One year ago on this day, Hairy Painter and Ivy Meadows launched the very first episode of Arthur Radio. Hairy is currently on an extended mind-pilgrimage through Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet and beyond, so we dug up this dusty pile of wax from our secret archive to celebrate the occasion. Many thanks to Newtown Radio for hosting the show, and to the many bejeweled special guests who have joined us to grace the internetwaves with their gifts!
kA is the project of Brooke Hamre Gillespie (The Holy Experiment) and Santiparro Alan Scheurman (Santiparro,) two earthbound celestial beings who together create joyous, transcendent songs that lift the spirits, allowing them to soar through forests and fields, over oceans, up through the clouds and into the ever-expanding universe, where the planets are always singing. In between songs, the pair stops to reflect…
Brooke: That song came from the forest of Michigan. A lot of these songs come from the forest of Michigan.
Alan: Not just the forest, but the fire, the trees…
Brooke: The stars, all the animals… the purple beetle!
In recent months, kA traveled to the West Coast to perform in an Alice Coltrane Tribute concert organized by friend Kyp Malone (Rain Machine). Alongside playing shows, they both lead ceremonies and music circles at Golden Drum, a Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based healing center whose practices are rooted in traditions of indigenous medicine healers from around the world.
Alice Cohen is a musician-animator, a wearer of various brightly-colored hats who has traversed many a terrain over the past 30 years, from Philly r&b songwriter to new wave frontwoman (of The Vels) to the present, where she is both a one-woman-band (her most recent LP “Walking Up Walls” was released on Olde English Spelling Bee in 2009) and the creator of many magical worlds in her meticulously collaged stop-motion animations, which draw from a palette of art deco interiors, vintage women’s fashion magazines, early hollywood memorabilia, abstract shapes, insects, birds, the moon, dream spaces and beyond.
It’s Coming Down, Baby! Erik Davis catches up with SIR RICHARD BISHOP—gypsy picatrix, ex-Sun City Girl and guitarist extraordinaire Illustration by John Coulthart
Superlatives can be lame, but Richard Bishop is one of the few post-punk guitarists who came of age in the 1980s to have achieved the incendiary prowess of a true Guitar God. Though largely unknown outside the underground, Bishop plays and improvises with an uncommon and original power. He can tantalize in a myriad of styles, he has a global jukebox in his head, he can shatter the walls of sleep and chaos, and he can turn on a dime. He loves the guitar and mocks it: he plays like an absurdist and a romantic at once. He studies the occult and travels the Third World fringe and you can hear it. He plays guitar to save himself and fails in the endeavor and you can hear it. He can scare the shit out of you sometimes, and he can make you giggle and grin.
For decades Bishop played with his brother Alan and the Charlie Gocher in the Sun City Girls, where his ferocious and inventive exploration of psych-rock, punk spew, idiot jizz, Indo-Arabic fantasias, and jazzbo abstraction was often shadowed by the madcap antics, acerbic lyrics and general air of arcane weirdness that surrounded that impossible act. Gocher passed away in February this year at the age of 54, and the Girls are no more.
But over the last half decade, Bishop has also been playing and recording solo instrumental music as Sir Richard Bishop, and the effort is really starting to flower. This year SRB released two great albums. While My Guitar Gently Bleeds features three long pieces that triangulate his essential territory as an improviser: a North African arabesque, a noisy electronic nightscape, and a modal neo-raga on the tantric tip. Polytheistic Fragments is a more accessible and varied work, featuring a dozen tunes that also stretch into Americana, gypsy rag and Lennon-McCartney charm. As always, the recordings are packaged with strange and mystic images that speak to Bishop’s longtime study of esoterica.
Earlier this fall Bishop toured with labelmate Bill Callahan. I called him while he was taking a break in Seattle.