e a r p e a c e : audio reviews
gregg bendian's interzone
black sun ensemble
ernesto diaz-infante & chris forsyth
hall of fame
tetsu inoue + taylor deupree
wayne kramer & the pink fairies
(various artists) beyond cyberpunk
(various artists) fu2 - stupidland
(various artists) i hate the pop group
(various artists) soundhole
(various artists) variious
- derek bailey string theory cd (paratactile)
wow! prettypiercing acoustic & electric feedback controlled striking the guitar tones oscillating in&out ringing departure playingitloud fucktheneighbors&theirdogsears...can't wait to see him at all tomorrow's parties
- gregg bendian's interzone requiem for jack kirby cd (atavistic)
this issue's nels cline fix is administered via this cd. bendian sticks primarily to vibes and compositions, rather than his drum kit, leaving those duties to alex cline (nels' identical twin). the ensemble is rounded out by joel hamilton, credited with "boomtube bassery" in line with the jack kirby motif. kirby is a comic art legend, who's work you have seen, even if you are not a follower of the comics subculture. the cover is adapted from one of kirby's masterpieces, and the entire packaging is an homage thru and thru. the music is instrumental fusion, done very well, with attention to dynamics and sustaining interest. my first encounter with gregg bendian was seeing him playing live in a duo setting with derek bailey in 1994, where he impressed me thoroughly with his work with the improv guitar master.
- black sun ensemble black sun ensemble cd (camera obscura)
australian reissue (sort of) of seminal 1985 recordings by this mystical psychedelic arizona desert band. jesus acedo first came to my attention via an interview around the time of lambent flame, where, on his knees, eyes closed, he played that record for the interviewer, which left me with the impression that this was one seriously spaced-out cosmonaut. this record consists of acoustic and electric guitar instrumentals, played by a trio, with an attention to layers and textural detail evident herein that is not often found in other recordings included in the "psyche" genre. all thus, and yet definitely possessing an unpolished beauty. i feel fortunate to have this one around. i can see why jesus acedo was so passionate about his works.
- buffalo springfield buffalo springfield box set 4cd box set (atco/elektra/rhino)
long-awaited set curated by neil young, which is odd, considering his frequent estrangement from the group during its brief existence. the 1st disk begins with a bunch of solo acoustic demos, most by young & steve stills. sounds more like a peek at neil's pre-springfield sojourns as a folkie. it is nice to hear a stronger stills again, since he has been way off-form since the early 70s. it does seem odd to be listening to the buffalo springfield without the presence of the powerful bruce palmer-dewey martin rhythm section and the interweaving electric guitars.
the second half of the 1st disk presents alternate versions and remixes of stuff off the 1st lp. given the group's oft-expressed dissatisfaction with the stereo mixes of that material, this is welcomed. certainly sounds cleaner & crisper to me. the material is presented chronologically, so it puts it in a different context that the album sequencing. the increasing intensity of performance echoes the success and tensions they experienced, at least artistically.
the 2nd & 3rd disks dig deeper into unreleased artifacts. i don't know if it represents the "lost" stampede album, but what we do get includes working versions of what would eventually become broken arrow, alternative arrangements/versions of the posthumous last time around songs (in simpler arrangements, contrasting with the jim messina productions that were released), and also various unreleased songs, including foreshadowings of neil young's early solo works. several of their near-hits are also present, such as for what it's worth, mr. soul, rock and roll woman & bluebird.
the final disk contains the remastered versions of the mono mix of the 1st lp (buffalo springfield) plus the second lp (buffalo springfield again) in stereo. the packaging includes a booklet containing art, articles, interviews, press clippings and complete historical info. missing is only some live material (allegedly rejected by neil young due to distorted audio) & the long version of "bluebird", still an essential package for any completist.
- ernesto diaz-infante & chris forsyth wires and wooden boxes cd (evolving ear/pax recordings)
(see disclaimer: notes on reviewing)
this came with a press sheet, which i read through when i first received this cd, but that was a few weeks back and right now i just want to deal with the sounds emitted by my speakers as this plays. the first couple of pieces are very abstract, i hear lots of scraping sounds, could be a very oppressed cello, but i know it is piano being articulated thru various techniques. the compositions/improvisations are medium volume, two musicians interacting within parameters previously agreed-upon. as the cd progresses, the instruments become more apparent, and a nice series of somewhat bailey-esque improv pieces with some good use of all parts of the instruments results. i found the focus to be more interesting to me as the cd went along, tempos pick up speed, energy and humor more to the forefront.
- dieb13 restructuring cd (charhizma)
man, this was one tough sucker to get ahold of, due to charhizma's distribution problems. more than worth the wait, and now it is around at better outlets. looked for it ever since i saw it recommended repeatedly, even making several top lists of 2ooo recordings. i think this is abstract experimental and a little scary-sounding in places. unexpected sounds hold the attention well. the technique of using acetates of source materials provided by various contemporaries (including christian fennesz & marina rosenfeld) holds up well to scrutiny. lots of use of run-off grooves for rhythm and surface noise pops. there are references to melodic and rhythmic content which makes this feel substantial. there is a feeling (oh no, is that a good thing?) of mischievious and curious enjoyment and fun about this. not for everyone, surely, but happily at home here in the earpeace archives. more excellent sounds by dieb13 & related artists are available at the jokebux.klingt.org site.
- the dirtbombs ultraglide in black cd (in the red)
mick collins latest project with jim diamond, brother tom potter (credited with "fuzz"). this is a ride thru the detroit raw blues/soul/rocking sounds which are experiencing some popularity, especially in europe. covers include marvin gaye, curtis mayfield, phil lynott & stevie wonder, all done rough and ready, soulful garage-rock style. collins continues his balanced use of space in the sound up against the bracing noise of the electric instruments. the dedication is to his sister is telling: "if it hadn't been for her, i probably wouldn't have heard much of the music that inspired me to pick up a guitar in the first place - including several of the tracks we covered on this lp."
- hall of fame hall of fame cd (siltbreeze)
somewhat minimal, acoustically-oriented free(?)-folk-psych, allegedly tower recordings-related. female voice, with a very atmospheric vibe here, with familar little references...do i hear some departmentstore santas here? some it's a beautiful day there? intriguing, affecting, ethereal, seguing from drone-y sound constructions to softly-sung ballads and back. much attention is paid to dynamics and interplay of the various instruments (lot of different ones are used). i am given the impression of a celtic vibe, for some reason. only 35 minutes long, but a lot happens in that interval.
- tetsu inoue + taylor deupree active / freeze cd (12k)
found this one in the ambient section, i dunno, hmm, i guess both taylor duepree & tetsu inoue have been associated with said category, tho i hear more of an abstract electronic sound here. minimal in some places, overdriven electronics in others. certainly much less human-sounding and more detached than something like dieb13. both of these artists are receiving some support within the .microsound community. these pieces seem to be on the "micro" end of things, meaning less obstrusive, able to lay back into the sound environment. i like the techniques here, it is well executed in what it does, very subtle, requiring some time to appreciate. but the sounds are becoming more familiar...the surprise less. it is like, "i recognize this sound". this is good abstract electronic music. but is that good enough now? isn't there a call for fresher approaches? it could be that i just like things louder and less passive. now i know why it was in the ambient section.
- wayne kramer & the pink fairies cocaine blues cd (total energy)
total energy strikes again with this set of 1970's kramer nuggets. featuring a live set with larry wallis which includes an autobiographical song running down how his arrest & conviction for cocaine dealing went down. a very energetic and invigorating performance, with the requisite mc5 numbers and a very nice take on seger's "heavy music". also includes tracks from a couple of singles recorded here & there earlier in the decade, of varying sound quality, but certainly of great interest to fans of the brother.
- thelonious monk ken burns jazz cd (columbia/legacy)
i am in no way going to try to pass myself off as any kind of authority on monk. but, for $8 at borders outlet, this compilation makes a good enough run at being a definitive single cd set for the money. if you don't know who monk is, please do yourself a favor and go track down and rent a copy of the documentary film straight no chaser. this set includes pieces dating from 1948 to 1971. from his beginnings as a determined "outsider" in the jazz community to his eventual enshrinement as one of the true original icons, monk stands astride american music history as a unique and powerful confluence of forces. difficult, memorable and above all...true.
- pere ubu the shape of things cd (hearthan)
one of my favorite things to do is to buy a cd (or record) directly from the artist, putting the money directly into his (or her) hand. with david thomas, this ritual also includes a handshake. i bought this one at the ubu show in detroit last october, apparently it is available only directly from david or ubu projex. recorded on cassette in 1976, this features an early lineup with peter laughner still in the group, tho unfortunately alan ravenstine is not. some classic material, with enlightening covers, including "pushing too hard", "i wanna be your dog & "heroin". the sound is thin, and i found the audience comments to be distracting, tho that is part of the "warts and all" approach. a critically important document of this stage of the band, tho i would recommend tracking down a copy of 390 degrees of simulated stereo before getting this one.
- rev.99 turn a deaf ear cd (pax recordings)
ernesto diaz-infante & chris forsyth (see review) combine with another duo (akio mokuno & ross bonadonna)and a lead vox (99 hooker) to form a strange improvised-sounding noisy ensemble with various declarations (there is one attempt to sing a bit of seger's "old time rock & roll"). i hear instruments being teased, banged around, colliding, to surprisingly spare effect, considering that there are 5 people involved. rhythm is subsumed beneath the instrumental and voice textures. the words sound like stream-of-consciousness, declarations, rants, and are scattered in a way that reflects the other sound sources. this one eludes my grasp in many ways, to this point, requiring perhaps more attention than i will be giving it. it is interesting, and obviously the result of some serious work. i would say it is of limited interest, tho.
- surface noise copy cat suicide cdr (surface noise sonic franchise)
aggressively modern, traumatizing sounds from this piercing michigan contingency. all manner of acoustic, electric and electronic sound sources are caught in this net, and each swims on, with vigorously wiggling flippers. vocal declamations over-the-top, observing in a way less aptly described as "stream-of-consciousness" than as "scream-of-consciences". a very intensely focused and determined progression of sounds & ideas, like henry cow gone mad. a difficult listen, but rewarding if you're up to it.
- rafael toral violence of discovery and calm of acceptance cd (touch)
7 years in the making, this exquisitely-packaged cd brings together a series of "miniatures", relatively short in length pieces, consisting of sounds "released" by guitars. the care is evident, and this work is a culmination of previous investigations of sounds on sound mind sound body, wave field and aeriola frequency. a stunning release of ambient-like tones & drones. for more info, check out www.rafaeltoral.net.
- wolf eyes fortune dove 12" (bulb)
- wolf eyes wolf eyes cd (bulb/hanson)
soupy diy electronics art-garage style, brewed from uncomplicated drum boxes, analog synths, guitar & distorted vox by this michigan duo (now a trio). the members seem to be actively involved in a variety of projects in the area, including running their own record labels and other genre bands. the 12" has 3 wolf eyes songs on one side and what was supposed to be a "dance remix" by andrew wk on the other. except awk went ahead and wrote & performed his own tribute composition, "wolf eyes rule (what kinda band)" which rocks mercilessly. the eponymous cd compiles older recordings, including the split vinyl with nautical almanac. mind-altering stuff, with nicely restrained guitar parts incorporated into the mix. there are plenty of subtly tribal primitiv-tek rhythmic components and oozing interjections of unidentified sound-gobs. why am i thinking of the early cramps? is it the generous applications of reverb? or is it the co-opting of common tools and relentlessly making them their own? in that, i recognize a spirit akin to voice-crack. a helluva lot going on here. i am looking forward to the new stuff, cuz these guys have plenty of room to grow, and they don't really sound like anyone else.
note: no more than i finish this review and i get home & on my porch is a package from hanson records, including newer stuff by wolf eyes...guess it is time to get started on reviews of these for earpeace 8...
- (various artists) wayne kramer presents beyond cyberpunk cd (musicblitz)
right off the top, let me say, screw musicblitz.com for failing to follow through on the promise of "additional" mp3s available for download with the purchase of this cd, as prominently promoted on this cd. so you have the official earpeace okeydokey to burn a copy and may musicblitz go belly-up faster than the xfl. now that i have that off my chest, on to the review.
some well-known names here, mudhoney, dee dee ramone, chris spedding, stan ridgeway, richard hell & the voidoids, david was, ron asheton, and pere ubu join wayne kramer and 6 other lesser-known younger bands in recreating the energy and drive that the mc5 embodied. the ubu track is a stand-out, while the richard hell track was a letdown.
- (various artists) fu2 - stupidland cdr (surface noise sonic franchise)
a collection of pieces by an assortment of copyright-challenging cut-up artists, a la negativland or the tape-beatles, alternating with songs making similar points. seems to revolve around taylor, michigan's 235, and permutations of the surface noise gang. you can view and download the entire thing here. recurring motifs of u2 and the church of the sub-genius predominate. juicy pillows, that chemical plant & cum dumpster's cuts are surprising by virtue of being actual songs, after so much cut-up work. surface noise's take on "helter skelter" is a standout. if you have encountered any of their influences, you would have an idea what to expect, there is a lot of arch-sarcasm, media-skewering and general pokes in the eyes of corporate icons. by way of giving a nod to their antecedents, the cdr also includes the controversial negativland u2 single.
- (various artists) i hate the pop group lp (vertical scum)
another record that i went on a mission to track down and bring home. a (quite possibly unauthorized) compilation of fairly obscure brit art-punkers, late-70s era. think of the swell maps earliest stuff, and imagine digging deeper into the ruins to find this artifact. my synapses (no comment) make the crossed-wire connection with the acid dreams comps, due to the bootleg trappings, including surface noise transfers, and more importantly, the absolute wealth of interesting finds unearthed for future generations. this one is getting harder & harder to find, but if you see it, i seriously recommend grabbing it...it may be lurking in your local "in-the-know" record store, just waiting to be dusted off.
- (various artists) soundhole local band sampler volume one cdr (soundhole)
i gotta give it up to the soundhole mob for putting this out, and for charging all of $1.99 for it. the only name i have heard elsewhere on here is the notorious and infamous pcp roadblock, who apparently are making an art of making live performances where venues are trashed, then subsequently getting banned for life. given the metal trappings of the store, i expected more in that genre, but the selections on this comp are more well-rounded and reflective of the local scene in richmond, virginia. lovely town, by the way, if you can get by the feeling of being surrounded by cia types in the woods and the tobacco smoke everywhere else.
- (various artists) variious 2cd (intransitive)
this is a compilation i am very pleased to own. with kevin drumm, voice-crack, *0, taylor deupree, richard chartier, john hudak, pimmon and others too numerous to list, the world of experimental electro-acoustic electronic music is available for perusal in a challenging way. this is one to learn from, in that the possibilities of a diverse series of approaches is explored. a superior collection, deserving of my highest recommendation.
b . w i l d e r e d
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