“Good Fuzz”: MATT ‘MV’ VALENTINE profiled by BYRON COLEY (from Arthur No. 34/2013)

MVsml

This piece was originally published in Arthur No. 34 (2013, sold out). I haven’t found a way to present the article online in a way that makes the article’s main text and its many (utterly essential) footnotes easy to read, side-by-side. So: following is the article’s main text, without footnotes. To read the article in full, with footnotes, download this free 31-page PDF. Hope this does it for ya. P.S. ESSENTIAL SIDEBAR: “More Smoke Than Folk: A few important MATT ‘MV’ VALENTINE listening experiences, assembled by Dan Ireton & Byron Coley and presented in chronological order”   — Jay

GOOD FUZZ

For over two decades, musician/head MATT VALENTINE has navigated strange, inspiring trips across myriad underground psychedelic terrains, joined by a revolving cast of fellow free travelers. Byron Coley crosses the bridge to get MV’s side of the story.

Matt Valentine aka Matthew Dell aka LunarMV, etc., is one of the more righteous freaks of our age. As a writer, guitarist, vocalist, label head, whiskey fan, and whatever else he might happen to be, Matt is one of those rare guys who is always ready to go “all in.” He is neither shy about his many accomplishments, nor unwilling to speak about them, but he is so flat-out committed to his own sci-fi-damaged version of personal history the way he’d like it to be known that he can be a tough person to interview. He loves the elliptical, the mysterious, the vaguely legendary secrets that underpin all true history, and he seems more than happy to offer wild and theoretical answers to most dull and specific questions that come his way. For this reason, among others, there are few places you can turn for objective facts about the musical/historical trajectory of Matt Valentine.

And the man clearly deserves a thorough overview.

This isn’t exactly it, but it’s a first step. Matt and I have been friends for a couple of decades. We’ve done various projects together over the years—tapes, shows, albums, tours, books, etc.—and he well knows in what high esteem I hold all of his work. To my mind, much of the popularity of the acid-folk revival was instigated by Matt and his cohort—hardcore record collectors and fans who were capable of hearing things no one else had noticed, and were eager to translate their discoveries into post-punk tongues. Few people have been as tireless in their work expanding and documenting the boundaries of underground culture over the past years, and Matt has created a vast web of friends, recordings and memories documenting his aesthetic peregrinations as well as those of his fellow travelers.

Matt, among other things, has been a tireless documentarian of his passage through space and time. The number of recordings he has released is not easily discerned, but let’s just say they are legion. What continues to mystify listeners is the fact that Matt’s sonic trajectory is constantly evolving. Unlike the many artists who bogusly claim “my latest release is by far my favorite,” Matt’s new records generally incorporate a new form-innovation/renovation/reconsideration. The guy is acutely aware of where he has been and seems dedicated to Heraclitus’s dictum about not stepping in the same river twice. Because of this, Matt’s albums (the major ones, anyway) often represent a true progression in terms of technique, interpretation and vision. That said, the new LP, Fuzzweed (Three Lobed) is a monster of sweetly-stoned tongue-form. It boils many elements of the essential, ineffable MVEE whatsis into a kind of floating vocal/way-post-Dead instrumental-puddle that will absolutely sear your brain. The first batch of copies also come with a CD that culls the best moments of the new 7-CD Zebulon residency set COM just issued. It’s weird. There are only a handful of people whose recordings I choose to follow with something like fervor. Matt is one of them. Hopefully this talk will help you to understand why.

I had hoped that Erika Elder, Matt’s partner in all things, would attend the interview as well. But she played possum at work, leaving us to blab untended from the light of afternoon into the dark of night. Hopefully, this interview will give you some idea of the depth and width of Matt Valentine’s work. It’s a vast weird place. Hello.

 

B: Let’s start with some basics. Where did you grow up?

M: The Hudson Valley region. I was born in Mount Kisco, NY. Lived in several towns around there, including Yonkers for a bit when I was super young.

B: Did you play music when you were a kid?

M: Yeah, but I wasn’t really in a lot of bands or anything. I started a bit when I was in high school. I was kicked out of the school band. I played alto sax. But I got booted out pretty early because I think, without really knowing anything about it yet, that I wanted to play like Ayler. I would take the melody of “When the Saints Come Marching In” and transmogrify it.

B: Was it a marching band?

M: At first, yeah. Then it became more of a concert recital band, and you had to choose whether you wanted to be in the jazz band or one of the other standard school things. The school I went to was pretty interesting because it was fairly liberal. Like, there weren’t any walls in the school. So when you didn’t have a class there was a big open space called The Commons. It was grades 9-12, and the cafeteria and the smoking section and all that stuff was in the middle. When you didn’t have a class it was a regular thing to hang out in The Common with an acoustic guitar and just play and meet people. So that’s where I first started to get hip to the idea of social communication through music. I did weird recordings at home, then the first serious band I was in was a relatively professional band.

B: Who was that?

M: That was a band I played with right out of high school called the Werefrogs. I played with two guys who were older than me, from the same school. They had graduated the year before me and had played in bands for a while. One was a drummer, the other a guitarist. They were both from the same scene at the school and they wanted a bass player. So I said, “Oh, I’ll play bass.” I think they wanted me in the band because I could hang out and I was into kinda cool music.

B: What era was this?

M: Around late ’88. We did a couple of singles.

B: What kinda stuff was it?

M: Psychedelic rock.

B: What were your models?

M: We were probably most like dudes who wanted to play like Joni Mitchell or something. It was kinda weird chords like that, but these two guys were more advanced musically and into jazz voicings and things like that. It was a trio, so of course there were obvious things like Hendrix. I was listening to WNYU a lot then. They had a program called The New Afternoon Show. I would get off this mail room job I had, and the show was on from 4:00 to 7:30 in the afternoons in the tri-state area. I would listen to that driving home, and they’d play stuff like the Road Pizza 12” and all these crazy bands who made one single and then disappeared. It was the most crazoid music I’d ever heard. It made some of the college radio stuff of that era seem incredibly straight. I really dug the stuff I heard, so I’m sure some of that stuff was in the mix as well. This was around the time when Nirvana played on that tour with the Cows at the Pyramid. I’d be going into NY to see gigs like that. And Galaxie 500 was playing at CB’s Canteen a lot, so that was in there. Of course Sonic Youth, and to some degree things like Bern Nix. I’d go see him a lot when he’d play at Roulette and the old Knitting Factory. I was starting to get into that stuff when I was in high school. Then there were some weird record stores popping up, so I’d spend time in those and pick up stuff. So the influences were classic rock, along with a few underground things.
Continue reading

Arthur Radio Voyage #8 with Bobby Bouzouki

Last Sunday Arthur Radio embarked on its eighth voyage, this time to the wind-swept deserts of Greece, Morocco, Arizona and beyond… Special guest Robert Damore (aka Bobby Bouzouki) graced the Newtown Radio studio with the warm, nostalgia-inducing sounds of his bouzouki, and even took the time to tell us some of the narratives behind the rebetika (Greek folk songs) that he played during his set.

Before your journey begins, dear listeners, we have the following message to deliver from ye olde writing desk of DJ Hairy Painter…

The sun is here and opens the curtains slowly! It brings the slow glowing dust! It springs the earth out of polar jail, the winds blow the desert sand to make for better traction. If you sit, it will make your hair look sexier! The tectonic plates are shifting all around us, their quakes make the planet spin faster, and change the pitch! If you jump, you can land in buttes, the plateaus, or the Isle of Cyros! Through our earth’s muzak, the winds blow Bobby Bouzouki up to the Arthur radio treehouse for a jaunt upon rebetika mountain. Happy trials!


Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Arthur-Radio-Voyage-8-with-Bobby-Bouzouki-03-07-2010.mp3%5D

Download: Arthur Radio Voyage #8 with Bobby Bouzouki

This week’s playlist…
Continue reading

TONGUE TOP TEN by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

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.

ashleypaul

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
or anybody
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
April 19
Timothy McVeigh
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
& gummint-haters
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.

Rayonjune09001

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!

greatdividing

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.

Continue reading

TONIGHT (Thurs, Sept 17), Philly: Arthur welcomes MV & EE for all-ages homegrown show, PLUS HERE'S A BRAND NEW MV & EE STUDIO TUNE

barn_nova_cover_250

Here’s the lead loper off MV & EE’s new album “Barn Nova” (pictured above), out October 13, 2009 via <a href="Ecstatic Peace Records of Massachusetts…

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/1_Feelin_fine.mp3%5D

Download: “Feelin Fine” – MV & EE (mp3)

barn_1638_th

Arthur welcomes

Ecstatic Peace! recording artists
MV &EE
accompanied by Willie Lane

plus

Blood Like Mine
(Geoff Bucknum & Rosali Middleman)

Thursday, September 17 8pm
Frankford Gardens/ The Compound
at 2037 Frankford Avenue (map)
(enter from Sepviva)
music promptly at 8:30
$5
all ages encouraged
this is a home, not a bar
so remember to bring your own locally brewed beverage

MV & EE: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com/mvee
Willie Lane: info, mp3

Thursday late night music: Willie Lane

cover

[audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-mind-herb-gardens.mp3%5D

Download: “Mind Herb Gardens” – Willie Lane

“Mind Herb Gardens” is a spooky beaut off Known Quantity by Philadelphia-based guitarist Willie Lane, which was glowingly reviewed earlier this year by Arthur columnists Byron Coley & Thurston Moore in Bull Tongue Top Ten No. 3. They wrote:

“Great new guitar record out by William “Willie” Lane, called Known Quantity (Cord Art). Willie lived up here in Western Mass. for a good long while and was involved in lots of weird musical shit. Not much of it got proper documentation, however, although Child of Microtones did issue a fine CDR, Recliner Ragas , a few years back. Anyway, Willie moved down to Philadelphia a couple of years ago, and we get a chance to hear him now and then when we’re down there, or he chooses to hit the road with one of the MV & EE traveling carnivals. But his solo work has always been amazing and rare. Well, not so rare this week. There’s this new LP, and it was recorded throughout 2006-2008, and is a total blast. Willie’s mostly solo (save for some licks by Samara Lubelski) and his playing ranges from Wizz Jones power-pluck at its cleanest to Michael Chapman electro-smear at its phasingest. But Willie knows his stuff cold and this instrumental slide through the gates of Neverland is one of this year’s great rides.

The album is available on vinyl only, directly from Mr. Lane. Email the good man at silversleeve@gmail.com to arrange delivery of a known quantity of Known Quantity.