Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cinebomb #2: Mauvais Sang

Filmmaker Leos Carax was one of the more polarizing figures in the '80s. His films - he's made only four - are often held up as prime examples of "over-arty" and "self indulgent". Carax cannibalizes from the few film genres that I absolutely despise - melodramas and Hollywood musicals - but adds enough French New Wave style that the resulting Frankenstein is lithe and brilliant. It's a very liberating magic trick and 1986's Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood) is perhaps Carax's finest experiment.

The film centers on actor Denis Lavant - he's got a face like a primary school prizefighter. Lavant's in love with Juliette Binoche but she's with Michel Piccoli, a street thug. Lavant and Binoche's doomed romance plays out against a backdrop of industrialized streets in the near future where a sexually transmitted AIDS-like disease spreads among those who have sex without emotion. Lavant's estranged dad is a hood and when he's knocked off his cronies, including Piccoli, send Lavant to steal a vaccine for the disease. All this under the opressive heat from an approaching Halley's comet...

But the plot's just a thin structure here. Just some pale skeleton to hang the images on. The characters are ciphers, their words are formulaic. Carax has them there only to move, to smoke, to fuck - Carax wants to capture the raw energy of life. And life is bubbling under the surface of nearly every image. At one point, Lavant literally bursts into dance - seen in the vital tracking sequence above - all his emotion enfusing his muscles and making them jerk and jump.

Carax is an odd craftsman. He loves closeups - mostly of heads. He loves to play with shadows and images of puppetry. Distortion and color whirl together. But he's also elegant. There are long sequences that feel otherworldly in their beauty, passages of dark street poetry. At times all this joyful exuberance gets tiring and at two hours the film can be a test. But there are so many delicious moments in Mauvais Sang that resonate deeply, you'd be foolish to pass up the experience.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


First off I don’t really like videogames. But it’s true that I spent most of 1988 in the basement watching my brother play R-Type. (That and SuperContra.) There was just something so science nerd about it. Games like R-Type had that “Heavy Metal” styled sci-fi bug out that our pubescent brains required but it also seemed somewhat educational. It was like a psychedelic Giger classroom film.

Stage 1 – Love the intro riff

I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t really play the games. I sucked at them. The whole hand-eye coordination thing was just too much. Sensory overload. And all those freakin’ tricks – hold down this button and press up ten times while shaking the controller – I just couldn’t deal. But my brother was good. Damn good. He could clear every level that I couldn’t and he could do it fast. So, I just sat back with a Mountain Dew and watched. For hours I watched.

Stage 3 – That impossible ship!

And R-Type was the best game to just stare at. First off R-Type had perfect graphics. The game looked like one of my ColorForms come to life. Like something I’d draw with magic markers. Something painfully bright. I mean look at that green! But it wasn’t just the graphics on R-Type but the throbbing synth score. It was so Japanese. Take a killer Kraftwork pulse and mix in some Herbie Hancock shit. Irem always had that fusion thing – if it didn’t sound like it was going to spin off into a sax solo than it didn’t sound right.

Stage 5 – the colonoscopy

For some reason my brother only won the game once. Or twice. It took like five hours and eight cans of Dew. And at least a pack of Oreos. We were all worked up when he hit that last stage. Sweat beading. Hands shaking. I was jumping out of my seat. But then it was over. The last boss wasn’t some monstrous ro-beast, just a fetal Cthulhu in its nest. Man did that ever suck.

Stage 8 – what a finish

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cine Bomb #1: Maidstone

By the end of Norman Mailer's third film he was bruised and bloodied. And Rip Torn had lost a chunk of ear. The movie's called Maidstone and you've never seen anything like it.

Norman Mailer is best known for his contributions to New Journalism (Wolfe, Capote). His counterculture bent brought him into the streets – he covered Republican and Democratic national conventions and was arrested in anti-Nam protests – but he’s best know for leftist works like Armies of the Night (1968, covering the 1967 March on the Pentagon) and novels like The Naked and the Dead (1948, WWII) and Executioner’s Song (1979 novel swirling around the execution of Gary Gilmore, the first person executed in the U.S. after the re-instatement of the death penalty.)

Mailer’s written plays, biographies (Marilyn Monroe, 1973, in which he concluded the CIA & FBI hushed her because of the Kennedy affair. Later regretted the assertion) and screenplays (The Naked and the Dead). Much to filmgoers dismay he directed several films as well.

The first film travesty that Mailer helmed was the abominable Wild 90 (1968). Playing out like a goofy vanity project with his pals Buzz Farber and Mickey Knox, the movie captures the final days of some mafia goons trapped in a warehouse. It’s a long improvisational 80+ minutes of drinking and cursing and rambling and it’s painfully inept. Rock show documentarian D.A. Pennebaker photographed. (Yeah, he did both Monterey Pop and Depeche Mode 101.)

Around the same time, Beyond the Law (1968) was greeted with boos and hollers. I can just imagine the poor bastards who wandered into this dreck. Same folks involved, this one takes place in a Manhattan police station. Mailer wanted to capture the whole cops and robbers thing from a different perspective – an honest one. Mailer plays an Irish cop named Pope. His Brogue is gut twisting. Lots of tough talking. Beer drinking. Broad scoping. Lots of improvisational gaffes. It’s all about Mailer playing a tough guy – I’m sure there’s lots of psychological dirt to mine there.


Mailer’s “best” foray into filmmaking was the mad Maidstone (1970). The film itself continues the improvisational antics displayed in Wild 90 and Beyond the Law but this time the scope is a bit wider. Filmed on the rambling Hampton estates of Mailer’s benefactors. Mailer “plays” Norman T. Kingsley, a respected filmmaker launching his campaign for the White House. A British reporter (played by Mailer’s third wife Jean Campbell) is following him and capturing his rhetoric. He’s a sleazy but energetic lout. Kingsley spouts political venom and moral apathy and at the same time hits on anything with breasts and a pulse, cue Ultra Violet. Like any good freak-out host, Mailer gropes starlets and screws them on camera. (This is before Mailer became Enemy Number One for the burgeoning feminism.) He claims to know the needs of black and latino radicals. (Mailer wrote “The White Negro” in 1957, arguing that hipsters should learn from ghetto culture - live for the moment and choose sex and drugs.) It doesn’t take long before Kingsley’s assassination is plotted. That’s when the fourth wall really breaks – we’re not really watching Kingsley plan his presidency, we’re watching Mailer make a movie about Mailer. The assassination is of the character – it’s like a cleansing. The staged bits of the film fall away. Madness spirals. Roles lose meaning. The cameras roll as reality heaves in.

Rip Torn, born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr, made a name for himself as an actor’s actor in New York and became part of Mailer’s circle – winning critical praise in Mailer’s off-Broadway “Deer Park” in 1966 – 1967. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s he took character acting into unbridled arenas. Maidstone’s crowning, most infamous, moment is when Torn loses all sight of the line defining fiction from reality. It is a sequence that remains truly unforgettable. (Thanks to Subterranean cinema for the upload above.)

At the end of the film Mailer debriefs the cast and crew on camera but Torn can’t seem to break character (he plays Kingsley’s brother). He just can’t let go of the assassination plot. As Mailer, Torn and Mailer’s wife (second, Beverly Bentley) and children walk along a path, Torn leaps on Mailer with the hammer. Torn says, "I don't want to kill Mailer, but I must kill Kingsley in this picture." A struggle ensues. They roll about the grass. Bentley and the children scream. Mailer is bloodied. Torn is bloodied. After the fight, Mailer says he’s going to cut the scene. Torn says frankly, “The picture doesn’t make sense without this.” Indeed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Amanda Visell

Amanda's stuff is really quite nice. Ashley Wood robots meet Shag swanksterism. Love the stuffed version below.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bone Symphony

Songwriter Scott Wilk wrote a number of successful pop tunes before releasing his 1980 album Scott Wilk and the Walls on Warner. The eponymous debut was an Attractions-like power pop record. In fact, the album sounded so much like Costello that many people either thought it was or dismissed Wilk as a copy cat artist. Those overlooking the album missed a rather nice, though straight edge, slice of tight pop.

Wilk added two members to the band in 1983 and switched gears entirely. His new creation, Bone Symphony, was a mash up of new wave, electro dance and Oingo Boingo/Devo-esque bizarro. He ditched the power pop sound, added synths and hair gel and released an eponymous EP. The Capitol 5-track EP contained the songs, “It’s a Jungle Out There” (see video), “Everything I Say is a Lie”, “I’ll Be There for You,” “Piece of My Heart” and “Dome of the Spheres.” “It’s a Jungle out There” received a fair amount of airplay but most collectors know the band for the stand out track “Dome of the Spheres.”

In 1984 Bony Symphony appeared (fittingly) on the soundtrack to Revenge of the Nerds with “One Foot in Front of the Other” - a track that proved quite popular. But not popular enough to keep Bone Symphony afloat, they disbanded shortly afterwards.

In 2003, Scott Wilk replied to a post on the New Wave Outpost about his activities post Bone Symphony: “…I worked with Charlie Sexton on an album for MCA, and as his "MD" for a world tour that included MTV New Year's Eve. Charlie and I were also lucky enough to write and perform the end title song to "Beverly Hills Cop II". Charlie is on the road with Bob Dylan these days. I also made an album with Harold Faltermeyer, and scored films like "Valley Girl" and TV shows such as "Duckman" (70 episodes), which is still on Comedy Central. "Duckman", an animated series, starred Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame.”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Yo Little Brother

Nolan Thomas kickin' it Latin Freestyle circa 1984, yo.

Yo, yo, yo little brother/ What you out there tryin' to discover?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Revenge of the Ninja

Two years ago I was at the club lazing about in the hot tub. It was nine thirty at night. Maybe it was ten. Late enough that I was the only one in the hot tub. The club where I go has this giant tiled Jacuzzi in the center of the men’s room. It’s nearly Roman in it’s layout. Right next to it is the steam room. Huge plumes of steam come wafting out every time some naked elderly man steps in or out of the steam room. That’s right, elderly. At this time of night nearly every guy at the club is – at his youngest – sixty-five.

So I was surprised when a young guy walked in in his swimsuit and started doing karate chops at the steam room door. He was maybe in his mid-twenties. Had a buzz cut. But it was his eyes I noticed first. They shouted crazy. You know when someone has those bugged out eyes and the muscles all around them are bunched up and you just know this person is about to go postal – those eyes.

This guy does his karate kicks. Perhaps they were Tai-kwon-do. I’m not good at identifying martial arts. Just little kicks at first. These are soon followed, however, by big roundhouse kicks. Kicks that take him off the slippery tiled floor. In between the kicks he falls to the floor and starts in on serious push-ups. He does maybe twenty and then gets back up and starts roundhouse kicking the air again. Each kick and each drop to the floor for push-ups is punctuated by a grunt or an expletive. Usually it’s something like Mutherfucker or Assfucker or Bitchfucker. Anything ending in a fucker.

I kind of just hang out in my corner of the hot tub. Peek at the karate guy out of the corner of my eye. Trying not to act suspicious. Trying to act natural. Just a guy sitting in the bubbles. Sweating. Relaxing. As the show goes on I start praying that someone else will come into the hot tub room and break the uncomfortable silence. But this urban ninja doesn’t really seem to take notice of me. He just keeps doing his kicks and his push-ups and grunting his fuckers.

He’s there for maybe five minutes when things really start getting hairy. His roundhouse kicks get bigger. More air. And he starts traversing the entire length of the room from one end of the hot tub to the other. He doesn’t break for push-ups now. Now it’s just him being Sho Kosugi. And now every kick is highlighted by a shouted MUTHERFUCKER or ASSFUCKER or BITCHFUCKER or the new one FUCKFUCKER. And that’s when I start thinking about getting out of the hot tub.

But the thing is I can’t. See, now the ninja has his crazy ass eyes on me. He’s kicking and sweating buckets and cursing and the whole while he’s watching me. And I can’t help but think now that he’s some Iraq war vet who went nuts kicking the shit out of insurgents and he’s back to tear the shit out of the club and anyone foolish enough to be in his insane way. So I’m stuck there. Like a deer in headlights. He’s whirling around kicking the walls that are wet with his explosive ninja spittle and I’m thinking of escape.

That’s when the old Asian dude walks in. I think he’s Korean and he’s there every night. Usually with his son. He walks in. Looks at the ninja who has now stopped kicking and is pacing back and forth like one of those sad bears at the zoo and the Korean shakes his head. That’s when the ninja leaves. Not in a huff. Not with any outburst. Just quietly leaves. The Korean guy gets in the hot tub next to me and he sighs and says, “Crazy fucker.”

Flash forward to yesterday. Noon at the club. I’m in the shower and in the stall across from me is a man shouting at the top of his lungs MUTHERFUCKER and ASSFUCKER and BITCHFUCKER. I didn’t see him. The curtain was drawn but the voice didn’t leave much to the imagination. The ninja has returned…

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Glowing in the Dark: Minimal Synth MP3 Series #2 - Tattoo Hosts Vision On!

Okay, okay - it's not truly minimal synth. Yes, there's the sax. The bass. But Tattoo Hosts Vision On!'s (yes, that's the bands full name) "Empty Building" is an underground classic. Tattoo Hosts... was Ian Nelson - brother of Bill Nelson - here's what Ian said about the band on Bill Nelson's UK site:

"There was a record which came out under my own name along with Ada Wilson and Dave Whittaker (who is now in 'Music for Pleasure') called 'Tattoo Hosts Vision On' and also a couple of Ada singles. Around that time we did the concert in Brussels, the first of the 'Souvenirs of Impossible Events/ Invisibility Exhibition' which has now become a sort of recurrent theme. I had never done anything like that before, it was purely intended as a one off. We had discussed improvisation but that was the first time that we were publicly able to do it. We had improvised in the studio before, but the idea of putting tapes together and going out was unique to that event. We subsequently re-did it at The Black Boy in Nottingham and the Festival in Edinburgh and then on to the first four dates of a full concert. I actually enjoy the challenge of that more than maybe, working with a band, because it is less structured and less rigid and I like the element of chance there. It gives you much more scope for improvisation and experimentation. Its nice when things lock in, and its different every night."

Click the title to download the track.
Or go here:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


1 tab of acid + 1 Dr. Who marathon + 1 plastic bag = Dof's 1983 "hit" Codo.

"We do not neeeeeed any love on this plannnnnet."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You're the man now David Essex

... as though he wasn't at one time. Who isn't cool listening to "Rock On" and strutting in front of the mirror with a scarf and moon boots?

Midnight Son

One of my favorite odds and ends is Steve Miller's Midnight Son. I picked this up at a library sale in 1986. To call it a comic book would be misinterpreting it. It doesn't feel like a graphic novel either. It's something else entirely. With sequential panels of artwork - crafty B&W images of Pogo-like anthropomorphic animals - and short blocks of text in calligraphy, the Midnight Son tells the story of a visitor to an alien planet (that looks surprisingly like Steam-punk England lorded over by cute Wind in the Willows characters) who descends into its many-tunneled bowels. There he finds a monster and well, himself. The ending of the book has beguiled me since I was a kid - it's both religious and oddly unaffecting. I'm sure there's a story behind it. Or maybe there really never was one. For a long while I assumed I was the only person on Earth who had this book. That's not true, sadly.

Steve Miller's website says, "The Midnight Son tells the archetypal tale of the eternal child of light -- and his pursuit of that ultimate mystery, the source of life itself." There you have it. Jodorowsky eat your heart out.

Four Winds Press, New York, 1981.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Flying Lizards

While best known for their cover of "Money", The Flying Lizards were one of the more outrageous experimental punk acts from the early '80s. With a catchy robotic post-modernist dada sound, The Flying Lizards built upon the stop-start jerk of Devo and moved from minimalist dub pop to trance-like ambient music. Irishman David Cunningham was the conceptualist behind the group - he played the instruments and formed the dada core - but what really made them memorable were the lead "singers" Deborah Evans, Patti Palladin and Sally Peterson.



Around only for the debut self titled LP, Deborah Evan's deadpan delivery gave the Lizards' an arty quality that rose above the dub and computer clap trap. Sure it's tongue in cheek and at worst it's like the most painful performance art but there's just something oddly lovable about Evan's droll despondence.

Palladin was next up. She'd moved to England with a friend, Judy Nylon, from the states in 1974. They formed a punk band, Snatch, and released a few singles in '76 and '77. (Their single "All I Want" charted at #54 and they collaborated with Brian Eno on the b-side of his King's Lead Hat single.) Patti joined the Lizards in 1981 and wrote/performed on five of the songs on "The Fourth Wall." Palladin delivers a deriding punk sneer where Evan's gave a mechanical monotone.

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Cunningham finished The Flying Lizards project with the un-commercial modernist cover album, "Top Ten" (1984) with vocalist Sally Peterson (currently a successful DJ in Britain) from which "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" was taken. Peterson closely followed Evan's android vox.

Mark Allen's Flying Lizard's site is essential -

Rogue Taxidermists unite!

Good article on the Secret Science Club's Taxidermy Get-together in Brooklyn.

Damn those fans!

According to fan death is the belief that if "someone is sleeping in a sealed room (windows and doors are closed) with an electric fan on, they could die."

And who believes this? Robin Prime,'s creator, says, "The only country to believe in fan death is South Korea. If you ask any Korean about fan death, they will almost certainly vehemently argue that it is indeed true. It seems Koreans of all ages, professions (including doctors) and education backgrounds believe it. Koreans use the media as proof. Newspapers and TV continually attribute deaths to fans.

"If you approach a Korean about this issue, their first instinct is to defend their culture to foreigners even though they may not agree with the belief themselves. I will commend anyone on their effort to convince a Korean that fan death may not be true, but I think it would be a very difficult task. Even if they did believe you, I still secretly believe they would turn off the fan, or make sure the window or door was open, when they went to bed."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Urgh! - Ain't This the Life

Elfman et crew perform one of their early classics. From Urgh! A Music War- which still awaits a DVD release.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Smokin' Aces

I've always been a sucker for the team movie. The outfit film. In these flicks a motley - or sometimes not so motley - group gets together for some, usually nefarious, reason and hijinks ensue. Sometimes the best outfit film isn't even about the outfit or outfits. The Warriors was best when it was sketching out the various gangs that inhabit a quasi-future New York - hastily detailing hundreds of surreal street thug societies. It's those brief glimpses of odd crews that fascinate me most. Rap videos are filled with them. All those posses - who knew that every rapper's posse (and I mean every freakin' one) had to have a three hundred pound bald dude with a gold chain as thick as my forearm - with a strange multitude of members. I like the oddest ones best: the white guy with spiky hair lounging on the divan, the Heroin-chic one with a giant gold eagle on his neck, the woman with cornrows and an eyepatch, the aforementioned fat guy and the Lurch-like giant who sways slowly (like a Sequoia in the wind) in the background.

Joe Carnahan's latest (following his gangbuster Narc (2002)) is Smokin' Aces and as the preview above shows, it's a balls to the wall outfit movie. Check out all these trippy hit man, bounty hunter and mobster teams - I like the post-Apocalyptic punk outfit the best, they're like LA's Kommunity FK with body armor and automatic weapons. That or the Dreadnoks.

Kommunity FK - Something Inside Me Has Died

Friday, November 03, 2006


Fans of Jodorowsky/Moebius have long awaited a film version of their successful "L'Incal" project. Seems we'll need to wait a bit longer. In the meantime, we have have these fleeting moments. From Popjellyfish who posted it on Youtube:

"Some footage I found of an animated film of The Incal, with Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean 'Moebius' Giraud invovled. It was never finished. Following that is a trailer for an animated film of Moebius' Arzach."


More Eleanor

Just a reminder: visit Eleanor's site and then buy something. Her boyfriend Drew's stuff is pretty good too. (This - "Bug Bear" - is a collaborative work by the two of them.)

Sheena is a Parasite

The Horrors' punk meets surf in a graveyard rawk is burning across England, but it's Chris Cunningham's delirious Lovecraft at CBGBs video that has everyone gawking.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Randies

So I'm in Salt Lake tonight at a conference. Nice town. Go out with M. L., MD to get a bite to eat. Not knowing the city we head to someplace called the Trolley Something-or-other and stop by the Hard Rock Cafe. I've been to a few Hard Rock Cafes. There's one in Denver (though I haven't been in that one) but we were surprised to find a live band performing. While there were maybe ten people in the whole place, The Randies jumped into their set with eagle claws. I saw a few confused older couples. One drunken family. But for the most part everyone enjoyed the show - part of a series of shows with the Hard Rock supporting Breast Cancer Research (which lead, of course, to some "randy" descriptions of self breast exams. And some not so self.)

The Randies were in good form. Laura Cataldo - vox, bass - has a great presence. She looks like she could read Whitman, eat fried chicken and kick you in the head at the same time. All with a sneery smile. Drummer Aaron Polk knows what he's doing but he just needs to temper himself. Just because all those drums are there doesn't mean you need to hit them. Maybe a marching beat would be nice. Sienna and Laurita layed down some really killer Sabbath riffs and knew how to make feedback sound like feedback. Dirty like.

The sound at the Hard Rock was pretty tinny. That made for some very muffled lyrics. I mainly heard, "Aye Aye Aye" at every chorus. They've got the cred. The exposure. A good look. The Randies don't need my help moving on up. If I had any advice it would be to listen to the first few Killing Joke albums and hear what The Fall was so entranced by and what Nirvana gushed over. There's still gold to be mined there ladies...

More never really found items...

In my previous post I lamented the albums that I had encountered in dreams and upon waking searched my room for in a pathetic kind of desperation. Here I list a few of the books - both fiction and non-fiction - that haunted my dreams but never gathered dust on any real bookshelf (but should have). How could I possibly remember these things? I write them down when I wake up of course.

Krazed Karnival by Dustin Boork
The dust jacket mentions "... a thrilling tale of wonder told by one of Canada's authorities on the occult."

The Dinosaurs of the Indiana Basin: A field Guide by Robert Krakow
Contains excellent pencil illustrations of rather unusual dinosaurs - including one that looks remarkably like a kangaroo with Milton Berle's face. Don't ask.

Chalk by Multiple
This was a bizarre art book that was actually a block of wood with several concrete poems carved into the sides. I encountered this in a library.

Lucid Shadows by Augustus Sterling
A Lovecraft pastiche novel. Terrible.

O-Zone Revisited by Paul Theroux
O-Zone is a real book. A fantastic dystopian sci-fi tale that's been unfairly neglected. It's one of the few books I've read three times. This was a follow up. Just wishful thinking really. The mushroom cloud cover was cool though.

Loose: The Poetry of Amy Yuen
Loose. No binding. This was sitting in a magazine rack and (at the time) I remember waking and thinking it must have been placed there by Amy herself.

Only the dead get off at Kymlinge Part 2

In my Geek Monthly "tunnel crawling" piece (Urban Exploration) I spoke with Monkey #1, a Swedish explorer and photographer. Here's a further excerpt - and brilliant quote - from our conversations:

Monkey: "I believe that people just see things differently. Some people take pictures of their children, others of their pets and their favourite rock and roll artist. And some people just chronicle their entire vacation with whole albums of every day screenshots. Me, I take pictures of empty hallways, pieces of shattered glass and rusted barbwire fences. When Joe Somebody looks down on what used to be a stray cat (now splattered on the asphalt) he sees roadkill. When I look down at the same thing I see a Kodak moment."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

An Underworld by any other name...

Freur - Doot Doot (Pre-Underworld)

Never ceases to amaze me how many people assume that the early '90s groundbreaking electronica band Underworld just spontaneously generated with "Dubnobasswithmyheadman." Fact is Welshman Karl Hyde has been at this a long time. His first - hideously neglected and coifed - band was the art school damaged Freur ('83-'86). (The name is actually the "sound" of the squiggle that signifies the band. Long before Prince got jiggly with it, Freur had no name.) They released two albums, though the second one didn't see light outside of Germany and Holland.

Underneath the Radar - Underworld (Version 1)

After dismal sales (and one mild single "Doot Doot"), Freur broke up. Karl emerged in the later '80s with Underworld ('88-'90). It was a funk synth heart attack. He played up the bass and the cowboy image (Anton Corbijn recycled the look with Depeche Mode a few years later). They released two albums - the second drifting even further into traditional rock territory. Underworld was a commercial bust as well.

That changed of course with the release of "Dubnobasswithmyheadman" mixing Hyde's penchant for whispered surrealist lyrics with acid house electronica. What is most interesting is what didn't change. Listening to Freur now you can hear glimmers of Underworld's ambient soundscapes while the more traditional Underworld (version 1) hints at the driving bass the later version would use to propel tracks like the epic "Cowgirl".


Vid clip for "Buffalo" from Quirk Out. Believe it or not, Stump made me the man I am today. This bass freakout/music concrete business... It's like a taste for strong cheese.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Glowing in the Dark: Minimal Synth MP3 Series #1 - Cinema 90

Cinema 90 (a.k.a. Colin MacDonnel, keyboardist for the Seattle post-punk band 3 Swimmers) had one song on this compliation (Seattle Syndrome 2) released by Engram in 1983, "In Ultra-Violet." It's a haunting synth piece with a driving bass line. While there are some similarities structurally to Frank Tovey's early work (RIP), "In Ultra-Violet" is more melodic and less obscure lyrically. Excellent stuff all around and a very nice rip as well.
Here is the 7" version.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Grind House

Trailer for Tarantino/Rodriguez's throwback to ye olde 42nd street sleaze and slaughter. Brilliant.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Sounds of Italian Cinematic Groove (MP3 Series) - Part 2: Armando Trovajoli

Fans of Euro-trash cinema have celebrated the work of Armando Trovajoli for decades. He's got a very funky signature sound and a broad range. Like most jack-of-all-trades Italian composers, Trovajoli's scored spaghetti westerns (I Lunghi Giorni Della Verdetta (which was sampled in Kill Bill Vol. 1)), cop films (Blazing Magnum) and skin flicks. His sound was best realized with I Marc 4, his Hammond/jazz-beat band. I Marc 4, playing (almost solely) compositions by Trovajoli, highlighted his worldly sound - Italo-bossa nova slithering around bass heavy grooves - and took his music from the screen to the stage.

"Il Profeta" is the title theme for the 1968 film of the same name. The movie's a thick slice of sex comedy by the prolific Dino Risi and starring Ann-Margret. This is one of Trovajoli's grooviest beat tracks. Two and a half minutes of heaven... Get it here.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bill Nelson

You know all is right with the world when there's a resurgence of interest in the work of Bill Nelson. Trust me on this. "Do You Dream in Color" is not only a great song but this video, David Lynch in leaner times, is one of the best art-videos of the early '80s.

Bad Bed

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sven Liabek

Trunk Records will be release a fantastic disc of Norwegian composer Sven Liabek's "lost" film scores titled "Inner Space" in late October. Sven crafted jazzy tracks with great vibes and rolling beats for surf films and nature documentaries in the '60s and '70s. He has also scored many Australian television shows, industrial films and feature films. Beautifully arranged and haunting, it's great to see Sven's library work finally hitting shelves.

From Trunk's notes: "This great CD and LP contains tracks from 'The Set' soundtrack (1970) - "a sexual ride through jet set Sydney", the 'Inner Space' TV Show soundtrack (1974) - the legendary undersea TV series from Valerie And Ron Taylor, 'Nature Walkabout' TV Show soundtrack (1965) - a documenatry on Australia's flora and fauna and the 'To Ride A White Horse' soundtrack (1966) - an early surf documentary."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Martin Dupont

Martin Dupont's 1985 mini-LP "Sleep is a Luxury" is one of the best French releases from the mid-80s. Imagine Adam Ant's backup band (lighter on the Burundi drumming, natch), undulating synth bass and female vox. The best track, "I Met the Beast", is both melodic and dissonant at the same time. It sounds so carefully crafted and delicate that I imagine a Rube Goldberg device in a shoe box. Catherine Loy's voice hovers (improbably) somewhere between Annie Lennox's and Francoise Hardy's. You can listen to tracks from several of their albums at their site.

Eleanor Davis

Discovering Eleanor Davis' work is like wandering into a cave and finding prehistoric pictograms never seen by modern eyes. They are spider lines from a fairy tale world where Clark Ashton Smith's bizarre sculptures prance with Tony Millionaire's oddball drunks. This is cartooning at its most sublimely surreal.

The work above is the from Wide Awake Press' 666 (Oct, '06) 'zine release.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pulp Trash Part One: The Sharpshooter Series

I'll admit to being a fan of what's commonly referred to as "Men's Adventure Series" fiction. This genre is typified (and limited) by a number of different types of stories: 1) super spies vs. terrorists/commies/mad scientists, 2) men traveling the world and blowing things up and sleeping with gorgeous women, 3) kunf fu fighters, 4) men crushing the Mafia one goon at a time, 5) war vets called back to duty, 6) post-apocalyptic soldiers and 7) african american kung fu fighters vs. sadistic dwarves (don't ask, I'll get there). All contain the following: hideous prose, large plates of pasta, large busted women, surreal asides, graphic dispatches, detailed descriptions of firearms, fast cars, explosions and rants (these can be/will be about everyone and everything.)

I wrote the below overview of one of my (ahem) favorite series, The Sharpshooter series by "Bruno Rossi", in 2000. The prose is a bit purple, forgive me. I had originally intended to send it to the now defunct Bare-Bones magazine. Sadly it was defunct by the time the article was finished. Enjoy!

(P.S. I still haven't identified all of the writers involved in this series. Feel free to correct me.)

"Then Johnny Rock shows up, and all hell breaks loose. The Mafia is tough, but he is savage and merciless in the flesh ripping vengeance he visit on the goons that were trying to destroy a town" - From the blurb on SCARFACED KILLER

I love pulp fiction. Sure, it's crap. It was written by monkeys at typewriters and edited with a hacksaw but at least it's entertaining and at least, the very least, it's honest! When I say honest I mean that it was written by someone who couldn't give half a shit about allusion and metaphor. These books feel like they were written by off-duty mall security guards.

For me, THE SHARPSHOOTER (Leisure Books) series was the pinnacle of 1970's pulp mafia action fiction. This twaddle is so outrageous, so distinctly treacherous to today's ultra-P.C. culture, that it makes me cringe to actually read the stuff on the subway. Written with all the aplomb of a taxi cab driver's hidden poetry, the plot contrivances of a high school filmmaker and riddled with so many political and cultural references that have all but faded from modern parlance, these short novels (they are usually less than 200 pages) stand as a testament to the fiction of the streets. While I enjoy lambasting the authors for their technical ineptitude, I must say that various chapters in the SHARPSHOOTER series contain passages that are very well written and in some regards literary. "Bruno Rossi" had a way with words, a way of industriously bringing a plot to a close and a "gift" for macho bravado.

Let's get down to business. THE SHARPSHOOTER was spawned by author "Bruno Rossi" in 1973. But who is Bruno Rossi? The first books in the series were composed by various staff writers, most notably Peter McCurtin and Russell Smith. Other authors in the series include: Leonard Levinson, John Stevenson and Paul Hofrichter.

The series focuses on Johnny Rock (Johnny Ricoletti) who has become a one-man mobster-eating machine after Mafioso killed his family. That's it. A very simple revenge plot fueled by bullets and gasoline. You'd think one novel would suffice, Rock would kill enough gangsters to get even and then call it quits. That's what you'd think but instead Rock continuously blasts his way though the ranks of the mob over a period of four years. How? Cause Johnny is a trained soldier, a pragmatic gun-buff, a lone hunter and a damn somber patriot! Every book follows the same pattern: 1) Johnny assimilates himself in some nefarious community. 2) the sociological dynamics of Mafia life are explained, 3) the assassination of Johnny's family is recounted, 4) Johnny sleeps with a gorgeous (or not so gorgeous) woman, or women, 5) Johnny guns down mob "buttons" or "soldiers", 6) Johnny must run away quickly, 7) Johnny returns and blows something up and then drives of in search of that ever elusive fulfillment. C'est la! C'est fin!

The varying authors write with an eye towards detail. (This is putting it lightly as they all make sure to laboriously (at times) document every move his character makes, from giving us a detailed description of his bathroom fixtures to making sure we know each and every outfit Johnny Rock wears.)

This is the one that started it all but there is no need to read it first as it is not quite as effective as the later books. This one's by Peter McCurtin - famous for "Mafioso". The book opens with a bang as Johnny is gunned down at his parent's funeral and then awakens after a long period of rehabilitation to become a bloodthirsty vigilante. Assisted by the buxom Iris Toscano, Johnny starts a mob war between two antagonistic families and in the process kills a grip load of Mafia bastards. The book is a bit bland and doesn't have that fierce edge that is so obvious in the later books.

"He was out of bed and into slacks and a shirt in a matter of moments. He felt vitally alive, energy was practically oozing out of his pores, he thought, running a comb through his black hair. Was it because he was going to see Iris? That woman did things to his hormones, she had him freaky."
(For some reason Johnny is often referred to as The Enforcer, perhaps this was the original title for the series?)

This one opens to an entirely different feel, Iris is gone and Rock is in Xenia, a quaint New York town. (The difference in writing style, and more aggressive nature, hints at this one being written by Russell Smith. The author mistakenly calls Rock by the name Magellan (hero of the MARKSMAN series) at various points in the book, and makes it clear that he was a very sedulous author (to put it mildly.))

Rock is out to get a Mafia don hiding in an almost inviolable fortress and therefore reasonably blasts Mafia butt in this very violent entry. BLOOD OATH has all the requisite "explosive violence for the 70's" (as Leisure books notes) and delivers nicely.

"Rock raised the heavy Mossberg. With two loud blasts he killed both the horse and its rider. He could imagine what effect the roaring blast of the Mossberg would make on anyone within hearing."

Ah yes, the BLOOD BATH. Coming quick on the heels of BLOOD OATH this bad boy follows suit with a vicious little tale of immorality and violence. This one seems to have been written by a different writer as it contains passages much too descriptive and metaphorically laden for Smith's taste.(I suspect it was written by the same person behind #13). This is a long puppy, again not a "Rossi" trademark, at over 200 pages and contains some thoroughly good political commentary. Rock is after mob boss Lorenzo Torrielli, who has bought out all the lawyers and judges who would stand in his way. Of course, Rock is in town to prove that one man can make a difference. It's good but very rough.

"He carried his tin lunch pail as he walked down West Street. It attracted no attention whatever. It was worn and dented like those belonging to the guys who worked on the dock. The single difference between his and theirs was that Rock's contained two pounds of gelignite with a special detonating fuse."

Rock's a total wuss in this one. While writer Leonard is usually the series' best writer he stumbles here as he presents a young and naive Rock where a go-for-broke-guts-and-action Rock would have been much better. While well written, Rock gets the shit beat out of him at every turn and he even stumbles with his weapons. Ridiculous.

This puppy finds Rock in New York, Little Italy to be exact, where some gangsters( the Cat, Snake Eyes and a mob family) have it out for him. He gets beat up, healed up (by a doctor's sexy daughter) and then goes off to right the wrongs he's endured. We get lots of newspaper clippings this time round, Rock gets himself tangled in a web of police befuddlement and loads of "homeless" quips. Very clichéd. Sure, there are a few passages that sparkle, but overall the book is a dud. And it's got a nasty misogynist bent.

"Johnny looked and sew a beautiful girl in a blue silk robe and long black hair. She looked familiar, and then he realized of course she was little Angela Discola grown up. Jesus, how'd she grow those big tits?"

Rock heads to Florida to bust a mobster meeting in this fast paced and fun entry. Leonard Levinson wrote this novel and I suspect he was on vacation because it's very relaxed and has a tropically nearly quixotic feel to it. Rock blasts gangsters right and left and the book methodically documents his procedures. Very simplistic and sparse, the writing is reminiscent of a guidebook but the overall tone is one of light-hearted action. There's a hell of a good gun battle on a gambling boat and just imagining Rock, the merciless, blood-thirsty killer, wearing "a pair of faded blue denim slacks, a yellow polo shirt and tennis shoes imported from France", or even, "a blue suit, pale blue shirt and a red paisley tie" is hilarious.

One passage in particular struck me for its blasé surrealism:
"After she left, Johnny napped for an hour and had a strange dream about being in a submarine underneath the North Pole. When he was awake he went to the bathroom, splashed water on his face and then crawled under the bed and removed the Weatherby. He had fired it last night and it should be cleaned."

It is obvious at the outset of this one that Smith/"Rossi" was busy writing THE MARSKMAN series while writing SHARPSHOOTER. Amazingly the Leisure editors failed to notice the fact that Rock is called Magellan (the star of the MARKSMAN series) in every other chapter! Kind of a rush job, MUZZLE BLAST takes place in Boston where corrupt cops and Asian mobsters are involved in dealing dope. The book is hasty but violent and has some very roughly edited passages. The worst part about the whole affair is that the book ends in the middle of the action! Very frustrating!

"The bullets sang across open space and instantly signed four death warrants at the same time ..."

As if the series couldn't delve into a sleazier territory, Rock finds himself the right hand man to a notorious 42nd street Mafia man who runs a brothel, porno-house, XXX film factory and a pedophile ring in this outrageous outing. Our Mafioso king-pin picks up Rock to work round the clock as his bodyguard, Rock sensing the opportunity takes full advantage. Gritty, nasty and brutal this episode paints no pretty pictures and with its porno theatre etiquette is a takes-no-prisoners slice of pulp.

"He pulled the trigger and shot Mackie in the forehead, and the bullet ripped the top of Mackie's head off, Rock felt neither pleasure nor displeasure. He had to do it and he did. That was all."

Rock, our fearless Costra Nosta killer, is headed to Washington D.C. to root out all the evil in our nation's capitol (which may be a bit overzealous.) D.C. is controlled by our mobster in arms Joey Barbagallo ("When farting's fashionable Joey will be behind it") and he runs a tight ship, thing is The Sharpshooters already on board! Rock hooks up with another babe in this one, named Mimi, and she actually survives the novel! This is average for the series, and contains all the harsh language, scandalous situations and violence that can be expected. I still have not determined who wrote it, though I suspect it wasn't a house writer like Russell Smith. The writing is similar to that of Avallone's, in that kind of "stop-and-start" gesticulating.

"At the same time the Mafia thug slapped Mimi's naked buttocks, he signed his own death warrant. This was what Rock determined as he stood naked watching the thug rifling through the pockets of his Commander's uniform."

Johnny heads to New Jersey in this deliriously gory addition to the series. Rock, tanned and sporting a chic moustache, heads to Jersey in the guise of a hired gun to steal back a million drums of oil from those nefarious mobsters that seem so rampant. I suspect that this was by McCurtin because Iris Toscano pops up again as Johnny's partner in crime (and lover in the bedroom). Not only does Johnny have Iris on his side but he calls his Uncle Vito in from retirement to fight the mob! Vito is, of course, just as passionate against the Mafioso. Oddly, this book reads as if it were number 2 in the series and written directly after KILLING MACHINE. This is a well-written and exciting addition. A it too graphic but otherwise a great read.

"The pressure of the bullet traveling in a path behind the eyeballs, plowing a wide tunnel through the brain, forced the eyeballs out of their pockets. They dropped to the floor with a sickening splat, as the now dying body spilled rivers of red from the empty eye sockets and sent flashing purple signals to the dying brain."

This bad boy has been "blessed" with the worst artwork in the series. The cover illustration of an angry, moustache-wearing Rock appears to have been drawn with a few colored pencils and a marker by my 14-year-old cousin! The book is good however and is graced with the best blurb of the series:

"When the Mafia wiped out his family, Johnny Rock went to the police for justice and got shafted by pigs on the pad. From that moment on, Rock took the law into his own hands - hands that held all types of deadly accurate weapons, hands that squeezed the life out of every Mafioso he could find. When he hit L.A., the city of angels, the city of the worst criminals in the world, Rock was hot for the blood of his sworn enemies and didn't mind sinking to their sewer level to blast them to hell."

Johnny's old army buddy, Mike, calls him out to L.A. cause he's got mob problems. Johnny gets entangled with yet another femme fatale (Mike's distraught and mean hell-cat wife) and blasts a whole mob family to pieces. Brisk and exciting HIT MAN was written by John Marshall and follows the tale with a gruff sense of urgency. A good edition that supports the later book well.

Russell Smith must have downed a six-pack, smoked a pack of cigarettes and then sat down at the typewriter and wrote until dawn never looking back, 'cause TRIGGER MAN is awful. Filled with typos and logic gaps, this sad book limps along dragging its wasting corpse behind it. The story's about a mobster who just released from prison out to cause mayhem. So far, so good. Rock shows up and is determined to kill him and then the book falls flat on its face. We get a bunch on nonsense about a hidden call-girl/drug ring, a bunch of soft-core escapades, some lame action and terrible dialog. This is tough to scrape off your shoe.

"(The man) didn't look up the staircase. He shook his head. He wiggled one finger in his ear. He looked around once more then returned to picking his nose... Rock fired a single bullet...It ripped the into the hood's forehead, blasting off the top of his skull... So much for the nose picker!"

Again "Rossi" flails when it comes to names and mixes up Rock with Magellan. But this time "Rossi" (my sources say Paul Hofrichter but I suspect Smith) also mixes in a western ambiance. This one takes place in Oklahoma, where the Mafia has it's hands deep in the mining business. You see, there's gold in them thar hills and the mob wants it. Rock arrives, like the typical western hero, to rid the town of its enemies and restore the rightful powers. Very traditional stuff except this one goes all cockeyed near the middle: in one bizarre twist we've got three brothers who ride around town in motorized wheelchairs with shotguns on there laps! This is one of the more excessive books, complete with lots of explosions and gritty violence. Who the hell edited this? Oh that's right, no one did...

"The man looked disappointed, but not unhappy. He nodded and walked away, the shound (sic) of his shoes making a funny sound, in that almost empty room."

"The sign on the door said: DANGER HIGH EXPLOSIVES. He smiled. This was just the candy he needed. A man can't always being along the munitions he would like to carry. There are space considerations."

This was written by Paul Hofrichter and more closely resembles the writing style presented in #2. This is a dreary and grim little book that wades into the muck and mire of 70's politics and race-relations. More than an adventure tale, the book is a soapbox on which the anonymous author can wax philosophic about all things decadent in society. The entire book takes place in a squalor ridden United States where everything has gone to hell. Rock travels around town, picks up a hitchhiker who tells him of the vast conspiracies in our government, kills mob goons, meets an old man and his innocent daughter, and suffers at the hands of "bad" men. Very grim stuff and not the light reading I expected but surprisingly well written and exceptionally powerful. Definitely the best of the series.

"A couple of blocks away there was a street of bars, pool rooms, pawn shops, amusement arcades and adult peep shows. He walked slowly along the street, ignoring the outstretched palms of panhandlers and smiles of whores, and turned in through the open door of one of the bars. The juke box was blaring a senseless barrage of noise and the people's faces seemed tense and strained as they bellied up to the bar and crowded around the tables, shouting and laughing to each other in their frantic search for the elusive shadow of happiness."

And from a long passage of political conspiracy,

"I knew the French were cozy with the North Vietnamese, but do you mean that they were actually working against us?"

Johnny heads to Vegas for a much-deserved vacation (why he would go to Vegas for a vacation from Mob-killing is a plot device best left untouched) and of course finds himself embroiled in a mob showdown. A widowed Mobster wife, Elise Parandetti, who wants to help him kill off mob goons joins him in this episode (see #1 for the same plot twist). Rock finds himself ratted upon by a corrupt cop, blows up a mob meeting and the bullets really start to fly when Eilse is kidnapped. Rock blows things up real good. John Marshall's literary style (a.k.a. John Stevenson) is brisk and sufficiently pictorial.

"I'm Johnny Rock and all I want is for you to shut up and drive."
"Johnny Rock? God help me."
"He can'. I'm in charge of this operation." Jimmy climbed shakily out of the car, he stood there wide-eyed with fright, while Johnny slowly raised the Browning and shot him through the right knee.
"You bastard," he cried," Look what you've done. My knee. I'll never be able to walk again without a limp."
"Don't worry about it, " said Johnny, "You're never going to walk again anyway."

Johnny returns with a new cover artist, not the usual Ken Barr, and a swinger style. Johnny's been framed by the mob for the murder of a young "intellectually challenged" child. Low blow, huh! Well, Johnny learns who organized the frame and heads to Palo Alto California to kill the mastermind, a sick mobster who has weaseled his way into a university in the guise of a psychologist. This nasty little man conducts bizarre experiments, hosts orgies, sells dope and was a Vietnam sympathizer who tortured American troops! How's that for a bad guy. Rock, of course, infiltrates his way into this guy's circle and slowly begins to wreck him.

A great little book, with solid writing and some skillfully done suspense sequences. The strange plot is a nice addition to the traditional story line and the characters are better developed than usual. A solid entry and a worthwhile read.

Love this line: "The sudden look of wretchedness in the gunman's eyes as the bullet roared through his forehead was convincing."

Hmmmm. Someone at Leisure books decided to resurrect the Johnny Rock legend for this soft-core and explicit little novel that really doesn't fit in the series at all. This edition is not numbered so I'm calling it 16. MAFIA DEATH WATCH reveals its intentions with some rather graphic cover art and big bubble letters reading KILLER PIMPS. Yeah, this time Johnny is caught (!) by cops (in fact the same cops from #5, leading me to suggest that the author was Leonard Levinson) and sent to Detroit to bring down a white-slave racket responsible for the death of a young prostitute. Very rough editing here and thoroughly perverse, this is more a descent into sex and sadism than action. Gross and ill conceived MAFIA DEATH WATCH is not a fitting end for Johnny Rock. Take a shower after this puppy.

"Oh my God, I can't stand it anymore," she gasped, "I've got to have you now!"

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Cesare Canevari's psychedelic western - up there in terms of surrealism and agit prop with Giulio Questi's Oro Maldito - is a one of a kind spaghetti western from the tail end of the film cycle. The only western you'll ever see with dueling boomerangs and solarized trip sequences. It's really quite a spectacular film.

The soundtrack is even more impressive. Crippled Dick Hot Wax! released the title theme (in the clip above around a minute and 23 seconds in) on a 7" in the late 90s. It's culled from the tailer (above) and the sound quality is horrible. I've got a clean copy of the track and will post it in the coming days. (The Score Baby Blog has the Crippled release of the song for download. Look at the links.)

Accion Mutante

Will someone please just release this state side already?!?! I'm sick to death of watching my VHS dupe from 1998. And that Canadian DVD release was just wretched. If you're not familiar with Accion Mutante (Mutant Action) it was Alex de la Igelsia's (Almodovar's protege and director of the acclaimed Perfect Crime and the upcoming adaptation of The Oxford Murders) first real success. A zany sci-fi sarcasm bomb directed towards late 90s excess. A team of "mutants" (hunchback, Siamese twins, giant, dwarf) attack a society obsessed with body image, weight loss and health. Hilarious and beautifully shot.

It's Gonna Be Rockin'

Dusty Star

Just so good. The ink work is gorgeous and the story snaps.

Lost and Lost Again

Best dreams: Records that don't exist. Tapes actually.

Had these dreams high school through college. I'd wander into a record store and find an album that didn't exist here. I'd buy it and the when I woke up I'd search my collection for it knowing the whole while it was a dream but praying it wasn't. (There were several record stores I haunted in those "dreaming lives": the NYC one under the train station near NYU, the mall one that seemed to have an endless supply of those cheap tapes with the slice cut out of the side, the one in the hollowed out tree.)

Over the years I "purchased" the following non-existent albums:

Arcadia "Shadow of a Tiger" - Duran Duran side project E.P.
The Cure "Rain Days" - an album prior to "Japansese Whispers" and similar in terms of keyboard use.
The Cure "Falling" - B-sides and unreleased tracks from the "Disintegration" sessions.
Depeche Mode "Everyone Remembers Me" - post-Violator but pre-"Songs..."
Depeche Mode "Love is All"
New Order "Family"
New Order "Cause and Effect"
Oingo Boingo "Outer Sounds"
Revenge (New Order bassist Peter Hook's side project) "Steel Rat"
Severed Heads "Big Saints" - more "Rotund..."-ish tracks.
Severed Heads "Exploding Bigots"
Thrashing Doves "Stains" - great follow up to their brilliant debut as opposed to that other one.
Top "Version 2" - They had one album "Emotion Lotion" and I dug it in H.S.
Xymox "Windows to the Soul" - "Twist of Shadows" follow up, not that dancey thing.
Xymox "Listening"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sci Fi Sigor Ros Meets Ghostly Hermaphrodite


Pass This On

Like A Pen

I know I've been going overboard on the YouTube vids but I just need to put up these The Knife's clips. Who are The Knife? "...precise, particular, dark, occult, funny-peculiar, funny-ha-ha. This Swedish brother-and-sister duo work mostly on their own in splendid isolation; they release music on their own label, licensing it to selected partners around the world, so they have to answer to no one. They have only ever played live once because they’re still wrestling with the old conundrum of how to present ‘computer music’ in an interesting way on the stage. Within the steely electronic pop of their last album Deep Cuts lurked songs about women’s rights and the duty of good citizens to pay their taxes. For their last set of pictures they dressed as gymnasts. " -- from The

Psychic Soviet

The history of the world foretold in just 300 pages by Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, the Make Up, Weird War, Cupid Car Club). Vampires, Beatles vs. Stones, Seinfeld. Get your acacred on.

Silicon Teens

The late great Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) and friends in Daniel Miller's (Mute records) on-off fake electro pop band.

Logan's Run with guitars

I just have a thing for Logan's Run fashion - never fully recovered after seeing it when I was eight. My other thing is for wacked out guitars that are supposed to look more machine than instrument. This one looks like an entire lab bench was soldered on. When the Apocalypse comes, as indeed it shall, the stormtroopers of the End Times will look like Real Life in this video.


JB Dunckel's solo album's out and it's just as brilliant as you'd expect half of AIR to sound. The first single's a folksy, 60's psych pop breezer - it's dawn in the bull rushes with a joint and headrush. There are the minimal synth tinkerings - Dunckel worships at the alter of Kraftwork of DAF - and he sings a fair deal as well with a voice that's reedy and light. Spacey and dubby, it's perfect for tea.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


No it really doesn't get any better than Prototypes' "Gentleman."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Sounds of Italian Cinematic Groove (MP3 Series) - Part I: Gianni Ferrio

"Step by Step" by Gianni Ferrio
Download here

Gianni Ferrio's been scoring Italian films since the mid-60s. His style is diverse, ranging from funk to westerns, and like many composers during Italy's cinema "heyday" during the '60s and '70s he was adaptable. His body of cinema work (he also recorded with a number of vocalists including Mina, James Taylor and Ellis Regina) runs the gamut from spag westerns (Ringo e Gringo contro tutti (1969) and Lo chiamavano requiescat Fasthand (1972)) to gialli, sleazy exploiters (Frau Wirtin bläst auch gern Trompete (1970)) and Italian cop flicks like 1974's Poliziotta, La (The Policewoman) from which this track is taken. It's a funky instrumental -- whispered vocals, chunky bass and tons of slinky keys -- and a perfect introduction to the sounds of Italian cinematic groove.

7" RCA (b-side of "Almost Love")

Friday, September 01, 2006

Black Dog

Seeing the "Black Dog" is often considered a portent. Mostly it's a bad omen. Truckers swear that if you see a black dog running alongside your rig it's a sign that a) you need sleep or b) something bad is about to go down. Two friends of mine have seen the black dog -- both are alive and well. Here are the encounters:

K. M. - Black dog seen staring into bedroom window at parent's house while a teen. Circa 1991.

T.M. - Black dog seen running along side truck around two in the morning while on way to Vegas. Circa 1998.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hope Larson

Can't not mention Hope Larson. Her latest graphic novel is Gray Horses.

Meg Hunt

The sketches alone will leave you tingling.

Bad Lounge Jokes

These are terrible jokes I wanted to try out when Tigris Euphrates and I were DJing some of the more inauspicious night spots in Denver. You may have read about our show in Westword back in '02. But you sure as hell didn't come see our gigs. No one did. I don't know what these jokes would have given our show. We didn't speak much and when we did it was usually to tell the few passers by who stumbled into our scene that last call was in ten minutes. I think the hope was that if things really got moving we'd be able to expand from lo-fi lounge and exotica to a comedy schtick. Don't ask. (We did have a rather nice troupe of burlesque dancers at one gig, though.)


So a skeleton walks into a bar and says, “give me a cocktail and give me a mop.”


A termite walks into a bar and asks, “is the bar tender here?”


Tigris, how many real men does it take to change a light bulb?
None, real men aren’t afraid of the dark.


Tigris, where do you find a no-legged dog?
Right where you left him.


Why are there so many Johnsons in the phone book?
They all have phones.


Hey Tigris, I got a part in a play as the husband?
Too bad it wasn’t a speaking role.


My wife said lets go out and have some fun tonight,
Sure, I said, but if you get home first leave the hall light on.

Lost Cut Up

Nothing more entertaining or humbling than going through old documents (most of mine are on floppy discs and essentially lost to time) but there are a few on CD. This goes back to 2001 and I vaguely remember writing it in a delirium. It's a cut up poem (a la Burroughs). There are some nice bits here. For bored readers only.

Carnage visors

The couplers are moving amidst windowpanes caught reflecting
The gaseousness of carnage inspectors ; we are all familiar
Hands drawn from the pointed beaks of the rosary
Hands drawn from the breaks of the pointed rosary
Hands pointed by the drawn beaks of the rosary
Hands rosy from the pointed breaks of the drawn
No feeling by the wayside ; you are driving too fast
Round corners that flip us sincerely worry and melt
That new edition ; a big consumption is coming upon us
Not breathing this time just being cool in the sun
Not sunning this time just being breathe in the cool
Not cooling this breath just sunning the time
Not timing this sun just cooling in the breath
We all feel the virus of language and baggage of the tides
The movement is not sincere it turns us towards the wayside
The edition is no longer new ; we don’t need more art
Not in my pool and not in this hot weather
Not in my hot pool and not in this land of couplers

Southpaw bat (carnage visors redux)

The couplers are beaks of the rosary
Hands drawn are from the breaks of the pointed rosary
Hands the no longer carnage driving moving amidst windowpanes caught reflecting
The gaseousness feel the virus inspectors ; we are all familiar
Hands drawn from pointed by of you of language and baggage of the tides
The pointed breaks being cool in the sun
Not sunning this time movement is not consumption is coming upon us
Not breathing this time just that in the breath
We all the drawn it of the flip us sincerely worry and melt
That new edition ; a the the pointed too just being fast
Round corners sun just cooling rosary
Hands of the not in by rosy from; new ; we don’t need more art
Not in my pool and of this hot weather
Not in my hot pool and turns us towards the wayside
The edition is not in this land drawn
Not timing this sincere beaks wayside big breathe in the cool
Not cooling this breath just sunning the time
No feeling couplers

Cold drawn water from the source

White is the side of the sky tonight
Like the instances when we feel the stars twinkle in bowels
The twinkling that makes the skin peel back to perform
Peeling back is necessary it makes art that much more
Tactile in the presence of common denominators
Remember covering, clothing, converting, codependence
Just look at how we sail these potential weaknesses

Greatest Video Ever?

The Twin's were (actually still are) a German synth pop band in the Depeche Mode-mode. Their early sound was Camoflage with a bit of OMD sound-scaping bluster. "Face to Face- Heart to Heart" was a huge hit (it was played during the last Winter Olympics when the countries were walking the stadium -- can't recall with country was blessesd with it) though The Twin's later output wound up sounding more italo than new wave. But this video is like a chem lab Forbidden Zone -- two jocks trapped in a basement with some out of work lab techs? or maybe Howard Jones' back up band (sans mime)? -- and is simply stunning in it's mind numbing simplicity. The keyboard playing makes cracking eggs look difficult and how many times do we need that montage of their "twinned" faces? The rawker drum stick toss is priceless...

Same Old Madness

Rare as all get out old skool Ministry clip of "Same Old Madness" a never released song. This is from '82-'83, back when the band was tearing up Chicago as the latest sound. While "With Sympathy" is a nice slice of dark-ish electro pop it didn't capture the driving edge evident here. If only Al back pushed in this direction...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Only the Dead Get Off at Kymlinge Part 1

While working on my piece about urban exploration for Geek
(due out Sept.) I interviewed the Multidysfunctional Monkey a Swedish urbex-er. He's got a sweet site here with photos of his exporations. I had a lot of fun talking with him. Here's an excerpt from our conversation with more to follow:

I asked about "urban legends" in the UE community. I was riffing on the whole C.H.U.D. thing.


"This story dates back to the days of the 1970s and the abandoned train station of Kymlinge (in Sweden). I say abandoned but it was actually never put to use. The station was put up as there were plans to build a lot of industrial buildings around it and someone figured it would be good to have another station. But for some reason the industries never happened and the station was never put to use. The trains never stopped at Kymlinge and I guess it became known as something of ghost-station in everyday conversation. But the thing that really got the talk going was the ghost-train (!).

At some point in the mid 1970s people started to report sightings of a strange train that only traveled around a night. It looked a bit like the regular trains but was the colour of silver. This train obviously became something of a ghost-train with time and was rumored to be the only train that ever stopped at Kymlinge. "Only the dead get of at Kymlinge station" was the word on the street. However, nowadays the story of the silver ghost-train has been explained time and time again.

The ghost-train was actually a set of 8 prototype train carts (a type that was called "C5"). There were only 8 of them produced as it turned out the train carts would be too costly to use. The train was known as "The Silver Arrow" and is now a ghost of the past."

Friday, August 25, 2006


Danielle De Picciotto - an American currently living in Berlin - creates illustrations/graphics/photos of a bizarre neon soaked nightlife. Cowboys, tattooed burlesque dancers, a wide assortment of odd animals stuck in taxidermic epiphany - a true carnival of 20th century oddity and sparkle.

7" Up

Crippled Dick Hot Wax's latest release - continuing their progression away from '60s/'70s Eurotrash soundtracks - is this collection of 7" singles by British new wave/no wave/post-punk bands. Some excellent stuff on here. Particularly Thomas Leer's home made first single - one of first DIY "hits."

Here's the info from the Crippled home page

Mark Beer
Here‘s an example of an artist with precious few releases to his name. With a sustained mood of tranquillity, musically Mark Beer has more affinity with the Young Marble Giants and their follow-up projects than with the din that otherwise pervaded the sceptred isle. On his third single ”Pretty“ he would seem to have been inspired by reggae singles, where he recorded the basic melody with the bass and put an even groovier dub version of the title piece on the B-side. On his only LP “Dust On The Road”, such flights into the more atmospheric reaches did not always quite come off but his early singles will be fondly remembered well into the future.

Glaxo Babies
At the end of the ’70s the Glaxo Babies, together with Rip, Rig + Panic, The Pop Group and Pigbag, were one of the most significant bands in Bristol. As Gerard Langley from the Blue Aeroplanes recalls: ”I think the key to the whole set-up at the time is comprehending the importance of the Glaxo Babies. The Glaxo Babies‘ performance at the 1978 Ashton Court Festival has lived long in many people’s memory. The intensity! The dyed-blond hair! The guitar played with a vibrator! Subsequent journalistic takes have seen The Pop Group placed at the centre of that era but I remember it differently. For me, the Glaxos were the cornerstone of the whole Bristol scene. Both sophisticated and primitive, they were basically pre post-punk punk. The Gang Of Four didn’t come as the shock of the new round here, mate. I had read that Iggy Pop cut himself with a glass, but it was different seeing Rob Chapman do it immediately in front of you at the Stonehouse pub. They were real, man, and I loved them.“...until, that is, reality caught up with them in 1981 when the pharmaceutical company Glaxo forced them to part with their name. Which they did, and re-formed as Maximum Joy.

The Manchester-based Object label provides illuminating material for the study of the ”ten people have eight bands“ phenomenon. Tony Friel was with Nuclear Angel, then formed The Fall with Mark E. Smith, then The Passage with Dick Watts, and then was involved with Teardrop Explodes. And Duncan Prestbury‘s list follows similar lines: Steve Miro & The Eyes, Spherical Objects, Future Primitives, Warriors. The ”Future/Past“ 7“ was their one and only release.

I Jog & the Tracksuits
It‘s bands like this that lend this compilation its special appeal. Internet forums are filled with fans filing desperate calls for help, fans who at some time have heard these singles,
or even possess them, but have no idea who‘s behind them. Nothing can be found out about them, except that another 7“ exists. Who knows anything more?

Gerry & the Holograms
As with I Jog & The Tracksuits, there‘s another 7“ besides this one, but as it‘s glued into the cover, it cannot be played. Who knows more than our London source? „I’m pretty sure I have one or two singles by them, 1980, probably from Sheffield 79-80 ... not at home so I can’t check! I think the chorus on the single goes ‚we’re gerry and the holograms’ in an electronic vocodered voice.“ Heard once and by dint of the splendid refrain stored for eternity.

Brian Brain
Restlessness is another character trait that marks out many a musician, and Martin Atkins must surely be restlessness personified – and this to the present day.
Mynd was the band he started off with, before being snatched away first by John Lydon (ex-Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) for the latter‘s Public Image Ltd. Then disagreements arose and soon afterwards Atkins left the band, formed Brian Brain with Pete Jones and in 1980 they rapidly released their first singles and an LP. In 1982 they both joined Public Image (PIL) again, which would mark the beginning of the end of this mutual project. While Jones stayed with Lydon, Atkins was wooed away by Killing Joke in 1988. After stopping off for a while with Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, he got together with such illustrious comrades-in-arms as Steve Albini and Trent Reznor to found the industrial supergroup Pigface in 1991. At the same time he worked on the side with Skinny Puppy‘s Nivek Ogre on the Rx project. And this is but a brief sample of Atkins‘ projects. Today he teaches The Business of Touring at Chicago‘s Columbia College, as well as having several other projects on the go in addition to Pigface.

They Must Be Russians
„They Must Be Russians“ was the headline in Britain‘s yellow press in reaction to the Sex Pistols‘ single ”God Save The Queen“. This quote was of course handing it on a plate to all the bands on the look-out for a suitable name. One of at least two They Must Be Russians came from Sheffield: this band‘s leading figures called themselves Russ Russian and Paul Russian and were quite well known at the time. Cabaret Voltaire helped to produce the first EP ”Nellie The Elephant“, which was then followed by ”Don‘t Try To Cure Yourself“ – if it‘s a dose of VD you‘ve got, that is.

There can be no talk of The Moondogs without mention of The Undertones at the same time. Both bands come from Northern Ireland, both share a predilection for the mod groups of the ’60s, and, highly regarded by John Peel, both were repeatedly invited to sessions. The Moondogs again and again came very close to the group they modelled themselves upon: they had their first gig just five months after being formed as a warm-up group for The Undertones. The Kinks‘ Ray Davies was so taken with The Moondogs that he offered to produce ”Imposter“. In the end they followed in the footsteps of The Monkees and were given their own TV show entitled ”Moondogs Matinee“. The title track ”Powerpop“ made it clear what musical pigeon-hole they felt at home in. After recordings made with Todd Rundgren, however, the band then disintegrated.

Thomas Leer
The fact that Thomas Leer recorded his début single ”Private Plane“ with the most basic of equipment in his bedroom at home was destined not just to impress The The‘s Matt Johnson and inspire him to form a band of his own. Today we also know that this song from 1978, together with The Normal‘s ”Leatherette“ and Robert Rental‘s ”Double Heart“, constituted the first releases of the synthpop wave that would not reach its peak until some years later. And should you be wondering why his voice on this recording sounds so whispered... Quite simple: when he recorded the vocals, his girlfriend was asleep in bed near him and he didn‘t want to wake her up.

Cult Figures
Just how Cult Figures came into existence is another nice example of that laid-back, Do-It-Yourself approach at that time. Gary Jones and Jonny Hodgson got to know each other at an art course that Epic Soundtracks and Richard Earl of Swell Maps were also attending. Jonny was already playing with the Scent Organs, and both bands had already scored some considerable successes. Encouraged by the mood of ”everybody‘s got a band and is having fun“, Gary, without further do and together with Tim Wilday, another friend from the art course, formed a band himself: the Cult Figures. The small fact that neither could play an instrument was not to be an obstacle. Jonny begged The Jam‘s drummer Rick Buckler to give him some drumsticks while Gary, having paid a neighbour £20 for a guitar and an amplifier, learnt how to cobble a song together in next to no time with a minimum of barré fingerings. Taken with their first results, the Swell Maps offered to play as backing group at recording sessions as well as to release a 7” on the newly formed Rather label.

Monochrome Set
Are there days when Bid perhaps wonders what might have become of him if he had followed Lester, Andy and Adam, his former fellow musicians with The B-Sides, and started Adam & The Ants? We at least can breathe a sigh of relief: he didn‘t. Lester Square and Andy Warren soon came to their senses, left and joined up with Bid to form Monochrome Set. And it can be of little importance to us today that they never experienced the classic fate of those beloved of the critics. Their excursions to major labels were short-lived, their glamour after all being a touch too subtle for that snow-sprinkled society. What we have left are a handful of high-quality records and the band The Scarlet‘s Well, the new form of expression for Bid‘s richly ornamented escapism. And what would have become of him if, faithful to his aristocratic Indian descent, he had opted for a life at court? And that‘s not an uninteresting question, either...

Henry Badowski
After frustration caused him to give up on his art studies, Henry Badowski was persuaded by friend James Stevenson to join Chelsea, surely one of the very first punk bands. ”It wasn‘t exactly my sort of music,“ he would later say – a fact evidenced by his subsequent career. Although he had a decisive influence on punk in that he played in many of the very earliest bands – such as Chelsea, Wreckless Eric, Alternative TV, Captain Sensible and The Damned – he was never able to endure it for long. Until he finally brought out his first single. And the title track ”Making Love With My Wife“ finds him recording all the instruments himself, too. ”Life Is A Grand...“ is another outstanding record that he produced just like that, yet it was not sufficiently commercial for the record company‘s liking.

The Young Marble Giants were unquestionably one of the most influential and memorable bands of the period. After just one LP and two singles they subdivided into two equally impressive groups: guitarist Stuart Moxham set up The Gist, while singer Alison Statton founded Weekend along with fellow musicians who had experience in jazz. Indie had hardly been invented before Weekend began jettisoning the dogmatism that came with it. The insubstantial ease that had already characterized YMG is further underscored with a waft of bossa nova. Regrettably, aside from a handful of singles and EPs, they only released one LP. It just remains a mystery why they are not accorded recognition today.

No Style Like Mo' Style

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Finished Theodore Roszak’s Flicker last night (about ten years later than I should have) and couldn’t sleep. I lay there in the darkness and as my eyes adjusted the little light that crept in beneath the curtains gave me chills. Flicker exudes a creepiness that’s hard to place. There are no shocks in the book. No scenes of violence outside those in the films discussed. But there is this constant and nearly overwhelming sense of dread. It’s a foreboding that I think must be at the heart of all conspiratorial fevers. Like being in the head of the guys who craft those little ‘zines about the New World Order and the Intelligentsia that line left-field bookshops. I can’t for the life of me imagine how Darren Aronofsky is going to make this thing. Or better yet how Jim Uhls is going to translate that almost existential creep.

The novel is about a film geek turned professor obsessed with the work of a ‘30s director named Max Castle (orig. Kastell) who’s work may lead to the obliteration of all life on Earth.

If you’ve read Flicker you’ll be familiar with the Simon Dunkel (a stuttering albino film prodigy (and follower of Max Castle – I’m trying not to spoil anything here) and member of a baleful sect) Sewer Babies flick. The film’s a low-budget horror film about sad fetuses living in sewers. As the main character, Jon, explains, it’s a “quiet descent into absolute despair.” The one line in the novel that has haunted me since I read it is Simon’s explanation of the sewer babies themselves. They were “mewling, grublike embryos” and a “remarkable screen effect.” When Jon asks Simon how he made them his response still sends my gut twisting:

“I couldn’t make out what they really were. Obviously not costumed actors; their diminutive size ruled that out. Nor were they animations; they were far too organically mobile… I asked Simon what they were…”

“G-guess,” he challenged me.

“Some sort of puppet…?”

He gave a dismissive smirk. “You c-can’t guess?”

“No, I can’t.”

“N-n-nobody will,” he answered smugly. “It t-took a long time to grow them,” he added, but would say no more."