Freak Scene #17


Freak Scene avoids the crowds of CMJ this week for some music that will probably never be fought over by major labels.







I dunno what everyone else was doing during CMJ but the one band I had to see was Sex Vid, from Seattle. I caught them at Passout Records and it was a sweaty punk mess. Kids in bullet belts, drinking 40’s, Government Warning t-shirts, anarchy tattoos, it was all there. As soon as I saw them set up and the bassist was wearing an Infest shirt, I knew shit was gonna rule. And for about 11 minutes Sex Vid threw down the raw, hardcore punk that lives from generation to generation of disaffected youth. Their sound is a sloppy yet passionate attack played with enough velocity to send the kids to the pit and sing along with the singer in accord with classic iconic shows of yesteryears. But there was nothing “nostalgic” about it, Sex Vid owns their sound and have a few singles to prove it. I suppose the closest way to experience this similar live revelation would be this Live at Q.B. cassette which I’m assuming was self released and recorded in Olympia. The quality of the recording is appropriately rough for this young thrash band who run through five originals and a GBH cover here. It makes perfect sense as this kind of hardcore music will always exist and every few years someone comes along and things start seeming exciting again. For me, that’s where Sex Vid come in.




While on the nasty punk tip, Snake Apartment and Landed each put in spirited sides to a new split 7” co-released on the Corleone and Parts Unknown labels. Snake Apartment go for a dirge rock mixed with crushing builds, the whole thing a slow simmer of ugly gnarl and twisting guitars. While comparisons to late period Black Flag are not entirely off the mark there’s more of a reckless feel to their sound. All in all, heavy shit from this crew and a fine new addition to the new school. Landed, have earned their place as godfathers of contempo weird darkness, displayed perfectly here in distorted glory on “Tip of the Whip”. Led by the insane vocals of Dan St. Jacques the band flip the switch on the Providence Fort Thunder scene by outdoing and out living their peers like Lightning Bolt, Six Finger Satellite, Arab on Radar and others to still make pummeling demented records that smell of beer stained basements and half baked art collective punk squats around the country. Yes, Landed are Providence in both aesthetic and sound but one must realize that they helped write the script. So it’s suiting that they help put a nail in the coffin by refusing to die.




Not since outdoing Hair Police on the infamous split release on Load back in ’04 have I heard what Viki has been up to. I know she put out a full length a few months back but I never managed to get a hold of it. Luckily I grabbed this new split cassette with Hatred on the Tape Tektoniks label. Viki’s side is a live recording made in Belgium, so I’ve been told, and its dark distorted noise dance is a spooky revelation. Much like Quintron and Ms. Pussycat, Viki distorts both dance and experimental music, making a heady brew of mutant new wave. The primary sounds are dark repetitive, synths, beats and processed vocals. In a another, freakier world she’d be M.I.A. On the other side of the tape we have Hatred, which is solo electronics by Nate Young of Wolf Eyes. Hatred has a similar pulse and repetitive rhythmic structure but with a more dynamic sense of straight ahead industrial space pound. There’s nothing fun about this music and its clear to see what contributions Young deals with directly in the current state of Wolf Eyes. I was told that this recording is also live and coincidentally recorded on the same day as the Viki side but in Michigan. In any case Hatred comes with disturbed psychedelic noise music of the finest order, the electro ooze spilling out and changing colors as the tape reels un-spool.




Lastly, lets check on something way different, Henry Flynt’s weirdo boogie, country, free-jazz spectacle known as Nova Billy. This band existed for just one year between 1974 and 1975 and has recently been reissued by the Locust Music label. We have here a true mish-mash of styles all of which sound playful and engaging in this form, that being an avant country hillbilly experiment. Flynt was a contemporary of people like Tony Conrad and Jack Smith and apparently coined the term “Concept Art”. So in terms of sixties hippie radical weirdo polemics, Flynt helped write the books, literally. But there’s little actual art-rock here, instead we have fried country blues, interspersed with moments of sax squeal and odd almost Velvets rants, if that band was founded in rural Arkansas rather than Warhol’s factory. How ever you want to take it, its highly listenable, playful music that fits nicely with today’s oddballs. The fact that there are actual funk passages on this album is just bizarre. So tune it for some old school freak weirdness if yr so inclined.
-STEVE LOWENTHAL



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Freak Scene #17