Friday, March 09, 2018

Nothing Left.

When I was in college one of my Education professors was trying to describe the difference between Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. He said when his kids are watching the Street they're jumping around, distracted, in and out of the show, unfocused. When they're watching Mister Rogers though, they're attentive and quiet, and then they come to the dinner table and say things like, "Daddy. Machines don't have feelings."

This is the first time I've disagreed with Fred Rogers. The new Shredded Nerve, Milking the Predator Nest, kept reminding me of Nurse With Wound's Chance Meeting Of A Defective Tape Machine And Migraine. Which was odd, because it sounds nothing like it. CMOADTMAM was created by accident when irr. app. (ext.)'s Matt Waldon was dubbing a copy of Nurse With Wound's iconic first album, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrellaand the machine began to malfunction and the mangling of sound and vision began. They released the final results of the time- and tape-bending exercise as Chance Meeting Of A Defective Tape Machine And Migraine. 

As I mentioned, Milking the Predator Nest made me think a lot about Nurse With Wound's unintentional release, but it wasn't because of what it sounded like. If anything, Milking is a distant, mean cousin to Randy Greif's The Barnacles Inside. But it made me think about what Mister Rogers had said about machines not having emotions. Milking the Predator Nest sounds like what Matt Waldon's defective tape machine must have been feeling as it was approaching its end, not quite in sync with itself, striving to catch up with time and constantly, spectacularly falling behind. A slow, steady wave of frustration starts to grow and by the end there's nothing left. Just the feeling of being spent in the service of finality. Pull all you want, Farm Boy. The teet is dry. Fucking excellent.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Almost Gone is the Name of This Place.

That was then.

This is now.

This was also then.

And this also is now.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Chondritic Sound: The last batch before the next batch gets here.

While I wait for the next batch of tapes from Chondritic Sound to arrive, here are 3 short reviews about the last batch. Enjoy! And grip this shit. Hell, grip anything Chondritic puts out. Grip it good.

Rejoice! For there is a (now not so) new Enema Syringe on the loose! Flapper is one of three in the latest batch of tapes from Chondritic Sound. This recent parcel continues to represent the variety and quality I’ve come to expect from the label. Enema Syringe releases are few and far between which leads to me to often forget about the abundance of rhythm in his work. I just remember the openings in my skull; not necessarily how they got there. The jagged but focused noise assault makes the gashes sharp and clean, while the loose beats make them wide. The sum here is always greater than its parts. Not the harshest noise on the block, but some of the harshest outcomes.

Max Kuiper & Thorsten Soltau’s Animi Sub Volpe Latentes is another animal altogether. Inspired by the fables of the mythological trickster, Reynard the Fox, Thorsten Soltau kicked things off scoring parts of the story armed with a harpsichord, piano, and a good editing knife. He then handed the tapes off to Max Kuiper who added his own bits of instrumentation and processing. Everything sounds like the pages of an ancient book disintegrating as you turn its pages. By the time you get to end, there’s no way of knowing if you’re Reynard or his ever-suffering Uncle Ysengrim. By then it’s too late to look back. You’re on your own.

And speaking of solitude, the third tape of the batch is Belgrade musician Nikola Vitković’s Alone project’s Unyou. I never thought what was considered “cold” in the semi-distant land of 80’s synth pop went far enough emotionally and that it went way too far production-wise. So, it’s been an embarrassment of riches in the last few years to find so many artists who happened to agree with me. Alone keeps it simple and raw, like a leaner and hungrier Bauhaus locked into a small studio closet over a weekend with one synth and a drum machine. Vitković’s urgent baritone constantly goes over the top and instead of pushing us away it takes us with him. We land alone together in a room of emotional echo. Stay in your corner.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Congratulations Ted Cruz!!!!

Looking forward to hearing your presidential plans for the Teletubbies. Will they sit on the pulpit with you? Will in your lap of eternal Jesus sunshine? What if they are illegal immigrants? Will your lord save them? Will that be enough? What would Jerry do?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Space Was The Place.

I've been waiting for this since the existence of YouTube. Somebody has posted clips of E.T. Monitor, hosted by Bob Barry, Christian UFO investigator extraordinaire. He broadcast from Red Lion, PA in the 80s and 90s. I don't know if there were even a 100 of us watching. One time, for the holiday show, he set forth his proof of the existence of UFOs using images on Christmas cards. Pranksters would call in pretending to be aliens. He was nice to them anyway. Sometimes his sweet wife would help him on camera. He and his wife loved Jesus. Bob was born at the wrong time. Just like you and me.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Still On The Line

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time.

That infinity loop of yearning is the fulcrum on which Jimmy Webb's perfect pop song, Wichita Lineman, rests. The song's been covered by many, but Glen Campbell remains its master. Over the years he's performed it thousands of times. The way Campbell has been able to keep the tune fresh is as much a testament to his playing and arranging abilities as it is to the way Webb places the poles of the song just far enough apart to keep its lines open.

This was my introduction to "Wichita Lineman." Here it is, straight up, cutting through the artifice of the set, the lip syncing, and the polyester that makes up that turtleneck.

Decades later, on Jools Holland with a cracking band. Check the guitar solo that gets funked up and dirtied down. Also, a little after the 2 minute mark we get the reminder that this dude can shred. And the voice. The voice remains. The way he lifts the melody on the "And I need you more than want you." keeps the song fresh for everybody involved. I don't care what you do. You will never be this good at it.

Even with an orchestra and ham-fisted keyboards behind him, Glen cuts through it all with his diamond voice and a crystalline guitar line. In fact, his guitar solo is as subtle and fluid as Richard Thompson at his best.

Keith Urban & Glen Campbell in Las Vegas. Two amazing players hitting the frets. Campbell steals it though with his string-bending take on the classic solo. Again, think Richard Thompson. Sick!

Roots on the line. Reggae legend Dennis Brown brings an entirely new world of ways to voice this song. Phrasings eternal. And props to (probably) Mikey Chung for showing how much the Campbell's template guitar solo lends itself to interpretation and experimentation.

Jimmy Webb, singing his own masterpiece with the gentle accompaniment of a lap steel guitar and Paul Shaffer's accordian.

Freedy Johnston, man. It's part of his thing, and we are blessed by it.

There's a long history of REM bootlegs with Wichita Lineman on the set list. Here, Michael Stipe and Patti Smith give it a go. Somehow, through the messiness, the song makes it through all the while taking on a new poignancy because of the relationship between the two singers.

Cassandra Wilson. That is all. Cassandra Wilson.

OK. The song is not COMPLETELY invincible. Here, Glen teams up with Stone Temple Pilots. There is not a song on earth that Stone Temple Pilots can't make boring.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Record Store Day.

You might not have known it, but this past Monday was Record Store Day. At least in my life it was. I walked into the Downtown Music Gallery that afternoon looking for something a little off the beaten Robert Wyatt path. Which means way, way off the fire trail in the middle of a forest a couple 100 miles from the nearest thing that resembles a path. The ever-helpful walking encyclopedia and co-owner Bruce directed me to Michael Mantler's The Hapless Child And Other Inscrutable Stories featuring the text of Edward Gorey. At first it didn't seem quite my cup of tea, but then I looked at the list of players and saw the inventive Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal. This was a good start. I decided to give it a chance. I don't need to tell you how that worked out, but I will.

I'd been in the shop a couple months ago right after Bruce and one of his employees, Chuck, had brought in some CDRs of a band they'd just discovered (To be geekily accurate, Chuck discovered them and turned Bruce onto them.), Wei Zhongle. They remind me of Henry Cow, This Heat, General Strike with a dash of Gang of Four and featuring vocals that sound vaguely Chinese even though the lyrics are in English. Mad, mad stuff. ANYWAY (This is me reflecting the overarching idea that one of the best things about shopping in a record store are the tangents.), when I'd bought the Wei Zhongle's they had mentioned a clarinet quartet CDR by one of band's members, John McCowen. I didn't buy it then, but it stuck in my head. I also remembered that it had a low price. I asked if they still had any of them left. That was about the time that Chuck walked into the store with some packages. He overheard what I was asking about and said, "His new one is in this box." Yeah. I took that one too. But it wasn't over. When they opened one of the other boxes, they found that it had the new one from the King Crimson offshoot, Stick Men. Bruce knows my light (HaHa. In the context of Manny Lunch, trust me. It's LIGHT.) obsession with the Crims. Yeah. Put that in the bag too. I'm done. OK. I'm not done. On the way into town, I happened to have been listening to a great disc that DMG had put out on their own label a few years ago by South African drummer Selwyn Lissack. I had to, again, compliment Bruce on what a fabulous release that was. He said, "You know, have you ever heard that disc by Ric Colebeck? At this point my wallet screamed, "Make it stop!" But my reply was, "No. Who's that?" Turns out he's a British trumpeter who had released a scorcher of an album with Lissack hitting the skins. They, of course, had it in stock. Sigh. OK. That really WAS it. I went home and listened to a pile of great, unexpected music.

What allowed me to take all those leaps though was the trust that I have in Bruce. I've been shopping at DMG for 17 years, and Bruce and his co-owner Manny have never led me astray. Not once. Over that time, they've developed a sense of my tastes, AND how far I'm willing to stretch those tastes. With their help, my boundaries—already pretty expansive—could now be used in science books as proof of the accelerating universe. There's no algorithm that could do the same. Even if there was, I can't think of anything more boring than being told what I might enjoy by a machine. I'm pretty sure that that machine didn't meet the artist at a Jazz festival and talk to them about a favorite recording or what they're working on now. I'm also sure that a machine wasn't going to be able to buy a stack of CDRs from a band they had just been knocked out by for the first time, and put them on the shelves the next day. I learned from Mr. Rogers a long time ago that robots don't have feelings. They have no sense of smell either. Because you need a good sense of smell to follow the trail of an expanding universe of paths, to see where they end or better yet, to see where they just keep going. It's the very essence of improvisation.

The official Record Store Day is something designed to get people off of their asses and away from their screens, and INTO the record stores that haven't been killed by fucking Amazon, fucking Walmart, fucking iTunes, and fucking Spotify. That's great, and I'm going to be indulging in some of the special events later this afternoon. My girlfriend and I are going to catch guitarist Steve Gunn play at an in-store at Academy Records in Greenpoint. Then we'll pop over to Rough Trade to hear Simon Raymonde spin some jams at Rough Trade in Williamsburg. Yes, I said Simon Raymonde. And all this will probably be after we meet at Heaven Street in Bushwick. The Ascetic House crew were in town, and I want to check to see if they dropped off any of their tapes. And just to say Hi to JR and Sean.

Tomorrow I'm heading back to Downtown Music Gallery. Because, in fact, it worked out like it so often does there. The Mantler record was great, and there were a couple more albums by the same crew sitting in those bins. Yeah. I'll have missed Record Store Day at DMG, but that's not the point. Record stores—the best ones, at least—are wild streams with ever changing currents. You can dip your hand in at any point and be refreshed.

If you don't understand this love letter to accident, intuition, conversation, community and trust; then I have some bad news. It's not the record store that's dying. It's you.