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…