Texas shoegazing, romantic and full-to-overflowing. I listened to this 6-song EP quite a lot when my heart was broken and it still holds up in these less troubled times... howling guitars, dense textures and female/male vocal leads are put in the service of some very sweet and satisfying melodies. Excellent homebrew, especially "Feels Like Morning", a head-nodding anthem with a mighty fine hook. --K.S.
(review date: 12/31/95)$7ppd from ND, POB 4144, Austin TX 78765 USA; email@example.com
Six Finger Satellite
Sub Pop (CD) [POP STRUCTURE]
If you can imagine Damon Edge kicking the shit out of Rick Ocasek,stealing and brainwashing his band, and sitting a kidnapped and pissed Albini behind the knobs. If you can picture levels of raunch pushed further into the red than Jourgenson could fantasize while spanking the monkey on his back. If you can listen while laughing at the retarded inside joke that is Six Finger Satellite, then maybe you can stomach my guilty pleasure of the year.
This could only have been created by a bunch of jokers who grew up in the plastic bosom of the 80s. Their look, the CD packaging, their song titles--allperfectly at home in any flock of seagulls. But these boys definitelyingested something nasty along the way, 'cause this is the biggest fuck-off tothat era you'll ever roll in the aisles to. And as was the rule back then,you're not getting any new musical territory here. But this ain't no weakretro trip, either. One of many new rock outfits to (re?)discover the Moog,6FS take the stiff toe-tap Devo blueprints and amplify them into oblivion.
Okay, so sue me, it's a big fucking gimmick. But the whole thing sounds like it's on fire, like it's disintegrating! It's got weirdo credibility aplenty, trust me. --T.W.
(review date: 12/29/96)Sub Pop, POB 20645, Seattle WA 98102 USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
Touch and Go (CD) [DRONE ROCK]
No vocals, just intense guitar dynamics. Spiderland remains on of the greatest albums of all time, and this two-song EP (one a superior retake from their seminal Tweez) is like the cigarette after sex. Angst intense Crimso-fied. Worth your while, man. --K.S.
(first appeared in Reign of Toads #4)Touch and Go, USA
The World Behind You
Extreme (CD) [AMBIENT] [EXPERIMENTAL]
You'll need a good set of headphones. From there, hang on & glide through the environmental phases of obscurity and clarity, of fused contexts and soundtracks. Like the partaker of psilocybin who achieves heightened visual acuity at low dosages, one may experience a stronger sense of presence with these sounds at low volume. Even after the disc is done, I seem to be experiencing "listening", rather than barely hearing my surroundings... --S.A.
(first appeared in Reign of Toads #4)Extreme, 1071 Main St #2000, Cambria CA 93428 USA; email@example.com
Astralwerks (CD) [BEATS] [ELECTRONIC]
From this latest assemblage of dance electronica, it becomes clear that our man Jonah Sharp (a.k.a. Spacetime Continuum) is possessed of the quintessential whiteboy "rave" science fiction worldview--i.e., the collective utopian vision of a future where all cultures and all scenes and all peoples groove together in the vast, gleaming, apolitical Epcot Center into which our depressing little planet has been magically transformed (if you don't know what I'm talking about, just scope out a rave flyer for the graphical version). Most of these cuts are spare and synthetic, clearly designed and destined--like much of this genre--for post-processing in a DJ remix. Unfortunately, while interesting blurps and bleeps shimmer in the stereophonic field, about 50% of this disc is compromised by your basic spastic 4/4 beats. The other half, however, is quite tasty: "Kairo" generates some o' dat hyperaccelerated jungle breakbeat action, and "Twister" busts out with a slinky rhythm/metallic drone combo that has wheedled itself into many of mine own homebrew mixes. --K.S.
(review date: 12/19/96)Astralwerks, 104 W 29th St, 4th Floor, New York NY 10001 USA
Astralwerks (CD) [ELECTRONIC] [BEATS] [AMBIENT]
I can't stop listening to the unrelenting grooviness of this syrupy sweet electronic sass. Infectious analog ruminations bake and fry like a delicious audio cheesecake fritter, smothered with melted mind. Smeared all over my ears, engulfing my skull, and whipping my rump. It's cheesy because it's so prototypical of the ambient sound at large. But when something's truly yummy, the mind submits to the tummy. [Ugh!--Ed.] Rationality withers and the vibrations take control... It's not always beatless; often it gets downright dubby. Fluffy melodies fill the musical landscapes with digestibles that once consumed, leave me craving for more. --S.A.
(first appeared in Reign of Toads #4)Astralwerks, 104 W 29th St, 4th Floor, New York NY 10001 USA
Songs for Owsley
Reprise [i.e., Time-Warner] (CD) [DRONE ROCK] [AMBIENT]
Despite the trend of generally disappointing results, I have remained fool enough to check out new material from Pete Kember/Sonic Boom/Spectrum (ex-Spacemen 3, if ya didn't know)--probably more out of a fondness for his charming first album than anything else.
Unfortunately, this overpriced 5-song EP (dedicated to an enigmatic figure in LSD history, FYI) lamely runs the gamut from mediocre to awful. Of the three tolerable tracks, two sound like Experimental Audio Research outtakes that any stoner with a rack of analog synths might inadvertently produce, and one is a silly Theremin-driven pop song that amuses at first, but quickly grows old and weak as the seconds tick by. Especial abuse should be heaped upon the closing composition, "The New Atlantis", which features Kember's uniquely brain-dead oratory as he reads a barely-applicable Francis Bacon excerpt over very uninspired electronic warbling. Hard to believe this stuff merited its own release when it would clearly fail to hold up even as filler on some overstuffed double-LP. Boo, hiss. --K.S.
(review date: 1/17/97)Reprise [i.e., Time-Warner], USA
Dedicated/Arista (CD) [DRONE ROCK] [POP STRUCTURE]
Warning, gratuitous drug anecdote follows. Ahem. When I first realized that Spacemen 3 were brilliant, I was having this religious experience that changed my entire life. Some mad fool had slapped on the 20-minute version of "Rollercoaster" and I was staring at the ceiling, watching the entire agonizing, sexual cycle of human civilization spawning and collapsing on itself without beginning or end--just a constant cycle of entropy and rebirth. I remember thinking, "I never asked to see this. I never expected to see this. That's why I know it's real." I mean, the ceiling was boiling down into the room in an infinitely regressing series of stupendously detailed hallucinations... people, lizards, Central American-looking cultures in existential joy and pain. That was some motherfucking powerful acid, let me tell you, and I know this sounds like the standard pop cultural simplification of the LSD experience (like... you ever really look at your hands, dude?), but with this epic drone churning away all around me like a river of perpetual sound, I pointed at the center of the hallucinatory vortex, looked at my trip-partner and said, "That right there is God." And he could see exactly what I was pointing at. So Spacemen 3 have this indelibly psychedelic/synaesthetic association for me. And now here I am, stoned out of my gourd, smoking a smuggled clove cigarette and listening to album #2 from Spiritualized, ex-Spaceman Jason Kember's sweet and uninhibited project that is to S3 as high-fructose corn syrup is to clover honey. Shameless melodic noise with a faux-religious intensity you either reject out of hand or suspend your disbelief and accept as sincere. I go back and forth. Pure Phase has its own thing, which is LOUDER and DENSER and also more pop-conventional, somehow. Harmonica-pierced rave-ups suddenly decompose into long, hypnotic passages. The universe shifts slightly... --K.S.
(first appeared in Reign of Toads #4)Dedicated/Arista, USA
Necropolis: The Dialogic Project
Knitting Factory Works (CD) [AMBIENT] [BEATS] [EXPERIMENTAL]
Paul D. Miller has, with other cultural workers, liberated the mix from its utilitarian context (i.e., a dance party) and its traditional function (i.e., to provide a seamless dance groove). On this CD--a real-time recording of a Spooky set--Miller's skill yields an audio turntable collage which serves as a concise primer of "illbient" musics.
From the liner notes (which are less dense than those on most Spooky releases, FYI) the listener might reasonably construe that this sonic movement, like any modern art movement, comes augmented with a highly-articulated philosophical/theoretical framework. E.g.: "The anomalies in this mix are coordinate points marking an invisible terrain... all signifiers of a construction zone of sound seeking sensibility." (Which, among other things, means it's noisy on purpose and you will be lucky if you can dance to it.)
On Necropolis, Spooky remixes himself extensively (lots of material from his Songs of a Dead Dreamer), along with Joe Nation, DJ Soulslinger and others--freely augmented and reintegrated with a wash of stolen, anonymous sound sources. --K.S.
(review date: 1/4/97)Knitting Factory Works, 74 Leonard St, New York NY 10013 USA