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Friday, July 25, 2008

BOREDOMS "Super Roots 9"

Most of the postings here take the form of "Maybe you've never heard of this, but it's amazing!" but now and then I think it's helpful to post a little something of the form: "You've heard of this, but is it worth buying?" You know, a review! Crazy, right? So I'm going to assume you've heard of the Boredoms and know something of their history. Maybe you also know that they transformed into a 3-drummers and noises band called the Vooredoms (where the "oo" is supposed to be written as a sideways infinity symbol) which eventually reverted to the name Boredoms again. So along comes this album, the first release by the Boredoms that's not a remix thing in who-knows-how-many years, and the first official release of the full-blown Vooredoms style music.

I have actually really been digging the Vooredoms sound, which I've heard by downloading recordings of live performances. It's pretty much always the same basic performance with variations, one big piece with various movements. Band leader Eye plays what sounds like a big euphoric-sounding keyboard chord sped up and slowed down on a reel-to-reel. I don't know if that's what it is, but that's what it usually sounds like. There's chanting, truckin-along 3-drummer drumming, Yoshimi (the other founding member still with the band) sings, and the whole thing repeatedly builds to climaxes on top of climaxes with chill-out sections here and there to give you a break. It's really not the kind of thing I would have listened to a decade ago, but I have discovered that it actually makes the PERFECT exercise music! Seriously, the ebb and flow works perfectly for a workout.

So Super Roots 9 is not quite a recording of what I just described! It's almost the same thing, but most of the noise and synthesizer sounds have been replaced by a choir. At first I thought that the chord sounds had just been replaced by one of those "voice" keyboard settings with lots of reverb, but from studying the pictures in the enclosed booklet, it would appear that an entire real choir performed this. (there are also some sleigh bells at the beginning, since this was a Christmas Eve performance) I'm sure it was much more impressive in person. In fact, the entire premise of this line-up is much more about being cool to see live, which is probably why there has been no official release of this material until now.

Unfortunately, the choir is a bit of a let-down to me. I have a hard time with music that's too nice, that's a little too "correct." The wilder sounds that usually make up this piece are far more interesting to hear, and when some harsher noises get mixed in and Eye let's loose with a little screaming, that's when things start getting exciting. That happens a little bit on this recording, but just barely. So the bottom line is this won't replace my bootleg Vooredoms recordings in the workout mix, most of which is recorded just as well as this and sounds more exciting. It's probably smart of them to make an official release of this, and I understand why you'd want it documented, but it's not the best representation of this material.

Nice packaging though, with the full score included so you can sing along at home. On Thrill Jockey.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BUCK GOOTER documentary

I've had a few run-ins with this band Buck Gooter. For some reason I can't help but think of them as "outsider artists" (which should be taken as a compliment) even if they do know all about noise bands and punk rock. Maybe it's the band name which conjures a hillbilly/redneck vibe, or the weird mix of protest rock with noise & drum machines, or the fact that the band members are a generation apart, or that they live out in rural Virginia. Anyway, even though they have the same internet access we all do, and many of the same sources of inspiration, somehow their interpretation of it comes out very wrong (which is also a compliment). So maybe this will help clarify things: "What Da Hell?" a short Buck Gooter documentary, available in 2 parts on YouTube. I wish this explored the band members' personal lives a little more, which I think would add some insight into where they're coming from, but this still paints an interesting picture. Enjoy! PART 1: PART 2:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


In my book, this is a noise record which does lots of things right. First of all, I like to hear a mix of organic and digital sounds, especially when the lines get blurred. This starts out with some guitar work that would sound like speed-metal scales if it weren't so aluminum-treble shrill. This repeats, but quickly gets cut up, chopped and blended into coarse digital noise. Or maybe the digital noise is produced separately and it just sounds like processed guitar, because like I said, the lines quickly blur. There are sounds that might be that squealing harmonics sound that metal guitarists do, but it also might just be noise, or feedback, or who knows.

Another thing I like is that there are no obvious loops running. Sounds come back but they continually vary and get layered up in shifting combinations. I never feel like I'm listening to something on repeat. There are elements of musicality throughout, but there is never a song that appears. There is just one big track on this album, perhaps with different sections or movements, but all tied together by common sounds and textures. This definitely sounds like one coherent piece, while at the same time constantly changing.

CSection is the work of Alex Nagle, also the guitarist in the Philadelphia band Satanized, who is credited in the liner notes with playing "Guitar, CSound." I found that CSound is a music programming language, but I'm not sure if it has another meaning. If this is actually some kind of combo of pseudo-metal shredding and ultra-nerdy computer programming, then I am seriously impressed. No idea if this could be performed live, but I would really like to see such a thing.

This is on cool Philly noise/etc label Malleable Records, and comes in a very nice gatefold cardboard case with silkscreened art. (by

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

PRE "Epic Fits"

I have no idea if PRE's bandname was inspired by the philosophy of "Pre-" championed by Tom Smith of To Live and Shave in L.A. His explanation went something like this: "Post-" music styles are always more cerebral, less physical, more "informed" and less "inspired." See for example post-punk, post-hardcore, and (your best example) post-rock. "Pre-" music styles are all about original, instinctive expression. Any band that usually gets the prefix "proto-" affixed to their description probably qualifies also.

So, does PRE live up to that ridiculously high standard? Well, of course not, but they're still good and I'd say they even embody some of that "Pre-" attitude. This music IS definitely more about physicalism than intellectualism. You've got 2 super-bouncy bass guitars leading things, plenty of punk speed, and yelped lyrics that sound like a looser version of Melt-Banana's Yasuko. PRE singer Akiko's lyrics are similarly English filtered through an accent that sounds like Japanese layered with British, which should make them almost totally unintelligible to American listeners. The whole thing sounds a good bit like Melt-Banana in fact, though without the laser-war guitar sounds. It may be a bit less unhinged, but just as tightly wound. Those tight rhythms are what really provides the energy here and plenty of credit for both energy and keeping things interesting should go to drummer Richard Bennett for resisting the easy path and not simply dropping a heavy disco beat on every song.

You get 14 songs, almost all 1 to 2-minute long outbursts. 2 songs are inexplicably twice as long, and next to the others they sound like your record is stuck in a locked-groove. They seem to serve no purpose on the record, but I'm guessing they're useful in live performance, perhaps giving Akiko time to climb on things or remove clothing. This IS a live band after all, and even if you haven't seen them you can tell that's where this material is going to shine. Still, the record has plenty of its own energy and it's nice to hear a noise rock band that was actually recorded in a studio and you can hear all the instruments distinctly and everything! Crazy... On Skin Graft Records as CD or vinyl.