Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman
Two or three Blastitude readers asked me
last issue's record review section, headlined "Possibly
the Last Record Review Section I Will Ever Write,"
really was the last record review section I would ever
write. Looking at some of my pissy and neglectful rush-job
opinions, maybe it should have been! In particular I'd
like to apologize to the Last Visible Dog label for the
review of their Invisible Pyramid comp, which
is re-reviewed this ish, and to the artist(s?) known as
Slaw, who I held up as an example of the kinda annoying
Artsy genre, which was unfair because they're actually
pretty good. Bottom line is, I don't think they're wasting
their time or my time by making music, and it's the people
who are that really deserve the negative reviews. But
that's what happens when you try to review too many albums,
but . . . the same thing happened this issue. Way too
many albums! That's because I seem to be ADDICTED to writing
reviews. Oh well. Better than being addicted to PCP-laced
crystal methamphetamine (though similar). Or booze, for
that matter. I appreciate each and every person who has
sent albums, especially the ones that I haven't gotten
to -- I'm still trying! Keep sending me albums! You never
know, you might get a rush-job review someday! (And, I'm
going to start updating reviews as they get written, one
or two or three at a time, so that should help.)
PRODUCTIONS from Madison, WI sent along tons
of stuff in a package that consisted entirely of bubble wrap
sheets and packing tape, with a "Priority Mail"
sticker slapped on top. TONS of 3-inch CDRs inside, which
is my current favorite format, and good thing too, because
they're everywhere all of a sudden. I like 'em because they're
a guaranteed EP, which means I just might have time to sort
a bunch of this 23 stuff out, if I get started . . . . . on
top of the pile we've got Craig Microcassette System,
called 3-24-02 is 23 minutes and 45 seconds of modified
micro cassettes rumbling and crunking and chipping and decaying
in slow motion. For a while it reminds me of that Crawling
With Tarts double 7-inch with the Italian title that was just
sounds of motors, except that this is a more out of control
and messy breed of low-down and blanked-out growl-scrape.
And that's a good thing, still getting better with every listen.
think this next one is Metrocide with Beekeeper.
It's kinda hard to tell because it's an x-ray readout altered
so that the words "Metrocide" and "Beekeeper"
are on there, in the same really small font as the official
readout stuff. One 15-minute track. Starts with a single pulsing
high-pitched tone that soon starts morphing / bending / phasing
/ crying. I swear to you, this makes more sense to me as "blues
music" than most other things that have been recorded
in that name since electricity. It gets even better from there,
the single tone continuing its intrepid path through all kinds
of grimy textures. Gets into some harsh scraping stuff late
in the track too. An excellent taste of psychedelic noise.
Toy Monster by Loop
Ret@rd is, true to form, a bunch of retarded loops,
playfully layered. At first the main thing I can come up with
for this release is that it would be perfect music for a DJ
to talk over on some weirdo community station. On the second
listen, I'm like, "man, the ret@rd worked really hard
on this, there's a LOT going on . . . and some of it is kind
of scary!" Check out track four, how he creates a broken
country song that goes "Blood hands! Blood hands! BLOOD
by Mumber Toes is one track of glitchy feedbacky
stop-start malfunction noise. A lot of uncertain silences,
awkward mic squeals, intermittent scrapes, sudden gut-spews
from the black bowels of hell, that sort of thing. A weird
one. I like it a lot. 23 also sent Mumber Toes'
3", more static start / stop scrape. Sounds like someone
fumbling with a radio in the other room. At times, it seems
to stop completely. Kind of low-key for something called "Apeiron."
Mumber Toes is an alias for Karen Eliot (which might also
be an alias), and she has a style all her own.
3" in the player is actually by The Actual Pubics.
Hey, this isn't noise -- sounds like a rock band. Heavy guitar,
heavy drums, played in a kind of 'dream raga' style. Actually
this is kind of like Side One of Burning Star Core's Brighter
Summer Day LP, which is a pretty good thing to be like.
Same length too, one 16-minute track.
And, finally for
this stack, the Garage Indians contribute
Indian Summer, which is different from most 23 Productions
stuff in that it's an actual 5-inch CDR, and the packaging
isn't as sleek, it's more 'here's my band's CDR demo with
a Kinko's color copy for a cover and that's me on the cover
with the goofy stocking cap and horned-rim glasses.' But the
'indie nerd' look is misleading; this is actually a pretty
psychedelic record of three guys fooling around quasi-electro-acoustically,
sort of pretending to be a 'rock band' but the result is barely
even close. Lots of dead air, vague yelling, and intermittent
harshness. Track three is one of the more rock ones on here,
sounding like Amon Düül 1 recorded in Sightings'
practice space. Oh never mind, it's called "Cattle Trig
(crash worship ripoff)," so I guess I mean it sounds
like Crash Worship. Other times I get what might even be To
Live and Shave and Whitehouse vibes. And, the whole thing
sounds like it was recorded in a hay barn. (Actually it was
an abandoned schoolhouse.) Album credits are funny: "Tim
- sings, plays acoustic bass, is Axl, Greg - guitar -n- beer
bottle caps, Dave - plays drums without knowing how."
I guess that's not TOO funny, I just like the "is Axl"
part. This is funny too: "All recorded in Wisconsin (sorry)."
Some of this is fucking-around genius, but some of it is just
fucking around, and of course they had to load up the whole
disc with around 70 minutes worth of stuff, which is a little
too much to digest. I've been spoiled by all these concise
3-inchers. If they'd pressed the best 40 minutes of this up
on a nice home-made LP I'd probably be utterly blown away.
Oh shit, I just found a bunch
more 23 Productions stuff in the 'to review' bin -- man, they
sent a lot! More Metrocide, that's good .
. . actually quite a few 5-inch discs, some cassettes, even
a nutty 4xC60 8-way split release . . . . stay tuned, it looks
like there will be several more 23 Productions reviews soon!
label sent me the single largest amount of product I've ever
gotten in one mailing. No way I could even begin to review
it all, but here's a few notables.
POLICE/BURNING STAR CORE/MONOTRACT: Cafe Tattoo (After) 3/16/03
start with the Hair Police / Burning Star Core / Monotract
collab CDR. Breathmint CEO Mat Rademan was actually just here
at Blastitude HQ, on a tour pit-stop from his home in the
Philadelphia area, and he told me that he wanted this CDR
to get some reviews because it hadn't really been getting
any notice. In fact, he said, it had yet to get a single positive
comment from any of the few people who had heard it. His cohort
M.P. provided that it was very "uncharacteristic"
work for the bands involved. Well, I'm listening to it right
now, and I'm not going to give it a single positive comment
either! This CDR is an absolute waste! Let me guess: after
their Philly show, all the bands slept on Rademan's apartment
floor, and he snuck in there at 4:30 AM with his walkman recorder
and just let it run. No one snored or even stirred. There
may have been a lawn sprinkler going somewhere outside. So
this is a mere conceptual art piece, a 'found' sculpture,
or installation, or something. More boring than the Warhol
/ THURSTON MOORE: Tribute to MLK Jr. 3" CD
Yeah, don't tell me, this is Thurston Moore while he's asleep
too . . . actually, close, it's him playing pencil sharpener.
No, make that "hyped out amped to the frikkin max electric
pencil sharpener as recorded and mixed by Jim O'Rourke."
Wow, did someone say Jim O'Rourke???! Isn't he supposed
to be good? Okay, all kidding aside, this isn't JUST a pencil
sharpener; there seems to be some ominous low-end guitar,
and there's an MLK Jr. sample going throughout (this release
is, after all, a tribute to the man). Hey, it's actually pretty
good, and track two, which is the "same track recorded
by James 'MOZ' Brand" is better yet. Good strobing noise.
Apparently track three is MOZ solo (I don't know who this
guy is) and it's good too, like track two, but getting even
more squeezed and clamped by the mass of the universe.
seriously, Breathmint is a pretty nutty label, and it's fun
to just grab a handful of stuff and check it out. They have
this junk aesthetic, lots of handmade and homemade crap, 3"
CDRs, 10 second long tapes, regular cassettes with hasty striking
covers (hand-drawn, hand-collaged), day-glo 3.5" floppy
discs (that include a grody html page and a couple silly MP3s),
CDRs with terrible covers, CDRs with good covers, CDRs of
people sleeping, lots of other stuff, and occasionally the
nice handsome professional full-press CD. Breathmint is psychedelic,
in that sugary breakfast cereal cartoon kind of way, but also
in that rough 7-cent-xerox kind of way. The majority of these
releases are by or involve Rademan's 'noise musician' alter
ego, Newton. Such as . . .
DESTROY ALL NEWTON 3" CDR
is a 14 minute live performance. Someone's playing delay-laden
'space-rock' guitar, someone's playing noise sheetage, someone
sounds like they're playing a toy whistle or scratching a
blackboard, and someone else is on a mic, babbling in a high-pitched
voice. It's a pretty good throwdown -- even the space-rock
guitar fits in pretty well. They stop and the audience seems
to have liked them, and then they go into an 'encore' -- with
metal guitar! He goes on just a little too long with the guitar,
though . . . Oh, here's the info: "Complete live show
from August 10th 2001 in Philadelphia. Destroy all Newton
is a trio performance featuring newton, Greg Kerr on guitar
and Keith E. Stetson on saxophone. Blew the ears off the kids
that sat threw both Monotract and Bunnybrain's sets. Hoping
that Arab On Radar would show up soon to stop this racket."
Zack Jones Is Fucking Dead CS
to some cassettes . . . these are all spray-painted with gnarly
sick-glo bad-sherbert combinations like mustard yellow and
toucan pink . . . hey, I knew a kid named Zack Jones when
I was little, he was my buddy Gary Jones's little brother
. . . I hope he's not dead, he was cool! But this was
recorded in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Zack Jones I knew grew
up about 40 miles from Omaha . . . . hmmm . . . . anyway,
this is a live set in Omaha with THREE drummers playing along
with Newton . . . and one of 'em is the drummer from The Faint!
But it sounds more like the No Neck Blues Band. Yep, this
is surprisingly jammy and psych-sounding -- not really 'noise'
at all. Crappy recording makes for a good feel. But you know
what -- it goes on WAAAAYYY too long! I can't believe how
long it goes on! Man, listening to this whole thing is really
gonna slow down my reviewing pace . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . [hours later] . . . . alright, it finally ended .
. . . . oh my god, there's music on the other side too! It's
probably just side A repeated . . . . but what if it isn't?
Sorry, I'm not gonna listen to it. Hey, it all sounds good,
just needs editing . . . . or maybe in the first place they
should've been jamming more with a beginning, middle, and
end in mind . . . .
& NATURALISTE: N Squared Volume 1 CS
cassette is first in a series in which Newton collaborates
with various other artists who also have a name that starts
with N. You probably know Naturaliste, it seems like a lot
of people know who they are. They're from Omaha too, although
this was recorded at Newton's pad in the Philadelphia area.
This is more 'noise' oriented, but also quiet, with that low-key
battery-op feel to it. A lot of beeping and bloops, grinds
and tinkering. A few minutes in, it gets harsher. Good stuff,
I like the harsher grinding. Stick around, towards the end
it gets really good.
NEWTON & NEW FAGGOT CUNTS: N Squared Volume 3
the way, you might not be able to fully tell from the images,
the covers on this N Squared series are all cool slightly
varied junk-psych-mandala-optical type things. Volume 3 features
our man whose alias starts with the letter "N" jamming
live in Minneapolis with that l'il ole band from Nashville,
New Faggot Cunts, who aren't a band anymore (although two
of them are now in a band called Tan As Fuck). Apparently
the NFC drummer slept through this whole performance, which
is surprising because these are some loud bleating 'nightmare'
sounds. Really pretty nasty, with nice 'live venue' reverb.
Also apparently, "a totally naked girl added some vocals
while putting a tuba over her head and MSG laid down some
rad guitar noise, but about 5 or so minutes into it he was
unplugged." I can hear the naked girl's vocals (scary
screaming) . . . hell, I think I can even hear the rad guitar
& NEON HUNK: N Squared Volume 4 CS
the New Faggot Cunts collab, this is live in Minneapolis.
I'm really curious to hear this because I've never heard Hunk
do anything but play Neon Hunk songs. (I hear the drummer
does really cool solo stuff, and I'm sure if the keyboardist
does solo stuff it's really cool too.) And hey, what was I
saying earlier about Breathmint being "psychedelic like
sugary breakfast cereal"? Well, apparently this jam is
called "Newton's Cereal Experiment" and it's "about
a cereal that Newton created at the Mall of America's General
Mills amusement park." Not that I can understand a single
word about anything, although I do hear some goofy mouth noises
and faint ranting somewhere in all the high harsh squealing
feedback. No drums, no riffs, none of the helium argument
vocals, this is ten or so minutes of streaming freenoise babble
that sounds a lot more like Newton than Neon Hunk. Crowd likes
& ARNOUX: The Kitchen Sessions CDR
that name doesn't start with an N! Alright, more junk culture
on the cover: that cinnamon raisin toast that you buy by the
processed loaf! And it has faces in it! And, it's a crap color
xerox, I wouldn't want it any other way. (Seriously.) As for
the music: Arnoux is the performance name of L. Methe from
the aforementioned Naturaliste. This is a session recorded
in a kitchen: and it's totally improvised music! Quieter,
sparse, plucky, and I think acoustic! Arnoux plays his trademark
violin, and Newton seems to be playing banjo! Well, there's
also some electronics in there, amp noise, weird hums, but
this is definitely some kitchen music. As free improv music
it holds its own, like Davey Williams & Ladonna Smith
if they snorted some crushed ephedrine before playing . .
. but I've gotta bow out here at the 16:28 mark (nice psychedelic
guitar note -- where did that come from?) because I've got
a lot to listen to . . .
AS FUCK WITH NEWTON CDR
that name doesn't start with an N either! Wow, the first track
is 44 minutes long. Wonder if I'll make it through this one?
Sounds great after a couple minutes: sparse (electronic?)
water sounds . . . like a weird 60s moog record . . . . now
the water's coming faster and there are omino-grinds in the
background . . . excellent so far! . . . . . . . . . . Okay,
baby woke up, had to go feed him, now I'm back and this actually
sounds more like Neon Hunk than the Newton and Neon Hunk cassette
did. It's at the 38 minute mark of the first track, sounds
like Angela from TAF is talking though a vocoder, pretty goofy
(and hence the Hunkness). This might just be the pick of the
whole Newton litter, it's like a catalog of sci-fi sounds,
jammed in real time, and it's excellent because it's so sparse.
Track two is louder and faster and a third as long (still
like 15 minutes), a fine dense digitized analog stream, but
it's the sci-fi sparseness of the first track that really
GIFFONI & NEWTON: Serious Noise Musicians CDR
that name doesn't start with an . . . oh never mind. This
is burned onto a CDR that looks like a miniature vinyl record
on top . . . . more pop culture effluzia (sp?). And yet another
collaboration, with Carlos Giffoni of Monotract, this time
live in Rochester, New York. Complete with an introduction
by an emcee. Two tracks, almost the exact same length (17:44
and 17:35), self-explanatorily titled "Improvised Piece
For Prepared Electronics, Damaged Electronics, Turntable,
and Gameboy" and "Improvised Piece For The Motion
Picture 'The Hot Chick' (on Fast Forward)." The stuff
is solid -- the last 5-10 minutes of "The Hot Chick"
track especially, with streaming noise vs. some carnival type
shit in the background -- and the track lengths are perfect
for a two-song vinyl LP. Maybe if it had been pressed that
way, and it wasn't the seventh Newton and _____ release I've
listened to in a row, I'd be a little more excited by it.
(There I go again, with bad reviewing technique . . . the
'review the whole label all at once' thing just doesn't always
work, especially when you're talking about like 37 releases
. . .)
"Attempts To Play In The Style Of ORTHO" CDR
he's either collaborating or imitating, does this guy ever
have his own schtick? I'm not even sure what the style of
Ortho is, having only heard one five-minute track on the Phi-Phenomena
CD, a complete live set, that sounded like a kitchen blender
being turned on and then off five minutes later (with some
nice electronic manipulation going on throughout). Well, so
far this is almost silent . . . let me turn it up a little
. . . okay, there's some really quiet electronic tone, nice
actually, and . . . YEP, a bunch of apes yelling "OOH
OOH AAH!!!," and then back to those near-silent electronics
. . . . nice actually! I say "YEP" about the ape
sounds because this CDR seems to be subtitled APES! CLAY!
WOOKIES! and has a picture of Chewbacca on the back and
some Sasquatch or something on the front. So that nutty stuff
we're hearing is probably Chewbacca-talk, maybe even taped
from the Star Wars Christmas Special (a one-off shown
on network TV back in 1978, with a special effects budget
apparently smaller than that of Starsky & Hutch,
and I know for a fact that Newton owns a copy). See . . .
more junk culture effluxia (sp?). Well, I still don't know
that this is in the style of Ortho, more in the style of the
Beast People, albeit a more 'goofy' version. But take away
the chimp noises and you've got a nice spooky electronics
album. And then the chimp noises are kind of good too, because
an album that's too goofy beats an album that's too serious
in my book. Plus, it kind of reminds me of that one Cromagnon
track with all the grunting.
Track two is a 'found
record' playing some syrupy children's music while the apes
& wookies moan and gurgle. Some real good gurgles around
the 5 minute mark. Four more tracks on here, all shorter ones,
which I listened to but don't really remember. I can tell
you that they didn't suck, however -- I like this release!
Dead Cats Don't Meow 3" CDR
Newton alone! In the style of . . . Newton! And wait'll you
see the packaging fun on this one -- it's like this hammerhead-shaped
3" CDR, with two sides cut off . . . I can't explain
it, so I scanned the open case, it's at the bottom of this
blurb. It still works in the player, and . . . . . Newton
in the style of Newton is . . . . great! Actually this is
the best streaming noise yet on any of these releases. I also
really like it because it's just one track, clocking in at
4:55, and I like the quick hitters. Another fun thing is that
my CDDB (or whatever it's called) feature reads this track
as being "Stand Together" by Bill Anderson, composed
by Bill Anderson and Jim & Leslie Oosterwyk. Genre? "Religious."
Say it with me: MORE JUNK CULTURE EFFLUSIA! (sp?) Also on
that tip: cover art is influenced by South Park!
ARTISTS: Short Attention Span VHS
time for one more Breathmint review, this one of a VHS compilation
with a novel concept: "9 Bands, 11 Full Sets, 2 Encores,
38 Minutes." Yep, this is a little document of this whole
post-Cock ESP/Phi-Phenomena movement towards really short
but generally action-packed sets. The funny thing is, I still
found myself fast-forwarding a couple times to get to the
end of someone's set. Highlights were Pengo & Nuuj (pretty
much rocked harder than anything else on the whole tape, dig
John Schoen's keyboard stabs and Nuuj's contort-yourself stage
presence) and . . . . well, I can't really call Cornelius
Ape a 'highlight,' but I sure do remember it and a lot of
today's 'extreme artists' probably would see it and go "man,
that guy's kinda fucked up." It's funny how quickly he
clears the room. Were there any other highlights? I'm pretty
sure I enjoyed Newton's and Cock ESP's sets. The Suck are
a 'supergroup' made up of Matt "Zartan" Bacon on
death metal drums, the one and only Matt St. Germaine on guitar,
and Elyse Perez on vocals. Certainly a lot of personality
and talent, but they kinda live up to their name with their
'make noise and yell for a 4-second burst 4 or 5 times and
call it a set' concept. I'd Like To Stab You In The Fucking
Eye are visually hilarious with their all-black play-in-the-dark
ultra-serious screamo parody, but it would've been funnier
if they'd written a few parody songs instead of just doing
flabby improv for 30 seconds at a time.
What else? It's been
a while since I watched this (yeah, my reviewing technique
is unassailable). I really can't remember Wrong, but I think
Emil H. was kind of freaking out in this performance, doing
some great body language . . . . I can vaguely remember not
finding U Can Unlearn Guitar to be as funny/entertaining as
I thought I would . . . . and Dixie Prix is last. I can't
remember what they did at all, so I'm actually going to put
the tape back in just to watch his/their set, after hearing
about his/their infamous "Tales From Topographic
Oceans" opening set for the Phi-Phenomena on Wheels
tour. (Read about it elsewhere
in this issue.) [Time elapses.] Okay, just watched the Dixie
Prix and it was three kinda disguised guys breaking stuff
while some Latino pop music played. Lotta people breaking
stuff and falling down onstage these days . . . it's that
Cock ESP influence. The video even ends with some guys (I
recognize Lapidus) out on a city street breaking TVs. A lady
sticks her head out of her apartment window to see what the
hell's going on, and the guys breaking stuff are like "Can
you give us 1 more minute? I swear, we're almost done . .