Thursday, August 30, 2007

'Tina' Brooks - (a fitting tribute)

This is quite a random post, based on something I read yesterday and felt was quite relevant to the blog and to this kind of music…

I like hardcore, and I like jazz, and I’m sure there isn’t anything at all unusual about that. I dig real jazz, Miles Davis etc., although I don’t have that many albums, and also I dig punk bands that play jazz, or at least jazz instruments, if you know what I mean. Right now, Abilene’s second album with Fred Erskine blowing free-jazz on the trumpet, is on heavy rotation in my headphones. And do I even need to mention the Swing Kids?

Yesterday, I completed my Sweep the Leg Johnny collection when came in the post, so this seems like the perfect time to write this. At the moment, I’m reading a book called Cookin’ by the jazz writer Kenny Mathieson, about the hard bop and soul jazz styles of the 1950s and 1960s. Each chapter deals with a major artist or, later in the book, several less well-known artists. This chapter was discussing a saxophonist called ‘Tina’ Brooks, who despite considerable skill and ability remained obscure, due partly to the pernicious and all-too-common influence of heroin addiction on jazz artists of the time, and partly because his best recorded sessions were unfortunately never released by the label. Mathieson quoted this extract from the sleeve notes to a posthumous reissue, which when I read it I felt really resonated with the obscurity, beauty and sincerity of the kind of hardcore myself and other bloggers have been trying to do justice to:

"It is this quality, which has never been satisfactorily analysed or fully understood, and can never be faked, that we hear, and on some deeply human level respond to, when we listen to John Coltrane, or Sonny Rollins, or Tina Brooks. Virtuosity and who invented this or that and who has hipper then whom have nothing to do with it, generosity who devoted their lives to the creation of beauty.

No, not the beauty of the silver screen or the best seller list. The kind of beauty those men created has inspired people who were bent on their own self-destruction to opt for living after all. It has reminded the hurt and world-weary that crashing flames, or incinerating them from the inside out, makes a better beginning than an ending. When you stop and think for a moment about how much these men have given, and how little they received in return, all that talk about stars and also-rans, and neglected figures who ‘fell painfully short of the first rank of jazz,’ as one critic put it, the magazine polls, the image-making, and all the rest of the ephemera just sort of crackle round the edges, dry up and blow away on the next breeze.

What remains is the music, and whether it was made by John Coltrane or by Tina Brooks, or by some guy who changed a dozen people’s lives and never recorded at all, as long as it has the depth and insight that men who probe their own souls sometimes find there and offer up to us as a miracle, or simply as a gift, it is music to be treasured. There is a lot of music in this world, but of this music, there will never be enough."

As Mathieson himself remarks, it is ‘a fitting tribute not only to Tina Brooks, but to creative musicians everywhere’. There is a lot I would like to say here, about art, beauty, music, truth - but most of all, about simplicity, just about what music is and what it says, not what other people want it to be, or what people want to say it is. So, while maybe I might get back to philosophising (and eulogising and, well, posting music!) some other time, that’s all there is for this post, for now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lumber - s/t 7''

This has been a while coming... another gem of obscure 90s hardcore, this time thanks to dan and his excellent site ROAWR!. Just four songs, it's kind of trivial as a record, yet also quite excellent and beautiful in its own way. I know nothing about Lumber except what is already on Roawr! - that "they existed sometime in the mid90s, released a 4-track 7" and some of the members went on to form the mighty Julia". That, in a way, is all you really need to know, at least if you already like this kind of music.

Lumber is very recognizably an antecedent of Julia, containing both the roughness and prettiness of that band's songs, and those familiar tinkling, rarefied guitar lines, energetic drum fills, melodic punk catchiness - and even experimental noise that featured in Julia's style. Of course, it's all slightly less developed, but it's really almost just as good. In fact, it's both the familiarities and the differences that make this record interesting to listen to.

The first track, 'Stripped' starts of with a bit of good 'ol echoey emopeggio (reminds me a bit of Indian Summer's 'Orchard', which really defines the style for me) before launching in to the true crashy, driving Julia-esque sound. At times the vocals remind me somewhat of Sunny Day Real Estate, which is sailing a bit close to the wind for my tastes (although if Jeremy Enigk was actually in this band, please tell me... I really don't have a clue!), but on the whole this is a really solid, enjoyable record. If you like music that's fraught, emotive, dynamic, poignant and hardcore, this must surely be for you...

Lumber - s/t

(Here is the original ROAWR! post, and if you haven't heard of Julia, don't worry, there's still hope! - listen/buy : kissmysoundsystem / Interpunk. And finally, if anyone has any information on Lumber, myself and dan would very much like to hear it. As you can see, I don't even have any sleeve artwork... if you have, say, a scan or a photograph, I would be very grateful... my email is on the sidebar. Cheers!)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Battles - Live @ Tripod, Dublin

Okay, so this week I went to see Battles live in Dublin. The same venue, same promoter, same opening time as Slint last Saturday. As the adjective "awesome" has been pretty much cornered for that gig, I'll have to settle for "phenomenal" for this one. Of course, the two bands aren't really comparable. One is a cult post-rock whose last real release was a decade and a half ago, the other is a hip new band of the moment (although admittedly perhaps in a more cult sense!). The point is, guess which gig drew a bigger crowd?

I never realised how many people could fit into Tripod - an old train station, by the way, and the site of a rather laughable trainwreck where a steam engine failed to stop, crashed through an end wall and was left perching precariously above the street outside - but there could easily have been twice as many people as at the Slint show. My own ticket, bought the week before, was #400. And, in addition, this was Battles' second show here this year. As the Irish Times said: 'Second capital city appearance in '07 for the thrilling math-rockers. Check out their Mirrored album for the full equation.'. God, I hate that paper, with their eclectic tastes, affable nature, liberal politics and, above all, terrible puns.

Anyway, it was a phenomenal gig... but for the mathematically inclined, I might say that the live/album equation for Battles, while not an inequality, displays perhaps the slight qualities of a disparity. Or, in other words, Battles live and on record are two very different beasts.

Obviously, some bands you can expect to sound even more different live than others, and Battles might really be one of them. Listening to Mirrored in my earphones on the long walk home from the (actual) train station, I realised how different yet equally thrilling the experiences are.

Battles live is intensely physical, gripping and soulfully pounding. The band came on stage in instalments - first Dave Konopka, the bassist, and according to the liner notes, the band's art director (and boy, do they have style - just look at the album artwork, or the video), to play a bass solo. Not a pretty rhythmic little line, mind you, but a screeching, low register wailing (or whaling?) on what is, lest we not forget, an electric guitar. Not satisfied with that, he turned the back on his crowd and fiddled with the electronics on the top of his amps (the gear is also set up almost exactly like it is on the album cover) to make some discordant noise for a minute or two. Meanwhile the drummer, John Stanier (hell, if I name one I have to name them all, right?) came on and started pummeling away at his crazy drum set-up, playing the one continous roll that seemed to me like the complete distillation of thousands of headbanging metal records and some thirty years of speed punk rage, combined into one altogther primal beat. And that's only half the band!

The two guitarists, Ian Williams, and Tyondai Braxton, (the be-afro'd vocalist responsible for making chipmunks rock'n'roll again) came on, acknowledged the crowd and started fiddling with their keyboards and myriad gadgets (the effect of introduction rather spoilt by the fact that they had to wander on and off earlier to start up their laptops (not featured on the album cover... I guess Apple MacBooks would kinda ruin the style... although Williams had his duct-taped upright on his keyboard, which is pretty stylish). From there, it could only degenerate further... in fact, I think they might have been having sound problems early on, 'cos I could hardly hear either vocals or keyboards for the first few songs... God I love noise!

I was thinking the gig was going pretty swimmingly, but then they launched into 'Atlas', and the floor became a sea of pogoing fans, with an energetic light show (not something that featured heavily at Slint!). When you think about it, Battles is really dance music for math rockers... at the end of that song, the drummer, now drenched in sweat and stripped to his shorts, stood up to play his seven-foot hi-hat to sustained applause (well, if he was going to keep going, so were we). As I say, phenomenal - a physical, musical and even emotional phenomenon, as Braxton caught the crowd up in singing along to his nonsensical hooks.

If you compare that noisy, crowded experience to the album as it sounds on record, then there's somewhat of a contrast. Mirrored is the same music either way, and equally impressive in whichever setting. On disc, it sounds rarefied, even a crystallized version of the live sound, which is altogether more extensive, organic and vibrant. Basically, it's well worth hearing, either way...

PS: A nice commenter left a link to this excellent live recording of Battles at festival in Holland. Check it out!

Battles - Atlas (video)

Woo! Went to see Battles in Dublin last night - phenomenal gig. This is the video for their single 'Atlas' from the album Mirrored. I never get tired of listening to this song or watching this video...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lhasa - Raein/Lhasa/Daitro split tracks

(Not the actual artwork, just something I made up myself, see bottom of first paragraph below)

Lhasa is another wonderfully obscure band discovered within the blogging community, and an experience which I just really want to share. As far as I know, they are a Japanese band... and as someone whose very first introduction to screamo came from Envy's A Dead Stinking Story, I know that can only really be a good thing.

These three songs, 'Mother Earth Father Sky', 'Fallen Grace' and 'Bogged Horizons' were released on a split CD The Harsh Words as the Sun with Italy's Raein and France's Daitro. It's a fairly good split, in my opinion - I quite like Daitro, although I much prefer La Quiete to Raein - but Lhasa's three near-epic songs stand out, almost too much. My preference is to listen to them on their own - a quite satisfactory experience at about 26 minutes - and so that is the way I've presented them, unofficially of course, here for you. (n.b. the 'artwork' at the top is my own - a combination of a purloined tourist photo of the Potala palace in Lhasa city, and what Wikipedia says are the Tibetan characters for 'Lhasa'...)

Anyway, to describe the music itself... it's going to be difficult. Lhasa is all about the voice, even more so than usual screamo bands, and to the extent where it might be said that the instruments are completely secondary. It starts off sounding like ordinary post-rock, and then erupts slowly into deep, throaty vocals. At first, they sounded like ordinary metal screaming, but immediately one can hear so much texture, variation and shape as to escape comparison. Effectively, Lhasa uses the human voice as an instrument (an interesting inversion of the more common technique of using an instrument to mimic the human voice), conveying mood, energy and emotion almost solely through the medium of gruff screaming.

There are, I think, at times at least two vocalists intertwined (shades of my beloved HWM!) but for the most part Lhasa is stripped back to the one voice. This can be heard most effectively on the start of 'Bogged Horizons', where the singer carries along the tune in a low moan for all of five minutes before emerging with the rest of the band in a chugging, throaty catharsis. It seems these guys have absorbed the collective techniques of screamo of the last decade or two (as well as, possibly, the collected works of Louis Armstrong) and produced an incredibly dynamic, innovative and physically overwhelming style all of their own.

In many ways, this music is also incredibly dense. I've listened to these songs countless times, yet I don't really think I fully understand Lhasa. There is something of the cartoonish in this music, as the sound is so direct and unabashed, yet it is also beautifully attuned to the ear. On hearing Lhasa first, I posted some stupid comment like "This is the screamo Tom Waits" in reply, yet as they say, many a true word is spoken in jest. Lhasa plays no folk or carnival music, they are defiantly hardcore in their distorted, atonal guitar wash and chiming post-rock accompaniment, yet they possess like the genius of Tom Waits a powerful sense of soul and profound ability to express emotion in its rawest, most affecting form. Lhasa is a corrosive, bewildering enigma of modern 'screamo' - the poetry of song in its most potent guise.

Lhasa - "Three Songs EP": mediafire / divshare

(If you want to find out more about Harsh Words as the Sun, check out the releases on

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Slint - Live @ Tripod, Dublin

A roughly chronological account of the gig...

1. The morning before, when I was finding the link for blend's review of Spiderland, I noticed that it had been posted in March of this year, meaning I had only been listening to Slint for less than five months. Scary.

2. Before the show started, we were all wondering how they were going to stretch this beyond 40 minutes... it's a good question. Part of the answer is, obviously, they didn't come on stage for an hour after the printed time (but all bands do that anyway). The rest of the answer... well, skip to 4. if you want to know quickly.

3. When they started playing the first few bars of 'Breadcrumb Trail', it sounded like the most familiar thing in the world. This was basically like listening to the album, but better in every way. Or if you were able to listen to the album at tremendous volume, in a room full of people, maybe that... The first sequence of 'Breadcrumb Trail' and 'Nosferatu Man' was pretty damn rocking, and then they slowed it down a bit for 'Don, Aman', when the two guitars came and sat opposite each other on stools in the middle of the stage. Halfway through 'Washer' I was thinking, maybe now I understand a little bit more what Indian Summer felt 'with the needle dragging the end of the slint lp', and where they took a lot of their sound from. The same with 'For Dinner' and the echoes of Max Colby... not really that all those bands are derivative, but that Slint just created this massively important aesthetic. Finally, with 'Good Morning, Captain', we were left with "I MISS YOU!!!" reverberating in our ears, and wondering... what happens now?

3a. To the friend who tried to ring me just before they started 'Good Morning, Captain', thanks. Really appreciate it. The phone stayed off the rest of the gig, and I hope you found the answer to your question elsewhere. Also, it was fun meeting up with everyone in the pub afterwards, saying 'Who the hell are Slint?'. The best band ever, obviously...

4. They played 'Glenn' and 'Rhoda'! That is, after playing Spiderland in its entirety, they played the Glenn/Rhoda EP in its entirety. I was pretty stoked to hear the album, and that would in itself have made the gig awesome, but hearing those two songs live just blew me away. Especially after just writing a review of those songs, to hear them so unexpectedly was memorable to say the least. Mind you, I used to think 'Glenn' was a quiet song. Not so live, however... 'Rhoda' was also upgraded to "earth-shattering". Just awesome.

5. In fact, they stretched out what everyone was expecting to be a six-song gig into a nine-song gig, with the addition of 'Glenn', 'Rhoda' and another song I didn't recognize, [but which I now know is 'King's Approach'] this one new song they have been playing as an encore. It was a kind of heavy, complex guitar song... at that point, I was already glutted on old-school Slint, so I didn't take much notice. It was quite different, actually, from anything that they're known for, and to be honest wasn't really my style. I can see why it has that name, though...

6. Now, when do I get to see 'The For Carnation Performing The For Carnation'?


And now, for a kind of postscript/piece de resistance, this 12'' record was released one year after Glenn/Rhoda, sits 3 CDs in front of Spiderland in my own collection, is deservedly one of Andy Radin's 'top emo records', and is an excellent split, combining two major bands with differing yet complementary styles, and indeed containing some of the best songs ever released by either group: the Shotmaker-Maximillian Colby split (as if this post needed any more Slint worship!). (Note: I just made the split myself from the tracks culled from their discographies, so apologies if these are technically the wrong versions or something... neither do I know which band should come first, this is just the way I've always loved and listened to it!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Slint - "Glenn/Rhoda" EP

Woo! Going to see Slint in Dublin tonight, or more specifically, 'Slint Performing Spiderland'. Should be a good gig...

This isn't Spiderland, although if you want to find out more about that amazing album you can read this. This self-titled EP contains only two songs, 'Rhoda', a reworking of a song from Tweez, and 'Glenn', a previously unreleased song presumably dating from around the same time (apparently, all the songs on Tweez were named after pets and family members).

There are two reasons why I love this EP. They are called, basically, 'Glenn', and 'Rhoda'. Let me explain...

Firstly, this EP almost perfectly bridges the fairly disparate sounds of Tweez (a lo-fi, desultory and crunchingly metallic album) and Spiderland (a twisting, epic and subtle masterpiece of post-rock). 'Glenn' rejuvenates the minimalistic sound of Tweez, tightening it up and adding an extra dimension of tension to the instrumental style. The song quickly builds up into a crescendo, which almost immediately goes nowhere, except to introduce an ominous humming sound... part reminiscent of the antagonistic noise of Tweez, part prescient of the eerie claustrophobia of Spiderland.

Secondly, the music of this EP was for me the most 'accessible' part of Slint, coming as I was from a particular musical direction. Previously, I had an allergy to the whole aesthetic idea of post-rock or math-rock (don't worry, I'm on meds now... the doctors call them the mercury program). The song 'Rhoda', in no small way, helped change that. You see, I was listening to a lot of Maximillian Colby, which was a very heavily Slint-influenced emo/hardcore band, similar in vein to the Swing Kids or perhaps Clikatat Ikatowi. But Slint-influenced is not the same as Slint, so when I downloaded Tweez (the only Slint record Touch and Go have released on eMusic... insert conspiracy theory here) I was a little disappointed, not to say confused. Because this alternate version of 'Rhoda' is simply so much better than that entire album. Right from the starting notes, it is probably Slint's loudest song, performing a similar synthesis of styles to 'Glenn' but simultaneously amping the sound up several notches, drenching the spaces between jagged riffs in perfectly pitched feedback, descending into weird, metallic noise and finally collapsing into a droning whine...

Repeat play is advised, with caution... possible some of the most intense twelve minutes of your musical experience ever.

Slint - s/t ep

Friday, August 17, 2007

Suicide - American Supreme

For the moment, I'd like to move away from the traditional emo/hardcore stuff I've been posting, and look at something a little stranger, and also a bit more recent. This post is kind of in connection with the latest post on Steady Diet, but really only in name.

Suicide's latest album, American Supreme, released in 2002, is really worth listening to. Suicide are most famous for their debut s/t album (you know, the one with the smeared blood on the cover) but since then they have continued to release some very interesting work.

Suicide exist outside of traditional music genres, although they can be described as being part of the 70's 'no-wave' movement. Really, they are a punk band without guitars and, listening to their records, I can feel that they have equally a 'hardcore' aesthetic and spirit. The term 'alternative' does absolutely no justice to the extremes which Suicide take their music to, and neither does it comprehend the extent to which they subvert and pervade 'pop'.

Suicide are two people: Alan Vega, who does vocals, and Martin Rev, who does instruments. Vega and Rev met, I think, in a New York art gallery. Soon the two were experimenting with the combination of tortured spoken word vocals and a really cheap drum machine. Suicide's first album can roughly be described as a demented, echoey Elvis crooning quietly over an unhealthy-sounding motorbike engine. Strangely enough, that same album was at the same time a beautiful collection of sweet pop songs; albeit ones which occasionally descended into anarchic violence, most notably 'Frankie Teardrop', possibly the first screamo song ever recorded.

But I'm not reviewing their first album here, merely referring to it to illustrate the progress of the band since. Suicide's sound and musical structure has remained recognizably similar, yet all the while adapting to the music of contemporary culture. Hence, while the first two records are recognizable as 70's electronic music (and are lauded/blamed for inspiring the electronica/new wave genre, e.g. Soft Cell), their 1992 album, Why Be Blue? is much more dance-orientated. And American Supreme, a 21-st century album by a definitively 20-th century band, draws heavily on - but what else? - hip-hop. Well - because they are from the 1970s - very funky hip hop (One track, 'Wrong Decisions' even has sampled horns... under the chorus line "Mom's not breathing"). Indeed, if you've ever wanted to hear hip-hop played like weird 70s electronica, this is very possibly the album for you.

Finally, a discussion of either this album, or of Suicide as a whole, would be lacking with some mention of the lyrical content. As you may guess from the cover, this album is very political, with songs like 'Televised Executions', 'Swearin' to the Flag', etc. If memory serves me right, 'Frankie Teardrop' followed the story of disturbed vet gone murderously insane. Suicide haven't exactly mellowed much since, if the intensity of this album is anything to go buy. The insert sheet has no lyrics, but rather (printed on an eye-wateringly intense orange background) a series of quotes from various celebrities (such as Iggy Pop, Guy Debord and Donny Osmond) and musings on the creative process, consumerism, fame and art. This is not your standard anti-capitalist manifestoism; rather, it's something much more challenging, philosophical and provocative. For example:

5; How can you think clearly in a record shop?
Pop, of course, is built on daydreams conjured up in suburbia. Pop comes from the outside looking in, from howling at the moon, from wanting a way out. Pop is a dream mass-produced, packaged and repackaged, replicated, copied and sold back to us. It is the sound of creativity spawned from boredom; a source of ideas raised only to be pillaged. Pop is the last gasp before the day job grabs you, a scream in the face of the nine to five, a futile alternative to washing the car. Pop is an inevitable failure, a second of brilliance and a lifetime of grey. Pop is disappointment in multiple.


12; Is suicide a solution?
A life caught in fragments is a life in which key moments are seized. In its unwholesomeness comes an expression of what it is to be alive, replete with defects, unevenness and disappointment. Here in lies 'shreds snatched from complete nothingness', a product of people caught in particular period of time. When creativity becomes a 'career choice', it becomes a forced irrelevance. Keep off the payroll.

Suicide - American Supreme

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monologue? - Dialogue!

If, like all good citizens of the interweb, you have been reading Zen and the Art of Face Punching lately, you may have noticed a discussion, and dare I say it, some soul-searching, going on the issue of comments.

I don't want to rehash anything (particularly not any old beef... geddit?!), and blend has returned to his usual ebullient self with an excellent post about Cease Upon the Capitol, but I thought I might add my two cent too.

It's only early days for this blog (less than a week!) but I've immensely enjoyed the experience so far, and equally so with the other blog, Steady Diet. I'm lucky to have received a good deal of publicity from Zen Face, not to say a ready-made audience, and useful supporty and inspiration from the wider Zen community (you know who you are... thanks!)

I can tell from downloads that there are quite a few people around this blog, so to you all, welcome! This post isn't meant as a complaint, but rather a celebration. Just to say, feel free to leave a comment, if you want to say anything; whether you like the bands, the albums, etc... if you know anything about the history of this music, or if you'd like to say anything about my reviews (believe me, I'm supremely unqualified to review most of this music!), or if you just want to say hi. I'm just interested to know...

So thanks, and enjoy. For you, citizens of the interweb, I have a present...

"I have a present, it is the present
You've got to, to learn to, to find it within you..."
(Jawbreaker, 'Save Your Generation')

and also, more tangibly, Hot Water Music's Live at the Hardback: because they, more than any other band I know, showed me how much words could truly mean.

(Photo at top by Susan Kelly, to be found in Live at the Hardback CD booklet; buy the album here)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Honeywell - Discography

Of all the major obscure emo/hardcore bands I’ve tried to find in the last couple of years, Honeywell were probably the most difficult. Hell, I even found the Guyver-1 7’’ first, thanks to Zen and the Art of Face Punching, and all I knew about them was that, according to Andy Radin, they were “a little late in the game, but still fantastically good hardcore” (It’s excellent, by the way). Whereas Honeywell were already firmly etched onto my musical consciousness. I just had one song from Honeywell to go on, ‘You and Me/Screaming Numb Ears”. If I was walking past when that song came on my stereo, I had the (almost) uncontrollable urge to spazz out, flail my arms wildly and scream the words “I’m not listening!!! I’m not listening!!! I’m !!! not !!! LISTENING !!!!” at the floor.

I mean, considering how damn good that song is, what more would you want? Well, for a start, the [almost] entire Honeywell discography…

So what is Honeywell? As a hardcore group, they are pretty similar to bands like the Swing Kids and Mohinder. They play fast and abrasive hardcore with impassioned vocals, screamed with throat-shredding ferocity. Yet within this aural blender of distortion, feedback and guttural screeching is an undeniable sense of melody. Personally, I prefer this strand of Gravity/3OneG/San Diego/whatever hardcore to the more atonal Heroin or Angel Hair. And then there’s a further gap between this kind of early screamo and the Orchid/Saetia kind, which is fast in a completely different way.

If I had to compare this to something more modern, I guess I’d have to say Ampere or maybe Wolves. But still, they play with a different kind of acceleration. It may sound odd, but what I thought of was La Quiete, particularly their s/t 7’’. Admittedly, Honeywell are far more abrasive in overall style, but there’s a kind of connecting tangent of percussive rhythm. In La Quiete its done more through the guitars, and in Honeywell more through the voice, and in both through some degree of combination. It all works toward a certain rhythmic intensity, reaching towards sometimes a kind of heart-rending nervous strumming of the soul.

As I say, this is the entire discography. I’m not sure exactly where I found it, but it seems to be floating around places like megaupload and mediafire. The actual record is seemingly afflicted by the Troubleman curse, like the Hated. It’s eternally coming soon.

But here it is, albeit split in half. See, I hate listening to discographies, particularly those of groups originally designed to be heard in short bursts. I did the same to the even shorter Mohinder discography, burning off two separate CDs from the eMusic download. Really, it’s inadvisable to listen to this kind of music for a solid hour, and if you’re determined to do so (say, if you’re feeling super-punk) then get up off your ass halfway through and switch CDs. Of course, if you are super-punk, you’re listening to the vinyl anyway.

So what I did was split it into Pt. 1 (the Industry LP and what I assume is their first 7’’) and Pt. 2 (the Reach Out split tracks and various other stuff from comps etc.). It’s nice kind of A and B side balance. Then I made up some matching cover art using a stylish 1950s Technicolor picture of a Honeywell thermostat (cos, you know, authenticity) and stuck them in with all my other CDs.

If you think that sounds strange, then you haven’t read the name of this blog.

Discography, Pt. 1

Discography, Pt. 2

PS. The picture at the top I found on this Myspace site, 'eletrikkoolaid', along with a lot of other useful and interesting background information on Honeywell and the related band, Volume Eleven.

PPS. Interesting fact: the classical excerpt at the start of 'Mesh Control' on that side is, according to a reliable source, the opening chorus 'O Fortuna' from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana of 1937. According to the classical encyclopaedia,

"the words... are from 13th-century student poems found in the monastery of Benediktbeuren in Bavaria, which are bawdy celebrations of drinking, lovemaking and other earthy delights. Its wide appeal - a message to many contemporary composers - comes from its rhythmic vivacity, its raw, direct energy and its fusion of traditional, jazz and modern compositional techniques."

Go figure...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hot Water Music - Fuel For The Hate Game

Just a quick tie-in post for my other blog...

Hot Water Music is both a hardcore band from Gainesville, Florida, and a book of short stories by Chuck Bukowski.

It's mostly coincidental, really. One of the band members happened to be reading the book at the time they were looking for a name, and HWM just sounded right. There's no other especial similarity, other than that both Bukowski and Chuck Ragan have beards, I guess. And that they both make fucking beautiful poetry.

Hot Water Music is such a big part of my musical world that, for the moment, I won't even try to describe them. Well... if you just want to know who they sound like, I'd say a more rockin' Fugazi, or if you want to be a bit more specific, Mike Kirsch's Fuel or even the great Leatherface. But if you want to know what they sound like, you've gotta just listen to them. For long periods. And turn it up loud.

This is Fuel For The Hate Game, their second album, released on No Idea Records in 1997. All HWM albums are good, but this is one of the absolutely great ones:


Monday, August 13, 2007

Han Shan - s/t 7''

I just came across this record recently, and it’s pretty typical of the wonderfully obscure stuff available among the blogging community. This is originally ripped and posted by a guy called antithesis, at Anyway, (hopefully he won’t mind my stealing this for my first post!) I was attracted enough by the name and artwork of this band to spend considerable time converting 8 songs from .ogg to .mp3.

And boy, was it worth it! Think of the Swing Kids, or possibly Heroin, with a sludgy Black Flag kind of texture… and some weird wind instrument (or saxophone?) playing discordant transitions. The sound quality isn’t great (in fact it’s terrible) but really that doesn’t matter when you have music this fierce. The songs have names like “Black Teagarden” or “Loquat Tree”, keeping up the Oriental Zen theme. Inside, there’s a full-length landscape painting of, well, rocks and trees, and on the reverse an ink drawing of some dude in a kimono or something, overlaid with jumbled, typewritten lyrics like this:

IN AUTUMN the quiet storm, soft wind warm on an autumn night in a small logging town six layers soaked and frozen like muck on a glass-strewn concrete slab (sad oh ow i wish it would rain)and it took so long to figure out what i wanted, the bridges up in flames and no association to moderation cos it’s a long walk and i got a lot of hating to do… so long…

In case you somehow are not familiar with the original Han Shan, I suggest you check out my review of The Dharma Bums on my other blog here, and scroll down to the end of the extract. Or you could go to Wikipedia I guess, but that’s only for people who believe in facts. Or best of all, here’s the bands own explanation:

the poetry of

Han-shan, “Cold Mountain” takes his name from where he lived. He is a Chinese mountain madman from the T’ang dynasty who lived as a recluse, many miles, from any kind of civilization.

Finally, this was released as Soledad Records No. 2 in 1993 and I know absolutely nothing else about it. If anybody who was actually around when all this crazy shit was going on could fill me in on anything more, I’d appreciate it!

Edit: 13/12 received this comment:

"I was the vocalist on this record. It was probably recorded very late 93 or early 94; After End Of The Line was way long gone and John Henry West had recently broke up. Han Shan was a band based out of San Luis Obispo featuring some of the Toad Liquor and Suckerpunch guys. Their singer went awol and I filled in on vocals for a gilman show they came up for. I wasn't doing any bands so they asked me to record the 7" with them. We went down to Dago, Matt from Gravity recorded it in a couple hours in a garage, and I went home to Oakland. A few weeks later we did a gig opening for Karp in Santa Cruz. That was it, end of band. I'm glad people still remember the 7". Some members went on to play in Drunk Horse,Behead The Prophet, Tight Bros, and I started Dragon Rojo, then Salem Lights.


Cory Linstrum"

Han Shan - s/t 7" - divshare / mediafire