Listed: 25 Suaves + Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje
25 suaves consists of Mr. Velocity Hopkins (a.k.a. Peter S. Larson) and DJ Party Girl (his beautiful wife Fumie). This guitar-drums duo is reviving spiked collars and long hair faster than you can say "post-punk." Their new album 1938 is a raw-raw-rawkus good time. When Peter S. Larson is not touring with bands like Wolf Eyes and Mechanik, he runs Bulb Records. More info here.
So now Dusted has asked us to do a top ten after I have stiffed them for a review of a Richard Buckner record for about two months. Not that I don't want to write for Dusted, but my literary skills being as limited as they are I can only manage to type four words a week before my left pinky starts going into spasms. I am going to enter a time warp and finish this one right now, Terminator style.
25 SUAVES TOP TEN RECORDS OF ALL TIME. or something like that. DJ Party Girl and I (Peter S. Larson) have come to some consensus about what records could make this list. Basically, I chose five and she chose five so that we wouldn't get in any fights. These are in no particular order.
10. Metallica - Master of Puppets (Elektra) - I don't care what anybody says, this record rules. It's the last record with Cliff Burton on it and he sits like a huge rubber stamp on the whole thing, wearing the same boot cut jeans that my good friend Charlie used to wear. Charlie used to bring a chair to metal shows and hold on to it while he was banging his head so he wouldn't fall down. Cliff didn't need a chair, he had a bass. Both would grin maniacally while head banging. Cliff had lots of hair and his face would achieve a strobe effect. Charlie only had a few wisps of blonde hair and looked like a sickly albino child wearing a Slayer tshirt.
9. Septic Death - Now that I have the Attention, what do I do with it? - Most of you probably haven't heard this record, but you can buy one of the bootleg copies that I keep around just for folks like you. Septic Death was Pushead's band. He did covers for Metallica and Aerosmith of skulls with swirling eyes and sheets of paper flying all around. The miasma on the covers is what the band sounded like, with tunes like "Terrorain". I will sing a few bars "Burning Pain, Exploding Mess, Flesh Erupts, Bubbling Skin, Chemical Gas, Terrorain!" They ruled.
8. Puffy - Jet CD (Epic - Puffy are a pop duo from Japan, but not nearly as stupid and cute as what overweight Hentai Anime heads listen to. No, Puffy are the brain child of Okuda Tamio, who takes Beatles songs and cuts them up and writes totally new vocal lines and lyrics to them. They are like cute but not, smarter than your average bear, I guess. We went and saw them and they totally ruled, but the Hentai Anime heads made us feel kind of violated.
7. Judas Priest - Painkiller (Columbia) - People always make fun of me for listening to this record. I don't know why. Maybe it's cause it wasn't their big hit and people attach some stigma to bands who don't give up after they reach their apex, I don't know. When you are successful, why should you give up? What is so strange or stupid about that? I think ZZ Top's records now are just as good as the old days and I have no ill will toward them, in fact I am happy that they continue. I will write about them later. For now I will talk about Painkiller. Painkiller was the first Priest record in 15 years without drummer Dave Holland. I was sad to see him go and am disturbed that they never mention him at all but Scott Travis' double kick is fucking awesome. Basically Painkiller was the record that everyone told Priest they couldn't do. People said they werent' hard anymore. People said they weren't fast anymore. Painkiller is both hard and fast and shows up bands like Pantera any day. Plus Rob Halford painted himself completely silver for the tour and was like the gay Japanese Pepsi man on stage.
6. Halford - Live Insurrection (BMG) - OK, so I segued into Halford's solo career. After a weird bout with Pantera style metal and a strange Trent Reznor collaboration with "Two", Halford is back in metal and I can't be happier. There really are very few "great" vocalists and most of them are hardly recognized by anyone. I will name them now:
5. RC Succession - All - RC Succession is a Japanese band fronted by singer/songwriter Kiyoshiro Imawano. While many folks out there seem to think that the Japanese can only come up with either bubble gum pop or freak out noise, if anyone had the patience to get past their own cultural biases they would find that Kiyoshiro rules. He is kind of like a cross between Mott the Hoople, Otis Redding and Neil Young all rolled into one. Really very powerful stuff that exceeds bounds in any culture. This guy has been at it for more than 30 years now and, like Mr. Halford, only seems to get better and better with age. Recently he did an amazing punk version of the Japanese national anthem which spit in the face of the government all over network TV. He had a band called the Timers which took Monkees tunes and changed all the words so that they were about pot. He would come out on stage a berate his fans for 30 minutes before they even played a note. Then he would sing these amazingly touching Otis Redding style tunes that will make you heart ache. He was given the key to the city of Memphis, TN and wears eye makeup.
4. AC/DC - Powerage (ATCO) - I like this record because all the songs are more or less one note. There is so much you can do with one note. In an age of samplers, backing tracks and convulted harmonies, AC/DC prove that all you need is to get Bon Scott wasted and have him go off over the barrage of that one A note. Maybe folks out there think that this is no big deal. You try writing 10 tunes all based around the same single note. It's not as easy as it looks. I should know, because we are only two people all of our songs have to be written in D or they sound tinny and stupid.
3. ZZ Top - Rhythmeen (RCA) - Maybe I should have named this column "Top ten records done by bands after their prime". I certainly would not have been lacking in material. Mr. Aaron Dilloway made fun of me for buying this record. Being post De Guello, or even post Eliminator, this one gets pushed aside but I don't care. A band's biggest record is not always their best nor is their first record always their best although it may be hip to say so. Rhythmeen isn't ZZ Top's best record but it sure is damn good. Way good, sickly good, like where do they come up with this shit, it's like it rolls out like grease and there is a seemingly endless supply of it. From a song writing standpoint, a playing standpoint, I am floored, I can never ever be as good as Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard but I can sure as hell try. They wouldn't give up, why should I?
2. Blue Cheer - Insideoutside (Polygram) - I like this record for two reasons. One, the cover is a triple fold out painting and I think that a pretty bold move that not many people would take nowadays. Like how many of you have paintings of yourselves on your record covers? Few. Wolf Eyes did it and it ruled. Blue Cheer did it and it ruled. The pencil drawing on the back of Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell where they all have poofy hair is cool too. Anybody who has a painting done of them is cool in my book. It's real. The other reason I like this record is the production. It's totally fucked up, like Vokokesh is panning everything all over the place, some dude is running around with the drum overheads phasing the sound everywhere, it's like the biggest ear drum bust party ever made. I wish people would be this brave with record production. Now, there are so many recording options out there that you want every recording to be the best representation of the tunes that they can possibly be. When Blue Cheer went in, it was like, "this is all we got to work with, where's the weed?"
1. Motorhead - All - I saved this for last cause it's the best. Motorhead is brilliant. Lemmy established a sound early on, made sure that it worked, found that it worked and stuck with it. No questions, no self doubt, just pure rock. Like, if it ain't broke, why fix it? Some people say that we sound like Motorhead. I am always so happy when anyone says that. We didn't set out to sound like Motorhead at all, but I guess all the many hours of listening to them crept in somewhere, or maybe it's cause we are two people and are limited by what we can do, which is mainly D tuned power chords played fast and loud, which, to be honest, is all I ever really want to hear. Plus, Lemmy has not quit to this day and is just as good and as real now as he was then. And everyone sings along. Songs people sing along to are real songs. Human songs that command respect and love. Music that needs to be "appreciated" is not music at all, but classical excercises of intellect and the manipulation of rules. I have no time for that. Motorhead rules. Fuck you if you don't think so. I haven't met a single soul who doesn't think so.
Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje
Norwegian singer, improviser, and composer Maja Ratkje has worked with such artists as Merzbow, Jazzkammer and Otomo Yoshihide. She plays electronics with the free improv group Spunk and has also worked with leading improvisers like Evan Parker, Rhodri Davies and Gino Robair. Ratkje’s most recent projects include Syklubb fra Hælvete by the noisy Spunk offshoot Fe-Mail, and Voice, a new solo CD on the Rune Grammofon label that finds her experimenting with processed vocal sounds.
This is a list of some great albums in random order, impossible to compare since they cover a wide range of styles, and represent some of my sources of inspiration that for most people don't make any sense at all. But there is a logic somewhere, an urge to some unexplainable honesty and directness that I feel is coming through in all these recordings. Still, if you asked me to do this again in a week or two, the list would probably look quite different!
1. Sainte-Colombe - Concerts a Deux Violes Esgales (Alice Musik Produktion, 1996) Leif Henrikson and Mogens Rasmussen - viola da gamba. - Sainte-Colombe is a mysterious person in French music history. There is no record of his dates of birth or death, but it is likely to be sometime from 1600-1700. His first name is also a secret for us, and the pieces recorded on this cd are, with two minor exceptions, his (or hers?!!) only surviving work. The bass instrument in the viola da gamba family has seven strings made of real intestines, it is tuned like a guitar (its origin is said to come from a guitar that once was bowed), and has an airy spherical sound from the deep register to the high, all straight notes (no horrible classical vibrato here!). The harmonies developed along with the horizontal, melodic lines take you on a ride to something esoteric but infinite. There is so much peace in this recording!
2. Håkon Austbø - O. Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus (Naxos, 1994) - This Norwegian pianist is dedicated to playing the music of Messiaen, and he even worked closely with this legendary composer. This double album for solo piano is one long composition split in smaller movements, a wonderful sense of duality and feeling for form keeps your attention. Messiaen's skills as an improvisor shines through the strongly structured music and makes the music very present and alive! (The composer as an improvising musician is a lacking role today.) While still alive (but unfortunately before I was able to travel on my own) Messiaen improvised regularly at the organ during his church services in La Trinité in Paris for the mass every Saturday. He is a Bach of our time, but his religious disposition is however almost frightening!
3. Naked City (John Zorn) - Grand Guignol (Avant, 1991) - Bringing in Yamatsuka/Yamataka Eye, Zorn's Naked City ensemble became the best speed-jazz-punk-improv ensemble ever! (Perhaps only beat by Otomo Yoshihide's group Ground Zero later on.) This recording is a definite tribute to the darker sides of humanity, referring to a Paris movement at the turn of the last century (hundred years ago). The album opens with the title track, closes with 33 miniatures from an older issue, and in the middle you find seven re-instrumentations of Debussy, Scriabin, di Lasso, Ives -and Messian. The latter, a beautiful, crystal clear performance with the melody from the fifth movement of 'Quator Pour le Fin du Temps' played on a moog. This album is very romantic!
4. Giacinto Scelsi - Quattro Pezzi per orchestra, Anahit, Uaxuctum (Accord, 1989) - This album is one in a series of Scelsi's music on Accord, representing his most expressive and at the same time inward dive into a world of microtonal writing from the mid 50s to mid 60s. 'Quattro Pezzi' is a four movement piece, each meditating around one central pitch. 'Anahit' is the most beautiful "violin concerto" ever written, a gliding sensation upwards with chamber orchestra and a microtonal violin totally free from virtuoso clichés ending in cadenza and a coda which lifts the music to a higher reality. The subtitle is "Lyric Poem dedicated to Venus" and 'Anahit' is the ancient Egyptian name for Venus, as well as being the name of the main female deity in ancient Asia Minor. Who cares that later discovery discredits the composer because his assistant was helping him writing down the notes. It's the music that counts!
5. Merzbow - Puroland ([OHM] records, 2001) - One out of a million albums released by Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, I can't possibly have an overview, and I won't mention many more of them. This release is very representative of this innovator of Japanese noise. After ten years with a pile of analogue equipement, since 2000 Merzbow has been into performing with his laptop only, but the noise is still fully alive! Merzbow's sound collage is flexible, organic, synthetic, sadistic, erotic, energetic -and full of musicality (even though hard core noisenicks may hate me for saying so)!
6. Glenn Gould - J. S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (Sony Classical, 1982) - A meeting of two sober masters. Needs no further comment.
7. Astor Piazzolla and the New Tango Quintet - Tango: Zero Hour (American Clave, 1986) - Dance music becomes concert music. This kind of new tango is energetic, mad, sensual, diabolic and full of longing.
8. Togi Hideki - Gagaku (Heaven, Earth and Sky) (EMI Toshiba, 2000) - Gagaku music is Japanese court music, unchanged over more than thousand years. This is a professional ensemble playing the gagaku "standards" on traditional instruments. I got this cd from a dancer in Tokyo, and nothing in the beautiful cardboard cover is translated to English, I got the title and the name of the ensemble leader translated. This music is slow, strange, powerful and "very disharmonic for western ears", it totally fits my requirements for good music. The instruments are the wind instruments ryuteki and hichiriki, the string instruments shamisen and koto, different percussion instruments and the mouth organ into which you produce sound through circular breathing, the sho.
9. The Golden Palominos - Dead Inside (Restless, 1996) -Very dark even though the music's surface is more "easy listening" than most of the other music in this list. Electronics and poetry draws the listener into a surrealistic house with each song representing a different room, in my mind, for some reason, very much related to another favourite of mine, Michael Ende's collection of stories in the novel, Mirror in the Mirror.
10. Clara Rockmore - The Art of the Theremin (Delos, 1987) - Clara is the master of the theremin! On this album she plays the instrument with her sister accompanying on piano compositions we know from the classical vocal and strings repertoire. It sounds like a mixture of a mad soprano who doesn't breathe and someone playing the musical saw. It's totally absurd! (The theremin is an analogue instrument made in the late 20s by the Russian with the same name. You produce sound by moving in the air against two antennas, controlling the volume and pitch.)
By Dusted Magazine