by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore
April 5, 2009
TONGUE TOP TEN #1
1. Narcolepsia is a new fetish noise tape label out of Portugal. The first two releases show a promising wide view of what fetid broil squirms in the contemporary noise landscape. First is someone/something called N, with a tape titled Smash My Brain I Can’t Tolerate, which is basically this Italiano dude Davide Tozzoli obsessing on fairly traditional noise moves a la M.B., Atrax Morgue, Merzbow et al. But the dedication and intent is genuine and is decent…nothing too startling or new but that’s kind of the point, the aesthetic. So be it. All you have to do is be beat, dulled and lose yrself in unrequited fantasies of erotic death. Second release is Body Count by An Innocent Young Throat-Cutter, the duo of Houston noise honcho Richard Ramirez and compatriot Isabella K. This duo has been documenting itself quite regularly through Ramirez’ Dead Audio Tapes imprint in super tiny editions. Not that this tape is going to reach that many more harsh wall noise freaks but it is a fine addition to their insane legacy.
2. Holy Crap. Screamingest, wobbliest No Wave screech of the year comes not from the bowels of New York, but from the lost tape archives of Vancouver, Canada. Tunnel Canary was an extremely raw co-ed trio whose entire previous known ouevre was some obscure cassette comp action. Now, Rundownsun has released a massive 2LP set, Jihad, collecting studio and live smeech that is some of the most pugnacious art punk you’ll ever hear. Ebra Ziron’s vocals make Lydia Lunch sound like Dean Martin in a mellow mood. Really fucking ripe! Lotsa weird bass stylings, scuzz generation from both electronics and guitar…what a pretty goddamn picture. Amazing to think this jabbering, destroyed masterpiece has been unheard for almost 30 years. Nice work. Somebody.
For ass-burning contempo No Wave sludge, nothing has been in higher recent rotation than Secret Cog, the self-released debut CD Brooklyn’s Talk Normal. Andryo Ambro and Sarah Register create a feverish hybrid of Lydia’s “crying guitar,” the maniacal yodel-power of Die Kleenex, and the part of the Magic Band the Minutemen also embraced, which probably means the Urinals are a shadow influence. Regardless, the five songs here are totally wired, and just blow away the imaginary competition.
3. The flashpoint of true power electronics seems to jump form one locus to another. As of late the Boston area scene has been the most solid and consistent exhibitor with the ascendancy of quality of Sickness and most definitely the projects released by the Razors & Medicine label. Sickness’ newest CD Mudlark (Self Abuse Records) is a precise yet scummed out emotional onslaught of hyper loop destruction and chaos. An incredible blast.
Razors & Medicine’s recent cassette release by Sharpwaist, Poison Harbor, is more than just the violent shard vision of their past releases. Here we see a true progression into deep nightmare lust. Boston hardcore in the early ‘80s was always secondary to the regality of D.C and, possibly, the Midwest. In PE it has no rival. At least not yet.
4. Jodi Wille’s Process Books imprint continues its amazing trajectory into the heart of lost culture with Pure Country: The Leon Kagarise Archives 1961-1971. Kagarise was an obsessive fan of “real” country and bluegrass musics, and he amassed a gigantic collection of records, live tapes and ephemera , mostly during the 1960s. This volume collects many of the color slides he shot at a couple of outdoor venues in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the views of this lost scene they provide is unparalleled. Well-known figures like Johnny Cash, George Jones and Skeeter Davis mix with more legendary unknowns (at least to proles), like the Stoneman family, with whom Kagarise had a special connection, and who he rates far above the Carter family in terms of sheer talent. The main text is by the fine D.C.-based roots music chronicler Eddie Dean, and he provides a very boss thumbnail history of country music in the pre-modern era. A total fucking treasure.
5. Interesting looking new tape label called Different Lands where all the covers are adhered to the outside of the tape case in a uniformly dark and thoughtful aesthetic. Some real contempo-charmers released here, specifically the consistently sweet huzztones of Sky Limousine and one of our longstanding favorites Xiphiidae, whose Perfuming the Foot of the Door cassette here is a remarkable manifestation of lonely day miasma.
6. Although Portland’s Grails first came to our attention by doing a Sun City Girls cover on their debut album, warmth about their subsequent releases has never always gotten beyond a kind of generic “hey! okay!” kinda quality. That said, their latest release is a DVD, called Acid Rain (Temporary Residence) and it’s really pretty goddamn qualitative. The DVD’s broken into three parts, the center of which is a relatively ordinary set captured live the Knit in late ’07. Another section is dedicated to early shows, however, and that’s quite hep. Line-ups we can’t quite decode, play in small places, and the documentation of their first Euro tour in ’04, featuring Italian moisture and Eastern European temple confusion is sweet. But the best part is the opening sequence of videos, created from “found’ footage, heavy on Mondo Macabro-style Euro exploito stuff, History Channel documentaries, samurai films and whatnot. These are really collaged together beautifully, and allow the band’s music to transcend its Godspeed/math-rock origins and scorch in a certain kind of way. Bodacious.
7. Delaware resident Joe Breitenbach, who has recorded for years under the pseudonym Methadrone, has a new tape Sing It From the Mountain Top under his real name that is a slow ass burner of really nice flowing/growing kosmiche-dirt unfoldings. Excellent and one of the more recent releases on the floodwater prolific label 905 Tapes.
8. The latest installment in Kristina McKenna‘s explorative documentation of the late, great West Coast artist Wallace Berman, comes in the form of a show catalogue. She (Michael Kohn Gallery/DAP) is a very cool juxtaposition of the sexual (or at least, sexually charged) collage and photo work of Wallace Berman with that of Richard Prince. The essays and interviews are short and good, but it’s the work itself that casts the heaviest spells. Both artists have a tendency to produce images that are so weirdly funny they’re hard to read as serious image text, but looking at these pictures juxtaposed like this, a viewer tends to agree with the assertions McKenna makes about their respective views of feminine mystery and power. Either way, the books looks fantastic.
9. For real dirt sput electronic brain dust look no further than the new cassette by Chambers on Tone Filth. Called Soon, it is a glimpse into the brilliance that is Nicole Chambers who runs the Chicago tape label Ides, itself one of the more killer noise labels of the Midwest USA of the last decade.
10. The sixth album by Christchurch NZ’s Renderers was issued just in time to coincide with their U.S. tour. Monsters and Miasmas (Last Visible Dog) continues the band’s move away from their neu-country origins into space that is dark, original and deep. The band revolves around Brian and Maryrose Crook, who have been aided by a rotating cast of characters in the two decades the band has existed (fitfully), amidst a variety of other projects. Brian is probably best known for his work with the incredible Terminals, but he began his recording career in the early days of Flying Nun Records with Scorched Earth Policy, whose brilliant EPs still resonate with left-field punk grunt. Anyway, this new Renderers disk feels something like the Terminals (in their most languid moments), sometimes fronted by Marianne Faithfull (or Howth Castle’s Lalli), performing Rick Rubin-era Johnny Cash tunes. Of course, it also sounds nothing like that at all, but it’s always a whistle-solid slab of varieted noise/pop/cunny-rock that just begs for a wet kiss.
Hope you can bear this new format. Online. Sheesh. As always, if you’d like to send us things, please post TWO copies to
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