PSYCHATRONE RHONEDAKK - Disturbs the Air (Black Plastic Sound/Summersteps)
TODD TAMANEND CLARK - Nova Psychedelia (Anopheles)
Growing up in a valley in Eastern Pennsylvania, one gets used to long days without much sunlight in the winter; you go to bars, you hang out, you would drive to New York or Philly for the odd show as a real music scene hadn't quite begun to flourish as of yet given the odd AOR radio hitmaker. Not much else to do except immerse yourself in whatever your kick was. Psychatrone Rhonedakk hung out a lot in the record store I worked at and could spiel for hours on Zappa, Chris Knox, Robyn Hitchcock, Barrett, Roky, and he knew his stuff inside out and always was digging deeper into the seeds of the underground to tie the new and the old together. In fact one time we left a bar at 2am while he was having an intense parking lot conversation with another Zappahead, and he was then spotted the next morning by a friend on his way to work in the same spot still talking. So when he finally got a moog and started recording at home and sending out CDR's, it seemed like a logical progression. Gradually the heads and mags of the underground psych scene started to take notice despite his continued hobbit-stance of never playing live; Acid Mothers-related collaborations happened, contribution to a Jandek tribute, and this year he dropped quite a bomb of a record, Disturbs the Air. Prime-era Ash Ra, Tangerine Dream, and other electronic pioneers who have been oft-quoted find a very unique phrasing in Psychatrone's music; in the past his recordings were often full of warm and fuzzy sketches of analog om-ness, but now distilled into cold, freezing nuggets of dark, fully-structured songs that include perfectly adapted covers of Gandalf, Bill Martin, and Warren Zevon bathed in a stark vocal performance. Good comfort sound.
Meanwhile, on the western side of the state, Todd Tamanend Clark was hanging out at Jerry's Records in Pittsburgh and committing to now-collectable vinyl his psychedelic music of a somewhat different weed. Clark coalesced his Native American activism, love of analog synths and home-fi recording, cosmic poeticism and big ol' Jim Morrison fixation into tons of recordings now encapsulated on this 2CD set. In the years from 1975-85, Clark's weird and wooly sounds featured collaborations from Cheetah Chrome, Allen Ravenstine (Pere Ubu) and William Burroughs, dominated by theremins, moogs, modulators, assorted percussion and total bedroom-metal axe action (the weirdly 80's cyberpunk take on "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" kills). He covered his body in silver paint, performed theme music live at comic book conventions, and basically lived the rock and roll life (and still records). It's fellows like these two that really make me appreciate the unique personalities that form in often-backwater locales. Everyone these days is splitting the big cities to head out to the countryside to become the next Current 93 or Tower Recordings, but somehow the artists that have originated out yonder doing their interpretations of what they perceived was already going on in the big city have won me over again and again creating and following a muse that they can't deny, and this is where our Barretts and Roky's really originate in many ways. Here's Psychatrone's "They Moved the Moon" (Real Audio) and Todd Clark's "March of the Legion" (Real Audio).
WHITEHORSE - West Of the Sun/Oceans Turn To Black (Whitehorse)
After the Grey Daturas' US tour this summer, would be nice to see the next wave in Australian doom make it up to this hemisphere, because these guys are tremendous. Like New York's Khanate or Japan's Corrupted, Melbourne's Whitehorse takes a long time to immerse you in a total bath of sludge; downtuned chords ringing out and slothian song pacing that slowly but surely starts to swirl into an electronic-tinged bloodbath. The slightly grotty recording quality on this, one of several live CDRs they've put out so far, draw up the vibe of being in a claustrophobic box with these guys, and then the vocalist rolls out like some kind of evil troll to set the whole thing on fire to the point where the levels even overload and cancel everything in the mix out for moments at a time. It's ultra-fried and scary as hell, and I am almost cynical about anything that can top this in a studio scenario. Great liner notes chockfull of vivid imagery from one of my favorite modern-day artists, Seldon Hunt, as well. Real audio here of "Ocean Turn To Black".
YOKO SOLO - The Beeps (Quake Trap)
Some of the best stabs at electronica are those that deliberately aim for the cracks between styles. Yoko Solo aka Brandon LaSan graduated into this world after putting in time as an electronic DJ on Osaka radio; his absorption of a multitude of house, hip-hop, and other experimental electronic regions brought forth a very dyamic approach to sound as shown over his early EP's. Rarely does The Beeps sit as background music, at all times it usually is amassing jumbled clusters of casios, broken beats, bent keyboard chords that almost never settle into a groove, yet there is a definite structure going on. It's hardly the blazing in-your-face attack of say, Donna Summer/Jason Forrest, but there's a continual swirling of patterns and continual weird shapes flying about that might not be the most recreational listening for an entire album, but issues some really challenging and interesting sound that sounds especially vibrant in the course of a radio set, or in shuffle mode on the Ipod. LaSan has definitely come up with a cool vocabulary with basic means, it should be very interesting to see where it evolves. Here's "Infinite Collapse Pt. 1: I Blew It" (real audio) from Liz Berg's show.