Ju Suk Reet Meate - Solo 78/79 aka Do Unseen Hands Make You Dumb? (De Stijl CD)
Talk about your beautiful days in the neighborhood... it always is when pieces of the 70's noise /experimentalist puzzle fall into place. RRR laid out the border pieces when they put out the "Lowest Form of Music" 10xCD in conjunction with the Los Angeles Free Music Society, and De Stijl's filling in the middle by reissuing this offering from LAFMS cog and Smegma architect Ju Suk Reet Meate, originally birthed in a tiny edition back in 1980 on the group's own Pigface label. Listening to Smegma records, it's difficult to fathom from what corners of the world they drew their twisted inspiration from (David Keenan did a good job for the Wire last year but I can't remember much of it), and you might think that backing but one cell of the unit into a corner and picking at his brain would offer up more clues...but you're liable to be more confused after you're done than you were when you began. I was. But it's not such a bad thing either.
"Solo 78/79" compiles both sides of that LP as well as two 5-minute tracks that were hitherto unheard - one called "Guitar & Loops" and another called "Short Wave", both recorded in 1979. Given the rigid running times of each, it's plausible they were lined up for a single that never came to fruition, and it makes me kind of wish De Stijl (or someone else) went the extra step to reissue this as an LP+7" but now I'm just being churlish. Anyway, of the two LP tracks, side A is the one most steeped in, uh, normalcy, if you will. In addition to a rather surprising cello?/contrabass? solo that dips from near-rock riffing to free improv skronks and howls, the side opens with a rather straight garage rock guitar vamp...sorta belying what else is coming. Meate eventually blends the riff into a woozy nightmarish sequence featuring multiple unintelligible voices and something slowed down to the point of falling off the tape it was recorded on (possibly another voice) as a backdrop. Elsewhere he unearths a sound not unlike a backporch Deliverance-style twist on American primitive musics, with plucked banjos, creaking rocking chairs, voices in the kitchen and the back-and-forth of treefrogs in the summer haze, hinting something close to the "stoned blues" the label suggests. But all put together in such a skewed manner that it'll probably sound different to each and every person that hears it. The side closes with a tremendously ominous organ-led grind that could've easily have been lifted from a vast array of B-grade horror flicks, but also stirs up weird memories of Terry Riley or Charlemagne Palestine, so I got no idea where it's coming from.
"Side B" is considerably more impenetrable, and has a lot less distinctive movements than the former. Meate blends a multitude of old, crackling voice samples, all mostly understandable this time around but continously bleeding into something entirely new, and roasting each new interjection over the fire pit of gibberish already established. Think of it as a Zappa/Beefheart/Residents-afflicted stab through the heart of Reich's early tape works "Come Out" and "It's Gonna Rain". The meat (no pun intended) of the B-side is devoted to a looped, guttural chant - either run in reverse or in a language I'm not familiar with - decorated with, well, more loops: various horn solos are run through and wrapped around the voices (now wavering in volume), then the original chant is juxtaposed against itself, creating a disorienting echoey effect. The final trick in Meate's playbook is an impressive one - blending and crossfading what sounds like snippets of numerous gospel or folk records running at various speeds and pitches, into an overwhelming soup of sound that, with the addition of some wild, sliding, laser-like synthesizer noise, hits its "noisiest" stride as yet, before tumbling off into the great silence.
The two bonus tracks are interesting, but not nearly as filling as the material found on the original LP. On "Guitar & Loops", Meate splays languid, industrialish guitar lines out as landscape and treats them with a mixture of loops containing saxophones, piano strings, pre-Patton yelps and snarls, ringing synth noise, and a boatload else with varying degrees of success. "Short Wave" is what it says it is, but I'm a fan of garbled shortwave transmissions so I liked it, though you may not. There's also some looming tones over top that I think could be a guitar but shit it's hard to tell. I've long been intoxicated by the pieces on this record so up is down and left is right by now, maybe if I went in cold I could attempt to define it further. I'll leave it to the philosophers.
What more needs to be said? You know this is a crucial bit above and beyond the realms of criticism, you know you need to to attempt to get a grip on the picture, you know you're kicking yourself if you already bought the 10xCD and are wondering why this wasn't on it...suck it up and pick it up. Also worth it for the intense John Coors liner notes which I read once I bought this back in August or whatever but haven't revisited since. I know they're money and I see lots of exclamation points, so there you go. Cheers to De Stijl for letting the rest of us in on this one, I think I get it now. Just kidding.
Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album