MORE SMOKE THAN FOLK

A few important MATT “MV” VALENTINE listening experiences through 2012, assembled by Dan Ireton & Byron Coley and presented in chronological order. Links are to best current (2016) retail or wholesale source for the goods. This article originally published in Arthur No. 34 (2013) as a sidebar to Byron’s interview with Matt.

TOWER RECORDINGS Furniture Music for Evening Shuttles (Siltbreeze SB54 CD + LP, 1998)
Technically, the fourth Tower album, but the one where they really come together into a great stew of kosmische gushery. Someone told me if I liked German stuff I should listen to this. He was right.

TOWER RECORDINGS The Folk Scene (Shrat one-sided 12”, 2000; Communion CD, 2001)
You want the expanded CD reissue version, which is much longer. The vibe here mirrors the best work of those German and Scandinavian commune bands we all loved so much.

TOWER RECORDINGS The Futuristic Folk of Tower Recordings Vol. One & Two (COM CDR, 2002; Time-Lag 2LP, 2004)
Available as CDRs, individual LPs and a double LP (all of ’em limited and fine) this is the record where Tower seems to start really hearing the lessons of Sun Ra’s Arkestra and the AACM. Weird, pointedly obscure and deep.

MATT VALENTINE Space Chanteys (Fringes LP, 2002)
This early solo side, released by an Italian jazz label, has always felt like MV’s version of Astral Weeks (not that you’d confuse his voice with Van Morrison’s). You can hear the door closing on Matt’s New York period. The lyrics are super-personal and the musical arrangements are loose and flowing.

MATT VALENTINE Ragantula (COM 4, 2002; reissued in the COM-Relics series)
My favorite version has a small piece of printed cloth inserted, but that’s extremely rare, so let’s not mention it. This one is thematically linked to Matt’s transition to country life.The lyrics related to the move, and the music has a very rural vibe (even though some was recorded in NYC).

MATT VALENTINE Creek to Creation (QBICO LP. 2004)
The first completely overt hick move. Recorded in Vermont and sounding it. Every inch.

DREDD FOOLE Kissing the Contemporary Bliss (COM 2CDR, 2004; Family Vineyard 2CD, 2008)
Although credited just to Dredd, this is equally Matt’s album. The pair push against the envelope of how free “free folk” could ever get. This also marks the beginning of the Spectra Sound experiments, and sounds a big as the whole outdoors.

MATT VALENTINE & ERIKA ELDER Ragas & Blues — Fantastic String Music (Idea LP, 2004)
I particularly like this version because a few copies came with a screenprinted outer sleeve, which looks pretty great. And the music is an important transition, since this is where country blues starts to seep more obviously into the picture.

MV/EE WITH THE BUMMER ROAD Mother of Thousands (Time-Lag 2LP, 2006)
This marks the beginning of Matt’s heavy electric guitar period. An amazing sprawl of an album and spaced as fuck.

MV & EE WITH THE BUMMER ROAD Green Blues (Ecstatic Peace CD, 2006)
Some people love the way this connects the vocals of Skip James with the guitar of Neil Young, others think it’s just TOO MUCH. Regardless, this one is the first real rock-qua-rock record.

MV & EE WITH THE GOLDEN ROAD April FlowerTour (COM 8-CDR set, 2011)
Great document of some live dates (mostly from April, 2011) representing their annual Spring Fling with UK guitarist Mick Flower. There’s a heavy ruralist rock vibe to most of the action with bursts of lightning purity. More smoke than folk.

MV & Country Stash (Three Lobed LP, 2011)
When this one came out, I just said, “Wow.” It was the first album that really seemed to properly reconcile all of the threads Matt has chased. A favorite.

MV & EE Space Homestead (Woodsist LP, 2012)
Then this one came out, and it was even more holistic. Amazing.

Matt Valentine's "April 2010 No Floor Tour" diary

From Volcanic Tongue:

Matthew Valentine’s Child Of Microtones imprint was one of the first labels to fully explode the CD-R format, combining deluxe packaging with exploratory psychedelia and extended rural glam. He was the brains and the conceptual clout behind Brattleboro’s legendary Free Folk Fest in 2003, an event that was pretty much ground zero for the contemporary underground and that gathered alla the emergent tribes in the same spot for the first time. But really MV has been a key player since back in the day, with Tower Recordings being a central component of Siltbreeze’s first wave while his editorial duties on the sadly-defunct Cock Displacement buzzed a whole bunch of brains. But it’s his work with partner Erika Elder that has best brought together his various obsessions, minting a recording process known as Spectrasound that exposes the most sidereal aspects of the jam while fusing Dead/Allman Brothers-style improvisations with free jazz, raga, folk and blues in order to mint a visionary take on underground modes. MV is free folk. He’s also a wordsmith par excellence, an inspired writer (check out his first novel, Small As Life & Infinitesimally As Pure) and filmmaker (The Temptation To Zoology) and an active proponent of the up country good life. We’re lucky to have him. Here he’s reminiscing about the April 2010 No Floor Tour in anticipation of his headlining shot at VT’s Subcurrent 2010 fest. Look out for the winner of the top ten middens….

Read on at Volcanic Tongue

Plus, here’s VT on the latest MV & EE releases, which VT is vending here:

MV & EE
Not Only Wine But It’s Oblivion I Pour
Heroine No Cat
CD-R
£6.99
”Duo set from Matthew Valentine and Erika Elder from the European leg of their UK/Europe tour back in February 2010 recorded at Viseu, Portugal. A set which connects strongly back to the aesthetic of the American singer/songwriters of the Troubador and coffee shops in the mid-60s with more of a focus on song, melody and vocals. The guitars are more stripped back and cleaner on this one with the vocals much higher in the mix. Only the mid-set raga induced meanderings of “Environments” breaks rank from the other numbers. A set which runs “Satisfied”, “Anthem of the Cocola Y&T”, Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street, a jam of “Environments” into “Cold Rain” and closing with the ‘hit the road’ anthem of “Feelin’ Fine”. A great set for those who prefer their MV&EE up close and personal. Appropriate locational cover with a blurred snap of the Sé de Viseu. Recommended.” – Andrew Ross.

MV & EE w/Willie Lane
Blazed Corndog, ‘Ham Bone (Turn The Heat Up!)
Heroine No Cat
CD-R
£6.99
”I love this particular incarnation of the MV&EE family with the trio of Matthew Valentine, Erika Elder and Willie Lane. Set from the same series of shows that gave us the previously released “Ready for another house” from May 2009. A very similar set which runs “Hungry Stones”, “I Got Caves in there” into “Cold Rain” and closing with “Weatherhead Hollow” into “Environments”. Overall, this demonstrates the beautiful art of guitar weaving between all three players, with guitar runs and melodies getting interlocked into one taking the listener on a totally unique magical experience. I particularly like the version of “I Got Caves In There” with the more song based version replaced by a version where guitar weaving around the song’s melody takes centre stage. The sets opus is the 20 minute spectrasound workout of “Weatherhead Hollow” and “Environments”. Great sonic transmissions on this one. Highly recommended.” – Andrew Ross.

Continue reading

Byron Coley and Thurston Moore’s “Bull Tongue” column from Arthur No. 27 (Dec 07)

BULL TONGUE
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

from Arthur No. 27 (Dec 2007) [available from The Arthur Store]

Joe Carducci, the ingeniously screwball theorist behind Rock and the Pop Narcotic has come out of the hills to grace us with another idiosyncratic non-fiction book, Enter Naomi (Redoubt Press), which presents an insider’s version of the SST label story. The structure teeters between chapters dealing with the particulars of the Naomi Peterson saga (she was a staff photographer for the SST), and a general recounting of the label’s saga. It’s a good if somewhat fragmentary read, focusing on some of the label’s issues with gender politics more than other possible tangents. Which means it’s still not the definitive SST book—probably there’ll never be just one—but it’s a pretty exciting read nonetheless.

As expected, the new box of Siltbreeze stuff is a magnificent blot on our culture. The FactumsAlien Native LP is a reissue of a 2004 CDR crafted (one supposes) as a side project to work with the Fruit Bats, the Intelligence and other combos more formal in their organization of body shape. The Factums’ material is evenly split between loose, baggy, electron-o fwuh with a very diseased kind of surface and a guitarric syntax mangling that totally defies archeological stratification. For punk, it’s insanely buxom.

Sunshine of Your Love by Xno bbqX (one of the most elegant CLE band name tributes ever) is similarly well-proportioned. Recorded a few years back (it was originally a cassette), it is the work of two Australian vegans in a shed with an electronic guitar and a drum (or something), but we’ll be rolled in a fuggin’ rug if it doesn’t sound like these guys eat meat. What the hell? Still, vegan or no, this’s a fairly magnificent third-yard of wet-black-snapper, and has all the requisite duo moves that “knowers” look for.

If it’s fun you seek, you could do far worse than to look up the work associated with Denmark’s Smittekilde collective. Their vibe is a bit in line with Ultra Eczema’s, but no one’s as thoroughly screwed up as Dennis Tyfuss, so the material is a bit more tame overall. Still, the latest batch of swag is quite glamorous. First up is Kindergarten Exposure #2, a graphics fanzine in the same vein as some of Mark Gonzalez’s stuff or the Hello Trudi material—single page illustrations and stuff by a variety of artists, primarily in a somewhat crude vein. Yum.

Perhaps even more screwed is Kattemad. This is a graphics book by Loke Sebastian, Luca Bjornsten and Zimon Rasmussen, detailing the different ways in which cat food can be disgusting. Excellent. As is Rock World comics by Soren Mosdal and Jacob Orsted. We’d initially thought this looked a little straight, but the excellent English language text, about crappy music and beer and toilet paper, ended up being quite outstanding. The same goes for Mok Nok’s Slugstorm LP, which has a dandy silk-screened cover. The music is a cool blend of post-noise instrumentals with fragmentary glimpses of drool in the distance. The vibe reminds us a little of Dirty Three, back when they were still on Poon Village, if they were crossed with some of the scum-roots that Mick Turner was trying to repress. Nimble!

The photographer Mick Rock has been responsible for a number of iconic images. His best-known work is undoubtedly his glam stuff, but for us the most important is the cover work for the Stooges’ Raw Power and that for Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs. The bulk of Rock’s Stooges work came out a couple of years ago. But the Barrett shots were only available in a very expensive limited edition hardcover that came and went in 2002. Now, Gingko Press’s Rebel Arts imprint has released Psychedelic Renegade, a prole version of what I assume to be the same material, and it is a true pleasure to behold. Continue reading

April 26th – MV + EE at Kung-fu Necktie in Philly


The first time I saw MV + EE was at the Arthurdesh benefit at 3A.M., where those who had stayed til the end shuffled out of the room visibly stunned after their full-on raw psychedelic performance. If you’re in Fishtown this weekend, take the advice of Baby Huey and get mellow one more time… then go to Kung-fu Necktie, where Matt Valentine and Erika Elder will surely proceed to blow your lid.

Sunday, April 26th, 8PM
Kung-fu Necktie
1248 North Front Street / Philadelphia, PA 19122
$10

This show is 21+