Monday, June 14, 2010

catalogue # 001...

PIGEON RELIGION. amongst other rad records swapped with our friend william, i have now had the chance to listen to a band that i've read a fair bit about (FLIPPER comparisons aside) but not heard a note from - PR's 'deadboss' 7" is spinning on the turntable, this time at the right speed...initially thinking it was a 45rpm record, i was dumbfounded when i played it at first, wondering what everyone had been referring to in zine reviews and such - was this 7" a joke played on it's audience? it sounded like sub-par synth pop at 45, but at 33 revolutions per minute, now it's starting to make a little more sense (yes, i am an idiot). beginning with a group-voiced 'woah-oh' chorus (from deep within the valley), that leads into a dirty pop tune that reminds me of the second LAMPS long-player - definitely a good thing, with the distorted vocals of the first and second verses being played out over the bass-line and drums only (with added minimal feedback and descending slides), then being joined with 'full' guitar for the rest of the song ('deadboss'). i must admit that i was expecting this band to wield a more menacing approach to their songwriting and execution (again, zines - don't believe the hype), but even though i'm always looking for sounds from the more fucked up and raw areas of expression, i'm not let down in the slightest, 'cause with so many bands these days trying to be things they most definitely are not (TWIN STUMPS for example... though i'm sure that many, many of you cunts will disagree - so please do), PIGEON RELIGION are refreshing, again, not unlike LAMPS, because this music is not forced in the slightest. their tunes have vocal hooks and a deft, delicate touch on the drums that allow me to listen to the first side again and again whilst typing into this computer thingy and not be bored retarded - in fact, i keep standing up and racing back to the record to hear the a-side's two tracks once more. side-b doesn't hold my interest as much - 'huge bummer' is not an appropriate title, it just can't live up to the expectations that the first side has set for me...and also, one two-minute track on the flip? lazy and weak, fellas. anyway, this single is lots of fun! whatever happened to fun? i don't know if it is an anomaly in their catalogue, and from all that i've read, they are a much more prickly and discordant beast live, but 'deadboss' and 'henderson' are fantastic pop songs played by people telling their truth - and that is to be respected.

GX JUPITTER-LARSEN. the above image is from a 1994 'lesbian vampire drama' entitled HOLES IN THE NECK, produced by GX JUPITTER-LARSEN. i haven't seen it and i haven't heard too much of the HATERS material either (his performance cum sound troupe - the sounds were always secondary to the performance, only used as time markers for an audience, for when a piece began and ended), but his BIG TIME CRASH BANG 2008 LP on RRR records has passed through the shop several times, again from our friend william - who incidentally, played his first solo show (RATS WITH WINGS) in more than ten years last friday night, and it was AMAZING, far exceeding ANY expectations, whether you knew how important these moments were or not - and now i have a copy of my own ($10!) to fawn over and blast relentlessly. the title is not misleading, the a-side is loops of car accident sounds repeated and over-lapped until PERMANENTLY burnt into one's memory. sound annoying? pointless? shit-house? you may be right, i may be crazy...but this record is one that i could listen too forever, for reasons that i was at first, unsure of. now, maybe i can add a little insight. firstly, it clears a room like no other record i own - which is useful at times such as this, when an old man with cancer (and hepatitis), profusely bleeding from his areshole, insists on sitting on the store's couch reading a book of american history - refusing to leave until NOW. success! secondly, the sounds are crisp and grainy - true, for lack of a more extensive vocabulary, and i enjoy the screeching, crashing, and jack-hammering echoes of metal upon metal. the repetition is key here, and not knowing (or caring) what JUPITTER-LARSEN's aims were for this release, i find myself lulled into a sense of calm - despite the apparent abrasiveness of the sounds and how they clash with one-another. this LP is a place that i can inhabit and interject with my own thoughts, wishes, desires and anger if i wish - it is a blank slate, like no other recording that i can recall, and i love it for this reason the most. it is both a release, and a cave to hide in - a wonderful creation of PURE ambience. ENO's pretty effective, if a little twee (ok, a LOT), but JUPITTER-LARSEN has trumped him ten-fold. BIG TIME CRASH BANG 2008 is without a doubt, one of my favourite records ever - one the presents the listener with the tools and allows, dares them to create their own story. my story is re-written every fucking day, but i know that said record will ALWAYS have a place for me to hide, develop my own narrative, and be uncomfortable in my leisure. FUCKING PERFECT.

Monday, June 7, 2010

lost tapes...

TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A. as group monikers go, this one is a fucking classic (VITAMIN B12 and THIS HEAT also come to mind as a favourites, along with dozens of new zealand groups of the eighties and nineties - WRECK SMALL SPEAKERS ON EXPENSIVE STEREOS, SANDOZ LAB TECHNICIANS...etc. etc.) and has been stored in my mental rolodex under 'something i MUST investigate further at a later date' for many years now. i have skimmed the surface with downloads aquired from my friend and taste-maker dale, but never really given the sounds enough time to penetrate my less than patient neurons - although i have spent time researching other bands and have noticed TOM SMITH's name (TLASILA founder and constant) appearing in print many times, leading me to the conclusion that i again, MUST hunt down some of this group's releases (burnt cdr's just don't cut it do they?) to satisfy my curiousity. fast forward to this morning - having a record store DEFINITELY has it's positives, as i can and do, take home cd's to listen to whenever i feel the urge...every fuckin' day! 'horoscopo: sanatorio de moliere' is the cd of discussion here, and this morning, something 'clicked' in my brain, and i found myself in awe of the sounds presented to me - i was now finally ready to inhale TLASILA and i was excited. as i sit here listening to this cd again, i find myself puzzled, because i'm not getting the same feeling that i did at 7am - leading me to the belief that i SHOULD have started writing about it THEN...seize the moment of inspiration, but fuck it, i will persevere. sampling is obviously an important tool of mr. smith and company - on this release joined by RAT BASTARD (LAUNDRY ROOM SQUELCHERS), ANDREW WILKES-KRIER (ANDREW W.K. and many, many other conceptual actions, such as BEAST PEOPLE), DON FLEMING, MARK MORGAN (SIGHTINGS), and other humans that i'm not that familiar with, apart from THURSTON MOORE, bringin' that DAD VIBE (another great tasmanian band with a ripper name, led by DAISY BUCHANAN) no doubt - and unlike plunderphonic excursions or the high-brow avant garde, their use of stolen source materials is not garish, or hidden for that matter, it is simply a jumping-off point for these pieces, sometimes looped for emphasis, but always infused with a certain mystery AND immediacy...soul, if you will. one could describe TLASILA as 'noise', but that would be a cop-out - this music is fully formed, difficult, minimalist/maximalist, and beautiful also. voices sometimes call out of the synthetic chaos, and sometimes swamp it too, but the emphasis is on micro-second loops of feedback-derived repetition...allowing the other elements such as digital blocks of unidentified sound to form the foreground or background, and lead the listener to take notice of the details - the space BETWEEN notes and sounds, the narrative that inevitably shows itself within each track, the more one is exposed to it. i've listened to 'horoscopo: sanatorio de moliere' twice now as i have been writing/typing this text, and it is making itself more clear and known to me with every second that passes - i don't wish myself to be sitting on my floor at 7am anymore, as the moaning voices, piano snippets, drum fills and decayed blocks make much more sense and are now a part of my brain, adding information instead of subtracting it...this being the trip that TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A. has forced me to take part in - to disorientate and then calm, and for this i am thankful.

LOTUS. sometime in the late nineties, i downloaded a recording of a radio show based out of providence, rhode island that featured a live set by a local two-piece named JAPANESE KARAOKE AFTERLIFE EXPERIMENT - kind of like LIGHTNING BOLT with synthesisers and a sampler, instead of bass guitar with an octave pedal. whilst said live performance was pretty cool, the real gem of this radio broadcast was the members of JKAE playing tracks by their favourite groups, many of which were part of the scene they inhabited - a sort of micro-extension of the whole FORT THUNDER group of artists and musicians (or at least that is what it appeared to be, to my unknowing eyes and ears at the time), lots of LOAD records-related bands were aired, but my focus was on this ONE group, known only as the LOTUS. i laughed out loud when first greeted with their sounds - rave samples replayed at normal speed then slowed down, juxtaposed with breaks and inane vocals, completely fucking annoying...but for some reason i continued to listen to it, repeatedly rewinding the cassette that dale had dubbed for me direct from the computer (backwards, i know - but it made sense at the time, we couldn't be fucked buying cdr's) and being reminded of the trance stations i used to listen to in '92, when i first moved to baulkham hills from victoria. this music turned me on to labels such as BREATHMINT, who released shitloads of cassettes, vinyl, cd's and cdr's by artists with names such as U CAN UNLEARN GUITAR, WHAT'S YR DAMAGE?, COCK E.S.P. and literally, HUNDREDS of other bands/solo acts that had fuckin' rad names and made music that appealed to very few. of course, the label and the artists didn't care - they were too busy creating their own culture and performing in people's kitchens and basements. when we started our shop, we traded a ridiculous amount of music with lucas abela for a favour, and we're still discovering cd's of interest to us, to this day - music we didn't even know that we had. a lot of this stuff was aquired by him whilst touring the world as JUSTICE YELDHAM, meeting fuck-knows-who and doing fuck-knows-what, inbetween destroying himself with pieces of glass he found somewhere near the venue he was performing at that day or night - and for all these reasons and more, we all owe him and swerve a great deal of thanks and good-will...cheers fells! amongst the countless cd's and cdr's passed on to us, was 'version 2.0' by LOTUS - many years after my initial introduction to their music via download, we were reunited, and i was stoked. i fucking hate breakcore for the most part (PASSENGER OF SHIT and DRILLBIT aside) and was worried that said cd would be a one-dimensional piece of shit. WRONG. mixing power electronics, eastern drum loops, breaks, the WORST (read: best) elements of dance music and vocals that, upon reflection, seem to be taking the piss out of THE LOCUST - the LOTUS are an epiphany for me. their pastiche of all the WRONG sounds, makes all the RIGHT moves and i'm crankin' this shit right now - for the fifth time today. this band of two humans in faux-WHITEHOUSE attire are long since defunct, but a visit to the BREATHMINT website informs of several other releases for me to track down and no less than twenty-six (!) gigs to download. maybe this internet thing IS worth all these fuckin' hassles?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

oh jimb...

EMERALDS. 'bullshit boring drone band' - the name of an earlier AMERICAN TAPES release by this three-piece group, and the first one i aquired. the title seemed entirely appropriate to me at the time (it's irony lost on me, also) - i was COMPLETELY disinterested and shelved it along with the other countless cdr's i have collected over the years, pricks they are to take care of as well, as i don't usually lose any sleep over what condition they may or may not be in (UNITED FAIRY MOONS being the exception to this rule) - unlike say, cassettes. i enjoy being proved wrong - really, it is much more enjoyable to be taken by surprise at a later date, than to be immediately satisfied...usually that initial reaction is a fickle one anyway and EMERALDS have indeed grown on me in ways that i did not expect. synthesisers, beautiful contraptions that they are, also encourage lazy behaviour for the most part - and one can easily fall asleep atop a keyboard, and make sounds that will at the very least, interest bedwetters and noise obsessives alike (HENRY ROLLINS?!). EMERALDS actually come at you with a unique vision, most wholly realised on their recent double lp on EDITIONS MEGO - 'does it look like i'm here' some ways, pure pop music, arpeggiations upon arpeggiations, clashing but always resolving, gorgeous filter sweeps and a tasteful (in a good way) interpretation of all things german and synthetic, funneled through lessons learned from factions of the american noise underground. EMERALDS have two self-titled albums, the one i am listening to at the moment was originally a tape release on HANSON (or so i'm informed, probably incorrectly, who cares...) - now reissued on cd by the same label and mixed with field recordings of a buddhist cremation for example, recorded by aaron dilloway during his time in nepal...less ENYA than that sounds, although there is a 'new age' feel to their most recent missives, crossed with memories of a long-lost commodore-64 game. the guitar playing is for me, the band's weakest link, too straight and informed by cringe-worthy 'post rock' moves from artists i have tried my best to forget, but the action of EMERALDS' synthesisers makes up for this, and i can ignore and thus accept the guitar's insistence on normality. i doubt that anyone reading this will be unfamiliar with said group, so i'm preaching to the converted or cynical - but either way, EMERALDS are three humans worth your time and money. ambient? of course. essential? not particularly. innovative? without a doubt. within this small scope of sounds are moments worth savouring, and best played on repeat.

Friday, June 4, 2010

owner's lament...

BORROWED. up at six, in the shop by seven - i'm here at the request of a friend who is filming a short entitled 'borrowed', in the book store next to us. i am greeted with duffel-coats (plenty of 'em), red dreadlocks on a white woman and a complete invasion of space by strangers who are supposedly invoved in said production, but seemingly more interested in discussing the application of foundation, how much alcohol they consumed last night, and a strong feeling that most of these humans would rather be at home playing warcraft (duffel-coats). the room is silent apart from nonsensical chatter ('is anyone drunk yet?') and the odd car or bus driving past, sound bouncing around our humble brick-floored echo chamber. i need to put some music on, but i feel it would be inappropriate, like chastising a mate for soiling themselves seems wrong, ya know - even though they've pissed all over your couch, YOU still feel guilty moving them, for fear of bringing this fact to their attention. our space is now their space - and i'm not entirely comfortable with it. anyway, i'm hiding in front of this screen, typing about 'em, in the hope that inspiration strikes. breakfast was promised, and apart from two pieces of bread with vegan butter inside to make a sandwich, it looks like taste is not on the menu. wait, there's a toaster on the way - there is hope fuckers, hope(!), and when all else fails, i still have my juice to keep me sane. 'ten minutes!' is the call - 'we'll be right in five...' sweet. now i can play some records.

SCRATCH ACID. whenever i'm asked what this band actually sounds like, i'm usually prone to describing them as a cross between BIRTHDAY PARTY and LED ZEPPELIN - maybe a tad lazy, but this isn't too far off the mark. there is plenty of classic rock in their songs, and said melbourne band is obviously an influence, however, their music could only have come from america - specifically, the north-west middle of the land of the not-so-free. their discography cd 'the greatest gift' (on touch and go, of course) collects all of their records and one previously unreleased track ('the scale song'), and it is still many years after it's initial release, vital listening for any self-respecting punk rock n' roll fan - especially in 2010, with so many bands pursuing an apparent 'noise rock' direction. SCRATCH ACID are by turns, disturbing, fun, ingenious and fabulously catchy sounding, recorded on the cheap, but not suffering at all (though the drums can LITERALLY sound like ice cream containers on certain tracks) - 'cause the songs are unique and so fucking good, the fidelity is of no consequence, in fact if anything, it only adds to their brilliance. david yow's words are delivered in a stream-of-consciousness manner (spoken, yelled, screeching), which is misleading in a way, because they are thoughtfully constructed tomes of low life and anger-ridden heart murmurs, cloaked in humour and obviously phrased in EXACTLY the right ways to fit each tune...and the music, well where to start? early songs have the feel of fifties rock n' roll/rockabilly, channelled through lysergic eyes and ears (ala THE CRAMPS, reaching a pre-BIG BLACK stop-start formula at times ('she said', for example), but much more unpredictable and occasionally laced with synthesiser, harmonica and strings, adding completely unexpected textures to an already uneasy and challenging listen for the uninitiated - and the going got even weirder, covering ANDREW LLYOD WEBBER ('damned for all time') and bouncing between seventies-style funk and metal licks, while somehow keeping it all cohesively menacing and hilarious. later of course yow and sims went on to form JESUS LIZARD, another group that changed rock n' roll forever, so fucking powerful and influential that today, people are still trying to get THAT guitar sound (MY DISCO) and out yow, yow (any prat with a microphone who is deemed 'uncontrollable' - good luck), but this is fruitless. start your own band and INNOVATE, or play covers - 'cause we're sick of all of your hero worship and shameless photocopies. the trip starts here. literally.

BEANFLIPPER. face first on to our tiled floor in front of the cast of 'borrowed' - not my finest moment, and then they ask me to turn down the stereo? fuck off, it's the ONLY thing from keeping my thoughts of ripping your throats out as just that, thoughts. thank fuck for BEANFLIPPER...'mongrel guts'! i don't dig dreadlocks on white people, but these dudes get a pass on that, simply because of my love for 'rodent ulcer' and 'garden variety manic depressant'. the label 'shagpile' is responsible for these two fuckin' ripper cd's, though apart from FRONT END LOADER, the majority of said label's output is shite - but we won't waste time or space with such negatives. BEANFLIPPER were a mess - a fantastic collage of metal, grind, punk/hardcore/crust, rock n' roll and whatever else interested their weed-addled brains at the time of writing each tune ('glass eyed stare' even features a ska breakdown as the bridge, with added synth damage - and it WORKS!), with an obvious interest in film also - as there are samples of dialogue throughout both releases. though stylistically quite different, they shared an affinty with DAMAGED - australia's greatest metal band ever, and who i would propose as the closest comparison to BEANFLIPPER, as they blended many different modes of attack when composing and performing their music...though where DAMAGED are ridiculously precise and realised, BEANFLIPPER are neither - not even close, and i believe that both these points are each group's greatest strengths. they both wholly achieved what they were reaching for and are criminally overlooked, by ourselves, and the world at large. 'matt skitz' is now a brand name (like we didn't see that coming...), and vocalist james has remained quiet after reforming the band, then bailing again (i'd much rather 'collaborate' with him than the aforementioned glory hound), but BEANFLIPPER remain an enigma - a band of scummy dudes that are i'm told, still gettin' around melbourne and playing music...but all i have to hold on to are these recordings, which, after moving on some god-botherers from the shop's entrance, are even more useful - who can argue with an angry cunt when 'bucket o' blood' is blasting at you in tandem? agreed. not them, not anyone.