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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
May 2004

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

VARIOUS / China: The Sonic Avant-Garde (Post-Concrete)
Fifteen experimental artists from China, including the likes of Ismu, Beijing Sound Unit, Zhou Pei, and Xiu Cheng. Unknown to most of our ears, but a fascinating look at a rarely-heard side of modern music from China, where apparently there's some pretty intense scenes of artists creating electro-acoustic, noise, spaced-out vocal plunderphonics sounds (from a karaoke bar!)and more without, of course, the patronage of arts councils or government. All of these artists are in the 20's, and clearly coming to grips with the amazing rate of change going on in their country, offering social commentary (including some artful stabs at the creeping U.S. porno-action-flick juggernaut from Hollywood) not without bits of wry humor. Overall, a diverse and extremely fascinating collection that, while clearly taking cues from American, European, and Japanese arms of experimental music, has carved a unique identity all its own.

JEFF FUCCILLO / Disturbed Strings (Roaratorio)
Man, John Fahey. If anyone has incurred more wild tales, it sure is him. Once in the mid 90's Jim O'Rourke said "if you ever get him out to FMU, let him talk, not play!" And sure enough, in two visits that followed, Fahey pulled off some crazy radio while barely touching his guitar, the very center of his legacy and profound influence that has yet to be fully realized. Getting the late Mr. Fahey in the studio always meant some kind of strangeness would happen; whether it was me catching him trying to steal LPs from the library (only to have him hand out his own paintings to everyone in the building), to the bizarre performance on Stork's show where he just boomed like the voice of God through massive echo for an hour (one track of him clipping his nails through it all wound up on an FMU compilation CD.) So Irving Klaw Trio/Hockenkeit member Jeff Fucillo should have known what was brewing when Fahey caught him performing improvised guitar at a west coast gig and asked him to do a session. What Fucillo expected was a day of recording solo for Fahey; instead he found himself hailed upon in the studio while Fahey sat at the mixing board lobbing samples at him! Fuccillo's guitar mastery was definitely up for the test, though; painting an impressive array of textures and colors up from frenzied scrabbling to blissful drones, the final result Fahey found to be "too pretty" and wanted to shelf this to try again someday (alas it never happened). Fuccillo's decision to release this anyway gives fans of both Fahey and of outward-boung guitar improvisations a nice document to check out.

HOUND DOG TAYLOR / Release the Hound (Alligator)
Next to Magic Sam, Hound Dog Taylor was the most raw and powerful blues musician to emerge from Chicago, and criminally overshadowed by his contemporaries who just happened to have had the fortune of being tourmates of ignorant chartbusting Limeys. The twin-guitar/drum trio lineup Taylor busted out in clubs in the early 1970s was totally the dynamic aped later by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, with Taylor's muffed up Japanese Kingston guitar totally getting people crazed, especially when he shredded the neck with his slide. This disc is comprised of the band in its live glory from 1971-75; a radio broadcast from Chicago, an Australian TV session, and some plain old busting out in a Cleveland saloon. If you have any or none of Hound Dog's few records that trickled out before he died in the mid 70's, this is totally essential.

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