MAMMAL - Fog Walkers LP

Gary Mlitterís been making the same record over and over pretty much since he started. But thatís good, because not too many other people sound like Mammal. Heís got a very tight focus, a good sense of editing songs together so they make an actual album (even the tape-only releases which comprise the bulk of his output), and of course, heavy beats. Not beats as in "turn the beat aroundÖlove to hear percussion," but beats as in "beats you down." Mammal music is like slowed down gabber techno, a great drilling pound, sounds spinning wildly off a central shaft of POOM POOM POOM POOM. The difference is, the noises reinforce the beat and drive it home, rather than ride over top. And because the beat isnít going 395 BPM or whatever retarded, thereís more time for Gary to make sure each new whoopy feedback loop is perfect. Like the projects of Ohioís Spencer Yeh (Death Beam, Burning Star Core), a mammal live set builds in intensity over time, and any one song doesnít have as much impact as seven of Ďem in a row. By the final few songs, Iíve seen concertgoers revert from the town elders in "Footloose" to the cast of "Caligula," shirts being ripped off, sweat flying, guards let down. Itís a beautiful thing.

"Fog Walkers" is the first non-tape/CDR release by Mammal, and is already a cornerstone of this new emerging genre that is mutating faster than anybody can apply a genre tag (The Village Voice tried "Garbagetronica," which got little more than a derisive laugh from people who actually come out for shows). I feel a little weird even reviewing itÖI mean, youíve already got a copy, right? RIGHT? No? I thought you said you were up on all this up-and-coming stuff. Well, hurry up and get this bas oscar, because this is the it. When we reminisce about this great blast of creativity that went down from around í01 to í04 (speculation on my part), "Fog Walkers" is going to be mentioned in the same breath as "Dead Hills" by Wolf Eyes, "Blow Out Your Blood" by Hair Police, and "Ride The Skies" by Lightning Bolt as the ones that actually sounded as good at home as the real thing did at the club.

Most people Iíve talked to about this record babble on about track one, "Fog Face," and far be it from me to dissent from this stance. Quite possibly the best thing Gary will ever write (especially since he hasnít really made any attempt to come back to it!), itís 13 minutes of the simplest of Miami booty bass beats, BOOM bap, BOOM bap, BOOM bap, bass on the one, while overhead, Morton Subotnick tries desperately to grow a booty. Not even Viki knows how to keep noise on the one like MammalÖeverything is here for one thing: keep you on the beat. Wrong-beat is over, right-beat is back! Now 30% righter, too! Put this one on when your record geek friends come over. Let it drift into the background. Somewhere around minute seven, people will start to excuse themselves from the conversation long enough to start testifying: "Fuck! This is really good. Whereíd you get this? Man, I canít believe this thing! Does that beat keep going through the whole song? AWESOME." The other tracks mostly do that desperate slow-but-hyper gabber sound, more industrial than the laid back funk of track one. But thatís what makes "Fog Face" such a great track. Matt Silcock mentioned in Blastitude that a 12" with just that track on it would be worth $10, and Iíd agree (itíd be way more worth two sawbucks than ANY Chain Reaction 12" ever put out), but I kind of like it like this, too. Like Pascale Bussieres says in Guy Maddinís "Twilight Of the Ice Nymphs," "Itís not always pleasing for a lover to do everything you ask." I kind of like that Iím waiting on tiptoes for Gary to ever do another track like "Fog Face," knowing that it might never happen. Itíll make the moment when "Fog Face II" drops that much sweeter.

Additional note: Itís rare to see a song-titling aesthetic as focused as Mammalís. Nearly all of his song and album titles seem to be variants upon the words "Fog," "Tube," "Body," "Heat," "Rhythm," and maybe a few others.

VIKI - Perfect Strangers 7"

The Queen of Detroitville (city and surrounding suburbs), on wax courtesy of Kalamazooís Scratch ní Sniff Entertainment. Two mixes of "Perfect Strangers," which I guess is/was her anthem at the time (Iíve got a CDR with yet another version of it). Side one the club music equivalent of the weird kid in high school that wants to hang out with the popular kids; despite doing all the same things as regular club music, this just comes out weird. Which is okay, since everybody reading this was the "weird kid" in their high school. We can relate. Side two is a remix by "Liíl Rikki," much more stripped down and sinister, with something over top thatís too low-key to be considered "toasting," but I think is supposed to serve the same purpose. Both sides have a very good groove, more so than some of her peers (Wolf Eyes, Mammal, Jean Street, Lotus), who have more of a pulse, or a "groove" in the higher spiritual sense ("Heís really in the groove"). This has a groove in the lower regions sense, much like track one off Mammalís "Fog Walkers." I see thereís going to be a three way with Mammal, Viki, and Wolf Eyes due out very soon, but Iím still waiting on a full-length, high-qual format, Viki release all to herself.

DRIBBINS & HIGHTOWER - Live At Carlos Murphy's Happy Hour

I first heard about Dribbins & Hightower through a co-worker, none other than Mr. Gordon Dribbins himself. We were swapping CDs from our collection in a vain attempt to forget that we were working in a most uninspiring joint, and I had just leant him Inca Eyeballís "Quattros Symbolos" CD. He brought it back the next day, along with a copy of his own CDR, saying, "These guys reminded me a lot of me and Herschel!"

Now, before you imagine an album with 98 little improvised songlets with hastily scribbled lyrics, let me remind you that the US and the UK and very different places. While that country on the east side of the Atlantic might drive a man to bash on a broken guitar and some pots ní pans while singing out a random thought scribbled while on the bus, making the point in under 25 seconds, here in the USA, we do things differently. We give our tossed off moments an air of reverence, and more so than any other country I can think of or imagine, we like to BEAT OUR IDEAS INTO THE GROUND. One song, one line or textÖyeah, five minutes easy! Thatís what happens with "Shaviní Pussy," the lyrics of which are pretty much "Shaviní pussy, Iím shaviní pussy, when youíre not home, Iím shaviní your girlfriendís pussy." It hammers away on this lovely sentiment for about the length of the drum solo in "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Or "I Fucked Your Dog": "First I fucked your mom/then I fucked your dad/then I fucked your sister/then I fucked your dog/and your dog was the best/yeah your dog was the best." Again, epic treatment, done up with the intensity of a weekend-long reading of "The Aeneid" (and a suspiciously Zappa-like cadence).

I see what Gordon meant when he compared this album to Inca Eyeball. Both bands mostly use guitar and simple percussion to hammer away at what are nominally folk or pop songs. But while Inca Eyeball tend to deal in impressionistic snapshots and hasty sentiments (my favorite is still a song from "Your Nose Controls You" thatís about six seconds: It goes "Fuckiní assholeÖgero-geri-ge-ge-ge." Thatís it.), Dribbins & Hightower would rather document the exploits of a very untrustworthy Packer ("Mark Chmura, fucked my girlfriend/but itís OK, he got me high. Mark Chmura, bought us tacos/got us chicken and malt liquor/He bought us smokes and a pornographic movie." Gordon assures me this is based on a true story), remind us of the poor hygeine during the Civil War era ("Mary Todd Lincoln/you mustíve been stinkiní"), or give us a cautionary fable to think about on the drive home ("I shouldnít have taken all that XTC/Now Iím on fire. I just wanted to touch people and dance/blow my whistle and dance/watch girls kissing and dance/Now Iím on fire!"). As such, they truly are the New Folk. Isnít a folk singer supposed to sing about whatís on the mind of the common man? I donít think people on the street is thinking about how breakups are like a vase of dying flowers. No, if you handed a random person a guitar, stripped him or her of inhibitions, and said, "tell me whatís on your mind," I think youíd hear something akin to the final third of "A tragicomedy In Three Acts" that appears near the middle of the record: "This is no way for a thirty year old man to live."