Monday, March 30, 2009

Anubis Rising - Demo 99

(Photo by The Jeneral)

Here's another band I was in for about ten seconds - well, ten months at the most.

My good friend, Ack, and I worshiped Karp and The Melvins, and we wanted to form a band where we could make a lot of noise, do a lot of feedback and scream in goblin voices, a la Chris and Jared from Karp. I called a drummer, Alex Bytnar, who I knew from a band called Zipper Kitty. He said he'd be totally into it, but he knew some other guys who wanted to do something similar and we should all get together and see what happens.

Ack and I met Alex down at a rehearsal space in Reseda, CA where we met the other guys, Sacha Dunable - the other guitarist - and Kevin Henson - the would-be vocalist. The rehearsal went really well, although it wasn't anywhere near what Ack and I wanted to do. Plus, we both thought that Kevin completely sucked as a vocalist.

After the first or second practice, we decided to come up with a band name. Sacha suggested something he really wanted to use. I looked in the LA Weekly and, lo and behold, there was a band with that exact name playing at The Whiskey that Friday. Hilarious. So we went with the name I came up with, Anubis Rising.

We continued practicing and Ack and I quickly lost interest. We weren't getting to do our noisy goblin metal and Kevin was turning out to be a douchebag on top of being a shitty vocalist. Ironically, I got along really well with Sacha, both musically and personally.

After our first show at Cobalt Cafe, Ack and I bailed to pursue our weirdo improv group, Pope Goat VII, who, incidentally, opened the show with our first live performance (or mass, as we called it).

I remained friends with Alex until I got too heavy into drugs. He's a good guy, not to mention an excellent drummer, and I'd like to talk to him again. I never heard from the other guys again. Of course they went on to get somewhat of a following and release a few CDs.

So here's the document of what the band sounded like in the very beginning. It was recorded by a guy named Tom (I think) from a band called Kung Fu Chicken. He did a great job and he was supercool. My guitar is in the right speaker. Ack plays bass. Sacha is in the left speaker. Alex rocks the drums. Kevin and I shared vocals, to a certain extent.

About the songs:
(note: songs that are linked can be downloaded as samples)

01. Torn Apart - I orignally wrote this to sound like Hammerhead, not what it is here. I far prefer my original four-track recording of this song and I'll be posting it in the future. I'm the main vocalist, with annoying flourishes from Kevin. His solo vocals at the end really irritate me. I never agreed to them.

02. Behold the Future - A great example of Sacha's epic songwriting. Too bad it's not what Ack and I wanted to do. I bust into a crazy Greg Ginn-style solo at the end.

03. Bleeding Heart - A Sacha song. For some reason, this is the song I always associate with my bad memories of Kevin. I kinda feel bad picking on the guy like this, but I really, genuinely did not like him.

04. Emptiness - Sacha's fast song. Cool bass/drums intro by Ack and Alex - sounds a little like Karp.

05. I Hope - One of mine. Black Flag influence here. Why did Kevin insist on blabbering over my vocals?

06. Eternal - Another Sacha song. I don't remember much about this one except the cool riff.

07. Untitled - I wrote this song, but never came up with any lyrics, so Kevin gets to ruin it. I think I'll end up using the music I wrote for my second black metal album.

08. Boiling Pot - Epic instrumental courtesy of Sacha. Some of it reminds me of "Good Natured Emma" by The Amboy Dukes.

09. Laughter - The band in in a good mood.

10. Hippie Drum Circle - I'm not sure what was going on with this. Were we trying to be Neurosis?

11. Xolotl - This semi-improvised track was the closest Ack and I came to our original vision. I wrote the riffs and we basically jammed them out. I think I'm playing trumpet in there at one point. I ended up reworking this song for my spacerock album, Songs About Girls Who Never Existed by Messier 7, which will be posted here in the future. Thankfully, Kevin's vocals are buried in the mix.

(Photo by The Jeneral)

Anubis Rising

Demo 99 CS

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SqueakQuencer - Aerobics for Dead People

The second release on MPAE, my cassette-only noise/experimental label, was this, my dad's first album. Yes, this is my dad's music. If I seem a little strange, now you know why.

While I was weened on The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, my dad also played a lot of '70s German electronic records, like early Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerk. We were also big fans of John Carpenter's early soundtracks. Later, the Heldon albums got reissued and we blasted those along with the stuff I was listening to at the time, like The Jesus Lizard, Unsane and Neurosis, all of which my dad also liked.

I always remember my dad fiddling around with synthesizers, so when I started a noise/experimental label, it was logical that I ask him to do an album. This one got rave reviews in Flipside from Belalugo Z and even made her Top 10 list of the year! Just about everybody who heard this tape loved it and it's almost a shame that it had to come out on my piddly tape label with only 50 copies made. But it remains one of my proudest moments with MPAE and it means a lot to me.

Eventually, my dad went on to record several CDs, all of which he pressed himself. I plan to upload some of those in the future.

The images and music were uploaded with Robert Foster's full consent. Thank you, Dad!

Aerobics for Dead People CS

Or try some sample tracks first:

Falling Elevator Music

Things Melt When You're Not Looking

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eckankore - A Brief Account of Nonissues

My first exposure to Eckankore came at a noise show at The Raven Playhouse in North Hollywood. deng were on the bill, as well as Musicide and Flammable Child. It was an odd night. The kid from the TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, had a lousy alternative rock band that played before the noise show. All us noiseheads were going nuts waiting for his set to be over.

When Eckankore finally took the stage, there were two guys with briefcases, Ed Nervo (formerly of NYC's Final Solution) and Ron K., standing in front of a film screen that showed an odd, outdated psychology instructional film provided by Emerson Balla. It was altogether a very strange performance and I honestly didn't quite know what to make of it.

Some time later, I ran into Ron and Ed at Green Hell, the record store on Ventura Blvd where Mike Thrashead of Musicide worked. We talked for a bit and I found them entertainingly odd as people.

Still more time later, I went to a psychedelic rock show at The Chorus Club in Korean Town to see 4 Skulls, Farflung and Bardo Pond and Ron was there. We spent the night talking between the bands' sets and I think we finally exchanged phone numbers there. Ron has been one of my closest friends ever since.

When I was in Leopold, we played at the now defunct PCH Club and Caveat Emptor, another Ed Nervo noise project, opened.

Around 2000/2001, Ed took a break from Eckankore and I joined Ron in his noise endeavors. I'll document that period in future posts.

A Brief Account of Nonissues became the first CDR on MPAE. It documents the "classic" Eckankore lineup of Ron and Ed at their very best.

The images and music were uploaded with Ron K.'s full consent. Thank you, Ron!

Some notes about the songs by Ron K.:
(songs that are linked can be downloaded as samples)

01. Empty Malls - This is my favorite track that Eckankore ever did. The structure is very simple - me: a sample played on my Yamaha SU10, fed through an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man and some MXR pedals; Ed: high-pitched noises on his little oscillator. The mood is hypnotic, and the track is perfectly named: it really does sound like an empty mall, with trash strewn about and homeless people living in dark, cavernous corners.

02. Encroachment - This one was recorded live at the Cobalt CafĂ© in Canoga Park, CA. One thing you don’t get by just listening to the recording is the visual contributions of Emerson Balla. He is a very strange, utterly unique individual who was born in Brazil and collected found and discarded films from all over the place. For live performances he would bring several projectors and loop everything while the sound was occurring. Other times (like the one here) he would just show some bizarre, dated education film from the 70’s. As you can hear, we would let Emerson start things off and we would ‘accompany’ what he was projecting. As far as sound goes, I can tell that I was using the MXR Phase pedal, and Ed was doing some manipulating with the oscillator. I always used a Crate amp set to low-end only.

03. Rightful Ownership - This was another recording (like ‘Empty Malls’) that was recorded in Ed’s living room in Sherman Oaks. This one is like ‘Empty Malls’ in that there is much looped repetition and an empty, hollow empty atmosphere. It almost sounds like a dying motor from a lawnmower is playing in the background, but it isn’t.

04. Price Gouging - This was a wild, memorable show at The Garage, a long-closed club in a dodgy area of East Hollywood/Mid-Wilshire. I say wild because the crowd was there to see the singer from Fishbone and they were not prepared to experience something like Eckankore. They were already blind drunk, and when we started, they went apeshit. I wish that we had done more shows like this. As for the sound, Emerson was showing the same film that he showed at the Cobalt. Just for the heck of it, I kicked my amp off the stage when it was all finished.

05. Squandered Utilities - Another living room recording. I think it becomes interesting toward the middle. There is some sort of interference going on, kind of unsteady and troubling.

06. Depleted, diminished - Living room noise again. It is a perfect title again - things sound all washed up and finished, like a mouse that has been flushed down the toilet. I like the way that Ed comes in at the three-minute mark. An eerie old self-help tape can be heard in the last minute and a half.

A Brief Account of Nonissues CDR

Download A Brief Account of Nonissues as a .zip file!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Leopold - Leopold EP

(Live at The Smell - Photo by Ackronomicon)

I first heard about Leopold on the Jesus Lizard newsgroup on AOL. I ended up trading a few emails with guitarist Eddie Rivas and he sent me a demo tape, which was basically this 7". When I found out they were playing a noise rock festival in San Pedro, I was there. They completely embodied where I was musically at the time - noisy, syncopated and angry. It was Unsane crossed with The Jesus Lizard. I was in heaven.

I kept in contact with Eddie and he knew about Twitch Party. At a show at The Smell, when it was still in North Hollywoood next door to Raven's Playhouse, he and Dave Miranda, the bass player, told me they had a new song and they asked me if I'd improvise lyrics. I obliged and soon afterward was asked to join the band as vocalist. It was a dream come true.

Now I was going to band practice in Downtown LA twice a week and playing shows two to three times a month, which was quite a change from Twitch Party. For the first time, I was performing to crowds.

My first official show with Leopold was in San Diego at some strange place called Che Cafe. I remember Dave being impressed with my performance there.

Eddie was the ringleader and, I suppose, still is. He was/is the master of atonal, trebly unison bends and he played a Travis Bean. We ended up clashing, which was a shame, because he's a good guy and he definitely had his shit together way more than I did. Come to think of it, that's probably why we clashed.

George Tseng was one of the most amazing drummers I've ever seen in my life. We got along at first, but soon our music geekness got in the way and we weren't liking each other very much.

I was most in tune with Dave. For some reason, his personality and mine really clicked and he was always there for me until the end.

I was the youngest at 19. George was 21, Eddie was 25 and Dave was 27.

(Live at Al's Bar - Photo by Ackronomicon)

We played some great shows with bands I loved, like Babyland, Sleestak, 400 Blows and Melt Banana. After we opened for The Murder City Devils at Al's Bar, their singer, Spencer, came up to me to tell me I did a really good job. It was everything I ever wanted from a band.

Then our personalities started to clash. And, as to be expected, my narcotic intake fueled the fire. It really started with disagreements about my lyrics. They had been an established band for a couple of years before I joined and they had an image that they wanted to portray and here I was contradicting it. But I was 19/20 and I didn't want to be anybody's mouthpiece. Pretty soon, I was wearing vinyl pants to shows just to annoy Eddie. And then I missed a show because I overdosed on speed. Bad news.

Things got really tense. I got into Iggy Pop's The Idiot and realized there were different avenues musically that I wanted to pursue. The yelling and screaming was getting tiresome, as were the disagreements. Finally, I bailed at just the wrong moment. Dreamworks was going to flim a scene at Al's Bar and was looking for a band. Toast, the booker, recommended Leopold, but we needed professional pics. I didn't want to do it. I was in the midst of moving, Dreamworks turned my stomach, blah-blah-blah. The truth was, my heart just wasn't in it anymore. I wanted out and I quit. It was an asshole thing to do, but it was honest.

I eventually got back in touch with Eddie and we've been friendly since. I even did guest vocals at a show at Mr. T's Bowl for his birthday a year or two after we fell out. Afterward, a drunken Indio grabbed me and yelled at me all night that I should still be in the band. He was probably right.

I had nothing to do with this EP - it was recorded before I joined - but I performed these songs when I was in the band. I even made up lyrics for the instrumental, "When Cousins Marry."

The images and music were uploaded with Eddie Rivas' full consent. Thank you, Eddie!

Leopold 7"
(Lotion Industries)

Sample track:

Brick Full of Tables

Visit Leopold on MySpace and buy The Wreck of Hope CD!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Gardeners - Winnetka

(Mr Phreek circa '98/'99 - Photo by Ackronomicon)

Here are some recordings made during a night of jamming with some friends, circa '98. John Huntley is drumming, Micah Calabrese is on bass and I'm playing guitar. The recording is surprisingly clear for something that was recorded on a boombox in a garage.

I originally met John at a coffee house in Northridge called Common Grounds. We quickly became close friends and I spent many many nights crashing at the huge house he shared with four other guys.

Micah was the drummer of a local band called Radio 4 (not the band that would later gain radio airplay). He was, and I imagine still is, a masterful musician.

After this jam session, John, Micah and I decided to continue the project. We brought in Aidan, from Twitch Party, to play second guitar and Ackronomicon to play second bass. We played live a couple of times, then it started to lose its charm. It quickly became an "anything goes" free-for-all with random people jumping in at practices that really had nothing to do with the band. Plus, the music was going in a really wimpy indie-rock/Stereolab direction that I thought lacked the edge we originally had. Too many cooks and all. Eventually, it just kind of dissolved.

So it goes.

About the songs:
(note: songs that are linked can be downloaded as samples)

01. Track 1 - Our first jam of the night. John and I bonded over our shared love of Joy Division and it really shows here. Towards the end, I started quoting "Walls" by Crass on my guitar.

02. Track 2 - This was all centered around Micah's phenomenal bass lines. Apparently, this was a song he had fully written that he randomly decided to pull out here. This was my favorite Gardeners track.

03. Track 3 - You can tell the night was winding down, as this goes all over the place. I think that at one point, Micah switches from bass to keyboard and things get really noisy.

The Gardeners
Winnetka CS

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pyroclastix - Gain

From what I remember, I "met" Brian Magar on AOL and, since we shared a love of underground noise, we traded tapes.

Brian was making noise on computers before Merzbow and, while I've never been a fan of computer noise, Brian's has always amazed me, mainly because it sounds organic despite being digital.

MPAE and Imbalance ended up having a brief alliance that culminated in the Experimental Dentistry comp. Good times.

I eventually met Brian Magar briefly in a fast food joint in PA and he was supercool.

The images and music were uploaded with Brian Magar's full consent. Thank you, Brian!

Gain CS

01. Hegemonic Breakdown

02. In the Mouth of the Lion

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Two Felipes - Beaker Full of Death

Ask, and ye shall receive!

I'm not too sure on my Felipes chronology, but I think this was their third "album." It really shows the band progressing, too. The production is better than previous recordings, the songs are stronger and more experimental (check out the Coltrane/Sanders saxophone duels in "Air Jammer Road Runner" and the "sampling" in "Morning Bloke") and Dan Vebber's lyrics are at their most punk rock. If they had been from anywhere but Milwaukee, this tape would have been noticed, but then I wouldn't be posting it on this blog if anybody knew who they were.

Beaker is also notable for its science fiction themes - precursors to Vebber's work on Futurama - and its tongue-in-cheek politics - staples of Vebber's work on American Dad.

By far, this is the best Two Felipes album!

The images and music were uploaded with Dan Vebber's full consent. Thank you, Dan!

The Two Felipes
Beaker Full of Death CS
(Flaming Cow Productions)

Or try out some sample tracks first:

Air Jammer Road Rammer

Morning Bloke

Door to Door Shoeshines

Star Trek

Life in Hell

Goatfish - The End of a Fortnight

After the deng tape, I decided to launch my solo noise project, Goatfish, with this tape. This was actually the third release on MPAE - Squeakquencer's Aerobics for Dead People was second.

Unfortunately, The End of a Fortnight doesn't hold up as well as Spasmodic Goat. Most of the tracks lack focus and end up as chaotic free-for-alls.

All 50 tapes came in the above purple sack, which was hand-sewn by Hellicine, the artist who drew the cover.

I've since continued Goatfish as Ghoatefische, with a much more focused, controlled approach.

About the songs:

01. Gone - Probably the first solo noise track I ever recorded. Too bad I can't remember anything about it.

02. Longing - Four tracks of a power drill through various effects. I think the idea was better than the result.

03. Missed - Lots of chaos that doesn't really go anywhere.

04. Frustration - A "serious" attempt at mimicking Masonna.

05. The Wait - A quieter track that didn't turn out so badly.

06. Distance - A little like Aube maybe?

07. Alone - Definitely one of my favorites. This is much more the direction I've headed with Ghoatefische.

08. Lament - My favorite track on the tape. I found samples of goats bleating online, mic-ed my computer's speakers into my four-track and added effects. The result is quite unnerving.

09. Remembering - Way too long track of my guitar feeding back over rumbles from my newly bought bass. I really should have watched the time here.

10. Silence - Another favorite track that shows the more controlled, focused direction I would go.

The End of a Fortnight CS

deng - Spasmodic Goat

My first attempt at noise.

When I was a young teenager, my dad would bring me into Aron's Records in Hollywood and I'd be free to wander around the store while he spent hours (literally) flipping through the used vinyl. I always found myself returning to the Noise/Experimental section and its mysterious releases. I'd wonder about Merzbow, who had a ridiculous amount of CDs in the bin, and The Haters, who not only had lots of CDs, but also novelty items, like Wind Licked Dirt, a blank CD that was played by rubbing dirt on it, and The Haters Coloring Book, black construction paper with a black crayon. Finally, I broke down and got a Merbow CD, the three-inch disc Artificial Invagination, which, sadly, I don't have anymore. I listened to it and, lo and behold, it was noise. I filed the CD away, slightly confused, and continued my fascination with punk and indie noise rock. (I managed to find a Haters CD used, too, which furthur perplexed my teenage mind.)

It wasn't until after high school that I started hanging out in a store on Ventura Blvd in the San Fernando Valley called Green Hell, that I finally caught the noise bug. I became friends with this guy, Mike Thrashead, who worked in the store and he was into all kinds of different stuff. His main thing was European thrashcore, but he also turned me on to stuff like Rupture and Fang. I was also a fan of his band, Bad Acid Trip. Finally, I decided to buy another Merzbow CD from the noise case. He asked which one. I asked which did he recommend. He shrugged and said any of them. I went with Electric Salad because I liked the title and the cover. That night, I understood noise and became obsessed.

Aidan, the guitarist of Twitch Party, was one of my best friends at this time and we'd constantly share music. I lent him Electric Salad and he caught the noise bug, too. This was the tail end of the noise tape era, and we decided to do our own noise tape. We got a few pointers from Thrashead on where to buy bulk tapes and how to dub them, and I transformed MPAE into a cassette-only noise label, with deng's Spasmodic Goat being the first release. In keeping with the noise tape tradition, all MPAE releases were limited to 50 copies. We actually got some good press in Flipside Magazine, too, believe it or not.

This tape holds up a lot better than I thought it would. I still thought of noise as an overkill of sound, but these tracks are a lot more controlled, surprisingly.

We played one live show, that I may post here in the future. deng ended when Twitch Party ended. Another chapter closed.

About the songs:
(note: songs that are linked can be downloaded as samples)

01. Anhydrosis - A surprisingly controlled opening track. Probably the best track on the tape.

02. Dried Good Hydration - More chaotic, but we still managed to hold it together. Earl LeMay, who wrote the lyrics to "Let's Get Optimistic" on Anokist Antiquity, appears here.

03. Operative Technique - A total free-for-all that comes across a lot more focused than we were when we recorded it. Earl LeMay is also on this track.

04. Fung-Fung - We beat on stuff around my dining room and kitchen for this track. Another one with Earl LeMay.

05. Ouch - A tongue-in-cheek attempt at doing Masonna-style noise. The idea was that it was the sounds of somebody getting their tooth drilled. We thought it was funny.

Spasmodic Goat CS

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Blackout Shoppers - Smash & Grab EP

Hey, it's a new month, so how about something that doesn't have to do with me?

Blackout Shoppers are the new face of NY hardcore. This isn't your typical jocko-homo skinhead thugoid cliche, hell no. BS play their hardcore without chugga-chugga beefcake breakdowns - just short and to the point like hardcore used to be (and should be in my unhumble opinion). There's also a scumbag element that puts them in league with stuff like the early Dwarves albums on Sub Pop, The Jack Saints, ANTiSEEN and The Bodies, which especially tickles my fancy. My girlfriend got me into BS - she said seeing them made her feel filthy. Now, that's my kind of band!

Check out their new full length CD Pass Out!

The images and music were uploaded with Blackout Matt's consent. Thank you, Blackout Matt!

Blackout Shoppers
Smash & Grab CDR
(Blackout Shoppers)

Sample track:

Smash & Grab


Visit Blackout Shoppers on MySpace!