Saturday, December 08, 2007

So uh...do you ever just browse profiles at last.fm and pretend to fall in love with people based solely on their scrobble lists? Pretty nutty.

Hi kids. Happy '08 and all that good stuff. It's kind of an exciting time to be alive right now. Try and remember that. I've actually started writing a few posts in the last month or two and inevitably abandoned them. Less of my nonsensical pop culture ramblings seem as important as they once did, to the rest of the world anyway. I know a few people out there appreciate what Ol' Bull has to say, so I will keep saying it. Promise. Anyway I've missed some fine shows lately because of a slow healing ankle sprain, but it's almost 100% me thinks. And there's a quite a bit to see on the horizon...

Briefly, Movies: The proverbial horny virgin in me quite liked (and identified with) Superbad, but my older, more jaded self was more amazed by the quiet, tortured expanses of No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James. Both are modern revisionist Westerns of sorts -- one more weighted towards the crime thriller perspective, the other a historical bio piece. I especially dug the examination of celebrity in TAoJJ, going from the age of nickle books into the encroaching 20th century multimedia whirlwind. These are definitely two of my faves of what I actually saw in '07. Same goes for Inland Empire and even Once, the little Irish musical that could. No no one gets shot in Once. No one gets laid. No one gets paid (though they probably should've). Kinda refreshing.


Aside from the ongoing tragedy that is the life of Britney Spears, another excellent satirical examination of the cancers of celebrity can be glimpsed in the film length conclusion of Extras (HBO) which is of course Ricky Gervais's brilliant follow-up to The Office. Gervais does a great service for all peripheral wannabes the world over by chronicling the successes and failures of Andy Millman. This is the stuff of the highest literary ambitions masquerading as something as banal as a sit-com (which is apt given Andy's big break comes via a braindead catchphrase-driven Brit sit-com). It's actually 80 mins long and has a moral arc that's worthy of Charlies Dickens. But I'm not really here to get all literary on your ass. Just see it for yourself one day. This blog is supposed to be about music, a good bulk of it gifts of goodwill from friends, far and near over the year. Twas the season! Next post will be a slightly delayed list of faves'n'raves in '07. Which means it'll probably hit these pages sometime in early '09.


First up: Our old friends at the always dependable Deep Water compound have rolled out another fresh bowl of some truly worthwhile sonic debris that together comprises some of the label's finest releases to date. Flying Sutra is a duo of drums and guitar that walks the swaying line between tasteful jazz fusion and total chaos in a way that could evoke comparisons to plenty more popular acts on the Levitate and Dissolve CD-R, but I wont cheapen this blissful tornado with any name-dropping and just say this is a seriously able-bodied brainscrambler that rocks hard as heck, but in a completely unconventional -- yet still well rehearsed -- way. These guys actually know how to play their instruments, and that's always a good thing.

Another band it's been a great pleasure to hear in recent moons is Oklahoma's Anvil Salute, whose This is the Voice of Doom Calling is the ensemble's first DW platter (CD-R in fact), and I'm going to agree that this is the finest Anvil Salute dish to date, fitting easily with the current free folk/improvised scene while injecting a healthy dose of traditional warmth every second of the way, which makes sense for a bunch'a freaks from Oklahoma. Highly recommended for fans of The Bummer Road, United Bible Studies, Jackie-O Motherfucker and the like. Arriving some time before and just as welcome from AS is the All The Animals of the Forest (Lofi Shit) CD-R, which is a slightly more progressive take on the above, and has an almost bouncing, festive quality in a way that makes me think of a busy forest floor bathed in sunlight and running over with all manner of scurrying little furry things.

A heavenly blissout can be found on the split CD-R between Scottish one woman post psych project Pefkin (that's Gail Brogan from the revered Electroscope and Boa Melody Bar mailorder) and The Circle and the Point, the duo of Grant Capes and Adam Richards. Pefkin's side is taken up by one extended minimal pop droneout, creeping along on clinking music box melodies and ghost harmonica (or is that an e-bow? Harmonium?). Maybe all of the above. Serious zoneout bedroom shoegaze here, folks. My friend sitting beside me just asked, "dude, are you zoning out?" and, indeed I was. Must continue typing. The Circle and the Point mines a similar ore with wandering acoustic guitars/vocals over desolate drones and ambient noises that go from stumbling broken folk jams to full on void scapes and back again, all captured in crumbling live fidelity. Very melty indeed.

Also in the same package was the 3" cd-r debut by Nessmuk (this one's actually on Abandon Ship Records but can be ordered straight from Kevin at DW), the solo guitar sculpting guise of DW head honch Kevin Moist, heard recently with The Clear Spots and Bardo off-shoot Third Troll, and currently weaving aaural magic with the ever luminous Evening Fires. If you've heard any of his other output, you might have an inkling of what to expect with the lovely trance journeys of Flies Free--cycling electric guitar mantras building and subsiding like a gentler Sonic Youth, but minus the bloat of any lowend or vocals and plus some very fine/tasty/disjointed leads mixed in for good measure.


Another righteous 3" CD-R recently bequeathed to your Wombmaster is the mighty Zanzibar Snails' dark moods and trembling dissonances of Krakkatowiak(available on their own Mayyrh Records). AMM and the cryptic improvisation of Dead C circa their self-titled 2CD on Language comes to mind, as well as the early days of industrial before everything got so damn synthetic sounding. The Dead C comparison is fitting given the (apparently accidentally) identical use of the same designer paper that the mighty Kiwi noise trio used for the packaging of the aforementioned opus. I dig those happy coincedences. The 'Snails will be creeping/crawling their way through what's sure to be a groaner of a set, with guest twiddling from Subkommander/S.D.S noise guru M. Maxwell, sharing a bill with Dust Congress and the always amazing Six Organs of Admittance at The Cavern in Dallas next week, and I will be there. Sweet.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hell-O-Ween, Guys 'n' Ghouls. Someday I'll post some new reviewage here. Someday...and on such an occasion I may (or may not) expand on how much I love the new Angels of Light, Castanets, the reissue of Michael Yonkers' brilliantly stupified lost album, Grimwood, the new Wooden Shjips on Holy Mountain and on and on and on into the cosmic void.

But for now, if you're near a PC and looking for some complimentory spookified sounds this dark night, look no further than the always excellent (Lee is)Free 103.9, which will feature lots of spooky Halloween broadcastings, including resident DJ/magician Tom Roe's third annual remix of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds. FUCKING A! That shit was pretty scary in its original form, so remixed? Fahggitaboutit! That's about it for now, gang. Be safe out there tonight, and watch for them wee ghosts 'n' goblins when out doing your own grim reaping. Much Satanic love and grim tidings to all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Speaking of Warmer Milks, if this album is even half as entertaining as this review, it's one of the best of the year.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Even though I'm not around here much these days, let me just say I think of you all regularly and still try and get out to the groovy shows and happenings when I can. A couple weeks ago I had a blast checking out the Warmer Milks guys out at the HOT (all of em but head Milker, MT)--stellar sonic excursions, my friends. The closing impromptu drone metal jam was a thing of wicked beauty, and supposedly recorded, really hope so. Plenty more shows in the upcoming too, including Oakley Hall tomorrow, Melvins, Jesu, Silver Apples and more.

Couple nights ago I caught some of American Hardcore on cable, the recent doc about the emergence of US hardcore from Black Flag to 7 Seconds, Gang Green to Negative Approach. Pretty decent flick. I was probably most impressed though by the inclusion of a Flipper song over the credits called "Ha Ha Ha" that I'd never heard before. Did the ol' slsk search-snatch for the soundtrack, but mums the word, mmk? This reminds me I recently downloaded the new Om album, Pilgrimage on Southern Lord, and what I received was one track of slow moving molasses groan that sounded like Om at half-speed and three songs of wacky free jazz sped up to Alvin and the Chipmunk proportions. Either Om has gone insane, or somebody out there has a pretty funny sense of humor. Anyway, I swear I will buy the album when it officially comes out. Lesson learned.

Om is in fact playing the Wall of Sound festival happening in Ft Worth in a couple weeks. If you live within a 200 mile radius of the DFW area, you should try and make it out. Also on the bill, a lotta cool shit like Spectrum, Explosions in the Sky, Ian Moore, Peter and the Wolf, The Baptist Generals and many more local and non local acts that may or may not suck. The whole thing's a bit more indie than I usually skew these days, but it's fucking Om. It's being held outside in a big baseball field. It will rock like Thor atop the Holy Mountain. Also, I'm gonna be there with some mah homies, and we will be signing autographs.

Hmmm, what else? I've been digging rebroadcasts of the latest season of Big Love, the polygamy freakout on HBO which manages that rare feat of taking a fringe, cult group and populating it with real characters. Chloe Sevigny's Niki and Grace Zabriskie's Mona are prime examples. Both are of dubious moral character (like everyone else I know), but so charming and drawn from reality that I don't give a fuck. I like these ladies very much and would not want to get on their bad sides. I know there's a lot of anti-religious fervor out there today, but I think--Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens be damned--we need to recognize that religion isn't going anywhere any time soon, and we should maybe focus more on constructive debate as opposed to caustic dismissals.

Another tangent: Been playing catchup with weird Pagan and Black Metal spins, and figured I'd get in a plug here for Seattle's Kreation Records, specializing in swank vinyl reissues of every kind of metal record under the sun. I popped over to their site to pick up a new vinyl version of Sleep's Holy Mountain (on green-white swirl splash), and went ahead and grabbed sexy ass platters of Wyrd's Huldrafolk (Finish Pagan metal that totally kicks bleak ass--download "The Wicker Man" and you'll see what I'm getting at), Nachtmystium's Eulogy IV (Chicago low-fi BM in the classic Nordic tradition with the occasional injection of soaring David Gilmore leads meets demonic shred action--they cover Earth and Burzum here) and Wormwood's Starvation. I scored the last one confusing it with black metal blood-curdlers, Wormsblood, who just dropped a new CD-R on Skulls of Heaven that I need, so damn. Wormwood is some sort of weird ass pagan goth prog band from Seattle that I actually sorta dig. But the vocals, alternating from moany goth croons to tough guy screams and fem shrieks, are a bit much in their Neurosis-gets-lost-in-the-woods dark vibe. Speaking of which: New Neurosis Given to the Rising (Neurot) is fucking awesome. Another band I've been occasionally punishing myself with of late is France's Monarch and their Dead Men Tell No Tails 2CD (Crucial Blast), one of those random Myspace discoveries that just happened to pay off like an overpowering kick the shins. Down-tuned doom sludge with a strong debt to late NYC nodoom shriekers Khanate (RIP, you sick fucks). Thank God I saw Khanate live once. That's really all I can say. I can't tell if it's a guy or girl "singing" on the Monarch record, and that's a very good thing.

Otherwise, some newish things currently kicking my ass:

Akron Family Love is Simple CD (Young God)
Angels of Light We Are Him CD (Young God)
Meg Baird Dear Companion (Drag City)
Martyn Bates Migraine Inducers/Antagonistic Music 2CD (Beta-Lactam)
Black Sun Ensemble Bolt of Apollo CD (Camera Obscura)
Blues Control Blues Control (Holy Mountain)
Tom Carter & Christian Kiefer A Rather Solemn Promise (Great Pop Supplement)
Damon & Naomi Within These Walls (20/20/20)
Earth Monkey Be That Charge 2CD (Beta-Lactam
The Legendary Pink Dots Your Children Placate You From Premature Graves (ROIR)
Andrew Liles The Dying Submariner (A Concerto for Piano and Reverberation in Four Movements) CD (Beta-Lactam)
Little Claw Little Claw LP (Ypsilanti Records)
Mammatus The Coast Explodes (Holy Mountain)
The Shining Path The Shining Path (Holy Mountain)
Sic Alps Pleasures and Treasures (Animal Disguise)
Tanakh Saunders Hollow (Camera Obscura)
Wooden Shjips self released 10", in preparation for their new one on Holy Mountain
Neil Young & Crazy Horse Live at the Fillmore East (Reprise)

What else? Just watched John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns and Stuart Gordon's Dreams in the Witch-House on
DVD. These were originally made for Showtime's Masters of Horror series a couple years ago and are actually pretty fucking amazing truth be told. Carpenter's movie features Udo Kier as a sadistic film collecter, while Gordon's combines Lovecraft (of course!) and superstrings. Gordon is currently working on a Re-Aminator sequel set in The White House called House of Re-Animator starring William H. Macy as the president. YES!

Speaking of weird fiction somehow grounded in reality, I finally watched all those Heroes Season 1 episodes, and I was pretty impressed, but at the same time cannot overlook the obvious debt this series owes to comics, most obviously X-Men and Alan Moore's Watchmen, and I'm a bit annoyed that Heroes creator Tim Kring claims any similarity to Watchmen is entirely coincidental. Whatever, dude. Own up to yo shit.

That's all for now... Peace and love, my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

And then there was this...


Product Description (via Amazon)

Among the extras included in this collector’s box is previously unseen footage, a feature on the restoration process, an exclusive interview with Jodorowsky, optional director commentary tracks, subtitles, two special CDs of the films’ soundtracks and a separate DVD of the first film ever made by Jodorowsky, La Cravate.

EL TOPO:
-Original theatrical trailer- English V.O.
-2006 on camera interview with Jodorowsky (Language English/English subtitles)
-Photo Gallery/Original script excerpts
-Exclusive interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
- Deleted scenes with director commentary (Language: Spanish with optional EN, SP, FR & BR PORT subtitles)
- Original theatrical trailer -English V.O
- The Tarot short with director commentary (Language: Spanish with optional EN, SP, FR & BR PORT subtitles)
- Restoration process short (Original Language English)
- Photo Gallery / Original Script excerpts
- Restoration Credits

FANDO Y LIS
-La Constellation Jodorowsky documentary
-Original language French and English Stereo

TWO AUDIO CDS
- El Topo soundtrack
- The Holy Mountain soundtrack

---> Says I: Incredible! Had this a few months now, and the print quality of everything, especially "Holy Mountain" and "El Topo," is stunning. My old bootlegs are permanent coasters. Essential stuff for all weirdnicks who live from the other side of the mirror. The two soundtracks are amazing as well.

Here's an interesting little interview with Yoko Ono, where she discusses her and John Lennon's appreciation for "El Topo."

And this...


Fabulous 2-DVD SPECIAL EDITION (or something)

Official street date on this thing is August 14th. No idea how it will play on smaller screens, but in the theater it made for one of the most singular film experiences of my life, no exaggeration. Truly disturbing and darkly hypnotic every step up that rickety surrealist staircase.

What else?

I loved RESCUE DAWN. Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies (channeling a shell-shocked Charles Manson) deliver the performances of their careers. Even more fascinating though is here is a movie, made by a German currently residing in Los Angeles, about a German who considers himself an American through and through, and the guy--Dieter Dengler--just happens to embody all that is good about AMOREICA! What kind of asshole makes an apolitical Vietnam war movie that in the end somehow manages to be pro-American and pro-immigration during "the darkest chapter" (I mean NOW not THEN) in American history? An unpredictable one. We need more Werner Herzogs in this country.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rest In Peace

AMBER
1992-2007
(on the right with her sister Charlie in younger days). Amber sighed her last breath with a droning purr and soft squinting eyes. Her sister's still kicking, my oldest living feline relation.


INGMAR BERGMAN
1918-2007
This existential Swede was not always the easiest to understand, but his emotional directness is undeniable. I still have fond memories of watching "The Seventh Seal" for the first time alone in a dusty Austin apartment sometime near midnight well over a decade ago.


MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI
1912-2007
Antonioni lived a long time. Supposedly John Fahey decked him one night while they were eating dinner together. I'm not entirely sure if that's true, but it's one of my favorite stories of New America meets Old Europe antagonism. The scene in "Blow Up" when the photographer keeps blowing up the same photo over and over--that still gives me the shivers. The Yardbirds--seen rocking hard in the same film with the Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page twin-guitar-god-front--weren't too shabby either. And hey, "Zabriskie Point" may have sucked big ones, but WOW! Best slow-mo explosion finale EVER.


LEE HAZLEWOOD
1929-2007
The Prince of Debonair. The Maestro of Spoken Intro Cool. The Sultan of Dusted Lounge Boogie. Lee was one of the easiest oddball songwriters to fall for the very first time you heard him. His voice could've come from the Deep South, the Midwest, the West Coast... He seemed to embody America at its most relaxed and casually sedated, but he was never above anything. His response to the complexities of life was always just a few martini swigs away from bitter dejection, while still benefitting from the wisdom of hindsight. I have no idea if he was a swinger or or a socialist or a beat--probably a li'l of all of the above--but he was definitely a singer/songwriter cut from the rarest of cloths. Thanks for the mammories, Mr. Hazlewood.

Friday, June 08, 2007

And shit just keeps gettin' weirder...

It's kind of sad that this Paris Hilton case is like this year's OJ trial. In case you haven't heard (and I know you have five times today already), Pari' was forced through sobs to return to prison and serve out her full term of, what, three weeks? So laugh it up, silly boys 'n' girls. Here's your chance to suck on the yolk of one young woman's misery, no matter how fleeting. I hope this doesn't hurt sales of her album. It's actually pretty good.

In other news, welcome back, Arthur! We never knew you left! Nah, it's true that the already legendary weird-ass counter-culture mag was almost down for the count at the start of the year, but co-owner Jay Babcock swooped in, along with some other brave investor souls, to resurrect what is hands down the finest wide circulation art/news rag in the US today.

Also clipped from the latest Arthur email update is the Realist Online Archive Project, which will eventually contain all 146 issues of Paul Krassner's classic Yippie-satire-fest from the Vietnam era. Lotta familiar names on a cursory glance. Should be fun reading for the whole family, but don't tell yr Nixon lovin' grandpaw!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Two announcements:

1.) I recently had the Great Honor of interviewing Tokyo guitar god Michio Kurihara (of Ghost, White Heaven, The Stars, his own stunning solo work and most recently Boris) for my pals over at at Deep Water. Thanks to Naomi Yang and her label 20|20|20 for making it possible, and also to Alan Cummings for his excellent translations.

2.) Also... AVARUS (A-VAH-ROOZ) is coming back to the US for yet another Finnish invasion of cosmic drones 'n' groans, and they're playing with some heavies along the way! Mark your calenders if any of these gigs are in your proximity, and for God's sake don't take any non-FDA-approved chemicals if you plan to attend.

(courtesy of our man Jeffrey Alexander at Secret Eye)

Holy Shit.

AVARUS - all the way from FINLAND - touring with Manbeard from Providence.

Supporting these NEW RELEASES:

AVARUS - Rasvaaja (Secret Eye 35) LP only!
AVARUS/MANBEARD - split CD-R (Secret Eye 34)

---------------------
AVARUS 2007 TOURDATES
---------------------

06-29 Ridgewood/Queens, NY - Silent Barn
with Manbeard, Fursaxa, Vanishing Voice and Watersports (Blues Control folks)

06-30 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
with Manbeard, Bardo Pond

07-01 Baltimore, MD - Floristree
with Manbeard, Jack Rose, Sri Aurobindo

07-02 Asheville, NC - Harvest Records
with Manbeard

07-03 Knoxville, TN - The Pilot Light
with Manbeard

07-05 Nashville, TN - Springwater
with Manbeard, Taiwan Deth, The Cherry Blossoms

07-06 Louisville, KY - Lisa's Oak Street Lounge
with Manbeard, Caboladies, Deep Pockets (Son Of Earth, Sapat folks)

07-07 Cleveland, OH - Parish Hall
with Manbeard, Thee Scarcity Of Tanks, Terminal Lovers

07-08 Chicago, IL - The Hideout
with Manbeard, Spires That in the Sunset Rise

07-09 Cincinnati, OH - Skull Lab
with Manbeard, Wasteland Jazz Unit

07-10 Pittsburgh, PA - Belvedere's
with Manbeard

07-11 Washington, DC - Velvet Lounge
with Manbeard, Kohoutek, Insect Factory

07-12 Point Pleasant Beach, NJ - Om Baby Yoga Studio
with Manbeard, Phasmida

07-13 North Adams, MA - Robot Mansion at Mass MoCA
with Manbeard, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, Aethr Myth'D (Sunburned, Feathers folks)

07-14 Providence, RI - Foo Festival at AS220 - Annual FREE street festival with 20+ bands on two stages (inside and outside), artist booths, games, craft/record/book vendors and more more more. FREE FREE FREE all day/night from 12pm to 1am. Other artists include Chinese Stars, Neptune, Stinking Lizaveta, Aa, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, Pwrfl Power, Lazy Magnet, Alec K Redfearn + The Eyesores, Japanther, etc

----------------------------------------
MORE INFO, HI-RES PICS, REVIEWS, MP3s --
http://www.secreteye.org/avarus2007.html
----------------------------------------

SECRET EYE RECORDS
PO Box 23097
Providence, RI
02903, USA
http://www.secreteye.org
http://secreteye.blogspot.com


---

all the best!
-jeffrey
Welcome back to all who traveled out to catch Foxy Digitalis's Bottled Smoke fest out there in LA. Sounds like it was special. Ah well. Sometimes real life just can't wait.

On to NAFH:

Big daddy first...

Mike Tamburo Language of the Birds and Other Fantasies (New American Folk Hero/Music Fellowship) 6 CD-R/1 DVD-R - There's been a flurry of pickers 'n' pluckers come down the line in recent moons. Names like Jack Rose, Glenn Jones and Richard Bishop rightfully get bandied about with hushed awe, but what about the next sub-wave of lesser-knowns? Guys like Evan Miller, James Blackshaw and even our man in New Kensington, PA, Mike Tamburo. Tamburo is not just a guitar player by any means. He's a multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker with as much of an understanding and appreciation for the possibilities of audio-visual mind-expansion as composition and live performance. Language of the Birds and Other Fantasies is a 7 disc boxset. Yessir, ya heard correctly. Tamburo's gone all Merzbow on our asses with this lovely limited (250 count) monument to psychedelic mind expansion and self indulgent drone excess. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it actually works really well, both as introduction to and even summation of the World of Tamburo up to this point.

First, a confession: I know Tamburo. He sends me big ol' packages stuffed to the gills with fantastic recordings of himself, friends and other fine musicians from as close as the Middle US and as far away as Hong Kong. I think Mike's a good feller and a genuine soul, but I can honestly say that this in no way effects how I approach listening to or examining his music. Anyway, after finally getting to hear him on record (via the very fine Beating of the Rewound Son on Music Fellowship), I realized that he was something of a custom fit for some of our darker sonic obsessions here at the Womb. So by all means read all of the following with a grain of salt if so compelled. Otherwise trust that some amount of objectivity has been inserted into these convoluted ramblings.

Back to the music: Language of Birds is 6 full length CD-Rs of music and 1 DVD-R of 11 of Tamburo's short films and even a couple live performances. Each disc has its own title--Jade Is the Color of My True Love's Fate, Of Faith and Joy and Happiness, In the Present the Past Keeps Haunting, Don't Leave Your Bones In My Backyard, Language of the Birds, A Fine Line On the Throne of Time, The Persistence of Vision. They're comprised of compositions recorded over the last few years, live for radio stations and while on tour across the US. Some pieces are alternate versions of what's surfaced on other limited CD-Rs of recent past, all recorded in a fine, low noise production style that easily mutates from a crisp raga stream to shoegaze-y shimmers and the most haunted deep-drone electronic chasms. There's not a finer example of all of the above than what's found on the masterful "Dance Enis Dance," a track that originally saw light of day as a CD-R for the esteemed Barl Fire CD-R label. This is Tamburo at his contemplative finest with over 35 mins of Fahey meets Terry Riley repetition slowly engulfed in shimmering electronic swells again and again, only to have the glowing mass fade out to just Tamburo and his blues slide work. Tamburo rivals the established masters of psych infused raga spells on this monster and does so with a dark voice that is somehow all his own. Add plenty more epics and far out drone/noise jams using traditional instrumentation like hammered dulcimer and harmonica alongside dark clusters of field recordings, contact mics and other odd looped strangeness, you've got a homemade drone noise dream that begs for repeat listens, revealing new layers of untapped sonic potential with each new revelation.

Tamburo simply has a gift for weaving dense, breathing compositions that waver between a kind of accessible folk base and something much more removed from tradition. A deep affinity for the drone--minimal composers like Steve Reich, Tony Conrad and Terry Riley right on up through first wave industrial strangeness of Throbbing Gristle and the blissed out fuzz wash of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine--marks every sonic expedition. This was also the case with his former bands Meisha and The Arco Flute Foundation, but solo--and this collection is almost entirely a solo work with some contributions from friends and collaborators--Tamburo opens things up even more, goes deeper into sound and hones in on the most striking parts of his third eye expeditions. More than a few tracks clock in at over 20 mins, but, incredibly, they never feel too long. Tamburo doesn't like to get bored, and his audience is lucky in this respect. He's a sonic storyteller who doesn't let technique get in the way, although Tamburo definitely has some nimble fingers and memorable melodies. More impressive is how he can knock everything off kilter when he wants to and go into the kind of dark surrealist waters that wouldn't sound out of place on a Nurse With Wound record. There's not a dull moment to be found across this sprawling collection, though it's safe to say one probably shouldn't operate any heavy machinery while deep listening to this stuff.

The films: ...are mostly experimental compositions drawing inspiration from Stan Breakage and Brion Gysin (co-inventor of the dream machine) and a few others. Most of the shorts are studies of light refractions via micro-closeups of indeterminable materials, and others more kaleidoscopic images all designed to induce a certain detached trance state in the viewer via in camera effects that look decidedly non-digital for this day and age. Particularly interesting is "Behind Amber's Eye" a weird little transposition of a young woman using a dream machine. As the camera moves in tight on the dream machine, some fascinating visual tricks of light begin to appear.

The packaging: The whole thing comes in a silk-screened blue box (top shown above), with a wrap-around binder displaying the title. The CD-Rs and liner notes are all bound in lavish cardboard sleeves with spindles to hold the CDs in place to help prevent scratching. Each CD is stamped with an ornate stencil design, and there's some epic liner notes with prose and short stories by Tamburo about everything from mentors to the void and of course the post office.

Final verdict: One stop shopping for all things Tamburo. If you've missed a bulk of his limited releases over the last few years, this is the easiest way to catch up all at once. Highly recommended raga-drony goodness.

And even more from NAFH:

A few other items by folks that are mostly new to me...I gotta think that David Krejci and his Cleophone was just the sort of project that forced Tamburo to get off his duff and start New American Folk Hero in the first place. Krejci's invention, the cleophone, is a Frankenstein combination of piano and guitar with some effects and innovations thrown in for good measure. "Mercury" is a 33 min trek through crawling strikes and gongs that slowly gains momentum to sound like a souped-up grand piano maneuvering through and around cosmic debris on a deep space trek through raga minimalism.

On the Like Twilight Bleeding 3" CD-R, Andy Futreal delivers three tracks of measured acoustic guitar playing that touches on bits of blues and raga without necessarily blowing my mind, but it's hard to ignore closer "Ghost of Twilight" with its tremulous pendulum of fluttering vibrations and lucid raga picking suggesting more than a passing nod to Six Organs of Admittance.

Another NAFH noob (to me), Eric Carbonara gets in on similar action with the fantastic This May be the End 3" CD-R, two tracks of oblique measured picking in the case of "Long Hallway, Three Open Doors" and a shimmering Steve Reichian trip through uplifting repetition in the beautiful title track, which suggests that Carbonara may take this ringing acoustic guitar drone thing to bold new places in coming days. Truly inspiring.

Alexander Turnquist's Sleep Chamber works a more somnambulant magic with a 3" CD-R of gorgeous pulsing harmonics and field recordings of running water that easily earns favorable comparison to earlier Stars of the Lid classics. Just under 20 mins of high grade minimal drone dreaming.

And that brings us to frequent Tamburo collaborator and Arco Flute Foundation member, Matt McDowell, and his mindflaying Headlong Into the Fire 3". This is one 19 min track of screeching feedback blare and tumbling free jazz percussion that comes off like Flying Saucer Attack free-jamming with glitch noise maestro Pimmon plus special guest star free drummer Chris Corsano. I realize this sounds like a pathetic attempt at uberobscurant hipster name dropping to the lameth power, but that's what comes to my mind. High velocity atmospheric burning not for the faint of heart, and I totally approve.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Terrascopic Happenings

Happy to report that the next Terrastock will be happening in Louisville, KY in Summer of '08. Phil and the gang are organizing a series of fundraising events, or Tea Parties, to help set off organizing costs. There's also a limited series of various artist CD-Rs that look pretty interesting:

The line-up of those is as follows:

CABINET OF NATURAL CURIOSITIES
KITCHEN CYNICS
MONSTER BASTARD PROJECT
ROB SHARPLES
THE LEFT OUTSIDES
PHOENIX CUBE
HOWLIN' MAGIC
PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SOUND
RING
ARBOREA
SHARRON KRAUS
WHYSP
OYVIND HOLM
THOUGHT FORMS
ALLISTER THOMPSON
RONCATTO BRAATHEN

And you can order them here...
http://terrascope.co.uk/Merchandise/TeaComp1orderform.htm

If you or your band is interested or willing to donate a track to volume 2,
please get in touch off-list either with myself or Simon,
reviews@terrascope.co.uk - all funds raised go towards keeping various
Terrascopic activities happening.

Also:

The print version of the mag is finally getting back up on its feet. Current editor Pat Thomas is selling ad space. If interested, drop him a line.

Pat Thomas, who took over the printed magazine from Phil a while ago [sic!],
is ready to print the next issue, but he needs some more advertising $ to
complete the process.

The next issue is due out around August 1st and will include the following:

FEATURES/Interviews for the summer 2007 issue #36 include: Devendra Banhart
& Andy Cabic (on the cover) talking about other people's music, British folk
legends Shirley Collins, Davey Graham, Vashti Bunyan, and Michael Chapman,
Ron Asheton of the Stooges, Skygreen Leopards Robert Wyatt on his fave jazz
LPs, electronica artist Colleen, Ben from Six Organs of Admittance and more.

And hundreds of CD reviews!

PLUS a free CD containing obscure/rare/previously unreleased recordings from
Shirley Collins, Davey Graham, Barbara Manning, Steve Wynn, Steven Roback of
the Rain Parade, Birds of America, Robert Wyatt with Gary Windo, and many
others.

Please email Pat directly at: normalsf@earthlink.net and he'll send you a
list of advertising rates/prices.

You can also find him at:
www.myspace.com/pat_thomas

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Man, where the fuck have I been? Right? Layin' low, bro 'n' hos, but like the groundhog deep in its hole, the wombmaster keeps digging his grungy paws through the mud and dirt in search of the ultimate cosmic poop. Hope everyone had a nice enough Mother's Day. I told mine I love her and stuff. To a close friend who recently lost his (just three weeks before Mom's Day), you're in my thoughts, brother.

Been immersed in the cosmic jism of creative energy as often as possible in 07, even if only from a spectator's view. Special Sonik Mentions of Affection to Sapat's fantastic Mortise and Tenon on Siltbreeze, a must hear for followers of Valley of Ashes, Bard Pond, Trad Gras Ochs Stenar lovers and other masters of the subtle drone buildup and hypno-prog. WELCOME BACK SILTBREEZE! And check this out! There's even a SILTBLOG which covers a lot of similar stuff as Womblife but does so more regularly and just plane better! Also on SB, totally digging Times New Viking, whose Present the Paisley Reich is a raucous blast of boy/girl pop harmonies, fuzz eruptions, no-fo production value and most importantly, catchy-as-cow-shit hooks.

Another Special Sonik Mention of Affection to the fine folks over at Not Not Fun, who recently spawned the second year of their essential split singles collection, the Bored Fortress Series. So far in '07 it features fuckin-a 33 RPM splits by Blues Control/Heavy Winged, GHQ/Ex-Cocaine, The Goslings/Yellow Swans and Dreamcatcher/Birds of Delay. Of course the sucker's closed already, but folks might wanna keep an eye out in your favorite record haunts and fileshare programs. The pick of the litter so far is Blues Control/Heavy Winged. The former conjures a dark swirl of percussive shwoops and thumps along with oceanic rumbles of organ and distortion. Heavy Winged brings the skull-driving repetitious sludge like Glenn Branca fronting the Melvins...really, really fucking sweet... Been going back to Heavy Winged's Echoes of Silence CD-R on Deep Water lately, which is still avilable if thirsting for more HW swag. Not Not Fun just dropped their first vinyl LP if I got my facts straight. Bet it's a good'un.

...which reminds me, sad to report that I will NOT be attending Foxy Digitalis's Bottled Smoke festival in LA over Memorial Day Weekend. Fucker's gonna be huge, too. The aforementioned Heavy Winged, Keijo, Fathmount, The North Sea, Xela and about 20 other bands all on one stage (well two actually). Most of it will take place at LA's Echo Curio. I really hoped to attend, but sometimes God's got other plans, in this case a family reunion and work. I've thoroughly enjoyed the Bottled Smoke CD-R series that helped fund this shindig. Just received the last batch in the male today, including volumes by Seht, Robedoor, The Futurians and Tarentel. Oh yeah, it's sold out. Ya snooze ya lose?

Some films and shows I've been digging lately:

The Sopranos on HBO -- Three more episodes of the final season then it's gone. This is the best show on TV, pretty much the best ensemble drama of all time. So many things--tragic, hilarious and confounding--have happened to this family and its friends, as the cancer grows more deadly from the inside with each passing year. There are decisions that were made years ago that still haunt the present. The last dozen or so episodes have yielded so much fruit about life today, addiction, sexuality, domination/submission, machismo, criminality/morality, fate/chance and the most dormant desires for positive growth in the face of negative stagnation. It's gripping and absurd. It's life. The Sopranos provides us with a fairly real glimpse into the workings of a criminal organization that, like in The Godfather or Mean Streets (or the Middle East or the White house), makes its struggles accessible to all who just want a piece of the pie and to keep their families safe in the process, while maybe also wondering "is this right? And if it isn't, what can be done to make it so?" In the case of Sopranos, it's too late for most of its parade of damaged souls. For the rest of us maybe there's still time.

Inland Empire -- David Lynch's 3 hour digital video mind melt about the danger's of Hollywood, sexual slavery and your own goddamned fantasies is a dark wonder of light and sound, as beautiful and ugly as any film I've seen in the last five years. Unforgettable in fact, with a definitive closing credits sequence (set to the music of Nina Simone) that will shake you and make you, let's admit it, proud to call yourself human. How often does that happen in a Lynch movie?

Little Children -- Director Todd Field must have learned quite a bit when he played the piano player in Stanley Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut. The characters in his movies have a tense underbelly of angst and neurosis, but on the outside they try their best to fit in to their environment and keep functioning. Little Children, which refers to much more than just the many kids in the cast, is a Raymond Carveresque story about pain in the unreal world aka suburbia, feeling lost, and dealing with it all by going deeper into the woods. Not necessarily a good family movie, but if looking for something as gripping as Happiness, but with a lot more heart and affection, this one's a worthy rental.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan -- I dig this movie for the most part as a good way to both humanize and lampoon idiot foreigners (and idiot 'Mericans too of course) and The American Dream. The DVD packaging and presentation is a marvel of faux cheese crappiness, with some truly excellent extras, my favorite being the parody of Baywatch that easily destroys the originals 5 year run in terms of cultural importance. The American TV promo spots, including a doozy with Martha Stewart on Leno, are also very funny and even kind of perverted in a fun and innocent "we make groop sexy time now?" way. Wah-wah-wee-wah!

Grindhouse aka Planet Terror and Deathproof -- As expected, this double bill hasn't done too hot at the box office, but I think it's still in some theaters. It's not even a real grindhouse movie since it has a big budget and all its cheese is purely by design, but that doesn't matter. It's a blast. Planet Terror is the best horror shlock Robert Rodriguez has ever helmed, and Rose McGowan has been waiting for a role like this all her life...ya know...one that fully utilizes her assets. Death Proof on the other hand is equal parts chatty annoyance and mind-blowing misogynist destruction, but with a twist. Kurt Russel's character, Stuntman Mike, would be a fucking hoot if he wasn't so authentically sociopathic. That's what Tarantino does best, takes cartoon characters and makes them three dimensional living/breathing human beings (or monsters). Special mention to the excellent faux previews that separate both features, especially Don't! and Thanksgiving (which beats anything guest director Eli Roth has done since Cabin Fever).

That's it for now, dear friends. Have fun in LA, those of you who can make it! Talk soon.

np: Times New Viking "New Times, New Hope"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007

Vonnegut once said that the only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.

Recommended reading: Mother Night, Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions...just for starters. The old jester may be gone, but his words and convictions will always permeate our culture, our greatest hopes, our darkest fears. Here's a review of Slaughterhouse-Five, run originally in the NY Times 38 years ago.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Four Strange Ones...


The One Ensemble Wayward the Fourth (Secret Eye) - Had this one a while and been trying hard to summon the words to fully capture it's strange beauty. Daniel Padden is one fourth of the always fascinating Volcano the Bear. He's also released some delectable solo albums under the One Ensemble of Daniel Padden name for the last four years. What he did then was a kind of minimal free jazz/prog folk response to what folks like Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno were doing early in their careers with multi-tracks and instruments all performed by Padden. As with the recent Live at VPRO CD-R (Brainwashed), Wayward the Fourth is the work of a genuine ensemble, quartet to be exact, captured in a studio. The songs are gorgeous, twisted amalgams of European and American ethnic musics, free jazz, chamber music, minimalism and experimental plateaus rarely glimpsed in the western world, dispersed with just the right emotional -- ranging from giddy to somber -- intensity. There's vocals on a few tricks, a few bizarre deconstructions on some others, but what strikes me most about this is the sheer musicality, the deliberate attention to space, detail and compositional structure. One Ensemble albums have always sounded like this, but just as with Volcano the Bear's brilliant Classic Erasmus Fusion (Beta-Lactam Ring), the ensemble approach has reached new depths of cinematic, multi-hued brilliance. Easily one of the best '07 has coughed up so far.


Aufgehoben Messidor (Holy Mountain) - Shit yes, son! Aufgehoben tosses the ethereal ladder down the old dusty staircase and revels in the resulting dissonance. Lotta bands out there like to ride the no-wave boogie train into the cosmic night, but I'm not sure any does it with such bewildering intensity as Aufgehoben. Their fourth album is a mechanical flurry of percussive splatter, discordant guitars, jarring distortion and live mixing that further alters the doors of perception into a kind of abstract-expressionist interpretation of the line between chaos and order. Think This Heat, Sightings (only better), Wolf Eyes and the like. Hell they even drop Scott Walker's "Tilt" into the influence blender, but there's no vox here, just sheer aural torment that tickles the cortex like an army of metallic cactus spines. This is live sound that you could almost bang your head to if they'd ever get over their difficulty and just fucking jam! But then...that wouldn't be Aufgehoben now would it? I still want to see this live someday, even if these guys don't play live. Invite me to a rehearsal!



Absolut Null Punkt
Metacompound (Important) If you dig Aufgehoben, you'll really dig ANP. This is apparently an old ensemble (duo?) from master of noise-grind KK Null that recently reconvened to conjure another (s)platter of their free jazz/industrial/noise and man it's fucking coool! Three extended tracks that sound like a flurry of miniature flying machines, small kitchen appliances and prehistoric dinosaurs howling in revelry around a gigantic cosmic bonfire. A different kind of motorik noise sprawl that's actually more digestible than Aufgehoben, while being quite "out" and difficult in its own right. Highly recommended.


In Camera In Camera (Some Fine Legacy) - This newish duo project from Christoph Heemann and Timo van Luijk, as well as the multiple recent releases of fine solo albums from Andrew Chalk, suggests that Mirror may be in hibernation or even finished. Hope not, but as evinced on this '05 vinyl offering (downloaded via slsk), Heemann's still got some magic up his sleeve. This extended track is less mixed and layered than Mirror recordings, instead focusing on a kind of aural vérité exploration of composition and environmental sound. Tone generators, lone piano strikes, electric hums, creaks and cranks are dispersed with subtle acuity that seems kind of random and formless at first, but reveals its own strange logic in time. A fine opening salvo from this promising duo.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A few SXSW recollections:

Almost didn't go this year, so I actually only caught Saturday's festivities. Missed too many great bands to list, biggest regret missing Blues Control. Arrived just in time to catch a cpl songs by MV/EE/SL/JM at the End of an Ear record store on south 1st. The version of "Canned Happiness" was just about the most clangy, detuned mongrel boogie I've ever heard from 'em. Halfway through the first song some poor guy went into an epileptic seizure right there in the cramped space. Bad omen. Never saw so much drool in one place. Then again, maybe he was just really into it...

I then booked ass over to the Lakeshore amphitheater to catch half a BORIS set, which was closer to their pop set compared to the monolothic drone jams they played the night before. Fun but underwhelming. Are they on MTV yet?
(Womblife's first instance of product placement, sweet)

Next up, waited in line and was lucky to get in and up close for JANDEK, who along with Tom Carter on burly bass, Shawn McMillan on pump organ and a swell Aussie fellow on drums (sorry!), played the heaviest goddamn Jandek set ever. It will likely drop on Corwood someday. ...more men in black...


The following night we made it down to The Salon Mijangos art gallery in San Antonio to catch three incredible sets: Tetuzi Akiyama (guitar), Tom Carter (guitar) and Chris Cogburn (percussion) trio, the Warmer Milks acoustic trio with Shawn McMillan sitting in and Charalambides delivering the most dynamic and all-encompassing set I've ever seen/heard from them. It was a real revelation and re-affirmation in my faith in this incredible duo. No pics from this night, but here are some youtube vids my friend Nari took of most of the involved, including a clip of the Charalambides gig:

Boris

Jandek

Charalambides

Had a blast meeting new and old friends and heard some amazing stories too. SXSW is all about free beer and great stories, but that's all going in the novel -- sorry folks!

Friday, March 16, 2007

If I was anywhere near Wstern Mass next week and had a beard, I know where I'd be goin'...
GLADTREE!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Back into the fold, or breach as it were... Got some stuff here that I think you folks may find interesting, mostly falling on the folky/acoustic side of things.

First off though, RIP Charles Gocher of the Sun City Girls and Cayce Lindner of Flying Canyon and The Golden Hotel (Flying Canyon reviewed here). Two fantastic musicians who checked out way too soon.

Niagara Falls/The Clear Spots (Deep Water) This split CD-R is one of those releases received toward the tale end of '06 but not fully digested till now. Niagara Falls, huh? Got some nerve naming yourselves after that raging natural wonder, but then maybe these Pennsylvania natives are onto something. There is a gorgeous shimmer in these cascading waterfalls that refracts its tonal light fragments in every direction at once. Formless, bottomless stuff that murmurs and trickles in small streams that build to expected tidal waves of singing luminescent noise. One of the few bands I can think of as a distant kindred to San Francisco's great Thuja, but Niagara Falls is more upbeat and uh...watery! The Clear Spots track is a fried up-tempo blast of Canned Heat meets Can that ejects the Roadhouse vibe into deep space and just happens to be one of the coolest things I've heard from the 'Spots to date. Thumbs heavenward.

Daniel Higgs Ancestral Songs (Holy Mountain) This is an amazing album. The Lungfish singer/guitarist enthralls with six songs that fall somewhere between songwriter-ly psych folk and mind-expanding drone noise. Without a doubt it's Higgs' enlightened and honest explo ration of human/cosmic spiritual concerns and more that reels me in and leaves me speechless as nodding in agreement to repetitious recitations of masterful mind-trips such as opener "Living in the Kingdom of Death." Sample lyric: "See the devil in the Christ if its the true Christ that you seek. It abides in you and it abides in me." Simple, it is, but it's also true in a way, no matter what you may or may not believe. Otherwise we get a stunning banjo raga in the Sandy Bull vein (with birdsong accompaniment), a phenomenal instrumental of phased jew's harp and vibes, an 11 min blast of sacred droning electronics cum raga and a couple more fine guitar/vocal workouts. Higgs' voice is a beauty, and this album is simply timeless. One of the best of 2006 according to this hippie.

Birch Book "Fortune & Folly" (Helmet Room Recordings) Another life affirming piece of work from Be'irth (of In Gowan Ring), here exploring his love of the classic songwriter with tender folk tunes lent a somewhat downcast, or simply honest, air. Leonard Cohen, Jackson Frank and Dylan come to mind on those tracks that are each fully contained little song worlds--a couple bookending instrumentals and a good number of unforgettable songs that delve intimately into the lonely life of a young soul today (including "Young Souls," "New Song"--reminiscent of a recent Marissa Nadler tune, "Whisper in the Pine" and more). A few trippy bits but mostly straightforward and genuine.

Anvil Salute New Crusaders of the 11th Commandment (Maritime Fist Glee Club) This OK (as in Oklahoma) unit's transformation is now complete. I've not heard their earliest albums, but it appears they've evolved into full-on psychedelic roots folk ensemble with this excellent CD-R meandering its way through a thick tangle of thorny branches and colored foliage, stripping away all the artifice of life to reveal shimmering undeniable aural light. Meditative and completely handmade in the same breath. "A Word With Every Apple" is the most soaring, hair-standing-on-the-back-of-the-neck instrumental I've heard in at least a three weeks. And just in time for Spring too.

Eastern Fox Squirrels Eastern Fox Squirrels (Last Visible Dog) A fine trio recording of Brad and Eden Rose with the one and only Robert Horton, unleashing their own take on ethnic blues, drone, folk, jazz.... Lord I have no idea how to classify this record, but if you've heard Rose's work as the North Sea and Horton's solo work, shouldn't be too surprised. And hey there's even a Charalambides cover in their lovely take of "Hours" with a dancing sax line standing in for Christina's haunted vocal, and the way the cover phases into the Market Square original is FUCKING BEAUTIFUL! Wow...wow...wow... Very nice. Excellent artwork too from Mr. Pumice.

Michael Tamburo and His Orchestra of Pituitary Knowledge
Ghosts of Marumbey (New American Folk Hero/Music Fellowship) Mike Tamburo asked me to write a one-page for this record back before it came out, so I was slightly reluctant to review it myself. Now I'm not at all, because this is simply an incredible album, and in retrospect probably his most accomplished work to date. Definitely his most diverse and all-encompassing blast of avant folk raga, electronic drones, full on kraut-space rawk'n'roll. Don't think enough people have heard this one. Another one of my top o' the pops in '06.

Richard Youngs and Alex Neilson Partick Rain Dance (VHF) Oh yeah...It's been fun watching Masters Youngs and Neilson emerge as one of the most thrilling and bizarre duos in sonic history, and this recent collaborative offering is as good a reminder as any as to why these guys can't be ignored. 5 tracks that go from spastic percussive synth rumbles to piercing free noise splatters, Robert Wyatt vocal segues and beautifully shimmering percussive drone splays. Acoustic/electric sound generators entwined with layered vox to reveal glorious sky-high chaplets of sound. Absolutely essential...to me.

MV & EE with The Bummer Road Green Blues (Ecstatic Peace) "Can't pay the rent...with happiness. Can't pay the rent with looooove..." so says one of the mantras of a song deeper into this masterfully gorgeous burst of blurred sunshine. Green Blues is sweet. It's like The Bummer Road's stab at pop stardom, so a few hipsters will hate it, and a few emo kids will scratch their heads, but the rest of us, who remember simply what it's like to just escape from it all for a bit and burn one, to drive, to love Neil Young, to bow at the Altar of Canned Head, and never forget the mysteries that Sun-Ra imparted upon our embryonic souls will have a blast on this trip. Absolutely beautiful. GUEST MELLOTRON BY J. MASCIS! Epic closer "Solar Hill" in particular captures a particularly vivid and inescapable psychedelic dream state and burns her to a crisp. Fun music for weird people.

The Giant Skyflower Band Blood on the Sunworm (Soft Abuse) Glenn Donaldson likens these recordings made with Shayde Sartin as his answer to "bummer psych," which can be traced from Syd Barrett and Skip Spence on up through the Television Personalities and to modern day oddball masters like Nagisa Ni Te and Maher Shalal Hash Baz. I can't help but think of the Incredible String Band in their prime too with the exotic melange of ethnic instruments backing these mostly minimal, semi-stumbling folk-pop arrangements. The star of this show is Glenn Donaldson's pristine high croon, and the songs themselves easily rival the best work with the Sky Green Leopards, but these are a tad more clunky and poppy at the same time via slightly off-tempo percussion. The perfect soundtrack for drifting a hazy afternoon away wearing nothing but torn jeans and an old grass-stained t-shirt. Thank you, soft folk gods'n'goddesses for shining this starlight my way.

That's all for now. Namaste, my friends...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fear and Trembling

I was able to attend my first real Daniel Johnston show last night, as in Danny and the Nightmares, that is Johnston's full fledged chamber garage punk band. The Nightmares may not be the most adept ensemble, but they're just fine for what Johnston is doing these days, a sloppy, loose garage punk/glam/Beatles obsessed indie pop that actually deserves the rapt attention it received last night at the Granada Theater. I hope you've seen the movie, as it will only make you love him more, and it's a cool chronicle of the American underground rock scene of the 80s to boot, but I must admit what's the nicest about all this is the guy is simply up to the task these days, playing mostly compelling new stuff and a few old gems when appropriate. Making a little more money, maintaining a good schedule, not flaking or flipping as he has so famously in his more tormented past. Daniel really is a national treasure, a Texan treasure, a fractured genius even...but not so much in that his mind is impaired, because it appears when he's on his meds the manic episodes are kept at bay, and he's obviously a fucking genius. As to his heart and emotions? This is the stuff of mythical discontent and endless longing. Johnston is up there with Nick Drake and Townes Van Zandt when it comes to such gaping wound emotionalism, though he's definitely got a loose, sloppy approach that's all his own. He also played a perfectly destroyed version of "Band on the Run." Was struck by his trembling arms during most of the set and hope this was merely a negative manifestation of stage-fright, but who knows...

A shot of Daniel engulfed in the Holy Light of Immaculate Performance Perfection: And a scan of the image I asked Daniel to draw after the show as a replacement for the one he drew me 5 years ago in Austin and I promptly lost. My friend James insists I will find it in the pages of an old magazine or the spine of a CD sometime in the next five years And exactly one week previous I was able to view MV/EE at Shawn McMillen's house in Austin, and it was simply one of the most magical, drunken evenings of my meager existence. Also saw McMillen play a solo set (absolutely gorgeous ethnic drone power minimalism as evinced on his excellent "Catfish" LP) and Ralph White unleash his own kind of primitive Americana, and I recorded almost all of it to minidisc! No shit...my God I was so drunk. I love all of you and hope we can do it again real soon. The Bummer Road's Green Blues is fucking beautiful solar blues of the highest order and Zuma didn't even bite me! I'm in...oh Sweet Jesus am I in. Here's the cover of MV/EE's new CD-R, Goodbye Moonface on Wabana. I'm honored to call them my friends.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Welp...I'm missing a Steven Stapleton DJ set in Austin at End of An Ear today. Bummer! There will be other opportunities. I have the faith (fuck the fear!) I was going to post more best of '06 stuff, like best vinyl and reissues, but fuck that too! '07 awaits.

MV/EE are touring currently with Charalambides. I hope to attend the Austin gig; sorry none is happening in North Texas.

Dates:

Jan 31 2007 8:00P iron horse northampton, MA
Feb 1 2007 8:00P PA's lounge somerville, MA
Feb 2 2007 8:00P uncle paulie's greenpoint/brooklyn, NY
Feb 3 2007 8:00P first unitarian church chapel philadelphia, PA
Feb 4 2007 8:00P the dust warehouse space charlottesville, VA
Feb 5 2007 8:00P harvest records asheville, NC
Feb 6 2007 8:00P ruby green nashville, TN
Feb 7 2007 8:00P eyedrum atlanta, GA
Feb 8 2007 8:00P bottle tree birmingham, AL
Feb 9 2007 8:00P hi ho lounge new orleans, LA
Feb 10 2007 8:00P rudyard's pub houston, TX
Feb 11 2007 8:00P shawn mcmillen's house austin, TX
Feb 14 2007 8:00P the smell los angeles, CA
Feb 16 2007 8:00P hotel utah san francisco, CA
Feb 17 2007 8:00P the attic santa cruz, CA
Feb 18 2007 8:00P the accident gallery eureka, CA
Feb 20 2007 8:00P reed college chapel portland, OR
Feb 21 2007 8:00P gallery 1412 seattle, WA
Feb 27 2007 8:00P the hall mall iowa city, IA
Feb 28 2007 8:00P empty bottle chicago, IL
Mar 1 2007 8:00P the mecca lexington, KY
Mar 2 2007 8:00P museum of contemporary art cleveland, OH
Mar 3 2007 8:00P the music gallery toronto, ON
Mar 4 2007 8:00P la sala rossa montreal, QC
Mar 11 2007 8:00P sundazed @ BAR new haven, CT

And here's a review of Mother of Thousands I wrote a few months ago that never got published anywhere:

MV & EE with The Bummer Road Mother of Thousands (Time-Lag) 2LP

When I asked Erika Elder if The Bummer Road was a full fledged psychedelic jug band (sans the jug) compared to the more minimal flavor of her duo recordings with Matt Valentine, her response was simple: “It’s just the big band.” Indeed it is. Flip open the gorgeous gatefold double album package, and there are six white washed faces greeting hazy afternoon sunlight: Mo’ Jiggs, Nemo Bidstrup, Samara Lubelski, Sparrow Wildchild, Tim Barnes, the ubiquitous Valentine, Elder and four legged Zuma, all vital participants on this transcendental music farm. “Mother of Thousands” is the grand statement from these cosmic folk/blues troubadours, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most memorable psychedelic albums of 2006.

First off, the cover image is a kind of sun-kissed twist on the iconic “American Gothic” painting. Matt and Erika are closer to American Bliss in this portrait. They are living in the dream, at least in the moment captured. Of course, images tend to come with their own exaggerated meanings. Maybe it’s a random off-screen rustle that has Elder distracted while Valentine looks directly into the camera; maybe it’s intentional. Either way the image conveys what I believe is at the heart of MV & EE and The Bummer Road—a willingness to look directly into the eye of the perceiver and look away too. Familiar folk melodies and old blues riffs manifest in this aural soup, but there is just as much distraction and dissonance too. A great deal of chance is left between the notes. At times The Bummer Road’s off-kilter melodies are so buried in droning reverb and shifting instrumental chaos that the listener could get confused or lost in the murk. Mo Jiggs’ harmonica is heard as haunted squawks and groaning trills. Guitars are obliquely plucked and shook to reveal new alien overtones, but through it all there remains ever the faintest murmur of something traditional.

Gentle folk pop spirals like “Cold Rain” and “Sunshine Girl” are among the most accessible things to bear the MV/EE stamp to date, joyful slices of psych roots bliss that hearken back to golden moments by such exploratory blues psych hall-of-famers as The Grateful Dead and Canned Heat. Anyone ever notice how much Valentine sounds like Al Wilson these days? To bring home the point, one song is called “Canned Heat Blues.” But it must be said the Bummer Road goes further and deeper than any of their ancestors ever dared (but Sun-Ra of course). Some might even say they go too far. There are more than a few moments that lend credence to the suggestion, but then whoever said that psychedelia was just about sunbeams and pretty flowers?

As if the first disc of song based numbers wasn’t enough, the second disc explores vividly the group’s proclivity for more epic meditative journeys and imploded free jazz arrangements. “Meditations on Payday” is a workout of the immortal John Hurt classic that glides on the ether for a good 15 minutes with Jiggs’ harmonica and Valentine’s acid guitar dancing over a shifting bed of percussive clatter and wind-instrumental whoosh. The sidelong closer, “Death Don’t have No Mercy” (another cover, this time by Reverend Gary Davis), is broken apart to the most abstract fundamentals before voice and piano slowly come to the fore, and then an abrupt shift to harsher swamp-land noise worthy of Throbbing Gristle before another transition leads to the fade.

I recently saw someone refer to “Mother of Thousands” as the rightful descendant of Royal Trux’s immortal skronk blues epic “Twin Infinitives,” and at the time I didn’t really hear it. “Twin Infinitives” is a howling crawl through the most damaged post industrial void, but it’s also alive with detail and vivid vitality every second of the way. “Mother of Thousands” is a mellower, more blissful glide, but it emanates its own dark menace. Death crawls through this microtonal universe with no mercy, but then so does life. It’s a little broken down, but it’s nothing that isn’t entirely indicative of what it is to feel hope, love, pain, fear and the whole mess of living this life.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Top Limited CD-Rs of 06

20. The Friday Group Wet Fur CD-R (Wholly Other/Twilight Flight Sound)
19. The Kitchen Cynics Hoodie Craw CD-R (self released)
18. The Floating World River of Flowers CD-R (Foxglove/Digitalis)
17. Amon Düde Amon Düde (Ikuisuus)
16. The Dead Notes The Dead Notes CD-R (Kindling)
15. Raglani Man Myth Magic (Pegasus Farms Records)
14. Heavy Winged Echoes of Silence CD-R (Deep Water)
13. Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice Town on the Edge of Darkness (Freaks End Future)
12. The North Sea Summer Decays Into October's Alchemy (Foxglove)
11. John Henry Calvinist King Solomon Hill (Foxglove)
10. GHQ La Poesia Visiva (Heavy Blossom)
9. The Golden Oaks Paradise CD-R (Barl Fire)
8. The Clear Spots Mansion in the Sky CD-R (Deep Water)
7. Tom Carter Sun Swallower (Wholly Other)
6. Jazzfinger Winter's Shadow Between Two Worlds CD-R (Curor)
5. Charalambides Strangle the Wretched Heavens CD-R (Wholly Other)
4. Agitated Radio Pilot Your Turn to Go It Alone 2x3" CD-R (Rusty Rail)
3. Valerio Cosi The Thee Faces of Moongod (Ruralfaune)
2. Adam Bujag Wave of Tears (Deep Water)
1. Pefkin Pingle Pangle (Pseudoarcana)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

(better late than never???)

26 in '06


CDs/LPs:

26. Oakley Hall Gypsum Strings (Brah/Jagjaguwar)
25. Six Organs of Admittance The Sun Awakens (Drag City)
24. Anton Barbeau In the Village of the Apple Sun (Four-Way)
23. Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood Goodbye (Digitalis)
22. Om Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain)
21. Alastair Galbraith/Alex Neilson/Richard Youngs Bellsayer Time (Time-Lag)
20. Circle Miljard (Ektro)
19. Bardo Pond Sublimation (Three Lobed)
18. The Spires That in the Sunset Rise This Is Fire (Secret Eye)
17. Wooden Wand and the Skyhigh Band Second Attention (Kill Rock Stars)
16. Fern Knight Music For Witches and Alchemists (VHF)
15. Camera Obscura Let's Get Out of This Country (Merge)
14. The Akron/Family Meek Warrior (Young God)
13. Flying Canyon Flying Canyon (Soft Abuse)
12. Charalambides A Vintage Burden (Kranky)
11. Nether Dawn Outer Dark (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
10. Mike Tamburo and His Orchestra The Ghosts of Marumbey (Music Fellowship/New American Folk Hero)
9. Aethenor Deep Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light (VHF)
8. Warmer Milks Radish on Light (Troubleman)
7. James Blackshaw O True Believers (Important)
6. MV/EE & The Bummer Road Mother of Thousands (Time-Lag)
5. Sunno)))/Boris Altar (Southern Lord)
4. Ashtray Navigations Four More Raga Moods (Ikuisuus)
3. Daniel Higgs Ancestral Songs (Holy Mountain)
2. Volcano the Bear Classic Erasmus Fusion (Beta-Lactam)
1. United Bible Studies The Shore Fears the Sea (Deserted Village)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007



"The difference between a great writer and a minor one is fundamentally this: that the minor writer always has answers -- glib answers, slick answers, memorably-worded answers, resounding and pretentious answers. The great writer dares to stand before you naked, armed only with the questions."

Robert Anton Wilson

1932 - 2007
And then there was this:

Dream Magazine
number 7 features a wonderful archival interview with the late great Ivor Cutler conducted by John Cavanagh (Phosphene/BBC), Mats Gustafsson talked to Lanterns and Antony Milton of PseudoArcana. Steve Sawada interviewed the legendary Linda Perhacs, Lee Jackson wrote about and chatted with Josephine Foster, Ned Raggett covered Yellow6, I interviewed Henry Flynt, Larkin Grimm, Turkish band Ayyuka, Loren Connors, Mayo Thompson of Red Krayola, Bert Jansch, Absalom, P.G. Six, Function, The Left Outsides, The Moon Upstairs, Sharron Kraus, St. Mary’s, Tor Lundvall, Powell St. John (songwriter for 13th Floor Elevators, Mother Earth, Janis Joplin, etc.) , Mark Brend of Fariña, and Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar of Beequeen.

The complimentary CD features previously unreleased music by: Function, Lumeny, Tor Lundvall, Adrian Crowley, Crashing Dreams, Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, Sharron Kraus, the Kitchen Cynics, the Left Outsides, Yellow6, Fariña, the Moon Upstairs, St. Mary’s, Freiband, and Absalom.

96 pages $8 cover price, $10 postpaid in the U.S.

George Parsons
Dream Magazine
P.O. Box 2027
Nevada City, CA
95959-1941

geo@gv.net
www.dreamgeo.com

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Saw Jucifer the other night. It felt as if I was sexually assaulted. It was good. I asked the modified 5-string guitar player/singer if she'd ever heard Boris. She'd only heard a few songs. Jucifer makes me think of a 2 person garage punk answer to Boris, hence the question. The drummer kills--this is true--but the best part was when the cute gal was grinding out some sorta crazy nowave/punk riff and the drummer guy was just sorta rollin' around on the floor as the gal started to almost make out with the huge bank of amps that surrounded her in a half circle, and at one point her hair was electrified and floating around her skull, and yeah that seemed to sum up their set well. A friend got some snapshots and a video clip or two, so maybe I'll add those in here later.

Oh yeah, special honorable mention to opening Houston death doom sludge rockers BOWEL--they lived up to their name. After they were finished I walked up to the singer/guitarist and hugged his bald head and whisper-growled "fucking wretched" in his right ear before kissing him passionately. Their t-shirt said "FUCKED IN THE FACE BY THE DEVIL" in fat weed green letters. Funny.

A few announcements to make. The Foxy Digitalis Digi-fest, Bottled Smoke, happens in LA in about five months.

Digitalis 'Bottled Smoke' Festival - Lineup Announced

since grant capes and i have been working our asses off this week getting a basically-final list of performers for the festival together, i felt it was time to announce it. scheduling is still being done, though grant has basically got it finished (everyone give him mad props. heh!). so without further adieu, i present to you the list of bands that will be making this festival the event of the year (ahem):

tarentel, the north sea (first ever live appearance), brothers of the occult sisterhood, (VxPxC), heavy winged, ghosting, xela (first ever US appearance), valet, dan brown (from hall of fame), gregg kowalsky, the alps, terracid (first ever live appearance), robedoor, ilyas ahmed, white rainbow, alligator crystal moth, fathmount (first ever US appearance), thousands, antique bros, mike tamburo (w/ matt mcdowell), goliath bird eater, ajilvsga (first ever live appearance), new fairfield parks & recreation (first ever US appearance), pocahaunted, & the holy see


a few late additions/changes to the line-up may occur, but this is the bulk of it (and seriously, do you NEED more than that?). also, we'll have the most insane merch-area you've ever seen, including a table full of endless goodies from ed hardy/eclipse. still not enough? the festival also coincides with the opening of the bottling smoke exhibit which will feature artwork, interviews, and all sorts of random pieces and artifacts from the world of CDR labels.

the majority of all this will take place the fabulous echo curio in LOS ANGELES may 25th-27th, except for the saturday night show at mr. t's. everything at echo curio is FREE to the public. yes, you can see 20 or so bands for fucken FREE. because we love you.

you can support our efforts by subscribing to the bottled smoke CDR series.

more news as it becomes available..

ALSO:

Your Womb-master expressed some thoughts on records in '06 along with some other fine folks (Mats Gustaffson, Kevin Moist and Camera Obscura head honcho Tony Dale) over at Deep Water Acres in an article called Nailing Smoke to the Wall. So check it if interested. It's a two parter, so read em both! I promise I will post a few lists of my favorite 06 things here in a day or two. Sorry for the delays, folks. Hey man, Steven Stapleton is apparently coming to Texas! Truly odd.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year, YOU. Let's all--that is you and I--do our part in getting some things right in '07, mmkay? After all, TIME MAGAZINE chose YOU as person of the year in '06. So it's all up to YOU and maybe me to LET LOVE RULE as Lenny Kravitz would say. Seriously. Let it.

Right on... So I haven't seen a lot of the big Oscar contender movies this year. Ya know, the "the..." movies: The Departed, The Illusionist, The Fountain, The Good Sheppard The Scarlet's Web--lame I know. I'll see what I can do about that in the coming days. Did like Jackass #2, for what it's worth.

I'm most anticipating lately Pan's Labyrinth, a dark fairytale that should be one of the more unique things to come down the old celluloid shoot in some time. Director Guillermo Del Toro really impressed a few years back with his somewhat similar The Devil's Backbone.

Otherwise, as amazing and memorable and disturbing and all else it was, I'm just glad 2006 is over. Glad I made if through in one piece. Foxy Digitalis is back in full-swingin' mode and lookin' great. Totally dig that new layout, peeps! There's even some rumbles on the ether 'bout a big ol' festival (or two) happening somewhere soon. Should be just swell.

Also got some fresh material and an updated look happening over at Deep Water Acres. And I finally got together another Bones from the Garden column which might be of interest to a few. There are some more goodies in the pipeline too, including what should be a broadly canvassed '06 wrap-up that might inspire more than a few early '07 impulse buys.

What else? Not sure if I saw one live show in the month of December (Psychic Paramount maybe?), but there's much goodness heading here soon, including JESU and Nordic Viking Metal Gods, ENSLAVED! Can you imagine my fat hippie ass at a black metal show? Prog black metal...whatever. But in all seriousness, I'm very intimidating these days. Thank you to all my friends near and far who made '06 a little bit more tolerable and a lot more memorable. Peace and love to you all.