TONGUE TOP TEN #3 – April 27, 2009
1. Easily the best-looking LP we’ve had the pleasure of grappling lately is Light by Reiko and Tori Kudo, issued by Siwa. Reiko and Tori are best known for their work with Maher Shalal Hash Baz, but this stuff is even more casual, diffuse and haunting. Mostly just piano and female voice, the sound has an elegance and mystery that makes our veins wiggle. It’s like some sort of otherworldly cabaret, beamed in from Planet X. And while the music is available now as a CD, the LP version is just incredible—a wooden box, with nine separate compartments, each containing a printed booklet with lyrics. Quite unbelievable, even for Siwa, which has long set a tough-to-match standard for packaging. Hats off to the label’s Alan Sherry and all who sail with him.
2. Just got a couple of fine new books by the great Cleveland poet, Bree. The bigger of the two (although printed in a wee small format) is was chicken trax amidst sparrows tread (The Temple Inc). This one collects a bunch of Bree’s fantastic prole poesy and uses it to sorta set the scene for a long prose piece about asshole blood. Amazing stuff. There’s also if i cld a body slam on her own imprint, Green Panda Press. This one’s a slim, folded sheet with six “peace poems” (one of which is purely visual). What makes them “peace poems,” we can only guess, but they’re boss and loud, which seems like a good thing. It should be noted that Bree is also hosting the Tres Versing the Pandapoetry festival in Cleveland on May 8-10, this year, which should be an excellent place to be.
3. Great new guitar record out by William “Willie” Lane, called Known Quantity (Cord Art). Willie lived up here in Western Mass. for a good long while and was involved in lots of weird musical shit. Not much of it got proper documentation, however, although Child of Microtones did issue a fine CDR, Recliner Ragas , a few years back. Anyway, Willie moved down to Philadelphia a couple of years ago, and we get a chance to hear him now and then when we’re down there, or he chooses to hit the road with one of the MV & EE traveling carnivals. But his solo work has always been amazing and rare. Well, not so rare this week. There’s this new LP, and it was recorded throughout 2006-2008, and is a total blast. Willie’s mostly solo (save for some licks by Samara Lubelski) and his playing ranges from Wizz Jones power-pluck at its cleanest to Michael Chapman electro-smear at its phasingest. But Willie knows his stuff cold and this instrumental slide through the gates of Neverland is one of this year’s great rides.
Duplex Planet editor David Greenberger and poet Ernest Noyes Brookings at Dunkin Donuts, Jamaica Plain, MA. Summer 1985 photo by Stephen Elston
4. First new issue in a long time of David Greenberger’s vastly entertaining magazine, Duplex Planet. Issue 184 doesn’t revolve around a central theme, but details various conversations David had with the residents at senior centers in East L.A. My favorite is the one with a woman who claims to be the 23rd of 24 children in her family, and also to be a great-great-grandmother. There’s no earthly way to know if she’s full of shit or not, but it’s nice to read her thoughts. Greenberger has a gentle way of probing the memories of these folks that is funny, sad and surprising—sometimes simultaneously. His work is always cool. The same is true of his sometimes collaborator, longtime pal, Terry Adams . Adams, a founding member of NRBQ as well as a legendary Sun Ra collector, has a new CD called Holy Tweet (Clang!).
Primarily recorded as a trio date with Tom Ardolino and Scott Ligon, the vibe is like a stripped down version of the Q Mothership—rolling bones of uniquely shaped, instantly recognizable goodtime roots pop whatsis that transcend boundaries of “mereness” by a mysterious propulsive force. The stuff is always just off-base enough to keep our interest thoroughly poked (especially as the first zephyrs of spring beckon us to the hill towns beyond). Sometimes it’s enough to just enjoy.
5. Mats Gustafsson has ten of the busiest fingers in all of Sweden. And yes, his primary focus is record collecting. But he does a few other things and he does them well. Three recent albums attest to this (lord knows how many record he has released since we last met) and they also map a width of style-ass as impressive as it is bounteous. First is The Vilnius Implosion (No Business), which is a solo work for baritone saxophone, slide saxophone and alto fluteophone. What the latter of these two instruments look like is best left unmentioned, but the sounds are swimming! The music (recorded in concert in Lithuania) is explosively sculptural—three-dimensional blocks of sound bursting through sheets of reality as though it was all a crepe paper curtain. That’s the first side, the flip has longer, grouchier masses of tongue flex, approaching jazzic concepts at times. Lovely! Then we have Mats G Plays Duke E (QBICO), a one-sided LP with Mats playing nearly-straight versions of several Ellington tunes on tenor, enlivened by primitive vocls and raw, live electronics. Parts are sweet enough to play for yr grandma, others will just make her ass bleed. The final piece is a split LP with Dutch pianist Cor Fulher on Narrominded. Fulher uses some extended techniques to take his piano sounds into vast regions of new, and Gustafsson is equally adept at squeezing sounds from his sax that are beyond the ken of most of his peers. Using rolling sequences of tongue-clacks, overblowing, breath-splatter, he ends up doing things, making sounds, that seem impossible. But Mats is more than up to the task. Amazing shit.
6. Hisham Mayet is one of the geniuses behind the Sublime Frequencies project, which is attempting to document many strands of ecstatic global culture before they are bulldozed into oblivion by Western hegemony. His efforts have been prolific and inspired, and his latest DVD, Palace of the Winds, is no exception. It combines snippets of performance footage with long shots of Saharan landscape in motion, and various other shots of the sun-smacked towns and people of the region.
Less tripped out than some of his other films, this one is carried along by the amazing guitar music of Group Doueh, Group Marwani and others. As beautiful as any foot.
7. Have received a goddamn charmer of a split LP from the UK on the new Carnivals Carnivals label. Side B has our old favorites Temperatures, making a bed-splitting racket on a long piece called “Bifurcation.” This finds them moving ever further beyond the shadow of tongue. Side A has a new-to-us trio from Manchester called A Middle Sex (presumably a reference more to Jeffrey Eugenides than Greater Uxbridge) performing a suite entitled “An Unclean Yawn.” An extended blurt of drums, voices, feedback and blood, its parts move together like kittens fitted with large boots—thump, thump, thump.
The Manchester Musicians Collective
8. Another insanely brilliant weevil with roots in Britain’s gloomy north is the new volume of Chuck Warner‘s bodacious Messthetics series (Hyped To Death), which collects the forgotten teeth of the Manchester Musicians Collective from the years 1977-1982. The music here is a glorious pastiche of fully cracked DIY grunt, filled with snarling sissies, moaning keyboards, chopped rhythms and slugged guitars. The booklet contains an incredible wealth of info on the scene, but it’s collated in a manner that makes it as mysterious as most of the bands on here. Really wild stuff, though. As is most of this series. We should write more about Chuck at some point, too. He is one of the legends of record collecting. In the mid ‘80s, one of us—not telling which—was involved in a massive trade with him that involved swapping Ya Ho Wha LPs for a Volvo station wagon. But anybody who likes music in the least should be ALL OVER this series. It’s both the tits and the berries.
Death Sentence: Panda!
9. Paul Costuros is a frantic sort of gentleman who first came to our attention when he was with the spamsodically massive Total Shutdown. More recently, he has been involved with Death Sentence: Panda!, and those woozy bastards finally have a full length LP, Insects Awaken ((Upset the Rhythm) out, which allows the to extend their strange tentacles more deeply into the room. They seem to owe a certain compositional sense to some of the legendary Bay Area units of the late ‘80s, but they manage to make their sonics far less annoying than some of those bums ever could. Indeed, there is a great beauty to some of the stripped down percussion-based chants, which actually resemble certain gestured invented by the Residents in the mid ’70s. It’s a charming sort of pop/anti-pop mix that will make yr bones feel as soft as butter. Which may be a very good thing. Another good thing involving Mr. Costuros is his site devoted to ESP-Disk. This is one of the best collections of ESP imagery available anywhere in the known universe, and if you study it, you will be revelated. For sure.
10. Certain records have a kind of intimate feel that makes them immune to any sort of standard critical whatsis. The first records by bands like the Flaming Lips and Guided By Voices are ones we’d lump in this category. Both those bands seemed as though they were content to just do what they did, and they documented the process for their friends, without much thought that there’d be anyone else interested. It’s a cool state-of-being, and one which allows more honesty than most bands will manage in a thousand demos. Anyway, there’s a new LP out, collecting the long-forgotten practice tapes of a rural Pennsylvania band called Suetta, and it has the same kinda feel. The album is called Olympic Stain (Summersteps). Suetta existed for a couple of years in the mid ‘90s and wear their influence on their sleeves (post-scum-rock noise and obscurantist indy-ism). Their album has one studio session and one fake live gig, recorded in the abandoned house where they rehearsed. And while it is perhaps a minor pleasure, it’s one that has been spinning here a lot lately. C’mon, anyone who would do a mock cover of a Noise Addict song certainly deserved props for something!
Alright. That’s it, except that a keen reader pointed out the Sunny Murray LP on Shandar is actually self-titled, not called “Big Chief.” Okay. Fuck us. Bye.
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