Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I've spoken much of Albany basement legends Burnt Hills before. Their particular brew of sludge rock always hits it right for me--equal parts Fushitsusha, Parson Sound and Sun Ra--but what we have here is a different matter indeed. Released on the well established Ruby Red Editora label, Morning Glory is, as near as I can tell, the Hills' first official (that is, not cd-r) release, and it more than deserves that honor. This is Burnt Hills at the height of their doped dementia, and it slays.
The opening few minutes might be the most cohesive assemblage I've heard from them, especially being as their improvised stews are actually working within relatively narrow sonic confines. Each jam being different, and one could suggest a further continuation down the righteous path toward sludge rock heaven, it is good to see the band further proving their evolution. The pummeling drums that open it beckon the cries of guitars and bass while the tinkling of xylophone reverberates underneath. It takes nearly five minutes of open ringing chords, like a (at least relatively) better recorded Les Rallizes Denudes Big Band. When the band finally unites in one pummeling action it moves along with a cohesion and fluidity like few of their releases before. It seems an odd adjective but for better or worse the whole group seems to really be swinging here, and you can practically picture their bobbing bodies as the dual drummer tandem of Phil and Mike, along with bassist Eric Hardiman, keep the motion rock steady, heavy as the earth.
Of course, in the grand tradition of Burnt Hills, the whole disc is about an hour long and contains only one jam, making it a kind of presentation of the band in a certain place at a certain time (one Monday night at Jack's I would guess...). What keeps Burnt Hills stuff so good, and so immediate, is the constant honing of approach, a total dedication to its form. One gets the sense that the band never sits down and talks about what they want to do; they simply do it, each member shaping it in its own way so that it grows into its own living breathing creation. Using what seem like all too tried and true methods of rock making--guitar, bass and drums--along with the subtle clanking of the xylophone, the group is in constant seeking of one potential shape of rock to come, a new rock language. And the best part is that the louder you crank it, the more the details reveal themselves, slinking you deeper into the intertwining lines of each member. A big cloud of smoke resides over this one.
Still available from the label I believe, and with great cover art from Sick Llana herself--check out how concerned that kitten looks. Relax dude, the truth is scary.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Just got this c20 in from Brian over at Deathbomb Arc, so thanks to them for that. Caldera Lakes is the duo of Brittany Gould and Eva Aguila, the former a member of Married in Berdichev as well as a Jandek collaborator and the latter one of Kevin Shields and Gang Wizard. This debut by the group exhibits a different side of their sound though (at least drastically so from Gang Wizard), as they opt for a kind of noisy wood-folk sound, stark and haunting.
Side A opens with some harsh clicking sounds before it crunches along down a path of off-kilter electronic destruction and the strange looped vocals of pixies, bouncing across in their meandering melodic buildup. Needless to say, the contrast between the electronic lurching--which sound like a broken tape deck playing alongside loping high frequencies and a skipping, scratched to fuck record--and the spaced-out, Bjork-like vocals of Brittany, which conjure a kind of lyrical purging of tangible despair (or is merely disrepair?) makes for an eerily shimmering beauty. When the electronics overtake the repeated vocal line it explodes into a frenzy of waterfall cleansing via dirt and metal. The vocal line, slinking back in and out, serves as a reminder of the ethereal beauty that had once been a part of the landscape.
The B side opens with the gentle chiming of hand cymbals before the muted strumming of a cello or ladder or some object sets some semblance of a rhythm. Feedback builds in the back before effected vocals enter with brief shots of tenderness alongside maracas. A string instrument enters, reverberating across the backdrop as the vocals build into lyrical form, gently riding along with the disturbed grace of a Billie Holiday. The echoes on the vocals even serve to dub out the proceedings a bit before the vocal loops are built with great caution, never losing sight of the control necessary to maintain such quaint and gentle melodies. This time, the vocals build along with the electronics rather than remaining stagnant beneath them. Strange and effecting stuff, especially in a world that is running out of ideas concerning this kind of folky nymph sound. The electronics backing the vocalist are so well done that it creates a dialogue of real interest between the voice and the equipment, two sound worlds meeting somewhere between Eden and John Olson's basement.
Deathbomb Arc did a beautiful job with the artwork, incorporating the truly weird skeletons from the Natural History Museum along with a groovy little robot sticker. A meshing of technology and nature you might say. If you dig the vocal stylings of Pocahaunted or the gnarled tapes of Sick Llama, definitely worth exploring this, as its an odd meeting of both worlds.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The first in an ongoing series of remixes, arrangements and demolitions of other peoples' tracks, MUDMUX was the first I'd heard of Mudboy. As far as I can tell, Mudboy's based out of the lively Providence scene, but this is hardly Lightning Bolt material. Rather, Mudboy plays the organ, whether it be old school Wurlitzer style (he hunkered down to the most epicly ornate organ I've ever seen at a free show at the Providence Performing Arts Center) or his own contraption, the "Mudboy Minnie," which is basically a small organ hooked up to a Yamaha FM synth. He'll even make you one for a cool grand if you want. Actually worth checking out his little website, it seems to give a bit of insight into his unique approach.
As I said though, this is the first in a planned series, each one released by a different label with a different color scheme. I should start by saying that Tynan over at DNT did a great job with the packaging here. I mean look at that cover, it's super intricate. I guess he enlisted the apparently substantial screen printing talents of R Lyon and Kevin Hooyman so cheers to them. The blue vinyl only adds to it.
As for the sounds, the first side is a remix of some Extreme Animals midi file called "RockRapPopRocks," which Mudboy claims was originally recorded onto a floppy disc! The remix is retitled "Lil John Carpenter Tribute Song." I don't know who Lil John Carpenter is, but this is some tribute. Starting off with a kind of pseudo-techno bass beat, the thing builds itself into real midi mayhem. It's pretty dancey stuff on the surface, but given that I have no idea which sounds are coming from Extreme Animals and which aren't, I don't really know who's doing what here. It's like some glitched out video game score, with the clattering and, well, muddy drums of--dig this name--Jeremy Lazy Animal Magnet Harris adding a weird sort of dementia to the whole thing. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that all of the odd electronics in the background, lurching around like some manic circus sideshow score, are Mudboy making what once had to be a pretty grooving number a weird disfigured freak of the hipster dance party.
The B side is another cover from a band I had only heard of to this point, DarkDarkDark. The original track was called "Come Home," and it seems the new one is too, though who knows why he would rename one and not the other. Consisancy is over-rated I guess. That said, this one's super weird. Odd little girl vocals a la Joanna Newsom are meshed with the accordion additions of Nona Marie Dark to create a super weird street performance diddy. The whole thing keeps slowing down and getting more and more looming, eventually warping from sun-shiny Shirley Temple stylings into a dark little sea chanty as sung by the captain's crippled daughter. The voice, despite the subtle background textures and increasingly warped accordion lines, maintains some semblance of it's cutesy delivery, cutting through the murk no matter how slow it gets until the very end, when everything is broken down to such a degree that the digital signals start to reveal themselves--a grim fade out indeed. The "backup fingers," whatever that means, are provided by Alec K Redfearn of the Eyesores.
It's all very beautifully mixed and Mudboy clearly has a talent for putting his own touches on things without completely destroying the integrity of the songs themselves. Though the originals sound like they probably aren't exactly my bag, Mudboy keeps it interesting and intensely oddball--this is clearly someone with a grasp on their aesthetic. The next edition of the series will be orange and called Dub This! which sounds a little more like my style. Given what he did with this material, I'd love to see where he takes that one. Limited to 535 and still available from DNT as far as I can tell.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
When the new run of Brokenresearch titles came out, the one that most surprised me was definitely this. Paul Lytton is a mainstay of European free improv as well as an electronic pioneer in his own right. Considering that he is a percussionist who has played with the likes of Evan Parker, Ken Vandermark and Marilyn Crispell, as well as being a founding member of the London Musicians' Cooperative, it seems a bit of a surprise to see him dueting with trumpeter Nate Wooley.
Of course Wooley ain't no slouch either. He's made his mark on the contemporary improv scene with Melee, a trio with Ben Hall and Hans Buetow, but has also played with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Chris Speed, and Nmperign member Bhob Rainey. Not bad for a guy with releases on labels as removed from the jazz scene as American Tapes, Arbor, and Meudiademorte.
So in a way, this duet could really be scene as a cross-generational bridge between a veteran interested in pushing the boundaries of jazz and electronic music and a relative newcomer who seeks to do exactly the same. Fundamentally then this is not jazz or noise or experimental or modern classical. It is improvisation, two men interacting in an open sound world where each instant is the key to the next. Pretty serious and thoughtful material.
Side one is basically just a stuttering and sputtering kinetic wash. Lytton's percussion opens, bouncing around the room with scraping erraticism. If you're looking for a real drum solo you're not going to find it here. With no clear pulse there is only movement, and plenty of it, as the two mesh their distinctly rhythmic stop-start approach. Hardly a shock to see this coming out on a label closely associated with Graveyards, and definitely not unlike the Jeff Arnal and Dietrich Eichmann album Brokenresearch put out either, this is thoughtful 21st century improvisation that takes into account so many sources its hard to decipher them. Clearly there is jazz, especially of the European and American improvised variety, but Karlheinz Stockhausen is in there, as are the noisier approaches of groups like Melee, though it's tough to get away with that one because so much of that style of experimental improvisation is coming from either Nate Wooley, Ben Hall, Hans Buetow or John Olson. Still though, they are shaping that world to some degree, and this is surely not unaware of that.
Side two really opens the album up. Here the electronic methods of both men make themselves extremely clear as full bass notes bounce in and out and the sounds of shuffling playing cards and fingers running across combs make their across the mics. Wooley lets his trumpet loose, really exploring the range of breathy tones he can get. It even gets quite violent at one point, with neither player holding back, before settling back down into the small sounds of whatever they seem to have lying around. It all takes a queue from the Art Ensemble of Chicago's little instruments, only fed through the aesthetics of like-minded percussionist and Lytton affiliate John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Wooley's trumpet practically starts to speak, muttering and guffawing like a lamb under great duress as the smattering of Lytton's drums highlight the chilly movements. It's all very playful, with Wooley sometimes even reciting lines from some long lost Martian New Orleans big band. More often than not Lytton sounds like he's playing tin cans with knives or shaking up the old wine glasses from his parents wedding. Can't really tell what half of the sounds he's making stem from, but you can bet most of them are pretty typical household materials.
It's an extremely physical album, painterly as hell. At its loudest moments, it sounds like they're playing right into your ears, and at its softest you can practically feel the brushes on the drum skins or the air being pushed through Wooley's trumpet. You know that solo video of Han Bennink playing all those wild percussion instruments? This one? Well it's very much in that spirit, only with the Bill Dixon stylings of Nate Wooley on top. Virtuoso stuff without sounding the least bit pretentious.
Another beautiful black on white package from Brokenresearch, limited to 200. The website says it's still in stock, though who really knows. Absolutely worth a check though, this is one of the most beautiful releases in this oeuvre I've heard in a while.
Friday, July 18, 2008
The Hospitals, who are in this case guitarist, keyboardist and vocalizer Adam Stonehouse, guitarist Chris Gunn, guitarist/bassist Rob Enbom. Rod Meyer also plays on "Dream Damage." From what I can tell, a San Francisco-based garage-style band, though that's fairly meaningless to me given that I had neither heard them before nor really desire to hear them playing anything other than this style for the rest of my days. If they can keep this up, they might as well be the next "most important band in the world." Sorry U2.
I'd being hearing a lot of hype about this disc, first on the Hanson/American Tapes Yahoo group where Hospitals themselves announced that this was an important album which of course got me interested but didn't exactly convince me. The more I heard though, the more I liked--it was already being hailed as a "contender for album of the year" and all that, which truthfully doesn't mean a whole lot to me but which, coming from the right people, at least ensures some degree of quality right? Right.
Side one opens with the kind of declarative yelling of, dare I say, that Sique Sique Sputnik album (you know, "I wanna be a star!" stlye...) before the drums and lurching begin, quickly refuting that claim. This is some feedback fueled fuckery, full of fuzzed out amps which sound like their blowing themselves apart. Keyboards and bass make way as the momentum subsides and some form begins to take place, albeit a most demonic and mindless one. This is some seriously junked out material that pulls from all sorts of corners--the sixties garage sound is definitely still there, but there's also the scuzzed out instrumental deconstructions of Sonic Youth. At points the group even manages to sound like a more doped up Harry Pussy, though the crude as dirt production doesn't hurt that affiliation. Really, Jandek's in there, Butthole Surfers, Daniel Johnston, plus all those guys who are into guitars sounding like the metal that they are from. Really none of this describes it at all. I'll try better. How about if the Sonics put out an album on Siltbreeze post Dead C, and Merzbow's playing alongside them? You get the point.
Highlights include the beautiful melodies buried beneath the hastening and slowing moving of a volcanic eruption by hurricane-force winds on "This Walls" along with the total sonic brutalization at its end. "Sour Hawaii" sounds like scrolling through radio stations in the Neberkanezer, with weird high pitches meshing along to the guitar wall behind. "Smeared Thinking" is basically just one monstrous riff played cavernously over and over before stopping on a dime. Or a boulder.
And then wait, wow! Side two is flipped, "Tears" is the song, and what is it? The tail end of the last track. That same fuckin riff. Nice touch. I can't tell if this makes them dumber or smarter than they sound, though for my money it's a killer move. The wild vocalizings that follow only add to the weirdnesses. "Animals Act Natural" sounds like a goth song played by a bar band who only remembered a bass and are forced to play the air conditioner and chairs in the room through their pedals. Just blown out, blown up, blown mind slaying.
The lack of a drummer actually seems pretty essential to their sound, removing any need for steady beats. Not only does this make it awfully easy to have all those geetars sliding together in some kind of manic orgy, but it also allows pretty interesting internal rhythms to develop organically according to the sounds themselves. It makes it that much less grounded and meanderingly uncared for. There is very little that is precious--and nothing that is holy--about this. "Dream Damage," along with a few others, does have drums (or at least items that are hit), but they're so crude that they don't do much to detract from the overall effect, instead making it seem that much more grinding and mechanically menacing. The guitar uproars on that trick in particular are, to say the least, driving. "Scan the Floor for Food" follows, definitely containing some Swell Maps pop song buried beneath. They're on the surface though crawling along as the title suggests. This song especially sounds like what your favorite local garage band sounds like playing three houses down in their basement. Kind of the feel of the whole album really, though it all remains highly present and effecting despite its detached nature. The last song, "Don't Die," could be the next single of the year if it weren't recorded to moss. Some bonus track follows, ending it on a real downer note... is there a saxophone in the mix there even? Probably hearing things again.
When the album ends on the first chord of a new verse a great gap is left in the room. The silence is deafening, to steal a phrase. It's really something, enormous in its tactility. Not to mention that the pseudo-tropical palm tree cover art and clear vinyl only make the mystery that much bigger. A beautiful release whose first 500 copies are gone. I hear there's a reprinting coming though, so snag it before it's gone forever. Well worth the listen.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Ever since I heard that Ruralfaune comp with the Ashtray Navigations single on it, I've been waiting to pick up a full length from Phil Todd and co. So when this double disc came out, I couldn't make anymore excuses and snagged it right quick. Needless to say, no let downs there.
Comprised of two forty minute discs, each consisting of just one track, the whole package is a wild ride. The whole thing starts out with the solo set of Snakestrings, a slow burner on which Todd plays no less than fifteen instruments including guitars, drums, shells, electric sitar, a plethora of synths, radio and something called space echo. Whatever half of the things on this list are, they sure do sound nice together. Starting with the slow klinking of bells over some high frequency drone for about five minutes, Todd eventually comes in with a raga line, slowly expanding the sonic palette over an ever-enlarging mass of droned out bliss. If this sounds cheesy at all (and it well may--people have been using raga for new agey meandering since well before Ravi Shankar) it isn't at all. This is way more dense and weird than anything that that may suggest, and it builds itself in such a beautifully controlled way that you really can't help but bow down before whatever powers Todd is beckoning. I'm almost tempted to say that he's looping all of this stuff live, and if that's the case this is an especially impressive accomplishment. Of course if that isn't the case it hardly refutes Todd's singular grasp on this aesthetic. It's as much psychedelic is it is raga, as much drone as it is aimless mind-fuckery. All of it is performed with such clear mastery over his aesthetic that you can't do much to refute any of it... it's slow and steady, but the movements really drive the work along, never losing momentum.
And on to disc two.
Hollywood Taught You to Kiss is a trio effort featuring Melanie Crowley and Phil Legard. Crowley's on Evolver, a nice little synth, and space echo while Legard's credited with lead guitar, theremin and voice. Todd has his usual mix of equipment, includingwasp synth, air-fx, electric scruti box and audiomuleh. Some of this has to be some homemade equipment right? Either way, Hollywood's an altogether different beast than Snakestrings. Rather than the ambling psychedelia of the former, this is an electronic lurcher, a rela beast of rich bass drones and chugging rhythms, all with enough details flying in and around it to keep you on your toes. Weird gurgling synth lines meander across as the guitar falls into the echoing drum clatter, all of it meshing into one solid beast. If anything comes across especially, it's that this was played loud as hell, and likely in a live setting. Still though, it's tough to pin down any specifics from it. Todd pulls from so many disparate categories--in this case there's definitely an industrial tinge in there--but the basics still seem to stem from psychedelic electronics and drone. The patience exhibited here is again a virtue, and the approach is practically the same as the previous disc: build it up and ride it out. The slight shifts that occur do so patiently, changing the overall structure of the piece in a highly fluid and amorphous way. There are no sudden changes, only additions and subtractions as it grows denser and denser, a kind of bubbling power rock trio who just discovered the marvels of circuit bending. Cosmic.
The album is released on Todd's on label and is packaged in a nice little paper bag shaded foldout that's limited to 99 copies. Probably still available from the usual distributors (volcanic tongue, aquarius, fusetron etc.) I'd give my loop pedal to see this guy live if he ever makes it back to the states. That's a request dude, really.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Monopoly Child Star Searchers - Gitchii Manitou (12 Step Retrance Program for Troubled Dream Warriors (New Age Tapes/Pacific City Studios CD-R)
Here's another Skaters side project I've been digging of late. Monopoly Child Star Searchers is the pseudonym of Spencer Clark, and this set is more in line with what he played that night long ago up in Albany, incense a blazin and hatted head a bobbin. While the man is clearly versatile (Vodka Soap, another project of his, is much more minimalist and blatantly pretty), this might be the sound of his I like best, rhythmic and endlessly chugging, well, tropical style.
Using one of those Casio loop keyboards along with some other homemade mechanically manipulated stereos and paraphernalia, Spencer's sound is shockingly full for a one man band. Using various world music loops along with his voice, he's able to create a kind of jungle music that somehow, despite the vast differences in approach, is closer to the spirit of those African drum circles than so much of the theoretical world music hoopla coming out now. If anything, this music is about overwhelming oneself with so much interlocking rhythm that it becomes, on the one hand, trance inducing and even spiritual, and on the other a completely zoned out soundtrack to your wildest bubbler fantasies.
Finding highlights on an album like this is all but impossible; the aesthetic is too fixed. Which isn't to say that every track sounds like every other one--rather the feel of the album is continuous and quite easy to get lost in. There are actually eight different tracks on here, totaling about an hour of music, but the point doesn't seem to be to notice. Moments in track two stand out for their fullness and the complexity of their structure, and the thudding deep-sea bass on track three is a marker to be sure, but really each track is just as well conceived as the next.
As for the sounds, considering the amount of world music hijacking as of late (partially some Konono No. 1 feedback, me thinks) it's pretty clear that Spencer is way ahead of the pack. Rather than creating electronicized world music with samples, he instead redefines it, creating his own definition of primitive fireside build-ups. It's as if he's using electronics and the ambiguity of improvisation to look back while also pointing towards a kind of future world music--the date on the album is 2027, but I doubt the planet will be hip enough by then for this. For that to be the case, a whole lot has to be eliminated, and a whole lot has to be embraced.
As I said before, rather than looping African rhythms with his own chants and odd tinkly high-end noodlings to create something that sounds like some cheap rip off of the real thing, Clark reconfigures it, making it so dense and loping that it's as if all those high-life percussionists were actually playing with Native American chanters as some Tibetan ritual was performed around them. It's a beautiful sound, and completely his own--really has to be heard to be understood.
The meandering, drugged-to-hell liner notes say that the album was "sponsored by the Ancient Skywatchers of California and Shamans for Levitated Coconuts." It's a joke of course, but the sense of natural wonder is there, and it feels all too real and organic. This is some celestial stuff--dance music for Sun Ra's Egyptians. It just goes to prove that no matter how far we come musically, the basics always work wonders and rhythm and chant can still hold the power that they have since the beginning. With every whisp that accompanies a change in the loops, we're taken deeper into the forest and into our skulls. It might be scary (peyote quesadillas will do that) but at least there's a fire and plenty of drums. And coconuts, of course.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Figure most of you will be off celebrating today--beers, burgers, etc...--but unfortunately I've been abandoned by my family despite my coming up from school, so it's back to the blog for me. That said, this is a nice little item I got as a freebie from George over at Breaking World Records with my Watersports disc. Figured the Watersports was too old to cover at this point, but then again I don't really know how long this puppy's been out either. Oh well, it's getting the treatment.
Rack Rash is the pseudonym of Tim Sheldon, a member of Northampton based weirdo rock group Fat Worm of Error. While that group goes for a kind of deranged pop song though, Rack Rash doesn't come close, though deranged certainly still applies. Instead this is a weird sonic collage of looped lion growls, dance beat segments, and water splashing rhythms. The first track, the longer of the two, has a certain element of break beat techno going on, though this is far from what that may imply in terms of sound sources. Instead, this is an erratic and playfully rich affair in which Sheldon seems to want to turn everything into a rhythmic sound, looping spinning bicycle wheel sounds over weird electronic pulses, bells, seals, anything, all of which bounces around the speakers like a manic clown. A train whistle is layed over a thudding bass before it cuts to the clickity clack of a drum machine. Even the shimmying up and down of a cello string (or something) makes its way on here. It's all highly constructed, and getting each sound must have taken forever.
When gamelan-like tin pan rattling makes its way in, the piece takes on a distinctly Skaters-y vibe, setting off a building of density and some degree of cohesion as the piece settles into its own. For a while all we get is bells and chimes bouncing around the room. It's all very disorienting, but beautifully so. Even more disorienting is the cut into track two, which starts off almost exactly where track one left off. This time through we're treated to more gamelan material before a harp-like melody comes in that could practically be a fragment from Debussy. This environment slowly moves along, wading in as notes get added one by one and scraping percussion builds beneath. When the whole thing cuts to a whip-like dance beat over sustained synth tones, it takes a distinct move towards krautrock ground before the whole gamelan thing comes back over it, melding the two at last. Only to be interrupted by what? A walrus playing over two-step?
Basically, the name of the game here is that the thing just keeps moving, one bizarre carnival ride after another. The fact that Sheldon's able to pull all of this off in less than fourteen minutes is outstanding--it moves so quickly from point to point that eventually you give up on trying to make sense of it, which is exactly where he wants you. Yet these themes keep coming back, giving the impression that Sheldon may actually be doing quite a lot with very little original source material. Sure, his collection of sounds is vast, but it's tough to tell how much of it is him just manipulating ones that he's already used. When the scratching chalkboard noise and gamelan ringing fade out it happens so fast that you're left as dazed as the first few minutes made you. Weird stuff, perfect for the 3" format, and apparently still available. A neat little package too, quite plain on the one side but the bird and temple-headed fellow on one side, and the elephant on the inner part make for an even more intriguing little package. Cool stuff, try it.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
If you're reading this blog (which you are) then you probably know the deal with Thurston Moore. Not only is he the front-man for Sonic Youth, but the guy has done so much to promote so many small labels and burgeoning artists over the years that it's pretty tough to tell just how deeply his influence has permeated the culture. How many artists have gotten a jump start from Thurston because he gave them some tape to release in a limited edition? Or how many bands have been able to hold their own because he let them open for Sonic Youth (i.e. Robedoor) or even one of his many side projects (last review mentioned Northampton Wools for example...)? The guy is everywhere, and frankly he has remained quite righteous in his ways, so huzzah to that. Hell, he'll probably even increase traffic to this blog after all this is done...
At the Albany show, I figured I'd pick this one up straight from the source, as a little colored vinyl never hurt anyone and hey, if worse came to worse it was cheap, so it could at least be a solid investment. To be honest, I don't even think I own a Thurston solo album. I've heard some of the noisier stuff, and that most recent Trees at the Academy disc got a few plays, but I've been way too busy discovering new great bands that I hadn't heard of to drop my precious dollars on something I had. Silly me for thinking this was going to be a Sonic Youth sound-alike rather than further proof that the guy is still as deep in the shit as anyone who hasn't made it out of the basement and sold millions of records over the last twenty years.
Side one opens with "Groupie," which amounts to about a minute of acoustic guitar chordal futzing, like the beginning stage of some much heavier Sonic Youth song. "Pussyman" follows, replete with porn star voices and one repeating squelch of a noise, is even shorter before the tape cuts and we jump into "Hell," which represents some straight up oscillator mayhem--sounds kind of like the opening of one of those motorcycle rallies, everyone revving up, first in the front and then traveling backwards in a wave of grinding. This one's all sputtering nonsense, just blubbering along as various textures are added along the way, each more mechanic and mindless than the last. The whole thing actually builds into a strange sort of sound world where you can't really tell what's actually there from what you WANT to be there. I don't really know what it means when I don't want anything extra to be there, but I hear it anyway. Hmmm... eventually the thing gets bassier, shifting to a physically-effecting level of repetition--maybe Thurston's approaching that frequency I hear they use in the military to make soldiers shit themselves. Stomach curdling stuff. Cuts off right quick too.
Track four, "Shoot It Up," sounds like a real basement stoner jam, with some heavy bass provided by Pavement member Mark Ibold as well as the always steady swaying of drummer John Moloney. Screams and shit for a minute plus and then it's done. Cut to track five, "Snow Sex in Oslo" half the length of the previous track. This time we're in acoustic mode, a little catchier and poppier than the last one, more together it seems. Hell, track six, "Pornstar in the Morning," is halfway to Sonic Youth's next record before that one just stops after thirty-six seconds--Steve Shelley plays drums on one of these tracks, and I'm pretty sure it's this one, which supposedly was supposed to make it into some HSBC commercial... too weird to make the cut I guess. "Los Angeles," the last track on the side, is another blast of full on turmoil via huge swathes of electronic washes, wave after wave, all running together atop warmer, though highly suppressed, runs underneath. Eventually some No Wave style guitar comes in like the sound track to hyper speed ants scuttling along in a mad rush to avoid the surf. A really nice full sound on this one, and long enough to let you get fully immersed.
Side two opens with "Anticipated Action," another acoustic workout--just a snippet of peaceful wankery that, if amplified, could be either a Black Sabbath track or, well, a Sonic youth one. How bout that? The next track is way short, and features some guy talking to Ringo--just a weird ass tape cut up. Strange stuff. Following that is "Media Scum," fifteen seconds of "huh?" before "Nederlanden Meat Joy," the longest track on the record, and certainly the most expansive. This is some psychedlic stuff that opens like the distorted theme to Super Mario Bros. or some Atari game. Real electronic fuckery here, all circuits going nuts and effects pedals doing what they do best: effecting. For all I know the source on this might be a guitar, but somehow I doubt it. The thing has too many different sounds to be coming from one source. The array on here is wild, a real test of how little cohesion you can handle. Well bring it on, man, structure's overrated. On second thought though ,there's definitely some structure here--Thurston has a great sense of movement, and the musical actions here rarely seem to be random ones (even the vocal ghost yalps). There's a strong sense of a kind of stop-start movement here, not unlike some free jazzer (say, Albert Ayler) and their approach to pure motion in a piece. Noisy stuff that really rocks out, but definitely not without its ideas, especially when the wall drops down and you get a glimpse of the beautiful gurgling underbelly behind the cacophony.
The last track, "Sex Addict," is another electronic sputtering session, this time featuring some beautiful feedback and gentle scratches and grating--slower and more spatial than the last one. You can pretty much picture Thurston sitting under those deep emerging bass drones, lurching his way through the sounds. More than anything else, a sense of performance and movement comes through. Some might even call it feeling. I dig. Even though it might be a collection of bits rather than a real album, Built for Lovin' has a strange cohesion. Being able to see the different sides of Thurston's work--whether they be acoustic guitar noodlings, basement rock jammers, or noise sludgefests--displays a strange unity of purpose and approach that has some serious merits. That said, this is some strange lovin to be built for. Let's call it at that. May be long gone (it's limited to 500) but I hear a repress is coming so keep your eyes peeled.