Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Special Music time, and there's so much of it this year! This past weekend I actually went out to see THE MELVINS live, with a double drummer set up, fuckin' smoked! They didn't play any of the old crawling sludge-burners, but they did pull out "Revolve" from Stoner Witch (best southern fried sludge boogie jam ever), and played a good 90 mins or so of qualified bulldozer glam. It was like Kiss crossed with mid period Swans--amazing. Ok maybe not AMAZING, but I enjoy these weirdos in glam mode more than I thought I would.

Also just got the brand new Aufgehoben album Messidor on Holy Mountain in the mail (their 4th to date) FOR FREE and WOW, definitely one of the finest high energy improv/noise units on this planet. And it is actual rock music too. ON THIS FUCKING PLANET! Wonder if they still don't play out live because they should. Speaking of which, it's an amazing time to be alive; it really is. Hang in there, babies! Hold that ground.

It's good to be rocking and rolling and kicking it with your friends and obsessing over the Rolling Stones and trying to stay warm and make things instead of break things. I could break much shit if I wanted to. On the must see list: "The Devil and Daniel Johnston"--cried a bit while watching this (from all the laughter!). Note to self: Never accept a gift from Gibby Haynes, chemical or otherwise.

A few of my favorite albums to come out in recent months...

Flying Canyon Flying Canyon (Soft Abuse) Precious, dusted folk tunes from the dark side of the desert. The li'l sticker on the package says "doom folk from California" or some such. If that's not some shameless Psych exploitation, don't know what is, but it's also an accurate description all the same. Cayce Lindner resembles a mid 70s Jackson Frank, hair long and sandy, his voice soft and gruff at the same time. I'd like to think a joint was hanging between his fingers when the cover pic was snapped. The songs themselves are tender psych folk chestnuts that capture desolation and beauty with timeless folky textures anchored on reverb-drenched rhythms, especially "Crossing by your Star" with its sweet harmonies. His band features Glen and Donovan from Sky Green Leopards among others. Skip Spence, Jackson Frank and Donovan fans should dig.

Seht Green Morning (Digitalis) Deep drone electronics from Mars--well inspired by Mars and Ray Bradbury and lo-fi sonic constructions in general. This is Seht at his deep drone best, hanging in there with the heavy hitters of the genre and keeping it interesting throughout, even if "interesting" in this particular case is a kind of static textured mechanical hum. It works. Sweet package too. Seriously.

Boris/Sunno))) Altar (Southern Lord) Boris brings the rock and bliss-out sort of edge. Sunn brings the spooky drone; together they make something that sounds like if a heavy progressive rock band had signed to Kranky records in 1994. I think that's praise. I like this myself, though the packaging may be even more impressive than the music.

Mudsuckers Mudsuckers (Important) Super third eye mind meld between Masters Robert Horton, Tom Carter and the D____ Yellow Swans. This actually works really well with searing slide work drowning in a cosmic sea of sci-fi electronic dementia. No big surprise. I expected as much.

Jazzfinger Winter's Shadow Between Two Worlds (Curor) - Travis: I got a head full of it...perhaps even fear...itÂ’s exploration, but riddled with muddled doubt and confusion, by design, of course. Perhaps it's a psychedelic rebirth or a violent ego-death, a stripping away of reality. Me: Tony Conrad goes pop. Wow it's only a CD-R!

Circle Miljard (Ekto) - 2CD behemeth marries Circle's propulsive repetition-to-infinity with quieter, dreamier numbers. Is this post rock? Is this jazz? It's definitely psychedelic, quite enthralling, masterfully produced and a lot more interesting than what one might expect if Circle turned down the volume and upped the sparseness. There's just something about their mesmorizing riff swirls buried in seething electronics that always reels me in, and only more so here. This is quiet, but this isn't light. Me thinks this a definer for these Finnish stalwarts.

Larkin Grimm The Last Tree (Secret Eye) - Sweet pixie dust and fairy butterflies tinkling and dancing through the green yellow fields. Larkin is a star, regardless of if anyone is paying attention or not. She's a good songwriter, and she manages that rare gift of grafting her traditional folky sensibilities with philosophical underpinings that embrace independence and emotional rawness above all else. That she does it and makes her songs so incredibly infectious and accessible at the same time is just the gravy on the chicken fried steak. Delicious.

The Left Jesus Loves the Left (Bona Fide) - How is it possible I never heard of this mid 80s Baltimore hardcore punk groop before now? Feirce, blinding, very capable high energy guitar rock with a strong debt to Stooges (covered here), 13th Floor Elevators (Rollercoaster is referenced in the charred crawl of "R.I.P.") and a few others (including the Gun Club and Radio Birdman). The career spanning "Jesus Loves the Left" is the most convincing punk album I've heard in '06, and it's not dated at all. Superior production and performances all the way around. Who knew?

United Bible Studies The Shore That Fears the Sea (Deserted Village) - Don't think I ever mentioned this here. Sprawling lyserfic acid folk cum free jazz run through a slight post industrial filter. The flagship Deserved Village ensemble truly hits their stride on this, their debut CD release. If you love the fuck out of The Bummer Road's Mother of Thousands, and would like to hear a slightly more gothic, Irish variation on some similar themes, you might just like this more. I do.

Volcano the Bear Classic Erasmus Fusion (Beta-Lactam Ring) - A definiteve 2CD sprawler from one of the finest psychedelic free jazz industrial rock bands on the planet. There was a time when VTB's vision far outshined their technical abilities. Now their chops have caught up. This monster, recorded with a newly added 4th member on electronics, is one of the most vital, creative, alive, REAL albums to come down the pike this year.
End of an Era... ...Till today, Robert Altman was my favorite living filmmaker. The workhorse and great eccentric who gave us M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park, McCabe and Mrs Miller (one of my top 3 favorite movies of all time....) and dozens more has died. He worked till the end. His last film, A Prairie Home Companion, is highly recommended and a fitting capper for such an intelligent, vividly alert and deeply humanistic filmmaking career. There will never be another Altman. It's truly the end of an era for American filmmaking. Even though he's largely considered one of the mavericks who birthed a newer style of gritty realism, old Hollywood dies today. If Kubrick was our Orson Welles, then Altman was our Jean Renoir. Fuck. I'm crushed. Really thought he was going to be around a while longer...

Monday, November 20, 2006

I am not a big sports guy or anything, but I was very pleased to see the Cowboys rise up and ultimately crush the Colts yesterday. I was lucky enough to watch the Cowboys become the baddest of the bad (in more ways than one) in the early '90s, as well as the ensuing decade of dribbling mediocrity and failed promise that followed. So let me enjoy this for a few days plz.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The sad case of Jason DiEmilio.

What would you do if a medical condition impeded upon your ability to hear, play and enjoy music? Like, made it impossible. I never really knew Jason DiEmilio beyond some email correspondence and an appreciation for his work. His drone/noise project The Azusa Plane defined homemade American tone bliss in the late '90s, and he released the first album by respected psych popsters Mazarin on his Victoria imprint on top of exploring other label and musical endeavors. He died recently of an apparent suicide. The facts are cloudy at best, but it seems his failing health was making his life unbearable in some way. It's an especially moving story to some of us because we have such fond memories of this guy, his intensity, his devotion to sound art and the underground community in general--all of the best things about taking chances and following your own muse in this cruel often indifferent world. He must have released over three dozen singles in his time, many of which were splits with drone titans of the era. He also played Terrastock 2 and 3. On an email list people have been discussing him, his music, what his life and death means, the state of underground and the world in general. Be aware of those friends and acquaintances who seem to literally drop off the face of the earth. They don't just drop off. Maybe they go even further underground, look for new routes of travel, new realms of vitality, and sometimes the search may seem in vain. Sometimes hope may seem dead. I wish and hope that Jason knew that his search was not in vain. His myriad singles, splits, live albums, the Azusa Plane's gorgeous "Tycho Magnetic Anomaly" (the second ever Camera Obscura release) all hold a special place in my heart. Rest easy, fellow traveler.

Recommended Listening:
Tycho Magnetic Anomaly and the Full Consciousness of Hidden Harmony CD (Camera Obscura)
Result Dies With the Worker live CD (Colourful Clouds for Acoustics)
Lou, Nico, Sterling, John and Maureen/This Is Not Spacerock 7" (Burnt Hair)
The Azusa Plane/Loren Mazzacane Connors - Split 7" (Colorful Clouds For Acoustics)
The Azusa Plane/Roy Montgomery - Split 7" (Colorful Clouds For Acoustics)
They did have a smoke machine! Dead Echoes was by all measures a great success. At one point there was probably close to 40 people in that li'l house, all on the floor wriggling like eels, but thankfully the crowd cleared out as it got later so we could stretch out and really relax for some heavy trance states. Every artist brought something substantial to the table.

Walking in with the mindnumbing gutteral drone of Sunno)))'s "GrimmRobe Demos" blasting throughout the red-lit crypt that the house had been converted into for the night gave me deju-vu, sort of like coming home to hell. Maybe it was because I'd been listening to waaaaayyy tooo much of the stuff lately and pondering, "can I really listen to this crap forever?" and "is there something horribly wrong with me?" and concluding nah. Sidenote: I like the new Sunno)))/Boris super collab album "Altar." A friend commented how he wished it were more evil sounding or at least really mean, but I don't mind, as there is simply enough evil in the world today as is. "The Sinking Belle" is a real beaut me thinks. Sort of like if Mogwai didn't suck. LOL I'm jaykay...Mogwai doesn't suck.

Had an amazing time talking to everyone, making new friends and catching up with old ones. It was also very cool seeing some of the old Austin gang close to home. More to follow on the subject.

Random too-dark-cuz-I-forgot-how-to-work-the-flash phone pix from the evening:

Monday, October 30, 2006

GOOD PEOPLE! I have missed you. I have missed this glorious blogosphere as well. Back just in time for zombie-wolves-ghosts-goblins-and-witches day. I have a rather perverse appreciation for the macabre, deformed and disturbed, and I'm completely stoked about the happening at The House of Tinnitus tonight, which will feature non-stop drones, performances, projections, costumes and more. Hope they have a smoke machine! Tuesday, Oct. 31
House of Tinnitus
628 Lakey St.
Denton, TX 76201


Venison Whirled (Austin)
PURE primitive power dronescapes a la Phill Niblock & La Monte Young, but with a power-metal attitude. Longtime *drummer* for Austin weirdos ST 37 uses bowed cymbals and other unnatural non-percussives

Ethereal Planes Indian (Austin)
Currently on tour with Venison Whirled, Ethereal Planes Indian is B.C. Smith of Iron Kite, ex-Primordial Undermind. Blurry peyote ragas colliding with billowing primitive percussion from the dawn of humankind.

The Zanzibar Snails (Denton)
Three members of Denton incidental improv troupe iDi*amin meld old-guard oscillations and warped, whispery sound sculptures with the unpredictable sax fumigation of Mike Forbes (Notes From Underground)

p.d. wilder (Austin/Denton/parts unknown)
Expansive soundscapy guitarist with a patient mastery of timbre &texture, light & shadow. AKA Pablo St. Chaos, 1/3 of hotel,hotel and caretaker of the lo-bango sound.

OVEO (Denton)
Improvisational collaboration between jamo of Sparrow/Hawk? and Andrew Michael of DentonÂ’s You Are the Universe!. A clattering and seductive medley of feedback, tape loops, and slow-moving horror soundtrack rhythms

S.D.S. (Dallas)
aka Shortwave Death System
Mysterious experimental scene veteran using showtave and loop station; one of the only people in the area to have seen :zoviet*france: live

visual projections by Paul Baker, known for his work with Sub Oslo and at the Strategies of Beauty festival this summer at Rubber Gloves

Kostumz N*couragÂ’d

Here's a preview from the Dallas Observer scribed by Michael from iDi*amin and Zanzibar Snails.

A Special Halloween Playlist of music that goes drone in the night.

irr.app.(ext.) Dust Pincher Appliances (Crouton Music) -- Just the album title sends a shiver down the spine. Something that shouldn't be is wandering about the domestic space. This is the score to a surrealist cinematic nightmare. A strong debt to Nurse With Wound looms, but irr.app.(ext.) infuses its gothic constructions with a unique sense of the macabre meets minimal aural unease and comes off sounding like Bernard Herrmann's (Citizen Kane, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and countless others) classic filmscores colliding with cut-up production and processed electronic noise. You will not hear a more bizarre (or organic) soundtrack album than this. Would likely play well as the score to David Lynch's Eraserhead.

Nurse With Wound Salt Marie Celeste (United Dairies) -- As mentioned above NWW is a pretty heavy influence on what irr.app.(ext.) is up to, but this revolving paranormal investigation unit has been doing it a lot longer and has its own dadaist/cryptic musical inspirations. Trip thing about this 2003 release is it's NWW at their most dreadful and chilling. Don't remember the full story off hand, but the combination here of bizarre, isolated found sounds and menacing low end feedback hums invokes one of the most static, endlessly spiraling minimal nightmares in NWW's long and varied discography. And yep, it's perfect for your next haunted house acid trip. Of course many NWW albums could find their way into a list such as this one, but Salt Marie Celeste reserves its own special place in the world of oozing nightmare drone. And it's creepy.

Spires That in the Sunset Rise This is Fire (Secret Eye) -- Slight tone shift here, but not so much. The Spires' third album is a masterpiece in their already mind-boggling and totally unique musical ouvre. With This is Fire, the all femme quartet takes another step away from the scattered pagan howls and freakouts of their incredible self-titled debut (The Slits plays Comus?) towards the realm of pure psychedelic mysticism. This album has a kind of blissful lost quality that hearkens back to my favorite albums by Nico and Brigitte Fontaine, only these Chigago sirens choose a barrage of ethnic and traditional instruments as weapons of choice within a minimal, dare I say, post punk approach that utilyzes sinister melodies that are as compelling as they are strange. Perfect for hazy candle-lit parlours and spectral meditation. BEST of '06 stuff here, folks.

Sunno))) Black One (Southern Lord) -- Who loves the sun? This is the ensemble's finest and creepiest sonic construction, landing directly in the morass of drone sludge and minimal black metal despair. Truly a beautiful nightmare and a modern classic in terms of haunted pagan ritual cum apolcayptic imaginings. Funny how convincing bottom end nightmares are in the hands of these folks. I hope Oren Ambarchi hangs around a while.

Ajilvsga Blood Nocturnes (Deep Water) -- The first horror punk record from the Deep Water soul psych compound. Ok, that was a joke. This is actually Brad Rose and Nathan Young's ambient doom duo (no idea how the band name's pronounced) and it's not as bleak as most of the albums in this list, though "Caustic" is likely the first slice of "ethnic doom" I've had the pleasure of hearing, and it is fucking heavy, baby. Heavy like on an existential plane. Lots of sludge here too, isolationist production value, and it's even genuinely pretty in spots. Last track "Torched" is my favorite of the bunch--ten minutes of jagged looped distortion and thorazine riffing to infinity.

Boris AbsoluteGo [Special Low Frequency Version] (Southern Lord) -- Thee uberdoom nightmare sludge metal behemoth. Strange to think this is the album that started it all. AbsoluteGo remains a pinnacle of disturbed, steamrolling, bottom-end mayhem that actually rocks. A source document in the genre of satanic drone and a direct blood relation to what Sunno))) and their myriad black cloaked followers would take to new heights of grimness in the '00 void.

Ghoul Raping Soul (Battlecruiser) -- 20 mins of looping, lurching aural menace and cavernous, subterranean drones that I once described as "black oil shat directly from Satan's asshole." I'm a sick fuck. Ghoul reels in the noise and ratchets up the creeping-crawling tension and makes me think of rats festering in the corner of a dark cellar in an old castle situated near the edge of Fangorn Forest, among other things. A fine soundtrack for tormenting the neighborhood kids and cute baby animals.

Xasthur Nocturnal Poisoning (Blood Fire Death) -- Xasthur is a trip. This is his/their first album. It sounds sort of like early Cure playing black metal. Now black metal is traditionally a fairly ridiculous genre, but Xasthur kicks ass. This is morbid, wasted, mesmorizing riff rock. It's fucking cool. Every song sounds like a drone metal ballad for some witch goddess of the night. It's ridiculous and really cool on Halloween.

Current 93 Dogs Blood Rising (Laylah) -- An oldie but a goodie. DBR plays like a surreal crypto-fascist passion play for the evil that men do, or maybe it's just a kind of sonic exorcism for the soul. Primal, grim, car-wreck industrial torment that you can cut yourself to. Steve Ignorant (Crass), Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound), John Balance (Coil), David Tibet on the same record. The year is 1984. You know this shit is fucked up.

Current 93 Faust (United Durtro) -- Why not? The soundtrack to Count Steinbeck's story of the same name, published for the first time in the liners. This is C93 in peak night-time creep-out mode with a shape-shifting barrage of squiggly low drones, shreiks, massed whispers, children's voices, demonic howls and satanic groans coming from all sides. Stapleton's fingerprints are all over the place. This is the kind of record I only dare play once a year, at the demonic hour (3 AM of course) in complete darkness. In the immortal words of Rod Stewart, tonight's the night.

Black Boned Angel Bliss & Void Inseperable (20 Buck Spin) -- Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel) is also the guy behind Ghoul (and a dozen or so other "black metal influenced" drone/noise projects), but BBA is like what BCM is to his more cosmically atuned sound-scaping persona. This is the dark void from which all of Kneale's most tormented aural tendencies emanate. Bliss & Void is a definitive slice of ominous bass minimalism cum doom slowly divulged across one unforgettable hour of subharmonic dread and drone. Kneale has a gift for containing grief and frosted despair as compelling musical odes to the great bottomless nothing. Calm and bleak in the same breath. This is a microtonal void...the 9th circle of hell...cracked shards of black ice...one of the most satisfying dark noise epics of '06.

Wolf Eyes Dead Hills (Troubleman Unlimited) -- For Wolf Eyes Halloween is basically every day, but it's not a Halloween in the zombies and witches sense as much as these lads recognize that we as a "modern, enlightened society" reside in a kind of hell on earth where decay, exploitation, domination and death are the rule more than the exception. Wish it weren't so kids, but just take a closer look without flinching. Wolf Eyes comes from the same classic socio-critical perspective as early Napalm Death and Negative Approach, but they run their distorted hate shreiks through a warped prism of oozing, pulsing early industrial drones. Nurse With Wound, HNAS, SPK to name a few are possible influences on the primitive electronic murk of Dead Hills. Barren wastelands for the dying soul in us all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hey, everybody! I'm sure I'll pick up on writing something here someday. Just the other day on the way home from a Kool Keith concert, I had this GREAT IDEA for a blog subject, but promptly passed out upon arriving--lost forever. I also could say Awesome Color is Awesome! But you probably knew that... or that The North Sea's "Summer Decays Into October's Alchemy" (Foxglove) is a brilliant ethnic trance drone symphony for the soul, but you probably knew that too. I could say that The Proposition is now on DVD, and you all need to rush out and buy a copy, but you probably knew that too. Could also say the end is very fucking nigh, again...See above. We know. One good thing: How I do love the Fall.

Something kind of tragic happened today. And I want to comment on it here because it bums me out and fills me with rage and makes me think A) The Dallas Police are still assholes and B) The mainstream media are money hungry chumps whose concern for the real facts is the last thing on their minds. Terrell Owens, the noted Dallas Cowboys wide receiver with a history of problems (none chemically related), had an adverse reaction to some painkillers and health supplements last night, which was very possible given he was recovering from surgery seven days before and in pain. The story leaked almost instantly that it was a suicide attempt. It was not a suicide attempt. His career has likely been incalculably damaged as a result. Now I'm not a big sports fan or anything else, but nothing gets me more chapped than the willful spreading of bogus rumors. And to see it done on a national level all over the world in a matter of hours is completely inexcusable. A lawsuit or two may very well be in order.

Something resembling the actual facts of the story can be found here. And yes, there's more to the story too. Apparently Owens said "yes" to some fairly pointed questions while in a very groggy state, so who knows? Maybe it was just an unfortunate series of events. Very unfortunate, though... In the end I'm just glad he's okay.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

No time to blog lately. One or two review columns I promised will simply never materialize. Sorry. Thank you to everyone who has sent me promos in the last two months; you know who you are. That new Clear Spots 2CD joint is fuckin slammin'. And "Radish on Light" by Warmer Milks is the best rock album of the year. STRAIGHT UP KENTUCKY SICKNESS!

I just want to say Denton, TX seems to matter again. The House of Tinnitus is a cool small place to see a show. It has a spacious living room that doubles as a performance area and totally tolerant neighbors (at least for now). Even the cops seem pretty down. Warmer Milks inaugurated the joint, and last Friday I caught Cry Blood Apache (snotty Suicide-al electro punk), The Night Game Cult (pretty boy karaoke singalong synth pop), Tinnitus (wailing piano/guitar/guitar noise skree evisceration) and Andrew Michael - Sparrow Hawk (two guys from You Are the Universe doing duo guitar drone/noise stuff; they gave me a CD-R--thanks, fellas!), and all were very intense and entertaining and, dare I say, real. The people I've met there have all been inspiring and real too. Fuck the scene/let's make a scene!

Ethereal Planes Indian is playing there in October among lotsa others. Check out The House of Tinnitus, bros and bras!

Oh yeah, Brad...sorry dude. When I win the TX Lotto I'm going to make that Digitalis order I've been promising. Amazing list of new goodies available over there. Peter Wright, Lost Domain, Seht, Fathmount, etc....the friggin "Wailing Bones" series is up to #8! Holy shite! Check out their sale too! Allright, I'm out. Stay cool all you forest punks.

np: Enslaved "Ruun" from Ruun (yesssssssssss)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Farewell, Arthur Lee...
(pic courtesy of Windy from Windy & Carl / Stormy Records)

from cnn.com

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Arthur Lee, the eccentric singer/guitarist with influential 1960s rock band Love, has died in a Memphis hospital after a battle with leukemia, his manager said on Friday. He was 61.

"His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception," Mark Linn said in an email to Reuters. "He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall."

Lee died on Thursday at about 5 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) at Methodist University Hospital with his wife Diane at his side, Linn added.

Lee, a Memphis native who referred to himself as "the first so-called black hippie," formed Love in Los Angeles in 1965, emerging from the same scene as groups like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors and the Mamas and Papas.

The first multiracial rock band of the psychedelic era, Love recorded three groundbreaking albums fusing traditional folk rock and blues with symphonic suites and early punk.

Bands as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Siouxsie and the Banshees cited Love as an influence.

The band's self-titled debut yielded the hit single "My Little Red Book," written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. The 1967 follow-up, "Da Capo," was one of the first rock albums to feature a song, "Revelation," that took up an entire side.

A third release, 1968's "Forever Changes," which boasted adventurous horn and string arrangements, is considered Love's bold response to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's" album. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at No. 40 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

But Love, which rarely left Los Angeles, lost momentum as Lee hired new musicians and pursued a solo career. Various reunions amounted to little, and Lee's eccentricities landed him in a California prison for six years during the 1990s for firing a pistol into the air.

After his release in late 2001, Lee assembled a new version of Love and toured Europe and North America, often playing "Forever Changes" in its entirety.

Lee was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia this year. In May, facing certain death after three rounds of chemotherapy failed, he became the first adult in Tennessee to undergo a bone marrow transplant using stem cells from an umbilical cord, according to The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal.

Doctors said the procedure lifted his chances of survival only moderately, the newspaper said.

Several benefit concerts were held in Britain and the United States to help Lee with his medical bills. Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant headlined a benefit in New York in June.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Arguably a little off topic, but is anyone really surprised? Didn't think so.

An update: The little birdy has long since managed to leave the nest with a firm kick in the butt from mankind. Pretty sure I've seen it flying around the front yard once or twice since but no pictures sadly. Take my word for it? Cool.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Made it out to some very nice peoples' house in Denton the other night for a li'l house shew. Wonderful hosts; they have a nice place on a corner of the "bad part of town," but they're right across the street from something like a church, so the house is sort of half-cloistered from neighbors, crack dealers and police.

The occasion? Warmer Milks! Yeah, Lexington, KY's Warmer friggin' Milks in J.R. country. Trip! There were two opening acts, the first of which escapes me just now. After ten minutes of trying to decide whether this first act was sound checking or actually playing I decided to retire to the spacious back yard and meet the Warmer Milks guys and smoke some ciggies. Mikey is the only one whose name I really remember, and he is a very nice guy--very intense and passionate about his rock 'n' roll--but also just a down to earth, accessible black metal fan. He was shocked when I started name-dropping all these peeps that'd turned me on to his music. I was all like "Yeah, we all went to Forced Exposure University together," so he kissed my hand and gave me a merc hook up (hand painted test pressing of the new LP on Troubleman, 2 CD-Rs and a t-shirt that I sure hope fits) and asked me to keep in touch, which I'm planning on doing. I'd rather have someone like this as a friend than an enemy.

Next band was You Are the Universe, which came off like Explosions in the Bardo Pond. A young skinny man who was a friend of this band was talking to me right before the show and asked, "Hey man, where's the heroin station?" I Mona Lisa smiled and looked at him perversely. He sort of grinned and said "I'm just kiddin'...unless..." "Unless what?" I said. "Nevermind." "Oh, I'm just kidding too by the way." He looked at me and grinned, "Really?" And I countered: "Well you are kidding, right?" "Sort'a," he responded, and it went on like that till I walked away.

Sick fuck.

So Warmer Milks: What to say about these lunatics? These sweet, downhome middle Americans with a blackness in their hearts and a grim sound in their fingertips. I enjoyed asking each member of the 4some how he would describe Warmer Milks' music, and sure enough Mikey was closest to the mark: "Ummm, a trainwreck."


Like a few trainwrecks crashed into one another and spawning a nexus of pain and grief that radiates outward in every direction. The world is fucked; people are dying. Some dude in Beirut even went so far as to improvise around exploding bombs to, like, embrace the fury. Tones as pain, lacerated voices and sound, mongrel bass heavy splurge originated from diseased electronic blood; all in all their set was 20 minutes of the most demented post Throbbing Gristle/Wolf Eyes murk I have ever heard in a quaint living room. An amazing show. More entertaining than the Majik Markers. I recorded it on minidisc. It's gonna make one hell of a 3" CD-R someday.

See them live if you dare.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

An homage to The Broken Face which regularly featured The Playlist: songs, albums or both that each contributor would try his best to email over to Mats G. on a quarterly or so basis. In a world of podcasts and limited run specialty 3" CD-Rs selling out in two weeks, it probably seems like we were holding something back, like the actual music. But then sometimes I'd throw in little capsule reviews or taglines to lend things a slightly more personal aura, which was sort'a nice, right? So here I am actually homaging those playlists in which I included some amount of criticism. I am homaging myself.

The Womblife Summer Playlist
(complete with capsules)

1. Tim Hardin 2 (MGM 1967/Lilith 2006) - I've heard "If I Were a Carpenter" many times, and this version feels a bit more jazzed up than what I'd heard. Otherwise, this is pretty good stuff, tasteful, direct, weepy tender guy songwriter folk stuff from a golden year, which allows one to excuse the more idealistic bits. But then I like that sort of thing, too. It's just that one might listen to this differently after being over exposed to the likes of Townes Van Zandt. Definitely lacks the bite of some of the heavier hitters of the era, but the songs are good and old sorts and young sorts alike should be able to enjoy it together on a sunny afternoon. The tweens and teens will hate it (sorry, kids). This reissue comes on some weird Russian label I've never heard of.

2. John Fahey Vol 6: Days Have Gone By (Takoma) - embarrassing confession. Until a week ago I'd never heard this record. It's true that Womblife is named at least partly in honor of the Fahey album of the same name, and though I am by no means an expert on the man, I consider Fahey to be one of the most important American musicians of the 20th Century. Just about everyone reading this probably agrees. Ah well, preaching to the converted. Going back to Womblife, I'm pretty sure Fahey himself really liked the record. It's a hard album to get into, hard to "get your head around" as they say, landing it squarely in the grower category, and that category only exists for those who dare approach music as something beyond entertainment. Not to say it isn't entertaining--it is--but it's something else too. Womblife is what Fahey considered a genuine musical expression of how he saw the world, of the very concept of primitivism that he embodied. Its extended tracks, recorded and mixed by Jim O'Rourk, convey a sense of crawling menace as ghostly fingerpicked melodies are swarmed by masses of primitive distortion. It's an album bubbling with life, but much of it isn't traditionally harmonious or pleasing. It's more like a contained atmosphere of hostility and beauty. It's an album that speaks to the reality of life now and millions of years ago.

Days Have Gone By is something else. This is the work of the young, agile, and unbeatable Fahey. His spirit is wide and his shadow long here. There is so much detailed, hypnotic beauty in the fingerpicking and compositional depth of these 11 songs. If Womblife was Fahey's attempt to expose the real, this is his even more successful attempt to live in the dream. Snippets of pre WW2 melodies--be they blues, country, jazz or pop--can be found persisting in these songs, and evolving too for a newer consciousness that still dares to display its ancestral links to the past. This is Fahey's ultimate realization of ethnic American music as transcendentalism.

A central debate arises when comparing these two albums. Monica Kendrick's essay in the liners to Days, written just a month after Fahey's death in early 2001, explores the subject sympathetically. What is art, if not truth? I don't mean "truth" as in the final summation of any place or event in time, but I do mean something that is undeniable. Something that one can't really disagree with. Of course that can kick-start a slew of spin-off discussions, but we'll save those for another day. If Womblife is the truth, Days Have Gone By is what we wish the truth really was.

3. Josephine Foster What Is it That Ever Was? (23 Productions) - Our lady wakes up one Winter morning and decides to spontaneously compose and perform an album. What that means is this is sort of a million miles away from her masterfully constructed Hazel Eyes I Will Lead You (Locust) but not without its own charms as Foster plays piano, guitar, knocks shit around percussively, tries on a variety of singing styles and, in the process, exposes an altogether more demented side to her persona that ranges from haunted piano ballads to spontaneous beat poetry / hiphop (really).

4. GHQ "La Poesia Visiva" (Heavy Blossom) - The coolest thing I purchased at the Merc table of the Majik Markers show the other night (and yes, they were pretty good and annoying)--tantric light beam space folk blues noise bliss that was probably recorded in a basement or living room somewhere, but sounds a tad more cosmically divined than such meager origins might suggest. Let it shine, brothers and sisters!

5. Gene Clark White Light (A&M/Universal) - Now this here is what I'm talking about. This is where I'm at. This is where Mr. Hardin wishes he lived. One of my all time favorite songwriter roots folk psych rock sorts of records from one of the all time greats. Songs like "The Virgin," "With Tomorrow," "White Light," "For a Spanish Guitar," "Because of You" and Clark's take on Dylan's "Tears of Rage" are definitive slices of early 70s soul music in the deepest sense of the word, all delivered with the help of primo session musicians, yet it sounds so intimate. Once again, both young and old should be satisfied. The tweens can fuck off.

6. Holger Czukay - A Mix sent to me in a very nice package of goodies from George Parsons, this seems to be select tracks from the first half of Czukay's solo career, including the 8 part "Ode to Perfume," "On the Way to the Peak of Normal," "Witches Multiplication Table" and so on. Given his solo stuff can be pretty spotty, me thinks this mix will get much play in the coming warm weeks. Thank you, George!

7. Adam Bujag Wave of Tears (Deep Water) Holy shit, is this not the best minimal electro pop dream ever? I can't stop listening. Can't stop being fascinated by every second of its bubbling, whirring textures. I reviewed it already here, and one band I forget to mention then was the Young Marble Giants. Otherwise everything stands. This is vital, deceptively beautiful stuff that has captured my heart and mind.

8. Ike and Tina Turner "River Deep Mountain High" from the album of the same name on Alvorado Music. At the time of this recording, Tina was probably knee deep in Ike's shit, yet this song along with Tina's towering vocal performance (not to mention Phil Spector's avalanche of sound) is a defiant blast of freedom and affection. Feel the swell in your chest as you stretch those arms to the sun.

9. Six Organs of Admittance The Sun Awakens (Drag City) My boy in the west plugs in and ups the distortion and in the process releases one of his finest albums to date. Some folks won't agree with me, but I think this is a bold American answer to Popol Vuh, and "River of Transfiguration" sure is a bad ass side long trance drone that's perfect for staring at the sun for minutes on end (not that I recommend that, but part of me definitely does).

10. Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé and Jorge Ben Tropicália: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound (Soul Jazz) An excellent introduction to this important and most stoned Latin American psychedelic scene. Perfect for the poolside on warm sunny afternoons, along with those fruit drinks with little umbrellas in 'em, though yuppies probably need not apply. Viva la revolucion!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Diamond has faded. The story of Roger "Syd" Barrett is legend. That legend can be found in most of Pink Floyd's 70s albums, which were recorded with and without him. He wasn't there physically, but his spirit hovered over the proceedings like a divine spectre. It could be said that as much as Floyd owes its existence to Syd, they owe their greatest creative/commercial successes to Syd's very real mental unraveling. It's a spooky thing to consider. It's rock 'n' roll.

In later years, Syd never liked to talk about his days as a rock star. I don't blame him. Unless you reach back far enough, the past tends to be a drag. Rest well, friend. Syd as a wee Roger.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind...

A mini-drama is unfolding 'round these parts. Only mini in that the participants are all pretty small. The actual threads of this particular story are as compelling as anything that concerns us common folk as we make our way through the world: the basic need to survive. A nest of doves somehow managed to find its way to on top of the electric meter at my parents' home. Upon recognition of this interesting turn, I suggested that no one intervene with the nature-meets-modern-civilization dilemma unfolding--just leave 'em alone and maybe everything will be OK.

Being one with a predilection for birds, I took a special interest in what happened next: My aunt and uncle came to visit the parents soon after the discovery. I'd already observed that every time anyone walked near the nest or slammed the back door of the house, the Momma-bird would fly off and watch from a nearby perch to see what happened next. If human hands interfered with the nest or contents, Momma would likely say "fuck this" and simply hit the road (after maybe killing her two surviving chicks or worse), which considering the amount of care had gone into the whole enterprise would've been pretty sad and, even more, some sort of depressing statement on the world today. The best of intentions can so easily lead to the worst unintentions.

So Uncle suggests putting some birdseed in or near the nest. "Don't think you should do that," I doth protest, but I'm young and still apparently somewhat naive in such matters. It was done. More bird seed was deposited in/near the nest a few days later.

A few more days passed, and I noticed randomly that the nest was apparently empty, no sign of the previously observed chicks or Momma-bird. Looked around a bit to find one of the chicks dead in the garden below. Looked a while longer, found another chick sitting still like a little statue on the concrete, huddled up against the house. Talk about heartbreaking. :( So I picked it up--it was definitely still very alive--assembled a little box with help of my Dad's expert engineering guidance and put it, along with a little water and tomato slivers, back where it was before atop the electric meter. As of this morning Momma-bird has returned to the nest. She hasn't given up on her shrinking family. Neither have we.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Two film capsules:

Superman Returns - Super shit never ends. Stinker, big time, and yes I liked the first movie from '78 (which this is both a remake of and sequel to), but first of all, Ja-lel ain't Christ. He's a former soap actor who got lucky. Kate Bosworth is a boring Lois Lane. I'd rather have seen a Schindler's List styled humanitarian epic with Kitty Kowalski (Parker Posey) in the place of Oscar Schindler instead of this rank, boring, CGI rendered turd. Posey is great. Still waiting for Superman.

The Hills Have Eyes - A remake that works! SERIOUSLY. The original was like an SNL skit meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the New Mexican desert (i.e. pretty crappy), but this new one, from that Frenchy who did High Tension, is like the artistic height of American b-movie crapola. Good points: Hot aussie chick from Lost as pissy teen, impish ultrapassivist cell phone salesman democrat guy who smokes, Big Bob (aka Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs) as the good ol' gun toting ex-cop dad, the great and underused Kathleen Quinlan as a ditzy God-fearing mom, two German Shepherds--Beauty and Beast--and an opening title sequence (a montage of nuclear explosions, pics of birth defect deformities and an old country chestnut by Webb Pierce) that's as exploitive and COOL as anything I have seen in a major studio film in '06. The film itself? Sort'a Texas Chainsaw Massacre crossed with National Lampoon's Vacation crossed with Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, with an abundance of blood and eye-for-eye retribution. Oh yeah, it's also an allegory, but who cares? Final verdict: Much better than Hostel.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

I have fallen for the Radioactive scam mill at least once, and the quality of the CD was truly shit with needle pops and out of phase hums all over the fuckin place. Timothy Renner has been preparing the Trees boxset for like five years now, and he's the real-deal indie musician and small business owner putting his heart and soul into every aspect of this endeavor. It's hard enough for the independent musician today as it is, so beware!

From Tim Renner:

It's a total and complete fucking needdle-drop bootleg. The Trees are pissed and I am pissed and we are looking into joining a massive lawsuit against Radioactive because they have ripped off something like 200 other artists. The Jimi Hendrix estate just kicked their ass in court, apparently, so we have to get in line. The fact that they are lying and calling it "100% authentic" or whatever is just a kick in the balls too. In doing a little research, we found another record label, not 20 miles from here, that has been screwed by Radioactive too. They have joined the lawsuit already and are helping us in any way they can.

"The Christ Tree" LP was originally issued by the band themselves, on their own record label - no other label or organization has any claims to their music.

I'm taking it to the distributors and major retailers: already got it kicked off ebay and working on getting it removed from Amazon. IF everyone could write comments on amazon saying IT'S a BOOTLEG/PIRATE DO NOT BUY! Maybe this would help 1. get the word out and 2. convince Amazon it needs to be removed. If you see it pop up on ebay again, report it as a bootleg.

...and If everyone can PLEASE contact every store/distributor/etc they know and beg them to wait for the legitimate reissue box set, that would be a start. I have cease and desist letters and a letter signed by the living members of the Trees Community showing my rights to reissue the music and also stating that Radioactive is in violation of copyright; if people need to see those, I can forward them.

The box set will be here at the end of the summer probably. I just got a printer who is able to make the box the way I wanted it - it folds out into a cross shape with each arm of the cross holding a CD - that was the major obstacle - we're VERY close now. Dennis Blackham mastered it and it sounds AMAZING. The rough parts (the tape release was REALLY screwed up in audio quality) are a bit beyond making perfect, but the stuff that was cleanable sounds brilliant. Katheryn, the Trees archivist, is very particular about music in general and the Trees music in specific, and she was BLOWN AWAY by the final mastered copies. I've listened to the album (incl. a pristine, still sealed copy K. gave me) thousands of times and I heard things in Dennis' mastered version that I never heard before.

As I'm sure you two know, it's one hell of a struggle in label-land now to stay afloat, even without dealing with shit like this. Almost EVERY penny of the label's savings - and every penny I had saved from money I made selling my own records or doing live shows - has been invested in this reissue. I have felt that I was meant to do this reissue and that if it breaks the label doing it then, well, at least we went out doing something my mind/heart was into 100%. When I saw this bootleg the other day, I actually sat down and cried. It was just too much to bear. I'm beyond that now, and into a highly pissed/active mode.

David Tibet has called Freak Emporium and shut it down there. I have written a letter to Forced Exposure, but I don't know them and get the feeling it will be ignored. Clear Spot has promised to wait for the legitimate reissue. I contacted Yod, Melody Bar, Michael Piper/Ace of Discs, and Eclipse and have received no response as yet. My email to Rustic Rod was returned, so I must have old contact info for him.

I am open to further suggestions. I was considering offering a discount on the box to any store who proved to me that they returned copies of the Radioactive pirate copy, but I don't know how that could be accomplished.

I have a feeling that, for the most part, I am going to have to rely on the kindness of stores/mailorders to NOT stock it.

Some people have suggested that Radioactive's release will just spark interest in the box set, but we just don't know that for sure. The main point is, they are morally WRONG in doing what they did, and only Radioactive will profit from their selfish filth "reissue" and I stand on this point.

thanks for your sympathy and concerns,


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Not much to report currently. Welcome back and congrats to Kevin and his new wife. Golden times. Foxy Digitalis is struggling through some server difficulties but should be up and running, bigger and better than ever, within a little over a week. And if you haven't already, check out Terrastock 6 - Gathering of the Psychedelic Beards over at Deep Water; it's a revolving perspective account of this most special wyrd weekend. Majik Markers tonight (anyone heard Valley of Ashes?), Superman tomorrow, the world this weekend!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I highly recommend the film The Proposition, written by Nick Cave--yes, the baddest seed of them all--and directed by John Hillcoat. It's the best flick I've seen this Summer, touching on Joseph Conrad, Samuel Beckett, John Ford, Peckinpah (mainly Pat Garret and Billy the Kid) and Tarantino (at his gritty realistic best--not Kill Bill) through soul cleansing biblical allegory with Guy Pearce's Charlie Burns as the Abel dispatched to kill Danny Huston's Cain. At once shamanistic, transcendental and deeply misanthropic, Huston's Arthur is one of the great villains in film history. His crimes are only whispered of, yet he's never too busy stabbing/raping to appreciate a brief poetic moment or wax philosophical before a glorious sunset. Excellent cinematography and droning film score (by Cave and Warren Ellis). This one DEMANDS big screen viewing and is as gory and grimy as the hellish "uncivilized" landscape its set in. Highly, highly, highly recommended. Got it?

Also just received a big package of releases on the New American Folk Hero label, including droned out raga greatness from Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, Matt McDowell, Meisha, Fathmount, Tusk Lord, Nüx, Bradam Streiple (who?) and even more. Looking forward to digging into this stuff in the coming weeks. So far (having dipped into Tusk Lord, Nüx, Tambura/McDowell and Bradam Streiple disks) so very, very sweet. Thanks so much, Mr. Folk Hero!

And Echo and the Bunnymen were INCREDIBLE the other night. No lie. The set focused heavily on the first three albums and they closed with "Ocean Rain" in all its swarthy epic noise rocking glory. Not a show to be missed, postpunkers.

Also, go see Six Organs of Admittance touring with Hush Arbors if they come near you. Both have released some truly mind-blowing works of late.
(from Drag City)
Thu July 6 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
Fri July 7 Cambridge, MA Middle East Upstairs
Sat July 8 Philadelphia, PA Khyber
Sun July 9 Arlington, VA Iota
Tue July 11 Chapel Hill, NC Cat's Cradle
Wed July 12 Atlanta, GA The Earl
Thu July 13 Lexington, KY The Dame
Fri July 14 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
Sat July 15 Detroit, MI Magic Stick
Mon July 17 Cleveland, OH Beachland Tavern
Wed July 19 Northampton, MA Iron Horse Music Hall
Sat, July 29 Seattle, WA Neumo's
Sun July 30 Vancouver, BC Canada Media Club
Fri Aug 4 Santa Cruz, CA The Attic

That's all for now, brothers and sisters. Go Mavs. Fuck this Heat!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

i_miss_jim_laffin: i sold my black mountain cd
i_miss_jim_laffin: today
i_miss_jim_laffin: LOL
pants_come_off: i like black mountain
i_miss_jim_laffin: me too
i_miss_jim_laffin: like cocaine more

Just got home from like...echo and the bunnymen live...closed with ocean rain. holy shits! good. go.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

If you haven't yet, I highly recommend reading the Seht feature over at Foxy Digitalis. Behind the scenes New Zealand underground gossip, all out battlewar, piss-taking and much more. Very fun read. Question: Is that hairy gargoyle in the fourth picture Stephen Clover or William Basinski?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hot diggidy! I went to this place last year to see Sean Smith, Blithe Sons, Six Organs of Admittance, and it rules! IT TOTALLY RULES!

folkYEAH! presents "Three Days of Summer"
Friday, June 9, Saturday, June 10 & Sunday, June 11

a three day music exchange with the following artists performing sets in the magical woods of bigSUR.

Friday Night: (start at 8:00pm

8:00- 8:35 Lee Bagget

8:45 9:20 Madrone Tree

9:35 10:30 Sir Richard Bishop

10:45 11:20 the Alps

11:35- 12:15 Bobby Birdman

12:20- 2:00 DJ night one (special guest surprise DJ set)

Saturday Night: (start at 4:00pm)

4:00 4:30 Meric Long (30 minute set)

4:45 5:35 Skygreen Leopards

5:50 6:40 Nick Castro

7:00 7:25 Ascended Master

7:40 8:35 Citay

8:55 10:00 Little Wings

10:15 11:10 Whysp

11:30 -2:00 DJ night two (special guest surprise DJ set)

Sunday Night (start at 6:00pm

6:00 - 6:30 Sharron Kraus

6:40 - 7:15 Sean Smith

7:30 -8:10 James Blackshaw

8:25 - 9:20 Colossal Yes

9:40 -10:45 Faun Fables

11:00 - 12:15 Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips)

Advance paypal tickets are available from this website:


Remember: All advance paypal tickets will be "will call" tixs available for pick up on the day of the show. tickets will not be printed and mailed.

More Big Sur Camping Links are here:


((((folkYEAH!)))) encourages ride sharing to Big Sur!

For the first time ever, I wish I lived in Michigan. From http://www.hell2u.com/whats_happening.htm:

"Hell's Once in a Lifetime Party!

Special “6-6-6” T-shirts and coffee mugs can be purchased from Screams Ice Cream and Halloween store in downtown Hell. Each item will include a “Certificate of Authenticity,” verifying that the purchase came from Hell, Michigan, on June 6, 2006. These keepsake certificates will be sealed, singed and signed by Odum Plenty, the mayor of Hell.

Coming this summer is a date that will occur only once in our lifetime: June 6, 2006. What’s so special about that, you may ask? Well, we here in Hell recognize that date as 6-6-6, so we’re throwing a party! Everyone is invited to visit us on that day to commemorate the occasion. Live entertainment will perform until midnight, and prizes will be awarded for the best costumes. After all, this is the town where Halloween is celebrated all year long.

There’s even fun stuff planned for the kids. Creepy Clyde will entertain the “Lil’ Devils” at Screams with his spooky songs from 4:00 until 9:00 p.m. Additionally, visitors to our store can enjoy small ice cream cones and sundaes for only 66 cents all day long, right up until midnight. We’re not evil … we’re just taking advantage of an excuse to have fun! Come on out to Hell for a good time. We’ll see you on 6-6-6!

If you have any questions, feel free to call Screams at (734) 878-2233."

...and don't forget to play some SLAYER real fucking loud in the car at those intersections today. Praise Him, O' Prince of Lies!!!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

I have been too busy to make that update promised recently. Lots of shows, lots of whiskey, and the sun how she shines so brightly these days. It's comin' though. Need to put together a new Bones column for Deep Water and finish some more reviews for Foxy Digitalis, which was FANTASTICALLY updated today with reviews of everyone from Chris Knox (with help from Pumice!) to Jandek (double live album!), Judy Sill to Coil, Tom Verlaine and plenty more. Holy smokes! We really do feature the best coverage of the weird underground anywhere. Eat your heart out, THE WIRE! Take that, BLASTITUDE! Totally kidding, guys. You all fucking rule. Must say though, Brad and Eden are functioning at full throttle right now with an expanded roster of knowledgeable, passionate writers, regularly updated podcasts and much, much more on the horizon. And the releases keep coming from Digitalis, too. Can't keep up, but it's fun to try. "Goodbye" by Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood is sick!

Hmm, what else? Saw two great live gigs in the last nine days or so. The Liars at The Gypsy Tea Room were particularly inspired. I dig 'em a lot, and they played basically all my favorite songs from the last two albums, so props to them for that. Think This Heat and mid period Sonic Youth, I suppose. I'm being lazy though. Also saw Country Teasers a few days ago (and drank so much I still don't know how I got home) and REALLY enjoyed what they were doing. I stand by my description: the missing link between Hank Williams and the Fall. Great garagy country/art punk stuff that you can dance to. Apparently there's a photo out there somewhere of my praying at the alter. Silly shit. Seeing Shellac (first Texas show EVER!) and The New Year in two days. WOOT!

One more thing: Issue #6 of Dream Magazine is ready for consumption. Don't think I mentioned it here yet. Music writer/graphic artist/all around cultural sage George Parson's entirely self financed, homemade labor of aural/visual love is hands down one the FINEST underground music related print zines in America today. Now I can say that and mean it because if anything his coverage and scope has only improved over the years. Nah, it was always great. George just asks the best questions. An example from his fascinating interview with Michael Gira (a notoriously difficult interview subject):

G.P.: What is the best medicine for melancholy?
M.G.: Work. Work is Everything. And sex, sex with love. Alcohol is of course a runnerup, but it just leads to more melancholy.

Don't worry, his other answers are typically longer. Also featured: A Hawk and Hacksaw, Nick Bensen, Nick Castro, Current 93 (an intro/primer written by myself, not an interview), Baby Dee, Phil Elverum, The Golden Dawn, Keenan Lawler, Eric Matthews, Bob Moss, My Cat is an Alien, Alasdair Roberts, Brad Rose, Jonathan Richman, Six Organs of Admittance, Bridget St. John, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Windy & Carl and more! SHIT! 112 pages plus an EXCELLENT free comp featuring most of the artists listed above, plus a live track by obscure early 70s Nevada City jam/psych band Absalom. Order it here.

Finally, extra reading snagged from Perfect Sound Forever. An until recently unpublished interview/article by Lester Bangs with Brian Eno, circa 74-75. Enjoy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Been real busy lately, and haven't had much time/desire to talk/write about music as I've been enjoying it so damn much that all that criticism would just get in the way! So I'm just gonna sort of ramble about a lot of different shit here, maybe write a few paragraphs or just a sentence or two.

First, check THIS out! Way to go Brainwashed! All the elite goth hippies of the world finally have an island of their own. I wanna go and stuff.

Second, props to Deep Water for assembling a fine interview with the increasingly excellent United Bible Studies, the flagship ensemble for the Deserted Village collective (the last cool collective on earth?). They just released their first official CD, The Shore That Fears the Sea (Deserted Village), currently en route to the Womb-din.

DW also recently published a fine piece on modern psych pop, including Norway's Dipsomaniacs main man Oyvind Holm, Kelley Stoltz and the truly weird Jennifer Gentle. I expressed my own thoughts on Holm's solo debut, "The Vanishing Act," here.

So speaking of syke poppery; I've not really listened to much in '06, yet here I am semi-obsessing over The Flaming Lips once more. They at least rub up against the genre pretty regularly. "At War With the Mystics" (Warner Brothers) does not suck. I'm sure some folks out there think it does. And then there are others, with good taste mind, who simply consider The Flaming Lips sellout poop to begin with. "Transmissions From the Satellite Heart" IS a big fat major label album. "She Don't Use Jelly" WAS something of a novelty pop hit. They did appear on 90210. People with minds should realize that all of these events are actually pop cultural blessings instead of apocalyptic omens.

Though earlier albums exhibit a fairly caustic edge, for the last 15 years or so it's been a celebration of life, love and all that sunshine-y shit. They can still get fucked up if they want to (see the quadraphonic and impossible to sync up properly for longer than one track "Zaireeka" boxset). Anyone who's seen "The Fearless Freaks" DVD knows Steve Drozd nearly shot himself to the moon before finally kicking heroin for good (for the last three years or so anyway). For all the bliss there's a lot of darkness and confusion here. The Lips are simply vindication for some of us living in the Midwest. We feel better knowing that they're there doing what they're doing, no matter how many itunes commercials or endorsements they might give out along the way. Things will be OK as long as Wayne is still playing a guitar and warbling about his big concept silliness.

So, the music: "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" (as in "If you could blow up the world with he flip of a switch, would you do it? YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!...") is one of the more obnoxiously joyous things Wayne and his merry band of pranksters have constructed in a while. Familiar, sure, but it also makes for some quasi-intelligent commentary on the current state of things. "Free Radicals," on the other hand, is indebted to the artist formerly known as Prince, T-Rex and Queen with equal gratitude, as Wayne's high falsetto voice is backed with Beatles-loving harmonies and the gnarliest funk/acid guitar hook the boys have dropped in years. It's simply a freaky masterwork to my ears. Justin Cober Lake referred to it as "a disaster" over at Pop Matters, which may be codespeak for "this is actually weird and cool," but I doubt it.

There's also the 70s blaxploitation of "The Sound of Failure" (light soul psych about desposable pop divas), the stunning wall of sound balladry of "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion"--with a noise break that'll make the brain bleed if you play it loud enough--and the streaking Led Zep/new wave hybrid of "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung." Sure, some of this sounds a bit too tight in spots, uber-produced and sort of scaled back at the same time, but I like it. So many of their contemporaries have fizzled or collapsed under the weight of their own pretensions. The Flaming Lips continue to matter, and in turn so does life.

Downer time, but it's the kind of down that eventually starts to lead up when you dig deep enough. I've always admired Cat Power without necessarily calling myself a trueblue obsessive. It's the voice. Chan Marshall has the voice when it comes to sensual, sad, defeated longing. "The Greatest" (Matador), or what I like to call "Chan in Memphis," was recorded at Ardent Studios, the home of Big Star and many more rock/soul greats. It features a bevy of pro session players helping her along on her not so merry way with loose shuffling arrangements, the occasional harmonic accents, horns, pedal steel, strings all flushing out a fairly playful and spontaneous sounding production. No matter how much you dress it up, it's still a Cat Power album, marked by an urgency and uncertainty that feels as dependable as it is, ya know, honest.

With "Ghosts of Our Vegas Lives" (3 Beads of Sweat), Maryrose Crook and the Renderers follow a similar track. The Renderers can be a tough sell. You either get them or you don't. You're either willing to trip and fall face first in the dirt (and of course slowly get back up and brush that dust off) or you try as hard as you can to live in a dream and not notice the horror that pervades all existence.

Thing about country music is it's sacred. It's raw. Your Hanks, your Lorettas--they didn't grow on trees, yet the mentality that spurned their best performances was packaged and sold so long ago that the real salt-of-the-earth/down-but-not-out drive that marks the best country music is all but extinct today. Country is supposed to be about contemplations of the mundane and the infinite with equal conviction, as the contemplator clutches whatever he/she can--a bottle, a body, a crucifix--just to get through the cold dark night. The Renderers are not country per se, but they get that part of it better than 90% of the fools streaming out of Nashville today--the pain and isolation that comes with being stuck in the same job, surrounded by the same horde of company men and vampires, and the other prisons we make ourselves. Maryrose Crook uses all this just as a starting point and throws in her own language of cryptic metaphor and noirish despair to conjure a charred near mythical psychedelic wasteland sparsely populated by tortured souls and twisted creatures. Brian Crook (her husband) is the perfect foil for such surrealism-meets-rustic imagery, whether lathering melting feedback ontop of ghostly ballads or kicking up a slash and burn racket, captured with garage rock immediacy.

The murky, charred feedback and slithering acid country rhythms backing her compliment the malaise, and offer a world where Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt are revered as preciously as Sonic Youth, the Dead C and Can, to name but a few. A different kind of transcendence indeed. A worthy follow-up to one of the most revered and unheard noise/psych masterworks of the last decade, "Dream of the Sea" (Siltbreeze).

Barnburning space boogie is what the doctor orders with The Clear Spots' second CD-R, the lovingly christened "Mansion in the Sky" (Deep Water). It's a slash and burn affair comprised of grinding two guitar/drums front, no bass, an abundance of distortion, and no, it's not grindcore. Sonic Youth, Juneau and Mirza are a few touchstones, but that more refers to an overall improvised groove-based approach than the actual music. The Clear Sports mold their spontaneous trips from a deep well spring where Krautrock, 80s guitar noise, West coast acid jams, surf rock, raga and much more is fodder for refabrication as cosmic musical evocations. There is something very real about what's going on here. It also shows steady growth from the damaged eruptions that marked last year's "Mountain
Rock" with a more sunburnt, ghostly blues aura. This one needs a nice vinyl reissue somewhere on down the line--my fave CD-R of '06 (so far).

Just as I was coming to terms with the clarity of The Clear Spots, another Deep Water CD-R hit the box to redistort my perceptions. I was talking a bit about psych pop up top there, and how nothing had really been grabbing me along those lines lately, but then came Adam Bujag's "Wave of Tears" to fully reinvigorate the genre and my faith in it simultaneously. Adam (also of The Clear Spots) seems to be workin at home here with piano, guitar, vibes, effects and other percussion as well as tape manipulation and primitive electronics to conjure dreamy meditive sound mobiles. Some computer mixing may have been employed, but I'm thinkin like Wolf Eyes, Adam takes a more primitive, hands-on approach. Van Dyke Parks, Kraftwerk, Orange Cake Mix and Xpressway come to mind. Highly recommended, in fact.

"Gipsy Freedom" (5RC) is the latest longplayer from the always interesting, occasionally fascinating Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice. Last year's "Buck Dharma" (Time-Lag) left me dusted in terms of lazy space blues free folky transcendence, but GF is something else, with hints of solitary jazz, vocal workouts and electro/industrial psych blues all flowing into one another and impeccably recorded. Ultimately more proof that WWVV can matter when they want to. Case in point: the sidelong trance feast of "Dead End Day With Ceaser."

Also finally picked up the vinyl reissue of Current 93's "Earth Covers Earth" mini LP on Free Porcupone Society, which David Tibet refers to as "a second utterance for Comus" in the nifty, handwritten liners. He signs off as David Michael, though. Confused yet? Until just recently, I barely even knew this existed. It was released soon after "Swastikas For Noddy" in a much smaller edition, and this (with a new master and hand drawn cover art by Tibet himself?) also comes in a fairly small edition of 800. An integral link in the development of the more spiritual psycho-folk side of C93, should be noted that the CD on Durtro includes some topnotch bonus tracks.

"Orange Garage" is the latest Last Visible Dog live album by Miminokoto (check my Foxy Digitalis review for the their studio recorded "3" here). Smoked out live boogiee, raw and blistering with that feral PSF energy that some of us have come to rely on, this one is an improvement over the first LVD CD, me thinks, better recording quality, more dynamic performances cut down the middle nicely between spacious, semi-improvised slow burners and feral stompers. The epic 16 min closer, "Kumononaka," is a fine culmination of all of the above. The price is right, the quality what you'd expect from a band with ties to White Heaven, High Rise, LSD-March--oy, you get the idea.

And here's a couple older Foxglove treats I've only just gotten around to really hearing: First up, the debut SeedyR by New York stomp noise combo, Heavy Winged, "A Serpent's Lust." Think freight trains and phospherescent grenades. Uberdistorted caveman stomp blasted out across two sprawling sidelong jams, and just when I think they might be a bit of a one trick pony, they throw some murky organ drone into the plodding death dirge mix and probe the most abyssal cold wind realms in the process. Definitely one brige to the infinite, but perhaps more comfortably numbing is The Floating World, which features the sculpted flute and electronics if one Amanda Votta. "River of Flowers" is haunted affair of siren tones, post-industrial rumbles and wafting minimal melodies. Many drone/ambient gods of the last 30 years come to mind, but rather than type out a laundry list, I'll just say this is another ethereal homerun from the ever dilligent sound designers of Digitalis/Foxglove and highly recommended.

Another one of these roundups should be ready soon, including recent works on Rebis, Soft Abuse, Holy Mountain, Time-Lag, PseudoArcana, etc. Peace, my dear friends.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sunburned Hand of the Man was fantastic the other night. Was pleasantly surprised to find Keith Wood of Hush Arbors/Golden Oaks/Wooden Wand playing with them, and MAN what a performer. Also nice to finally meet the Sunburnedies after being a big fan from the start. This 5 piece version was simply incredible, touching upon Crazy Horse raveups, Dead C murk swells, creeping/gurgling free jazz and bombastic funk explosions, though there was perhaps lesser in the way of grove and more dissonant headlong drone this time out. Just astounding. Sunburned truly exemplifies the sound, and can only be considered one of the key bands in this unfolding scene (which I will not try to name because I don't know what it's called). Don't miss 'em if they come your way!

I purchased their last copy of the "Wedlock" 2LP which came out last year on Eclipse and is comprised entirely of recordings made via video cameras during a wedding held in the Summer of 2003 up in Alaska. It features a lot of collage type pieces, spontaneous jams, jugband blues, mongrel yeeows, moans and cackles, spoken word, the best man's toast and much joyous laughter. The excellent mix and package makes this a truly unique achievement in that it's both a celebration of the band, love, family and friendship (and therefore live!) as well as a stand alone work of art on par with the Faust Tapes, perhaps lent a little more sentimental weight than the typical epic noise rock record. Beautiful. Also got the brand new studio joint, "Complexion" and I'm loving it about as much. They've only gotten better over the years.

Opener's Unconscious Collective threatened to be interesting for a few minutes before delving into a fairly standard jazz/noise thing, with too much jazz and not enough noise. Mazinga Phaser (Mark III?) played bombastic post punk/krautrock that sounded sorta like mid period Swans crossed with Butthole Surfers. All in all, a fairly "what the fuck?" set, but I dug it despite the constant/cloying bass hum.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Man, amazing episode of the Sopranos this week, with Chrissy (above) getting into some unforseen trouble in more ways than one and the always combustible Pauly facing meltdown after meltdown. Also of note, the selection of songs this time out takes on a fairly cult flavor with a gem of gems by a certain New York coffeehouse folk originator serving as the soundtrack to the episode's most priceless scene, which I wont describe here, but it's a fuckin' knockout with tragic/comic/transcendental overtones.

Stoked to be going to this tonight:

Bear with me; this may get ugly. Last night I found myself at what most other music journo-hipster-asses would describe as a retro cash-in: a concert featuring a reconstituted version of Jefferson Starship (a real cash-in), Country Joe McDonald and Tom Constanten--he played with the Grateful Dead for 5 mins in 1968 (actually from 67 to 68, their most vital early studio period) and studied under the influential avant composer, Luciano Berio.

Constanten's set was mostly solo piano--some instrumental compositions, some vocal numbers including a fine "Werewolves of London" and a freaked out Beatles/someone else medley centered around "Day in the Life." He even got avant-weird later before bringing out Paul Kantner and a buncha other people who looked sort of like Jefferson Airplane to play the Dead's "Deal." Fun.

Country Joe was solo on acoustic guitar with some flange here and there. He sounded really good in a set that combined driving folk blues with more casual sing-songy stoner fare. Then about halfway through he shouted those immortal words and pulled "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin-to-Die Rag" out of his bag and the gig took on entirely different cast. Sure I thought about Woodstock and nostalgia, but I didn't stop there. Joe didn't either, halfway through the song changing his immortal line to "next stop is Iran," as we all sung along, clapped and danced. All 33 of us, though there were closer to maybe 150 sprawled out in the chairs and tables of the Granada Theater. I thought about the 300,000 singing along with Joe at Woodstock and the 33 dancing and singing here, my mind overrun with the irony and the realization that punk rock is just another commodity today, and that Joe McDonald was, in that moment, more punk fuckin' rock than a dozen warped tour headliners, and still willing to tell it like it is, point fingers and make a weirdo in Texas feel something resembling sanity for the first time in at least three weeks.

As a native Texan, I often think that real happiness must lie outside these borders. As humans we like to think something similar about this world. I know better than to start looking for some invisible pot of gold, but it wont stop me. That's why I went to Terrastock. It's why I felt the need to see people and feel part of something bigger for at least a day or three. Despite the enormity of this world, I rarely feel part of it (even though I obviously am).

At Terrastock you can feel it and believe it. And you can come home and enjoy the lingering glow, at least until you come to discover (in horror) that Jack Rose opened for Mogwai three nights ago, only you had blown off going to this particular show because a) Mogwai, as cool as they are, are a bit predictable, b) you were broke, c) Jack's name was not even listed in the teaser, but low and behold d) Jack put you on the guestlist, e) only he sent his message to your out-of-date email addy, so you basically sat at home and twiddled your thumbs in the meantime. You also missed The Fall, George Clinton and Blue Oyster Cult in this time period. And you can think "it's the thought that counts" and take solace in your imagination, and you can also be genuinely pissed that you didn't get to hang out and drink a few beers with Jack Rose, because he's one cool motherfucker. Or Buck Dharma for that matter. What were you thinking? And you can sprawl out on your big red couch and get your cracker and whippits and headshop-purchased salvia, and you can blow your mind out to the stars and beyond, and smoke a bit of this stuff and think "did I just get high or not?" but not really care because at least you were doing something constructive in the meantime.

And I think about Current 93 and black ships floating on the ether. NOT a good idea if feeling the abyssmal infinite breathing down your neck, and I feel it every day. I look around, and I see chaos, even where I know there is order. I feel something greater and worse hovering within and without, but it's lost amid so much confusion and information. The information overload is what's drowning me, because so little of it actually matters. I can't buy myself out of this hell. Eat, drink, smoke, snort, collect--maybe, but all that just leads to new hells.

I envy those who are ignorant. I envy children. I envy lovers and anyone living his/her dreams and following the path to his/her bliss, because too much of what I see and feel is horror, discontent, confusion. I know so many addicts, so many fools, too many dying souls. It's like what Mick Jagger was singing about in "Satisfaction" multiplied tenfold. Who actually gets satisfaction today? Old bald men on the top floors of corporate headquarters, the faithful, the creative, the learned, the sacrificial, the sociopathic, the addicted... I guess I land somewhere between such extremes on any given day, but I'm not satisfied. I smile and I laugh, and I feel love when I can, and I'm thankful for every breath. And sometimes it's enough.

I'm thankful that I understand what is and has always been happening, and what will happen long after I am gone. Life is dying. Consciousness requires a kind of pain in the process of understanding. Love is the one addiction that no one will blame me for indulging in--medicates my soul.

I have been listening to "Black Ships Ate the Sky" rather obsessively in the last month or so. Current 93's latest opus is the album of 2006. Others will say something similar about Scott Walker's new one, but David Michael Tibet and his friends seem to be speaking directly to me on this record and exploring the confusion--the ecstatic highs, the barrel-scraping lows and all the in betweens of this fading luminous existence--with bone-piercing intensity. And Tibet points to us all. No one is innocent in this judgement. But I still dont think this means all is lost. It doesn't mean that the very technology that may be currently destroying us wont one day save us.

Much has happened in the last month. I feel like I've been to hell and back, passed through the underworld and returned to that of the living, and this album is some sort of map for negotiating this tangled path. It's gripping, it's maddening, it's beautiful. It's the kind of dream I can live over and over and dissect intimately because it is just so damn vivid. I'll write more about in a review in Foxy Digitalis soon, and my pretentiousness will know no bounds.

There's more to this, too, and many people are here searching with me. From friends and family to my tabby sister lovers, Charlie and Amber. From Country Joe to Jack Rose and David Michael. From the birth of man to the end the world. This protest thing holds resonance. This anger, this pain, this need to rise above. By all means, let the ascension begin.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I adore The Go-Betweens. I even adored their last proper album, Ocean's Apart.

Goodbye, Grant McLennan. The pop world has lost one of its patron saints.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Road to Zuma...

Little Jimmy has gotten back to where he once belonged. Terrastock was a blast. Saw so many faces, familiar and new, had a Guinness with Jack Rose in a thumping techno club/Irish bar early in the AM (and Larkin Grimm and Miriam from BF/BS too!) After seeing the incredible sets by all three, I feel that much more humbled. Got to catch up with Mats and Anna from Sweden, Mike Tamburo, Joe and Jeff and the Green Pajamas family, finally put a name to the face with Kevin Moist (a beardstocker from way back, though this was his first official appearance at the fest), got to have many fine exchanges with the consummately cool masters of ceremonies, Jeffrey Alexander and Phil M., say hi to MV, EE and Zuma (their set was beeeeyoootiful, as are the two new Bummer Road releases I snagged at the merch table), had my own impressionistic brush with death and the infinite (roughly during the time Avarus and BOTOS were ripping the fabric of space time wide open), and talked to the lovely Arttu from Avarus about American pro wrestling and other mysteries of the cosmos, like why the only records he purchased from the incredible merch room were Kenny Rogers and other bad country acts.

I had a few complaints here and there. Ghost's set was masterfully performed, but somehow felt too rehearsed. A similar complaint has met their recent studio work (which I've gobbled down enthusiastically), and now I sort of get it. As one observer casually observed, it felt like they were playing a different festival, yet Ghost undeniably are a key band and central figure in the development of the Terrascopic sound. And Michio is Michio. No coincidence they had the best soundmix of the weekend. Otherwise, all grins. Amazing scheduling. Larkin Grimm was a revelation with her dulcimer, guitar and vibrant chirps and vocal dances. The Spires that in the Sunset Rise were mangled and twisted and completely absorbing. Marissa Nadler had fun and brought a tear to my eye with her soaring rendition of "Box of Cedar" (it's a coffin!). Lightning Bolt crushed and spazzed on our level, brought the mosh to the hyper spastic subset of the Terrascopic nation. Dangerous people indeed. Bardo Pond induced massive waves of billowing distortion in the big room. Major Stars were fucking RIDICULOUS and boner-inducing in their new sextet format (the new album seems somehow pointless in light of their writhing porn-sex live energy). MV/EE and the Bummer road stole the fucking show. Charalambides rocked harder than I'd seen in years. Kinski fucking slammed. Landing pulsed. Sharron Kraus floated on the trembling night air. I missed some sets do to some sort of viral infestation, but at least I saw Avarus, baby! (Avarooooz)....fucking amazing. I now fully, finally GET IT. Their new album and live set are/were stupefying. Arttu told me "we will bring a joyous noise," and somehow all that maddening squiggly gremlin bad acid boogie was joyous in a Holy Mountain kinda way. Beautiful, inspiring....very real.
Favorite sets in no particular order:

MV/EE with the Bummer Road
Lightning Bolt
Bardo Pond
Jack Rose
Marissa Nadler
Larkin Grimm
Spires That in the Sunset Rise
Sharron Kraus
P.G. Six
Cul De Sac
The Kitchen Cynics
Green Pajamas
Magic Carpathians
MV/EE with the Bummer Road (you get the idea)...

Fucking amazing weekend. Thank you to Travis and Narnia for being there to share it all. And Mike T for showing me the way. Thanks to Matt Valentine for saying I'm a good writer and actually meaning it. Thanks to Jeffrey and Phil for being good pals and making it possible. Thanks to every kind face and warm regard. Feels like it will be with me always. And finally thanks to Zuma (and the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and John Fahey and Townes Van Zandt and the other conspicuously absent trailblazers). Peace and love, friends. One ginormous invisible love.

Most of the sets from KFJC's streaming broadcast of the weekend can be downloaded here, courtesy of Red Nail. Thanks, Bunk!

Some random candids taken by Phil McMullen during the gig can be found here.

More of my own photos from the weekend can be found here, and yes there are some missing sets.

I bought a fat pile of swag which will likely get mentioned here and elsewhere in the coming weeks, but first I have some reviews to catch up on. Expect another update asap.