Thursday, April 10, 2008

various artists - "Of Sound Mind" C90 cassette (1993)

Here's something special and neat for you. This is my very own compilation cassette, originally released in ultra-microscopic quantities via Godsend Productions & Magazine way back in 1993. If you like experimental and abstract noise and ambient sounds, this 90-minute collection of material from mostly fairly well-known international artists might be appealing. You can download it in 2 parts below. It got very positive reviews way back when from such mags as MUSIC FROM THE EMPTY QUARTER, E.S.T., AUDIO DRUDGE, and others. See what you think and please leave comments so I know you're out there! Did I mention you can download this for FREE with the links below? The artists were all personal friends back then, so it's all legit, too...

Here's the tracklist and bio:

OF SOUND MIND compilation tracklist
1. Psycollapse - torture lab
2. Merzbow/Arthur Potter - sub-urban
3. Amoeba - feedback study: steel
4. Amoeba - spectacle of false faces
5. Amoeba - elith
6. Beautiful People, Ltd (featuring Jarboe) - newborn child
7. PBK - totem
8. Stereotaxic Device - slash and burn
9. Illusion of Safety - inside
10. Psycollapse - burning up time
disc a
1. Robert Rich - birdsong for aleta
2. Robert Rich - circle
3. PBK - a dream
4. Konstruktivists - khos (live 1982)
5. Konstruktivists - kardboardia (live 1982)
6. Vidna Obmana - by abundant rain
7. Beautiful People, Ltd. (featuring Jarboe) - suicide song
8. Trance - the other side of silence
9. Trance - rain in hind
disc b

OF SOUND MIND compilation bios:

This was a loose "band" consisting of Todd Zachritz, Clint Davis, and Brian Zachritz. These tracks were both strictly improvised, and show the dark, more mysterious side of their work. Besides this type of stuff, they also dabbled in many other styles and genres, from hard dance to punk rock to ambient, reflecting an interest and enthusiasm for nearly every genre of music. The band has been inactive for some time, though a reunion is always possible. PSYCOLLAPSE has left behind a catalog of over 40 cassettes of unreleased material, some of which may be compiled in the future.
Godsend Productions
(c) 1992 Godsend Productions

"Sub-Urban" is a rare collaboration between two very respected figures in the international "post-industrial" noise scene--Japan's MERZBOW and New York's Arthur Potter. This track combines Masami Akita's brutal, grinding electronics/processing with Potter's spoken text/poetry. The result is nothing less than scalding.
MERZBOW has been responsible for an immense number of recordings internationally, while Arthur is primarily a visual designer who's done cover art/designs for numerous CONTROLLED BLEEDING releases as well as volumes 3, 4, and 5 of the seminal DRY LUNGS compilation series and an exclusive cover design for GODSEND's 18th issue.
He has also worked on music with longtime friend Paul Lemos of CONTROLLED BLEEDING fame.
(c) 1992 Merzbow/Potter

Hailing from Stanford, California, composer Robert Rich has released an impressive number of fine solo albums of his emotive, ambient soundscapes. He has also worked on collaborations with such atmospheric music luminaries as Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, and Brian Lustmord. The 5 tracks selected for this compilation are unreleased outtakes pointing to a variety of directions and atmospheres.
His side project AMOEBA is an outlet for his more extreme sound experiments, as presented here. He has also since released several CDs of strange ambient pop under the AMOEBA moniker. The track "Feedback Study: Steel" is based on a "prototype instrument made from a sheet of steel". AMOEBA's "Spectacle of False Faces" dates way back to 1985--an early document of his future direction. "Elith" is an electronic improvisation.
His contributions as Robert Rich include "Birdsong For Aleta", a dance piece written for a solo performance by Aleta Hayes, and "Circle", which uses an instrument Rich built in 1985 called a mallet kalimba.
Robert Rich
(c)1992 Soundscape Productions

This was a "band" consisting of Jarboe and Lary Seven. Jarboe is best recognized for her collaborations with M. Gira as SWANS and THE WORLD OF SKIN, though her solo career has been fruitful and productive as well. These songs were another outlet for her creativity, and she released a full-length BPL CD and remix single on Belgium's Sub Rosa label (now available again on the Atavistic label). She has also released several excellent solo albums, and continues to collaborate with artists like Justin Broadrick (of Godflesh and Jesu), Neurosis, and a lengthy list of innovative modern artists from all over the world.
(c) 1991 Jarboe Music

PBK has become an important part of the international cassette and experimental scenes. His style of "sound painting" utilizes samples, loops, and synthetic sources to produce a very individual, intuitive type of sound. His many releases on labels such as RRR, Lunhare, and ND show a great range of directions, from the harsh noise of his early work to the near-ambience of recent releases. He has also collaborated with many other artists, including Jarboe, Vidna Obmana, Brian Ladd, Deaf Lions, M.Gira, and Chris & Cosey. PBK now works in a vaguely jazz-like context, though still quite electronic in nature, and certainly more experimental than that term may imply.
(c) 1991 PBK

On the electronic beat side of the musical spectrum was STEREOTAXIC DEVICE. Their music, which approached downright danceable at times, used varying atmospheric textures and sound collage to create a rich and layered brand of electronic music--both experimental and accessable at the same time. They released 2 full-length CDs and one single on Belgium's KK Records before disbanding around 1993. This track originally appeared as a CD-only bonus track on their "Lostland" CD single and in different form on their "100 Per Day Extinct" CD.
Recently, vocalist Daniel Williams was active in industrial-dance act THINKING MAN (on Metropolis Records) while keyboardist George Sarah has recorded electronic dance sounds with his project T.H.C. Sarah is now an established Hollywood score composer and has most notably worked on the cult TV series, 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer', among others.
(c)1991 Stereotaxic Device/George Sarah, courtesy of KK Records

IOS are a revolving group centered around Dan Burke. They've released a large number of releases on labels such as Staalplaat, Tesco, RRR, as well as Dan's own Complacency Productions, and they have quickly become some of the most respected crafters of experimental sound. Their vast catalog of work includes everything from ambient fields of sound to crunching noise to the beat-driven textures of their legendary (and polarizing) "Inside Agitator" CD.
Illusion Of Safety
(c)1991 IOS/Complacency

This group has been making their own style of experimental music since the early 1980s. Never ones to be predictable, the group have gone from the noise of their early Third Mind LPs to the more recent neo-techno of their "Tic-Tac-Toe" and "Forbidden" CDs. Core members of KONSTRUKTIVISTS have performed with such "industrial" legends as CHRIS & COSEY and WHITEHOUSE. These 2 live tracks are archival examples of their early psycho-tronic work and date all the way back to 1982.
(c)1992 NKVD/Ouragouras Music, Inc.

Belgian composer Dirk Serries has been one of the finest ambient artists in recent times. His soundwork is serene and immaculately constructed, reflecting an atmosphere of delicate, unfolding beauty. His experimentation with nontraditional sound sources has led to some likewise interesting collaborations with other artists including PBK, Marc Verhaeghen (of the KLINIK), Steve Roach, and Sam Rosenthal (of Projekt/BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL), among others. Serries also collaborates with others in the more guitar-drone-oriented Fear Falls Burning.
(c)1991 Vidna Obmana

Mason Jones, the man behind the avante/noise group TRANCE, quickly made a name for himself in international experimental music circles, both through his soundwork, and through his label. Charnel Music (which released a stream of fine CDs by such artists as CRASH WORSHIP ADRV, ZENI GEVA, GRAVITAR, and K.K. NULL, among others).
TRANCE, which was chiefly a solo venture, released several CDs and cassettes that range from grinding guitar melee to neo-tribal percussiveness to the solemn, classically-influenced work on his "Augury" CD. Mason is also active with psychedelic rock band SUBARACHNOID SPACE and continues to collaborate with a number of legendary experimental musicians from around the world.
These 2 tracks showcase some of his more percussive music,and show the diversity and subtlety TRANCE is capable of.
Charnel House
(c)1993 Charnel Music

Toru Kamei - "Paradise" DVD

Coming across like an adult version of 'Lost' meets 'The Blue Lagoon', this Japanese 'pink' movie seems all wooden and cold, as none of the protagonists are cast in a positive light whatsoever. The main star, a simple fisherman played by Hideo Sakaki , is a wife-killing rapist, while his foil, the stunningly evil newswoman/political candidate Shion Machida, is a mean-spirited bitch. Together, this motley pair struggle to survive after washing up on a deserted island. The trouble is, neither of these people ever change in this new environment. Both end up as pathetic and despicable as before. A journey of this nature deserves some kind of payoff or transformation. But you won't have that here. A sad and miserable tale, with little substance. (MVD Visual)

Terror - "CBGB OMFUG Masters Live - June 10, 2004" CD

Well, I really like the band's name. But tragically, the group's moniker is wasted on a load of generic meathead thug-hardcore. Hailing from the West Coast (but formed by a native New Yorker, go figure), Terror belt out 11 short and less-than sweet cuts of bulldog aggression and drill sergeant shouts. Sure, it's a pummeling chug and whomp, but this kinda militant metalcore just screams one-dimensional bully-boys, and like most others of their ilk, Terror refuse to back down or vary their speed or course of attack. Suckness. (MVD Audio)

The Mooney Suzuki - "CBGB OMFUG Masters Live - June 29, 2001" CD

Bearing abso-fucking-lutely no resemblance to their namesake (look it up if you don't know by now), New York's Mooney Suzuki are all primal garage rock, with a liberal tip of the proverbial hat to the great 60's pre-punk rousters like the MC5. Tracks like 'Oh Sweet Susanna' are raved-up slices of bluesy power-pop-rock, complete with big choruses (and even bigger riffs). If you dig on stuff like Thee Headcoats or even The Brian Jonestown Massacre, check out these wild boys, too. (MVD Audio)

The Toasters - "CBGB OMFUG Masters Live - June 28, 2002" CD

Despite not being much of a fan of ska, I can appreciate this seminal and influential NY-based group, here celebrating over 20 years of skankin' and drinkin'. This stuff contrasts with the awful wave of pop-ska around these days (not naming names, but you know them, and you probably hate them, too). Anyway, the Toasters hold true to the classic 2-Tone ideal, keeping the Jamaican spirit intact and locking into some tight rock-steady grooves. Respect. (MVD Audio)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Crispin H. Glover - "The Big Problem Does Not Equal The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be" CD

Crispin is a highly talented and literate guy, that much I can pretty well decipher. His acting is top-notch, and his film work (I have only seen 'What Is It?') is, at the very least, provocative, and possibly visionary, even. He isn't afraid of being seen as a kook or a weirdo. And that, in itself, is honorable, I suppose. However, this 1989 music & spoken LP (featuring music by Barnes & Barnes of 'Fish Heads' fame) is really pretty lame and far too self-consciously 'weird' for it's own good. Granted, his Charles Manson cover (the fine 'Never Say 'Never' To Always) is fun, but his shrieking and annoying version of 'These Boots Were Made For Walkin' is just plain bad. And Glover's little short story ('Oak Mot') is pretty forgettable and pointless. Leave this one to the bargain bins. (Restless)

Andrew Dominik - "The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford"

A surprisingly subtle and well-scripted (though long-winded) film from New Zealand-born director Andrew Dominik (who's only past film credit prior was the seldom-seen 'Chopper', which I've never seen, though I do own Bad Seed Mick Harvey's soundtrack (on his 'Motion Picture Music 1994-2005' CD). Starring tabloid-hog Brad Pitt as the outlaw Jesse James, and Casey 'the other' Affleck as obsessive man-child Robert Ford, 'Assassination' is a strikingly artful portrayal of one man's failure to connect with his heroes, and his jealousy at those around him. Ford is shown as a needy and immature 20 year-old, and one who's not all too likeable or trustworthy. In fact, to put it bluntly, he's a miserable sniveling little prick. Pitt's Jesse James, on the other hand, seems a fair and likeable kind of guy, despite his being a murderer and feared robber. A top-notch supporting cast (Sam Rockwell, Sam Shepard, Mary Louise-Parker, Zooey Deschanel) certainly helps, too, and the cinematography is quite artful, with plenty of soft and fisheye camera views (kind of confusing and unnecessary, but tasteful nonetheless) and wide landscapes. At 2.5 hours, it's a wee bit long, but still an engrossing and memorable viewing experience. And, I can't neglect to mention that one Nick Cave appears in the film, (appropriately enough, singing in a bar), and his score (with Warren Ellis) is superbly crafted and fittingly minimal, echoing the whispery, dusky vibes of the old West. Worthy of the accolades and awards it's been granted. Watch the trailer here.

Alan Vega - "Station" CD

Wow, the legendary vocalist for NYC hellraisers Suicide is back with a scalding, scathing, and fiery album of fearsome grooves and sharp commentary on his homeland's social and political condition. The ominous knife on the cover says it all. Personally, I think Vega's work with Finnish minimalist electro-noise-sculptors Pan Sonic has been an inspiring move, as tracks like '13 Crosses 16 Blazin' Skulls' (my favorite cut here) are surgically-precise blasts of gut-level analogue rhythms boxes and blistering digital noise, with Vega's invective commentary legibly spoken/shouted on top. This is also a logical and faithful continuation of Vega's classic mid-70's work with Martin Rev as Suicide, all unhinged analogue electronics and madman yelps. In 'Devastated', Vega's proclamation of 'How's the future gonna play out for our kids!' is intense and proves that not all of us turn mellow and wishy-washy with age. 'Psychopatha' is a disturbingly funky urban nightmare set to industrial drums and hypnotic noise. Pretty intense and paranoia-inducing stuff, complete with Vega's raving maniac shouts and mutterings. As dangerous and experimental as anything in Vega's impressive 30-year back catalogue, 'Station' is tuned to the frequency of America circa 2008 A.D., on the edge of socio-economic collapse and growing consumer distrust. Vega's never been so necessary or relevant. (Blast First/Mute)

Social Distortion - "Prison Bound" CD and "Greatest Hits" CD

Mike Ness's Social Distortion were one of the coolest bands around when I was a teen. 'Another State Of Mind' (the album and tour documentary) was nothing short of a revelation, and Social Distortion's snotty, bratty, teen-angst anthems were catchy and nihilistic, echoing the overall feeling of suburban paranoia and alienation, but always with a sort of sad and romantic angle underneath the mohawks, spikes and spurs. 'Prison Bound' was sort of Ness' comeback LP from 1988, and this release alienated some of their hardcore audience as I remember. Here is where Ness first demonstrated some of his primary inspirations. Cuts like 'Like An Outlaw (For You)' were Johnny Cash western tales set to a West Coast punk-rock backbeat. Social Distortion would later synthesize these rockabilly and country roots much more effectively in the coming years, but 'Prison Bound' remains a kind of clumsy and weak offering in the group's usually strong catalog. The songs aren't nearly as memorable or catchy, and the production seems lightweight and kinda tinny & dated. This is one for completists only. (Restless Records, recently reissued on Time Bomb)

On the other hand, Social Distortion's 2007 collection, titled simply 'Greatest Hits', is a powerful punch all the way through. Though it's rather short at only 11 songs, you get some of the best tracks ever written by Mike Ness though the years, arranged chronologically from his kinda juvenile (but still tuneful and melodically strong) beginnings ('Mommy's Little Monster' ) to the 90's major label 'hits' ('Story Of My Life', 'Bad Luck', etc.), and a new song to boot. 'Greatest Hits' touches on all periods of this wonderful band's history. Ness' tales of down-and-out losers and streetwise dreamers are poignant and effective, and his band rocks with guts and balls, combining classic western vibes and structures with edgy post-punk aggression and volume. Ness is truly a rocker with heart and spirit - both traits lacking in 99% of the 'rock' bands out there today. He's an icon and a legend, and this disc proves that after 25 years in music, Social Distortion remains as relevant and listenable today as it did yesterday. Incredible and essential. (Time Bomb)