Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: The Chocolate Monk himself, Dylan Nyoukis, and Chicago avant-rockers Cheer-Accident.
Listed: Dylan Nyoukis + Cheer-Accident
Dylan Nyoukis started Prick Decay (who’d later change names to Decaer Pinga) in 1992, and went on to start the Chocolate Monk label in 1993, which is still going strong – releasing a ton of out there, experimental and strange musics. He currently performs solo as well as in the band Blood Stereo with his wife, Karen Constance. A vast selection of his solo works and Blood Stereo recordings are now up on Ubuweb and Blood Stereos new LP Your Snake Like King is out now on Pan.
All ready burned out on the whole ‘party pizza time,’ ‘chillaxing’ scene and the whole Jimmy Buffet aesthetic?? Didn’t think you would be, but I certainly is. So I like to immerse my lug holes in something uncanny and tangled up. Here’s what’s been on the stereo of late...
1. Kiko C. Esseiva - Sous Les Etoiles (Hinterzimmer Records)
Swiss/Spaniard Kiko takes us wayfaring into his weird world of creaking and groaning. A piece of electro-acoustic head scratch with a pungent stench of a sea breeze for your nostrils. Some beautiful vocals and wind sections, as well as some sweet droning, field recordings and tape pieces. And all the while you are just carried along on some journey, to where I don’t know, but I am glad I packed my loincloth.
2. Ritualistic School Of Errors - Sweat Stained Fancy heaps For First-Rate Ladies (Resipiscent)
Gregory Jacobsen is a man in need of help. Usually he can be found in his shady little apartment in Chicago, naked except for a pair of underpants fashioned from a box load of latex gloves, sweating, drooling, wheezing and gurgling over his easel, churning out demented paintings of pink quivering flesh and unnamable flaps. This here outfit is his own little malodorous musique-concrete combo, and a mighty fine platter of perplexing and queer audio jelly it is. I like the cut of this gent’s moobs.
3. Kodama - Turning Leaf Migrations (Olde English Spelling Bee)
Let your brain and guts both sprout forth, friends. Recorded over several years in various locations – Niagara Falls, A Slovenian forest, a Swiss mountain top, a Norwegian Isle, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was gonna be some kind of twee ‘forest people’ flat liner, but worry not. Michael Northam & Hitoshi Kojo come on like a couple of grubby faced Ghedalia Tazartes intent on weaving you, the listener, a comforting yet confusing blanket of trip. This LP really does just lift me up and take me places. Like taking an array of small knifes and piercing the bloated, gas filled abdomen of a dead elephant, it’s a heady gas!
4. Alexander Ross - Grandfather Paradox cassette (Generations Unlimited/Ubuweb)
Some of you dweebs might know Ross’ name from his appearance in Bananafish many moons ago, when several of his short stories appeared and his gay cowboy tones could be heard on the accompanying CD, this however is a psychedelic sound collage from the mid-80s, mangled tape from a mangled mind. Seems like Ross now resides in the ‘proper’ world of hi-brow art, but I reckon no amount of chin stroking can hide that fact that inside his out of proportion skull there’s a little man still itching to do the doo. Come back to us, man!
5. Kommissar Hjuler & Mama Baer
Where to begin?? Totally OUT European art weirdness. I received a box of goodies from this couple, complete with sculpture for wood, dentures, olive jar and baby head. As for the audio included, it’s just what the head doctor ordered, I have no idea what is happening most of the time, but it reeks like a prime euro-art come on, like that re-occurring nightmare in which Rudolf Eb.er is trying to fondle you while he slurs you sweet nothings and reeks of wine puke. The CD-Rs they sent are all in minuscule editions, so too the two LPs. All the text is in German, their website is equally as baffling, my mind is spinning and i like it. Gott sei Dank!
6. Mauricio Kagel - Acustica (Deutsche Grammophon ) & The Mauricio Kagel Edition (Winter & Winter)
‘Acustica’ - ‘for experimental sound-producers and loudspeakers’ is a constant here at the Nyoukis clan cave. Kagel here has the performers playing on a selection of homemade instruments and non-instruments (balloons, megaphones, gas blow-lamp, Roman clapper-sandals etc) along too a 4-track tape of electro-acoustic jiggery. The range of sounds on this recording is just wild, and a constant source of inspiration for this yokel. “The Mauricio Kagel Edition” features some great works on the first CD - a couple of pieces for bandoneon (a type of accordion) and 3 pieces for bird-calls. There is also a DVD of his movie Ludvig Van, but my favorite is the second CD that features one of his radiophonic pieces "Ein Aufnahmezustand," it’s like opium for your ears I tell you.
7. Joe Jones - In Performance & Fluxus Ain’t Dead
Couple of bootlegs of sweet fluxus klang from this old fart, now deceased. I think these are two LPs that originally saw the light of day in the mid 70s via the Harlekin Art Gallery in Germany. Anyway what we get here is two LPs of Jones’ music machines - an automaton orchestra, some solar powered, some mechanical, just going up, up and away. Makes me giddy, like an oasis of ladies legs. Some of you goons might wanna note that Jones produced a bunch of his instruments for Yoko Ono’s “Fly’ double LP, another piece of late 20th century ‘wha?’ genius.
8. Afternoon Penis - High Noon & Lexie Mountain - Blood Shed In The Course Of Things (Our Mouth Records)
Well, what can we ascertain from these recordings? Other than Mr. & Mrs. Baltimore probably have some fine greasy intimate moments? Well on ‘High Noon’ Hells bell-end never sounded so good. A smoked out chime of some distant fog memory, just totally forgettable/vague and unforgettable/immense at the same time, like waking up with a smile on your face and a really throbbing, well lubed ear hole. Miss Mountain manages to conjure up the effect of a smoke cloud recorded to dictaphone, with a heavy dose of narco-brain vision/60’s goofball/genius relaxation conversation. She is queen of this kind of vision. Forget ‘What Would Lou & Laurie Do’ & get like Phil Minton and grab a doughnut in both hands!
9. Smegma - 33⅓ (Important Records)
Urgh, this monster of glee mush seems to have been and gone without too much of a fuss, but wait a minute there, Gonk, this is an exceptional record by one of the original band of freaks. The stink is most deffo that of Smegma, that sound is unmistakable, but this baby seems to have been filtered through some kind of modern composition mesh,, like they fashioned a tea strainer from a pair of Igor Wakevitchs’ underpants (probably slightly soiled). These LAFMS old timers just seem to bring an air of calm, space & skill to the old confusion/improv/jam party. Legends.
10. Carlfriedrich Claus - Lautaggregat (Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz)
Bill Kouligas turned me onto this, had heard a couple of tracks by this mad old Kraut, but nothing prepared me for this slab of dementia. The story goes that Claus lived in an old rotten house in some village on the outskirts of Hamburg, and would look himself away for weeks at a time and just throw himself into recording his ‘sound-poetry,’ he also had a penchant for Peyote, so basically what we have hear is the sound of someone just losing it, or should that be FINDING IT? Just some of the purest, most inspiring shit. So I guess the recordings on this disk are from some exhibition he had in the 90s, where he had a bunch of speakers set-up to play a bunch of his old recordings from the 60’s. It’s just beautiful, man (wipes away a tear).
Cheer-Accident is the joyfully unpredictable Chicago group formed by pianist Thymme Jones in 1981 and including a hearty band of other musicians in its lifetime, including Jim Drummond, Mike Greenlees, Jeff Libersher, Dylan Posa, Phil Bonnet, Jamie Fillmore, Chris Block, Andrea Faught, Todd Rittmann, and Mike Hagedorn. Members of Cheer-Accident have played in groups such as U.S. Maple, The Flying Luttenbachers, Smog, Gastr del Sol, You Fantastic, and Illusion of Safety. In 2009, Cheer-Accident released it’s 16th album, Fear Draws Misfortune (Cuneiform). Monica Kendrick commented in the Chicago Reader, "I could easily fill a page talking about any given minute of this album, but suffice it to say that if you’ve ever loved Magma’s apocalypticisms, Neu!’s ghosts in the machine, or Beefheart’s Dada boogie—or at least dreamed of watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir fall down a very long flight of stairs—it might be for you." Thymme Jones and Jeff Libersher wrote up 5 records each, and they’re not telling who picked what.
1. The Beatles – Abbey Road
I don’t know what to write or say about this record that hasn’t already been written or said, so I’ll simply say that I will NEVER get tired of listening to this entire record.
2. Chicago – Chicago II
I know, I know...These guys have been known for being a generic ‘80s soft rock ballads band for decades now, but (trust me!) it’s really hard to go wrong with their first eight albums. And this one is the best of the best. (There are those "in the know" who maintain that their very first album is the only one worth listening to, but I must heartily disagree.) Chicago II runs the gamut (ridiculously so) from raunchy, horn-driven blues ("Movin’ In") to dramatic, high-reaching Beatles-esque pop ("Poem For The People") to Stravinsky-influenced orchestrations ("AM/PM Mourning") to hard rock protest music ("It Better End Soon"), plus the classic rock staple, "25 Or 6 To 4." Not only that, but the record concludes with a (somehow quite palatable in this context) Peter Cetera ballad, as if to foreshadow what the final fifty years of the band’s career would sound like.
3. Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
I’ve been giving my roommate a Genesis history lesson for the past week (we’re going chronologically, starting way in the beginning with From Genesis To Revelation and ending with Abacab, which is as far as I got in this movie, and I gotta say, The Lamb still hits me as their pinnacle. I’ve been doing a lot of research into this period of the band and I still cannot comprehend how this album came to be. It is utterly distinct from albums that came before and after (by Genesis and by any other band). It exists as a true cultural anomaly. What I’m most blown away by is how it manages to ride that perfect line between "one vision" and a "group dynamic." All five members contribute greatly to this work, but it seems like Gabriel must have been heroically filtering the process every step of the way. I say this because the economy and spareness on much of this record do not sound like the result of a democracy, where everyone is throwing a bunch of ideas into the mix, it sounds more like one coherent thought. This album gets lumped into the "progressive rock" category ("pretentious and overblown" was what one review said that I read as a teenager), but Gabriel’s vocals really take it outside of that characterization. There is a very human expressiveness found throughout this album that is rarely found in prog or any other kind of rock.
4. Henry Cow – Western Culture
I guarantee you’ve never heard an album that sounds like this. Granted, we’ve now lived through three decades’ worth of imitators, but nobody has gotten it right (usually erring on the side of slickness and sterility). So how do I briefly attempt to convey what this music is like? I suppose if you combine the most intricate sections of Burnt Weenie Sandwich with a Sun Ra sensibility and then marry those two elements to a general philosophy of complexity falling apart, then that would at least land you in the right solar system. Lindsey Cooper and Tim Hodgkinson were both at the top of their game, compositionally, Fred Frith outdid himself with his abrasive-yet-elegant guitar sounds, and this is where Chris Cutler first perfected his glorious distorted drum sound. And it all grooves! (Don’t tell anyone, but Chris Cutler is pretty much an R&B drummer.)
5. King Crimson – Red
Imagine this: I have some pals who aren’t really fans of King Crimson. But at the very least, they all agree that they have to give props to Robert Fripp for the mind-blowing guitar tones that blanket this record. “Starless” contains one of the most beautiful leads ever written, and John Wetton’s vox on this song sound as if he’s crying for all of the lost hopes and dreams of the world. The title track is as brutal and menacing as any metal song I’ve ever heard. By the time I finished listening to this record for the first time, I felt like someone had disemboweled me.
6. Van Der Graaf Generator – Still Life
A mind-blowing musical and lyrical journey from one of the most brilliant and under-the-radar bands in rock history. My favorite vocalist and lyricist at the peak of his game, exploring, exposing, and exploding some mighty dense and weighty themes here with intelligence and wit. Hugh Banton’s keyboards channel and deliver all the glory of the lost ages, or at least that of a church carnival gone awry. And when the monster groove of Guy Evan’s drums kick in on the second half of the title track, I double-dare you to try and not pound your arms and groove your torso in a fit of air-drumming idiocy. Picture it: high school, your friend’s mom’s used Ford. You’ve just had your first beer, ever. Cranking the VDGG, cruising Main, or is it Jefferson? You start to gyrate in a whirl of teen-age rock glory, fists pumping, head banging, car rocking, until the cop pulls you over and your friend is arrested. But it doesn’t matter, because at that moment, life is fucking beautiful.
7. Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
Wow. He really did it with this one. After countless top ten singles and two very impressive self-produced albums (he had begun to demand 100% creative control, furthering his leaps-and-bounds progression from his years as Motown’s "Little Stevie Wonder"), Stevie proceeded to...get even better! The first four songs on this album (side one) all transition effortlessly from one to the next, and continue to be wholly unmatched in the history of pop and R&B. Most songwriters would have been content to "call it a day," after having written any one of these songs. Oh, and Stevie plays most of the instruments on this record himself.
8. Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom
Absolutely brilliant compositions of melancholia, draped in the uniquely emotional, evocative vocals of the amazing Mr. Wyatt. This record is a highly personal excursion into the depths of a uniquely eccentric genius’ mind, driven to its magnificence by his will to reinvent and rediscover himself after a terrible fall left him paralyzed and no longer able to play drums. The first time I heard this whole record, I had one of those “what the fuck” moments that rarely come along, where you realize that you’re hearing something so unique and beautiful and evocative that you don’t know whether to cry or simply smile in awe.
9. XTC – Black Sea
Plenty of good things can be said about the releases that came before and after this one: the early ones were carried by unbridled, youthful new wave exuberance, while the later ones benefited from the songwriters’ exploration of Bacharach, Wilson, and other iconic composers of pop. However, it is Black Sea that somehow rests perfectly in the aesthetic center, fueled by the unique and powerful drumming of Terry Chambers, but with an ear toward the sophisticated arrangements of latter day Beatles productions. Guilty of overcooking their mixes in subsequent releases (Oranges And Lemons springs to mind), the boys knew exactly when to stop back in 1980.
10. Yes – Relayer
I realize that my inclusion of a Yes record that contains neither Bill Bruford nor Rick Wakeman on a list such as this is the equivalent to treason for most Yes fans, but sorry. This record fucking transcends. It sounds like some mad music visionary assembled a fusion band comprised of alien geniuses and locked them up underground in a cave for five years where they were only permitted to communicate with each other via their instruments, then let them outside for exactly one hour to gaze at the brilliance of the dusk sky before sending them back down to the cave to record and mix this record. The middle part of “To Be Over” makes me cry every time I hear it. Steve Howe is out of his fucking mind throughout this record, Patrick Moraz’s keyboard parts are perfectly integrated into the compositions and Chris Squire and Alan White tear down the imaginary city. The envelopes were pushed on this one and then pushed again.
By Dusted Magazine