The last year has been rough, but we’ll try to face the new dawn more regularly. See how it goes, and we’ll deal with some older stuff amidst the newer stuff. Can’t be helped. Thanks.
1. I guess it’s beyond the point of convincing anyone that some of the best music/sounds is happening on small cassette labels, but once in a while something gets slapped in the tape deck that just utterly, completely nails you to the underpinnings of heavens dripping maw. Such an experience is to be had by anyone lucky enough to grab hold of if only goodnight, the first cassette on the Wagtail label by Eastern Massachusetts improv/noise/strange-string shaman-femme Ashley Paul. Ms. Paul has been on the hot tongues of local noise lovers for a few years now and has gotten some recognition through her collaborations with the amazing Rel Records imprint. This cassette is really, really stirring and odd and affecting with high-frequency vox (which may or may not be ACTUAL vocals, but the mystic air conjured by reed-tongue) that call to mind early Connie Berg (Mars) interacting with bowed percussion and dislocated guitar sex. Cool as it gets. Get it.
2. Recent times appear to have been busy for Ed Sanders (above), one of the heroes of this century and the last. Amidst rumblings of a vast archival reissue series of material recorded by Ed’s band the Fugs, there is also a new Fugs album due sometime soon, and a slew of printed material already in hand. Poems for New Orleans (North Atlantic Books) came out in ’08, but only recently came to our attention. The book is full of Sanders’ beautiful verse, inspired by a trip to the city, which lead to intense reading about its history, and imaginings of chance encounters that might have been. Thus, the book’s a mix of investigative poetry (a school of thought Sanders founded), pure conjecture, and his own special lyricism. Great stuff, tying together near-ancient history with the catastrophes of Katrina and much else. Here’s a brief sample of the poem, “Echoes of Heraclitus”:
A helicopter flew me away
I wound up in Utah
where I am waiting for Jesus
to help me home.
Also new to us is America, A History in Verse: The 20th Century Volumes 1-5 (Blake Route Press). The first three volumes of this massive, detailed ride through the American consciousness were published by Black Sparrow Books, but following the retirement of the legendary publisher, John Martin, there was no one around to actualize the words. Thus, the full set is available as pdf files on CD. And hideous as this format feels (we spend way too much time on screen already), the work is fantastic. Here’s a short piece from Volume 5:
The Oklahoma City Bombing
looked like someone who could have been a NASCAR driver
or a retired quarterback
Close cut hair
White eyes of blue a Gulf War vet
and bursting from a sliver of the small town ethos
that allowed grumbling gun nuts
to exist without much hassle
It would be delightful if someone would turn these last two volumes into actual books as well, but for now, this will have to do. Ed was also the main subject of a recent show hosted by an amazing gallery/printing shop in Brooklyn called The Arm. They hosted a brief show of his many glyph-based artworks from the last half a century, and while the show has ceased to exist, The Arm’s Dan Morris is working on a portfolio reprinting several of Ed’s most eye-commandeering efforts. There are also a few loose sheets of this work available. And they are guaranteed to make yr brain very hot.
Anyway, we await finding a copy of Ed’s new poetry collection from Coffee House Press, and the soon-due Fugs CD as well. ‘Til then—keep grope alive.
3. One dude who has been on the UK underground noise cassette scene as long as Ashtray Navigations’ Phil Todd is Joincey. Haven’t really heard to much from Joincey in a while but he has this new thing now called My Carapace Is Leaking and the first thing we’ve heard by “them” is a split cassette with Swiss-Swedish double bass improvisor Nina De Heney on the Rayon Records label from Lyon, France. Joincey, or My Carapace Is Leaking, also employs bass action, though unlike De Heney’s more raw, organic scrape and touch (which is ruling), it is more of a skin-melting lather. And it is completely great. A wonderful split by these two, and anyone who has followed Joincey through the years with Wagstaff, Inca Eyeball, Coits, Stuckometer, and his amazing Face Like A Smacked Arse label will desperately want this.
4. Another great set of releases has appeared from Mondo Macabro, who seem to have a truly insane grasp of international exploitation films. The third volume of their Bollywood Horror series pairs two films from the Ramsay Brothers studio, Mahakaa and Tahkana, which combine tons of bad vibes, dance numbers and surreal juxtapositions of elements – I mean, who knew Nightmare on Elm Street was lacking a gay Michael Jackson character? Not us. But now we do.
We also understand, from seeing Akio Jissoji’s Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities of Vice, that it would have been a bad idea to create a criminal theater based on the works of De Sade in Japan during the 1920s. As to whether it’d be a good idea now, we can only guess. But watching how the bad idea actually was is a great visual treat. Weird to think this same director did the Ultra Man movies!
5. Great Dividing, the Australian label that kicked in the front door of our o-brain with the posthumous 3 Toed Sloth LP (which for better and/or worse is as close as we can get to contempo Feedtime action as it features almighty Feedtime drum-jesus, Tom), has issued a cassette comp, A Range of Greatdividing, which has some primo Sloth as well as other Oz dementia like the top-notch Shoptoprockers. Primal, guitar scrawl with dirty-hair free-chug moves that proves Oz still the sexiest dirtbarge ‘neath the meridian.