Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Professor Ping - A Bogus Year Of Botched Lullabies

Having had the pleasure of playing in a band with ZeKeith McFisto, I was very curious to hear what this master of "prepared guitar" would cook up as a solo endeavour under the pseudonym of Professor Ping.  ZeKeith was such a joy to play/perform with because of his unhindered dedication to unconventionality as a player.  While the rest of us were getting weird with pedals and indulging in sonic depravity, ZeKeith opted for angular approaches to the guitar itself, pushing the limits of the physical instrument to achieve unique tone and abstract counterparts.

That being said, Professor Ping is anything but a "guitar-based" project.  A smattering of otherworldly samples, hypnotic grooves, haunting vocals, cinematic stabs, and modular synth emulators coalesce to create an unsettling universe of aural exploration.  I hate to trot out tired references but I imagine this is what it would sound like if The Residents got really good at using Ableton.  The care taken in how space is used should not be lost on the listener, particularly in the back half of the album.  Tracks like "[thematic] II", "Chihuly Mammoth", and "The Storm Before The Calm Before The Storm (For Z)" have a minimalist approach but the landscape slowly evolves and the placement of sound constantly shifts throughout the pieces, creating an immersive experience.

Stray thoughts:

"Chihuly Mammoth" makes me think of someone making sweet love to a Buchla in a Siberian cave.

I had to double check my iTunes shuffle was off when "On The Influence Of Milton Friedman" came on because I thought I was listening to Negativland for a minute

If there is anything resembling a banger on this album it is "My Lyfe n the Bush of Farscists." Infectious head bopper for sure.

The closing track is an acapella warning that is as much harrowing as it is hilarious.

Listen/buy Prof Ping

Friday, June 30, 2017

Walt Falbo - The Crybrator Demos

An addendum to The Crybrator, here we have a Walt Falbo cassette of acoustic versions of the album plus a few other treats thrown in for good measure.  A personal favorite is a rearranged version of the traditional song "Young Hunting," famously adapted by Nick CaveCrybrate till your ears ache.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Michael Hurley - Live at The Sanctuary 7/30/2016

Michael Hurley may very well be one of the greatest living songwriters.  His off-kilter guitar technique coupled with a deeply earnest voice and sense of humor has made him a staple in the folk section of my library.  This live performance took place in Arcata, California last summer to an attentive crowd in a re-purposed church.  Download the full set here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Falbonauts - The Crybrator

Here's a real treat for anyone that still stumbles upon this horribly neglected blog.  The Falbonauts finally released their proper album of 'mostly' original songs, penned by the infamous Walt Falbo.  Per the liner notes:

"The Crybrator was born in a cheap hotel on the east side of Paris, Texas March 2014 and died in the phantom wood of the Hog Chute Opry, June 2017. It roamed and rambled without reason from pastures of plexiglass to vineyards of stratosphere."

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Falbonauts - Coal, Frangelico, and Myrrh

Just in the nick of time on this Christmas Day of 2015, The Falbonauts' album of holiday covers is here for your listening pleasure.  Hurry up and give it a listen/download over at the bandcamp site while there's still like 7 hours of Christmas left.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Election - Live At Sylvie's 2/2/2006

Chicago in the mid-aughts was a pretty special time and place for music and creativity.  I am probably biased in this assessment because it was also the era in which my own early creative endeavors were coming to fruition.  Nonetheless, I met some pretty amazing people during those formative years and this little known band, The Election, contained a handful of them.

What happens when a bunch of classically trained musicians with a penchant for The Weird get together and explore the deepest realms of writing and performance?  Well The Election sought to do just that.  Imagine a band that combines operatic singing styles with a cellist heavily into Siamese Dream, a drummer who loved jazz as much as prog-rock, a keyboardist who made his living writing pop jingles but was also likely influenced by John Cage, and a viola player who was the first person to play Mellow Gold for me in 6th grade.  By my standards, everyone in this band was a legit genius.  Their sense of humor in their approach to making music was incredibly inspiring.  For instance, song four was dedicated to the "Commander In Chief" (keep in mind this was the depths of the Bush era) and the only lyrics consist of "You're stupid, You're so stupid."  The genius in simplicity was not lost on these folks.  My favorite song this band ever made was the closer, Blow Hard.  A groovy sing/speak pseudo rap gives way to an extended rock section with falsetto vocals and finally playing out into a masterfully written ballad.

The band was short lived, sadly, but some members went on to form the massive orchestra called The Origin of Animal while a couple others formed an insanely creative project called Nuclear Biologist Rocket Surgeons (more on them in the next post).  In any case, The Election is where these weirdos cut their teeth.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Scratch and Sniff Records Reunion Show - 8/16/14

The majority of music posted on this blog has, in some way, been affiliated with the small DIY label Scratch and Sniff Records.  In August of 2014, some of the great minds behind the stellar music released on this label converged to do a "reunion" show of sorts.  Among the performers were The Nick Elert Trio (formerly of This Specific Dream), Icarus Syndrome, Things Falling Apart, and Veterans of Flight.  The recording didn't really get going until halfway through the Nick Elert Trio's set so theirs is only partially documented.

Nick Elert Trio

Icarus Syndrome

Things Falling Apart

Veterans of Flight

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WDBS (Duke University) Radio Show - May 10th, 1966

Some years ago I acquired a handful of pre-recorded 1/4" reels of tape from my buddy Jared which I finally sifted through three months ago after a two track reel-to-reel machine came into my possession.  Among them was this recorded radio show of two DJs at the Duke college station (WDBS).  I was pretty hammered when I found this tape and it tickled me to no end.  It's a literal piece of history consisting of the immensely charming and loose-natured college radio programming that could only occur in an era like the mid-60's.  The first DJ is Steve Denenberg (my friend Jared's uncle) who was also in the completely underrated 1960's garage rock band, The Horde.  Having knowledge of The Horde prior to hearing this and connecting the dots with this reel of tape in my drunken state of mind was kind of thrilling, actually.  Steve later plays as part of an acoustic duo called "The Fly and the Faggot" on the second show DJ'd by "Stormin' Norman."  All of the songs that aired on the show are cut out of the tape recording (I imagine it was recorded more for the DJs and less so for the music being played.)

A disheveled Denenberg sort of misanthropically shuffles through his DJ set while reading the required sponsor ads in an almost sarcastic tone, so of course I was way into this.  There is nothing but shenanigans and hilarity during Norman's set as Denenberg distracts Norman at every turn and it sounds like there may have been consumption of multiple substances happening in the studio, though that is pure speculation on my part.  "The Fly and the Faggot" play some really honest covers of classic songs like 'Sloop John B,' 'Route 66,' and 'On The Road Again.'  What grabbed me prior to these covers was actually an original song by the duo (5:14 on the second track) about yearning for a lost lover to come back and give it another chance.  The honesty and simplicity of the song must have hit me at just the right moment because I played it back 2 or 3 times before listening on.

I was inspired to digitize this tape when North Carolinian friend and guitar legend, Daniel Bachman, came and visited me for a night.  I knew he would appreciate this bit of Duke history and boy did he ever.  He asked me to digitize this for some of his friends in Durham who are heavily involved in the college radio scene.  So here, partake in this tiny slice of nearly 50 year old college radio nostalgia.

I emailed this to Jared after I digitized it to send to Steve and I got this response back from Steve himself:

I'm amazed that you unearthed the recordings and appreciative of the time and trouble you took to digitize them.
My dad had so many tapes. There was no way to hang onto all and before giving them away I tried to save anything of worth.
I guess this one-and it's questionable worth-was overlooked. I sure had forgotten that such a recording existed
It is me, a young goofy me. Something of an air check from May 10, 1966.
I worked at WDBS during first two years at Duke. What I remember most was I was finally "fired" due to my lack of on air seriousness.
This probably was my last show.
In those days WDBS did not actually broadcast over the air but was transmitted through the campus power lines.
Due to that and it's listening format at the time-easy listening pop-it wasn't much listened to and at the time I 
thought I gave it such seriousness as the circumstances 
(And those live performances. I'm still working my way through that part. I don't remember that at all!)
All the best.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

icarus syndrome - The Fun Tunnels of Foosland

It is releases like this that remind me why I started this silly blog years ago.  If you have visited this site with any frequency whatsoever then Icarus Syndrome needs no introduction to you.  His first album in something like 5 or 6 years does anything but disappoint.  Undergoing countless demos and revisions in the 5 year span, this is the culmination of a great songwriter taking utmost care in honing his craft.  Forgoing the usual Icarus modus operandi of 47-minute cassette albums, this one clocks in at about 70 minutes with maybe thirty existing copies floating around.  It was recorded to a Yamaha MT8X 8-track cassette recorder and mixed down in real time (with assistance and FX manipulation by yours truly) to a 1/4" two track reel-to-reel machine.

Sonically speaking, there are many elements here (namely, the use of organ beats) that greatly remind me of picking up where perhaps Pie Rhymes left off but with more of a rock approach at times.  Though, there are some stellar acoustic and instrumental meditations thrown in to balance out the overall delivery.  Lyrically, there is A LOT going on; expertly tackled are such subjects as death, regeneration, the subconscious tunnels of the human psyche, motorboating a pair of cosmic breasts, finding solace in matinees, ladies of danger, bad gravity as a byproduct of the human condition, and the innerconnectedness (sic) of all things.  I've personally witnessed the lyrical evolution of many of these songs and am constantly surprised at the quality of what actually gets thrown out in favor of something even better, but in the end it's all for the sake of the song.  In conversations with the man behind this work of art, he seems to have a general view that everything he recorded up until this album is considered "practice" or perhaps his version of an "undergrad degree."  This is his Master's.

Here's a link to the man's bandcamp if you feel compelled to pay for the album.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Dandyls - "Only Love"

Atlanta resident weirdos, The Dandyls, are slated to release their long awaited debut album "Malia" on July 2nd with the band as a fully realized rock outfit.  I've had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at this one and lemme tell ya it's been well worth the wait.  Something like a modernized rock version of The Fugs, The Dandyls do not hold back whatsoever on "Malia."  You can order the new album on July 2nd here at their bandcamp.  In the meantime, here's a video for "Only Love" they shot for the new release.  Also, don't forget to call The Dandyls hotline at 844-420-4242...