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Listed: The Flying Luttenbachers + Ian Nagoski

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Noise/improv stalwart Weasel Walters of the Flying Luttenbachers and sound sculptor and music critic Ian Nagoski.

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
Immortal Battles in the North, Deicide Legion, Celtic Frost To Mega Therion, Mayhem De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Darkthrone Transilvanian Hunger, Usurper Threshold of the Usurper, Slayer Reign in Blood, Sadistik Exekution Demon With Wings EP, Krisiun Black Force Domain, Anal Cunt Morbid Florist.

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
Olivier Messiaen, Anton Webern, Edgard Varese, Krzystof Penderecki, Alban Berg.

8. Ten things I Love That People Might Not Expect Me To
The Sweet, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Red Aunts, '70s Miles Davis, Roxy Music (1971-1976 only), the live tracks on the Twisted Sister greatest hits CD, New Bomb Turks, Glass Candy, that dog!, Kiss (old makeup days only)

9. 10 Great Movies
The Holy Mountain, El Topo, The Color of Pomegranates, Pink Flamingos, Solaris (original), Duck Soup, Escape from New York, Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains, Farewell Uncle Tom, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original)

10. 10 Favorite Free Jazz Dudes
Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Tony Oxley, Frank Lowe (R.I.P), Sunny Murray, Bill Dixon…I'm not real keen on the contemporary free jazz scene, including the current output of some of the people on this list! It seems like something needs to come along and blow the stink off of this genre. The new generation of players (directly inspired by free music) seem to lack the vision, education, technique, energy, iconoclasm, etcetera that made the archetypes so great. It's was a sad day when free jazz finally lost its freedom and just became another idiom with set rules, expectations and clichés. I've definitely moved on, but still fully appreciate and retain the lessons taught. End of sermon.

Ian Nagoski

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
Electronic musician Andy Hayleck once asked Michael Johnsen, “what is a filter, anyway, Michael?” Determined as always to tell the whole truth while confusing the issue, Michael stammered, “this room, for instance, is a filter. You are a filter.” True enough.

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 KarakandRaks Arabi (Almaphon)
Everything I know about Karakand comes from Steve Shapiro who is researching Jewish Syrian music on record from the first half of the twentieth century. Karakand was a Lebanese-born Christian violinist who grew up in Syria before moving to Brooklyn some time in the 40s and becoming a key player and organizer in the Arab music scene there. He’s on at least twenty records going back into the first two decades of the 20th century as a backing musician, but it’s the post-war record of his own band on Almaphon, Raks Arabi, which is, as Steve has so beautifully put it, “like mother’s milk.” Karakand’s playing is liquid over the sinewy, thumping band. Each melodic cycle bursts open as you imagine the flowers in spring blooming overnight, immediately before you noticed them – like fireworks. Reissued, for what it's worth, on Rounder’s Music of Arab-Americans CD.

3) Harley GaberThe Wind Rises in the North (Titanic)
“This piece is about gutting myself emotionally,” wrote Harley Gaber in his notes to his only issued recording, a painstakingly-composed and -recorded two-hour string quintet (Malcolm Goldstein, incidentally, is one of the fiddlers), released ca. 1976 in Cambridge, Mass. Over four sides, dense clusters of tones permutate with an anxious, wrenching relentlessness which has driven me to both grief and euphoria. Previous to composing this piece at the MacDowell artists’ colony, Gaber had spent ten years composing. Since then, he has mainly dedicated himself, it seems, to visual collage. So, what the hell happened with this piece? Did he stop composing completely? And who would name their child “Harley Gaber?” Those with information are encouraged to contact me.

4) Neil FeatherRevelation 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 PlonskyOpus No. 30: Hairy Vibe / Double Identity (no label)
Dan Conrad met Plonsky in Berkeley some time in the late 60s. Around that time, Dan was living in a group house of hippies, performing with the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company and ritually drawing yantras every day. And in comes Plonsky, “a nerdy looking guy,” according to Dan who is himself a high school physics teacher and should know from nerdy – from somewhere out on the East Coast. Dan says to him, “Hey, man. So, what do you do?” And Plonsky goes, “I do Mind Emission.” Like, wow. So, Dan says, “what’s Mind Emission?” And Plonsky starts spewing a stream of tones and syllables like: bzeeeeeee gooo dyiiieee dyeee gai! Doe zzzzhhheee booowww… For about half an hour. When he finishes, Dan says, “right! Mind Emission! cool!” That’s how Dan tells it.

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. TouheyDrowsy Maggie Medley (Victor)
Another ye olde type, Patsy Touhey was an Irish ulliean piper and, they say, vaudeville comedian during the first couple decades of the twentieth century. According to Spottswood’s seven-volume ethnic music discography, Touhey got famous a hundred years ago by selling home-recorded wax cylinders (no kidding) through advertisements he placed in Irish newspapers in Brooklyn. I haven’t heard the cylinders, which apparently were reissued on cassette in the 80s, but I can tell you that by the time Victor records got to him in 1908, his playing was a force of nature. Drowsy Maggie is a blast-off of shrieking trills and inhuman velocity. Notes fly from every direction, sounding more like three men than one, but Touhey never loses a stompable hard rock in the flurry. His pitch and technique are outrageous, but best of all, this is a guy who clearly loved to see people dance hard. I always think of him as a spiritual antecedent to someone like Kevin Shields. Or Lemmy…

7) Can’tCan’t vs. the World (irfp), Can’t Prepares to Fail Again (irfp)
I count it as dumb luck that someone told Jessica Rylan to send me the two CDs she self-released of her electronic music under the moniker Can’t. One of them (vs the World) had a cover depicting her with her head in an electric oven and song titles like “Capsized Then Sunk” and “The Poison Cloud.” Astoundingly, the disc is comprised of fearless electronic compositions, created on synthesizers she built herself, which are thoughtful to the point of carrying a nearly unbearable contemplative gravity. The other (Prepares to Fail) came with a final and hopeless kiss-off note written by a pubescent girl to a potential near-beaux and folded in the triangular manner which is the exclusive technology of females born in the 70s. That disc was made up of an alarmingly lush spew of overmodulated pop trash from the mid-80s (“Too Shy,” “Songbird,” etc.) The bare self-effacement of them made me squirm, but I was jealous of her ability to see through the bologna of electronic music while creating sounds that are so vivid and considerately structured.

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 PlaneAmerican is Dreaming of Universal String Theory (Colorful Clouds for Acoustics), The Highway’s Jammed With Broken Heroes (Kraaak)
As grunge faded from American consciousness and The Celestine Prophecy hit the best-seller list, Philadelphia filled up with ambient noodling and space-rock bands with names like Flowchart, Asteroid #4 and Bardo Pond. At the time, one of the most famous bands to come out of those post-Spacemen 3 / post-XPRESSWAY years was the one-man guitar-drift project of Jason DiEmilio’s called Azusa Plane. For a minute, he was getting more offers to release records than he could deal with and was being flown here and there to play for thousands. And the live band he put together was a killer. At their best, I felt like I was watching the mid-60s Who. But when DiEmilio, a restless character who had been raised in a suburban slum closer to Chester than Philly, went searching for realer and more genuine expression, his hipster indie-rock audience jumped ship. His self-released double CD (America is Dreaming), an amazing document of human reaching-beyond, sounds today like a clear bridge between the drone-grind of Spacemen to the balls-out success-by-failing-well of, say, Wolf Eyes, but at the time Opprobrium decided to call him a “butter-fingered huckster.” By the time his swan song (The Highway’s Jammed, comprised of two cuts “No Fun” and “No Future”) was released – still without the milieu of, say, Hanson, American Tapes or HereSee to justify his alternating voids and assaults – Forced Exposure essentially mocked anyone who ever claimed to like him. In a perfect world, these fools would choke while eating their words, but it’s enough to know that now, anyone who hears those records in better context is better equipped to see the brilliant work they are. Time shows the wiser.

9) Jason Willett – everything (Menlo Park, RRR, Stomach Ache, Dark Beloved Cloud, Alternative Tentacles, Megaphone, etc.)
Jason Willett is the guy in the guy behind the Dramatics, the Jaunties, the Pleasant Livers, the Can Openers, the Attitude Robots, X-Ray Eyes, the Honkies, and the Dentures. The son of an R&B songwriter for Motown and Atlantic, Willett was raised in rural Maryland where he met Jad Fair (with whom he has released half a dozen duo records – all of which seem to be credited among music fans as Jad Fair outings) and joined Half Japanese fifteen years ago as bassist for a handful of tours and a pile of records. The label he founded, Megaphone, has released stuff by Jon Rose, Caroline Kraabel, Ron Anderson, the Work, 99 Hooker, Jac Berrocal, Chris Cutler, the Ruins and others. If the name list means anything to you, you might be reading “free jazz no wave space skronk,” and you wouldn’t be wrong, but you wouldn’t be right either. Willett is an ebullient, playful musician and an unsung great hanging out here in Baltimore. It never ceases to amaze me how few people have noticed him. Furthermore, he is both the best DJ I have ever heard, playing obscure and incredible should-have-been-huge-hits, and the best dancer I’ve ever seen, whose every move seems to radiate with dignity and openness from his heart. A magical creature if I've ever seen one.

10) Little Howlin WolfThe Guardian (self), The Cool Truth (self) (Generously contributed by Twig Harper (Tarantula Hill, HereSee, Nautical Almanac) who knows better than me)
Wolf is so complex and separating the facts from his brain is real difficult ... 6'9" Polish south side Chicago badassnessed…invented breakdancing…wrote original Bad to the Bone…inspired the Deacon Blue Song…drunk and drug addict street musician from 80-90's…now clean, runs and eats healthy…released 30+ (?) 45's that he sold on the street each with his unique stab at genre; calypso, reggae, blues, vocal chants, which he changed his name and invented the label name on so he wouldn’t be easily traceable...Two self-released LP's The Guardian and The Cool Truth, he is the master of mind-blowing lo-fi off-kilter weird jam rooted in down-to-earth soul.

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