Ira’s Drug Arts venture has been kicking out some cool jams these days, especially if you like rhythmic space out while you dance electronic industrial stuff. There are newfangled subsubgenres for this kind of thing but I’m fuzzy on them (“drag”?). Black Rabbit is Christopher Padula, who you might otherwise know from his awesome hazy shoegazey lo-fi dream-pop outfit Thunder Bunny. Where Thunder Bunny is all blurry guitars and ethereal melodies, however, Black Rabbit is more about hypnotic instrumentals of scrunchy synthesizers and hard edges with wild panning tricks and rhythms deliberately allowed to fall just a hair out of sync just to mess with your head. Copy on the bandcamp page for Shadow Puppet describes it as “like a woozy non-vocal cousin to Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, if Iggy’s backing band was Coil” and that’s pretty well right on, I don’t know if I can improve on it. Download for $3 or a little more if you feel generous.
I don’t usually go on at length about packaging, but this one seems notable if only for the fact that I very nearly threw the item away mistaking it for part of the packing material used for mailing another disc that came with it. The CD-R and its sleeve are pasted between two outsize squares of corrugated cardboard with circles impressed into them. On one side is painted/inked/? the lightning bolt squiggle turning the circle into an approximation of the BDiitSR logo behind the number 999, and the other six horizontal lines alternating broken and unbroken a la the I Ching.
So what’s it like musically? The central element seems to be a little girl reading the Book of Revelations in Spanish. Behind this, an sometimes nearly drowning it out, there’s a noise loop that sounds sort of like a toy race car or a vacuum cleaner zooming by very fast; it sometimes alternates channels, and keeps gradually swelling up and down in volume, while off in the corner an old upright piano tools along, sometimes back-masked, and someone is insistently banging sleigh bells with a stick. All of this goes on, pretty much in a constant loop, for 79 minutes and 10 seconds, either because that’s close to the capacity of a CD-R or because that’s how long it takes the girl to read all of Revelación. If this sounds to you like it probably overstays its welcome, you may well have a point. After a while it sort of just becomes a hypnotic or meditative backdrop to whatever else you’re doing or thinking, which may well be the intent, given the project’s “post-modern shamanism” concept.
The handwritten liner notes on my copy give it as number 10 of an edition of 15, so who knows if they have any left. This is one of the more difficult BDitSR recordings of I’ve heard, to be sure, but if it seems even a little like the sort of thing that would interest you (it does me, or at the very least the overall BDitSR body of work does), I would recommend taking a stroll through their website where you should be able to find some contact info and I do believe I saw a link there to a download as well.
Sweet mama hell yes!:
The DTs side, conceived as an EP of sorts, is four short vignettes of hyperactive 4-track bedroom goofballery along similar lines to the Marax split and compilation tracks from around that time. Squeegeed Clean are great Australian noise-free-jazz pranksters you have got to check out (you may or may not know of Skot from Vocaularinist or Mekigah), and here they give us a wild drunken melee of saxophones and toys. Lathe-cut in New Zealand onto clear records by the legendary Peter King in an edition of 50, hand-numbered. I’ve got the even numbers and Skot of Squeegeed Clean has the odd numbers. If you’re in Australia, order from him instead to save on shipping.
It may sound like a copout but I don’t know what I can say about Indonesian rock/jazz deconstructionists SBDD that this video playlist doesn’t say better. Maybe the rough-mix wav file that Fredian sent me of a 22-minute track “Bunga Astral” from their in-progress studio excursion would but I don’t think I have permission to share that.
I love the free-spiritedness of this, the complete lack of given fucks. Is that guitar even in a tuning? Does it matter?
The Glimmer Blinkken Tinker Shop///Wood Shed and Blank & Blissed Out Bob Bucko Jr and a cast of his Dubuque cohorts form The Glimmer Blinkken, or did as of at least 2010 anyway. Music like this probably only survives in places like Dubuque where trying to impress anybody with your hip-and-current-ness is pointless. Many of the songs vamp a bourgeois funky groove over which the singer invests his touch of the absurd lyrics with exaggerated arty-kid enunciation and glissando, trading off with wild jazz-dissonant keyboard and sax parts, and there are some tasteful jam sections that get either a bit psychedelic or just rowdy, especially on the live versions on “Blank & Blissed Out”. I could see myself getting down to this at a house-party show, especially if it was in, say, 1994 — it reminds me of an early 1990s college-town band with a strong Talking Heads influence, so the feeling it gives me is a fun and pleasant one if a bit nostalgic. “Feelin’ (I Think I’ve Got a)” gets more of a hard-rock feel from its emphasis on a big rhythm guitar, and it’s followed up on “Tinker Shop///Wood Shed” with the show-tune-ish “(It’s a) Wonderful Day in the Tulips” and a couple delightfully weird instrumentals. I’m not sure if this band is currently active (I think David Morrison moved away somewhere) but I imagine them being in high demand for live gigs because this really feels like it would be great party music: it’s charismatic, has broad appeal without being bland, and no doubt got the girls up and dancing. “Tinker Shop///Wood Shed” is the studio album and “Blank & Blissed Out” is the live one recorded January 2010, both put out on tape by something called Ruix, whose website ruixzine.com seems to be perpetually “coming soon” but you can definitely get them from me here, because I have some distro copies. For lots of other nifty Glimmer Blinkken stuff, (the lathe-cut 5″ square plexi split single with Legal Fingers is an especially nifty item — Legal Fingers should definitely play gigs with The Mighty Acceleratör), check out Personal Archives.
Aural Resuscitation Unit / I Like You Go Home Arid/Storm ARU continues in the vein of its “dub” concept with the three-part “Dubbing An Arab”, built around exotic looped samples and a hypnotic and danceable drum machine beat with the bass hits coming out all overdriven as if this was being pumped out of an aged, overworked PA onto a mostly empty dancefloor at 4AM some sweltering night in a small middle-eastern town. ILYGH fills up its side of the tape with a great noisescape in the classic style, “Lost in the Storm of Translation”, tape-saturating low-end distortion explosions like massive industrial machinery banging and humming and reverberating through metallic subterranean caverns. A dark and surreal tape on both sides.
Noring/McGee Cross Contamination Hal McGee lives in Gainesville, Florida and has been making noisy experimental music since like the early 1980s, has put out more tapes and digital releases than you can likely believe, and is just packed with awesomely gonzo ideas and creative energy. These days he seems to be on a quest to do duo collage mail collaboration projects with as many people as possible, wherein the MO is that each participant separately records some stuff (without hearing what the other is doing, you see), then the one that is not Hal mails theirs to Hal who mixes them together. (In fact, he recently did one of these with yours truly, and I’m quite happy with how it turned out — see a couple posts below this one.) A few months back Hal did one of these projects with Brian Noring, and this one can also be procured from Hal on cassette tape. Hal and Brian have collaborated a lot of times before since 1996 but this is their first since ’03. Noring is a sometime experimental musician from here in Des Moines and is the guy indirectly resonsible for my finding my way into the lo-fi/homemade cassette music scene in 1993 when I bought a copy of his zine Friends Of The Draft Resistance on my first visit to the Ames location of Co-Op Records after moving into the dorms for an ill-fated year as a music composition student at Iowa State University. He had an excellent tape label, F.D.R. tapes, responsible for what I consider to be some of the most important noise and “lo-tech industrial” music (a term I coined originally for my own project in those days, Flight Attendants) of the era, including his own personal recording project E H I. When I moved to Des Moines in December ’08, Brian Noring was one of the first things I wanted to try to find here. However his musical/recording activity has been very light the past several years and he doesn’t care to hang out online either, so it wasn’t easy and it was eventually Bryan Day (instrument-inventor and proprietor of Public Eyesore Records) that got us talking by email; so it’s a pretty great occasion that he’s releasing stuff again. Hal & Brian’s album “Cross Contamination” is a midrangey hour-long cacophony of twangy broken-necked two-string acoustic guitar, electric bass and feedback through mini-amps, radio static, woozy tablehooters, household items and clatter that’s simultaneously meditative and assaultive. It’s a whole lot of sound to try to stuff into your earholes for sure, very abstract, as lo-tech as they come, much more varied than your average noise album. Here’s a bandcamp below — check out Hal’s website and you can probably find a way to contact him about a tape copy if you’re interested.
Third I Reaching Toward the Light Dark ambient sounds, low rumbles, wind through distant tunnels, icy synthesizer drips, gorgeously tranquil and desolate. Between these guys and Djordje/Raven and a couple other things I’ve caught wind of here and there, Serbia seems like quite the place these days.
Forget The Times Ver Dis Pond Wild, noisy, cosmic instrumental free-rock from Kalamazoo. Fetal Pig played a gig with them at The Space For Ames and I probably wrote a post about it. I bought two of their tapes and one by Kyle Landstra, all on the tape label one of them operates, Already Dead, which is no longer exclusively a tape label since the release of a Forget The Times LP, “Soul Music”, which looks awesome but I’ve not yet had the pleasure of hearing. I’m thinking of ordering one, though. This sort of guitar and drums jamming is along the lines of some of my own past works in Bwang! but with less of a noise/outsider aesthetic and more actual skill and decent equipment and production in its place. Most of the time the instrumentation is two electric guitars and a drummer, but at times they are joined by, or perhaps one of them switches to, saxophone or some crazy electronics (which might just be effects pedals too). These guys just blast off into space and you have to hold on as best you can. The tape comes in this cool screen-printed bag of heavy fabric, no liner notes or song titles or anything.
Loud Silence My Beginnings (Compilation 2011-2012) From an ethic that seems to proceed from underground black metal, Loud Silence presents something more like a series of overlapping motifs in a depressive bedroom lo-fi vein. Different guitar and keyboard parts, spoken word poetry bits, whispering, some black metal vocals, simple drum machine parts, singing birds, wind, thunder, a stream, joining in and dropping out and tape-manipulated and coming together in different combinations, even tape hiss becomes an instrument. Elements recur later in new contexts. It’s very strange to me that the track listing and title suggest that this is a collection of demos and compilation and split-release tracks, because it’s impossible for me to collate the sounds with the track listing; rather it plays nicely as a single multi-part collage piece, most of it somber and conveying a profound sadness. The liner notes say “Made in solitude. There is nobody to thank. Hate it.” But I’m sorry, I can’t hate it, in fact I really like it. It’s beautiful. Available from Smell The Stench.
Devin Dart/Thunder Bunny See It In Color I just love it when somebody can take hokey keyboard and/or drum machine tones and make something really epic-sounding out of them. It always ends up being a touch cartoon in a really cool way. Devin Dart is particularly good at this. He starts out this short split with just such a track, and it’s in a similar vein to what he opened with on his split tape with Bob Bucko Jr, sort of symphonic in intentions, charging and triumphant, theme music from a postnuke film about cyberpunk gnomes. After that he noises it up a bit with a sort of vacuum-cleaner drone, then finishes up with a bass guitar led rock instrumental. Thunder Bunny does much the sort of awesomeness anyone familiar with them will expect by now, first a tender lo-fi chord organ tune and then one of their huge hazy shoegazing psych-rock burners. Grab this from Felt Cat.
Small Hours Kate Definitely truth in packaging here. Liner notes claim that this “wall” (far less loud and harsh, however, than most things I’ve heard that term applied to) is a mix of recordings of a cooling fan (overdriven, it seems), a rainstorm, and audio samples from the film Titanic, introduced by the song “What If” from the soundtrack. That’s exactly what it sounds like and what it really is. The title and cover photo refer to Titanic star Kate Winslet. My wife loves Titanic and runs a fan at night because the noise helps her sleep because her ears ring; I told her she ought to try putting this tape on instead. It’s co-released by Smell The Stench and Park Bench Records who also have a new Raven tape coming out soon. Speaking of which…
Everybody and their dog is putting out a Raven tape these days, including myself, and I’m trying to grab lots of them if I can because Raven is really good. Raven is the project of Djordje, a fellow from Serbia who also does an amazing noise blog called Dead Tones. Some Raven stuff is more harsh noise and some is more drone and some is more ambient, and all of it is excellent. My first time hearing Raven was this from Darker Days Ahead:
He also has a couple tapes out on Worthless Recordings that I definitely very much want and plan to order or maybe see if I can trade for. Worthless is one of the best quality noise-oriented tape labels going, for real.
Recently I myself put this out on Centipede Farm, you should definitely get it:
Fans of free-form space-rock jamming madness check this out. A single track long enough to fill an audio CD-R if you were thinking of burning it to one (or you could definitely burn one to it, see what I did there?) has three main movements to it that I can discern. We start out with a blanket of insanely echoed guitar, a four-note synth bass line that doesn’t seem to care what meter it’s in, and an oceanic drum groove as the only thing keeping it from drifting apart into a plasma of disconnected particles. Then, it actually does drift apart, to the apparent delight of a live audience, and as it does you begin to notice the folky acoustic guitar strumming two chords that’s been hiding in the background the whole time and the droning one-chord harmonica jamming along with it. Through an extended cross-fade it comes to sound like a country farmhouse full of crazy German hippies in 1970 with different jam sessions going on in every room all at one time. Eventually the loud drums and spaced-out electric guitar return and ride the cosmic basement vibe out to several consecutive attempted endings before the real one, where the acoustic guitars from the middle section come back in for five minutes or so accompanied by rattling forks or something. This massive pastiche of hypnotic improvisations can be downloaded free courtesy of Deep White Sound.
A Series Of Lifestyle Circumstances is a microcassette duo collaboration by Centipede Farmer and Hal McGee. Centipede Farmer recorded 60 minutes of sounds on a microcassette in June and July 2012 and mailed the tape to McGee, who recorded 60 minutes of sounds in July and August. Without listening to either source tape first, McGee then mixed Centipede’s tape with his and improvised a simple mix, with a minimal amount of panning, directly to Audacity, on Sunday, August 5, 2012. The two 31-minute collages were then split into a total of nine separate tracks.
Centipede Farmer lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Hal McGee lives in Gainesville, Florida, USA
Just for fun and because I had some extra C-60s lying around I decided to release the recordings of my set and Office Park’s set from the show we did at Vaudeville Mews on February 26 with Ben Bennett. Astute observers will note that the drawing used for cover art also appears as an element in the cover art of the Distant Trains/Consistency Nature split tape on Lava Church (which is now sold out from both Lava Church and myself! Maybe Dishdawash still has some?) Anyway, buy a tape or download it and either pay for it or don’t, as the case may be, I just like when people listen. Half of the 20 tapes will be going in the mail to Office Park in the next couple days.
Opening song “$100” is bookended by a fuzzed, doomed-out version of the riff from Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”; sandwiched in between is some easygoing but hard-living country rock with high and lonesome harmonies. This kind of willingness to juxtapose sludge with jangle has scarcely been seen since Gaffney was in Sebadoh, and isn’t heard again here either. But Water Liars have a license to confuse, too: nowhere on the disc or digipak is the name Water Liars printed, but there is “Phantom Limb” which I’m only guessing is now considered the album title, despite the prominent sticker on the front cover that reads “Water Liars’ debut album Misra.” Elsewhere on the packaging, “Misra” appears not as the album title but as the name of the label. It would seem the band made a last-minte name change as the album was about to come out.
The band’s lineup, listed under the heading “Phantom Limb is”, is a duo involving at least one former member of Theodore, a country-fried indie band whose gritty whiskey-soaked hard-luck balladry could make Drive-By Truckers sound family-friendly. Water Liars retain some of that one-horse-town vibe and the bulk of this album presents a combination of strongly classic country inspired songwriting and vocals with lo-fi scuzz that comes off sounding quite like a stripped-down version of Centro-Matic with a few subtly applied experimental touches like the short tape-manipulation interlude “C.H.W.” or the second half of “On The Day” which turns out to be an ambient noise piece that sounds like it might be constructed from field recordings of subway trains. “It Is Well With My Soul” is arranged with electric guitars that are melted into ambient washes of feedback, and credited as a traditional, though the track seems to be a medley in which the title song is preceded by a song they introduced at the show I saw as “What Fresh Hell Is This?” joined together by a sample which I believe to be the “The Pentagram” listed in the credits as by Alestair Crowley.
Following the punky stomp of “Short Hair” that comes at about the album’s mid-point, the album suffers a bit from an abundance of progressively slower tracks that sort of drift off to sleep heading into the aforementioned “On The Day” (memorable refrain: “I’ll have no more excuses for the way that I’ve treated you”) before finishing up with the undeservedly unlisted tenth track, one of the best songs, which seems likely to be titled “Cold Hearted Woman”. These last two songs especially are full of beautifully expressed aching. Overall not a bad little debut album, and a nice bringing together of the traditional with a few out-there ideas.