Wednesday, August 31, 2005

heep see

Haswell & Hecker
"Revision: Orange-Time-Shock-Format-Wave-Re-Composition (Remix for Voice Crack)" 12"
The accompanying text says that mastering maestro Rashad Becker "managed to restore the intended effect of between +6dB and +8dB, depending on the cartridge and tone-arm et cetera used by the listener." FYI, my steak knife-needled stylus changes its rpms dependent not just where I am standing in my room but also how many electrical devices are plugged in, so such subtlety is no doubt lost on me. It's like my room is the Dream House or something when I play a 12". This goes at either speed, and having compared Hecker in the past to dentist drills and alien abductions and gibbons, let's just say this is the sound of a Klingon ballgown zipper going down at either 33 or 45. And she uglier than that Windowlicker bee-yatch, natch.

Luny Tunes & Baby Ranks

Mas Flow 2
Call it what you want, but I wash laundry to this (even my dusty curtains). I also try to ask for 'Trace Dolores' from the lady at Lavenderia when I turn a pocket full of dimes and quarters into folding money)and say 'grassy ass'. At best, I feel like Lil Jon on the "Gasolina" remix, only able to go "Wha???" and "Yeah!" and of course "Skeet-Skeet!" in reaction to this, as I really know fuck-all about what's happening here. Whenever I try to select the "Espagnol" directions for my laundry card, it switches into English the moment it senses my card. But of course.

Haruomi Hosono
Cochin Moon
This made my Pitchfork Top 70s list a while back (#89 here), and even though I only ever hung with an artless cdr of it for years, it's ear-whiggled deep into my butterscotch pudding. Not that I would suggest reading PFK's take of it (much less link to it), though I'm not going to waste either my time or yours describing a late-70s Japanese post-Happy End lotus-eating swastika-curtained hotel outpost monsoon season matinee soundtrack of prog-exotica bitten by electric mosquitos, drum pads of death, and a synth with 'tribe' presets.

Taikuri Tali
some untitled little EP
Fine Finnish frivolity. My first piece for a new outlet, should be out in early Sept.

Pugh Rogefeldt
Ja, Da a Da
Not to say that writing about this will be my big breakthrough, but it too is an initiate piece for a new spot, nationwide no less.

Anthem of the Moon, The Wedding, Nice./ Splittin' Peaches EP, the new single with Plastic Crimewave Sound
Prep work for their imminent Labor Day parking lot end of bummer jam.

Bettye Lavette
"Let Me Down Easy"
I realize that I am just a sucker for vibraphone-pop in any capacity, not to mention any Blue Note date with Bobby Hutcherson manning mallets.

Oren Ambarchi
I'll just let Mark, my recent boarder, do the talking on this, at least until my piece on it appears.

Ricardo Villalobos
Chromosul/ Fadutron
Whether or not 'illa is eating his Wheaties or his Special K and is thus missing flights to Mutek or getting pushed back indefinitely on a fabriclive mix is not for me to judge. Shee-it, I've never even been skiing at Kay Hole, WY. But I do know the sensation of boarding a transatlantic flight with two flights cases full of bog water and peat moss. Not to mention the difficulty of stowing them in the overhead bins, especially when the entire cabin is filled with aloe gel. To where that Swamp Thing stewardess has to come over and hassle you about tray tables and upright, lock positions. Which of course, gets heard as "Wquiahth rrreeeeoorr ihooogpuhgluuug" through the viscous jelly. Dude just can't hang with that scene, and I understand.

The Melvins
Stoner Witch
I can only wonder at what my face looked like in the Hole Foods express line as I tried to scream along with the King B.

beta bin bizzy

UGH. When is there enough time to work a dayjob, edit a chapbook, pick out nice paper for it, write about Finnish folk AND Swedish moustachioed psych (dude, I only been to Ikea like, once), host houseguests (the lovely Richardson family), look for a new roommate, and drunkenly discuss the reflective surfaces in Jacques Tati's Playtime, the cankles of Scarlett Johansson (and Hillary Clinton), as well as name a bunch of LA-based ensemble movies (Short Cuts, Magnolia, and...I forget every other one we blurted out last night)?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

beta pays homage to an old dirty bastard

Friday, August 26, 2005

beta crawls, grows finns

While Wednesday night found me in the company of my friends (you know who you are), my first morning of a new decade found me talking to Ralph on the white telephone, not the way to kick off the roaring thirties. When I felt slightly less queasy, I venture out to Greenpoint to see the first show from a good deal of the Finnish folk contingency. All the big names are here in the states: Lau Nau, Kuupuu, Pekko Kappi, you know, them. A good reference is this article by Brandon Stosuy, who was also in attendance. All the noise dudes are there (natch), the beard exchange between the Finns and No-Neck and Double Leopards involves lots of mutually-admired product swapping hands.

I catch just the end of Lau Nau's performance. She is five months pregnant, and already loosing sublime lullabies for her belly on her little keyboard as Pekko Kappi, himself a student of Finnish folk forms, accompanies on his hand-built jouhikko. Pekko's set feels the most traditional, as it is just him and jouhikko unadorned by effects pedals and random objects, playing songs that he says are sometimes spells. One is to make a house catch on fire, which isn't too hard to do in Tommy's packed, stuffy backroom.

Afterwards, Laura informs me that the piece she performed at the end is not her own, but a song from Don Cherry's soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain. Cherry is an important forbearer to consider, in that he combined isolated folk music idioms with (not necessarily jazz) improvisation to create a handmade music that could be playful, spiritual, all-encompassing, ascendant, drony, childlike, melodic, percussive, folk-based, non-denominational, open-ended. His was a template that could draw from Africa, India, Nepal, Turkey, as well as in Scandinavia, and render such musical distinctions moot in the personal space. Even his artwork resonates with this music, as the cover of Organic Music Society gets evoked on the little handmade CD I buy of Taikuri Tali (which is Laura and someone else whose name I forget and probably can't spell anyway).

Kuupuu is another solo female performer, and she is quite deliberate in how she accrues her sounds, time-lagging tiny patterns from flute, prayer bowl, melodica, tamborine, thumb piano, bird whistles, and sampling keyboard until the dizzying loops swirl around the room.

Tomutonttu is the solo project of Jan Anderzen, who is the main guy of the big Finnish noise collective, Kemialliset Ystavat (consider them the Sun City Girls, NNCK, Sunburned Hand of the Man of the country, I guess). He has people in the front row grab two cassettes at random, which he then meshes together on the fly, shooting them through a chain of pedals, creating hypnotic whorls out of tapes that could be culled from Finnish talk shows or something. They sound voice-based at the very least, and he shoves a microphone close to his lips as he hunches over the pedals, looping and distending gurgles and chatter. Michael from Double Leopards joins in at the end, the two hissing and humming, covering their mouths with cupped mics as they utter in fear of catching germs. The best part though is when a drunken Greenpoint denizen stumbles into the befuddling vortex, and starts yelling for her drinking buddy: "EVELYN!" she shouts into the din, again and again: "EVELYN!" It compliments what Anderzen does, a randomness that even he could never contrive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

beta b-day

elisa ambroglio of the magik markers reveals my youth-keeping secret.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

beta wins rabbits, smokes grass

with the very dark disturbing darger art (of children crying purple and vomiting up a boysenberry bile) of the animal collective feels before me now, i have returned to spin it again. and within its slippery slopes, again and again and…

it’s mostly to do with “GRASS” (the rightful single), the second track (much like “who could win a rabbit?” was from sung tongs) and also has its single-killing noise tucked into the core as chorus (of sorts). it was never quite disguised before (and was beaten to death on tongs's reviews, even under this byline), but the Beach Boys are made overt here.

yes, it’s in their sense of shading in the harmonies (which no longer obfuscate the boy avey tare as much as buoy him). yes, it’s even in the “wouldn’t it be nice” sorgham-y sentiment seeping through opener “did you see the words,” which trades letters between two distant lovers and shivers with giddy anticipation, wonders aloud about the old folks on the swing still holding hands. (those in the audience of the last tour will recall a dose of wtf? is that stevie? sweet syrup, an interpolation excised from "the purple bottle" quite late into the mastering process). but there is also the sense of beach in the boys. to where sound is waves, played with and made to ripple, roar, a sensation of waves sustaining, crashing, pulling you deeper with their hypnotizing tug of tides. and they know that, hone that.

gurgles of glistering rivulets, and a clanging cyclic tone (maybe kristin mum’s piano?) that is not unlike caribbean steel drums, and not unlike a cowboy song, all wagon-wheel loping-along when its not yelping incessantly. not to mention the kahuna toms, the “little pad” harmony hidden in the middle, the riptide rolls, the luminous gravity undulating. la mer et la luna.

beta clocks rabbits

within a five-minute window at my "day job," i ran into my bartender from Diddy's, an upcoming R&B honey who is like a genetic-cross between Foxy Brown and Jessica Rabbit, one of the bros from the Faux-Ohioan Famille and chantreuse Laura Cantrell, whose purdy music my buddy Edd turned me onto via a recent mix of new country.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

beta love fonz

i turn on King of the Hill just in time to hear Henry Winkler needle-drop Monk and tell Hank Hill: "Now Thelonious Monk, he must've fished."
and then later on, Family Guy's talking dog gushes about his love of junkie-era Coltrane.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

beta love jah

what i have really been listening to all summer:

EDIT: I probably fudged it up, but here are two other tracks I was s'pose to have posted to Moistworks (hence the talk of Gregory and Christina), so consider this extended-extended play:

Gregory Isaacs/ Christina


Ranking Dread

Thursday, August 18, 2005

beta spells B-A-N-A-N-A-S

indulging in Mama's banana cream pie, its alternating fluffiness and dense gooey banana-ness caps today's double feature at the Film Forum. first up was a Maria Montez montage of her upcoming films: Arabian Nights, White Savages, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Gypsy Wildcat. more than one is set in exotic Baghdad, she with tan-pancaked co-star Jon Hall and an alternating third 'savage' played by either Sabu or Turhan Bey, the extras almost always in pencil-thin goatees, and all movies described as "Fiery!" every reference to Montez's attribute of being "Bewitching!" weirdest is that each movie advertises torture devices as amusement. Blood dances, the rack, the wheel.

today it's Cobra Woman, with Montez playing twins, the high priestess evil one doing a sparkling snake dance with a cobra that alternates between being a tiny black tongue-flicking live one and a sickly-green, thick-necked puppet. she then pulls some hypnotic, glittering, venomous dance like Mariah Carey at the VMAs, manically pointing and pulling out 200 female virgins for volcanic sacrifice. the entire audience chuckles with unease at the cheesily prophetic line about the inhabitants of Cobra Island and their foolish worship of the evil priestess: "Fear has made them religious fanatics."

the second half of the double-feature is a Busby Berkeley stunna with Carmen Miranda. what can i say about The Gang's All Here, except that it is literally bananas? boundaries exist only in the audience's mind, with Berkeley flooding the rational with bewildering and vivid sensations. dosed on Technicolor (this is a rare IB Technicolor print with all original negatives destroyed in the 1970s) my presumed sense of space is constantly blown out, re-evaluation just another rickety shack before the next vibrant gale blows through to expand the scene's parameters once again, time and space rendered meaningless, the idea of a linear plot just to hold the hook. perhaps that's why one tag called it an "apotheosis in vulgarity"? Uncle Samba dances and slinging of war bonds barely hide the mischievous psychedelic glee that shimmies seductively on every number. yes, there is Benny Goodman (also singing about the war effort), but there's also banana-colored oxen that tow Miranda into the hallucinatory bananas and "shwaw-bewwies" sequence of "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat." insane plantains.

and i'll just leave the children's polka-dot polka turning into a giant manicured hand meditation that reveals a futuristic hula dance (bathed in magenta light that Marian Zazeela must've based her life's work on) with a pink and lime dot dance that defies gravity and time until it crashes into a mélange of petticoats exponentially fracturing into kaleidoscopic shards scene to your imaginations. the Brady Bunch floating head finale just puts a cherry on top of the banana cream pie.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

heep see

records i been hearing:

Rogerio Duprat - A Banda Tropicalista do Duprat
VA - Sufferation: The Deep Roots Reggae of Niney the Observer
Grant Green - Idle Moments
Jimmy Giuffre - Western Suite
Double Leopards - Savage Summer Sun
Ilitch - 10 Suicides
Excepter - Self-Destruction
Big Youth - Dread Locks Dread
Link Wray - Wray's Three Track Shack
Ananda Shankar - and his Music

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

heep see

movies i been watching:

*Daisies (turned onto this movie by Delia and Gavin. it almost seems like something out of Nickelodeon's old European cartoon show, Pinwheel. not to mention that the rhythms of Vera Chytilova's edits, jump-cuts, and montages are stunning)


*Performance (which makes explicit the weird homo-gangster Stones' tune, "Memo from Turner.")

*Re-Visiting "Father" and the Source Family (this documentary of Father Yod is almost as hard to slog through as one of his records)

*Napoleon Dynamite (i fell asleep halfway, but not before copping to the Mets not just being clever with their VOTE FOR PEDRO tees for sale at Shea)

*Quella villa accanto al cimitero (another Delia and Gavin recommendation, and i being to understand the appeal of Italian horror, and horror movies in general. more on this later, probably after i watch Argento's L'Uccello dalle piume di cristallo)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

beta smogs his swimming goggles, digs jigs

even though i had already written about Bill Callahan and found his xmas show a bit of a 'dress rehearsal drag', i swam through the 100% humidity to see him once again at Bowery. this time, he had a dirty third of a pirate for his drummer, swashbuckling his rim shots and helping Smog dive into the muck and find new shoots on "in the pines." Smog jigs retardedly and winces even more than Will Oldham despite having gaunt, botoxed chipmunk cheeks (if that's possible). i am buoyed by how "rock bottom riser" floats like a body in the river though and my friend keeps croaking jokes about "cold-blooded old times." sure enough, when Callahan brings out the seven brides for seven brothers of Feathers, that's what they all croon.

too much swimmer's ear to go and see Jennifer Cardini spin, we swim back over the East River to La Punta Verde for more sweating and Stella drinking with a wasted Dante, who is in town spinning this Saturday. we sweat rivers as we dance a retarded jig to this hot track, "BRIMSTONE AND FIRE" from that heavy (and redemptive) Injun war whoop joint by the rumbler himself, Link Wray. with that i backstroke home.

Friday, August 12, 2005

beta surfs tsunamis in sumatra

been to two baseball games this week with Yancey, three maybe even four shows by the end of it, and capping a never-to-be-seen-again string of five straight weeks of Voice pieces with this bit about Radio Sumatra. i wrote it back in February in between driving a van for the failed NYC 2012 campaign and getting emails like this from my family:

There is Clear Evidence that a tsunami will hit the East Coast of the United States, probably this year. This evidence comes from scientists and researchers who have published the two prime theses which -- when fitted together -- reveal that this tsunami will probably strike the East Coast very soon. The first thesis comes from Dr. Simon Day and his team of geologists at the Benfield Grieg Hazard Facility:
1) these geologists, studying the volcanic island of La Palma in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, are certain that one half of the island is about to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. The scientists at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland have done both life-like modeling and computer modeling of the consequences of a La Palma mountain-slide into the Atlantic Ocean. Here are the results of their analyses:
A MEGA-tsunami would be created, driving westward toward the entire east coast of North and South America at a speed of 450 miles per hour. The wave height of this tsunami (this is unbelievable, but the scientists staunchly defend these numbers) ... the wave height would be greater than the height of two Empire State Buildings, standing one on top of the other. Recall that the recent Asian tsunami was only 30 to 50 feet high. I have the BBC documentary video, filmed at La Palma Island, with Dr. Simon Day and Dr. Bill Maguire, and with Dr. Hermann Fritz at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology, who recently published: "INITIAL PHASE OF LANDSLIDE GENERATED IMPULSE WAVES" (Diss., Technische Wissenschaften ETH Zurich, Nr. 14871, 002) I will present this documentary video on a web site very soon.
2) Celestial physicists, geologists, meteorologists, astronomers, even NASA (secretly) know that what Prof. James McCanney (formerly of Cornell University) has described as a "MINI-SOLAR SYSTEM IS NOW MOVING INTO OUR SOLAR SYSTEM AND IS APPROACHING PLANET EARTH." Again, it is not me, but these scientists and published researchers who are saying that this incoming cluster of comets and one enormous planet are generating the gravitational and electric forces upon Planet Earth which have been causing this conspicuous and alarmingly sharp rise in the quantity and severity of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions!

sorry, i had to cut the last two-thirds of this as i couldn't take it anymore.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

beta smiles off, enjoys wrinkles in time

i'm not trying to boast about hearing the entire Luomo remix of the upcoming Black Dice single "Smiling Off" (as opposed to you know who) because i know that neither of us have, 'cept just enough to get tongues wagging. i know that i have heard enough to leave the cave and alleviate the hand-wringing fears of the faithful, for this is Luomo leaving the present (lover) and returning to his seductive, sibilant undulations from Vocalcity. nostalgia or no, as i listen to the ripples, i think about Delay's use of voice (esp. in the case of his work with partner AGF, moving through her hesitations and ellipses, her phrasing and fricatives) and marvel at what Delay does with the Dice's mumbles and gurgles, reconstructing such small little sounds back into near-phrases and words of a primeval language. the illusion is that Vlad Delay added voices to the original, but somewhere in the multi-pulls of their vortices, such utterances actually reside.

later in the night, i walk to see Colleen at Joe's Pub. yes, i am obviously entranced by what she does, though i can't quite wrap my head around how she does it. she starts by plinking a little music box through her acoustic guitar, carefully (perhaps somewhat precariously) capturing gossamer threads of notes on her pedals. from there, she makes these silken hairlines thicken until they are like a plane, or a much larger fissure in time. and from such simple patterns, she overlays the thin sheets, creating a laminal effect of overtones interfering with one another and birthing new noises. Colleen has no real stage presence, so intent in her reverie as to focus on sussing sounds from her cello, guitar, or some windchimes, creating a looping sort of time-lag pop that Terry Riley could vibe on. she also forgets to resin up her bow until midway through the set. oopsy, and the spell gets broken for a bit.

no difference, she re-settles and i drift to her live conjuring of favorite tracks from the album, like "I'll Read You a Story" and "Everything Lay Still." as she saws at her cello, everso delicately, slowly and assured, she reminds me of Arthur Russell, murmuring near-words and somehow being blurry even in the present.

beta reaches into the ether, writes about Tod Dockstader

for once (and not smugly), i am quite proud to have a piece come to press and into the present. this was a review about the music of Tod Dockstader that grew into a much larger piece, which my editor in Minneapolis was considerate and encouraging enough to let run much longer than the original assignment. for those curious, i am even going so far as to present a few of Dockstader's early (and recent) pieces for your listening pleasure (or pain, depending).

from Eight Electronic Pieces (1959):

from Four Telemetry Tapes (1965):
No. 3

from Ariel #1 (2005):


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

beta controlled by gama light

first thing (okay, not first, it's early evening by now) i find myself doing is milling in the gap waiting for my friend to return stress-free khakis. and yes, the lenny kravitz playing overhead is so perfect a soundtrack that i almost show my O-face. there is however no good soundtrack for the chocolate milkshake i slurped before going to see Victor Gama do an in-store at Other Music. tonight, he'll be playing these instruments with sympathetic players like William Parker and Guillermo Brown. these two are no strangers to instrument-builders, hooking up with Cooper Moore and his inventions every once in awhile.

okay, i can't remember where Victor Gama is from (the CIA whispers its secret location in my ear), but i presume that what Gama does won't soon be captured on Freedom Songs of Angola, although such freedom is what he implicitly dabbles in. he's the only non-electronic (read: acoustic, read: folk-based, read: non-shitty) artist on Richard James's Rephlex label. (i'm fairly certain i just saw multiple copies of these ass-sicks still in dollar bins.) Gama builds his own instruments, in the tradition of the two Harrys: Partch and Bertoia, as well as almost all field-recorded tribal musicians i have ever heard, from Lima to Libya to Liberia.

i miss the names of these stunning art-instruments of Gama's, and just partially parse his explanation of how the composition creates the object itself. i'm a bit confused, but that's to be expected when confronted with such a strange psychedelic music that evokes regions yet has no specific place (Angolan folk musician on a British techno label inside a New York record store). on this particular instrument, Gama recalls harp, zither, koto melodic figures (though it's hard to think that anyone at the store would be so intent upon a koto player under W. 4th), and none of the above. maybe if Fahey were a giant among the Ituri pygmies, but that's just what i use to machete my way through such dense, foreign music, using whatever is closest at hand. it's what the Ituris did, turning discarded umbrella tines into thumb pianos, hunting bows into musical ones, bamboo chunks into flutes; they are my first encounter of what folk music actually is (i'm not telling.) and when he moved over to this exquisite object, Gama elicited a sound somewhere between a fork-estra and a miniature gamelan made for fingers galloping like horsies.

that may capture the visual aspect of the physical playing motion, but Gama's tips brushed against the thin discs ever so discreetly, so that the carefully stacked metal wafers seemed fragile (they were in fact quite resilient). again my mind immediately races back to the earliest instance of such odd sound, being John Cage's prepared pianos: plinking, subtly elucidating, or thunderously thwacking out overtones that buzz and bristle unsmoothed. or Partch again, and as i think about Gama in the context of this morning's light, i spin Partch's side of this record, a fond favorite first heard in a Fredericksburg Public Library so many years ago. it evokes distant arid lands (the Heart of Texas is less humid and far from the swampy atmosphere of Brooklyn the Planet), even if they are made in America, or even if they are but tribes containing one sole member. it's the type of music that has borders only in its creator and its listeners.

Monday, August 08, 2005

beta big ups big boys

following up last week's posting about Big Youth, i am now yapping about the Big Boys over at Moistworks. do not expect forthcoming posts on Big Audio Dynamite, Biggie Smalls, or Big Chief in the near-future, though i did mention Mannie Fresh's "Real Big" on this lovely 'I Love Music' thread.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

beta swims at whiskey river

thursday night has a severe wtf? moment as my maker's on the rocks gets shaken, not stirred, when the dj suddenly drops this into yet another set of innocuous, eighties-obsessed also-rans at sweet ups. that drum machine gets to trepanning and burrows in like a wood tick. weirdest of all, no one seems to notice, which may be the greatest insult to 'em.
friday night, i find myself in the total rec room downstairs at 6s & 8s. think the mylar carpet and the kids sneaking puffs in the corner cinches that tween vibe. that and i think some fifteen year old is totally making eyes at me. i find my hips flummoxing to the weird bass shudders of "Pon de Replay." is there actually a melodic aspect to that bassline, or does the hook come simply from the physical sound of that bass shoving its way through space? maybe i had too much to drink by that point...
either way, i stumble down to the drain at the bottom of union pool, that tattooed meat market i have avoided for two years or more, mostly due to a falling out i had with an old friend who lords over there. the beef has dissolved, but it still feels awkward to return there. as i walk in, i see my old friend at the decks. nod and turn to the bar for another round. not a second later, he drops the title track. even though i'm swimming in whiskey at this point, it doesn't feel like a coincidence...
saturday, i went swimming at the Whiskey River near Big House to this summertime classic. yes, i actually could feel the fire, and i had to take off my shirt to catch the waves and get a good tan.

Friday, August 05, 2005

beta sweats gut-buckets, sings about his grandpas

a noon show, on a noon that is dog in a car head-cooking barbacoa kinda way. i've already got a heat headache by the time i walk onto the MetroTech common grounds, the hot breezes blocked on all sides by campus. James 'Blood' Ulmer is already playing, growling, seated in the shade, in a Dawg pound throwback. of course with the number of the baddest brown, linen slacks, a wide-brimmed hat. Charles Burnham and Warren Benbow (the Odyssey trio) complete him, Burnham's 'lectric violin scratching out perfectly barbed faux-harmonica peals. thay echo pax americana, saw overtones with the blues, skin 12-bar drones, kin also to the drones of Henry Flynt, or backbeat post-Bonham. Ulmer knows when to ride the boiling water that Benbow roils around him and when to lance and burst into outer spheres. it's hot enough to bake a jellyroll, boil skull meat, roast pigeons and chickens.
the kids don't seem to notice it, nor do the older aunts and nanas, who fan themselves in the shade of the thin, infirm trees. springing about in skipped circles, they heed not to notice the adults nodding in the heat, hypnotized by the slow sweat of Ulmer. it's as he says here, diotonic harmoladic music in perfect attunement, and no matter how gut-bucket, mud-blooded, how crawling and hallucinating in the desert slow it gets, they move as one. seated on stage, slowly slinking into "Sittin' on Top of the World"; how grand it must be in the center of the universe, on top of the stage, cooking such a song down to viscous syrup.
"Geechee Joe" is a song Ulmer wrote about his grandfather. in heatstroke's reverie, i reel and wonder about my own grandfathers, and what kind of songs i could write about them? i try Grandpa Edmund, who passed away 3 weeks after my mother married:

"Everday, he ate bacon and eggs; Everyday, he had the blues."
"You used to be in the Army; there's a picture of you smiling on the mantelpiece."

then i think of Grandpa Dominic "Dickie," who i actually did meet a couple of times:

"Dickie stacked up every damn newspaper; freaked us young'uns out."

"Travelin' pen salesman, we still have pens with your name and number on them."
"You used to bake jellyrolls in the bathroom, shavin' po' grandma dry."

i wonder what key segment of my heritage is lost in my inability to write either a blues or a polka or an aria about the paternas of the family. why don't i know anything about these men?

"Aren't You Glad to be in America?" asks a sad and stinging question, trembling yet defiant. "Don't You Want to Strangle that Open-Mouthed Nanny that is Doing Interpretive Dance to This?" is how another one seems to go. and in that wise voice of his, Ulmer gives me the best pick-up line i've heard in some time:

"Your blues and my blues, we could have alot of fun."

beta watches the long good friday

the soundtrack for this limey gangster flick with Eddie Valiant as the main tooth-grinding gangster is sick. often considered one of the finest British films, it was scored by Francis Monkman (who was in some Brit prog band partially named after a Terry Riley joint, Curved Air, who i'll probably have to check out now, as i have seemingly fallen for prog this year, between Andy Votel's Vertigo Remixed and uh...The Mars Volta), and it appears to be one of his few, maybe his only (?), soundtrack. a shame, as it sets piercing synth tones against funky wonky riffs to ratchet up the tension, and flute trills get sharpened into shanks as Monkman tightens all the ropes and themes masterfully. this is what i kept hoping those Sound Gallery comps would sound like, an amalgam of Lalo Schifrin, seventies cop shows licks (which may be the same thing), as heard bouncing from inside the head of a businessman/gangster (again, may be the same thing) coke binge. i'm not sure what's up with the prolonged shower sequence, but the upside-down camera work when they round up the usual suspects and hang them on the meathooks is one of the more frightening shots i've come across recently.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

beta feels feels

after numerous Brooklyn barroom discussions, with everyone from the singer to the mini-discist to the studio engineer, their stories about the album just baiting me like some sort of bear trap (okay, bear-ta trap), a copy of the Animal Collective's Feels finally fell through my mail slot. i was almost nervous to hear it, some three months before it hits the streets. i decided that it was 'hit the lights' listening; what other knee-jerk reaction could there be to what we only half-jokingly call their 'love album'? with lights down low, you can really hear avey tare's pillow talk, his sweety patter, his every utterance E-NUN-C-I-AT-ED. what was shy, meek, kissing to be clever but unclear before has matured, fortified (nevermind that bit about purple bottles), and it's possible to parse every word. the backing vocals still chant but no longer masque, no more do they wear masks.
sonically, they've never been crisper. they camped in the studio for a month, pitching tent out in Seattle. instead of dressing up like sun city girls for Scott Colburn though, the boys still play like they can return to being hooting indians, though they'll never get back to that place. there is this definite twinge of maturity. are they turning from Boyz II Men?
clearings in the woods have been captured like crystal, ants in amber, along with the smores singalongs that have every voice melting together, puffy white and cracker, and the campfire light thrown off from Feels's center sends shafts of brilliance and dancing shadows deep into midnight's inpenetrable forest. yer boy Smokey calls it 'fighting fire with fire.'

beta going out with a funky chicken

wrapping up my stint as guest instructor over at Stylus, with a little piece about the Natty universal Dread, Big Youth. these four tracks kill but it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much reggae i have spent the summer sweating to. hope to post up some of my summer faves at Moistworks in the next week or two.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

beta sidesaddle on a unicorn with Uncle Jesse

i guess i could just post some writing links while i'm at it:

-wherein i make both a Willie Nelson and a Jean-Paul Sartre joke while talking about Smog
-wherein i subconsciously admit that Colleen is my make-out album of the year, with requisite nod to 'unicorns'
-wherein i finally get published a piece about William Basinski that i wrote in the deep freeze of winter
-wherein i talk about snowstorms linked to erectile dysfunction and ghost trains

Monday, August 01, 2005

beta watches shadows dance, finds earth boring

i have scribbled down in a little notebook a quote from W.G. Sebald's lecture reprinted in On the Natural History of Destruction: "Such is the dark backward and abysm of time. Everything lies all jumbled up in it, and when you look down you feel dizzy and afraid."
okay, it's not quite that drastic and dark to me yet, but i admit to feeling a bit dizzy just peeking. at what? well, there is still my own past, and i spend most of monday walking to parks to sit and scribble away in yet another notebook. (if i don't go outside, i'll just F5 the Inbox fifty times (okay, five hundred) a day). a letter back home gets written out (yes, i still write letters), as well as thinking about young faces that have now aged or died a good number of years ago, trying to capture just enough of their visage to save them in a few black-penned scribbles. it's a story that starts with the chewing of a bit of blotter. to recall the mindset of teen kicks, the stupid shit that doesn't become smart shit in looking back, to take a real event from the past, and charge it so that it twitches in the present. to make the shadows dance.
dancing shadows...i know that image is familiar, and dig into a box of cds that hides under a table weighed down by newer clutter, cds i don't dig deep enough for anymore when i look around out the new stacks and see nothing worthy of listening to. it's hard to forget a title by a band with the awesome name of the Myth-Science Arkestra, or anything created by Herman Sonny Blount, and this is no exception. it's paired transitional albums, when Ra was about to leave Chicago, and right when he arrived in New York. (maybe i can dub it backwards and send along to Amy Phillips (who i saw Saturday afternoon on my way to the show in central park, hauling shopping bags of promo cds to sell before she moves from The City to Chicago)).
i heard about Sun Ra's passing, from of all sources, MTV News. the day after Le Sonny's death, i recall even the weird earthy denim my father stretched over the sofa, sitting there as Kurt Loder described the music of Sun Ra to me: outer-space sounds, ARPs and moogs, Egyptology, intergalactic noise, sequined costumes with elementary school solar system models sequestered and held together by coat hangars for their domes...what could be a more out-there kick than that? Loder suggested that the adventuorus start with Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy, and i got off the couch and special-ordered it right away.
for some reason now lost to me, the first jazz record i ever listened to was by Coltrane, allegedly created while everyone was tripping on acid. that first impression of jazz stays with me, all colored by OM. in any form, jazz sounds weird to me, haunted, full of cries, of plumes of human flame shooting high into the stratosphere, the murmurs about "clarified butter," the sound of time as the clock winds down, and gears spring free from their constraints...but even that didn't prepare me for the purple scratches that configure the cover and what is imprinted below it.
the first thing i did was spill strawberry milk on it, the pink splotch mingling with the purple. it seemed so alien to me, but in a Star Trek sort of way. it still shocks me when Pat Patrick's enormous baritone sax bursts through the droning horns and Ra's "astro space organ" having hovered precariously over the forboding ladscape like a paper-plate UFO or ship with a garage door for its portal, honking like an irate Martian goose midway through "And Otherness." from another planet, and yet...perhaps cursed by its human creators and engineers, it has to resemble Earth forms in every way, much like the greenskinned hotties, strange blue flowers, and odd red rocks that were on every distant planet's surface that Capt. Kirk dipped into, if only tinted a different color. what other shapes are there? despite the dogma, the assertations, this was still human music, made for Earth, not for space. and i laugh whenever i hear a phone ringing in the background (as it does often on "Adventure-Equation") or for that matter, a salesman pushing the buzzer (elsewhere in the expansive universe of the Ra catalog).
i devoured as much of Ra's music as i could, the more outward bound, the deper into the cold void of space, the better. but somewhere along that line, i began to arc, a V2 following gravity's rainbow, falling back to the earth. going through the discography again, i am comfortable not in twenty-minute moog solos or paint-bubbling horn blats, but in the warm and winking charts that Ra made, modelled from his tenure with Fletcher Henderson, the bluesy stride piano he could play when not preparing the synths for liftoff. i was comforted by the slightly-off chanting of June Tyson, the space mantras about "Walking on the Moon" and "Interplanetary melodies-interplanetary harmonies," fearlessly signing up with shady business fronts such as "Outer Spaceways, Incorporated." yes, i did indeed find earth boring, but it was also, as Robert Frost put it, the right place for love.
the rhythms that Sun Ra's Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen still play are what strike me now, the complex horn charts that few terrestrial minds will ever transcribe again, the space chants that have their voices dwindle as time moves ever into the future. all of it so precarious, fragile, thin and resilient, teetering at the end of its time. of course, i again refer back to Jon Pareles' review of staurday's concert with the dMkCt53 calling what the two futuristic groups trade in as old-timey music. you can be at most a generation ahead, someone has said. time will erase such rhythms, to where no one will be able to remember how that pattern or that particular patter went. to think that such music will soon slip away when Allen passes, or when Wayne Kramer goes, and that all the present will hold is plastic discs of the past, i look down at the reflection, at that pink spill of strawberry milk forever, and sway just a bit as the tape reverb hisses on "Voice of Space" and hints at the true breath drawn.