Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Porest and Paul Brill.
Listed: Porest + Paul Brill
Mark Gergis is an opinionated Oakland musician who collects field recordings for the infallible Sublime Frequencies record label and releases his own fucked-up music on the Sun City Girl's Abduction label as Porest, Mono Pause (his plunderphonic pseudonym) and Neung Phak (Thai pop!). Gergis gained deserved attention for compiling the excellent Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds From Iraq album for Sublime in 2005, but he's making news again in 2007 for something totally ridiculous.
His Porest MySpace page was removed by administrators after enraged Jewish groups didn't like the way he criticized Israel (we should add that Gergis is incredibly well-spoken). MySpace showed blatant disregard for free speech, and the move should have pissed off a lot more people than it did. Well, now you know; get mad. Visit his new MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/myspaceporest>http://www.myspace.com/myspaceporest and check him out.
Gergis also makes films: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weI9CNhihTU> here's a trailer for his DVD on Sumatran Folk Cinema. He likes to say he's not political, but try to describe last year's Tourrorists! without using that adjective. We tried and failed (see the last sentence), but we hope he's not mad at us. We're honored to present his words as part of this week's Listed.
1. The White Shark - Muggy Bog 10" (Nuf Said Records, 1994)
A timeless solo venture from Mark Davies–the composer dynamo best known for his fame in the 1990s group Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 among other things. He was also the maestro behind the early 1990s classic Asian/Indian cover band, The Heavenly 10 Stems, but the White Shark is something completely different. It's heavily steeped in the weird and contains mosquito anthems, an existential optigon classic and other warped tracks of beauty featuring trombones, multi-pitched voices, tapes, sound effects and lilting cover songs from yesteryear. For me, this 10" is the perfect meeting of song, sound and length.
2. Erkin Koray - Askimiz Bitecek (Harika Kasset label compilation, Istanbul)
This was the first Erkin Koray material I'd heard and I was floored. I purchased this cassette in 1997 at a bus station in Adana, Turkey and it remains my companion to this day. Essentially, it's a Turkish collection of his early singles from the late 60's and earliest 70's very similar to others that have emerged since. Hands down, this is some of the most heartfelt and well crafted 60s psych-pop-rock I've ever heard. Erkin most often stands the test of time more than many of the groups who influenced him seem to. Lush guitar and saz riffs, thick and busy rock bass keeping up with Turkish time signatures and Erkin's incredible voice. A Turkish fan of Koray's once told me, "If you haven't understood the wit of Erkin's lyrics, then you're missing half of the music". And I believe it. But how could I like this 50 more percent than I already do? On a side note, I strongly recommend Erkin Koray fans to seek out the best of his 1980s material. It's always overlooked, but there are some real gems amongst the others.
3. Omar Khorshid - rePost intanom comp (2004)
There is nothing quite like the the unmistakable guitar sounds of Egypt's late Omar Khorshid at their best. This CDR features shining moments taken from various LPs and cassettes of Khorshid's recorded output in the 1960s and 1970s. He was most famous in the West for his Belly Dance LPs n the 1970s but aside from being a guitarist for enigmatic Arab orchestras and singers, including Oum Kalthoum, he enjoyed a healthy solo career featuring originals and instrumental interpretations the music of Kalthoum, Hafez and Al Atarache among others. Reverbed-out surf guitars and electric bass and kit drums with synths of the day meet to make the Khorshid sound what it was. Pray to your gods that there will be a proper compilation released of his work in the near future.
4. The Ophir State Marching Band - LP (1970?)
I call this one "musician repellent" as I've seen more than one theory-head want to jump out a window when putting this on. Music has never sounded so perfectly wrong. If you've never heard this, find it if you can! These are old instrumental standards with all the studio musicians in check except for the horn section, who proceed to play in keys and pitches unheard by man. They are living these songs THEIR WAY. These are horn tracks from the OTHER side of the tracks. I don't know what became of the band or how many records they sold. I just know that a friend of a friend found it at a thrift store in the Bible belt and that things have never been the same. Apparently they were from Salt Lake City (who to this day, still has a smoking section in their airport). Listen as they turn Rogers and Hammerstein and a host of others to rib-eye steak. Play this disc for those who think they know what music is and try real hard to explain it to you all the time.
5. Sun City Girls - S/T LP (1984) / Piano Bar (Placebo/Majora/Abduction/ETC, 2006)
Yes, their entire catalog serves as one body of work. SCG are among the most inspiring collectives of musicians, artists, performers, writers and filmmakers to crawl out from under the rug of Western "civilization". They've always refused to play by the spoken or unspoken rules set by industry, audience, critics or art standards. As a result, their approach is one of the most genuine. They are true folk artists in that way. I don't mean faddish free-folk or whatever. I mean, they are humans. They do things the way they want and have made sure that only THEY call the shots... which is why there are more people that can't appreciate them carte blanche then those who can. When there's a group like SCG who actively defy your expectations and base need for sameness every step of the way, it's unpredictable and unfamiliar...which has somehow come to equal undesirable,. Even in post-post-rehash-post-retro-post-intellectual-post Raisin Bran contemporary culture, the most progressive of personalities seem terrified of unpredictability and change. SCG defy that every step of the way. They are an abstract encyclopedia that straddles two centuries.
6. DARKIE - S/T collection (Thailand/Khmer Surin, 2000)
Darkie was the name of one of the most known contemporary Thai/Cambodian singers who was ethnically Khmer Surin (Cambodian people who live in the Surin region of Thailand that used to be inside Cambodia). He sang in Surin dialect as well as Thai. He had crossover hits that fared well in both countries. A scandal arose after one of his songs reached number one in the late 1990s and instead of claiming he was Thai he claimed to be Khmer Surin, which infuriated the Thai. Rumors of his cause of death abound. Was it liver failure or assassination by the Thai music industry mafia? Regardless, his unique, energetic style of Surin-style "Kantrum" music laden with C&W-style fiddles and upbeat Molam rhythms are truly unique and often imitated in the region. This cassette is no exception.
7. Street Music of Java - Original Music (LP/Cass/CD, 1989)
A long-time favorite. This LP was my intro to Indonesian music that wasn't Gamelan based. Still, some cool Gamelan orchestras make the CD as well, but more anomalous are the excellent recordings of street musicians recorded in Java in the late-1970's performing raw versions of traditional as well as pop Dangdut and Kroncong hits from the era on acoustic guitars, fiddles and makeshift percussion. Many of the resulting renditions end up eclipsing the soul and passion of the original tunes they're covering!
8. ZeN - Tanbul (CD, 1998)
One of the most outstanding psych-rock records of all times. This album takes the best of what you know about Turkish Psychedelia and updates it with taste and mastery. The jams here were improvised and patchworked together dub-style with radical mixing techniques. Overdriven Baglama saz and electric guitars meet heavy percussion and electronics with alien voices ranting in all pitches. It just has to be heard to be believed.
9. Aavikko - Derek (Bad Vugum, 1997)
Aavikko are 3 guys from rural Finland who have used a combination of cheap synthesizers and a kit drum to produce all sorts of music since 1995. Frolicking Rhumbas, Cha Cha ballads, EZ listening preset embellishments, Slavic-sounding Spaghetti "Easterns", Mid-Eastern electro-medleys and plenty of disco damage that's perfect to drive a car to. Derek was their 1st proper LP and it's a riot.
10. Evelyn Lohoefer De Boeck & Beth Osgood Chanock - Drumtalk and Going Places (Activity Records, 1960s)
I encourage everyone to seek out this obscure educational record found in an Oakland thrift store. The liner notes claim, "There is a unique and inherent energy in each piece which offers a wide range of emotional manipulation...the variety of sounds will elicit different tangents from different pupils." Some of this record was made by pouring uncooked macaroni into a metal pan from a height of four feet and there are abstract electronic and acoustic sounds that make this one of the best experimental children's records I've heard. Drums, piano, electronics, effects, creative recording techniques, ETC. The LP was meant to inspire people to play along or move their bodies while listening, but it holds up just as well on its own if you let it. The last cut on Side B is called "Is Somebody Teasing You?" and sounds like a wah-wah cello antagonizing a young one.
Much like half of Dusted's editorial staff, Paul Brill honed his craft for years in Central Vermont before making the move down to New York. His music is a surprisingly sophisticated blend many blends of contemporary pop, electronic and not. His hodge-podge of styles can be a bit overwhelming, but for the most part he pulls it off. His list, like his music, is somewhat unconventional. His latest release, Harpooner, is now available.
List of 10 #1’s by Paul Brill
#1 Project Back Story
I’m in the middle of producing a record with Chandra Oppenheim – all the songs recorded live, improvised, with Chandra reciting impromptu vision lyrics over scattershot sample loops collaged on the fly. We would have/should have been finished months ago, but Chandra took a break from recording mid-stream to attend some chanting thing in Big Sur that was supposed to last 3-weeks, and 3 weeks became 6 months, and she came home pregnant and the project just lost steam and now I’m full-up with film work. Her dad is a notable artist from the Warhol era, and she grew up afloat in a dirty wash of hanger-ons, sycophants and genuine freaks in the downtown art scene. When she was around 10, a group of her dad’s protégés formed a post-rock dance band, conscripting Chandra to write and sing the songs as the front girl. It became a big thing - the Times wrote features about the group, Mary Tyler Moore attended her shows at CBGB, and Chandra and party were among the first participants in the MTV experiment. Two EPs and micro-cult-legend status later (Calvin Johnson circulates a song of hers on his mixed tape series), the story wound down, and Chandra resumed a quotidian life (sort of) in Park Slope. We’re hoping to put out the old Chandra records sometime soon, but we haven’t been able to track down the band’s bassist, who lives upstate somewhere without a phone or computer or mailing address, and he has all the master recordings.
#1 Touring Partner
I just returned from a couple of weeks driving around doing little shows with Michael Zapruder and his Rain of Frogs. I first met Michael back in the day in SF - he was dating a friend of mine for a while, then we lost touch – only recently reacquainted thanks to the wondrous Internet. His last record was real sweet; he then put out the incredible “New Ways of Letting Go” this fall. The record is a marvel, and the songs really came to life watching them played with a variety of line-ups in random art studios, living rooms, and rock bars.
#1 Instrument Windfall
I was at my brother’s wedding a few years ago, stressing about the best-man speech I was about to present, when my aunt Connie began telling me all about her first job at the age of 16 in 1964 and how she budgeted and saved all summer to buy her own first purchase of significance – a Gibson B-25 ¾-body acoustic guitar. And how she never really played the dang thing, and it had been sitting dusty and tragically unloved in her closet for nearly 40 years. It occurred to her now that maybe I’d be interested in taking it off her hands?
#1 Record Purchase While Abroad - Velha Guarda Da Portela
Old time Portela Samba from Oswaldo Cruz – near Rio. Big anthem choruses sung by a beach party choir. Very breezy.
#1 First Concert
As a wee lad, I made the wise decision to fib to my folks and catch a ride with a friend’s older sister to Shea Stadium to see the Clash open for the Who in what was announced as the Who’s final tour. David Johanson started the show off, but I think he was calling himself Buster Poindexter at the time (pretty cool, too; he played an Animals medley, as I remember). The Clash! I wish I could regale in better detail about seeing such incredible bands, but, truth be told, it’s all a little hazy. I do remember my friends dropping what they thought was acid, and the Who played so loud that my ears hummed for about 3 days, and I worried that I would go deaf.
#1 Random Record Store Purchase - Salim Halali – Untitled Cassette
North-African Sephardic songs sung in Arabic. Not sure what he’s singing, but he’s singing it beautifully.
#1 Prog-Rock Fantasy Fulfillment
Way back, my friends and I used to repeatedly watch this old video of King Crimson performing live in Japan. Needless to say, I was dang excited to have Tony Levin over to my apartment to record bass on a few songs for my new record last winter. As it happened, we scheduled the session on the day that the MTA voted to strike; Tony finished his early recording at a mid-town studio at around 11PM, then walked about 40+ blocks to my apartment, bass on his back. The man played bass on Double Fantasy, for goodness sake…
#1 Ten Principles for the Practice of Craft (by Prog-Rock Fantasy Guitarist Robert Fripp)
1. Act from Principle
2. Begin Where You Are
3. Define Your Aim Simply, Clearly, Briefly
4. Establish the Possible and Move Gradually Towards the Impossible
5. Exercise commitment, and all the rules change
6. Honor Necessity
7. Honor Sufficiency
8. Offer no Violence
9. Suffer Cheerfully
10. Take Our Work Seriously, But Not Solemnly.
#1 Guilty Pleasure - That Dog – Retreat from the Sun
The band included 2 of the 3 triplet Haden sisters; I used to play with the third (a cellist, not in the band), and I think we did a show way back with them. Really charming songs.
2 #1 Shows I Saw Last Year
1. Juana Molina with Adem at Bowery Ballroom, NYC – 2 faves in great form
2. Lawrence at APT, NYC - mindbending microhouse
By Dusted Magazine