HOW TO MAKE A FLYING WEDGE OF MIND ENERGY

REVOLUTIONARY LETTER #13
by Diane di Prima

now let me tell you
what is a Brahmasastra
Brahmasastra, hindu weapon of war
near as I can make out
a flying wedge of mind energy
hurled at the foe by god or hero
or many heroes
hurled at a problem or enemy
cracking it

Brahmasastra can be made
by any or all
can be made by all of us
straight or tripping, thinking together
like : all of us stop the war
at nine o’clock tomorrow, each take one soldier
see him clearly, love him, take the gun
out of his hand, lead him to a quiet spot
sit him down, sit with him as he takes a joint
of viet cong grass from his pocket . . .

Brahmasastra can be made
by all of us, tripping together
winter solstice
at home, or in park, or wandering
sitting with friends
blinds closed, or on porch, no be-in
no need
to gather publicity
just gather spirit, see the forest growing
put back the big trees
put back the buffalo
the grasslands of the midwest with their herds
of elk and deer

put fish in clean Great Lakes
desire that all surface water on the planet
be clean again. Kneel down and drink
from whatever brook or lake you conjure up.

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?

26. BRUCE CAEN – Sub-Hollywood (Yes Press) Crazy, sloppy, excellent L.A. punk novel by the guy who did the west coast No Mag with Michael Gira (and others). The scenes with the L.A.P.D. are so true you’ll be able to smell the jiz on their breath.

Continue reading

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.

Tom (T.L.) Kryss himself is well-served by The Search for the Reason Why (Bottom Dog Press). This is not exactly the “Collected Works of Kryss” we all deserve, but it is a great sampling of new and old work, both poetry and prose, with a smattering of Tom’s rabbit drawings thrown in. It’s a lovely collection—Kryss’ writing can be as “street” and real and anyone’s, but he also possesses a clarity of spirit that allows him to write about simple beauty without resorting to cliché or tired imagery. The smell and weight and feel of Cleveland (and environs) permeate the text, but we don’t think you’d wanna have it any other way. Anyone serious about reading poetry should be reading Kryss. Now.

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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. It’s a freebie, edited by skate/zonk artist Ed Templeton, super Dogg and Pony visionary Brendon Fowler and Aaron Rose who runs the rogue Alleged Gallery. Alleged was the place, no matter where it was, that we first encountered such art babes as Mark Gonzales and Chris Johanson. Johanson and his wife, fellow artist Jo Jackson, grace this issue’s cover with their dog Raisin. Inside is full-on interviews with them by Rose, a piece on collecting by Templeton, a review of book stores that rule, and an interview with ex-Scissor Girl Azita, which alone should make you hunt this sucker down. It’s filled with nice layouts of new art and photo miasma. The previous issue with Raymond Pettibon on the cover was as choice. In the same vein are a couple more great homemade books by Matt Chambers, combining text, squibbly line drawings (often based on photos) and beautifully surrealist weevil to massive effect. These ones are called I Taught Myself to Survive and Warm Pessamisum (Hello Trudi), but there are certainly more by now. And they surely RULE!

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BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 21 (Mar. 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 21 (March, 2006)

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

BULLTONGUE TOP 80 (+ 1) of 2005

1. VIDEO MADNESS 1 VHS tape (Aryan Asshole): Astounding lo-tek, plexiglass disturbance of TV transmission video psyche-mung. On Wolf Eyes’ Nate Young’s “label.”

2. GREG KELLEY I Don’t Want to Live Forever (Gameboy/Little Enjoyer): A fantastic conceptualist known for his Salt Peanuts from Hell trumpetizing with Nmperign, Kelley creates here a supremely sonik slipper of a disk. Remarkable. And his ice hockey skills are legendarily brutal as will be seen when he singlehandedly desecrates Aaron Dilloway’s pathetic Michigan “team.”

3. EYE Black Ice CD (United Fairy Moons): No, not Eye from Voordoms but a trio of Peter Stapleton, Peter Porteous and Ryan Cockburn from New Zealand ripping forth mesmerizing rockadrone swoop core.

4. ARCHAEOLOGY IMPULSE book, Eldon Garnet, ed. (Univ. Toronto Press): Incredible compendium of Impulse magazine materials, Toronto’s edge slicing lit/art mag of yesteryear (1975-90) with Kathy Acker, Chris Burden, Devo, Jenny Holzer and a myriad more.

5. HER NOISE exhibition and catalogue as presented by Electra (Anne Hilde Neset and Lina Dzuverovic), featuring Jutta Koether and Kim G.’s karaoke tent, Christina Kubitsh wonderment and other femme sound noise installations. Wish we were there.

6. SIBYLLE BAIER Colour Green CD (Orange Twin): Total, heart/mind-melt acoustic bedroom action, recorded in the early ‘70s by a German woman, whose only known recording was as part of the soundtrack from Wim Wenders’ Alice in the Cities. Lost until now, but recovered through a weird chain of events. Couldn’t be better.

7. DEAD MACHINES / DOUBLE LEOPARDS Fuck Victoriaville one-sided LP (American Tapes): Say no more. killer kuts from krazy kids kreeped by kanada.

8. REBECCA GODFREY Under The Bridge book (Simon & Schuster): Detailed account of the before, during and after killing of 14-year-old Reena Virk by other teenagers in View Royal, Canada in 1998, penned by the author of the amazing The Torn Skirt from a few years back. Excellent perspective of teenage foster home psychosis.

9. MARY GAITSKILL Veronica book (Pantheon): Rich, deep language reveals the heart and soul of an aging supermodel. Uncorny and heavy thought trip.

10. MUGSHOTS cassette series (Fargone): Ass-crackling noise cassette design series with new and classic jammers from The Cherry Point, Roxanne Jean Polise, Monster Dudes and other remarkable destructos.

11. CAN’T New Secret LP (RRR ): This was Jessica’s year all the way. Along with this wicked pic disc was a slew of hot cassette releases like Private Time, Long Slow Changes and her mother of a 7-inch on Ultra Eczema. All exhibit Rylan as an altogether distinctive force/voice in noise newness.

12. PRURIENT / AARON DILLOWAY Disappearance of the Maya 4Xcs (Hospital): Dominick Fernow has always been there with the most scarring and borderline insane vocal chord insane asylum dance. Here he connex wwith Aaron Dilloway fresh from sick head trip days in distant lands where snakes dance for men with rotting eye sockets.

13. SICK LLAMA unholy ghost 3Xcs (Fag Tapes): Heath Moerland continues his spread of infectious assault with a stunning release blitzkrieg from his Fag Tapes empire. Sick Llama is his skum drool of sound project and it’s been consistently mindwiping.

14. TARPIS TULA Steel Rods Bruise Butterflies CDR (Chocolate Monk): Love buzz stoned humz from the heart-to-heart village core of David Keenan and Heather Leigh Murray. Mmmm.

15. X.0.4 All Alien part one CDR (Wabana): This is a reissue of a monster ear load from X.0.4’s Bill Nace’s openmouth cassette label. Wabana has been releasing skull + crossbones CDRs of critical swoop for a bit now and this one is most welcome as X.0.4 are criminally underdocumented and have blown out many psyches live. This shall be rectified. But this ain’t to discount openmouth, they just released a gushing wealth of material we’re still trying to interpolate. More next time!

16. LESLIE KEFFER Devastates CDR (no label): Keffer is Ohio’s most intriguing raw sound annihilator since the Pere Ubu/Devo shows of 1972. Devastates takes off where her earlier Pollutes only hinted at. Keffer is set to profoundly detonate in ’06.

17. CHARALAMBIDES Live/Dead CDR (Wholly Other): This was sold on the Charalambides’ Euro tour of ‘05 and was recorded at the earlier West Coast run of ‘04. Stark and deep and completely soul-scraping.

18. AUGUST KLEINZAHLER Cutty, One Rock – Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained book (Farrar, Straus & Giroux): Grizzly, leave-me-alone scribe gets woozy in memoiristic flash pen. A great American writer akin to the primary Beat canon of which he is concurrent to but way too boss to dick around with.

19. FONOTONE RECORDS CD box (Dust to Digital): It’s not that the appearance of this makes us stop salivating about the idea of Revenant’s forthcoming set of Fahey’s complete Fonotone recordings, but hey—this is probably the most extraordinary documents of late-period roots archaeology that will ever exist. And the booklet and tha bottle opener both work great.

20. SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN Puppet Heaven cs/zine (Manhand): Thank God for Boston’s most favorite sons since Aerosmith.

21. ULTRA ECZEMA: Belgian dude Dennis Tyfuss’ label, which is an astounding palette for his own art mania. Along with Double Leopards’ Maya Miller, Tyfuss has infused the New Weird Earth with a living, screaming rush of horror confusion graphix.

22. NO NECK BLUES BAND Qvaris 2LP/CD (5 rue Christine): The other night we were at some hunting lodge for the traditional yule game feast and we kept hearing this heavy fucking music coming out of the kitchen. Finally we asked what it was and the kitchen guys told us it was this new NNCK. Which they actually own on vinyl. Lucky fuckers. Sweet No Neck have grown with their devotion and this killer double is as listenable and genuine as any of their previous output. In fact it’s an exciting signpost for them as they head into the March 06 No Fun Fest as headlining close-out act.

23. JOHN COLTRANE QUARTET One Down, One Up: Live At The Half Note 2CD (Impulse): Still the father. An amazing document of a complete connector to the star world of mythos.

24. DIRTBOMBS If You Don’t Already Have a Look 2CD (In the Red): In a world of scum perfection, Mick Collins would get carried around in a very special chair. Thankfully, that is not the case, so we get to carry around this collection of singles and outtakes and whatnot, by his band instead. What a very flat garage.

25. THE DRUMMERS: Coming out of the legion that was Adris Hoyo, Tom Surgal, Susie Ibarra, Willie Winant, et al. we have the new bloodz Chris Corsano, Nate Nelson, Trevor Tremaine, and Pete Nolan super-destroying time and space with Kong-like energy and thought.

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BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 20 (Jan. 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 20 (January, 2006)

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

August Born is Hiroyuki Usui and Ben Chasny. Hiroyuki you may know as the Japanese chap who has recorded under the name L. There was an L record on VHF a few years back that was astounding. Beautiful, home baked organic spirit folk-sonik drone breeze. The self titled August Born (Drag City) is the first in a purported series of “music by mail” sessions Hiroyuki has been involved in. Not email but snail mail, a slow process, which shows in the careful and gorgeous strains which this recording delivers. Simple and haunting vocal lines with classic Chasny guitar moves, expressive of his work with both Six Organs of Admittance and Comets on Fire. There’s an August Born track on the Bread, Beard and Bear’s Prayers CD that Comets’ Ethan Miller compiled for this mag’s Bastet imprint. A perfect winter sound.

More Ben Chasny finger-scorch news is the junk burn collaboration he’s done with squelch lord and fellow Comets creep Noel von Harmonson called NVH/CHASNY PLAYS THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS on the Folding label. It truly howls and is just one of the amazing new releases on this long-standing cassette label. Folding comes out of the Northwest and has always delivered some of the more confused and beyond-the-unknown explorations of the lost universe. Along with the NVH/Chas tape is an awesome foray into sound deviltry by someone/something called Telepathe. Their tape “I” which features Mick Barr is one of the swingenest kosmo-jungle reverb from God’s ass recordings we’ve been priveleged to hear this year no doubt. One more killer Folding jammer is the Child Abuse cassette which may be a goddamned lame name but is saved by the nutso retardo sleeve which has some little dude hand tethered to a stick looking very pissed off. It’s horrible yes but so ridiculous that you can see MAYBE where these mofos are coming from (answer: we don’t know). Child Abuse is a drum/organ twisted nut of a sesion and pretty damn fucked and really doesn’t audibly portray the sad violence of their moniker. Which is OK and adds new depth to their motive. What the fuhk.

A couple other great tape labels are Jyrk and Sloow Tapes. Jyrk is from the Bay Area and is infamous for unleashing the force that is D Yellow Swans who have been on a tear lately. The “D” standing for something “D”ifferent on each release (Dead, Destroyed, Disabled, Deaf etc.). They are consistently happening in their electroacoustic amps and wires noise/hum concertos and anything they release is gonna be worth your while. A young woman named Inca Ore, an associate of D Yellow Swans has a Jyrk tape called Milky Petals of the Solar Meadows and by that title you can bet she’s got something to say. And she does but in some strange other-planet tongue. What seems like a sensual loop of vocal matter gets entwined with live barbed wire ululations and comes at you like a repetitive salivation machine. Heavy move and we want more. Sloow Tapes out of Belgium has been releasing small numbers of fine rips by the likes of My Cat Is An Alien and others. One of the latest is certainly one of their greatest, the Slingshot Feud Vol. 2 cassette by Family Underground. Real sex-surround sound and dusk to dawn huzz. All yours.

Four hot new(ish) poetry journals of the sort that burn with modern energy and multi-levered thought/rock, roll/sexx prayerz-on-fire sensation have hit our desks recently and we feel the need to share the word. Mirage #4/Period(ical) is on its staggering-to-believe 120th issue which we guess is not so staggering-to-believe as it’s a single stapled one-sided xerox read which is really its minimalist charm. It’s edited by Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy out of San Francisco. Killian is an interesting playwright, poet, critic, novelist who supposedly has a book being published all about Kylie Minogue, whether in verse perspective or in perverse invective remains to be read. Dodie has written some of the most astounding beyond feminist lit of the last decade. She created a helluva stir when she wrote and published an amazing fem take-off on the Burroughsian cut-up technique called Cunt Ups, which is must for any progressive library shelf. Their po journal has new and ongoing work by young writers who catch the editor’s eye as well as a few surprises such as this issue’s print of a great 1959 poem by the deceased homo-beat legend John Wieners. Next up is the irrepressible Industrial Sabotage out of Toronto, Canada. Edited by the non-stop archivist, poet and all around good guy J W Curry, this is the foremost publication of the ongoing history of Canada’s amazing concrete/language/etc lit scene, primarily jumping off and around the wonderment that is bpNichol, an artist/poet who died in 1988 and left behind a living trove of experimental and loving word-work. Curry has been involved with archiving thousands of items of A list to ephemera of bpNichol’s output for well on 30 years now and has yet to exhaust his endeavor. If you think record collecting is deep dirt digging, then try to get into avant garde post war poetry. His mag is awesome, multi-hued and a great glimpse into what is one of North America’s strongest literary scenes since forever. Speaking of which it’s exciting to see the folks at St Marks Poetry Center in NYC making a fresh move with the first issue of The Recluse. Whether this mag is taking the place of the long running Poetry Center journal The World or will co-exist alongside it is anyone’s guess. Regardless, it has the cool passion aesthetic of young, serious, touch-the-sky poetry that the downtown New Yok scene has always exuded: a dynamic of voices multi-psyched, daring and thoughtful. Last, for now, is another mag outta the SF scene, a new one called jouissance. First ish has not only rad poemz by the abovementioned Kevin Killian, but also some from the ass-slapping mind of Dennis Cooper (one called THE JPEGS is about a Ray Romano/Bernie Mac sex-mail exchange). The mag has good interviews with Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu and novelist Scott Heim (whose book Mysterious Skin is being made into a film by Greg Araki), as well as writing by Dodie Bellamy. Cool shit.

While he has laid hand and/or hip on more record-projects than almost anyone, Calvin Johnson has not previously released a solo album. Dunno why this is exactly, but Before the Dream Faded (K) is really a good one. Calvin’s dark voice is probably known to some of you from Beat Happening or Dub Narcotic Sound System or somewhere, but it’s really a rumbling rose here, because it’s the album’s one constant. The instrumentation and arrangement techniques wiggle around like a hot can opener on god’s ass, but there is a foghorn in the night. Hooray! Songs go into all the hoped-for hoops and come out smelling great. As a note, when heard on CD, from the next room, one local thought this record sounded BOGUS. However, heard close up and on vinyl, she agreed it rocked like a berry. On a Calvin-related note, have been digging the curves of the new Old Time Relijun LP, 2012 (K). Must be the sixth or seventh by these Olympia mutants, but the Spotlight Kid vibe is so strong this time, I feel like we better pull out all their old records and give them a thorough sequential listen. Another record ripe with not-entirely-expected Beefheart sprong is the eponymous, posthumous MLP by Selten-Ubel (ABC Group). This Knoxville, TN group existed for only a couple of shows and broke up in ’01. But the five songs here have a very swank post-core blump into the shadows of a Magic Band.

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“A Slow, Strange and Grueling Thing”: Daniel Chamberlin on the Great Arcata-to-Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race (Arthur, 2004)

Originally published in Arthur No. 9 (March, 2004)

A Slow, Strange and Grueling Thing
Writer-photographer Daniel Chamberlin ventures behind California’s Redwood Curtain to experience the three-day triathlon of the arts that is the Great Arcata-to-Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race

In the late 1930s frustrated residents of Northern California declared their intention to wage “patriotic rebellion” against California and Oregon. Tired of dealing with state governments that seemed more concerned with distant population centers—and not with repairing the decrepit bridges and mud-choked roads leading to their sparsely populated mining, fishing and timber communities—the people of Northern California and Southern Oregon took steps to secede from their respective states. The new state would be called Jefferson—a name arrived at by way of a newspaper contest—in honor of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the U.S. and patron saint of Libertarians and states’ rights crusaders. On December 4, 1941, Jefferson State’s residents set up barricades on the highway and elected Judge John L. Childs governor. At his inauguration he was photographed with a bear on a chain that appears to have a severed human hand in its jaws. Three days after Childs’ inauguration Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor and the Jefferson State movement was swept aside as the United States entered World War II. Though small in number, benign Jefferson State secessionists still hold meetings, run a Web site and paint slogans on their barn roofs. Recently, they tried to use the California’s gubernatorial recall fiasco to drum up support for their cause.

The Jefferson State movement points to a spirit of individualism that thrives in Northern California, especially in Humboldt County. People who live up in northernmost California like being away from it all: there’s time to develop interesting ideas, and enough of a community for those ideas to take root. Hobart Brown, a tiny, impish, 69-year-old man who lives in Humboldt, at the southern end of what could’ve been Jefferson State, is one of those people. He’s an aircraft mechanic, astrologer and wild pig hunter. He’s also the self-styled “Glorious Founder” of an event called The Great Arcata-to-Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race (KSR), an event has run every year since 1969.

The KSR is a vigorous all-terrain art parade held over the course of Memorial Day Weekend. Participants take three days to travel 38 miles in vehicles known as kinetic sculptures—usually recumbent bicycles frames mounted with some sort of sculptural art that’s often conspicuously wacky: poop-filled toilet, braying donkey, KISS Army Camaro, etc. For the 2003 race, the least noteworthy of the entries appearing on the starting line in Arcata is a gray-haired, bearded guy wearing a suit and riding a bicycle. The most imposing sculpture-vehicle is the 2,000-pound “Surf & Turf,” a dramatically psychedelic Day-Glo lobster. A bull’s head that bears a close resemblance to the distressed animal in Picasso’s “Guernica” is grafted on to the back of its abdomen. Six pilots sit inside dressed as chefs, complete with poofy white hats.

In order to complete the full race course in accordance with all of the rules—to “Ace” the course, in KSR terminology—the machines must maneuver over city streets and sand dunes, navigate across a mile of open water in Humboldt Bay and slog through the murky depths of a backwoods bog. They do all of this at an average speed somewhere around 2-3 mph, meaning the race never gets much faster than the wheelchair-bound vets in the Memorial Day Parade that precedes them at the finish line in Ferndale. The KSR combines the tedious pace and muddy wallowing of a tractor pull with the budget-minded engineering of a demolition derby and the physical punishment of an Iron Man triathlon. Dozens of participants return every year. Some have two decades of consecutive races behind them. The race means many things to many people, but as far as Hobart is concerned its primary purpose is to serve as a weapon against suicide.

* * *

You have to be seeking Humboldt County in order to get there. Garberville, the largest town in southern Humboldt, is 200 miles from San Francisco. The two largest towns in Humboldt—Eureka and Arcata—are over 70 miles further north. Though Jefferson State is now mostly history, it is a given with locals that Northern California, particularly Humboldt, is separate from the rest of California. This is attributed to a phenomena known as “the Redwood Curtain.” Thousands of people do make the trip to Humboldt though; tourism is one of the area’s trademark industries along with timber, fishing, folk art and marijuana cultivation. For his part, Hobart Brown subscribes to the theory that, along with Hawaii, Humboldt is one of the last outposts of Mu, a mythical lost civilization akin to Atlantis.

The best road to Humboldt from the rest of California is U.S. 101, though what is an eight-lane river of traffic down in Los Angeles is a two-lane trickle 500 miles up the coast in Hopland. The same freeway serves as a 25 mph main street further north in Willits and Laytonville. The towns stay charming, but as you move north there are fewer high-priced bistros and more stores selling generators, solar panels and livestock supplies. Outside towns, the road is flanked on either side by acres of farmland and deep forests. Country lanes open up throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, lined by roadside invitations to join the landed gentry in their wine tasting rooms from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Once you’re in Humboldt, the grape arbors are mostly gone, replaced by what local drug folklore suggests is the scent of local marijuana crops wafting over the highway. The Eel River rides alongside the 101, and in the summer it’s not uncommon to see people pulled off to the side of the road and going for a dip. “Bigfoot Country” coin purses and redwood burl carvings are readily available, and there are several opportunities to drive your car through hollowed-out redwood trees. Local highway cleanup projects are sponsored by the Harley Riders Association, the Humboldt Area Pagan Network and a store called The Blessed Thistle. Logging trucks hauling gargantuan pieces of timber, farmers driving tractors between their fields and rusted VW buses filled with vintage hippies discourage speedy drivers. The archetypal Humboldt vehicle is a mud-spattered 4WD pickup truck with a Grateful Dead sticker and a National Rifle Association decal sharing the same bumper.

In Denis Johnson’s metaphysical California noir, Already Dead, the suicidal philosopher Carl Van Ness wanders this stretch of highway and describes these remote towns as “like little naps you might never wake up from—you might throw a tire and hike to a gas station and stumble unexpectedly onto the rest of your life, the people who would finally mean something to you, a woman, an immortal friend, a saving fellowship in the religion of some obscure church.” I didn’t begin to understand the Kinetic Sculpture Race until I was drunk, stoned and stumbling with a party of veteran racers spewing history and KSR gospel in equal measure as they camped on an isolated, driftwood-strewn beach. You don’t call yourself a local up here until you’ve been dug in for at least a generation, but there’s no better description of the appeal of Humboldt life to an outsider—or a more dead-on assessment of the cult that has risen up around the race that Hobart Brown started in 1969—than that of Johnson’s troubled pilgrim.

* * *

Hobart Brown claims the title of Glorious Founder of the Kinetic Sculpture Race, but race director Bill Croft runs the thing. Croft is a sewing machine repairman who moved to Humboldt County with his wife when he retired from the Coast Guard ten years ago. Although the racers are following an arcane set of rules that Hobart and others have developed over the last three decades, it’s up to Croft to make sure the race follows the rules in terms of city permits, traffic safety, insurance and crowd control. In a phone interview a week before the race he tells me that he knows a lot about Porta-Potties, that Hobart is “the worst businessman ever,” and that without his organizational assistance it was only a matter of time before the race was going be shut down.

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BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 19 (Nov. 2005)

first published in Arthur No. 19 (November, 2005)

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

Boston’s Sunburned Hand of the Man have been devilishly busy this time out, blessing our ears and asses with a shelf-filling pile of audio goodness. The Complexion LP (Records) highlights their percussion-and-swoop angle more than some of their others. It’s a nice thing to listen to on a rooftop, while ambulances skedaddle around the corners. Bursts of internal static and much less jam-cuss-aktion than some might dig, but we are not they. The Wedlock 2LP (Eclipse) is a document of a trek the band made to Alaska three or so years back to play a wedding. Some of it is Wedding Album audio collaging of the haps, but there are also huge patches of the band in a weirdly Hendrixy mode with heavy jam flashes and rhythm underpine. Great looking package, too. And there are at least a couple of new CDRs. Live in Shit (Manhand) is an utterly spaced-out live show from some damn time and place, one of our favorites of theirs overall. And Knifelife (Manhand) is like eating an electric waffle and grunting about its pleasures or something. There’re plenty of analog crosshatches and rich hints of both butter and maple, but that’s only part of it, naturally. Bite it hard to discover more.

Seems like Jessica Rylan can’t do wrong (get it?). Yeah, anyway, she has out a boss new booklet of drawings called something you entered into or headed towards (WFOT). We guess the format is color Xerox, and they look totally great. Some are like Adolph Wolffi doing his versions of Patchen’s poem-paintings, others are just disturbed (or calm) and beautiful. Rylan mixes word and image with a really bodaciously intellectual primitivism. Worth many peeks, both fast and slow. And, as Can’t, Jessica has released a super stark-o clipclopped-note-beat-disaster 7” through the supremely jake Ultra Eczema label outta Belgium. The label is run by an illustrator named Dennis Tyfus and his sluice-and-gangrene color creations are HOT and WEIRD. His illo of Can’t on the oversized sleeve is insanely lovely. All the releases, mostly CDRs by the such outfits as Guam River (a John Olson zap-zone), are wild on the iris and his site is a fuuking trip to knock around.

The MVEE Medicine Show rolls yet again with a stunning new LP, Moon Jook (Records), which is the most devilishly musical-qua-musical move they’ve made in a bit. Matt Valentine’s guitar playing is really exceptional here, and Erika Elder’s grasp of all “little instrument” dynamics is a breath of pure meditative smoke. It’s true the pair (and their extended family) have recorded a daunting pantload of stuff over the past few years, but this one’s particularly CHOICE. Matt’s old bandmate (from Tower Recordings), PG Six, has a great new LP too, The Well of Memory (Perhaps Transparent; CD on Amish). Pat has been playing especially superb shows this past year and this album collects a few live favorites, all of which bristle with his mastery of many strings—guitar, harp, banjo, piano and on and on. There is a sweet melancholia that seeps through every note here. It will ebb and flow through synapses like burning honey. And the word is that his next album may be harp improvs, which would be hipper than shit.

Anyone who has wanted to sample the work of the great American poet, Charles Potts, but has been mind-dicked by either the abundance or lack-of-abundance of available titles, has just had a lucky day. The Portable Potts (West End Press) is a goddamn glorious paperback compendium of his work throughout a vast array of decades, styles, foci and haircuts. And this book may lack the visual oomph of seeing Charles get blown across the stage at the Arthurfest by Sunn 0))), but it’s a book that will satisfy in many other ways. It represents a real slice of Potts’ work from the wild ‘60s poems to the insane prose to the cowboy stuff to the Chinese stuff, to the sociology and all points in between. Be a sport and stuff it in someone’s stocking this Christmas, it would be a vital gesture in support of true culture.

Our knowledge of the Portugese underground is not what it should be, we admit it. But it just got a little better, with the arrival of two records by the Loosers. Not that there’s much findable info at hand, but the sounds themselves are sweet. A trio, the Loosers do a surprising number of things at once. Their basic focus is art-damaged power-pus, but they do it in a variety of ways, recalling everyone from Sonic Youth to Jackie O Motherfucker at various times. Their first LP is For All the Round Suns (Ruby Red) and it is a pretty wonderful blend of several generations of underground nonsense —from the Birthday Party to NNCK to My Cat Is An Alien—and could easily be the best new CDR from Brooklyn this week, if you know what we mean. But it’s a dandy looking LP and that ain’t hay. Nor is their second LP, Slugs (Ruby Red), although it is not quite as overloaded with sheer idea-wattage, taking more the form of debased prog-grope excursions onto the ramp of the ringed percussive o-mind. It’s a nice trip, with flutes and toots up the old wazoot. Why they only pressed 100 is anyone’s guess.

Best tape label so far this year has been Fag Tapes out of Ypsilanti, Michigan. The proprietor dude is Heath Moerland who either works or owns the record store that Mike “Hair Police/Wolf Eyes/The Haunting” Connelly works at. Which means, just by that association alone, this label is el sickosonik. He’s released awesome noise death jammers by the nefarious doom-improv unit Death Kcomm as well as straight-up bloodfeasts from both Hair Police and Dead Machines. Sad to say Fag Tapes only issues these animals in editions of 50 or so. But you can, at least by today’s date, still grab the best dealio from the label. That be the Street Freaks 2 and Super Street 3 “diamonds in th’ ruff” compilations with skrewed out trax by Pengo, Sick Llama, The Haunting, Tape Deck, Wolf Eyes, Sightings, Aaron Dilloway, Connelly and Death Komm. Again, these babies are in hand numbered editions of 50 and 75 respectively so you may wanna act FAST. (Update alert: since this writing Fag Tapes has released vols. 3 and 4 of the Super Street series so stop sleepin’). The two distributors who have this shit-fry are Volcanic Tongue in the UK and Fusetron in USA.

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