Blastitude Number Seven
number seven april 2001
page 5

 


JORGE CASTRO/CARLOS GIFFONI: Guitarras del Olvido y Pensamientos Dimensionales CD-R (PUBLIC EYESORE); MONOTRACT CS (WHITE TAPES)
Carlos Giffoni, from Miami, FL and now residing in NYC, is in Monotract. Jorge Castro is an "ambient guitarist" from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he plays solo and in a project called Cornucopia. Guitarras del Olvido y Pensamientos Dimensionales is a piece played by these two, an improvisation according to a theme, such as the title, "dimensional guitars of the forgetfulness and thoughts" (as translated by http://babelfish.altavista.com/
translate.dyn
). Two guitars, no percussion, no vocals, more traditionally 'ambient' than Monotract -- if it wasn't for the harsh ampflier-glitch, buried in the mix but present throughout, I might even call some of this "Eno-esque."

       In fact, very unlike the Monotract tape on White, which was ratty as f**k, a live
band in a basement and/or apartment playing loud to an audience of themselves and the recording head of a cheap cassette four-track. Two guitars and a sparse drummer, much of the time playing straight-out noise (heavy on wacked effect-box stompery) but not without a strangely swaggering rock undercurrent. 98% instrumental, and The Monotract tape on Whitewhen the singing comes you barely notice it, and the lyrics can't be real words....just some quiet wail and chatter coming from somewhere in the basement.

        Compared to that sort of stomp, this CD-R seems kinda nice and cute...it even has the cute little floaty 'zippity-doo' melodies that show up in all sorts of academic/generic electronic music. Those are probably coming from Castro, and it's probably Giffoni playing the slow mysterious key-of-e(erie) chime-rock passages, just like Thurston woulda strummed out in the Bad Moon Rising days. These parts may seem kinda cliched place-holders, but there are many moments before and after and in between that can get pretty heated/huzzy/dreamy/rarified. The idea of another "ambient guitarist" doesn't get me too excited, but Castro brings some pretty dreamy and disorienting techniques to the table, and Giffoni keeps it real for the most the part too. At 30 minutes, it's a little long but good things are still happening in the last couple minutes. All in all, probably best as an in-betweener on your multi-disc changer. But then what isn't?

LINKS:
Public Eyesore Records
High-Knee Music

THIRD TROLL: Phlebotomy CD-R (self-released)
This is a 'Bardo Pond side project,' featuring Isobel and the Gibbons Bros. from that band, as well as noted zinester Kevin Moist, and one Aaron Igler. I can't believe this band is actually named Third Troll. On the cover art, their name is written in such a 'psychedelic' font that it was a couple weeks before I even thought to try and read it. The CD-R was handed to me as a "Bardo Pond side project." I looked at it and saw colors and a squiggle, and I didn't bother to search for a name, "Bardo Pond side project" being good enough. I eventually figured out that the colors were a trippy picture of a cactus, but I kinda wish I never had bothered to read the squiggle...I mean, Third Troll? Bardo Pond have always kind of had this weed-encrusted nature-person imagery to them, but it's always been subtle, refreshingly urban, and charming. As a band name, Third Troll is none of those things. But that's why this is a CD-R in an edition of 100, and not a fully pressed 'indie' cd of 1000 or more. Another reason might be that the music on here really isn't that exciting. What Bardo Pond does is basic too, but at least they have a bass-and-drums groove, a woozy vocal aura, and a long-cultivated effortless 'band vibe', all three of which combine to take their meat-and-potatoes jam-psych skyward. Third Troll don't really have any of these things, and their music lays on the ground, deflated. Any one 30 second snippet works just fine as an entry in the drone sweepstakes, but when every track is (or seems to be) 24 minutes long for no reason other than, I don't know, the tape didn't run out...well, I guess that's why it's 'limited'. (Note: The also-limited and self-released Bardo Pond Volume One CD-R is really excellent, though, so go figure.)

THE SHIGGAR FRAGGAR SHOW VOL. 4 video (HIP HOP SLAM)
This is a very simple video of a quartet of hip hop DJ scratch wizards doing a performance at a pirate radio station. The musicians in question are Shortkut, Q-Bert, Disk, and Flare. (The rather frightening Shiggar Fraggar himself makes some brief appearances.) There are some people scattered around the studios watching, visible occasionally, but the performance is intended for the radio waves and not for eyeballing. Thus, we get a no-nonsense depiction of four guys in a room, jamming out, bobbing their baseball caps up and down, hammering away on their respective turntable-and-fader combo, evoking the instrumental prowess of Jimi Hendrix while getting as funky as a James Brown drummer. They'll rock a super-funky beat for five minutes and then one of 'em will pull out that one weird record, and the sound vibe starts to mutate...These segues between beat sections can be outright prog-rock, with shifty herky-jerky rhythms and bizarre giddy-up audio collaging that wouldn't play for more than about five seconds on your average dance floor. During these transitions, the DJ's perform little solos, duos, and trios, necessitated by another's need to search for a record, cue a part, or just take a break to have a drink.
        You might need a break too, this video being an hour long. It's just one performance, one camera, one concept, the whole time. In fact, the sheer skill of these guys might even be what makes you weary....it's almost like watching four John Coltranes playing an improvised sax quartet, or a quartet of Hendrixes wailing together...in other words, it verges on too much of a good thing. The Shiggar Fraggar Show Volume 4 almost seems to be less a sequential piece than a random storehouse of ideal instrumental hip-hop music, four incredible musicians playing everything they know, and interacting it, improvisationally, in real time. What saves it is that the music is so consistently astounding, whether they're taking soundbites from 1979 Steve Martin comedy records, playing an old Hershey's Chocolate Bar commercial in its un-scratched entirety, or just taking unnameable sections of unnameable LPs and making deep funky dense psychedelic music with 'em.

WEEKEND PUSSY HUNT; STARSHIP REGULARS internet cartoons
I have a subscription to Juxtapoz magazine because it's simply the most exciting bunch of full-color eye candy that I've been able to find nowadays. What's more, it comes every two months, and not in the form of a $50 hardback 'coffee table' book, just your basic $5 glossy newstand mag. It's true, you get what you pay for, and the cheap glossy paper that Juxtapoz is printed on can tear pretty easily and often gets damaged in the mail. But, torn or not, it sits on my coffee table just fine and it seems like there's practically $50 worth of stuff to look at in every issue anyway. Not to mention interesting things to read, like a blurb in the November/December 2000 issue about a website called www.icebox.com that "has production deals with more than 50 writers who have been the backbones for some of the funniest-ever television series, including The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Ren & Stimpy, and King of the Hill, and have been lured into cyberspace by the prospect of participating in a censorship-free creative playground."
            I went straight to my computer and dialed up the internet, rather thrilled by the idea of seeing some new, "censorship-free" John Kricfalusi material (and possibly also by some furtive idea in the back of my mind that the teenage niece character from King of the Hill might appear naked). The site loaded right up, and due to its sharp and easy-to-use layout, within moments I was just a click away from viewing any of nine episodes of John K's new series, the disarmingly titled Weekend Pussy Hunt. Naturally, I chose the first episode. Best to start at the beginning, right?
            After a good 10 or 15 minute downloading period (this is why I keep a good book always within reach of the computer) the first episode sputtered to life. The plot seemed to be merely a couple young brats, designed, drawn, and animated in full Kricfalusi grotesque mode, getting their dog to do three or four tricks. Really, that's about itI don't even recall any final punchline or especially dirty (or excuse me, "uninhibited") jokes, except maybe the dog farting a couple times. It really made me feel that I was a ground zero observer of this new technology, like it was 1905 and I was watching the first flickering, skipping, rudimentary motion picture that had made it to some small town in Kansas. John K's characters speak in short lines with long zombie-like pauses between, literally waiting for the technology to reanimate them, while their dialogue rings out on the glitchy Real Audio soundtrack a half-second early or a half-second late. Kricfalusi's characters are always psychotics who speak in strangely truncated sentences, but here it's clear a different power is at work, and it really throws off John K's comic timing. (Here's where computer fetishists say "Man, you need to upgrade your system," and hey, someday I probably will, but I'm not gonna upgrade it just because of Weekend Pussy Hunt, okay?)
            I decided to give Weekend Pussy Hunt another chance and clicked on a much later episode - number nine, I believe. I figured this would've given them time to get a lot of the glitches out, and the playability of the episode had indeed improved; at least, a relatively more elaborate plot is handled capably. The premise is a dog calling his wife from downtown one evening, explaining to her that he'll be coming home late. A classic split screen is used and we see her at home in the kitchen in her apron. He says there's a cat that he has "to take care of" because it insulted him. She accuses him of just wanting to "chase pussy." He screams back "I can't help it! I'm a dog!" and that's the joke, though the scene is played surprisingly straight, with both characters becoming increasingly traumatic while their children look on tearfully. He starts using the f and the s words, and Kricfalusi isn't using expletives to make dirty jokes, but for cathartic dramatic tension. It's an intense piece, especially when coupled with the jarring sound problems, making for some altogether challenging viewing, like I had stumbled onto some broken cartoon recasting of an Edward Albee play. Still, the payoff at the end was good, with a nice bit of vintage Kricfalusi surrealism for a punchline.
            For what it's worth, Weekend Pussy Hunt wasn't listed on Icebox's 'favorites' list, which names their 6 most popular series. I tried to check out one of these, a cartoon called Starship Regulars. Its splash page advertised an episode called "Conquest" that was made to look like it involved some sort of hot robot sex between a hot chick robot and the show's John Ritter/Ron Howard/John Stamos young white male sitcom lead. It didn't work, because as soon as I clicked to download, Netscape Navigator™ decided to shut itself down with the all-too-familiar 'illegal operation' message.
           Sometime much later it occurred to me to try it again, and this time, after another 10-to-15 minute wait, it played quite nicely. More dialogue is attempted than by Kricfalusi, and with it comes some decent characterization...the Ritter/Howard/
Stamos hybrid was even kinda likable, as was a second character, his co-worker/buddy/'straight man'. (Sort of Jim Belushi-esque.) As for the robot sex, that's what I didn't like about the episode - there wasn't any! Just a brief appearance by the blue, stacked, and 93% naked hot robot chick, saying things like "My lust circuits are overloading! I must have you now!" Again, that was about as dirty as it got. I don't think the Icebox crew is taking advantage of this new lawless internet frontier like the hype might suggest they are. Sure, there's some 'off color' and 'blue' joke material, and John K's dog characters get in about four or five more farts per episode than were allowed on Ren & Stimpy. Truly, farting is always at least a little bit funny in real life, but in comedy shows it can seem a little excessive, a little forced. (No pun intended.) What would really be fun is if the hot robot chick were topless instead of wearing some strange skimpy blouse-and-skirt ensemble, or if maybe some characters even had some softcore sex like in the Heavy Metal movie. But who am I kidding, this is a creative force made up of John Kricfalusi and his demented gross-out contemporaries. Looking at icebox.com for sexy internet images is like trying to jerk off to Mad Magazine instead of Penthouse!




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