Listed: The Flying Luttenbachers + Ian Nagoski
The Flying Luttenbachers
The Flying Luttenbachers' lineup has rotated throughout its history, Weasel Walter being the only real constant. The latest Luttenbachers line-up includes Walter on drums, Ed Rodriguez (also Gorge Trio) on guitar, and Mike Green (Burmese) on bass guitar. we will be touring intermittently this year and will have a new record called The Void out this fall on ugEXPLODE Records. A CD on Grob with Walter, Kevin Drumm and Fred Lonberg-Holm called Eruption just came out. Upcoming stuff I'm on includes: a remastered version of the Luttenbachers' Gods of Chaos (Skin Graft), Contradiction s/t CD (power electronics with Andy Ortmann of Panicsville on breathmint), Lake Of Dracula Skeletal Remains (non-lp trax comp on Troubleman) and an XBXRX/An Albatross split 6" (Walter is in the former band currently). right now Walter's main things are the Luttenbachers, xbxrx and Curse of the Birthmark . . .
1. Guitarist Mick Barr is probably the most focused composer and conceptualist that the underground rock scene has seen in an incredibly long time. His fastidious attention to detail is miraculous and inspirational. His selfless performances have definitely made me think twice about sheer sound/music being able to convey more in a live setting than all of the jumping around and "showmanship" in the whole world. Orthrelm, his duo with drummer Josh Blair is a testament to discipline and the tenet of modernism. It seems like most people either get it or they don't…There's so much musical detail locked inside of each composition that it would be impossible for the lay-listener to really distinguish what is going on. Needless to say, Mick's body of music will endure for a long time – it's going to take quite a while for everybody else to catch up with what he's doing.
They say that a man of talent hits the target every time, but a genius hits the target people don't even know exists yet.
2. To watch Zach Hill play the drums is to see something incredibly special. It's a fucking force of nature. I don't care about anyone's minor quibbles or nits in regards to Hella's music: this guy was born to play the drums and I certainly wouldn't say that about 99 percent of the others out there, let alone myself. He's a stylistic innovator and his furious attack, articulation and speed are utterly supernatural. The new Hella record The Devil isn't Red slays and I wish him continued health and prosperity.
3. Iannis Xenakis IS the shit. I'm sorry he died, but his corpus of 140+ compositions lives on as a testament to an incredibly advanced, intelligent and alien musical vision. So far, I've only got recordings of 92 of his pieces, but pursuit of the rest keeps me constantly slobbering (if there are any mad traders out there, write for my list ASAP). In works like Pithoprakta, Oresteia, Akrata, ST-4/10/48, Eonta, Nomos Gamma, etc. Xenakis threw down the gauntlet of structural and sonic abstraction, steadfastly molding series after series of rare musical events with an architect's hand and a scientist's mind. His orchestra and chamber music easily outclassed the concurrent electronic music in both sophistication and content. His works for harpsichord are particularly macabre and cacophonously irritating – my girlfriend loves them and says it's just like hearing the best parts of the Rosemary's Baby soundtrack, only longer!
4. Although his detractors just can't stop ragging on his bad comb-over, Pierre Boulez (pronounced “Boo-lezz”, not like Robert Goulet) is a total mother of a composer and conductor. Apparently it's not cool in certain circles to dig him, but I don't give a fuck, as usual. His ear is legendarily acute, his commitment to technical excellence is vast and many of his own pieces are densely satisfying, prickly-patches of kaleidoscopic timbre and pitch. His Le Marteau sans Maitre is an amazing work of chamber ensemble rhythmic and melodic polyphony and I don't even hate the opera singing! Rituel is a barnstorming attack of free-floating percussion clacking and ever-shifting orchestral textures. Boulez rules.
5. Sub-Top 10 Favorite Death/Black Metal Albums
6. San Francisco is better than New York. Sorry, it just is. I'm mostly talking about the underground rock scene. NYC bands get all of the press (because they're in New York, duh), but they're pretty much all a bunch of poseurs and pretenders. It's amazing how much outright imitation and unoriginality people will swallow if it's packaged and hyped in the right way. Obvious exceptions to the rule: Ex-Models, Zs, Orthrelm…
7. Other awesome 20th Century composers
8. Ten things I Love That People Might Not Expect Me To
9. 10 Great Movies
10. 10 Favorite Free Jazz Dudes
10 footnotes and rumors
Everyone likes a story that means something, one that touches on relevant concerns and issues – something we all understand. Sure. But stories that don’t have to do with anything you care about or have heard of before – those have their own rewards. Start with any of the meaningless references or names in tiny print down at the bottom of the page of some big, fat tome, and there you find the friends of some supposedly important person, the people who didn’t get too involved, the folks with weird ideas no one bothered to figure out – they’re some of my favorites. Once I was old enough to know that the stories that come without finding are perverted by creeps and numbskulls, I’ve enjoyed asking around and leafing and rummaging for stories. So, with this in mind, here’s some meaningless yammering about nothing in particular:
1) Michael Johnsen – no releases
A resident of Pittsburgh, Johnsen was formerly a member of the Orgone Cinema Collective and currently plays in “the Pittsburgh free music group,” a band who change their name every time they play (for instances: A Slight Change of Pants and Plea Circuits), performing on musical saw and feedback electronics. Johnsen’s self-built electronic setup is an array of unlabeled boxes with knobs that only he knows what they do in relation to each other because he built the system and knows his electricity. So, he turns knobs that produce a sound without an amplifier (electronic music without an amplifier – that’s when you know you’re talking about someone who knows what he’s doing) through an unboxed speaker into the room. Partly, it’s the gravity of such a well-thought-out system and partly it’s Johnsen’s spectral physical presence, but watching him play, the mind boggles at the implications of the self located amidst this personal world of electrical circuits controlled by a man in a room, affecting the room as he is affected etc etc in a long spiral of relationships of sense through action to interpretation and back. And he plays the saw with more or less the same results, sonically and systemically. An affectively skittish fellow, our first interaction consisted of me rushing the stage post-performance to earnestly express my admiration, followed by his waving my away without so much as a glance in my direction. He does, however, publicly announce the titles of each piece he performs in alarmingly brilliant turns of language like “The Problem With The Late 20th And Early 21st Century Is That Phrases Like ‘Baddest Dog East Of The Mississippi’ Don’t Mean As Much Anymore (or, She Signed my Cast; We Were Friends)” and “Punk’s Not Dead But Not In The Way You’re Thinking.”
2) Naim Karakand – Raks Arabi (Almaphon)
3) Harley Gaber – The Wind Rises in the North (Titanic)
4) Neil Feather – Revelation of an Anaplumb (Recorded); Roto-Melon (Recorded)
Several of us were watching a silent print of Dan Conrad’s 1969 film Circles, a study in color after-image (rentable, incidentally, from the New York Film Maker’s Co-op with a soundtrack by Conrad that he recalls nothing about). After ten the ten minutes of film were up, we sat quietly stunned by the flashing lights of the film until Neil Feather spoke up. “You know what I was thinking the whole time?” he asked. And with a toothy grin, he began singing “There Ain’t Nothing Like a Dame,” from South Pacific. What goes on in the mind of Neil Feather as he performs his sproingy songs on the instruments he invents, I wonder? His baroque, string contraptions are part Mr. Fix-it contraptions, part pervy sex toy, part psychedelic ritual object and part guitar-to-end-all-guitars.
Feather is the only guy I know about who is reaping anything tasty out of the earth tilled by Harry Partch – the self-made man performing with conviction on his self-made machines in a moment of vivid reality when waking life and sleeping life become confused. The effect is as gimmicky as it is earnest, as sexy as it is ridiculous, as industrial as it is dreamy, as serious as it is cartoonish… I can go on like this until my eyes go crossed and my tongue starts to hang out. And then I fall over. (The Anaplumb, by the way, is a self-playing instrument involving two polarized magnets, a bowling ball, three vibrating dildos, a long wire and a guitar pickup.)
5) Peter Plonsky – Opus No. 30: Hairy Vibe / Double Identity (no label)
A lavish bootleg LP of Plonsky’s music was issued in the early 90s (silk-screened on the outside AND inside of the jacket AND on the inner sleeve WITH a stapled pamphlet of Plonsky’s notes.) taken from a cassette Plonsky issued in the 80s. Over two side-long pieces a densely layered collage of mostly double-reeds of various ethnic derivations are layered onto tape while the composer freaks out non-stop on the tape-speed knob. In the end, it sounds just like the Mind Emissions Dan sang to me from twenty years before – same swooping curls of sound and hyper-focused relentless energy. I became convinced that Plonsky is in possession of a singular compositional vision, but the opacity and uniqueness of his sounds made it impossible to nail down what he’s doing.
After a little asking, I found his address and sent him a friendly postcard. Long story short, he left me a message which included the immortal words, “Nagoski, this is Plonsky. Get out of my mailbox!” And so the secret of Mind Emission will remain undisclosed, to me at least. I learned from Grux that Plonsky includes a particular flexing-triangle hand-gesture as part of his performances and that he went to Vietnam is 1975 to perform Mind Emission as a street musician.
Apart from this record, all I know is that he made an appearance playing “electric tamboura” on a Buzzy Linhart record (Kama Sutra 2053, 1972) which I used to have but sold cause it sucked. If anyone has Op. 1-29 in their closet, I need to hear them immediately.
6) Patrick J. Touhey – Drowsy Maggie Medley (Victor)
7) Can’t – Can’t vs. the World (irfp), Can’t Prepares to Fail Again (irfp)
But then! But then she came to Baltimore to play at a five-band-bill warehouse show. She set up her homemade gear and ran it through a nice, little home stereo setup, sidestepping the PA, and played two five minute full-bore blasts (insisting on referring to them as “songs”) before singing a short, simple a capella story of a night of human connectedness, followed by a day of disappointment. The self-effacement was still aggravating, but her understanding of performer-audience dynamic and her tenacity won everyone in the room. Flabbergasting.
So, now I see on her web site http://www.irfp.net/ that, although she’s got a bunch of stuff coming out on comps and some installations to do, Can’t is over and done with, and I’m glad to hear it cause I’m excited about whatever she does next.
8) Azusa Plane – American is Dreaming of Universal String Theory (Colorful Clouds for Acoustics), The Highway’s Jammed With Broken Heroes (Kraaak)
9) Jason Willett – everything (Menlo Park, RRR, Stomach Ache, Dark Beloved Cloud, Alternative Tentacles, Megaphone, etc.)
10) Little Howlin Wolf – The Guardian (self), The Cool Truth (self) (Generously contributed by Twig Harper (Tarantula Hill, HereSee, Nautical Almanac) who knows better than me)
By Dusted Magazine