This platter's been in the can for awhile. I first heard of it two years ago when it was one of the 189 or so releases then "upcoming" on Freedom From. Word on Gravy was that Julia Cafritz was in the band (approximately everyone reading this will know her from Pussy Galore and Free Kitten) and the album was a song-for-song cover of the Wings best-seller Band on the Run (1973). Sounded like fun but not too remarkable, I thought -- probably just a trashy rock version, lots of bum notes, bad vocals, bad taste, you know the drill, "deconstructionism," a/k/a "f***ing around." But, in a personal conversation, when Freedom From's CEO Coke Limo described the album as "good," there was something about the weird gleam in his eye that gave me pause, and with Tom "Om Myth" Smith involved I had to wonder . . .
       Well, before Freedom From could get it into production, it got picked up by new Florida-based record label The Smack Shire, and now it sits in my hand and stereo, and, well, FUCK. This is not "deconstructionist," this is DE CON (FUCK ING) STR UCTIO NIST. Good move #1 (among many): the band didn't play trashy rock covers. Apparently all they did was have the one and only Don Fleming record their vocals, and then the one and only Om Myth did the rest. If that's the case, this just might stand up there with The Wigmaker as Mr. Myth's magnum opus. It took my second listen, but getting into this album is deeply psychedelic, its events steadily unfolding with weird, unsturdy dream logic, plunderphonic sounds appearing suddenly and receding just as fast, loops from bad (and good!) records spinning out of control, restrained oozing concrete everywhere, strong and long silences giving the whole thing the rigor of a 20th Century Composition by Varese or the Pierres or even Morty Feldman . . . . if Myth's roll call of dub exemplars from Blastitude #14 didn't make sense to you when you last read it, it just might after you hear this album. Meanwhile, the cheeky / soulpacked / earnest / sarcastic / authorative / strained readings of McCartney's lyrics swim in and out of focus, sometimes gliding on and sometimes slowly sinking under a strange sea of hooks both pop and concrete, the lyrical snippets intermittently crooning to the surface of the warpage like messages in bottles.
      Such as, "Well the night was falling as the desert world began to settle down / In the town they're searching for us everywhere, but we never will be found," and I'm left to ponder, as the sound of this record goes on warping my brainwaves like Laffy Taffy, was Sir Paul STILL singing about Charlie Manson? "Jet! I can almost remember their funny faces / That time you told me that you were going to be marrying soon / And Jet, I thought the only lonely place was on the moon." Was Jet another name for John? And the ballad: "I'm a bluebird, I'm a bluebird, I'm a bluebird bluebird bluebird blewbeard bloobord blooboorooroor . . . [and so on, warped as crazily as you can imagine]." What else, it doesn't matter, the hits keep coming and I've literally listened to this twice a day for over a week now. Fans of Om Myth really need to hear this . . . and so does everybody else!

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Tarot or Aorta: Memories of a PRE Festival CD (THE SMACK SHIRE)
Festival mania seems to have swept my mind lately, mainly due to the massive DeStijl/Freedom From fest in Minneapolis. I didn't go, but I feel like I did, having checked out the pics and heard the reports, and seeing practically half the bands anyway because they played Chicago on their way to or from. Then there was that Wire festival at the Empty Bottle (see show report), the Chicago Jazz Festival (see show report), the Hideout Block Party (see show report), Kentucky Ear and Eye Control, and etc. And now it's time to review this new CD called Tarot or Aorta, a remembrance of a festival past.
      The Tora Tora Tora fest was curated by Tom "Om Myth" Smith and held in Atlanta in that strange year of 1996. No slouch of a festival, it spanned three nights, and a whopping 25 bands from really all over the place offer one full song or healthy excerpt from their performance. The CD opens ceremonially with Bobby Conn's rendition of "What Do You Like About Shabbat?," a nice call and response piece which mixes glam punk with network TV showbiz and old-world tradition. From there on the artists are presented in alphabetical order, and interesting collusions emerge from this random approach. For one, all present Electric Eels alumni have appeared by track 9. Without Dave E. present, and the distinctive aura of 1975 being long gone, things aren't quite the same. But they certainly do still rock, and their cuts are better than a good 98% of today's most hyped. The obscurely named Amoeba (raftboy) features John Morton and Paul Marotta on guitars and rocks the hardest; Brian McMahon and the Choke Cherries kind of sound like the Replacements or something but squiggly synth makes it weirder than that; and finally, (Original Members Of) Electric Eels certainly rock and roll over, but replacement vocalist Christian Brown really throws things off for me. Where is Dave E now? Nobody seems to be talking about it.
      Also within the first third of the disc appear Accustat and Delarosa, two acts featuring Atlanta native Scott Herren, who now records with some worldwide IDM / trip-hop (??) reknown as Prefuse 73. Both cuts are excellent ominous instrumental synth-rock, the Delarosa track especially impressive due to the (uncredited) drummer. An improv by LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams takes a while to get going, but builds up a nice scratch-pile of sonic claws and gewgaws . . . Alva does their weird chamber (of horrors) music thing . . . and Dixie Blood Moustache, whoever that is / was ("Laura Carter and Associates" is the only credit), also bring some great instrumental scare-squall.
      Arriving in the tenth position, Eugene Chadbourne ushers in the second two thirds of the album with a long & spacey piece of protest folk called "People Will Vote For Whoever Gives Them Food." Sounds quite pertinent seven years later in these dire political times, and following the previous Accustat track "Fragile Fragile USA," a theme emerges . . . even with his lowest approval ratings ever and blatant disregard for the country's economy, Bush still has a strong chance of getting reelected . . . the end pretty much seems to be here . . . and Scott Herren no longer lives in the USA.
      Also, this track spreads out and clears the air and cleanses the palate for a veritable volley of trash rock that follows. The lewd Frosty are the MVP of the whole comp, bringing down the house and starting a momentum that never really slows. Following them, the mighty Harry Pussy sound like some bizarre prog band . . . or even quite a bit like Sonic Youth at their darkest and most splayed, i.e. Sonic Death and Confusion Is Next . . . Hercules follows, a short-lived Aaron Dilloway group. They lay down a quick and quirky number, similar to Galen, Dilloway still in his 'adept of Couch' phase . . . Then Leslie Q plays some mean gutter folk that amazes me every time I hear it by being just plain good, and then Liquorball lay down a surprisingly involved sledge of tribal rock, and I can almost imagine that THEY, not the Beastie Boys, have invited the Tibetan monks onstage. Maybe it's because Bon Matin's Ed Wilcox is on drums, but on that night Liquorball appear to have fucked the sky indeed . . . . . Loren Mazzacane Connors does an odd, gutsy solo piece where he plays guitar over his own taped guitar accompaniment . . . Monotrona's track is nuts. She plays clattering drums, grinding electronics, and some seriously involved vocals. I think it's from before her Korean superhero phase, and sounds more like Duotron, or at least a one-woman-band version, which I guess would be Solotron. Or no, it would be Monotrona! Never mind!
       Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat contribute a blown-out funk jam (the puppet show didn't make it onto the disc), followed by Tom Smith's pick of the festival, and possibly mine too: Quim Gremlin. Just a killer track, which riffs further on the "fragile USA" theme, as a dude off the street is spontaneously invited to be the lead singer of the group. Quim Gremlin are already a scary enough jammy cracker noise band as it is, but the new recruit, Smokey D, seemingly taking his cues from the clipped funk of the drummer, unleashes some basically wordless falsetto howling, bringing a nice chunk of the fragile streets right into the nightclub. It's a weird moment.
       A good time for a wind-down, but things stay pretty intense. Simeon Coxe + Obliterati is next, the legendary Silver Apple and builder of oscillators back from retirement, performing a more than capable version of "A Pox Of You." Actually sounds a little discofied, and in a good way! . . . . Splotch is one of those bands I've never actually heard. Are they like Frosty? Are they part of the "Miami scene"? Indeed, like Frosty, and a whole lot of the other noise bands of today, they are kind of a blues-rock band. Pretty good, pretty good, but not one of the more psychotronic tracks on here . . . . . . Speaking of psychotronic, Temple of Bon Matin are next, here a duo of Ed Wilcox on drums and Linda Searnock on guitar. Wilcox has already gotten his share of props for being amazing, but how about Searnock on guitar?? Man, she's the real force behind this track, and Wilcox just stays in the background on this one, because he knows . . . . . . . . The Flying Luttenbachers are next, with a track that was called "wildly fractured," and oh man, is it. They actually stop after a few seconds and start again. It cracks me up to hear Weasel's voice, "Aaah I can't fuckin' believe this . . . yeah, this is fucking choice, man . . . we're gonna keep tryin' this shit 'til we get it right . . . " He sounds exactly like freakin' (mid-period) Dennis Miller. They sort of start up again, but someone's screaming into the mic and it's louder than everything else (like that guy screaming "METALLICA!!" on the America's Funnyman album), and Weasel's still talking in the background . . . what the hell's going on here? It sounds like it got 'post-produced' by someone accidentally overdubbing chunks from a completely different show [actually it's a 5-minute edit/composite/remix of the entire 15-minute set].
       Speaking of the Miami scene, To Live and Shave in L.A. are next, with a bleak bombed-out track. Sounds like late-nite Shave. I like Tom Smith's live singing, his voice really makes sense that way. Or maybe it's because of the subtle pacing of Fred Ware III's "revox." Or maybe it's just because Simeon Coxe himself is sitting in with the band on this track (as well as Greg Chapman of the aforementioned Quim Gremlin and of Ugly American magazine) . . . . Jeez, one more track, and it's by the Zeek Sheck Care Co., a real Golden Age of Chicago No Wave lineup: Ms. Sheck, Monica Bou Bou, Bobby Conn, Chuck Falzone, and Bill Pissari, plus "Solly," "the old lady," and "Zarconia Sheck." (I don't know what golden age of what scene those last three are from, but I'm guessing Zarconia is Zeek's sister.) Track is . . . . silence? Nope, I just had to turn it up more. Bit of a level discrepancy, perhaps . . . often an issue with compilations. Weird spacy synth-infected helium song. Tumbly and jammy, more low-key than what I usually expect from the bombastic Chicago scene. Though I first heard of her in like 1996 this is somehow the first time I've ever actually heard Sheck . . . and I like it! Chorus sounds like "Dave Geffen, Dave Geffen, indeed she would . . ." Hmm . . . the song is called "Hotel California."
      Well, that's finally it . . . . and this is much more than a mere rock compilation, this is like a State of the Union address, a summary of the increasingly tortuous and lowdown twists & turns some of us have to take to find our freedom, with gnarly vibes spilling onto the stage from the streets outside . . . . . and the streets inside. (Know what I mean?)

Third-reviewed in The Smack Shire's inaugural trifecta of handsome new music compact discs. I should point out that all three titles are presented in a gatefold card envelope kind of thing, really like a miniature gatefold LP. It's a little taller than a jewel box, so they stand out in your stacks and shelves. And as for the music on this trio, what a nice mix of styles and sounds. As Tom Smith said in a recent interview: ''These artists/recordings test the mettle of the industry, period. Our releases will either prove anathema or elixir. It's too broken to be repaired, but perhaps the shattered undercarriage may be reanimated. A bizarre industry would be preferable to the present, banal paradigm."
      Indeed! This one goes into a completely different place: live religious radio broadcasts from Valdosta, Georgia, all taped and archived off of live shortwave radio transmissions back in the 1980s by Mr. Smith. Definitely one for the Time Capsule; in fact, if a song or two from here showed up as-is on the 1951 Smithsonian Anthology of Folk Music, I don't think anyone would notice for awhile. In some people's minds, time doesn't move near as fast as it does on the calendar, and it sounds like Lester Knox and Co. are still close enough to the 1950s to be able to pull it off, and to get it broadcasted on a radio station to boot. Listen to this CD for evidence; at 78 minutes, a whole overstuffed sock drawer of deep South holy-man fever. Check out Robert Duvall getting loose in The Apostle all you want, that's okay, that was good, but after that go to Reverend Knox for some of the real living thing.

LESTER KNOX: "One of the ultimate sonic reducers."



Don't know much about these guys . . . [listening] . . . . and I still don't! Hmm, it's really minimal . . . . just one guitar / tampura / Bertoia sculpture / you-tell-me droning softly, unassuming and static, with some fuzzy spoken word coming in after a while and making the whole thing crackle. How about this for the next press kit: It's one thing to be a drone rock group, but it's something else entirely to be a drone rock duo of two brothers from Italy that come off like Mark E. Smith fronting the Taj Mahal Travellers!

One of my favorite records of 2003, this is a split LP in which each artist offers a "no-instruments" cover of Mike Oldfield's hippie/prog/muso fantasy epic Tubular Bells. If "Tubular Bells" wasn't the title I probably wouldn't have related it to the original at all, even when (on the Glands side) Barbara Manning introduces various office supplies just like Viv Stanshall introduced each instrument in the (overdubbed) orchestra back in '72. The Glands' take is both austere and severe, playful and foreboding. Hearing it played with only tape gunk and home junk makes it sound more like "Tubular Smells," especially on the Decaer Pinga side with their creepy spine massage noise. Quite aromatic smells too. If musos could be said to be "pricks," then this is prick decay indeed!

I was a pretty big Dead C fan in the mid-to-late 90s. The first time I heard them was live in person, opening for Sonic Youth in 1995, and they blew my mind with huge sad lost-seacoast wall-of-sound noise-folk by which the very venue in which Morris Day and The Time had taught the world to do "The Bird" a mere 10 years earlier was transformed into a floating hall of epic black mourning. After this show, I bought up as many of their records as I could, listening to them avidly for the next couple years, when they started transitioning from a real rock band with songs into a worryingly 'anti-rock' and completely improvised direction.
      The 1997 album Tusk has been, until now, their last domestic release, and it also stands as the last time they truly rocked. Apparently the album was almost wholly improvised, but at least they were still improvising REAL SONGS. It was a pretty amazing tightrope walk, check that one out if you haven't. But by the time of their big self-titled and self-released double CD from 2000, which is not coincidentally the last Dead C album I sought out, they had completely given up playing songs -- no vocals whatsoever -- and not much of anything else either. That album has been described as "soporific," and indeed, a lot of it sounds like the band was literally asleep while the 'record' light was on! I missed New Electric Music (2001) completely, but people like it, and some may have even called it a "return to form."
      Hell, they're saying that about this one too! How many returns to form do these guys need? Sure enough, track one "Truth" comes out rockin' with an actual guitar riff, but jeez, it's barely rockin', nothing like, say, the epic "Bitcher" from The White House LP. So what if the other guitar is making crazy feedback noises underneath the uninvolved riff? I actually preferred the soporific stuff because at least they were there 100%. On here, they're stuck somewhere in between "soporific" and "rocking" that ends up being kind of nowhere.
      Like track 5, "Casino," on which Yeats pounds out his trademark funky backbeat while the guitarists are just humming along with feedback. For a good 20 minutes. They've been doing this since 1995 at least -- see the last few minutes of "Air" on Operation of the Sonne. It was pretty bracing then but to still be doing it eight years later? Sorry, but it doesn't really sound like "The Damned was recorded during sustained and intensive sessions from 2001 through 2003." Sounds more like this one took 20 minutes or so. Nothing wrong with that, that's what the Dead C always did and it was classic, I just don't know if I believe the press release. Anyway, not a bad album, but not a great one either.



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I figured more people would be talking about how killer this release is. Then again, I never talk to people. Four hardcore hip-hop death tunes, recorded in 1983 in New York City by a crew of multiracial artists / punks / b-boys. A lot of this sounds like Wolf Eyes, seriously. Plus Rammelzee's already cut-up texts get cut up further into clouds of echo and the beat don't stop even as the war death sounds disrupt. Better than Schooly D! Only warning is that it's short -- apparently this is Death Comet Crew's entire discography, only 4 tracks at about 20 minutes, pressed on a 45 RPM 12-inch, or as a CD EP. Still well worth it!

Man, Weasel's going nuts and getting all sci-fi conceptual on our ass. These liner notes even contain a handy 'story cycle' for the last six Luttenbachers albums, culminating with this release, in which the Earth explodes (track #1) and the band mascot robot reassembles itself in the wreckage, represented by remaining tracks #2-7. The liner notes describe these tracks as representing "the increasing complexity of cellular reactions leading to the creation of an enormous sentient creature." Track 7 is an epic called "Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth," twenty painstaking minutes long in order to fully depict the Lovecraftian rise of this "horrible planetoid being." Weasel Walter metaphorically reinvents the world as a giant robot that looks like a combination of Galactus and . . . himself! Those Jack Kirby via Skin Graft roots are showing.
      As for the music, this outing was composed and performed entirely by WW, doing all the crazy overdubs and one-man banding it. This means that he can finally achieve the desired complexity without having to stress out and teach and drill musicians, at the same time devising a sci-fi storyline that explains his music's devotion to complexity better than ever. So it's kind of a breakthrough album, and I'll be damned if this doesn't sound like Weasel's most loose-limbed and dare I say PLAYFUL set since, well, the Live on WNUR 7-inch! The most obvious example is "kkringg number two," which sounds like Magma and the Magic Band having F-U-N together.
      Speaking of Magma and the Magic Band, it is kind of funny how this album's press release reads "There isn't another album like Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder on this planet," when it is in fact quite easy to play "spot the influence" throughout. For example, I can spot Varese from a mile away, especially in the woodblock-driven percussion thunder on "Thorned Lattice." The overwhelmingly large "Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth" lays down endless roiling piano -- at first I spotted Cecil Taylor, of course, but then a few minutes later I noticed that Conlon Nancarrow was in there with him!
       At the same time, this track is an extremely intense landmark epic, and in fact it's true, there isn't another album like this, because this particular synthesis of specific daunting influences has not yet been so precisely attempted under the aegis of science fiction rock. However, I am suspicious that, besides the guitars, Weasel did everything on a Synclavier or some shit . . . which would make it kind of similar to one album: Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell (1986)!

The first album Other Animals didn't really register with me. The one time I heard it (friend's house), it was just clang bounce clang yip! and repeat about 17 times somewhere in the background. Then I saw them live and I just thought they were great -- tons of energy, audience dancing naturally, and the singer knocked me out with her charisma and her 'having an excited conversation' singing style. I figured that over the course of creating an album and touring a lot they had grown into a powerful style and the next album would be the one to get, so I bought this the week it came out, got it home, put it on, and . . . well . . . it's kinda clang bounce clang yip! and repeat all over again. And now my favorite Erase Errata song ("Marathon," see next review) is one from Other Animals and it doesn't sound like the live show, so who knows? There are quite a few hooks on here that sounded good the second time, and I like that song on side two where the band stops and she sings "alive, alive, alive, alive" and then the following unaccompanied ultra-tin metal guitar solo really rips.

You know, I always figured that Mike Simonetti and the bands he put out were all bad-asses. More bad-ass than me, anyway. Their roots were bad-ass hardcore and hip hop, with a backbone of metal and a soul full of the great black music (soulfunkjazzetc). I even said in a previous feature in this magazine that Troubleman was signing every rock band left that wasn't emo.
      Of course, I said this before I had actually heard too many of the bands on his roster. This sampler allows me to hear a whole bunch of 'em . . . . . and some of 'em are pretty emo! There's even one song that is unabashedly Pavement-esque indie-pop (The Walkmen). As for that unmistakable emo twang, it can be detected in Song of Zarathustra (emo in that Drive Like Jehu kind of way), Metamatics (if James Chance were emo -- not too bad, but how many more "not too bad" tracks on compilation CDs do we need?), The Panthers (more Emo Like Jehu -- the song is even called "Are You Down?," ugh), Kepler (TOTAL emo name, and, I shit you not, their song is actual slowcore), and Milky Wimpshake (they sound almost exactly like their name, like R.E.M. at their twee-jangle peak . . . . chorus sounds like "meow, meow, meow," yikes). Pussycat Trash also sound exactly like their name. They're not emo, they're pretty good trash-rock. Not quite as lowdown as something on Bulb Records, but not too bad, and the song is only like 1 minute long.
      And really, every other band on here is at least good, and some are excellent. The Glass Candy opener I didn't want to like because they seemed so new-posing-as-no wave trendy, and I didn't like the first few times I heard it because it actually sounded like dumb bar rock, but this is like the fourth time I've heard it and my goodness, I like it. Because it IS dumb bar rock, and I'm intrigued by how the band intentionally doesn't take it very far. It's like dumb bar rock except both the keyboard player and the bassist couldn't make it to practice, and the guitarist forgot his really good distortion pedal.
       Pixeltan I know nothing about, but I really like their song. Another woman on vox, but more breathy and soothing than Glass Candy, tweaked ever so slightly by pitch shifter, and then, where the guitar solo might normally go, mercilessly cut-up and randomized. Next track is a third 'girl singer band' in a row, and I like this one better than Glass Candy as well: Erase Errata, here remixed by Adult. (Yet another 'girl singer band,' but not on this track.) The song is called "Marathon," and it's from their first album Other Animals. Really sweet synth pulse-hooks and it's probably the most chill (and one of the most melodic) vocals I've heard from Jenny Hoysten. The chorus goes "The winner comes in second place," and just today I was thinking, "That could be about Gore vs. Bush," because my wife and I, also just today, were talking about how, for the 2000 Presidential Election, the polling company hired by the Florida state government erroneously declared 173,000 voters to be felons, making it illegal by Florida law for them to vote. Of course, in states where it is legal for felons to vote, they vote 90% Democrat . . . I'm not saying that this large-scale error happened in order to rig the election . . . but the erring polling company WAS hired by the governer of Florida, George W. Bush's brother Jeb (working closely with Secretary of State Katherine Harris), so YEAH, these people are crooks -- does anyone remember ENRON??? Does anyone remember the Haliburton-engineered War in Iraq that is STILL GOING ON RIGHT NOW?? Remember when you went and protested the pending War in Iraq for one or two days, and it felt good, and then George W. Bush publicly dismissed the millions of worldwide protesters with three words ("I respectfully disagree") and one week later the government started bombing and we realized that IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER because CROOKS DON'T LISTEN.
       The Rogers Sisters are not bad at all either with a nervy pop song that uses a classic songwriting technique, the verse in which the song title is repeated at the end of each line. Here it's "I dig a hole." But it sounds like a guy singing -- I thought the Rogers Sisters really were all girls. (I just found out they're two girls and one guy.) Clean punky guitar sounds like vintage B-52s.
       Then, Wolf Eyes sound like pretty much the best band ever, with the song "Dead Hills II," which is also on their picture-disc/CD Dead Hills, except I SWEAR the version on here is a remix. At least I find myself hearing more than usual what each guy is doing: Dilloway's playing great straight doom guitar, Olson's clipping around in the air above it, while Young brings the beat, the bleep, the funk (yep), the slow black cloud that stays. And the always amazing vocals. Mike McGuirk in the San Francisco Bay Guardian: "Young is the best vocalist in music today."
       Orthrelm of course are great (I can really only pay attention to them for about a minute or so before just giving up, but they're still great), the Flying Luttenbachers are on here with "Infektion" which is sort of like the 'hit' off of their Infection and Decline album, ridiculously complex in a goofy way that is almost 'hooky,' Subtonix are good gothic sort of punk, actually like the second coming of 45 Grave, except the production is better, and so is the singer. The Lack may be a "screamo" band, but they deliver a very powerful performance and I have to say "hats off" while asking "Blood Brothers who?"
       ABCs are real good and stand out from anything emo, and not just because they have an accordion in the group, but because they do a very mechanical process-oriented version of minimal / maximal prog. Do check out these guys. And do check out Touchdown, with a fine variation on the practically ubiquitous 'brutal prog duo' concept; the complexity is there, and it's played by that brutal combination of bass and drums, but both instruments are produced and played with a more dry, clean tone. Same amount of aggression with less feedback and distortion -- a surprisingly novel idea.
       Red Monkey's track isn't too special musically, more off-kilter Touch & Jehu post-math-rock, but the lead vocal is pretty nice and deadpan (another "girl singer" saves the day). The original version of Erase Errata's "Marathon" is on here too. I didn't get into Other Animals when I heard the whole thing but this is a great song. You can really hear how the three instrumentalists combine their minimal parts, with guitarist Sara Jaffe's single-note melody riffs really standing out. However, the earlier Adult.
remix seemed to really accent the vocal melody.
       Ah, and then Numbers. I didn't think I'd like this band, and when I saw 'em live this summer I didn't like 'em. (See show report.) However, "Insomnia," their short closer on here, I kinda like. It's got this near-helium dweebiness that I just didn't catch at the live show. (Granted, I was not that close to the stage.) I'll give 'em one more chance . . .



AIR CONDITIONING: I'm In The Mountains, I'll Call You Next Year LP (WHITE DENIM)
Super-soaked speed dirge. Stopped keeping track of Acid Mothers Temple? Mainliner too monochromatic? High Rise left you feeling low? Well, why cross the pond? Sit back and turn on the Air Conditioning, the skull-wrapping sounds of some all-American yankees going to WORK. Judging from the picture that graces the handsome inner gatefold (a gatefold?? nice!), this monster band is two guitars and drums -- maybe this is what the Dead C would sound like nowadays if they'd gotten meaner instead of sleepier. I don't know, one or two or all of these guys used to be in a more straight-up noise group called An Oxygen Auction, remember them? This is total speculation, but I think they were saying something to themselves like "I love gnarling out with all this crazy noise but why can't we rock out with a drummer like we're in fucking Hawkwind?," and then they heard/saw Lightning Bolt and Sightings and were given the KEY. And they were able to use this key without having to MAKE A COPY. (Get my metaphor?) Also, their particular knowledge of black metal is tastefully assimilated (check the vocals on the third and last track, "Citizen's Band/I'm In The Mountains, I'll Call You Next Year"). Pretty fucking heavy overall -- one of the best new names on the 'heavy' scene out there in 2003 besides the usuals (Wolf Eyes, the aforementioned L.B. & S., bands with Matt Pike in them, etc.).

More monumentally colored vinyl! The White Denim label does a lot of colored vinyl, and this is actually one-half rosy pink and one-half white! What was I saying about candy? This one looks like an all-day sucker. And, the record comes with a crossword puzzle! Starting things off is Chicago act My Name Is Rar-Rar. At first I'm like "These guys actually remind me of Harry Pussy" but then J. Hischke's utterly retarded synth bass changes that, as do the tortuous prog guitar lines and
     Small Rocks I've never heard of, but it's electronic, almost dancey spooked X-Files music, actually better than that might make it sound. From the UK, it seems. Pearls and Brass I've heard of a little bit but I don't know much -- they do "I'm Not Living, I'm Just Waiting In Line," and it's weird -- kind of a blues-rocker! Can't say it's my thing, really, but at least someone is just playing roots guitar without it being part of some Wire Magazine and/or Drag City-approved lifestyle. Nice Nice: their debut 7-inch, also on White Denim, got reviewed twice twice last ish . . . here they contribute three songs. Again, they indulge in some 1980s vintage "Downtown NYC avant-funk" stylings, and somehow make it sound better than it should.
      Black Eyes is next, and I think this is the band on Dischord or whatever . . . maybe you're like me and decided you probably didn't like 'em because they stole their name from the Black Dice / Wolf Eyes collab, but this is my first time hearing 'em and they aren't too bad. Vocalist might be a little too trad screamo but the guitars and drums wreak slow lurching havoc. I probably still won't buy the album. Hair Police you've all heard of . . . they're immediately killer with a weird noisy band-fighting-its-way-out-of-buzzing-sculpture-jail jam -- weird vocals make the track sound like it was mastered at the wrong speed -- and then it just thrashes out for dear life -- long track too, almost like a whole EP . . . Door Mouse are another from the 'I have no idea' file . . . more one-man noisy electronica . . . a lot of samples for that 'moving towards (or away from) Negativland' feel . . . Mammal you've all heard of, his track on here is substantially quieter than the preceding one and it's ill, sounds like some far-away sheet metal storm or Sightings record on crappy car stereo as car drives past on nearby overpass . . . let me go turn it up . . . oh yeah, that's Mammal, brain-firing slam codes as always . . . . . . . . . .
      Well yeah, real nice 'thrash psychedelia' comp, pretty much worth it for that colored vinyl and the cover art by "E*Rock" alone but practically none of the music disappoints either.

MORE COLORED VINYL!!! This is actually some disgusto vinyl -- last issue Barnacled got the "Is that puke on the cover?" award, and now they get the "Is that puke on my vinyl?" award. What's the deal with puke and Barnacled? Maybe something to do with being seasick?       Anyway, the music: if you recall I was kind of undecided about Barnacled's CD last ish -- while it was not without its bracing innovation, some of it seemed too 'studio Klezmer' and 'Zorn game piece' and 'more post than PRE' for me to give in completely. So this 7-inch is kind of make or break for these guys, huh. Well, I got it in the mail yesterday, but then today it got 'made' for me before I could even think about it getting 'broke,' because I heard it at work on WFMU's live webstream and I was like, "Damn, who's this? This is kinda nice." It turned out to be side A here, "Vulcanizing Society," and it's really good, like Ginger Baker's Air Force jamming over a loop that Conrad Schnitzler sent 'em. Side B starts kind of fancifully, for tuned glass or something, but it gets overtaken by electrosplunge, concussion, and horn rock. Ends up sounding like . . . . . . . . . . Ginger Bakers' Air Force jamming over a loop that Conrad Schnitzler sent 'em! Good record! (Wow, I just read on the White Denim site that on Halloween 2003 Barnacled played a NINE HOUR LONG SET!)



This is my sonic introduction to these Western Mass. freaks who have been making the rounds. According to the accompanying letter (no press release!): "Oh, & Fat Worm of Error is that band that has five members, some may have or had connections to Caroliner, Bromp Treb, Angst Hase Pfefer Nase, Deerhoof, Commode Minstrels in Bullface & B.S.C." First track quickly arrests with a skipping-CD type riff that is broken up by real-time helium-influenced vocals. Side two is immediately more splattery, with instrumentation that seems to be electric whoopee cushion (through a Marshall stack), crashing automobile (acoustic), and drums (played really crazy). Track two is a little quieter, more eerie, while track three splatters again. Smells a lot like the hugely and understandably influential Caroliner, right down to the ragged 'n' way hard to read insert, but the aroma is quite pleasant, and in no way spoilt. To quote a certain Mr. Abplanalp: "the caroliner roots are showing but not in a pandering or anxious type of seep or blurp."

Nice tape case: the cover has no card insert, it's just painted yellow with see-through 'eyeballs'. Music streams along, a song here and there, and lots of slurpage and bleepage. Gleeping electronics get hi-jacked by exploding clusters that are sometimes identifiable as guitar, bass, and drums. Vocalist knows better than to overdo it or try to keep up, so he just kind of cuckoos every now and then, and does it well. Absolutely whacked song structures; they work hard on this. At 40 minutes, this tape is an excellent introduction to the band.

FAT WORM OF ERROR: I think that's the singer in the middle.

DARK INSIDE THE SUN: So that I may not die, while I am still alive CS (YEAY! CASSETTES)
Heads up for this release, which kind of blew my mind. Dark Inside The Sun is the solo performance project of a Knoxville, Tennessee resident named Steve Gigante, who has an interesting pedigree, having played with Brother JT, Deerhoof, and 7 Yr. Rabbit Society. And, when he plays solo under the name Dark Inside The Sun, he does athis one-man tribal freak-punk explosion, playing drums and guitar at the same time like he's trying to singlehandedly recreate the Cromagnon album. Kind of inexplicable and invigorating. And, there's another side to his coin, some songs "recorded in his van," a fragile & haunting 'folk song' side, which sounds like one of the few legitimate heirs to the Jandek throne. Dig it!

Yet another excellent 3" CDR! This one's a comp / label / region / 'scene' sampler of sorts, yes, it's that Fat Worm / West Mass / Bromp Treb / Yeay! scene, CAROLINER EAST! Well, maybe not consciously, but even if it is conscious, they can hang. Lotsa littl'uns here, like first four are 1:16, 1:01, 1:40, 1:35, :57, and so on, with the longest track of the 15 being a whole 1:43! First two tracks are by Anthro Rex and then Diagram A, and they sound like the same thing and remind me of Caroliner side project Rubber O Cement. Then Fat Worm of Error themselves contribute track 3, and they KIND OF sound like a 'rock band' in this context! Great little gibbering cuckooing track, better still than the stuff on their 7-inch. They're getting that 'we're trying to play our song but our whole band is falling down the stairs' vibe just right. It's 1:40, the second longest track on here. Next track, by Moxy Van Float, might just be free folk! Or maybe even twee pop, with some of that Bay Area acid gnarl, although I have no idea where Moxy Van Float is from. Next is X.0.4., with some mean-sounding noise-prov beat-down, but it's good too! Ah shit, it goes on, I'm not gonna track by track it, but it's a damn fine introduction to this particular Western Massachusets freak scene. Here's the rest of the players: 6. Barn Owl (aggressive scrapy 'prov, a little punkier/noisier than like Bob Marsh but only a little), 7. Noise Nomads (they're on tour right now I think, Fat Worm also toured already, touring is good, they've got the right idea . . . track is some children's record samples + gnarly codeine gibberish that sounds kinda like Volvox), 8. Tumble Cat Poof Poofy Poof (includes accordion and triangle but it's noise, really), 9. Steve Zultanski (weirdo poof pop), 10. Josh Burkett (hey isn't he "Joshua," that folk guy??), 11. Dekin Squad Buttfire as 'Destructive Blast' (I think I'm spelling "Dekin" right, it's kinda hard to read the handwriting . . . their song is called "Tedious Buttscrew"), 12. DEFNEG (with a noise-rock rethinking of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" called "Shine on Acid," NO, none of these people have done acid, have they???), 13. Belltone Suicide (or maybe it's Belltane), 14. BenGeorge7 (profane and perverted singer / songwriter), and 15. Bromp Treb Slaw Bag (you remember this guy, I reviewed him last ish when he was called Bromp Treb Mind Phantom and Bromp Treb Sound System). So, if you like spastic noise buttflop, you should really look into obtaining this 3" inch CDR comp! It may be cheap or even free, but it won't be around forever.