Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ahem!... Been busy, you know... that time of year. Maybe I'll get back into this thing once life settles down in mid December. So many good things to talk about. There's the new Ennio Morricone 2CD entitled Crime and Dissonance compiled by the Sun City Girls' Alan Bishop, released on Ipecac, of all labels (whose head honcho, Mike Patton, will never overcome his audio disgraces committed w/ Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, but I get a feeling his heart is in the right places these days). I don't think this is actually out and about yet; I fluked a free copy by accident, but having spun it a good two-dozen times the last week, I'm happy to report this is well worth laying hard moolah down for. Haven't done the Morricone "thing" since the late '90s, though I think I'm about due for a revival, coz the bounty here is a near-Holy Grail for Morricone dorks. And count me in! Including a multitude of tracks from a plethora of unpronounceable Italian flicks from the '60s/'70s, this is the best non-Spaghetti Western mix of The Man's tunes compiled thus far. Ya get the kit, kaboodle and kitchen sink: funkified psychedelia, screeching strings, ooh's and aah's, experimental electronics, Jew's harp serenades and even a track from Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Consonanza (a kind of improv/electro-acoustic outfit Morricone was linked with). Fuckin' A! This is one of the best things you or I will hear all year.

Speaking of weird-ass comps, Jason over at Perfect Sound Forever has done it again. OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music is a beautiful package - 3 CDs and a DVD w/ a swish booklet and plastic slipcase rounding it off (did I mention it was actually co-produced and compiled by Jason?). This was available a couple of years back as a 3CD pack but went out of print as the label, Ellipsis, shut up shop. Now it's back w/ a bone-arse DVD and I'll be gobbling it slowly for a good 6 months. I listened to a LOT of this kinda shit from approx. 1996-2001; you know, "avant-garde electronic music". Stockhausen, Cage, Riley, Reich, Ferarri, Schaeffer, Xenakis, you name it, I devoured it. I've been on a break ever since. This might just do the trick and get me back on the horse, though if you're a dilettante or newcomer, you couldn't ask for a better start.

The Raincoats... how did I ever let these ladies slip through my fingers? I recently won a copy of their Odyshape CD on ebay for a few pennies - that'll arrive sometime soon - though until it arrives I have their The Kitchen Tapes CD on ROIR to amuse myself with. This is a bit of an embarrassing confession, though I can probably thank Simon Reynolds for finally raising my brow to these lasses. Rip It Up and Start Again (see below) may possess a smorgasboard of faults I'm too lazy to go into detail with, though it did at least give me a checklist of Limey-rock previously ignored by moi which I've made it a mission to educate myself on. The Raincoats aren't really all that dissimilar to a lot of other UK post-punk, a combination of bloodless, anti-rock Britishness and earnest passion bound to light the fire of art students worldwide (kinda like they did, I guess), though their mixture of disparate influences not usually touched by their brethren makes them something to cherish. There's generic Slits-y dub, for sure, as well as your standard Miles/Ornette/Cherry swipes and faux-Africanisms which The Pop Group made a brief career of (not a bad thing, mind you), though it's that real sense of Englishness which appeals. Look, I'm new to the Raincoats, so bear with me, but listening to The Kitchen Tapes, the band doesn't sound a million miles removed from a Robert Wyatt/Steeleye Span/Henry Cow/Slapp Happy/Derek Bailey hybrid, a peculiar mix of the early '70s stuck in the early '80s. I guess we can all thank that Kurt guy for something now.

The Meat Puppets' Monsters LP was generally considered a turkey upon release and I know of many fans who hate it. Me, I've always loved the thing, and I can say that as a longterm fan who distinctly remembers buying it in an excited flush the day it arrived at Au-go-go (RIP) back in '89. Aaah.. memories. The beef? Well, I'll quote them, the dissers and nay-sayers: Monsters, first of all, sounds like a heavy metal album, and secondly, sounds like a sell-out. Huh? Compared to the clinical slickness of its predecessors, Mirage and Huevos (the former I've never dug), if anything, this shows the 'Pups returning to their grittier roots: clouds of muddy guitar distortion and songs which drop the funk in favour of "rock". Heavy metal? Sure, there's more than a few 'Sabbath (and even 'Zeppelin) riffs lurking in here, though you wouldn't mistake any of this for a Whitesnake platter (and if you did, you'd be a fucking idiot). I'd call Monsters an ace combo of psychedelic, heavy metal and country influences, and if that sounds perfectly dreadful, I'll simply direct you towards its two best songs, the last on both sides: side A's "The Void" (total early-'70s rifferama w/ phased-out vocals to match) and side B's "Like Being Alive", a droning ballad w/ intertwining acoustic/electric guitar parts not unlike their best songs on II. After much umming and aahing, I just (belatedly) bought myself the CD reissue on Rykodisc and am once again enjoying just what a great fucking album this is. Turkey? Not on your life!

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