ANIMAL DISGUISE

 

 

MAMMAL/ZOMBI - White Hot

A concise one-sided (repeats on both sides, in the classic cassingle tradition, though this is more of a maxi-single, maybe 18 minutes) tape featuring radio performances by two one-man bands that were on tour together last year. Zombi is Mike Connelly of the Hair Police, laying down some Hard n’ Fast bass guitar noise with the enthusiasm of someone hearing (and making) this stuff for the first time. I especially dig his ultra-distorto spoken intro. "Yeah, uh yeah…this is Zombi…from Lexingon, Kentucky, huh, yeah…." A rock and roll swagger missing from noise for many years has definitely been brought front and center again. About halfway, through, Gary Mlitter, aka Mammal, takes over, with his instantly recognizable blend of hard repetitive dance beats, glazed with radioactive noise. I always used to think he sounded a bit like the industrial of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but that wasn’t quite it…his beats are too repetitive, too drill-into-your-brain, too anti-smarty pants to be in the Wax Trax! Camp. The more I think of it, it’s more like slowed down gabber, a ponging, boinging sound that dares you not to move something in time, while the electronics emit sonics that one might expect to hear during a nuclear plant disaster. Sadly, neither performance is on par with recordings I’ve heard elsewhere by these stalwarts. Like many tour documents (I’m thinking of the Crawl Unit/RHY YAU split tour single), it’s meant to give a brief and slightly stereotypical depiction of the band, not their best, but nice and solid and nothing to freak anyone out. For better Mammal, I recommend the Fog Walkers LP on SNSE, the Fog III tape, formerly on Animal Disguise, and the Pregnancy Tubes tape on Gods of Tundra (Zombi’s label). For Zombi, I’d recommend the "The Toes Are Tickled Pink" tape on Animal Disguise, either of the still semi-available tapes on Gods of Tundra (check Hanson’s distro), or, in both cases, seeing them live.

VIKI - Triple X

There’s lots of people that do this kind of scratchy-electronic dance style, but I like Viki the best because she’s got the most bounce, hands down. Mammal pummels, Wolf Eyes judders and contorts, but Viki’s machines make you wanna put your hand up and say "ah-oogah!" There’s a couple of slow grinders here that remind me of Wolf Eyes (particularly the great mini-freak out at the end of side one), but the ones that really grab me are the opening track, where she’s dancing with her dog (I’m old and several years out of date on the newest dirty lingo, so I’m going to assume she’s actually doing the foxtrot with her canine of choice) and then begging mom not to take her pills away ("I can’t breathe!"), as well as the track that starts side two, which is the swell-est fusion of booty bounce, dime-store squiggle-notes, noises and spuh-sound yet devised. Really, this is right up there with some of the classics of the as-yet-unnamed genre: Carly Ptak’s "Prepare Your Self," the first Jean Street album, Mammal’s "Fog Walkers," the FKTRN tape on White Tapes, you name it. Even the Russian mailorder brides on the cover agree...one says in her profile, "Wishes she was more like Viki."

BURNING STAR CORE - Romantic Fall - Live 2002

I still haven’t heard the BXC LP, said by many to still be the definitive document of Ohio’s C. Spencer Yeh and his violin-led death cabal. I use this word deliberately: both Burning Star Core and Yeh’s band Death Beam have a very ritualistic, morbid, and completely incantory sound. The performances build almost exponentially as they go…by song four (or ten minutes into the BXC set), you’re completely entranced and ready to go on some sort of terrible killing spree like you see in movies. Tell me what to do, Spencer!

BXC is the slightly more humane of the two, though this live tape isn’t without its horrific moments. The shifting instrumentation and musicians make for a lot of variety, but a similar mood. Any time drums are brought into the mix, they’re always pounded in a simple, one-at-a-time style that seems to bring out the beast in the listener, whether you’re hearing it on the train, while cooking dinner, or in the midst of a mongol pillage. Spencer’s violin solo in the middle sounds like Yehudi Menhuin trying to play Bartok through a series of minor heart attacks, an endless array of intensely focused scrapes and beats interruped by painful but necessary outbursts. Track three has the fiddler on the roof trading in the horsehair for the Mac, with strangely similar results; perhaps he’s treating violin sounds with his laptop.

A highlight of the Animal Disguise label, and definitely a great release for Spencer Yeh and his legion of doom, but I have to say, I’m really holding my breath until a full length Death Beam CD arrives at my front door. They’re a mixture of pounding drums, ghoulish electronics, and noisy slide guitar accompanied by vocals chanted in Russian that has no place in any time period except the dark ages (though I've cleared a spot out in the "De" section of my CD library as well).

MIDLIFE VACATION - Evening Listening

Here’s Gary Mammal and Viki, uh, Viki, in a collaboration role. It’s a weird mix, because both bands are usually pretty upbeat, at least by the electro-shock therapy standards of this kind of broken electronic non-genre music. But not here. This is a serious downer…noises and shit just ooze between and into the cracks of every beat, and unlike either band, the beat tends to be superfluous a lot of the time. What?!?! It’s more like Throbbing Gristle, where they’d leave the drum machine running and just start freaking out over top.

Most of the time, Mammal and Viki tend to make all their sounds come right into lockstep with the beat, which is why it sounds so weird here…almost like two different records played at the same time. When the beats and noises mesh, it just kinda sounds like Mammal. When it doesn’t, it doesn’t sound like either Mammal or Viki…maybe a bit like Wolf Eyes? I’m assuming this is the duo’s first release together, so they got lots of room to try out every ol’ thing, and I hope they do. There’s some choice nastiness here, but it’s not a straight killer. Get "Fog Walkers" and "Full Time" first, and then come back.

CD PLAYER VIRGINS - Frozen Friends

Trevor of the Hair Police gets behind the pedals, ready to kick up some purple and blue smoke. It’s more "electronics" than "noise," even though it has noise cadences. The sounds are very sweet, not crusihing like a Knurl tape. I wrote a review of a Crack Fierce tape for issue 7 of Blastitude, and it’s pretty similar to that in spirit, though this is way better. It knows when to shut up (!!!), will drop down to near silence before jumping up again (more like "peek-a-boo" than a goosestep to your package). There’s some power electronics stutter, and a long grainy ending, but on the whole, this doesn’t hurt, it soothes. Sorry if this blows your cred, Trev! I don’t think he was going for "Baddest Ass On the Block" with this anyway. This is more like "Bestest Backrub On The Block," which isn’t a bad title to have, ‘specially when the ladies start comin’ round.

DAS TORPEDOS - Descendre

My first taste of the torpedo, and although I have a few bands in my collection with "Der" in the title (although only Der Plan comes immediately to mind), this is the only one with "Das" I can think of (unless you count my Big City Orchestra records [this inanely obscure joke brought to you by the League of Reformed In-Jokers, and the Pedantics Council]). Charles Lareau, who also put out a super duper, up-my-alley kind of drone record under his own name, uses the Das Torpedos handle to get subterranean, I guess. This is also deep, cavernous drone, and maybe some of the same equipment that drove me into the dark closet with his "Madness Inspiration" tape is here too, but it’s definitely going for a different vibe. Starting right off, there’s a low, distorted, solemn voice giving a very long soliloquy at the beginning, sounding very much like the last words of a dying man (on a submarine, maybe?). Jarboe did this, but with even more intensity, on her amazing cover of Throbbing Gristle’s "Six Six Sixties" on one of the tribute albums. A high whine further adds to the "last time through the movie projector" feel of the track. Then the submersibles go under for the last time, and the watery electronics make this sound like a less sentimental version of Gavin Bryars’ "The Sinking Of the Titanic." Only no string section. Just that sinking feeling.

HAIR POLICE - Movies Live '01 - '02

Yeah, movies. Hair Police shows are pretty visual (check out the video on Dronedisco/Gods of Tundra/Freedom From for proof…the most teeth-clenching 11.5 minutes you’ll ever have without panting or accidentally yelling for mommy), so that element is kind of lost here. It’d be neat to see who in the audience initiated the cry of "Bull…shit! Bull…shit! Bull…shit!" and who transformed the same chant into "Abandon…ship! Abandon…ship! Abandon…ship!" But you can imagine for yourself. Still, the difference between listening to "Movies" and seeing the Hair Police supernaut as it stumbles blindly through your town is like the difference between watching a football game on TV and listening to sportscasters commentate on the same game on the radio. You know more or less what it looks like in your head, but sometimes it’s more fun to throw chips at the TV than the radio.

The tape is quick edited…nothing resembling a complete show to be had here…which ensures that you get nothing but the cream that floats to the top, whether it’s prime noisy splatter, or, surprisingly, an awful lot of skittery ambient contemplation. Still, there’s plenty of that "people flying past your head" vibe represented, so don’t worry your own pretty little head about it too much. Truth be told, the real star here is whomever did the editing. If there were an Oscar awards for underground tape labels, this tape would win "Best Editing" in a landslide (the question of "best On-Site Catering" has yet to be determined, though the Roctober Noise Brunch showed strong promise last year with their alchemical, 15+ ingredient bloody marys). As if to prove to something to naysayers, the tape features five or six performances of the same song (I dunno, "Call the Ghost" maybe? That’s the only one I know the title to, apart from "Shirts Vs. Skins"), which goes to show that yes, there are REAPEATABLE SONGS in there!

I also love the cover, complete with sections of the action cut out with dotted lines, like "Mr. Safety Visits A Hair Police Show." Those of you who were privvy to last year’s July 4th blowout in Chicago know Mr. Safety was actually stepped on and given a carrot to gnaw on in a corner while the rest of us danced the night away.