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Music Reviews

coll – Break the Rules # 8 [V2}

jack soil   3/6/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Practically lost recordings of punk, powerpop, melody punk and sometimes banned
materials revived for your true punk listening pleasure. Inside, find a fantastic
collection of rare 7″s from punk bands around the world (Sweden, Italy, Germany,
USA, UK, Canada, Norway, more) spanning the dates of 1978 to ’82. Peter P (the
Germany based mastermind behind this comp.) hooks up with friends around the
world to put the collection together. All records are limited editions, one of
the releases were limited to 100 copies. There is some truly great material here
from the likes of Snuky Tate, Dayglo Abortions (the cover of this coll. is borrowed
from one of their jackets), Haerverk, and Xtraverts. Every song is a winner,
you will not go wrong. Excellent liner notes include little stories/history
about the band/particular song, pix from the original sleaves and inner label art.
Top shelf comp.

Sono-Bomber “Songs from the Socket” [Clif Cunningham]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library

7 intriguing untitled tracks exploring blips, drones, and severe electronic soun
ds. Local artist, Clif Cunningham, provides the soundscape from another plane –
the socket plane. My interpretation is that he managed to insert microphones into
the wiring system of a house undergoing renovation. The old wiring and the
new wiring don’t get along so well and what has been captured here are the trials
and tribulations of distressed wire, and of course at times everything is copacetic.
On this chunk of homemade silicon are harsh, noisy, precision layered loops,
repeating patterns, and electronic chaos that will potentially put you somewhere
other than where you are right now. Chance it, friend.

Pauline Oliveros – “Alien Bog/Beautiful Soop” [pogus]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Oliveros completed these two compositions during her year as First Director of the
Tape Music Center at Mills College in 1966 & 1967 (seriously out there for the
time frame) utilizing the original Buchla Box 100 series and her tape delay system
(no accordions on this one). Alien Bog was inspired by a frog pond and its inhabitants located outside of Pauline’s office on the Mills College Campus. The pond is gone now,
but the sounds are here for you to enjoy. Beautiful Soop is a bizarre Alice in Wonderland
narrative accompanied by Ms. Oliveros. What a ride! The sounds are absolutely
beautiful and will put you at one with whatever it is you are near. 2 very long tracks
that are over way too soon.

The Vendettas “The Vendettas” [360Twist]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Slightly inebriated twangin’ garagy rock sounds from The Vendettas. They borrow
from whatever they can get their filthy mitts on – electric blues, RnB, crazed
rockabilly. Singer/rhythm guitarist, Buffi Aguero hails from the Subsonics (as
the drummer) along with Clay Reed, producing (also from the Subsonics). Sporting
two chix and two dudes, they sound like a Cramps-meets the-Makers-meets the-insert
some other trash rawk band effort. In fact, singer Johnny Vignault could probably
step in for the Makers any time ( given that he changes his hair doo and agrees to
tour in a hearse). Good stuff through and through, occasionally snotty, occasionally
crazed, occasionally demented and always rockin, guaranteed by a solid pedigree. In
other words, it’s a solid good time. Obviously shaken like they meant it to be.

Brother JT and Vibrolux “Dosed and Confused” [Bedlam]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library

4 live frenetic tracks by the crazed Brother JT and Vibrolux taken from tapes of
various concerts and even a live mic at WFMU in Orange, NJ. The source recordings
are a bit dirty sounding, but don’t give that a second thought. This is an amazing
70 + minute chaotic psycho-delic freakout that has the tangental Brother JT
rambling (in between extensive psychedelic jams) about riding the bus, witnessing
the butchering of a deer as a young child, and the value of an education. A
fantastic release from the musical and sometimes maniacal genius that is the
heavily dosed and confused Brother JT and Vibrolux. Ingest often and liberally
– can also be used as a topical cream.

Rocket 455 “Sees all- Knows all – Tells all” 45rpm [Get Hip]

jack soil   3/6/2005   10-inch, A Library, Format

With a name derived from an extremely powerful motor produced in motor city for
Oldsmobile in the early 70’s, it isn’t much of a stretch to figure out that Rock
et 455 tip their hat to the MC5 and Iggy Pop in a major way. Fast forward 25 ye
ars and not much has changed in terms of music stylings -this is a good thing.
You get 6 fast paced rockin tunes carved into this little 10″ gem. This is their
3rd release after two self-released 7″s. Rip roarin, full blown Detroit punk rock
with serious attitude and plenty of energy. Line these guys and gal up with
the likes of Duradelinquent and Lucky Thirteens for a dangerous evening. Sure,
there are alotta imitators out there, but few come as close to sounding like th
e real thing as Rocket 455. Fun and over wayyy tooo soon.

Plaid “Not For Threes” [Warp Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Electronica from the duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner. Two-third’s of the trio making up the techno group The Black Dog, Handley and Turner’s association pre-dated Black Dog, and after the trio split up they returned as Plaid, where they offer a more approachable sound.
Lighter than your average club music, the beats are reminiscent of the emerging 80’s electro-techno but with a complexity stemming from modern house music. For a harder edge, try track 7. For a techno-pop sound of the more mainstream there are some guest vocal tracks (T6 Nicolette, T9 Mara and Benet T9 Bjork T12 Leila Arab). Yes, the Bjork, but I liked Nicolette’s offering more. My favourite tracks were the three shortest (T 5, 11, 13). They give you that danceable repetitive beat but by keeping it short don’t bore you.

Banyan “Live at Perkins? Palace” [Sanctuary Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library

Led by Stephen Perkins, formerly of Jane’s Addiction, this indie-pop is too jazzy for rock and too rocky for jazz. Meeting somewhere in the middle, Perkins (drummer), Mike Watt (bass), Willie Waldman (trumpet) and Nels Cline (guitar) cover as much ground as the Indian fig tree the band is named after. They’ll shift things to high gear on tracks #1 & #7 with hard driving rock/pop, then slow things down to the smooth soft sounds of tracks like #3 and #8. Playing to genre stereotypes, the faster songs sound more like rock and the slower songs fall more into the jazz groove. Elements of both are still found on every track. Though the album says Live on the cover, a few studio effects have found their way onto the recording. Final note: the last track, Fun House, is a Stooges cover.

John Zorn “The Circle Maker” [Tzadik]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Disc 1 -Issachar
Disc 2 – Zevulun
The alter cockers (old Jewish folk) will be saying oy
gevalt! This Zorn fellow, what a fershtinkiner, he
thinks he can take sacred klezmer musical tradition
and turn it into ongepotchket shmutzik (dirt slapped
together without form). What do those schmucks know?
Gornisht (Nothing), that’s what. Zorn’s shtick is to
blend modern jazz with traditional Jewish melodies.
He went about composing over 200 of these Jewish
fusion tunes, calling them collectively the Masada
song book. What a mechaiyeh (joy) they are to listen
to.
Originally written for the Masada quartet (violin,
bass, cello, sax) the double CD in your hands switches
up the arrangements.
The Issachar side has some serious zetz (a stong blow
or punch). Featuring the Masada String Trio (the old
quartet sans Zorn’s sax), you find zwinging zets with
zimple melodies and that special Jewish flavour.
Zevulum has a more haimish (down-to-earth) quality.
Not overly schmaltzy, there’s some fine playing here
by the Bar Kokhba Sextet (the Masada Trio + guitar,
percussion, & drums). More laid back than disc 1, the
zound is shtill zeiseh (sweet).
That Zorn fellow, what a mensch he is.

Archiv 1.1 [coll] – [Raster-Nolten]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Retrospective minimalist collection from German label Raster-Nolten from ’97 to ’04. Many years, many styles of minimalism. All tracks new or previously unreleased. Varied track times. Minimalist review for minimalist music: 1) intro 2) drone 3) ambient 4) clicks n? pops 5) drone w/ beat + vocal 6) drone 7) clicky drone w/ light beat 8) staticy beat 9) pain 10) zips n? pops 11) click drone 12) zips n? clicks 13) minimal pop 14) click drone 15) drone

Windmill “Every Last Windmill Shall Fall” [Big Spoon Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Indie-pop/rock project out of Boston put together by Kent Randell. The album is more compilation than single band. Though all the songs were written by Randell, the styles vary greatly. The first four tracks are your standard pop/rock tracks, with #1 being more upbeat and the other three much moodier. Those are fine songs, but the real fun starts on track 5. It’s still a mopey pop song, but it begins with a chorus of barking dogs and later falls into a piano solo. #6 is a neat, quick instrumental piece featuring guitar. #7 goes back to the soft-rock, but instead of lead guitar there’s a lead harmonica. #8 really breaks the mold with some haunting female vocals. #9 is a fun tune that’s a little too silly sounding to be a serious tune, which is probably the point. It’s mostly guitar and lead singer with a guy clapping in sync with the intro. #10 features nothing you haven’t heard before, with hard playing college rock, though the end dissolves into white noise. Same things happens to an even more extreme degree on #11, but this time the noise craze happens in the middle. #12’s is a less polished and less focused song with vocals inspired by the movie Nostalghia by Tarkovsky. The liner notes for track 12 are: ‘Today in the mail I received a glockenspiel.’ An amazing track centered around the glockenspiel (a cousin of the xylophone), this instrumental piece (there’s a faint bit of human vocals, but not singing) is a truly beautiful and totally unexpected from a pop/rock album.
Fun note: God is in the liner notes, having contributed thunder and rain to track 11.

Yowie “Cryptooology” [Skin Graft Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The band takes its name from the Australian version of Bigfoot. It might also be the sound one utters when first hearing the band play. Working in the math rock mold one finds two warbley guitars and a drum having seizures as they fly all over the place in fast paced and aggressive style that produced tuneless tunefulness. All the tracks are composed out of this sonic chaos, so if you’ve heard one Yowie track you’ve heard ’em all, but as an album running just under a half-hour it makes for a short sweet debut.

Cheer Up Poems “Our Two Strings” [Wire Heart Recordings]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library

Hailing from sleepy Duluth, MN comes Bill Reichelt’s venture into the world of electro-psych folk. These eight short songs explore many realms. For pure ambience, travel to the far lands of tracks 1, 4, and 8 whose beauty left Bill speechless.
Those with an itch for adventure should scale the twin peaks of tracks 2 & 6 and find at their zenith the rockin’ psych that combines the hard playing of the mountains with the calm obtained from standing atop the clouds. Here Bill’s lyrics fade into the expansive musical beyond.
After a long day’s journey, sit under the stars around the fire and put on tracks 3, 5 and 7 where Bill’s raspy, plaintive vocals will send you on a sleepy voyage to the dream world.

Xiu Xiu vs Bunkbed – split 33 rpm [Turn Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Xiu Xiu’s Jaime Stewart sings from a pulsating amnion of
keyboards, rippled acoustic guitar and a slow-motion marimba.
Gutter-gasping “It’s over” in an intimate tale of immolation.
A piercing light shines through towards the end but the grey
overcast nature of the song is what resonates and remains with
you. That and the fact the composer of the song is no longer
around, Bunkbed’s Keith Krate died in September 2002.

The tragedy of that death is driven home on the other side,
a Bunkbed song that sounds like a ballon tied to a hundred
synth strings. Another sort of womb warping to this track,
but Krate’s sugary harmonies float above the liquid sound this
time. Too pretty to stay aloft?

Each song invokes the power of dream in words and hopefully
beyond. Between the countless “It’s over” refrains, Stewart
also sings, “It never ends.” Whether that refers to the dream,
or the pain, only Krate knows now.

Afrirampo “First EP” [Gyuune Cassette]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The first time I heard Afrirampo was a live set on Brian
Turner’s show on WFMU. I felt like I had seen them… I’ve
been dying for another taste ever since. This is their first
album and it’s the first “free pop” I’ve come across so far.
With efforvescent vocals, and the GOOD sort of short attention
span, a drummer who kicks asteroids, and these rising surges
of vocals. From howler monkey screams to lunar crooning to
shrieky speak to orgasmic laughter. Effects are used once,
not milked to death. You could talk about male-dominated
Japanese culture and make a case for the welling up of some
female spirits, but this is just plain unbridled creativity
erupting like a day glo volcano. These wild women are
fingerpainting with their entire bodies. Self-obsessed?
Yep. Ninja rhythms? Uh-uh. Oni and Pikacyu are here to save
the world with naked energy. Domo Ariblotto!

Antony and the Johnsons “I Am A Bird Now” [Secretly Canadian]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Antony’s voice remains a blessed bandage for all the hurt of
his lyrics. So rich in its delicacy, and so heartfelt that
the aging celebrity vampires who flock to him are simply
overpowered by it. It’s a stake through the phantom hearts
of Boy George, Rufus Wainwright and Lou Reed, and yes they
all are on here…wait, wait don’t run away. The quavering
croon beckons you back poking at the the vulnerability of
life (and vinyl, goddamn our copy had a scar pop bruise on
it right out of the bird canal). Our strange changeling moves
through the family tree here, with songs of boys/girls/sisters
but strives for the higher branches, where only a bird can
alight. I love it when his voice is doubled, trebled and
trembled on top of itself. I try to listen to the words but
his voice lulls me into just hearing the emotions. His many
Johnsons too should get some credit, they are the make-up
that can stand the spotlight. Evidently Julia Kent was in
Rasputina, and here she applies sweet doses of lacrimose.
The enzyme that breaks our bodies down… Right now Antony
has all the fleeting luster of a shooting star, here’s hoping
he breaks out of the tragic trajectory, the collision course,
the fiery fate and instead gets lodged in a safe heavenly
orbit. With a piano and several costume changes. It’s a bird,
it’s a plane, it’s a man, it’s a woman, it’s Antony.

James White – ?Flaming Demonics? – [Ze Records] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   12-inch, A Library

James White (a.k.a. James Chance n’e James Siegfried) has great taste in suits and oh, by the way, is one of the main characters associated with the late 70’s/early 80’s No Wave scene in NYC.

This album, released in 1983, is his last studio release of five (if you count his LP with the Contortions and the 4 tracks on the No New York compilation, which we have in A on 12″). Ze Records was recently revived and moved to France by label co-founder Michel Esteban, who provides excellent liner notes that are definitely worth a read.

The music is demented, cacophonous, and chaotic. Most tracks find the rhythm and horn section working a minimal funk riff, while Mr. White wails away on his tenor sax frenetically. He sings too.

This is an incredibly energetic album. At least one track will have you dancing around like a maniac. Like he shouts in another song: ‘Try being stupid instead of smart.’ Good advice for us and advice he takes as well.

Three word review: VOODOO DISCO JAZZ
–Hunter Gatherer

Hood – ?Outside Closer? – [Domino Recording] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   12-inch, A Library

This is Hood’s sixth full-length release and their first one in four years. But the Leeds, UK-based quartet have released some singles and EPs in that period.

The music is beautiful and smart indie pop, equal parts natural sounds (guitar, vocals, drums, violin, piano) and electronic sounds (sampled vocal loops, beats, synth). It sounds like it has less electronics than it really does.

It may take a few listens to get through the shiny finish. Though each song is it’s own creation and has its own sound, the entire album hangs together.

Each side starts off with an upbeat track and then unwinds into an introspective vibe. I really like this album.

Language: B1 (‘fuck’)
–Hunter Gatherer

Underground Resistance – “Return of Acid Rain Ii, the ” – [Underground Resistance]

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   12-inch, A Library

By the time this EP was released Underground Resistance was just ‘Mad? Mike Banks, the two other co-founders, Jeff Mills and Robert ‘Noise? Hood, having gone off to explore other opportunities. It was released in 1994.

UR, always the political group, is warning us about the perils of acid rain, a particular problem in Detroit it seems. You need to read actual album to find this out, for it is impossible to deduce this from the music.

And the music is Detroit techno. The versatile Roland 303 is the primary instrument, and it is being put to good use creating lots of good acid-y sounds. The tracks are short-ish — for techno anyway — ranging from 2:20 to 4:19.

My only complaint is that the tracks seem to end just when they are getting a groove. Maybe the acid rain got them.

–Hunter Gatherer

Rewind! 4 [coll] – [Ubiquity Records]

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   A Library, CD

This is the 4th in the excellent Rewind series put out by California label Ubiquity. The Rewind series has new artists and bands covering and updating (and sometimes completely changing the genres of) classic songs.

There are some amazing remakes covering a wide range of genres covered on this CD. There is soul/R&B (1,4,6,12), world/Afro/Latin-beat (2,5,6), spacey electronica (7,9), and folkish (3,11).

There are several tracks that simply must be heard:

(1)An impossibly funky cover of This Land Is Your Land by Sharon Jones & The Daptones, which I’ve reviewed on the 7″ release.

(2)The folky cover of Cameo’s Word Up!

(4)Alice Russell belting out her version of 7 Nation Army by The White Stripes. It sounds like this is the original and the White Stripes cover it, and the liner notes agree with me on this point.

The Joni Mitchell cover doesn’t really add anything to the original, though it is beautifully sung. Burt Bacharach’s Look Of Love gets slowed down and sung through a vocoder.
–Hunter Gatherer

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