Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho ho ho, yiz'all and peace to all da peeps! In all da places! Happy Solstice as well. Only three more years till the Singularity! All the late afternoon darkness makes me feel like I'm sitting in a coffin instead of an office these days, but that's all right. I'm still kickin'. Hope the same goes for all my friends and kin out there, near and far. You're in my thoughts.

I'm feverishly finishing up a batch of Winter-y treats, in this case some reviews of fine psychedelic folk records that have cropped up o'er the last year, a good chunk of which will make my year end best-of tally. I thought 2009 was just a killer year for psych/acid folk emanations. It was a killer year for other reasons too. I mean, like, a lot of people died! Brittany Murphy died! She's one of those sad ghost girls from Inland Empire now, all fragile and spent on the great futon of life. RIP. Rashied Ali died in '09 too. I don't think I ever mentioned it here, and given the scope of Womblife's coverage and the depth of his contributions to key albums by John Coltrane among so many more (including Keiji Haino, wow!), he definitely deserves a special mention.

Shitloads of movies came out this year too, and I didn't see near enough to draw up any kind of Cinematic Best of '09 list, so instead I'm going to rifle through some Twitter-styled mini-reviews which should express my thoughts in short, concise, geek-speek allotments that you may possibly comprehend, if not flat out enjoy. That said, my favorite theater-going experience of '09 was Dallas Cinemania's showing of a 35 mm print of Deep Red back in October. Best...soundtrack...ever.


@World's Greatest Dad - @Bobcat_G - disturbed/hilarious humanism! @Robin_W - decent tenderhearted loserdom. @Kid.from.Spy_Kids - u deserve an Oscar 4 ur portrayal of an auto-erotic-asphyxiated/shitty human/son = genius!

@The Road - @J.Hillcoat/@Cor_Mc - You two seem close. @Viggo_M. - Eat something for chrissakes! As @George Romero once said, the apocalypse will start in Pittsburgh. A+++!

@Night at the Museum 2 - Much better than a big budget special effects Hollyweird extravaganza has any right to be. @Amy Adams - I am in love with you and wish you'd have my babies.

@Inglorious Bastards - @Q_T- Nice attention to detail, nice NAZI bashing, NICE German villain, kick-ass tension building in that tavern scene! All a bit soulless though, m8. @Brad Pitt - nice John Wayne.

@Avatar - @J_Cam - cool 3-D space shits, dog! Dances With Aliens in Overdrive. Wicked Native Space Peeps - The Horror! The Dividends! SHITTY SOUNDTRACK. Classic Cameron!

@The Maiden Heist - Nice to see @C_Walken, @Morgan.Freeman and @Will_M in the same movie. Like Robin Hood for older middle-aged art geeks. Pretty good, no "Going in Style" though.

@The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - @Herzog - awkward title/awesome movie! The world is insane/there are creepy crawly lizards everywhere! @Nick_Cage - thanks for honoring yr 5 year rule - 1 good movie every 12 pieces of shit.

@Fantastic Mr. Fox - Dear @W_Anderson - re "Darjeeling Limited" - all forgiven.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wanted to mention a really special gig I caught last Saturday here in Dallas, at a place called Sandaga Market, on the edge of the arts and apparel district of downtown. The gallery's lush interior decoration -- a combo of indigenous African rugs, throws, paintings, masks and sculptures -- belied its modest warehouse exterior. As much could be said for the musical expressionism of the legendary Dave Burrell, who makes for an unassuming presence behind the grand piano with only the the most minimal, gracious banter between his extended solo pieces. Burrell is a musician any fan of bold free jazz piano flux should be aware of, whether via his countless collaborations with so many of those who helped to write the language of jazz (Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Marion Brown, David Murray, William Parker, etc) or his astounding solo releases, such as Echo originally pressed by BYG Actuel. This is a guy that's been in the game for almost 50 years, composing and playing, living and learning, and what struck me most about the two sets he played was the immeasurable berth of his stylistic influence. Burrell is a jazz pianist, but what I heard this night touched on everything from baroque classical to blues, minimal composition, ragtime, show tunes, swing, pop and so, so much more. It was like taking a musical road-trip through every major musical development of the last 250 years, donning a blindfold, spinning 'round and 'round only to find seemingly disparate styles and eras living side by side in total harmony. Burrell, via his ever nimble fingers, tells a story beyond words, beyond time, and beyond my capacity to explain. It is the music of a full life, unfinished still. What struck me most was how how clearly Burrell appreciates so many different genres and styles but is fearless when it comes to combining and exploring it all via his own personal portal. He fits somewhere in the jazz pantheon between Thelonious Monk and Matthew Shipp, coming from a trad background like so many but taking those old bop and swing melodies to bold new, out (and long gone) places. I thought of Jack Rose more than once while comprehending Burrell's ability to juggle so many genres and always keep it movin' and groovin'. Thank you, Mr. Burrell, for making our hearts a little warmer and our minds a little clearer this night.

While researching and preparing to write this review, this just happened to pop up on HBO at the same time. And you say there are no signs. The Jazz Baroness documents the unlikely and quite profound relationship between British born heiress Pannonica Rothschild and jazz piano great Theloniuos Monk, and her unlikely journey from British aristocracy to one of New York's most passionate jazz enthusiasts during some of its most vital periods. Kind of amazing if you ask me. Unquestionably a life lived. Great narration (reading the words of Rothschild) from The Queen herself, Helen Mirren. Excellent archival footage and modern day interviews make this essential viewing, if yr interested.

Speaking of flicks. I'm going to have to break down and go see Avatar, where James Cameron and company appear to rip off Dances With Wolves and himself (Aliens/The Abyss) with MIND-BLOWING/GAME-CHANGING/SUPER-INNOVATIVE MOTION CAPTURE 3-D TECHNOLOGY NOT DREAMT POSSIBLE JUST 20 SHORT YEARS BEFORE! That was fun to type. I'm expecting this to kick-ass/suck of Michael Bay-ian proportions.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Is My Music: Vol 5, Part 2 (Tanz Der Lemmings)

The Akron Family
Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free (Dead Oceans) CD - Here we have it, yet another master stroke of roots psych progressive rock from Akron's by-way-of-Brooklyn The Akron/Family. Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free covers almost all the bases from the most sun-burnt farm jugband boogie to harmonies up-front roots-folk psych revelries and raging post George Harrison guitar eruptions that should probably sound out of place on a modern arty punk jam-band recording circa 2009 but come off as natural as the dawn here. Be not afraid to celebrate the this kinetic beauty, Womblifers. Sure, some of the songs may be a bit too sing-songy, but they ain't exactly Phish. This rocks!

Monochord (Important) LP - Here is you another fantastic ethno-folk psych transfusion from the awesome Alumbrados, one of many side projects to the perennial third eye dilating Bardo Pond, and I must say that Monochord has lept out as some of the most finely honed, carefully sculpted sonic psych folk meditations I've heard in '09. This is an absolute must in terms of conjuring the old gods and mystical rites through a carefully crafted prism of modern blues, psych and folk as if we've found the missing link between Sandy Bull and Manuel Göttsching. It burns with the incense of the ancients.

Circle Hollywood (Ekto) CD - I can't escape these Finnish lords' of psych/prog repetition. They're still knee deep in their vintage early thrash revisionist phase, which Katapult (No Quarter) basically marked the beginning of with English vokills, shred guitars and uptempo beats all backed by their trademark metronomic pulse. It's pretty silly on paper, but somehow Circle made it work then, and they make it burn brightly here too. With the help of American vocalist Bruce Duff -- channeling Rob Halford and Lemmy equally -- Hollywood is arguably the definitive Circle acid-thrash statement so far with nods to King Crimson, Judas Priest, Loop, the hell of the road and the Pori bad boys' own glorious past all rolled up into one mythical ball of righteous boo that you can pump your fist too while you get all physical and destructive in the listening space. There's more Circle stuff I'd like to cover here, such as their brand new live album Triumph (Fourth Dimension), but I'll have to save that for later. Amazing band.

Ducktails II / Ducktails (Future Sound Recordings) CD-R / (Not Not Fun) LP - Ducktails combines lazy minimal guitar textures like an echo-drenched Durutti Column with infectious/cracked melodies and a stumbling, playful delivery I've come to expect from the ever-dependable Not Not Fun record fortress. Some fantastical little space pop worlds are explored across the minimal pocket symphonies that comprise II (which I think actually predates the self-titled LP on NNF). Case in point: closer "Neptune City, NJ," which sounds sort of like a home-recorded homage to Kraftwerk's The Man Machine and totally fresh and spontaneous at the same time. The longer and, at times, heavier self titled platter offers more of the same with laid back strumming strings doused in reverb, backed by shuffling bedroom percussion and shakers. Absolute bliss drift for the troubled mind after a long day in the coalmines. Ducktails proves that keepin' it fresh really does matter more than keepin' it real, ya'll, though i think this shit is about as real as it gets too with a magical mix that sounds like what if the Velvet Underground was actually Syd Barrett fronting The Silver apples. Come git sum, chilruns. Your solace stew is served.

Endless Boogie Focus Level (No Quarter) 2LP - The third official long-player from these Brooklyn mantra lords comes in a lavish 2Lp package, if you indeed still have the means of listening to such morsels. It's got all the goody good from wound-tight mid-tempo John Lee Hooker trance outs to epic Velvets infused boogie blastoffs that merge the primitive and ecstatic into wailing psychedelic blues jams that touch on everything from the aforementioned Hooker and other blues greats of yore to Hawkwind and Captain Beefheart, in the process mapping the coordinates to the minimal blues Promise Land. Love the wild-ass "spoken in tongues" vocals, and these guys are DAMN FINE live, boys 'n' girls. Should've been from Texas.

Fell Incoherent Lullabies (Camera Obscura) CD - Phineas Gauge is a Denver duo that first came to my attention via Camera Obscura some years ago, and Fell is Josh Wambeke of said duo carrying on the reverb drenched shoegaze flame into a more accomplished and user friendly melodic sound that manages to captivate with only the most minimal means, key to any good dreampop bliss out. The results fall somewhere between Galaxie 500 to prime Chapterhouse or even Bedhead, all blasts from the past I know and you're sitting their scratching your head like WTF? Think of a kinder, gentler, less steroidal Mogwai, then sprinkle with equal doses of heartache and an endless morphine drip.

Jesu Opiate Sun (Caldo Verde Records) CD EP - What the hell is left to say about Justin Broadrick and his transformation from angst drone metal avalanche master to pristine noise pop song bird? Opiate Sun offers four more epic slabs of monumental harmonies and tuneful fuzz guitars that come off sort of like Big Star playing at the bottom of the world or Codeine reborn from the slow-core ashes like a magnificent fiery phoenix, course set directly for the heart of the opiate sun. Glorious.

Lightning Bolt Earthy Delights (Load) CD - It's been a while since the mighty Providence, RI duo unleashed its flailing limbs spastic cyclops attack on an unassuming public, and if it's only gotten tighter, more dynamic, splattered and calibrated at the same time with a furious precision that feels telekinetic at this point and is as fiercely uncompromising as it is listenable and fist-pumping to the heavens. Easily some of the most down and dirty, grooved out cosmik splooge that's as intelligently designed as it is spontaneously created. Hammer of the Gods.

Moon Duo Killing Time (Sacred Bones) - 12" EP - Four more groovy drone psych concoctions from this righteous Wooden Shjips off-shoot that draw from Suicide, Loop, Krautrock and the aforementioned 'Shjips themselves with epic trance raves that conjure images of alien spacecrafts landing on enormous strobe lite dance-floors overrun with indigenous creatures doused in day-glow and zonked in ecstatic revelry.

Oneida Rated O (Jagjaguwar) 3CD - Oneida recently dropped one smokin' 3CD platter that just may be their ultimate psych punk transcendence opus to date, and the price is definitely right. We're talkin' 3 CDs for the price of one -- Rated O for orgasm. These three discs represent a big part of the story of Oneida, though they comprise the second release in the so called "Thank Your Parents" trilogy. If last year's Preteen Weaponry was a roaring blast out of the cosmic gate, then Rated O is a work of greater diversity and further-along probing depth, encompassing aspects of new wave, no wave, Krautrock, 70s proto punk and art punk, dub, psych rawk, sitar laced trance minimalism and good old fashioned caveman stomp. It's a beast to sit through in one sitting, but no one ever said you had to do that. Throw in disc 1 at your next Saturday night disco house party. Pop in CD 2 for the garage punk freakbeat shuffle that following Tuesday, and just think of CD 3 as the perfect go-to spin for straight up third eye astral projecting. Highly recommended for hardcore acid punks, Circle fans and those who enjoy headbanging in the lotus position.

Quo (Soft Abuse) CD - Stefan Neville, recently heard hitting drums at Renderers gigs down south, released one of my favorite solo weird noise pop sorts of albums of recent times in Pebbles (also Soft Abuse). Seek it out if looking for the missing link between Alastair Galbraith and early John Cale/Tony Conrad styled minimalism. Quo sort of picks up where Pebbles leaves off, offering up an all encompassing commentary on all that is and ever will be Pumice. That means fractured, skeletal folk pop, angular art punk, no wave, minimal drone, tape hiss and manipulations are all accented by Neville's peculiar/affecting croon singing songs of heartache, loss, need and confusion. It's the human condition all thrown into a very old, noisy blender and set to puree. Quo falls somewhere between the shambolic folk psych of Sky Green Leopards and the deconstructed art pop of Maher Shalal Hash Baz, while sounding like neither. Roundabout praise, but praise all the same. Highly recommended.

Peaking Lights - Imaginary Falcons (Night People) LP - While spacing out and drifting down stream this year, I don't think any soundtrack carried me further along than Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes' homemade shoegaze duo, Peaking Lights, via the brilliant kaleidoscopic tone patterns of their Imaginary Falcons, which also dropped in the cassette format from Not Not Fun. The mood is playful and dreamy across these seven sonic vessels touching upon early Eno, Velvets, Nico, Xpressway, Krautglam and Young Marble Giants. I'm also reminded of the lovely Grouper in spots, only the moods of Imaginary Falcons reveal their own brand of hand-traded cassette tape drift and drone that's perfect head fodder for a lazy day shimmer or a rainy day trickle, and all points in between. Great stuff to fall asleep to.

Rahdunes Untitled (Qbico) LP picture-disc - When Mr. Coyes above told me about this here mind-melting sonic artifact and that it was an actual rock record to boot, I had a sneaking suspicion that I'd never actually get to hear the sucker. Wrong again! Found it in the racks at End of An Ear on one of my recent Austin trips, last copy of course. I'm not a big fan of reviewing things that are next to impossible to find, but I'm making an exception in this case and and just gonna say this is a true outer free psychedelic third eye melter that is as fun to look at is it is to smoke pot and badly dance to. Psychedelic freedom splendor unleashed and completely obliterated.

Wet Hair Dream / Glass Fountain (Not Not Fun) both LP - More righteous tones here from Shawn Reed, recently heard to make asses shake and minds convulse as a key member of Racoo-oo-oon -- now sadly defunct -- but that's okay as long as cool shit like Wet Hair continues to roll out of the green fog. Dream is rife with organ drones, minimal rhythmic backing with live and programmed drums beneath echo drenched vocal howls merging into some of the most chilled out handmade sci-fi bedroom psych I've bedazzled my mind with lately. Released soon after is the equally levitated Glass Fountain, a companion piece of sorts to Dream which could have quite easily joined with its sister recording into a 2LP platter of mythical proportions. Hard to say why the split, although like many of the freer improvised groove merchants out there today, Wet Hair is less about songs than psychedelic moods -- ecstatic revelries, primal dub-inflected dirges, floating electronic clouds of sound -- it's all here in an abundance just waiting for your lung-burnt, bleary-eyed perusal.

Zelienople Hollywood (Under the Spire) 2x3" CD-R - This Chicago trio continues to weave its levitated spell with a minimal/drone/improv wash that spreads out and fills every corner of the room with a glowing luminescence. This 2x3" CD-R is probably long gone, but can be downloaded, what you wanna bet? Seems just about anything can be downloaded today. The masterstroke is beneath all the shimmering feedback layers is an almost slow-motion alien swing jazz buried beneath all the phosphorous hum to help to help dazzle the subconscious while the ego zones out in tonal submission. Worth your time if you have a remote interest in minimal drone composition, the Kranky label and aural meditation of any kind.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jack Rose 1971 - 2009
(photo courtesy of Keith Wood)

Jack Rose is gone. What an abysmal weekend. I don't really want to write this, but I have to. It's very hard to put into words what this guy means to me and tons of folks. He and I weren't that close, yet anytime I was able to just sit down somewhere and shoot the shit with Jack Rose I felt like part of his inner circle. He was a larger than life, robust, big bear of a man. He died two days ago of a heart attack at only 38. Lots of fine folks out there are offering up their own tributes and remembrances, so I'll try to keep mine short (yeah right!).

The first time I actually met Jack Rose was at Terrastock 6 in Providence, RI in 2006 (though I'd seen him in concert with Pelt twice before that). After the first night's festivities, Jack, Larkin Grimm and I walked down to a nearby Irish pub (complete with thumping disco background music), and he bought ME a beer of all things, after only just meeting me. I think I'd given him my spiel about how important Pelt's and his music had been to my old friend Mats (editor/publisher of The Broken Face) and I over the years, how Empty Bell Ringing in the Sky did as much as any other album in terms of turning us onto a different way of listening to music and exploring sound. Meditation as music, basically, or music as meditation, and forgetting where one ended and the other began. He could tell I meant every word, and I knew he was a friend from that moment on.

Later that night we ended up in a basement below the taqueria that connects to AS220, one of the venues where Terrastock was held that year. A lot of amazing musicians and some close friends were there: Jeffrey Alexander, Miriam Goldberg, Tara Burke, Larkin and Jack, Alan Davidson, Nari Mann, Travis Johnson and someone else I'm forgetting. Sharron Kraus? We drank beer and talked blues and guitars, about folks we knew, and I remember Larkin and Jack having a kind of pseudo-debate about feminism and folk music as the beer flowed and the smoke wafted upwards. A discussion of old primitive blues sparked up, and the name Skip James came up, a guy I'd just started to really get into. And Jack declared one of his classic aphoristic summations of James and his musical oeuvre, a sentence I'll never forget:

"Skip James is Whitehouse!"

And somehow I knew exactly what he meant. Guess you just have to listen to a li'l Whitehouse, and then listen to a li'l Skip James, to fully get that analogy. Made perfect sense to me, then and now. A little later that night, I remember Jack looking at me dead on: "You're not gonna write about any of this shit in your your blog are you?" 'Hell no," I said, and I meant it. Well, meant it at the time.

About a week later back in Dallas, I passed on an opportunity to see Mogwai live, completely unaware who the opening act was. My friend, Mike Maxwell, called me from the show and left a message asking, "Where are you? Jack Rose is playing, and he put you on the guestlist! Why aren't you here?" For whatever reason I couldn't make it, but I remembered being fairly impressed that this guy I'd only just met remembered my name, remembered where I lived, and put me on the guestlist, simply to be cool. I wish I'd have been there that night, for so many see those post-rock kids' confusion and/or enlightenment in the face of Jack's tantric string fire, to shake his hand or give him a hug. I think about these things, and I think about the true beauty of the man. It's so weird to think that the music comes second.

But he was a guitar player too -- some would say the best raga-picker today -- a blues scholar and a real fan. His transcendent style derived as much from Skip James and other pre WW2 blues men as ragtime, country, John Fahey, Robbie Basho, The Grateful Dead and John Martyn, just to name a few. And, of course, his friends. Key albums? Hard to say. Red Horse/White Mule and Opium Musick (both on Eclipse originally) get the ball rolling with raw slide work, fluid fingerpicking and epic open-tuned raga mind wash. Both can be found on VHF's Two Originals of Jack Rose CD. The definitive Kensington Blues (VHF) would come a few years later, and a two more years later the concurrently released self titled and Dr. Ragtime and His Pals, both available as a 2CD from Tequila Sunrise. There's more too, like his long gone echoplexed 7" single, Untitled, which can at least be downloaded if nothing else. And don't get me started on Pelt! His 10th solo album, Luck In The Valley, is due in early 2010 on Thrill Jockey.

And now a little music:

The last time I spoke to Jack was at Terrastock 7 in Louisville, KY, but it's the time before that that really sticks with me. I flew up to St. Louis to visit my friend Travis, and while there catch a Jack Rose/D. Charles Speer/Raglani gig. It'd been a couple years, but he remembered me. I told him how much I was looking forward to seeing his buddy D. Charles, who is super sweet cat too, and I'm sure feeling his own heartbreak right about now. The show was in an art space called Open Lot, which is basically an old converted firehouse from what I could tell. All three acts killed that night -- D. Charles with his drunken country roots psych, Raglani with his minimal electronic storms, Jack with his mind-bending ragas and ragtime jigs. I think I bought a vinyl copy of Kensington Blues and the aforementioned 2CD on Tequila Sunrise.

At one point I remember walking up the stairs to watch Raglani's performance, and looking back and seeing Jack just sitting there on a big brown couch in the main room. "Aren't you comin'?" I asked. "Nah, I can hear it just fine down here. I'm just gonna enjoy this old couch and relax a little while," and he outstretched both arms on either side and gave us one of those big wide Jack smiles. Something tells me he listened closely and probably liked what he heard. Jack always had eclectic tastes, and he meant every word. He will be missed. Check out some of his music if you never have. It comes highly recommended. Here's to that big brown couch. Rest easy, Jack.

Deepest condolences to Jack's wife, family and friends.

Some more remembrances: (a collection of thoughts by Phil McMullin and other members of the Terrastock Nation, including Bill Kellum, owner of VHF Records) (Windy Webber of Windy & Carl)

Addendum: (excellent in depth/recent interview with Jack by

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

LAST MINUTE weird country/free noise/deep drone gig
happening DEC 2 @ WASTED WORDS HOUSE. As in tomorrow (Wednesday)!
2404 S. Fielder, Arlington, TX 76015.

Semi-early show (from 8 - 11). BYO-whatever. Donations welcome.


Promises to be one of WW's more eclectic shows.

--Ohioan (

--Ah Holly Fam'ly (

--Welby (

--Wu Fru De Lu (

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We got a big opening day here with three high expectation movies hitting the big screen at the same time: Werner Herzog's The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and John Hillcoat's take on Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Pretty amazing. I can't remember a more ancipated opening day tbh. Speaking of Mr. McCarthy, here is an excellent conversation with the man, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. Like myself he's not a big fan of interviews but loves good converation. Two quotes which help to illuminate the brilliance of this guy's creative soul:

CM: ...I have a great sympathy for the spiritual view of life, and I think that it's meaningful. But am I a spiritual person? I would like to be. Not that I am thinking about some afterlife that I want to go to, but just in terms of being a better person. I have friends at the Institute. They're just really bright guys who do really difficult work solving difficult problems, who say, "It's really more important to be good than it is to be smart." And I agree it is more important to be good than it is to be smart. That is all I can offer you.

CM: I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.

I also want to mention A Serious Man, one of the most profound and truly oddball cultural opuses to ever emanate from The Coen brothers's creative wellspring. Finally they skewer themselves and their own unique origins, and in the process reveal a work that is at once ridiculously Jewish, overtly American and undeniably Universal in what it says about any group that has ever tried its best simply to be itself in a strange land - in this case suburban Minnesota. It's basically a gut-busting old testament freakout, and even Jefferson Airplane is a character! Rock.

This season's Curb Your Enthusiasm/Seinfeld Reunion show was among the most brilliant, hilarious, laugh out loud inducing home viewing experiences I've ever enjoyed. So many great quotes; so many wonderful surprises. Lines I'll keep with me always: "E for effort! F for favor! C for Coffee!"... "You couldn't get to him. It was a Ponzi scheme!"... "Do you respect wood?" ...and of course, "George is very upset!" Oy vey. Love it.

Off to see The Road now. Happy Thanksgiving to those who observe it!
I'd feel remiss if I failed to mention the passing of Blue Cheer's Dickie Peterson last month. Peterson was bass-man for the incomparable trio, which was as responsible as any other when it comes to the establishment of everything from acid rock and heavy blues to the noise and heavy metal genres. On those first two albums, Vincebus Eruptum and Inside Outside, the blues obsessed boogie hounds reduced rock 'n' howl to its most primal thudding-caveman essence. Sure Led Zeppelin and some of them British boys may have been better players with louder dynamics, but it could be said none was ever as truly visceral and stupefied to the bone as The 'Cheer in their heyday back in the late '60s. No small wonder so many of my favorite British heavy guitar bands from the '70s (The High Tide, Motorhead, Uriah Heep, etc) owed Blue Cheer such a debt. And lets not forgot that the god of dark noise, Keiji Haino, has said Blue Cheer is the single biggest influence on his own amazing power trio, Fushitsusha.

This clip of "The Hunter" from '68 says it well. Godly:

I loved 2012. Really. It's a Roland Emmerich flick, so yes, it's pretty laughable. Still, I dig watching two things more than most -- John Cusack shouting at his family "LETS GO GO GO!" and California cracking in half and falling into the Pacific. I don't know if I'd say it is genuinely good, but it's probably the best thing ol' Ro's done since Independence Day. Haha. 2012. Heightened solar activity and galactic alignment. Continental displacement theory. WOOHOO! If only, baby! Never know these days. Anyway, if you want to get the overall POWER and DRAMA of said film minus the ass-numbness that comes with watching it for two and a half hours on the big screen, check out this trailer, which is the best I've seen and packs more cinematic punch in just over 2 minutes than the actual 150 min version in theaters right now. I suggest watching that sucker in HD and dig that ominoud sound design!

And then there was this: the video for The Flaming Lips' "Watching the Planets," which could almost be a short concept film about Womblife itself. It's uncanny...and very cool. Courtesy of

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh Hey! Busy time of year, idn't it? As a result of new pressures and responsibilities -- some fairly disturbing, others outright inspiring -- on top of the old ones, Womblife will soon be bringing on at least one more (semi)regular contributor to both help lighten the load on yours and offer a more broad coverage of all those special sights and sounds that help make life a little bit more bearable. That's all I will say for now, though this guy has already been a contributor of sorts with recommendations and past comments leading to many blogs posted here over the years.

A few more recent live actions:

As mentioned at the bottom of this recent post, I was privy to some mighty fine electronics/noise/jazz improvising at the recent Improve Lottery jam held at the Phoenix Project. I was also so enamored in the moment at the time that I don't really remember any of the proper lineups or much more beyond a kind of propulsive miasmic goo that felt like one of H.P. Lovecraft's parallel dimensions had crashed into our own with all sorts of squiggly beasties and glowing shark-plankton swimming through the air. It was pretty neat. [All that stuff I just typed was paraphrased from Stuart Gordon's brilliant From Beyond, which you all must rent right now if you've never seen it.] Anyhoo, looky over here for detailed lineups of the Improv Lottery and another link where you can even download each and every set, as recorded by Zanzibar Snails member Michael Chamy. He also manipulated feedback/electronics that night in the fourth ensemble. I've already stated somewhere that the fourth set was my favorite, with a kind of John Coltrane Ascension blasted into outer space vibe about it. Featured players in all sets are members of DFW local area bands such as The Tidbits, Zanzibar Snails, Subkommander, Yells at Eels, Akkolyte and more.

For yours truly, this past week has been the live show whirlwind here in Big D, and all the more so given who all actually played. First up was a rare opportunity ('least in these parts) to see Marissa Nadler at the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth, a locale that was a far cry from the small pub/bar she played four or five years ago in Dallas, back when she was, in her own words, "still a child." Could be said Nadler has done a lot of growing in the last few years, developing a powerful, brisk fingerpicking guitar tone and honing that operatic voice of hers to a resounding ghostly lilt. Then there's her supporting musicians, multi-instrumentalist Jonas Haskins (from Earth -- the band) and guitarist Carter Tanton of Tulsa (which is also a band), two guys who perfectly accent, augment, open up and support our forlorn chanteuse through her perilous journeys.

Though I (sadly) arrive too late to catch Denton group Bosque Brown's opening set, Nadler more than makes up with a compelling show drawn from her first, third and fourth albums, which is perfect as this offers my first chance to see some songs from Songs III: Bird on the Water and its followup, Little Hells, (both Kemado) in a live setting. Though she may have still been "just a child" when she recorded that first album, even then Nadler had forged her own unique poetic expression of the classic existentialist lost soul -- what we all fear becoming. It's all there in the lines of the remarkable opener to her first album, Ballads of Living and Dying (Eclipse). The song, "Fifty Five Falls," is as much a warning as anything else -- the tale of Mayflower May and her fifty five falls of lonliness and isolation. Such a dire yet completely lived in little song. It's one that can haunt the listener and the player on an equal plane, but so refined and accessible is its melody that we've no choice but submit to its dark spell. It was very cool that she closed her set last Wednesday with this amazing little gem since it's the very first song I ever heard by her. Also loved her Neil Young cover (which was actually written by someone else) whose title escapes me, and her ethereal rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat" (check out her video for it here!). It's always a gift to spend a little quality time Marissa Nadler. And the songstress she's touring with, Alela Diane, is a dream in her own right, offering a slightly more earthy folk chanteuse sound. She's a beauty, and I was happy to nab a copy of this limited 10" recorded with Alina Hardin. Includes ace covers of "Maddy Groves" and one of my all time favorites, TVZ's "Rake." All in all a truly magical night.

Then two days later I made it out to The Lounge on Elm, which is becoming one of the better local venues for good punk/garage/psych underground happenings, all three genres The Axemen embody every aspect of without even trying. They're just naturally weird. I was shocked to find that they and Times New Viking had piggybacked onto Health's bill at The Lounge. Auckland's Axemen are living legends and a first wave Flying Nun band to boot. Lead guitarist Bob also has an amazing indie pop type band named Shaft that you probably ought to hear sometime if you like your 3Ds and Clean records. The Axemen are an altogether more skewed and scuzzier garage art punk slop concoction closer in line with earlier Pere Ubu, Public Image Limited and New Zealand's own Scorched Earth Policy, though you could say that The Axemen have an even more absurdist wit than all of the above. Just wrap your ears around the Siltbreeze reissued Scary: Part III 2Lp to try and figure it all out. It's ugly. It's beautiful. It just might make you piss your pants. Live these old goats kick out a raucous punk snarl that had me thinking Stooges one second, Beefheart and Wire simultaneously the next. Absolutely pummeling stuff that sounds right at home in the state of The 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. Times New Viking tore it up as well with what amounts to probably the best gig I've seen by them to date.

Then the next night it's back over to The Phoenix Project for a regular prog extravaganza featuring the likes of local drone fusion act Small Talk, Denton's Orange Coax, Philly's Many Arms and some goofy German duo called Schnaak and Ft. Worth's own Great Tyrant. Small Talk squawked and blurted with clarinet over moog and a weird creeping backdrop of cutout translucent images and swirling oils. Orange Coax did the hurky-jerk no-wave freakout like X-Ray Spex in a mash-up with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and ave the best drummer I've ever seen in a live setting (possibly a slight exaggeration). Many Arms were like King Crimson worship on steroids or Mahavishnu meets Sonic Youth. Cool enough, but them cats just don't know when to quit! Schnaak offered a bit more solace to the bombast with some trippy almost ambient interludes mixed into their prog throb. The Great Tyrant brought the iron-hulled synth dirge crush like Nick Cave fronting a cross between early Swans and prime Hawkwind. But I was beat, so left before they finished.

And then just this past Monday made it out, spur of the moment like, for the Blues Control gig at Mable Peabody's and was not sorry I made the trip. Also pleasantly surprised to see lots of the young and familiar local weird noise yokels out and about on a Mondaynight digging the crusty Brooklyn ghetto-tech highway boogie that Blues Control conjures, and they brought it this night with urbanized noise mantras that bridged the gap between early 70s prog and boogie rock and good old fashioned homemade noise sych. Very sweet indeed. There were more bands, which probably rocked real good, but I didn't hang much after saying hey to Lea and Russ (Russ wearing the same Warmer Milks shirt I got from Mikey Turner the first time I met him a few years ago - ha!) .

I need to upload some more images and vids of recent gigs and events to the Youtube channel/Photobucket eventually, but the big ol' pile of reviews in the corner is howling like a dying dog, so it could be a while. Have you heard the new Birch Book album? Holy shit! It's going to be a long bleak Winter, my friends.

In the meantime, here's a pretty good quality video of a sweet Zanzibar Snails gig I recorded at The Phoenix Project back in September. Though the visuals are pretty murky most of the time, the sound quality is top notch-ish. Enjoy! Part 2 and Part 3 for further perusing.

And one more clip my old buddy Greg E. captured of The Jesus Lizard last week at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, which I could not attend. Not bad for a rinky-dink video phone thingy, but it's a shame he cuts out right at the start of "Gladiator"! Here's the same song caught in higher quality.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This is My Music: Vol 5, (Tanz Der Lemmings), Part 1

Ashtray Navigations Sugar Head Record (Deep Water) 2CD-R - Yet another essential dispatch from our old friends at Deep Water. Though the zine has slowed down a bit, the release schedule remains constant with this delightful mind-melter, along with multiple releases by DW's own in-house prog/psych folk unit, Evening Fires, and a new platter by free psych duo Flying Sutra being just a few goodies dropped in '09. Where to start with Phil Todd and his Ashtray Navigations? Maybe try here. The UK native has been releasing his ecstatic electro/psych/noise/skree mantra music for well over 15 years now with no let up in sight. To hear him at his most indispensable, seek out the Four More Raga Moods CD on Finland's Ikuisuus and hold tight! The newer and even more outer Sugar Head Record is as fine a deep-space head-trip as you will find in the considerable AN catalog. Its hallucinogenic con trails of crumbling feedback weave a story that's at once cosmic and subatomic, as if Todd and collaborators were soundtracking the fabric of existence itself -- microscopic landscapes bubbling over with new kinetic bursts in every second, all wrapped in an impenetrable amniotic pulse.

Boredoms Super Roots 10: Ant 10 (Thrill Jockey) 2LP - One of the most ass-kicking live shows I've seen would have to be The Boredoms in San Francisco in May, 2005. Cosmic gold! Super Roots 10 is the latest in this series which can be traced all the way back to the early '90s. Not sure where this one falls in The Boredoms' larger cannon, but, it's safe to say, be it remix or studio creation (this is a bit of both) and if released post '96, it's probably worth hearing. This also applies if you're a freak for repetitious noise throb on the strobe-lit dance-floor, a musical trend in recent moons which can be traced directly to the Boredoms' recordings and remixes of the late '90s/early '00s as much as anywhere else. Vol 10 offers up kaleidoscopic tone patterns gliding over a constant wall of percussion that derives equally from the golden Kautrock pulse of yore and minimal house-beat precision of the eternal now.

Headdress Lunes (No Quarter) CD - The great stoned award of 2009 goes to the mighty Headdress for their monolithic Lunes. It mostly eschews the more free psych trappings of their earlier work in favor of a massive ghost drone blues that can be traced to recent Earth records, while maintaining a minimal, stoned desolation that's fiercely psychedelic in its own right. These songs rumble and howl through the infinite void with a reverberating doom feel that feeds the imagination and ignites the soul. Lunes is the perfect soundtrack for cruising the cosmic waves or watching fireworks explode in the dead of night, each song like each concussion -- a little supernova to explore in the darkness.

Melvins Chicken Switch (Ipecac) CD - I ever tell you how much I love the Melvins? Not too crazy 'bout their last couple records, but I'd say Buzz and Dale are still trying, and that's good enough for me. From '87 to '05 The Melvins were one of the most unstoppably ass-kicking metallic punk threats on the planet. Wrap your ears around the likes of Gluey Porch Treatments, Stoner Witch and The Maggot to get the gist. The Melvins play real rawk, but it's rock with a healthy dose of irony and a never-ending penchant for surrealist strangeness that regularly leaves the mind befuddled and the mouth agape. Chicken Switch is just the latest proof of this age old maxim. It's a remix album featuring sound technicians from all over the globe, including some of my personal faves, such as Eye Yamatsuka of The Boredoms, Christoph Heemann of Mirror/Mimir/HNAS, Merzbow, Matmos, Panacea and more. Melvins get all IDM on your ass with a record that's dance-floor ready? Bet your ass.

Magic Lantern High Beams (Not Not Fun) LP - Whilst listening to this heavy fuzz psych drone machine, it occurs to me how nice it is that so many bands are crawling out of the woodwork these days that kick up a racket so clearly indebted to Bardo Pond, themselves so obviously indebted to the glory daze of early 70s stoned-to-the-bone psych/prog endless buildup jamathons, which I guess beats the hell out of three dudes trying to sound like the Jeff Healey band. These guys clearly love Spacemen 3 and Hawkwind, and are just completely zonked out of their skulls in the eternal acid wah-wah riff zone. Way gone and not even playin' around. No lyrics, no voices, just endless instrumental lockgroove ecstasy.

Magik Markers Balf Quarry (Drag City) CD - It's been a real trick'r treat in the last few months going back and rediscovering all the great Magik Markers live gigs and long-gone seedy-rs in the world. Truly think they've only gotten better through the years, and Elisa Ambrogia makes one hell of a front whoooa-man. Balf Quarry is their second full length for Drag City (the solid Boss is the first), and it totally kicks ass with slightly sloppy damaged ferocity that's unlike anything else out there in terms of seething primal/sexual rawk energy. It's true that Sonic Youth turned out a solid album this year, but I don't think it was near this continuously listenable, weird and straight up kickass. 'Course it could be said the Markers owe a debt to the 'Youth's early 80s recordings themselves, but this is 2009 and we ain't gettin' any younger. Bring on the ragged glory. Plus, Pete Nolan kicks ass.

Niagara Falls Sequence of the Prophets (Honeymoon) CD - Gorgeous progressive ethnic fusion workouts from this Philly trio, last heard (by me) sharing a side with the sadly missed Clear Spots. This is NF's third full length of ethnic psych fusion, more composed and sculpted than previously glimpsed sonic rituals but never at the expense of the spirit of the songs. Niagara Falls is clearly going for a kind of meditational mind-wash as their namesake might suggest, but Sequence of the Prophets is more skeletal in spots, and fantastically kinetic and propulsive in others. The pre-Kraftwerk ensemble Organization is one possible musical touchstone, where mythical rites of transcendence as evinced via Florian Fricke's Popol Vuh could be another. Absolutely gorgeous stuff here for prog/psych/drone junkies alike, and they're not afraid to kick up a racket either.

God is Good (Drag City) CD - More proof here that the best music is really just tonal meditation with killer drum fills. God Is God represents a bit of a shake-up since the last Om full length dropped. Hakius is out, Emil Amos (of the equally meditative Grails) is in, but not much else has changed. Om circa 2009 employs a bit more in the way of ambient effects. A good portion of this album is straight up flute rock! God forbid, Om has gone all prog on us. GOD BLESS! God is Good is as good as the legendary duo (born from one of the most legendary trios of our times) gets with deep inner probing bass/drum groove mantras that manage that seemingly impossible task of making low-tempo skeletal bass/drum psych workouts into spiritual portals to worlds that seem removed from our own subjective spheres yet can clearly be tapped into. Om is the sonic embodiment of this desire. It's also a beautifully recorded album, once more by Steve Albini. After making my way completely through the last two tracks for the 15th time I can say I'm completely certain that this is not only the best Om record to date, it's one of the most purely tantric hard rock platters you will ever feast your ears with. 35 mins of peerless psychedelic meditation. Absolutely essential.

The One Ensemble Orchestra Other Thunders (No-Fi) We (the voices in my head and I) here in the Womb consider Daniel's other group, Volcano the Bear, one of the most adventurous and visceral bands on the planet, but in no way does this impinge on our opinion that this here, the fourth studio LP under the One Ensemble name, is one of the most perfectly skewed slices of chamber folk we have ever heard. For well over five years now Daniel Padden and his ensemble (often times himself, more lately an ensemble of many) have continuously conjured their own brand of weird and mournful gypsy folk meets progressive, and dare I say, jazz fusion. What else, if you're a fan of the aforementioned 'Bear, and you're even remotely interested in compelling modern exploratory composition, proceed directly to Other Thunders. The unofficial title track (which is actually entitled "The Sun") is truly one of the most glorious things I've heard all year.

Plastic Crimewave Painted Shadows (A Silent Place) - Plastic Crimewave is something of an underground psych institution by now, between his rockin' acid punk band, Plastic Crimewave, the Million Tongues psych fests in Chicago and his holy bible of psych space punk dementia, The Galactic Zoo Dossier (available on Drag City press). I love his Damaged Guitar Gods and Astral Folk Goddesses collector cards, among other tasty tidbits. Pretty much any decent indie type record store plugged into the paranormal now should have issues of said journal. It's one of the last and best all print underground zines around, completely assembled, drawn and lettered by Plastic himself. Quite astounding really. Painted Shadows is approximately the fourth widely available PC album, and it's possibly the best yet, ranging from the Aftermath era Stones charged dark psych of opener "I See Evils" to fully-exploded side-long Hawkwindian space mantra of closer "Ecstatic Song" with plenty of smashing snare and fuzz guitar overload piled on for maximum transport. Oneida fans will love it.

Raglani Web of Light (Kvist) LP - This vinyl offering from one man St. Louis drone/noise project, Raglani, is a collision of minimal drone composition, power electronics and ghostly shoegaze fuzz that coalesces into a building ramp that leads straight to the stratosphere and comes crashing back down again. Drawing as much from the heyday of early analog electronic composition as more modern Kranky-esque drone outfits, a label Raglani has released work with, Web of Light offers two side long portals to spiritual tonal enlightenment and even violent catharsis. There's a point on the first side where the dense swirl of impeccably crafted electronics drops out to what sounds like massed choral harmonies the likes of which I've not heard since Mirror's Nights LP. The flip is an altogether more prismatic power electronics excursion that offers a tumultuous, but no less enthralling, atmospheric burn. All in all primo stuff that's ripe for warm analog late-night listening, plus it's one of Mr. Raglani's very best yet. Comes with a beautiful insert of a mind-bending illustration on one side and a clever film credits listing on the other, all in French no less. Snooty!

Starving Weirdos Into an Energy (Bo 'Weavil) CD - And just what universe do these people come from? Can it really be our own? The perfectly christened Into An Energy is a shimmering, exploding, spontaneous symphony of tribal mantra mind melding that deftly blurs the line between aural communication and a more sacred kind of meditation. It's almost the sound of unknowing. I find myself lapsing into these dense drone passages and wondering where does the time go? Is music like this created or is it channeled? Strings, voices, clattering percussive revelry and more come together in synapse melting charges that bypass the ego and go straight to the primordial id. These pieces contain ideas and concepts that are truly beyond my scope of understanding, but that's the beauty of the Starving Weirdos. Essential deep drone for those who appreciate getting lost in the material strands that weave into the fabric of infinity. Highly recommended for fans of Organum/David Jackman, AMM, No-Neck Blues Band, Mirror and other free-wheeling string and percussion drone masters.

Sun Araw Heavy Deeds (Not Not Fun) LP - This really is the shit right here. Sun Araw is the solo gig of Magic Lantern's Cameron Stallones, and Heavy Deeds is just about the most incessantly compelling psych platter to come out this past Summer. How to summarize? Let's just say Sun Araw has discovered its own musical theory of relativity which depends on a firm understanding of the laws of dub multiplied by fractals of funky fuzz, divided by wigged out vocal chants and squared by a pervasive rhythmic pulse that demands the listener occasionally awaken from his marijuana-stupor and actually dance around the place while diggin' on it. Add in some some delectable acid kissed organ runs and an overall laid back underwater cosmos vibe, you've got endless transcendental groove spirals that will work their magic for those willing to shut off their brains and turn on to the freaky harmony of the spheres. Somethin' else.

Zukanican The Stumbling Block (Pickled Egg) - You wanna dance and take gargantuan hits from the big purple party hooka while doing so? You want to spin round and round to the Komische beat and fall on your side in a confused giggling fit after doing 6 whippits at once? I don't really recommend any of that, but I do suggest throwing The Stumbling Block on the old player sometime soon. You'll be hard up to find a more proper soundtrack for any such endeavors than Dr. Harry Sumnall and company's take on primo vintage komische space fusion. It's probably fair to say that not everyone considers the recordings of various Germanic experimental/psychedelic musical purveyors to be some of the most far reaching sonic incantations the world of has ever known, but some of us actually do. And we mean it when we say La Dussledorf was one of the most important bands of the last 50 years. Zukanican understands. Their music is something of a living, mutating embodiment of this understanding. These propulsive hand-made deep space mantras make me think of other eras and scenes too, but to me this CD captures the mind-expanding properties of so many of those past masters while still being utterly in the now and living today. Fans of ethno jazz fusion like Larry Young, Can, Neu, Herbie Hancock in the early 70s, prepare for blast off. Long live Zukanican!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy (late) Halloween/Samhain to all the Womb ghouls 'n' goblins out there. Had a laid back All Hallows Eve giving out a li'l candy to the younguns, then went over to a friend's house and horrified another friend with my shocking skeleton get-up. Good stuff.

Also, ya know, I'm not a big digital animation freak, but watching key action scenes from Monsters Vs Aliens in 3D on bluray this evening left me suitably transported back to the age 10 or so, lost in the wonder of it all. Give it a try sometime. Smoke lots of pot right before hand if possible. What else... the highpoint of this week is Cartman's rendition of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" as heard on the Whale Wars episode of South Park. I can't stop trying to replicate its pop splendor in the shower with the hot water turned up full-blast, steam blinding my eyes. That is sex, my friends.

Made it out a couple nights ago to a big screen viewing of Dario Argento's Deep Red, which I'd never seen before. The 35 MM print was a bit beat up, but I loved it none the less. Figure the modern slasher flick was born with this movie, though John Carpenter and others would take it from here to new plateaus of horrific catharsis. Argento spends much of the time ripping off Hitchcock with a good bit more blood and an incredible "horror prog" soundtrack from Goblin(s), which combined together make my dick very hard. I love Hitch, perverted bald genius. Sadism isn't necessarily an intellectual exercise, mind you (see all those god-awful idiotic Saw movies), but Argento knows how to stage a kill-scene like few in the genre, and his sets are fucking incredible. He may as well be Hitchcock himself when compared to any other horror director working in the last 40 years. Thanks to Dallas Cinemania for making it happen.

Also, Krautrock junkies, feast your eyes on this very cool BBC produced documentary, Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany, a title which lends credence to my contention that Krautrock was, as much as anything else, a successful attempt to rectify past social ills by sharing with the rest of the world some of the most brain-tickling influential experimental rock and roll it will ever know. It's loaded with vintage clips and interviews (now and then) from the actual players and manages to tie it all in with Germany's troubled past and emerging counterculture at the same time. Those playing catch-up with one of my favorite "scenes" should check it out:

And since it's almost still Halloween, here are a cpl Youtube clips which somehow reflect on or capture the mood of this special time of the year: Satanic Warmaster "Carelian Satanist Madness"

Public Image Limited
live on American Bandstand, doing one of the most memorably weird rock songs of the punk/post punk era and tearing down the wall between artist and performer in the process, completely lip-synced and all the better for it. I love this clip!

While I'm at it, Happy Dia De Los Meurtos! Down here in Texas we've developed a special appreciation for The Mexican Day of the Dead, and it could be said Wayne Coyne has done the same. As some of you already know, last weekend I participated in The Flaming Lips March of a 1000 Flaming Skeletons part of the Ghouls Gone Wild parade in Oklahoma City. It was, like, a blast, and I'm too tired currently to go into specifics. So here are a few sweet pix and vid clips that capture the whole vibe of said event. Check the photobucket if you want more. Dig: Photobucket Photobucket

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Yello, Womblifers. I've scored a leak of The Flaming Lips' Embryonic and I'm loving it. I know, I know, advance MP3s are destroying music. I'll buy a copy...promise. It's definitely their best since Yoshimi, and if you like your Lips extra rare (read as raw) it just might be better with its battery of double drums blasted into the stratosphere via a pronounced prog (read as Miles fusion era) feel that helps to throw things off balance in a reallly good way. Probably one of the more fucked up things that will drop on a so-called major label this year, or at least since the last Portishead record. I expect mixed reviews in general, but don't let that scare you.

Also received a sweet package from my old friends at Digitalis, including the new Bugskull LP, Communications, and Social Junk CD, Born Into It, along with a whole mess of tapes. Man I love me some cassettes, tell you what! Reminds me, here is a list of 101 current and operating tape labels that might deserve your attention if you've got a functioning tape deck and have grown tired of paying exorbitant prices for CDs and vinyl (and digital downloads) while trying to keep up. I still buy all that shit, but tapes are cheaper and they sound great with this kind of music. As I prepare to start a self-imposed exile from buying any new CDs or LPs for the next year, I can assure you I'll still be buying tapes.

Many of the tape labels operating today specialize in some variation of noise, and by noise I don't just mean the harsher stuff, though much of it is pretty harsh. Free jazz, minimal drone, Dada collage, acid boogie psych, grinding industrial pulse and maximal noise mantra (made up that last one just now) are just a few of the possible sonic styles that might be heard on a cool underground noise tape released circa now. Good noise music often times tells a story, whether via a more accessible trad rock performance or just one lone warrior and an arrangement of pedals set upon a cardboard table, hence the term "table-core." Good noise music can also erase thought entirely, even if only for a brief period, like any form of meditation.

Anyway, I don't read Pitchfork often, but here is a pretty good article covering noise music over the last 10 years, though it does skew a bit too much on the American underground at the expense of other vital scenes. Maybe they can put together a sequel covering Europe and so on in the near future. Doubt it. There are opinions that some may not agree with (myself included), but it's still a decent overview for those hoping to play a little catch-up.

Another recent development here in the Womb is my immersion into all things rap and hip-hop. I finally downloaded a Linkin Park album(!), which was recorded with Jay-Z, but I don't know if I'll get around to actually listening to it. Not a big fan of those dorks, but I sure like me some Jay-Z, without shame. It's an intimidating wave-pool to delve into, but don't let that stop ya. The recent discovery of the astonishing Blunted in the Bomb Shelter by Madlib (arguably the finest reggae/dub mixtape out there) led me to this in depth article about rap mixtapes which manages to cover a lot of ground and even go into the history of the phenom. Probably the only time MTV will ever be linked to this blog. Let's hope!

What else, been rediscovering my old heroes The Flamin' Groovies in recent weeks, 'specially during their heavy Stones-centric period. I still think Teenage Head is one of the most criminally overlooked proto punk art blues rawk records to come out of the West Coast. Even Mick Jagger is purported to have said The 'Groovies did a better job than The Stones did on Sticky Fingers. The title track is timeless garage boogie with menacing street-punk snarl. The cover of Randy Newman's "Have You Seen My Baby?" comes off like Chuck Berry on biker speed. Opener "High Flyin' Babe" has a bit of Beefheart's early garage blues down 'n' dirty groove, but it goes down so easy here. Right after this landmark dropped founding member/lead singer Roy Loney would leave the group, on the surface a tragedy, but actually not a bad thing at all as it kicked off a fruitful solo career for Loney, and the rest of the Groovies went on to record the all-time classic Shake Some Action with the great Dave Edmunds at the console. But that's a different story.

Re The Rolling Stones: I think Mick Taylor's playing is a huge part of what really makes their music the timeless country blues it is. Sure we all love the earlier stuff, and we love Brian Jones, but Taylor stepped into the spotlight along with the biggest band in the world at a moment's notice, and he managed to make that bottleneck slide sing like only a true blues man can. One only need watch footage of The 'Stones live in Hyde Park in 1969, a gig which was a spontaneous tribute to Jones, who'd died only three days before, to see what I'm getting at: And now check out this article, courtesy of The Daily Mail, to see what Taylor's been up to since those glory days. Ain't pretty, but it's an interesting read which might possibly lead to righting some long time wrongs for the under-appreciated genius.

Speaking of singular guitar wranglers, doubt you'll find a more unique/influential string bender than Keith Rowe. The AMM co-founder has managed to remain one of the most visionary experimental/improvised guitarists in the world, and he's still playing over 40 years after the formation of his legendary trio. His more recent stuff can possibly come off as overly studied or academic to the unfamiliar ear, but anyone even remotely interested in abstract drone, noise, ambient sound, free jazz, minimalism the limitless crossover possibilities between them all, should take a gander at this in depth interview with the man from All About Jazz and get their brain-bananas suitably tickled by by this fantastic clip:

I'm also super-happy to see a new Clean album hitting the stores. Mister Pop (Merge) is a beauty that should be heard by all lovers of hummable guitar art pop bliss. One of my fave musical historians, Jud Cost, interviewed the Kiwi-pop legends for Magnet recently. Dig it.

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned Jersey City's WFMU Freeform Radio here, steered magnificently via the musical direction of Brian Turner. Their Beware of the Blog offers a virtual cornucopia of all kinds'a oddball musical tidbits and obscure live and OOP downloads that you can get lost in for days on end. Most recently been grabbing some sonic souvenirs via their ATP-NY 2009 live broadcasts, including Akron/Family, Melvins and Grouper, among others. And -- get this -- WMFU is smack dab in the middle of its own kickass WFMUfest as I type. Lucky bastards.

Recent Live Actions:

Social Junk / Mincemeat or Ten Speed / Dick Neff / Corporate Park at House of Tinnitus. There was one more solo guy on the bill, but not sure of the name, and that in no way reflects badly on the quality of his set, though it actually didn't do much for me personally. Local duo Corporate Park (Perhaps a name change is in order, guys -- American Airlines Arena?) combined Throbbing Gristle/early Psychic TV electro-skree with death-disco beats that had everyone in the house doing the robot chicken dance. Special props to my mate Kelly for spontaneously breaking into a goofy Ian Curtis like broken limb dance which made me smile. Dick Neff (the drummer for SJ) combined knob twiddling distortion with one man and a drum-set bombast in a way that had me thinking of Lightning Bolt and related noise metal spastics in a good way. Mincemeat or Teen Speed brought the one man and a bunch'a pedals primitive weird noise symphony to an ecstatic hula-hooping climax which left me pleasantly splattered but still in one piece. As reward for a job well done, I bought the beautiful limited vinyl LP, All Critters, whose mind-bending surrealist artwork is worth the bucks alone.

The came the mighty Social Junk, whose brand new Born Into It CD is showing me the tribal-light as I type. This is a record that manages to touch on everything from glitched out electronic sound sculpture to the kind of post/art punk mantras that This Heat so brilliantly traded in for a brief period betweel the late 70s and early 80s. Throbbing Gristle is here too, and more recent weird rock abstractionists, a lot of them coming out of Brooklyn, maybe one or two out of Detroit, but these Philly kids manage to burrow out a sound that's entirely their own through these muddy subterranean tunnels. It's a dark mantra for the ages, as much studied post-punk coming into industrial anything-is-possible experimentation as it is something more intangible and not really of this earth. You get the idea, right?

The primitive, repetitive noise reveries of Born Into It didn't really prepare me for the blistering intensity of the live set, which hones the quality and studied intensity of the above record into something much more devastating and immediate. I f0und myself up close and very personal, three feet from the noise/effects guy on the right and maybe six feet the drummer on the left. We, all of us there, headbanged in unison, a crashing symphony of flesh and bone, propelled by something beyond human -- a crushing noise/doom assault the duo (usually trio) conjured from thin air. As much spontaneous incantation as pulverizing hardcore assault, and we were all the better for it. Very rarely in a live setting have I seen something, so often dismissively dubbed harsh noise, yield such artful results. Cell phone pix of said event:

And then just this past weekend we made it out to the Improve Lottery at The Phoenix Project, a new performance space on the edge of Exposition Park (just outside of the Fair Park area) which promises to deliver its fair share of quality avant-garde punk and weirdo aural entertainments in the coming months/years, God willing. The Improve Lotto was some joker's brilliant idea (don't ask me who), and it was a truly fine endeavor that turned into a recalcitrant blur soon enough, which rocked and howled one moment, groaned and clanked like an old coughing gas generator the next. It the sets witnessed, the one with three horn players, two electronics tinkerers and one free jazz percussive master left the best taste in my mouth. I'd attempt to say more if only I hadn't been so overstimulated by it all. So I'll just leave you with this: DFW matters once more. One only need pay attention.