Heat. Damn, I've never been a big Michael Mann fan but this movie pretty much rules! Some of the best action / mayhem and post-Rififi heist sequences ever are very tastefully scattered throughout a 3-hour epic that is a lot more about character than anything else. The L.A. settings look so good; glamorized, de-glamorized, and a lot in between, and the mis en scene going on within it is more than willing to detour into impenetrable crime dialogue and shaggy-dog character vignettes, some of the best between Robert DeNiro and his romantic interest, Amy Brenneman as an actual Gen X-er. I really like her acting in this, and DeNiro is top-notch even by his standards -- however, Al Pacino is absolutely RIDICULOUS! He was more realistic in The Devil's Advocate. His technique for this one seems to be based on John Cleese in all those Monty Python 'crazy interviewer' skits.

Ringu / The Ring. I watched them in the order they were made, and I'm really glad I saw the original from Japan first, because it tells its story very well, with only a few well-placed and well-earned shocks culminating in one of the best scenes I've ever seen in a horror movie, bar none. After that, the American version just didn't have a chance. It was actually pretty good for about the first hour, copying a lot of shots and storyboards directly from the Japanese version, creating its own gloomy Seattle-based mood (under the influence of Seven, of course, but still effective), and it is indeed a scary movie. In fact, I had to stop watching, but not so much because it was scary, but because the scares were so much cheaper and more crass than Ringu. Is this an American thing, really? This need to spell things out and amp things up? For one thing, the videotape everyone watches in the Japanese version was eerie and strange, while the American version adds a couple outright horror scenes, such as a box of twitching severed fingers and lots of maggots. After an hour, the movie gets to a point where everything the characters look at is portentous -- not a window can be looked without some shadowy figure passing across it, and you expect the scary girl to be hiding behind every corner. This keeps you on the edge of your seat, sure, but in a really ridiculous way. Then, they play the heroine's son as if he walked right over to the set from a failed audition for The Sixth Sense, and add all this business about horses -- what the hell is that??? That scene where the horse freaks out on the ferry had my vote for the most overwrought and superfluous scene I've seen in a horror movie in years -- until about 10 minutes later when that guy commits suicide while wearing that TV contraption -- I mean, what the hell is going on here???



Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
I've tried and failed a few times to read Cormac McCarthy novels. I've finally figured out why: because he requires the reader to SLOW DOWN, which is something I'm not used to doing. I'm used to reading at about 70 MPH, and if you do that with McCarthy you'll miss everything. You won't know who's talking or even necessarily if someone's talking, for example, because he doesn't use quotation marks. But slow it down to, oh, the speed of walking instead of driving, and a whole entire world opens up. That's because he writes about a primitive hard-scrabble time long before man could fly or interstate highways were built. He writes about a time when man was more like a dung-beetle than a bird, and for us modern folk, it can be downright terrifying. Anyway, his book All The Pretty Horses might have been recognized enough to be made into a movie starring Matt Damon, but Blood Meridian is the cognoscenti's choice for his magnum opus, and it's mine too. One of the most potent combinations of brutal and beautiful I've ever come across. (I've been trying to research it, regarding pp. 52-54 in the Vintage paperback edition, were the Comanche really that insanely Texas Chainsaw Massacre x 100 about things back then?)

God Save My Queen: A Tribute by Daniel Nester (SOFT SKULL PRESS)
When I heard of this book's concept, I was hooked: a poem for each song on each Queen album from Queen up through Hot Space, which oddly enough is the last Queen album I ever bought. Thing is, it's this very concept that ends up making the book frustrating for me. The book looks great, holds great, with a great cover detail from the News of the World LP. And, inside, the design and typeface are great, and Nester seems like a good writer and there's plenty of imagery to sink teeth into, but the book really never works once for me as having anything to do with Queen's music, career, zeitgeist, anything, other than the song titles and maybe the occasional reference to one of the band-members, a quick blip of a factoid. Speaking of factoids, the book has footnotes, ala Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, that really big book you may vaguely remember from like 4 years ago. Offering factoids, autobiographical grace notes, place names, little tidbits of poetry, stuff like that, they're actually my favorite part, perhaps because they're actually sometimes about Queen, and the concept momentarily works for me. I have to re-read these poems while shutting the Queen concept out of my mind completely, so I can just judge them as verse . . . . . I won't read the (song) titles . . . . . well, they are better this way . . . . like this part isn't too bad: "A big pause, a rat-tat-tat, naked and fast, the experience of the future, and it's coequal, as they say. A bit roadside, a bit run-drum punch-drunk. Muffled, even. Send-off for a solo with a scream, neither vacant nor deplorable." I don't know, there seems to be an air of 'cut-up speak' in these lines, like most of the images seem to come straight from Nester, but the rhythm is strange, always tripping itself up with random interjections like "Insects, fireflies. My sister in white leather boots." Because of this, I keep wondering who the voice of these poems is -- is it Freddie, Brian, John, or Roger? Or is it some flowery historian? Or is it just Daniel Nester? Well shit . . . . . . . . . . the poem for "Drowse" is pretty good. You know, that Queen song "Drowse"? A Day At The Races. (Never really liked that album . . . can't remember "Drowse" . . . great song title though . . .)

VICE MAGAZINE Volume 10 Number 10
I really enjoyed Vice Magazine when I first discovered it, but now I'm starting to think it's like all the drugs they brag about taking -- a blast the first few times, but then it starts to get annoying and painful. I mean just read the way this one article starts: "Aspiring boxer Jackie Geronimo is truly a timeless heroic mother figure. You could kidnap this woman and her children, put them on a fancy time-traveling bicycle, and send them to the Paleolithic era with all those big lizard birds and cave people, and Jackie would say, 'Whatevs' and just handle shit." Oh my GOD that's annoying. Hey Vice, here's a DON'T for your Do's and Don'ts -- DON'T LET YOUR WRITERS USE SLANG LIKE "WHATEVS AND JUST HANDLE SHIT" ANYMORE.
      On the positive side, it is a very nicely designed magazine, and I almost always like their political articles, and when they actually do journalism, instead of what they usually do, which is just toss off a couple paragraphs about someone, like "This person is like the awesomest person ever. If you were dating this person they'd wake up you in the morning and give you cocaine and a blowjob and then be all like 'We're going to the zoo today!'" (The Do's and Don'ts are starting to get old too.)



The Art Institute of Chicago
Been taking Babe-O to the Art Institute on Tuesdays, which is free day, which is a really great civic service. Museums suck when you're travelling and/or you have to pay money, because you feel like you have to get both your money's worth and your visit's worth, which leads to museum fatigue and completion anxiety, i.e. "I'm tired as fuck because we've been here three hours but I can't leave without seeing their Joseph Cornell boxes!" When you live in Chicago, you can just pop in on their free Tuesdays and free-associate your way throught the building for about 45 minutes and then take off, on your merry way!
      So, I've gone something like four out of the last six weeks. I've been falling into this pattern where I take the first right after the big foyer room, into the ancient Japanese and Chinese wing. This is some amazing shit, natch, a lot of Buddhist statues from like 800-1200 or thereabouts, seemingly favoring the Shinto wing of Buddhism. (I know nothing about neither world history nor history of religions.) I let the baby stare at these statues in hopes that he'll find God like I like to think I do. And stare he does. He'll be in the museum, eyes wide open, for a full hour sometimes without making a peep.
     If you keep walking through this wing, you'll find yourself greeted by Andy Warhol's gigantic silk-screen of China's former chairman Mao. This marks the entrance into the museum's modern wing. At first I thought of it as a wry American curating joke, going from ancient Chinese beauty to this gaudy portrait of modern-day Chinese corruption, but then I realized that Warhol's portrait is still very commanding and honorable, so now I just think that this must be what honor looks like in the 21st Century, and then I think, no, of course it's a wry American joke, by Warhol, some kid from Pittsburgh playing the Emperor's New Clothes with apparently one of the most powerful men in the world, the more legal version of what happened in an ABC News Special that I saw last night, about how "someone so insignificant [Lee Harvey Oswald] could completely change the life of such a significant man [John F. Kennedy]."
       Anyway, the first time I went this summer, I decided to begin my sojourn by asking where the Gerhard Richter was, with plans to free-associate from there. Yep, when it comes to art, I'm just a modern guy (of course I've had it in the ear before). The one Richter in the permanent collection is nice, a photorealist painting of luminous gorgeous flowers. I have some other modern wing faves too, like a really spooky sculpture by Katarina Fritsch called "Monk," a rendition of a tall, stoop-shouldered, and gaunt Franciscan monk, forbiddingly colored entirely black. Can sculptures be photo-realist? Sculpture-realist? Either way, the first time I looked at "Monk," because its title card isn't obviously placed and I didn't see it, I left the room convinced that it was a temporary and uncredited exhibit of a real person doing one of those 'living mannequin' routines, and that this dude had somehow made himself entirely black -- body paint, a form-fitting shroud, I dunno, I walked out of there believing it.
       When I was in Europe I noticed that this 'living mannequin' thing was a tradition there, and I'm not talking about the kind that draw attention to department store windows. This was a much more eerie form of street theater, a variation on busking and panhandling. The best example I can think of was in the eminently depressing city of Warszawa, Poland. We were walking through the section known as "Old Town," which was completely turned into rubble by the Nazis during World War II, but reconstructed to look exactly as it did before. It's the only part of Warszawa that looks anything like it did pre-war; everything else is influenced by either Socialist Russia or Corporate America, neither one exactly a winner when it comes to a good-looking old-world city. So here we were in this weird neighborhood that is supposed to look old but really only rubs your face in how the city is a sad shell of its former self, when around a corner we come and see the FUCKING GRIM REAPER HIMSELF, AND HE'S AT LEAST NINE FEET TALL. Seriously -- some guy was apparently standing on a box or something, but he had on a hooded robe that covered his face and went all the way to the ground so that it covered what he was standing on. He even held a FUCKING SCYTHE just like the grim reaper himself. And, there was no hat in front of him for tips. Maybe he really was the grim reaper. I'll never forget it, and Fritsch's Monk sculpture is almost as eerie.
      Other favorites in the AIC modern wing are a whole friggin' wall devoted to Ray Pettibon! These pieces are mostly from his "lots of text" period and a lot of them (perhaps all?) are collected in the first 50 or so pages of his recent book Plots Laid Bare. The only problem is I always set off the alarm because in order to read his little scrawls I have to lean too close. Museums, man . . .
      But yeah, other favorites: someone I don't remember did this great thing where he's hanging strings of yarn from the ceiling and then they're pinned across the floor so that it delineates an imaginary wall or giant doorway. This is the greatest thing -- people can actually walk through it without an alarm going off -- and after my first visit it didn't even completely register that this yarn was part of their permanent collection -- I thought maybe it was some outline for something that was going to be built at some other time.
      On another visit I found myself wandering through a whole section of Georgia O'Keefe paintings . . . at least 20 of 'em. I don't know if that's part of the permanent collection or if it was a special thing, but I really like her stuff. Very psychedelic, capturing that spooky / gorgeous aspect of the American Southwest as well as Max Ernst himself did during his Sedona, Arizona period.
      On my latest visit, I decided to break my 'turn right into the Chinese and Japanese wing' habit by turning left, into the Ancient Americas wing. What should greet me on the way in but a scary child-size sculpture of a scary-looking kid, his teeth bared in a grimace, a nasty-looking scar across his chest, and a pair of testicles but no pee-pee. I didn't really want my baby to look at this one. Reading the card, I learned that this statue represented the Mayan or Aztec -- can't remember which -- practice of human sacrifice for fertility! The performer of the ritual would wear the flayed skin of the victim to represent renewal! How about that! There were also some great statues honoring pregnant women.
       After I was done with the Ancient Americas, I couldn't help but wander back through the Chinese and Japanese wing to check in with my modern faves. Richter, Fritsch, Pettibon, the yarn, blah blah . . . . from there, I was like, "I need to get out of this rut . . . I know, I'll go to classical European . . . I've never been interested in that!" Well, that wing might as well have been called "The White Image of Christ" wing, which I found real interesting, because all the paintings seemed to be Spanish and Italian, which I don't think of as especially Caucasian races, but I guess they are, and as Killa Priest told us a few years back, "The white image of Christ is really Cesare Borgia, the second son of Pope Alexander." My favorite White Image of Christ painting was called "Saint John the Baptist Pointing to Jesus Christ," and it depicts EXACTLY THAT, the two bearded long-hairs looking exactly alike (two really handsome hippies), standing right next to each other, staring right into the 'camera,' and one guy is really matter-of-factly pointing to the other guy who's standing like two inches away! You've gotta see this goofy painting.
      Anyway, that's probably the closest you're going to get to art criticism in Blastitude. Hope ya liked it!

Royal Trux
They, the duo of Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema, seem to be simultaneously inhabited, a four-way transgender transrace kind of thing, by the souls of two of the great rock'n'roll power couples: John & Yoko and Mick & Keith. And by transrace I mean that not only is Ms. Ono of Japan but also that Neil and Mick have both got some serious jive going on. As white soul singers. And, for transgender, check out how Jennifer Herrema cops both Keith's look and Anita's look, at the same time.


reviews by

I would like to claim that on this little shiny disc we have strong evidence of the true NZ re-emergence I have spoken of elsewhere, but truth be told, Galbraith has always been phenomenal; there's no remission in his body of work, suddenly blossoming in the last couple years. No, Galbraith has always been spot-on!
      With all that said, Radiant is among one of the best things by the man along with Mirrorwork and Cry. Joined by Constantine Karlis on percussion, Mr. Galbraith once again ditches the idea of songs, but not for the purpose of recreating something like 'Wire Music'; instead, Radiant weaves deep psychedelic fabrics that build and crash about the listener. All of this is accomplished on the title track which spans over 30 minutes. This is pure violin and drums -- no vocals or other instrumentation. How do you get 'deep psychedelic fabric' out of that? Well I guess one just has to listen, but if you've heard anything else by Alastair Galbraith I'm sure you won't have to give your imagination too much of a work out.
      Much like Sanders' Karma, after Radiant's transcendent title track, the album closes with a shorter and somewhat less satisfactory track, "4 Orbits." It is still quite good, but of course can't live up to its bigger brother. A strange, often silent piece more interested in the exploration of structure (almost avant-garde!) than riding the groove that "Radiant" does. Before the whole business is over, however, "4 Orbits" shows its true, resplendent form: exploding in bursts of color -- percussion and violin squall resounding in some sort of higher order communication that only a few sorts like the Aylers knew about. I was JUST getting into it when the whole track abruptly stopped. I think I'm still confused but I really like it.
      There hasn't been a Galbraith album to date that I haven't wholly recommended, and Radiant isn't going to change that. Maybe it's even a little better than some other releases, but who can really tell when it's all this good?

Once again Reynols proves they are one of the most incomprehensible and incorrigible bands on the planet. The release in question is a 'boundless tape'...er, a roughly 3 foot measure of cassette tape that has been stuffed into a small plastic bag. The idea I gather is to somehow fasten the tape back into a cassette shell (perhaps one of these answering machine models that loops?) I doubt however that the bit of tape has survived well crumpled up inside the bag, and I have no intentions of actually playing along with Reynols experiment.
      I asked the band to explain themselves however, and it seems all 100 of these were cut from a single recording, and thus, to hear the recording in its entirety would require hunting down all 100 pieces. For anyone perusing this rather daunting task, I have piece number #078.
      While I suppose this is something of a non-review for a non-album, Mica Hermas Madana does mark yet another truly weird (and perhaps pointless) release on the part of Reynols. But that is just what Reynols (a band now famous for playing to an audience of plants) is all about. Certainly not an item you need to own, yet it is probably significant even if I fail to grasp why.

Possibly one of the most essential purchases for the final months of 2003, Yuletide brings together just about everything not yet (or barely) released by the now defunct Iditarod. Among the gems collected here are fragments of the split lp that was canned, their amazing performance at Terrastock V, many live radio performances and all of their two seasonal 'Yuletide' cd-r releases (edition of 75!)
Although there may be some incongruity when listening to these two discs as a single album given the development shown by the band during their relatively short life-span, all the material here is certainly worthy. Indeed, I'd be hard pressed to find a track I didn't like.
This also shouldn't be mistaken for a stoic set of winter-themed folk tunes. Indeed, Yuletide has its fair share of psychedelic jams! Perhaps that's why I'm coming to this album with such a high opinion. Not that I ever disliked the folk aspects of The Iditarod, but this collection isn't steeped in traditionalism -- it's eclectic and willing to mess around. It's really a much more honest view of the band than releases like 'The Ghost, the elf, the cat and the angel'. Sure, it's more a collection than an album, but it does what that previous release couldn't do: crack a smile!
Perhaps I'm a bit down on The Iditarod now having heard a lot of its successor, Black Forest/Black Sea, and hearing how much must have previously been pent up in caves of ice. Tracks like 'Winter Suite', 'Night's Candles are Burnt Out', the free improv 'Y Cwps', along with many others here (never mind the outstanding seven inch on TimeLag records) point excitedly toward everything the band was capable of becoming -- but never actually became. For all these reasons, Yuletide is far more than a 'year-end round up', or a 'best of what's left'. It really is some of the best stuff they ever recorded, and it's a shame the band didn't survive long enough to see some of this taking form as a real album.
Nonetheless, Yuletide is certainly the next best thing. Along with all I've mentioned are a few band favorites like "Boat" which remains as haunting as the first day I heard it. Stuck with the difficult task of capturing the full scope of The Iditarod, this set comes damn close without falling into the trappings of being a 'greatest hits' album. Highly recommended!

TIVOL: Breathtaking Sounds Of . . . [I can't actually read the whole title] 3" CDR; GREY PARK: A preparation course for agents going abroad 3" CDR (267 LATTAJJAA)
OR "Why my last review was incomplete coz the last two cd-rs kicked my ass!!!"
Good lord! Apparently no one told Tivol that rock was dead. Even if they had, I can imagine the thundering hip-hop that might have been recorded. This is fat-ass psychedelic jams that don't stop until every neuron is adequately fried. Some people call this Sabbath worship, but Black Sabbath has little to do with it. Very akin to Pharaoh Overlord (or Pharaoh Overload if you prefer); massive, chunky, blasted to fuck. The last song is almost death metal or something so I'm not quite as keen on it, but track 1 is nothing but reward-reward-reward to my cerebral skinner-box.
Grey Park also deserves some discussion as it's actually even better than Tivol. Instead of rocking it just undercuts the entire rational trappings of music and goes on from there to butcher three or four musical genres simultaneously, blasting a big fucking cannon off at the decks of anyone who still listens to music from a major label. I listened to this one twice and it never disappointed.
Oh, that other cd-r, (RauhanOrkesteri) was really great too, a big free jazz monstrosity. Perhaps 20 minute doses of music are the way to go, I can't say. What I can say is that once again, the little guy comes out on top, and that if you really want to say you like music, you better start investing in these micro cd-r labels, coz clearly that's where everything of any real significance is going on.

SWAGGER JACK: 'My Good Guts' CDR; 'Gorse' CDR [WiRe bRidGe]
This is yet another incarnation of Antony Milton (also appearing as himself, A.M., Nether Dawn and in several collaborative projects like Claypipe, The Stumps, etc.), but unlike other recent efforts, Swagger Jack is a return (of sorts) to Antony as song writer. I say 'of sorts' because this is Milton's self-declared hillbilly project, but don't expect anything so restricted or authentic as the Black Twig Pickers. I wouldn't file this under folk (though I have no idea where I'd actually file it). Instead, Swagger Jack's music is as traditional as it is experimental. Like everything else Antony touches, sound quality and production are about as shit as you can be without actually being shit. Perhaps that's part of the charm of these two recordings--sounding more like they were mastered on a handheld than anything with multiple tracks.
      The two albums I've listed here (there are two more but I haven't heard them yet) are both excellent in their own right. 'Gorse' is probably the more accessible (and pretty) of the two, while 'My Good Guts' is both harder to listen to and better! As stated on Milton's webpage, 'My Good Guts' is mostly themed around the idea of killing and eating small animals (even suggested by the cover), but this theme is also kicked around on 'Gorse'. The artwork for the later includes a 9 panel comic showing Antony visiting an old man, slaughtering a sheep with his own hands and eating it. This theme runs right up against another, namely so much of New Zealand's wilderness and campground no longer being available to the impoverished New Zealander. Although perhaps we've grown used to paying park permits in the US, this still seems a new (and unwelcome) concept to kiwis. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Swagger Jack's outrageous 'No Camping' (on My Good Guts) that takes this topic to its logical conclusion. (Plus, it's a damn good song!) Perhaps the best use of 'fuck you, you fuck' I've yet to hear as a chorus!
      Instrumentation is pretty varied, though mostly we've got guitar, vocals, violin, occasional percussion and even whistling, all sounding like it was recorded on a position 1 tape that had several previous uses before being a master tape for Swagger Jack. It probably shouldn't be much of a surprise that other NZ celebrities appear on Swagger Jack's recordings. Both CJA and James Kirk (Sandoz Lab Technicians) show up in the mix at one point or another.
      As usual, I'm not quite sure how to wrap this one up (probably coz I'm writing this sober). My first introduction to Milton was his amazing Nether Dawn release, which is perhaps closer to what people think of when they actually do think of the NZ underground. Fortunately though, Mr. Milton is a far more varied artist, and for all those times when you don't want to listen to a slab of noise, it's good to know there's shit out there like Swagger Jack. Highly recommended to those who still like a bit of melody now and then. I guess if you must file, try 'gorgeous, destroyed, animal-eating, psuedo-folk-blues-bliss-out.'


reviews by

The Flying Luttenbachers
"Systems Emerge from Complete Disorder"
Troubleman Unlimited 122/ugEXPLODE 016

A few Blastitude issues ago, Weasel Walter and I got into a bit of a pissing contest when I reviewed his last record "Infection and Decline" and he apparently disliked at least part of what I had to say about it. In all fairness, I threw a few below the belt but I write reviews and will say whatever it is I want, fair or not. If you are a musician and make a record and I write about it and you don't like what I said, then write
something yourself stating how big of an asshole you think I am. That's what Mr. Walter did. And so it goes. So Weasel Walter made yet another Flying Luttenbachers record. I thought it only fitting that I get my hands and ears on it so that I could see how to further this fight, assuming the suits
at Blastitude HQ will not censor our war of words.
      I guess the first thing that needs to be mentioned is that "Systems" is Walter flying solo which is a first, I believe, in the long, long history of "the band." However, its not solo in a man and his guitar sort of way. Far from it. There is a fuck of a lot going on here and to use the word "multi-tracking" would be an understatement. So, getting the "solo" fact out of the way, it is that single point that makes this record what it is.
     I haven't heard all the Luttenbachers stuff -- maybe half at best. Some I like better than others but the one thing that always seemed to strike me about any given record that I heard of theirs was that they all seem to miss the mark in some way. Like the full intent was never realized or the message was muddled in some way. I suppose this is the case with nearly all records to some degree but when you have a discography as deep as Walter's, one begins to wonder. Let the pissing begin.
      I guess I should back up a bit. Stylistically, "Systems" pretty much follows suit with "Infection and Decline." It's crazy, schizo, mathy, loud, intricate, vocal-free, noisy rock music. What it is not is free-jazz. "Systems" is very calculated. It's weird to hear a Luttenbachers record without Walter on the drums -- in an acoustic sense anyway. On
"Systems" he decided to use a drum machine that lends to a fresh sound. The other main weapon of choice seems to be a bass that is treated left and right and up and down to achieve the sounds he wanted. He also, it sounds, uses a variety
of synths.
So getting back to the whole solo thing, upon finishing my first listen, or during actually, I thought that this is the record that Walter has wanted to make all along. He has finally hit the nail on the head. It would make sense in that the Luttenbachers have always had one consistent member.
The band has always been his band and so has the direction and the vision. That being the case, I suppose that once you introduce other musicians to the process you immediately compromise the end result and the intent. Maybe that approach was intended. Who knows and who cares? Well, I suppose Weasel does but.... "Systems" is a great record on its own merits. I mean it doesn't need to exist in the shadow of all the other Luttenbachers records to have value. It is just over 45 minutes long, which is just about right. The track that shines the most is "Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth" which is the seventh and final track of the record and is over 20 minutes long. I usually hate songs that are that long, or at least when they are that long when the rest are significantly shorter, as is the case here. But "Rise" is an amazingly articulate track that never becomes stagnant and is able to hold your attention for the duration. That's saying something
for a 20+ minute track. The production was done entirely by Mr. Walter himself. This is another area that differs from previous Luttenbachers records in that it's better. I would assume that with him playing all the instruments himself and the use of a drum machine would dictate plugging instruments directly into the given recording device. This means no microphones. Assuming that was the case, that could be the reason for the cleaner, more direct sound. Whatever the case, I like it. The only other thought I keep
having about the music on this record is how the fuck Weasel Walter does it live. I assume he uses a lot of MIDI stuff but still, its so fucking intricate that, well, it would just seem incredibly difficult to pull off.
In our last confrontation, I accused Weasel of being long winded so I should probably shut up and end this. I really like "Systems." Or do I? Maybe I'm afraid of getting my ass kicked by Mr. Walter and am trying to redeem myself. Maybe. You should hear this record and then you should hear another band he is in called To Live and Shave in L.A. 2. They have a CD out called "Kill Misty: The 300 Dollar Silk Shirt" or something like that. Anyway, they are both good. Flush.

“The Velocity of Hue-Solo Acoustic Guitar”
Emanem 4098

Though I don’t consider myself obsessive, I am a fan and collector and connoisseur of experimental and avant-garde music. That said, it seems somewhat odd to me that The Velocity of Hue is the first of Elliot Sharp’s albums that I have heard in its entirety. The only other thing that I have heard that I am aware that he is part of is the Downtown Lullaby project that he partakes in with John Zorn. I find this odd because Mr. Sharp’s name is all over the place in terms of experimental music. It’s really no big deal I guess but this is what I was thinking as I started to write this and I needed to start this review off somehow.
      As the title indicates, Velocity is an album of solo guitar playing and contains 14 tracks that total in at just under 70 minutes. Solo guitar records can really suck. A lot of the time, they are a gleaming, glittering display of some sun deprived white guy who OD’ed on group guitar lessons and is just wanking off. Records that are usually better left to be sold at a junk stand at the circus rather then passing off as something artistic. I could name names but I won’t. Solo guitar records can also be wonderful explorations into the sounds of a tried and true but also nearly exhausted instrument. So, as I said, I’m new to Mr. Sharp’s work so I was a little apprehensive of what to expect when I saw “Solo Acoustic Guitar” especially when I saw those words and realized that there was nearly 70 minutes of it.
      Upon my first complete listening of Velocity I realized that Sharp has no lack of ideas. He fills the 70 minutes to the brim with no filler. The second thing I began thinking of was all the different influences, intentional or not, that I heard. The obvious ones stuck out the most and mostly it was John Fahey, which is no insult. I also heard David Grubbs, Marc Ribot and even, dare I say, Leo Kottke. I wanted to hear Derek Bailey but didn’t. To hear Sharp’s influences is easy but he isn’t ripping anyone off here. The playing here is mostly picked and not strummed and is always moving forward. Its hard to detect exactly what is composed and what is improvised and I guess it really doesn’t matter. His playing transcends all that in terms of genre which is seamlessly all over the place. The best thing I can say about this record is how directed and intentional it feels yet at the same time, really defines no concrete mood. I could never discuss this record and say its really happy or really depressing as you could really hear it in either light. Though I didn’t hear Derek Bailey directly in technique, Velocity resembles his aesthetic this way but less ambiguous over all. Velocity is able to hold your attention the whole time with out being a soap opera.
      The presentation is so-so. It’s a digital recording which I’m not a huge fan of, especially for an all acoustic recording. I would love to hear Velocity recorded in analogue and pressed on good vinyl but wishes like that come true less and less these days. Fidelity-wise Velocity is by no means a bad recording, just not my preference.
There is no such thing as a perfect recording and Velocity isn’t one. I just can’t immediately think of any major flaws. I don’t feel like this is the recording that I want to be buried with so if that’s a flaw, that’s one. I’m not sure where The Velocity of Hue came from as a title but I think it’s kind of stupid. So there's two flaws. And I don’t care for the cover art either. Three. Musically though, I’m struggling. Marc Ribot wrote the liner notes and part of what he said is, “…These are strong ideas, and Elliott realizes them with amazing technique and sensitivity…It’s a beautiful record.” I couldn’t agree more.