lizziedavis on 08/16/2012 at 12:00PM
Radioactive Pussy is audio activist performance art at its finest and simultaneously most raw. Utilizing the folk traditions of the past and updating them with current situations, the issues and music they present are intended to activate and generally motivate the listener. (via.) The band includes experimental stalwart Chuck Bettis as well as Yuko Tonohira, cofounder of Todos Somos Japon, a group that communicates political dialogues among people in and outside of Japan through the bilingual website jfissures.org.
Radioactive Pussy held their first performance on July 24th, 2012 at NYC's Zebulon. You can find the whole set here on the FMA. Listen to one of the "raw documents" of the political performance below in the form of "Fuck Nukes!"
lizziedavis on 08/04/2012 at 03:00PM
Severed Lips Recordings was a cassette label which operated out of a basement in Ringwood, NJ from 1992-2000. Somehow, their catalog of horror garage gems from an incestuous roster of artists has managed to stay under the radar, a rare feat in the "information age."
The fascinating story of Severed Lips Recordings is inspiring to anyone who's been involved in a fringe DIY community. I had the pleasure of hearing it straight from William Hellfire, the mastermind behind SLR's operations, via email.
First off, how did the label get started?
I started Severed Lips Recordings with Scott Beattie, aka Agent 78, in 1992 when we were 19 years old. Scott and I had just started playing music together and called our band Gerbil Church. The music we played was just our two Vantage guitars blasted through crappy, failing vintage amplifiers, no drummer or bassist.
I was also reworking a small set of Big Black-inspired noise rock songs and through an old band mate met Eddie Blade, whose solo agro/industrial recordings were amazing by any 4 track demo standard. I invited Todd and Eddie to learn the songs and record with me over at my basement HQ. When they got to my place, they popped a hit of LSD in my mouth. The session didn't go as planned-- instead, it was hijacked by a brand new creation, "DISCO MISSILE." Scott and I decided to take all the boom box and live recordings from these bands as well as the new Disco Missile cassette and start releasing them. We made our first release with personalized covers consisting of retro wrapping paper, string, ink, oregano, cinnamon all kinds of bits and bobs, Xerox, pen, crayon. I think we may have sold and given away about 20 or so in total.
December 1992 was the initial release party. I had also created releases out of recordings of an acid trip I took in my room with my cat and my friend Ruby Honeycat’s childhood audio tapes with her friends, which consisted of a bunch of 5 year olds talking about dinosaurs and singing kid songs that made no sense. Anything I could find with original audio on it, I just made up a band name and cover for and tried to sell it.
My friends and I were very small-town and naive, and in that naive thinking had come a lovely purity. The sensibilities were childish and devilish, sweet and sadistic; we were naive anarchists not just rebelling against the political establishments but the whole ideal of reality and the homogenized art world, the corporatized social structure. Around 1989, everything started to go bad. There was very little happening and the stream of consciousness was getting thinner and thinner.
It was "mall culture" and MTV, and the minute something good would squeak its way in, there were corporate clones of it. Punk rock, the last stand of decency in the world, was being homogenized for the mall market. It was getting hard to breathe. We had to entertain ourselves--create our own music, our own culture and our own fun.
Severed Lips Recordings cassettes were $4 each. Basement shows were $2-3 bux donation, and we rented out a legion hall in butler for--get this--$65 bux! $3 dollar admission. Can't beat that. We baked cookies and made Jell-O, served coffee with cassettes and played noisy and fuzzy caricatures of psychedelic punk rock. Then in 1996, SLR started going outside the legion hall and basement and began to frequent Connections in Clifton NJ, Continental, Coney Island High and CB’s NYC.
lizziedavis on 08/03/2012 at 12:00PM
Hank Penny should be a household name. But the reason he isn't is the same reason that this release cooks: attitude. Seems Hank wouldn't take shit from anybody. As a result, he burned a lot of bridges and missed more than a few opportunities to further his career.
He started his first band, the Radio Cowboys, in 1935 and later became a regular on the Boone County Jamboree out of Cincinnati. He acted in a couple of Westerns, yukked it up on Spade Cooley's TV show in the 40's, DJ'd here and there across California and Kansas, and tore up clubs across the country from the 30's to the 70's. (via.)
A couple years ago, Bloodshot Records put together 30 of Hank's best as part of its Bloodshot Revival country reissue series. Sample what you've been missing with "Alabama Jubilee" below.
lizziedavis on 07/27/2012 at 11:15AM
This is the best chiptune-funk comp ever! To anyone who's ever made disparaging remarks about the soullessness of FM synthesis, I present this album as irrefutable evidence of the contrary. On FM FUNK MADNESS!!, synths come alive. Tracks like Blitz Lunar's "Cascade Masquerade" immediately conjure comparisons to the hits of the great Wild Cherry. The following track,"Fashion Queen" by Kulor is a natural thematic and musical successor to Madonna's "Vogue." Later in the album, the thumping bassline of Tsuyoshi Shimokura's aptly-titled "FunkOsaka" brings to mind not waveform crests and nodes, but the pulsating lights of Studio 54!
FM FUNK MADNESS!! was compiled and released by Ubiktune, a chiptune and video game music-related netlabel based out of Russia.
lizziedavis on 06/29/2012 at 02:30PM
It's a dangerous time to be an experimental musician influenced by black metal. Bands that seem to get just a bit too conceptual with their metal have attracted heavy controversy over the last few years. Luckily, Extra Life has managed to evade the wrath of purists while taking black metal to an entirely new plane. Fronted by Charlie Looker, an elementary school teacher, former member of Zs and Dirty Projectors, and true “musician’s musician,” Extra Life fuses black metal, early music, and experimental theory to create music that is at once intensely powerful and a little fragile. Their latest release, Dream Seeds, is a haunting and jarring study of the nature of dreams and children.
Extra Life will be playing in Spy Music Festival in NYC at the end of the month. I asked Charlie Looker some questions via email.
You've said that the inspiration behind Dream Seeds comes from the ethereal realm of dreams and childhood, yet to me, the music also feels meticulous and intellectualized. What's your process of developing songs out of the hazy sphere of youth into the careful world of adulthood?
Any time you do something creative you’re taking things which are subconscious and making them conscious. You take something ethereal and unformed and you make it manifest in the world. That’s always what the creative process is, whether or not the source is dreams or childhood or whatever. If what you make is good, then it actually increases and intensifies the mystery of the original impulses. If along the way, the whole feeling becomes dry and obvious and overly intellectual, then you’ve failed. I’m not sure if I’d call our working process intellectual. It’s definitely meticulous. We all get obsessively caught up in little details of our parts, how the parts interlock, subtleties of rhythmic feel. But that’s not philosophical or academic, it’s just craft. Any intellectualizing about the music usually comes after the fact of making the music, in reflecting on it.
How young were you when you started playing and writing music?
I played the piano very seriously from ages five through eleven. Then I got into metal and I started playing the electric guitar. I played in some hardcore-influenced bands in high school and I’d write parts of songs, just riffs and chord progressions. Around sixteen I got a four track and started making these long insane home-recorded piece, really influenced by John Zorn and Ennio Morricone, like soundtracks without film. That’s basically how I got into experimental music in general.
What were some of the musical influences behind the album?
The past few years my favorite music I’ve been checking out is Antony and the Cocteau Twins. But I’m not sure how much that’s even audible to the listener as an influence on the record. I’ve been really into Current 93 but we don’t really sound like that, other than maybe on “No Dreams Tonight”. I’ve also been super into Romantic and Impressionist orchestral music, listening to it a ton and also studying the scores in depth. This has definitely opened up my sense of arrangement, orchestration and recording, but then again, on this record most of that production side of things comes from our guitarist/engineer Caley Monahon-Ward and not me.
You just got back from a European tour. How was it?
It was awesome. It was tiring, but not nearly as tiring as touring the states. We were fed well.
Are you doing any sort of special set or collaborations for Spy Music Festival?
The main thing I’m doing is just a straight-up Extra Life set on June 30. But also on that bill Caley and I will both be playing guitar in Rhys Chatham’s ensemble which is definitely a special thing. Chatham is an important musician and I’ve never met him before. Spy Fest in general will be sick. Northern Spy is a really unique label and I’m proud to call it home.
lizziedavis on 06/28/2012 at 12:00PM
Skeletons are an American entertainment unit from New York City via Oberlin, Ohio. Skeletons began as the solo project of Chicago native musician and filmmaker Matt Mehlan in 2001, but has grown to include Jason McMahon and Jon Leland. Now into their second decade of existence, Skeletons count 7 full length albums, an 18-member "Skeletons Big Band" incarnation, and the inception of NYC' Silent Barn among their accomplishments.
Last November, Skeletons released a MIDI version of their song "No" for download with an Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike CC license. It was made (mistakes and all!) by playing midi drums, a keyboard, and a midi guitar live, then using "SOFT-SYNTH" presets to create a "version". They then edited the original vocals from the "PEOPLE" album to fit this new "version". Anyone and everyone is invited to download the file and make their own version of the song. For more information on the project, click here! (via.)
Skeletons will be performing on Friday, June 29th at Brooklyn, NY's Union Pool with Rhys Chatham - Ryan Sawyer Gunn - Truscinski Duo, and Peter Stampfel as part of Northern Spy's Spy Music Festival.
lizziedavis on 06/22/2012 at 02:00PM
Hillstock is a 3-day music festival in Brooklyn, New York, now in its fourth year. The festival's organizers invite about 50 acts of varying genres to their neighborhood of Brooklyn to perform at one of three shows during a weekend in early June. Each band plays a 30 minute set, and bands play back-to-back Friday through Sunday. The goals of Hillstock are to promote great local music, build community, and provide an affordable and fun atmosphere for people of all ages to experience new music. (via.)
Hillstock 2012 is happening from TODAY! through Sunday, June 24th in backyards, living rooms, and more across the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy. In addition to homemade snacks, there will be sets from some bands who have material on the FMA. Check out selections below!
lizziedavis on 06/20/2012 at 12:00PM
Suishou No Fune brought their hazy free psych all the way from Japan to WFMU in the midst of a US tour. Laced with unhinged Tokyo Flashback-isms, Suishou No Fune's spare, transformational, spiritually heavy music is sure to bring the extra claustrophobic humidity to the sweet New Jersey summer. Or should I say bummer. (via.)
As the temperature here in Jersey City climbs closer and closer towards the dreaded 99 degree forcast, only a track that lays on the reverb as thickly as "Your Tears" feels right for today's MP3 of the Day.
For more Suishou No Fune, click here to listen to a newly uploaded set from 2006.
lizziedavis on 06/11/2012 at 12:00PM
Raised on the subways of NYC, the Luddites formed in Fall 2010 for a three day residency at the experimental dance space La Mama. They've been confounding audiences ever since with their dedication to forcing cacophony, free jazz, funk and pop into submission. The band is also involved in Amplified Cactus Salon, an experimental art collective that incorporates, cooking, acting, and visual art into its performances.
With its many members spread out across all five boroughs, the Luddites spend a lot of time in the parallel universe that exists in the subway tunnels of NYC. Though they're infamous for telling endless tales of wisdom gleaned late at night on the L and psychic encounters on the M, all of the Luddites can agree that there's simply no train in New York like the Jesus Train.
lizziedavis on 06/06/2012 at 12:00PM
Ever wonder what the soundtrack to a fight between James Brown and Dirty Projectors would sound like? Ava Luna's latest album "Ice Level" would definitely be a top contender. Very few bands can be described as both "Stax meets Kraftwerk" and "nervous soul," but Brooklyn-based Ava Luna's brand of deconstructed R&B is unique enough to make it work.
Last winter, Ava Luna came in to WFMU to play a set on Beastin the Airwaves. It was a long planned and long-time coming event, first discussed back in 2008 before Ava Luna's first album, "3rd Avenue Island" was even released. Clearly, they'd spent a lot of the time between then and now practicing, because they sounded great. Check out closing track "Past the Barbary" below, and download the whole set here!