“Mighty Redwood forest / Slay me with your shade.” Two lines that rather elegantly summarize a lot of what Olde Growth is about. I slept on this video premiere for a couple weeks after seeing it on The Obelisk and I also had intended to work up a bit about their self-titled sole studio release into one of my “stuff from 2011” posts, but have ended up taking a long time to get around to that too. Somehow I suspect Olde Growth wouldn’t have a problem with that, as they take their time with things too, seeming to intentionally grow their profile at the pace of the ancient “giant of the Western shore” that they celebrate in this brilliant piece of transcendental Americana forest doom. The Boston duo first self-released Olde Growth on free download and on CD in eco-friendly packaging back in 2010 and I’m pretty sure it was the now-defunct Doomed To Be Stoned In A Sludge Swamp download blog where I first heard of it (among may other excellent bands such as the distinctly more urban themed Kowloon Walled City; incidentally if you missed it, some of the Swampers now have something to do with Doommantia). Meteor City picked up the band and reissued the album last year, making it now one of my favorite albums of two different years. It is currently one of the $6.66 “Killer Deals” at All That Is Heavy making it one hell of a deal measured in awesome-per-dollar.

It’s gotten a lot of mention from me here on this site as well, which is a lot of words expended on a band with such a scant quantity of recordings out in a two-year span. Probably because I like it a lot. Of course, I’m a sucker for drummer-bassist duos. The fuzz bass is often thickened up with an octave pedal giving it a majestic church-organ-like tone. Stylistically Olde Growth draw from a wide area of doom and psychedelic metal in their riffs and variations of tempos and vocal tones. Many sections have a distinctly bell-bottom vibe, especially those with melodic vocals, fittingly with the mystical and nature themes in the lyrics. Other tracks involve epic battles or fantasy themes. Opener “The Grand Illusion” is particularly notable for describing 20th century warfare in rewind, with such imagery as planes flying backwards vacuuming up bombs. Darker passages, sometimes touching on warfare and/or destruction, draw tastefully from death doom and sludge; “Cry of the Nazgul” (the first section of a three-part track) works a spot-on Noothgrush impression. I’d also definitely recommend this band to Yob fans.

Credits list only the two band members Stephen LoVerme on bass and vocals and Ryan Berry on drums but a couple other sounds pop up. I could swear there’s a guitar solo in “Life in the Present”; “Red Dwarf” is a short synthesizer space-out forming an intermezzo between “Sequoia” and the rest of the album’s second half such that it flows as a kind of suite, intentionally or not, and somewhere in the instrumental “Everything Dies” I’m almost certain I hear some mellotron. Or maybe this could all be clever use of effects on the bass.

Olde Growth should be wrapping up a tour tonight wherein probably the closest they came to Des Moines was Grand Rapids, Michigan but they definitely deserve some attention further west.

Hal McGee brings together a compilation of experimental music prominently featuring the various flavors of the Korg Monotron, a line of cute li’l battery-operated, pocket-sized, insanely fun analog synthesizers:

(Incidentally, I didn’t make it onto this one, but a lot of good stuff did.)

That’s right fuckers, this Molting joint is ready to go. Apart from me and Moe’s personal copies and a couple review copies I’ll be sending off soon, there are only 10 for sale ever. 30 minutes of mind-melting harsh noise that changes every few seconds like someone flipping channels on an old TV up full blast and yet somehow manages to be fun and have an abstract sense of humor to it. May cause your eyeballs to vibrate uncontrollably. $4 ppd to centipedefarmer at gmail dot com. Check out the catalog page, since you’re thinking about it.

Lava Church, a really cool cassette label out of Florida that deals in a wide variety of lo-fi music and noise sounds, is celebrating their 1-year anniversary with a whole big knot of releases expected the second week of May, and each to include a trading card of the artist(s). One of these releases, incidentally, is a split tape by Distant Trains and Consistency Nature, a nifty noisy fellow whose stuff is definitely worth your time checking out. Label Honcho Pat McBratney will be in on the action with a new Lovebrrd tape. Read all about it here and be sure to stroll through the site checking out their fine catalog.

Huge awesome experimental music compilation put together by the folks at The Chestnut Tree radio show. Yes, Distant Trains is on this one too. So are like 50+ other sound artists worth checking out. Neon Lushell is one of them. And, since I’ve mentioned them a few times, Marax is too. Free download, go here now.

Jad Fair has had a career that has spanned the better part of four decades, one of the last true original American voices in popular music.  From his seminal band Half Japanese to his solo career and collaborations with everyone from Yo La Tengo and Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair is a voice of rational innocence that should not be ignored.


W**hat first gave you that push to be creative?

** I don’t feel I need to have a push. It’s all very natural. I don’t need to push it. It’s just there.

**Do you see any other musicians or artists as a direct influence on your craft?

** I’ve never tried to sound like anyone other than myself. The bands I listened to the most when I was young were MC5, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, and The Stooges. I’m sure they all influenced me, but I don’t think I sound like any of them.

I’m also a huge fan of The Shaggs, The Modern Lovers, Daniel Johnston, and NRBQ. They all went the direction they wanted without a need to follow someone else’s path.

**Many of the musicians that you’ve mentioned liking have been of the outsider or off-center genius persuasion, do you think that the storied history of these musicians has helped or detracted from getting them the attention that they deserved?

** It helps to bring attention, but often the focus isn’t where it should be. The focus should be on the quality of the work.  Daniel Johnston is an amazing songwriter. He’s a great poet and has a strong sense of melody and timing. He’s very natural and fluid in what he does. A lot of people recognize that, but many don’t.

**You now spend your time split between doing music and visual art, is there one that you prefer?

** It’s great to be able to do both. My main focus now is paper cutting. I’ve had lot of exhibitions, and put out several books.  I still enjoy playing music, but it’s hard to make a living off of music unless you travel a lot. When I tour now I try to keep it short.

**It would seem that the myth that you have to be slightly unhinged is getting to be nearly as big as the idea that you have to do drugs to be creative, what is your opinion on this trend?

** It’s a trend in music and art. There are many galleries dealing with outsider art. I think it’s great that some artists and musicians that in the past weren’t given an outlet for their work. The downside of it is that you have a lot of artists playing it up. I’m not keen on that.

**What do you think of the current state of music, and of the visual art communities?

** I think there’s always great musicians and artists, but often the best ones are not given the attention they deserve.

There’s very little I’m impressed by today in popular music.

**What keeps you going?  Is there any current artists inspire you?

** I keep going because I enjoy doing it, and because it’s my job. I need to do it.

I really like what Daniel Smith is doing. It’s a good mix of art and music.

**Through all the adversity that you’ve faced in getting your music just out there in front of people, what kept that voice of doubt at bay?

** I’ve never had a voice of self doubt, but I have found it frustrating that the music media is as narrow minded and conservative as it is.

I’ve had so much stupid stuff written about me. I get treated with more respect in the art world.

**Is there any upcoming projects that you would want us to mention?

** I’ll have a new album out soon with Gilles Rieder. I’m working on albums now with my brother David, and on one with Norman Blake.

In particular, “I <3 Feedback”, new today from Muchausen Sound:

This compilation focuses on Feedback, Harsh Noise, HNW & just plain extreme chaos.

So with that said, BE WARNED that due to the nature of this release, artists and recording styles, volume levels WILL vary from track to track. Enjoy your tinnitus!

Compiled and released concurrently, but with no Distant Trains among its many stellar artists, a compilation of dark ambient called “Overcome By Shadows”:

Bam, here they are: this bad cell-phone photo is supposed to be of all 50 cassette copies of the new Distant Trains album, “Teen Lust”. Considering my recent re-entanglements in the noise scene, this is a fairly tame release, most of it split between song-oriented stuff and instrumentals. Some of it has been up on my Soundcloud page for a bit at one time or another and of course there will be a digital version on bandcamp too. Anyone who wants one of these gorgeous tapes, get in touch at centipedefarmer at gmail dotcom. Or in person, if you figure on seeing me somewhere.

“Cell Your Soul is compilation consisting of tracks by 37 international audio artists. Artist made recordings with the voice recorder function of their cellular telephones.”


For Ben Bennett, any implement is fair game if it makes a sound, but especially if it’s cheap, homemade, broken, or just generally not something you’d find sold in a music store. For the second half of track 6 on Wiperwill, “How to Make an Important Decision”, the main sound seems to be of a chair being dragged around the floor; “I Was Sleeping On Top of Pine Trees, A Giant Pack of Wolves Knocked Over My Bed” sounds like a close-miked recording of Ben’s own heartbeat and breathing. In a performance video that the Vaudeville Mews used on their web site for the February 26 show, Ben plays from inside a cardboard appliance box, eliciting sounds from the box itself. Drum heads not attached to drums, pots and pans, cans, various bits of metal, wood, and rubber, and droning atonal homemade wind instruments (played with circular breathing?) are the main sources of sound used in his work, such that at his more rhythmic, percussive moments he might just as easily be a street musician as someone you’d find performing in art galleries. A blurring of the boundaries between primitivism and art may actually be part of the point, and Ben isn’t messing around. The titles of the tracks on Wiperwill suggest having been made up post facto, but track 9 is called “It’s Not Just Willy-Nilly”, and then there’s the bio I read that actually opens with the phrase “Ben Bennett is a totally legit musician” — perhaps meant to make you wonder why one might feel the need to clarify that point right off the bat.

Any way you look at it, however, Ben is fascinating to watch or hear. He evidently started out as a drummer and/or percussionist and started getting more experimental ideas, about stripping down his instrumentation to its most basic elements of things that vibrate, about the essence of sound itself and the physicalities of its production. He makes use of the acoustics of whatever room he’s placed in, even moving about the venue in search of the best spot for his sound waves to reverberate against each other. Wiperwill consists of unaltered live acoustical recordings of short pieces ranging from blasts of driving, clattering percussion rhythms some might describe as “tribal”, to drones that sometimes sound like a time-stretched honking of a goose. It is impossible to let this music fade into the background — it is bracing, demands your attention, and positively begs to be played out in the open room on some good speakers, where it is likely to make your neighbors wonder what the hell is going on at your place.