Listed: The Ex + Matt Krefting
In a decade when everyone from the Incredible String Band to the Jesus Lizard has staged a comeback, the Ex top them all; not only are they still together thirty years after they first came together as a punk quartet playing gigs in Amsterdam squats, they’ve never compromised their values, and their music has never sucked. Key to their success is a commitment to constant change and improvisational acumen that enable them to turn circumstances that might break a lesser band into opportunities for growth. The most recent change is the departure of singer and founder G.W. Sok, whose departure has not only opened the door for a new member, Arnold de Boer (samples, beats, guitar, vocals, etc.), but for he and the rest of the Ex — percussionist-vocalist Kat Bornfeld and guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessel — to develop a whole new set of music. While The Ex have already done two European tours, including one backing the great Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya, both a new record and an American tour are a ways off, although Andy Moor will appear with DJ Rupture at the Wire’s Adventures In Modern Music Festival in September.
Five favorite records of Arnold de Boer
1. Lee Perry – Revolution Dub (Creole)
2. V/A - Tanzania Instruments: Tanganyika 1950 (Sharp Wood)
3. Aphex Twin – "Girl / Boy" EP (Warp)
4. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane over the Sea (Merge)
5. Disrupt – The bass Has Left The Building
Andy Moor’s Top Five (they are all equally unbelievably amazing)
1. V/A - Soweto Compilation (Rough Trade)
2. DJ /rupture - Gold Teeth Thief (Soot)
3. Rembetika Mortika - Rare Vintage Recordings From a Greek Underworld, 1927-1946 (Arko)
4. Sonic Youth - Evol (SST)
5. The Fall - Grotesque (After the Gramme) (Rough Trade)
Northampton musician Matt Krefting has been making noise since 1996. He’s performed in at least 15 groups over the years, but if you know of him, it’s probably because via his duo Son of Earth. For the last year, however, Krefting worked on the successful covers album I Couldn’t Love You More, which was released on Ecstatic Peace in June. John Moloney, Phil Franklin, Ron Schneiderman, Rob Thomas (all of Sunburned Hand of the Man) and John Townsendmade up Krefting’s backing band, along with J Mascis, John Shaw and Lynn Myers. The album features songs from Rick Danko to John Martyn to Bill Fay … even the Band. The tracklisting is a Listed in itself, but Krefting was kind enough to come up with a whole new one for Dusted. Son of Earth just released their new LP, Improvements on Amish Records.
John Coltrane’s music was the first to really open me up. I never get tired of hearing him. I bought A Love Supreme when I was 14 or 15 and have been listening steadily ever since. The Impulse records are my favorite (Live at the Village Vanguard Again perhaps most of all), but there’s not much I don’t like. It took me a long time to listen to any other jazz because I just kept getting Coltrane stuff - and it was so good. I’ve found other jazz figures I really love (Johnny Dodds, Sun Ra, Fats Waller, and Albert Ayler leap to mind), but I’ll always keep Coltrane at the top of the heap.
“At first, like everyone, I appreciated the effect of mild drunkenness; then very soon I grew to like what lies beyond violent drunkenness, once that stage is past: a terrible and magnificent peace, the true taste of the passage of time.” – Guy Debord, Panegyric.
I love Lou Reed through and through (Byron Coley once called me an “apologist” right to my face - can you believe it?). I have every record he’s done and scores of bootlegs, and this one has shown itself to be one of the most fascinating of the entire oeuvre. It dwells in the strange nether-region referred to by Debord, functioning as a kind of twisted, depraved theatre. The man narrating this record has long ago lost any control over his emotions - strange ideas and feelings come up out of nowhere, without rhyme or reason, in fits of alcoholic misunderstanding. The title track is a true masterpiece of modern music, and by the time you get there you are drained, used up, useless, hopeless, broken, and open to what the song offers: a wasted and convoluted concept of redemption. There are periods of my life where I have listened, literally to nothing else. If memory serves, the record was 12 hours straight. Over and over.
My discovery of John Martyn knocked me right out. He exists as a musical genre entirely unto himself. I missed the recent New York shows he did, and now he’s gone. He took as many risks as any artist I know, constantly pushing himself into areas that make no sense whatsoever. To “describe” his music in any regular terms would be to cheapen it immensely. More than anyone I’ve ever heard, Martyn trusted himself fully. And I hang on far past the mid-’70s cut-off point to which so many others seem to tightly cling. Abandon all ideas about trying to define what this stuff is, and don’t cringe at the production on the later records, just open yourself up and let it in. I suppose I’d start with Solid Air or Bless the Weather, but I’d get to Grace and Danger in a hurry if I were you. It’s the most pained record he ever made.
Another record that just seems magical to me. I never gave Morrison a second thought when I was younger, then heard Astral Weeks in high school and was flabbergasted. Gradually, I came to know more and more of his music, and when I first heard this record I was floored. I couldn’t imagine a more melancholy atmosphere. Instantly, I pictured myself in an old hotel somewhere in a tiny hill-town, rain pouring softly outside, sitting at a table next to a fire clutching a glass of scotch, mourning something I’d long forgotten. Like The Bells, I have flipped this LP endlessly for hours, just soaking in it. One of the only records I can think of that I’d hear anytime, anywhere.
When I first heard “It Was a Pleasure Then,” I was probably 15 years old, and remember thinking that no piece of music had ever summed up so completely what it felt like to be alive. Very beautiful and very terrifying. And for years, Chelsea Girl was the only Nico record I had. I was completely content to play this song again and again. My discovery of The Marble Index was a revelation in that it showed just how much more of this strange emotional territory there was to explore. The mystery quotient is extremely high here, and as such allows you to go back and back and keep finding new discoveries. “Frozen Warnings” is so beautiful it’s hard to believe it exists. And the record does seem like a miracle, or some sort of supernatural gift.
And speaking of mystery, this set is literally soaking in it. The mystery of the motorcycle accident, the mystery of who really does what on what track, the mystery of what is actually being said during “I’m Not There,” and most of all, the mystery of just where in the god-damned-piss-hell this music comes from. It seems like it’s dripping out of the air. The hazy quality of the tapes themselves only adds to the aura. The genesis of Music from Big Pink and John Wesley Harding is here. When looked at as a body of work from 1967, those two LPs and these tapes form a formidable statement indeed.
It’s hard to express how important these two records are to me. I came to them quite late in life (I was probably 20), but they have the distinction of offering me precisely what I was looking for then. The sound of Bowie’s voice has always been comforting to me, and to hear that voice I loved so well contextualized in these incredible sonic environments was just too perfect. For years, if I found myself needing, for whatever reason, to feel comforted, I would listen to one of these records. I love the simple structure of them: one side songs, one side “ambient” music (with “The Secret Life of Arabia” as a nice treat, of course). Despite the often bleak subject matter of the lyrics, you can hear how much fun is being had creating these incredibly fertile creative situations. I had a wonderful time exploring what else Dave & Co. were up to in ‘77 as well: the first two Iggy Pop records, Eno’s Before and After Science, the Eno records with Cluster, and if you spread out a couple years on each side you end up literally wading in a pool of fantastic music from Bowie, Eno, Fripp, et al.
I am forever indebted to Bryan Ferry. I know no other musical figure who is simultaneously so moving and so funny. Few have brought me such pure pleasure. He engages the parts of my brain that are usually reserved for one type of music or another, and melts them flawlessly, without any nauseating, post-modern, “combination of styles” garbage. The music, while extremely “arty” (isn’t that an awful word?) is at the same time full of very genuine feeling. For all his smart-ass ways of throwing actual ideas at you (not the practice of most rock front-men), he also elicits very deep and real emotions. The first two records are always batted around as “the ones,” but this LP, just after Eno’s departure, shows the band working to fill the immense experimental hole left by the flamboyant, synth-warbling, feathered fellow. And the record is stronger for it. Bizarre song structures abound, the lyrics are razor-sharp, and Ferry is in absolute top form. The LP versions of all of these songs are vastly superior to their live incarnations (save “Psalm”), which goes to show how well the band held up without Eno’s studio presence. If I had my druthers, I’d live in Amazona, wouldn’t you? And if there’s a better song out there than “Mother of Pearl,” I suppose I just haven’t heard it.
My friendship with Scott Foust began about eight years ago, and he has been one of the most constantly inspiring presences I know. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be around his impeccable fashion sense, flamboyant personality, and the breath-takingly gorgeous music he and Karla Borecky make together. And he makes a terrific martini. Or Manhattan, if you prefer. For music that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally rich, you’d be hard pressed to find a better label. The Idea Fire Company LPs, the vastly underrated Pickle Factory album, Tart, Scott’s brilliant new solo disc Jungle Fever – they are all worthy of your time and attention. (There’s also the robust and powerful Dead Girl’s Party duo with yours truly – we have an LP currently “in the can” and are looking for interested labels.) By including the entire Swill Radio roster I can mention the huge impact that The Shadow Ring have had on me, especially the three Swill LPs. I could go on and on. Everything Graham Lambkin does is both a surprise and a treat. One of the most fertile minds I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.
Wolman was part of the Letterist International, a precursor to the Situationist International. A fascinating and inspiring figure, he is also responsible for my favorite sound poetry LP. A combination of “straight” sound poetry and more tape-based work, this collection sparkles with personality and delight. Wolman gurgles, burps, intones, screeches, and warbles his way through an array of different moods - there’s one for everybody! This would be a children’s birthday party favorite if there was any justice in this sick and inane world.
I was introduced to Two Daughters as a sort of tag team effort of Doctors Foust and Lambkin. First we knew of just the LP on Anthony & Paul Records, distributed by United Dairies (and apparently partly responsible for the Fothergill/Stapleton split?), and then somehow Scott got a hold of this tape, which I believe pre-dates the LP. It’s a much more somber affair, comprised of murky keyboards and vocals, exquisitely multi-tracked. There is a sadness to this music that I can’t put my finger on. “So I” is as powerfully evocative a piece of music as I know.
I know I’m well over my ten by now but I would be remiss in leaving this one out. I’ve often said that if I had a musak-style knob on my wall that could ooze out music, I would want to hear this. The sound of eternity.
So there you have it. A list. Not a complete list by any stretch, but a list nonetheless. Some classics, some obscurities. Now that I’ve done this, I plan to have a nice little Saturday night some time soon and play all these things together.
By Dusted Magazine