Sunday, March 26, 2006


Brooklyn trio PEEESSEYE (pronounced P-S-I) is enticingly confounding. Their CD from last year, Artificially Retarded Soul Care Operators (released under the name PSI), is pretty schizophrenic - some parts are ultra-sensitive minimalism, others are blasting chaos, but there are also warm electronic drones, confrontational live recordings, two completely different tracks with the same name, and an unclassifiable 15-minute opus in the middle brilliantly titled "We Broke the Sun." I dug it for its sheer sonic invention and diversity, but also because I could never get a handle on it. Going back to it now, I'm surprised by how few details I remembered, in that same way that the most unpredictable records leave tons of general impressions but few specific ones.

The new PeeEssEye, oo-ee-oo (burnt offering), is even tougher to peg. Instead of mutiple-personality tracks, here we get one continous 31-minute piece, the majority of which is centered around, of all things, acoustic guitar (or as their label puts it, "unamplified guitar"). It starts super-quiet and distant, with a Jandek-like open chord strummed incessantly and soon accompanied by a puzzling vocal melange that's equal parts lonely croon, cookie monster growl, and psychotic scream. The mantra-like guitar then melts into my favorite section (excerpted below) - an escalating duet with a whirring harmonium of a slightly Animal Collective-ish hue that's later fused with tons of general rattling, sawing, and scraping . From there, all sorts of crazy invention occurs - patches of silence, random metallic debris, ear-slicing bursts of whine, weird unidentifiable room noise - until a second harmonium passage emerges, in a sun-staring mode that recalls the backwoods drones of Pelt, if they were recorded in a car repair shop.

Obviously a linear description of this rec is not super difficult, but as with its predecessor, there's something going on that I just can't slot easily into the folds of my gray matter. Maybe it's the bracing acoustic guitar, maybe it's that the album should only be listened to continously in one half-hour sitting, maybe it's just that it was recorded in New Jersey - whatever, the only thing certain about oo-ee-oo (burnt offering) is that I'm gonna need a lot more time with it. See you in 100 listens...

PEEESSEYE - (excerpt) from oo-ee-oo (burnt offering)

Friday, March 17, 2006


Another month, another three old noise recs...

FAXED HEAD - Uncomfortable but Free CD
(Amarillo, 1995)
Hindsight is a killer - I remember digging Faxed Head, but I had no idea until today how much the Load Records roster owes (maybe unconsciously) to this Coalinga family's slobbering stew. The "desk-metal" project of Gregg Turkington and some of his Amarillo friends (all with the last name "Head," including part-time drummer Washington D.C. Head) seemed less important at the time than the related Three Doctors and Zip Code Rapists, but had I known how non-dated Faxed Head's brain-damage would sound years later, I would've paid more attention. Their drooling combo of busted metal riffs, goofy vox, Boredoms-style shriek-out, and harsh blast certainly echoes in the laff-noise of Load-ites like Friends Forever, White Mice, and Vincebus Eruptum - even Load's new (and greatly-titled) Fat Worm of Error CD sounds kinda like Faxed Head minus the metallics. Uncomfortable but Free has much enjoyable doofus-metal (I love how the Danzig-like "Violence Gone" seems to be sung by a gagged hostage), but also some surprisingly inventive sludge-scapes, with furry production, sharp-turns, and farting mayhem all blown in pretty unique chunks. There's actual adept metal buried beneath the vomit, which, despite the Load Klan having picked up that lopsided ball and fumbled it forward, makes Faxed Head way more singular than I ever imagined.

DESCENSION - Live March 1995 CD
(Shock, 1995)
I'm not sure what Stefan Jaworzyn is up to now (except that he recently wrote a book about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) but in the 90's he was a kind of noise/improv anti-hero, and despite a rep as a curmudgeon, was always super cool to me, even letting me release some of his music (which, apparently, is still available). His gtr-drum duo Ascension with Tony Irving was a free-noise rocket in a collapsing Rudolph Grey/Ray Russell/Sonny Sharrock vein, generating blankly-titled and barely-designed records that still hold up mightily, especially Five Titles. Descension added Brit free improv stalwarts Simon H. Fell (double bass) and Charles Wharf (sax/clarinet) to the core duo, seemingly offering a jazzed version of Ascension's wall-of-grit, but really, they mostly sounded like Ascension doubled into a blur. The quartet played one particularly notorious 1995 gig opening for Sonic Youth whose bloody details Stefan recounts here; Live March 1995 isn't from that, but rather a 48-minute gig in Walthamstow and a 2-part, 30-minute show in Leeds. There's tons of non-stop aural pressure here, but I still prefer Ascension; Irving and Jaworzyn's super-human communication made their sound miles-thick yet permeable and even airy, whereas Descension's noise-wall is devoid of even the slightest crack. Still mind-blowing though, and the Leeds gig is an Irving masterpiece. His gunpowdered barrage pierces every surrounding sound, almost like Chris Corsano if he owned Neil Peart's kit.

OMIT - Quad 3CD
(No label cassettes, 1993; Corpus Hermeticum (CD reissue), 1997)
A little bit of a cheat to "revisit" this monster, as it should still be ringing in the head of anyone who truly heard it at the time. Still, I haven't actually checked in with this in a few years, and once again the real thing way outdoes my head-ghosts. Originally birthed as 2 C-90 sets, Bruce Russell somehow mathed this into a Corpus Hermeticum triple CD, but it's hard to imagine how any physical object(s) can contain so many sounds and ideas. Windy drones, rattling noise, audio-verite atomspheres, psych-rock sound-scapes: really, what's not on here? Actually there's not much straight-up noise per se, but otherwise, everything interesting about the last 15 years of improv/noise/abstraction/whatever shows up. Yet everything is glued by the oddly chilly touch of Omit (a/k/a New Zealand recluse Clinton Williams), which I suppose makes Quad slightly serious/arch - there's definitely no fucking around here - but with noise this paralyzing, what difference does it make if you're smiling or straight-faced as long as your muscles are frozen? I was obsessed with this for a few months when it came out, but renavigating its mind-washing river, I realize I should've never filed it next to anything except my brain. I pathetically have yet to hear the, uh, "comeback" record, and D.Keenan claims it might be better than Quad, but even if that's true, I think I'll keep my illusions in tact for a little while longer.

FAXED HEAD - "Time to Retire" from Uncomfortable but Free
OMIT - "Resectioned from Despair" from Quad

Sunday, March 12, 2006


One of the many amazing artists I sadly lack full knowledge of is Miami-based speaker-destroyer Dino Felipe. I dig his band Old Bombs with Carlos Giffoni, and I really really dig his duo Felipe & Forte (with Nick Forte of Christmas Decorations), who put out a mindblowing full-length of mail-exchanged concoctions last year called Shaggy Black on Soft Abuse. But I need to catch up on Felipe's solo stuff (including a new online-only thing) on Schematic, so I guess I'll be depositing e-coins into sometime soon.

Until then my skull is buried in the quicksand of St. John, a new Felipe CD-R on Chicago label XDiedEnRouteY. There's a good N. Sylvester review of Shaggy Black that's a tad hep/cutesy for my tastes, but its overall point - that Felipe's work hems to no patterns and provides no graspable context - is right on, and applies equally to St. John. I've listened to this about 15 times in the past week and I still can never remember what just happened or predict what's about to. Shrieking noises divebomb over viola drones, test-tone whines pierce through percussive screams, video game samples get dipped in liquid nitrogen and shattered against sharp rocks of feedback. Everything happens fast and little gets repeated, yet a thick consistency coats each millisecond, as if Felipe's bloody hands are painting everything bright red.

Still, best thing about St. John is its weird mix of moods. A lot of it is actually kinda hilarious, with absurdist turns and cartoonish swings that feel like a laptop-era update on Raymond Scott's goofball innovations. Yet all this nervous aural activity has an eerie drama, in the same way that John Cage and David Tudor's Indeterminacy can inspire chills and laughs simultaneously. Ultimately St. John is a hyper-barrage of sound that rewards both focused attention and passive acceptance, and an early candidate for 2006's Top Whatever.

Watch out for more Felipe action to come, including the awesomely-titled Album Title Ideas on Rolax, and a contribution (alongside Giffoni, Ariel Pink, Keith Fullerton Whitman, etc) to a subscription 12" series on Melted Mailbox that looks beyond awesome.

DINO FELIPE - "003" from St. John

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Caught the Wolf Eyes / Pig Destroyer / Whitehouse tour last Weds at DC9 courtesy of the ever-mighty Clavius. The whole night was great, though I missed about 95% of Pig Destoyer due to getting schooled outside by Connelly and Olson (if a new society arose in which musical knowledge was political currency, Olson would be its only possible king). Best suprise was the unannounced opening set by Secret Diary, the duo of Jessica Rylan and Donna Parker. Been wanting to see Rylan for a while, and the duo's quick injection of voice stretching and sound dissecting went straight to my veins.

Talked to Rylan afterwards (who told me Secret Diary had been drafted into Pig Destroyer for the next night's show, despite never having heard each other until the D.C. gig) and bought two 20-minute cassettes from her, Long Slow Changes on Far Gone, and Wiped Away on Durable Stimuli. Both are great, and pretty different. The former has two ambient side-long pieces: one offers eerie waves of oscillating tone that curve hypnotically, somehow reminding me of the undulating sections in Jim O'Rourke's underrated I'm Happy, and I'm Singing, and a 1, 2, 3, 4, while the other is a robotic loop that retreats and jumps forward in unpredicatble spurts created by Rylan's volume and tone manipulations. I like how Rylan isolates and varies the loop rather than burying it under other noises or blurring it into oblivion.

The newer Wiped Away holds five pieces of more aggressive but still subtle noise. Lots of tactile, granulated sound on this one, with small, pebbly noises piled up into masses. Unlike on Long Slow Changes, Rylan's voice is a noise-source here, and it's always amazing. On one cut there's a cycle of squawking chirps and distended screams that sound like Yamatanka Eye if his vocal chords were stretched on a rack into infinity.

Best thing about Rylan's work is the way her noises become mini-themes, revisited and revised in patterns that require multiple listens. Maybe it's cause I've watched it a bunch lately, but I feel like the vibe of my favorite Kenneth Anger film, Invocation of My Demon Brother, is caught in the track linked below. There's an obvious resemblance to the engine-rev noise of Mick Jagger's amazing moog soundtrack, but there's a deeper connection: Anger's film uses a dense series of visual patterns to build a trance ritual, and whether or not Rylan intended it, the effect of her brain-freezing music is definitely the same.

JESSICA RYLAN - track one from Wiped Away
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