Following his original Psychic Temple creation, composer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Schlarb has united another outrageous selection of talent for Psychic Temple II, an eclectic mix of pop, jazz, and prog.
Few comedians are as inspired by sociologist James Loewen as by abortion jokes. But Doug Stanhope, in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t your everyday comic. Yes, most of a set might be devoted to Japanese nether regions, odorous urine, and ripping on Dr. Drew. Underneath the sophomoric exterior, however, is an educated everyman: someone as taken with the hacktivist group Anonymous as with football-jersey aesthetics.
Following the release of his second album for the Roadrunner Comedy imprint, titled Before Turning the Gun on Himself…, we caught up with Stanhope during a massive UK tour — including a stop in Wolverhampton, ranked fifth on Lonely Planet’s “Cities You Really Hate.”
“It’s kind of like trying to describe a wine,” chuckles Primus bandleader/bassist Les Claypool. “Everybody has their different adjectives that they use.”
Responding to the suggestion that the oddball Bay Area trio’s new album, Green Naugahyde, was recorded and mixed with a more transparent “sound” than previous work, Claypool doesn’t necessarily agree or disagree. The album is the band’s first full-length in 12 years, and listeners, of course, are bound to draw their own conclusions.
“Whatever ‘transparent’ means to you,” he continues, “might be different than what it means to me. From a production standpoint, the approach to this thing was very similar to what we’ve always done, which is record ourselves at my house. Over the years, I’ve collected a bunch of old vintage gear — we recorded to tape through an old API console, so it’s a very clean, very crisp, very clear recording. And for the most part, we weren’t coloring things after the fact. It was going to tape as raw as we could possibly put it to tape. But there’s also a lot of contrast between the individual songs.”
Moses Avalon is one of the nation’s leading music-business consultants and artists’-rights advocates and is the author of a top-selling music business reference, Confessions of a Record Producer. More of his articles can be found at www.mosesavalon.com.
The Mayan calendar claims that the world will come to an abrupt end in 2012. We have all heard the hype and suffered through the movies. But even if that prediction falls flat, the pop-music business may still experience its own armageddon shortly thereafter. Are these just the ravings of another music-industry expert flying off the rails? Let’s see.
In 2013, many classic recordings are scheduled to slip out of the control of their major labels. No, I’m not referring to odd recordings that no one actually collects. This list of records includes some of the top-selling albums of all time (abbreviated list below)!
Even though music-business insiders have been dreading this for years, the New York Times finally decided that it was a newsworthy enough subject and published a piece a few weeks ago about this issue (called “termination of masters”). Unfortunately, the reporter they assigned seemed to a have limited understanding of how the music business really works, as well as of copyright in general. In his article, he kept interchanging the word “songs” with “master recordings,” which littered his post with inaccurate statements like, “artists can claim their songs in 2013.”
Though this New York Times piece may be new info to outsiders, it is a subject that has long been on the minds of those concerned with the recording industry and artist rights. I reported about the subject in a 2008 Moses Supposes article. Here’s the reprint for your perusal:
Mayan meltdown at majors
The hot topic for the American Bar Association conference in 2008 was “termination of masters,” a little raison d’etre in the copyright act that supposedly levels the playing field for authors who are often at a disadvantage to the big, bad publisher (or record company, in this case). The copyright act states that after 35 years, the license or transfer of a work must “terminate” and revert back to the original author.
God God Dammit Dammit boasts a makeup of some of Adelaide, Australia’s most distinguished hardcore, experimental, and punk musicians. The band has broken out of the city’s genre-based music scene by introducing horns and performance elements that encourage a hard-to-resist party atmosphere.
Percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Martin Dosh, better known as simply Dosh, is known both for his electronic-based solo venture as well as his work with Andrew Bird, with whom he’s toured and recorded. The instrumental track is Dosh’s specialty; “Simple Exercises,” which first appeared on Dosh’s 2004 release, Pure Trash, reappeared on Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha in 2007 as “Simple X” with an addition of lyrics. In the piece below, Dosh explains what drew him to instrumental music and how a few classic, lyric-less tracks continue to inspire his own music.
The Alchemy of Instrumental Music by Dosh
I think my interest in music and sound really began when i was around nine or 10 years old; that is to say, that is when I really began LISTENING to music, to the ways instruments and voices worked together, trying to separate the sounds in my mind, trying to understand which sounds were being made by which instruments, and even what the people that played the music may have looked like. I can’t recall what the first song that really captured my imagination was, but it was likely by Devo or The Cars, maybe Billy Squier. I’ve always listened to the music first and digested the vocals and lyrics later. When I first discovered Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, I found the vocals to be distracting. I couldn’t understand why they were there; they seemed like an afterthought.
Once I started playing drums, when i was 15, that was all I really heard when I would listen to a song: the drums. And I played a little bit with some friends, but I didn’t truly discover the joy of volume until I went to college two years later. I spent more time listening to music in my first two years than I spent doing anything else — usually as loud as possible. I was lucky enough to have a few friends who had massive record collections, and I listened to everything.
Brooklyn-based jazz-rock quartet Gutbucket released its fifth album, Flock, in February on Cuneiform. The band takes its name from the term “gutbucket,” which means to play jazz in a particularly exuberant or expressive style, and it claims that its unconventional style has been “injecting a shot of glorious spazmitude into the minimalist cool of the New York downtown scene” for the past 10 years.
Gutbucket’s off-the-wall music is the result of its members’ distinct contributions and, inevitably, artistic disagreements and compromises. When it comes to food, Gutbucket engages in a similar, hotly contested discourse. So whet your appetite and embrace the taste-bud-inspired tongue lashings with Gutbucket’s culinary treatise, “How to Argue About Food.”
How to Argue About Food by Gutbucket
Most bands break up. It’s a fact. Rock bands do this quite a bit, and it’s often not very friendly. Jazz bands might be a bit more civil about it, or perhaps not. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been in a band before, so this is not unfamiliar terrain.
Take three or more humans engaged in a creative endeavor, and ideas, visions, aesthetics, and more will clash. So how do you handle this?
Well, Gutbucket has the answer.
Forget about consensus. Don’t pretend you will agree. Embrace the friction, disagreement, discomfort, and argumentative spirit.
But please have other outlets and arenas besides your music in which to behave this way.
That’s why Gutbucket chooses to argue, debate, dissect, and regularly disagree about food. Yes, food. We are a band of music nerds who spend most of our time talking about food instead of music.
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The off-kilter art rock of Norwegian bandleader, composer, singer, guitarist, and kazoo player Jono El Grande is like candy to fans of Frank Zappa and whimsical, progressive rock. In his 10 years of playing with The Luxury Band (née The Jono El Grande Orchestra), he has released four albums, including the multi-layered Neo-Dada in 2009 and the raucous Phantom Stimulance this winter.
Though he has enjoyed success in his native Norway, Jono’s delightfully eccentric music isn’t yet as well known overseas. Here he opens up about composing, why there’s no such thing as a “live favorite,” and how songs can take more than a decade to record.
According to your label, only one song on your newest record, Phantom Stimulance, is newly composed, with the rest being unreleased live favorites, compiled to commemorate your 10 years as a bandleader and 15 as a composer. Why did you decide to record these songs to celebrate this occasion?
There are two brand-new compositions on the album, not one — “Borrelia Boogie” and “Rise Of The Baseless Press-Base Toy.” The other songs are completely rearranged versions of songs that never reached an album and new arrangements of earlier-released songs that have evolved so much on stage during the years that they deserved to be released again, with new titles. “Live favorites” is a term that the record company came up with. Even if this record is presented as an anniversary, it is nevertheless the music that is most important. Always.
Why hadn’t the songs on Phantom Stimulance been recorded previously? Were they more suited to live performance than the studio? Are there any live favorites still yet to be recorded?
I am a composer who likes to develop compositions over time at live shows by adding new themes and parts to them. My working process is very often like this: I write the basic scores at home, then the band rehearses the music, and then we play the material live and mold it until I feel that it is ready to be recorded. And I never know exactly when each song is ready. The reason why these tracks haven’t been recorded previously is that, on earlier albums, there were other compositions that I felt were more ready than ones on Phantom Stimulance. You may call them “live favorites” — to me these tunes were the hard ones, the ones that I had to work a little extra with to make them worthy to be immortalized on an album. We used 40 to 60 tracks on each song. “La Dolce Vidda” contains 10 drum tracks, I think.
It was actually quite the same with Neo-Dada. Some compositions there date back to the ’90s. And to the last question: yes, there will be more “live favorites” to be released in the future. I just have to compose them first.
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Croatian space-rock outfit Seven That Spells deals in extended psychedelic guitar freak-outs in the vein of Magma, Circle, Zappa, Trans Am, or Hawkwind. Perhaps its biggest musical influence, however, is Kawabata Makoto, who appears on the 2007 album Men From Dystopia. Founder and guitarist Niko Potočnjak modeled his collective after Makoto’s Acid Mothers Temple; lineups are transient, albums sound raw and live, and though recorded material is certainly released, the band lives for the performance.
The following Q&A was conducted with Potočnjak. He is extremely passionate about the music that his band creates, preferring danger and experimentation over consistency. The most telling quote from his dialogue demonstrates a singular philosophy that eschews genre: “We play music.”
How do you describe your music?
Psychedelic rock for the 23rd Century. New old religion of super loud! Polymetrics and occasional Viking funeral rites.
Can you give us a history of the band?
STS was formed in 2003. The main purpose was to have fun and play rock. Eight years, 60 people, and nine albums later, the purpose remains the same. We believe in the power and sincerity of rock music. I say “we” because STS is a collective — I just happen to be a guy with good organizational skills and a strong vision.
Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.
Lazer Swordis the DJ duo of Lando Kal (Antaeus Roy) and Low Limit (Bryant Rutledge). Together, these two dance-floor destroyers pump out hip-hop/electro burners heavy on bass and mile-a-minute mixing. The forward-thinking group creates its eclectic sound through a general disregard for genre, straddling styles with a diverse range of samples. Unsurprisingly, many of its influences are pioneers that sounded out of place in the musical landscape of their respective eras. Lando Kal and Low Limit shared some of these futuristic artists with ALARM.
Low Limit’s picks:
The brilliant Frank Zappa — producer, shredding guitarist, anti-censorship activist, and ringleader of The Mothers of Invention — is without a doubt from either the future or outer space. Zappa was an incredibly talented composer with the most impressive, satirical sense of humor, who was never afraid to challenge his listeners with experimental outbursts, political commentary, or other weirdness. He named his children really bizarre names like Moon Unit and Dweezil…and I heard he appeared in an episode of Ren and Stimpy, as the voice of the Pope.