Sunday, April 30, 2006


I'm completely brain-broke this week, so no retro entry this month, and gonna have to even bail on writing about a new rec (lots to cover tho, so May should be full)...instead, a quick report from last night's D.C. benefit for Tarantula Hill at 611 Florida Ave. As you probably know, the amazing folks named Nautical Almanac suffered a devastating fire to their home/studio/venue Tarantula Hill last month while they were away performing at and attending No Fun Fest. Tons of benefit shows have been happening around the country, and last night a bunch of the best and dimmest D.C. noise pirates were collected by curator Chris G. and show-maker supreme Scott V. to make stupid beneficial racket. Also, Sean P. packaged a fine comp CD-R for the occasion which I'm assuming you can still get from his Sockets site. It was a pretty unbelievably insane night overall - D.C. noise is monumentally diverse and dripping with skilled sound-generating artisans right now and this show was undeniable proof. I'm constantly amazed by the amount of people putting so much time and effort into doing such a wide array of genre-defying, mind-expanding noise around here - I dare any other city right now to match us, seriously...anyway, rather than exhaust my few remaining brain cells trying to describe the immensity of each act, here's a chopped up video featuring about a minute of each performance, in chronological order...back to bed...

(Here's an alternate link for the vid if you're seeing this thru RSS...)

Friday, April 21, 2006


Not sure that anyone reading this needs a Chris Corsano intro, but just in case: he's a master percusser (formerly of Western Mass, now of Manchester, UK) best known as the lower half of the two-headed fire monster Flaherty/Corsano, but he's also played with tons of kings from all sides of the avant polygon (T. Moore, C. S. Yeh, E. Parker, G. Kelley, Jandek, et. fucking. al.). To call him the best/most interesting/insanest/etc drummer in the world is actually underselling him, as he's way more than a drummer - more like a big bulging collection of brain cells and nerve endings charged with endless sonic electrons, and while he's got a pretty long pedigree to prove it, all the evidence anyone could need is on his first-ever solo disc, The Young Cricketer (on his own Hot Cars Warp label).

When I ordered this from Fusetron last week, I was ready to be let down: after years of witnessing our hero deliver heart-attacking invention in various groups, I figured nothing could match my expectations of what he might do by himself...and what a shock, I was wrong. (I made the same mistake with the Corsano-Tim Barnes (aka Me'n'You Duo) disc, which ended up being worthy of way more drool than I had produced in anticipation). All 16 tracks here are stunners on their own, but taken together they're really too much to comprehend. I thought Mr. C. might dodge "drum solo" cliches by going totally abstract, or exceed them by slamming out untouchable trap-destroying improvs, but somehow he does both - often within single tracks, sometimes even in single sounds.

Weaved through his rattling poly-limbed jams are sheets of sheer noise (made mostly with horn mouthpieces attached to tubes and funnels, but also with pot lids, lamp bases, butter knives, and a "violin-string-snare-drum contraption"), waves of gravelly drone, nests of squawking air, and all other types of earth-defying sound. At one point on "How should you throw it on other occasions?" (each track is named with a question about the sport of cricket), Corsano even duos with himself, hurling spittle through a piece of horn while simultaneously pounding out a blurry beat. But that's just the tip of this massive iceberg, which drips with so many ideas and so much head-grabbing sound I almost wonder if Chris should retire now - this would easily qualify as the life-highlight of most sound-generating mortals.

Luckily there's no way Corsano's gonna stop - he currently has like 1000 shows lined up- and I'd happily bet that his next disc (a keyboard/vocals thing currently only available at shows) will be even better, but I don't even wanna think about that right now. I just wanna lose more brain cells to this unbelievable disc, which in a better world would be touted by so many (still may be, give it time) that'd I'd be embarrased to add my fanboy gush to the hype. MP3's exist in various places - four are on Corsano's aforelinked page, plus a section from the best (definitely the noisiest) track, "Are You Going To Keep Alive the Spirit of Cricket?," is playable at mimaroglumu), but I haven't seen the track I mentioned above anywhere, so enjoy:

CHRIS CORSANO - "How Should You Throw It On Other Occasions?" from The Young Cricketer.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Been hearing rumbles about Bryan Ramirez's new-ish trio Poor School, so I ordered two CD-R's from Killer Tree and was generously sent a third for free just cause the order was delayed by, like, five minutes. Ramirez used to slay strings (aside the drumming of current Wolf Eye John Olson) in Universal Indians, previously discussed here...he's since played with Ex-Cocaine who I still need to hear, but probably not for a while, cause Poor School might take up a lot of my forseeable time. All three discs are excellent in a way I have yet to fully absorb - Ramirez, drummer John Niekras, and saxist Nathan Hoyme obstensibly play full-tilt improv welded to tribal heavy rock, but there's so much more happening inside the thick folds of their hurtling jams that ripping them open and idenitfying the guts inside is like trying dissect pudding - eventually you just have to give up and eat it.

To me, Poor School's closest referent is the almighty Hat City Intuitive - both bands are super-deft at form and chaos, use horns that actually sing as well as skronk, and are magenetically attracted to unexpected corners - but otherwise Poor School's foggy sound is pretty peerless. 3 offers two 20-minute-ish tracks of loose, sparse improv pocked with bursts of gravitational rock. My bonus CD-R, Live at the Elk's Lodge 6/6/2005 (sorry, just realized this is called Hickory Disc), nicely adorned with wood grain on both the cover and the CD, is 24 minutes of guitar/drum expansion (Hoyme wasn't in the band yet), with Ramirez's string ramblings generating pastoral fuzz, rubbery warble, and chunky chord strangulation, while Niekras' unruly precision suggests punk without the stiff trappings. The result is Coltrane/Ali-worthy duo sky-seeking, languid Neil Young ca. Dead Man twang, and some semi-straight riff-a-thons that threaten to become "songs" (for some reason I expected to hear Hendrix start singing at certain points) before collapsing into burbling puddles of noise.

The range of all the above is super wide, but practically monochromatic compared to The Holy Master, three tracks full of improv jams that bend the eye, sun-staring reflection that stiffen the spine, and dense fogs that numb the brain. The peak is track 2 (linked below - caution, large file), which opens with mournful horns and wave-cresting cymbal, rubs fiery sticks into Morricone-esque smoke, and then hits an insane apex: at 11 minutes in, the massive din dissolves into a hypnotic rock-climbing riff that sounds uncannily like the Sun City Girls ca. Let's Just Lounge. Somehow not done yet, the trio shifts into a heavy-riff, nearly-Sabbath mode that grinds the track into dust. This cut broke my brain the first time I heard it and 20 listens later it's still grating my cortex into cheese. Apparently The Holy Master will get "proper" release via Ecstatic Peace sometime in the not-past, but don't wait til then to e-shower Mr. Ramirez with some well-spent cash.

Also, check out an amusingly mistake-filled ("a record called Universal Indians"? Black Dice is "a hardcore eastern rock group"?) Poor School bio here.

POOR SCHOOL - (second track) from The Holy Master

Sunday, April 09, 2006


No time to breathe lately, but this blog has "week" in the title for a this'll be quick, and unfittingly so, as the clock-expanding work of Italian duo My Cat Is An Alien deserves reams of attentive time. These guys had been on my to-do list for way too long (esp. the stuff on Starlight Furniture and Ecstatic Peace that I inexplicably slept on); luckily I finally got to dig in via a gift of what must be their most epic work, the 3-CD Cosmological Eye Trilogy on a label familiar with epic releases, Last Visible Dog. 7 tracks spread across the 3.5 hours, and I can't think of many bands for whom such extreme durations are more necessary (there are some for whom such durations are as necessary, but few moreso)...MCIAA tracks are so beyond-time that the fact that "Into the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy" lasts 55 minutes seems fully logical yet oddly impossible - there's no way a human hour could last this short or long. In fact the entire set evokes the time-fucked aspects of space travel explored in 2001; when Bowman sees himself as an old man and then turns into a baby, time explodes in all directions, and the same goes with this duo's extraplanetry, perception-defying music.

Of course MCIAA's stuff is drenched in space references (which they explain nicely here), but they don't really play space rock - more like space noise, or heavy atmopshere - i.e. they're not making music so much as they're building environments. Each track is filled with windy drones, percussive mysteries, distant oscillations, and unidentified events, and sounds less like a collection of sounds than a document of a place, some outer region made of natural reverberations, intelligent transmissions, and unknown phenomena. The "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" moment comes on disc two's 40-minute "Into the Sombrero Galaxy," whose metallic whine is so overwhelming you can practically see Bowman's color-reflecting helmet shaking in the speakers. I wish I could further describe this set's massive weight, but I'm too bleary - just check out the track below (and some killer live footage via E.P.) and if you still need more explanation, I'm not sure I'll ever be sharp enough to oblige.

I've also been blessed with a digital version of vol. 7 of MCIAA's From the Earth to the Spheres collab series (each of which feature an MCIAA side and a guest side, the guests this time being Christian Marclay and Okkyung Lee, who provide an exhiliarating 20-minute jolt of ripped vinyl and torn strings). The LP is super limited, but apparently a CD version is coming out soon via Opax. The MCIAA side begins quietly, with two notes plucked out through a muffled haze, but eventually radio fog, screeching fuzz, and blurted feedback all emerge, culminating in a hypnotic locked groove of high-pitched skippage. An even newer CD on the mighty Important is imminent, and there's still tons of back catalogue to seek out - give them a few more years and MCIAA could easily be, like, I dunno, the Dead C. of this whatever-ish era...

MY CAT IS AN ALIEN - "The Helix Nebula" from The Cosmological Eye Trilogy

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Got a nice compilation this week from Senor G. Chen via his Zum imprint. Zum Audio Vol. 3 comes 8 years after the rock-centric Vol. 2 , and the shift to noise works mightily. I dig comps but most elude me analysis-wise due to general lack of coherence (exceptions are usually label-specific like Fflint Central's great Malpractice, or heavily thematic like the Last Visible Dog 6CD set Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box). Not that that's bad, just makes comps kinda thought-resistant. Like, I love Deerhoof, and they're not totally out of place here, but hearing them next to Can't is a bit too schizoid for me to wrap words around. My problem and not the comp's of course, as Zum3 is clearly a fine document of left-field sound wider than any human-made paragraph could properly encaspule. I'm just not equipped to tackle it on anything other than grocery-list level. Which would include the grinding wrath of Can't, the multi-tiered drilling of John Wiese, the thick static drone of Axolotl, the Excepter-like canned-beat drool of Fat Worm of Error side project Bromp Treb, and an epic mountain-climb from the stellar D Yellow Swans (the "D" variously standing for Dove, Demos, Dreamed, etc.)

That last track (mp3 below) got me revisiting my paltry collection of D Yellow Swans stuff, which is uniformly great. I dig how this duo does all-out noise, meditative drone, industrial bombast, and even IDM-ish beat all equally well, yet never's never "look what we can do," but "look where we ended up." Their 20-minute collab with The Cherry Point is pure brain-bombing dissonance, while their half of a split CD-R with The Skaters surfs a wave from crackling distortion to dense dreams to engine-hum buzz. Bring the Neon War Home inserts pulsing drum-machine beats beneath the gristle, visiting waters previously charted by Wolf Eyes and even Big Black, but with dramatic timing that eliminates peer. It's closest to the demolishing show I saw them play a few years ago in Baltimore, one of my fave memories from the now fire-ridden Tarantula Hill (please help that situation if you can).

The best D Yellow Swans rec I own is Dreamed Yellow Swans on Troniks/PacRec. Layers of rubbled noise, buried vocal barbs, clicking drum machinistics, and unidentified soundscapes are all grown patiently like closeted pot, peaking in the Mouthus-like (due to what sounds like electronic drums) blast of the 20-minute, perfectly-titled "Drowning in Paradise." Weird that D Yellow Swans don't get more non-knowing press for their diverse racket, but at their prolific rate, I can still see Spin including them in a piece on underground reggae eventually.

D. YELLOW SWANS - "Untitled" from Zum Audio Vol. 3
D. YELLOW SWANS - (untitled) from Dreamed Yellow Swans
Site Meter