This week’s Freak Scene: Back to school with Blues Control and Stunned Records.
I have been sitting on the new Blues Control album, Local Flavor, for a little while. Each time I go to write a column, I pull it out and prepare to write about it, but then it gets pushed aside. I like Blues Control a lot and think this is (another) great release by them, so I don’t understand why this has happened more than once. Maybe it’s because the group flies just above the Freak Scene radar in terms of audience, but they have continued to be kooky, cerebral and fascinating over the course of their career. Local Flavor’s opening track, “Good Morning,” is a perfect example of this. It isn’t the kind of boring, academic noodling that falls under the term experimental, but it’s definitely not a straightforward rock song. It’s just good. You can hear kosmiche and psyche influences in the music, but while you listen, you never get the feeling that Blues Control are playing with different styles just to be clever or to show you that they know about those genres—that’s not what they’re about. Get Local Flavor from all-time number one record label of all time (yes, necessary) Siltbreeze.
Looking over the pile of tapes from Stunned that I have accumulated over the past few weeks, checking the inserts and ogling the goods, I was struck by the international flair of the label’s output. Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia and Italy are all represented. I asked label-owner Phil French (who runs the label with his wife Myste) if this was intentional, and this was his response: “That was another thing we didn't and couldn’t predict when we started out. We had no intentions of driving the label that way, so it was a nice organically-sprouting surprise when more and more overseas people kept sharing their creations with us. In our cybernetic lives, Russia is just as close as or closer than the guy making music in his basement down the block.” Here are a few of the label’s releases that I have really enjoyed. They are up to number fifty and they will probably be closer to sixty by the time the next column runs, so take a taste. I am still taking all of the work in, so expect to hear more about Stunned Records in future Freak Scenes.
My favorite Stunned release thus far is Stunned No. 28, Dead Black Arms’ Lake Reflection Catalyst tape. A release from Dutchmen Claus Haxholm AKA Doom Riot AKA Satan Around Hollywood AKA many other clever monikers. I think about every other column I write something that states that I love guitar drone and this continues to be true. My problem with a large number of the recent cassette labels and releases is that the music is often the directionless wanderings of a young man with a four track and a pedals. This is not to say that great releases can’t be produced this way, there are tons, but more recently the result has been boring and tedious, “hippie noise” if you will. However, this is NOT the case for this Dead Black Arms tape. This one has a sense of purpose and direction. The listener is not just fumbling through the sounds, only to forget it after the first listen. Instead, Haxholm knows exactly where he wants to go and he will take us through progressions of jazz influenced percussion, heavy guitar drone, and a layering of sounds that reminds me of the sound of a sink draining to get us there.
When I first picked up the recent tape by Torture Corpse , entitled Particular Sufferings, I assumed the tape would either be in the death industrial and/or fetish power electronics vein or it would be a drone tape. Thankfully, it is a delightful nugget of loud, ponderous guitar feedback layered with wheezing and panting, which is more spooky than sexual. For this I am glad because these days I would rather listen to music about the dark lord and the bleakness of existence than see release after release with the same porno images. However, that has nothing to do with this tape, which is a great, dark release.
Read more about the label and grip some releases here.
Please send your cassettes/records/lathes/CDs to:
4304 Lerner Hall
New York, NY 10027