Sunday, July 25, 2004

Been dealing with them mid to late summer blues lately.  Maybe it's the arrival of the anniversary of my birth that got's my mind slowly turning to rot.  Sometimes, "Paint it Black" is more like a vacuum than a song.  I haven't been to a concert in like a month...

...AND I've been listening to the Legendary Pink Dots again--"this music makes me want to kill myself" said a friend on the way home from a baseball game the other night.  But I think The Whispering Wall (ROIR) is actually the first LPD album in over a decade that's proven almost entirely listenable from start to end.  I know they're second tier goth/industrial/psych/whatnot, right?   There's something about this stuff that wants to be despised, and I'm more than willing to do the despising.  The saccharine synth lines, cheesy sax work, plodding disco beats, Ed Ka Spel's Syd Barrett acid-damaged mimicry (though he's certainly dope-fucked in his own right).  It's Amsterdam in sound: cool architecture, good sex, bad drugs, goofy poetry, hash bars, red lights glowing against wet pavement.  The Whispering Wall has an all around air of detached sadness that makes it all quite right by the time the last two tracks come around: "The Divide," an extended industrial/noise workout with spoken word that somehow echoes the annoying chatter in my mind to spooky effect, and three part album closer "Sunken Pleasure/Rising Pleasure/No Walls, No Strings," one of the best LPD songs ever, starting with Ed's sad pop croon over plaintive piano, guitar and ethereal drones, before fading in a quivering wall of ambient bliss and arriving at the kind of sonic rendezvous that wouldn't be out of place on a Piano Magic album.  Not a bad thing at all...

...but nothing's gonna make me gush rainbows like the Jarr CD-R self-released by Zukonicon.  This ensemble makes an unusual, free-flowing sound poetry that's formless at times, with nothing more than reverb drenched sax and minimal drones shimmering in the distance, but it's tightly wound at its rhythmic core when it needs to be with some mind-cleansing grooves that demand bodily reflex.  Reference points: the jazzier krautrock spectrum, more recent free-psych ensembles like Sunburned Hand of the Man and Tan As Fuck...

...And thanks to Ms. Cello Sea for sending me the new reissue of Tuatara: A Flying Nun Compilation on, you guessed it, Flying Nun.  This is one of the BEST post-punk comps of all time, drawn largely form the early/mid 80s, when any hippie punk will tell you the Flying Nun repeatedly shat aural gold.  Definitive tracks from the Clean, Gordons, VerlainesTall DwarfsBats and the Chills reveal the genesis of indiepop, and mixed with lesser known, but no lesser thrilling cohorts such as the dub-post punk hybrid of Fetus Productions, the obvious, but still incredibly powerful, Joy Division-inspired moves of Children's Hour, and holy shit! Marie and the Atom are playing creepy chamber pop/psych punk a good 15 years before it was, like, cool.  Also really nice to see Scorched Earth Policy included, since they share members with some of the best (and my favorite) dark bands to ever come out of the "scene" (such as Renderers and the Terminals)...

...FOLK CLANG seems like an oxymoron, but anyone whose spent some time in the chilly woods of the Dead Raven Choir can tell you that it's real, and it's scary stuff too.  Japan's Shuji Inaba sounds sort of like a cross between Smolken of DRC and the legendary Kan Mikami, who has been releasing arty, resonant jazz/folk/blues records on PSF that date back to the 70s.  Inaba is not as established don't think, but as the Haino-esque title of his new live album on Last Visible Dog suggests--The Rapture of Being Destroyed is the Flipside of Destruction--this man roams some coarse aural terrain.  His percussive style on acoustic guitar is forceful and raw, beneath lyrics delivered from a whisper to a venomous growl in a voice that cuts through layer after layer of the "shit we call life" in a deeply felt effort to make it bleed.  On the subject of LVD, MCMS's MCMS: 1997-2000 is a fine example of homemade pysch clatter and space rockgod worship that probably deserves a better review than the one David Keenan gave it in last month's Wire, which may have been biased by Matt Silcock's suggestion in the liner notes that MCMS's first attempt at studio production was, "like the first Nurse With Wound album, only better."  BUT GUESS WHAT!  It's not even included in this collection, so I can't decide for myself.  As Mr. Keenan suggests, maybe these albums are all just an elaborate ruse, a piss-take on the sanctity of "trash art" that's drawn more from a desire to do than a need to create, but then isn't that why Chance Meeting was recorded in the first place?  There's more to this than amateurish avant-aping, and if I can dig PYLON, I can certainly dig this broke down collection of primitive noise, minimalism and stoned folk ramblings.  Speaking of Pylon, Not Cobras is a reissue of the Finnish duo's earlier recordings that sounds equally ramshackle and a tad more inspired.  These guys can take a stick, a paint can, cheap organ and recycled, beer soaked audio tape and reinvent Faust in under 2 minutes.  Crude "free industrial" is the call of the day.  More bands should try to be Throbbing Gristle...or Les Rallizes Denudes for that matter, which seems about what LSD-March is going for on their recent LVD album, Suddenly Like Flames.  These young lads will appeal to Rallizes, White Heaven fans and other melancholy fuzz punk rockers, and that should be enough to sell it.  No where else but the Japanese psych underground yields such volatile, gentle melodic sway with grimy garage grit bleeding through every pore--the scorched fuzz blast of guitar on "After the Storm" is ample proof.  Not the best fidelity, but that's definitely part of the appeal for anyone who likes his brain matter flame-broiled...
 
...Speaking of shit gettin hot, Merzbow has released more albums than I've shot cumloads.  Masami Akito is busier in his recording studio with collaborations and remixes than porn star extraordinaire Ron Jeremy on a viagra binge at the Bunnyranch.   I had to hunt down the 2CD reissue of Frog (Misanthropic Agenda) after being previously amazed by the 2CD remix comp drawn from the same album (with contributions from Sunn0))), Fennesz, Russell Haswell, Pimmon, Boris, etc), and I may still like that better, but the source material sports some mighty killer power rhythms and screeching metallic hiss storms.  This is a dense noise collage that ranges from samples of the titular croaks to other noises, loops of field recordings processed on laptop, degraded, regenerated, slice, diced, and refabricated as crushing industrial hammer rhythms and atonal drill screams.  It's a ride, and definitely more than just noise for noise's sake, but there's plenty of that too...

...Speaking of which, finally got my latest order from Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, and its new doom/no wave subsidiary Battlecruiser, and me hath found the motherload of destroyed aural death on the 3" CD-R Waste, courtesy of the stoned march into the void that is Wardagger.  Influences here are all that is black and tortured, including Sleep and Boris at their absolutedroneevil best, one 20 min track of perma-frost riff/glitch doom that reaches the expected catharsis by the time grim reaper vocals from hell come howling from the speakers.  SuicideXwatchXcore!  Wings of Vengeance on the other hand make me think of Naked City and other John Zorn related exploded jazz-punk on their Miseryguts 3" CD-R.  Short, choppy bursts of aural angst with all the visceral lunges and grinding scrapes of a dumptruck barreling down the side of a rock quarry; also reminds me of the amazing video for New York group Unsane's "Scrape"--a montage of skaters wiping out and racking their nuts repeatedly.  Wolfskull, on the other hand, a cryptic improv sludge beast supposedly related to the wonderfully fried Futurians and Armpit, is more primitive on the Black Hole Rose 3".  Self described doom/no wave makes sense as this not surprisingly has a sort of turpentine soaked creature of the night vibe, like a stoned Skullflower covering "I wanna Be Your Dog" badly before the grime soaked monster trips and knocks over archaic stabbing utensils and and unleashes all manner of back-masked noise doom into the dark night.  Mr. Psi even gets Dead Raven Choir to plug in and turn in his own blast of death fuzz folk for Battlecruiser.  And when I say fuzz, I'm talking Flying Saucer Attack worthy distortion squalls, but what KICKS ASS about this absurd monument to mayhem is the source material--covers by Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt of all people--all delivered in Smolken's trademark gutteral black metal growl.  Sturmfuckinglieder HAS to be heard to be believed.  Back to CPP:  With Sosina Arada Mica, Reynols sounds like they've somehow trained a swarm of bees to perform rhythm to Miguel Tomasin's vocal caterwaul.  It's very hard to explain how this trio captivates the adventurous listener with each and every dissonant flush of the cosmic commode, but they do just that, and the end result is really quite unlike anything else in the noise/psych spectum.  A good way in, or out.  Finally comes something from the equally confounding Simon Wickam-Smith, who sometimes makes processed minimal noise, free industrial clatter and, such as on the Two4Dancin CD, endless trance techno/sample/noise hybrids that can make lovely portals for time travel.  It's tempting to dismiss Wickam-Smith as a bit of a one trick pony here, since his basic rhythm loop has little variation, though the ethnic chants do get run through an interesting digital grinder over the steady hip-hop beat before more intense mind-warping variations are explored deeper into the seemingly endless mix.  Any number of fascinating extracts can be heard in this cosmic discotheque, but at 73 mins, with no track-breaks, he's pushin' it.

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