VARIOUS - Congotronics 2: Buzz 'N' Rumble From the Urb'N' Jungle (Crammed Disc)
On the heels of the Konono No. 1 disc last year comes more primitively amplified trance music from Congo. Konono No. 1, a group that were championed by Dutch avant-rockers the Ex, made somewhat world news in music circles for their souped up, homemade electric instruments, distorted likembe (thumb pianos) and finally hit the states in November for live shows. Unfortunately, the show I saw suffered at the hand of a busted PA on the journey over to the US, and a somewhat polite soundmix for your average Worldbeat-friendly supperclub atmosphere that never quite allowed the combination of repetition, distortion and pure primitive magic Konono are capable of from really working on the crowd to its fullest potential. Thankfully, here's the next fix, 7 other compatriot ensembles stirring up rackets (the label tags it "proto-techno") that are quite amazing (and in several cases quite identical to Konono's likembe-based workouts) with a jawdropping DVD of clips (some of which can be seen here) of each band in its natural element. Though, without meaning to sound snotty, I also hope that people who dig this can also sink their teeth into some of, say, the Ocora back catalogue, which is rife with fantastic and bizarre music of this caliber that never had the chance for a promo person to liken it to Can & Krautrock. Just observing here, not complaining; I am totally down with this series. Anything that sounds like Harry Partch jamming with an African Wolf Eyes is AOK in this household, and I hope many more volumes follow. Real Audio of Basokin/Mi Amor's "Mulume."
VARIOUS - Sounds From the Pocket: Found Sound Volume 3 (Sounds From the Pocket)
In the course of throwing some extra icing on the radio cake, few things are more fun to sprinkle into a freeform radio set than snippets from compilations like this. Short pieces of found tapes that exist in their own isolated and inexplicable universe like some kind of necklace strung with faded pearls, voices creaking out of distorted lo-tech sources with an agenda we may never understand or have explained. From the increasingly snarky phone messages from some kind of bill collector "To Ken Boone", to someone's irate mom leaving a message that she doesn't want "that flaming faggot in our car, he's a menace", the folks at Sounds From the Pocket have certainly given us all a reason to gleefully look through door cracks we shouldn't, and somewhat picking up the ball that the late great Bananafish magazine left behind when they stopped publishing their magazine/comp CDs. I am especially a fan of the subway musician croaking "Knights In White Satin" (Read Audio) as the 6 train comes squealing to a stop.
PISSED JEANS - Shallow (Parts Unknown)
Somehow it seems fitting that the 21st century update to 1980's Texas Drug Punk is eminating from Allentown, Pennsylvania. I'm sure the PJ's have had it up to here with all the Drunks With Guns comparsions, but let's face it, Drunks With Guns need a continuum of sorts in this day and age as Rusted Shut need to get out and start recording more than once every 10 years, and the Brainbombs will seemingly never come over here and play. So I'm with these kids all the way. After a great 7", this full length is full of the Ugly and Heavy, and stomps over most of the so-called brutarian artpunk like your uncle at Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving when the $5 sale starts on Ashlee Simpson dolls. Each track is like a nuclear meltdown with boss riffs, free-skree Greg Ginn guitar ripping everywhere burying the vocals and drums in a most pleasing way. Had Lightning Bolt started AFTER Bush screwed up the country they may have boiled down to this a bit more. Great article and interview with them by Blastitude's Tony Rettman here. And here's "Closet Marine" (Real Audio).
MEATUS MURDER - More Songs About Balling and Food (No Label)
Basically, home-recorded cover songs of popular and not-so-popular standards with the original lyrics replaced with others primarily dealing with sports, and eating. The combo of being overtly-clever and having the stupe factor turned WAY over 11 puts this in the pantheon of such charmers as the Frogs and Special Moments albeit more spastic than either of those have ever been (think Sockeye with instrumental prowess perhaps); witness Nick Cave's "O Deanna" turned into a Garfield-recited bitchfest about dieting ("El Garfield", Real Audio), Wire's "Three Girl Rhumba" a step-by-step guide to curing pickles, New Order's "Love Vigilantes" transforms to high praise for eating at Popeye's, and Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" an ode to Yao Ming, the Chinese basketball center transplanted to the NBA. Though the best drinks-through-nose moment might come via "Sad Old Michael Love", a bitter diatribe against the "Kokomo" vocalist to the tune of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love." Oh, you kids.