Freak Scene #4

July 16, 2007

Freak Scene Number Four vouches for cephalopodean electronics, potent spews, basement thrash (thrashment?) and the newest work of a certain FADER-preferred guitar guru.

Lets start things off this week with a look at a serious mid-west collaboration. The Squid is a looped-out meeting of Ohio’s C. Spencer Yeh (BxC) and Michigan family man Aaron Dilloway (ex-Violent Ramp). The proceedings are aptly named with a murky, underwater mix of violin, voice, tapes, delay and electronics. Released on Dilloway’s long-standing Hanson label, The Squid is unique in both artists' canon. Dilloway is perhaps best known for rolling thunder electronics and force of nature performances of controlled power, although here, his tones are more subdued, which has been the case for Dilloway’s most recent material, (see the Concealed LP on the No Fun label for more evidence of these developments). Yeh is harder to pin down, in a general sense, but his violin playing on here is unlike any of his other recorded work. It doesn’t recall much of any prior form of playing, at times his tones echo a submerged chamber while Dilloway swirls electro-waves in the foreground. Other moments he stretches and pulls, locks in to the waves while a voice moans from a cavern. Both party’s contributions are mired in an aqua fog, recalling a requiem for a sunken ship. Certainly, The Squid is a satisfyingly interesting listen.

Once upon the 90’s Tom Lax had a label called Siltbreeze which released many a great record by mind-shattering heavies like the Dead C, Harry Pussy, and uh Guided By Voices. For those unfamiliar with those prior names, a good deal of those bands' work is still available and worth your vigorous investigation. Then at the turn of the century the label slowly faded away. Two years ago Siltbreeze reappeared releasing a Times New Viking record and many people were happy, even though I kind of yawned. But now I can declare that Siltbreeze is back with a release on par with the best of its catalog, Harmful Emotions by Teenage Panzerkorps. So I can’t say for sure what the deal is with this Teenage Panzerkorps LP, I think they are faux-German post punk, with a faithful sound of lo-fi basement scuzz. Like the Monks (1960s U.S. GI’s stationed in Germany) in reverse and a bunch of German soldiers ended up trying to open for Pere Ubu in Cleveland circa 1976. Teenage Panzerkorps, more than anything though, remind me of the Theoretical Girls in their sense of urgency. Sure there are echoes of the Fall here too, but the band has a more contemporary set of moves. This is the kind of punk that reminds me of endless hours of liberal art drudgery, the institutions are dull and someone has to make a noise. Thankfully Teenage Panzerkorps are making a racket of potent spew worthy of devotion.

When you name your band Homostupids, you better be either completely inept or totally brilliant. As evidenced here on the Intern LP on the stellar Parts Unknown label, these guys show us both. What we have here is fucking LOOSE, raw thrashy basement punk played at full throttle. Song one, side one, “Apeshit”, totally delivers the goods right off the bat. Its hard not to just start throwing shit and jump in the imaginary pit while listening to this noise. The recording is just the right amount of crappy, where you can hear the riffs but they’re still totally fuzzed out. Vocals here are delivered with an appropriate amount of nastiness and viciousness. The whole thing is awe-inspiring mess. The one thing I always hated about “punk” in my days was the politics. If I could go in a time machine and deliver this record to my teenage self I would have had a new soundtrack to being drunk in high school. For now I’ll just have to enjoy this from my old man spot at the side of the bar while the kids go nuts. Who gives a fuck about tomorrow anyway? And for the record, these guys are miles better than Fucked Up.

Do you believe in magic? Neither do I except for when I’m hearing Sir Richard Bishop play that guitar. The mystic man from Sun City Girls gives us his most satisfying recording yet this time around entitled While My Guitar Violently Bleeds, released on the Locust Music label. As far as solo acoustic guitar, it goes Django, Fahey, Bishop in my book. I’m not saying Rick is better than Eddie Lang or Basho (although I’d be completely willing to take up the argument) I’m just saying he’s better than every young gun folkie under the white hot sun. He’s even better than most of the greats. If you don’t believe me check out the sidelong raga “Mahavidya”. I don’t know what spirits are being channeled here, I just know that its power, texture and technique add up to music of a higher nature, transcending time and space, taking the listener to other places. There is a joy that can only be found therein. Are you aware enough to take the ride? Note to Rick: Next time you’re in NYC come up to the office and play us a tune. We can smoke cigarettes in the stairwell.

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Posted: July 16, 2007
Freak Scene #4