Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura-self titled CD; Public Eyesore Records #131, 2015

On occasion, Disaster Amnesiac worries about Public Eyesore/Eh? honcho Bryan Day. Between what I'd gather is a constant production schedule for his labels, and keeping his Bad Jazz group going (including tours), where does he find time to rest? Seriously, Bryan, make sure and drink plenty of water!
Thankfully for the Noise/Improvised Music/huh? fan, all of this effort pays off in recordings such as Public Eyesore's newest, the Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura disc. Over four simply named pieces, I-IV, this powerful quartet blasts, pounds, and sizzles its way out of the speakers with the fury of Punk Rock, the demonstrative battle energy of Metal, and the control of Jazz.
Guest Nakamura, on no-input mixing board, provides a lot of that sizzle, as his sounds remain often in the background, subtly coloring the side areas and crevices of the overall sound field. Listen to his work of II for what has struck this listener as the best overall example of that action within this disc. Disaster Amnesiac figures that "politeness" does not hold much weight with a lot of the more aggro improvisors, but I definitely get a sense that Nakamura's approach here was somewhat framed by that notion. Perhaps he didn't want to bring too much attention to what he was doing within the overall group sound? It's not so much that he's timid, as it is that he blends into the maelstrom whipped up by Many Arms.
Maelstrom, indeed! Philadelphia-based Many Arms, according the to the Public Eyesore press sheet that came with this disc, have spent a lot of time on tour themselves, and this certainly comes through in their sound. Drummer Ricardo Lagomasino often goes full octopus mode, whirling his arms and legs around the kit's components as his poly-rhythmic layering propels the music into highly energetic zones. Bassist Johnny DeBlase plays and incredible solo on IV, really wresting center stage for the four strings, but equal to the other players throughout. Nick Millevoi on guitar pulls industrial sized scraping and tonal blasts, along with cool cello sounds on III. In a word, Many Arms plays. Their energy and intensity has made Disaster Amnesiac think of Tony Williams Lifetime at times, almost as if that band had dispensed with their "prettier" stuff and just delved right down into the well of delicious, noisy, messed up improvisational whoop ass. Many Arms fucking bring it!
On the engineering side, Eugene Lew deserves much credit for capturing the many layers of instrumental depth that Many Arms and Nakamura poured out during this one day (!) session. The listener can hear all elements with the clarity that Disaster Amnesiac is sure that the players desired from their respective axes.
Within the past few days, I've seen on social media that Bryan Day is currently planning a trip to the Philippines  in order to document what he's told me is a burgeoning and good Improvised/Noise scene developing there. Disaster Amnesiac looks forward to tasting some of that lumpia, but, in the meantime, I'll be jamming Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura at those times when a cleansing aural blast is required!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

History of the Eagles: The Story of An American Band-Allison Ellwood, dir.; 2013

Owing to a recent ER visit and subsequent emergency surgery, Disaster Amnesiac has been lain up in bed for half a week now, and likely to remain so for at least a few more days. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't doing a ton of 'flix'ing. Along with an epic binge watch of Californication, a show I'd never had the slightest interest in, two-plus hours were spent delving into History of the Eagles, Alison Ellwood's detailed film about the band.
Detailed and fascinating, I should say. The film is filled with scads of interesting archival footage of the band; the sometimes painful slog of Sunset Strip sidemen Glen Frey and Don Henley to massive FM-based star status is illustrated with the kind of obsessive attention that most musicians will only ever fantasize as being possible for their careers.
Career is a key word that came through to Disaster Amnesiac as I watched History of the Eagles. You just have to hand to it to them: they played every step up the ladder, every move, brilliantly, using even their failures and misfires as growth and learning opportunities. This ability of Frey and Henley is incredibly admirable in its pragmatism. They chose a path. They took the path. They overcame the path. In career terms, they won.  If you watch the film, you'll surely understand how this could have only ever been the outcome for any venture headed by Frey and Henley. One would be hard-pressed to find more driven people: Frey comes across as a consummate music biz magician, with his mixture of wild eyed abandon and overt schmooze. Henley's steely gaze would probably make Socrates seem like Stiv Bators. Paired within the business venture that was the Eagles, they took the Lennon/McCartney template, threw off the art school affectation of it all and replaced it with a post-Revolution MBA vibe (this is copped to, by Frey, in off-hand remarks about "the '70's"), and partied all the way to that great Private Lear Jet in the Sky, swooping down to hockey halls across the the U.S. to croon their way into the hearts, wallets, and pudendum of the lumpen. Wouldn't any musician do the same, given that set of personal will and ambition? I mean, you just gotta be honest!
And, to be honest, the Eagles wrote great songs. They are catchy. They stick to the side of your perceptions like good ad copy. The American perception was primed, ready for their oeuvre when it started to emanate from The Radio. Disaster Amnesiac is just old enough to recall being aware of their steady stream of hits, Crazy Horse without the crazy parts, as they arrived. Their tunes remind me of trips to the grocery store in the back of a huge green Chevrolet and parental bridge parties that I'd have to listen to from behind a closed bedroom door. The Eagles music defined the lifestyle, a point that is assuredly made within the film.
A point that I'd like to make is that, underneath all of the gloss, there struck me as being something really gross. The best way that Disaster Amnesiac can define this feeling is by paraphrasing Keith Morris, who shared those Los Angeles streets, but from quite a different vantage point, with the Eagles, when he suggested that Punk Rock was inevitable in the face of the continuous mellow onslaught from pro teams such as the Eagles. This viewer got to a point where I felt as though all of it, I'm talking reality itself here, was being staged managed, massaged into some pulpy mush by the kind of force through which the Eagles gained their worldly glut. I'm not blaming Frey Henley et al here. Again, they saw what they wanted, and got it. That said, there is a scene in which Glen, after being offended by what Disaster Amnesiac felt was the only appropriate remark a musician could make to a politician at a "benefit", from class-A smirkin' guitarist Don Felder, lets go with a string of expletives that pretty clearly shows what's really going on behind all of that Takin' It Easy; to watch it and think about it is, for me, to see the veil lifted on pretty much the entire Fantasy Factory. I gather that the early Punk Rockers like Morris sensed as much, but, hey, don't worry, many of them have been co-opted themselves now, too.
History of the Eagles is divided into two parts, the second of which features the band doing the Big Reunion victory lap 1990's style. Disaster Amnesiac simply scanned forward through most of that footage, as I'd grown pretty weary of it by then.
I wonder, did it all feel as Pyrrhic to them as it did to me?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Disaster Amnesiac 7" Roundup, Eastern Seaboard Edition

Well here we are at Spring 2015 already! Baseball has started, California has gotten a bit of rain, Disaster Amnesiac has weathered at least three colds since last October (the last one had me feeling damn near dead!) As I'm feeling much better today, I figured I'd head over to the library wing of Chez Amnesiac and attempt to clean out my mucus-addled head with a few short, sweet 7" blasts and take you, the reader, along with me. Don't trip, I ain't contagious right now.

th'Inbred-Reproduction; Frozen Sound Studio, 1985
Starting out this trip east with West Virginia's Hardcore Punk champs th'Inbred, we find the group addressing all manner of important topics in the minds of mid-1980's underground: the vapidity of MTV and guys with money that have a desire to go to Hardcore shows, the banality of work, the Fascistic tendencies of the good 'ole U.S. of A, and so forth. Listening to these screeds, Disaster Amnesiac has been ruminating on how Hardcore Punk was in many ways more of a verbal development than musical; don't get me wrong th'Inbred's music is tight and nicely arranged, buzzing along in a sort of speedy Prog manner at times. It's just that the texts seem to have taken precedence over the music in so much Hardcore. The cultural dynamics that they railed against are still in place, so I'm not sure how much real change was effected, buy, hey, at least they documented their ragin' chops and anger before all of that weirdness that came along in the 1990's!  I must confess that my most enjoyable moments from this one are lead singer @rt pipes down and lets the band jam out, as their buzzsaw guitars and tight rhythms move my mind with a bit more pure color.  Does this make Disaster Amnesiac some kind of revanchist running dog? Oh, my.

Sliang Laos-Alabama Ego b/w Shining Path; Tenderizer Records, 1993
Moving closer to the Atlantic and stopping in Richmond, VA, Disaster Amnesaic's Art Capital of the American South, Sliang Laos gets down with a kind of Metal/Industrial grinding pound on these two tracks. This band possessed some seriously mighty swing: the drums, guitars and bass locking into these sharp, tight grooves that set up what strikes Disaster Amnesiac as much for pscyo-sexual lyric concerns. Alabama Ego even sports some broken atonal horn warbling a la Cosey Fanni Tutti, a really cool nod to the early Death Factory aesthetic that I imagine was an influence to someone within this collective. My old pal Erik, a long-time Richmond resident had boots on the ground as Sliang Laos did their thing in real time, and he once mentioned that Alternative Tentacles had expressed interest in releasing some more of their stuff. Whenever I play this 7", I lament that lost opportunity. Sliang Laos's mutated Grind Metal should have been much more effectively documented. Seek and find this gem, just don't ask me for my copy. Thanks, Grotz.

Carrion-Begger b/w Witness Your Birth; McCarthyism Records, 2002
Get in a car and drive north on I-95 from Richmond, and you'll find yourself in what Disaster Amnesiac used to know as NOVA. Carrion's 2002 offering seems to have been developed there. More swingin' guitar drive here, with some nicely angular passages that add some Math to Doom, along with dramatic quieter parts from which they blast forth with more changes. Disaster Amnesiac can't find a personnel listing here, but the guitar player does step out with some decent soloing at times before hooking back up with the drummer and bass player for that sharp ensemble interaction. Great, unaffected Hardcore Punk-style vocalizing, reminiscent of Barry Henssler's growl, too. Carrion documented some smart, sharp Heavy Rock on this 7". I wonder if they shared bills with Mastadon when that group was just getting started?

The Hidden Hand-De-Sensitized; McCarthyism Records (no date listed)
Anyone that has paid even a glance towards Heavy Rock post 1990 or so will have to have become familiar with Wino. If Maryland is the Doom Capital of the United States, then surely Wino is its crown prince. So many bands have used his ideas to fuel their own great sounds. Naturally, it's best to go to the source, and these two short blasts of Weinrich spiel damn well provide. As far as I had come to understand them, The Hidden Hand were Wino's post-Spirit Caravan group, put together with guys from a more Punk Rock background, and he was really happy with it. They played in S.F. in 2005 or so, but Disaster Amnesiac had to work the next day, so was unable to attend (note to self: FU). De-Sensitized features plenty of his wild Psych Rock soloing that springs forth from the SINGULAR Doom riffs that Wino comes up with so amazingly effortlessly, all of which surround his musings on personal strength and clarity in the face of so much societal obfuscation. Dave Hennesy on drums and Bruce Falkinburg prove themselves up to the task of pushing Wino's sound visions; they're fluid and tight, rocking out on the title track and the un-named instrumental b-side. Said b-side delights the listener with even more Wino wilding as his fingers blaze forth yet another excellent six string solo statement. Seriously, if you've never had the pleasure of hearing Scott Weinrich play live, do it.

Disaster Amnesiac has been hearing a lot of buzz about Record Store Day lately. I doubt that any of these East Coast waxings will get the coveted reissue treatment that is afforded to others for that Spring Time "event", but I also figure that most of these could be found on eBay or Amazon for a reasonable price. Surely any of these would appeal to most Heavy Rock/Punk/Metal/Doom fans.