By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Herewith, and forsooth, is a semiweekly column bringing you news and biased views on special music of note — all kinds of music — and related items such as DVDs, books, films and live events, as well as the poop on the people who make them. (The column will alternate between short reviews and longer profiles and reviews.) We aim to blur the lines in this space, knowing that our readers are willing and ready to open their third ears and make the connections between musics high and low — and in between, of course. Contrary to what you might’ve heard, it’s not all good, but, given the gargantuan quantity of product available in this modern age of digital creation, revivification, distribution and information flow, the rational odds are that, for the true eclectic, a lot of it is good, or at least worth knowing about. Now let’s roll with it:
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (Mute). Electric-plug ugliness Issue Two from the N.Y.-based Aussie/Midwest-American crew is a screechy hair-shirt punk-funk catharsis, punching the air and wrapping your skull in barbed laser wire as you twitch, sweat and savor your damaged state. They’re weird, and it’s bad for you, so nothing new there — but such commitment! And a lead singer like an ostrich Dr. Who flapping about in silver Mylar as the obliqueness whirs, bleeps, blats ’n’ belches to an autistically tight rhythmic lurch. How something so itchy and bruising and palpitating can feel so inviting shall remain one of life’s little mysteries. “Fly fly/the devil’s in your eye/shoot shoot,” intones the singer-antenna. Quite so.
Delirium Cordia (Ipecac). Metal Mike Patton’s opus is subtitled Surgical Sound Specimens From the Museum of Skin, so you get the idea. No? Well, it all starts with a needle being dropped on vinyl. You’re inspecting the (beautiful) black-upon-shiny-black booklet that graphically depicts surgical removal of tumors and eyeballs. The lone 54-minute track is a musique concrète mass of neato-horror/exotica-stuff-we’d-like-to-hear, with an ostensible overarching theme of probes within the human body (yes, Patton gives Matmos their props in the credits). Thus Gregorian chants or Pendereckiesque massed choral clouds wash over cleanly compressed monster metallic guitars, intercut into a percussion jam evoking medicinal ritual deep in the jungle even as great swarms of inhalations, exhalations, clangs, creaks, squeaks and obscure thumps feel like we’re overhearing a murder. One senses an episodic film for the ears, and what’s interesting is that the metal — aided by Melvins guitar dude Buzz Osborne and ex-Slayer drummer dude Dave Lombardo — just sort of peeks in from time to time, like metal is a good rusty hanger on which to drape all sorts of tangentials, in this case from exploitation films, comix, pulp novels and crap TV. Patton owes Dario Argento, George Romero and Jess Franco, not to mention the Great Wall of China circa 1750, the Taj Mahal, lots of wind, death in general, and Satan; he knows that comic books reveal truths because they’re so darn hokey.
Hypnotic Underworld (Drag City). Cuts 1 to 4 form an epic of sorts, with titles like “God Took a Picture of His Illness on This Ground” and “Aramaic Barbarous Dawn,” so here’s your psychedelic folk music from a bunch of hippies all living together in a big hut on a commune somewhere in Japan, ha-ha . . . Uh, well, that’s pretty much what it is, and they are. Leader Masaki Batoh has been promoting his revisionist ’70s retrovision for almost 20 years, and he’s getting better and better at it. This one launches forth with the spaciousness and bleating horns of a Wildflowers New York loft–jazz set circa 1974, all double basses, semilyrical prolonged sax tones, clattering Takemitsu percussion and eerie echoes thru the canyons of your mind, and its free-flowing form is deceptive, ’cause it’s really a cleansing of the air for the astutely cheeky ’70s-prog structures that follow. This is the more lyrical and perhaps Floydy side of prog, where Celtic harps, flutes, tin whistles, tablas, 12-string acoustics and ’trons bespeak also the whimsically unfettered creativity of Soft Machine gazing benevolently down from above (and I do hope that “Escaped and Lost in Medina” heralds a new era for the glories of fuzz-bass through cheapo amps). As with Fantômas or Liars, a wish to parody gives bands a starting point to build upon, where the cartoon is part of its life-stream — it’s not irony, exactly, more as if something has been learned from the prog and rock excesses of the ’60s through ’90s, and that would include the narrow assumptions of rock critics who would’ve laughed this stuff off in the past ’cause it didn’t sound like a bar band from New Jersey.