Freak Scene #1

June 25, 2007


We're starting a new column here on The FADER DOT COM dedicated to music that you probably can't find on iTunes, in your local record shop or anywhere else for that matter. If it's legitimate freak folk, weirdo rock, heavy drone, or some other obscurity we'll tell you about it every Monday under the banner Freak Scene (Thanks J.). Whether or not you pay attention is up to you.




First up, if you’re looking for conservatory improv best go to Tzadik. Instead if you’re looking for the truly raw uncut, check out this cassette from Bill Nace and Chris Cooper (sleeve pictured above), on Nace’s Open Mouth label. This tape features the severely fried guitar work of Bill Nace (Vampire Belt, An Alien Heat, Xo4) and Chris Cooper (Fat Worm of Error). These two milk some serious weirdo tones. I’d swear to Stockhausen there were some sort electronics/tape loops all over the place if I didn’t know any better. At first it sounds like two kids on acid breaking into a toy store and smashing everything in sight. Then all of the sudden things get real quiet and random guitar strangling start popping out everywhere. This leans a bit more toward the Fat Worm side of the spectrum in the sense that the music has a chaotic, clearly insane aesthetic as opposed to Nace’s more caveman drone tendencies, although there’s moments of that as well. Cooper seems to drive Nace to some interesting places and the moments when they really lock right in with one another almost make you wish Corsano and Young were around to bash out the beat w/em. Perhaps not the most coherent release, but certainly whacked enough to listen to when in need of an absurdist beat down.




Next we have a great split 7” from Yellow Swans and Robedoor on the Arbor label. Yellow Swans come with some dense pulsing dark drone. Yellow Swans certainly do not shy away from being long-winded at times so this format really brings out the best in them. Hardly a week goes by without another new Yellow Swans release but its to their credit that they seem to be developing nicely, this slab of wax being perhaps my favorite slice of trance inducing guitar/electronics from them yet. Robedoor on the other hand go for a lighter touch on the flip side, with a vocal and electronics based moan and shine, with some nice cello tones thrown in for good measure. It’s definitely a solid new school entry in the contemporary realm of Double Leopard/Skaters bliss-outs. As far as splits go, this is great introduction to both groups and recommended if you want to know what’s really happening out West when doped out of your mind.




Compilations are so often a bad idea that its best to avoid them at all costs, as there is at best a chance that a quarter of it will be any good. Tiger Tongue Cactus Pussy on Hospital Productions is another story. Things start off with Vegas Martyrs, a trio of enormous force and discipline. The band features Dominick Fernow of Prurient on guitar, Richard Dunn of FFH on misery vocals and some vegetarian guy who lives in California on drums. In many ways, he’s kind of the best thing in the band, just a HEAVY drummer. The group provides a brutal track with a destructo industrial outro that’s just fucking menacing and mean spirited. Its what rock music sounds like when it gets beaten to death. Up next is Air Conditioning, a group from the new capitol of music, Allentown Pennsylvania. Here, they provide a noise track of texture and depth, transcending the pack with a dark emotional overtone of failure and desperation. Their full length on Load is worth checking out too, and their Level Plane released Weakness record a few years backs is worth killing for. Flip the record and we get a scum induced, rotten track from Baltimore’s the New Flesh and let me tell you, anyone in line with new punk agenda being set off by bands like Pissed Jeans and Clockcleaner need to check for these guys immediately. This is just filthy, horrible sounding, miserable punk excrement that society just cannot get rid off no matter how many wars we get ourselves into. If you hate yourself nearly as much as you should, the New Flesh are essential listening. Lastly come Chicago’s Coughs, who do a low-fi slow No Wave rant. Can’t say I care much for this track although I heard they were pretty spectacular live, apparently they broke up so that doesn’t do anyone any good does it? I just have a hard time with the vocals, a bit too whiny for these ears. Regardless, that makes this compilation three quarters top notch, which ranks it the best comp I’ve heard in forever. On green transparent vinyl with fucked up war infested jungle artwork, silk-screened by Neil Burke, the godfather himself. What more can you ask for?




The folk revival looks to be on the wane and its probably for the best. But all of the sudden, this guy Wooden Spoon from England comes with a massively impressive display of technique and arrangement on this CD of solo acoustic guitar for the ever-astounding Bo Weavil label, (home to the recent Shirley Collins reissues) and I’m ready for more. The Folk Blues Guitar of Wooden Spoon features some of the most effortless playing I’ve heard in some time. Damned if this thing doesn’t move me beginning to end with an emphasis on the Blues half of the equation promised by the title. The British for some reason have done a much better job of evaluating the blues than American musicians; this has been the case since the Yardbirds. Regardless, Wooden Spoon should sit nicely on your shelf next to Jack Rose, Sir Richard Bishop and best of the guys doing it today. I would suggest hunting this down before the summer fades, as its subtle, dynamic charms will surely have you wrapped up in country dreams in no time.

-STEVE LOWENTHAL

Next week we’ll take a peak at some serious psych and more. Check back in.

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c/o Freak Scene

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Posted: June 25, 2007
Freak Scene #1