Bruce Haack (& Miss Nelson) – Listen, Compute, Rock Home : The Best Of Dimension 5

I have to thank the other weirdos on Amazon for helping me discover this, as it came up as one of those ‘people also bought’ when I was ordering Raymond Scott, who was actually a mate and collaborator of Haack’s. His famous contemporary fans include Luke Vibert and Add N To X.

Bruce Haack was an electronic music pioneer and started off in the 50s (post-Juilliard) with Musique Concrete. He then went on to experiment with electronic fiddling. This record is the result of Haack working with Esther Nelson, a children’s dance educator who asked him to do some stuff for kids.

But, as it says on the front of the record, this music is for all ages. It starts off with ‘Way Out’ which is Bruce and Miss Nelson introducing themselves over burbling electronic rhythms and vague flurblings. Next, ‘Motorcycle Ride’ tells you the thrills of motorbiking, as if Chris Spedding joined the B-52s briefly. There’s a great groove with some funky organ/polysynth.

‘Jelly Dancers’ starts off with some lovely am-dram and then gets into a wiggly, jiggly, faux-Arabian riff. This is a *great* song and had me and my mrs dancing round the room trying to follow the directions.

All the songs on this CD surprise and delight me. ‘Abracadabra’ is just *so* catchy, I’m hooked on it. And the bizarre fx that pepper it don’t distract, they enhance. ‘OK Robot’ has Bruce and Miss Nelson getting their robot to do some tidying up before getting it to do… some country dancing! Of course, what else would a tired robot do after a hard day mopping floors?

‘Popcorn’ has what sounds like a double-speed piano interspersed with slapbacked bongos and maniacal cackling. And perhaps a chipmunk. Brilliant.

‘Funky Little Song’ closes this CD with what I can only sound as the sound of Air, thirty years too early to break the charts. There’s the lilting melody, vocodered vocals and striding piano.

All the songs on this CD are poppy and make you want to sing, clap and dance along. The sounds are just right, showing that Haack had a unique arranging and synthesis skill. Try the official site for more info.

Buy this CD if you like any electronic music, the theme song from Button Moon or cool songs about motorbikes. Don’t buy this CD if you’re looking for po-faced wedges of “serious” electronica,

love and kisses,
Jyoti

Sludgefeast – Rock’n’Roll

(Fuzzbox FZBX005)

Sixteen tracks, nineteen minutes?

Yes!

Shouty, incohately peeved vocals?

Yes!

Nasty, fucked-up guitars?

Yes!

Never heard of these buggers before but after a quick listen in Soundclash, I was hooked.

The opener, ‘Rock’n’Roll’ sets out their stall. Great (barrier) riff, stupid vocals, it’s come and gone in 1.05. Mind you, that’s long compared to ‘Come On’ which is a stately 13 seconds of aggrieved everyone-baiting.

They slow down a bit for the almost prog-length ‘Christ’s Harmonica’ (1.59). Jesus Christ is apparently back and well fucked-off that the world isn’t ruled by rock. He sets this out in a great sermon, peppered with Tourette’s-style evangelising and a *brilliant* harmonica solo. Really.

What do they sound like? Well, even though they do rock like Yank motherfuckers, there’s definitely a touch of Billy Childish here. Also the ghost of old Mudhoney, some Fudge Tunnel and other noisy, sleazy fuckers like that. There’s not enough swamp-swing to make it Crampsy but they can sound like a very irritated Jon Spencer on some tracks.

‘Instrumental #10’ has *some* Fu Manchu-ness to it but it’s got far more balls. And tracks like ‘Well I Want’ are just great, bastard riffmonsters, complete with mad stop-startiness. Honestly, most rock bands would take the *one* song like this or ‘Wanna Ride’ and build an album around it. Sludgefeast just knock the fuckers out, effortlessly.

The album closes with ‘My God We Got Some Rockin’ which is very, very, very true. Check out the band’s homepages.

Buy this album if hearing Starsailor makes you feel like climbing a water tower with a rifle. Buy this album if you like excellent, short, fantastically poppy songs that are as rocking as a frantic wank behind a bus stop. Which I’ve never done. Oh no.

Don’t buy this album if you like the Stereophonics,
love and kisses,
Jyoti

Songs In The Key Of Z : The Curious Universe of Outsider Music

(Which Records WHI 2367)

I’ve had this for a while but wanted to live with it before reviewing it. It’s a compilation of what the compiler (Irwin Chusid) calls ‘Outsider Music.’ Check out the official website.

Now, the first problem is what does that mean? Does it mean loonies? Well, there’s certainly some people on this comp who are a few buns short of a trolley, but then there’s quite a few who are saner than me.

Does it mean people who are musically inept? Again, yes and no. If all you care about in music is how technically well something is played or sung, then you most probably will only like this album in a crap, kitsch student way.

But if you like to hear artists who, for whatever reason, *really mean it*, this is an essential album for your collection. I mean, there’s just some *beautiful* songs on here. I won’t go through each track (you can find the full listing at the website) but I’ll pick out some personal faves.

First, The Shagg’s ‘The Philosophy Of The World’ in which the Wiggin sisters lay out their world view. Namely that ‘the rich people want what the poor people got, the fat people want what the skinny people got’ etc. It’s a great song and melodically, there’s some crazy phrasing.

Next up is Daniel Johnston doing ‘Walking The Cow.’ A lot of ukmaers probably know about DJ already but if you don’t, this track just confirms then man’s melodic genius. He’s just hitting a little pump organ with all his might and wailing but it’s as haunting as Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights.’ I honestly don’t know where it comes from – I only wish I could write songs one hundredth this brilliant.

I can say the same for Peter Grudzien’s ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ Apart from the fact that the bloke is carving out his own niche in the field of gay country, this is just a great paraphrasing of the WWII song.

Coming along, we have Shooby Taylor’s scat singing which sounds to me like someone travelling between shiny, thin universes. I honestly could never sing like this, never get this *free.* You may recognise this track from the Adam & Joe Show.

Wesley Willis track is ‘Rock’n’Roll McDonalds’, in which he explains that people go to McDonalds also for the ROCK. And they’ll make you fat. It inevitably reminds me of the Ramones’ ‘Rock’n’Roll High School’ only it’s not as slick as them. And I never thought I’d be typing that sentence…

Another high point for me is the demo of Joe Meek’s ‘Telstar.’ I admit I’m a bit of a Meekophile but you just *have to* have this track somewhere in your collection. At first it sounds like a mad drunk, but as that melody begins to appear, you realise Meek’s genius. Where the fuck is he getting it from?? Five million singles sold based on this amazing, liberated moment. I’m not ashamed to say that I wept after hearing this cos it freaked me out so intensely.

I suppose if you’re a Beefheart fan and never heard it before, then hearing Don whistling ‘Vampire Suite’ and then it being transmogrified by the Magic Band will have the same effect. Even though I’m not a Beefheart nut, I liked hearing this morphing.

Another standout is Arcesia’s ‘Butterfly Mind.’ This bloke can sing technically quite well so the strangeness comes from his lyrics and the emotion he crams into this acid-folk trip. It’s sort-of a madder Scott Walker meets William Shatner.

The mysterious Jandek appears with the track ‘They Told Me I Was A Fool.’ To me, this just sounds like Thurston Moore if somebody reigned him in a bit and got him to do a proper song.

The comp closes with Tiny Tim’s version of ‘True Love’, accompanied by his missus. Again, I know a lot of people like him in an annoying, ironic way but this is just a wonderful track. It cleaned my ears out. Susan’s Gardner’s vocal is also shimmeringly lovely. I put on the radio after listening to this and everything sounded like constipated, ball-less fucking puke in comparison.

I can’t honestly say if you’ll like this record. I guess a lot of people would like to have it to put on for their mates and laugh at, which is a fair enough reason, I guess. But for me, this CD is a blueprint for how music *should be made.* Where’s the fucking passion nowadays? Everyone seems so desperate to be on TOTP, in the shitty tabloids, gossip columns and music is just a means to get them there. Why should it matter how technically well a song is recorded? Why must everything be *machined* and conform before it gets airplay?

You can’t say that about the people on this record. Yes, some of them are provenly mentally unstable – so what? It doesn’t stop them from reaching into themselves and dragging stuff out that none of the gzillion Jeff Buckley clones on Lamaq can produce in their airbrushed angst.

Even the worst bits of this record are better than 99% of so-called ‘proper bands.’ I only wish there were more people round like the absolute bastard geniuses on this CD.

Buy this record if you believe that passion, honesty and emotion are more important than slick, FM-friendly recording.
Don’t buy this record if you like Toploader,
love and kisses,
Jyoti