This week Freak Scene delves into pastoral drones, pedal steel revivals, the tip of the Sun City Girls' vast iceberg and an album whose cover could only be made safe by a dramatic groundhog.
This weekend my living room turned into a ritual shaman dream forest courtesy of Denmark’s Christian Family Underground (pictured above). Their new record for Brooklyn’s increasingly prolific Woodsist label (home to recent platters from Blues Control, Night Wounds and Wooden Wand) entitled For the Depth of Your Union… is a true scorcher. This time they collaborate with Dave Nuss of the No Neck Blues Band. After a recent barrage of releases this work seems to the most focused, yet dynamic set of tunes put to tape by this group. You have distorted guitar squalls, moaning chants, deep drone blues and even a heap of percussive improv rock. They are certainly running the gamut of comtempo styles here, but I suppose that’s what a Family Underground should do. I’ve heard LP’s by these guys that went absolutely nowhere. This however, has a distinct electric horticultural feel, campfires burning and the trees making noises as they shake in the wind. There’s a true rise and fall to the proceedings. The packaging and inserts are both great looking to boot. Go check this LP before it fades into the night of obscurity, now’s your chance.
Next up we have a much hyped (by Tony Rettman no less!) LP of instrumental solo pedal steel guitar by Texas player Susan Alcorn. I Await the Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar is a night-time pleasure for sure. Alcorn plays with wisps of fog drenched gossamer tones streaming colors as they enter and fade. Alcorn does coax some unusual sounds not often associated with the instrument. Style-wise there’s a strong hint of Loren Mazzacane Conners here. Now I wouldn’t burn my Santo & Johnny records or anything but this record is a solidly nice listen of abstract wanderings played on an instrument of which I have nothing but the fondest of feelings for. The title is a call to arms and certainly I await the pedal steel resurrection as much as Alcorn who explains her thoughts to a great degree in the linear notes to this great looking LP. Thanks to the Old English Spelling Bee label for the pro package gatefold sleeve on this one. Alcorn has my attention and I’m curious to hear more. And all of you out there who want to take up her challenge send your stuff in here. Long live the pedal steel.
Now that the Sun City Girls are officially no more, due to the recent passing of drummer/philosopher Charlie Goucher, we can now embrace this genius trio of dada-ethnomusicologists as the legends they have always been. Dark Beginnings is an absurdly packaged one-sided LP, which is actually a track from their Bright Surroundings, Dark Beginnings album from the early nineties, I think, and played backwards. Released on the Enterruption label, the needle actually plays from the center out to the edge oddly enough. The piece is meant as a palindrome of dark, creepy ethno dirge into the caves of madness buried in the jungles of the farthest reaches of the globe. Played next to the original version it actually makes sense. Listened alone, it retains the mood/feel of the original to a great degree while adding a backwards twitch/tape manipulation vibe. Either way, its of no small comfort to know that there are hundreds of hours of tapes by the Sun City Girls that the public has never heard, so fortunately we have years more great music to come by them. Trying to get ‘em all is half the fun as each record is another piece of a fascinating puzzle.
Lastly, if transsexual drug fantasies are your cup of tea, then I have the record for you my friend, the Sex & Death 7” by Macronympha. These guys are pretty much the real deal, in that they are not an act, rather a collection of true sickos who probably are even more demented than their records reveal. In terms of sound, we’re dealing with junk metal power electronics, scraping waves of abrasion and a demented sex/bondage/torture theme in general. At last years No Fun fest a near riot broke out during Macro’s set, a kid got 7" staples in his head at the emergency room as tables overturned and people went wild. Note the design aesthetic of LFX-Prome featured throughout this record is about as morally offensive as you can get. Not for the squeamish.
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