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Music Reviews

Zoffy “Thou Shall Not Mess with Zoffy” [Acid Mothers Temple]

Thurston Hunger   8/25/2004   A Library

Acid knights of the mother temple, guitar god Makoto Kawabata
and madman-genius Atsushi Tsuyama turn psychedelic pranksters
with another Zoffy piece o’ musical taffy. Stretching the
limits of cover songs at the beginning and end, and digging
deep beneath the folk basement. Zoffy deliver ultra-tweaked
gypsy songs cloaked in reverb, humor, birdcalls. A heady
sonic homebrew, that is deceptively ramshackled. (Check
out the headphone tabla bounce on #10, it defies the lo-fi
nature of much of this.) Atsushi is just a radiant being.
All tracks might be covers for what I know, but the further
out the better…the opening/closing numbers pale in
comparison to the gaunt beauty of #2, or the hypnowheel
spin of #7 with crazed keening vocals. While the kids
may dig “Cookie Monster” vocals these days, I sure like
Atsushi’s “Grover” vox on #9. Meanwhile his phrasing on
that tabla-turner #10 sound like a sideways take on Pete
Seeger. With the ney nose-flute, and dueling bouzouki
action, how can you not love this? -Thurston Hunger
Seven seconds of abrupt silence at the end of #13

Ennio Morricone “Psichedelico Jazzistico” [Cherry Red]

Thurston Hunger   8/10/2004   CD, Format, Soundtrack

The accent is always on the “MORE” with Morricone, composing
since 1959 for film, and staggeringly prolific. His style
which originally might have seemed a bit patchwork is now
his signature. No one knew just how frightening a little
girl’s voice could be until Morricone worked with it…his
use of jagged violins drew me as a major latecomer when I
first heard him on John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing”
well after he was the spice in the Western spaghetti sauce
that Leone poured over his victims. He’s a trumpet player
by training, but its his relentless juxtaposition of sound
that marks him most of all. “Four Velvet Flies” starts off
with seven seconds of a jazz-church “Alleluiah” into harp
and before its over we’ve heard those wordless, bodiless
vocals over harpsichord, ridden past a calliope into R&B
vamping towards a dual piano romp ending up with a psyche
jam. That’s *one* track. I love how he can write such
sweet innocence (#8, #11) but then embrace the twisted
and wonderful as in #3, #10. He does dizzying panic with
a sure and untouchable hand, #12. And I still can’t get
that jaw-harp on #13 out of my ear, that’s sexier than
the orgiastic climax of this collection.

Zelienople “Sleeper Coach” [Loose Thread]

Thurston Hunger   8/10/2004   A Library, CD, Format

No sophomore slump, just a deeper drop into the coma for this
Chicago quartet. Stonergaze with stacks of sonic blankets.
It opens in a wind tunnel, and most following tracks ride on
solar winds. Guitars can whoosh…especially when washed out.
Vox are pulled into to the vacuum by way of an anglo(?) accent
almost forcing a comparison to Slowdive. Although rarely does
the Z aim for catchiness, happier to just glide. Each lyric
seems to evaporate before the next, leaving little residue.
Which is okay, as the band more steadfastly pursues reverbic
resonance. The sound from beginning to end is consistent.
Evidently Mike Weis is the drummer, and possibly narcoleptic.
The mark of a good drummer is to not play certain notes,
but Mike is able to do so for entire songs. Brian Harding
not only blows cumulus keyboards but even breathes deep on
clarinet. Neil Jendon joined the group last, but I think it
is his puddles of guitar that help Zelienople (named after
somewhere in PA) find a nice region between drone and pop.
“Don’t Be Lonely” hits the high-water mark for me, but it
all stays afloat. As Richard Nixon once Grimble Grumbled,
“It is indeed a windy city!”