BULL TONGUE review column by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore (Arthur 33/Jan 2013)

Originally published in Arthur No. 33 (Jan 2013)


BULL TONGUE
by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore

- Exploring the voids of all known undergrounds since 2002 -

1 CLAUDE PELIEU It has been ten years since the French-born artist, writer, and translator Claude Pelieu died at his home in upstate New York. His memory has been well served this past year, by the publication of at least three books that should be of extreme interest to anyone with a true hankering for the avant garde. The first is Kali Yug Express (Bottle of Smoke Press, bospress.net), a fantastic cut-up novel originally published in France in 1974. Translated by Pelieu’s late widow and long-time partner-in-crime, Mary Beach, it’s great to finally have a chance to read this book in a language we completely understand. As with some of his other work, Pelieu’s cut-ups do not always flow with the same dream-logic that guides Burroughs’ hand when he’s navigating similar waters, but it reads quite well. And Bill Roberts’ production standards are as high as ever. Second up is Un Amour de Beatnik (Non Lieu, editionsnonlieu.fr), a collection of letters and poems sent to Pelieu’s first wife (Lula Nash) in 1963-64, along with examples of his visual work from the early ‘60s. Although it’s all in French, the book is written in a relatively straightforward way, so you can parse it out even if yr French is as rusty as ours. Fully annotated, with period photos, a good chronology and whatnot, it’s a very solid read (and Claude’s early Leger-influenced paintings are quite a revelation). Third is Pelieu Mix/Etat des Lieux (la Notonecte, 15 bis rue Noel du Fail, Rennes, 35000, France), assembled by Benoit Delaune. Pelieu Mix is mostly a facsimile edition of some of Pelieu’s notebooks from the late ‘90s, filled with various texts, collages. It’s a great, beautiful jumble of stuff, presented spiral-bound, and now that we’re examining it more closely we realize it may have come out a while ago. But we just got it, so fuck you. More info on Pelieu and his art (as well as Mary Beach’s) can be had at beachpelieuart.com. Worth whatever eye strain it takes.

2 SPECTRE FOLK Spectre Folk is Pete Nolan’s long-running non-Magik Markers combo. And their new album, The Ancient Storm (Vampire Blues, vampireblues.net), is a quartet scene, with Pete joined by Aaron Mullan, Steve Shelley and Peter Meehan. Dreamier, poppier and ghostlier than previous efforts, it is tempting to call this the best record with a world class foodie (Meehan) since Robert Sietsema’s last recording with Blinding Headache. The longer tracks have a splendid psych droopiness and the whole thing just flows like butter. Meanwhile, Nolan’s label, Arbitrary Signs (arbitrarysigns.blogspot.com, has continued to flower slowly. Most recent drop was Your First Ever River by United Waters. UW is the new solo (or solo-esque) project by Brian Sullivan from Mouthus. The guy’s a brutal arm-wrestler (take our word!), but he also shows an incredible deftness with deeply murky pop constructions on River. Even more than with Brian’s other project, Eskimo King, the sounds here are bizarre but assembled with a precision recalling some of the best efforts of the long-gone Bobby J label. It’s a record that rewards heavy, smoked listening. Don’t think we ever mentioned the last record on Arbitrary Signs either, which was Four Corners Bounce by Devin, Gary & Ross. The surnames invovled are Flynn, Panter & Goldstein, so you can be assured this project is also a riot of screwed-up ‘60s pop readymades, interspersed with doper madness and actual songs that will twist yr mind like taffy. Don’t not check it out.

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HOUSEKEEPING NOTE

BYRON COLEY, whose work has appeared in every single issue of Arthur ever published, has been named Arthur’s first and only “Senior Writer.”

Now enthroned, he has submitted his first-ever (!?!) cover feature for Arthur: a 10,000-word interview, with 202 sidenotes, that will run in Arthur No. 34, our March 5, 2013.

He will bury us all, and we will like it.

BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 25 1/2

Note: The following was intended for publication in Arthur No. 26’s original print date of February 2007. Arthur No. 26 was eventually published in September 2007, with a completely different, fresh column.

BULL TONGUE
Exploring the Voids of All Known Undergrounds
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

Bull Tongue 80 for 06

1. GOTHENBURG BLOOD CULT – New tape label out of Sweden bartering in ultra hell noise. Check out the compilation Fuck Money, Fuck Life with grinding hardcore spew from Maniac Cop, Ochu and Treriksroset. Sweden’s such a beatific place, it’s hard to figure the gore mania the noise scene there is so preoccupied with.

2. SAME BAND – Boxed Set 10 CD box (Disques Dual) Amazing documentation of a Portland, ME combo who existed in an oddball universe akin to some of the best just-pre-punk weirdos. They came along later than bands like MX-80 Sound, but manifest a similar vibe, which makes sense because their roots stretch back to the Granite Farm Band, a combo formed in ’68. Part free-form, part Zappa, part punk, this is rural-experimental fuckeroo of the highest order. Includes some DVD video footage, interviews, a great booklet of fliers and pics, and is contained inside a most lovely wooden box. During their lifetime they cut only one LP and one 45, but this set (recorded between ’77 and ’80) captures a brilliant, beautiful strangeness.

3. SIC ALPS – Pleasures and Treasures LP (Animal Disguise) It’s time for Sic Alps to fully bust out. An incredible raw psychedelia is being played here and after a couple of down-low tapes on Folding and Animal Disguise we’re steamy mouthed listening to their first LP (which is basically an early version of the band with the awesome Bianca Sparta of Erase Errata.)

4. DESPERATE MAN BLUES DVD – director: Edward Gillan (Dust to Digital) Nice to have a DVD of this great documentary on Joe Bussard, plus another featurette, King of the Record Collectors, and other bonus stuff. Bussard is a stone gas, grooving around his basement amidst one of the finest collections of pre-war 78s ever assembled. A few nice archival shots of Fahey, too. And the stories are hilarious.

5. RAYMOND DIJKSTRA – Der Triumph LP (Le Souffleur) What sounds like a man scraping broken glass on metal with brain-burnt organ accompaniment makes for one killer LP. Dijkstra has been honing his skin-splitting aurality for years and presents us this masterpiece in a hardback linen box sleeve.

6. LOU DUBOSE & JAKE BERNSTEIN – Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency (Random House) There’s nothing in here you didn’t suspect, but Dubose & Bernstein lay out the whole ugly quilt for the entire world’s inspection. Research and writing are both excellent. You’ll puke. Again.

7. NON-HORSE – Rigor More cassette (Not Not Fun) Vanishing Voice member Gabriel Lucas Crane’s spirit-sonic masterpiece told in 77 chapters of beautiful mystic tones.

8. VALERIE WEBBER – Thin Little Arms Build Castles (Big Baby Press) Webber has hit a new mark with this book of poems. They glower with a savage steaminess that recalls (in part) some of Lydia Lunch’s best work. But she does not have Lydia’s vicious nihilism. Valerie’s possesses a strangely juicy optimism as often as it does darkness, and there is a humor poking through many of the pieces, letting in illuminative shards of light. Favorite poem: “I Am Bitch Almighty.”

9. JAMIE FENNELLY – Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down cassette (Deep Fried Tapes) Out of nowhere, well Philadelphia actually, tape label with regional creative-squall action. Fennelly’s excursion here looks like it would be old-timey hoedown but it’s a great dark, droning improvisation that strokes the inner gore nicely.

10. HI GOD PEOPLE / DEAD C – split LP (Nervous Jerk) Debut release by the great Australian label formerly known as Art School Dropout. Dead C’s side was live at the 2002 ATP Festival and is a brilliant evocation of elemental, abstract forces, culminating in a destroyed exorcism of “L.A. Blues.” The flip, by Melbourne’s finest, is their own, very special sorta rumble through a variety of style-dodges. Wonderful destruction of pre-dawn tongues.

11. SWORD HEAVEN – Ohio duo that blamm-oed through the USA this summer really just killing live. Super intense drums/etc music-action with a blasted dose of off-the-stage and in-yr-face performance wildness.

12. P SHAW – Strings (Pshaw!) P Shaw has long been one of Boston’s great creators. His homemade comics are jammed with crazy details and storylines that will make you spit cereal out yr nose. Anyway, Strings is something like the story of Death Rattle Cat, plus related sketchbook material. And if it doesn’t melt yr eyes, well, that’s just too bad.

13. BLUES CONTROL – Riverboat Styx cassette (fuckittapes) Sweet rolling psyche minimalism from Brooklyn. Members of the way more abstracted Watersports.

14. KA-NIVES!! – Get Duped LP (Lance Rock) Crude, stupid, intimately sloppy garage punk from Houston. Drunkenly related to the great Sugar Shack, this one will make every cup in yr house quiver like a tin rattle.

15. NEUNTOTER DER PLAGE – The Spectre Sows His Seed cassette (Truculent) Howling dark ambient spook core. Perfect long winter night blood ritual groan fest. One of the better labels out of Providence, RI.

16. KAREN CONSTANCE & LAUREN NAYLOR – Chapters PORTFOLIO (Someone Else) 20 gorgeous two-sided prints by these brain-felching UK artists—one side b&w, one side color—all images drawn from deep wells of the impossible. Corrosive dreamscapes at their absolute finest. Beautiful!

17. RUNDOWNSUN – Of all the tape labels that spray paint their cassettes it’s this Canadian label that does it most exquisitely. Gorgeous, dot-dash Pollock abstraction with lovely topographic sensuality.

18. STUMPS – Split Fleet Dodge LP (Palindrone) Cool New Zealand trio antics from Antony Milton and pals. From winsome electro-dribble through into full-blown avant-rock splooie, this LP includes some splashy guest organ work by Campbell Kneale and great wobble-vibes galore.

19. FEMINIST ACTION BRIGADE – Formerly known as Feminists Against Bush, an open-forum collective of women expressing through music, art, ideas, opinions the state of power-imbalance in regards to gender and politics. Their FAB site has the story. Co-organizer Marissa also has a wicked cool experimental sound-jam cassette on Tobi Vail’s Bumpidee tape label called Marissa Magic! Also a good place to hook up with awesome liberation-punk trio, The Punks.

20. OGX – 2LP (Old Gold) Not sure if this has been out for years already or something, but it just landed in the box. Anyway, it’s a tenth anniversary comp for the great Old Gold label, and it includes all kindsa sick shit–from the high-end improv of Charlie Parker (the band) to live duo work from Eugene Chadbourne & Davey Williams. Solid and handmade—just like crack!

21. RAIONBASHI – Chloral Works I & II LP (Entr’acte) Not sure if chloral is a misspelling or intentional. But as insanely heavy as this body-part sound/yodel manipulation one-sided LP goes who cares? Raionbashi is a German dude, part of Schimpfluch Aktionist scene, and this is a weirdo tongue and ass slap piece of amplification that is full on hot n’ nasty.

22. MONDO MACABRO – Still the coolest exploito DVD reissue company going. Highlights from this year include Snake Dancer (the highpoint of South African stripper cinema) & The Bollywood Horror Collection Vol. 1—a two-disc set with a pair of amazing satan-o/vampire flicks and great documentaries.

23. KENT TAYLOR AND ALAN HORVATH – looking for d.a. levy (Random Sightings) – THE d.a. levy BIBLIOGRAPHY Volume 1 [1963 – 1966] (Kirpan Press) Premier volume rundown of every publication d.a. levy involved himself with. With full-page reproductions of many of the titles. Essential resource for anyone into the work of one of America’s greatest voices of inspired dissent and bloodymindedness.

24. DAN NADEL – Art Out of Time (Abrams) Dan Nadel of Picture Box edited this superb anthology, subtitled Unknown Comic Visionaries 1900-1969. Some of the text is a little hard to read, but it’s worth the eyestrain to see this stuff—it’s unbelievably choice and weird!

25. THE BRATS – Criminal Guitar LP (Rave Up) Oh my God, The Brats were the perennial house band at Great Gildersleeves down the street from CBGB in the ’70s. With punk in full-on birth pang The Brats were still stuck in New York Dolls/Sweet mode with shag hairdos and platforms, starry-eyed that Kiss made it big and street-wise enough to acknowledge that the New York Dolls just plain OD’d. Thirty years down the road listening to this assembly of demos, practices, live shit and their one and only 7” its cool to hear how these guys were kinda great in a genuine NYC street trash “raunchy rock” way. Where’s our Quaalude Queen now?
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BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 24 (Sept. 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 24 (September, 2006)

BULL TONGUE
Exploring the Voids of All Known Undergrounds
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

First of all, a few people have been griping lately that they continue to send us stuff to review and they aren’t getting any word aktion in return. To this, we say—sorry. We get a numbing amount of material to review, and the vast bulk of it is actually pretty interesting. We do the best we can, although there has been talk about supplementing the print column with something additional that’d run on the Arthurmag.com website. In the meantime, don’t lose the faith. If you are doing good, idiosyncratic work, we’ll do what we can to pass the word one way or another. Keep it coming.

Upset The Rhythm has been one of the coolest collectives tooling around London since their inception in 2003. They put on shows by the most radical of radical post riot punk action core noise freakers who happen to blow through town as well as put a few records out. They’ve really scored hard with a split release LP by howling UK psyche-tribe femme jamsters Leopard Leg and San Francisco all-girl metal/howl 4tet T.I.T.S.. Both these bands are super wild with Leopard Leg being a 10+ outfit of London and Brighton women stirring up a drumming, whooping cry to the Goddess light of sound, vision and pre-rock soulfire. T.I.T.S. have weirdo metal moves informed by the legacy of S.F. underground experimental noise and good times rock chaos catharsis from whence they came. The total witch jazz guitar juice and pummel bass/drum bash here put us on high alert. This split LP Throughout the Ages is a gorgeous gatefold affair and one anyone’d be a sap to pass on.

Tony Rettman, long time major domo of 200 Pound Underground, has been expanding his empire lately. He’s doing all kindsa crap on his new WFOT imprint, and one of the neatest is a book of art by Marcia Bassett and Matthew Bower. Not sure if it has a title, but it’s great stuff – avant garde van art at its finest. Good thing to look at the next time you spin that Hototogisu 3LP set. Fusetron and Volcanic Tongue handle it. Michael Bowman’s Nova Feedback is also easy on the eyes. The first five issues collect a hot bouquet of drawings and collages that range from extremely casual to speed-freak-detailed. Some of them have a very ‘50s animation feel to them (although the subject matter has a tendency to be bit perverse) and it would be mighty interesting to meet a woman who was covered with his designs as tats. There’s also another great booklet from L.A.’s Hello Trudi folks. Bro, Maybe the Good Times Are Over is a beautiful menagerie of smuts both crude and cruder. Garry Davis has also come through with something different: a booklet of collages called You’re On Glue. Done over the course of 17 years, it’s a wonderful collection of image-chops, very few of which fall into any of the standard style-holes one might expect.

Help yourself to an exquisitely duppy split LP, shared by Dinosaurs, Baseball & Hopscotch (a sorta Indiana spazz-prov all star orchestra) and France’s Glen or Glenda (Friends and Relatives). DBH lock onto a riff the way a horny poodle locks onto your pantleg, burrowing snoots deep into your, uh, snoot receptor. It’s reminiscent of a more jazzbo-oriented Fuzzhead or something. Glen or Glenda are a trio who go from grunting metal-themed instrumentals into a very bruising jazz/noise hybrid at the drop of a chapeau. I have no real idea what the fuck they’re up to, but what’s not to like? Check their website and see if you can get an accurate fathom reading.

Most interesting rock read this time might well be the interview with Portland, Maine’s the Same Band in Kapital Ink. Although I’d never heard of the combo—and still haven’t heard a note they played—the story they tell ranges from Marion Brown’s tenure at Bowdoin College through the punk era, and it’s highly reet. Also up there in any terms you’d care to name is Dumb Angel #4. Largely penned by surf/Beach Boys scholar, Dominic Priore, this issue is a wild dive into Southern California beach culture of the early/mid ’60s. Includes a piece by Harvey Kubernick about Phil Spector, a great survey of the early work of artist John van Hammersveld, stuff on Les Baxter, and wads of words and pics regarding the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Dick Dale, et al. It’s been a long time since the last one, but the wait was definitely worth it. As is issue #6 of George Parsons’ always-delirious Dream magazine. Noted in some circles as the most heroic looking interviewee in that Jandek documentary, Parsons has assembled a great set of pieces regarding psych, folk and general undergroundery (My Cat is An Alien, Bridget St. John, Vibracatherdal Orchestra, Windy & Carl, etc.) and packed it all up with a dandy CD featuring all of the aforementioned and more.

Swinging Michigan aktion comes in the form of the Tender Swarm LP by Genders (Ypsilanti). It has a disntinctly post-punk Brit sound with shards of PiL, the Pop Group and even Furious Pig rooting around the garbage-strewn lanes of the upper midwest. How careerist! There is also a post-punque classique feel to some of the moves on first, before and never again (Mt. St. Mtn.), the debut LP by San Francsico’s the Mall. But they intersprese their bass lobbery with geographically appropriate references—a little Residents on the vocals, some Tuxedo Moon on the keys, even a touch of Sleepers in the guitar. Mix that with murky original stutterage and you get pretty cool results. Nice looking album, too.

It was with tremulous hand that we snatched up Tim Mitchell’s book, Sonic Transmission: Television, Tom Verlaine, Richard Hell. Continue reading

BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 25 (Nov. 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 25 (November/Winter, 2006)

BULL TONGUE
Exploring the Voids of All Known Undergrounds
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Bar are a married couple from Flensburg, Germany. Hjular is an artist into collecting art-music and outsider weirdo records. He met Mama when she was 17 and the two of them live out in some mysterious house of cosmic wonder, where they record all kinds of bizarre jams and release them on their own Schöne-Hjuler-Memorial-Fond label in editions of 5 to 50. If you look on their site you can see their discography which is massive and, for the most part, sold out. We were finally able to grip a copy of their 100th release, fortuitously in an edition of 100. Wiederaufnahmeverfahren II/06 (SHMF) is a split LP by the two and if it’s any indicator of the Fluxus pleasure found on the previous 99 releases, then someone please start eBaying those discs cuz we need to hear more. Mama’s side starts with a series of similar sounding high pitched noise junk jolts, then develops into a Rita Ackermann-esque investigation of nursery rhyme sensuality, becoming alluringly repetitive and ultimately crazed as Mama’s lovely sing-song voice is transformed into deep-pit screams of anguish. Wicked. Kommissar’s side is more typically dada, running some very damaged no-fidelity frequencies against Germanic babble. The record comes in three different editions. One has a box with the LP, art, plus other sundries, and it’s cool to see the pair’s ephemeral clutter, particularly the art they make—hers, abstract paint; his, twisted eros collage. But the recordings are what’s key here for sure. A fucked earfull.

Ah, Belgium…perhaps not a comment we utter as often as we might, but it has a nice feel as it flutters over the tongue. And that’s just what it does when Satanische Vrede, the debut LP by Belgium’s Silvester Anfang (K-RAA-K) is playing. So rural, psych and folky they almost sound Finnish, Silvester Anfang is a Maldegem-based outfit whose membership changes with weather and circumstance. They use a barrage of standard rock instruments, but also lotsa odd-sounding string and percussion bits, to create a loopily chiming instrumental sound, more explicitly “out’ (in improvisational terms) than most similarly styled units. There’s nothing precious about this, and it teeters very close to the vibe produced by ostensible post-jazzbos, such as the Sea & Sun Ensemble. Which means there’s good gobbling for the whole trough. R.O.T.’s L’ecurie LP (K-RAA-K) is another explorational Belgian dive into some kinda forest primeval, but their journey is more about electro-acoustic tents propped up by crackling electronic fires in the middle of dark glens. Improvised in a kitchen, this is the sort of music horses hear right before they go to sleep. For good.

Most mind-felching graphics comp to come along lately is definitely the sixth edition of Sammy Harham’s Kramers Ergot (Buenaventura Press). This large paperback is a headrush from beginning to end. It checks in on most of the interesting styles of art currently residing in the graphics underground, from semi-realist to primitive to ratty to psychedelic to computer-generated. It’s one of those books you’ll look at ‘til your eyes get tired, then return to as soon as they’re well rested. Contributors include Gary Panter, Paper Rad, Jeff LaDouceur, Suiho Tagawa and more; the visuals range from single panel gags to long, complex sagas. Amazing. Buenavista has a couple more solid new titles out also. There’s Private Stash, a sleeved, accordion-style portfolio of glamor and nude drawings by Crumb, Clowes, Bagge, Burns, Panter, the Hernandez Bros. and others. There’s also issue 8 of Comic Art, which is a more serious journal devoted to the history of comics. This issue has a great piece on S. Clay Wilson’s newly discovered juvenilia (more on him later), a long Drew Friedman profile, stuff on the pulp art of Edd Cartier, and much more to tickle the brain of the form’s devotees. John Yee’s Arf Museum (Fantagraphics) has a second issue out as well, also taking a somewhat scholarly in-depth approach. Yee’s passion, however, is the juncture between “high art” and comics, so this issue explores that crease. Our fave things this issue are a great Mort Walker piece about meeting Roy Lichtensetin and a survey of gorilla ‘n girl art, but you’ll undoubtedly have your own picks.

The young and dapper Alex Neilson of Glasgow, Scotland is a polite and altogether engaging fellow. He is also one of the most exciting free-spirit percussionists shaking shit up in these halcyon days. His fusion of traditional and avant-garde folk inspirations with free jazz exploration is young and tender and, like a fine clotted cream, superbly succulent. He records with Taupis Tula, a trio consisting also of David Keenan and Heather Leigh Murray (propietors of the Glaswegian record store, Volcanic Tongue) and was a live collaborator on Jandek’s initial sightings. What we have here is his latest solo splooge, An Old Soul At The Helm (Chocolate Monk), recorded under the Directing Hand monniker. Drawing from the percussive history/mind of such stalwart beat babes as Milford Graves, Chris Corsano and Tsuchitori Toshiyuki, then snuggling it with a heartfelt hug for Scottish countryside balladeering is a right-on move to our ears. This CDR, featuring through-the-haze vocal accompaniment by Christina Carter on one track, is the goddamn cheese. Get it and track down his previous sides on Secret Sound, Memoirs Of An Aesthete and—definitely—the new LP, Belsayer Time (Time-Lag) by the trio of Neilson, Alastair Galbraith and Richard Youngs. This is music for the ages and a fantastic visit from New Zealand’s Galbraith. Side one is all wheatgrass and psilocybin while side two is electric jagged crystal strikes. A total must. Power trio of the year.

Oren Ambarchi has long been one of the more interesting figurines on the Australian event horizon. His work with the Menstruation Sisters and Sunn O))) is perhaps his best-known stuff, but he released a deadly series of LPs in the late ‘90s exploring explicit experimental techniques for electric guitar. He has now returned to this concept with the Stacte Motors LP (Western Vinyl) and it’s something worth uncorking immediately. Like the legendary Remko Scha, Ambarchi employs machines to play his guitar strings here. Rotating motors with strings attached slap the guitar in a hypnotically rhythmic fashion while the hum of electricity and various overlays raise the shimmer-potential to extreme heights. Comprised of two long pieces, the album is trance inducing in the best possible way. Ambarchi also works with Australian sound artist, Scott Horscroft, on a split LP shared with the late Japanese experimentalist, Takahito Nakazato (Textile). More guitars are machined on his side, although the results emphasize clutter over calm. Recording as Hado Ho, Takahito’s offering is a suprisingly laidback series of sounds produced by amp noise, mircrophones and bad connections. For all that, it has enough open space inside it for the listener to breath, which isn’t always the case when Japanese noise is on the box.

S.F. guitar improvisor Henry Kaiser has released Domo Arigato Derek-sensei! (Balance Point Acoustics), a wonderful tribute CD to his mentor the late, great Derek Bailey. It delivers a fantastic display of Kaiser’s brain-finger-string-amp process/result with a choice selection of collaborators including Charles K. Noyes, Henry Kuntz, Toshinori Kondo, Andrea Centazzo, Davey Williams, Mototeru Takagi, John Oswald, Derek himself and more. The whole thing runs with spontaneous spoken word memorials interspersed throughout by Kaiser. It’s a sweet and funny fireside chat of a concert, very attuned to Derek’s perpetual spirit. All profits from the CD sales go to Incus Records, Derek (and his partner, Karen Brookman)’s long running chronicle of the improvised music world. And all material is live and free. Natch.

Norwegian Kjetil Brandsdal, used to be an experimental guitarist as well, but he dropped that hat in the gutter. The split LP by two of his current bands, Noxagt and Ultralyd (Textile) features two very raucous sides of proletarian urk. The Noxagt material comes from early rehearsals (or radio shows or something) and consists of short slabbed chunks of goofy noise, including a cover of Toni Basil’s “Mickey.” Ultralyd’s stuff is more feedback-scrambled in its orientation, but still pleasant as getting very soft fur stuck in your eye. Same could be said of Noxagt’s eponymous third LP (Load), which is a brilliant, lunk-headed lurch through instrumental forests of progressive criminality.

Most brilliant, sickest art book to power down the drain in ages is The Art of S. Clay Wilson (Ten Speed Press). Wilson is the Nebraska-born artist who freed Robert Crumb to follow the siren call of his id, and this collection is a horribly thorough dive into his ouevre. From early sketches through comic pages, book covers and more recent color bloodfests, this book is stunner. Wilson’s characters—bikes, pirates, cowboys, beatniks, demons, et al.—wage sense-war on the masses with an obscene strength that is unmatched in documented history. Approach with extreme caution and all your holes open.

Crown Now produce exactly what To Live And Shave in L.A.’s croon king, Tom Smith, must have sounded like as a kid in the backwoods with his Boones Farm-addled pals. With pimple-powered early Suckdog energy, this duo of delirious nerdniks howl along with broken records and messed up tapes, using their shitty microphones’ on/off switches to great effect. Love it! Ain’t nothing like the future, baby. This is one of four debut releases on Jessica Rylan’s new cassette label, Friendship Bracelet. The others are Bone Rattle, two freaks who also perform as Dreamhouse (whose Shake cassette is bunghole sludge dynamism) (which equals: awesome!). Then there’s Cough It Up by the Halflings, another teen combo taking on power electronic goodness. If Jessica is gonna be the den mom of noise, then the kids are definitely alright.

UK shit-noise label Turgid Animal have been releasing all kindsa brit-slime mostly revolving around the Mutant Ape/Filthy Turd axis (which we touched on last column). A particularly interesting split cassette by M.O.A.C. and Coco & Fiend Friend Mononoke (ta043) nearly had us driving the Volvo off into Route 9’s guard rails. M.O.A.C. (Mystic Occult Aid Ceremony) is a Japanese woman now living in Boston who really delivers classic Japanoise aktion (lately overshadowed by the new bleat of the West). Not only is it exciting and refreshing to hear someone really re-investigate this sound-world once again, but she gives it an enticing contempo edge. If you’re an old fan of Vanilla cassette wildness, this momma is yours. Coco And Fiend Friend is two mates really digging chaos, spliced depravity and all the farting mantraz thereof. Extra cruddy. But what is here is ass buhlasting.

Another coupla new installments of the great Hello Trudi have arrived. First is Busyness for the Self, which seems more overtly smutty than some previous issues (although maybe it’s just our mood). The second is You Want to Hear a Simple Story of a Swimsuit Model, another un-linear grapple with words and drawings created in the post-Pettibonian universe, containing one of the best Crass references seen inside the art world in many a moon. New issue of The Chuckwagon is Midnight by Dave Newman. It’s one of the best in the series thus far, a funny, black verse novelette about what it’s like to mop floors in the company of drug-philospher. The latest Shuffleboil has a fine topless Cecil Taylor photo on the cover and Clark Coolidge’s ruminations on that 10-CD Taylor box Codanza put out. There’s plenty of other stuff, too. The standard, brilliant collage of poetry and prose about improvised music and jazz we’ve come to expect from editors, David Meltzer and Stve Dickinson. Ong Ong #3 arrived in a glassine enevlope packed with various random goodies, all of which were nice to examine. As was the mag’s actual contents, which featured interviews with the Grey Daturas, Slim Moon (now outdated, since he’s moving to NYC) a portfolio of show fliers, a CD with Ghost Family (among others) and plenty more.

Among all the sensational exploits of mind cremation at No Fun Festival 2006, the one that had all in attendance either laughing or crying or both, was the hyper-vicious goofbomb noise circus of Macronympha. Along with the group’s stalwarts, two sexually weirded females (one a frozen ice queen friend, the other a saucy asskicker) were loose among the stage melee of oil drums, drunken groping meat claws and an upended card table (which subsequently chopped an audience member’s dick off). Pretty fucking cool gig and one that still has noise bloggers discussing its merits and ramifications. We’re not here to defend or analyze Macronympha’s aesthetics of pain and pleasure. We really just wanna lean back and exclaim “holy shit” Continue reading

BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 23 (July 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 23 (July, 2006)

BULL TONGUE
Exploring the Voids of All Known Undergrounds
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

It’s nice to report that Sickness has the most goddamned great locked groove we’ve heard in years. As good as any of the 500 locked grooves on RRR’s classic 500 Locked Grooves omnibus a few years back. It’s on the Sought for Slaying LP freshly minted by Hospital Productions (not to be confused with the Graveyards cassette on American Tapes with the same title which is only available in the Hospital store on 3rd Street NYC). Sickness has a sewer full of grey life noise releases and is linked to the most ferocious and panting of compadres in that scene. One dude killing it with gore stench tabletop and loving it.

Speaking of Hospital Records, Prurient master and store proprietor, Dominick Furnow, has finally opened the amazing Hospital store in NYC. Brian from Mouthus has been keeping us up to date with every nail he pounded into the bins of this basement bordello. It lies below a reggae record joint called Jammyland and not only does it serve up a sweet load of blackness, but it is very very neat. It is also the best art gallery in a city which prides itself in such things. Unbeknownst to the art scene in NYC, this space has the most absurd and arcane objets de fetishisme we’ve ever encountered. Beautiful box frames containing such brain zapping items as Hair Police Mike Connelly’s torn shirt guitar, Dominick’s first broken-to-screaming-shit microphones, Emil Beaulieau’s button down sweater! We picked up the Ash Pool first taste of slaughter cassette on Public Altar, which is Dom’s black metal duo with Kris Lapke (dude who plays drums on Purient’s Black Vase CD). Dom explains Ash Pool as a “black metal sound with more of a ritualized abusive/obsessive sexual theme of demise vs. the usual satanic garbage.” We would have to agree definitely—pure hell vibe straight to the core with no time for comic books.

Only other metal we’ve let pass through the Bull Tongue gate is the weirded-out lung slime of Bone Awl. Two fucking insane bastards from Novato, California who go by the names of He Who Gnashes Teeth (vocals, guitars, bass) and He Who Crushes Teeth (drums). We haven’t heard their Bog Bodies/Magnetism of War LP on Goatowa Rex but if it’s anything like the miserable mung heap of their Up to Something tape or the split tape they did with The Rita (Canadian noise freaks who we wrote about last issue), then we’ll fly to Novota and prostrate ourselves, tongues lagging on hot suburban cement, to get just a taste. Shit is downright brutal with its amplified pain.

Also intriguing, in a blackened corpse kind of way, is that which is Montreal, Quebec’s Akitsa. These dark dream mugs issued a cassette years back called Soleil Noir on a Montreal label (Tour De Garde), which made many a noir metal enthusiast’s butthole pucker. It’s just been reissued as a pic disc on German rotting carcass label, Raging Bloodlust. As far as this shit goes, Akitsa has an endearing capacity to fall into hypno-stasis repeato-relentlessness with dead simple crunge n’ blunt trauma riffing. The cult of Akitsa is strong enough where Raging Bloodlust has issued Aube de la Misanthropie, a double LP of demos, comp tracks and way limited CDR heaviness, which really gives you a primer into what seems to be Akitsa’s nefarious perception of Quebecois nationalism. Go figure, but go get it for true underground hell-sludge goodness.

Chuck Dukowski is a goddamn legendary figure in terms of American undergroundism. His work with Black Flag, SST Records, Wurm and whatnot have earned him a permanent place at some kinda special table. Anyway, that’s our take. Chuck’s take is that he has this new band, CD6 (aka the Chuck Dukowski Sextet) and they’ve now released an actual CD after a couple of CDRs. Eat My Life (Nice and Friendly) has a cool, strange feel. Dukowski buckled when we called it hippie music, but it’s got a real free flow, and the graphics (by vocalist, Lora Norton—check her site for examples) look like Japanese hippie space manga to us. The first half of the album is pretty great—loose, weird rock moves with almost-‘mersh female vocals and aggression hidden in the smoke. The jazz bits that pepper it make me think of an updated version of the ‘60s band, Womb, or something. The latter half of the album is more jazzbo-specific, meaning that it’s a lot less reliant on riff primacy. And when you’ve got somebody who plays bass like Dukowski, we’re not sure that’s the ultimate best choice. But hey—it’s his band. It’s just nutty to hear “My War” played without that insane bass barrage. Anyway, it beats the shorts offa SWA, and Lora’s images have a real bizarre way of sucking you in.

A most exciting music book is The Sound of Squirrel Meals: The Work of Lol Coxhill (St. Pauli Druckerei) by Barbara Schwarz. Coxhill’s fantastic arc as a genius of the soprano saxophone (and other brain/mouth/finger hybrids) is dealt with here in loving detail. There are reprints of interviews, articles, fliers, photographs, record covers. There’s an exhaustive annotated discography, a chronology, a list of film/TV appearances, and just a whole pantload of information and wonder. Miss this one at yr own peril. Another fascinating research document is the William S. Burroughs Literary Archive catalogue from the rare book dealer, Ken Lopez. This is a detailed look, with historical context, about a very important cache of Burroughs’ letters, manuscripts, recordings and paintings that was recently sold. Not everyone’s cup of jiz, but a great thing for fanatics. Lovers of frozen oink should also check out Verksted #4/Sonic North (Office for Contemporary Art Norway). This issue of the journal is a compendium of facts and opinions about the state of the noise scene in Norway. There’s a good overview and discography, plenty on Rune Grammofon, Lasse Marhaug, Fe-Mail and more.

Mouthus have been simply RAMPAGING from burg to burg, releasing Mouthus and related jams (such as Canada’s Cousins of Reggae) on their own Our Mouth CDR imprint. And Important Records released their The Long Salt CD, which absolutely kills from start to finish. We began investigating the actuality and whereabouts of Mouthus way back when our first lead came from Michael Bernstein, who said his groovy group stroke Double Leopards shared a rehearsal space or some such thing with ‘em. As it turns out, the Brooklyn community of Double Leps and Mouthus has continued to expand particularly to the UK and particularly to Double Leps’ Marcia Bassett rockin n rollin with Matthew Bower of Sunroof! under the aegis of Hototogisu. Follow? Anyway what we’re getting at is there’s a new 2LP, Crippled Rosebud Binding with one side each from Double Leopards, Mouthus, Sunroof! and the 4th side a collab between ‘em all. Sounds like it could be a lotta pudding to digest but this monster goes down juicy. Sunroof!, augmented by Bassett and Vibracathedral Orchestra’s Mick Flower, absolutely stuns with a raw dimensional take on some tune called Cortez the Killa. The record is on Music Fellowship and is the fifth installment in their triptych series where they pair three distinctive mofos to mess your dick around. Don’t sleep, this baby is already out of print and getting hard to track down.

One more lovely, oversized, English language literary/art magazine has emerged from Eastern Europe. Blatt, based in Prague, has a bit more sexual energy than some of its confreres and is all the better for it. We are none too conversant with much of the material presented, but the prose and poetry and photography and art are all top flight. The format is goddamn elegant as well. And Michael Jackson’s head looks so cute on a deer’s body you might well rethink his whole, uh, “situation.” Also, sexy as always is the latest issue of Lauren Naylor’s Pretend I Am Someone Else. Dreams, fantasies, poetry and collages, all collide in the shadow of Leeds’ largest orgone generator. Contributors include the immortal Val Webber, and Lauren introduces a series of Titcat postcards this time as well. So write her today. One of the sharpest U.S. ‘zines to come along lately is O Sirhan O Sirhan. The debut issue has a sorta lo-fi look, but the contents are “boobs” as hell. There’s an excellent piece on Henry Flynt’s anti-racist protests of ’64, a photo essay of Deerhoof relaxing, a Devendra Banhart sketchbook, a long interview (and accompanying CD) by sound artist Jorge Boehringer, and even more. Excellent peeks!

The fabulous Memoirs of an Aesthete label out of England has released a fabulous cassette by the fabulous Melanie Delaney who is part of the fabulous Ashtray Navigations. We always thought that these days AN might be pared down to just founding member Phil Todd, but it seems that Melanie is indeed a primary ingredient of that outfit’s contempo primo bliss hiss. Add to that, the fact that this cassette has Melanie partnered with the ultra-fabulous Bridget Hayden of Vibracathedral Orchestra and sweet jesus, you know the unfolding will envelop and save your rotten tongue. We can assure you. The cassette is entitled Ground Zero Celebration Pessary, it is lovingly spraypainted and it moves forward with frozen sun guitar/amp melt-zone with an incendiary ALIVENESS. Nice shit m’lady.

Brother JT is best known for his musical madness, but he has long been a writer of immense talent as well, although his work is usually available only in fits and starts. His latest booklet, The Jesus Guitar, may actually get reprinted by Bastet at some point. Which would be cool, ‘cause this is one of JT’s best. It’s basically an extended essay on his idea of transcendent guitar playing and drugs and records and a lotta other good stuff. Definitely worth some squinting. JT has another volume out as well. Nine (Whatisit? Press) is a lovely collection of poems about music, Greg Shaw, D.A. Levy and T.L. Kryss. JT has a beautiful way of connecting interior dots, and observing his journey is a real pleasure.
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BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 22 (May 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 22 (May, 2006)

BULL TONGUE
Exploring the Voids of All Known Undergrounds
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

Richard Youngs opened the new year with a sweet drop on the Jagjaguwar label, The Naïve Shaman. It’s hard to tell where Youngs is going to go with each release. The dude travails in more numerous far-out tundras than mere mortals can only hope to experientially glimpse in a single lifetime. And lucky for us, he docu-records these tripped excursions. This is one of his more excellent forays—with percolating electronic bass guitar and frazzed guitar spuzz creating beds for lyrics of gentle fire thought.

And Jagjaguwar has other new goodnesses in LP form. Pink Mountaintops’ Axis of Evol is another nice Funhouse/Barrett blend from Canada with a dollop of Bob Dylan blues overlays. Parts & Labor’s Stay Afraid only has its CD version on Jagjaguwar, the LP is actually on Cardboard Records. But we’re sure it sounds best on vinyl, so hear its beautifully spazzed prog-pummel in that format and you’ll be happiest. It has been said that these Chicagoites sound best when they’re instrumental, but the yammer here is really quite pleasing. Lastly, there’s an Oneida/Plastic Crimewave split pairing Brooklyn muzz-harmonics with the metallic kraut shimmy of Chicago to surprisingly wonderful effect. On a related note, Oneida’s Kid Millions guests on the new LP by Ex Models. Dunno if that’s the reason that Chrome Panthers (Troubleman Unlimited) is such a lovely chalice of prog-raunch aggression, but it’s a possibility. Still, Troubleman’s best recent Brooklyn-related release must remain Mouthus’ Slow Globes LP. Spaced as they sound on this platter, the duo always stuns.

From a kozmik holler betwixt Massachusetts and Vermont comes the second release by The Bummer Road, Suncatcher Mountain (Child of Microtones). It’s in all ways a patient (‘though not without underlying stovetop rage) unfolding wind of charm-soul music. Each of these CDs is handmade with paper finger love in an edition of 99. Gorgeous. Paper finger love is just what brims from the new issue of Sleep Tight, as well. The content is mostly single page illustrations this time, and the visuals have really jumped up a notch on the intensity scale. They’re much more disturbed and quite bodacious—just the kind of thing to read when you’re deep inside your personal holler.

It’s been too long since we’ve scratched our heads to an Idea Fire Company record and out of nowhere lands this hot rock—Stranded (Swill Radio). We were sick excited, thinking maestro Scott Foust was treating us to a new-mind rendition of Roxy Music’s uber-classic. And this time surrounding hisself not only with his lovely betrothed Karla Borecky, but the twin dyna-beautyism of Feathers’ Meara O’Reilly and The Believers’ Jessi Leigh Swenson. Indeed it is obvious that Roxy Music circa ’71 is a primo informant for Foust aesthetically, but what IFC toss off here is from a whole other inner glam strata. Boss minimalism and true star experimentalism (O’Reilly plays pencil on one track, yeah!) make this one of the coolest blasts from Swill Radio’s “The Anti Naturals” community ever.

Taurpis Tula is David Keenan (guitar) and Heather Leigh Murray (vocals, pedal steel)—proprietors of UK distribution wonderland Volcanic Tongue—abetted by drummer Alex Nielson (who’s played with Jandek, Directing Hand). They’ve released a couple of fine dark drift noise docs, most notably the LP Sparrows (Eclipse) from a year or two back. Since Nielsen joined them on skins they’ve really let their brain-muse glowingly expand and it’s all there in a fine smoosh of Scottish spotted dick and Texas BBQ on the newly minted I Can’t be Satisfied / Kingdoms Come to Birth CDR (American Tapes). Angel vision vox celebrate rising noise cloud guitar/amp and free fire drumming action to blast forth a wholly glorious spontaneity. Ruling, and the CDR is one of two, the other being label boss John Olson’s ongoing zap journey sound world endubbed Spykes. Can’t miss.

There’s a good, funny interview with Olson (by Since 1972 label honcho, Drew Demeter) in the debut issue of a great new ‘zine called Ong Ong. It also features a CD of Yann Novak field recordings, and words on Jennifer Gentle, Sublime Frequencies, a useful (if small) guide to European beers and a lovely silkscreened cover. Very eye worthy. It’s available from dragon’s eye.

A couple of nice spurts from two distinctive Carsons. First Carson being Carson Cistulli who has published a staple-bound book called Assorted Fictions (The Chuckwagon), which is an amusing collection of paragraphs steeped in sardonic philosophies—gentle, absurd and always with a slight bite. To wit: “On May 3rd 1993, Pierre Boulez asked the question, ‘Does the Zeitgeist even exist?’ You’d call it poetic justice, I guess, if the Zeitgeist said the same about Pierre Boulez. Unfortunately, this won’t ever happen: the Zeitgeist is an abstract concept and possesses no faculty of speech.”

The other Carson is Carson Arnold out of Vermont with his musical foray, Starbird, releasing a debut CDR on his boss-looking Frost label. Starbird is Carson and his wife Becky and they’ve recorded a beautiful personalized soundtrack to the 1922 Robert Flaherty film Nanook of the North. Great, yet modest, swooshes of thought-tone composition. A second Frost release called chorals has just landed and it’s Carson doing “all voice,” though you’d be hard-pressed sometimes guessing some of these tracks are voice as source as they are waaaaay out there in the processed sound world. But it has an organic maple-like blend keeping it close and real to the earth.

Believe it or not, New Jersey is spearheading some new excitement on the noise band scene, particularly with the dark and dogjaw blasting skuzzicity of acts like 2673 and Ladderwoe. We’re just guessing Ladderwoe is part of this scene as they seem to be connected via Larry Hernandez of Scientific Explanation Of Despair and Dave Sutton of Current Amnesia, both of whom we think are Jersey freaks. Whatever. Who cares where they’re from? They’re all seemingly pals and have a certain united aesthetic towards grey noise felch which’s pretty damn jake in its wretch. Ladderwoe, in particular, have knocked our asses to the ice with their latest killer, Rowboat Virgins on the Water (Bone Tooth Horn). What sounds like overgrown kittens mewling through rusted vocorders in a bag of Don Dietrich’s chomped-to-shit reeds develops into tight and tense improvisations that really have that freaked edge so often missing from newcomer noise mung. Exciting shit on a label that seems bent on exposing more along these lines. They already have a handful of cool jammers from Asps, Human Adult Band, Penis In Vagina, Gerritt, the aforementioned 2673 and a sizzler from L.A.’s busy busy busy The Cherry Point. Totally recommended.

Bennifer Editions is a label outta Canada run by the fine fuck-noise gang who roam the Canuck basement world as Gastric Female Reflex. Some nice CDR puh has been squirted by such legendary groovesters as id m theftable, Brian Ruryk and Witcyst, but the label’s sweaty hands-down mama-mia disk is the beautifully OUT THERE jammer by Tovah Olson. This is Tovah making moves both classic Dead Machines style and altogether beyond what we’ve come to expect—sheer heart grenade and supremely killer. Another sweet meat Bennifer Edition expulsion is the 7” by Pan Dolphinic Dawn which is pretty much just James Ferraro, he being of groove n’ ‘grease spatial harmony heavies, Skaters. Rich, textured and lo fidelity lovely. Gastric Female Reflex themselves have unleashed their first vinyl LP, Lovers in the Midst of Eating Fries (Bennifer Editions/Absurd/Gold Soundz/Humbug), and it’s a beeyootiful earful of sput n’ blonk not too unlike Prick Decay’s Very Good LP from moons back. A-side starts with a pencil point jabbed in your vestibular cochlear nerve and the B-side ends with a gorgeous femme hum with magnetic tape wave wash.

Third issue of new oversized art rag called ANP Quarterly is out and it’s pretty badass. Continue reading