THEEE PROOOVING GROUND r-z
cassettes blah blah blah
EAT IT | LIVE AT THE ELVIS ROOM CD
Steve Perley 39 Mo-Sett Ave, Goffstown NH 03045 USA
Fun, lo fi old school punk rock with sweet choruses. Very old school. Most songs are under two minutes. "Record Store" is priceless, sounding like a lost leftover from the soundtrack to REVENGE OF THE NERDS. "working all day in a record store sounds real cool but it's a bore." LIVE AT THE ELVIS ROOM is a bogus King Biscuit take-off complete with insane commercials and weird fade-outs. The whole album is intercut with crazed shit. Fun covers of GG ALLIN, RAMONES and DA GO-GO'S and "Kung Fu Fighting" for extra points. Fast, furious, fun.
Ian C Stewart
THE LOOSESTRIFE SOLO
1627 N Ray Ave, Maryville MO 64468 USA
Fact: Sporadic, non-rhythmic/abstract guitar wanking processed through a butt-load of effects (usually changing from one heavy effect to another in a connected series) to create some different aspects of self-indulgent....noise. Admitted improvisational jams (recorded July 2-13, 1998). Opinion: Sounds like someone tuning a piano with hockey-stick under water while an eel with a tiny microphone crammed against its larynx is dragged across a cello the size of a bus until the whole thing is buried in a shower of new shiny dimes. Then make some fuzz echo around (play with the pan and faders) - add in some gobble-de-gook that sounds like how TED DANSON talked after LESLIE NEILSEN buried him in the sand to be drowned alive and he came back a zombie with his drowned girlfriend in the movie CREEPSHOW. Then some more echoing scratch noise (picks being scraped across stings with a ton of effects). Basically...a guy named THOMAS SUTTER with a guitar, a 4-track and a bunch of effects and a few added elements (and too much time to kill)...of interest to about 5 people...who should probably go out more.
Highland Piano Studios, 10 Highland St, Hooksett NH 03106 USA
Right after I started playing this CD, my roommate CURTIS yelled out, "Windham Hill!" He's right, of course -- he's always right -- so I'll use his exclamation as a fairly convenient jumping-off point. If GEORGE WINSTON and WILLIAM ACKERMAN did an album together, it'd probably sound a lot like REVERIE. Lulling, major-chord-filled melodies...Some nice (if not subdued) finger-picking...Piano ostinatoes...REVERIE has it all, if you're looking for something to play on a quiet moonlit evening, while sipping champagne with your significant other on the deck of your beach house (the one that overlooks Nantucket Sound, of course). Quiet and peaceful, REVERIE would be quite harmless indeed if not for the cover of Pachelbel's "Canon" (which is annoying and quite pedestrian). Didn't GEORGE WINSTON already do that, anyway?
DOHDO VEHDOHDO RULO (ROCK OPERA ABOUT FISHES' HEART ATTACKS)
Kylie Productions, 509a Old York Rd, Wandsworth, london SW18 1TF UK
What the hell language is this in? JOE MORRIS, you're one sick son of a motherfucker. This is the sickest shit I've heard in a very long time, way sicker than any noize or anything. The music is mixed relatively low and is comprised of keyboard noises and live drumming. Then, the sick part: the vocals! What the fuck?!?!?! This dude's voice is like a cry for help, or a drunken plea for attention. And I have no idea what language he's singing in, which makes it all pretty surreal. And highly, incredibly, more than I can describe: FUCKING ANNOYING! But incredibly gripping as well, how sick is that shit?? It's like driving past a car crash, and you just have to look Pretend I'm a famous musician (let's say I'm FATBOY SLIM) and when I go on tour, I play this tape into the main hall for half an hour before my show starts. That would rule. People would be as flipped out as I am right about now. I'm too scared to check out the REYNOLS website though.
Ian C Stewart
RISPERDA | NAPALMED | KYBORG 61 2 | ANEMONE TUBE
NOISE FOR ALL 4-way split
Jiri Pelikan, Opavaska-Poruba, 708 00, 709 Czech Republic
Noise. I don't really have much knowledge about the overall tenets of such a thing as it pertains to recordings as music. So I suppose it's supposed to signify the creator's desire to be "out" or to be "post" or to just act as a lonely hearts club for aggro-geeks. Now I understand everything is permitted etc., but you need even more ability, editing skill etc., if such "freedom" is going to be useful to communicate anything beyond the self reflexive auto-didactic point that anyone can shit on the floor, but who can poop a bust of Lenin? Not these guys. So much of the underpinning philosophy, (unless you just wanna make sheer helliscious /ambient grunt/kak/urk), is from Modern art and Dada-as well as Futurism balls to the wall forward to destruction ideal, that its hard to take this basic fucking with electronics, tone generators, bubbling mud blips etc., as anything but wall paper. Not that I wouldn't wanna here this instead of any sorta Muzak/manipulation when I'm shopping in the local Biggie Mart. RISPERDA sounds like a sample from the movie THE RIGHT STUFF when they are testing the potential astronauts to see how they can concentrate when bombarded with white/pink etc noise. For musical uses of "noise" my humble suggestion is you as a consumer try and find anything by BIOTA @ RER Distribution: Recommended 387 Wadsworth Rd. London SW8 UK
RUHR HUNTER | GRUNTSPLATTER split CD
Glass Throat Recordings, 9 Laurel Pl #6, San Rafael CA 94901 USA
The billionth CD of useless droning sinister ambient noises. I am amazed by the sheer number of people who put out CDs like this; and, moreover, who send them to AUTO for the inescapable bad review. RUHR HUNTER are just plain useless, just some little guitar noise. GRUNTSPLATTER are slightly (I said slightly!) more interesting, like a horror movie soundtrack, but even so, the general feeling is one of cosmic, infinite and all-encompassing boredom. The HENRY MILLER quote doesn't help.
SATELLITE QUARTET 4-way split 2x CD
Satellite Records, 12 Ingestre Place, Soho London W1R 3LP UK
One song each from KARAMASOV, CHRIS BOWDEN + PAUL W TEEBROOKE, YOSSARIAN and SAND in possibly the most wasteful package ever! 4 songs across 2 CDs in one snazzy little package. Wasteful but highly saucy! KARAMASOV goes all wobbly synths and drumset on "Reactionman." Clearly the drummer has studied the book of disco and NEW ORDER open hi-hat action. Uptempo space rock! Fucking nice! Nice too but more technofied is BOWDEN/TEEBROOKE conglomeration outlined above. Synths and a phat-ish drum beat slosh around beneath a violin? Hmmm, okay. String quartet perhaps, it could be any number of string players really. I just watched the film BRAZIL last night, so I gotta wonder if the title "Tuttle" has anything to do with it?!?!??! Pro'lly not. Moving on.
YOSSARIAN rock "My Shy Boy Saint" all triphop like from the start. The vocals though are from several other planets. Singing perhaps through a mild vocoder and rocking like summertime, this track is clearly THE BOMB. I'm all over it. SAND is last with "Hello Mrs Apple," which is distorted drone action with loops. After YOSSARIAN anything sounds fuddy though...
Ian C Stewart
I'M GOING TO HELL CD
PO Box 388068, Chicago IL 60638-8068 USA
"Pure Fucking Metal," it says so right here! The first track is slow and menacing recalling more EXCITER than anything I ever, y'know, actually enjoyed. The vocals are pretty straight deathmetal howling. The guitars are back too far though. And the drums are too prominent, especially the hi-hat. Where's that engineer, I wanna talk to him. "Ready To Rape" is a spastic polka with lyrics that make VENOM sound like MORRISSEY. What was that about tasting blood and milk? And then the song drops into a slow-MAIDEN chug. Several tracks veer toward doom metal, but clearly miss out on the vital elements of misery and romanticism. Instead they stick to the bludgeoning riffs and double-kick drums. And guitar solos! Watch for their next album "FUCKING METAL MOTHERFUCKERS."
Ian C Stewart
SAM'S EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC
SCIENTIST SAM is an audio collagist extraordinaire, looping bits and pieces of things into amazingly catchy compositions. Fragments of top-40, hip-hip, jazz, funk, classic rock and telephone messages are manipulated with a computer and blended into something with a great beat that you could dance to. Unlike a lot of techno music, however, it doesn't get boring because the samples and loops change constantly, repeating a few times then changing into something else. Each piece has a unique sound and feel, changing form from one moment to the next for upwards of ten minutes. It brings to mind the early work of ART OF NOISE, but is decidedly original in scope and technique, and very hard to stop listening to. Excellent.
WELL DONE CD
852 Chestnut Ct, Marengo IL 60152 USA http://jvm.com/scotsdales
Three tracks of acoustic-guitar driven melodic rock. In more cynical times I would characterize this as Heartland Rock . Wind blowing through the cornfields type shit. Straddling the slim border between modern country (at least what I've had osmosised into my brain while trying to flip past the country music video channels in a double-hurry) and COLLECTIVE SOUL's less rawk moments. Layers of twangy (pronounced "twan-jee") Fenders and doubletracked vocals. The drumming tends toward the fussy side, doubling up on the cymbals when perhaps just laying back would be better. "Tainted, Twisted Silence" goes forth into more rockin' areas. Ditto again for the fussy drumming. "Time To Recover" is THE ballad on the end, so syrupy and lint-covered. Note to fellow Cowtowners: two words and a date here. EAST DALLAS. 1987.
Ian C Stewart
SECRET ARCHIVES OF THE VATICAN
Broken Drum Records, 70 Birdhurst Road, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 7EB UK
Drum + bass that could be from India! Highly percussive and sample-friendly, with drum loops merging seamlessly with live hand drums. Synth tweakage and layers of Middle Eastern funk. Throws in some guitars midway through, with pretty fine results. Fretless bass too. Hmm. The beats are slammin'. The production is good and the songs are damn cool, the combination of seemingly contradictory elements is excellent. Were I DJing this week, I'd throw down "Godheadz." Although the rest is rather STUPEFACIENT (adj: stupefying, narcotic) as well...
Ian C Stewart
IL YA UN BEAU COUP DE PETIT CHOSES
Face Like A Smacked Arse, 216 Dividy Rd, Stoke On Trent ST2 95T UK
If you're looking for the ultimate in lo-fi presentations, this tape could be the one for you. Unfortunately no information is provided regarding the artists' identities, the instrumentation used, nor the times during which these unique recordings were created. The only road map the listener is provided with for taking this unusual aural tour is a poor quality, black and white photocopy of a few handwritten words and a faded symbol of a flower. The sounds one hears on the tape are apparently being made by teenage British girls. The recordings all sound like they have been made on an inexpensive portable cassette recorder-no overdubs-everything in real time. These primitive pieces are put together with clicks and hiss and crudely executed edits. The lyrics to many of the songs are often difficult to discern. It sounds like the batteries in the tape deck were wearing out by the end of the tape as the last couple of pieces seem to speed up slightly. This atmosphere is the setting for some one-of-a-kind listening experiences. the artists use a wide variety of sound sources to create their music. I can hear acoustic guitars, harmonicas, flutes, recorders, electric guitars, rattles, home appliances, record albums, radio excerpts, sci-fi excerpts, phone message excerpts, several unidentifiable noise makers, and a large and varied quantity of vocal material. the tape contains several songs with lovely little melodies and carefully thought-out subject material. The "down by the muddy river" section has a particularly rich vocal texture. A lot of the tape consists of live sound collages, created with enthusiasm and intent. A good deal of spoken-word material is incorporated into these collages, including stories about going shoe shopping, dealing with mean English teachers, and dying at twenty-one. Clearly, if you're looking for something to rid you of any commercial contamination, write to Face Like A Smacked Arse for this tape.
SHARE THE WORLD
FROM THE START TO THE BEGINNING
3.5" floppy disk
Andrew Savage 35 Kearsley Road, Sheffield S2 4TE UK
This collection of MIDI and WAV files that one can listen to with a computer is an interesting concept for an album. The pieces sound a bit like 80s-era- videogame theme songs by virtue of the medium, but there are some interesting melodies and ideas in this collection. Nine of the MIDI files form a complete work called FROM THE START TO THE BEGINNING, which is a reference to the way the pieces lead into one another, including the last piece and the first piece, sort of like WAGNER'S "The Ring." Occasionally chaotic and dissonant, but usually catchy and melodic, the bleepy songs are fun to listen to and the ever-changing aspect of the piece keeps it from getting boring. There are two bonus MIDI pieces called "Holiday Tomorrow" and "Midnight Moon" which are good songs in their own right. Two additional WAV files are short vocal-and-guitar segments meant to be looped, so you can hear (in "Start Another Wave") the lyrics "there is no start, there is no end" forever over a pretty melody. An interesting concept and an entertaining album. For those without computers, the album is available on cassette as well.
FIFTEEN YEARS CD
ASKalice, PO Box 246, Yardley, PA 19067-8246 USA
This compilation charts the career of SINISTER DEXTER (aka KEN MILLER), who has been recording songs since 1984 (when, dear readers, I was five years old). The "early" stuff ("Bludgeon the Osmonds" and "The Peter Gunn Theme") is loud and electric guitar-y (like your favorite metal or "alternative" band), "The Sacrifice" sounds a little like "Document"-era R.E.M., the acoustic tracks ("Cheap Sunglasses" and "Double Vision") are fairly uninteresting (in a "blah" kind of way), and the "later" songs ("Children, Canoes, and Dogs," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "Jimmy Carter's Butt" and "The Wonder of it All) are all experimental, audio collages filled with samples (the TV show "48 Hours," VAN MORRISON, EUDORA WELTY, the Indy 500, and PHYLLIS SCHLAFLEY, to name a few) that meander along in an experimental kinda way -- like THE ORB if they didn't really care. In short, there's not much to compare SINISTER DEXTER's CD to, because it covers almost every style known to man (or woman). Overall, though, it does paint a picture of a musician who is willing to try anything -- regardless of how sketchy the output might be.
SIX HOURS ONE WEEK comp CD
SHOW c/o K. Holsaether, Glomstuvegen 72B, 6400 Molde, Norway
Opens with "Five Of Clubs" by SUBARACHNOID SPACE, which features the guitar wonk of MASON JONES of CHARNEL HOUSE. The song is an instrumental rock band workout kind of deal, very low-key despite some hyperactive drumming and a nodding bass line. The guitars on top noodle out and take the mood down. AUBE's "Abrasion" is ten minutes of someone trying to be creative by making sound using only glass. Broken glass mainly, shaken around as percussion. For ten minutes. Did I mention how long this piece is? DELPHIUM rocks "Emperor (Light)" live stylee. Seriously fucked-with breakbeats and other "industrial" samples played back on various keys of the sampler at different pitches. That breakbeat coulda been huge, it's too bad they had to get all artistic with it. Art does nothing for my ass. Next is the eagerly anticipated (by me anyway) BODY LOVERS, which is a collaboration between MICHAEL GIRA formerly of SWANS, and JIM PLOTKIN of OLD and SCORN and other shit. 7 1/2 minutes of monotone loops, funkless tribal drumming and not a hell of a lot else. Hmm. Consider the jury still out on this one. WINDY + CARL do swirly guitar stuff that is basically unrecognizable as such on their "Live AT Go Sound" track. Big rotating masses of notes. ROD MODELL/MIKE SCHOMMER's "Baltic" makes use of "hydrophone recordings of submarine sonar, recorded in the Baltic sea"-- and it sounds like it! A very mixed bag of some very experimental sounds.
Ian C Stewart
VS THE LOBOTOMIZERS split
PO Box 638, Kenmore NY 14217 USA
SKI MASK PLAYS NEW WAVE FOR PERVERTS, DEGENERATES AND SCUM-BAGS that's a pretty accurate title. The first song, "Urinal Mint," opens with some highly 1980 synth action and then Ski comes on shouting about urinal cakes. And then the punk samples some dude taking a whiz and uses it like a damn guitar solo! "Pogo" sounds like distorted NEW ORDER. Goofy shit. "Synthesize Her" is a jittery pseudo-PAULA ABDUL synthojam with vocoded vox.
THE LOBOTOMIZERS FIGHT NOISE WITH NOISE
"Semi Musical Interference" features STAR TREK samples and much howling and screeching feedback. "Styrofoam" proves that someone in THE LOBOTOMIZERS knows how to play a Casio, I guess. Of course any semblance of "music" is quickly dispensed and despatched with hellish feedback. You noize fuxx win again! I quit!
Ian C Stewart
DISEMBODY: THE NEW FLESH CD
Century Media 1453-a, 14th St #324, Santa Monica CA 90404 USA
Holy shit! Vicious. Easily the heaviest thing I've heard all year. SKINLAB is an insanely heavy band, sort of like PANTERA, WHITE ZOMBIE, SEPULTURA and a couple of others thrown together. The guitars are tuned nice 'n low and the riffs are tight and chugging, but also able to pull up melodies now and then. The vocals are in line with the above bands: forceful yelling. The lyrics are pretty damn good, very catchy and empowering in a way. The production is monstrous, there's not a thing out of place. The execution is absolutely glorious and brutal. "I Name My Pain" is a very slow, relatively quiet track, with heaps of guitars and menacing sounds in the background. If I'm ever 18 years old again, I'm getting on SKINLAB's tip for sure.
Ian C Stewart
23 S Princeton Ave, Swarthmore PA 19081 USA
Offensively schlocky acoustic folk-rock with lyrics that would make even DAVID CROSBY cringe. You can hear in the crackling tone of SLICK's voice that he's quite serious about this load of bollocks. The production is mostly decent, with everything slathered in reverb. SLICK can certainly play the acoustic guitar quite well, it's just the balladeer crap he should avoid. An instrumental album of acoustic tunes might be more palatable. Embarrassing.
Ian C Stewart
SPIN AGE BLASTERS
"AN INSTANT ATTRACTION" 7"
Fringe Weird 6107 SE 93rd Ave, Portland OR 97266-5239 USA
Jittery postpunk with angular guitar top-two-strings chording. The singer sounds like MARK E SMITH and the bass player is clearly the star of the band for slaying such a solid foundation. "Baby Cart At The River Styx" seeps in with creepy feeding-back guitar and then some bass-driven punk rock syncopation. "Rakes" is the best track here, but "(In Your) Daddy's Car" ain't slouchy. File under "too adventurous to be punk rock."
Ian C Stewart
"STANDING WITH HIS BACK TO THE DOOR" 7"
Fringe Weird 6107 SE 93rd Ave, Portland OR 97266-5239 USA
THE WATCHERS are the kind of punk band I think the GO-GOs were before they got fat. The singer gurrl is loud and sometimes out of tune and sings very, um, prominently. Very 1977 (or 1987 in my case). SPIN AGE BLASTERS do their patented energetic punk-with-spooky-bits deal on "Neon Mire." Scree-tar solo! THE REUTERS continue the spookypunk theme with "Corrugated Glue." The singer clearly shops at the same quaint voice-shop as JIM THIRLWELL/FOETUS himself. I think they make you gargle with gravel there. The music is damn fine too, bass chording action always gets my scrote in a tingle. THE RACKETBOYS "Siouxsie Sioux" kicks off with a pseudo-SIOUXSIE riff that could've been lifted from any of her records. I'll have to defer to the scholars on precisely which SIOUXSIE track I'm thinking of here. At any rate, THE RACKETBOYS have the best track and the worst track on this record at the same time. Terrible recording of a very fun song with screaming and yelling. THE WATCHERS get all moody 'n shit on "Wolves," which ain't all-bad. I like it actually. The recording sounds live-as-fuck but the obviously overdubbed vocals don't always match up. Again, not a bad thing. Charmingly punk rock. This is way more punk than anything popular now, I think. Like I fucking know. THE STEPFORD WIVES drop "I'm A Little Boy," which is sung by a girl, which if you don't know that beforehand, it's quite disconcerting. Actually sounds like a little boy singing. Freaky shit. Call 'em prog-punk for all those staccato riffs. That'll teach 'em!
Ian C Stewart
PAY YOUR RESPECTS
Studio Seventeen PO Box 461363, Escondido, CA 92046 USA
The influence of ROBERT FRIPP is so painfully apparent, that to not mention it in a review would be a total disservice, so I'm getting it out of the way immediately. MR STAFFORD even gets most of the guitar tones and effects used by ol' BOBBY F pretty much spot-on, although there is a notable difference in the scales & modes preferred between the two; and STAFFORD appears to not care so much for using the dissonant tone clumps that FRIPPY likes to try to abuse his audience with. The PAY YOUR RESPECTS CD has a nomadic structure, wandering from one idea to another in a nearly random fashion, making for a rather fascinating listen. A strong musical theme is stated, then, instead of evolving into a fully realized piece, it disintegrates into musique concrete and sound collage, interrupted by brief, fiery guitar solos and sampled voices speaking in non-English languages. Later, sampled percussion joins with lo-fi, microtonal, bent guitar notes for rather convincing ethnic sounding recordings, and then some more spidery, crafty guitar type sketches, and then more tonal ambient pieces. The track "Pseudo Silk Han-Bok" sounds eerily similar to KIRCHENKAMPF. My personal favorite track is "Revolution no. 17" which either samples outright the PBK / ASMUS TIETCHENS collaboration CD, or, by strange coincidence, sounds exactly like it- either way, pretty cool. The juxtapositioning of nicely minimal, abstract sound collage, with the very showy guitar grandstanding can be jarring, but the ambitious pacing of the CD is certainly to be admired. The slightly annoying hidden track aside, I say thumbs up. TRANSITORY starts with the most catchy tune on either of the CDs: "Circa." In which STAFFORD does latter-day FRIPPertronics over the top of a slow, waltzing saxophone loop. I get this piece in my head all the time, although, I must admit, it's the sampled saxophone part that sticks (no pun intended) in my head, and not the guitar, no matter, it's still a lovely piece. The rest of the CD is similarly themed, Jam Man soundscapes playing along with long samples from various sources. The mood of these pieces is strangely happy, even given the minor keys employed. Another winning track is "Quartet" with its square-wheeled rhythm and emulated violin. "Pulsar" gets all astral and stuff, with its oddly phased, severely effected notes, definitely suggesting some unknown heavenly body. "Arena" sounds like the E-bow version of someone playing a pipe organ. To me, it's not exactly music to dream to, or to sleep to, as the CD liner notes tell me but it is good mood music for a lazy Saturday morning. Fuggit, IAN was right, the shit does sound good.
EVERYBODY'S PUNK ROCK NOW 7"
Hell-Bent For Lather, PO Box 89224, Sioux Falls SD 57109 USA
Well, what do you expect a 7" with the word "punk" in the title to sound like? Vintage SOCIAL D mixed with JAMES-era DAMNED? Good guess! "Bad Nanny" kicks off with some up and down punkage. "pain in the ass and a pain in my heart". Nice. The title track is way more melodic, a pastiche of everything that's wrong with punk rock in 1999. Primarily, that it's not exactly punk rock to be punk rock right about now. "How in the hell | am I supposed to rebel | when everybody's buying vegan tofu cheese." RUSS STEDMAN's lyrics ring so damn true in these everything-pierced-and-dyed-blue times. The B-side is more REPLACEMENTS than DISCHARGE with driving guitars and vocal harmonies. Melodic! And energetic as a handful of caffeine pills.
Ian C Stewart
CATCH A BREEZE AND FLY CD
PO Box 204, Durham City DH1 5XX UK
This is an album with a budget. Does it suffer for it? Not particularly. SUGARWOOD certainly know what they're doing -- their songs are poppy like TEMPLE OF THE DOG/MOTHER LOVE BONE's songs are poppy. Lyrically, the album is consistently alright, except for the awful line "we were lost in the mist / And we were pissed," which speaks for itself. Obviously, these guys have been listening to a lot of popular, alterna-bands like SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM, but they bring a nice Britpop sensibility to their songs that their American counterparts lack. "Lost" is a nice tune with some great ethereal keyboard backgrounds (like JERRY HARRISON engineered on CRASH TEST DUMMIES' GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET), while lead singer STEVE PERCIVAL recounts a conversation (real? imagined?) with a man he'd met: "I have had centuries of wasted chances / Lost romances / Yeah..." "Imaginary Friend" begins with a nice piano bit, while "The Day" is an almost carbon copy (musically, at least) of MORRISSEY's "Everyday is Like Sunday." If you like the bands I mentioned above, chances are that CATCH A BREEZE... is for you.
"LOVE, LOSS AND CARPARKS" CDEP
PO Box 204, durham City, DH1 5XX UK
Acoustic guitar driven BON JOVI rock pop. Live everything, keyboards, backing vocals, the whole deal. The singing is so vibrato-crazed that you'd think BRUCE DICKINSON might be fronting HOOTIE. "Vice/Versa" is a somber ballad. "Moodys Yard" is an atmospheric ballad. "Home" opens almost identically to THE DAMNED's "Disco Man" but veers waaaaaaay off from there. Man, that dude sure is singing a lot. The opera-man treatment doesn't necessarily fit all of these songs. Anyway, back on the "Home" front we've got an uptempo rock number that rocks out a little. Sure. And then "Not What You Know..." is an autumny ballad. I have no idea what that means. Thee sneaky balladeers sneak in a "secret" track about 50 seconds from the very end. A silly polka about drinking. It's not funny because it's funny, it's funny because it's so pathetic.
Ian C Stewart
KAW, 2 Carmuir, Forth, Lanarkshire, ML11 8AR UK
Solo tape that opens with a highly touching piano instrumental, which sets the somewhat morose tone for the rest of the tape. Acoustic guitar, earnestly strummed, accompanied by KENYATA's impassioned vocals. Could he be the male ANI DI FRANCO? I haven't listened to her enough to really comment, but so far I'd have to say "quite probably." He's a deft purveyor (if I can call someone such a thing) of the craft, he has definitely studied the masters and come away with something unique and useful. "Estuary" adds a clean electric guitar to the mix and is somewhat upbeat by comparison. The songwriting is tight and well-performed. The lo-fi recording brings it all a little closer too. Awesome.
Ian C Stewart
TEM OPH AB | DANA
MNEMOSINE | PIETRA VERTICALE split
Abstract noize! And you know what that means: time to get the dictionary! TEM OPH AB is up first. Their side opens with an actual tangible rhythm buried under loops of feedback and whatever else. But overall I must confess that it makes me MONOLITHIC and PHONETIC but above all TRICHOTOMOUS. Since I can't understand noize, I thought I'd use the most VAPORY reviewing style possible. The second track on side one features more drumming sounds (like from a synth or drum machine) with that WELL-WORN howling feedback up front. This TITTLE is very SMUTTY and SNAKELIKE, not to mention SALUBRIOUS. On side two DANA lets rip similarly, offering a more confrontational take on the usual noize tenets: feedback floods with very high frequencies seeping in to do upper register damage. Thanks to this tape my PARCHMENT is now LITERAL.
Ian C Stewart
TEM OPH AB BRYAPTOS | THE END split
Marco Farina, CP 137, 17047, Vado Ligure, SV-Italia
Much fidgety noize and oscillating sounds. Ambient music for Ritalin children on a bender. This would appear to be a split tape between TEM OPH AB and THE END though the tape doesn't clearly indicate that. THE END offers a sort of sonic time-lapse sound event that sounds like a loop of a black box recording from any airline flight. Minus the usual crashing and screaming bits before impact. Just a sort of low hum and weird distant rhythm. Kind of thing.
Ian C Stewart
TEN STORY LOVE CD
81 Morning Glory Dr, Manchester NH 03109 USA
Full-length modern rock deal with guitars and tambourines and backing vocals. The first thing I notice is the good production. The drums especially sound damn good. The performances are decent and the songwriting ain't bad. Something new for the DAVE MATTHEWS fan in your life. The singer is emoting his ass off, which is good or bad depending on the song. It ain't rocket science, they play rock music and that's that.
Ian C Stewart
THEE PSYCHIC HEARTS
"THE SKY IS FALLING" | "THE TONGUE OF THE KILLER" 7"
Airborne Virus PO Box 16207 SD CA 92176 USA
Since they mention being influenced by BAUHAUS, I assume they accept the considerable power of negative stimulus as B-UH-US was such a fucking lose in rock terms that they created a (w)hole cottage industry of hand wringing makeup dinks that've clogged the pipe for a couple decades now. Besides that kak they cite Sonic Youth, SM3 and SEAM as pus on their plate. Well so be it for listening habits but the tune with vocals sounds like the dude in DINOSAUR JR penning an ode to his favorite chords after having a nice time listening to CHAVEZ art stutter through a couple deracinated GENTLE GIANT tunes while he sups on soup his mom brought over she made in the winter of his discontent. The instro flip is a woozer like a trimmed down version of SONIC YOUTH warming up on half a MY BLOODY VALENTINE tune, the part without the hook.
THIEF OF ENERGY
LOVE WILL FAIL US ALL
Inklab, PO Box 2355, Norman OK 73070 USA
This tape is for those listeners who enjoy the pop aspects of the avant-garde. Included are a variety of simple but carefully arranged lyrical and non-lyrical pieces. The singer, identified only as "BLEVINS," delivers his unpretentious poetics in a monotone conversational style. Following the theme of the tape's title, several of the songs concentrate on the subject of failed love affairs: "I'll float away forever because I cut the tether." ("Walking Into Space".) "What I want to do is stay | but what we're gonna do is say goodbye" ("Magic".) BLEVINS and his occasional collaborators GLENN and LEE convey their messages with analogue and Casio synthesizers, programmable drum machines, a bit of electric guitar and a few unique sound samples. Using lots of repetition and sparse collaging, the pieces have an avant catchiness, safely distanced from any commercialness.
CALLING THE WHALES CD
Hub City Records PO Box 1223 Greenbelt, MD 20768-1223 USA
This CD is one of FARUQ's favorite albums in the past few months. Noisy pop guitars that mesh nicely with analogue keyboards into a wonderful blend of sounds that are sometimes full of lilting, droning melody and then explode into rants of noise. This reminds at times like a less obsessive and more romantic BUILT TO SPILL as the tempo changes and guitars that layer themselves on top of twin key vocals are similar to that Idaho rock group. (BUILT TO SPILL, not the band IDAHO--IAN) FARUQ prefers TIARA actually because they have an innocent quality to them that is infectious to listen to. This is a great album to put in your car stereo and then get on some highway somewhere, turn up the volume and then sing loudly to without care or worry. The CD starts off with the yearning, jangly "Texas Tumbles" and the jangle turns into a multi-guitar noise attack. A very good beginning. "Loophole" has lots of great shifts in tempo/melody and "Watch the Cars" has pulsing analogue sounding keyboards that are bliss to FARUQ's ears. "Venus Neck" is soft and then noisy and then soft and the lyrics are romantic as most are on this release. The best thing about this CD is that TIARA seem to understand how to arrange a song's texture so it has a balance between the noise and the melody. The noisy bits are just extensions of the melody and it makes the songs all the better with more impact. When you hear the keyboards and guitars play off one another in a powerful crescendo as on "Promise" you will realize this is a damn fine band. Plus, FARUQ liked the RAISING ARIZONA soundblip included between two of the songs. The title track is a dreamy, sprawling 11 minute song based around looping guitars that fly into each other, disappear for a little bit and then force their way back into each other. There's no way to resist this if you like guitars + quirky melody + drone. There's a band called GRANDADDY that are receiving a lot of critical fawning and attention recently, and while JASON LYTLE has made an interesting and good album as GRANDADDY, this similar style of release by TIARA is a much better record from start to finish and deserves to be heard as much, if not more, that the GRANDADDY record. Treat yourself, get CALLING THE WHALES by TIARA.
Lonely Whistle Music PO Box 23952 San Jose, CA 95153 USA or TR Mundy, 85 Windmill Hill, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 7AF UK
TIMO plays a lot of jazz sounding guitar riffs on this 14 song tape release in singer songwriter mold. Up tempo songs ("Chill In Paradise," "Dogs On The Ceiling") and slow songs ("Humpty Dumpty," "Call It Mine") all have the common thread of that quasi jazz/rock guitar playing underneath the quivering vocals. As a matter of fact, the guitar playing on this reminds FARUQ of his cousin's guitar playing. FARUQ has not had the pleasure of hearing the cousin's playing in a while because the cousin only plays Christian rock and FARUQ believes those two things never go together. "Break the Seal" is a very bleak take on alcoholism and the endless string of days that do not distinguish themselves in any way. Some songs have programmed drum beats and some are just voice and guitar. Closing out side 1 is a cover of a LEONARD COHEN song, "The Stranger Song." A lot of the lyrics by TIMO are on the introspective side and strike FARUQ as a tad pessimistic. For example on "Blinkinlites" TIMO asks himself these questions: "Did I ever really have friends?" and "What use is life to the hollow man?" "Call It Mine" is slow and downbeat yet was one of FARUQ's favorite tracks on this tape. #298 is well recorded and the guitars/voice always sound nice and harmonious with each other in this straight ahead singer-songwriter release by TIMO.
MUSIC TO BEACH ABOUT CD
Always Smilin' Productions, 107 South 620 #23B, Austin TX 78734 USA
Floating in a field of purple clouds, DENNY's looking off at the sun on the cover of his CD. He's got on his tropical shirt and his white cowboy hat, and he's strumming an acoustic guitar. DENNY makes his music simply, telling his tuneful tales with only his guitar and his South Texas voice. He's a competent strummer and even dubs in an occasional lead guitar bit here and there. He sings about a life of drinking tequila, chasing women, fishing, and boating around the US coast of the Gulf Of Mexico. The notes on the CD claim that DENNY has an "affection for the JIMMY BUFFET philosophy of life," which is certainly reaffirmed by his music. I also detect a bit of WILLIE NELSON influence in "Home Sweet Home Again," while "See You Soon" follows the structure of LOU REED's "Rock And Roll" in a southern, country sort of way. DENNY doesn't mention purple clouds in any of the songs on this CD, but I'm guessing that's what he sees when he wakes up in the morning.
TURK KNIFES POPE
PERFORMANCE CRIPPLING DATA RESTRICTION CD
Zenflesh PO Box 252065, Los Angeles CA 90025 USA
Excellent isolationist guitar work. The TKP track on the Zenflesh compilation CD AMDUSCIAS definitely didn't suggest anything like this. Very minimal guitar noise, possibly one continuous performance. The composer / performer shows a nice respect for the silence, as well as a sense of when to build an appropriate climax. A very visual, soundtrack-ish work, suggesting a vast, deserted, metallic, industrial complex, fraught with unseen danger. Touchpoints are FINAL, LUSTMORD, and MAIN. This CD is fucking beautiful, so screw all y'all.
UNDERGROUND KOLLEKTION VOL 0 7" comp
Nolla Lvyt, Raatihuoneenk. 10 B 26, 06100 Porvoo, Finland
What kind of freaked-out atonal drugs are they putting in Finland's water? I haven't heard one "normal" band from there yet! MOTHER GOOSE rips the lid off this bitch-ass with the frighteningly atonal and sexy "MozARRRT" which is based around a somewhat screwy riff and some screeful guitar action. On the breakdown at the end you can hear the guitar is tuned unusually low. Nice! Even better! SUR-RUR is basic, though somewhat charming for this putrid genre, ska-core. I thought we already crowned a wiener in the TITLE OF THE MONTH contest, but alas there is a new champion: RYTKE "Kyy"!!! Winner and champion! And the song is as fucked as the title (nearly). One-riff lounge core, I guess. Farfisa organ played like it was a fucking Gibson SG through a broken Marshall. And the goofy harmonies between the guitar and organ parts suggest some Pet Sematary version of death metal and lounge music. Fucking incredible! It's safe to say I've never heard anything like this. Way-intricate riffing and lots of vocals I don't understand on the top. Sweet! MISLED MINDS open the b-side with "Possibilities," which opens with some highly distorted guitar and synth action. When the drums come in it sounds like THE EDGE jamming on the theme from "Shaft." Then the singing starts and... yeesh. The vocal harmonies are just off enough to make me queasy. The band degenerates into boring rock-out cliches. yawn. Next. VALSE TRIST "Yhteensattuma" is up-and-down hardcore punk. Shouted vocals, the whole nine. I can't say for sure but I bet the lyrics are about something political. I do like the breakdown bit with the toms and the chugging guitar building back up to frenzy, but the rest is somewhat unamazing. RYTKE though! Those guys rule! I want more!
Ian C Stewart
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING ORCHESTRA
UNCONFIRMED SIGHTINGS CD
Absolutely Free PO Box 25116 Farmington NY 14425 USA
Made the mistake of reading the lyrics/thanks. Anyone stupid enuff to bitch about competitive capitalism and praise the development of the electronics used in making their music without implicating themselves wholesale proves anyone can be as myopically ignorant of the weave and responsibilities of what builds a society as the most reactively vitriolic & ignorant MAXIMUM ROCK & ROLL editor. The music? Well worn out "prog." moves, kinda like ZAPPA on normal pills functioning at the level of STYX with STEVE VAI sitting in. As long as no one sings it's almost bearable in its overbearing Chops+Electricity=3DUs way. Buy a ZOOGZ RIFT LP 'er PRIMUS boot or mid-70's JEFF BECK record, 'er s'thin. Ick.
UNREAL! THE MUSIC OF THE 60s
Dig My Art 561 Hudson St. #78, New York, NY 10014 USA
FARUQ hates hippies! FARUQ didn't care at all when horrible hippy guitarist JERRY GARCIA ate his own coffin. FARUQ's brain is not addled by acid and LSD so he never quite "dug" the GRATEFUL DEAD and their horrid and pathetic jamming in the name of music. FARUQ doesn't want to eat that tasteless, bland and disgusting ball of tofu you hippies are trying to force on him because FARUQ likes the taste of meat. FARUQ doesn't want to buy that hemp necklace every damn travelling hippy tries to sell him as he walks down the street! We, as a people, approach the millennium and a hippy is still as annoying and naively out of touch as ever to FARUQ. All the hippies out there can take their hackey sacks, Frisbees, beaded bracelets and all the daisies in their unwashed hair and stay the hell out of FARUQ's path! FARUQ has the feeling that this tape of 60s musical posturing is actually a single group of people claiming to be a bunch of different people/bands in the early to late 60s. This was awful to sit through for FARUQ as most of the songs have that flowery 60s psychedelia vibe in full effect and it all sounds so dated and cheezy and laugh out loud ridiculous. If these people are serious about this, FARUQ feels sorry for them all, poor misguided hippies that they are.
TOO MANY WIRES = TOO MANY FIRES
BlueSanct Musak PO Box 14149 Chicago IL 60614 USA
A seriously overdriven, overlayered mush of noise madness and woofy streaks of disintegrated sound. Sometimes you can hear actual instruments blurting nonsensically as they float up and back out of the mix. CAERIE kept giggling at the screaming chipmunk voices. This is way too goofy to be 'just noise', or maybe I'm wrong, maybe it IS just noise. It's complete nuttiness really. A throw everything in the pot mixed up freek out.
JIMMIE R VESTAL
"THAT'S ALL RIGHT" 7"
Sand And Palms, 6310 62nd St N, Pinella Park FL 33781-5225 USA
Highly offensive ELVIS-y rockabilly type gunk. Good production, very decent rendering and everything but just so frighteningly inappropriate. Sort of like BRIAN SETZER's most recent high-profile yucko. "Love You So" is a queasy ballad that absolutely drips saccharine from the speakers. JIMMY BUFFET fans may enjoy this. That's not a compliment.
Ian C Stewart
TOO LAZY TO ROCK
Best Kept Secret, Alessandro Crestani, via Biron di Sotto, 101-36100 Vicenza, Italy
The drop-d acoustic slide-guitar dirge of the first track recalls ALICE IN CHAINS and that JOE WALSH "Deceiver" song somewhat, though the didgeridoo samples kind of throw a wrench into that comparison. Slow, somewhat moody acoustic guitar + drum machine action. "No One To Blame" goes for the folk jugular with just acoustic guitar and vocals. The double tracked vocals are the stumbling point of this particular track. A common one actually. "Slow Attack" is quite a good song, drum machine rock with layers of guitars and some pretty good dynamics! The title TOO LAZY TO ROCK is clearly an inside joke because the chorus pretty much rocks. Now if homeboy could just keep those vocals in tune And that's pretty much true of the rest of the tape. Good songs, not so good singing.
Ian C Stewart
MYSTICAL DOMINION CD
413B 19th Street #237, Lynden WA 98264 USA
I never thought the day would come when I would write sentences such as ''This Christian goth-death metaller is my fave musician this month'', but well, this Christian goth-death-metaller is my fave musician this month. Pin-up death-metal guy JAMES ALLIN is a lot of fun. He does the obligatory tonsil-spitting death-metal voice, he makes a lot of big old noise with his guitars (he played everything on his own, good guy), and he also can't sit still for a minute: one moment he's IRON MAIDEN and the next moment he goes all GARY NUMAN; he screams, yells, and changes tempo every thirty seconds. It's such kitschy and noisy fun that I will even abstain from asking him ''what's all this Christian fuss anyway?''. All the God and Bible references start to grate after a while; and I am really worried about the first song's introduction: ''Many people today are searching for the answers to life's problems and as a result are turning down the wrong path towards psychics and tarot cards. This song warns how Satan uses these devices to tell you what you want to hear and in trade strips you of your very soul.'' Heavens!!! I hope and I pray (hehe) that this is meant sarcastically.
PO Box 18062, Raleigh NC 27619 USA
Intentionally no-fi recordings of 2-guitar live jams. Improvised downstroke frenzy! Atonal and mostly non-melodic chordal chopping action. There are a few hints of individual notes being picked out occasionally, but mostly it's just straight up and down pick-shredding recorded from several hundred feet away with a handheld recorder. Give or take. The subterranean fidelity of the recording wholly rules out repeated playings of this cassette. As far as soundfuckery-noize goes, at least I can somewhat identify with VLOR, having logged several thousand years of studio time doing exactly the same type of stuff. Even so there's a been-there-done-that vibe that'll keep me far away from this tape.
Ian C Stewart
Kylie Productions, 509a Old York Rd, Wandsworth, london SW18 1TF UK
A few weeks ago, the fraternity house across the street from my apartment had a live band come to play. The band members got a little trashed, and I could hear the loud, rockin', sometimes off-synch tunes far into the night. If that kind of experience appeals to you, check out this release immediately. It's rough, edgy, and occasionally grating, but it's undeniably "off-the-cuff," and is also undeniably British. There are definite shades of BOB MOULD/SUGAR, THE ROLLING STONES, CANDYSKINS, and those XTC "Drunk Tank" jams that I'm sure you have a bootleg of (with WARSER GATE sounding like the live, slightly off-kilter version of these artists). However, it's still fun, and it may just take you back to the good ol' carefree days of your youth. Hey -- why the hell not?
"KARNEEK TEMPLE" 7"
Rafter 206 Westdale Lane Gedling Nottingham NG4 4FT UK
Stupe-a-dupe tangle up between those arty/angry/twisted souls* who mangled blues just post '80 into a noisome fractuous fin-de-sicle beauty and 8 year old ROYAL TRUX stumbulina slide guitar oil vs. gal croak. Yeah, the words are jejune as its antecedents and better goth stuff. Having this troop open for one of the many neo-no-wave units that live in my head would be akin to having dessert before dinner and which of y'all don't wanna relive that part of your youth? Oh yeah, the recording has that nice warm two mics in-the-biggest-room-in-the-apt.-feel.
Please mention Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, (croak ed.).
"OK FOR ZERO" one-sided 7"
WG 41 Kenrick Road, Mapperley, Nottingham NG3 6HQ UK
Disaffected garage rock from the most prolific band this side of your great uncle Howard. Sounds like the bass and drum lines were well on their way to forming a quite-decent song until the guitar scree was mislaid over top. And the casio could just be there to tidy up? Wandering non-melodies emerge and disappear quickly. KEV FLYNN's wordy MARK E SMITH ranty vocals are mixed focally but are still lost among the din, apart from the wounded yelping at the end of my attention span.
Ian C Stewart
WHAT IS ETERNAL CD compilation
Middle Pillar PO Box 555, New York NY 10009 USA
Sexy gloom and smartgoth afterglow run amok on this assemblage of wayward remixes and exclusive tracks. THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN sets the tone with "Falling Softly": piano, cello and female vocals all powdered with reverb. MIDDLE PILLAR is proving to be one of the best modern bleak-soul labels around in terms of talent and packaging. UNTO ASHES takes the acoustic druid folk approach on "Conjuration To Lilith." Think it'll get them onto that tour? I'd be surprised if it didn't! Harpsichord? Nice. Very nice. This is clearly an album for those who never lost faith in gothic music. Though it's not gothic in the traditional BAUHAUS/CHRISTIAN DEATH sense. More in the modern sense, with everything but electric guitars and screeching vocals. With the emphasis on beauty. Perhaps. Standout tracks from DREAM INTO DUST, a sweet CHANGELINGS remix, a new (August 1998) track by JARBOE which is the scariest thing I've heard her do, and ZOAR on the end. All very moody and very dark. Slips easily into the CD collection in with all of the great early 90s stuff like MIRANDA SEX GARDEN, SKINNER BOX and the first couple of ELIJAH'S MANTLE albums.
Ian C Stewart
BE PREPARED TO STOP CD
451d St #801, Boston MA 02210 USA
Midtempo rock with familiar flourishes. Guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals. Lead vocals too obviously. Track three is a nice folky track, "Lollipop Up," despite the offensive coyness of the lyrics and title. Decent modern alternative rock that sticks out in no way from any of the other gajillion bands in the world doing playing this same field right now. Not that a lack of distinction necessarily means that they'll remain obscure...
Ian C Stewart
12 Kiln Lane, Mountrath, Co. Laois, IRELAND
In "Take You On," our man SIMON sings "when you smile, the sun cannot shine / But I ignore it, 'cos we're running out of time..." In "Coming Down," the sweet, seductive, zingy sounds of a Casio lead into "these sundrenched streets hide darker things / But who's to know what tomorrow brings?" "I Want You" introduces some seemingly harmless guitar strummies, but soon poisons the well with "I see too much, you know / I see more than you could know." After listening to PISH, I've heard more than you can know, or than you can appreciate -- in fact, it kinda makes me want to live in a cave. This is shit, pure and simple. Obviously, WREST didn't spend a great deal of time on this recording, as it sounds like all of the keyboards are on loan from Mrs Keegan's kindergarten class, and the lyrics courtesy of the "Rhyming Dictionary" section of your local public library. Stay away. Stay far, far away.
CRYSTAL SPIRIT CD
Crystal Music records, Box 2394, Lenox MA 01240 USA
Slow, beautifully evolving ambience. The CD is subtitled ORIGINAL IMPROVISATION ON GLASS ARMONICA and the photo on the back cover features what looks like a big stack of clear cereal bowls on its side. With a grinning librarian hovering nearby. The sound on the disc is very, well, crystalline, given the musical instrument featured. The liner notes are very informative about the glass armonica, of which I previously knew not a damn thing. Turns out it was invented by BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, who AUTO readers may remember from his early punk rock days. It also says here that THOMAS JEFFERSON "hailed Franklin's glass armonica as 'the greatest gift offered to the musical world in the century.'" And as long as I'm letting this CD cover write the whole review for me I might as well quote this bit as well: "gentle ambient music for contemplation, massage, slow-motion movement and deep relaxation." That it is! The whole package is beautiful and professionally done. When even YANNI sounds like MERZBOW, reach for YATRI. Everyone around here who's heard this has loved it.
Ian C Stewart
Darkness Productions, C/0 Michael Krause, Wiesertsweller 2, 88069 TETTNANG,
Germany OR Napalmed, Radek Kopel, Lipova 1123, 434 01 MOST, Czech Republic
Bleeding colors in the photo on the front of this tape appropriately illustrate this collection of challenging sounds. The YGGDRASIL portion of the tape cover displays what looks like tinsel on a chainlink fence-also appropriate, since the liner notes reveal the contents were "recorded during Christmas '96." MICHAEL KRAUSS celebrated his holiday by collecting lo-fi samples of electronic buzzes and metallic grindings and mutating them into rhythms and pitches. The Yuletide atmosphere commonly associated with Christmas is completely absent. "No radio, keyboard, computer used" are the words which appear at the bottom of the NAPALMED portion of the tape cover. Nevertheless, that's what a lot of NAPALMED's presentation sounds like. RADEK KOPEL, PETR BERANEK, and MARTIN BERAXA used "voices, whistlings, mics, metals, and double occilator" in March of 1997 to create material which was later edited and mixed into a continuous flow of noises. This is a good tape for anyone who enjoys visiting the environs of factories and intensive care units.
Layers of live instrumental funkiness and freakoutage. Fine drumming overlaid with unintelligible talking samples and frenetic guitar and organ action. "2" adds acoustic piano to the mix and brushes to the drumset. There's a chiming moodiness to this track in particular that gives it a troubled beatnik feel. "5" continues similarly with a pseudo Hammond organ and tittering hi-hat action. Sounds like NICK CAVE covering the old theme song to "The People's Court"! Not really, I just wanted to say that. "6" is slow, feedbacky triphop. And damn fine slow, feedbacky triphop at that! "9" is borderline ambient with just a few sonic blips and blomps skating across the silence. Good shit. Like a jazzier, less death-metal HARLAN.
Ian C Stewart
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