Sunday, July 26, 2009

Scratch Acid-The Greatest Gift (1991)

"Scratch Acid played a huge part in the noisy underground movement of the 1980s; they took punk to the dirtiest, dingiest mudhole they could find and sullied it from top to bottom until it looked and sounded like some hell-bound bogeyman. It's not too far-fetched to think of Scratch Acid as the American equivalent of the Birthday Party, the Texans donning the mantle that was dropped when the BP disbanded. The Greatest Gift contains everything the band ever recorded, including a few lo-fidelity instrumentals. Scratch Acid never received the notice it deserved, but the musicians could pound out brilliantly frenzied and highly original post-punk/noise rock that sometimes rivals the material released by singer David Yow and bassist David Sims' future (and much more well known) project, the Jesus Lizard. The first eight songs were originally released in 1984 as an eponymous EP; from the opening crashing bars of "Cannibal" to the terrifying lyrics heard on "Lay Screaming" (a song which reads like something culled from a medieval book about torture), this band obviously never had any desire to control itself. Only one slight reprieve can be found in the relatively tender "Owner's Lament," a song replete with weeping strings. Songs nine through 20 first saw the light of a sickly day as Just Keep Eating, Scratch Acid's one and only full-length that found the band expanding its musical palette: insane noise rock numbers ("Eyeball," "Holes"), jaunty, faux lounge grooves ("Amicus"), goofy Zeppelin-esque riffs ("Cheese Plug"), and a spot-on cover of the Webber-Rice rocker "Damned for All Time," complete with exclamatory horns. The remainder of the disc comprises the songs from their definitive statement, the 1987 Berserker EP. A little more money went into this recording; as the sound quality is better than on Just Keep Eating, it was definitely worth it. "Mary Had a Little Drug Problem" and "Flying Houses" are whirlwinds of pounding drums, foreboding basslines, and scathing, blinding guitar phrases. The band never played so well or wrote better songs. Highly recommended to any Jesus Lizard fan and noise rock/hardcore punk aficionado. "

So fucking awesome. David Yow manages to be even crazier in this band. I chalk that one up to youth but either way, this should seem rather essential to everyone already.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Amorphous Androgynous-The Peppermint Tree (2008)

"Imagine the sounds you get if your cross-bred Syd-era Floyd with Faust. Imagine that warlock mongrel
was then produced by Can. The resulting record would like The Amorphous Androgynous. Who? Well, to be honest, that First line pitch should be enough to have you scurrying to wherever you scurry when someone gives you a tip-off... I mean, this band sound like that noisy bit in Sister Ray. They're ace. Whatever. Okay, okay, these cats are an offshoot of psychedelic analogue munchers the Future Sound of London who just so happened to be the soundtrack to many a failed sexual exploit on my part as some girl thought she'd stick on the ambient music for summa that lovin' spoons and I ended up foaming at the mouth over 'The Far Out Son Of Lung'... "Check this bit out... y'know it sounds just as good if you play it at the wrong speed on the single?" Anyway, Amorphous Androgynous have a new cut for you to buy, and listening to the razor blade tape edit of the whole album (which you can see with a head frying animation overleaf), it sounds like... well... read that first line again. It's called 'Peppermint Tree and Seeds' and you can buy it by clicking here. If you like the funky synth bits of an Amon Dull II track or funky sitar, then this album is definitely gotta make it into your rack"

Very cool psychedelic tunes. I hear some Flaming Lips in their too. Go I say!

Tree climbing anyone?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cosmic Jokers-Self Titled (1974)

"Over several months in early 1973, producer Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser organized several wild acid parties at Dieter Dierks’ sound studio, where the musicians played in exchange for a small fee and all the hallucinogens they could ingest. These musicians included Manuel Göttsching and Klaus Schulze of Ash Ra Tempel, Jurgen Dollase and Harald Grösskopf of Wallenstein, and Dierks himself. They had all been part of the Cosmic Couriers, a loose group that had musically backed Kaiser-produced records by Swiss artist/poet Sergius Golowin, gypsy Tarot-reader Walter Wegmüller, and even acid guru Timothy Leary the year before. From these 1973 sessions, the Cosmic Jokers were born, as Kaiser and Dierks edited and mixed the material and slapped it out on vinyl on Kaiser’s Kosmische Musik label without the other musicians knowing anything about it until the records appeared in stores, even as their pictures were posted prominently on the covers.
It caused a furor in Germany at the time, and it remains an early case of music fraud -long before the hip-hop era- since the music was “borrowed” without the musicians consent(apart from many magic mushrooms probably used to get them in there in the first place).

The first to find out was guitarist Manuel Göttsching when he entered a Berlin record store in 1974 and found out the music being played on the stereo was from those sessions. He thought the guitarist sounded familiar, but he was shocked to find it was himself.

The other musicians have mostly deemed these recordings as trash. Klaus Schulz has been particularly harsh in his criticism referring to these CDs as “cosmic crap”. It’s true that these albums caused lawsuits against Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser (head of Kosmische Musik, formerly Ohr) It ruined his career and effectively drove him out of Germany.

However, for fans of German experimental music, these releases are classics and they remain important to this day."

Awesome. Just awesome.

Das ist komisch music!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Polvo-Today's Active Lifestyles (1994)

"Polvo: it means dust in Spanish. Appropriate for a band that a decade after their heyday would be deemed “destined for indie-rock obscurity” by the biggest hipster rag in America. But whether or not Today’s Active Lifestyles exhibits a band that is just that, or something far more impressive and endearing is up to the listener.

And it seems like they’ve spoken. I mean, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about Polvo? And I don’t mean your immigrant maid.

Regardless, Today’s Active Lifestyles is a great release from a band whose sound is exciting, even after so many years. The mathy dissonance, twisting melodies and ear-piercing harmonics that get coupled with such sweet vocals might remind of Yo La Tengo covering Slint, but ‘Sure Shot’ has much more clear contemporaries. For this song imagine early Flaming Lips (it’s the chorusing effect and the idle drumbeat that do it) but far more proficient at their instruments, and with a different goal in mind. On ‘Stinger (Five Wigs)’ the music is more hectic and confusing, but the clarity of each instrument is something truly impressive. It’s also the longest song on a CD with a fairly manageable duration, which makes it stick out all the more.

Another thing about Active Lifestyles that impresses, however subtle it may be, is the bass. Bass guitarist Steve Popson has a fairly lame tone, it’s flaccid, far too low and lacks the punch of the band’s guitar-sound, but that’s exactly why it succeeds. It’s so different-sounding from the guitar, an ever more present feature in the record’s mix, that it stands out and becomes audible. But that’s not to say Polvo isn’t a guitar band through and through, because they certainly were. And who wasn’t in ’93? Tuned oddly, angular, indistinct and played with persistence and vigor, guitars are really what define Polvo. And at the risk of making this into a track-by-track by describing three songs chronologically, ‘Tilebreaker’ is the personification of all these traits. Bassy bass, noisy guitar, and one of the record’s most complete and enjoyable choruses to boot: it’s hard to say that ‘Tilebreaker’ really isn’t everything this record stands for in one track. I’m not going to sit here and say this band hasn’t faded into anonymity, nor that they were entirely pivotal in the evolution of the genres of Math Rock, Post Rock and Indie, but they sure did write some good stuff."

Awesome band, essential for you fans of awkward, dissonant guitar melodies. This is another band who will never get their due so check it.

Today junior

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Dead C-Harsh 70s Reality

"While just about all of their albums are winners, for many fans "Harsh 70s Reality" is the unquestioned best Dead C release, a fact it's hard to argue with. Art and sheer rock power collide beautifully on this album, which transforms murky noise and open-ended jams into serenely chaotic wonder. That may sound like a strange assessment, but "Harsh 70s Reality" is as ambient as it is feedback-riddled, and the creative threesome behind it all know just how to balance everything out. "Driver UFO," the 22-minute-long opener, demonstrates this knack quite well, with a gentle keyboard part emerging halfway through against the rumbling hum and scrape of the guitars. It's arguably also the most song-oriented album from the group in a traditional sense, though the usual combination of recording approach and performance isn't exactly going to win over the VH1 audience. When the three add in vocals to the mayhem, everything sounds even more distanced and unsettling. Thus, on "Sky" the lead vocal sounds like the singer is on the verge of collapse and the backing shouts hollow and creepy, even as the main riff makes for one of the band's most accessible efforts. "Constellation," one of the most violent numbers (though as ever the quality of the recording makes it feel more gauzy and interesting), benefits even further from the gently deadpan vocal, like Sonic Youth but not so concerned about making things clear. One of the funnier moments comes with the start of the audibly from-the-other-side-of-the-venue live recording "Suffer Bomb Damage," especially since Robbie Yeats sounds like he's about to break into War's "Lowrider." Though "Harsh 70s Reality" is available on CD, the original vinyl is worth seeking out for the extra two tracks that couldn't fit on the digital format, especially the astonishing "Shark."

Awesome. Anyone into anything remotely noisy should get this IMMEDIATELY.

Harshness is my middle name

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Faust-Faust (1971)

Listen to the Mothers of Invention's concert recordings from 1966 onwards and it's just trash. Musical bollocks of the most merely capable variety. Faust live? This is a different thing entirely. Like all the greatest Teutonic groups, Faust were brought up with middle-European dances and a staple of folk and tradition which was not 4/4. As a consequence, German bands could get far more complex than U.S. and British bands would ever dare and it still sounds rocking and crazy, rather than a bunch of Twee Smug Gits. Find an old Caravan,Man or Henry Cow LP for 50p somewhere and compare it with this. I'm joking of course.

Four years ago, I had dinner with a very successful journalist who told me that he'd had to review Love's "Forever Changes" for Q Magazine now that it was available on CD. Wow, I shouted. You lucky fucker! Yes, he said. But I know it so well I couldn't summon up any real energy, so I just gave it 8/10. "Forever Changes" is a dark achievement. Were it an ancient text or a document it would be hidden from view and spoken of in obscure circles, But because it operates through the medium of Pop Music, it gets tarts like said Journalist giving it 8/10. This is a classic case of a man sleepwalking through life.

So now I have to set to and tell you about the first Faust album, and I will not let you down. For a start, its a big 10/10. No, make that 11/10. It defies categories. It's a horrible noise. It's cut-ups to the Nth degree. Part of it is just like Frank Zappa's "Lumpy Gravy" (a funny bit, thank the Goddess.) It is super-gimmicky, syrupy in the weirdest places, and never outstays its welcome. But probably the strangest thing of all is just how good Faust sound when they are creating on the spot moments of rock'n'roll on the epic Miss Fortune. Here they transcend all studio trickery and here they come alive." - Julian Cope, Krautrocksampler

So fucking good.

Goethe on and grab it

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Deep Turtle-There's a Vomitsprinkler in My Liverriver (1994)

"Carrying possibly one of the most bizarre titles ever to grace an album, the disc is loaded with almost an hour of Deep Turtle's trademark eccentricity which begins right from the album's back cover. The tracklist contains 18 titles divided into six groups of three. And the disc itself actually only contains six audio tracks... Yes, you got it. Each track contains three songs, separated from each other with funny little instrumental interludes.

  1. Tiodt / Ha-Tuzta / Tostroid
  2. Bay Zutus / Cardiako / Iim
  3. Valz / Hot Mambo / Antivalz
  4. Ørsentipede / Supraberber / Carrier
  5. Pendulum / Mikrozufé / Bourno
  6. Ultrabularit / Hogtar / D'kues

(Yep, most of the titles do not make much sense. Some of them are understandable for English speakers, a few are mangled Finnish words and the rest ... they just are.)

The eighteen songs twist, turn and writhe in a complex but sensible manner. The noisier, punky numbers are offset by a few moodier songs and a couple of instrumentals. A great amount of stylistical variance keeps the music interesting: Valz starts off with a folky acoustic waltz with obscure Spanish lyrics (I only recognize the word huevos which stands for "balls"), while Hogtar incorporates a surf guitar line over a twist beat.

Rhythmic complexity is abundant all over the record and is best shown by the strange time signatures on songs like Antivalz (5/4) or Carrier (9/8). And they are never there just for the sake of being "weird"; they all make perfect sense. The drummer has all the necessary chops to keep things nicely rolling, and is augmented by the bassist who skillfully provides both a rhythmic and a melodic counterpart for the drums and guitar respectively.

The sad thing about this album is the difficulty of obtaining it. Deep Turtle are and have always been a rather unknown band, albeit a celebrated and admittedly influential one. But if you ever have a chance to give this record a spin, I suggest you do it. It just might open your eyes."

What a killer band. Nothing out there sounds quite like it and, most importantly, they know how to write songs. Sweet band.

What the shit is a vomitsprinkler?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Breadwinner-Burner (1994)

"There's a great deal of variation in Breadwinner's approach to what would soon be labeled "math rock" -- from the skittery thrash-influenced riffing of "Kisses Men on the Mouth on the Mountain", to the sludgy doom of " ", to the quasi-funk metal of "Mac's Oranges." If there's a unifying element in all this, it's the spring-loaded rhythm session, as bass and drums mesh and interlock like a well-oiled machine. The punchy, snappy production on each instrument creates a superb sense of tension on every note. Each pulse explodes into the sparse, empty room, and each beat sounds like it'll be the one that bursts through and splits the drum heads. Pen Rollings' nervous, scratchy guitar work adds a white-hot counterpoint to the clockwork precision, propelling each track to its twisting, unexpected conclusion. Breadwinner understood that you can create maddeningly complex songs with an absolute economy of notes, in direct opposition to the shredding virtuosos, and this focus on pinpoint rhythm is what makes their music so memorable.

Sadly, this brief 9-song disc represents the entirety of Breadwinner's recorded output, culled from their earlier vinyl-only EPs. While it might have been interesting to see how their sound progressed -- especially within an indie community that was gradually warming up to metal throughout the 90s -- it's probably for the best that they simply left their mark and stepped aside."

Burnin' up

Monday, July 6, 2009

Creston Spiers-Yesterday's Parade/The Time Has Come (2008)

“Shame on anyone who somehow managed to miss the acoustic Harvey Milk instore, with HM frontman Creston Spiers tackling stripped down Milk tracks, Leonard Cohen covers, heck, he even covered “Three Is A Magic Number” from Schoolhouse Rock. Well this one is for those of you who blew it, or for those of you who didn’t but still need more.

A super limited yellow vinyl 7″, the second and supposedly last pressing, 300 copies, already sold out, we have about 30, of Creston Spiers from Harvey Milk performing acoustic, two originals, both awesome. And both sounding like could-have-been Harvey Milk tracks, or obscure Leonard Cohen covers, anyone at the instore knows exactly what we mean, his voice and way with melody is so distinctive, and owes quite a bit to Mr. Cohen. On these two tracks, Spiers’ vocals are rough and ragged but still melodic, accompanied by stripped down steel string guitar, spare and melancholy, with slightly off kilter arrangements, the tone mournful and melancholy. Barring a recording of “Three Is A Magic Number” you couldn’t hope for more.”

Thanks to Swan Fungus. Creston is perhaps the most honest sounding musician I can think of and this little ditty does nothing to change my mind.

Here lads and lasses

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Glenn Branca-The Ascension


On The Ascension, the bombast of Branca’s later work is clearly present. The album features four guitarists (including Branca and future Sonic Youth member Lee Ranaldo) along with bass and drums. The guitars, usually played with nonstandard tunings, are set for stun – it usually sounds like all four guitarists are playing, and they're almost always using distortion. And drummer Stephan Wischerth’s primal thumping rhythms will be familiar to fans of Branca's later work. Also, the long running times and epic feel of many of the pieces on The Ascension show that Branca was already finding creative ways to work outside the confines of the standard rock song. The Ascension is every bit as dramatic as anything Branca was doing a decade later.

Still, Branca had a long way to go before he wrote many of his gloriously loud symphonies, the defining characteristics of which were his uses of dense clouds of feedback sound made up of aggregates of weird guitar tones. Most of the guitar sounds on The Ascension are fairly straightforward, even dry, in comparison. The guitars interlock in patterns that are half minimalism (in that they're simple and repetitive) and half heavy metal. Only on the excellent title track are they primarily used for texture.

For that reason, The Ascension isn't nearly as brutal or overloaded as much of Branca's later work. But it's a fascinating historical document, and it has still stood the test of time fairly well because of Branca's ability to use extended forms to create drama."

Required listening for Sonic Youth fans. I love dissonant guitar work so you can bet your ass I'm all over this.

Ascend babeh

Fred Gerlach

"12 string guitar in the style of Huddie Ledbetter. Fred goes back to the era of the early 50's in New York city where he played and partied with the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Big Bill Broonzy & Gary Davis. He drifted out to California in the late 50's, played San Diego coffee houses in those early days and eventually settled here. Fred has been a more or less regular at Adams Ave. Festivals where his virtuoso guitar playing never fails to amaze."

Awesome 12 string guitar playing. Essential for all youse folk fans. 2 albums.

Songs My Mother Never Sang

12 String Guitar

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mandatory Repost: Reeks & the Wrecks-Knife Hits (2005)

"An old drum kit. Homemade amps. A dented old trombone. A bucket and a handful of firecrackers. The Reeks make a sound that is otherworldly. Dark and stumbling, folk-flecked basement blues. A mix of woozy slide guitar, swampy trombone, sparse and erratic percussion, tape hiss, amp buzz, shortwave interference and dark doomy brilliance. Like a ghostly, indie rock New Orleans funeral jazz band or Roland S. Howard fronting the Dead C. Haunting, mesmerizing, gorgeously raucous, dreamily creepy and absolutely unlike anything you have ever heard. For years the Reeks played all up and down the West Coast, basements, back porches, living rooms, pizza parlours, with only a 12" and a battered old suitcase full of hand dubbed cassettes to their name, spreading their warm cloak of pulsing, droning creepy crawly throb over anyone lucky enough to be packed into the same sweaty space. At once jubilant and danceable, but at the same time, dark and lugubrious, ominous and somnabulent. Lovers of weird music couldn't get enough, but eventually, even dyed in the wool indie rockers began to embrace the Reeks, having perhaps found something that still smacked of their beloved indie rock, but was a little darker and a whole lot weirder than they were used to. But by then it was too late. The release of Knife Hits is truly bittersweet. After years of recording and re-recording, mixing and remixing, when Knife Hits was finally ready to be released, and the rest of the world would finally get to hear the Reeks' amazing off kilter avant indie funeral folk, Orion Satushek, Reeks mainman, guitar player, instrument builder and one of the nicest guys ever, was tragically hit and killed by a drunk driver. The personal loss, is indescribable, a deep sting everytime we think about him, his band, his music, his friendship. But the loss to music, to the music community, is immeasurable. Years of playing, and practicing and rocking and sweating in tiny cramped basements and doing with a crappy old drum kit and a couple of homemade amps what most bands can't do with all the equipment in the world is somehow all crammed onto this single disc. These ten songs. The passion, the playfulness, the dark moodiness, the spaced out droniness, the wild sweaty chaos, the sheer joy of making an unholy racket. This record is not only a totally unique chunk of damaged outsider rock brilliance, but it's also a fitting tribute to a friend we will never get over losing. We miss you, Orion." (Taken from Andee's discription on his tUMULt website)

Not much I can say then, huh? Great description, sums it up perfectly. Not quite sure how to feel when I listen to it but I love it and if you dig intriguing sounding stuff, well, what are you waiting for? Needless to say, very highly recommended.

*New link*

Hit me like you mean it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Zoltar's Playlist...Vol. II

1. Rafflesia-Boris and Michio Kurihara (A wall of blissed out sound)

2. Side B-Aluk Todolo (Kraut/Black madness...incredible drumming)

3. Saturday Night Rub-Big Bill Broonzy (Good ole fashioned ragtime with amazing melodies)

4. Cuttooth-Radiohead (Their best B-side in my opinion...those are some lyrics)

5. Soul Vibrations-Dorothy Ashby (Harp Jazz...why she's not more recognized, I'll never know)

6. Kassie Jones part II-Furry Lewis (Great blues for a hazy summer day...droney)

7. Lazy Comet-Polvo (Bad ass dissonant guitar work but very listenable indeed)

8. You're No Dub Baby-Niney the Observer (More dubbin' from Niney babeh)

9. Maui Wow Wow-Reeks and the Wrecks (funeral doom jazz, basement style? Who knows. But amazing)

10. I Love You-Spacemen 3 (psych masters...despite the lame drum machine, this song rules)

11. Content to Play Villain-Dalek (abrasive hip hop...blows my freaking mind)

12. As it Was-Melvins (perhaps my favorite Melvins song ever...but that's a tough one)

13. Dance of the Inhabitats of the Palace of King Phillip XIV of Spain-John Fahey (dude, that slide lick!)

14. Night of the Assassins-Les Rallizes Denudes (Japanese psych typhoon...must listen)

15. Dry the Rain-Beta Band (kinda out of place on here but just a damn good song)

16. The Stag Parts I & II-Mountainhood (very enjoyable psych folk)

17. Neon Lights-Kraftwerk (Man, they were so ahead of the curve it's not even funny)

Hope ya'll like this one...lemme know if any song catches your fancy and I'll toss ya the full link

Your leader awaits!