I Don't Want to Say Goodbye, But...

Maybe you guessed as much from the fact that it's been nearly two weeks without a new post...but I've straight up run out of time to even so much as think about music, let alone review it. Yeah I keep buying stuff, but it's just collecting on desks and shelves and countertops around the house. I started this blog back when I had loads - oodles, even - of free time on my hands. And I started writing mainly for me, just because I had all these records and felt like I should do something productive and more involved than just listening to them once and tossing them on a rack. So now I guess I'm stopping for me as well. Although "stopping" sounds pretty final and I don't know if I'll be done for good. I might be able to squeeze something in once a week, but that'll be moreso to get through the backlog of things people sent in (for which I'm eternally grateful and equally apologetic, if you've sent something in recently and I haven't been able to review it; the purpose of this site was never to just fatten up my own record collection, I hope you understand). You can still drop a line for my address if you want to send something, but now it's a question of "if" I'll ever get around to it, as opposed to the "when" of before.
So that said, it's been a slice, and with any, ah, luck you'll still see me around, just not nearly to the degree of prolifacy I used to maintain. I'm closing comments on this entry because I don't want it to turn into some lame-o pity party or anything but you can always email me if you want to say something. Otherwise, thanks lots to whoever read, commented, emailed, or sent something in. The links on the right side point to other, far more talented scribes than I could ever hope to be, I recommend familiarizing yourself with them in my absence/sabbatical/what have you. Cheerio.


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


Sun City Girls - Beginnings Dark (Enterruption 1-Sided LP) / Djinn Funnel (Nashazphone LP)

The Sun City Girls are in some state of limbo, with the sad news of longtime member Charlie Gocher's passing this past February. No more live shows and no new recordings under the trio's name, but there will be, according to Alan and Richard Bishop, unreleased albums and videos, not to mention inevitable reissues (I believe Abduction and Majora are two labels in the process of reissuing hither-to out-of-print SCG material). "Beginnings Dark" is in an equivalent state of limbo, being that it's not really a new recording and not really a reissue either. "Beginnings Dark" takes its name from the Girls' 1993 Majora LP "Bright Surroundings Dark Beginnings", and its one playable side features a dramatically reworked version of "The Venerable Song (The Meaning of Which is No Longer Known)" from that very LP. "Beginnings Dark" was, according to the Girls' own website, "brought to our attention by recent advances in reverse technologies"...tongue firmly in cheek, I'm sure. But the rub is that the LP itself can be played two ways. Since the groove is cut from the inside out, you can reverse your turntable if you're so inclined and hear "Beginnings Dark" in its original form - which is to say, as "The Venerable Song". Or you can let your stylus plow through the grooves and hear it in its altered form, although that results in a whole lot ka-klunkage on mine. And while "The Venerable Song" is excellent in its own right - a jaw-rusting slog through Eastern spirituals prodded by a never-ending snaking Alan Bishop bassline, inspired Gocher drumming that flips between subtly shamanistic and violently urgent, spectre-evoking gibberish (or not) vocal wails from either/or - I'm starting to wonder if I don't prefer hearing it in reverse. Maybe it's just because I've played it so many times and it finally got under my skin or if it's just because it's something new, but holy smokes. You would think from the end result that maybe it was meant to be heard like this all along. The biggest revelation is the bassline, which transforms what was once a shady if not uninviting tick-tocking into a dark, alienating wooze, serving as the instigator for the fever-dream hallucinations the rest of the track stirs up. What's equally impressive is how little changes: the vocals remain alarmingly consistent with the yelps and yowls of the original's, if not with a bit more of an "E.T. speaking in tongues while in the thralls of an epileptic seizure" air to them, and Gocher's rapidfire percussion blows still come out of nowhere to staple you to the floor on occasion (the shakers and cymbal strokes a bit harder to discern), and the flute sounds almost exactly as it did played forward, with only the slightest notes askew like it was being wielded by, say, Keiji Haino. However, all these novelties can be achieved by ripping or downloading "The Venerable Song" and reversing it on your computer. So what's the point? Well I don't want to imply that the packaging takes precedence over the music 'cause that's just tacky, but you certainly get your $40 (I said $40) worth from Enterruption. Packaged inside the die-cut foil stamped cover you see above are two LP sleeves - one has the LP packed inside Indian Bingo's "Scatological" sleeve (as least mine did - what's the story there?) and it's worth a mention that the B-side of this kinda-marbled white vinyl has a gorgeous silkscreen print of some multi-limbed diety I'm too uneducated to recognize. The other sleeve is the "real" one containing a whole host of treats - three or four mind-scrambling black and white glossies, "We Terrorize the Sun" critical summation/overview of the Girls' career circa 1999 by Bonnie Banks, a couple of sticker sheets of art from the sleeve, two heavy cardstock color expansions on the sleeve art a large black and white group shot and a lovely photo of the young Charlie Gocher, as of October 1963. Phew...like I said, it's a real treat to unfold. And it would be at least of some consolation to you if you didn't appreciate spending 36 clams on a song you already own played in reverse, but it's all gravy to me. Because I'm the backwards man, the backwards man, I can run back as fast as you can.

I know "Djinn Funnel" came out last year and you know all about it and you've already heard it so I won't go into too much depth, but when Hicham of Nashazphone sent in his label's two latest offerings, he included this one too. Because he's a sweetheart. So the least I can do is offer a few of my thoughts on it. There's five tracks on "Djinn Funnel", recorded between 1999 and 2001, and they're the Girls like I've never been familiar with em before. I don't profess to know nearly the amount of SCG material as I'm sure many out there do but this one stumped me hard, if we were Invisible Jukeboxing I'd have been as out of my element as Marianne Faithful trying to nail down an MF Doom b-side. All these five are Sun City Girls playing the blues, playing the heavy electric blooz psych rock blues that is. "Nites of Malta" opens the set with a funky, swishing drumline and stoned, radio-ed nasal voice drip, with an absolutely searing Rick Bishop solo what kinda brings to mind Michio Kurihara shredding things on the record he did with Boris...'cept with the Eastern hookah haze the Girls often tread in. It ends with an explosive, thrashing chorus of screaming feedback (and screaming voices) and somehow the LP keeps getting better from there. If "Djinn Funnel" is the band's "Paranoid" - heavy, stoned and blues-informed - then "Dukun Degeneration" is its "Planet Caravan" with the echo of Ozzy's vocals replaced with noise distortion from Rick's guitar as Alan's struggles to keep things above water with melting, gelatinous bass fuzz. But it's Rick again who steers the songs up to and over the brink with more destructive, almost metal moves on "Dark Nectar", while he shears up in almost Mizutani-like fashion with another Eastern bent on "Red Sea Blues", an even closer comparison would be Acid Mothers Temple and the Eastern-influenced psychedelics they dredge up from time to time. The best is saved for last on the 12-minute epic finale "Grand Trunk (Drifters of the Grand Trunk)". Moving at a meditative pace and operating off of a rhythm section composed of Gocher's cyclical cymbal shots and Alan's gently loping, looping bass rhythm, the Girls hit a sound not at all unlike what OM put together on "Conference of the Birds" with a bit more in the way of subtly pushed, acid-washed guitar licks and airy vocals. Other reference points coult be Quicksilver Messenger Service or the Grateful Dead. And yeah the Sun City Girls playing in line with classic 70's psych sounds every bit as good as you'd hope. Only problem is with "Djinn Funnel" being over a year old and all, I don't know who's still carrying, so you might want to get in contact with Nashazphone directly. Depending on your funds (hey, you might want to put some money towards the "Juggernaut" and "Piasa..." reissues) I'd highly recommend both missives...it's just a matter of obtaining em, is all.

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album


Haare - Psychedelic Funeral / Jarl - Negative Rotation (Abisko CSs)

Abisko is a two year-old tape label run by a fellow named Tommy out of Sweden, but these two tapes from Haare and Jarl are the first I've heard from the project (same for the Haare and Jarl projects too, so it's all news to me!). Other names to have been run through the Abisko ringer include Enema Syringe, Jazkamer, The Rita, Government Alpha and Mania so I kinda knew what I was getting into with these two offerings. Not exactly smooth jazz, you could say. Because a lot of those artists and bands produce very harsh noise recordings. And smooth jazz is quite the opposite of very harsh noise recordings indeed! Incidentally these are the only two Abisko tapes presently on the market with the others having come and gone, so despite Tommy serving notice that future editions won't be so desperately limited, you're still gonna have to hurry if you want to wrap a talon around these babies. 130 copies of the Haare a(a)re out there and 150 of the Jarl.
Haare is the nom de plume of a one Ilkka Vekka of Finland who's been at it since at least 2002, with various shapes appearing on Freak Animal, Foxglove, Kult of Nihilow and Chondritic Sound. Like I said, I ain't never heard a word from Ilkka to date, but I have to say the cover and the title of his tape truly gave away the game before I hit play, and that's not a bad thing. When you've got a title as instantly classic as "Psychedelic Funeral" and an unbelievable drawing of some kinda skull/serpent/demon/lightning brainhump on your cover, well you're batting with runners in scoring position in my book. This tape features two 15 minute pieces across two sides, with the first one being the title track and the second as "Bardo Thodol", and both are blood dusting sides of searing noise metal crunch akin to loop tapes of airplane crashes, trainwrecks, and other such disasters with its unflappable start-to-finish sinus bursting manifesto. But true indeed to the title (and to other Haare recordings, so sez Abisko), there's definitely an inherent psychedelic dosage to these two stretches, with a heap of delirious oscillations, fucked EQs and glittering electronic demantia to give it all a breathable, airy, and unquestionably zonked atmosphere. Which is to say it ain't all walls...or maybe it is, but just the exploding plastic inevitable kind. Fathom a fervent amalgam of any and all Hiroshi Hasegawa units - later-day C.C.C.C., Astro/mero, Astral Travelling Unity - with the high-end heavy scream electronics of later-day Whitehouse, and a slap of New Blockaders destructo bust. If it sounds meaty, well that's because it is. So pass a tab, mother.

Jarl is Erik Jarl, also of Sweden so as to keep the Scandinavian connection alive. He's also been around since the early 2000's, appeared on that excellent "Sweetness Will Overcome" compilation Segerhuva put together a while back, and Leech (Navicon Torture Technologies)'s Annihilvs imprint. So, again, there are some clues. According to Jarl himself, "["Negative Rotation"] certainly has a very negative vibe, and now 6 years since it was finished, it's finally released to spread it's negative ejaculations". Amen! Couldn't have said it better myself! But I'll try. "Negative Rotation" is (apparently) 11 tracks spread out over an hour-long tape, and it kicks off with an absolutely brilliant hit of moody, desolate electronics digging out sounds like thunderstorms, exploding volcanos, nuclear explosions, all leading to a razed planetary wasteland at the end of it all. And I'm not kidding, these could just as easily be field recordings, if I wasn't so sure the planet was not in fact a dead orb in the space just yet. But shit, Jarl's got a feel for it. Other tracks on the first side all dabble in the same sort of post-apolcalypse visions - ghostly, cavernous winds blowing...rescue truck sirens of upturned vehicles droning and whining in the distance...thick clouds of smoke billowing upwards in a celstial coanopy...dead air static, heartbeats and iron lung rasps. All rendered so perfectly bleak and disquieting. The first side closes off with a distinctly harsh buzzing that's as loud as the tape ever gets, and gives way to a second side structured around lengthier, more minimalist pieces. One is an absolute trawl that sounds like a record needle scraping against a cold marble slab, an even longer one builds FM3 style burst transmissions at an achingly slow pace. There's other, lengthier stretches of snowblowing windstorms straight out of the Narshe mines while Jarl drags things towards their inevitable conclusion with a chalice of eerily clanging percussion and gently buzzing, resonating, very-much-alive circuitry. It's a totally warped bend on the traditionally insufferable dark ambient genre, taking lessons from Lustmord, the Maeror Tri, Raison d'Etre, and infusing em with new world breath via the likes of Thomas Koner, Francisco Lopez, Steven Stapleton, Maurizio Bianchi, Brian Eno, Andrew McKenzie, and other learned gentlemen of the impossibly bleak soundscape. "Negative Rotation" is far, far above lazy schlock comparisons like the ones I dole out on an all-too-regular basis; I highly recommend dropping the 8 measley clams and finding out for yourself. As a c60, it's bang for your buck, and the tape's duration allows for ample time to fully sink in and chill you to the bones.
One other thing worth mentioning is that I truly love the uniform look Abisko's given to the spines and the back quarter-fold. The simple block-lettered white text on black background for the spine gives Abisko's releases a nice, uniform look on my shelf without robbing them of any individuality. Other labels would be wise to take note.


Bread and Animals or Whatever You Want to Call Them Cassette Round-Up

Bread and Animals are the shapeshifting label outta Belgium who be dubbed Dreamtime Taped Sounds on the following four cassettes but every batch bares a different brand so I'll just stick with Bread and Animals. They did a great brigade not too long ago featuring recordings from the likes of Uton, Fricara Pachu, Fossils, and others, so I've been looking forward to any new drubbings from them with baited breath. And they did not disappoint. I barely knew spit about any of these cats before coming into contact with these (and I still don't know one but there's a good reason for that, keep readin) but they took me on a voyage to skirt supernovas I can't even say I've dreamed of they're so far a ways out. And that's a plus.
Quintana Roo is a name I'd at least heard before and I want to say I've heard their music before too but that could just be a created memory. What I do know if that they're a cult gathering of some possibly young, potentially restless Americana elite, which is to say it's Britt from Not Not Fun/Robedoor, Amanda from Pocahaunted and Roy who moonlights as Changeling. Their offering is the excellently-titled "Temple of Self Decapitation" and includes two side-long pieces, also with excellent titles: "Young Eclipse" and "Blood of Kings". "Young Eclipse" is just the bees knees - a supremely sloshy kraut/punk trawl via somnambulist, mechanical cymbal/percussion strikes and upward-reaching star-scraping elecro-muzz, possibly even wrangled out of some hideously abused plugged-in six string but who's to say. There could even be some animalistic vocal wails down in there and I couldn't confirm/deny. Let's just say I think it's a possibility. "Blood of Kings" sorta works in reverse gears, building up a totally shaking synth/reverb barf yearn before leaning in with stony, sparkled drums and a nary distinct riff that grows ever more meaty, like a vocalless OM teaming up with a vocalless Double Leopards and it's every bit as sweet as it sounds. The end of side B winds up sounding like the start of side A which is a rad enough trick. You could pin this down alongside other current rock-destroyers Mouthus, Magik Markers, Sunburned Hand of the Man and give it a decidedly Faust-like slant (which it possesses) but it's way better than that and way above mere imitation. And way, way recommended.

Next up is a tape I'd like to tell you about but I'm kinda handcuffed because there's absolutely nothing on it to tell me who it is or what it's called or anything of that sort. The cover is a Xerox of a dolphin with a planet and some stars. So it's kinda hard to get a handle on the proceedings here, especially since the tracks are all over the realm. With an array of discernable and varied tracks dotting the landscape here, this could even be a compilation, but I have my doubts. But what you've got here, for example, is a cold synth drone warble what introduces everything and sounding like a chance meeting on a dissecting table of a Spencer Clark and a Conrad Schnitzler, and I'm especially reminded of Clark's activity with all the harsh tape cuts that bring more than a few tracks to their unexpected close. Also to be heard are raucous ping-ponging techno tones on the flip and the bubbling lava-birthed Menche-ian dribble that precedes it, or the ghastly atmospherics of what sounds like violin strings bent and dragged and tortured, soaked in an alcholic tape fuzz fog. Another cut somewhere along the first side sounds like a turntable scramble (it ain't, though) akin to a Gum record. I wish I knew who this was, there's lots to like in this here mysterious cluster. Any help?

When not inventing Daylight Savings Time and flying kites, Benjamin Franklin records music, sometimes solo and sometimes as a member of Buffle, R.O.T., and many more no doubt. "Takes Time" is a solo excursion, and appears to be comprised of four tracks, but it's kinda hard to tell em apart. It opens with a few deftly wrangled acoustic passages, sounds like a guitar prepared in some kind of fashion but I won't rule anything out here. B. Frank attacks it in a kind of way that speaks to me in tongues of Django Reinhardt but also Piotr Panin and Derek Bailey so who the fuck is to say. Later tracks introduce astonishingly powerful celestial synthesizer swoops to decorate Franklin's ominous string clanging, like a Robert Fripp Mellotron adventure. Most interesting however is the live recording "17 Min", with stretches of near-silence punched with occasional flinchings of sound that I spoze is more guitar and effects but it's so muted it's hard to say...almost out of nowhere the whole thing turns into a deeply resonant, buzzing, feedbacking affair which in turn morphs into an extended organ/harmoanium bleating, it too skewed by the grainy hissing of its original, untouched source material. Almost everything on this tape sounds totally alien or at least transmitted from alien muses through a human vessel, and that's what makes it so fascinating. I could never tell you exactly what happens or why and that's exactly why you have to hear it for yourself. So get it.

Lastly is a curious emission from Charles Balls, aka Andrew Zuckerman, he of Toronto's Gastric Female Reflex. "Love Affair with Lieven's Sweaters" is a collection of tracks with varying degrees of, shall we say, musicality to them. Each seems to consist of junked electronics crashing against found-sound snatches, loops, film and music samples, and a multitude of other glitches. They've all got their own names and they're all listed on the dynamite brain-impaling markered insert, but they're about as hard to hear on their own terms as they are to read off the sheet. If that makes any sense and it may well not at this point. Why, I couldn't even pick up the guest appearance from acquaintances Crank Sturgeon on piece number four or Zoe Barcza on piece number seven! Ah well, them's the breaks. This one's not so much my bag, but the moments most reminiscent of LAFMS/Rick Potts/Smegma nosedrip stroke me fine. Elsewhere I hear early 90's Japanese sentiments a la Ground Zero and the Hanatarash, Mike Patton's solo records for Tzadik, and a whole lot of RRR-bred weirdosity. Something nice is that the tape comes with basketball cards, and I pulled in quite a haul: Craig Ehlo, Mario Elie, a Dallas Mavericks logo card, and Michael fuckin' Jordan. Fleer '95-'96 styles. Buy your own so we can swap, but only if you're already into the whole brand of GFR goofiness or you might be a touch put out by what you hear. There, there.


Rapped Youth - Jaska & Mä (Lahna Records CD)

I thought I'd ease my way back into the terrifying world of blogging (feeling better thanks!) with a totally weird release from the totally weirdest of Finnish labels - but don't hold me to that because it's Finland and I'm sure there'll be a challenger to the throne soon enough if not already. But whereas Lahna Records' countrymen and women of Fonal, Lal Lal Lal, and the like get ritually stuck with the "weird" tag any time you read about em, Lahna takes the cake with total out-ness and a vague "is this serious?" air hanging over anything they put out. Armas Huutamo, Petri Rainer, and now this EP from Rapped Youth, the "Cypress Hill of the northern taiga", what follows a CD-R EP they did for Lahna a while ago that's come and gone. This is an EP showcasing their two sure-to-be breakthrough tracks called (you guessed it) "Jaska" and "Mä". Tacked on are a radio edit of "Jaska", and a DJ Hallituksen (of DJ Government, you know) remix of each. It comes housed in a cardboard digipack and mine came with a bunch of Rapped Youth stickers (of their Yankees-style logo) that wouldn't peel so I had to toss em. Which is a bummer because I was itching to spread the word!
Of course the first account I had to settle mentally was, "is this serious?" and I'm pretty sure it is. Something like this might sway you in the other direction, but it just makes me want to believe it even moreso. Those three hep cats are, from left to right, Weed Jay, Desert R, and Homespirit P (can I name my firstborn "Homespirit"???). The liner notes make identifying each one on the track quite easy. Weed Jay is "low-end heavy user" which appears to mean he's producing, probably while smoking a lot of marijuana, while Homespirit P is the "casual MC" and Desert R is the "nasal MC". Both apt descriptions as well - Desert R is like a cross between B-Real and Brandon DiCamillo's CKY freestyle, which of course drags up that question of seriousness/irony all over again. But either you deal or you don't. Personally I think it's somewhere between genius and brilliance (with a touch of "amusing"). P is considerably more, well, casual in his approach, and the duo trade off verses on "Jaska" over a drum-and-horn heavy early 90's/L.A. beat, with what I think is live bass by Weed Jay. This track also features additional vocals from Missy Tee-Bagit (oh come on, her name is Tee-Bagit? Is this serious???) and she sounds kinda like a Finnish Nelly Furtado or something. It's better than it sounds, really. There's a brief back-and-forth of "ay ay ay" with the MCs and Missy and the kind of self-congratulatory hoopla that usually closes off your breakthrough rap single ("Rapped Youth" are the only words I understand, and it sounds like they're saying "Rapid You", much to my delight). I'd like to tell you about the lyrics, but, you know. "Mä" has a pretty sloshy beat with some lovely Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar plucking draped in vinyl crackle (wish I could place it because it sounds like a winner) alongside the bass and drums as on the prior. It's catchier in ways I can't describe because it's Finnish but the chorus is a real winner, P and R running down something.
The three "bonus" tracks are all kind of a wash, though. The radio edit of "Jaska" shaves off two minutes, editing out most of the minute-long phone call that opens the single version among other things, but the DJ Hallituksen remixes are the real bafflers because they sound almost identical to the originals. A couple loops here, some doubled vocals there, and that's bank. Which is weird because, according to the label, "DJ Governtment's DJ remixes with a recognizable touch. DJ Government's DJ has an uninhibited style of blending the pack and yet again it has produced tracks that are strongly independent works.". Is this serious??? Shit maybe it's so subtle I can't even tell...but calling them "strongly independent works" is a stretch and a half...listen to them back-to-back and you're almost hearing the same song twice.
I dunno, despite how totally ridiculous everything about it is, I'm feeling the Youth man. I could see a lot of people totally hating it but cmon, it's good fun. Way more interesting than, say, whatever Odd Nosdam's sneering over on Anticon. No sacred cows being devoured, just an honest opinion. But you may want to wait for the upcoming 7" issue of "Jaska & Mä", which trims some of the fat found here.

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album


Pekos/Yoro Diallo - Pekos/Yoro Diallo (Yaala Yaala CD)

All right. Looks like another label has cropped up in recent days to help Alan Bishop shoulder the burden of robbing the brown man blind! Ahahaha just kidding. Really though, I'm not going to touch that little moral dilemma with a yardstick, primarily because I'm far too apathetic to actually form a "stance" on it. I'll assume that neither Pekos nor Yoro Diallo are getting any cash back on this disc, but then in the same light I'll also assume that Jack Carneal and his Yaala Yaala cohorts aren't reaping much of a profit either. Let's just say it's all about the music and remain happier, for that. This is the first release on the label, with a name derived from what Bougounian musicians would reply to the question "ça va?" (according to Carneal, it means "just wandering"). Indeed, this first release was culled from a market in Bougouni where Carneal resides, and the other two are equally Mali-centric: a compilation of anonymous artists ("Bougouni Yaalali") and a disc from Daouda Dembele (who, like Yoro Diallo, I first discovered via the awesome Awesome Tapes from Africa blog.
Only a brief descripto is included with the album, and none of it talks about who Pekos or Yoro Diallo are. All it sez is that Carneal picked this tape up from a vendor in Kolondieba, an electricityless village two hours from Bougouni, and that it was "probably recorded on a boombox sometime in 1998 or '99". Which is good because everybody knows that the new Pekos is just wanky prog bullshit in lieu of actual songwriting. That was a joke. Anyway looks like Carneal himself doesn't even know if any of the above is true, adding that Bougounians are generally skeptical of verification. No idea what the hell that means but he's the guy who's been living in Mali the past eight years, not me, so I'll take his word for it. Anyway it's a collaboration (not a split) between the two, each man contributing vocals and playing electrified ngonis, which are explained thusly: "ngonis are large spike lutes; a four to five foot length of wood or reed is jammed into a hollowed out gourd and strings, often fishing line, are connected from a bridge at the base of the instrument to the end of the neck." There's also a continuous stream of percussion on the four tracks here, provided by someone (or someones) other than the two featured players. The duo sermonize across surely much more than the hour-long chunk provided here, but the four tracks that made up the cassette (and make up this CD) are more than enough meat to chew on till their next outing is stumbled upon and haggled over. The first track clocks in at an all-too-brief 14 minutes, and is remarkably effective in its simplicity: sloppy percussion strikes and a pulsing ngoni crackle (something of a cross between Konono No. 1's thumb pianos and an electric guitar, to my decidedly untrained ears) and form an amazing, almost bluesy lope. It's the kind of irresistably catchy rhythm that would be fine enough on its own, but the singing exchanges between Pekos (the raspier, somewhat calmer voice) and Diallo (the booming, commanding voice that often cuts off Pekos') really lift the track into a whole new place of untold glories. Diallo in particular hits on a constant melody every time he opens his mouth and it just has to be heard to be appreciated. No idea what these two are singing about, but the info I found suggests the two are probably being egged on via small monetary donations "to sing about how great Coulibaly is, Sidibe is, what a strong man Traore is, etc." Not sure I really care to find out what's being said though, you gotta be the Tin Man to not feel this. The second track is shorter and a bit of a down in terms of energy, with plodding percussio and one endlessly scraped ngoni. The other, however, offers up some interesting free improv scramble, usually at the most unexpected moments. Diallo and Pekos sound almost like they're riffing back and forth when they sing, lending an even more slothful air to an already sluggish, sun-scorched affair. Track three is very similar to the first, with a languid, gently galloping percussion/ngoni rhythm (given an odd, almost banjo-like flair here) periodically torn up by an almost call-and-response interplay between the two men. Diallo again is almost alamringly fierce with the way his voice cuts in from seemingly out of nowhere only to disappear just as fast. The latter portions of the track feature some of the wildest ngoni flurries yet, much to the delight of the small but appreciative crowd. The last cut is a massive 20-minute slab, as slow and as quiet as anything yet but also as fucked - dig the enormous feedback riptides that pour through and hiss in the background. This track sees Diallo take a step back and leave the lion's share of the speaking/singing to Pekos (who also seems to banter a bit with the crowd). Perhaps then it's Diallo who's responsible for the lovely flourishes from the makeshift instrument he wields, easily some of the most fully-formed and cleanly executed strokes of the whole set (reminding slightly of Tetuzi Akiyama's boogie work for electric guitar). A couple sections see the song turned over to various scrawls of the instrument, both solo and in duet, while others see still more furious shouting as the tune crawls its way almost subliminally to an ecstatic climax that's cut just short before any true catharsis can be heard...but that isn't to say there aren't revelations found all over the rest of the disc. It is worth noting however that the sound quality is far from pristine (which is definitely a good thing) - a couple of sound dropouts here and there due to the original cassette and just a general lo-fi, dirty sound won't please the tympanic membrane of stuffy musicologist types, but I don't think you fit that bill anyhows.
My lack of applicable knowledge of West African music betrays me from being able to draw any valuable comparisons but it sounds great to my ears and that's the only litmus test worth a hoot, to me. Needless to say if you've enjoyed what's been exported recently from the likes of Sublime Frequencies and the Crammed Discs label, you owe it to yourself to check out this one. I know as soon as I get a chance I'm picking up the other two jammers from Yaala Yaala, and eagerly looking forward to whatever else they're bringing over from the Malian markets. And how about that cover?

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album