Friday, April 30, 2010

Lysol - (1992)

Originally and notoriously known as Lysol before the company behind said household product had something to say on the matter (early copies with the original information can be found), Melvins was in many ways the pinnacle of the band at that point. Besides being the full-length farewell to indie rock labels, at least for a few years, it also showed an ambition that arguably they wouldn't have been to fulfill while on Atlantic. Though there are six separate songs on the disc, it is mastered and assembled as one megacomposition, in ways making it the perfect counterpart to the previous year's solo projects. The logical extension of the sheer monstrosity of the band's work up to that time, with longer and longer songs, its first two parts alone are jawdroppers. "Hung Bunny," which takes up the first third of the whole half-hour effort, begins with Osbourne's slabs of feedback and wordless vocals, with only very occasional drum-and-bass hits punctuating them. They rev up in full toward the end as the song shifts into "Roman Dog Bird," which easily stakes a claim as being the most Sabbath-like number the band had yet done — huge, moving at a snail's pace, and with Osbourne's already on-the-edge vocals flanged and distorted like crazy. One of the most interesting things about Melvins is that in among the mayhem, there are two cover versions included — both equally understandable sources of inspiration, both comprehensively Melvin-ized. Flipper was an obvious role model for the Melvins' slow-as-it-goes rumble, thus the trudging treatment of "Sacrifice" here. Meanwhile, none other than Alice Cooper himself gets the nod with "The Ballad of Dwight Fry," which actually slots into the whole presentation scarily well (and displays, wonder of wonders, subtlety). (

Murderer EP - (2003)

Murderer is a 10" EP released in 2003. Limited to 2000 copies worldwide. 1000 copies on black vinyl (not numbered )in the US, 500 copies on translucent red colored vinyl (numbered) in Europe, and the final 500 copies on clear vinyl, to be sold in a boxed set once the series of Vinyl Films 10" releases is completed. In addition to the 2000 declared copies, there exists "promotional" copies that were pressed on dark red/black swirl.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Secrets EP - (2009)

Considering the malleability of shoegaze—how it’s really just a bunch of tones and layered textural effects—you’d think there’d be more experimentation with it beyond the My Bloody Valentine school of bowl-rumbling beautiful noise. But most people like to travel in that same vein, and we really can’t even be very mad at that. As long as it sounds good, right? Kites Sail High deviate just enough to catch our attention, drawing out warbled effects and an acoustic guitar loop until the whole thing crosses some imaginary line in the sand between a Jay Dilla beat tape and an entire generation of dudes who collect guitar pedals like they were baseball cards. (

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Put The Creep On - (1994)

Put the Creep On is a good example of extreme. Live and loud (and ostensibly recorded in under two hours), the eleven-track debut is a dissonant deluge of disaffected sonics, although it's anybody's guess what the hell Forbes is ranting about. Could be scatological (see "Edible Tuber"), but regardless of lyrical context (content?!), the scruffy quintet cranks, twists and pummels out a worthy and palpable din that at its best perverts Beefheart (through a Clawhammer filter) and at its worst gets unwanted houseguests out of the living room pronto. Hunting for buried melodicism? Keep looking — maybe behind that yowling over there.

Je m'Appelle Babe EP - (1993)

For most of the encouraging six-song Je m'Appelle Babe, the trio focuses the skittish mania of its presentation while maintaining the feverish level of think-tank activity. "S'Good" actually has a regular-type chorus; "Tattoos" and "Agent 6950" are almost normal enough to play safely with the other children, while "Everybody Want$ You" sets Thomas' own wordplay against a relatively straight rendition of the 1982 Billy Squier hit. But any presumption that the trio's artistic resolve might be softening evaporates in "Spin the Bottle," a disturbing Adrian Belew-meets-Devo space exploration.

Torture Garden - (1990)

From the violent cover art to the Japanese text inside the album, at first glance one might mistake Torture Garden for a fetishist soundtrack. But jazz madman John Zorn and Boredoms frontman Yamatsuka Eye assembled another group of open-minded musicians to carry on their vision of grindcore and jazz uniting. Distinguished musicians Wayne Horovitz and Bill Frisell help Zorn and Eye take this from a curious side project to a fantastic metal band. Songs blur together but never get boring, no lyrics are actually sung, and few songs last longer than a minute. It also never takes itself seriously, a nice relief from Zorn's heavy-handed ambient collaborations. This would make a great introduction to the noise/jazz efforts that this group of musicians pioneered in the early '90s.

*** 7" SINGLE ***
Live In Vienna - (1983)

1. Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)
2. Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth - played backwards) 3. Another Land

Monday, April 26, 2010

Re-Entry - (1995)

Re-Entry is a nonetheless pleasantly disorienting, infectious collection of dub-heavy experimental ambient. Split pretty evenly between uptempo beatoriented tracks and droney, abstract, effects-laden material, the album is a nice introduction to dark, post-rave ambient dub. Frequent collaborators Kevin Martin and Justin Broadrick (who've worked together on such projects as God and Ice) make up Techno Animal, a beat-oriented ambient group who fuse elements of dub-style production with thick, slightly paranoid melodic themes and heavily treated electronic rhythms. Although both Martin and Broadrick have their fingers in a number of different ongoing projects (most notably God with the former and Godflesh and Final with the latter), Techno Animal represents their most clearly focused and successful outlet of electronics-based composition. The pair released a debut album, Ghosts, on Martin's Pathological label in 1994, followed by a double-CD on Virgin, Re-Entry, before signing with the Rising High subsidiary Blue Angel in 1996. Techno Animal Versus Reality followed in 1998. Closely associated with other post-industrial dub and dark ambient merchants such as Mick Harris (Napalm Death, Scorn) and Bill Laswell (Automaton, Silent Recoil), both Broadrick and Martin, like Harris and Laswell, have been involved in a wide array of different recording projects ranging from monochrome ambient to death metal, industrial, and experimental jazz. Broadrick also doubles as a club DJ, and Martin works as a music journalist and critic, penning the liner notes to the celebrated Macro Dub Infection compilation and contributing regularly to new music magazines such as The Wire and Alternative Press. In 1999, the duo recorded the split-LP Symbiotics with Porter Ricks. The following year, Techno Animal signed to Matador and released The Brotherhood of the Bomb in 2001. (

Disc 1

Disc 2

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pohádky Ze Zapotrebi - (1995)

The Czech ensemble Uz Jsme Doma debuted in 1985 (tenor saxophonist Jinda Dolansky is the only survivor of the original line-up). Mirek Wanek and Romek Hanzlik joined in 1986. Wanek quickly established himself as the main composer. They play highly creative and dynamic music in a style that recalls both new wave and progressive-rock, but with punk-rock verve. They mix cabaret, folk, Japanese noise-rock, ethnic music, classical music, funk, ska, hard-rock, evoking Captain Beefheart, the Residents, the Boredoms, Chumbawamba and God only knows what else.As much a multi-media collective as a band, Uz Jsme Doma (pronounced ooze smeh DOUGH-ma, and translatable either as "Now We're at Home," or "Now I Get It") has encountered much tribulation at home in the Czech Republic (where rock music was not exactly welcome when the band began in 1985) and varying degrees of ignorance elsewhere. The music is skittish and unpredictable, incorporating rock elements without the influence of Anglo-American song structure. Led by lyricist-songwriter Mirek Wanek, there are at least six musicians on each album, plus a variety of guests who participate in making the next thing heard around the corner unexpected. From punk beginnings, Uz Jsme Doma makes wide-ranging explorations of Slavic folk melodies with operatic overtones and odd time shifts.

Positronic Raygun - (1998)

1998's Positronic Raygun is a mixed bag. Although Zen's overall mission statement (regurgitating post-MC5 proto-psych-punk-blues for the unsuspecting "me" generation) and signature sound (guitars set on maximum fuzz distortion, frenetic drums, and Marcus Durant's crazed, echo-laden screams) were already pretty much intact, the Delaware group's songwriting wasn't yet entirely up to snuff. Manic instrumental opener "Saucerships to Ragtime" sets the wild, warped (and weird) tone outright, and the re-recorded old single "Trouble Shake," with its insistent shouts to "Wake up in the morning," is certain to rouse even the sleepiest of listeners, maybe even get them to testify. The bluesy piano/harmonica intermission "Roachman" provides a short breather before segueing into further slabs of raucous, unrestrained lunacy, including "Empty Heart," "She's Radar," and the excellent "Tomato Cup," which cleverly disfigures the classic "Dust My Broom" slide riff into near-oblivion. Finally, confirming that they are far from a one-trick pony, Zen Guerrilla whips out the gentle blues ballad "Healing in the Water" as a final reprieve, leading up to the album's soothing denouement a few songs later via the soul loop outro "Frequency Out."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

THX 1138
The Walter Murch Cut - (1971)

To compliment the THX 1138 movie soundtrack which I posted a few months back I just had to go ahead and post this excellent project that was put together by Weil's Time Capsule blog. Here is what was said about it. "I recorded the sound of this first movie of George Lucas on my tape recorder with a microphone near the tv speaker when it was broadcasted on television, around 1973 I think.I listened to this beautiful futuristic soundscape again and again. Till my tape recorder broke and was replaced by a cassette deck. Some years ago THX 1138 came out on dvd, and it had a special feature: the soundtrack without the actors voices. A pity was, that also the voices of the electrogod and robocops were removed, which were essential for the atmosphere to me.So I made my own mix where I brought back the voices of the cops and godmachine. I divided this mix more or less into the chapters of the movie. Another extra on the dvd were comments from Walter Murch you could jump to during the film. I extracted these explanations, removed the ehh's and ahh's, added some sound references and included them too." This is highly recommended listening if you are a fan of the amazing science fiction film. Thanks Weil's. (

"Naked Lunch" Music From The Original Soundtrack - (1992)

You couldn't do much better for a soundtrack to David Cronenberg's adaptation of William S. Burroughs' beat classic than have Ornette Coleman team up with Howard Shore, a film composer who keeps within the strictures of classic film score ideals and colorations, but explores them with the intelligence of Bernard Herrmann. Coleman's free jazz complements the schizophrenia of the film and pays homage to the generation that preceded (and gave birth to) him, while Shore maintains the melancholic dread that powers most Cronenberg films. Like the film — where the Algiers of the story might only be Bill Lee's imagination — Shore uses Arabian elements sparingly, and in the context of the cool New York sound. Wondrous strange. (

Philip Charles Lithman aka Snakefinger - (1993)

Philip Charles Lithman aka Snakefinger is a posthumous collection released by The Residents' fan club organization, Uncle Willie's Eyeball Buddies, or UWEB. It features unreleased tracks spanning Snakefinger's career from 1971 to 1987. The first, second, and last tracks are live performances of songs which were intended to be recorded on the next album ("We hope," Snakey quips to the audience). "Death Collage" is a track assembled by The Residents in tribute to their departed friend. To round out the compilation, some obscure b-sides are included as well as unreleased demos from the mid-1970's.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Warner Bros. Album - (1971)

The Warner Bros. Album is the title of an album's worth of early recordings by the then-unnamed avant garde group, The Residents, sent to the Warner Bros. record label in the hopes of obtaining a record contract. The band mailed it anonymously to Harve Halverstadt, who worked at the label with Captain Beefheart, one of the band's musical heroes. The tape was rejected and returned, addressed to "Residents, 20 Sycamore St., San Francisco". This is the origin of the group's name, which was at first "The Residents, Uninc." but was later shortened to The Residents. The Residents agree that Halverstadt made the right decision, as the tapes were of poor quality. The entire album was broadcast on an Oregon radio station in 1977 during a Residents Radio Festival, and was later heavily reworked for release in 2003 as WB: RMX. Otherwise, the album has never been released.

Dynamo - (2008)

Denmark's Rumpistol has been on the scene for awhile now. Five years ago, he put out his eponymous debut on the now-bustling Rump label; since then, he's been quietly making a name for himself in the electronic music underground. His sound is a glitchy, clicky brew, combining mathematical rhythms with crisp atmospherics and smart melodies. Post-rock-laced "Refleksion," replete with a catchy guitar line, sees Rumpistol at his best; it is a smart, memorable piece of electronic music with connections to early Pluramon work. Five years on the scene have definitely left their mark on Dynamo - professional and original, this is an impeccably polished record worthy of patronage by any keen electronic music enthusiast. Due to their abstract manner, it can be difficult to conceptualize these eight tracks as individual compositions rather than one whole movement, and this sense of unity is magnified by Rumpistol's adherence to a fairly consistent formula. Certainly, certain tracks have different personalities - "Kocmoc" is dreary and meditative, "Beito" is vast and dramatic, and Mouse on Mars-esque "Mobile" is captivatingly skittish. Still, any disparate elements found between tracks come together to form a convincing whole. Perhaps the best aspect of Dynamo is its individuality. Certainly, the concepts contained within are all culled from previous sources – such is the case in electronic music and virtually any genre around today. But the songs themselves, wrapped up and put together, are distinctly Rumpistol's own. And as far as contemporary electronic music goes, they're top of the line. (

Honeymoon In Red - (1987)

Lydia Lunch collaborated with a wide variety of musicians on Honeymoon in Red, including Clint Ruin (later known as Jim Foetus), Roland S. Howard and the Birthday Party. The result isn't that much different from the standard Lunch album, but it has a stronger collection of songs than her average album, and the Birthday Party captures the sound of urban life imploding, which is the sound Lunch is always striving to achieve.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Attack Of The Killer Black Eye Ball - (2009)

Spin-off from visual artist Ukawa Naohiro's Ukawanimation! project, the XXX Residents are a mysterious multimedia cosplay unit paying tribute to The Residents. Inside of the eyeballs, it is rumored that Ukawa himself is joined by musicians from iLL, Cicada... Also featured is an appearance by Japanese "noise god" Merzbow. The Japanese band are an electronical version of the original. They dress up like The Residents and they use a lot of Residents' samples and patterns.

*** 7" SINGLE ***
Rats & Monkeys / Collapse - (1979)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

City Of Fear - (1980)

The last album FM released before going into hiatus, City of Fear showed the band moving more toward a pop sound while still retaining a firm grip on their progressive rock tendencies; though you could certainly point toward either Rush or Yes as comparison points for the sound of this album, it would probably be more accurate to look at the forward-thinking Peter Gabriel albums from around the same period. The production is very crisp, songs are fairly tightly written, and there's a fairly dark and menacing edge to the sound here — keyboards and other electric/electronic instruments add a fairly dissonant edge to the otherwise traditional songwriting, which adds a very fitting claustrophobic feel for an album so titled.

"Pulp Fiction" Music From The Motion Picture - Collector's Edition - (1994, 2002)

The soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's darkly funny crime classic Pulp Fiction manages to recreate the film's wildly careening sense of style, violence, and humor by concentrating on the surf music that comprises the bulk of the movie's incidental music and adding a few sexy oldies integral to the film's story ("Let's Stay Together," "Son of a Preacher Man," "You Never Can Tell"). Of course, the inclusion of dialogue and Urge Overkill's seductive cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" don't hurt either. The two-CD collector's edition adds a second disc consisting of an interview with Quentin Tarantino (previously posted) and appends four more songs to the original soundtrack: "Since I First Met You" by the Robins, "Rumble" by Link Wray, "Strawberry Letter #23" by Brothers Johnson, and "Out of Limit" by the Marketts.

Grundstuck - (2005)

Grundstück (Grundstueck, also informally known as Supporter Album No. 2) is the second supporter's album by Einstürzende Neubauten, completed in the fall of 2005. It was shipped to supporters (fan club members) in October. The album was offered to supporters in two versions; one is just the audio CD itself, and the other version contains the DVD. This DVD contains material from the November 2004 Grundstück performance from Berlin (at the Palast der Republik). As Perpetuum Mobile picked up where the Supporter Album No. 1 left, so does Grundstück. Besides sharing its name with the last track on Perpetuum Mobile, the album seems to indicate that the dream is now over and opens with the potency the new day holds.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Imperial F.F.R.R. - (1992)

On this album, Unrest fleshes out the pop promise of their early singles, and expands on their pop and experimental background as well. "I Do Believe You Are Blushing," "Cherry Cream On," "Suki," "Isabel," and "June" are still some of the band's best songs, mixing high-energy guitars and subjects like girls and death to infectious effect. A near-perfect album of indie pop.

Dial 'M' For Motherfucker - (1989)

The title — shortened to Dial 'M' on the packaging — is certainly an attention-getter, but this may just be one of Pussy Galore's more listenable, downright likable releases. The songs are more substantial and the production cleaner (if far from slick). The combination of loud guitars, rattle-trap percussion, and growled/shouted vocals hasn't really changed, but there's more depth to the din. Granted, PG were still kicking out the jams sans bass (kind of like Beat Happening's evil twin) — but the sound is fuller, less tinny. The biggest change, however, is that the lyrics don't seem designed merely to offend. Sure, there's plenty of profanity flying around, but it's used more for spice than as the main ingredient. Spencer and crew seem more concerned about having a good time than pissing everybody off. If that means throwing a little funk into the mix, so be it. "Understand Me" and "Dick Johnson" are particularly successful attempts to bring some groove to the noise. Some of the other tracks fall into the filler category, but there are still more hits than misses. The end result is that Dial 'M' for Motherfucker sounds more like a blueprint for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion than the PG of Corpse Love, the useful collection of their hard-to-find 1985-86 material. The fact that Spencer handles most of the vocals, which were previously shared with Julia Cafritz — who would soon exit the band — only reinforces that impression.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sing No Evil - (1984)

On 1984's Sing No Evil, Half Japanese was in their prime. The band's punk roots were mixed with free jazz influences, creating a rowdy indie rock classic. Jad Fair's bratty, youthful vocals intermingle with horns on the opening track, "Firecracker Firecracker." "Dearest Darling" is a gritty and energetic ode to a lost love. "Tell Me I'm Wrong" is a vibrant redefinition of jazz-rock fusion. The title track is a catchy, horn-laced instrumental, while "Rub Every Muscle" and "Acupuncture" serve as mid-'80s do-it-yourself anthems. The music is breezy on "I Have a Secret," while "House of Voodoo" is, not surprisingly, eerie and challenging. "Ball and Chain" closes the disc. It is highlighted by Jad Fair's hearty screams. David Fair performs percussion and backing vocals, while Mark Jickling performs guitar and John Dreyfuss and Richard LaBrie check in on saxophone and drums, respectively. Howard Wuelfing rounds out the group on bass guitar. No fewer than seven guest musicians (including Don Fleming) are featured on Sing No Evil. Originally released on the Iridescence Records label, Drag City re-released the album in 2000. (

TNT - (1998)

Expected by many to continue leading the post-rock brigade into a new fusion with dub and electronics, Tortoise instead turned yet another corner with their third album, TNT. Adding guitarist Jeff Parker to cement their musicianship as well as their connections to Chicago's fertile jazz/avant-garde scene, the band returned with a record of post-modern cool jazz, only slightly informed by the dub, Krautrock, and electronics of Millions Now Living Will Never Die. It shows from the first few seconds — a lazy, slightly free drum solo frames a few tentative guitar chords and some teased effects, before the band kicks in with a holds-barred jam that encompasses a tremulous solo from trumpeter Rob Mazurek. With engineer/mixer/drummer John McEntire and company adding only a few post-production frills to the mix — and those so complementary and subdued that they rarely even sound like effects — TNT comes off as a surprisingly organic record. The evocative Spanish-style guitar on "I Set My Face to the Hillside" plays over an assortment of playground sounds, while "The Suspension Bridge at Iguazú Falls" deconstructs a classically angular Tortoise groove and re-emerges with an evocative, deeply affecting groove over shimmering vibes and precision guitar lines. There are plenty of nods to post-rock touchstones like Krautrock ("Swing From the Gutters"), dub, and minimalism ("Ten-Day Interval"), but Tortoise hardly sounds like a difficult band here. Instead of forcing studio experimentation to become an end to itself, the band mastered — with a single, deft statement — the far more difficult lesson of making technology work for the music.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cow Fingers And Mosquito Pie - (1991)

Cow Fingers and Mosquito Pie is a magically weird 19-song collection of the bizarre shouter's mid-'50s OKeh/Epic output, when he was at the height of his strange and terrifying vocal powers. In addition to the prerequisite "I Put a Spell on You," and the surreal rockers "Yellow Coat," "Hong Kong," "Alligator Wine," and "Little Demon"; there's the amusing "There's Something Wrong With You"; a previously unissued "You Ain't Foolin' Me"; and a deranged takeoff on the cowboy ditty "Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle." And what Screamin' Jay Hawkins does to the formerly stately "I Love Paris," and "Orange Colored Sky" is truly indescribable!.

The Rope - (1986)

The debut Black Tape album, especially in light of the band's later efforts, makes for an interesting listen in retrospect. On the one hand, much of what would make Black Tape so distinct is already in place: vocalist Oscar Herrera's passionate interpretation of Rosenthal's romantically obsessed lyrics, Rosenthal's own moody, haunting contributions on keyboards, atmospheric instrumental pieces, and more. "Hide in Yourself," later featured on the A Teardrop Left Behind compilation, is an especially good example. On the other hand, The Rope is fairly rough and ready in comparison to something like Ashes in the Brittle Air or Remnants of a Deeper Purity, including some of the most explicitly rock-oriented material the group ever recorded. In part this is due to multi-instrumentalist Allan Kraut, who contributes drums, guitar, and bass, or some combination of them, on about half the tracks, along with writing three of the songs with Rosenthal. Also, the sheer depth of later Black Tape music makes the comparatively less full arrangements here sound more like demos. By no means is this criticism, it's just that those expecting the Black Tape aesthetic to have been fully formed from the start will be initially surprised with The Rope, but will find its charms to be plentiful in the end. Certainly one inspired constant of the band — the use of numerous guest performers on any particular album — pays dividends here. Two violinists, Candy Sherlock and Lara Radford, contribute haunting airs to a number of songs, while clarinet and cello both appear on the lovely instrumental "Seven Days Till Sunrise." Adam Buhler's subtle guitar work on "Within These Walls" matches Herrera and Kim Prior's vocals while nicely offsetting the rough drumming, while on the sweetly beautiful title track, the combination of violin, clarinet, vocals, and electronics is simply, perfectly enchanting. (

Friday, April 9, 2010

Psychic, Powerless, Another Man's Sac - (1984)

The Surfers' Touch and Go debut remains their highlight for many fans, an inspired blast of ugly noise, knowing idiocy, drugged-out insanity and some backhanded surprises. Haynes is still relatively interpretable here; the vocal distortions are only on a few songs, like the opening "Concubine," and what one can't quite understand one can still sense. The band's self-production brings out the mighty rumbles of drummers Coffey and Nervosa and Leary's avant-junkyard guitar work with clarity and a big, thick punch. Leary begins with screwy blues and gentle strums, then cranks up the amps and lets fly. The band also officially recorded their semi-theme song "Butthole Surfer," after which they were accidentally named; the bizarro backing vocals and sudden sped-up shifts at the end are just part of the oddities on display. "Negro Observer" is one of the most straightforward, calmest songs of the bunch, and even that's saying something, with Haynes going off about the title characters — described as aliens coming to "count heads in singles bars" — like a barely stable street crazy, insane laughter and all. When it comes to full-on craziness, though, nothing beats the obscene "Lady Sniff," which sounds like an amped-up blues act fronted by a 100-year-old man, and the hallucinatory "Mexican Caravan," with Haynes raving about "that heroin BROWN!" The nods to rock history are subtle but present, from the Black Sabbath-quoting (specifically "Children of the Grave") opening rhythm of "Dum Dum" to the fried Tex/Mex-ranting of "Gary Floyd," written about the legendary Dicks bandleader. However, the Surfers' crazy blend is completely distinctive, taking punk and the inspiration of their acid-addled Texas forebears to new heights. (

Rape On The Installment Plan - (2000)

Boasting a veritable who's who of noise rock, the Heroine Sheiks' Reptilian Records debut is anything but categorically simple. In fact, from this radioactive sea-foam of New York art-scum noise — from guitarist Norman Westberg — and left-field Midwestern acid-damaged punk rock — from vocalist Shannon Selberg — comes a wacko, purely crystallized noise rock revival album. The Heroine Sheiks — and Rape on the Installment Plan — is significantly tighter, and more musically adept, than the one parent group — the Cows — and more boisterous, song-oriented, and catchy than the other parent group — the Swans. As he had begun doing on the Cows' final album, Sorry in Pig Minor, Selberg again proves himself a screwball multi-instrumentalist, playing keyboard and bugle, while singing in his trademark sneer. Something off the beaten track, for certain.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Not Available - (1978)

This is one of the strangest and most interesting recordings in rock history, which speaks volumes coming from one of the strangest and more interesting bands in rock history. Not Available used what was referred to as "the theory of obscurity" (which called for the album to not be released until its makers literally forgot about its existence). It is said to be, questionably, the Residents' second recorded album (in 1974, only to be released in 1978 after utilizing "the theory of obscurity"). A highly underrated and forgotten achievement in the Residents' body of work, Not Available is such an incredible recording to experience that it simply and truly cannot be classified as being like another. While the Residents have experimented within the confines of rock throughout their entire careers, with the exceptions of Eskimo, The Commercial Album, and God in Three Persons, this album achieves like no other. A surreal rock opera resulting in an incredibly weird circus of sound, it is one that simply must be heard to be believed.

Psyence Fiction - (1998)

James Lavelle and DJ Shadow are unequal partners in UNKLE, with the former providing the concept and the latter providing music, which naturally overshadows the concept, since the only clear concept — apart from futuristic sound effects, video-game samples, and merging trip-hop with rock — is collaborating with a variety of musicians, from superstars to cult favorites Kool G Rap, Alice Temple, and Mark Hollis (who provides uncredited piano on "Chaos"). Since Shadow's prime gift is for instrumentals, the prospect of him collaborating with vocalists is more intriguing than enticing, and Psyence Fiction is appropriately divided between brilliance and failed experiments. Shadow and Lavelle aren't breaking new territory here — beneath the harder rock edge, full-fledged songs, and occasional melodicism, the album stays on the course Endtroducing... set. Shadow isn't given room to run wild with his soundscapes, and only a couple of cuts, such as the explosive opener, "Guns Blazing," equal the sonic collages of his debut. Initially, that may be a disappointment, but UNKLE gains momentum on repeated listens. Portions of the record still sound a little awkward — Mike D's contribution suffers primarily from recycled Hello Nasty rhyme schemes — yet those moments are overshadowed by Shadow's imagination and unpredictable highlights, such as Temple's chilly "Bloodstain" or Badly Drawn Boy's claustrophobic "Nursery Rhyme," as well as the masterstrokes fronted by Richard Ashcroft (a sweeping, neo-symphonic "Lonely Soul") and Thom Yorke (the moody "Rabbit in Your Headlights"). These moments might not add up to an overpowering record, but in some ways Psyence Fiction is something better — a superstar project that doesn't play it safe and actually has its share of rich, rewarding music. (

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Further - (1995)

Thanks to its release on Drag City and an increasingly higher profile (and rabid fan base), Further turned out to be FSA's breakthrough, at least in cult terms. Even Rolling Stone reviewed the album (amusingly pairing it with a modern Pink Floyd live release), but Further was anything but a corporate sellout. Rather, the twosome achieved a new balance of delicacy and power, heightened in noticeable part by Pearce's increasingly assertive singing. His vocal approach of extended sigh as singing hadn't changed, but his words had a new clarity and crisper delivery, with fine results. Otherwise, FSA stayed the same general course musically, but again the arrangements provide the difference, with the unplugged folk side of Pearce's music now firmly taking the fore on songs like the extended, multipart "For Silence," often with gentle reverb or extra studio effects that make the songs all that much more intriguing. It's not quite Bert Jantsch or John Fahey redux, but there's a definite sonic connection there that's well worth the hearing. Other highlights are the clear acoustic notes cutting through the hum and drone of the majestic "In the Light of Time" or the buried waves of electric guitar in counterpoint to the gentle picking on "Come and Close My Eyes" — the latter accompanied at the end with what sounds like a typewriter, without sounding jarring or out of place. No compromises were aimed at radio-friendly unit shifters — opening track "Rainstorm Blues," a roaring feedback squall ascending and descending in volume, got further accompaniment from hard-to-place crumbles and squeals, Brook's growling bass work setting the mood even stranger. Brook herself gets a lovely moment of vocal glory on "Still Point," her voice even more soft and restrained than Pearce's, rising through a striking squall of sound and, once again, upfront acoustic guitar.

Songs About Fucking Steve Albini - (2010)

Not quite the indie-hardcore-techno meltdown that the title might indicate, Kid606's first full-length for Important Records is an all-analog, virtually beatless recording. It finds Miguel Depedro feeding his analog sound sources into his computer for a little processing, then spitting out the results onto two-inch analog tape (which was then helpfully reconfigured for digital audiences). It's an intriguing record, not just because of the means but the end, as well — the record sounds nothing like the usual retro-analog nostalgia, usually inspired by the twin towers of '80s electronic music: video games and film soundtracks. Depedro retains the harsh, fibrous tones of his analog synth, and layers occasional added sounds gathered from similarly low-tech devices like radio or microphone. Songs About Fucking Steve Albini is hardly a low-attention-span indie-dance record — which makes sense, considering the label it appeared on — but instead a challenging record of constantly mutating sounds. (

Bedside Companion EP - (1978)

This recording is the first release from Nash. It is a 45 RPM, four-track 12" EP called Bedside Companion. When, later that year, dj Ben Marsden played this record on the radio, but at 33 RPM. Since the music is instrumental, the songs didn't sound any weirder, only slower and heavier. Listeners picked their favorite songs from both speeds. For that reason, Nash decided to put both versions, the original 45 RPM as well as the 33 RPM (now titled The Marsden Versions), onto his Blind Windows CD release along with his first album Dreams And Nightmares.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Songs For Drella - (1990)

John Cale, the co-founder of The Velvet Underground, left the group in 1968 after tensions between himself and Lou Reed became intolerable; neither had much charitable to say about one other after that, and they seemed to share only one significant area of agreement — they both maintained a great respect and admiration for Andy Warhol, the artist whose patronage of the group helped them reach their first significant audience. So it was fitting that after Warhol's death in 1987, Reed and Cale began working together for the first time since White Light/White Heat on a cycle of songs about the artist's life and times. Starkly constructed around Cale's keyboards, Reed's guitar, and their voices, Songs for Drella is a performance piece about Andy Warhol, his rise to fame, and his troubled years in the limelight. Reed and Cale take turns on vocals, sometimes singing as the character of Andy and elsewhere offering their observations on the man they knew. On a roll after New York, Reed's songs are strong and pithy, and display a great feel for the character of Andy, and while Cale brought fewer tunes to the table, they're all superb, especially "Style It Takes" and "A Dream," a spoken word piece inspired by Warhol's posthumously published diaries. If Songs for Drella seems modest from a musical standpoint, it's likely neither Reed nor Cale wanted the music to distract from their story, and here they paint a portrait of Warhol that has far more depth and poignancy than his public image would have led one to expect. It's a moving and deeply felt tribute to a misunderstood man, and it's a pleasure to hear these two comrades-in-arms working together again, even if their renewed collaboration was destined to be short-lived. (

Related Posts with Thumbnails