Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Primitive Sound System: The Mixed Tape Sessions at Maxwell's Tuesday April 4th from 9PM-2AM

Hello Y'all,
For some reason (maybe the Contortions version of "I Can't Stand Myself") I brought a whole lot of cover versions spanning many genres and years. This week could be one of my favorite yet for the Mixed Tape Sessions. Please read on.

"Come out to show them..." *
A very good friend gave me a copy of Soul Jazz Records / Universal Sounds No Wave comp "New York Noise Vol 2" which was a bit freaky since I have been talking about and listening to more experimental music again. With so much music to choose from sometimes things that most influenced us or simply make us happy get put away and forgotten. This happens on occasion but I am always excited to get back and listen again. The No Wave name is not as much a reference to New Wave (which was at first one and the same as the Punk movement) but simply an appropriation of the moniker. The No Wave movement was nothing more than educated appropriation and music without a wave but more importantly they weren't looking to catch one anyway. The music was meant to be uncommercial as much as it was music being performed by artists who were playing for themselves rather than putting the audience or listener first and certainly not the critics. If they didn't want you to buy it or hear it they wouldn't have recorded it. They were not only inspired by musical genres obscure to the mainstream but literature, film, dance, etc which all played a part in the creation, execution and performance of the music. I would assume that reading Alfred Jarry as opposed to making your way through Oprah's disturbing picks can tend to broaden your horizons as well as increase your palette and expand your mind in the process. Applying these influences would then result in nothing short of creative musics rather than pedestrian tunes.

James White and his Contortions steal easily from James Brown as they do from Archie Shepp. Hell, today almost every young Jazz artist does that and by no means does it seem shocking (Frank Zappa was doing it in the 70's). Lydia Lunch's tortured wail is more inviting to me than any song by The Eagles or Brittany Spears but because the large majority of the population doesn't feel that way Teenage Jesus and The Jerks are discordant, disturbing, and unlistenable. No Wave happened in 1978, a good 20 years after Free Jazz and Musique Concrete, almost 10 years after the musical experimentations from the early parts of the Prog Rock era, the Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and if you blinked it seemed to disappear before it even got started. Luckily it didn't really disappear but continued to influence several genres from Noise Rock, Post Punk, the sadly named Post Rock and 100s and 100s of bands. Obviously someone cares or finds No Wave / Noise Rock interesting, collectible or even enjoyable because there are two volumes of the Soul Jazz compilation. I had heard about the first volume of "New York Noise" but didn't seek it out. Volume two is pretty impressive and I have already played it over and over so I am curious to see what was on volume one.

If you are bored with the culture around you, change it. Believe it or not it's not that hard. Ironically you don't even have to have musical experience, education or natural talent. Hey, if those rules don't apply for the mainstream any more why should they apply to the fringe. I have no problem with those happy with three chords and a back beat, "It's got a great beat and you can dance to it...." but I'll catch the No Wave.

*[In 1966 Steve Reich composed his brilliant 12:58 reaction to the re-trial of six youths in Harlem tried for murders during the 1963 riots entitled "Come Out." Two channels with the same recorded phrase of "Come out to show them" (a clip from a recorded statement of one of the youths, Danniel Hamm) slowly drift apart as one of the channels incremental speeds up causing eventual aural confusion and eventually the two channels meld to a single tone. Come out and show them indeed. (From "New Sounds In Electronic Music" (Odyssey - Music Of Our Time cat. Stereo 32 16 0160)]

This very abbreviated time line and discography can put it in some perspective... maybe?:
1958 - Something Else!!!! The Music of Ornette Coleman
1966 - The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
1967 - New Sounds In Electronic Music
1967 - The Velvet Underground & Nico
1968 - Soft Machine release their brilliant first LP
1968 - James Brown - I Can't Stand Myself When You Touch Me
1969 - James Brown - It's A Mother and James Brown sings and dances with the James Brown Band - The Popcorn
1969 - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica
1969 - Can - Monster Movie
1969 - The Stooges
1975 - Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music
1976 - Ramones
1978 - Various Artists No New York
1978 - Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance
1979 - Gang Of Four - Entertainment
Seems logical enough to me. Obviously there are 100s more that can fill this in but the puzzle seems weirdly complete.

- pat.
Primitive Sound System Mixed Tape Sessions from 9PM - 2AM
1039 Washington Street
Hoboken New Jersey
(201) 653-1703

Musical Wares:
Various Artists - No New York (Antilles AN 7067)
For the longest time I couldn't get past the opening cut by The Contortions ("Dish It Out"). Not because I was put off but quite the opposite, I thought this was the most aggressive, raw song I had ever heard and for some reason couldn't imagine how someone composed such a thing and then actually recorded it. It's not that I was necessarily awed as much as drawn to it. I wanted to be a part of something like it. The fact that I was not musically inclined made this even more frustrating. I punched my sax teacher in sixth grade and a few years later I really didn't care for the piano lessons but did enjoy listening to the hippy teacher play as I pretended to pay attention. When I did play drums I felt even more creative and expressive than doing my artwork which came naturally. Eventually I really played drums thanks to a series of fortunate situations and The Pixies "Come On Pilgrim" ep. But enough about me. Back to The Contortions who also do the most insane arrangement of James Brown's "I Can't Stand Myself" on No New York which brings a whole other aspect into the mix further confusing defining the No Wave genre. The Contortions, DNA / Arto Lindsay, etc, could throw in a groove here and there that could be out and out Funky or at a minimum Swinging or Soulful which mixed perfectly with the cacophony of sounds. Teenage Jesus utilize stops and starts to create tension causing confusion to when one song ends and another begins, If she wanted to, Lydia Lunch could give Minnie Pearl a run for her money but instead decides to demand you to listen with a taunting meter. The instrumental "Red Alert" flies by in about 20 seconds and is a perfect intro to the stuttered and slow groove of "I Woke Dreaming." "I Woke Up Dreaming" has been imitated by many Noise bands but weirdly it seems none have the balls to really make it this infectious and bombastic. Of all the bands on the No New York comp Mars seems to be the least concerned with playing music or creating traditional song structures. That is not to say that they are not playing music. The bass and drums on "Helen Fordsdale" are mesmerizing, so much so that you sometimes don't hear the endless audio knife fight happening between the guitars and vocals. The guitars churn out white noise over repetitive drums and sporadic vocals on "Tunnel" and this formula is repeated on "Puerto Rican Ghost" but with surprisingly different results. "Tunnel" is abrasive where "Puerto Rican Ghost" is is melodic and trippy. D.N.A. seem to have the same skillful swagger as The Contortions. "Egomaniac's Kiss" is plodding, head bobbing, evil and silly all at the same time. Go figure. Like the amazing Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, D.N.A. can compose and nail an instrumental proving they need not rely on screeching, screaming, unintelligible vocals to achieve their desired effect. Arto's guitar sound is as recognizable as his voice and both can cut you in half.

Contortions - "Design To Kill" and "Contort Yourself" (ZE Records / Buddha / Arista cat. ZEA 33-002

DNA - "Blonde Redhead" (American Clave cat. 1003EP)

Teenage Jesus And The Jerks - "Freud In Flop" (Migraine Records cat. CC-334-INST)

8 Eyed Spy - "Lazy In Love" (Fetish cat. FR2003)

Bush Tetras - "Too Many Creeps" (99 Records cat. 99-02)

Golden Palominos - "Hot Seat" (Celluloid cat. CELL 5002)

Massacre - "Legs" and "Bones" (Celluloid cat. CELL 5003)

The Lounge Lizards - "Do The Wrong Thing" (Editions EG cat. EGS 108)

Sonic Youth featuring Lydia Lunch - "Death Valley '69" (Iridescence cat. I-12)

Sonic Youth - "(Over) Kill Yr Idols (I Killed Christgau With My Big Fuckin' Dick)" (Forced Exposure cat. FE-001 (hand colored cover))

Arthur Russell - "Place I Know / Kid Like You" and She's The Star / I Take This Time" (Upside Records cat. UP 60009-1)

The Offs - "Everyone's A Bigot" (415 Records cat. ?

This Heat - "Horizontal Hold" (Piano Records cat. THIS-1)

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (Bizarre / Reprise cat. RS6356)

Silver Apples - "Lovefingers" (Kapp cat. KS-3562)

Hugh Hopper - "Minipax I" (CBS cat. S 65466)

Suicide - "Ghost Rider" (Red Star Records Inc. cat. RS 1)

The Pop Group - "She Is Beyond Good And Evil" (Radars Scope Records cat. ADA 29)

Dymaxion - "Mice In Drain" Duophonic Super 45's cat. SE22)

New Crack also along for a spin:
La Mosca (The Fly) npk2 (Guerssen Records cat. GUPEN005)
The Bongolian - Blueprint (Blow Up Records LTD. cat. BU 028LP)
The Bamboos - Step It Up (Tru Thoughts / Ubiquity cat.URLP187)
J.C. Davis - A New Day! (The Complete Mus-I-Col Recordings) (Cal-Tex Custom Production / Quannum Projects)

The Mixed Tape Sessions: The First Tuesday of Each Month at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ
No stone unturned and no vinyl format left unspun or unsung. Crawling, spinning and stumbling through the decades finding the connections between 50's - Now Instrumentals of all shapes and sizes, Funk 45's, Raw Soul and R&B, Soul, Gospel, Blues, Country, Latin, Brazilian, African, Dub, Rock Steady, Ska, Reggae, Indian, Jazz (of all types), Lounge / Moog, Hawaiian (slack key and Pop), Vocalists, Singer Songwriters, 50's – 70's Pop, Garage Rock, Psych, Surf and Drag, Soundtracks (OST), Comedy, 70's Rock, Prog, Punk, Hardcore, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, Noise and some Metal old and new. I'm mostly drawn to the instrumental side of life favoring the "B" side to the "A." Heavy as hell beats and exquisitely subtle moments side by side to entertain, educate and elate.