Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AFS v. 222 ~ Philosophically Stoogely

After having just met Mattin as Deflag Haemorrhage/Haien Kontra polarized Sacramento--and with KDVS presents Black Dice and Wolf Eyes (with English Singles!) looming ahead (Thursday, May 28 @ Retrofit Studios, 1815 19th Street in Sacto across the street from Safeway)--my mind's not really been on rock and roll. I useta go to so many more noise shows, y'know! Has the noise scene dwindled a bit as underground rock has blossomed again? I'd hafta ruminate on that one for a while, but at least for this week, Art for Spastics is featuring a lot more knob-twiddling and synth-bleating than string-thrashing, and a lot more mechanized beats than drums. The most outstanding exception this week, however, is guitar-god Grady Runyan leading the Liquorball charge, flanked by Steve Mackay, the man who set the bar for saxophonists playing in rock music when he blew on the greatest album of all time, Funhouse by The Stooges. This excerpt is from Evolutionary Squalor, the new album from Liquorball which features two side-long epic psych-rock jams recorded live at Grady's Record Refuge in Ventura, CA. I wish I coulda been there, but this record is a plenty satisfying substitute for the real thing. There's a couple moments of stupendous scorching, and it even flows marvelously during the times when it merely simmers. Here's to hoping that Liquorball and Mr. Mackay make up to Northern California sometime!

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TV GHOST | Prodrome | The Fiend 7" | Columbus Discount *new
THE INTELLIGENCE | I Hear Depression | Fake Surfers | In The Red *new
THE INTELLIGENCE | Intromentals | Crepuscule with Pacman | Born Bad *new
GANGLIANS | Nevermind | Ganglians | Woodsist *new
KAA ANTILOPE | The Break of Day | VPRO RadioNome - April 2 1982 | Enfant Terrible *new
DISTEL | Fand | v/a: Radio Resistencia | Enfant Terrible *new
BROTMAN & SHORT | A League to Destroy All Nations | Rubix Dudes CS | Hardscrabble Amateurs 2008
CRACK: WE ARE ROCK! | Homoerectus | split 12" w/ Wolf Eyes | F-Cute 2001
WOLF EYES | Let the Smoke Rise | Dread | American Tapes/Hanson 2001
WOLF EYES | trk 3 | Slicer | Hanson 2002
BLACK DICE | Chicken Shit | Repo | Paw Tracks *new
BERMUDA TRIANGLES | Human Electric/Sexy Mutants | Giant Squid | CNP *new
LUC VAN ACKER | Buharata | VPRO RadioNome December 18 1981 | Enfant Terrible *new
FNU RONNIES | Watchful Eye | Golem 12" | Night People *new
SWORD HEAVEN | Leave Holes | v/a: The Human Conduct Detox Program | Human Conduct *new
S.P.K. | Despair | Leichenschrei | Thermidor 1982
SIRIUS B | Build Your Children | v/a: The Elephant Table Album | Xtract 1983
CULTURAL AMNESIA | Scars for E | Enormous Savages Enlarged | Klang Galerie *new (orig 1983)
TOMBE EN COMBAT! | trk 10 | v/a: Solveigs Lied Remixes | Teen Action *new
TORSTEIN WJIIK | trk 11 | v/a: Solveigs Lied Remixes
BUG SIZED MIND | Daisy Cutter | v/a: Sarcophagus 1-4 | Radius Waste 2006
GOILS GOILS & FRIPPED | title unknown | Goils Goils & Fripped | Being Weird Isn't Enough 2006
EVOLUTION CONTROL COMMITTEE | But I Don't Believe in Evolution | v/a: Eerie Bazaar | Eerie Materials 1997
ESPECIALLY LIKELY SLOTH | Hammer Smashed Face [Cannibal Corpse] | v/a: Roots II (The Return) | Root of All Evil 1998
SLEESTAK | Kentucky Lover | split 7" w/ Lil Rudy G & the Chizmosos | Total Annihilation 1998
SLOTH | Local Hunter | split 7" w/ Noothgrush | Dom's 1997
LIQUORBALL w/ STEVE MACKAY | untitled | Evolutionary Squalor | Rocketship *new
CHROME | Nova Feedback | Alien Soundtracks | Siren 1977
CRASH WORSHIP | Procession | ¡Espontaneo! | Charnel 1991

Among small cities under 100,000 population, Davis has always been one of the top tour stops for underground bands thanks to Freeform KDVS playing alla these bands and creating a welcoming audience for even some of the most marginal. In the early to mid 90s when there was a Davis Musicians' Co-Op, that was probably the last of the days when Davis boasted a great number of bands, especially on a per capita basis. For the last 15 years, however, Davis has mostly been a place where precocious young music listeners start awesome record collections and becoming walking encyclopedias of rare record knowledge....not so much a place where you start a band. At any given time, there's only a handful or less musical projects worth getting excited about. But all that seems to be changing now that a certain group of KDVS DJs are finding their voices as daring musical improvisers. Pictured to the right here is a new band which (for now, at least) is called Random Boners. Four female KDVS DJs create a buzzy, crackly, yet lush drone with keyboards, violin, and contact mics on various junk. Just two shows in, they're already as competent as Organum, but what really makes it unique are the texts which vocalist Oki delivered deadpan. She began their second ever show opening for Eternal Tapestry and San Kazakgascar by reading marketing propaganda straight from a paper placemat from In-n-Out Burger, which got the audience nice and confused. Some simulated one-sided phonecalls dripping with Valley Girl vapidity polarized the room between the annoyed and the these-are-my-friends/OMG-I'm-so-embarrassed. Sensing a possible mutiny, Oki changed gears into morbidly raunchy divulgement of some unexpected junk in the hammock, and that is when everyone in the room (well, let's say most!) got on their side. Oki's emotional detachment never wavered as things turned daringly ribald....it was like Algebra Suicide slumtripped through a Tenderloin alley, turning Too Short's Freaky Tales tame and obsolete.

Two of these ladies also debuted in support of Mattin's DHHK project and Jean on Jean. They performed as Yours with contact mics on a metal frame and a fantastic-looking sculpture that looked like a feather boa made of rusted curls of metal. Even though they ended their first improvisation early and apologetically due to some aberrant feedback, they continued after the audience begged for more; and while they were a little bit apprehensive at first, they really did a great job of rolling with the unexpected. Yours reminded me of some of the best performances I'd seen by 16 Bitch Pile Up.

Also, Mucky the Ducky--now with a short California tour under their belt--have turned into a fantastic free-jazzy vibe-ridin' live band all of a sudden with a lineup shift including drummer Jon Bafus, who'd been active the last few years with local projects such as Afternoon Brother and Good News Bears. I always managed to miss those bands, so I was unaware until now how tremendous a drummer he is. Now the Sacto/Yolo area is home to two of my favorite improv drummers whose mindbogglingly quick virtuoso movements rival even Tony Oxley in my mind (the other being Kevin Corcoran). I saw 'em two nights in a row and thought their best moments trumped anything I've heard from the No Neck camp in recent years. Hard to believe that only a year ago, this band performed one of the most painful shows I've witnessed in recent memory!

I challenge all of these projects to keep it up and maybe even make some records! (Maybe change your band names, too? I dunno...I just think you can do better in that regard.) And if you wanna see what these bands are all about, three branches from this new family tree of project are playing in a corrugated metal shack on the UC-Davis campus on Saturday night! (see flier to the left)

Of course, Sacramento has been home to some really outstanding and courageous experimental/improv artists lately: pretty much anything involving Chad Stockdale and/or Kevin Corcoran is totally thrilling; Mom is progressing conceptually to the highest echelon of performance artists today; and ingenious stringed-instrument handcrafters Art Lessing & the Flower Vato are criminally overdue to prove via vinyl that they are a world-class psychedelic band. With these stalwarts and a steady stream of touring bands and artists coming through the area, it is clear that more young people in the Sacto/Davis area have become inspired to create. I'm looking forward to seeing this develop.

Now....I'd love to carry on about some wonderfully weird records, tapes, and CDs that I played, but there's so little time @ 3:20 a.m. Just enjoy the music of little-known Belgian proto-minimal-wavers Kaa Antilope. This song has been stuck in my mind since I heard it as a kid listening to KDVS. The band only made one 7" and made a few compilation appearances (this version of the song from the Coal Heart Forever LP comp from Sub Rosa in the late 80s), but Enfant Terrible has been wise enough to issue a full LP of their live material from a Dutch VPRO Radio broadcast. Don't all react at once...I still need to hunt this vinyl down!

Okay, okay...one last morsel! I've told the story twice in the past couple days....

A watershed live music experience in my young life happened in 1995 when I saw Crash Worship play in San Francisco at the Trocadero Transfer. By then, the band's live shows had become legendary, but as word of mouth traveled to Davis, that legend seemed to center mostly on how half the crowd would inevitably strip to the nude. I had heard something in their music that reminded me of Coil, yet also Savage Republic, so I was just curious. I had previously been very sheltered from anything that had the look and feel of evil, yet also created some sorta feeling of communal spirit, the encouragement of unbridled ecstasy...I mean...I was still a hardcore punk kid for the most part!

So, I went to the Crash Worship show with a neighbor who knew better what to expect, but the only advice he gave me was "Wear clothes that you won't mind getting ruined." Okay!

The band took positions like a phalanx of fighters on-stage with drummers arranged symmetrically and flanked by freaks holding torches. Other operatives walked through the crowd with canons shooting wine which people tried to catch in their mouths. Total strangers freak-danced on you from all sides, literally, and figuratively (as in, whichever side of the fence, in relation to gender or sexuality). There was a choice to be made....become disgusted or ashamed and run outside, or adapt quickly and roll with it? I actually did sense a significant personal growth opportunity, and I thought momentarily about how I could practically imagine now what it might be like to have seen Throbbing Gristle in their heyday. So, I stayed....and as it became too hot to bear, I made another unexpected choice and peeled off the shirt. There was no coat check area, so I just stashed the shirt in a corner somewhere.

By this time, the entire band and their flamebearers were on the floor parading through the audience. I have no idea how many people were there, but I'd guess somewhere between 300-400. At least, that's how I remember it. Now, normally, I'm pretty conscientious about my personal safety, but that night, I really felt free of those concerns because, despite the palpable sense of darkness there, I felt like everyone in that room had a collective consciousness that wouldn't allow anyone to get hurt. But all of a sudden, I felt intense heat on my back, and I turned around to discover that one of those impish torchbearers was bouncing backwards towards me without a care about what was behind him. The entire group of people surrounding me scampered outta the way, splitting like the Red Sea, and I scurried away just in time to avoid getting burned.

Now my blood was really pumping, and I was ultra-aware of everything around me. And that is when two girls with chocolate sauce approached me. One of them squirted the sauce across my torso from the lower left oblique up to my right shoulder. Her friend enthusiastically licked it all off, taking an extra few seconds on the right nipple to nearly bite it off! I was just stupefied. The rest of the show was like a blur...perhaps a cumulative contact high effect or something. Afterwards, my shirt was soaked, so I threw it in the trash and drove home shirtless. I felt like I had a few extra chest hairs to show off, so I adjusted to the awkwardness of that, too.

Since that time, I've ever so seldom experienced any sense of fear at a live music show. Thank you, Crash Worship, for inspiring me to explore music with so much more courage. The next few hardcore shows I went to seemed pretty trifling. It took a while to re-accept regular ol' punk rock on its own terms again after seeing true mayhem ensue.

Of course, nowadays, I would be afraid to take my shirt of at a show. No more Crash Worship for me....crash diet might be more like it!


Anonymous said...

I saw the nasty occurring at that show. Actual factual as you like to say. --tommy

Sharmi Basu, EdVoice said...

uhhhhh there's only three of us in random boners, one of which is not in yours

Sharmi Basu, EdVoice said...

but yours was fucking awesome

and david d young is playing with brotha time tonight

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