Hototogisu - Spooked Summer / Live! Cassette (Heavy Blossom CD-R / CS)
Before I tell you about the musics, I have to tell a tale. I picked these documents up when Hototogisu rolled through town as part of a pre-No Fun Fest bash "Paradise is Lost Forever" in Montreal some weeks ago, along with Prurient, Burning Star Core, and Carlos Giffoni. Well, that was the idea. As you may or may not have heard, the latter three all got turned away at the border (well I suppose they were riding together) and had a bunch of merch/gear seized. Therefore, Hototogisu's Marcia Bassett and Matthew Bower were the only ones to make it through. Wasn't the end of the world for me since I'd seen all the others acts at least once before, but it was still a disappointment. And adding to my stress and unease on the same night was the fact that when I got out of the car, the New York Rangers were beating the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 after the first period (this was when the Canadiens were fighting for their playoff lives, you see)...if you can imagine. So no 3/4 of the bands didn't turn up and my team was getting pasted. But, you know, you gotta stick with these things through to the end. So I did some merch table vulturing, watched the local acts who were both quite good, and kept updated with the score in the hockey game courtesy late-comers or the radio at the bar. And would you believe that the night took a full-on turn for the incredible: the Canadiens went and scored 5 straight goals to wind up winning the game, and Hototogisu laid waste to the venue and to my brains. Sweet success! So here I sit, weeks later: the Canadiens didn't make the playoffs and all I have to dry my tears with are these Heavy Blossom jams, which may or may not include the first Heavy Blossom tape ever (at least as far as I'm aware?). I haven't seen it show up on any distros or anything yet so I'm not sure if it's tour-only, but then even it was I'm sure it'll pop up somewhere if you wait long enough.
All I know about the CD-R is that it's limited and, according to Volcanic Tongue, Matt Bower calls it his "shoegazing record". I guess you could say that - the first couple of tracks (all four are untitled) are seemingly steered exquisitely by Marcia on what sounds like flute but could just be her guitar and some kind of cymbal-lic on-stage t(h)rashing, squaring off with the hulking guitar verbiage blasting forth from hers and Matthew's axes (axen?). Sonically, I'd pin it somewhere near the Dead C vs. Theatre of Eternal Music vs. avant/prog/doom-metal cultists Like a Kind of Matador. Later on track three (on what sounds like a different session/show), the duo move into a cavernous, spelunked kind of hollow bellow, sots of heavily-effected guitar scream shooting out into the air like bolts of greased lightning. I think there's even some more gnarled flute de-harmonics slithering out from underneath the ecstatic wail like rusted metal snakes. The final cut is a digital-sounding puke, brighter and spikier than the rest and sounding a little like Matt Bower's "Silver Bear Mist" double-disc as Sunroof!. You can even catch some yowls that sound disturbingly catty, or maybe it's just the most wah-drenched, psych/free rock soloing you ever heard on a noise record. My only gripe is that the last one cuts off just when it sounds like things are getting real heinous, but if that isn't always the way then I don't know what is. I dig this disc on the whole though, it's nice and varied.
This tape is pretty neat because not only is it the first known instance of Hototogisu appearing on cassette, but it's geographically representative too - side A is from a November 10, 2005 show in New York City (where Bassett is, or was, based), and side B is from a December 13, 2006 show in London (Matt Bower's neck of the woods though). The New York City show starts up real nice and drone-y like since all jams gotta start seomwhere, but soon enough the voltage ascends rapidly into suspended animation howl territory, all static and dynamic at once. It's kinda nice to try and follow where they go from the first note although I have to say I lost track pretty easy, even when I was watching them play live. The ending is a broken-down solo guitar scrape from one or the other which is pleasant and skull-emptying. Again, it's a rarity to catch these exorcisms in full flight start to stop, since the usual trick is to just plop you down in the midst of the swamp and let you fight your own way out. The London side boasts a monochromatic, grinding dirge which is pretty consistent in its general menace throughout. So consistent in fact that it becomes a bit of a sleepwalk, paling in comparison to the vibrant "Spooked Summer" and even the other side of the very cassette it's recorded on. I'm pinning this one even closer to the MacLise/Conrad crossed-legs cerebral chess games pushed to eleven. Like guzzling smelted iron, maybe.
If somebody/David Keenan held a gun to your head and told you you could only have one, I'd be more inclined to dance with the tape but you know I'm a sucker for tapes. Although the CD-R is pretty money too. Heck I'm sure if you're a hardcore Hg fan (and I know no other kind) you've tracked em both down and spun em till your spit turned solid by now. The real deal is going to see them play, though. If you have to put up your whole Bower/Bassett collections on eBay to afford the plane ticket I'd say it's worth it, but send me those auction links when you do, all right?
Untitled ("Spooked Summer" track 2) (excerpt)
Untitled ("Spooked Summer" track 4) (excerpt)