change up, continue on….it's a laid-back album… "Change my pitch up?/Smack my bitch up?/I never did it," the first defiant anti-gangsta statement on a defiantly anti-gangsta album. A couple quick hard hitting tracks later, the long, dreamy instrumental interlude in the middle of the first half of the album featuring Maceo Parker "blowin' the soul out" of his alto sax. And then a minute-and-a-half of Japanese rap! ("Oh shih…") "Cause Long Island is whylin'!" And how about the exhiliarating screaming that opens "Ego Trippin." I don't know if that was Prince Paul's idea, but it's total Prince Paul anyway. The appearance throughout from Shorty, a lady MC who rips it up on at least two or three tracks, and as far as I know hasn't been heard from since. "I am Shorty, I be four-eleven." I saw Shorty rock a joint live when the 1993 Tribe Called Quest/De La Soul/Souls of Mischief tour hit Lincoln's lame-ass Rockin' Robin nightclub, one of maybe two nights in the two years they were open I had any reason to go there - she did two or three songs with 'em. Trugoy the Dove was super-cool onstage - at one point between songs he spent about five minutes rappin' with the audience about their favorite hip-hop music…"Ya'll like Del?" "Ya'll like Wu-Tang?" The crowd "hell yeahed" to the breakadawn. (Or at least to Nebraska closing time 1AM.) Tribe Called Quest were probably the best hip-hop show I've ever seen, edging out Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Digital Underground, and De La just before 'em, in their Low-End Theory/Midnight Marauders prime, Q-Tip coming on like a younger cuter Bill Cosby and Phife Dawg doing his Phife-the-Dawg dance. (Also saw Tribe play the Smashing Pumpkins-headlined Lollapalooza a year later and they even rocked that incredibly lame-ass scene, which George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic could not do at all in the 45 minutes they were allotted (although the Beastie Boys, going after P-Funk, were this time even better than Tribe). Smashing Pumpkins were incredibly boring - I was with about five people, and we all just mutually agreed to turn around and leave about three bars into their second song. Shit, we'd been there since noon (to see the Boredoms rock holy ASS to an extremely lame stadium crowd of NO ONE (it was too early) except us, and the very well-staffed security team wouldn't even let us down into the empty front-row section because our tickets were marked 'green space' for the big sloped lawn far away from the stag)
          What else? A phone message from Prince Paul in which he disses The Source magazine and says "you can quote me on that, and you can take this phone message and put it on your next album, I don't give a fuck." A phone message from "Dave" featuring what is my choice for the best recorded orgasm performance ever. (People's choice: Meg Ryan in that "When Mary Met Hallie" flick with Billy Crystal.) "Breakadawn" is a luscious slow jam (the one-word hook snipped from Michael Jackson's sweet vocal on "I Can't Help It" is one of the greatest hip-hop samples of all time), with another classic and oft-quoted dis on gangsta-rap: "Fuck being hard, Posdnuos is complicated." I always dug Posdnuos. His real name is Kelvin Mercer. His MC name, I once saw him explain on MTV News, is "Sound Sop" backwards. As if anyone knew what the fuck "Sound Sop" was s'posed to mean, which was - hey! - DADA before I even knew its name. I was 17, Kelvin Mercer was like 19 or 20, so we were peers, which I didn't realize at the time because with his cool poetic demeanor and young bearded and bespectacled look he was about the most mature rock star I'd ever seen, which made him seem like a welcome foreigner appearing on MTV, which as you know stands for Keep-Your-Entertainment-Stupid Television. He was also a Total Dadaist, talking about the Daisy Age as being about "DA Inner Sound Y'all…," wearing psychedelically-colored clothes, rapping dense poetic self-affirming non sequitirs over Funkadelic samples, participating in mad skits (joke songs) occuring as interludes during De La Soul albums, such as "Ya'll got doo doo in your pocket? Ya'll got doo doo in your pocket? I want ya take it out and wave it back and forth over your head, and say "DOO DOO!….DOO DOO!…..say DOO DOO! Now scream!!!!" or a hundred others like it. And the laid-back game-show skit that opens the album was at least as widely heard of a Dada (or excuse me, Theater of the Absurd) masterstroke as any Beckett play besides "Waiting for Godot"……………………………………………
……….there's my own little Dada minorstroke (ya know, the old 'way-extended ellipsis' gag)…..and to continue with De La….oh nevermind, you get the idea, I'm gonna go break out my 3 Feet High And Risin' cassette....................................

Oh lord, I'd thought I'd already written an Emtidi review. I don't relish the thought, but hey, this is just journalism here, I can knock something out: I acquired this one from psych archivist Steven Rolfsmeier at the tail-end of my recent psych-folk baptism. (See above.) In fact, I've already given it back to him, hence no cover image. (Can't find one on the internet either.) On first listen, it rang okay, but nothing fantastic. Sounded like decent 'traditional' folk stylings, like a less-loose Broselmaschine, rather awkwardly appended by sub-Heldon synth swirls. After fourth and fifth listens, well, I like it better, but it's still 'second-tier' when it comes to the overall quality of The Early Seventies German Psych Explosion (can't we just go back to calling it 'Krautrock'?) .
        My favorite song is the first one: "Walkin' in the Park." It starts as epic melancholy cathedral folk, with a great sad vocal by Canadian Dolly Holmes that wastes no time going into a chorus of "Don't sit on the's too cold for your ass..." while somehow retaining the majesty of the song. Then, for the last three minutes it goes into an instrumental mini rave-up outro, with great loose-limbed choppy soloing by German Maik Hirschfeldt. (That was the whole band -- a male-female German-Canadian space-folk duo...)
        The hip favorite is the third track, "Touch The Sun," but I think that's just because it's over ten minutes long and has "sun" in the title, a combination that has always granted 'instant classic' status to psych tracks.
Much of the song is taken up by synthesizer soundscapes that sound like outtakes from "Florian Fricke: The Kindergarten Tapes." The song is pretty good, but if you took out the beginner's soundscapes, it would only be about five minutes long instead of a "12-minute epic."
        I don't really remember how the rest of the disc was, though I did make a cassette dub of it. It's really not bad, and "Walkin' in the Park" is great, but there are definitely about 30 or 40 other discs from this scene that you should buy first, and they all cost 17-20 bucks a pop, so you might wanna wait on it or borrow it from someone like I did.

Jay "drummer of Think" Bayles lent this to me and I feel like I should hurry up and review it before it becomes 'a lost classic of British folk adorned by low-keyed psychedelics' or something like that. Actually, that probably won't happen, this album is not a 'classic,' though side one is surprisingly good.
     Okay, how 'bout some back story on the band....first of all, Mark-Almond is not the singer from Soft Cell. I kept asking Jay that when he'd tell me about the album...."I've got this album by Mark-Almond".... "Oh yeah, Marc Almond, from Soft Cell?"..... "No"..... "Are you sure"...."Yep." That sort of thing.
      In order to steer me out of confusion, Jay just brought the LP over and left it at my house, so now I know that "Mark" is Jon Mark and "Almond" is Johnny Almond, hence the name of the band. (Note the hyphen.) Jon Mark is the songwriter -- there's only one song on the album he didn't write, and that was by Rodger Sutton, the bass player. Johnny Almond gets his last name in the band name, but he doesn't even so much as co-write a single song on here, he just plays "Baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, vibes, vocal harmonies, conga drums, concert alto and bass flute." So he's like the 'winds' player of the group, and though two others are credited with "percussion," he's also the only one credited with any "drums." And conga drums are just hand drums, which he evidently plays when he's not playing solos/atmospherics on his sax. (The lack of a drum kit adds to this record's low-key mellow seventies sound, as well as associating it with the psych-folk scene...all of the psych-folk bands mentioned above used hand drums when they used drums at all.)
       The first track is sort of iffy, sounding a bit like substandard Van Dyke Parks, but it's not terrible either, especially in the context of the next track, an 11-minute suite called "The City," which really opens the album up. It's a two-chord vamp with mellow vocals and mellow conga drums setting up a light but insistent 'nossa bova' kind of groove, which especially kicks in with the chorus chant: "I do'wanna go, I do'wanna go, I do'wanna go back to the city..." After that, " " closes out the side, reminding me of a shorter version of Tim Buckley's "Love From Room 109" -- I think fans of that vibe might actually like this record. However, side two is not as has another 'long cut' with the 12-minute, but unfortunately it's not another sinuous psychedelic groove like "The City," but an attempt at a 'slow orchestrated ballad' that ends up not saying much more about beauty than its title. Though I've spun side one several times, I haven't even made it through this side once.
I need to get a good rock reference book -- right now the only one I have that has anything on these guys is The Rolling Stone Record Guide from 1979, edited by Dave Marsh (with John Swenson, whomever he might be). It says "alumni of John Mayall's group," which is actually kind of disappointing, because it grounds the ethereality of "The City" in the mid-70s blues-rock radio industry. But then that reminds me, radio, and even blues-rock radio, was much better in the 70s -- how else woulda weirdo band like Blue Oyster Cult gotten famous?
      Marsh gives all of Mark-Almond's (five!) LP's two stars out of five, calling them "mood music for the Valium set." I actually like mood music, and if I wanna feel like I'm on Valium, which sometimes I do, I'd much rather do it by listening to mood music than by having to take Valium. About a Jon Mark solo LP, Marsh says "so smooth and relaxing, you'll wonder if you've been drugged." Well sorry Dave, but that sounds like an album I'd like to hear, and that describes "The City" pretty well. As for side two, what a disappointment. I'd give it two stars too, or maybe even one, but not because it's 'druggy,' because it's NOT druggy, instead being kinda distractingly pretentious like all second-tier 70s pomp-rock, offering the same sensation as when you're listening to Pink Floyd and you're not able to go all the way and just LOSE IT, only it's even more 'just okay' than that. -- Matt Silcock

R!!!S!!!: Lake CD (VHF)
Lake was a double-LP released in an edition of 300 copies in 1990 on a label called No Fans Records, based in Harpenden, England. The musicians behind Lake were also the owners of the label, and were named Richard Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith; their first initials, excitedly presented, making up the name of their 'group.' Album sales didn't exactly take off, and they still had 297 copies left when a single rave review in Forced Exposure magazine inspired tuned-in households worldwide to order a copy, and it promptly sold out. Those 297 Forced Exposure readers are pretty much the only people who've heard it until now, as VHF Records has pressed up a special "10th Anniversary" CD reissue of this legendary album. Now another couple thousand interested households can let this music play. The following document, found scrawled in ballpoint pen on scattered post-it notes around my listening room beanbag, might give you an idea what it sounded like in mine:
       'Side One is immediately baffling, packing 8 tracks into its 14 minutes, not so much songs as they are recorded found objects and/or performances of inscrutable mini-manifestos and/or well, songs. (The last track "Hymn," all two minutes and fourteen seconds of it, is definitely a song.) The record begins in a pretty disorienting way, with Richard and Simon chatting nonchalantly while weird humming sounds swirl around them and much-louder-than-everything-else jarring percussive hits keep the bewildered listener at attention. As if it were the most natural thing to do, Simon starts reading the posted rules sign from some public place that evidently they took down and shepherded home to Harpenden to make a spoken-word piece out of. (Voila! A found object.) The next track, "Anti-Social Behaviour" is another near-inscrutable spoken-word found-object mini-manifesto, this one sounding like Richard and Simon simultaneously reading separate treatises on anarchy, perhaps from some old book by Emma Goldman, or perhaps from a punk zine, or maybe written by R!!! and S!!! themselves -- the mystery is starting to unfold. As are several tablespoons of genial dada humor: the next track, "Anti-Social Behaviour In Iceland," is the same spoken text played backwards with the improv-drone backing mixed out. As the side continues we get more experiments, such as a three-minute-long full-fledged electro-acoustic performance that could've come straight from INA-GRM or whatever, called "Ricardo Ibarruri (b. 1961): String trio with live electronics (1985)," a one-line zen koan ("The only thing to do with money is to lose it") repeated over and over by R!!!, S!!!, and special guests Gareth and Yvonne, who all sound like glassy-eyed Zen zombies with avant-folk gtr and flute backing. Then there's another barely scrutable mini-manifesto on "Art and Literature," and then the aforementioned and rather lovely "Hymn."
        Side Two has only three tracks in 21 minutes, and hence follows a more A-Band-like long-form approach to beatless countryside-inflected space jamming that's heavy on the oven tray bowing. At least the 7-minute first track "Let Them Eat Records" is in that zone, building up a nice slow head of rattling steam after some more talking. The second track "Dance: Help The Aged (Give Them A Heart Attack)" sounds like percussion tracks played both forwards and backwards - possibly a remix of "Let Them Eat Records"? Chris Moon didn't like this side, he doesn't like what he calls "fuck-off" tracks, like half the stuff on Neu! 2. I think it's got it a nice 'burrowing' sound, it definitely works for me, but then I can listen to Neu! 2 beginning to end no problem. Ah yes, side two track three "Wasp" is another backwards piece, this one even sparser than the last but just as rhythmic.

           Okay, side three is where they get down to the usual drone improv underground business of the side-long album cut. Here it's called "Chord," a single track clocking in at 19:17. The name would imply something like "Duet" of the later LP Enedkeg, but R!!! and S!!! were defying drone improv underground side-long album cut expectations before there were even expectations: "Chord" is a duet for Classical Guitar and Reed Organ. And on the Reed Organ, S!!! plays an ugly farting atonal staccatto chord over and over again ad infinitum. 3 minutes in, the chords still going, and maybe I'm hearing the Classical Guitar by R!!! but I really don't think so. Okay, 5 minutes in I can definitely hear him, but he's barely playing anything, just sort of plunking along with the Reed Organ, just as atonally but more occasionally and much more quietly. I have to listen to 14 more minutes of this? Give me side one again! No, it's pretty cool -- again, it's a sort of found object piece, with the object being the chord Simon's playing, hence the title of the piece. In Cubist fashion, the object is repeated over and over again so that the viewer can glean multiple perspectives on its being. (Because if you listen close, you'll realize that you can't hear the same chord twice...) And of course, seven minutes in the chord's repetition is speeded up a bit (motif and variation, theme and development....see, this is classical music!)...and it sounds like Richard's got his classical guitar plugged into an amp because I think I can hear static in between chord pumps....notice I haven't used the word 'minimalism' yet in this review? I guess 'minimalism' is what I mean by 'found object''s not music so much as it's just an object, one sound-thing, presented for some duration. With five minutes to go, Simon has speeded up his object presentation quite a bit....when he speeded up I'm not quite sure, 'cause I was writing, and it just sort of started to happen after I quit listening, sort of the way Steve Reich's "Four Organs" slows down, or elongates, after you quit listening to it. Except "Chord" is just one organ. Oh jeez, now there's just three minutes left and now that the chords are closer and closer together they're really starting to build up a drone -- and whaddayaknow, they just broke into full-fledged drone, with a beating percussion sound underneath (that's not "Classical Guitar" is it???) and man it's actual payoff! Okay, I'll stop now.
           Maybe I should take a break before writing about Side Four. Or maybe I should just let you hear that one yourself. Twenty minutes, three tracks: "Bells," "Redenhall," and "Goat." "Bells" is a duet for "clock chimes." And "Redenhall" really does hearken forward to "Duet" from Enedkeg. (Or is it "Urban Music From The Middle Of Nowhere"?) And "Goat" is a pretty heavy song-object (that hearkens forward to Ceaucescu). That's all I'll tell you.'

           Okay, wow. This really is a great album, thank you thank you thank you to VHF for the reissue. By the way, despite all the individual pieces/cuts/tracks, it's presented on the CD (like the Drag City CD of Royal Trux's Twin Infinitives) as just four tracks, one for each LP side. I can't imagine what it was like back in 1990 or 1991, to have the original LP pressing arrive in your mail and to ritualistically play each of the sides in order so as to hear these goofy mysteries slowly walk deeper and deeper into the Lake...........







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