Ray Zinnbrann - Takedowns, 1986 (.zip archive, 43MB)
Ray Zinnbrann first came to the attention of WFMU's staff and listeners with the song "I Fell in Love at WFMU," popularized on Irwin's show. Ray proved to be far from a one-note novelty act, being a skilled guitarist with psychedelic leanings and an idiosyncratically reedy but note-perfect vocal delivery. At the Lo-Fi event I organized in 1988, Ray, decked out in a gold lamé vest, played a bombastic fuzztone rendition of "Also Sprach Zarathustra." Not too long after their first meeting at that event, Ray and fellow Lo-Fi star Jet Screamer (aka Mark DeAngelis) formed The Living Guitars, a dynamic duo coupling surf-rock buzz and twang with some great original songs (and sadly few recordings.) Ray has always produced tasty cover versions, and this tape of carefully selected and thoughtfully rendered covers (with some pricelessly funny intros and outros) bubbled to the top of my Ray Z. tape collection as something that all ye blog punters should enjoy. I think I may even like Ray's version of "Elemental Child" more than the Marc Bolan original. See the insert on the right for more information and a track listing. Ray (now known as Ray Brazen) is still making music, and also maintains an in-depth fan site for legendary New York band The Godz.
Smegma - Morass/In Performance 1985–1987, 1988 (.zip archive, 52MB)
Portland, Oregon's Smegma have defied easy categorization for their 30 some odd years of existence. Are they a rock band? Well, yes, of a sort. A free noise ensemble? Absolutely. A bizarre performance troupe, with an often crass aesthetic? Mmm-hmm. A "tape" band? For sure. Were they embraced by the 80s–90s post-industrial avant-garde? Unquestionably. The material on their many releases ranges from pure sound collage to heavy, Krautrock-inspired one-note 4/4 jams, with everything in between being up for consideration as well. The Morass cassette, with its large, tri-fold insert, was the first release for the now world-renowned Soleilmoon label (also Portland-based.) The "studio" side of this tape was recently made available on the CD reissue of the Nattering Naybobs of Negativity LP. The other side of Morass, the "in performance" side, is presented here in all its sodden glory. With Smegma's recordings, distinctions between live and studio material become less relevant than with some other artists, and I personally find this side of the tape to be the more enjoyable one. (Note: Since the silences between tracks are few and mostly filled with applause and audience patter, this has been ripped as one continuous mp3; song titles are given on the insert and in the "Comments" field of the mp3 tags.)