28.1.12

SEXY LEPER : Turf The Void (2011)

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The inclusion of Sexy Leper's Portobello Ghosts LP (actually a cassette) in my end of year baker's dozen has prompted a flurry of interest. Unfortunately, I'm unable to convert tapes to mp3 at the moment (rest assured I'm working on it!) so, instead, here's their tremendous Turf The Void EP, a single-sided 12" on the elusive, highly collectible, Aotearoa label (responsible also for a mind-blowing 4-disc Slither|Slather box set).

In all honestly, I'm not quite sure how to describe Sexy Leper's music: it's improvised, & based around "rock" instrumentation, but only rarely employs a tangible rhythm, the percussion being sporadic & scattershot at best. Electric guitars are a pivotal part of their line-up, though they're scraped rather than strummed, picked at rather than plucked. There's an eerie Vox Continental amongst the melee too, & a snatches of squawking, hissing shortwave radio. I'm reminded, ever so slightly, of The Dead C circa Harsh 70s Reality, & that's definitely not a bad thing, is it?

12.1.12

ANGUS MACLISE : Trance (1987)

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Apocryphal or not, legend has it that Angus MacLise, original drummer with The Velvet Underground, reacted to confirmation of the band's first paid live date by angrily quitting - "You mean we start when they tell us & we finish when they tell us? I can't work that way." His brief tenure in the formative V.U. aside, MacLise was also a published poet, bookshop owner, underground film maker, calligrapher, Occultist, Fluxus-affiliated artist, & nomad. As a member of both The Theatre Of Eternal Music & the original Dream Syndicate (alongside Tony Conrad, Terry Riley, John Cale, & founder La Monte Young), MacLise's drug induced, stream of consciousness improvisations ultimately inspired the music of contemporary fringe outfits such as Sunburned Hand Of The Man, Tower Recordings & No-Neck Blues Band, whose open ended/free form performances continue to baffle audiences 30+ years after his untimely death, in Nepal, from tuberculosis . All that remains of MacLise's pioneering multimedia performances are a few reels of grainy, disintegrated sound recordings, since bequeathed to the Yale Collection Of American Literature by his widow, & fellow traveller, Hetty. Fortuitously, their crude quality somehow enhances their mind-boggling cabalistic awesomeness.

Growing interest in MacLise's clandestine oeuvre has, in recent years, resulted in a brace of fascinating archival releases from Table Of The Elements, Siltbreeze, Quakebasket & other similarly broadminded, zero budget imprints. However, the 1st label to release any of his work was Fierce Records, a long defunct Welsh bootleg emporium, allegedly masterminded by the bassist in Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction (!), & generally better known for it's abundance of nose thumbing Pooh Sticks flexis. Fierce issued "Trance" in 1987 in a meagre edition of 100 single-sided 7"s. A short low-fi tape recording of a mid-60's sine tone experiment, "Trance" was packaged pop art-style (n.b. irony alert) with an "Angus" chocolate bar, a selection of Khatmandu prayers, a "Far Out" badge, an incense cone, & a mail order list of spurious MacLise-related ephemera. Though the choice of inserts was characteristically arch (their most notorious bootleg, The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Riot" EP, included a free syringe & a torn scrap of plaid shirt!), Fierce's intentions were undoubtedly sincere, "Trance" playing an important catalytic role in the subsequent reevaluation of MacLise's life & work.

n.b. For a far more astute overview of MacLise's life & works than I could ever muster, take a look at this excellent article.

7.1.12

Super88 : Ride Around Shining (2011)

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New music for the new year...

I chanced upon Super88's "Ride Around Shining" a few days ago, whilst aimlessly rooting around on Youtube, & fell in love with it in a flash. Though plainly inspired by Washed Out's faded Polaroid languor, & the sedative bliss of Memoryhouse's early bedroom recordings, this exceptional track harbours a darker strand of somnolent, Boards Of Canada-type tenebrosity, a suggestion of unsettling VHS retrospection that has more in common Twin Peaks than Miami Vice. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about them - only that they're a duo, that they possibly originate from the Allston, MA area, & that they probably named themselves after this Boston supermarket.

They're circulating a number of recordings for free at the moment, c/o their Bandcamp & Soundcloud accounts, so I've bundled a selection below for your perusal (I'm sure they won't mind). If you know anything else about them, or are a Super88 member, feel free to get in touch...