Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Michigan noisette Kilynn Lunsford and Toronto orchestra leader Greg Jarvis.
Listed: Little Claw + Flowers of Hell
Little Claw started its noise-punking, primitive racket in 2003 in Detroit, around the core duo of Heath Heemsbergen and Kilynn Lunsford. Warren De Fever of His Name Is Alive produced their first album Moss Has Fangs in 2005, and Outrageous Cherry’s Matthew Smith handled their Ecstatic Peace debut Spit and Squalor Follow the Snow in 2007. Last year, Little Claw put out Human Taste, about which Raven Sings the Blues observed “[it] leaves you agitated and punchy, equally ready to fight or slump to the floor with a gritty hangover of palpable unrest burning in your teeth. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right.”
1. Kevin Coyne – Bursting Bubbles
He just sounds kinda ravaged at this point–physically and ontologically–however, it’s not only his voice, which sounds a bit more gravelly than usual, but his tone, the belly full of tears he seems to be holding down. I am capable of laying, breath shoal, chilled by his wailing: “Sliced like a cucumber, cracked like an egg, sitting like a little dog wait to beg for you, for him, for you…”
2. Neo-Boys – Crumbling Myths
This is the distinctly American version of the Subway garage/pop girls and an obvious antecedent to the K ladies. They existed in Portland, Or during the late 70s/early80s; and like most bands in this region, they have quite a unique sound: messthetics drumming, pseudo country jangle, and a scholarly Sue on vox. Their lyrics have some socio-political angst, however with pathos, not didacticism.
3. Basement 5 – 1965-1980
Goth Dub Pub-Rock? Their fashion vibe is all white with P-Funk/Fab 5 Freddy goggles. They look great and their sound is such a strange confluence of styles, you have to be kinda jealous. Produced by Martin Hannett, so you know the grass we’re treading. I was looking for this record for almost 10 years and then I found 2 copies. Isn’t that what always happens?
4. COS - Swiss-Chalet
I just got this while Little Claw was on tour in Hamburg and I have really been dancing around my room to it lately. 1979, Belgians doing electronic dub with French female vox and some Betty Boop scatting. Reminds me of that Dorothy 7” on Industrial, of which I am a huge fan, but on the Brigitte Fontaine, Catherine Jauniaux, Lizzy Mercier axis.
5. J.D. Brennan and Gold Fever – Guitar Slinger
I bought this on a fluke, based on the cover. The back has the typographic simplicity of a classic private press and the cover is adorned with time-lapsed triple exposures of J.D. wearing a pastel Crosby sweater slinging his guitar. Although he looks like someone that would be playing in a boogie woogie band at a company picnic, he plays some super slimy wah-wah leads.
6. Nelson 2174 – Nuclear Café
This belongs behind that card that reads: “outsider/real people.” (Flip) R. Stevie (Flip) Jerry Rooth (Flip) My Dad is Dead (Flip) Nelson 2174. However, This man is more ironical in his vocal delivery than the aforementioned artists. Best line: “Don’t need a Jagger named Mick.”
7. Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes – Paix
I have had these recordings for a long time, but just recently, while on tour, a friend in Lyon gave the LP to me, so now I treasure the object as well as the immediate sounds. Love the washed out organ, minimal tribal percussion, and, of course, the incantatory vocals.
8. Steve Reich – Tehillim
This is my favorite Steve Reich recording, it’s unlike any of his other records I own. An off-kilter polyphony of Women singing Hebrew Psalms with an orchestra. Beautiful!
9. Graham Bond – Holy MagickAgain with the ritualistic ululations. This is one of those R&B Brits that got freaked out into “Magick” and went on to record this gem. Nice double sax solos. Plus, the cover is amazing: sacrifice at Stonehenge! Gatefold has some lovely Bobby Beausoleil style drawings.
10. Charlotte Pressler – “True Confessions” 12”
I picked this up the first time I went to Toledo, OH. I was quite thrilled to find something else by Pressler after only knowing about the Hand Piece/ You’re Gonna Watch Me 7”. This record is Cleveland’s mighty Paul Marotta and Jamie Klimek playing on Charlotte’s spoken word/ sound poetry composition. If it wasn’t funny and witty, it might be disturbing.
Flowers of Hell
Greg Jarvis’ Flowers of Hell formed in 2005, fielding a transatlantic team of musicians to explore the intersections of space rock, VU-ish drone and classical composition. Three years later, the band notched every shoe-gaze revivalist’s dream when asked to open for My Bloody Valentine in 2008. What to do for a follow-up? Jarvis recorded its second album Come Hell or High Water in 40 sessions in multiple cities around the world (New York, Toronto, London, Prague, Detroit and Abilene, TX) and with some 30 musicians, veterans of everything from the Patti Smith Band to the Toronto Symphony, taking part. The new album, out this June, explores the phenomenon of synaesthesia, a crosswired form of perception that allows people to hear colors and see sounds, which Jarvis says is central to his work. On his website, he explains. “I spent a lot of time listening/watching the works-in-progress, and adding & adjusting things so that each song would create the most beautiful moving images possible. It was a slow, involved process that took a lot of determination to stick with - hence one of the meanings of the album title.”
10 videos connected to Come Hell or High Water
The Ecstasy Of Saint Theresa – “Fluidum” (1993)
I spent a chunk of the 90s in Prague and returned there to work on Come Hell with Jan Muchow of the Ecstasy Of St.Theresa. Our violist Abi Fry was already in Prague when I arrived as her other band British Sea Power were sequestered in a Czech studio finishing an album. Abi’s contributions and Jan’s symphonic scoring experience led to the string sound on our album. ‘Fluidum’ is a track Jan did for a Peel Session in his early shoegaze days.
Plastic People of the Universe - “Muchomůrky bile” (1991 re-recording)
The Plastic People Of The Universe were a Czech group that were imprisoned under communism in the 1970s for playing music influenced by The Velvet Undergrond. Dissident artists rallied to their cause, eventually leading to 1989’s not so co-incidentally named ‘Velvet Revolution’. This is a re-recording some of the Plastics did of their finest song ‘Destroying Angel, White Mushrooms’ (the lyrics are about committing suicide by wandering off in the woods and eating poisonous mushrooms.)
British Sea Power – “Man of Aran”(2009)
A lot of people just know British Sea Power’s anthemic indie rock side, but I’ve always felt their greatest merit lies amongst their more experimental B-sides and EPs. With the largely instrumental soundtrack they wrote last year for the 1934 film Man Of Aran, they got to show off a lot more of that side of themselves – and Abi!
Oskar Fischinger – “Komposition Im Blau” (1935)
I have a neurological condition called timbre-to-shape synaesthesia, which means that I involuntarily ‘see’ anything I hear. I perceive sounds as a translucent layer of shapes all around me – and it’s a big part of how I compose. Oskar Fischinger was an early 20th C. German abstract animator with the same condition. ‘Komposition Im Blau’ is his seminal piece, though in 1940 he did the ‘Toccata And Fugue’ sequence in Disney’s Fantasia. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1z12_Ps-gk ) For more about synaesthesia, here’s a good lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LorvbKs79w
Buddy Holly – “Mona rehearsal” (1957)
I had a Buddy Holly phase after developing bits of Come Hell in Texas with John Mark Lapham of The Earlies. In the ‘50s, John Mark’s father sang backing vocals on Buddy’s early tunes like ‘Oh Boy’. On this rare out-take you get to hear Buddy, a rhythm guitar master, find his way to the optimal strumming accompaniment to the Bo Diddley beat.
The Earlies – “Morning Wonder” (2004)
Here’s a video from The Earlies 2004 debut album, ‘These Were The Earlies’, which is one of my favourite records of the last decade – it’s songs evolve like mini-symphonies and the production is stellar. As well as John Mark’s immense work on ‘The Invocation’ on Come Hell, Tom Knott of The Earlies’ did the final mixes on a couple of our album’s songs (and I’ve been working with Tom again recently on a 45 minute song in surround sound.)
John Paul Jones – “Privilege” (1967)
While working on the album in Detroit, Ivan Kral from the Patti Smith Group turned me on to this rare film starring Manfred Mann’s John Paul Jones. Ivan saw it in communist Czechoslovakia in 1967 and its rebellious tone inspired a punk rock awakening in him. He was exiled to America the following year and later got both Patti and Iggy into the movie, with Patti going as far as recording a cover of the film’s title track.
Patti Smith Group – “Time Is On My Side” (1976)
Here’s Ivan with Patti on Swedish TV in the 70s – he’s the dude with the Keith Richards hair, Les Paul, and Radio Ethiopia shirt. Ivan was briefly in Blondie before joining Patti’s band in ‘74, and when Patti split up the group in ‘79 he went on to play with Iggy for a couple years before having some 80s hits with John Waite and then going solo.
Sonic Boom/Spectrum – “Set Me Free, How You Satisfy Me” (2009)
In working on the album’s mix at my place in Toronto, Spacemen 3’s Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember of completely upped the record’s production values. After over 25 years of constantly creating music, his knowledge, skills, and musical ear are phenomenal – no wonder MGMT had him co-produce their new album. And he’s on the road in the US right now with Spectrum and is well worth catching live.
MC5, Primal Scream, J Spaceman, & Mel Draisey – “Black To Comm” (2009)
Mel Draisey (who plays violin with The Clientele and the Flowers Of Hell) was doing some shows guesting in Primal Scream last year. At their Meltdown show, the encore ended up being Mel, the Scream, the MC5, and Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce covering my fav MC5 tune, Black To Comm. (The sound quality to that clip is pretty bad, so also here is the MC5 performing it in 1967 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwV5Sqlhlgc)
When I was a teen punk fan and heard Malcolm McLaren’s symphonic arrangements of ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘EMI’ (on the Sex Pistol’s ‘Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle’ album), I realized anyone who can write a punk song can write classical – and that’s a big part of the Flowers’ approach to music. I was lucky enough to spend a couple days with Malcolm in the 90s, chatting about those recordings, Sid, & other things. In memoriam, here’s a 90s Malcolm track:
Malcolm McLaren & Francois Hardy – “Revenge Of The Flowers” (1994)
Here’s what we do:
Flowers Of Hell – “Opt Out” (live in Aberdeen, Scotland, 2009)
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By Dusted Magazine