Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Let's see if I can spout any wisdom regarding this pile of releases sitting next to my stereo. Double time, let's go!

THE NECKS - Mosquito / See Through 2CD (Fish Of Milk)
Aussie trio's 2004 effort, another double with two tracks at 61 minutes a-piece. Can't get enough of these guys of late, and I'm kicking myself for ignoring them for the first half of the decade, since they're now leaps and bounds ahead of what they were as a unit 10 years back (and they were fine back then, by the way). "See Through" is a minimalist track - and I mean MINIMAL: there are several portions of total silence which last almost 5 minutes - that's based around a rumbling wall of piano keys and metallic percussion. Think Don Cherry's Orient masterpiece as played by Harold Budd. No, really, give it a try. "Mosquito" is a strange mix of repetitive electric piano, assorted percussive jitters (sounds like clay pots or something, your guess is as good as mine) and a slowly evolving bass line which, by the half-hour mark, all starts to gel and make sense. The Necks take time to grasp, but when they nail it, as they have to perfection over their last 4-5 outings, they're a world-beating combination.

THE GUN CLUB - Miami CD (Sympathy)
Reissue of their Chris Stein-produced sophomore LP from 1982. The given verdict by all and sundry: great, but not quite as good as the debut. Their debut, for the record, took me almost 20 years to warm to. I kid you not. Heard it as a 14-year-old, poo-pooed it for 19 years, and now as a 33-year-old have warmly greeted it to my heart. I don't mean to be contradictory or simply go against accepted truths for the hell of it, but I'll state my opinion on Miami: this is better than Fire of Love. The much-maligned Stein production is much warmer and richer than the rather brittle-sounding debut; Pierce's voice has matured to a nice combination of a croon and a yelp; the presence of not one but two flat-out classics, "Brother and Sister" and "Texas Serenade" slays me; the mixture of styles present, from punkish power-pop to near-authentic country to outright Dr. John Gris-Gris rip-offs means but one thing: Miami has won me over in a week!

DNA - DNA On DNA CD (No More Records)
Jason Gross over at PSF does it again. Does what? Well, he slaps on the hat of Executive Producer and rips out another archival gem for the masses: the complete recorded works of NY's DNA. You know 'em already, so the question remains: how does this stuff stand up? On the whole, not bad at all. Noiseniks can beef about Eno's production on No New York 'til they drop; for me he achieved one great feat: he made a near unlistenable anti-music music phenomenon such as No Wave sound quite palatable. The tracks from No NY, featured here, are definitely the best pieces of music DNA ever recorded - total gonzoid skitter-jitter avant-rock which nervously juts in a thousand directions at once. The other studio stuff ain't bad either. When Pere Ubu's Tim Wright joined Arto and friends they really took off in a spastic post-punk direction not unlike Punchline-era Minutemen: short stabs of haiku rock which are over before they barely find a groove, songs constructing and deconstructing all under the minute mark. Some of the live stuff is a bit rough, but it rounds out a neat-o package complemented by Byron Coley liner notes. If you buy but one DNA CD this lifetime...

ILDJARN - Ildjarn Is Dead 2CD (label??)
Ildjarn... all the kids are talkin' about him. So best ask them who is he is. Me? Ain't got a clue. I think he's Norwegian, though that's just a stab in the dark. This deluxe packaging covers his material from the early- to mid-'90s and prompted one, obvious comment from a friend who first saw, then heard, this beautiful twofer at my place last week: looks like they blew all their money on the packaging and couldn't afford a proper studio for the recording! Err... ha! Well blow me down, that's pure fucking comic genius. Ladies and gents, this is Black Metal, good recording is for sissies, which is why the bulk of this sounds like a basement Flipper/Solger line-up from '82 with a vocalist vomiting his liver out. Awesome novel-sized matt black/grey fold out cover, more ridiculous lyrics and liner notes so nearly illegible you'll never read more than a line a day, and over 50 songs of no-fi no-talent-allowed genius. Lap it up, squares!

YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS - Colossal Youth CD (Les Disques du Crespuscule)
Sounds like a whole load of hoo-ha over nothing. Many years of big-noting set my expectations for the sun, whereas they should've stayed firmly on Earth. Their lost 'n' lonely LP from 25-odd years back, hailed as a masterpiece by every music geek and their dog, is one thing: OK. Doesn't grab me in a major way in the year 2006, that's for sure. Minimalist lo-fi indie pop which has been pilfered and plundered by everyone and anyone who ever wore Buddy Holly glasses and a cardigan (or released a platter on K records). Warning: Hole covered a song featured here. Maybe it'll grow on me...

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