One of my favorite Sockeye recordings. Tracks from it got re-used on other releases later but they don’t compare to the experience of hearing this thing straight through. It’s supposedly a live recording, though it’s unclear whether there’s any audience present besides Sockeye themselves - but they do a fine job of heckling themselves. The “stage banter” on this thing is utterly legendary, as are songs like “Your Dick Is A Junkie” and the band’s skill at careening from one blast to the next; it’s some of the tightest “sloppy” playing you’ll ever hear.
While I’ve been rebuilding what I’ve taken to calling “The Media Hoard” here, I’ve run across a few items that I decided to leave down because they can be found at these bandcamp pages:
Iowa Basement Tapes Archives: a Bandcamp site run by Kristian Day of the Iowa Basement Tapes radio show and podcast, collecting a wealth of Iowa underground music history. A few items there are even contributed from my own collection, including Kristian’s own superior digitization of the Lid 11 “Black Industrial Diamonds” cassette. There is tons of great stuff to discover here.
Mortville Noise: and speaking of Ottumwa, Andy of Captain Three Leg still operates this noisecore label and keeps all its old stuff up. It’s far from being exclusively Iowa artists but there’s quite a bit of old Ottumwa stuff in the back catalog.
Ragman Records: I maintain this account myself collecting the output of a certain young lo-fi scene in Cedar Falls that I was involved with in the late 1990s and related material spanning a few years afterward. We were a weird bunch for sure.
C-90 split tape of two free-improvisation outfits, released on Minneapolis-based E.F. Tapes in 1995. Wrong were a guitar-based free-noise-rock outfit, sometimes a duo, usually a trio (when they had a drummer) from Minneapolis, which included E.F. tapes co-proprietor Emil Hagstrom otherwise known for Cock ESP. I was really into these cats at the time. Jeph Jerman played drums on one of their tracks here via mail collaboration; the first 6 tracks are a live recording with Chad Popple on drums. Finland Subterraund were from Italy and this tape is pretty much all I know about them. Jacopo plays a lot of wild saxophone and a little bit of atonal guitar. They cover Archie Shepp and Sonic Youth on here and dedicate a track to Cock ESP.
Among the acquisitions from my used tape trawling at the old Cedar Falls Co-Op Records was this odd little item. Obviously the cool-looking cover was a factor in the decision to grab it. Musically it’s a horny-on-main concoction of electronic drums, nicely grooving bass lines, gauzy washes of shoegazey guitars reminiscent of Curve, evoking deep-summer heat and steam rising from grates over humidity-glistened city streets at night, with a deep-voiced lead vocalist, mixed right up front, who mostly speaks, sometimes half-sings, occasionally moans, sexually-charged lyrics like Leonard Cohen on a mix of ecstasy and painkillers. Listening to it gives me a bit of that “what if someone walked in on me right now” feeling like I’m watching some cheezy softcore Cinemax shit on someone else’s TV after an after-party. If only they had thought to work in some echoey saxophone while they were at it. The rhythms and swirly guitar give this music some great atmosphere though and it’s hard to resist. Working from clues on the tape and packaging I figured out that this was a project of a guy named John Hanes, well-known in the Bay Area as a drummer who worked with Romeo Void and Chrome; he had a website at purelovepower.com for a while but it seems to be gone now.
A classic 1995 cassette release by some-say-legendary Des Moines home-recording/lo-fi/noise artist Brian Noring, one of many he created and released under the name E H I on his F.D.R. Recordings tape label, and one of my favorite E H I recordings personally. Some of the best lo-fi post-industrial music to come about in ye olde tape scene, ranging from harsh distortion noise to a kind of Casio take on industrial, not far off from what I was exploring as Flight Attendants around the same time but perhaps more coherent.
One of my favorite pastimes in the 1990s was hanging around Co-Op Records in Cedar Falls picking through the used cassette racks looking for stuff that looked interesting, especially anything that looked self-released or like a demo tape. Part of the reason for this was that I had a startling lack of ability to hold down a job consistently in those days so funds to spend on music were limited, and I could score a lot of these sorts of tapes there for as little as $2 each. But also, I was just really interested in anything underground or obscure, and was excited to stumble on unknown gems. I probably drove the management of that place nuts hanging around but maybe they were glad I was there to clear out some of this particular inventory. This is one of the sources for a lot of my cassette collection to this day, in addition to review material that would get mailed in to a zine I wrote for.
This 1993 cassette by someone called Daas is an especially interesting find. The package is immediately eye-catching as the cover insert is a plastic transparency with black printing on it, such that the tape itself is visible through it. If this causes the expectation that you’re in for something interesting, the music more than lives up to it. Four tracks fill up a 60 minute tape with electronic drums, ominous clashy synths, abstract samples, and noisy guitars. Some of it sounds like it could make good soundtrack music for some apocalyptic ’80s action movie. The B side is entirely devoted to a single 27-minute piece “This Depth Venom” which features the closest thing to lyrics on here, a guest spoken-word appearance by someone named Alva Svoboda.
About the only information related to this that I’ve been able to turn up online is this home page for one of the two main members, Art Simon, and a MySpace profile for the other, one Dan Harris, which is of course gone now. It looks from that like Art Simon’s had other music projects, including another Daas tape that I’d love to find. Art hasn’t seen fit to put much in the way of his music up on his site, which is rather a shame. I’m going to try contacting him by email, wish me luck.