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...because they don't speak English and are too punk to honor conventional holidays anyway. Shit, they definitely don't care that we once dined with the people from whom we eventually stole land and then slaughtered mercilessly...whoops...sorry for being unfestive, dudes! What I meant was, "Only 28 days left until the birth of the one, true Son of God! Get shopping!"
Wow, is NYC lucky! A few weeks back, San Francisco's finest purveyors of angsty punk slash girl-group harmonies Grass Widow flew across the frickin' continent just to play a few New York shows. Now wasn't that nice of them?
Sandwiched in between concerts with Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and The Beets, Grass Widow took the time to visit my radio show for a live set and interview. Between BSing with the band about the Yankees parade that nearly delayed the recording and a totally aggro recording session, November 6th is officially on the books as my favorite Friday of 2009.
Unfortunately, listeners won't get to hear the tune Grass Widow warmed up with in the studio, a cover of The Urinal's "Black Hole". To hear that, you'll just have to check out their new 12" on Captured Tracks.
People are all like, "bleh, noise music sounds like a baby could make it." But then they're like, "The Ramones invented punk and made better songs with three chords than Yes ever did." Get it straight. First of all, The Ramones only wrote one good song. (B) of all, you are using double standards. Lastly, babies can make experimental music and that is definitely a good thing. Human Skab, a ten year old whose LP was just reissued by Family Vineyard, geniusly foretold the realities of modern terrorism with panache to make Nicholas Cage jealous and the kid didn't even blow up any buildings to do it (via Brian Turner). And also, I read Alex Ross talking about Mahler in the New Yorker the other day and he is a tool. He is like, "Mahler wrote love songs to humanity." A baby could ALMOST write that. And then you give Ross the MacArthur Genius grant? Give it to a baby instead, for they are the future and must be nurtured. Did not Jesus, the one and true Son of God, say, "I praise you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children"? See? I just can't believe how fucking stupid you are.Take this track from Meterruidos for instance. Is this not equal to Kagel's Acoustica and isn't Mahler an egomaniac? This was originally posted by Doron and isn't he a computer whiz, so shouldn't he know better than you?
For a minute there I thought Japanese culture was odd. Mostly because of facial saline implants. Now I know they are visionaries, all of them - man bras have become a very hot (and hotly debated) item in Japan. The Reuters report on the top left covers the emerging trand (you like that pun?). On the top right is the trailer from a cult classic, 1982's Liquid Sky, about aliens who get high off of the endorphins in the brains of of heroin addicted models. Anne Carlisle stars as both a male and female junkie models. Fans of cinematic camp will be equally pleased by the film as fans of minimal synth - watch this scene and you'll understand.
Tom Rubnitz was known in the 1980s as a central artistic figure in NYC Village's drag queen scene. His short on the bottom left, Pickle Surprise, features none other than RuPaul. A whole bunch of his other videos are up on Youtube. Bottom left are some highlights of an episode of Ring My Bell, a transexually themed internet call in show that tends to get pretty wild. Is it too late in the post to say these videos aren't safe for work?
True, I usually write about the more progressive or esoteric corners of musical obscuria, but don't pigeonhole me! I do love me a good and simple three chord anthem. I've just finished reading Peter Blecha's new book Sonic Boom, The History of Northwest Rock, from "Louie Louie" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and I'm jonesing to dig through my attic to find all my old "Garage Punk Unknowns", "Back From The Grave", "Teenage Shutdowns" and other similar comps. The book, which focuses almost entirely on the inception of rock through the mid 60s, does a great job of making sense of the complicated scene that brought about greats like The Sonics (whose incredible second record, Boom, is the source of the book title), The Wailers, The Ventures, Paul Revere and the Raiders and, most famously, the Kingsmen. And, perfect for FMU fans, all of the obscure, short lived bands and the hits that never were are documented in passionate detail.
Peter Blecha attacks history from numerous angles. He covers the racial impact of rock and roll. He's got insider information on the publicists and marketers who made the deals that made the hits. He's got behind the scene anecdotes from the bands. For instance, in one of many sections on the Kingsmen's famous recording of "Louie, Louie", Blecha reveals that during the first take, the band's manager physically forced the recording engineer out of the studio. During the second (and final) take, The Kingsmen did not even know that they were recording a final take. They just thought they were running through the song for practice! After hearing the playback, which The Kingsmen thought was absolute crap, the manager demanded that the band pay studio fees - when the band couldn't pay, one of their moms fronted the fifty bucks! A good investment on her part, I must say...
The book doesn't have much coverage even of the late 60s - the way Blecha treats the subject, the late 60s were a time of decline rather than explosive growth. As easy as it is to see where Blecha's allegiances lie, there's not much reason to discount his taste. Sonic Boom is a par none document of the murky, little known events that bred one of rock and roll's strongest regional sounds.
I had this idea the other day to make a million dollars. Have a website that has pictures of boobs, and put a poll under each picture that says "real or fake?" People get satisfaction from their keen discernment while I place a few ads on the page and get rich.
Somehow my moral compass (which I forget exists except for moments like this) tells me I can't really go through with that though. So then why is it that I don't mind sharing these videos with you even though they espouse misogyny and violence? Don't know. Just don't feel bad about it. Maybe because these songs are addictive as all hell?
On the left is Sleepy D and D-Lo's "No Hoe", a regional hit in the Bay Area that takes its cue from hyphee heroes like E-40. Just can't get over the vocal delivery, so ridiculous. On the right is Tempa T's video for "Next Hype". Music starts about two minutes in. Does this mean flat tops are considered tough again? I have watched each of these videos at least 25 times. And often I pump my fists while watching. Let me know in the comments section if you're bit too.
Actually, it's not really fair to lump all these videos into the oldies category. It's just become so easy to do so with music videos from the black and white area. Even on the radio now, oldies seems to include stuff like the Doors and Led Zeppelin. So, to go along with history's tendency to lump together things that were once differentiated, I'll include some really diverse clips today. On the top left are Korea's Kim Sisters, the multiinstrumentalist stalwarts, singing "Spring". Top right is a Caetano Veloso selection from the 1968's Festival de Música Popular Brasileira. I wasn't aware that Caetano was this much of a rock star. The crowd knows every word and Caetano is totally elated. These songs are from my favorite Caetano Veloso album, the 1968 LP. There's actually a lot of great footage from this festival of much smaller Tropicalia acts. I'd especially recommend this clip from Marilia Medalha e Edu Lobo.
Bottom left is some Japanese freak beat via The Cougars, singing Aphrodite in 1967. Bottom right is the most oldie thing of this whole bunch, Les Missles singing Sacre Dollar in 1963.
I really dig it when limited run tape trading labels make their out-of-print releases available for free online. The Tanzprocesz Records archives, which I found a while back, enabled me to hear a lot of noise I wouldn't have had the bucks for otherwise. Just the other day I noticed that Spleencoffin Records also has a good amount of out-of-print downloads available with super fancy flash streaming too. As it's looking, Spleencoffin material will also be available soon on freemusicarchive.org. Based in Baltimore, Spleencoffin first caught my attention when the par none boxset Ladyz in Noyz arrived in the WFMU new bin. Turns out Spleencoffin is one of the finer up and coming venues for the noise Body More Murder Land is becoming famous for - so good it actually won "best label" award from the Baltimore City Paper. You can browse the Spleencoffin free online archive here. Definitely make sure to check out the first disk of the Ladyz of Noyz box that just went up on the archive. Pictured above is the cover of a new release, El Imperio, from the Uruguayan improv garage outfit Fiesta Animal. Sik.
Oh man, so I just put another thing together that is very much related. Check out the Mattin online archive of free conceptual music, including a release from WFMU's own Kurt Gottschalk.
The great thing about freeform is when you don't have a cohesive post, you can just stick completely unrelated things together and if anyone calls you out on it, you can accuse them of being a colonialist fascist. Today I've got two very different mines for you to trench through. The first is the fluxus oriented youtube channel called Art Classic News. Posted below is one of their gems, footage of a 1968 Wolf Vostell installation called E.D.H.R. From a musical perspective, this clip is striking for it's protoindustrial clangor. From a multimedia perspective, this particular work was influential as one of the first appropriations of TVs in an installation setting.
I've also been spending a lot of time lately checking out classic rocksteady sounds from the You and Me on a Jamboree blog. Tons of full albums downloads from out of print roots reggae, ska and dub, mostly from the 60s and 70s. Posted below are two of mp3s from albums I've been enjoying the past few weeks. I'd especially recommend checking out the Ethiopians. Happy hunting.
I am thrilled to learn of _________'s current opening for ___________. As a blogger with experience in blogging and blogging, I am an ideal applicant. For further detail on my qualifications, please find video clip information in the comments section of this post.
My experience as a blogger at WFMU has trained me to find obscure videos of freaks playing synthesizers and pretending to be zombie wizards out in the woods or some shit like that and then to make informed observations about how it's is an interesting combination of black metal, synth pop and prog rock or some shit like that and also that the introduction kinda sounds like the beginning of R. Stevie Moore's Phonography kinda. My organizational skills will be a daily asset to your office. Some other bullshit to make it look like I am interesting and talented. This position is of particular interest to me because I saw it on Craigslist and said to myself, "I probably won't hate this job so much that it will make me want to bludgeon my coworkers."
I am available at any time for an interview and can begin work immediately. I look forward to discussing this position with you at further length in the near future. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Ran across this oddity the other day, 1973's film version of Orfeo 9, a rock opera by Tito Schipa Jr. and Bill Conti, who now conducts at Academy Awards shows these days. The opera's stage debut was in 1970 and was Schipa's first successful work, although he had previously released a rock-operacized medley of Bob Dylan songs. Reissues of the CD are in print, but I can't seem to find the film anywhere. Then again, I'm not so skilled at searching through Italian sites for leads. A man's gotta know his limitations. But take this consolation, a 9 minute long clip with some very nice selections. More selections are available here.
I've been working on a feature length article about Korean free music that should appear this June in Wire magazine and wanted to share some of the bounty for you WFMU folk. Top left is a solo performance by Kang Tae Hwan. Kang Tae Hwan was improvising as early as the '70s, one of Korea's first free players. The only Occidental Kang Tae Hwan release is 2003's Love Time, out on the VHF label. Some things can be ordered straight from Korea though; check this page out (click on Korea Collection). Also, Inconstant Sol blog posted a mega limited Kang Tae Hwan record here. On the whole, however, none of the early masters have left many recorded testaments of their greatness. Alfred Harth (by his own rights an incredible saxophonist, having performed in Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra as well as in Cassiber with Chris Cutler back in the day) has lived in Seoul since 2001 and has collaborated with many Korean masters, has told me that this is the result of the spirit of their improvisation, which is not directed toward preservation, just toward playing in the moment. You can sense some of that sentiment in the Kang Tae Hwan clip on the top left. The playing just blows me away, it's so meditative and perfect. I could listen for hours. There are more Kang Tae Hwan solo clips here. On the right is another Kang Tae Hwan performance with Lauren Newton (singer), Miyeon (piano), and Je Chun Park (percussion). Miyeon and Je Chun Park are two other very important Korean free jazz players, with releases as far back as 1987.
On the bottom left is a recent performance in Seoul with Alfred Harth, Joe Foster, Choi Joonyoung, Jin Sangtae and Jeong Youp Shin. All these performers are part of the Relay circle of improvisers in Seoul. At bottom right you'll find more fruit of the relay circuit, a duo by Kevin Parks and Jin Sangtae in a Dotolim performance, more of which you can find here. I won't give the full report on all these incredible performers for the obvious reasons, but look for the Wire article in June if you haven't already spent all your money pledging to WFMU...
Being recently unemployed is pretty relaxing, I must admit. But I'm nowhere near as carefree as child star Jack Wild (top left) seemed to be. Jack Wild is best known as the downtrodden yet sweethearted Oliver in Lionel Bart's musical of the same name. But Wild definitely embraced that not-so-sweethearted Hollywood teen idol status. He released three studio albums and, as this video evidences, enjoyed the company of women who are like 3 feet taller than him! He actually ended up getting messed up on alcohol pretty early in life. Regardless, great intro, great song, great plot, great accent, just great. The Gentry's very, very bubblegum "Spread it On Thick" is top right. Again, just great. Not only for the quintessentially bubblegum use of double entendre and for drilling the phrase "you the man" into the ground, but also for featuring a man in a very large sombrero. The clip, you might be able to tell, is taken from a movie - it's the 1967 teen beach party exploitation flick "It's a Bikini World". Many infos about the film here and another awesome in-film performance by the Castaways here.
OK, so he's not from Southern California, but you can see why this Michael Holm video at bottom left is appropriate. I don't speak German, but I think perhaps he's saying "dancing and dancing...kissing and kissing"? Oh dear. Perhaps you are saying to yourself, "The Mixtures, featured on the bottom right, are maybe relaxing too much, as this song sounds suspiciously like Mungo Jerry." This is no coincidence, my friend. "The Pushbike Song" was in a fact a followup to The Mixtures' cover of Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime". Since Australian radio was banning British songs from the airwaves at this point in 1970, The Mixtures were able to piggyback their way twice to number one on the Australian charts. Sadly, the creative well soon ran dry and the Mixtures' next single peaked at #43. At any rate, two bubblegum videos in bathing suits and two on bikes - how can you beat it?
Although he originally hails from Japan, Sato Yukie (you know, 佐藤行衛) has been a crucial figure in a small but tight knit circle of Seoul experimentalists. For one, he organizes one of the few regular experimental showcases in town, Bulgasari. He also happens to be Seoul's finest exporter of whacked out noise. His improvisations usually involve an electric guitar played with chopsticks, a rotating cast of rubber ducks, light up guns and anything else with a cheap speaker to feed through his pickups. All this crowds a few dozen pedals and electronic devices. The result comes out something like a zany retelling of Kagel's Acoustica plus updated electronics, psyched out wah and tape speed manipulation.
Here is Scott Bartlett's 1967 foray into psychedelic experimentalism, Offon. I won't say much about the film because the clip on the right is a brief (though longer than the actual film) documentary on the history and making of the film. Enjoy.