Monday, April 16, 2007

heep see

Texas Monthly

This month features a portrait of a (real) Texas Ranger who has the most-awesome name ever: Clete Buckaloo.

Kevin Drumm
Sheer Hellish Miasma
Editions Mego

This was my first review ever for Pitchfork Media. I cringe to re-read my early flailings there, my insistence on running a metaphor (a blizzard broadsided New York right when I was listening to the album daily) deep into the tundra. My first paragraph joked about a Rhino reissue in twenty years time, opining titles like Brain Scratch Avalanche and Demonic Wasabi Colonic. Go hyperbole! Guess we didn't even have to wait five years for it to re-surface, though. It's a slight relief to be back so soon in that (as was often the case at PFK) I never got a real copy of the album before it went out of print (kids loved them some Chicagoan post-rock/ power-electronics/ black metal hybrids, no doubt). It even comes with a bonus track.

"Blue" Gene Tyranny
Out of the Blue
Unseen Worlds

I had the privilege a few years back to trade emails with Robert Scheff, a man who revels in his own pen name and injects it into his own titles, much like a certain writer who posts here. It was for a set of liner notes to this archival release, Formations. It intrigued me to learn that Scheff was also from my hometown of San Antonio. Yet while I spent many a high school day getting burnt on the grounds of the McNay Art Museum, Scheff and Phil Krumm spent their high school days staging world premieres of John Cage pieces a the McNay (also pieces by La Monte Young, Yoko Ono, and Richard Maxfield).
Not familiar with either Blue's operatic works nor those he made in conjunction with Bob Ashley, Out of the Blue is a winsome, disarming listen. A friend and I agree on the wonkiness of the instrumental here (he hears Herbie Hancock, while I hear Zappa), but the sprawling recitative works (see title track) balance stoned letter-writing rambles with minute cosmic epiphanies. And I can't help that when the letter notes the bar that changed hands again, recalling how Blue and his companion used to get stoned and sing along to the songs on the jukebox, that said dive bar might in fact be SA's legendary Tacoland.

Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble
The Malcolm X Memorial

You can see a third of trumpeter Kelan Phil Cohran's progeny perform on the streets of New York as Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. This is the second album of paternas Cohran to get reissued, after the astounding On the Beach. A live performance mourning and celebrating the death of X, its four movements embody each persona of the man, from his birth as "Malcolm Little" to his pimp name, "Detroit Red," through his rebirth as "Malcolm X" on into his final metamorphosis (post-Mecca) as "El Hajj Malik el Shabazz." Each transformation is rendered in the music, starting out as bluesy, moving into jazz, before becoming chant-heavy and tribal. Dig their marching band outfits as well as the only pic I've ever seen of future Miles Davis guitarist Pete Cosey sans-shades.

The Mouse That Roared dir. Jack Arnold
Five years before Peter Sellers achieved comedic godhead as a trinity of characters (or is that warhead at Trinity?) in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying an Love the Bomb, he debuted in this slight comedy playing three roles as well (Grand Duchess Gloriana XII, Prime Minister Count Rupert Mountjoy, fool Tully Bascombe), across from the cardboard flat of actress Jean Seberg. In much the same way that Strangelove was eerily prophetic though, so too is the act of war declared on America in this film. Sellers proclaims: "They forgive everything! No sooner is the aggressor defeated then they pour in food, machines, clothing, technical aid and lots and lots of money for the relief of foreign enemies."

Black Dice

Thankfully, the recent Optimo mix Walkabout (which --in the terminology of an Aussie-- is killuh) made me go back to this all-but-ignored 12" from the Dice. First audition felt way too slight and spacious, as opposed to the density of the band to that point. Filed it away. Rather than skull-crush, they pulled back, creating something as weird, yet less tethered to weight, than anything else they've done to date. Keep thinking Residents, but that's not quite right either. Regardless, they're going to remain misunderstood for another decade at least.

Drag City cover art
I know I've been dealing with different PR folks over at the esteemed Drag City as of late, but what gives with the heinous cover art? Did they go the way of the Voice's art staff? Both the PG Six and Bill Callahan boast the ugliest cover art of the year, making it way too easy to dismiss the finely-honed folk-pop within. It's great fodder for the Assumer Guide though.


Here's hoping some visionary music director at The Palace in Auburn Hills or the Staples Center realizes that this is the second coming of Gary Glitter's "Rock'n'Roll Part II" and begins to blast this blistering stomp of gibberish during the next time-out to get the crowd of Oompa Loompas hyped.