Wednesday, March 30, 2005

ignatius' ghost

There were moments on stage when Ignatius Jones ceased to be human; when his bloodied face, bondage mask, obscene leotard, dripping sweat and Neanderthal gyrations culminated in a grotesque indefinable creature, both frightening and fascinating. Like footage of Nazi Concentration Camps, Ignatius commanded attention, no matter how horrifying the spectacle. Teetering between drama and depravity, lunacy and lucidity and rock and repugnance, Australia's Jimmy and The Boys could scarcely be described as just a rock group. Sadomasochism, transvestitism, self-mutilation, drug abuse, inebriation, simulated sex and mock rape all took starring roles in their blisteringly paced tribute to cultural degeneracy. The double-jointed, bisexual, Ignatius Jones was an extraordinary creature.

Nick Conroy, former flatmate for Michael Hutchence recalls a typical Ignatius spectacle from the first INXS gig he saw:

One Saturday night in 1980 I went, as usual, to the old Seaview Ballroom in St. Kilda. Everyone would meet there in those days to find out who was who, what was what and where it was. Jimmy and the Boys were playing that night. Ignatius Jones was quite an entertaining spectacle in those days, able to sing and seemingly lick his balls at the same time. People were muttering about going upstairs to see this unknown band from Perth (INXS), and I was thinking "Gee, they're gonna really have to be something to surpass a small man in tights simulating cunnilingus on a blow-up teenage doll with its loving mouth held by a six-foot transvestite with a giant red beehive hairdo."

The band somehow managed to achieve a top 5 single and a gold album despite their stage antics. However soon after this, Jimmy and the Boys would break up and Ignatius would go solo. In 1982, Jones would release the single Like a Ghost- a song written by Steve Kilbey. You might recognize that name from a much more famous Australian export, the Church. While the Church had already had a handful of releases, Kilbey was writing songs for others and later, the B-side It's No Reason would appear on the '83 Church album, Seance. A few years down the road, Kilbey would again mine his own back catalog and record his own version of his song Like a Ghost for his '89 solo album, The Slow Crack.

After his brief solo life Ignatius started directing theatre and beyond Down Under and had great success all over the map. He can be heard crooning on the   highly acclaimed soundtrack to the film Strictly Ballroom. He personally directed the three largest live events in Australian history, which included the closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics. He is also one of the few directors ever to direct the "opening night of a country", when he staged the Independence Ceremonies of East Timor in May 2002. This ceremony, to mark the birth of the world's newest nation, was attended by 200,000 people. Not bad for a guy who was known for licking his own balls on stage eh?

Ignatius Jones - Like a Ghost (An M&M Mix)
Ignatius Jones - Like a Ghost (original mix)
Ignatius Jones - It's No Reason

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

greater than the trees

Much time recently has been spent inside Ruskeatimantti, a collection of Finnish ensemble Avarus' first four CDRs and 7”. All were issued on various Fin-imprints, like the superb Lal Lal Lal. The equally fine Tumult has assembled this mass of crowns which will bestow continued pleasure to those who enjoy forest grooves and clattering skree. Yeah, lots of folks out there take on that vibe, and a few do it rightly, but Avarus feels it enough that their natural orders supercedes the digital disk and molds up yr speakers with its relishing primal calls. It's as if Avarus' seven, or eight, or nine members were erupting from the castle’s belly to welcoming the distant land’s princess.

So, since laying ears to it a few weeks back my eye lids have been fluttering non-stop. While I had snapped up a two of these issues on the CDr format, having them all side-by-side gives a horizontal growth-arc of Avarus, and they seem to be headin' higher with each moment. And that next level may be found on Jattilaisrotta their brand newbie on Secret Eye, which I have yet to hear.

For more blather, my Ruskeatimantti review is now up at Dusted.

Avarus - Horuksen Oikean Silman Mysteerikoulu
Avarus - Sataa Nuuskaa

ride the white pony

The formation of Laid Back, the Denmark-based duo behind the underground dance classic "White Horse," was a happy accident. Tim Stahl and John Guldberg met up at a Danish studio in the late '70s with the intent to be joined by a third party who never arrived. The duo began playing together and kicking ideas around and they eventually decided to form Laid Back. Within a short period of time, Stahl and Guldberg landed a contract. Their first single, "Maybe I'm Crazy," was released in 1980, preceding their self-titled debut album released the following year. Two years later, the duo scored a hit in their homeland and South America with the "Sunshine Reggae" single, released in support of their second album, Keep Smiling. Aiding their success was their uniqueness. Unlike most of the Danish groups of the time, Laid Back's vocals were in English; most significantly, they were dabbling in electronic music with a pop emphasis, which wasn't a common formula at the time.

"Sunshine Reggae" was unsuccessful in the US, but the anti-heroin riff of its B-side, "White Horse," was embraced by several of the club DJs. Thanks to support from Prince, Warner Bros. eventually released a 12" single featuring "White Horse" and Prince's "When Doves Cry" on the same platter, increasing Laid Back's profile significantly. The track's instantly recognizable, snapping electro-funk has solidified its reputation as an underground dance classic played by DJs through the early 2000s.

Though they never again enjoyed the attention in the States granted to them through "White Horse," Stahl and Guldberg continued making music together as Laid Back for several years. The duo also began working as composers of film music. In 2002, they were awarded a Robert - the Danish equivalent of an Oscar - for their work on Flyvende Farmor. - AMG

Laid Back - White Horse

Monday, March 28, 2005

wine is all I have

Stephen Duffy could have been the Pete Best of the '80s. Just as Best was no longer a member of the Beatles when the Fab Four became household names, Duffy departed from Duran Duran before that group exploded on MTV. However, Duffy was able to carve an audience for himself, releasing numerous albums that ventured into various forms of pop music.

In 1978, Duffy formed Duran Duran with John Taylor (guitar) and Nick Rhodes (keyboards) in Birmingham, England; Duffy sang and played bass. A year later, Duffy left the band for a solo career. While Duran Duran conquered the charts in England and America, Duffy started writing songs. In 1982, Duffy collaborated with Muligan Dik Davies (Fashion) & Stokert (Dexys Midnight Runners/The Bureau) to form Tin Tin. Duffy's first single with Tin Tin, "Kiss Me," was only a minor hit in England, peaking at No. 155 on the chart. In America, though, "Kiss Me" became a club favorite and a staple on alternative radio stations.

In 1985 after two other singles Virgin/Ten released another version of Kiss Me and propelled it to Number 3 in the UK charts. The follow up Icing On The Cake was the first record to carry the legend "Produced By Stephen Street". An album of odds and sods (including an ill- executed collaboration with Booker T Jones) The Ups and Downs went to Number 35. His second album Because We Love You (also a collaboration with Stephen Street) failed to chart. The aural orgy of clashing styles Dr Calculus MDMA Designer Beatnik (with Roger Freeman, ex Pigbag), a work slightly ahead of its time in theme, was the third and final Virgin album.

While much of Duffy's earlier work embraced the wistful synth-pop of Soft Cell, he explored British folk rock and jangle pop when he helped create the Lilac Time in 1987. In 1988, the Lilac Time signed with Mercury Records in the US and released their self-titled debut LP. The Lilac Time attracted a college radio following and produced a few albums before breaking up in 1991. In 1995, the time was right for a Stephen Duffy renaissance. Signed to the Indolent label, he formed Duffy with the American guitar band Velvet Crush. Together they headed down to North Carolina with one-time R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, and emerged with possibly the best album of Stephen Duffy’s career. In 1996 Stephen bothered the charts ever so slightly as part of super-duper group Me Me Me (Blur's Alex James and Elastica's Justin Welch being the other Me's). More recently he helped write and produce the number one hit single Radio with Robbie Williams.

Buy They Called Him Tin Tin, a collection of Duffy's long out of print early work from Amazon.

Tin Tin - Kiss Me

Sunday, March 27, 2005

mystic knights of gratitude

Most people realise that before he became one of the most respected and well-known composers of modern cinema, Danny Elfman had already lived a full and moderately succesful life. The son of novelist Blossom Elfman, he was born May 29, 1953 in Amarillo, Texas; raised in Los Angeles, he and brother Richard relocated to France in 1971, where he joined and toured extensively with the avante-guard theater troupe, Grand Magic Circus. Elfman subsequently moved on to Africa, returning to the US only after battling a bout with malaria; he then reunited with Richard, who had directed the 1980 film The Forbidden Zone and asked Danny to compose the score (as well as act the role of Satan). Assembling a band dubbed the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, Elfman recorded the movie's soundtrack; abbreviated to simply Oingo Boingo, the group remained a going concern following the project's completion, and released albums throughout the 80s- some had moderate success, including the theme to Weird Science. By the late 80s, Danny had struck up a friendship with director Tim Burton and the rest is history. Pee Wee, Simpsons, Batman, Beetlejuice, etc etc forever.

However, in 1984, unbeknownst to most people, Danny issued a solo album, called So Lo. Sonically, it may as well be an Oingo Boingo album. The highlight of the album is Gratitude, which eventually also ended up on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Here is a fine remix...

Danny Elfman - Gratitude (Tornado Version)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

better than turquoise

Last week's pkg from On/On Switch pals brought a flaming new 7" by Indian Jewelry, the first single in months to get my blood flowin. Even more enticing is the web of action these folks - Erika Thrasher (synth, vox, guitar) Rodney Rodriguez (percussion) and Sympathetic Arms (vox & ephemera) - seem to have strewn between L.A. and Houston. Under the banner of Swarm of Angels/Girl Gang they've been touring/ recording/ n' creeping on all formats with other souls as Corpses of Waco, Turquoise Diamonds, The Perpetual War Party Band, NTX + Electric, NTX + Erika Thrasher, and Indian Jewelry.

The single, In Love With Loving, is three songs that stretch across time-lag guitar and sluggish surges of 60s Ludlow. There is major Spacemen 3 drag and a grooving lolly haze that whiff's of lysergic intentions deep within. Need more be said? The songs' innards are skewered with bits of an electro-past and classic song shine that seemed to be fully alive in the NTX + Erika Thrasher releases. Here though, its been subdued with wavering heaviness that is offset with acoustic strum, Suicide-synth jolt, and unrelenting pounding. For "In Love With Loving" Thrasher's vocals and guitar hang on the canyon-like drums that are really just massive black holes that nearly swallow the three up. While spinning this, I keep dreaming of Huggy Bear, and while stylistically they are far from this reservation, the revolutionary call-for-blood aesthetics seems to be parallel. The b-side is where the dividends are: "Lost My Sight" is secured in the outer reaches of Texas-style trance; definitely in the lineage of Psychic...Powerless...Another Mans Sac. And that is good company to be calling back. A lock-groove ending would've kept this right on pace for eternity.

Just from these three, I'm guessing Indian Jewelry can overcome all obstacles and summon obliteration tactics from many deceased revellers in their live sets. And so happens they are on tour now and hitting coast-to coast until April 23. I'll be there.

Still no vinyl transfers, so take a dowload to some older songs and order the platter for 5 clams here.

Indian Jewelry - Dead Eyes
Indian Jewelry - Lesser Snake
Indian Jewelry - Going South

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

beware the black eskimo

"We decided to go [to the North Pole] and spend a winter, to get in touch with nature. Then we found these giant paws and we followed them. They ended up in this small village of Black Eskimos who had evolved by themselves for years. They were totally rude, but were people who didn't get spoiled or get into the same world as us. They were eating each other, but there was something really beautiful in them. We decided to play some music with them and we got friends. That's how we ended up with this album, trying to go even deeper into those sounds that make you eat with your hands again."

Les Georges Leningrad's "petrochemical rock"-- a spastic blend of dub, disco, post-punk, and no-wave-- is decidedly murky. But it's downright transparent compared to their public façade. Montreal's preeminent art-punks demolish the lines between music, presentation, and promotion-- all are subsumed in their impregnable aesthetic front, which they bolster by playing up the ridiculous elements of their garbled, French-inflected English. For singer Poney P, guitarist/noise artist Mingo L'Indien, and drummer Bobo Boutin, there is no message, only medium. - pfm

Les Georges Leningrad have toured and performed with Erase Errata, The Gossip, Le Tigre, The Locust, Magas, Sonic Youth, Trans Am and the Unicorns. And they are on tour right now for a few more days! Check out their totally confusing releases on Alien8.

Les Georges Leningrad - Supa Doopa
Les Georges Leningrad - Sponsorships

Friday, March 18, 2005

blue hawaii goes pow pow with a thousand rabbits running

Icy Demons is a new band featuring bass player / producer Griffin Rodriquez (Bablicon), drummer Chris Powell (Need New Body), and Chicago instrumentalists Dave Moyland, Matt Schneider, & Dave McDonnell. Their debut album is an epic journey into the nether regions of pop music, hallucinatory chamber jazz, and mid-70s German-style electronics, the rich / warm sound of the upright bass is perfectly captured within the exquisite orchestrations featuring layered woodwinds occasional vocals, and complex percussion patterns. Sounds like Elephant 6 you say? You are correct, sir! Cloud Recordings put out the release and you may recognize their name from other fine products such as Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System, and A Hawk and a Handsaw.

Check them out now on a brief tour with Chicago's Pit er Pat, who they have a split release with on Polyvinyl.

Icy Demons - Desert Toll
icy Demons - Icy Demons

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

rrright on!

Ah man, Emil Beaulieau. I thought I knew him, but geography and faulty plans have always kept me from really getting up close and taking a whiff. Years of on/off mailorder, catalog perusal, literally fucked records and recycled cassettes still didn't prep me up for the live meeting. Again, another fine evening at Chapel Hill's Nightlight, back on March 6. For those who don't know, Mr. Beaulieau is actually Ron Lessard or better known as America's Greatest Living Noise Artist and the operator of RRR Records, the critical mailorder/ store/ label based in Lowell, MA: 20+ years deep in releasing records & objects (like Billboard Combat's Metastasis LP that was embedded with glass and metal; Due Process' blank LP Do Nothing and not to mention RRR 500, an LP with 500 lock grooves, among a dizzying amount of others), documenting and providing an outlet for wide-eye devourer of the sonic arts.

Live, Emil is a fireball-dance of operation, jolting the instruments (turntables, LPs, pedals, contact mic inside a tuna can, etc.), laughing at his own summoning of the quaking collages, torrents of aural twitches all wet-mouthed with zeal and pure life. Totally inspiring. Check out the below samples and gaze at the photos here (my first digital shots) or take a trip via the fine folks at Brainwashed (Sean Graham and Jon Whitney) and watch their 35 Minute Quicktime mini-documentary.

Emil was/is touring with other New Englander's Sickness and Karlhienz, which I'll expound on more later when I dig into New England, the 5 LP RRR 20 aniversary set, with those guys and 8 others. Local Jason Crumer opened the show and forged a spectal dynamic barrage of rainbow tones that I'm aching to hear more of.

Emil Beaulieau - Baby, What Are You Doing After The Show?
Emil Beaulieau - Rock N Roll get yr Led out!
Emil Beaulieau - My Funny Valentine

Monday, March 14, 2005

duos for life

Meditations on the Ascension of Blind Joe Death, Vol. One is the long talked about, Christina Carter and Loren Mazzacane Connors' tribute LP to John Fahey. After mastering issues and faulty test pressings and whoknowswhatelse, it has been finally tumbled out of the rumor mill and sprung forth by curator's Ecstatic Peace & Father Yod. While a live duo with have been utterly wondrous, what we have is 4-track collab (a first for Loren in his long duo-past), exectued via USPS, of Loren's ghost blues and CC's haunted house piano. As a match up, it is hot in the cross-hairs of perfect. While these two have dualed guitars before, there is a bright sense of newness and exploration with the piano/guitar.

The A-side is seven pieces, all named "Smoke" and is heavy on suspension and space. Christina is mostly up front here with her late-night style that made Bastard Wing sink into my conscience forever. Each key is solidly pressed. Loren opts out of his melodic airs-style and digs with his lone-banshee notes that subtly scream out.

A lushness washes for the flip's six-part "Mirrors"-set. At times, Loren leads in an almost Rooms-era blues and Chrstina's full flourishes speak quite an acreage of emotional depth of celebrating the departed. The "Mirrors" pieces defiently point out the fact that future, real-time, duos are a must.Meditations on the Ascension is right-on. It is even complete with Conrad Capistran's replicic Tom Weller-style cover-art and a moving plume by Byron Coley. This LP is the first in a series of Fahey tributes, though not aware of what is next.

Word about is that Table of the Elements will be issuing a piece of Loren-Fahey guitar tangle as part of an in-the-works dbl Connor's CD. The two did a Brooklyn studio session together, though not sure if this recording will be culled from there.

Christina Carter and Gown are on tour right now, check their dates for your woods.

Until I can learn AAA to AAD alchemy, here are sounds from other releases:

Christina Carter - Silhouette from Living Contact reissue (Kranky)
Christina Carter feat Gown - Return from New Skin for the Old Ceremony: Polyamory Ninth Anniversary Compilation cdr
Loren Connors - Departing of a Dream Vol. II, pt 2 from Departing of a Dream Vol. II
Loren Connors feat. Suzanne Langille - Why We Came Together from Yakuza Magazine CD compilation, 1998

why can't we live together

While I had heard Timmy Thomas before, I hadn't ever realised that he was born in the same hometown as I until I was researching the man a little bit. Born Nov 13, 1944 in Evansville, IN, Timmy Thomas first attracted attention for his work as an accompanist with jazz musicians Donald Byrd and Cannonball Adderley. (Not while in Evansville, trust me). He then embarked on a spell as a session musician, most notably with the Memphis-based Goldwax label. Later based in Miami and working for TK Records (and its subsidiary Glades), Thomas sessioned for artists like Betty Wright and KC and the Sunshine Band. Eventually, he embarked on his own solo material and found himself with a top ten hit in 1972 with "Why Can't We Live Together?' (US Number 3/UK Top 20).

His stripped down sound is completely foreign for its time. Over an early drum machine, Timmy bangs out what could be an improvised organ line. His simple, Booker T. Jones-like organ style came to the fore as a hypnotic pulse punctuates an understated, but heartfelt plea. He had released records both before and after this song, but none of them had as much success or sales as this. He continued to work on sessions for TK artists including Gwen McCrae and Clarence Reid's alter-ego, Blowfly. This song was tastefully covered by the sophisticated British chanteuse Sade in 1984. Which makes perfect sense. Forgive my dusty grooves in this timeless classic, its message remains intact...

Buy "Funky Me" on Miami Sound from the always mouth-watering Soul Jazz. Or his greatest hits.

Timmy Thomas - Why Can't We Live Together
Timmy Thomas - Funky Me

bonus cut: Sade - Why Can't We Live Together

Friday, March 11, 2005

glitch soul

Telefon Tel Aviv have progressed further between their first two albums than some projects do their entire career. Their 2001 debut, Fahrenheit Fair Enough, was on constant rotation in my life for months and months, and keeps reappearing years later. Combining lush ambience and kinetic glitch, basically, it was exactly what I needed at the time. It was the early 90s high school shoegazer in me coming to terms with the guy who went to college and followed dreampop into ambient guitar stuff (Kranky) into electronic ambient like Selected Ambient Works II into other AFX craziness into complex Photek dnb and then the hyper-insanity of Squarepusher and his ilk. Somewhere along that timeline came lots of other stuff, I don't recall at all where all the modern avant-garde composers started appearing in my life discography, but it seems that the giant smoothie that these influences make fits TTA to my ears perfectly. Joshua Eustis and Charlie Cooper reportedly came together because of their mutual love for complex classical composers, but I still like to think that one of them provides the lush, film-score synths and the other is the spastic beat-splitter.

When Hefty Records put out Telefon Tel Aviv's 2nd album hit in 2004, I was thrown completely off. I should have heard it coming but I didn't. I was too busy paying attention to the headphone defying hijinks of songs like "8 Track Project Cut" from their limited edition Immediate Action EP (released between the two long-players). However, "Sound in a Dark Room" hinted as to what was going to happen much moreso. A laid back, late-night chill vibe with... soul! Processed female vox flutter over a much more spread out sound than the previous album. But there was still no full on vocalist! Map of What Is Effortless changed that pronto. With the edition of the Ron Isley-esque vocals of L.A. songwriter Damon Aaron and L'Altra vocalist Lindsay Anderson, this album was a whole new beast. "I Lied" is what modern radio soul music should sound like.

Telefon Tel Aviv - 8 Track Project Cut
Telefon Tel Aviv - Sound in a Dark Room
Telefon Tel Aviv - I Lied

Thursday, March 10, 2005

panico: ultra latin sicodelic sound

I have blogger envy. What an ugly dark secret to admit. Last month, the always awesome 20jazzfunkgreats beat me to the punch by nearly a month with this great music. and then as soon as I had forgotten, last week matthew fluxblog beat me to the punch and reminded me of these great dudes (and dude-ette) again. Luckily for me, the fix is good enough that it doesn't matter. The music blog 'community' shouldn't be about who was where first, cuz everyone had to get it from somewhere and even if you know the band personally, you still aren't in the band, so you ain't that cool! And if you are bloggin' your own band, well, that isn't very cool either now is it? On to the music.

What do you get if you let five kids from Chile with a serious inclination for Brazilian 60s death pop punks Os Mutantes and early Joy Division and hang out? You get the wild tropical space rock disco of Panico. That is what Vice Scandinavia sez. You can check out a cut from their new CD over at fluxblog. However, this is the A-side to the 7 inch. It's a classic rock n roll genre piece about Amphetamine. And no, that isn't your mp3 player skipping, its the spazztastic intro. For this song, take a big ole dollop of one of the following: Les Georges Leningrad, Numbers and/or Le Tigre. Mix in some good old fashion South American garage rock and whoop, there it is! The rest of the CD is great and wears its influences proudly while creating something new and wonderful at the same time. For the brave or español-capable, dig in! I think their Chilean website says they've been at it since 1995 (!), but there are no real hints as to what they sounded like back then. Lick all the new stuff up over at Tigersushi. Now proceed to Forced Exposure and grab their new rekkid. And since this cut is already up over at XXJFG, here is the first track from the CD, Que Pasa Wey, as well. Its Bela Lugosi lockgroove at 45rpm, trust me.

Panico - Anfetaminado
Panico - Que Pasa Wey

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

kid strange or strange kid

When Ziggy shagged all of Amon Düül 2 at the Berlin premiere of 'A Clockwork Orange', their divine progeny was undoubtedly Richard "Kid" Strange - Julian Cope

Kid Strange aka Richard Harding. Musician, composer, nightclub host, actor, writer and adventurer, was born in January 1951. Since his proto-punk rock band the Doctors of Madness was first unleashed on an uncomprehending public in 1975, he has been a Zelig-like figure whose presence has been felt in every corner of London's cultural life. He founded the hugely influential mixed-media Cabaret Futura in 1980, and has made films with Tim Burton, Neil Jordan and Martin Scorsese. He wrote music for contemporary dance companies in the eighties and was European editor of the avant-garde Art Line magazine. He toured the world in a Russian Hamlet and appeared in several episodes of the highly successful Men Behaving Badly.

The Doctors released three albums on Polydor (and reissued on Ozit Records) in the latter half of the 70s that were inspired equally by the Velvet Underground and the writing of William S. Burroughs. In a time that pre-dated the rise of Sex Pistols, they were truly misunderstood. Bassist Stoner is quoted as saying "You get booed before you play a note. We are one of the few bands that can get that strength of reaction off people." However, in hindsight, perhaps they were the stepping stone between glam and punk. AMG even says, "the entire Futurist/electro movement of the age, that which thrust the likes of Ultravox, Simple Minds, Depeche Mode, and OMD to the fore, might never have occurred without the Doctors' existence." Not bad! Unfortunately, the Doctors were often flailed in the press and people couldn't quite comprehend the theatrics of the group. As the 70s came to a close the group disbanded and Kid became Richard and had releases on Cherry Red (the 1979 single mp3ed here), Ze, Virgin and Albion.

Maybe some time in the future I can do the Doctors of Madness justice, but this is about solo Strange. At a flea market I frequent, a middle-aged man was selling vinyl out of the back of his pick-up truck. One of the things I picked out, along with how-to breakdance compilations and electronic composers like Morton Subotnick, was a promo from PVC/Ze featuring Strange on one side and an Alan Vega (1/2 of Suicide) cut on the flip. The song is much like Julian Cope described Strange to be, and on top of all of that, I'd like to say that Pulp certainly owes him some royalties.

Richard Strange - International Language

five string glossolalia

A trio of random emails hit me in a few hours' span last week, each casually mentioning that I should check out Uncle Woody Sullender that evening at Nightlight in Chapel Hill. By chance, I had already made plans after my memory was rechecked via a preview in the Independent. Sullender had sent some recordings my way in the past, and while his name didn't immediately ring my bell his style did: improvised banjo. Yes, backwoods freedom clucks and stomps; Incus meets Dock Boggs; post-modern American-primative, blah, blah, blah. (The aforementioned article talks of his Mats Gustafsson influence; collaboration with electronic maverick Maryanne Amacher and role in the sadly departed Transmission Festival).
At Nightlight, Sullender injected a microscopic distillation into the banjo, working his way through an insect-like sphere during a 30+ minute set that sent me home to dig out the disk in question, Nothing Is Certain but Death. Released late-2004 on Sullender's Dead CEO label, the album needs to be sought. Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and vocalist Carol Genetti make apperances. Jason Soliday (aka Crank Satori) taliors his harsh abstract electronics on a piece to feel as if they were woven into the grooves of a 78.
Accompanied by fellow Chicagoian cellist Kevin Davis during the performance, Sullender slipped straight into chattering backwoods clouds and sound clusters that had all the points of Roger Smith to Terry Earl Taylor. Country tongues and delicious melodies leapt out sparsely enough to ground the tradition Sullender was expounding with his five string glossolalia. The inescapable twang melted perfectly into the contrasting bed of bowing-crunch that Davis dealt. That twang can never be sliced clear of the banjo, and it need not be, since it so richly adds to Sullender's take on the instrument, history and improv -- fans of all three should dig in.

Uncle Woody Sullender - Don't Say Goodbye Til I'm In Chicago
Uncle Woody Sullender - Sallie Goodman Breakdown
Kevin Davis-Dave Rempis Duo - 1.2
Kevin Davis-Dave Rempis Duo - 1.6

Saturday, March 05, 2005

school's out

Out of nowhere, and blurring my nightly vision, comes the Graduation LP (Audio Dispatch), a splatter document of Nels Cline, Chris Corsano and Carlos Giffoni's debut path-crossing from May 2003. HOT DAMN it'is. Not sure the background on these three getting together, be it planned or chance, but hopefully it will not be the last. Giffoni's spaghetti spewn electrodes are shooting all over, streaking and gobin in all the right spots; his aim is true. For those tuned in with his Monotract, the tension here is definitely more honed in, focused to the orbiting actions. Mr. Cline, whose guitar outings --- from 1979 to solo to Gregg Bendian duo to Nels Cline Singers to Wilco -- make him one of our times' major contributors to the six-string legacy. When the book is written, a chapter and fwd should scream his name. Anyhow. Here, Nels opens a shimmering freedom of string and fret, at points it seems he may spiral out and blow the amp along the way, but he brings it back. Corsano nails Cline and Giffoni together when the switch flips his mutli-handed rhythm rainbow that alternates between hardcore nosh-down to continual snare, symbol and thump expansions. There is some meditation mid-way through but it gives way again to 10-or-so-minutes of pure escapism, of the mind-melting variety. The flip is a "custom" mix by Giffoni, which doesn't quite require repeated spins, but better than a one-sided platter. The performance was recorded at the fine non-prof Brooklyn radio station Free103point9 (in the borough and on-line), and released by it as well. Profits from the LP benefit the station.

On the mp3 front, still not getting the vinyl crunched into 010101011s, so here are some tips into the three's other jaunts:
Carlos Giffoni - tracks 64 thru 74 compressed from Raw Files cd-r
[Corsano] Vampire Belt - The Magic of Jojo
Nels Cline - After Armenia

Friday, March 04, 2005

adelaide's green horizon

Adelaide are straight outta Portland, Oregon. They have that sound that the kids love. Some might say like Maserati, Yume Bitsu, M83, Album Leaf, Emery Reel. A fascination with the combinations of sound and image led them to create a live show that includes 16mm film projections, electronics and live instrumentation. Rhodes, guitar, bass, synthesizer, and drums twist into soundscapes that provide a pulsing soundtrack to live projections of found footage.

Adelaide isn't just a band; it's a group of archeologists. After forming last summer, the Portland quintet dug through reels and reels of old 16mm film to find scratchy, yellowed footage featuring early-20th-century city life. Projected behind the band during shows, the films have a strange voyeuristic quality when accompanied by Adelaide's spacey compositions that mix ethereal electronics and minimal guitar and drum parts. It honestly feels like you're spying on a quaint past from the complex confines of the future.

Buy their CD over at CD Baby and catch them out on their extensive North American tour.

Adelaide - Green Horizon
Adelaide - Games Without End
Adelaide - Bones of Things

Thursday, March 03, 2005

chlorine dream

In 1989, Primal Scream confounded their fans and foes alike by growing their hair past their shoulders, buying Marshall amps and turning them up to 11, and by showing an alarming tendency to appear in public shirtless. Previously the Scream had been the most precious of indie poppers, Byrds fans down to their fringed jackets and freshly-combed bowl haircuts. However, their major-label debut, a pristine pop record, was a big flop, and after they booted out co-founder Jim Beattie, they were ready to fully embrace rock & roll and all the attitude and noise that came with it. Out went the Byrds, in came the MC5, and Primal Scream was ready to rock.

The missing link between early Primal Scream and Beattie's later group, Adventures in Stereo, Spirea X tried to place Beattie's freakbeat obsessions in the cultural milieu defined by the likes of Ride and My Bloody Valentine. In 1991, the group released the Chlorine Dream and Speed Reaction singles, along with the full-length Fireblade Skies on 4AD. Combining sweet vocal melodies with alternately noisy and blurry bursts of guitars and dance beats, the record was definitely up on the then-current sound of the U.K., but it failed to make much of an impression with consumers and cynical tastemakers. A brittle, largely electronic version of Love's "Signed D.C." points in the direction that Beattie and Boyle would later pursue with Adventures in Stereo.

Buy it for $0.37 @ Amazon! (plus shipping)

Spirea X - Nothing Happened Yesterday
Spirea X - Confusion in my Soul
Spirea X - Signed D.C.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

birthing tropicalia

In the late '60s, a new Brazilian popular music arose in direct reaction to social complacency stemming from the coup of 1964 and the musical clichés of pop music. The music that arose, Tropicalia, is bound together more by an ideology of social awareness and the drive to be musically creative than by any single set of musical characteristics. Comparing the songs of tropicalia musicians, it can be discerned that the greatest common bond is in the lyrics, which are well thought-out, keyed to musical events of the accompaniment, poetic, elegant, and above all, socially aware. But tropicalia lasted for only a few years.

The first Caetano Veloso solo album was recorded in 1967. Soon after Veloso and his group (which would soon constitute the Tropicalia movement) were news, dividing opinions concerning the group's interest in fusing Brazilian music with international pop culture, lysergic psychedelia, generalized irreverence, and whatever crossed their minds. The arrangements were done by three classically trained composers, fully committed to the most adventurous experiments in modern music: Júlio Medaglia, Damiano Cozzella, and Sandino Hohagen. Veloso's concept was that the album should surpass the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's, being also very Brazilian and, at the same time, international. The record has immortal classics composed under the effect of the recent death of Che Guevara. "Tropicália," the title track, was an unnamed song when its recording began. By suggestion of the then photographer Luís Carlos Barreto, Veloso used the same name of an installation by the visual artist Hélio Oiticica, which was composed by a labyrinth made with plants and birds conducing to a television set. The suggestion was accepted -- and the Tropicalia was born.

Choose from hunderds of Caetano CDs on Amazon.

Caetano Veloso - Tropicália
Caetano Veloso - Alegría, Alegría
Caetano Veloso - Superbacana

Super awesome bonus track!!!
Caetano Veloso - Billie Jean / Eleanor Rigby medley (live)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

welcome to the new machine

Dead Machines is the duo of Tovah O'Rourke and John Olson, each operating in other capacities such as Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice and Wolf Eyes respectively; not to mention their long-standing, decade plus years running the American Tapes label. Dead Machines is owned equally by the other as O'Rourke and Olson meld into one soulful atrophy of collapse. Human Brain Wasting Syndrome (Ecstatic Peace) is their new platter whose title matches the decay found in the ebb on these 10, 11 (or is it 12?) pieces. Across both sides there is tightly wound gnarled sound sphere of infinitesimal echo clusters that give you enough spacial room to slip inside each track, but the tangles within are enough to tie you up for weeks. There is definite architecture happening here, though the flow could easily be paced by freely working impulses as well. Immediate minds will click back to early Throbbing Gristle upon initial hearing but the mechanical spring and wobble is more present in the Dead twins' work than the UK foreparents. A spinning oil drum beat kicks in towards the A-side end that signals some electric cries and muffs equal to haunted, afternoon Robo-trips. The equally damaged flipside ends with submarine tones bouncing off the third reef of thy inner mind. To top this all off, the record is slipped inside two sheets of packing cardboard dressed with two color copies of skull & worm artlay that evokes some prime Pushead material; all wrapped up in a plastic slip. This is surely the hot creem of like-minded friends and others out in the cassette and CDr underworld. Human Brain is a fine point to start on your adventure if your still got dry toes.

mp3 coming someday?

kickin the can

For movie-goers: If movies could have sex, and Tim Burton's early work got O Brother, Where Art Thou? pregnant, this would be the baby: a little CD called Mountain Dudes.

For music-lovers: If Bad Brains grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, and sacrificed their distortion pedals for banjos and fiddles, Mountain Dudes would be their CD.

For review readers: The Can Kickers are just plain fucking awesome. They don't regurgitate old-time music. They take it, swallow it, and spit out something all their own. The uptempos and independent spirit belong to punk, while the rest of it belongs to the songs of Appalachia.

Mountain Dudes is 13 songs of them sounding like they're having the best time of their lives. It's the kind of stuff you'd much rather hear on the street corners downtown, instead of that one sax player who rapes the same three jazz standards every time.

Grab their release from Cosmodemonic Telegraph and check them out on their never-ending US tour going on now.

The Can Kickers - Greasy Coat
The Can Kickers - Froggy Went A'courting