Friday, December 21, 2012


Here's an idea who's time has truly come: a project called "Imagine" in which Mexican artist Pedro Reyes leads a team that takes guns donated from citizens of a county particularly wracked by violence and transforms them into musical instruments. Pistols form a guitar's body, gun barrels have holes drilled into them and made into flutes, or are arranged according to size into a xylophone, etc. The remarkable lyre pictured above is as much a triumph of visual design as musical. Go


to read/see the pics/watch the making-of vids. The video below is a 6-minute "Imagine Concierto" featuring the instruments. Yes, the music is based on the Lennon song, but even if you're sick of that tune, you must admit to how good these instruments sound, how well they're played, and just the general awesomness of the project. The percussion in particular gets increasingly sorta funky as the song progresses.

And I'm outta here til sometime in January. Much thanks to the many of you who have contributed to this-here web-log this year. Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men, and all that jazz.

Monday, December 17, 2012


William Shatner! Theremins! Daleks! Annoying child singers!  Truly, this is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. 

If we must be subjected to Christmas music every year, at least let's make it bad/strange futuristic-y sci-fi songs. Space travel and Christmas - two things that have nothing to do with each other.  So why are there so many songs about both? Maybe cuz kids love 'em both. Or because Santa's reindeer routine was a wormhole-like traveling thru space/time? Or cuz everyone gets sick of "White Christmas" after a while? Regardless, here are 24 mainly '50s/'60s songs collected over the years, stuffed into one handy stocking:

(Is this divshare business working?)
Space-Age Santa (Zippyshare)

These tunes are mostly off hopelessly obscure 45s, but I added artist info, if any

01 Hal Bradley Orch wPatty Marie Jay - SpaceAge Santa Claus
02 Zoot, Zoot, Zoot Here Comes Santa In His New Space Suit - Tiny Tim and Bruce Haack (as previously discussed)
03 Introduction-Hooray For Santa Claus - Miton DeLugg (from the badfilm classic "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians)
04 I Cloned Myself For Christmas - Neutron 606
05 Good King Wenceslas - Douglas Leedy (from a Buchla - not Moog - album from the late '60s that's all pretty cool, but this is the stand-out track.)
06 The Go Go's - I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek (No, not those Go-Gos, this was a '60s British studio "group.")
07 Outer Space Santa - Lawrence Welk's Little Band
08 Santa and the Satellite - another proto-mashup from Buchanan & Goodman
09 Northern Telecom - I Want An OC192 For Christmas 
10 moog cookbook - santa claus is coming to town (time-traveling to the '90s for this nutty instro)
11 Tim Dinkins - Santa's Rocket
12 Take A Ride On Santa's Rocket - The Sounds Extraordinare
13 Bobby Helms - Captain Santa Claus (Yep, the "Jingle Bell Rock" guy)
14 Lothars - Oh Holy Night (great contemporary theremin group)
15 barry gordon - Zoomah the Santa Claus from Mars
16 The Servotron Evaluation of the Christmas Season
17 Fountains of Wayne - I Want an Alien for Christmas (more actual not-old music! From their 2005 album "Out-Of-State Plates")
18 a sonovox (a kind of '40s vocoder) version of "rudolph"
19 troy hess - christmas on the moon (singing 6 year with thick hick accent - OUCH)
20 William Shatner - Good King Wenceslas (hearing all the verses, recited in Captain Kirk's ponderous delivery, reminds me that I have no idea what the hell this song is about)
21 Scene 1 Come Rejoicing-Its The Very Best Time of The Year-Make A Joyful Noise (from a kiddie xian xmas album I found in a thrift-shop called "Christmas 2001 A Space-Age Adventure"; I actually digitized the whole thing, but, believe me, you don't need to hear it)
22 Christmas in the Stars (from the infamous "Star Wars Christmas" album; I also have this one on vinyl - featuring a young Jon Bon Jovi! - but you REALLY don't need to hear the whole thing)
23 MIT computer 1962 carols
24 Space Age Santa Claus - Gus de Wert Trio (Incredibly, a cover of track #1)

Thanks to J-Unit 1!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Avant-Cute: The Caring Babies

The Caring Babies describe themselves as "experimental, electronic" but these absurdly cute, cuddly songs ain't exactly Stockhausen. Tip-off #1: the band name, #2: the teddy bears on the cover. Their new release is 4 songs in under 4 minutes of irresistible silliness and willful innocence. Then there's the unexpected noise blast at the end, which had me asking, "What did I just listen to?"

Listen: The Caring Babies "Gold Friends"

Buy: the 7" record

Download: the song "Gold Friends." Because friendship is special.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Buster Boris Pocket Naumoff is the youngest son of Troy Naumoff, the grown-up behind the kids noise band Electric Fence, and Troy has recorded baby-boy taking a 14-minute space-jazz organ solo. You can, and should, get it here:
Buster Boris Pocket Naumoff: SOLO ORGAN AT FOUR MONTHS
Next time someone mocks you for listening to free-improv music by saying, "My kid could do that!," politely ask: "Really?  Have they made any albums? I'd like to check 'em out..."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"...the first hip-hop album of all time to be comprised of only animal noises"

"Hello, my name is TD Cruze and I am a 20 year old hip-hop producer from Valdosta, Georgia.

I thought you'd like to know that I just released the first ever instrumental hip-hop album that contains no instruments - just animal noises."
Now THAT'S the kind of email I like to get. Hot damn!  What a concept. And what an execution, too - only 6 songs, but a more utterly mental release you have not heard all year. You could even dance to it, although the idea of a club full of kids dancing to sampled animal sounds is too surreal to contemplate.
If you couldn't handle my last post of animals "singing" christmas songs, maybe these critters will float your boat (or ark, as the case may be). Listen/buy here:
TD Cruze: "The Savage Beast"
Hey, ya cheap bastards, you say you don't wanna pay to download the whole album? Mr. Cruze is allowing me to post one free song for y'alls, the hyena-voiced "Laughing Matter," available HERE.

Monday, December 10, 2012


My attempt to post an album a day has failed miserably after only 10 days. I blame society. No matter, for look at the goodies laid out under our tree by St Nick's filthy ne'er-do-well cousin, St. Dick. And according to St. Dick, nothing says holiday cheer better than the flatulent sounds of sampled pig snorts and grunts. One of my all-time xmas atrocities, re-upped just for you: 


We must have been awfully naughty this year, cuz Jolly Old St Dick just excreted this into our stocking:

Top Dog: Howliday Favorites In Dog (1994)

You remember Don Carlos' Singing Dogs, and their classic version of "Jingle Bells"?  Can you take a whole album of such schtick? Of course, I can - I live for this stuff, y'know.  And my daughter handed me this CD yesterday with the instruction: "I wanna doggie song." Didn't seem to bother her at all. There are some nice arrangements on here, like the swingin' jazz of the opener "Santa Claws."  The (non-christmas) gospel song "Oh Happy Day" gets new lyrics sung by a cute kid as "Oh Happy Dog." The standards are all here, from "Angels We Have Herd" right up thru "Old Fang's Whine." There's even the now-obligatory Hanukkah medley, featuring "Howlin' Nagila."

This album is the work of Craig Huxley, who started off in show-biz as a child actor, appearing in some original "Star Trek" episodes, and has been associated with "Trek" ever since, even - yes! - becoming 'the music director for William Shatner...helping to create arrangements of songs such as "Rocket Man", and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", according to wiki.  I now worship this guy. It gets even better: "To date, he has recorded three albums, Howliday Favorites in Dog, Slam Dunk'n Hoes and Howlin' Classics - from Bark to Beethoven. As of 2012, he is working on his fourth album, Patriotic Pooches, to be released during the 2012 election." Good to know that there's more of this stuff out there. (Although I'm pretty sure it's a different Top Dog who made Slam Dunk'n Hoes.)

Friday, December 07, 2012

ALBUM DU JOUR #10: Tiny Tim's Christmas Album

Still trying to post an album a day, to keep you-all fully loaded for when I take my holiday break.  The Iron Man of Blogging continues!

Today's album pretty much does what it says on the tin - unlike the stripped-down Tiny Tim album I posted last week, this is a big-budget, fully orchestrated work (except for one solo uke tune) that suggests that some nut thought that a modern Tiny Tim album might actually have commercial potential. This album certainly starts off as normal anything Tiny ever did, but goes off the rails eventually, as we all knew it would, with an epic version of "Silent Night" that features a pulpit-pounding sermon from a fiery "Reverend" Tim.  What the..?  Also far from silent is the incredibly bombastic 8-minute medley. The songs are the same ol' same ol' until we get to the last few tracks, when Tim finally gets to dig into his bag of old-fashioned obscurites.

His famous falsetto is still in effect on this 1996 release - shortly after this release he claimed he couldn't sing like that any more.

Tiny Tim's Christmas Album

1. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
2. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
3. That's What I Want For Christmas
4. I Saw Mommy Kissin Santa Claus
5. White Christmas
6. The Christmas Song
7. O Holy Night
8. Silent Night
9. Medley: O Come All Ye Faithful/Hark The Herald Angels Sing/O Little Town Of Bethlehem/Amazing Grace/Throw Out The Lifeline
10. Rainbow On The River
11. Mission Bell
12. What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Thursday, December 06, 2012

ALBUM DU JOUR #9: Eno: The Lost '70s Pop Album

No, this isn't an actual album, but a collection of b-sides, bootlegs, and appearances on other artist's albums from Bri-Bri's glam-rockin' heydey.  It would have made a great album, tho, for fans of the man's "Warm Jets"-to-"Before And After Science" song-oriented work, which would include, I would imagine, most of you-all at some point in your lives. I'm surprised that Eno or his labels have never put together a collection like this, seems like a natural. As he is one of the most famous/popular avant-rockers in history, you think they'd be trying to milk it they way they're doing with the Velvet Underground.

No ambient stuff here.  The Cluster tracks are certainly atmospheric, tho still actual tunes with vocals/lyrics.  The three tracks from "Peter and the Wolf" are instrumentals, but they rock - Eno going nuts on the synth, like his solos on Roxy Music songs like "Editions of You."

"Qu'ran," which sampled Muslims chanting from their holy book, was included on the original pressings of "My Life..." (I still have my old vinyl copy!) but not only was it not included as one of the many bonus tracks on the 25th anniversary re-issue, it's not even mentioned in David Byrne's otherwise thorough liner notes. Them Muslims must be scary...

Eno: The Lost '70s Pop Album

1. Seven Deadly Finns [single, 1974]
2. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) [single, 1975]
3. Big Day [from Phil Manzanera's "Diamond Head" 1975]
4. Miss Shapiro                   "
5. The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch [live, with The Winkies 1974]
6. Totalled [live, with The Winkies 1974 - a radically different version of this song would appear on 1975's "Another Green World" album as "I'll Come Running"]
7. Fever [Peggy Lee cover; live, with The Winkies 1974]
8. Baby's On Fire [live, with Kevin Ayers, John Cale "June 1, 1974"]
9. Third Uncle [w/Phil Manzanera's band "801 Live" 1976]
10. The Fat Lady Of Limbourg  "
11. Wolf [from "Peter And The Wolf" various artists inc Phil Collins, narrator: Viv Stanshell, 1975]
12. Wolf and Duck                   "
13. Wolf Stalks                        "
14. Luneburg Heath [w/German group Harmonia featuring Michael Rother from Neu!, and Cluster, from "Harmonia 76," unreleased until 1997]
15. Broken Head [from "After The Heat" w/Cluster, 1978, initially a somewhat hard-to-find import-only album in the US]
16. The Belldog                       "
17. Tzima N'arki                      "
18. R.A.F. [w/Snatch, "King's Lead Hat" b-side, 1978]
19. Qu'ran [w/David Byrne, from first pressings of their album "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts," recorded 1979, released 1981]

Thanks to pj for the artwork!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

ALBUM DU JOUR #8: ...To The Ridiculous

There's just no way you can dismiss today's music scene as not being as good as that of some mythical golden-age. I have so many new releases to cover, I split them up into last months' "From The Sublime..." and today's "...To The Ridiculous." The first batch was largly instrumental avant-gardsey-ness, but this batch, tho just as experimental, is more in the whacked-out weirdo spazzy song-form end of things. Most of these albums are not downloads, but are for sale - makes great gifts! 

M4M...To The Ridiculous

1. F.K. Dreyer & Mark Recording Co. "Intro/Aries":  from the album - and, yes, there's a whole album of this - "Your Dogs Horoscope"
2. Michael McDaeth "Happy Just To Be Happy": a few tracks here from Seattle's McDaeth, and his 7-count 'em-SEVEN disk album, "The Socket Set." It's ramshackle one-man-band rock, sometimes a little too loose, sometimes dead-on in a Half-Japanese-for-the-Nirvana-generation kinda way.
3. Looping Jaw Harp Orchestra "Tuba for Klaus (Tribute to Klaus Nomi)": Vienna, Austria unleashed this mad crew of jews harps as the lead instruments, joined by the likes of steel drum, marimba, kalimba, accordion, etc.  No normal Instruments! The entirety of their latest album "Universal Language" is great. Just the fact that they dedicate a song to Klaus Nomi proves their awesomeness.
4. The Chewers "Burn It Down": Another fantastic album- I reviewed their first one, and the new one "Chuckle Change And Also" is even better; low-key Beefheart/Residents influences filtered thru a Southern low-life sensibility, with lyrics examining a side-show's worth of human grotesqueries. Get it.
5. The Toilet Bowl Cleaners "I Forgot to Wipe My Bum": one of 2 tracks off their album "Songs About Poop, Puke & Pee." The fact that such an album even exists is amazing; the fact that the Toilet Bowl Cleaners have many albums, all focused on the subject of human waste, and that some of the songs are actually good, is nothing short of mind-boggling. The main toilet-bowl cleaner sez that he's released 8000 songs in the last 4 years.  That's kinda prolific. Wanna hear 86 songs about dead animals?
6. Kitschstortion "Cutie Honey" - Another returning guest. The Kitschstortion release featured on these pages last year used the bizarre vocal synth gizmo the Vocaloid to dazzling effect. This is from the new EP "How To Have Boring Dreams"
7. Michael McDaeth "She's Just A Torso"
8. Flossie and the Unicorns "Jr. Troopers Are Go": 37-seconds of the album "LMNOP."
9. People Like Us "Seven Degrees": Another super bit of sound-collage pop from this British master (mistress?) of the form; the new one is "This Is Light Music." Sawing sound-effects (not musical saw) adds percussive zeal to samples of cheeseball '60s EZ instros, Morricone themes, and girl groups. I could leave this one on repeat for very long times.
10. 'Church On The Move' - Dad Life: I once knew a guy whose parents lived down the street from Snoop Dog in a thoroughly suburban neighborhood, far, far away from South Central LA. They'd see the infamous 'gangsta' shopping, taking his kids to the park, etc. This funny rap song about everyday domesticity really is 'keeping it real.'
11. Michael McDaeth "From the Midwest" 
12. The Electric Grandmother "Mr Clyde": Not sure if a 'sitcom-core' band is really something the world needs, but this alleged ode to Bill Cosby's character is an agreeable bit of bizarre pop.
13. The Chewers "The Fat Man"
14. Looping Jaw Harp Orchestra "Wabba Dubu"
15. Toilet Bowl Cleaners "Gotta Poop, Puke & Pee (Simultaneously)"
16. Bobby & Paul "DMT9": these guys are from the late great electronic noise band Margaret Raven.  They sent me this a year or two ago and I forgot about it.  Sorry, guys, it's good stuff!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

ALBUM DU JOUR #7: Better Science Communication Through Hip-Hip

Oh Baba, Baba, why do you bother?  

The emcee behind "The Rap Guide To Evolution" and "The Rap Guide To Human Nature" is again trying to use music to hip the kids to science. Baba Brinkman has dropped a new free download EP called "The Infomatic"  in which, on the title song, he describes himself as "a cross between Christopher Wallace and Christopher Hitchens" and quotes Carl Sagan.  Sagan was denied membership in the National Academy of Sciences, and, despite official explanations, it was really because Sagan tried to do what Brinkman is trying to do - deal with the enemy.  Yes, trying to explain to the masses not just the facts (which constantly change) but the methodology behind them is like trying to explain to a fish what land is like. On the last track, "Naturalizm," even Brinkman sounds a bit frustrated.

This particular release don't have a theme, as the five songs deal with various (if thoroughly non-hip-hop) subjects like: science is sexy, reading is cool, and why global warming deniers are a buncha kooks. Which probably isn't going to get much of an audience beyond some science geeks and, well, people who read blogs like this and are looking for strange, obscure musics. You gotta love hearing a Beyonce-like r'n'b chick singing: "In the mind of a climate skeptic/science is a liberal conspiracy" as Baba drops rhymes like: "I think I'll just stick to the scientific consensus/which says that there's an upper limit of/350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon."  Get down!

Still, Brinkman's got mad flow, the beats ain't bad, and it sure beats the kids' global warming musical "Penguins On Thin Ice" all to hell.  Good luck, Baba...

Baba BrinkmanThe Infomatic

Monday, December 03, 2012

ALBUM DU JOUR #6: The Toy-Pop Sounds of Carton Sonore

The French invasion of wonderful naive/toy-pop continues with the loveable Carton Sonore (Sound Card). The three all-too-brief "Petit Themes" albums available for download are well worth the few euros/pounds/dollars/clams purchase price. Mr. Sonore sez: "It's mainly acoustic and instrumental music with various instruments, like: charango, ukulele, guitar, melodica, saw, saz, glockenspiel..."  Yes! to more musical saw.  Xylophones, ocarinas, kazoos and toys are also present. But as much as I'm drawn to unusual instruments, as usual, it's the top-notch songwriting that sucks me in - there's a dreamy, innocent-but-not-corny quality to these tunes. 

I've included a couple tracks from each album, as well as a few tracks he's made available for free in this sampler:

Carton Sonore - 9 songs

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Pneumershonic is a crazy old guy named Paul and his pal Matt. These New Hampshire-ites recorded an album in 1997 called "Frequencies of the Beast,"  a very entertaining collection of Paul's improvised singing/rants like "Hippie Freakout" and "Martian Girlfriend" over Matt's music. Matt wrote to me asking to link to an article written about them on WFMU's Beware of the Blog, but I wasn't going to do that cuz, well, it's already on Beware of the Blog, so why bother? But the article is 6 years old, it's an album that any outsider music fan should check out, AND he said he'd send me (and you) a CD. So I reconsidered. And it's got marimbas!  And optigans!  


I bundled all the separate mp3s into one album:


Pneumershonic: Frequencies of the Beast

Saturday, December 01, 2012


The Eagles!  Fleetwood Mac!  Styx! Marie Osmond! That's the kind of stuff I listen to now.  All that weird, experimental stuff - what was I thinking?  Writing a blog about music that so few people care about...what a sad lonely life I've been livin'...  Well, forget that, I'm gonna be NORMAL! And what a relief it is, lemme tell you - I'm gonna hang out in sports bars, watch "American Idol," stop listening to college/public radio and keep my dial set on AM talk from now on.  Hall & Oates!  Chicago!  Muthafuckin' ABBA!  Hell yeah, where's my pink Izod shirt and penny loafers?!

This playlist is no joke.  All the artist represented here making crazed noise, goofball novelties, flipped-out weirdness, and self-indulgent nonsense are the very same acts who made all those familiar mainstream hits (granted, including Joey Ramone here stretches the definition of 'mainstream' a bit).  See? The Beatles weren't the only superstars to have a "Revolution No.9" in them.

UPDATE 12/2/12: Now on Zippyshare, for those of you who had trouble with Mediafire  

I was going to go into explanations about how these oddities came to be, like how that's Robert Fripp (!) playing on the Hall & Oates, how "Mother" was the only song by the Police that I loved, etc., but I think it's best for you to just listen to this and be amazed - play it for your friends and see if they can guess who's who.

1. Chicago "Free Form Guitar"
2. Donovan "The Intergalactic Laxative"
3. The Eagles "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"
4. Fleetwood Mac "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In"
5. Frank Sinatra "Reflections On The Future In 3 Tenses" excerpt (by Gordon Jenkins)
6. Hall & Oates "Alley Katz"
7. Heart "Hit Single"
8. Debbie Harry "In Just Spring"
9. James Brown "The Future Shock Of The World"
10. Marie Osmond "Karawane"
11. The Police "Mother"
12. Nirvana "Montage of Heck Part 1"
13. Nirvana "Montage of Heck Part 2"
14. Prince "Bob George"
15. Buddy Holly "Slippin' And Slidin' (sped-up version #1)"
16. Styx "Plexiglass Toilet"
17. Joey Ramone "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs"
18. Toto "Robot Fight"
19. Van Halen "Strung Out"
20. Willie Nelson "Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other"
21. Abba "Intermezzo no.1"
22. Alice In Chains "Love Song"
23. Cat Stevens "Was Dog a Doughnut?"

Friday, November 30, 2012

ALBUM DU JOUR #3: Tiny Tim Plays In Your Living Room

Tim from Radio Clash asked me if I had the Tiny Tim/Bruce Haack album "Zoot Zoot Zoot Here Comes Santa In His New Space Suit." Alas, I don't - do any of you out there have this true meeting of outsider musical minds?  It's as rare as a complete dinosaur skeleton, and about as expensive. But the query did send me poking thru the Tiny Tim things that I do have, such as this extraordinary tape of some anonymous person recording what is apparently a concert for one in Tiny's apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Just a man and his ukulele - and you are there!

The first song sounds like the mic is a little too far away, and Tiny isn't quite warmed up on the early tracks, frequently consulting sheet music, but then he really gets rolling. Yes, he was a truly strange individual, his fluke late-'60s popularity resulting in as much ridicule as acclaim for the troubled troubadour. But this "Tim unplugged" tape serves as a much-needed corrective to the idea that Tiny was just some comical oddball. This is Professor Tim in action here, as much scholar as entertainer, a walking repository of obscure Tin Pan Alley, hillbilly, Broadway, British music hall, and novelty songs from as far back as the 1800s that had gone largely unheard until Tiny found their sheet music.

Comic songs like "I Used To Call Her Baby" and "When They're Old Enough To Know Better" are my faves, and I'd love to hear a complete version of "After The Ball," as it sounds like a lovely waltz. They're not all antiquities - his pals the Beatles (yep, he was that famous  for a while) are saluted with a version of "Yesterday" that doesn't sound all that different from the rest of the selections. And that's about the only song here you're liable to recognize, except maybe for Dean Martin's "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You," and the jazz standard "Dancing In The Dark."  To quote his first album title, God bless Tiny Tim.

Tiny Tim: Tiny's apartment, 1976 (28 tracks: complete songs, as well as fragments)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

ALBUM(S) DU JOUR #2: Experimental Music From A 3-Year-Old Girl

These free/name-your-price download albums come from a Land Down Under. First, it's:


featuring 3-4 year-old Indigo Loki Aurora singing about butterflys and elephants, joined by her father A D MacHine, who, I thought at first, was sampling and looping her voice, but in fact it's all done "live with a loop pedal and a studio full of junk - drums, guitars, saucepan lids, violins, toy pianos, bells, etc etc." Any music featuring 3-year-old girls automatically rules, but daddy did a nice job crafting this adorableness into a very listenable bit of rock minimalism. Was kinda puzzled on first listen, but by second spin, I loved it. Pick to click: "Molly Malone."

8-year-old Louis Amos (drums, vocals) and his uncle Troy Naumoff (guitar) are


In contrast to the hynotic minimalism of Stinky Picnic, these two offer up a 28-minute slab of live noise rock maximalism. What it lacks in cuteness, it makes up for with big-boy brashness. Louis sounds pretty self-assured for such a young 'un, knocking out songs with titles like "Dragon Vomit." There's more Electric Fence towards the bottom of this page. Uncle Troy sez: "Louis pretty much writes all the songs...we start our 'sessions' by me asking him for an idea, be it a song title or melody which he'll hum or sing to me.
Then he gets me to record guitar parts (or bass lines - all on baritone guitar, drum patterns, keys etc.) which he hums to me." The parents these days!  The idea of my
older relatives dong something like this with me when I was a kid is pretty unthinkable.

This nice person who sent this to me adds: "i know these chaps, and both projects are definitely led by the kids (the grownups have many musical projects themselves already, including Dead Ants Trio/ Dead Ants Rainbow which featured both of them)."

Thanks, nice person!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ALBUM(S) DU JOUR #1: Reposts

Took time off for Thanksgiving holiday, will take more time off in Dec/Jan. So let's try to catch up with a post a day.  They said it couldn't be done!

First up, some old business: have had some requests to re-up some long-gone oldies, so here they are:

Paul Lowry: 4 songs, by avant-'tarde genius BBC engineer about whom nothing is known.  YOU NEED THIS.  If you listen to People Like Us, these might sound familiar as she's been using them in her various projects since I first posted these way back when.

Kosmic Keyboard Chants: The occult organ instrumentals of Paramahansa Yogananda's Cosmic Chants, arranged and played by a Self-Realization Fellowship monk.

CURL ACTIVATE!: doing a complete 180 from 'Cosmic Chants' comes this collection of Novelty Hip-Hop 12" Singles of the '80s.

And, apropos of nothing, let's look at this funny picture, shall we?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Behold! The Kaleidocosmicorgrig - The Strangest Instrument EVER?!

I don't usually pay $10 for obscure old records - that's like real money - but how could I resist this description from the back cover: "This is a recording of The Kaleidocosmicorgrig... it is 35' in length, 12' tall, weighs approximately 2 tons... a contrivance of pedals, keyboards, pulleys, mousetraps, electrical wires, wind machines, magnets, bellows, fishing weights, stovepipes and bicycle wheels, arranged so as to control a parlor piano, 30 tuned bottles, 13 10-foot tuba pipes, a fine bass drum, 2 tambourines, a mariachi marimba, a wooden xylophone, Swiss glockenspiel, castanets, maracas, wood block, cymbals, bonkers, zonkers, and taxihorn."

Sounds too good to be true? Many eye/ear-witnesses have testified to its one-time existence, in a Shakey's Pizza Parlor near Disneyland, California. This 1970 album, recorded live, consists largely of frantically energetic instrumentals (with a lot of Greek influences for some reason); great versions of two Latin classics, "Tico Tico" and "MalagueƱa;" a few originals; some silly lyrics (from what I could make out - the vocals are not well recorded, but it hardly matters); and a final group sing-along that does not feature the giant whatsit. The album is on red vinyl, and originally came with a strawberry-scented incense stick (did I mention this was 1970?)

Orchestrions - mechanical music orchestras - were popular a century ago, before recordings became hi-fi. I have other albums of this sort, but this beast is clearly the granddaddy of 'em all. Featured here are the old-fashioned tunes you'd expect, but also recent soundtracks hits like "Zorba The Greek" and "Never On Sunday" (see what I mean about the Greek influence?) that suggests that Nick O'Lodeon (aka Nick Cornwell) was actively programming his machine by punching new piano rolls, creating new music boxes, and building the robots necessary to play contemporary music. Unless it was all theatrics, and Nick was playing live, but I don't think so - sure, he was playing and singing some live, but the rapid-fire piano and xylophone sound like they're playing too fast for human hands.

So what's it sound like? Pretty much like what you'd think it would sound like - berserk circus music filtered thru a '70s California hippie sensibility. It's a lot of fun, upbeat, and to say the least, unique. Who knew such things existed in our universe? Far out, man!

Nick O'Lodeon Plays Actual Music On His Kaleidocosmicorgrig

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music For Saw Blades, Wood Planks, and Rolling BBs Around in a Dish

 I am woefully behind in heppin' you-all to the latest and greatest releases awaiting your cold cash. I have so many samples of new releases that I'm splitting them into the avant-classical/experimental/electronic/weird-instruments genres (today's batch) and the novelty/outsider/wacko pop/rock end of things (next post). From the sublime to the ridiculous.

Our universities are still producing music majors who move into composing, teaching, conducting, etc. and labels like Innova and Ravello are still promoting them. I have no academic music background, but this collection of the latest works from composers far beyond the classical mainstream sounds great to me. Not exactly chilled/ambient, but, as it's mostly instrumental and often atmospheric and emotional, great stuff for waking to in the morning, or for evening's contemplation with a cocktail. Tho we start off with  a bit of a bang:

1. David Kechley "Design And Construction - III. Cross Cuts": Percussion!  The aptly-named "Colliding Objects" album features not only pitched percussives, but just about anything else that can be struck with a stick.  The title track "requires marimba, cymbals, large drums, tam tam, pitched gongs, crotales, woodblocks and exotic bells." The piece featured here utilizes circular saw blades, and wooden planks cut to different lengths.

2. Andrew Violette's "Sonatas For Cello and Clarinet" is as moody as it's cover - tracks with names like "Mournful Bells" offer truth in advertising. The piece also boasts such non-standard classical music oddities as a cha-cha, but what really grabbed me was the dreamy piano that came in at 1:30 of "Grazioso leggiero." It's what I imagine Alice's trip to Wonderland must have sounded like.

3. McCormick Percussion Group "With Intensity": Awright, more percussion! The title piece of the McCormick's new album, "Concerti for Piano with Percussion Orchestra" is 15 minutes of variations on an oddly sentimental, but gorgeous melody. It's as old-fashioned as you can get for a piece for piano and nine percussionists. Part one is included here, but all three movements are, well, sublime.

4. Jeffrey Weisner's album "Neomonology" is bass-ically just upright acoustic bass. "The compositional process for Armando Bayolo’s 'Mix Tape' began with Weisner sending a mix of his favorite tunes to Bayolo, who then reworked them with pop and rock favorites of his own." I can't tell what the original sources are (maybe they were changed due to copyright issues?) but I dig this. It could have been the bass part to something out of Glass' "Einstein On the Beach."  Elsewhere on the album, Weisner delves into micro-tonal territory.

5, 7. We now move completely out of any recognizable musical traditions with two short excerpts from Ulrich Mertin & Erdem Helvacioglu's "Planet X." Were this the '70s, the concept album about the arrival of a mysterious planet of hostile aliens would have been told with corny lyrics and a histrionic singer. Fortunately, today we get pure abstract electronica, along with something called a GuitarViol.

6. The title track of Yvonne Troxler's "Brouhaha" album, features violin, cello, and ball bearings being rolled around in three glass bowls. Cool! Elsewhere, Troxler and the 11-person Glass Farm Ensemble work their strings, horns, electric guitar and, again, plenty percussion into a variety of pleasingly dissonant (possible micro-tonal) shapes, inspired by the noise of New York City, and, on another track, meteorites. The meteorite piece is a good 'un, sounding like it's performed entirely on pitched plastic cups. Lots of variety and invention - one of my fave albums of this bunch.

7. Barry Schrader's "The Barnum Museum" is, like "Planet X," an electronic concept album, and this concept is so rad that the booklet that comes with the CD is at least as interesting as the music - a phantasmagorical visit to PT Barnum's 1800s "museum," where every room in the enormous mysterious building contains another enigma, or seemingly real-life myth, from mermaids to flying carpets, to things best left unexperienced. Behold! The Chinese Kaleidoscope.

8. Harry Partch's "Bitter Music" is one of my Albums Of The Year - a 3-disk collection of the legendary gay/ homeless/ hobo/ micro-tonal musical instrument inventor/ writer/ outsider /genius (phew!) It's mostly spoken-word, but hey, it's the journals of a Depression-era hobo "riding the rails" - illegally hopping on freight trains criss-crossing the country in search of work, all the while virtually re-inventing music. Reading from his journals is KPFK radio presenter, and founder of the Micro-Fest annual music festival John Schneider, who also plays some mean guitar, custom-made to Partch's bizarre specifics. This is one of the more musical, as opposed to text-heavy tracks: Just in time for winter, it's "December, 1935 - Night. Four black walls."

M4M Sampler: From The Sublime...

I have just done your holiday shopping for you. You're welcome. Coming soon: 'M4M Sampler: ...To The Ridiculous'

Friday, November 16, 2012

Devil's Music: The Satanic Panic Paranoia of Pastor Gary Greenwald

Anyone who was around in the 1980s, esp. music fans, remembers well the 'Satanic Panic' that swept that era, at least in America (did this happen elsewhere?). Apart from ruining lives by claiming that perfectly innocent people were killing children on Satanic altars (despite that fact that not one corpse was ever found), crazy fundies also waged war against pop music, seeking hidden and not-so-hidden messages from the Evil One hisself. They analyzed lyrics and album covers, and played records backwards, claiming that 'subliminal messages' effected human behaviour.  I wish humans were that easy to manipulate.  We could put on backwards messages saying: "Don't murder. Don't wage war. Stop watching 'American Idol' and listening to crap music." And the world would be a better place.

Orange County, CA pastor Gary Greenwald got a lot of mileage out of this hysteria, selling the sermon/lecture tape presented here, as well as appearing on tv. A friend of mine back in my school days videotaped one such appearance, invited us all over to watch, and we had a regular Prince of Darkness par-teee. Oh! how we joked about it for ages.  Not only did it not scare me off pop music, I remember thinking that the clip he played from "Animals" was pretty cool. Pink Floyd sez: thanks for the free publicity, Pastor Greenwald!

You had to have a good imagination to find these allegedly hidden messages. They'd play something backwards that supposedly said "Worship Satan, kill yourself, don't vote for Reagan," but all it sounded like to me was "Wurp-nya glurp, wobwob, yob rulb." Towards the end of part 1 of the tape and the beginning of part 2 you'll hear what happens when they played some Christian records backwards!

Apart from the unexpected nostalgia blast this tape gave me, there was another eye-opening moment. I realized: hey, that's where DJ Loberdust got the sample for his classic mashup "It's Fun to Smoke Dust (Queen vs Satan)"! I maintain that it really sounds like the backwards Freddy Mercury is saying "It's HARD to smoke marijuana," not "It's fun..." But that of course, would turn it into an anti-drug song, ruining the pastor's point.

Pastor Gary Greenwald: Rock a Bye Bye Baby 1
Pastor Gary Greenwald: Rock a Bye Bye Baby 2

Part 2 gets cut off, but he's just yammering on about how eeeeevil Jim Morrison was.  Thanks again to windy - you are truly doing the lord's work.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Well, Now, Who WOULDN'T Want A Free EP Of Saw Music?

They're not just for cutting down trees, y'know. In the hands of master musicians like Kev Hopper, when bowed the humble saw can produce lovely ethereal sounds, such as those featured on his EP "Saurus." It, like most of Hopper's recorded works, is now available for free download on his site, generous chap that he is. Of the EP's 6 tracks, the first five are for musical saw. "Soulkeepers" might be my fave track, with wordless female vox joining the saw for a 'Star Trek theme' feel.

Very late '80s, a friend of mine who worked at a record store pointed to an album by a band called Stump entitled "A Fierce Pancake." "You'd probably like this," he smirked. "It's this really weird kinda Beefheart British silliness. No one here likes it. " I bought it on the spot. Great album, esp. the American version with the single 'Buffalo' added. And Kev Hopper was the band's bassist.

No Stump, sadly, but other albums available for free dl on his site include the 1990 sample-fest "Stolen Jewels," which digitally grabs everything from banjos to African vocals - the cartoonish "Punch and Judy" and "Meantime," and the sound effects-laden "Chain Smokin'" are indeed jewels. 1999's "Whispering Foils" boasts great tracks like the Steve Reich-like "Skitch Pics," and "Mr. Chuff Chuff" which sports more saw, plus marimba and Brasilian percussion. I'm not sure what to make of "The Stinking Rose," a concept album about garlic (yes, the food garlic) and apparently no-one else did, either - it never found distribution.  Still, songs like "From Herb to Eternity" and the Kate Bush-y "Sulphur Symphony" are plenty yummy. Get 'em all here:

Friday, November 09, 2012

DOWN BY LAW: NYC PunkFunk '78-'84

Let's boogie to a collection of the greatest dance "hits" of what has been called the "No Wave" era of NYC music.  Late '70s/early '80s downtown Manhattan was bursting with alt-classical composers, free jazz, New Wave, performance art and, most notoriously, noise bands. Apart from downtown, hip-hop was getting started in the South Bronx and Queens and house music was growing. All of which would coalesce into the punk-funk (aka mutant disco) of the bands presented here. Never has "dance" music been so dark, noisy, and experimental. Unlike the earlier sexy funk of James Brown et al, this stuff is uptight, tense, full of punk's nervous energy. And if the disco they were playing uptown at Studio 54 was slick and glamorous, this music was low-budget, as dirty as a SoHo street corner.

Has there ever been a more inclusive music scene? Black, white, Puerto Rican; gay & straight; male, female, and undetermined; jazz, rock, avant-garde - everyone grooving together.  All you needed was a throbbing bass line and some cowbells and congas.

Most of what I know about the earlier New York Dolls/CBGB era I got from history. But this stuff, like the Suicide song featured here, I remember. Whilst visting my family back east, my cousins would take me to clubs like Area, Danceateria and yes, CBGBs (in the days when they didn't check IDs too carefully), I bought some of these records back in the day, I'd hear 'em on the radio. Bi-coastal rivalry meant that this music wasn't as acceptably cool as the hardcore punk scene raging around me in LA (remember Fear's "New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones"?  A song I loved, by the way) - but I dug it. I hadn't heard some of these songs in ages, but they hold up really well - it helps that not much music has been made like this since (no one plays percussion anymore?), so it still sounds fresh and fun.

DOWN BY LAW: NYC PunkFunk '78-'84

1. Fab Five Freddy "Down By Law"
2. Liquid Liquid "Cavern" (Perhaps the biggest "hit" song of this genre, and, yep, where Melle Mel got the music for "White Lines")
3. ESG "Moody" (oft, and I'm talking oft sampled band of three sisters/sistahs)
4. The Del-Byzanteens "My Hands Are Yellow (From The Job That I Do)" (History remembers this band for featuring future filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, but they actually were pretty cool.)
5. The Bush Tetras "You Can't Be Funky"
6. Lizzy Mercier Descloux "Wawa"
7. Dog Eat Dog "Rollover"
8. Cristina "What's A Girl To Do"
9. Kid Creole & The Coconuts "There But For The Grace of God Go I"
10. Konk "Elephant" (Speaking of Jim Jarmusch, Richard Edson from this band would act in Jarmusch's film "Stranger Than Paradise," co-starring another downtown scenester, John Lurie of jazzers The Lounge Lizards)
11. The Work "Nearly Empty"
12. Pulsallama "The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body" (This very large all-girl band featured future actress and Bongwater member Ann Magnuson)
13. Material "Square Dance" (featuring future producer-to-the-stars Bill Laswell)
14. The Dance "Do Dada"
15. James White & The Blacks "Almost Black 1" (Some of James White/Black/Chance's band quit to form Defunkt)
16. Defunkt "Blues"
17. Ike Yard "Cherish 8" 
18. 8 Eyed Spy "Motor Oil Shanty" (singer, in the loosest sense of the word, Lydia Lunch was previously in notorious noise band Teenage Jesus and The Jerks)
19. Loose Joints "Pop Your Funk"   (featuring '80s NY avant-disco mastermind Athur Russell)
20. Suicide "I Remember"

This scene is not totally forgotten - there are some good books that cover it: "The Downtown Book," "New York Noise," "No Wave", all of which make the point that music was just one element of the downtown scene - painters, photographers, filmmakers, dancers, and performance artists all got thrown into the mix.  No one seemed to do just one thing. And they also point out the scene's downfall: rising real estate prices that made Manhattan living impossible for starving artists, AIDS, and the inevitable mainstream absorption.

Oh, and the expression 'down by law' meant that you were hip, street-wise.  As Grandmaster Flash's Furious Five once rapped: "New York New York, big city of dreams/but everything in New York ain't always what it seems/you might get fooled if you come from out of town/but I'm down by law and I know my way around."

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The First Man On The Moog

"Herbert Deutsche: From Moog To Mac" is shaping up to be the reissue of the year.  It's a long-overdue career retrospective of an electronic music pioneer who was Bob Moog's right-hand man. I was happy to see that "Jazz Images, A Worksong and Blues," the first piece of music ever  recorded using a Moog Synthesizer was included in this collection. And a pretty cool piece of space jazz it is - the almost 10 minute long 1965 landmark work also includes Deutsche's piano and trumpet skillz.

Except for an '80s drum-machine pop vocal misfire, the rest of the album is solid, including tape music concrete pieces dating to the pre-Moog early '60s, right up to some lovely recent songs for piano+theremin, with stops along the way for some space-age Shakespeare, a bit of operatic vox, and more future-jazz courtesy of a sax-enhanced version of the traditional black American lament "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child".

I digitized an 7" ep of Deutsche's that I bought at a used shop ages ago that apparently was meant to accompany a book about electronic music that Deutsche wrote in the '70s. Each side is only 5-6 minutes long, but it's plenty fun.  Side a features Deutsche's narration as he demonstrates basic tape functions, then creates a nutty tape loop.  Side b features narration-free instros, including some really wacked-out tape loopiness and a wicked bit of Moog funk.

Herbert Deutsche - three tracks

1. "Jazz Images, A Worksong and Blues" from "Herbert Deutsche: From Moog To Mac"
2. Synthesis side a:  "Tape Studies 1-4"
3. Synthesis side b:  "Tape Study #6 (A Branch of My Anguish)"; "Tape Study #6 (Circe)"; "Synthesizer Studies 1-3"