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.
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.