Listed: Tussle + Antietam
Bay Area quartet Tussle (which features drummer/melodica player Alexis Georgopoulos, bassist Andy Cabic, keyboardist/programmer Nathan Burazer, and percussionist Jonathan Holland) got started in 2001, when they played a number of basement and gallery shows. Soon afterwards they were signed to Troubleman Unlimited records, for which they have recorded two eps, included 2004's Don't Stop (which featured a remix by Drew Daniel of Matmos). The band combine the mesmerising repetitive rhythms of Kraut-rockers like Neu! with dancier modern revivalists like !!!/OUTHUD, but their own unique and clever twists help to make them one of the more exciting new bands around. They are due to release a 12" on Ze Records in early May. Alexis Georgopoulos and Andy Cabic contributed this week's Listed:
1. Lizzy Mercier Descloux - Press Color (Ze Records) - A criminally overlooked No Wave gem of an album from this late 70s French singer, who is kind of a French equivalent to Lydia Lunch - which means she's a bit more sophisticated and not as brutish - but crossed with Delta 5-style grooves and New York not-disco. Sadly, as we have been told from Ze's Michel Esteban, her health is not very stable at the moment. We send her our warmest wishes with the hopes that she'll recover very soon.
2. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (Fat Cat) - The best thing these insane Shamanistic Brooklyn kids have done yet. Less noise, more songs, or perhaps more accurately, incantations. Mostly just acoustic guitars and voices, but often processed digitally. Think Incredible String Band, Ghost, Holy Modal Rounders, Tyrannosaurus Rex as produced by or Oval or Fennesz and an acid damaged Brian Wilson.
3. Cluster - Zuckerzeit (Spalax) - Yet another German album from the 70s way ahead of its time. Always overshadowed by their better known countrymen: Neu!, Can, Kraftwerk, Zuckerzeit foreshadows Berlin's Basic Channel and glitchy tech dub, the precise motorik electronics of To Rococo Rot, and the pastel drones that are the specialty of Wolfgang Voigt and Stephen Mathieu.
4. Sonny Murray - Homage to Africa (Actuel) - Sonny Murray played drums for the best of the 70s ecstatic jazz cats and here he's joined by a lot of them: Alan Silva, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Archie Shepp, Dave Burrell and others. The most transcendent ecstatic/ethno jazz record I've heard in a long time. Side A's "Suns of Africa" is just mind-bogglingly gorgeous in its balance of chaos and tranquility. It's like witnessing the birth of a planet or something.
5. Charles Portis - Gringos - I finally found a copy of this, his most recent novel, published in 1991. A truly wonderful, underrated American author, Portis captures the language and comedy of hubristic aspiration better than any author i know. Best known perhaps for his book True Grit and the movie made of it, Dog of the South is probably the best place to start. The Coen brothers capture the tone of a Portis novel pretty well in Raising Arizona. I hope he still has one more book up his sleeve.
6. Caetano Veloso - Caetano Veloso (Philips) - No title is listed on this late 60s album but this is prime Tropicalia stuff. Definitely one of my favorites. Not as freaked out in fuzz guitar as some of Gilberto Gil or Mutantes stuff. It sounds like Veloso was listening to lots of Nino Rota and Kinks and this pitches itself nicely between the delicacy of his early stuff with Gal Costa and the more experimental Tropicalista stuff.
7. JJ Cale - Live DVD The Lost Session - Previously unreleased footage of Cale performing at the Paradise Studios in Los Angeles in 1979. Featuring Leon Russell on keyboards, and a full band of resolutely poker-faced players, they roll through over twenty numbers, completely smoking, with subdued charm. Watch as Larry Bell handles the piano sitting on a throne wearing rollerskates...See JJ Cale reveal the inner workings of one of his home-built guitars, adjusting the intonation by the addition of a coin or two....Get lost in the wonder that is Leon Russell's beard.
8. Kemialliset Ystavat - Kellari Juniversumi (Fonal Records) - The good people at Aquarius Records turned me onto this one. I don't really know much about Kemialliset Ystavat other than they're Finnish and they make beautifully freaked out psychedelic folk a la Tower Recordings, Ghost, Total, Popol Vuh. Kellari Juniversumi came out 2002 and is spacious, spooky and rural in an outer space void sort of way. it's also one of the most beautifully designed cds I've seen in a while.
9. Jackie Mittoo - Champion in the Arena 1976-1977 (Blood & Fire) - Can't really go wrong with Jackie Mittoo. Well, yeah you can. But rarely. On this fairly recent collection, Jamaica's equivalent of Booker T. is in a buoyant mood, accompanied by a live band and the occasional primitive drum machine - of course, organs themselves have some of the best rhythm boxes! The fun part is when he quotes songs of the era in his solos and you can't place the melody for hours. And then finally you realize he's quoting "Norwegian Wood" or something.
Antietam have kept relatively quiet for the past ten years, releasing only one album of new material (Rope-A-Dope) since 1994. Singer and guitarist Tara Key has been somewhat more active, releasing 2000's Dark Edison Tiger, a lovely instrumental album-by-mail made with Eleventh Dream Day's Rick Rizzo. Their brand new album (Victory Park, released by Carrot Top Records) is filled with songs as heavy, catchy, and rocking as any in their severely underrated career. Tara Key contributed this week's Listed:
10 current sonic statements:
2. Unknown Passage: the Dead Moon Story (Directed by Jason Summers and Kate Fix) – Josh and I went to the world premiere. As I expected to, I fell in love with them all over again. I knew the basic story and have experienced at close range Fred’s timeless weathered passion brimming griot stance, Toody’s rock hard thump and Andrew’s elastic-limbed loyalty, but EVERY band should see this/hear them. Especially the youngsters starting their quest. It was like going to church. Hearing the truth.
3. Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information – Yeah, I know. I’m about 2 years behind the hipster curve. So what? I love the fact that he played most everything on here (the song and the record) and it still sounds breezy instead of dictatorial. And I can relate to just wanting to go hide when it seems like the world isn’t listening.
4. Arnold Corns (AKA Bowie) - Man In the Middle – A relic from my young, electrified Summer Of the Diamond Dogs spent in NYC at the age of 16. I bought it then (1974) and KNEW it was Bowie and Ronson, despite the subterfuge of the nomenclature. I swear, talk about going to church. I hear Ronson’s keening wail as a subtext to every snarl and swoon I get from my Les Paul. Yes, Neil too, but this man gave me the flash that a wallflower like me needed more than vitamins. Finding that touch and sound early in my guitar playing youth prevented performance scurvy for me. In current and constant rotation.
5. An unknowing synthesis spot in Grand Central Station (AM only) – On the way to my day job, many mornings Sister Rosetta is stationed in front of the shuttle to Times Square. The usual cadre of Chilean musicians is in the large circular space where all paths cross to 3 subway lines and where one’s skills as a Mercury Morris-style running back come into play. If you find a spot in between the 2 strains, it is a perfectly beautiful stereo mix of found sound, but the best part is that it becomes clear Sister is hearing and responding in cadence and note selection to the other musicians in her acappella paeans to Christ. She scats and proclaims along with the charango and wood pipe-driven echoed-out chaos. An awesome way to start the day.
6. Angel Dean and Sue Garner “Dreams” from Pot Liquor – These 2 ladies have 2 of my favorite voices and to hear them in a blend is astounding. It’s a great record and this tune in particular has stuck in my personal soundtrack for weeks. Angel’s voice is voluptuous, wise, all-knowing with a sass; Sue’s smoky, smooth and the type of soothe that fills in the cracks of splintered, stressful living, kisses it and makes it all better. And, dammit, they both have that Southern twang like a comma on a retort that makes me happy.
7. Unwitting Psychology Experiment – Ever wonder how the arc from 'love this song' to 'get it out of my face' works? Is it repetition, sickly acknowledgement of “guilty pleasure,” the idea of a hook in general that gets its hooks into you? On Newsworld International (a cable station available here in NYC), obviously someone contracted for filler music for sports, weather and business reports. It’s all by one hand with variations on the theme. First I became focused on a bit of an aberration in the sports music; a little waver in the 3rd cycle of it that falters a little on one note like a note bender on a synth. Every morning I heard it. Then I began to anticipate the waver. Like a cat waiting at an empty food dish. Then I became terminally annoyed by something that seemed like a spelunked treat only days earlier. Now I have to turn it off. It’s a good gut check for the saccharine in songwriting. And makes me more firmly committed to avoiding the easy payoff (sorry folks!).
8. Considering the I-Pod: joining the crowd – No I am not going to be part of a white wire-wearing commuter nation like the masses I see on the streets of NY. But I am enjoying the fact that I can store a ton of stuff I gather like blueberries and I don’t have to eat them all before they go bad. Put on shuffle play and have nice surprises from tracks I had even forgotten about culling. A meta-display of my good intentions about new exposures, which I dearly need to exploit after a cone of silence period re: other folks’ music that I was imposing to finish my own record. And YES it will lead to purchase not just purloining.
9. “El Ya Sabia” by tre / molo from Esopus #1 (magazine) – I never heard of the Nortec Collective or Jorge Verdin prior to seeing the gorgeous new media magazine Esopus (www.esopusmag.com), and I’m not that up on work of the Looping Nation in general, but there is groovy soul to this and as a sometimes looper, I love the slightly bull in a china shop use of loops and collisions that resolves into an ambience like a sweet pillow under my head on a long drive to a place I’ve never been but always imagined.
10. My own new record – I’m not ashamed. I like it. I listen to it. It STILL sounds good!
By Dusted Magazine