Freak Scene #21

December 03, 2007

This week marks the triumphant return of Freak Scene, on hiatus for a few weeks to plunder the far recesses of record stores and the internet. Make the jump for the latest, and if you're planning to be in the Big Apple this Saturday and are a fan of the column, we've got a pair of tickets to give away to the Major Stars, Sightings and Prurient late night show at Mercury Lounge. All you have to do is tell us which Boston hardcore band Major Stars likes to play with and send the answer to

I don’t know if its premature to get all holiday shopping and Top Ten list but over the weekend I went and picked up some stuff that I’ve missed out on this year, including the Pink Reason LP Cleaning the Mirror which was the talk of many tongues over the last few months. Lo and behold it contains the best junkie blues tracks since the heyday of Royal Trux. Pink Reason is masterminded by Kevin Debroux and is basically acoustic guitar depressive misfit anthems. Over the course of these six songs we are brought into the low light documenting these speed driven all night self recording sessions. For something amphetamine driven its charms lay in its sedative nature and fluid narcosis. The sound actually is not too far away from the earliest Elliot Smith but without the insecurity. Any way you take it it’s a deeply dissatisfied record, which clearly seems to be resonating with like-minded spirits as the party is ending and the drugs have run out. Definitely another great record this year for the Siltbreeze label, Cleaning the Mirror is one not to be missed.

Marika Papagika

Also not to be missed is the fascinating new compilation entitled Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics 1918-1955 on the Dust to Digital label, which features a wonderfully diverse array of material culled from the listening habits of Ian Nagoski who assembled these tracks from various 78 RPM records which he acquired in Baltimore. The fact that Nagoski collected all of this material with spending less than $200 and within a 30-mile radius of his home is a testament to the continuing spirit of the excavation of lost music. The music ranges from the solemnly beautiful represented by Turk singer Marika Papagika’s “Smyrneiko Minore” to the joyous and mysterious “Kebyar Ding” by the Gong Belaloewana Bali which was the first commercial recording of gamelan music from back in 1928. There are so many musical revelations brought to focus on this single disc that it can be used as a valid primer of non-American ethnomusicology. That Nagoski had the wherewithal to curate such a heft of magic with such limited resources should be a call of arms to all of us that mine the crates. Here’s hoping that this becomes a series as I bet there’s plenty more treasures under this umbrella.

Jack Rose

Next up we have a nice lil split 7” from Jack Rose and Silvester Anfang. Rose is one todays finest proponents of American Primitive style of acoustic guitar playing best shown on John Fahey’s Takoma label from back in the day. Here Rose plays tribute to Fahey on a cover of the masters “How GreenWas My Valley”. Rose certainly has the chops and heart to do justice to Fahey and beyond with an invigorating attention to detail and the kind of intense concentration and skill needed to pull off such material. It seems like its been awhile since Rose’s last full length so this should tide any guitar fans over in the interim. Silvester Anfang is new to me and gives us a side-long stoned improv of free-folk drool that opens up quite nicely and will satisfy those who like their folk music wide open without any rules. As far as splits go this one has a nice diversion of styles and is worth it for the Rose material alone.

Carly Ptak

Lastly, the lathes don’t stop. Came across a double 8” set featuring four women of the contemporary experimental scene exploring the voice as a source. Jessica Rylan, Carly Ptak. Heaher Leigh and Zaimph. All these women have quite a deep seeded catalog at this point. Rylan comes with a piece that could have been an excerpt from her classic Private Time cassette with its distorted cathartic vocals and squeals of homemade electronic squall. Ptak, best known for her work in Nautical Almanac provides a call to action to participate in a meditation, her instructions paired with a minimal drone of sound. Heather Leigh of Taurpis Tula gives us a freak out of vocals and percussion that is both haunting and immediate, recalling some of Leigh’s recent solo work rather than her more spectral moments of quiet. Zaimph is the solo work of Marcia Basset of GHQ and Hototogisu. Her piece here is perhaps the most reminiscent of her old band Double Leopards in its looped, layered drones than her more singular solo work since. It’s a strong piece that reminds us of both Zaimph’s contribution to contempo sounds and makes us nostalgic for those Double Leopards house parties of yesteryear. Great looking package here put together by the Curor label with gorgeous Karen Constance cover art to boot. Apparently there is a follow up release of all male equivalents coming from the label soon so keep your eyes open.


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Freak Scene
Posted: December 03, 2007
Freak Scene #21