Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Tronics and Freakapuss leader Zarjaz and Eternal Tapestry member Dewey Mahood.
Listed: Zarjaz + Plankton Wat
It all started with a hyper-obscure track called "Shark Fuck" by a hyper-obscure band called Tronics. An odd slice of shambling off-kilter DIY tunsmithery released in 1980 on Alien Records, the record has come to define a much sought-after style of lo-fi DIY post-punk. Tronics mastermind Zarjaz has been performing on and off through the years under various names, most recently Freakapuss, and continues to deliver beguiling punk-informed, sci-fi pop numbers to those in the know. With the recent reissue of the "Shark Fuck" single and the LP Love Backed by Force on What’s Your Rupture, Zarjaz has resurfaced for a series of shows and offers us some thoughts on his current listening pile for this week’s Listed.
1. T. Rex - Electric Warrior
Most of the time, music around me might as well be a tap running — water passing and going to the sewage works. I felt this from an early age. I noticed that doors opened and closed, cars drove by and the radio played music that people called pop music. I liked some of it, but could take or leave most of it. But then I saw Marc Bolan playing “Hot Love” on the TV and this changed my views to thinking that I didn’t have to like pop music, except this. Marc never did let me down, musically, lyrically, stylistically. From the offset he motivated me to see that I could be something else if I wanted to be, that I could be what I wanted to be even if other people thought it was stupid. Most of all, he taught me — more than anyone else — to be genuine. In music, that’s often the most important but difficult task because some people don’t like you to be creative and genuine at the same time, often referring to you in your birth name context as if they are afraid themselves to use a street tag or give you the indulgence of being unreal. I gave up my birth name long ago. I now see my birth name as a false ID. It was Marc Bolan who first showed me how to do that, and why.
2. Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
This album has all the styles, sounds, rhythms and messages of the time, but exudes them like no other album ever did — or will — and at the same time has a unique and timeless atmosphere. It has always been a constant motivator of style and lyrical power for me. Something to aspire to, even knowing I will never be that.
3. Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde
The first time I heard this, I was into it immediately and I get more into it each time I hear it. Then, as time goes on and I find things out and I place more together about how this album came about, including the brush with French pop society, Francoise Hardy, Johnny Hallyday and the song “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands." This album breaks my heart and picks me up at the same time each and every time. Bob Dylan has never been a level for me to attain, but the tonal quality of his sound, the expressive quality of his lyrics and harmonics has always been a motivation to do better.
4. Bo Diddley - Hey Bo Diddley
The ultimate in Bo Diddley (besides all the others). Diddley has an effect on me unlike anything else. Again, I have to refer to tonal quality and rock ‘n roll structure, mixed with an ability to be something more than what you are born with.
5. Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion
People sit around me playing music and I don’t even know what they’re talking about most of the time. But when I do, I do big time. Crystal Stilts are truly a special feature to modern music, especially their drummer Keegan Cooke and guitarist JB Townsend, who is the best guitarist in the world. For me, this album quantifies the Stilts style and expression but also presents the true spirit of pop music/rock ‘n’ roll in a way that places them in exalted company. It is this that draws me to it and at the same time it is a reminder that the rock ‘n’ roll ideal and spirit matters today more than ever.
6. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
If Lykke Li was not a woman, she would be the man. You need a voice like Lykke Li to sing an album like this and a song writing talent to go with it, but most of all the understanding of rock ‘n’ roll spirit. I came into the album through the single “I Follow Rivers” and I have been following the album ever since, sometimes with the police following me in the car to tell me to turn it down while I am driving. A real motivator.
7. The Ronettes - The Best of The Ronettes
I know this is a compilation album of singles, but over the past few years, it’s become a respected album in its own right. I have tried to make versions of these songs and often consider doing more, but then I think what would be the point? I know I would never accomplish anything like this, probably even if I was Phil Spector and the Ronettes trying it again. Nevertheless, if I was to choose a song for all time, it would be from this album and would probably be “Is This What I Get For Loving You.” Actually, no, “Born To Be Together.” Wait, no, “Paradise." No, “I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine.”
8. Kiss - Kiss Alive II
Heavy metal, hard rock, larger than life, out of this world, don’t let them drag you down. Condensed and developed fusion of rock ‘n’ roll, pop and hard rock, in timeless, priceless guitar solo style — and live.
9. The Velvet Underground and Nico - s/t
I know this is in everyone’s favorites, even if they won’t admit it, but it’s in mine, too. This album has a unique way of expressing itself, and the context and circumstances in which it was made endears itself to every rock ‘n’ roll-hearted star shining tonight, and that can never be removed.
10. Ennio Morricone - Danger: Diabolik OST
I’m not sure if this qualifies as an album in any official sense, but since it was once voted as the best all-time soundtrack I think it should be included as an album. Apparently, Morricone will not allow this to be released. Why? That detail helped persuade me to allow the Tronics album, Love Backed By Force, to be reissued. There is something about this music that separates it from everything else Morricone has done. Again, if the cops are chasing me in my car, it might be that I have changed the CD from Lykke Li to this, but this time I might not stop and say, "Yes, officer?" And likewise, if I am on stage, or recording, or even thinking about how to approach a song or lyric, I might think of Danger: Diabolik and Marisa Mell and tell the naysayers to fuck off.
Dewey Mahood’s musical trajectory has changed a bit from his early days of avant-punk and improv bands. From his steady stream of solo releases under the moniker Plankton Wat to his more notable work with his band Eternal Tapestry, Mahood managed to become a stalwart player in the realm of kosmische-psych music. His guitar sound is often layered with delay and effects, giving it a syrupy haze. After having released albums with Not Not Fun and Digitalis, among others, Mahood found a new home for both Eternal Tapestry and Plankton Wat at Thrill Jockey. Plankton Wat’s latest release, Spirits, is out May 15.
1. Träd, Gräs & Stenar - Mors Mors
Such beautiful guitar playing. I love how they hit the most perfect riffs after ramshackle improvisations. Lyrical, heavy and playful — such an incredible feeling these guys create. All of Bo Anders Persson’s music (Parson Sound, International Harvester) has been a big influence.
2. Baby Grandmothers - Baby Grandmothers
More blissed-out Swedish guitar music. Really haunting melodies and totally raw sounds. There is a sadness in this stuff that gives it real emotional power.
3. Hochenkeit - I Love You
Totally amazing Portland, Ore., band that just kinda disappeared, but for a short while were the best thing going. Very transcendent and focused group improv. This is worth searching out.
4. Don Cherry - Organic Music Society
I’ve always loved Don’s music with Ornette Coleman, but his ’70s stuff is truly special. Albums like this one and Eternal Now have a perfect blend of experimental world music sounds with a deep spiritual vibe making for some real heady spaces. Plus the cover art to this record rules.
5. Mad River - Mad River
Late ’60s San Francisco Bay Area sounds have always meant a lot to me, but these guys were totally in their own world. Nothing quite like the dark spooky vibes of these guys, and the guitar is completely unhinged. Real outsider stuff.
6. John Fahey - Days Have Gone By, Vol. 6
The first Fahey album I got and it still has the strongest impact for me. I don’t see how anyone doing guitar music couldn’t be heavily moved by this stuff. Seriously gorgeous tunes, and some great early ambient moments. Pretty much perfect to me.
7. The Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
I grew up idolizing this album, and have probably played it more then anything else. These dudes were so far out on their own planet during the heyday of the hardcore scene. Totally unique, some of the best lyrics ever, and D. Boone kills it on the guitar.
8. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica
Probably the greatest weirdo record to ever come out. This stuff just wrote the book for doing it in your own freaked-out way. The whole band is so demented and perfect. A high point for American culture.
9. Pharaoh Sanders - Tauhid
I got real into this stuff after first hearing Sanders with Coltrane, and this album introduced me to Sonny Sharrock. The tune "Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt" is like a free jazz band going proto-metal, with Sharrock pounding out sheets of noise over a righteous riff.
10. Can - Monster Movie
This is the album that introduced me to Krautrock, and needless to say a huge influence. Nowadays, Ege Bamyasi is my favorite Can jam, but this is the one that got me obsessed with kosmiche sounds, and opened the door to one of the most amazing music scenes.
By Dusted Magazine