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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
September 2004

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

VARIOUS/ Neurot Recordings Volume 1 CD/DVD (Neurot)
San Francisco-based Neurot Recordings, run by Kristin and Steve Von Till (he of Neurosis fame) has grown into one of the more interesting independent US labels over the last few years. Dedicated not only to Neurosis' side projects, but many types of dark experimental sounds, the label's aesthetic is well branded into the identity of its artists who form a real community, yet are diverse in sound from folk to metal. This collection draws on the rich well of the label's catalog, from the volume dealers like Tarantula Hawk, Isis, Oxbow and Zeni Geva, to the more atmospheric subtleties of the Lotus Eaters, Grails and Culper Ring. To best illustrate the pallate of colors and hues that these artists deliver, the accompanying DVD is a real stunner, and worth the purchase alone, if not for anything but to bathe in the hallucinogenic Neurosis clip of shifting images and shadows. But the generous and lengthy excerpt of Oxbow's recent European tour documentary is totally mindblowing, seeing these guys unleash their crushing, slobbering mutant-blues on hapless fans (one of which gets headlocked and de-pantsed by Oxbow singer Eugene, a gigantic bodybuilder who writes for Grappling Magazine! He says to the frazzled Swedish fan, "This ain't the Hives!" No indeed.)

DAVID HEMMINGS / Happens (Rev-Ola)
Screen personalities, as we all know, sometimes decide to make records. And we all know what happens. They get filed under two categories: kitsch (William Shatner, Robert Mitchum) or just suckola (Bruce Willis, Don Johnson), but here is a big excpetion. David Hemmings hit the big screen in flicks like Barbarella and Antonioni's Blow Up, and remained a pretty steady walk-on for recent blockbusters and TV shows up til his death last year, and the reissue of his 1967 foray into a studio stands up pretty damn well. From the first note of his rendition of Gene Clark's "Back Street Mirror" it becomes evident that this LP is soaked in Sunset Strip-via-Dylan cowboy vibe, and it's no wonder since the Byrds' McGuinn and Hillman are all over this. There's a total great jangly desert-folk rock vibe, Dylan-type rambles ("Talkin' LA") and some spacy raga ventures no doubt fueled by drugs Dennis Hopper was bringing around (my educated guess). Byrds producer/svengali Jim Dickson is most certainly the real mastermind behind this, assembling top notch session cats (and getting the Monkees' songwriter to help pen tunes), but Hemmings' persona works well with it all, and again, this stands up quite well.

VARIOUS / Shibuya Jazz Clash: No Wave In Japanese Jazz & Funk 1975-86 (Ultra Vybe)
All the people digging the whole DFA thing and the resurgence of interest in danceable noise funk (well-documented on recent 70s/80s reissue comps like New York Noise, Disco Not Disco, the Mutant Disco comp on Ze and all the Factory UK stuff) will probably dig this a whole lot too. Most of this is completely unknown to me, though Bill Laswell's Material collaborating with the artist Genji Sawai makes perfect sense given Laswell's immersion in the art/funk/jazz/electronic 80's Japan scene. There's a lot more soul in this electronic music than the hardcore No Wave heads might tolerate, but plenty of mutant electro (Akira Ishikawa's "Crow") and even a nice example of one band that dwelled in the weird, primitive underground camp known as the Vanity label.

DAJUIN YAO / Cinnabar Red Drizzle (Juxiang Music)
Not exactly new, but this came in recently with the staggeringly great Avant-Garde China 2CD set we reviewed a few months back. Yao is an innovative composer of music concrete in mainland China, and appears to be a DJ on Sinologic (, which looks like it brings a nice array of adventurous sounds to 5 cities in China and Taiwan. This disc in particular finds him utilizing the sound of spoken words in Mandarin (working writer/opera singer Jerlian Tsao); those not speaking the language need not be concerned since the focus of the pieces really works on the fetishistic nature of the sounds themselves, taking the purely sonic properties of the words and immersing them into backdrops that really twist the mind. New Years firecrackers, urban street sounds, poems read in torrential rain, even the sound of writing itself make this disc an incredible acoustic journey.

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