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November 22, 2006

A Chance Meeting

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I still haven’t recovered from an intense weekend of music. I went to Brainwaves, Brainwashed.com’s 10th anniversary festival, and it did not disappoint. Highlights of the weekend were wry Czech trickster Aranos, a Nurse with Wound collaborator who brought charm and sly humor to his violin-driven songs; the lilting, wistful electronica of Charles Atlas (aided for the performance by former Cursive violinist Gretta Cohn); a DJ set by Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound); a series of films by Peter Chistopherson (Coil); and exuberant, puckish sets from the incredibly Residential Irr(App)(Ext.) and wayward prog-psych of Volcano the Bear —the latter, as my friend put it, “like This Heat meets the Kids In the Hall.” That just about sums it up, really.

Steve Stapleton’s incredibly enjoyable DJ set sent me scrambling all over the vast reaches of the internet looking for the tracks he played. If anyone has a tracklist, please share. (You’d have to be the trainspotter to end all trainspotters to get all those songs —I’m clearly still on the kiddie slope when it comes to recognizing incredibly obscure music).

Of course, THAT sent me to the infamous Nurse with Wound List (you know the one —it came tipped in with the first Nurse With Wound album, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella). The unadorned, un-annotated list of 300+ names has subsequently become much sought-after by anyone even vaguely interested in proto-psych, Krautrock, free jazz, improv and outsider music.

Culled from the NWW List we have the delightful discovery of an early Sally Timms track (credited to “Sally Smmit and Her Musicians), the A-side of an imaginary soundtrack known as “Hangahar.” Nowadays we all know Sally as the brassy singer of the Mekons but at the age of 19 she recorded this impressively operatic EP for Pete Shelley’s short-lived Groovy label (which also released his incredibly rare “Sky Yen” album). She was aided and abetted by Shelley and Lindsay Lee, Tony Wilson’s first wife. (For more obscure delights from the list, look no further than WFMU’s Beware of the Blog )

I’d give anything for Side B of this, especially since the 12” is currently going for $218.00 on GEMM! *Sigh*

Brainwashed | The Mekons | Sally Timms

MP3.jpgSally Smmit and Her Musicians, ”Hangahar (Side A)"

ARTWORK BY LEONOR FINI

November 14, 2006

Uh, the dog ate my homework?

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I should have known. It was a crime of hubris, posting twice in one week.Thinking I had a whole, say, five days leeway? And look at me, slinking back here with a half-assed post twelve (TWELVE!) days later.

For shame!

To compensate (?!) I give you two songs that BARK. (Or growl, in the case of Pere Ubu.)

Multi-headed all-singing, all-girl percussion hydra Pulsallama evidently did more cat-fighting than composing during their brief heyday. But brilliant one-off "The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body" more than lives up to its improbable title, a suburban soap opera imploding faster than an AM Homes novel hopped up on Benzedrine and nitrous. Who else but Ann Magnuson could pull those vocals off with the appropriate elan, frisson, and sang-froid, I ask you? More barking! More cowbell! MORE FRENZY!

And now for something completely different. Goodbye NYC, goodbye dayglo kitsch. Hello Cleveland!

Pere Ubu never fails to amaze me. I haven't investigated the new album "Why I Hate Women" fully yet (I'm planning on buying it at next week's Knitting Factory show), but if "Two Women, One Bar" is any indication, it's going to be a fine addition to their already massive body of work.

"Misery Goats" is not from the new album, but from 1980's Art of Walking.

Equal parts goofy and sinister, this song walks a fine lyrical line —from the profane to the profound to the ridiculous and back again. Like their namesake, Ubu resist reductiveness. Their greatest asset is their seemingly inexhaustible sense of playfulness. I can't think of another band that colors outside the lines with such gleefulness and, ultimately, such improbable grace. This song —which would sound weirdly hokey if summarized— makes me smile every time I hear it.

MP3.jpgPulsallama, ”The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body"

MP3.jpgPere Ubu, “Misery Goats”

Pere Ubu Tour Dates | UbuProjex Home | Ubu Store | NYNoise Vol. 2, where you can find another Pulsallama track. | The closest the web gets to a Pulsallama home page. Hosted by former band member Jean Caffeine. But wait! There's this one too! With MP3s even! It's hosted by former band member Stacy Elkin. | Ann Magnuson Ann has a new album, Pretty Songs and Ugly Stories, due any day now.

APOLOGIES TO KEITH HARING.

November 02, 2006

Music Is A Better Noise

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Named after the Essential Logic song, Music Is A Better Noise, a new exhibit currently on view at PS1 in Queens, “brings together musicians who make art and artists who make music.” The first section focuses on the fertile mid-1970s to early 1980s period (see also: NYU’s recent Downtown Show), and includes contributions from Barbara Ess, whose pinhole camera photographs have graced the cover of Blind Spot and who has played in the Static, Y Pants, and Ultra Vulva, Alan Vega (Suicide) and legendarily eccentric hip-hop iconoclast Rammellzee. The second section rounds up drawings, installations, and video art from the current scene, including contributions from Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Rossum, Jutta Koether, Christian Marclay, Kim Gordon, Devendra Banhart, and Thurston Moore (among others). It’s on view until January 8, 2007.

Ess’ group Y Pants have been (relatively) unsung during the new wave of No Wave. The only No Wavers to dare incorporate ukelele and toy piano into their instrumental repetoire (talk about a unique take on the power trio), Ess, Gail Vachon and Virginia Persol created some of the most charming, shambolic, and slyly feminist songs of the era (think of them as New York’s answer to the Raincoats). Their cover of Lesley Gore's' “That’s the Way Boys Are” is a chilling, canny masterpiece in upending a song’s text and subtext (not to mention wryly subverting the usual rock clichés about puppydog love); “Favorite Sweater”, by contrast, is one of the few No Wave songs guaranteed to make you grin from ear to ear. Hopefully the Periodic Document reissue of the band’s complete discography is still readily available.

Rammellzee’s been busy in the years since he was featured in the groundbreaking hip-hop doc Style Wars. In addition to being an early originator of some serious wild style, he’s also an MC, painter, writer and all-around Renaissance man. “Beat Bop” is a strange and beautiful trip —social realism mixed with intense flights of fancy. Surreal, harrowing but ultimately uplifting. You can find it on the Downtown 81 soundtrack. You can also find his work on the Death Comet Crew reissue that came out last year. It’s well worth tracking down. [DCC was co-founded by Ike Yard’s Stuart Argabright, who also compiled the new volume of New York Noise.]

I’m off to NYC to see the Slits! Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

PS1 :: Music Is A Better Noise | Ramm:ell:zee | Death Comet Crew, This Is Rip Hop | Martin Rev/Suicide | Y Pants | I Am Not This Body: Photographs by Barbara Ess

MP3.jpgRammellzee vs. K Rob, “Beat Bop”

MP3.jpgY Pants, “Love’s A Disease”

MP3.jpgSuicide, “Ghost Rider”

PHOTO CREDIT: "yes/no" BY BARBARA ESS