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lizb on 05/21/2009 at 09:38AM

Chenard Walcker: Music and Tragedy

I discovered the wonderful music and tragic story of Chenard Walcker all at once as I happened upon a song performed by Otis Fodder, who you may remember from WFMU's 365 Days Project.

"Nous Aimons Oui" below was actually written by Chenard Walcker, a French audio collage artist and the force behind the Free Sample Zone. Tragically, this talented artist and champion of free music on the internet fell into a diabetic coma in 2006, and to date, is slowly recovering.

Check out WM Recordings' "Tribute to Chenard Walcker, Vol. 1" compilation to hear Chenard Walcker's great songs covered by his friends and admirers. Fans of People Like Us, Ergo Phizmiz, Stereo Total, and Dragibus, take note. Be sure to check out other great releases by WM Recordings on the FMA.

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JoeMc on 05/20/2009 at 12:14PM

In Search of the Two-Headed Cow

Dex Romweber Duo (pic by Jeremy Farmer via flickr)

A couple of years ago, I was visiting a friend in Tampa, Florida. It was the winter, I'm sure, since I could actually endure being outside for more than two minutes at a time. Anyway, while looking for something to do on a sleepy Saturday, we came across an intriguing listing in the local entertainment rag: a movie theater was presenting a documentary about Dexter Romweber in a town about an hour away. Not only that, but Dexter himself would be on-hand for the event. It seemed bizarre, like finding a Throbbing Gristle record in the local Fye, but of course we went.

The documentary was called "Two-Headed Cow," and it's a pretty fascinating dip into the life and times of Dexter Romweber. For those of you who don't know, Dex was one-half of the supercharged rock 'n' roll pair from North Carolina known as Flat Duo Jets, whose blend of forgotten rockabilly classics, rocked-up standards, and originals in a similar vein created a template for all of the guitar-drum bands to come, from White Stripes to Mr. Airplane Man to Black Keys and so on. Their sweaty live shows were legendary, and Dexter was known for his unhinged--and, as it turns out, often heavily medicated--performances.

The film goes into fairly harrowing detail about Dexter's problems with mental illness and various substances, but what really emerges is a portrait of a guy who is the real article: a genuine musician, born to sing and play music, whether at his mother's piano or in a ramshackle nightclub in the middle of nowhere. Or, as it happened in this case, in a movie theater somewhere on the Gulf Coast of Florida.


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Scott_Williams on 05/20/2009 at 08:50AM

Strange Maine: Big Blood

Big Blood portrait by Colleen Kinsella

This post originally appeared on WFMU's "Beware of The Blog". The Free Music Archive now hosts nine full albums by this most excellent band.

A good sign that a band is in the full embrace of creative possession is revealed in its choice and handling of cover material.  The "phantom 4-piece" Big Blood boldly and beautifully tackles a Sumatran pop song from the indomitable Sublime Frequencies series of musical Asian mysteries; and their take on Can's "Vitamin C" is completely revealing not just of Big Blood, but of Can.  And they do it with acoustic instruments.  Hearing it is truly like hearing Can with somebody else's ears, and it is fucking thrilling. 

Big Blood is clearly in full thrall to whatever demon god of creativity squirrels around under the dirt up there in South Portland, Maine among the loons and the decrepit oil tanks. Rhythmically hypnotic, with a lot of melody and instrumental density; broadly considered a "psych-folk" band (fair enough), it's fair to imagine that Big Blood have actually tripped over some long-hidden threads of indigenous Americana to discover a trove of musical and folkloric delights that somehow fossilized and disappeared, centuries ago.  It sounds so "Evil Dead", doesn't it?  It can be -- but it can also be intensely and heartbreakingly warm and moving.  Now would be a good time to watch this video; if watching it doesn't make you want to watch it again, and then perhaps even again, then skedaddle. You and I will agree to disagree.

That's "Oh Country", performed by Big Blood with their pal Kelly Nesbitt, live on the Pipeline local live music radio show on WMBR out of Cambridge MA. Lots more Pipeline vids here; download a podcast of the entire 40 minute Big Blood set via iTunes, or here.

Continue reading to get their story, and treats.


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herr_professor on 05/18/2009 at 01:57PM

Poke'n 657,644 and to a lesser extent, Bud Melvin

Live at SXSW 2008

Now that you have a good grip of what chip music is and some of the ways it is made after last week’s post, now it’s time to shatter whatever thinly-formed preconceptions you may have about the type of music that’s made on these old chips.

I once read an interview with a sci-fi writer who said that you can only take so many liberties with your audience. You could have a story with dragons, one with telepathy, or a story with time travel, but combining the three takes an enhanced level of skill than does merely using the one alone. Perhaps the most skillful, time traveling, telepathic dragon in the modern chip music scene is one Bud Melvin.


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pushbinlou on 05/18/2009 at 07:52AM

CLE for Life

The Flat Can Co. - Picture by Karen Novak

1.  Dirty, grungy, blue collar bar.  Check.

2.  Band sets up on floor and immediately starts playing.  Check.

3.  In-your-face mix of metal/motorik riffage with semi-coherent lyrics shouted through a megaphone.  Check

4.  Really want to hear what this sounds like but can't make it to Cleveland.  Check.

Well look no further.  Here is a full live set of The Flat Can Co. recorded at Pat's In The Flats in beautiful and sunny Cleveland, Ohio.  Enjoy.

 

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macedonia on 05/17/2009 at 04:15PM

Do your Homework...

front cover art for lavori domestici vol. 2, courtesy of homework records.

My first experience with the Homework Records netlabel was last year's release from a great DJ/producer duo called Apes On Tapes.  They immediately reminded me of Prefuse 73, chopping up vocals into Julienne fries-thin slices and peppering hip-hop based productions with spicy staccato phrases.  I was hooked.  From there it was on to the work of Phooka, whose Morning Patterns album (another 2008 release) contains selections created between 7:00 and 9:30 A.M.  The pieces ranged from relaxing deep house and downtempo to minimal and full-bodied techno.  Thankfully, this label has found its way over to the Free Music Archive and supplied us with the perfect introduction to their sound via Lavori Domestici Vol. 2.

Released late March of this year, it's 26 tracks deep and showcases the best of Homework Records alongside like-minded artists from other labels.  Meanest Man Contest supplies some quirky twitches with "You're right, it's ballin," a sparkling melody providing an anchor for the song while sonic bells and whistles circle around it.  Apes On Tapes make a welcome appearance here with "Loosing My Paganism":  while surprisingly subdued, the end results are no less effective.  "Taka" by (costa) is one of the best downbeat moments - hard-as-nails hip-hop beats with clicks, cuts, and verbal confetti whizzing by your head (was that Flavor Flav I just heard?).  Whereas the first half of this compilation deals in moments prime for living room chillout sessions, the second half makes its way to the dancefloor.  Recommended crowd movers include the melancholy minimal techno of "Sunny" by Mass Prod., the sensual "Sax For Your Sex" by Minidischi, and the edgy, acidic industrial of Micamat + Desanimaux's "Maneki Neko-Dance."

Clocking in at over 150 minutes in length, it may seem like a lot to take in, but I guarantee you that the monotony of any workday will be chased away just by putting this compilation on and letting it play.  Check out the selection from Phooka below for added incentive.  Although the song is entitled "I'm From Kreuzberg," its soulful warmth would be right at home in Detroit...

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Halas_Radio on 05/16/2009 at 02:58PM

iNiT

iNiT was formed in 2006 by Guy Harries and M. Both had been working on experimental projects for years - together and separately. This band was going to be the happy-happy outlet, with unabashed pop theatricality. After a series of twists and turns, and a varying lineup leading to a very strange show in which three guitars on stage turned pop into a wall of metal distortion, iNiT finally emerged with its edgy electro sound. Bringing into the band their Middle Eastern origins, as well as the occasional flirtation with Goth, new wave, rock and cabaret, a diverse but recognisably unique sound emerged.

The live gigs are where things all came together. A cheeky approach, audience involvement, a mix of performance art and danceability result in something intense, funny and occasionally scary. The band performs in the weirdest of places, including boats on the Thames, a warehouse in Totthenham, basement venues that were once public toilets and neo-Cabaret nights. At the moment most action is in the studio where iNiT is working on a full-length album, a follow up to their recent EP.

So where does the name of the band come from? The band members have different takes on it. The word has something of the typically London mockney 'innit?' brought into a more general and almost mystical world of 'everything that is in it'. Whatever that means is up to your fantasy. Make your mind up when you see this phantasmagoric flabbergasting show.

iNiT on myspace | iNiT on the FMA

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DylanGoing on 05/15/2009 at 01:28PM

Only Slightly Fun! (No Fun Fest preview)

This guy is having no fun 2008. Photo by Seth Tisue CC by-sa 3.0

"I was very liked that drum sound. So, recently I often used Bozzio's sampling on stage as previous European tour" -Masami Akita

A great thing about Merzbow is when everyone assumes they have a handle on his image since his week-to-week new album release schedule leaves so little room for secrets. So with every curve ball he throws, a breath of fresh air that lets us know he's still on top of the game. His most recent bomb-drop that he had to cancel his trip to the US to appear at No Fun Fest this from H1N1 pandemic fervor was disappointing, but with the line-up they still have, I certainly won't be having any LESS fun. Here's are some artists playing this weekend who have material on the FMA:

Aura-readings on home-made synthesizers for the Nu Age from Portland, OR's Pulse Emitter.

Cold Cave plays probably the most forlorn pop industrial goth-porn sounds to come out of Philadelphia in the past year. Check out their recent live set on Choking on Cufflinks with Michael Goodstein.

Spain's Mattin plays on Saturday as well. High concept and high volume, he manages to provide thorough, academic essays to read while your ears file for divorce. Mostly a good time! Catch him on tour this month with Deflag Haemorrhage/Haien Kontra.

And last but not least: Carlos "Lee Iacocca of Noise" Giffoni. Organizer of the No Fun Fest + Production company, aka "the guy who over 50 performers are going to come to this weekend if they have a problem." This spectacular wherewithal shows in such performances as his live appearance on WFMU last fall on Dan Bodah's show.

The fest is sold out, but try and support the artists on their surrounding tours and be sure to listen to the upcoming Skullflower performance next week on Brian Turner's show.

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marcus on 05/14/2009 at 05:11PM

Bobb Trimble

The Man

One has to keep pulling up that LP cover and having a deep look into his face. Is that the kid who recorded these songs, that adolescent-looking midwestern hard case, with a tommy gun hoisted up over the guitar in his lap?

Released in 1981 in a limited run of 500 copies,  Bobb Trimble's Iron Curtain Innocence had by the mid-nineties become a legendary artifact, sought heavily by psych fans willing to pay characteristically unreasonably amounts of money to put hands on a recording that to this day still sounds unstuck in time and space.

With his attention to recording and vocal effects, Bobb certainly intended to convey a personal vision with these songs. But I can't imagine that even he knew how otherworldly this particular combination of cheap basement studio tweaks would sound after being poured over his breaking, melting, falsetto squall.

Secretly Canadian re-released this record in 2007, so now it's widely available. And we were lucky enough to get a track off of Iron Curtain Innocence, and one from a great follow-up, Harvest of Dreams.

Go deep with Bobb. He'll meet you there.

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lizb on 05/13/2009 at 10:44PM

The Soulful Pipes of JC Brooks

Photo by Fuzzy Gerdes, all rights reserved.

My desk at WFMU lies in close proximity to our live music studio, and thanks to the dozens of bands who roll through our hallowed halls, a variety of righteous sounds infect my workdays.

Despite the volume of talented artists who perform at FMU, it's rare when the racket that reaches my desk harkens back to the days of Otis Redding. And yet, this is exactly what happened just a few weeks ago, when JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound from Chicago swung by to record a live set for the Three Chord Monte program with Joe Belock.

The soulful pipes belonging to singer JC Brooks reminded me that some people were meant to sing. After listening to JC expertly wail through a few tunes, the cosmic weight of each screeching, off-key karaoke performance from my own dark past became practically unbearable and made me consider taking an oath of no singing. Clearly, this activity should be left to the professionals.

Take a listen to the set from Joe Belock's show for some great R&B, but beware: karaoke crimes from your past may come back to haunt you after witnessing the sweet, masterful vocal stylings of JC Brooks.

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