Tuesday, December 29, 2020

One Hour Classic Rock with Disaster Amnesiac


The assignment was simple: "Disaster Amnesiac, you will listen to one hour of Classic Rock, and write your impressions" Mind you, I have NO idea where this assignment came from, but it rattled around in my head for a few weeks, until, finally, I had to submit to it and spend an hour dialed in to my local Classic Rock station. 

Has Spotify changed the listening habits of Classic Rock fans? Do they still tune in to those higher end of the dial stations for their musical fix? Or have their kids and grandkids turned them on to the streaming services? I'm sure that this has happened, and yet, those stations continue to soldier on and on. The Classic Rock format will not die, and why should it, really? Some of these songs are really cool. At least for the first 7000 times.

Tune in date and time: Tue., 12/29/20, 2-3 PM Pacific Time

Station: KSAN FM, 107.7 The Bone, est. 2000

Judas Priest-You've Got Another Thing Coming-song already on when I tuned in. A cool riff, nice pounded simple drum beat; what happened to the finesse of Stained Class?  The solos shred, of course. I guess that that's where the Metal fan finds satisfaction in this tune, along with Halford's defiant lyrics and growling vocal delivery. A fine song, it's what, 40 years old now?

Eddy Money-I Think I'm In Love-the drummer has a nice, clean cymbal beat, especially on the bell portion of the cymbal. Boy misses girl song. He thinks he's in love. He can't get enough. It's gotta be love. I hope it worked out for him and his armour. Pretty neat slide playing during the truncated guitar solo section, at least at first, but then it resolves in cheez whiz.

Def Leppard-Love Bites-a power ballad, full of longing for a departed lover. Those Leppard dudes definitely know what to say to the ladies. Then they bite Nazareth again, this time for a lyrical approach. That's one thing that they also know how to do: synthesize other groups' ideas into a more marketable formula. Really "80's" solo action, kind of trip to Ibiza with a bunch of coke 'n champagne and just livin' the "good life" all over the place for 30 seconds or so. Then the guy opens his yap again, hoping for that 'tang.

The Doors-Break On Through-snappy guitar riff, snappy drumming, atmospheric organ that gets a nice lead break which leads back into the singer telling us about how great his baby is. She get high and stuff, and you know that's cool. A short, sweet blast of Sunset Strip, circa 1966, and that shit stands up to the ages, you know it do. 

Black Crows-Hard To Handle-starts off with a Hip Hop worthy drum break, and then the singer shows us to be a guy who listened to the Grateful Dead's 1960's Pigpen phase. This one has groovy keyboards that really push the updated guitar riffs along. Was that person a session player or a bona fide member of the Crows? Nice, gritty, short blast of a guitar solo; then the guitar player dices it up with the singer to bring it all back home. A few years later, and they'd have it frickin dialed.

Guns & Roses-Paradise City-even if you've been tired of this band since 1990, you can't really help but sing along with Axl and the guys at the start. Slash does some guitar hero thing before the main riff, at which point you're either driving too fast or headbanging to that stompin' drummer's magic. Izzy Stradlin', Slash's secret weapon. Not sure what the point of the "so far away" portion is, but, thankfully they get back to that riff and you're OK. But then, there's that chorus again and you may start feeling a bit, ah, stunted. Boogie down ending primes a possible audience member for a sore throat from screaming so loudly for an encore. These guys knew what they were doing, even more than Def Lepperd could've ever dreamed. 

Rolling Stones-You Can't Always Get What You Want-some kind of subversive move, getting a youth chorus to start your joint up. Lovely trumpet and acoustic guitar strumming. Mick's friends are all hopeless losers, and Charlie is the best drummer in London. Bluesy slides, congas, organ swirls, girls singing along in harmony, what a mix. Is that, like, Jimi? THE Jimi? Dudes, did you kill him, too? Damn, ruthless motherfuckers, them Stones. But one has to admire their marketing savvy, plus Keith can play really well, even while stoned. I can't hear Bill Wyman, but seriously doubt that he even cares that much. Did I say that Charlie is the best drummer in London? 

Stone Temple Pilots-Interstate Love Song-a very fitting title, because this riff has "road" written all over it. It just moves that way. People tended to rag this band, but their drummer has some simple swagger, as does their bass player. It's all about the rhythm section, right? The guitar player, if he wrote the main riff, also deserves some props. As for the singer, he's the guy that most people think of, I believe, when they go "YEEEEAAAAHHHHHH", and he was that trick's master. There's that cool guitar riff again. No real solo, who needed that sort of thing in the 1990's, anyway?

Aerosmith-Walk This Way-yet another slammin' drum break to start things off, yowza! The singer's gibberish is sexay, the guitar players choogle along famously, then someone hits a cowbell, and your ass sure as hell best be shakin'. Like this. They turn around and do it again. The singer gets laid, then someone hits the cowbell again. Joe Perry's sharp tones sure are gritty and cool. The drummer knows just exactly how to take care of business. This song has rocked for close to fifty years. The good shit lasts, bro. 

Billy Idol-White Wedding-this is the song that Disaster Amnesiac was most sure I'd hear for this session, and sure enough! Snappy 2/4 beat to keep the riffs moving. I can't figure out whether or not I like Billy Idol's singing, at least until he goes deep croon about half way in. That's a cool approach, Billy! The session dude does a post-Zappa shred solo before an almost KFMDM-style break down and Billy swears fealty to some slut. Hey, what else is Rock 'n Roll for, anyway? Bad snare drum sound, fuck the '80's. 

Van Halen-Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love-how you will be missed, Eddie VH! Will Alex continue to drum? It'd be a shame to let that killer player just ride off into the sunset. Jeez, what a rhythm section. David Lee Roth lost a lot of friends there, and he never did mess around. He meant it, always did, always will, and that's why he rocks.  This version is better than the Minutemen's version, even the one on The Blasting Concept II, sorry D. Boon. Hey! Hey! Hey! 

U2-With Or Without You-the main reason that I like this song right now is that it's 2:58, and I won't have to listen to its entire duration. Just can't stomach these Jesus Christ Pose types of singers, sorry. 

Post Script-I'm super bummed that there was nothing played from Mountain, but at least I didn't have to endure any Green Day. It's the simple things that matter.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Chowder-Passion Rift; I, Voidhanger Records, 2012


Frickin' lead singers and their bullshit, amirite? One has to figure that, for many instrumentalists, that type of sentiment must have arisen at least a few times within the pursuit of musical aspirations. Sometimes, these folks act upon them, forming purely instrumental combos for projects long and/or short term. Disaster Amnesiac has witnessed a few over the years, and I'm always stoked to hear the players just get down to the business of playing without having to leave room for those pesky frontmen/women. 

Lately, I've been digging into one such group, Chowder, and their very cool 2012 release, Passion Rift. Chowder's bio states that guitarist Josh Hart and drummer Chad Rush had been working on this music since 1992, and it really does show. Along with bass player Doug Williams, the group navigates all kinds of intricate Prog Rock changes. These changes are blended with the Doom that courses, seemingly with the greatest of ease, through these northern Maryland players (what in the hell are they putting into the water up there?), along with perhaps just a touch of Punk Rock street level grit just to keep things from getting too heady. 

Tunes such as Salt Creep and Custody wend their way through any and all manner of these blends, taking the attentive listener on a great ride through their various zones. Chowder navigates their changes with the assurance of seasoned Prog Rock players, but all the while, one feels the mentioned Doom tones and colors. It's these aspects that really make Passion Rift a fun listen, at least for me. Even while each member goes off, the rest of the other two keep things salty and focused upon a nice, pummeling swagger. Dig on the CD's title track for this, especially, wherein everyone gets some kind of solo turn within its chugging refrains, starting off with a really lovely bit of acoustic picking from Hart. These guys are most adept at keeping the dynamics of band playing going, even while stepping off into their own, deserved spotlights. 

Along with the great tones from the guitars and drums, Chowder astutely add mellotron and Moog sounds at certain points, which give some very juicy counterpoints to the strings and percussive hits, especially cool on Mysteroid

All of the sounds on Passion Rift benefit from this type of attention to small details, along with the ace recording by Mike Potter and the mastering by James Plotkin. Cool too is the surreal cover art of Scott Simpson, which brings to mind the Goth aesthetics of D-Beat Punk more than, say, Hipgnosis graphics. 

So, yeah, let the lead singers take a hike for a while as your ears feast upon Passion Rift. They'll still be around when that ride's finished. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Goodbye Leslie West


Sad news for guitar fans this year, again! Disaster Amnesiac also mourns the passing of the great Leslie West, known primarily for his stint with the incredible Ur Heavy Rock band Mountain. For me, Ur is a fitting description for them. The way that I see it, Mountain are one of those influences that are felt by pretty much any band that makes heavy music, even if they are not necessarily known by them. West damn near invented the heavy riff style that so many bands make such great use of. Now, there are obviously a ton of musicians that acknowledge this master of the form, and cheers to them; still, I can't help but wonder how much of a forgotten influence Leslie and his work have become over the years, even though they are vital. I recall a conversation in the 1990's with Crucifix guitarist Jimmy, in which he spoke of how much he loved Mountain and West's guitar playing in that band. If you want to hear how inventive he was, find Mountain's version of Satisfaction, what he did to its form is really damn cool, and HEAVY. Goodbye Leslie West, your influence will abide!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Nubdug Ensemble-Volume One: The Machines of Zeno, Nine new compostions for group with electronic sounds and occasional voice; Pest Colors Music#42-NE1 (Stereo)


If you're lucky enough to be acquainted with composer, instrumentalist, visual artist, and all around lovely human being Jason Berry, you might just get a Christmas card from him during the later part of the year. Along with the card, Jason includes a CD or two of some of  his really great musical output from the year. As long as Disaster Amnesiac has been getting these cards, it's been Vacuum Tree Head discs, and I am mad at myself for never getting around to enthusing about them. Seriously, last year's two discs remain in my car, and I still listen to them. 

No excuses for this year, though. Berry has sent out what appears to be the debut of the Nubdug Ensemble, a group that features several great improvisors and composers. Volume One:  The Machines of Zeno, Nine new compositions for group with electronic sounds and occasional voice has been sweetly rocking my ears for a few days, and I've been digging on its great examples of both the stated elements of composition and improvisation. Jason excels at putting together tight, crisp pieces than usually clock in a very short duration. The melodic variation and rhythmic intricacies that he crams into them always amaze and entertain. Fine examples of this on Volume One include set opener Espejo, driven by great drumming from the one and only G. Calvin Weston and the groovy 5/4 of Alea Iacta Est, with its epic sax/violin harmonies from Jason Bellenkes and John Ettinger respectively. The ways in which these great players, along with those previously mentioned to include guitarist Myles Boisen, reed man Sheldon Brown, bassoonist Paul Hanson, bassist Brett Warren, and keyboard player Amanda Chaudhary, navigate the changes and add to them is just groovy and always sublimely in the pocket. Amy X Neuberg cracks me up with her lyrical delivery on Pimento Boots, and then I just marvel at her range on Aleas Iacta Est. Everyone in this ensemble simply cooks.

The lucky recipient is also treated to sweet little electronic episodes such as Logjammin' with its smoky keyboards from Chaudhary or Prelude to Alea Iacta Est, which has trippy sound design elements from Berry. 

As mentioned, Jason is also a very talented visual artist, and this talent shines on the great cover artwork, with its glimpse into what Disaster Amnesiac suspects is a very rich imaginal world that he's dreamed. Additionally, its design is cool in its striking similarity to those great Nonesuch LP's that featured obscure academic composers in the 1960's and 70's. 

The only criticism that Disaster Amnesiac has for Volume One is the way in which the swinging and eminently joyful tune Spicy Mango, with its bouncy feel, ends sort of abruptly. It's like, ".....why'd ya leave me hangin' like that, Nubdug?" Ha! 

A brief internet search seems to show that Nubdug Ensemble has an internet presence solely on Facebook currently. It's probably too late to ask Jason Berry about getting one of those cards for this year, but any fan of extremely well written and executed Fusion music should probably get on over there and see if he has any copies of Volume One: The Machines of Zeno, Nine new compositions for group with electronic sounds and occasional voice to spare. So much tight music packed into such a short duration! More, please......

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Bluebeard-Port of Sorts; self-released CD, 2000


In terms of time and place, and relative to distinctions of raw popularity on their home turf, Bluebeard was a band that faced pretty long odds. Not that any of that was their fault, but, in some ways, this group was kind of misplaced. San Francisco in the late 1990's and early 2000's featured a music scene in which concepts such as the Church of Rock 'n Roll, or Power Pop, or kind of urban ironic gestures seemed to rule the perceptual roost. Bluebeard emerged from somewhere within the City's churn, presenting well thought out and well orchestrated Prog Rock. Not exactly the "sexiest" calling card for a band at that time and in that place. That said, they stuck to their guns, played shows, and produced at least one physical document for posterity, 2000's Port of Sorts.

Disaster Amnesiac grabbed a copy of this CD, and I've thankfully managed to keep hold of it through years of moves, the occasional cull, and so forth. Really glad to have done so, too, especially of late. A few weeks back it entered into my listening rotation, and has stayed there in glowing terms. 

Let's start of our perusal of Port with vocalist/guitarist Kevin Meagher. His reedy, alto range spits out lyrics that are quite quirky in their delivery, but done so in an emphatic, emotionally believable way, at least for me. Whether he's belting or whispering, there's an authenticity to both. Kevin was always an intense front man, even sort of scary when on the mic. Phrases such as "still you breathe/and that means that there's that much less for me" on Nadine give weight to that view! Damn dude!  Equally enjoyable is the weary persona that Meagher inhabits during Dirge, a cool sea shanty which features the then about to become a bona fide Rock Star and master of all things stringed, Eric McFadden and underrated SF vocal blaster Robin Coomer. Disaster Amnesiac is really enjoying hearing his personalized Rock singer delivery all over this disc. It brings back fun memories for me. Also of note are astute touches of double tracked vocal lines that enhance but don't overshadow the main ones. It's commendable, the way that Meagher followed his own instincts for his fronting of Bluebeard. On the guitar side, I seem to recall that Kevin wrote a lot of those parts as well. It sounds as if he sticks mostly to acoustic guitar, and the sound of those strummed stings give really nice texture to most of the tunes. The fact that many of these parts are in compounded, unique time signatures is pretty impressive, too. 

Moving over to the lead guitar spot, we find Stratocaster guy Jon Axtell. Axtell had spent time previous to Bluebeard in Psychefunkapus, a band that had major label backing and a pretty significant following. So yeah, he was a veteran by the time that this group was working on their music. And one can hear it. Jon's fluency and versatility on the guitar. Dig on his cutting riff and tone and Stone, with its by turns funky and then metallic feels, or Waves, which just pummels as it rolls along in very rocking way. Then there his pure solo statements, such as on the emotionally charged Roadside, which harks back to, say, 1970's stadium statements, and the sharpness of his statement on Mustard. Any time Disaster Amnesiac isolates these guitar elements within the overall mix of Port, I find myself blown away by how inventively musical they all are. Really great guitar playing throughout. 

Speaking of inventive, there's the rhythm section of Graham Mclaughlin on bass and Atma Anur on drums. These two are in such a locked mode on every track. The way that these two push and pull with each other, and on the guitarists is really fun to hear and feel. Another veteran, specifically from the Shred Metal scene, Anur puts on a clinic on how to subdivide the beat, all the while keeping things eminently grooving and tasteful. His double bass runs and 16th note hi-hat licks on Waves are worth the price of admission alone. I recall how stoked that Bluebeard were to have him on board, and I can see why as I listen to Port. Mclaughlin keeps a somewhat low profile, but, just as with any great bassist, his stuff is effective in the way that it is felt. Dig on The Stranger for some of his great accenting. The way that these two guys navigate the tricky changes of the songs in an organic, listenable manner is pretty incredible.

Going from the micro to a more macro view of Port of Sorts, Disaster Amnesiac has realized with these recent spins of its songs the cool ways in which Bluebeard fused Progressive Rock ambition with Pop Rock sensibilities. Only one of its tunes goes on longer than the five minute mark (The Stranger), but all of them are jam packed with the twists, turns, and folds that a fan of Prog expects and loves. It's really quite an accomplishment, and it's really quite cool to listen to and be moved by.  

Port of Sorts is a fun, eccentric statement from a band that had the courage to do things their way, in spite of the trends that they were surrounded by. As stated, Disaster Amnesiac is certainly happy to have held on to my copy. Anyone that's interested in music that fuses varied elements into a unique voice may want to seek out their own.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Kal Spelletich-The Blessing of the ZHENGKE ZGA37RG; eh? Records #115, 2020


Land's sake, eh? Records, you've worn Disaster Amnesiac out for a bit! After going around and around with Pay Dirt and Real Tree, I've found myself digging into The Blessing of the ZHENGKE ZGA37RG from San Francisco-based Kal Spelletich, a man that has many siblings (is one of them named Nik?)

Along with being part of a large family, Spelletich has also been prodigious within the Industrial/Noise Music scene for many years. His group Seemen definitely has a name for itself, and he's also been involved with Survival Research Laboratories, which in and of itself should be enough of a bona fide for any fan of underground creativity. 

For The Blessing, Kal utilized his own talents and creativity to produce several different sound making machines. From these inventions, he's coaxed all kinds of roars, and slides, and wobbles, and shrieks, and cries. Disaster Amnesiac's favorite piece is the very dance-able My Own Fibonacci System, which, after multiple listens, has not failed to get my ass up of my chair and moving, what with its wiggly machine shuffle. Other tracks have the effect of moving the perceptions to various places: contemplation, amusement, sheer terror. He gets many and varied sounds from his inventions. This tape is way far from being a one note type of affair, something not always the case from Noise releases.  As the tape rolls along, you can feel yourself inhabiting their varied spaces.

Also of note is the really great live sound on all tracks. Spelletich did a fine job with sound capture, eh? Records boss Day did not slouch when it was time to mix them. There is a presence to the sound qualities of The Blessing of the ZHENGKE ZGA37RG that can make one feel as if one is there among those intriguing creations.

Not to sound like a broken record or anything (well, maybe just a little bit), but damn it would be nice to be able to be in attendance at some kind of release show for this great cassette. How fun would it be to "enter or operate his pieces, often against [your own] instincts of self-preservation". Or, are we past being able to assume that kind of risk now? Hmm..........

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Realtree-Splendor Falls on Everything Around; eh? Records #114, 2020


Moving on to cassette number two from the recent eh? Records delivery, we find Splendor Falls on Everything Around, the recording debut from Realtree. 

Realtree are a quintet, made up of Carley Olson Kikai on B flat clarinet, Michelle Kinney on cello, Patrick Marschke on laptop, Adam Zahller on guitar, and Noah Ophoven-Baldwin on cornet. It seems as though Ophoven-Baldwin is the leader of the group, in that he is listed as the main composer for the music of Splendor

Using derivations from Arnold Schoenberg's Verklerte Nacht as jumping off points for this composition, and consisting of a polyphonic core piece and an appendix of duo and trio works, the music on this cassette presents itself to the attentive listener in really magical ways. The word attentive is key here, for the sounds are never forced. Instead, one is treated to several movements of sublime moments. The way that this quintet interact with each other has been blowing Disaster Amnesiac's mind for days. Splendor features the kind of playing that is not flashy or demonstrative. Instead, the players are clearly paying very close attention to both the score and to their fellow group members.  The closer you choose to listen, the more that you'll hear just how tight this group is. There have been times when, as I've listened, I've felt the same way that I did after being exposed to Gagaku, or Miles Davis, or Albert Ayler, or Karlheinz Stockhausen. You know, that otherworldly stuff. Realtree hits on those levels, and speaking of Miles, I swear that I heard a quote from Bitches Brew coming from Ophoven-Baldwin at some point. The ways that Noah slurs and trills with his horn are really fun to hear as well. This action, paired with the stated focus and attention from everyone in the group, and its resulting sounds, have had me further entranced with each listen. I recall one morning where this music, paired with the sunlight moving across a wall opposite of me, when some kind of deep satori was reached. I also recall imagining the score as some kind of tissue, laid over Schoenberg's score, and its sounds appearing as pinpricks of light emerging through. 

Splendor Falls on Everything Around is a captivating debut from a very special group.

As Disaster Amnesiac writes this, I'm feeling as though I'm not saying enough, or not going as deep as this music deserves to be treated. Don't take my word for it, then. If you're at all interested in current composition, or Improvised Music, you'll want to find and dig a copy of this excellent cassette for yourself, you will not be disappointed for having done so.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Pay Dirt-Error Theft Disco; Blue Screen Records cassette, 2020


Incomiiiiiiing!!!!! It's always nice to get a new package of sounds from Public Eyesore/eh? Records, and recently Disaster Amnesiac opened the mail box to a thick package of goodies from that fine label. Three brand new cassettes, shrink wrapped and everything, ready to be unsealed and dug into. I'll be doing separate posts on each of them, starting with Pay Dirt's Error Theft Disco

This duo, made up of Victoria Shen and Bryan Day, both of whom are inventors of instruments, was recorded in summer of 2020. As Disaster Amnesiac has listened, I've definitely wondered if these were done in personal proximity or through file sharing. No information as to this aspect is given, and I'm curious because the two get a very "live" sound with their various rigs. This sound is one that ranges from large scale junkyard machine scraping action to smaller scale disembodied voices that chitter and then flutter away. Big clangs alternate with pregnant pauses and outright silence. Whooshing, grinding sounds bubble up from the ether. Muzzy feedback clashes with bright bleeps. Error Theft Disco's overall feel has me thinking about older sounds from what was called Industrial Music; jeez, there are so many sub-genres of it now, but Pay Dirt seem to hearken back to the roots of it, the sounds of mad scientist engineers cobbling together wonderful machines in quiet isolation, the kind of machines that make a lotta noise. 

Multiple listens have revealed layers of sounds and the interactions between Shen and Day. I'd advise that one take the time to do them, as for me, the more I've listened, the deeper these layers go and the more sound surprises emerge from their mixing.

It goes without saying that Disaster Amnesiac really wishes that I could see and hear Pay Dirt and their self-made machines in a live setting, as I've felt that that would reveal a lot about the auditory clues thrown around throughout Error Theft Disco and its four tracks. Until such a time, it's fun to puzzle at the sounds of their duo action via this cassette.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Thollem/Parker/Cline-Gowanus Sessions II; ESP Disk', 2019


It's mind boggling, the amount of man hours spent in music by the collective of William Parker, Nels Cline, and Thollem. Think about it. The former two have been active within Improvised Music since the 1970's. The latter since the 1980's. We're talking easily over 100 years' experience within this trio. 

One may ask, "what does this have to do with Gowanus Sessions II?", and Disaster Amnesiac would simply posit that all of these hours and days spent in pursuit of improvisation gives this 2019 release from ESP Disk' and undeniable amount of depth. Pianist Thollem, bassist Parker, and guitarist Cline are possessed of musical riches that were honestly earned through decades of committed effort, and it shines from the sounds here.

The focused richness emanating from Gowanus's two tracks is the kind that rewards multiple listens, that's for sure. The ways in which this trio play together evince the mastery of both their individual instrumental approaches and of their approaches to group dynamics. When playing as a full trio, Thollem/Parker/Cline get into some deep interactions, ones that are characterized by the kind of fiery energy one expects from releases on ESP Disk'.  Even within these fires, though, there's a kind of depth in the sound. Nowhere in Gowanus is there a feeling of the musicians just blasting away for the sake of blasting away. Wonderful too, the way in which the group then break off into quieter passages; at these points, the listener is given lovely views into the various techniques and ideas that overflow from greats such as these men. As these statements are made, the lead voices are commented upon and embellished by one or two of the other voices, and it's great the way that they add just enough, never too much, before the trio then takes off for the denser sound regions. As these flights commence, one finds oneself entranced again by the thickets of the trio dynamics and their colors. 

As Disaster Amnesiac has listened to Gowanus Sessions II, I've enjoyed wonderful memories of seeing all three of its musicians within the live setting. If you're one of the countless others that have also had the pleasure, and you've not heard it yet, you might want to head over to ESP Disk' and dig into some of Thollem/Parker/Cline's time-space continuum.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thollem-A Day In The Leap; Acousmatique Records, 2020


Despite the Cancellation of Culture, musicians gonna music. Take for example 2020's release from keyboard master Thollem, A Day In The Leap. What can be found here is a set of five pieces, all of them recorded during one session on one day. Thollem essentially plays in duo with a Korg Wavestate, pairing this agile synthesizer with his own acoustic piano agility. 

The resultant sounds are an amazing blend of musical zones. Disaster Amnesiac has heard all manner of vibes from the Experimental Music dynamic. Free Improvisation, Modern Composition, Library Synth sounds, Beat Science....they all tumble and mix together within the improvised matrix of Leap's music. 

What's really enjoyable about this dynamic is the juicy way in which Thollem and the Korg interact. It's often tough to tell which sound is from the fingertips of the human and which is emanating from within the patches of the Korg. Percussive sounds clang up against melodic bursts. Silences are broken with keyboard runs and then embellished by cool electronic tones. Strange, squiggling colors march aside piano arpeggio. Computer beats slink up against melodic leaps. All the while, the listener continues to guess as to "who" is doing "what". That being said, Disaster Amnesiac finds Leap to be more than a simple exercise. Thollem's musical mind and action assures and provides attentive listening with fun and fascinating, enjoyable music. Music enhanced by tech, but not steamrolled by it.

Surely by this time there have already been this type of collaboration between "man" and "machine". The thing about Thollem's A Day In The Leap that Disaster Amnesiac loves is the way in which the former aspect takes precedence over the latter. That is, after all, kind of the point of this whole musical pursuit anyway, right?

Hopefully Thollem will be able to get back to his busy touring schedule soon, and that perhaps he can bring a piano/Korg set to someplace close to Disaster Amnesiac. This music would be so fun to hear in a live setting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Alan Sondheim & Azure Carter-Plaguesong; ESP Disk', 2020

Right off the bat, Disaster Amnesiac must say that Alan Sondheim & Azure Carters' new ESP Disk' CD Plaguesong is brilliant. As usual, it's wonderful to listen as Alan plays a range of instruments. Whether it's the sparse flute tones of Creatures, or the studied and reverent treatment of Guqin, or the skilled strumming in Promised Land and Derelict, or the fascinating, lonely harmonica tones of As Above So O As Below, or the beautiful violin on Sentence, he demonstrates the kind of mastery of musical thought that Disaster Amnesiac has come to expect from all of his myriad output. Added to this, you have Azure and her wonderful, clear voice. Seriously, a few listens to Plaguesong, and it's guaranteed that you'll be hearing her lyrics in your sleep, as I have. Trip on the straight dada of Mno, or marvel at the clear, simple insights of World; you'll love them as you find yourself singing their lyrics  to yourself, as I have. Such a lovely, clear voice from Ms. Carter.

These two just make great music, music that's forged from deeply rooted personal vision and steadfast effort, effort that has been put in over great spans of time. Sondheim and Carter mean it, and they show it. 

All that said, Disaster Amnesiac seriously struggles with Plaugesong. It's just REALLY tough to listen to. You see, the album is the direct result of Sondheim and Carters' experience during this year's lockup of pretty much everyone on earth. Per the liner note, all of its tracks were recorded in a single room within their flat in Providence. Also per the note, Plaguesong's music is directly the result of "isolation, depression, anxiety, and fear". These emotions are ones that I'm sure it's safe to say we ALL have felt since mid-March 2020. They are also emotions that I'm sure it's safe to say we are going to continue to feel well into the future. As such, Plaguesong hits a bit too close to home. Often when listening to music, Disaster Amnesiac has no trouble being objective. In fact, that objectivity is the reason behind my moniker. An album about the event that is fucking up the lives of me and everyone else, to whatever extent, though? Kind of hard to NOT be a bit subjective! It brings to mind the sage words of Wilmington CA poet Jack Brewer: "...pain is real/as real is pain..." Listening to Plaguesong is just too painful for me, too damn REAL, knowing from whence it springs, and, as such, I have struggled with it. Big time. 

Again, I love the music of Alan Sondheim & Azure Carter. Their output always arrives at chez Amnesiac to excitement and enthusiasm. Plaguesong did as well. After multiple listens, the terror of the experience that it's about looms large on my already frazzled perceptions. It is in no way an easy experience. This is not an easy album to take in.

Alan Sondheim & Azure Carter have documented what they've been going through in honest terms, and, as stated, the music, singing, and lyrics are brilliant, but Disaster Amnesiac has really had a tough time with it. It's the REALITY thing. Plaguesong dips into it fully. Or, as Azure sings in My Life, "....I hate my life/my life does.....SUCK..." Is there a person out there currently that that doesn't apply to in spades, at least for some of the time?

As the recent months have rolled past, Disaster Amnesiac has pondered that someday, someone is going to write the novel that encapsulates this thing that we're experiencing. I feel as though that will only come with some hindsight. For example, Pynchon's Bleeding Edge, from 2013, is a pretty damn great novelization of the 9/11/01 experience. Alan Sondheim and Azure Carter have, with Plaguesong, produced a pretty much in real time artistic document that captures the terrors which most of us wrestle with currently, and into the foreseeable future. Perhaps they'll be the ones to do a music summation of this disaster, after its time has passed, and they have absolutely summed its current state well.

Seriously, I hate what this album is about. So I struggle with Plaguesong, not for any aesthetic reasons, but for purely emotional ones, despite my best intentions. If you're in a dark mental place, you may want to hold off on listening to it, even if you are a fan Alan and Azure. It hits hard, and it seems like we're only in about Round 3 of this World Historical heavyweight match.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Lester Bangs-Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader; Anchor Press 2003, John Morthland, editor


As this time of cancellation of culture continues, Disaster Amnesiac has been taking advantage of the copious amounts of down time to read, and read just about anything I can get my hands on. 2020 will be looked back upon by me as The Year That I Read Moby Dick, as much as it will be the looked back upon as The Year That Civilization Stopped Culture. 

Along with Melville's incredible chant, Disaster Amnesiac has also finished Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader. Bangs, he means a LOT to  me. I always marvel at the raw, human sensitivity within his writing. Yeah, sure, he was the Rock 'N Roll Wildman, the Gonzo Boy Howdy Cretin, roving about the music industry, dispensing disses and pontificating about what was great and what wasn't. Absolutely. Still, the aspect of his writing that continues to move me, decades after being it was done, and decades after my initial exposure to it, is the small (ish) voice that emerges from within the best of his stuff, that voice which admonishes himself and anyone else that may read, to not give in to those giant forces of the Machine, the Machine that, given a chance, will take over not only your physical reality, but, perhaps more tragically, your mental reality. That voice is all over the works compiled in Main Lines, and it's one that Disaster Amnesiac always feels grateful to hear, and as much and as many times possible at that. Bangs was at his best when he was stripping that Machine of its artifice, admonishing those who had become entangled in its thrall to come back to themselves, and just generally taking well-aimed potshots at its hulking edifice. Lester loved humanity, in all of its often ugly and disappointing aspects. And I love Lester Bang's writing for that. 

As I plowed through the pieces of Main Lines, I SO wanted for Lester to have avoided his accidental death, and to have remained writing. Disaster Amnesiac would have loved to read his thoughts on MTV, especially the Hair Metal era. Ditto the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Or Iran-Contra. Or Lou Reed's New York. Or Nirvana. Or Black Metal church burnings. Or the 2000 Presidential election. Or Britney Spears. Or 9/11. Or the Obama and Trump Presidential elections. Hell, what would Bangs have written about 2020? 

Oh, how the world could use a few more guys like Lester Bangs. Wait a second, Richard Meltzer is still very much alive..........just forget everything above and get back to your Porn Hub account.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Forse-Harmony; Dischi Amici Records, 2020


So this last summer, Mrs. Amnesiac and myself painted our garage. Naturally, I wanted to listen to music during this process. We chose a lot of CDs by guys and girls strumming acoustic guitars for ballad types of forms, and these mellower types of vibes really fit into the process, along with enhancing the desired mood. Over the course of several of these painting sessions, Disaster Amnesiac was reminded how cool the simple, stripped down approach to music can be. 

This reminder primed me for Harmony, the 2020 release from Forse. The 13 tracks that make up this digital/cassette release are all written and performed by this one guy. He seems to be coming from the Jonathan Richman school of naive, self contained song writing. This is not to say that Harmony's songs are simple jacks of Richman or any other, for they are not. His singing style is sweetly naif as it invites the listener to sing along about issues such as finding employment in I'm Looking For a Job and simply being content in Alright, Sincerely. Listeners with children will find a great family singalong in Put Your Finger Everywhere (think boogers...ear wax...), and the star obsessed, within the global musical underground, will love Henry Flynt and Moe!/Salaryman. Disaster Amnesiac hopes that the latter is about Oakland based drummer/composer Moe! Staiano, that's for sure. 

Harmony's musical sparseness is astute. Forse generally keeps things pretty simple, with cleanly strummed guitar lines or simple keyboard progressions providing the musical backdrop of the songs. This simplicity makes for an inviting vibe throughout. The instrumental - provides a fine example of what Disaster Amnesiac is talking about here, as does opening track She's Afraid Of the Dark and penultimate piece Something You Have To Change. He's not afraid to use tastefully placed overdubs and multi-tracking on many of the pieces on Harmony, though, and these give the album a band-produced feel. I actually had to send Dischi Amici label head Vasco an email to clarify that Forse is indeed one person! Said simplicity makes for a fun, hassle-free listening experience. You'll surely find yourself singing along as meanwhile these riffs will be sticking to your perception like paste onto paper. 

With Harmony, Forse has crafted a very catchy, user friendly album of very enjoyable Loner Pop.  Cop it, press play, and prepare for some smiles, no matter what you may be doing or undoing.




Sunday, October 18, 2020

Grex Interview!


SF Bay Area duo Grex's new album, Everything You Said Was Wrong, has made its way into Disaster Amnesiac's listening rotation, and I'm very glad for it. As I've heard the 16 tracks of this great release, I've often had thoughts about Fusion. Mind you, it's not a Fusion of the 1970's variety. In terms of said style for Grex, I have to say that it feels to Disaster Amnesiac that they are working on more of a 21st Century Fusion. The tracks within Everything You Said Was Wrong show thoughtful, crafty blending of elements that shape music currently, at least as far as I can perceive it. Hip Hop, Jazz, Free Improvisation, the various strains of Dub, Heavy Rock: all of these and more rise to the surface. That said, it's a delight, the way that keyboard player/vocalist Rei Scampavia and guitarist/vocalist Karl Evangelista, aided on the LP by percussionists Nava Dunkelman and Robert Lopez, mix these various elements into a sound that is very much their own. It's easy to hear and feel their unique band voice. Surely, that's not an insignificant achievement within the music industry, and Grex should be acknowledged and rewarded for this. In Disaster Amnesiac's view, there are tunes on Everything that could and should be hit singles. The musical craft and intelligence shown on tunes such as Beepocalypse, Husk, Gone, and Goodnight would seem so refreshing on my Youtube feed of current industry offerings, if for no other reason save the knowledge that there's music like this out there. Then you have the gorgeous Satie-like craft of Walking Ayler in Tarzana and the spooky Trip Hop of Boo Ghost or Margot Tenenbaum providing lateral moves into more abstract zones, by turns cerebral and concrete. The way that it all hangs together, all the while within a clearly defined band voice, man, I like it. A lot. As such, Disaster Amnesiac wanted to reach out to Grex, ask some questions, and get the skinny on this fine release from the minds of its creators. Hopefully its title does not refer to things said inside of their musical world, because they are doing just about everything right therein. 

For people who aren't familiar with Grex, please give a bit of background. What are Grex's origins?

Karl: Grex is an Oakland, CA-based art rock/experimental duo comprised of me, Karl A.D. Evangelista, on guitar, vocals, etc. and Margaret Rei Scampavia on keys, vocals, etc. Drummer/percussionist Robert Lopez sometimes joins.


Grex was formed in 2009 at Mills College. I had been studying under (the great) Fred Frith and Art Ensemble of Chicago co-founder Roscoe Mitchell, both whom of emphasized the importance of rigorous practice and personal discipline. Rei and I formed Grex as a kind of amateurish escape - a way of rediscovering the joy of the creative process away from external pressures.


In biological terms, a "grex" is an entity - a slime mold - composed of several smaller organisms. Rei selected the name. We thought it appropriate for this project, which was always intended to be a converge of disciplines, genres, and interest.

Grex songs are very unique. I am curious as to what your song writing processes are. Do you have multiple methods of song development? What goes into the act of crafting a Grex song? 

Karl: Thanks so much for saying so!


Our creative process has has gone through a series of very significant changes over the course of our time together. At first, Rei and I co-composed in a very literal sense, writing lyrics in alternating couplets and assembling harmonic structures one chord at a time. These days, one of us will write either most or all of a song independently, applying finishing touches in rehearsal.


The one significant (practical) change you may detect on Everything You Said Was Wrong is the dominance of samples and electronic sounds. Every sample on the record was first “performed” in real time (i.e., nothing was programmed in the pedantic sense, and we refrained from using quantization), and a lot of the record was written using drum and percussion elements, rather than guitar or keyboard parts, as a base. 


As I've listened to Everything You Said Was Wrong, I've marveled at the lyrics. Karl's seem to be from a declaratory place, while Rei's seem more like Symbolist poetry at times. Please describe some of the influences or aspirations in your lyrics. 

Karl: Grex has traditionally traded in surrealism and lyrical abstraction, and Rei’s lyrics in particular  (on “Beepocalypse” and “Feather Chaser”) continue this practice. Even the songs that I (Karl) wrote for Rei’s voice - like “The Other Mouses” and “Ikki” - are meant to sound evasive and, well, lyrical. We borrow liberally from a tradition of poetic irony that encompasses both classic psychedelic rock (including Pete Brown, who was Jack Bruce’s lyricist) and more contemporary songwriters like Fiona Apple, St. Vincent, and Mitski.


Karl’s leads are a new element, and they’re the end result of a long process of navigating the balance between aggressive abstraction and political grousing. At this time in history, it feels necessary to speak directly and explicitly to social concerns, even if your language is itself kind of elliptical and stream-of-consciousness. The male verses are hip-hop (n the plainest sense), and we take our cues from the likes of MF Doom, Death Grips, Quelle Chris, Moor Mother, and Odd Future.


Also regarding lyrics, I get a sense that you're both pretty literate. Some of the lyrics give me an almost Cyberpunk feeling. Are either of you Sci-Fi fans?

Karl: Yes, absolutely. Rei has a pretty long history with creative writing. As a tandem, we’re sort of science fantasy-type people (e.g., Star Wars or Dune), but Rei is very well-versed in more traditionalist or “hard” sci-fi - Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, etc. We’re also big into magical realist literature, which is, I guess, a kind of second cousin to sci-fi - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Junot Diaz, and so on.  

Musically, Grex are both pretty obviously VERY adept with your instruments. Karl, I hear lots of Jazz and Improvisational influences in your guitar (Sharrock, Abercrombie, Frisell). Assuming this is the case, what are some other strands of music that you pull from? What is your general set up for realizing Grex music?

Karl: Wildly kind of you to say, and we thank you.


Your list of guitar influences is pretty dead-on - Sharrock is the dominant thread, but I also took a lot of direct influence from Mr. Frith, paradigmatic free improvisers like Derek Bailey, Henry Kaiser, and (sort of) Ray Russell, straight-ahead jazz players like Grant Green and Joe Pass, and, of course, Hendrix. Among newer players, I love Mary Halvorson, LIberty Ellman, Ava Mendoza, and my good friend Will Northlich-Redmond. I also, admittedly, tend to listen to sax players more intently than guitarists - the canonical free jazz guys (Ayler, Ornette, Coltrane and Pharoah, Dudu Pukwana, Roscoe, etc.) first and foremost.


I have used the same basic set up for years - a Gibson Les Paul Classic, a ZT Club (which is appropriate for small settings but can project in large rooms), and some combination of 60s fuzz tone, a Digitech Whammy, a DL4 Delay Modeler, and whatever volume pedal isn’t broken. 


Rei, you move from Baroque sounds to Sun Ra interplanetary blasts on the album. Where are you getting all of this? What's your set up for Grex music?

Rei: That’s a very astute observation.  My earliest exposure to music was very structured and mainly classical, from Bach to Beethoven.  Growing up, I listened to a lot of late nineties/early aughts pop and rock, plus “classic” rock (Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Fiona Apple, Portishead, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc.).  In college, my exposure to and taste in music started to broaden especially after meeting Karl.  For Grex, I try to model myself after the likes of Horace Tapscott, Alice Coltrane, and Sun Ra, but I also end up borrowing just as much from groups like Deerhoof, the Unicorns, and Sonic Youth.


A couple years ago I made the liberating switch from an 88-key, weighted keyboard to a synth (a Rolland V-Combo) and a small Casio, and I couldn’t be happier.  I use a distortion and a delay pedal for the synth.


This question is kind of addendum to the previous. I just wanted to ask you both about your personal musical growth. Please describe your development if you'd like to do so.


Karl: I started on guitar at 12 - which I now recognize is somewhat late - and developed an early focus on blues and rock guitar. I got into jazz around the same time, and this helped to focus my energies on improvisation as a kind of non-specific practice (i.e., I’ve long been interested in the idea of making non-prepared, or non-precomposed music, whether that entails absolute abstraction or focused study of chord progressions, culturally-coded musical traditions like kulintang or gamelan, and so on).


If there’s any lasting merit to my musicianship, I’d like to think that it comes from my unflagging commitment to regular practice. This is something that I really learned from Fred and Roscoe - that music is not just a creative discipline or even a job, but also a kind of psycho-physical craft that needs to be maintained and honed. To my benefit and detriment, I like to think of music as both an ongoing challenge and an opportunity to exercise purpose.


Rei: My earliest exposure to music was singing in church (I went on to play flute in the choir when I was older), and classical piano training.  I played flute in elementary school as well, it probably sounded atrocious, and part of middle school before switching to tenor saxophone.  In high school, I played both piano and tenor sax in various jazz combos through school.  Around middle school, I had a rebellious streak and started listening to more subversive, but still relatively mainstream, music.  At Mills I was primarily a biology major, but I still participated in the music department.  Some of my biggest influences were Daniel Schmidt, who taught gamelan (an Indonesian gong orchestra), and Maggie Payne’s electronic music class.  Post-college, I would say that Karl has really shaped a lot of the progression in my taste in music, as well as my playing, since the majority of the music I play is either in Grex or other projects Karl is working on.

Who programs the beats for Grex?

Karl: I do - though none of the beats are programmed per se. I tend to pull samples from all manner of places - wildly obscure free jazz and soul records, old personal recording sessions, household objects - and use a SPD-SX sample pad as a kind of surrogate kit. All of the beats on Everything You Said Was Wrong were performed first - as in I played them live, through a PA, with sticks - and later looped.


The beat for “Blood,” for example, is actually a takeoff on a pattern that Milford Graves showed us (a 6/8 rhythm that is meant to be slightly asymmetrical, mirroring a heartbeat). It’s kind of impossible to quantize or pre-program this stuff, as the human element is so essential to the sound of it - so we’re more or less looping performances rather than regimented beats, if that makes sense. 


You have two great drummers, Nava Dunkelman and Robert Lopez on Everything You Said Was Wrong. Please give some descriptions of what it's like to collaborate with them.


Karl: To start, Nava and Robert are two of our favorite people. Robert has played some five or six tours with us at this point, and he was a regular part of the band from roughly 2012-2015. Karl has been playing with Nava in improvised settings for years, though her addition to Grex as a live and studio entity is relatively recent. It goes without saying, but both Robert and Nava are exceptionally easy to be around, which is an underrated plus when it comes to the sometimes tense and fatiguing world of tour or pressurized performance.


The main thing about including a live percussionist in Grex is that this music is meant to come out of free jazz, whether or not the resulting sound reflects those intentions. There are some energies you just can’t access without having a third musician reacting to the music in real time.

Where was the album recorded, and who engineered it?

Karl: The album was recorded and engineered by Myles Boisen at his studio. Virtually everything was performed live and edited appropriately. We’re pretty hardcore about using live basic tracks as a base for studio recordings, and so every single beat on the album was performed/looped at home and played back in real time at Myles’s studio. This is, I think, an inversion of normal electronic music procedures, and it made for a really fun, but profoundly bizarre, mixing process - some beats were manually re-performed and/or re-programmed after the fact. 


Is the Ayler you mention a dog?


Karl: Yes! Ayler was (and is) our family’s dog for many years - a Belgian Malinois mix. The song “Walking Ayler in Tarzana” commemorates our time spent with him in the San Fernando Valley, taking midnight strolls through the suburban sprawl. Our memories of Ayler remain some of the fondest we can claim from our decade+ time as Grex. 


Any closing thoughts you'd like to impart?


Karl: Everything You Said Was Wrong was written to reflect the reality of living and making art in the Oakland of 2020. It’s both an ode to the embattled Bay Area arts community and a very overt criticism of the dominance of oligarchical, often fascistic politics both in America and elsewhere.


My (Karl’s) Aunt, Miriam Defensor Santiago, was a lifelong crusader for progressive politics in the Philippines. She passed away not long after running against current President Rodrigo Duterte, whose bloodthirsty anti-crime campaign has undermined both the Filipino constitution and the ethical responsibility of our country’s highest office. I feel that it is my duty (as both a Filipino and an American) to speak to these issues, continuing my Aunt’s battle for justice in new and specifically effective ways (re: the song “Criminal”).


Finally, I’d like to stress that at a time of exceptional instability for working artists and peril for marginalized peoples everywhere, it feels irresponsible to “just” make music for the sake of turning profit. All proceeds from this record are being directed to our friend and hero, innovative drummer and educator Milford Graves, and the likes of the ACLU and Black Organizing Project in Oakland.


Photo Credit: Lenny Gonzalez 





Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Goodbye Edward Van Halen


As Disaster Amnesiac pondered writing an obit for Edward Van Halen, I pondered what it must have been like to do the same for, say, Gene Krupa in 1973. How does one communicate the timelessness of the music of a person that has become an iconic figure to a more seasoned generation and probably just a "name" to those that are younger? Does this even matter? As I've reflected on the music that seemed so important to so many, I have to admit that I've also reflected on the passing of time, and the fact that Van Halen's cultural relevance is so far removed in time. Thanks to Classic Rock radio formatting, it's very much an Establishment thing, but, again, Culturally, it strikes me as being of a period that is rapidly fading off into the distant past. Is this thought callous in light of his untimely passing?

All that being said, man, Edward Van Halen's guitar playing sure did have its effect on the culture of its time. He took the Guitar Hero model and exploded it, revamped it in his own image, and held that ground for a good ten years or so. Disaster Amnesiac can definitely recall being blown away on first hearings of Eruption, with its wild, pyrotechnic virtuosity. For a Rock fan, that solo virtuosity was key, of course, but let's not forget those riffs! Mean Streets, And the Cradle Will Rock, Dance the Night Away, Jump, Light Up the Sky, Atomic Punk.....just on and on. Edward Van Halen could conjure 'em up. The fact that he had such a swinging rhythm section behind him didn't hurt, but you've got to figure that it was his genius that provided the initial sparks for them. For that, he was awarded icon status by a huge chunk of the masses, and deservedly so. He had that magic touch on his axe and a persona that people adored to go along with those vast musical talents. The man had a gift, and his fans, Disaster Amnesiac among them, are grateful that he had a chance to share it with them. 

Goodbye Edward Van Halen, your run was epic!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Kramer-The Guilt Trip; Shimmy Disc Records, 1991


It started with a Lida Husik CD. Disaster Amnesiac was rooting around for some tunes to listen to during a long day of driving, and her great Bozo disc made the cut. As it played, I started marveling at Kramer's engineering, and then began pondering Kramer's musical output, until, at the end of the day, I was digging into his powerful 1991 solo record, The Guilt Trip.

As Disaster Amnesiac remembers it, Kramer and Shimmy Disc were at the vanguard of the Psychedelic Music movement of the later 1980's and early 90's. While so many music scenes were solidifying their sounds into pretty easily pinpointed aesthetics, Kramer and his crew were conducing guitar-based experiments into divers manner of approaches. I recall marveling at the hazy, stoned vibes from Bongwater, and the somewhat sharper focus of the Psych Pop of B.A.L.L. Then there's the dreamy ouvre of Husik. And on and on. I recall also being entranced by their soft, grainy, sepia visual aesthetics. These, and, probably with much hindsight for this listener, the ways that Kramer engineered these groups, all combined for a very unique identity emanating from the label and its foreman. An identity that was shrouded in, for me, a very poetic sense of mystery and "differance".

Disaster Amnesiac may have heard about The Guilt Trip when it was released, but I haven't heard it until this recent time spent with it. A shame, really, but most definitely a better late than never scenario. There is just so much music here!

Let's start off with the all-important lyrical arc to The Guilt Trip. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the story of a really horrible break up is told on the recording. That, and what seems to be a subtext that is Moby Dick related. As regards the former, Kramer does an incredible job of putting this human experience to words. It's all there: heart rending pain and agony, absurd personal revelations, surreal insights, violent thoughts, feelings of abandonment, sudden unexpected joy; these, and probably a lot more that Disaster Amnesiac is missing. His treatment of the topic is just spot on. If you've not had this experience, you're lucky. If you have, there's a ton of relatable lines on The Guilt Trip. As for the latter, I can't quite seem to place anything for certain, but there are quotes about whales, and titles that have references to them, and stories about them, so.........

Then there's the music. The band, made up of Kramer on bass, Alan Licht and/or Samm Bennett on drums, and Randolph A. Hudson III on guitar, puts down a great performance of Rock trio dynamics. Their playing together is so tight but loose at the same time, and each one of them sounds so adept with their instrument, yet so non-schooled at the same time. They freak out together on the instrumental passages, play great simple parts during the lyric-focused songs, and just rock out in such a great, organic manner throughout. All this, and they never sound as if they're aping any other groups. One can hear myriad influences: Psych Pop, Psych Rock, Blues, Country & Western, but that said, these very adept players take them and make their own group sound with them. It's quite great to hear, and Disaster Amnesiac wishes that they'd have made more recordings. Kramer seasons all of these moves with intriguing found sound snippets at times, giving voice to several seemingly important players in the drama of The Guilt Trip

All told, the music, lyrics, and overall package of this recording are constantly dynamic and immanently listenable. Disaster Amnesiac is really happy to have finally dug in to The Guilt Trip. I hope that Kramer has recovered from that amour fau!

Post Script: for additional reading about The Guilt Trip, I highly recommend Lexicon Devil's great blog post about it from 2008.