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March 31, 2008

Lydia Oh Lydia

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As usual, I'm a day late and a p-fork short announcing this little tidbit of news: No Wave hellions Teenage Jesus & the Jerks will be reuniting for two shows (8pm, 11pm) at NYC's Knitting Factory on (Friday) June 13th. The reunion shows constitute a release party of sorts for Thurston Moore & Byron Coley's lavish No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980 [Abrams].

Strident chanteuse Lydia Lunch will be joined by current Bad Seed/former Jerk & Eight Eyed Spy Jim Sclavunos. Rumor has it that a “lost member” of TJ&TJ will be filling on bass duties, but no word yet as to whom that could be. (Thurston Moore?)

The rest of the evening's entertainment remains a mystery. Quoth the Knitting Factory press release: "Also on the bill will be a supporting act from the ashes of the original NYC No Wave nightmare." Hmm. DNA, anyone? Bueller? Paging Tim Wright, jungles of Belize?

For more on No New York and No Wave:"High Voltage Humans"

Interview with Robin Crutchfield, touching on the radical heyday of TJ&TJ

Look for the collected works of TJ&TJ will also be out in June from Atavistic.

Buy tix here. [Jesus 1, Jesus 2]

MP3.jpgTeenage Jesus & the Jerks, “Burning Rubber” (from No New York)

MP3.jpgTeenage Jesus & the Jerks, “I Woke Up Dreaming” (from No New York)

LYDIA & LIZZIE MERCIER DESCLOUX, 1980 | PHOTO CREDIT: UNKNOWN

March 23, 2008

Black Postcards

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Dean Wareham
Lizard Lounge, Cambridge
March 21, 2008

As the former frontman of Galaxie 500 and Luna and currently one half of Dean & Britta, Dean Wareham has become known for a certain kind of highly literate, glacial pop. His new memoir, Black Postcards (subtitled “A Rock & Roll Romance”) finds an intriguing tonal centre between the cerebral and the libidinal. Pulling no punches when it comes to the emotional consequences of endless touring (atrocious food, boredom, distracting female attention), the book is both analytical and immediate —far more satisfyingly in-depth than your average rock & roll tell-all. (You know the ones: they’re printed in huge 12-point type and include the words “As told to” somewhere on the title page.)

Black Postcards begins with Wareham’s idyllic childhood in Wellington, New Zealand, and follows his musical career from the formation (and eventual splintering) of Galaxie 500 to the final days of Luna.

The book’s dramatic centerpiece concerns the hiring of Britta Phillips as Luna’s new bass player. Both Dean and Britta try to play down their mutual attraction but fail to stave it off for long. (Clearly, the way to Dean’s heart is to read Musil’s The Man of Qualities in the tour van.)

Cue recriminations, divorce papers, and band chaos. The usual stuff of rock n’ roll memoirs, true, but Wareham’s version of excess is miles away from the Nikki Sixx school. He comes off as far too eminently sensible to go over the edge.

Rather, the book’s most refreshing quality is its candor: Wareham’s most damning assessments concern himself, as he wrestles with a turbulent marriage, the ups and downs of his musical career, and the perils of touring. Throughout he retains his trademark dry wit and his eye for telling detail.

At Friday night’s reading, Dean picked some of the book’s bawdiest passages to read to the packed crowd, including an account of a tour-van game of “Who’d you open for?” that mutates into one of “Who would you fuck?” (Spoiler alert: Bowie and Natalie Merchant figure prominently.)

Afterwards, Dean and Britta played some stripped-down songs, just the two of them. Dean’s ode to his Dodge Dart, “Blue Thunder,” and the shimmering cover of Jonathan Richman’s “Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste” got an airing, marred by muddy sound but still sounding as crisply optimistic as a spring day.

While Dean & Britta’s gorgeous harmonies suggest a fertile (and ongoing) musical (and personal) partnership, let's hope this isn't the last time that Wareham adds Writer to his already-extensive resumé.

Dean & Britta| Luna | Black Postcards/Penguin Group

MP3.jpgGalaxie 500, “Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste (a Jonathan Richman cover from Copenhagen, Live 1990)

MP3.jpgDean & Britta, “You Turn My Head Around (a Lee Hazlewood cover from Back Numbers, 2007)

March 15, 2008

Hanna’s Sound World

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Last spring, Glasgow-based visual, sound and installation artist Hanna Tuulikki transformed boarded-up, condemned row-houses in Glasgow’s Duncan Crescent, altering these alienated spaces through the medium of sound and light. Animating the inhospitable interiors with “dream machines” —custom-made magic lanterns one featuring her exquisite, Rackhame-esque silhouettes of flora and fauna— she brought the natural world inside, bringing life and light to forgotten rooms.

The sound aspect of these installations further blurred of boundaries between man-made spaces and the natural world. Taking field recordings of bubbling brooks, wind through tree branches, bird song, and other ambient sounds of the forest, Tuulikki mixed them with her own voice to create a sensual, surround-sound hyper-reality of a woodland environment that might have existed had the city not encroached.

It’s this kind of attention to detail and respect for the natural world that colors Hanna’s work with her group Nalle, who begin their first US tour this Sunday.

Consisting of Hanna and One Ensemble members Aby Vulliamy on viola, accordion, and vocals) and Chris Hladowski on vocals, bouzouki, and clarinet, the group’s insistence on building up sounds in the most gradual, organic way is entrancing. Songs shift and ebb in their own otherworldly time-frame, and the effect is as unique as it is immense. Perhaps immense is the wrong word, because the music is, in some ways, small —it’s detail-oriented, micro as opposed to macro, gentle. Yet it feels ancient, out-of-time, and that makes it powerful in a very fresh way.

Nalle have two full-length CDs available: By Chance Upon Waking from lovely Leicester-based label Pickled Egg, and the brand-new Siren’s Wave [Locust]. If you act fast (I sound like one of those late-night informercials, eek!) you might also be able to grab the super-limited edition (only 100 made) live CD out on Secret Eye micro-label Eye Secretions. (The group might be selling it on tour —I’m not sure.)

It’s also music to be experienced live, so startlingly does the ensemble blend their vocals and unique combination of instruments.

The tour is fairly extensive, bringing the group all over the East coast through the last half of March.

Mar 16 | New Haven, CT: BAR with Eric Carbonara
Mar 17 | Providence, RI: AS220 with Eric Carbonara, Eyes Like Saucers
Mar 18 | Boston, MA: PA's Lounge with Eric Carbonara
Mar 19 | Portland, ME: TBA
Mar 20 | Northampton, MA: The King St. Manor with Defneq, Viking Moses
Mar 21 | NYC, NY: Knitting Factory with Spectre Folk, Vert
Mar 22 | Philadelphia, PA: Brickbat Books with Eric Carbonara
Mar 23 | Baltimore, MD: Warehouse show with Dan Conrad, Susan Alcorn
Mar 25 | Columbus, OH: Skylab
Mar 26 | Chicago, IL: Empty Bottle with Paul Metzger, The Zoo Wheel
Mar 27 | Cleveland, OH: All Go Signs with Black Forest/Black Sea, Paul Metzger
Mar 28 | Pittsburgh, PA: Secret Eye House with Mike Tamburo, Tradition
Mar 29 | State College, PA: Schlow Library with Black Forest/Black Sea, Evening Fires
Mar 30 | NYC, NY: Glasslands with Begushkin
Mar 31 | Jersey City, NJ: WFMU session

Nallemusic [Myspace] | Secret Eye | Eye Secretions| Live performance of "Alice's Ladder" at at the CCA, Glasgow [video] | Glasgow Nest Installation | Nalle [Pickled Egg]

MP3.jpgNalle, “Ravens (from Chance Upon Waking, Pickled Egg, 2006)

ILLUSTRATION BY HANNA TUULIKKI FROM THE NEST INSTALLATION, GLASGOW, MARCH 2007

March 09, 2008

Fascist Groove Things

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33 1/3 :: 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Drew Daniel [Continuum, 2008, $10.95]

Pop is, by its very nature, glossy and superficial, glancing off complexity and thorny ambivalences with blithe assurance.

With 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Throbbing Gristle attempt—in their own profoundly warped way— to make peace with pop music’s influence upon them; at the same time, the album plays out with such profound ambivalence —running hot and cold all at once, constantly vacillating between attraction and repulsion and back again— that its exploration of “pop” becomes heavily weighted —its like a mille-feuille of ironic distance. Upon its release in 1979, TG’s third full-length album was received with head-scratching condescension for the most part. Daniel’s artfully written little volume makes the case for this strange, unlikable album and its often unpalatable charms.

Alluring and repellent in equal measure, the group’s masterwork remains indelible for the ways in which it reworks the last vestiges of 60s optimism (as evinced in psychedelia and prog) with the darker, more ambivalent strains of punk and post-punk. In this way the band doesn't simply straddle genres but whole philosophical, moral and sexual divides. This is what makes their music so enduringly strange and repugnant —yet fascinating.

I fell into this book like Alice down an unfathomably dark rabbit-hole. It reads like a riveting detective novel, so concisely has Daniel (AKA one half of Matmos) woven personal history (both TG’s and his own), (un)reliable narration (thanks to the members of TG themselves, contradictory bastards the lot of them), close dissection (a forensic/anatomic tack being particularly appropriate with TG) and overarching pop-cultural critique.

I haven’t read Steven Ford’s Wreckers of Civilisation, but this tiny volume on only one album in the massive TG oeuvre situates the group so powerfully in the appropriate historical, personal, and musical contexts that I never wanted the book to end. It’s a vivid, revealing, and very personal work that is beautifully written from start to finish, and my favorite of the 33 1/3s so far.

For a more in-depth discussion of the book, Brainwashed has a great interview with Drew about his just-published volume here.

Throbbing Gristle [Official Site] | 33 1/3 [Blogspot] | Drew Daniel/Matmos [Official Site]

MP3.jpgThrobbing Gristle, “Hot on the Heels of Love”

MP3.jpgThrobbing Gristle, “Six Six Sixties”

FROM LEFT: GEN, CHRIS, COSEY, SLEAZY | INDUSTRIAL RECORDS PROMO CIRCA 1978

March 05, 2008

Passings

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Too often, loved ones leave us far too soon.

There’s nothing that can prepare you for such moments, or for how painful it is to watch someone slipping away and being able to do nothing.

My father passed away when I was very young, after a protracted battle with lymphoma.

My cat Mister Henry passed away last week, a mere month after I found out he had untreatable myeloma.

Brainwashed.com’s Jon Whitney has curated a two-cd requiem for his mother, Marilyn Whitney, who passed away last November.

The fifth release in the Brainwashed Handmade Series, this lovingly compiled mix —titled Peace (for Mom)— gathers new, old, and previously unreleased music donated by friends of Brainwashed, including Matmos, His Name Is Alive, Marissa Nadler, Sybarite, A Place To Bury Strangers, Carter-Tutti, Ida, Little Annie, and many more.

All of it is in honor of Marilyn, whose intense love of music in turn inspired Jon’s own, seemingly boundless enthusiasm.

Proceeds go to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, where Marilyn often volunteered. For ordering information visit Brainwashed.com.

Sybarite [myspace] | Antony & the Johnsons | Official Site

Peace (for Mom)
Track Listing:

Disc A:
1. A Place to Bury Strangers, "Sunbeam"
2. Antony and the Johnsons, "You Are My Sister"
3. Aranos, "Fall's Golden Whispers"
4. Jessica Bailiff, "Fly High"
5. Little Annie Bandez and Paul Wallfisch, "Smile"
6. Boduf Songs, "Little Song for Jon"
7. Boy In Static, "Stay Awake"
8. Caribou, "Hummingbird"
9. Carter Tutti, "Woven Clouds" (alternate version)
10. Current 93, "All the Pretty Little Horses"
11. Fridge, "Five Four Child Voice" - [MP3]
12. Christoph Heemann and Andreas Martin, "Walla Mashalla"
13. His Name Is Alive, "This World Is Not My Home"
14. Ida, "See the Stars" (acoustic)
15. The Paula Kelley Orchestra, "Life for Life"
16. Kinski, "Waka Nusa"
17. The Legendary Pink Dots, "We Bring the Day" (edit)

Disc B:
1. Andrew Liles, "The Comfortable Illusion of Meaning"
2. Matmos, "Staircase"
3. Monster Movie, "Vanishing Act"
4. Marissa Nadler, "Stallions"
5. Nudge, "Greener"
6. Amanda Palmer, "I'll Follow You Into the Dark"
7. Pantaleimon, "Idumaea"
8. Sandro Perri, "Family Tree"
9. Rivulets, "You Sail On"
10. Ulrich Schnauss, "Wherever You Are"
11. The 17th Pygmy, "I Know My Train's A Coming"
12. Stars of the Lid, "Requiem"
13. Sybarite, "Mochi Swt"
14. 27, "Windows and Glass"
15. Volcano the Bear, "Wooden Sailus"
16. Keith Fullerton Whitman, "Weiter"
17. Windy & Carl, "I Have Been Waiting to Hear Your Voice"

MP3.jpgAntony & The Johnsons, “Hope There’s Someone” (from I Am A Bird Now)

MP3.jpgSybarite, “Unica Zurn” (from Nonument, 2002)