Friday, December 29, 2017

L. Eugene Methe/Megan Siebe-Revisited, Revisited, Revisited; eh? Records #97, cassette

Christmas arrived a few days late at chez Amnesiac, thanks to another great package of goodies from eh? Records. Bryan Day generously sent along three new cassettes for review and enjoyment. All signs point to maximum doses of both, if Revisited, Revisited, Revisited by L. Eugene Methe and Megan Siebe is any indicator.
Conceived and executed as "a deconstruction of Geoffrey Burgon's main theme for the 1981 TV mini-series Brideshead Revisited", Revisited takes shape in the form of a lovely ascending melodic line played on cello by Siebe, which is then supported and stretched by her violin and various electronic sounds and treatments from Methe.
What Disaster Amnesiac finds so lovely and compelling about this tape's sounds are the ways in which they float with such delicacy. As I've listened, it's felt to me at times as if I've been ensconced in some sort of timeless, beautiful chamber, surrounded and tickled by sublime, glassy sonic baubles.
The main melodic line repeats many times, bringing the perceptions back to its initial Chamber Music feel, and is then tweaked and torqued with subtle electronic treatments, with the violins singing along harmoniously. There's never a feel of exhaustion from these iterations throughout the four cycles that make up this piece though, only clearly stated Romanticism that resonates extremely well with the shorter days and longer evenings currently in effect within this hemisphere. A few days back, Disaster Amnesiac watched footage of surfers chasing freezing waves in the Icelandic winter; the sounds on Revisited, Revisited, Revisited have me thinking back to its shots for some reason.  Perhaps it's the way in which this piece moves with such stately, oceanic pacing. Anyway, I figure that this tape's vibes are exceedingly worthy of those types of soundtracks. Surely, though, Revisited's sounds would enhance the moods of any given mood or movie.
Packaged with a mysteriously delicious cover photo, clearly legible font on the J-card, and cool additional artwork on the cassette itself, to match and enhance its incredible sound world, Revisited, Revisited, Revisited is one not to miss. Yet another bullseye at the target of creative, individualistic musical production within the current scene from eh? Records!
Keep your tape heads clean and stay tuned for words on two more releases soon.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Steppenwolf-Hour Of the Wolf; Epic Records, 1975

It's been an age since Disaster Amnesiac reviewed anything from Steppenwolf, but that most definitely does not mean that I've stopped listening to them. Last week, while pontificating wildly to alto saxophone shredder Tom Weeks about Slow Flux reminded me that I still had not really gotten around to listening to my copy of Hour Of the Wolf, acquired as a two-fer CD with the Flux. Naturally, it's been dug up and heard.
Hour Of the Wolf starts off on a peppy, horn-punctuated note with Caroline (Are You Ready for the Outlaw World), right away distinguishing it from its predecessor. As far as Rock songs with horns go, it's not bad, either, especially when John Kay sings; there's really no amount of affect that can dispel the man's great tenor croon. Also great about the tune are the portions during which the band gets down to their signature Jerry Edmonton-led jamming stomp. Simple rhythm guitar strumming sets up cool keyboard colors from Andy Chapin, which begs the question, "where is Goldy McJohn?" Caroline is a fine slice of mid 1970's Pop inflected Rock. Were the 'wolf under a bit of pressure to deliver another hit? Disaster Amnesiac likes to think that I'd have bought the single.
Up next, Annie, Annie Over, such a great title for song, continues with the somewhat smoother keyboard driven sounds, telling the tale of second time around love. As with Caroline, this listener finds the most satisfaction when Steppenwolf get down to their more jam driven zones, this time as the song tags and fades. Female vocals are utilized, but, thankfully, they're kept harmonically close to Kay's, which strikes me as an aesthetically smart move. They enhance, but don't detract. You've got to hand it to Steppenwolf, they knew well what would not work in the mix.
Heavier Rock relief arrives with Two for the Love of One, a hooky tale of fightin' and boozin', bringing a great slowed down, slicked up biker Rock with a supremely catchy chorus and some of Steppenwolf's best mid-tune workouts. As Disaster Amnesiac has grooved to this song, I've imagined it being a fine vehicle for live call and response interactivity. Here's to hoping that audiences heard it as such! Two for the Love of One hits hard and effectively.
Road woe and its attendant debauchery are touched upon on Just For Tonight. The acoustic strumming brings me back to Smoky Factory Blues from Slow Flux, although instead of lyrics dedicated to a domestic lover, Kay seems to be singing the any and all ladies of the tour cycle. Being a generous dude, he gives them their own voice, in duet with either an actual female or one of the band singing soprano. As with previous tunes, Disaster Amnesiac can't help but wonder if this one had been written and included herein as a potential hit. These types of sentiments can grate a bit, but, the music industry is a tough master and demands these types of considerations from all of its charges. Hopefully it got 'em laid at least.
Things get a bit too razamatazz with Hard Rock Road, a slick bit of coming of age Rock 'n Roll propaganda, featuring the story of newly minted candidate for future treatment on songs such as Just For Tonight.  This song, sadly, kind of sucks, but at least Bobby Cochran plays really fine rhythm guitar throughout. His sounds are clear and clean, punctuating the changes and moving things along with gusto. More horns pick things up at the end, but Disaster Amnesiac ain't feeling them, especially the peppy alto sax to take it home. Serious Jazz Hands there....ah, no thanks guys. How 'bout letting Bobby wail a bit more?
Thankfully, Steppenwolf gets back on track for Someone Told a Lie, a major key riff that indeed allows Bobby to play more.  That signature sound of the mid-1970's, the vocoder, makes an appearance in the mix, and actually sounds pretty cool. Edmonton and bassist George Biondo lay it down, moving things swiftly along as the keys color and the gits strum and riff. Kay's world weary ruminations ring experienced and possibly a bit sad. It must have been rough to face the harder realities of that post-Aquarian era. That said, John's voice is always welcome to these ears, even as they deliver the harsher news.
Wolf's penultimate track, Another Lifetime, continues on with the sadness. Here, Kay sounds even more disappointed. Perhaps the previous decade's hard work with Steppenwolf was starting to catch up with him. I find the lyrics to be uplifting despite that, but their insights are clearly hard won and stinging. Icy keys lift the music as Edmonton give yet another understated, brilliant percussive performance. Another Lifetime has the feel of being a template for the power ballads that so many Hard Rock groups started delivering a decade hence.
Hints of the then-burgeoning New Wave abound in closing track Mr. Penny Pincher. Swirling synths frame the tale of some tight wad tight ass patriarchal type. John Kay damns him to lifetime of downers as the the bass pumps out eight notes and the guitars slash an almost Ska rhythm. This tune sounds as if it's pointing the way toward the second half of the 1970's, meshing hints of New York Punk with touches of Disco, both propped up by Steppenwolf's interactive jamming mastery. Not so much an anthem as a harbinger.
Although Disaster Amnesiac has really enjoyed my interaction with Hour Of the Wolf, I keep getting the feeling that it's the work of men that are exhausted on multiple fronts. It's nowhere near as solid a document of songs as its predecessor is, somewhat flawed in a few of its attempts. Still, the catchier moments are worth hearing, and, as mentioned, any time John Kay is the featured singer, Disaster Amnesiac will gladly lend an ear.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Goodybe z'ev

Late last night Disaster Amnesiac was awakened by some sort of rumbling. Knowing that sleep would elude me for a while, I logged on to social media and saw the news of the passing of Stefan Weisser, aka z'ev.
Along with being tremendously saddened by this news, and happy to have seen him play live, Disaster Amnesiac has been marveling at the man's influence. z'ev's use of metals as percussive instruments within his performances has been incredibly influential. What had been a method utilized seemingly only by Avant Garde composers made the jump over into popular culture in a huge away, in large part on account of his steadfast use of it. A few years back, I saw an ad for an "Industrial percussion line" of some major drum manufacturer, and all that I could wonder was if z'ev was being cut in on the royalties. Surely, others that were familiar with him felt the same way? Additionally, his work with textual cut ups and permutations, approached through the lens of pure poetics, was wide ranging and incredibly deep. In many ways, he took the mantle from Burroughs and Gysin and pushed their innovations further. There's also the hermetic, alchemical research done by the man. The way that I see it, this area of his life has only just begun. It would seem to me that any of his writings within that area will be courses of study for serious students of Hermetic arts. Additionally, he had style. Disaster Amnesiac has seen more than a few Industrial percussionists that had been pretty clearly aping his looks and threads. The thousands of people that have read and obsessed over his RE/search Industrial Culture interview will know exactly what Disaster Amnesiac means.  Hell,  I still haven't forgiven a reviewer for the mid 2000's zine Swingset who mocked z'ev in what to me was an incredibly petty and disrespectful way.
z'ev performed and thrived at the margins of the greater society, utilizing a lot of its cast off materials to make, in his words, "...schonste muziek...". His sounds and actions will continue to influence and effect those that have been exposed to them.
Goodbye, z'ev. You truly were an Artist and Poet.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Sage Pbbbt-invocations of unknown entities; Tone List Records CD, 2017

Late night insomnia-related web surfing lead Disaster Amnesiac to Sage Pbbbt's invocations of unknown entities. A promo blurb showed up on a page that I follow, and its descriptor of the release's nature, "True Shamanic Black Metal", had me hitting "purchase" within minutes. After a bit of a wait (things take time to ship from Australia to the U.S.!), it's been acquired and listened to repeatedly.
Consisting of three tracks, Charms (1), Charms (2), and Trange, which are spread over two discs' length, invocations gets down to some very out there musical production. As Disaster Amnesiac has listened, I've marveled at their incantatory otherness.
Sage Pbbbt pairs down her musical tools to voice and percussion throughout. The drumming, which sounds as if it's done with a kit of two bass drums and a couple of tom toms, rolls and thunders with a deliciously non-linear tack. It feels as though she allowed herself the freedom to play patterns and rolls until the time was right to take space, to let the drums breathe. Additionally great for this fan of drums is the way that they sound here: loosely tuned, big and booming. Along with the lovely timbres, it's great to hear what sound like a few different striking implements utilized on the drums. Invocations' percussion sounds wonderfully live, vigorous, and untamed. Not always a common occurrence, that's for sure. Credit must be given here to engineer Dan O'Conner. What a great job of capturing what can be a very elusive vibe.
As for the entities, Pbbbt channels them through vocal accompaniment to the drums. Disaster Amnesiac has been able to identify a clutch separate ones. Among the vocal emanations (I deeply hesitate to call them "styles"), there are screeching banshee, Tuvan shaman, total alien voice, operatic tenor,  Medieval farmer, and urban wild person. During today's listen, a new voice seemed to arise from the mix, so, presumably, the list could be close to infinite, depending on how closely one can listen. It feels like an absolutely tough exercise in extended technique, but, then again, invocations of unknown entities is expressly described as being a work that aims beyond that type of qualifier. Still, the sheer physical range is impressive.
As invocations of unknown entities has played around Disaster Amnesiac for the last several days, I've wondered too it many Black Metal fans will find their way around to it. It most definitely has the Outsider feel that makes so much of that approach to self expression so vital and great.  It most definitely has entranced this listener. Lastly, major kudos to Sage Pbbbt for using the phrase "exploratory music" on the liner note, as well. A real perception changer for me!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lindsay Walker-Demo Tape; no date given,

It must have been about three to four years ago when Disaster Amnesiac copped this tape from sound artist Lindsey Walker at a New Year's Eve party in Berkeley. Recent tape organizing/purging lead me back to it. As I've been digging its Minimalist vibes, you can rest assured that my copy wont be ending up at Goodwill.
The A side, Mathematics "UK Lite", features Lindsay in pure vocal mode. What sounds to this listener like a minor scale is sung repeatedly for several minutes. This piece's drama comes from the way in which this scale is processed and cut up. Mathematics "UK Lite" has this great, cavernous delay setting throughout its duration, which gives it a quite unsettling, claustrophobic vibe. Disaster Amnesiac imagines a singer in a room somewhere, perhaps purging, perhaps celebrating. Either way, this imagined presence is most definitely solitary; the intimacy of the piece can really get into your brain. Also of note are cuts that are applied at various spots, which have made my perceptions jump and wiggle. Right as Disaster Amnesiac gets comfortable with the repeated "la la la la la la...." actions, all wrapped up in their echoes, Walker applies a swift, sudden cut that lasts for a few seconds before the singing starts up again. Mathematics "UK Lite" is a great piece of Minimalist vocal artistry.
On the flip side of this demo, we have an extended keyboard meditation, Could've Turned (I.I.#1), which, much like Mathematics, centers around a simple repeated riff.  Walker uses this riff as a vehicle  for movements into to improvised spaces. She coaxes big, billowy tones from her keyboard, sometimes playing simple one note phrases, other times slamming out clusters of notes. It sometimes sounds to Disaster Amnesiac as if she's using her entire forearm to get them, and I love those sounds. Along with these types of tones, Walker gets cool, almost robotic, swirly synth stuff happening, never losing the heavy, billowy timbres while doing so. The cuts in action are similarly utilized, but they feel more organic within the piece, less seemingly a function of taping and more so interior to the composition. Who knows, though? Could've Turned (I.I. #1) has a similar loner Minimal feel throughout its duration as Mathematics, linking them pleasingly as two of a piece.
Disaster Amnesiac has not seen Lindsay Walker since the party at which I got this demo tape from her. It's my hope that she continues to produce such cool, individualistic pieces of music. As mentioned, don't bother looking for my copy in a thrift store, as it'll surely remain here with me. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Goodbye Malcolm

The first time that Disaster Amnesiac heard AC/DC, I was a ten or eleven year old, rolling around Stockton, California with a cousin and a few of his pals. The music's power had an instant effect upon me, as I imagine that it did for so many other Rock 'n Roll fans. Since that time, they're a group that I'll make time to listen to; as much as I despise Classic Rock radio programming, I'll occasionally surf over to the local representative of that vibe in hopes of hearing some of those great Malcolm Young riffs. As far as I know, and it's recalled that Angus Young has copped to this, it was the former that wrote all of those great tunes, subsequently giving them to the rest of the group, with the latter whooping it up live over them. One would be hard pressed to find a more elegantly simplified aesthetic as that of Malcolm Young's. AC/DC never strayed far from their initial template, and, with one so bare-bones brilliantly simple, what reason would they have to have done so, anyway?
As Disaster Amnesiac has thought about Malcolm since news of his passing hit the media, I've kept coming back to a comparison between him and Johnny Ramone. Both took Rock 'n Roll innovations from their predecessors, paired them down to an even more elementally basic form, and subsequently worked within those parameters to great artistic success. At times in the past, Malcolm has sounded to this listener like some master of Minimalism, as, indeed he was. It's fascinating that he was able to make these artless moves within the always novelty-obsessed world of the Big Corporate Rock. Malcolm Young really did stick to his vision, and while doing so, crafted a lasting, solid, and most of all enjoyable body of work.
Farewell, Malcolm Young, thanks for staying true to your vision. Such fine musical examples you set.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie-Paris 1989; A&M Records, 1990 compact disc

As recalled, this disc's release was treated with huge fanfare in the early 1990's, touted as the answer to many a Jazz lover's prayers. Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie, together again after four decades apart! Disaster Amnesiac had a copy during that time, but somewhere along the line, it was sold or traded off or given away. Recently, I'd been hankering to hear it again, and a recent stop at the Rasputin's Records in Campbell, CA offered it up to me, shiny and seemingly unused. Money was paid. Listening ensued. Impressions made? You'd better believe it!
Roach starts things off on Paris 1989, rolling across his immaculately tuned drums with the finesse that's so characteristic of his playing. Cymbals are added, and the total effect is that of a drum choir embodied by one man. Max's playing is so tightly eloquent throughout this recording, it's just wonderful to listen to. He goes from straight linear rhythmic beats to free pulsing to wild flailing, and that's pretty much within the first five minutes of disc opener In The Beginning. Anyone interested in Jazz drumming absolutely must listen to Max Roach; in multiple interviews he would state that his style was based upon the earlier masters such as Baby Dodds and Sid Catlet. That said, Roach developed an incredibly unique and somewhat more complex approach than his esteemed predecessors, one that remains highly innovative. It's a high, high standard. Across the 90 or so minutes of duo exchange with Gillespie, Max leads the way, changing up the rhythms when he needs to, taking the lead or being supportive when either of those are needed. His moves from sticks to mallets to brushes offer fascinating tonal variation from his kit as he makes these moves.
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie will obviously be remembered as one of the key 20th Century artists. Much like Roach, he built upon the earlier innovations of Jazz, spearheading his own innovations into the Bop movement, from which he bounced into a lifetime of Jazz touring and ambassadorship. The playing of this then 71 year old man on Paris 1989 sounds fresh, strong, and clear. Disaster Amnesiac hears him quoting from Copeland, hears him get chillingly intimate and boldly brassy, hears complicated multi-note runs and simple Blues phrases. I've marveled at his control of the trumpet: Diz does it all with Mastery. One thing that Disaster Amnesiac has ruminated upon while listening to these two discs is the relatively simple design of the trumpet, and the way in which Gillespie extends and elaborates this simplicity into such sublime sounds. Additionally, when he scat sings on Salt Peanuts and Oo Pa Pa Da, a world of absolute joy opens up.
Taken together, Roach and Gillespie play with such great simpatico on Paris 1989. Reunited after four decades of being apart, the duo share leads and supports. One can tell that a lot of active listening is being done as they trade phrases within the tunes, as comments fly back and forth between drummer and trumpeter. The vibes are heavily weighted with their decades of experience.  It's the sound of Masters conversing upon their craft. Where Max goes, Dizzy follows, and vice versa. Signals are sent and responded to. Lines are traded, mused upon, and then exited, often with Roach opening up new opportunities with great, rolling fills on his tom toms. So much action going on there! Although it sometimes seems as though Gillespie is content to lay out and let his dear friend wail, when he does step up, the sounds are always perfectly placed, always spot on. Although mostly improvised, Paris 1989 has the feel of a fully formed, thought out musical composition.
In the liner note for Paris 1989, Gillespie states something along the lines of "...this recording will go down in the history of recorded Jazz as one of its greatest...". Not many could get away with such a statement, but Disaster Amnesiac, and surely others, would have to agree. It's an essential document from two titans of one of the best developments of the otherwise absolutely violent and often criminal 20th Century. Close to thirty years since its release, and close to 100 years since Roach and Gillespie began their respective epic runs, it holds up quite nicely. Dig in and LEARN.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

z'ev/Alexandra von Bolz'n/Fragment King-The Garden; digital release via Bandcamp, 2017

You just have to hand it to to z'ev: fifty plus years into his creative journey, and the man is still working. He seems to come back from any and all adversity. Most recently, Disaster Amnesiac has read that he was injured in some type of literal train wreck, only to rehab and recover, this time duly heading for South America. z'ev is not thin skinned, that's for sure.
Neither is his voluminous documented work, which, with his Bandcamp page, is growing all the time. While not located at that same cyber node, his music with Alexandra von Bolz'n and Fragment King is equally tough, and highly worthy of checking out.
Disaster Amnesiac has been digging The Garden, nineteen minutes of percussive trance bliss from 2011, especially of late. z'ev starts things off with a fine example of his ostinato drumming approach on what sounds like a single bass drum. It stays for the duration of The Garden, conjuring up hallucinatory images of snakes and surreal landscapes for this listener. Disaster Amnesiac is reminded too of a RE/Search interview in which the master percussionist/sound manipulator spoke of dispensing with flashy drum licks in order to get to some kind of deeper essences. This is most definitely the case herein. z'ev doesn't "do" a lot with his lines on The Garden, and in doing so does everything, moving the track to fully trance inducing places.
Atop the magic rhythmic carpet laid down by z'ev, one hears whirling, high pitched electronics from Fragment King that drill down into ears. Not so much melodic as atmospheric, they spin and cloud around the sound spaces, digging down and flying out and around the drumming. Alongside these moves, vocalist Alexandra von Bolz'n intones some kind of bizarre script. Disaster Amnesiac can't really tell what language she's singing in, but her dramatic vocal rises and falls sure sound dramatic and often somewhat disturbed. Perhaps they're some kind of vocalized asemic writing?
The sum total of The Garden strikes Disaster Amnesiac as some kind of sublime Industrial Black Metal, as its darkened vibes sink in to the auditory perception in a way that is heavy, mysterious, and singularly out there. This music is not traditionally pleasant, but it's surely compelling and fascinating to this listener.
It's my hope that z'ev, von Bolz'n and Fragment King have more of these sonic darts to throw at us.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Reptoid-Scum Supreme, Cool Room Records/Barcop Records; 2017

A few months back, Disaster Amnesiac had the pleasure of being surrounded by the fearsome sound and energy of Reptoid at Oakland's Golden Bull. It was fascinating and impressive to watch and listen to this manic one band as he plowed through an energetic 45 minute set; the guy was seriously pushing some air, his sounds attacking the audience with blast upon blast of tight, intricate pieces for electronics and drum set. After the set, his merch table had a sign that advertised an upcoming 7" release. He had me before the last notes of his set rang out, that's for certain.
Due to a busted turntable, now replaced, and general life stuff taking up a ton of time, Disaster Amnesiac had not been able to delve into my copy of Scum Supreme for a bit, but over the past few days I've had time to groove to its sounds, and they're kicking my ears' ass just the same way that Reptoid's live set did.
Over the course of what appear to be four tracks on the vinyl (three tracks listed on the cover), drummer/electronics controller/vocalist Jordan Sobolew thrashes and pounds his kit with over the top strength, rolling over his toms and snare as he shreds the tunes' synth arrangements. The latter are crazed,  glossy, glassy, whirling tones that leap off of the vinyl and surround the listener with their high end, treble attacks. No mere effects, though, these sounds work to make their songs quite melodically effective.
The drumming is a real highlight, at least for this listener. Sobolew is kicking serious butt with his playing, and Disaster Amnesiac, having seen him do his thing live, knows it's the real deal. His gruff vocals, shouted atop the musical melee, convey some serious angst with their Punk Rock demonstrativeness. Reptoid ain't singing about good vibes and mellow flower people, that's for sure.
The sum total of this short ride is a strong, heavy, and wrenching one. Scum Supreme strikes me as a cleansing purge, Reptoid pushing through all of the negativity that he perceives and arriving at a shimmering, metallic, peacefully drained space.
It's worth the slog, that's for goddamn sure.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Helene Breschand & Elliot Sharp-Chansons du Crepuscule; Public Eyesore Records #139, 2017

The last time that Disaster Amnesiac received a recording featuring Elliot Sharp from Public Eyesore, I balked, in many ways simply due to the seriousness with which Sharp is esteemed by me. Some context for that decision: here's an artist whose Larynx remained in the tape deck of my cars for years during the 1980's (the lettering actually rubbed completely off its casing over time), whose band Carbon, seen at the Kennel Club in 1992 or so, completely blew me away, whose interview with Mondo 2000 remains one of the definitive statements on Cyberpunk as culture. In short, Sharp's work over the years means a lot to me. Disaster Amnesiac is a huge fan of his. The thought of reviewing any work of his seems particularly daunting to me.
After an initial spin of Chansons du Crepuscule, Elliot's duo recording with French singer Helene Breschand, Disaster Amnesiac felt an immediate need to attempt to describe and enthuse. This new Public Eyesore product is so damn good, so illustrative of the twos' talents, I just had to dig in and type.
Things get off to a wild, spooky start with Extase. Right out of the gate, Breschand's vocals, presumably sung in French but sounding more Kobaiian to this listener, pair with cool fuzz tones from Sharp, riffed out in rhythmic trance form. No one gets credit for the great drum programming, which is equally fine. Helene's wild wailing carries the track to some pretty odd places, but any fan of Avant Garde singing will find lots to love within them.
Following up on the opening romp, La Langue Dans Ma Bouche and Je t'aime Tant feature more introspective moments. The former has great electronic burbling and mellow acoustic guitar strumming that frame vocals from both performers. On the latter, greasy slide guitar and swanky drum beats suggest Gainsbourg, but the lyrics seem to be a bit more Platonic than his legendary kink perspective. Breschand keeps up with the expressive vocal extends to great effect.
Next up we find Ne Lui Dis Rein, with more acoustic guitar and electronic loops being paired. The loops have cool, reedy timbres, while the guitar strings drop sonic dew drops among them. The lyrics are sung cool and sultry. This one exudes mystery throughout its relatively short duration. Rein is followed up by Goutte a Goutte, which continues showcasing Elliot's diverse guitar creativity. Here, he coaxes metallic industry sounds from an electric; he's been doing this for years now, but as Disaster Amnesiac has listened to this track, I've marveled at his singular aesthetic accomplishment with it. Sharp's got such a unique take on sound, and he practices it incredibly well. Helene hits emotional soprano tones on the song, pulling the sense upward as she does so.
All of the the previous action leads up to what, for me, is the high point of Crepuscule, a mind blowing version of the American Traditional classic The Cuckoo. Everything about this track, from Sharp's masterful guitar playing to his dusty baritone vocals and more of that crafty drumming blends with evocative mastery. This here's high art, and should be heard by anyone interested in creativity and aesthetic craft. Elliot Sharp has done so much, and Disaster Amnesiac has felt, listening to this track, that in many ways it's all lead to this track. If for no other reason, seek this disc out for it.
Breschand returns to the mic for the Eastern European Gypsy vibe of Amor, wherein the relative calm and beauty of the harp sounds gets exploded mid-song, one outburst framing its otherwise plaintive feel. The mournful zones gets quickly left behind with Le Bloque Cri, which again uses Elliot's electric guitar extensions and electronics for crazed sonic soundscape painting upon which Helene gets her Avant Ya Ya's out somewhat disturbingly. Sharp comments wryly in what sounds like some pretty fluent French, to boot.
Nouveau Monde has a European Art Music sound, with Sharp's sparse rhythm guitar sliding all around his partner's up and down the scale vocal performance. Elliot shines as an accompanying player here and Breschand shows more incredible range.
Chansons du Crepuscule ends on with the quiet tones of Le Dernier Mot, where both players use whispering, soft tones with guitar and voice, almost as if they're waving goodbye, and Chose Rose rounds the the disc out in simple spoke-sung duet mode, a final bit of surreal expression from these two masterful performers.
As mentioned, there are tons of reasons for any fan of creative music to seek out and enjoy the prodigious output of Elliot Sharp. Chansons du Crepuscule has more than a few itself. Disaster Amnesiac figures that, sadly, it isn't likely that this CD will be the breakout hit that it, in a sane world, should be, but, then again, Elliot and Helene Breschand probably couldn't care less about that. Undoubtedly, they'll continue in their quests for musical expression of the real and vital variety. Will they see you on their paths?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Felipe Araya-Punata; eh? Records #96, 2017

It was a few years ago that Disaster Amnesiac had a conversation with Bryan Day in which Bryan had told me of his plans to check out Noise and Experimental music in South East Asia. When I first pulled Felipe Araya's Punata tape out of its mailer, I thought that maybe it was one of the first fruits of Day's curiosity re: that region. It turns out that Araya hails from Chile.
As I've listened to the tape, it's hit me that I know very little about that region of the world, so perhaps it's better for my understanding than a possible release from the Pacific Rim. One great aspect of Punata is its first side, eponymous to the title, during which the listener is treated to 26 minutes of filed recordings from Bolivia. Presented in a raw, cell-phone captured way, Punata has similar vibes to many of the Bishop brothers' Sublime Frequencies releases: seemingly true to life vignettes of street-level societal action, with intimate conversational snippets. The most fascinating passage for this listener is one in which a marching band rocks out with abandon. That said, the seeming sound of windswept prairies of some sort towards the very end are compellingly spooky.
Disaster Amnesiac must admit to enjoying the b-side, No Punata, a bit more, as it features Araya's own musical pursuits. He plays the Peruvian Cajon, a quite simply structured percussive box with a large hole in its middle. Felipe experiments with the Cajon's tones and textures, utilizing extended techniques such as rubbing, sliding, kneading, and dropping it. It's really quite cool to hear musicians from different parts of the world experimenting upon instruments that are pretty much indigenous to them. Perhaps that's also something that Bryan finds really compelling? Also neat is the ancient sound of the Tarka, an Andean wind instrument that Araya pairs with Cajon to beautiful effect. No Punata ends with a rolling crescendo, during which Felipe sounds impressively unhinged and live, bringing things to a close with wild sawing action of a very loner nature. It's the sound of musician and instrument melding in the simplest, yet most intimate of ways.
After listening to Punata, one wonders what other sounds eh? Records has lined up, from parts far-flung, for the curious aural aficionado. If you're looking for raw sounds of Sur America, this cassette could be a fine place at which to start.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Donne et Desiree-Three World Premiers; Norwegianism Records 005, 2013

Of late Disaster Amnesiac has been drowning in a sea of great music. I'm surrounded by compelling sounds, and they're coming at me from any and all format: download, CD, vinyl, tape, self-recorded shows. In regards to describing and enthusing, the question is begged, "where to start?"
Three World Premiers, the excellent 2013 release from guitar/drums duo Donne et Desiree seems a fine place for that. Disaster Amnesiac has been jamming it primarily during commute time, and finding its sounds increasingly more compelling and awesome.
The first of Premiers's four tracks, Jackson Pollock Highway gets things going on a quick, silvery and somewhat aggressive tip, with drummer Donne leading the charge. His nerve beats scatter, clang, and talking while guitarist Desiree establishes a tight loop, upon which he proceeds to layer great lines of dissonant six string squall. This tune gets to the heart of its energetic matter with a deft quickness that could leave one breathless. Highway has a lot of the energetic hyperactivity evinced by the painter for whom it's named. Active lines abound.
Pacing changes on track number two, Bob Sees Himself Walking Towards a Formidable Abstraction. Here, D et D journey down into sonic valleys of relative quiet and introspection for extended periods of time before climbing up into denser energetic modes. Donne shows more great versatility here, extending his kit to include cymbal scrapes, shell hits, long rolls. His pacing really shines. Desiree matches these moves with a solid grasp of dynamics and space. His voices, often arising from silence, and cool for their resultant dramatic impact.
Similar to Bob's vibes Elephant In the Room. Indeed, it often seems to Disaster Amnesiac that these two tunes make up a kind of suite within Premiers. Oddly atmospheric vocals float relatively low within the sonic matrix; the first time that I listened at home, I had to check and see if I'd left a television on within another room. All that said, when this two get busier within the track, Desiree spills sonic spaghetti monsters all over Donne's skittering Euro-Free moves to more stunning effect.
Premiers concludes with the darkened ritualistic behaviors of Keep On Whaling, during which trumpet mouthpieces seem to be paired with kitchen implements for primal pace setting of a very introspective nature. One would do well to listen to it with headphones. Any type of other sound within the environment could distract from the late-night feeling that Disaster Amnesiac is picking up from it. Whaling's sounds mostly conclude a few minutes before the CD stops. Is this a nod to Cage, or am I going deaf? At the very last moment there's a none too subtle blink of sound, so be sure and have your stereo at a safe level for that final event.
Donne et Desiree are one of many great groups contained within the ranks at Norwegianism Records. Even though it's now been a few years since Three World Premiers has come out, it sounds really fresh to Disaster Amnesiac. Its blending of Free Jazz, Experimental Rock and all-out creative abandon, of both the busy and spacious varieties, is well worth seeking out. The physical disc is limited, but if those are all taken, one can grab the download for even more immediate musical satisfaction. Are there sequels out there?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Strange Boutique-Charm; Bedazzled Records, 1993

Teenage trips to Washington D.C. for shows at places like 9:30 Club, Hung Jury Pub, and D.C. Space made Disaster Amnesiac aware of the deep scene within the District. I'd see flyers and jacket art for groups such as Grey March, Troubled Gardens, and Madhouse and be intrigued.
Decades later, that's still the case, and, during a recent dig for cheap CD's (REAL buyer's market, kids), I found Strange Boutique's (basically Madhouse after a name change) great 1993 offering, Charm.
Fitting title too: for several days now, Disaster Amnesiac has indeed been charmed by its great playing, whimsical vibes, and just the overall gorgeousness of the tones contained on it.
Singer/lyricist Monica Richards leads the songs with a somewhat understated, at least by Goth terms, alto delivery. Her personal, poetic visions are sung in a way that provides drama and intrigue, but this listener never feels overwhelmed by it. Being somewhat aware of Richards' D.C. Hardcore pedigree up to that point, it makes sense to Disaster Amnesiac that she'd utilize this approach within the band. I hear echoes of said D.C.H.C, along with strains from its Revolution Summer descendant and hints of British Post-Punk. Songs such as Happy Birthday Wanda June, with its mashup of Doo-Wop and Spahn Ranch, Keep Them Still, which is based upon a Donne sonnet, and the mind-blowing Desert Rock vibes of Solar Friend are ample proof, both sound-wise and intellectually, of the deepness of her conception.
Strange Boutique guitarist Frederick E. Smith is well known to Disaster Amnesiac, seeing as that he was the lead guitarist in long-time favorite D.C. band Beefeater. His playing within the former group is a lot more textural oriented. His sounds on Charm provide shimmering colors and tones as they float around Richards' texts. Smith always struck me as a very band oriented player, in that his guitar melds deeply within the overall song structures. Within Charm, that's definitely the case. His repetitive riffing in Glaciers Down and acoustic strumming of Alekan Girl pair with great multi-track touches and subtle leads. His electric playing on Keep Them Still is beautifully shining, evoking rain storms and lightning. Excellent, understated six string artistry throughout this disc.
The rhythm section of Strange Boutique may be the coolest aspect for Disaster Amnesiac. I've often heard Goth/Death Rock groups that downplay rhythmic muscle and adeptness. Never sure why that's the case, but drummer Rand Blackwell and bassist Steve Willett play with a locked, lithe effectiveness that's quite cool to hear. Strange Boutique seems to have been a group that relied heavily upon the triplet feel; tunes such as Ears To the Ground, Happy Birthday Wanda June, and Hills Like White Elephants all cycle in threes. Even within this more waltz-like signature, Blackwell and Willett play with great Rock swagger and earthiness. Indeed, Willett's bass is pretty much the lead chordal voice throughout all of Charm. Blackwell drives it really effectively, with highly proficient cymbal strokes and clean tom tom set ups. His shamanic beating within A Ballad For Morgaine, a song that feels somewhat different, on account of its being from a different session than the rest of Charm's tracks, matches equally with the mysterious oration from Richards and the glistening sounds of the strings.
A brief Google search on Strange Boutique revealed that the band ended sometime in the mid-1990's, a victim of music biz indifference and performer burn out. Disaster Amnesiac is happy that they managed to document the eleven great tracks contained within Charm. If you're a fan of well produced and imagined Goth/Death Rock, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for it when you're digging in crates or tuned in to Spotify. Very listenable charms from Strange Boutique.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tape Crash #15-My Cat Is An Alien/Gelba; split cassette, Old Bicycle Records 2016

This one was off of Disaster Amnesiac's radar for a while, but it recently floated back up to the top of the cassette tape milk cart that occupies a corner of my media room. Glad to have had that happen, too, as I'd forgotten about the cool sounds of this tape.
Gelba's side features three tracks of murky, mysterious drones. These numbers make Disaster Amnesiac think of subterranean insect hives or deep earth caves. Their dark, somewhat subdued chattering, pulled from synth, guitar, tape delays, and loops unfold with quiet persistence, can feel rather unsettling at times. Much like many of the other releases that have come my way of late, there's an Electro-Acoustic Industrial feel to them. Gelba's duo of Matteo Poggi and Michele Mazzani surely display the interactive dynamics that have also been described, making their Industrial Music not so much about jackhammer rhythms (nothing of the sort happens at all during these tracks), instead giving forth sliding zones that fade into and out of the listener's consciousness. Gelba definitely are making some Trip Metal.
The venerable My Cat Is An Alien's side-long track, The Revenge of the Fallen Star, starts off with a high pitch drone which takes its time building into a mesh of wordless vocals, chiming electronics and percussion and layers of other more discrete sounds. This track has a more Science Fiction feel than its companion on the other side of the tape, its alien vibes feeling distinctly less earthy and more extra-terrestrial. Despite featuring passages that distort, these are cited as being "wholly intentional and...integral", and the whole thing has a relaxing, meditative Music of the Spheres feel to it. Clearly, My Cat Is An Alien's origin is on a friendly planet. The brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio have been honing their craft for a long time, and the experience is quite evident on Tape Crash #15. Incredible Cosmic Drift Tones from Turin!
If recalled correctly, Tape Crash has ceased being a working label, but the discerning Psychedelic Music fan can easily find plenty of great archival stuff at their Bandcamp page. Tons of great stuff can still be found there.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

noisepoetnobody-Fissure; Eh? Records #94, 2017

Apologies for the long delay in Disaster Amnesiac describing and enthusing: between being somewhat drained in the listening capabilities from recent posts, fighting a motherfucker of a cold, and having to attend to things on the personal side of life, I was just not in the mood to review. As is always the case, a package from Bryan Day served to remedy those uninspired types of feelings.
This time around, Eh? Records sent over their fresh new tape from noisepoetnobody, Fissure. Disaster Amnesiac has been listening to it for a little over a month now, and its vibes have had me coming back to one key concept that seems to drive the Public Eyesore/Eh? mission: interactive experimental sound production is the key to the ever-growing label.
Fissure surely cleaves to that guiding aesthetic. Its two pieces, both further subdivided into halves, feature noisepoetnobody on springs, strings, boards, e-bow and looper engaging with Evaline Muller on bowls, bows, blades, and metal objects. This duo coaxes many types of sounds from their relatively simple collection of gear, all the while sticking to said interactive approach. Drones, clangs, warbles, knocks, clicks, rings, all heard to emanate from one player, while the other astutely comments, adds, or simply keeps quiet as their partner's ideas ring out.  The listening satisfaction comes from the way in which nobody and Muller are clearly interacting in thoughtful ways. On Fissure, there's never a sense of rushing to get to any destination; on the contrary, there's a delightfully zen aura to all of it, even when the stakes get raised in the volume department. This is music created from listening, and it seems to me that a ton of thought, aimed toward interactivity, was utilized in its creation. As such, it's great for deeper listening or as a sonic backdrop to whatever else one has to do at home. Fissure's tones, seemingly created from a place of interactive collaboration, will surely seep into the listener's consciousness from either method.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ned Lagin-Cat Dreams; Self released via, 2017

Talk about your dark stars: Ned Lagin has, at least for Disaster Amnesiac, been a quietly looming presence over any musings about the Grateful Dead, at least as regards their crucial early 1970's headiness. I've grown to see him as a kind of intellectual shadow for the group, a retiring thoughtful spark that at one time informed the brainier side of the band (Lesh/Garcia) to balance out the more commercial instincts necessary for the whole thing to work.
Do a Wikipedia search for him, and you'll find that his personal growth has continued on the trajectory that preceded his times with the Dead. Ned has the unique distinction of being a keyboard player that actually survived and thrived after a tenure with Jerry and Co.
It seems as though he stopped releasing music after the sublime Sea Stones of 1975, but has never stopped studying, learning and theorizing about it. That is, up until 2017 and the release of Cat Dreams. Disaster Amnesiac first got wind of this disc's impending release in late 2016, and had been seriously looking forward to hearing what Lagin had spent so long developing. The one predictable thing about Ned Lagin is that his music will sneak up on the listener with all manner of sonic surprises, which is most definitely the case with Cat Dreams.
The CD's over all theme, as the title suggests, is a musing on the lives and love of cats. While there are no lyrics, the tones and timbres do suggest the quirkiness and surprise of the feline species. Various manners of music making are utilized. Songs such as Heartbeats (Tyler's Adventures) and Nimo's Song feature fluid electric Rock band jamming. The former features really intricate double drum set chatter from Celso Alberti and Kevin Hays, while the latter has an incredible guitar solo statements from Gary Vogensen and Barry Finnerty. Lagin leads this band action with subtle synth shading and melodic piano riffs. Also of note on Heartbeats is the fluid, almost lead bass (sound familiar 'heads?) from Dewayne Pete. Most of the members of the group on these two songs also appear on the fun, swinging triptych The Big Cat Dance. This tune's three cuts start with the bouncing Carnivale/Mardi Gras strut of Cat Samba, which features some fun scat singing, electronically processed by Ned and more crisp interaction from the drums tandem. This one swings like crazy. It's followed by the warbled Appalachian moonshine of Catnip, which is notable for its skittering banjo leads, played by Ned on his keyboard synth. Disaster Amnesiac has marveled at its authentic sound, along with the gritty harmonies he gets. I mean, it sounds just like a banjo! The Americana vibe continues for Cat Licks, with the romping violin of Dick Bright leading the charge and Barry Sless taking it up on pedal steel guitar while Lagin utilizes his much considered synth tones to meet up and intertwine with them. The Big Cat Dance fulfills the promise of polyglot American Music, pulling from any and all pockets of our rich musical culture. Listen, groove to, and marvel at it.
Cat Dreams being a release from Ned Lagin, one can also expect to be treated to his sublime Electronic Music side. On tracks such as The Creek, wherein he coaxes more acoustic-sounding timbres from his rig, Sun Cats, with its percussive chiming ostinato, the dark abstraction of Starlight or the sunnier beams of Moonrise, Ned provides great examples of this facet within his greater vision. The fans of his earlier electronic aesthetic will find plenty of sounds to love within these pieces.
Along with all of this other pursuits, Lagin seems to have put in serious time studying Native American flute. Another trio of tunes, Night Sounds, Night Journey, and Night Spirits, have him in duet with Alex Maldonado. These three have all of the shamanistic atmosphere that the sparse sounds of the wooden flute is capable of conjuring.
Perhaps the best songs on Cat Dreams are the emotionally charged Someone's Baby, Teddy Sings a Love Song (How His Heart Sings) and G's Star. All three of them have Disaster Amnesiac running to memories of beloved felines. Baby has Ned playing sweet violin tones on his synth, in duet with Finnerty; this duo continues their responsive conversation on Teddy, this time with Ned on cello sounds. G's Star packs possibly the most emotional wallop with its ringing electric piano sounds. If music is the fruit of love, these three songs drip with its bittersweet juices. Hug your partner, call your mom, or pet your cat today, for life is truly short.
In the liner note for Cat Dreams, Ned writes that it was a purely d.i.y. affair. All of its songs were recorded in non-studio settings, and all of them are first takes. While its songs have the living feel inherent to this approach, credit must be given for Ned's clear mix and sound capture. All of the instruments are present, and there is nothing slapdash about them.
Disaster Amnesiac hopes that Ned Lagin doesn't wait nearly as long to produce a follow up to Cat Dreams as he did for Sea Stones. That said, there are pretty clearly at least nine lives' worth of rich, engaging, and enjoyable songs on this much awaited new offering from one of the truly compelling figures in Psychedelic Music. How's about a live show at Marin Civic Center, Ned?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Eyesores and an eh?

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be aware that Disaster Amnesiac has been getting a steady stream of releases from Bryan Day's Public Eyesore/eh? labels for a few years now. Their output is getting dauntingly prodigious! It seems as though I just plowed through a number of new sounds from them, and yet here I am again having my ears scrubbed by wild, woolly sonic offerings from the great International Earth Oddball Underground. Bryan's most recent mailer to me contained three CDs. Here's what Disaster Amnesiac has been hearing from them....

Bad Jazz-Daymare; eh? Records #93, 2017
Bryan Day has several musical projects going on concurrently. Bad Jazz seems to be one of the more prominent. They're often out on the national tour circuit, hitting house shows, radio stations, and small galleries from coast to coast. On Daymare, this trio conjures up clicking, clacking, scraping, ringing, fuzzy, and warbled tones with the invented instruments of Ben Salomon and Day alongside  the electronics and toys from Tania Chen. The latter also uses her considerable conservatory piano chops to get these big block chords and mysterious little filligrees. These passages have a kind of lonely, haunted feel from her piano playing. Much like Bryan's Eloine tape from last year, Bad Jazz often has the sound of robots or large industrial combines as they spring to animate life and realized their sonic potentialities. Daymare's 39 minute piece also features a lot of intimate listening and quiet back and forth Electro-Acoustic idea slinging, at least until one prankster within the trio turns on some funny Casio-sounding programmed schmaltz that takes the whole thing out. A wacky, surreal finish to a mostly inward and intimate disc. Extra laughs from a pretty hilarious inner liner photo!

Alan Sondheim/Azure Carter/Luke Damrosch-Limit; Public Eyesore Records #138, 2017
Public Eyesore and Sondheim/Carter have a good thing going for sure. Limit is, what, their third CD on the label? They never fail to deliver the goods aesthetically. Their visionary mesh of Azure's plainly spoke/sung soprano lyrics with Alan's prodigious talents on scads of stringed and woodwind instruments never fails to have Disaster Amnesiac blown away by their creative and unique sound. As stated on the liner note (and if you get the disc, be sure and read its revelations), Limit is an attempt to engineer a musical performance to go both ways in time. While Sondheim acknowledges that this is a real impossibility, the live processing of Luke Damrosch renders it almost within reach. While it's sometimes rather disconcerting to mentally process the forward-backward motion of the singing and playing as they're subtly pushed back and back back and then forward, when Alan wails on tunes such as afghaninvdynb and movement5b, the simultaneously simple and complex nature of his vision shines through. The same goes for Azure's lovely, endearing singing on aborrowers and harbinger. Her voice may be the most purely American, in the Ives-ian sense, that Disaster Amnesiac knows of. There's a murky, swampy feel to songs such as thecriesb and holelessb that seems to be the direct result of the the instrumental/processing blend. This dynamic reaches its apotheosis at disc's end on zymphonyb, wherein the layers get maddeningly complicated. Limit is Alan Sondheim's stated desire as being "For a new music-". As with any works of this type, it ain't exactly easy or comforting. That said, it feels to me like the start of a new phase for he and Azure Carter. Disaster Amnesiac looks forward to hearing what's beyond this brink.

Ghost In The House-Second Sight; Public Eyesore Records #136, 2017
Not to take anything away from the two discs preceding this one, but Ghost In The House's Second Sight is definitely the most  juicily varied of the shipment. This group plays out fairly often, and their lineup is pretty stable. Thus, their sound is that of a working band. Disaster Amnesiac has seen them a few times, but can't recall Kyle Bruckmann hitting with them. He brings really great oboe and English horn classicism feels to tracks such as Low and Metal Land Miniatures. These tones contrast the metallic inventions from Tom Nunn and the prodigious gongs of Karen Stackpole. David Michalak joins it all together with stringed accents. This quartet's interactions are subtle but not pensive; one gets the impression that they're playing with and listening to each other. Not always the case in Improvised Music, but Ghost In The House nail that dynamic. Guest appearances from Dean Santomieri with his compelling elocution on The Dream Machine (along with Polly Moller), Dockside Discovery and the really funny The Bats (are hanging upside down), John Ingle's alto sax on Innocence Walks a Dark Path, Cindy Webster on saw, and Bart Hopkin on rumba box thicken the sweet and sour sonic pho of Second Sight. I used to know a guy who'd say about a still-developing band, "it ain't soup yet"; Ghost In The House have gone beyond all that. This group is the stock that some others are basing their stuff upon.

Whilst grabbing cover images for this post, Disaster Amnesiac noted that Public Eyesore/eh? Records already have new releases coming down the pike. It's my hope that I'll be able to hear those as well, of course. Still, in the above, there remains a shit-ton of active listening to be had and enjoyed.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Goodbye Chuck Berry

An early Disaster Amnesiac Rock 'n Roll memory: age six-seven. I am standing in front of my father's stereo. Dad has at some earlier point shown me how to put vinyl onto the turntable. He has also explained to me that this LP with the black cover and white lettering contains music by Chuck Berry, who is the best Rock 'n Roll singer ever. I put the needle on the record and stand enthralled by its sound.
A later Disaster Amnesiac Rock 'n Roll memory. I am at Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California. It is 2002 or 2003. Little Richard and Chuck Berry are co-headlining an evening concert. Little Richard's band is tight and incredibly well rehearsed. Even his off the cuff monologues sound memorized. Mid-way through the show, he has ushers hand out slim paperbacks with Bible verses in them. After Richard's set, I see a Cadillac driving up to the backstage area of the concert venue. I see a tall, slim man with a white cap get out of the Cadillac and move towards the trunk. I see this man then carry a guitar case into the backstage area; a minute or so later, he's on the stage, greeting the backing musicians that have been waiting for him to arrive. I swear to this day that the bass player was Billy Cox, friend of Jimi Hendrix. The group begins to play, and are ramshackle at best. There are tuning issues, timing issues, and nothing sounds like those classic records did. They're playing those same songs,
After thirty minutes or so, Berry tries to get the tony Silicon Valley crowd to sing about ding-a-lings. It's strangely uncomfortable. This crowd does not seem to want to do this, and the response is, at best, lackluster. Chuck jokes around, forgives the audience for their lack of willingly open crudeness, and the band plays a bit longer. Maybe they finally "got it together", I don't know.
Driving home from the show, Disaster Amnesiac came to fully realize the brilliance of Chuck Berry's willful rawness, his unending long middle finger to all things elite and "serious". In that, Chuck Berry truly was the Best Rock 'n Roll Singer Of All Time.
The man seemingly never went soft, and, presumably, was on edge to the bitter end. The failed music biz person in me admires the stories of his pistol packin' demands for the FUCKING CASH NOW. The historically aware American marvels at his success in the face of ignorant segregated St. Louis harshness.
The Rock 'n Roll fan in me still dances a jig to pretty much any one of his songs whenever I hear one.
Chuck Berry truly did things his way. With him, you probably never could tell. Sounds like Rock 'n Roll to me.

Robin Trower-Where Are You Going To; V12 Records, 2016

Ask any fan of 1970's Rock about Robin Trower, and surely you'll get some kind of positive affirmation. The guy and his band never made a bad record; they cooked up their sound, a cool Bluesy Psychedelic tinged Rock, and stuck with it. If it ain't broke, why fix it?
Here we are forty some odd years later, and Trower is still hitting high marks within that initial design. Disaster Amnesiac picked up a copy of Where Are You Going To a few weeks back, and I'm finding it incredibly enjoyable for that guitar music fix.
Across ten tracks, this cool blue flame of an LP burns steady. The Trower template of spare and simple rhythm section action that supports his colorful guitar soloing is in full effect here. Drummer Chris Taggart lays down slow motion zen beats, never over doing things, never being overly demonstrative on his kit. His understated swing on Jigsaw and When Will The Next Blow Fall don't push these tunes, but instead allow them to flow with a graceful ease, and his Funky stompin' on The Fruits of Your Desire and Delusion Sweet Delusion ramp things up a bit more yet still retain an admirable control. The former keeps reminding me of Los Lobos for some reason. That said, Taggart has the Trower drum feel down pat. Robin must smile a lot at him.
It goes without saying that if you're coming to a Robin Trower record, you're coming for that sweet Strat tone and the solos. Disaster Amnesiac can assure you that they're all over the place on Where Are You Going To. There is driving, rolling Rock on In Too Deep, cosmic Jimi jamming on Back Where You Belong, heavy, earthen dirge of Jigsaw, that East L.A. feel I mentioned on Fruits of Your Desire. Robin coaxes Chicago sass on I'm Holding On To You and mystical breezes on When Will The Next Blow Fall. Indeed, every one of the songs on the album feature some kind of seriously compelling guitar expression, whether it's the riff or the solo. Robin Trower just continues to lay it down in the most sublimely understated ways.
Disaster Amnesiac was pretty surprised to see that Robin also handled the bass guitar and vocal duties on Where Are You Going To. Presumably much in the same way that Greg Ginn knows exactly what his six string axe needs from its four string sibling, the bass sits in the pocket for the duration, thick and reliable as a ballast for the guitar and its colorful tones. The vocals remind me so much of James Dewar: cool, spoke-sung, non-shouted tenor tones that deliver simple lyrics of love, hope, and heartbreak. Perhaps he just couldn't find the right person for that style anymore, as it's exceedingly rare in these demonstratively forceful times.
The kind of force that Disaster Amnesiac mentions has never been a factor in Robin Trower's oeuvre. His vibes have always been about setting up a groove and moving within it, letting the music breath and express itself in a bit more of a natural way. On Where Are You Going To he stays within that bag, and it's some of the most solid recent Rock Music that Disaster Amnesiac has had the pleasure of hearing in a good long while. Right on!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sult + Lasse Marhaug-Harpoon; self released via Bandcamp, 2017

2017 is already shaping up to be a mind bender of a year in Electro-Acoustic music. First there was the great Collision Stories CD, and next up sailed the absolute corker of an LP from Sult + Lasse Marhaug, Harpoon.
Disaster Amnesiac has been having my ears scrubbed out by the this one for the past couple of weeks, and after this repeated listening right off I'll say that it may be the deepest and most richly challenging example of the genre that I've ever had the pleasure of delving in to.
The music of Harpoon was initially performed by Sult, a trio consisting of Havard Skaset on guitar, Guro Skumsnes Moe on bass, and Jacob Felix Heule on percussion. These tones were then processed by Lasse Marhaug.
The resultant 36 minutes of sound is one of extreme density and otherworldly atmospherics. Disaster Amnesiac can definitely understand why they chose the title: it does have an underwater alien-ness to its feel.
It's overall tough, if not impossible, to isolate individual instrument's sounds within the murky density of Harpoon. That said, it's incredibly enjoyable to marvel at this tight composition's musically heavy moods and passages. Clicking, scraping, springing voices tug and pull at each others' strands. High register sighs and deep groans evoke the mysteries of maritime life. Sult are clearly operating at deep (sea) levels of interplay and listening. This is the kind of music and sound that goes way beyond having to prove anything with chops or dramatic showmanship. They're really inventing their own worlds here. Or do they see them as their own oceans?
All of these sounds and more are then wrapped and bound within a crisp sonic net by the processing tactics of Marhaug, and they really leap out at the attentive listener. Marhaug did a great job of integrating the skilled playing from Sult's members into a concise whole. Harpoon is a crisp, dense, sonic projectile.
It's on target and it is damn sharp. You'll be happy to have your perceptions pierced by Harpoon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Collision Stories-Those Missing Will Complete Us; Public Eyesore Records #137, 2017

The earliest memory that Disaster Amnesiac has of Industrial Music enjoyment: being entranced by the hypnotic back and forth of the wiper blades on my mother's Volvo as we zipped through rain storms in suburban Virginia. The sound and rhythm of those blades most definitely primed me for an appreciation of experimental music. It seems to me that one must be willing, when listening to Industrial or Experiment Electronic, both of which fit nicely as descriptors for Collision Stories new release, Those Missing Will Complete Us, to embrace the type of pure sounds that emanate from the machines that surround us as music.
Disaster Amnesiac mentions all of this not as some sort of qualifier for approval, but simply because Collision Stories do such a fine job of making compelling music from within those stated rubrics. Made up of ten interlinked parts, running continuously for a bit over an hour, Those Missing features all kinds of great, mysterious sound interactions between a quartet of highly skilled improvising experimenters. Collision Stories are making true band music, but have simply dispensed (for the most part: Disaster Amnesiac has heard a few guitar strings in the mix) with the usual instruments, instead jamming out group interactions more with electronic patches, stand-alone pedals, contact mic'd stuff, and Public Eyesore Records founder Bryan Day's fascinatingly singular instrumental creations. The disc's ten tracks feature disciplined movement as the group wends its way with a quite sublime mixture of focus and patience, through highly intriguing sound spaces. Themes arise from one player, the rest of group, as they are listening, are able to add to and comment on these themes; this interaction builds up layers that rise and move with a nice organic feel. Additionally, its engineering, so crisp and clear, really allows for deep appreciation these feels.
This is band music in principle and act, top flight Industrial/Experimental band music. As such, it can complement the sounds that whirl around those of us living within the Grid, or, presumably, entertain those that may have the luxury of not having to do so.
In Disaster Amnesiac's case, Those Missing Will Complete Us satisfactorily fits into my mental imprinting, done long ago, for appreciation of the type of action offered from Collision Stories. I guess one could miss out and complete Jorge Bachman, Michael Gendreau, Mason Jones and Day, but, as for me, I'm glad to have broken off a piece or two.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jimmy Page-Outrider; Geffen Records 1988

In all candor, Disaster Amnesiac is truly surprised that this LP has come up for describing and enthusing here. Travel back a few weeks, and as I was digging through a box of compact discs for some good music to hear, it practically popped out of that box. I can't recall when or where I found Jimmy Page's 1988 Outrider, but there it was, practically demanding to be played now. Most assuredly, Disaster Amnesiac places a ton of credence on intuitive leaps of this type, so promptly into the disc player it went.
Damned if the shiny little beast hasn't all but stayed put since that time. Made up of nine tracks, all save one composed mostly by Page, Outrider has a kind of understated yet powerful presence (take the pun, it's fine...) that this listener has been enjoying greatly.
It starts off with the hooky Wasting My Time, a charged and chooglin' slice of prime Hard Rock meat that evokes a very "American" feel for me, very Heartland Hockey Hall, especially in the vocal department. Disaster Amnesiac keeps thinking about 1980's copies of Heavy Metal and muscle cars as this tune rolls over my perceptions. A Google search revealed to me that singer John Miles is in fact English, but damned if he ain't right up there withe Lonesome Dave Peverett in the "out-Yanking the Yanks" league of British rockers. Can Disaster Amnesiac salute you with Old Glory, Mr. Miles? Boss rhythm section strut from Jason Bonham on traps and Tony Franklin on the bass here. The former meshes the swagger of his immortal pop with his own somewhat lighter touch and great ride cymbal bell tapping. Jason doesn't have quite the same weight of John, but, then, who possibly could?  Franklin holds it all together, wisely tucking in between Bonham and his uncle Zoso. Page riffs swooping all atop this action, making great swooping sounds and delivering a fine, colorful solo. If you're at all a fan of Jimmy's guitar playing, your ears will feel nicely treated. Miles remains as the singer for Wanna Make Love, again reaching the kind of high Heavy Rock notes that are so definitive for the genre. The lyrics may seem a bit corny Post-Punk, but surely the little girls understood. Cynical Rock dudes would most likely forgive the vocal affront as Jason's slow hat groove pushes all kinds of trippy tremolo from Page before a leading into a quick two step coda. In Disaster Amnesiac's opinion, the two opening tracks of Outrider are bona fide Hard Rock highs of the 1980's. Here's to hoping that this LP eventually outstrips Appetite for Destruction or whatever Aerosmith was offering concurrently with it.
Page wisely ditches the vocals for Writes of Winter, wherein bassist Durban Laverde joins in the fray with Jason. Their interplay has Disaster Amnesiac thinking of Motorhead and their NWOBHM spawn as they lock street-wise triplet-ey. Jimmy's gorgeous tones and cutting leads evoke the majesty of the Houses of the Holy era, heavy Psychedelic Rock colors leaping off of the strings and out through his amps. All of this leads into what was at the time An Event: Robert Plant joining in with Pagey for a rollin', rockin' dose of their singular Zep-a-Billy on The Only One. Plant's lewd alto is all kinds of grease and suggestiveness. Dude could probably have unlocked Tipper Gore's chastity belt with this number. Page is up for it, too, strummin' mental and wild with his old ice and snow pardner. Jason's a dead ringer for his dad here, so maybe Disaster Amnesiac was mistaken a few sentences back. Felix Krish played the bass, but one has a bit of a hard time finding him. Spending time around Golden Gods is never easy for mere mortals, that's for sure.
After Percy's fine appearance, Page again astutely chooses to go the instrumental route, with the rousing Liquid Mercury. A huge, anthem-style riff leads into more of his expressive, singular tones. One really must marvel at the ways in which he infused Country sounds into the Heavy template. Prog King drummer Barrymore Barlow subs for Bonham on this one, fusing a bit more choppy fuss with solid time playing. Krish gets a bit more of the limelight in this spare trio action. Disaster Amnesiac loves these type of short instrumental rockers. This one may be the best of its type from the major label economy since the Joe Perry's Project's Break Song.
Outrider's feel gets a substantially more Bluesy on the rest of the set. Vocalist Chris Farlow, another British singer with a lengthy c.v. evokes the Muddy Waters sense of class for the tracks Hummingbird (written by Leon Russell), Prison Blues, and Blues Anthem (If I Cannot Have Your Love...). His tenor, delivered clear and articulate, lacks the dramatic vibes from Miles and the raunchiness of Plant, but is pleasingly "male" in its timbre. The rhythm section of Bonham, Krish, and Laverde keeps things somewhat more simple and restrained on these tunes, but Page delivers great solos on Hummingbird and Prison Blues. It's as if they had been supping tea with Roy Harper during Farlow's stay at the Berkshire studio where these tracks were laid down. Definitely evocative of the Led Zeppelin III era. Blues Anthem winds Outrider down with a sweet, almost Garcia-like solo from Page before a very "Euro" anthem-style ending. Sandwiched within this Blues troika is another lovely instrumental, Emerald Eyes, full of the longing sounds perfected by Jimmy during the Physical Graffiti era as he's joined again by Barlow's subtleties. Its layers of guitars, glistening, shining, and melting away that really make the song.
There are some serious highs from the strings of Page all throughout Outrider. Disaster Amnesiac is certainly happy that I stumbled upon this disc at some point. Its vibes have aged exceedingly well, and I recommend it as a hidden gem of 1980's Rock in general and of Led Zeppelin-related output in particular.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Disaster Amnesiac aka Mark Pino Ribosome Radio Podcast

My pal Matt Davignon invited me over to do a guest episode on his Ribosome Radio podcast. While Mark Pino was the person invited over, there are definitely Disaster Amnesiac shades to this occurrence.
More describing and enthusing coming soon!
Many thanks to Matt for being such a friendly host.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Some Tapes Reviewed

It's pretty clear that the cassette tape, if it ever really left, is back as a choice of medium for certain types of musical producers. Think about it, the term "mix tape" always remained within  the American lexicon, even during the supposed Wilderness Years of the dreaded compact disc's delivery dominance. Recently, Mrs. Amnesiac was kind enough to hook her hubby up with a fine, functional cassette tape deck. Naturally, Disaster Amnesiac scurried to the garage in search of some tapes for listening and appreciating. Following are thoughts on a few of them....

Steve Kado-2003 (For Solo Drum Machine); Recondite Industries, 2012
Lately Disaster Amnesiac has been enjoying sounds that are effected or influenced by the Techno side of the musical spectrum, so when this tape tumbled out of the box, it made its way quickly into the deck. Starting with a simple, incessant pulse, 2003 builds up into some really great, cascading Minimalist zones, colored by electronic washes. It strikes me that one of the more compelling aspects of this type of music is its hypnotic effect. The listener must cede to patience as this type of approach unfolds for the mind. Kado paces the release really well, seeming to know exactly when the right time has been reached for these slight added sounds that twist the piece's movement into new atmospheres. Judging by the tape's cover, this is all done with the barest of setups, and 2003 really impresses for that. Plus, one can spend well over an hour dancing to its cool, driving energies.

Linekraft-Kikai Ningen; Nil By Mouth, 2013
As can be seen from the above pic, one really neat thing about this tape is the oversized file clip that holds it together, giving it a kind of dossier feel. Kikai Ningen's cover graphics are a pretty good portent to the sounds contained within this tape: abrasive, sometimes downright scary Power Violence. The tones, not so much coaxed as seized from metal "junks" and electronic devices are harsh and incredibly noisy. Linekraft is not dealing with subtleties on this one. Side A features four tracks pounded out in studio at various time over the course of a year. It must have been pretty jarring for the engineers involved. At times, it's almost too spooky for Disaster Amnesiac to continue listening. This is some seriously bent expression! Side B, recorded live at two different venues in Tokyo, has a bit more, not mellow (no fucking way for Linekraft, I'd imagine), but just somehow more easily digested thing going on. Chalk it up to its sounds emanating more from laptops and room ambience and less from the close-mic'd cacophony of its flip, maybe? Groove on Side A for a maximally violent skullfuck, and Side B for a bit more a Surrealist/Dada mood. 

Tom Djill-Cassette19; eh? Records #90, 2016
Extrapolating somewhat from Tom's eloquent liner notes, Cassette19 is a kind of exorcism for long-time musician and journalist Djill, along with being a rapprochement between "sound vs. structure" in abstract music. A tall order, but Tom's up to it. His trumpet playing on these tracks shows Miles-like finesse at times, at others sounding as if he's been 'shedding with Cosey Fanni Tutti. Disaster Amnesiac has had the pleasure of hearing him play his horn live, and it's not really hyperbole to say that he's mastered it. Really sweet to hear Mr. Djill on trumpet. Along with those brass tones, he gets all manner of warped, glitched, warble-ey, and often downright sick electronic tones from his seemingly considerable arsenal of synths, pedals, and other gadgets. At times thickly pressed, at others highly spaced out, but always raw and real, the songs on Cassette19 display tons about what is great with the underground music scene right now. Disaster Amnesiac hopes that Tom's sleeping better these days.

Eyes Like Helicopter-The Shift Of It All; Biological Radio #19, 2014
Last up for this edition of describing and enthusing we have this beautiful blue piece of plastic from Vermont's Eyes Like Helicopter. The flow of The Shift Of It All is a lot like its cover art,  in that it's sort of divided into two distinct landscapes. Side A has lots of really fine, ringing steel string solo guitar (for the most part) playing and a kind of Appalachian vibe throughout. Disaster Amnesiac keeps thinking "American Primitive", but then saying to myself, " screw that, this is American SOPHISTICATION, dammit..." The way that Darren Myers paces these songs makes them richly ambient and quite fascinating. Small drones and jaw harps seem to be used to embellish at times, along with a dog at one point. When Myers himself steps to the mic he utilizes a great, sloppy Punk Rock delivery, which fits in well with whole alone-er aesthetic of the tape. Side B veers more into a bit more of an experimental electronic zone at times, and while having a distinctly different vibe, it feels connected via the overriding rural pacing of its counter. Things get a bit more messy and psyched out, almost robotic at times, but the connection is still clear. Deeply gooey sounds from perennially (hopefully) Weird America.

As Disaster Amnesiac has ruminated and worked upon this post, I've realized that the cassette tape has never truly gone away. It has mostly become an affordable medium for small scale musicians and sound artists to document and distribute their work.
I'll bet some willing entrepreneur could make more than a few bucks with a quality cassette tape player production company. Somehow it seems unlikely that a vinyl-style revival is possible for the humble cassette tape, but, clearly, it has a niche market that remains stable. Just remember to push down those tabs on the top side if you want to keep your sounds intact, kids.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Vegan Butcher-self titled, via Bancamp; 2016

                   ".....these ones are all stretched out and bifurcated...."

So go the lyrics to opening tune Bifurcated on Vegan Butcher's eponymous release, their first as far as Disaster Amnesiac can tell.
A fitting description of their method, too. The songs on the disc do indeed stretch out, led by guitarist John Shiurba's lead guitar runs and musings. His guitar voices run from the twangy, Country Gentleman sound of Fundamental to Post Punk tonality, albeit clearly fused with lots of pre-Punk influence on Fish Barrel; dig those leads during the vocal passage of Bifurcated! They display a lot of really great melodic flare before giving the hammer. Also exemplary are the fuzzy tones within Toast. Shiurba really shines on guitar throughout Vegan Butcher.
Structurally, Vegan Butcher's songs generally start out with these guitar intros that last for several measures as Shiurba, bassist Will Hendricks, and drummer Suki O'Kane play off the stated guitar themes, building up moody passages around, under and over their tonalities.
Within these generally "dark" moods, Hendricks's pacing is really good. His bass playing leaves lots of room for the guitar strings' resonances, but when bigger riffs kick in, such as happens on Toast, he's right there, active within the instrumental mix as he puts down the low end rumblings.
Drummer O'Kane has a similar approach to the bass parts. Quieter cymbal tapping and snare accents are utilized as the disc's themes are built up within the instrumental ramp ups, quite a Jazz feel really; when Vegan Butcher's moody power trio is ready to drive the riffs home, she switches to great tom tom accenting and a more Bill Ward-styled method of riding the cymbals and thereby those same riffs.
All of the early instrumental interplay of the songs on Vegan Butcher lead up to the lyrical delivery from vocalist Val Esway. As Disaster Amnesiac has come to understand them, they're culled from the somniloquent musings of Shiurba, and, as such their odd, lateral meaning frames put the listener into a surreal mental state. Esway's clear alto is especially great on Fish Barrel as it soars above the melee of the rhythm section before segueing into a cool Musique Concrete tape passage.
Vegans still seem to get a lot of grief within our society. People want their meat, I guess. Somehow, Disaster Amnesiac doubts that Vegan Butcher care what their audience put into their bellies, as long their music gets into their ears. Plenty of aural protein to be had from that!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Youth Chairs-Everything; Self released via Bandcamp, 2016

You just have to love the way that things can come full circle. Right around the turning of the New Year, Disaster Amnesiac contacted drummer David Winogrand after being out of contact for several years. More significantly for David, he mentioned that he'd re-connected with his musical compatriot from the early 1980's, Larry Jacobson, in a chance meeting in Los Angeles in 2015.
Larry and David, along with bassist John Richey and singers Kim Lori Dart and Gabriele Morgan, and keyboard player Bruce Wagner, played together in the band Youth Chairs. The group, which lasted from 1979 until 1981, came to fruition during an immensely creative time for music in Los Angeles. Disaster Amnesiac needn't rehash those particular details, but suffice it to say that Youth Chairs sound is full of  the energy that was flying around the country generally and in Los Angeles specifically at that time.
That sound is a Punk Rock infused Pop Rock. As Disaster Amnesiac has listened to Everything, last year's digital release of the collected demo recordings from Youth Chairs, I've marveled at the strength of their songs' hooks. Jacobson, the main music writer for Youth Chairs, sounds as if he was a student of earlier masters such as Lennon/McCartney, Brian Jones, and, most pointedly, Pete Townsend. Tunes on this collection such as Everything and I See Lisa, and You Is Time move with guitar-driven melodies rooted within the Rock 'n Roll eras previous to Punk Rock, but are driven by the energetic crackle of that then-current force in musical culture. It's to his credit that he shaped these influences into a really fine personal approach that shines in these songs. It's really a pleasure to hear and feel his hooks bouncing around the mind, during and after listening to Youth Chairs. Why these melodic skills did not propel a tune such as You Break Hearts to the Pop charts of that time is beyond me.
To bolster the creative melodies and hook emanating from Jacobson's guitar, Youth Chairs rhythm section shows some seriously snappy interaction with it. Bassist John Richey and drummer David Winogrand (or Tom Brown on four early tracks) provide solid sonic ballasts upon which the songs' changes cruise quite effectively. Dig on the liquid low end bass action on Grownups and Beautiful Music, paired with stompin' tom toms and crisp cymbals, their tight tandem on a cool cover of Paint It Black, and their alternating chugging and tight moves on Army Army for evidence of their simpatico. Their playing is perfect for this type of material.  Bruce Wagner fleshes out certain gaps within the treble registers, accenting 1960's-style with chiming keys on Girls In Cages and solid chords playing on Everything. Again, with playing like this, within this type of Pop matrix, it's puzzling as to why Youth Chairs made such little headway, especially as they were positioned so near to the heart of major label economy. Is Disaster Amnesiac just being naive here?
In the vocal department, Youth Chairs featured Kim Lori Dart to start with, later switching to Gabriele Morgan. Dart seems to have written the bulk of her lyrics, which are delivered in an energetic, somewhat "naive" manner; they strike Disaster Amnesiac as being Garage-sounding in their timbre, sort of "first band" in tone, if that makes any sense. This delivery fits well within the group's energetic framework. Even at my well-into middle age state, they're very compelling in their early adulthood concerns: jobs, post-high school angst, weird people and their issues are all dealt with in tunes such as All Things To All Men and Grownups. Morgan's voice sounds a bit more trained and formal than her predecessor's within the group. Disaster Amnesiac hears less naivety and more "history" from her vocals. She sounds as if she'd been singing longer and had more time to know where to add her own unique inflections into the lyrics, as in I See Lisa and her take on You Is Time. Although somewhat different, they both work well within Youth Chairs sound.
Ruminations upon the passing of time featured pretty heavily in the closing statements of Disaster Amnesiac's last post, and I am loathe to repeat myself too much, but damned if it isn't the case that as the years go by, certain actions show their value. It's so important for groups to document their work. Youth Chairs initial story may have ended somewhat lackluster, but I'm thinking Winogrand, Jacobson, Richey, Dart, Morgan, Wagner and Brown are happy that there are tapes extant. All these years later, their tight, hooky Punk Rock Pop songs can be heard. No doubt there's and audience out there for them within the 'net-scaped world of the 21st Century. Browse on over to their Bandcamp page and hear Everything that they had to offer as a working band!