Monday, October 18, 2010

Fat Worm Of Error - "Broods" (Open Mouth/ Ecstatic Peace) LP

I am always really surprised and impressed when I hear a record that is both dense, detailed and demanding and somehow, at the same time, still light and playful. The new Fat Worm record out last month from Open Mouth and Ecstatic Peace really encapsulates this balance. There is so much to get from this wonderfully produced crop of new songs that it is hard to know where to begin talking about it. One of the first things that comes to mind is the generous forays into electronic improv territory that pop up all over the place. I was pleasantly surprised to find breakdowns which venture off toward early electronic/tape land; Xenakis or Niblock (or something) sprinkled throughout and between. Of course, we also get plenty of the bizarro groovy gravy twang jamz that we have come to expect from FWOE - up the whazoo - thank God (or someone). Whenever the stretched-rhythm pulse starts pulling I can't think of anything other than Chris Cooper and his mustache - the image forever burned into my mind - yanking and popping the two strings that are left on his guitar like it's a bow and arrow, and jumping and kicking like Eddie Van Halen.

This is a truly free group of musicians. You actually have never heard anything like this before. And the only things that come remotely close are other bands that members of Fat Worm have participated in at one time or another - Deerhoof, Caroliner... I was interested to learn about just how much structure went into constructing these 'songs'. It makes perfect sense - these guys are no amateurs, they have all made their rounds with various projects of various styles and orientations, and they can all really articulate themselves on their instruments at this point. As far as I am concerned, it doesn't get much better than smart people, putting a lot of energy into making some really smart music, clearly having a lot of fun in the process, and in the end coming up with something that is utterly absurd. That is Broods.

The record actually has a great deal of space in it. With Broods, the band has found a way of making their seasaw - filling eachothers pauses - busted polyrythmic malflow work. Tempo? Ha! Neel Young (the drummer) learned to play from his dragging muffler. Tempo depends on what gear your in. No, but seriously, these guys are tight. That may sound odd talking about a band whose total goof-art-ness makes Captain Beefheart look like a Tea Party rally on Dramamine. But I can't find a moment throughout Broods that sounds sloppy. Sure the thing may leap from a Seinfeld bass fill to a Byzantine keyboard lick to a laughing/crying vocoded cryptic dream-poem, but it holds itself together.

Speaking of the vocals, Jess Goddard is almost as much fun to listen to on the record as she is to watch on stage. Well known for her homemade costumes and frequent (like between every song) costume changes in live performances, Goddard delivers speech impediments from the crack between command and inquiry. At one point in the record she shares with us some details about lunch: "The vulgar potentate has ruined my lunch, with septic debate and a nasty caramel. Techniques to rate scribble scribble as crum-yum then vacate, flush, undo, become." Waxing philosophical while simultaneously trying to clean up the vomit is the fuckus.

One of the things that I love about Fat Worm - which was more then evident at the Elevens on the night of their record release party - is how they bring people together. They are a feel-good band, and I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Whenever Fat Worm is playing the bill people seem to lighten up a little bit. Everyone laughs, giggles, maybe even dances a little and overall people have a good time. For that alone these guys are an absolutely integral part of the Western Mass thing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jon Lorenz - "interlayer" (GNS) CS

A couple of new GNS releases here. Lets get down to it.

Exactingly sick tape out of nowhere - well not actually out of nowhere - actually out of North Adams, MA on Nathaniel Brennan's (Cruudeuces) Ghetto Naturalist Series label. Jon Lorenz from Wasteland Jazz Unit lays down an hours worth of nasty-tight spare to the bone-scraping hit the horn creations on this c60. The tape starts bleak-city, as in: empty. As in: "Go ahead, knock the door down bitch cuz' their ain't no one home!" Dust for about forever before ol' Jonny starts in with his growl. And boy does he growl. This is not what you might expect from the guts-splatter horn in Wasteland. This tape is way more exciting than most Wasteland stuff because so much less happens. Instead of staring into the sun for long hours fixated by the glistening burn of 'truth', we are blessed with round after round of well-worked devotional brass forcings that would shut up even the most insatiable horn-addicted deconstructionists.

To say nothing of the ground! Meanwhile: surfaces of ocean hum and what sound like impossibly long and consistent comforting snare rolls dwell in the background. The stones outside my house are listening. They are eager to hear what this sage of ancient dull presence has to say. At times the 'space' of the cassette takes the fore and pushes Lorenz's horn behind it. But that doesn't keep his consistently engaging offerings from coming. Reduced to a lichen squeak, the horn at these buried moments keeps pace with the sound of the leaves falling.

And just when you thought it was over, Lorenz makes a final statement that rips open and lets out the last of it - like Dolphy at his most free. Incredible tape. He never looses focus and keeps me in the pocket for the whole hour.

Edition of 40 - great Riggsian art too by Thomas Gerendás. Sold out on the GNS website but you might be able to get it still at Flipped Out or somewhere.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ISA CHRIST/CRUUDEUCES Split - "Human Error" (GNS) 7"

Isa wastes no time and totally murders on side A - definitely for harshies big time. Dark dark 2010. All over the map with snap backs and tubular zones, strings and escape routes into gripping thudcracks and falling off the rock wall when you were nine. Hints of power tool abound and a nice aroma of speedball-blitzed didgeridoo nipple sucking emerges from time to time. Overall a very balanced platter. Cut and dried. No domes left unturned. No homes left unburned.

The flip (cruudeuces) is just as mangled, but bears greater gifts to the more inquisitive listener. A roadway is laid out - thick and flat. It pulses with sameness-and-yet-not as we cruise down it. For a while we are accompanied by flying, screaming creatures. They soon die off. Accidental overtonology settles the stomach, the feet, the jaw. The same coddled memory recalled by our senior escort on this non-journey bellows out over and again. A peace results. And a decidedly interesting piece at that.

It is hard to place these guys. There is something distinctively northern about their grime. Long-form for sure, but enough action to keep you checking in. A lot happens on this 7". Pick it up at your nearest valley music store (I know Nathaniel dropped off copies at Feeding Tube and Mystery Train) or online at the GNS blog: Ghetto Naturalist Series