Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tall Dwarfs - Weeville (1990)

Alec Bathgate and Chris Knox, who comprise Tall Dwarfs, spearheaded New Zealand's first wave of punk rock in the Enemy and Toy Love. By the end of 1980, the usual music-biz stupidity had soured them on the standard-issue rock dream, but not on music itself. So, during the ensuing decade, they recorded a handful of EPs using a 4-track and kitchen-sink rhythm loops for indie label Flying Nun.

That sounds like old news now, but they did it first, and the scene that rose up in their wake was so vibrant that Bathgate and Knox were perceived in New Zealand as kind of over-the-hill and irrelevant by the end of the '80s. Their response was the 1990 recording Weeville. It's full of Tall Dwarfs firsts; their first proper full-length album, the first time they took more than a weekend to make a record, the first time Bathgate sang lead vocals, and their first recording to enjoy a relatively current release outside of New Zealand (it was originally issued in the US by Homestead).

None of which matters as much as the fact that it was, and remains, a damned good record. The lyrics, which expressed a morbid preoccupation with bodily decay and outrage at the soulless junior-Thatcherite forces that were running New Zealand, are as apropos as ever. At the time, this record renewed the Tall Dwarfs and cemented their bond with a new overseas audience that celebrated them as lo-fi pioneers.

These days, Knox and Bathgate's propulsive riffs, percolating rhythms, and infectious melodies don't feel dated so much as they reside outside of time. This reissue doesn't sound drastically different from the Homestead CD, but it does include a swanky booklet full of cartoons drawn by the band which was originally LP-only. By Bill Meyer (Dusted Reviews)


Tall Dwarfs perform "Bodies" live

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paik - Monster Of The Absolute (2006)

It's an extremely appropriate title, evocative of vast distances and looming power -- a sense of space and energy perfectly appropriate to a band like Paik to begin with, but especially so here. The rapturous sonic violence that defines the band at its best is fully in place throughout the shorter but not-a-note-wasted Monster of the Absolute, and if no record can capture the sheer intensity of their live shows, this is one heck of a great souvenir regardless. Bookended by an "Intro" and "Outro" that appropriately sound like a rocket taking off and then continuing to head out to the stars, Monster's five core tracks range from the explosive to the hypnotically droned out -- not surprising per se, but that's no problem given the quality of the end results. If anything, the smear of sound that Paik can create is the signature throughout -- without specifically trying to sound like prime My Bloody Valentine, say, a song like "Phantoms" or the more gently ambling (at least initially) "October" relies on murky riffs and similar effects to create a charged, exultant sound, a parallel rather than a tame copycatting. The instrumental focus of the band provides a further distinction -- a song like the title track is based around something to jam on and repeat rather than a verse/chorus structure, building into a majestic midsection that feels like a long, slow sunrise over distant mountains. This is where Ryan Pritts' work on drums is key, often providing a rolling punch that suggests much earlier Detroit forebears (something that his and guitarist Rob Smith's current massive fro hairstyles happily help to confirm). If there's a key point to Paik, it's a simple but astoundingly effective one, namely that a "traditional" three-piece lineup can create music that sounds otherworldly; Monster shows that they've still kept that focus in mind. ~ Ned Raggett


Paik - Phantoms

High Rise - Disallow (1996)

Lo-fi psychedelic freakout jams! Link

High Rise - Disallow

Friday, August 13, 2010

X - Los Angeles (Bonus Tracks)


X - Johnny Hit And Run Paulene

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (1968)

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is a psychedelic rock album by Arthur Brown and his band Crazy World of Arthur Brown, released in 1968. Considered a classic of the late-1960s psychedelic scene and a significant influence on Progressive Rock, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown includes covers of songs written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and James Brown. Brown was also referred to as "The God of Hellfire" in reference to the opening shouted line of the 1968 hit single - "Fire". (Wikipedia)


Arthur Brown - Fire

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Moving Sidewalks - Flash (1968)


The Moving Sidewalks - 99th Floor

Primordial Undermind - Loss Of Affect (2005)

Eric Arn and his Primordial Undermind have tirelessly mined the regions of avant psych-rock for the past 15 years. 'Loss of Affect' offers some truly deep meditations in sound. Oozing into consciousness with "Intercessor", the band develops a full collective cosmic ethno-drone mantra, utilizing space and interplay to create ritualistic swirls of sound. Flowing into "Breathe Deep", a solo avant acoustic excursion exploring odd tunings and tonal colors, shifting and heaving as it winds ever forward. From here, the band unleashes the volume and Loss of Affect continues further out, as full-blown, free acid-rock magma surges in molten explosions.


Primordial Undermind Blinding Stars