Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Portishead side project Beak> and Texas trio Tre Orsi.
Listed: Beak> + Tre Orsi
That pulsing Krautrock bass in BEAK>‘s music? The one that reminds you a bit of Faust’s IV? That’s Billy Fuller. The list of Fuller’s projects is long, but includes Fuzz Against Junk, Massive Attack, Malachai, The Moles and Robert Plant. While Fuller and BEAK> didn’t exactly set out to make a Krautrock-y album (and they do swerve around into shoegaze-y territory as well), they listened to the Czech avant-rock band The Plastic People of the Universe while recording their self-titled album, and it might of unconsciously affected them. BEAK>, which besides Fuller, includes Matt Williams of Team Brick and Geoff Barrow of Portishead, have fairly strict constraints for recording: the music is to be recorded live with no overdubs. That immediacy comes through in the palpable feeling of BEAK>‘s music. Their latest single “Wulfstan” is available now.
1. Love - Forever Changes
This record has been with me from the moment I seriously considered having a go at this business of making music. It’s one of the only long players I have in my house that has the power to make me cry like a baby. The power of the songs are ridiculously good, the arrangements are pretty much perfect throughout, the lyrics are from the top shelf of psychedelic land, and the almost telepathic way the musicians play off each other is spellbinding..... If I could write one song like “Andmoreagain”, “A House Is Not A Motel” or “Old Man”, I would die a very happy chappie indeed. Top f*cking drawer.
2. 13th Floor Elevators - Easter Everywhere
Any record that boasts both “Slip Inside This House” & “Levitation” deserves a seriously big applause. This band were the dogs bollocks, they didn’t sound like anyone else before them or after... who else could take a simple 12 bar with “Levitation” and turn it in to a complete head fried example of “DON”T F*CK WITH ME!!!”. The use of the jug player is inspired and Roky’s voice is just superb! I was playing in Austin, Texas with Robert Plant about 5 years ago and I had the chance to meet Roky. He was stood about a foot away from me and I just simply shit myself. In fact, I was stood a foot away from Arthur Lee that same year at a festival in the UK and did the same thing... shit myself! They say you should never meet your idols.........
3. Silver Apples - Contact
The Silver Apples are one of those bands you have to pinch yourself about having ever existed! Lyrically, they occupy the same space as Syd Barret, they’re like adult nursery rhymes... childlike innocence but damaged! To think this was just two blokes making these incredible soundscapes with drum breaks to die for (A Pox On You) is just stupid. I also think “You & I” is the most apt assessment of domestic bliss ever written... I think we have all heard that oscillating nightmare sound in our head when doing the dishes! I did get to meet Simeon a couple of years back at a gig he played in Bristol in front of about 15 people (I didn’t shit myself)... he was a jolly nice bloke indeed.
4. Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys
Jimi is the best. I love all 4 records he put out when he was alive but if I had to choose one, it would have to be this one. It’s Jimi playing live with all the freedom to play over a kick ass rhythm section, his mates Billy Cox & Buddy Miles. “Machine Gun” just makes me sweat, the snare drum replicating the gun & Jimi’s guitar creating the sound of bombs going off... it’s high drama but f*ck me it’s dark! Jimi’s voice sounds ace on this LP too, and Buddy Miles’s soulful voice is a great contrast.... nice fat bass tone from Billy Cox throughout as well, and you can’t grumble at that.
5. The Plastic People of the Universe - Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned
Not many people will know this record. I only heard it at the beginning of last year, Geoff played it to me just before we started the BEAK> album and it just blew my head off.
The Plastic People were an underground band from Prague, Czech Republic who went against the grain of the communist regime. I’ve heard that in the early 70’s, police arrested anyone who attended there live shows... not funny.
Anyway, the music on this record is great. It sounds like it was all played live in a room with one microphone, on paper that sounds bad but it isn’t, it sounds like it’s coming from another place altogether. It kind of reminded me of the sound you get on those Ethiopian jazz records (a serious of compilations called Ethiopiques is well worth checking out)... this method of recording and performance was a direct influence on how we approached making the 1st BEAK> album. Superb.
6. Can - Ege Bamyasi
So much of Can’s back catalogue is worth checking out but to my ears, Ege Bamyasi is the most complete listen. When I first heard “Vitamin C” I couldn’t stop grinning, it was everything you want in a song and more. It’s so spacey & psychedelic but the groove from the bass & drums is so infectious and dirty. Lets just say I like to dance at a party to James Brown or whoever just as much as your next man, but this song made my head dance as well! Obviously, BEAK> have had the comparison to Can.... which is fine because we love them.
7. Dr. Alimantado - Best Dressed Chicken in Town
This album came out in 1978 on Greensleeves. It’s basically Dr. Alimantado toasting over reggae classics by John Holt, Gregory Isaacs, Horace Andy and others.... it’s so good. Again, the sound of this record sounds like it’s coming from another place, it’s roots, it’s dub but it’s something else. He’s singing about gun pollution in Kingston but with a sense of humour. The drums and bass throughout are proper good, what else do you want?!
8. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Lots of people go on about “Closer” as being Joy Division’s best record but this LP is so punky and fresh. Ian Curtis’s voice & lyrics are incredible and the band manage to play really simple & economical stuff but in such an original way. They sound like they could be given a really hard maths sum to work out & be able to find the answer in seconds... I’m not sure what that means but hopefully you will! The first time I heard “She’s Lost Control”, I wanted to smash the room up... the energy of that track is unbelievable. The hi-hat going f*cking nuts along with Hooky’s bass always reminds me of being young & wanting to start a band. A very special band.
9. The Stooges - Fun House
How can you mess with a record like this?! If this record were a bloke, it would eat your head and shag your missus... and you would thank him for it! I don’t know what else to say... thank you Mr Iggy & Friends.
10) Pretty Things - S.F. Sorrow
This album was made in Abbey Road Studio’s at the same time as “Sgt Pepper” & “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”!!! Personally for me, it’s also my favorite of the three. It’s The Pretty Things at there creative peak, the songwriting and playing is so creative... take a song like “Baron Saturday”, it’s got it all. The rolling bass & drum grooves in the verses are so in the pocket and then it has that percussion & drum breakdown in the middle, in kicks the mellotron, the harmonies, and the lyrics are great.... Enough said, brilliant!
“Oh! Baron Saturday
Let him steal your mind away
He’ll show you the grave
Of someone who was saved
From living their life in a year
He’ll show you the grave.
Of someone who was saved
From taking his life with a knife.
Except for Baron Saturday
Your life was cool
Good senses rule
Throw your life away.”
Tre Orsi is the latest signing to the small but rock solid record label Comedy Minus One. The Denton, Texas, trio — Bryan VanDivier, Howard Draper and Matthew Barnhart — have been making music off and on since 2006 when they first appeared on a Silkworm tribute album. More recently, the band was one of the highlights on Gerard Cosloy’s Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010 compilation, inspiring our Doug Mosurock to write: “I could listen to Tre Orsi’s “The Engineer” all day; it’s safely in the Sonic Youth/Unwound school of triumphant, open-chorded noise rock, to the perfect, head-nodding level of abstraction. Regionalism dictates that a band like this should exist, and I’d like to hear more by them.” Tre Orsi’s new LP, Devices + Emblems, was produced by the New Year’s Bubba Kadane and is available now on vinyl via Barnhart’s own Works Progress label. Comedy Minus One will be releasing it on other mediums on June 8.
1. This Heat – Deceit (RER)
On first listen, I could’ve sworn this entire record must have come from outer space. Is there a more unfuckwithable use of bass guitar than the second half of “A New Kind of Water”? When the Out of Cold Storage box was finally released, I bought copies for several people just to see the look on their faces when this kicks in. Our shameless facsimile of Gareth Williams’ (RIP) “attack bass” style is the centerpiece of many a Tre Orsi song. The check’s in the mail, fellas. (Matthew)
2. Unwound – Repetition (Kill Rock Stars)
We each have our own favorite Unwound record, but this (Bryan’s choice) is the most influential on our band. A perfectly-streamlined evolution of the band’s sound, every piece works together like interlocking parts. Not a wasted note on there. (Matthew)
3. Colleen - Les Ondes Silencieuses (Leaf)
From electronics to music boxes to antique string instruments, Cécile Schott never stops pushing her music forward in playful and compelling ways. (Matthew)
4. Bedhead – WhatFunLifeWas (Trance Syndicate/Touch and Go)
Though more people reference Beheaded and Transaction de Novo when discussing Behead, their first album holds a dear place in my heart. Music so exquisitely constructed and executed is hard to come by, especially in the low-budget, heart-on-sleeve world of punk rock. 16 years on, it still surprises and inspires me. Anyone who quips that Bedhead doesn’t sound Texan has obviously never driven up Highway 287 from Decatur to Wichita Falls at sunset with this record in the tape deck. (Matthew)
5. Human Bell – Human Bell (Thrill Jockey)
Collectively, probably our favorite record of 2008, a criminally-overlooked gem by Nathan Bell (ex-Lungfish) and Dave Heumann (Arboretum, Bonnie Prince Billy). A master-class in hypnotic guitar music, it mesmerizes everyone I play it for. (Matthew)
6. Shannon Wright – Let In The Light (Quarterstick/Touch and Go)
A captivating performer ,wholly-inspiring songwriter, and shit-hot guitarist and pianist. Some folks are turned off by the intensity of her performance, but it ‘s completely genuine and refreshing in the current climate of pervasive, detached irony. I hereby begin my campaign to convince Norah Jones to cover “Everybody’s Got Their Own Part To Play” so that Shannon may finally have the yachts on the reg she deserves. (Matthew)
7. Scharpling and Wurster – The Art of the Slap (Stereolaffs)
A ridiculous collection of absurd phone calls that mashes down hard on every one of my “FUNNY” buttons. Our Jetta wagon nearly ran off the road when Corey Harris of Mother 13 referred to Buddy Guy’s Mt. Everest snow grave as a “blues igloo.” (Matthew)
8. Third World War – I and II
There’s some debate as to whether Third World War really “meant it”, but I don’t give a fuck – when the white-noise guitar kicks off “Ascension Day”, my heart starts pumping faster. Anarchist-leaning British blues rock, who named their 2nd record Third World War II – what’s not to love? (Matthew)
9. Wye Oak – The Knot (Merge)
Real songs, real people, really great live. They do with 2 members what most bands can’t do with 5. This record just sounds like a band in it’s natural state, not like they’re going for something. (Howard)
10. True Widow – True Widow (End Sounds)
I had the song “Sunday Driver” stuck in my head for 75 miles of cycling on gravel country roads. 8 hours. There aren’t many records that can do that and not make you crazy. (Howard)
By Dusted Magazine