Tony Coulter here, with another set of waveforms and pixels. This time 'round, all the featured musicians are still active, and have things like Web sites and MySpace pages. Their music can -- and should -- be ordered from them. By contrast, the images at the end are mostly things I clipped out of magazines eons ago; these have lapsed into anonymity, due to my inferior record-keeping.
And now, gentle reader -- please spring forward....
Fred Gatchell: Set Me Free (no label, 2006) CD-R
Let's turn first to an album by guitarist/ singer-songwriter Fred Gatchell. Gatchell was in the L.A. garage band In Case of Fire in the early '70s, then dropped out of music entirely to work in the "restaurant industry." In 2001, after a hiatus of more than twenty-five years, he began writing and recording folk-psych songs a bit in the mode of CSN&Y, America, and other usual suspects -- but marked with his own personal stamp. In some mysterious way, these songs sound like they actually are from the '70s, despite some modern production touches; they are very close in spirit to many of the best private releases of the era and feel much "realer" than most self-conscious modern retreads. If you like the tracks below, you can order Set Me Free here, along with several other of Gatchell's releases.
John Lyle and the Lonesome Ornery Polecats: Bootleg Powerhead (no label, 1971) LP
Next up is a 1971 LP by Vancouver, B.C.--based singer-songwriter John Lyle. Bootleg Powerhead's dreamy, mysterious music and poetic lyrics, along with Lyle's striking vocals, really make it something special, and it's a shame it went almost completely unnoticed at the time -- though such neglect was perhaps inevitable given the record's plain white jacket (what you see above is the cover of the album's 16-page booklet). Appearing on second guitar alongside Lyle was John Murray, of the sublime Vancouver psych band Papa Bear's Medicine Show, while bass duties were handled by Derek Stephenson on all but one track.
Lyle managed something of a career -- he performed in clubs and on Canadian radio and television -- but ultimately decided he was too sensitively wired for live performance, as he amusingly and poignantly recounts in this video. A second and also very fine album, Hard-Cover Virgins, was released in 1978, followed by seven albums since, including one this year. You can find out what Lyle's been up to at his MySpace page, and can obtain his CD-R reissue of Bootleg Powerhead here.
John Lyle in the mid-'70s:
J. D. King & the Coachmen: Mercy (Can Make You Happy) (unreleased demo album)
We turn now to an as-yet-unreleased album from J. D. King and the Coachmen, the modern incarnation of the late-'70s garage/art punk NYC band the Coachmen, which included a young Thurston Moore among its members. (That version of the band can be heard on the posthumous release Failure to Thrive.) The original group broke up in 1980, but in 1997 founder and sole continuing member J. D. King reformed the band, rechristened "J. D. King and the Coachmen" to avoid confusion with the million-and-one '60s garage bands called the Coachmen.
Guitarist King (who's also a well-known illustrator) has a serious and longstanding fixation on '60s garage and psych, but these influences are filtered through avant-garde sonic sensibilities and don't come out sounding retro at all. For its part, Mercy, recorded in 2006, takes a starkly formalistic and minimalist approach to garage music. You can hear more tracks from it, and also find out about other Coachmen albums, at the Coachmen's MySpace page. And don't forget to enjoy J. D. King's fine artwork while you're at it.
Ladybug, Ladybug, Lend Me Your Ears:
Sterling Basement: Sterling Basement (liveristhecockscomb, 2002) CD-R
Next, let's sample a 2002 release by Brooklyn's Sterling Basement, a group that formed after Jason Glasser -- then a member of indie/ alt-country band Clem Snide -- suggested to artist and experimental instrument designer John Roach that they try creating music incorporating some of Roach's invented instruments. Right from the beginning, Sterling Basement -- initially a quartet also including Erin Elstner and Glasser's brother Jonathan -- produced really striking and sensitive experimental music, which combined Roach's Band-O-Phone (featuring bowed rubber bands) with cello, violin, organ, vibes, bells, and other bric-a-brac. I've given you three 2001 studio recordings by this original quartet version of the group.
The Roach-A-Phonic Band-O-Phone:
Sterling Basement quickly slimmed down to a trio employing new Roach instruments such as the Band-O-Fly, then went into hibernation -- until being revived by Roach in 2008, with new members, including sound artist John Hudak. This later version of the band performed at Issue Project Room at a night I curated, and can be heard on FMU's Free Music Archive here, while the album I've given you three tracks from can be experienced in it's entirety over yonder.
Sterling Basement with Band-O-Flys:
As a "special added bonus," here's a link to video of one of John Roach's recent installation/ performance pieces:
Little Fyodor: Peace Is Boring (Public Eyesore, 2009) CD
Let's finish up our audio cavalcade with the latest release from Denver's sublime Little Fyodor -- an album that, sadly, has barely gotten any airtime on FMU (tsk, tsk). Fyodor, once a member of cassette-underground stalwarts Walls of Genius, has been putting out solo releases for some twenty-five years, which manage the difficult task of being both funny, dark, and emotionally affecting all at the same time. He may be a joker in ridiculously mismatched thrift-store rejects, but he's also a dead-serious tilter at horrid consensus reality. And the music's super-cool too. Go, man, go!
While it seems a bit odd to direct you to another radio station, I should also mention that Little Fyodor has been hosting his own show, Under the Floorboards, on KGNU since 1982. You may sample these emanations here. To acquire some of Fyodor's own music, get yourself to this spot.
Little Fyodor, amongst the roses:
And now, dear eyeballs, it's time for some pictures, gathered from there and here. Hope you likum....
Art: Victor Vassarely
That's it for this time. Meet you here in two weeks!