by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore
from Arthur No. 31 (Oct 2008) [available from Arthur Store]
Best thing of this issue, perhaps of this year, this decade, this whatever, is Where Demented Wented: The Art and Comics of Rory Hayes by Dan Nadel and Glenn Bray (Fantagraphics). The late Rory Hayes has long been known amongst certain heads as the most insanely primitive and thoroughly unfettered of the ’60s underground cartoonists. His own titles included the Bogeyman series, Cunt Comics and various anthologies. Long obscure, a good bit of his work was collected into a bootleg in the late ’80s called Come Here, Bear (or something similar), but this is the first authorized anthology of his work and it includes some wild unpublished material, a solid historical essay by the Savage Pencil, a lovely piece by Rory’s brother, Geoffrey, and an interview with Rory himself. This stuff’s not for everyone, but if your brain bends far enough, you’ll be able to let Hayes’ art all the way in.
Word is out on The Hospitals’ new self-released LP Hairdryer Peace. It sounds nothing or everything plus so much more than anything they’ve ever committed to wax. Truth of the matter is it lives up to the hype of being the most goddamn killer brain-snaggling rock n roll noise fucked LP we’ve had in a long time. Essential garage-fuzz meets cassette-fi noise huzz meets harry 1/2 jap velvets pussy skum love. Wipe off yr dick and scam this sput now. Seriously boss.
Three out of absolutely nowhere cassette releases that are as sexy as a tanqueray & tonic-buzzed fuckbuddy. #1 is Angels In America with their Cunt Tree Grammar tape which oozes primordial no wave guitar and bored/stoned femme vox glug. Someone turn this into an LP—hey, maybe we will! #2 is The Death Convention Singers with their Corrido cassette (sick sick sick)—we thinks they come from this kind of new nutzo neue-New Mexican scene heralded by the Sick Sick Sick label. It has been written they were some kinda demented a capella scum chorale but this tape is most notably not THAT—what it is is 0-fi guitar junk drone and it plays in a raw and involving deliciousness. #3 is Nebulosis, the first release on the Celebrity Sex Tapes label by a new Ohio (most likely Columbus) long tone drone animal called Fairy of Eagle Nebula who is an exciting addition to the wild contempo legacy Ohio has been so effortlessly displaying the last few years. Unlike most of that zone’s more synth classicist exercises this is guitar/amp huzz and howl in a desperate grey-screen scree. Three sweet teets to be snuggled, me mates.
Best music fanzine we’re seen this month is probably Married Life Quarterly by Mark Van Fleet. It is definitely out of Columbus and combines excellent reviews with interesting archival bits and a really nice feature (in the spring ’08 issues, anyway) where artists critique their own discography. This one has John from Emeralds back-pedaling through fields of glory, and it’s pretty great. Not exactly a music ’zine, more a lit ’zine with music content, is the wonderful Bejeezus out of Louisville. We got hipped to this by the great Aaron Rosenblum before he split town for Montreal, and it’s a beaut. Heavy, weird Southern culture, with interviews that fill in cracks on everything from Shirley Collins to Emmet Miller. A wonderful read.
Most whacked out record of the issue has to be the finally released Spare Parts LP by Bad Boy Butch Matson (Bennifer Editions/Dutch Boy). Supposedly this pro wrestler-fantasizing crazed genius had been assembling his goofed Zappa/Beefheart meets Smegma meets fucked-take on new wave song stylings with cut-up TV ads/noise/dialogue for many years and pressing plants got concerned by the liberal usage of pop media. How Bennifer got wind of this rogue mania masterpiece is anyone’s guess but thank the Canadian stars they did. It is BONKEROONI. Someone hook us up with his earlier Twisted & Bent release puhleeze.
The basement scene in the UK, as far as heads-down psyche tone guh, has been sweetly flowering as of late though we can only imagine how dank those dungeons may be. But what do we know, maybe they are the royal swankness with go-go birds in cages. Axis Mundi, a UK/French trio of peeps who’ve done free-time in Stuckometer and Cooper-Jones and float between Manchester and Lyon have a couple of new releases out that are very beautiful hash-blown hush ‘n’ roar kissings. Flute, voice, electric guitar and a hallowed head of heavenly tape-head humidity combine in ways that are startlingly gorgeous and thrilling. Start with their self-titled cassette on Lotus Birth and follow with their split with solo guitar reverb warlock John Fante. Both tapes come in lovely illustrated bags by the kids from Wizard Puke and Rayon.
Got a very nice new book of poems by longtime Milk Magazine editor Larry Sawyer. It’s called Disharmonium (Silver Wonder Press), and is a funny, surreal collection that combines mundane imagist language into a rich new mofungo. Famous west coast outlaw Chris D, is also promising a new book of poetry “soon,” but in the meantime, we’ve been scanning his no-longer-new, but still excellent Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film (I.B. Tauris). Not knowing much about Japanese cult cinema (except that we like it), this book has been extremely interesting, since it collects a bunch of raw filmographical data, plus historical overviews and interviews with some of the key players. A good title to chain to your toilet. Could say the same thing for The Queen of Black Magic (Mondo Macabro), but the sad truth is that precious few people have a dvd player intimately connected with their commode. Too bad. This Indonesian screwball horror extravaganza is one of the more over-the-top visual messes ever created, and it should be available for viewing in every room of the house. A recent conversation with Rick Bishop about Indonesian exploitation cinema made it sound like there have been lots of drool-worthy features produced there, but only Mondo Macabro seems interested in getting copies into Occidental hands, and we say: More power to ’em.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Hototogisu, the trans-Atlantic duo of Marcia Bassett and Matthew Bowers, but their most recent LP Under the Rose (Heavy Blossom) is a fully stimulating set of guitar/amp/mouth noise that attacks the air in a way that’s both laconic and forceful. Sorta gives the term “three sheets to the wind” a new conceptual framework. Marcia’s solo project, Zaimph, is represented on the Live Recordings from August 2005 LP (Volcanic Tongue). Unlike some recent performances, which have been vocally based, the material here sounds more like solo guitar, run through a weeviling gyroscope and presented as an absolute upsetter of balance. Meanwhile, Marcia’s partner in her new duo, Zaika, is Tom Carter, who has a swank new LP called Shots at Infinity 2 (Important). The companion piece to a studio CD, this album is live in Maine and Albany, and shows Carter at his most abstractly blues-wailingest. The sonics are composed of layered, floating, noisy guitar, wanked out of form for the sheer pleasure of evil creation. It’s a gorgeous and very spaced-out album.
The waves of great LPs spurting out of the recently reignited Siltbreeze label is one of the more consistently cool things happening in underground usa. Eat Skull’s Sick To Death is a treasure for those of us who swarmed on those early basement-fi Guided By Voices LPs (“gather the amps!”). Yes, a lot of bands have tried to ape that particular genius but Eat Skull do not. They just blare with pop skuzz charm from beginning to end. Also redoubtable is Scott Foust’s Swill Radio imprint, which has just issued the first new LP in a while by German minimalist Asthmus Tietchens. Teils Teils is a splendid raft of static spliced in delicate ways to the pineal glands of the gods. It’s one of those records that gets deeper the later it is at night, and appreciation is directly related to intake of Scotch and cigs. So don’t be a priss. Also in this package is Stranded, a set of ten postcards with text in the Anti-Natural mode. The pieces are similar to some of Scott’s recent spoken performances, and represent a weird Futurist combination of philosophy, humor and Situational smudge. There’s also a DVD of Scott’s new film, Here’s to Love!, which feels like a feature length masterpiece as impenetrable as Chris Marker at his vaguest. Three or four or five people drink, smoke and wander while the world changes around them, and music acts as text. It’s pretty amazing.
Received another excellent entry in the Subscription Edition Series by Rick Myers (c/o Myers, 5 Clinton Ave #2L, Holyoke MA 01040). This time out, Rick has created something almost resembling a proper book, Expedition Into Page. It’s closer in some ways to his earlier collaborations, presenting a selection of photos, drawings and hand-scrawled texts that (as always) echo back and forth between each other in very unexpected ways. Cool. A nice pile of primitive psychedelic art is available from Flipped Out Records in the form of Lost Mind Doodles by Sick Llana. If we’re not mistaken, her work for the estimable Burnt Hills collective is musical as well as visual, but this is an enveloped collection of color and B&W drawings she did under what well may have been the influence. A great spurt across the bow from the Albany branch of the freak-led sub-underground. From somewhere in the same region comes the second LP by Wicked King Wicker. Flydust (WKW) is another solid slub-wall of guitar-spuzz and murk with devil-ass overtones. They’ll have a split LP with Skullflower soon, which should be an indicator of sorts.
Zac Davis, infamous blasted guitar nymph from Lambsbread, has an LP on Olde English Spelling Bee recorded with a few of his imaginary pals under the aegis Sky Juice. It’s called Hard To Kill and it’s surprisingly sane compared to his history of overdriven Greg Ginn-meets-Rudolph Grey string strangling. There is some of that here, no worries, but there is also some very choice O-mind investigations. More typical white ghetto style scribble graphix (to make Bill Nace puke) grace the paste on covers. Only 300 copies. Supposedly two more Sky Juice LPs a-coming from Olde English Spelling Bee before the year is dick.
You know life is excellent when a new batch of tapes comes in from Dead Audio. This a kind of sub label to Deadline Recordings, the Houston, Texas empire lorded by Richard Ramirez. Dead Audio concerns itself with sick harsh walls of sex-psychosis noise. We’ve been flipping over the new Anal Drill cassette, Take Your Clothes Off And Beg. Anal Drill is Ramirez with the long-standing Japanese noise project Isabella K. and they produce an almost meditational grind, which seemingly seeks and finds a dour stasis of blood-gorged blankness. The b+ w cover photo of a nude gentleman roped and tied on a suburban carpet perfectly exhibits the slut-love sounds within.
Got a few eye-pleasing graphics anthologies here. The Shortpants Observer #1 (Shortpants Press) is a sweet, square-cut collection of artists from Chicago. The printing quality is a little odd, but the contents are excellent. Longer, weird stories in a variety of styles. Diamond Comics #2 (Floating World) is a newsprint compendium that also veers all over the style map, but does it well. The work ranges from Paper Rad-style eye-squink to ratty Conan-esque junque to sludgey noise art. Very delightful. Also up is the new issue of Eric Reynolds’ Mome (Fantagraphics), which may be the best contemporary survey of the current graphic scene this side of Blab. It’s another amazing collection of material and if you have peepers, you should take ’em out and use ’em.
Highly ghost-assed sounds emanate from Baltimore’s Ehse label, with their newest LP, Dark Cabinet of the Strange Weird. Ric Royer reads a bunch of stories in the EC creep style, while G. Lucas Crane crafts an ambient musical/sound-effect setting for ‘em. It’s like a somewhat surreal update on those old Halloweenish LPs of our youth, and is packed inside a great silkscreened box, with spider webbing and bat-wings up the goddamn wazoo. Very hep. Also hep is Singing Knives’ LP edition of a fine live set, previously issued as a CDR by MV&EE. Meet Snake Pass & Other Human Conditions is a sweet, mellow mostly duo set (with some help from Phil Todd), recorded in Sheffield. The avant-trad train starts here.
One of the best spurts outta the gate comes from the Pac Northwest’s Assophon label. In no real order, their first emissions are three LPs. The first is Rendezvous by Spider Trio, an unholy meeting between Wally Shoup, and Climax Gold dudes, previously available on CDR. Recorded live, this trio (who don’t seem to have toured) display a very strange and compelling set of chops—jazzic and densely free-rock at the same time. One of Shoup’s best sessions yet. Live at the S.S. Marie Antoinette by The Sea Donkeys is the second album by these Seattle clump-fisters, and it may be even more slack-jawed than its predecessor. What’s here is co-ed pirate fudge-packing with covers of Ayler and Faust and who knows who else? The ESP Godz reference is much more on-target here than it usually is. Last of the three is A Primitive Future OST by The Factums. This Seattle-based combo has produced a thrilling run of records and this ’un’s no letdown. Their craft is in manufacturing a buzzing load of loopedy-doofed sometimes-electron-based rock that reaches deep into your side pockets before exploding. It’s a great trick.
If you want the possibility of lickage, please send TWO (2) copies of vinyl, cassette, book, mag, DVD or whatever to: Bull Tongue, PO Box 627, Northampton MA 01061 USA.