The next few sections are filled with reviews of music and reading material that float my boat. Hopefully, the reviews include enough information for you to figure out if it is of interest to you. I usually go record shopping at Amoeba Records in Berkeley and the Epicenter Zone in San Francisco. But when I can't find what I'm looking for in those stores, these are the mail order outlets I send my disposable income to:
AJAX, PO Box 805293, Chicago, IL 60680-4114
CHARNEL HOUSE, PO Box 170277, San Francisco, CA 941177-0277
FORCED EXPOSURE, PO Box 9102, Waltham, MA 02254-9102
K RECORDS, Box 7154, Olympia, WA 98507
PARASOL, 201 North Coler, Urbana, IL 61801
RRRECORDS, 151 Paige St., Lowell, MA 01852
SUBTERRANEAN, PO Box 2530, Berkeley, CA 94702
WAYSIDE, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8427
WE NEVER SLEEP, PO Box 92, Denver, CO 80201
A.N.P. Ultrasonic Action CD (1993, Nux-D3)
Also known as Absolut Null Punkt, this early K.K. Null band from the mid 80s was both agile and heavy. A bass, guitar, drums trio that delved into free improv rock, feedback saturated punk, and early-era Swans plodding. A nice document of Null's early days, foreshadowing what was to come in Zeni Geva. This release contains all the music from the rare (read: disgustingly expensive) Ultrasonic LP and two tracks from the Ultima Action LP. (Nux Organization, 3-690-47, Hibarigaoka, Zama, Kanagawa, Japan)
AUDIO SPORTS 3-6-9 EP (1990, Bron)
Eye Yamatsuka from the Boredoms provides vocal histrionics for this twisted hip hop unit out of Japan. Between the faux Parliament cover artwork and song titles like "Cosmic Boatpeople (Space Maggots Mix)", you would think they had a thing for Funkadelic. (Bron Records, Giga 06-213-4024, Nakabayashi, Japan)
BIKINI KILL Bikini Kill EP (1992, Kill Rock Stars KRS-204)
The last few years has seen Olympia, Washington foster a supportive atmosphere for girl power. From this city have come bands like Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Bikini Kill, each with their own distinct brand of defiance to the male-dominated music scene. Bikini Kill get in your face with their frenetic punk rock. This is THE classic Riot Grrl record, filled with pissed-off lyrics about asshole men at the carnival, incest, and asserting yourself. Five of the songs are re-recorded versions from their Revolution Girl Style Now cassette. "Suck My Left One" will surely be a legendary song, right up there with X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!"
Live, Bikini Kill put on one incredible show. Lead singer Kathleen alternately switches between a sweet little girl and a fiery homicidal lesbian terrorist (see Hothead Pasian review). I've seen many a guy (and some women) intimidated by Bikini Kill's visceral live shows. They can strike an oftentimes upsetting introspective chord. (Kill Rock Stars, 120 State Ave. NE #418, Olympia, WA 98501)
BOREDOMS Soul Discharge CD (1989, SDE 9131/CD)
A group of Japanese electroshock victims escape the white coats and hide out in a recording studio. With nothing to do, they created this album of wild, out of control musical madness. An intriguing mix of cartoon-esque vocalizations, metal-punk guitars, and a completely schizophrenic rhythm section.
The first time I heard this album, I stared at my speakers amazed and in utter disbelief. Dammit, what is this stuff? I mumbled something about it being all studio wizardry. After seeing them live last October, my mumblings were proven wrong. The complex time changes and seemingly offhand improvisational screams were recreated perfectly. I was blown away.
The CD version has an extra albums worth of material from 1982-87. Unfortunately, it is indexed as only two tracks (instead of the 24 songs there are) which makes it to hard find specific songs...so get both formats. (Shimmy Disc, JAF Box 1187, New York, NY 10116)
BOREDOMS Anal By Anal CD EP (1993, SSE8015CD)
A limited reissue of an early 3-song 7 inch EP back when the Boredoms were the duo of Eye and Tabata. More like Hanatarash playing songs than the complex wall of sound heard in the Boredoms of today. With song titles of "Anal Eat," "God From Anal" and "Born to Anal," this is a well-named EP. Fans of Pussy Galore's crunching metallic sound should give this one a try. (SSE Communications, 1-43-2 Honmachi, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan)
PETER BROTZMAN/BILL LASWELL Lowlife CD (1987, Celluloid CELCD5016)
It's amazing how much sound one guy with a bass saxophone and another with an electric bass can pump out. Wild free jazz improvs from January 1987 with Martin Bisi (he's famous, trust me) running the board. There are nice slow moody sections and machine gun style rapid-fire noise blasts. More dissonant than some of the recent so-called industrial records. Drop it into your portable and drown out the office talk about The Game. Unfortunately, the booklet has almost no info. Are Celluloid cheap bastards or what? Then again, kinda hard to complain since I only paid 7 bucks. (Celluloid Records, 330 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10013)
CRASH WORSHIP Asesinos CD
Crash Worship's live performances are a gutteral spectacle of fire, sweat, and smoke amid a sea of tranced out writhing nude bodies. In the studio, they are more complex, laying down some guitar and ominious soundscapes over a variety of polyrhythms. This album is a selection of remixed pieces from their vinyl EPs (Pillar of Fire, Flow, and What So Ever Thy Hand Findeth-Do It With All Thine Might) and earlier cassettes from 1987 and 1989. It's so nice having this many Crash Worship tracks collected on one CD. Now I don't have to keep getting up and turning the record over after every song, making it is so much easier to trance out at home. (Cold Spring Records, 87, Gloucester Avenue, Northampton, NN4 9PT, England)
CRASS 10 Notes On A Summer's Day LP (1985, Crass # 6)
Now I understand why this record was in the cut-out bin at the store. This is Crass' final release as a band....written and recorded in 1984 and 1985. Definitely their weakest album, the lyrics and delivery aren't nearly as biting as their other works. Side Two is a remixed version of the instrumental tracks used on Side One. This saved it for me and made the record a keeper. It was reminiscent of the soundtrack music from bands like Coil and Laibach except with more guitar and a bit more of an edge. Crass fanatics must've been confused. (Crass Records, PO Box 279, London N22, England)
DE FABRIEK Compressie Slag CD (1992, Artware CD No. 9)
My new favorite noise disc, and it ain't from Japan. This Dutch collective pump out a firm base of crunchy power electronics, a la early Esplendor Geometrico, that is subtly accentuated by other sound sources. Malcolm X samples, whistles, bagpipes, and water sounds gently rise into your conciousness. On "mekka-turbo," the sitar and Indian chanting get more and more distorted, building into a spiritual frenzy. Awesome. As the relentless intensity of the noise is about to overwhelm you, the song ends and is followed by a slow recuperative piece. Lulled into comfort, the pounding rhythms slowly return, louder and louder. I love an album that fucks with ya. Well sequenced too. Unfortunately, this baby is limited to 700 copies, so snatch it up now before the collector scum start raising the price. (Artware, Taunusstr. 63B, 6200 Wiesbaden, Germany)
DOG FACED HERMANS Hum of Life LP (1993, Konkurrel K147)
The Hermans have a knack for writing songs that are at once angry, energetic, and inspirational. Their latest is no exception. A wonderful collision of rhythm, sonic guitar excursions, trumpet, and Marion's sweet vocals. Their varied tastes are best shown by their choices of cover tunes on this album: one by Lydia Lunch's 8-Eyed Spy and another by Ornette Coleman. These Scottish expatriates also delve into the political without the usual sledgehammer or the obvious sloganeering. Like characters in a John Sayles film, they are political by example. An excellent album. (De Konkurrent, Postbus 14598, 1001 LB Amsterdam, Holland)
DOSWER Dowser 3" CD (1992, Bron)
Don't be fooled by the 4AD-style cover art. Dowser lays down some lively psych-influenced rock explorations with an originality that seems to only be pouring out of Japan lately. This fun 3-song EP is similar to the slower pieces by Omoide Hatoba. Do they have a full length release on the horizon? (Japan Overseas, 6-1-21 Ueshio, Tennoji-ku, Osaka, 543 Japan)
DUB SYNDICATE "What Happened?" b/w "2001 Love" 10" (1993, ON-U D.P. 25)
Soothing bass-heavy instrumental rhythms spiced with snips of noise and laid-back tabla playing. These are two excerpts from their forthcoming album Echomania. As usual with Dub Syndicate albums, forthcoming is not soon enough. (On-U Sound Records Ltd., PO Box 1460, London, N1O 2DQ, England)
ESPLENDOR GEOMETRICO Live In Utrecht LP (1990, Discos Esplendor Geometrico 022)
A recording of Spain's best known "industrial" group, Esplendor Geometrico, from November 25, 1989 at the Cultural Centre EKKO in Utrecht, Holland. Like other EG releases, this has gobs of electronic percussive noise but is not as "in your face" as their stuff on Bruitiste or Kosmos. After a couple of listenings, this sucker has grown on me...particularly "Trans-Umma". (Discos E.G./Andres Noarbe, Apartado 14325, Madrid 28080, Spain)
F/i Out of Space and Out of Time CD (1993, RRR CD05)
A collection of "hits" from F/i's tenure on RRR, along with three unreleased tracks. Had I known space rock could be this cool when I was a young 'un, maybe I wouldn't be such a loser. This ain't that noodly new age prog stuff neither, more like the Challenger mating with HAL and the offspring being birthed right into Times Square during rush hour. Cars honking, brakes squealing. One of my favorites, "Electric Waltz," is a dissonant, fuzzed out version of that High German strut. "Nothing More Than A Hoax" has the only vocals, and they are of a BBC announcer reporting on an AIDS coverup in Africa. (RRRecords, 151 Paige St., Lowell, MA 01852)
TETSUO FURUDATE L'Arret de Mort CD (1992, SSE8005CD)
Sustained ringing guitar, harsh bursts of feedback and agonizing vocals. Tetsuo Furudate has a superb sense of dynamics, and when joined by bassist/keyboardist Masashi Kitamura the music moves into the realm of exceptional. "D-Konstruktion" has Furudate's soaring improvisational guitar mingling with scratchy old classical records and punctuated with measured percussive rattles. Dark, brooding, ominous and sublime. The three pieces on L'Arret de Mort are from recordings made over the last ten years. We can only hope that more of this will be released, and a lot sooner than ten years from now. (SSE Communications, 1-43-2, Honmachi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151 Japan)
DIAMANDA GALAS Plague Mass CD (1991, Mute 9 61043-2)
Imagine watching your friend unjustly accused and convicted. Imagine watching them dragged to the grave, screaming while others look away. Imagine someone else you know unjustly accused and convicted...Diamanda Galas brings the unimaginable to you again and again. Each time a different view, yet the same story, the story of a society hostile towards People with AIDS. This is her Plague Mass recorded live at The Cathedral Of St. John The Divine in NYC. The 73-minute performance is dominated by her amazing multi-octave voice, shifting from softly spoken words to gospel to opera to blood-curdling wails. On many tracks she is accompanied by the percussion of David Linton and the electronic keyboard manipulations of Blaise Dupuy, Ramon Diaz, and Michael McGrath. Excerpting various portions of the Bible, Diamanda's Mass is a whirling indictment of those ignoring the AIDS crisis. The Mass opens with the inquisitory "Were You A Witness," with a voice that intones "We who have died, Shall never rest in peace." She sings the text of the Laws of The Plague from the Old Testament, which was used by the priests to separate the clean from the unclean. In the role of a merciless judge, her emphasis on the word "unclean" at the end of each phrase is punctuated by the heavy percussion that resonates though the Cathedral...chilling.
Using an unexpected combination of text from Revelations and Malcolm X in "How Shall Our Judgement Be Carried Out Upon The Wicked," she calls for a war on the wicked...by any means necessary. The concert closes with the furious acappella, "There are no more tickets to the funeral, there are no more tickets to the funeral...the...funeral...is...crowded."
GARAGE MONSTERS Safari To Mumbooba! 10" EP (1993, SFTRI #134)
Clint 'Foetus' Ruin and The Pizz went to the Amazon with a Big Band brass section to record these two primal masterpieces. Big pounding drums build to a frenetic crescendo egged on by birdcalls, Martin Denny, and the jungle men's choir. I anxiously await the day when all the Garage Monster singles are collected on one disc. (Sympathy for the Record Industry, 4901 Virginia St., Long Beach, CA 90805)
GOD God CD (1991, Pathological PPP 106)
Ever sit back and wonder what seemingly disparate bands would sound like if they got together to record an album. If early Black Sabbath joined forces with the Rova Saxophone Quartet, then their devilish prodigy may have been God. Slow heavy rythyms interwoven with frenetic sax lines and the rare gutteral vocal. Never would have guessed by the recording and performance quality that it was recorded live. From what I can tell, none of these songs (except for "Fucked") are available elsewhere. The album is produced by Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. (Patholigical Records Limited, 44 0713721769)
HIGH RISE High Rise LP (1993, boot, Pubic Pop Can Pork Records PPCP2A)
Sloppy, fuzzed-out psychedelic jams with vocals that barely make it up and out of the noise wash. The aptly named "Psychedelic Speed Freaks" with its incredibly fast guitar riffs sounds like Hendrix's band playing with Hijokaidan's equipment. A good bootleg live recording (not that high fidelity should be a concern) of this Japanese trio in their early days.
HIJOKAIDAN Romance CD (1991, Alchemy ARCD-018)
Noise, glorious noise. Jojo (founder of Alchemy Records) lays down some serious gobs of guitar generated feedback. Along with his wife Junko on vocals and T. Mikawa playing the mikawa (don't ask, I don't know), Hijokaidan can clean out even the most stubbornly wax-clogged ear canal. How Junko can keep screaming and screeching for the entire 77-minute piece and still have vocal cords left is anyone's guess. Send her throat lozenges, care of Alchemy. (Alchemy Records,1-15-9-202 Nishishinsaibashi Chuoh-ku, Osaka 542 Japan)
HONKIES All My Screws Fell Out CD (1993, Megaphone 006)
Rockin' avant jazz from three horn players and a drummer. Similar to proletarian bands The Ex and Dog Faced Hermans, the Honkies share their compatriots lively energy and sense of politics. Looking at the jacket photo, their stage show is equally colorful, in a blacklight, Caroliner Rainbow way. One of the better fusions (isn't there a better word) of punk aesthetics and jazz that I've heard. (Megaphone Records,120 E. 7th Street, Frederick, Maryland 21701)
H.P. ZINKER The Sunshine CD CDEP (1991, FIREUS 10-2)
I heard these guys do a pretty smart version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" on the radio a couple years ago, but I had never been able to find it in the stores. Lo and behold, in the used bin (next to the Garth Brooks section), I found this puppy for four dollars. "Take Five'" was as fun as I remembered but the rest of the disc wasn't nearly as interesting. Too bad: I had high hopes. (Roughneck Recording Company, a division of Fire Records of London, no address)
HUGGY BEAR / BIKINI KILL Our Troubled Youth/Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah split LP (1993, Kill Rock Stars KRS-206)
Huggy Bear is one of the most musically interesting groups getting labelled with the Riot Grrl tag. Angst-ridden and full of energy, Huggy Bear's noisy punk occasionally swerves into playful go-go boots era pop. The breathy vocal style on the opening song reminds me of Kim Gordon's 'Flower" in its soft intensity. On the more hard-driving songs, the distorted vocals accentuate the angry lyrics giving them an even more powerful impact. Great stuff.
At first I was disappointed by the Bikini Kill side of this split album, but realized it was the flat recording and not the songwriting. "Rebel Girl" rises above the sound problems with the insistent chorus "Rebel girl / Rebel girl / You are the queen of my world / Rebel girl / I think I wanna take you home." On the other hand, the lo-fi recording actually accentuates the frustration in the lyrics to the Beat Happening-style ballad "Outta Me." Thrash fans will like the fast tempo of "Don't Need You" where Kathleen screams, "Don't need you to say we're good / Don't need you to tell us we suck/Don't need your atti-fuckin-tude boy / Don't need your dick to fuck." Then again--some thrash boys may not like it. The more I listen, the more the feeling of disappointment fades. Bikini Kill is still a powerhouse. (Kill Rock Stars, 120 N.E. State #418, Olympia, WA 98501)
ICE-T The Iceberg (Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say) LP (1989, Sire/Warner Bros. 9 26028-1)
The ominous opening track, "Shut Up, Be Happy," with Jello Biafra as guest vocalist, foreshadows an unusual rap record. It is an odd combination of typical brag/gangster raps, party raps, and some excellent political raps. Ice-T uses a variety of beats on this disc, from slow Oakland-style beats to super-fast hardcore raps. "Freedom of Speech" has one of the hardest-hitting (and profanity filled) beginnings of any rap song I've heard...he's not too flattering of Tipper "Censorship Is Good" Gore either. Bonus points for the cool use of the Isaac Hayes sample.
INCAPACITANTS Feedback of N.M.S CD
T. Mikawa (of Hijokaidan) and F. Kosakai make noise, lots of it. Could be a soundtrack to a performance art piece involving nerve synapses, alcohol and a nuclear explosion. Unrelenting feedback. One of the song titles is "Curse of Ceausescu." What is it with Ceausescu lately? (Alchemy Records,1-15-9-202 Nishishinsaibashi Chuoh-ku, Osaka 542 Japan)
ISM I Think I Love You - the hits that missed 1982-89 CD (no label)
A great collection of rare and expensive Ism punk classics (as opposed to thrash or hardcore). The title track is a hysterical cover of the famous Partridge Family hit, replete with harmonies. It also includes covers of The Residents' "Constantinople" and The Fugs' "CIA Man." While their covers are fun, my favorites are their originals "Nightmare at Noon" and "Get Real Loose" which are excellent melodic, garagey punk songs. "Nixon Now More Than Ever" is a hardcore tongue-in-cheek longing for the days of Nixon over Reagan. To whoever released this collection...thanks!
PETER JEFFERIES The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World CD (1991, Ajax)
New Zealands Peter Jefferies shares a sweet gloomy sensibility with his island mates but doesn't hide it behind upbeat pop. Half singing, half speaking, Peter's deep anxious voice matches his rhythmic piano playing. The occasional addition of some guitar feedback lends a nice variation to the moods. Perfect for those contemplative evenings sitting in a large overstuffed chair. "Domestica" is a beautiful ballad with the sounds of kitchen pans and utensils in the background. Last Great Challenge includes the wonderful "Catapult" single. (Ajax Records, PO Box 805293, Chicago, IL 60680-4114 USA)
KRONOS QUARTET Black Angels CD
(1990, Elektra/Nonesuch 9 79242-2)
I've always enjoyed some classical music, but could never glean enough information from the stuffy monotone DJs to figure out what to buy. The classical section always seemed so ominous and impenetrable to me. Thank goodness for friends, one of whom turned me onto Kronos, a string quartet with two violins, a viola, and a cello. "Black Angels" is a composition written by George Crumb and inspired by the Vietnam War. It is very dark and brooding with flights of screeching and screaming (do they usually have vocals in string quartets?). Several sections remind me of key scenes in the Hitchcock film The Birds. I imagine that in the classical world, Kronos is looked upon as a bunch of juvenile deliquents, daring to bring such horrendous sounds to the concert hall. Good for them!
LAST EXIT Last Exit LP (1986, Enemy Records EMY 101)
Opening with a rumbling of bass and drums, I quickly realized this was not just any old record, rather I had stumbled across a noisy saxophone-infested power jazz classic. Last Exit is the improvisational supergroup of Peter Brotzman, Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock, and Ronald Shannon Jackson. Normally "supergroup" conjures up images of washed-up in-debt has-beens searching for the spark and the money they once had. Thankfully, these guys have tossed that stereotype right into the trash can. This is the album that originally made me realize that there's more to jazz than wimpy new age feel-good softcore wonk.
MACHINE GUN Pass The Ammo CD
Fine rockin' improv jazz in the Last Exit vein. Thomas Chapin, the saxman, sure can wail. I mean, really wail. On a few tracks the sonic soup gets a mean infusion of cut-up vocal and TV sound bites. A couple of tracks have that fine wire brush swing. A good mix of moods. (MuWorks, 111 4th Avenue #5A, New York, NY 10003)
RAPHE MALIK 5TET 21st Century Texts CD (1992, FMP CD 43)
Raphe sure can rip it up with a trumpet. A former member of the Cecil Taylor Unit, he leads a strong ensemble (including Glenn Spearman) through a rambunctious skronk fest. A free jazz recording I find myself playing over and over. (Free Music Production, Postbox 100227, 1000 Berlin 10, Germany)
CHRISTIAN MARCLAY More Encores
10" LP (1989 NML 8816)
Mr. Marclay plays the turntable. Actually he plays several turntables and uses a mixer to create intriguing sound collages. Kind of like John Oswald's Plunderphonics done in real time without cutting tape or sampling. On this record, each track is named after the artist being manipulated and deconstructed. In the case of Martin Denny, the layering enhances the exotica sound, giving it a more exotic and otherworldly feel. For opera singer Maria Callas, Christian gets her to hold a note while she solos over it! Something Bugs "Leopold" Bunny would have loved to conduct. Other artists given the treatment are Louis Armstrong, John Zorn, Jimi Hendrix, Johann Strauss, and Arthur Ferrante & Louis Teicher. Twisted shit. (No Man's Land, Postfach 84, D-8700 Wurzburg 11, Germany)
MELVINS King Buzzo 12" EP (1992, BR32-1)
Remember when Kiss was on the downslope of their career and they attempted to cash in with four solo records each with identical cover graphics? Yeah, you probably even bought 'em and put the poster inserts on the wall. The denizens of sludge metal have brought back those glory days of creative packaging with three perfect graphic simulations. My favorite disc, by King Buzzo, is stylistically all over the map. "Isabella" is a long repetitive bass drum intro that ends with a long repetitive distorted guitar rhythm. "Porg" has machines pounding out the beat against a layer of noise with Buzzo singing through a megaphone. The B-side has "Annum," a pleasant ballad and "Skeeter," a rockin' punk story with a funny twist. Oh yeah, and as far as the cover art, King Buzzo looks menacing with purple backlighting and blood dribbling from the corner of his mouth. Gene Simmons would surely approve. (Boner Record & Filmworks, Inc., PO Box 2081, Berkeley, CA 94702-0081)
MERZBOW & NULL Deus Irae CD (1993, NUX-D4)
A 1984 live recording from the Gallery Komai with Masami Akita (Merzbow), Kazuyuki K. Null and other notables. This is one long, 45-minute song that starts with a rockin' groove which becomes more frenetic, louder and noisier. Persistent bass and cool use of metal precussion. (Nux Organization, 3-690-47, Hibarigaoka, Zama, Kanagawa, Japan)
Must Be Musique 1 comp LP (1992, DV #15)
Nice compilation of artists mining the dark ambient vein of industrial music. My favorites are the somber orchestral siege by Trance, the ritualistic buzzing and chiming of Ophiolateria, and the clanking machines of John Watermann. This volume also includes pieces from Asmus Tietchens, Sigillum S, and CV Massage. (Dark Vinyl, Kettelerstrasse 4, D-8595 Waldsassen, Germany)
MY BLOODY VALENTINE Glider 12" EP
(1990, Creation CRE 073T)
Finally picked this up as a UK import, which is often the case when I'm in search of vinyl. Wonderful swirly pop with a fairly generous helping of noise...well, just enough to make it interesting. I don't know why, but I like how they put the vocals reaaal low in the mix. "Glider" is the only song I would hesitate calling "pop;" it's more like layers and layers of slowly changing rhythmic guitar noise. At first I thought it had a locked groove. As with most MBV releases, the cover art work is great...took me a while to figure out what it was, but I can't give that away... (Creation, 8 Westgate Street, London E8 3RN, England)
NEIL / RICHARD / SIMON / STEWART Durian Durian LP (1993, Forced Exposure FE-033)
Four chaps each record one side of what is to be a double album without knowing what the others have created. For mysterious reasons, the group decide to release it as a single album with everything mixed together. Radio noise, guitars, drones, moans, percussion, and a Casio make for a pleasant wash of sound and clatter. Neil and Simon are Neil Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith of the stellar Ceaucescu album raved about elsewhere in this rag. (Forced Exposure, P.O. Box 9102, Waltham, MA 02254-9102)
KAZUYUKI K. NULL & JIM O'ROURKE New Kind of Water CD (1993, CHCD-6)
Beautiful guitar duets from these prolific musicians. Moody and ambient. Quiet textures, soaring rhythms and sonic noise blasts. An amazing variety of sounds from two guitars. I suspect Jim uses a prepared table guitar similar to what he played during a live performance at the Heinz in Oakland. Two of the other tracks are from a show at the Lounge Axe in Chicago. (Charnel House, PO Box 170277, San Francisco, CA 94117-0277)
ORB Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld CD (1991, Big Life 314 511 034-2)
Stop your groaning. I ain't ashamed to admit to liking this disc. Most techno, while having some neat sounds and samples, usually leaves me c-c-c-cold. These guys make creative use of the technology without staying locked in the same beat for the whole damn song. They mix bits from science fiction movies, renassaince choirs, string quartets, reggae riddims, and new age babblers into some excellent late night listening. Often a favorite soundtrack to "an evening at home." Nudge Nudge Wink Wink. (Big Life Records, 73 Spring Street, N.Y., N.Y. 10012)
PAVEMENT Westing(by musket and sextant)
CD (1993, Drag City DC14CD)
A hearty "thank you" to Drag City records for reissuing this music. Pavement's excellent early vinyl releases all collected on one disc. Lo-fi noise pop which is crude, yet beautiful. The song sequence is laid out really well, flowing as if originally recorded as a complete album rather than a collection of singles, 10" EPs, and flexi's. (Drag City Records, P.O. Box 476867, Chicago, IL 60647)
P. CHILDREN Pch 4 10" EP
Ambient electronic industrial with just enough dissonance to keep it interesting. One side is atmospheric electronics while the other starts quiet and progresses towards a Merzbow-like wall of noise. This piece ("Altercation," I believe) makes excellent use of silence along with pretty cascading piano runs interspersed among noise and machine-gun percussion. The noise sounds like a violin with metal strings being played with a hacksaw. Very good...wish it lasted longer. Guess we all do.
The EP is pressed on clear vinyl and packaged in a beautifully silk-screened clear vinyl pouch. DJ warning: the disc is unlabeled, so the song titles/track relationship can only be guessed at. Hrumph! (RRRecords, 151 Paige St., Lowell, MA 01852)
THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 PHOTO: Gail Butensky
P. CHILDREN Documentation 1987-1992 CD (1993, CHCD-5)
A selection of remixed tracks from their first four releases along with some previous unreleased material. Industrial dance music without the beats. Sound sources include breaking glass, tape samples, radio noise, and Gregorian chants. The song "Influence" reminds me of the library scene in Wings of Desire. Nice stuff. (Charnel House, PO Box 170277, San Francisco, CA 94117-0277)
PUBLIC ENEMY It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back LP (1988, DefJam FC 44303)
Not just a dissonant rap album, and after all these years still one of the best. Managing to find the most annoying horn samples from James Brown's "The Grind," Public Enemy puts forth a compelling vision of black America. Righteous and political but still funky as all get out. The anti-television rant in "She Watch Channel Zero?!" matches the aggressive, almost heavy metal, beats and riffs. On the less noisy tip, their smooth use of jazz in "Show Em Whatcha Got" predates the current jazz/hip-hop fad by more than five years. Clearly innovators.
PUSSY GALORE Exile on Main St. LP (1992, boot)
A vinyl bootleg of their rare cassette-only release from 1986. Needless to say, this is a cover of the entire Rolling Stones album of the same name. Loose, loud and noisy. As amatuer and sloppy as the Stones probably sounded during one of their drugged out, drunken rehearsals...well, maybe sloppier and with a Tad more feedback. (Shove Records, 162 Stanton #9, New York City, NY 10002)
RAMONES All The Stuff (And More) Volume Two CD (1992, Sire/Warners 26618-2)
Howie Klein and the Ramones put together a much better Ramones retrospective than the horrible Ramones Mania 'greatest hits.' This is the second volume in a series of CD reissues of the Ramones albums. I sure do love getting two albums on one CD...makes the price of the little silver fuckers tolerable.
This CD has the third and fourth Ramones albums, Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin. What a fun album--haven't heard these songs in such a while I forgot how much I liked 'em. My neighbors probably wondered why I was pogoing around the living room...musta figured I stubbed a toe or something. Volume Two comes with four unreleased tracks, "Slug," "I Want You Around (Original Version)," "I Don't Want To Live This Life (Anymore)," and "Yea, Yea." The bonus tracks were the least interesting music on the disc...but the rest of it is great.
MARC RIBOT Requiem For What's His Name CD (1993, Les Disques Du Crepuscule TWI969-2)
Snakefinger's soul is alive and living through Marc Ribot's guitar on this excellent album. Joined by Simeon Cain on drums, Anthony Coleman on keyboards, and Ralph Carney on horns, the ensemble rolls through an eclectic range of styles from quirky funk to avant jazz to angry blues. Lively and playful. One of those albums that makes time pass so quickly. Fans of Tom Waits' music or the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 will want this.
SOLMANIA metamorphor chorus CD
(1992, Alchemy ARCD-020)
Compared to Hijokaidan and Incapacitants, Solmania has some rhythmic elements to their noise. Like a Branca symphony with feedback. A lot more feedback. The CD insert and the disc graphics make a nice Moire circle. (Alchemy Records,1-15-9-202 Nishishin-saibashi Chuoh-ku, Osaka 542 Japan)
SONIC YOUTH Hold That Tiger ("boot" goofin' records, Goo2)
A live recording from the Cabaret Metro in Chicago during the Sister tour. The recording quality is variable and in some tracks the bass distorts wildly. There is also some noticeable tape stretch. The pressing seems to be of poor quality, lots of pops and scratches. However, the show sounds great and the faster version of Death Valley 69 made it worth the money.
SPACE STREAKINGS Space Streakings CD (1993, NUX-D5)
Hyperventilating bass trumpet overdrive machine-gun drum-machine madness. Imagine Ruins and Warlock Pinchers discovering diet pills together. Two artists meet, become slaves. Right fuckin-on. (Nux Organization)
STEROID MAXIMUS Quilombo LP (1991, Big Cat ABB28)
Upright bass. Cymbals given the soft wire brush. Tiki percussion. A single horn, then a whole orchestra with drums pounding. Deep gutteral Brotzman-like sax wail. Each side starts with a big jazz attack in that hard-driving Foetus style. The rest of the album has a wider range of dynamics as Mr. Thirwell deftly lures you into a musical jungle, smoothly swinging from Big Band jazz to slow, expressive industrial. Quilombo would make a great soundtrack to a thriller, with its sudden mood changes accented with piano flourishes, violins, cracking whips, and chanting monks. Still struggling to describe the music. All I can say is this is my favorite Thirwell release. (Big Cat UK Records Ltd., P.O. Box 1561, London NW6 4SW)
TEST DEPARTMENT Atonal & Hamburg CD (1992, DCD 9038)
What I would give to travel back in time to see Test Department in their early days! The 1985 performance documented in Atonal & Hamburg gave me some sense of what it must have been like - the raw power of their percussive onslaught and angry proletarian lyrics roars out my speakers. Pounding on drums and junkyard metal, they construct a furious whirlwind of sound. (Dossier Records, Koloniestr. 25A, D-1000, Berlin 65, Germany)
THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 Mother of All Saints dbl-LP (1992, OLE 043)
Some groups are in classes all their own, impossible to categorize or explain--bands like Captain Beefheart, Butthole Surfers, Sun City Girls and the Boredoms. Although these groups are musically very different, each are wonderful in their own twisted way. Equally so, the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 are in their own class, taking music to a new dimension. They manage to include country, rock, folk, experimental and Asian music without sounding contrived or patronizing. They creatively use sound and time changes--in subtle and dramatic ways. Sometimes I'll go over to the turntable to see what the name of the next tune is, only to find that it is all one song. Besides the usual "rock" instrumentation, they also use banjos, violas, mandolins, french horns and an organ. Their shared vocal duties add to the eclectic soup. One of my favorites is "Tell Me" with Anne's warbled underwater voice. Better than the stars before your eyes after holding in a sneeze. Thankfully, they get weirder with every record. (Matador Records, 676 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012)
THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 Where's Officer Tuba EP (1993, Hemiola)
An 8 song taste test with three songs from Mother of All Saints. This EP is a good introduction to the world of the Thinking Fellers, at least until the reputed Live at Budokan album comes out next year. They do an amazing cover of the Caroliner Rainbow tune "Outhouse of the Pryeeeee," that was previously released on Nuf Sed as a split single with the Sun City Girls. Perfect for a first timer, bliss for a fan. (Hemiola, 35 Bernbrough St., Burley, Leeds, LS4 2QY, England)
TIGER TRAP Tiger Trap LP (1993, KLP17)
Sweet harmonies. Noisy guitars. Heavenly for fans of pop music from the likes of Talulah Gosh and Chin Chin. Yet another step toward the day when women rockers will no longer be considered out of the ordinary. (K Records, Box 7154, Olympia, WA 98507)
Used And Recommended comp LP (1987, White Label Records)
I bought this so I could get Nick Cave's version of Leadbelly's song "Black Betty," which I haven't been able to find elsewhere (I understand it is the B-side to "The Singer" single). The rest of this compilation was fairly uninspiring except for the song "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" by the group Not Drowning, Waving which had a cool percussive jam. The other artists on this LP were Harem Scarem, The Hollow Men, Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Hunters and Collectors, Painters and Dockers, White Cross, and Shower Scene From Psycho (good band name at least). Since it was a bargain priced cut-out, I can't complain...I got what I wanted out of it.
VASILISK Liberation and Ecstasy CD (1991, eee 08)
A collection of early (and rare) vinyl releases from this Japanese percussion troup. Like a far east Muslimgauze or Crash Worship, they can comfortably mix ferocious drumming, delicate African flutes, and ambient electronics. With the occasional use of metal, this becomes much more than your typical World Music record. The song "Awakening" reminds me of the intense opening sequence from the movie Last Temptation of Christ. An excellent disc, and the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon of unabashed animalistic sex. (Musica Maxima Magnetica, C.P. 54, 80100 Napoli, Italy)
WARLOCK PINCHERS Circusized Peanuts LP (1991, Boner BR27-1)
Loud guitars under energetic goofy raps. The Warlock Pinchers remind me of the Beastie Boys before they got into the Baroque music of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They have two vocalists, two guitarists, a drum machine, and a bass motherfucker (that's what it says on the liner notes) who crank out some hard rockin' rap. Neat use of samples like the "It is happening again" line from the Giant in Twin Peaks and Kasey Kasum saying some nasties like "What the fuck am I doing", "Shit", "Fuck It", and "Bullshit." While not as great as their last LP Deadly Kung Fu Action, buy this now before they get sued and it gets taken off the market...remember Negativland.
SIMON WICKHAM-SMITH & RICHARD YOUNGS Ceaucescu LP (1992, FE-029)
Wonderful washes of guitar feedback and reed organ with dreamy echo-laden vocals. Like listening to Metal Machine Music on headphones during a Catholic mass held in a large cathedral. On the one fast-paced song, "Just Imagine," an appalachian dulcimer adds a middle eastern flavor to the rhythmic noise. Simply one of the best records I've bought in a long time. One that I keep going back to and playing. (Forced Exposure, P.O. Box 9102, Waltham, MA 02254)
JOHN ZORN Naked City CD (1989, Elektra/Nonesuch 9 79238-2)
A twisted punk rocker moves to the underbelly of New Orleans, discovers jazz and becomes a detective. Naked City could be a soundtrack to such a story. Wildly eclectic. From the over-the-top, surf-styled version of the Batman Theme to the intense 11-second noise blast with guest vocalist Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms), this album takes you on the stylistic ride of your life. An awesome first release from an ensemble (John Zorn-alto sax, Bill Frisell-guitar, Wayne Horvitz-keyboards, Fred Frith-bass, and Joey Baron-drums) that would later become incredibly prolific under the name Naked City. For the uninitiated, this is definitely a must.
JOHN ZORN Film Works 1986-1990 CD (1990, Wave EVA 2024 Japan)
Film Works is an excellent introduction to the musical world of John Zorn; a world where a plethora of musical styles coexist and clash, gloriously. After having released a tribute to the film music of Ennio Morricone entitled The Big Gundown, Zorn collected some of his own soundtrack compositions originally commissioned for some underground B-movies. This CD includes music from three (White and Lazy, The Golden Boat, and She Must Be Seeing Things) along with a Zornified version of Morricone's "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" (for a Camel cigarette advertisement in Southeast Asia). Some songs nicely create visions of the possible scenes they might accompany. Listening to the haunting percussion and oboe on "The Golden Boat Theme" is like being adrift on a boat as it passes a Buddhist temple on the Shanghai river. You will find a diverse collection of styles and tempos, often mixing and mingling in the same song, then flowing smoothly to the next. From the cool jazz of "Seduction," to the hardcore noise of "White and Lazy," to the appropriately titled "Rockabilly" and "Climax," it's all there, a spicy dish for many palates.
All this great music was created with an all-star cast of musicians drawing heavily from the "downtown" NY scene. Included are the guitars of Arto Lindsay, Robert Quine (from Richard Hell and the Voidoids), and Bill Frisell, the percussion of Anton Fier and Nana Vasconcelos, the keyboards of Wayne Horvitz, the voice of Shelley Hirsch, and the bass work of Fred Frith, to name but a few. (Wave Records, 6-2-27 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106, Japan)