Thursday, August 20, 2009

WHIRLING PIG DERVISH - Full Leather Lovesuit 7" EP (Gruff Wit/1991)
Went on a 7" binge the other night and nearly didn't make it back alive. Thank the heavens I've never sold a single 7" since I got over pop music as a 13-year-old: they're always good to travel back to at least once a year. This is one of them. I was going to wax lyrical about this here piece o' plastic at some kinda vague length, and then I noticed I'd been beaten to it by Martin over at Swedish Nurse blog. You might wanna check his quick rant out, since you can also download the thing there, too. WPD I know next to zip about. Like much of the Scottish scene of its time (late '80s/early '90s), such asDawson , Stretchheads, Archbishop Kebab, Badgewearer, Dog Faced Hermans, etc., as well as their Dutch/Euro brethren (The Ex, Donkey, Revenge Of The Carrots et al), finding any kinda real concrete information on the whos, whats, wheres and whys, even in this instant age, remains a tough one. Perhaps not so much The Ex or DFH, but if you can locate an unedited complete history of the great Badgewearer on the 'net, send me a link and I'll buy you a lollipop. WPD released this one 7" on Jer from Dawson's Gruff Wit label back in 1991, a split cassette w/ Revenge Of The Carrots a year or two later, and even apparently (since I've never seen nor heard it) an LP by the name of Three Small One Tall, and that's it. Any cassette or LP or burn/tape thereof which flies my way will be moderately rewarded. Soundwise, they inhabit the same Fall-damaged zone as DFH, meaning thick-as-tar bass lines, scattershot rhythms and twangy, almost rockabilly guitar riffs. And, much like The Fall, there's no mistaking that accent; no Mancunian drawl here, but a near-incomprehensible and unmistakable Scottish brogue (easily understood by moi as my Dad's a Glaswegian). Four tracks of angry, political yelp documented w/ a nice sleeve, mandatory lyric sheet, clean and punchy recording quality (which this kinda schtick requires) and then it's all over. All members can leave this mortal coil at one point in time knowing they impressed at least one Antipodean douchebag with what they did in this life.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Last night I braved humanity (and humanity braved me!) and hit the town for a special night of music: the launch of PIVIXKI's debut CD on the Sabbatical label. OK, OK... some backtracking is in order... PIVIXKI is a duo consisting of local avant wunderkind, Anthony Pateras, and percussive extraordinaire, Max Kohane, on piano and drums, respectively. Pateras has been playing around town for roughly a decade in all manner of configurations (such as the Pateras/Baxter/Brown trio), but most notably as a solo artist (he's got a CD on Tzadik to prove it); and Kohane is similarly a man who likes to spread himself around, having played in various HC outfits (such as Far Left Limit and the ace Cut Sick), grind kings Agents of Abhorrence, electro duo the Brain Children (w/ Mikey from Eddy Current) and even, apparently, as a solo hip-hop dude (yet to hear that!). Phew! Fill in the gaps, there's still plenty to talk about... But anyhow, let's talk about PIVIXKI. They like to bill themselves as something along the lines of a piano/drums avant-grind outfit, and since no other description fits what they do, I'm willing to go along w/ that. Max, as anyone who's ever seen him play, is a goddamn demon behind the kit, a four-limbed machine of immense precision and power, he's also usually the highlight of every band he plays in. I simply observe in jealous awe and wonder how it is that his arms don't fall off. Pateras' style can vary according to what sort of format or "genre" he's playing in, but for this duo I'd say it's caught somewhere in the netherworlds of Conlon Nancarrow and Cecil Taylor. PIVIXKI are upbeat as all shit: keys are hammered and there's blastbeats aplenty, but there's also occasional stabs at subtlety, giving the songs some space to move in. I get a feeling that as PIVIXKI develop, they're only going to get better - much better - in the same way that the Necks, who aren't totally dissimilar to PIVIXKI (or perhaps I should put that the other way around, though PIVIXKI are kinda like the Necks on crystal meth with song lengths about 1/100ths the duration), have only improved with age over the last two decades, as each member realises the true potential the seemingly limited band format has for them. I see that PIVIXKI's website lists their influences as simply "Discordance Axis and Iannis Xenakis". That's them in a teacup. European tour later in the year. The show, and the accompanying CD they've just released (which is in an edition of 200, so get in quick), rate as some of the best, most invigorating and wholly original music I've come across in recent times. Get on it.

Speaking of Sabbatical, who release all their CDs in editions of 200, you should probably get onto their Naked On The Vague title, Sad Sun, before it goes out of print. I chuckle to myself writing this. Why? Because Sydney's NOTV have got all the hipsters talkin', what w/ the pedigree of being on Siltbreeze and having an arty electro-dirge vibe surrounding their wares and playing all the cool shows and having all the right fans... and I caught 'em supporting Clockcleaner late last year and thought they absolutely blew. I figured 'em to be a whole load o' hype over nuthin'. Their lifeless art-rock dirges sounded like an art-school project which had been misguidedly encouraged by well-meaning folks but which probably ran its natural course after the first rehearsal, their preposterous wank barely even registering a pulse. Of course I was being mean! My prejudice possibly sprung from one basic point: how could a band from Sydney actually be any good? I bought their Sabbatical CD last night - a mere $10 - to see if I could be proved wrong. A friend had recently noted I should give them another go. My socks haven't been blown off, but next time they hit town, I shall peruse. On Sad Sun, NOTV leak out a very pleasant mixture of No Wave scunge-rock and early industrial noise shit a la SPK/'Gristle/CV etc., and whilst it doesn't rewrite the rule book of song as we know it, I don't expect such a thing and certainly don't demand it. I just want the songs to wash through me in a pleasant manner and to evoke something. Sad Sun has done that, at least. 5 songs, 25 minutes. I want to hear more. Sabbatical really does have a buncha great stuff on their imprint. I need to check more of it out, and so should you.

Lots of great things a-happening Down Undah! I've been sent a whole load of promo things lately, and whilst I'll get around to some other goodies at a later date, I'll quickly mention a split 7" twixt FREE CHOICE and MENTAL POWERS which has recently come out on the Fifth Column label. I know next to nothing about the label or why this exists, though I don't request such answers. Sometimes the best records are those which answer no such questions and exist within their own universe. What I do know is this: Free Choice is Jarrod from the Fabulous Diamonds. A solo project. He told me, after I enquired, that his contribution was "pretty derivative, even by my standards". That is correct. If he is assuming it sounds like Harmonia, which it does. That isn't a bad thing at all. His piece, "Green Groove", is a pretty nice slice of metronomic electronic boogie which sounds like it was lifted from Musik Von Harmonia, sure, but no complaints from these quarters. Mental Powers allegedly hail from Perth and that's all I know about 'em. Their track, "Appear/Juniour", is an acoustic psych/drone piece which, at least to me, resembles one of the shorter tracks from Amon Duul 2's Yeti or Dance of the Lemmings. Kinda "tribal" and possessing a flute in a non-horrible context, it does the trick. Which now means I have to say that this is the best Kraut-derived Australian split 7" this year. Or any year. In all seriousness, it contains a handsome full-colour sleeve and I'm happy as heck that this landed on my doorstep for no apparent reason. It's a document of something good going down in these here parts. A little birdy told me S-S might have a few copies of this. Hunt it down.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Taking a sabbatical. Juggling work/home life is kinda exhausting right now. No time, no energy for this blog. Some folks will be happy w/ that announcement, but it's not a permanent shift: I'm hangin' around this music ghetto 'til the wheels fall off. I'm likely the last guy on earth to realise this, but the two albums Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald recorded together in the late '50s are pure genius. Like, mindblowing. Immense vocal deliveries, subtle sweetness, unadulterated American brilliance on wax. One pathetic hobby of yore in my meaningless life was to collect Top 10s from just about any music dork I met. I've still got a collection of 'em in a file somewhere. Did you know that Neil Hamburger (Gregg Turkington)'s contains records by the Beach Boys, Leonard Cohen and Tupac? That Dr. Jim's seriously lists Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music as a record he likes to play for "pleasure"? That Mark Harwood's contains Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Welcome To The Pleasuredome (don't laugh: it's a definite sentimental fave of mine, too)? I went on tour w/ Jad Fair when he was here in '97; I got his list, too. Besides the obvious (Velvets, Stooges, Beefheart, Modern Lovers et al), he also listed not one but both Ella/Louis albums as separate entries. A 25 year-old Dave Lang was appalled. Why waste an entry? What kind of old geezer listens to such records? I was sure they were nice 'n' pleasant 'n' all, but I saw his duplication of artists as a missed opportunity to list a Peter Brotzmann album or something. Somewhere in the back of my mind I kept a note: before I was to drop dead, I would get my mitts on every record in Jad's list (not too hard; I had 'em all except for those two rekkids!). I got meself a freebie of a double CD containing both the albums and a ton of bone-arse material about a year back. Played it once - didn't hurt - filed it away for keepsake. Earlier in the year I was playing a workmate's itunes "Party Shuffle" on his computer when he was away on an extended break, and it featured the Louis/Ella rendition of the old Hoagy Carmichael chestnut, "The Nearness Of You". The treatment was so note-perfect and, dare I say, moving, that I noted to self that the dust-gathering 2CD would be pulled from the shelf that night and gather dust no more. Geez, and here I was thinking I was going to write about some cutting-edge rock 'n' roll beast like Suicide's sorely neglected second album. That'll wait 'til next time. For now, it's Ella 'n' Louis swinging their way through some Irving Berlin, Gershwin and Carmichael. That's the goods.