Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Minnesota rock legend Michael Yonkers and Portland third-eye gang Eternal Tapestry.
Listed: Michael Yonkers + Eternal Tapestry
Michael Yonkers’ introduction into rock and roll is a fairly ordinary one. He heard a local band, and went out and got a guitar of his own. But since that local band was Minneapolis’s Trashmen, he had an unusually high bar to clear. Working with homemade effects and a tuning obtained by dropping his guitar, Yonkers more than cleared it when he recorded his masterpiece Microminiature Love in one short session in 1968. Imagine The Seeds playing Sonic Youth’s guitars and you’ve got an idea of how it sounds; unfortunately, business and health travails (Yonkers was nearly killed in a warehouse accident in 1971) kept it from being pressed up until 2002. Between the ‘70s and Microminiature’s release, Yonkers recorded and pressed a few LPs that encompass daft yodeling, earnest folk strumming, and half-melted rockabilly in tiny numbers. Despite ongoing health problems, he’s spent this decade collaborating with much younger fellow travelers like Plastic Crimewave and the Blind Shake.
This is a list of 10 albums that I purchased early in my life that had a profound effect on me. I started to purchase music back in the day when 45rpm vinyl discs were the popular format. I am not mentioning any of them because the request for this list was "albums.” I was born in 1947, so there was no rock music yet, but I did have a fascination with sound early in my life.
1. SOUNDS OF STEAM LOCOMOTIVES
This was the first album I purchased (mid-1950s). My grandparents lived across the street from a steam locomotive rail line, and switching area. The sounds were fascinating to me. The sounds made by a steam locomotive as it sits and idles are amazing. I probably spent hundreds of hours listening to the sounds on this album, and the sounds outside my grandparent’s window.
2. Buddy Holly - S/T
This was the first music album I purchased (1958). I was born before rock music came along. When rock music did come along, I purchased a little crystal radio that was in the shape of a space ship. It had a long wire that came out of it, that had to be attached to a water pipe. Then I could hear a few AM radio stations through the earphone. I would lay awake at night listening to the early rock music. Buddy Holly was one of my favorites.
3. The Trashmen - Surfin’ Bird
When transistor radios came on the market, I purchased one of the early models. I would lay awake at night listening to music from the radio that I had under my pillow. I did this for years. When I first heard Surfin’ Bird, I said to myself, "Now, here is something that I can relate to in a personal way." I immediately purchased the album (1963).
4. The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones Now
This was an accident that was meant to be. Somehow a copy of this album ended up in a cardboard box of "MISC ALBUMS" in a drugstore near where I lived in early 1965. I purchased that album based on the cover art alone, as no radio stations were playing Rolling Stones music yet. I was totally blown away by the raw, bluesy sound. My band started replacing some of the surf songs we were playing with Stones songs. When I saw that The Rolling Stones were coming to a rural dance hall near my city on their first American tour, I decided to go. It was about a 20-mile drive, and I could not convince anyone to go. I borrowed my parent’s car, and headed out on my own. The car broke down about halfway there. I heard that only about 30 people showed up.
5. Paul Butterfield - Paul Butterfield Blues Band
I picked this one up in 1965 on the advice of a friend. It inspired me, and depressed me at the same time. As a young guitar player, it did depress me in the sense that I realized that there might not be any point in my continuing as a guitarist, as the guitar work on the album was far beyond anything I could ever hope to play. But, I played the album over and over anyway. Ultimately, I was inspired to take a new direction in my playing.
6. Moondog - Moondog
Oh yes, this one totally did it for me. I also purchased this album on the basis of the cover photo alone (1969). When I first heard the music, it was as though my music brain opened up and a cloud was lifted out of my head.
7. Velvet Underground And Nico - Velvet Underground and Nico
I believe it was 1967 when I happened upon this album in a record shop. What can I say about this music that has not been said? I played this album to the point where I was convinced I could hear both sides of the vinyl record at the same time.
8. Wendy Carlos and Benjamin Folkman - Switched on Bach
I was fortunate in that I had an opportunity to be one of 10 people in my metro area who were allowed to go to a private home to see a demonstration of one of the first Moog Synthesizers to come into America. What fascinated me most was that “pitch” and “beat” were accomplished using the same knob. (Think about that for awhile… pitch and beat being generated using the same knob.) We tend to think of pitch and beat being separate — they are the same. That changed the way I made music from that point on. Bach is one of my favorite composers. I came across this album in 1969. To hear Bach using a Moog was truly amazing to me.
9. The Pilgrim Travelers - The Best of the Pilgrim Travelers
I found this album in the public library in the early 1970s, then purchased it later. This group started in the 1930s, and broke up in the 1960s. This one is hard to explain. It simply touched my heart and soul. (Lou Rawls was a Pilgrim Traveler in the late ’50s.)
10. Link Ray - Link Ray and the Raymen
Link Ray singles had been an important part of my life since the late ’50s. He was a "wow factor" with me years before I ever considered playing the guitar. Since, at that point I knew nothing about how excellent he was as a guitarist, it was purely an attitude thing. His attitude hit me hard in the gut. Once I started to learn to play guitar, I realized that Link Ray was an amazing guitar player.
Eternal Tapestry convenes Portland psych heavyweights Nick Bindeman (Tunnels, Jackie-O Motherfucker), Dewey Mahood (Plankton Wat, Garden Sound), Jed Bindeman (Heavy Winged, Jackie-O, Operative), Ryan Carlile (Cloaks) and Krag Linkins in cosmic drones and head-shop wreathes of smoke. The band’s process is open-ended, layering free-wheeling guitar experiments with ambient hum and pulsing rhythmically grounded sound. Still Single called last year’s Mystic Induction “glacial long-form psych rehearsals, burning the j at both ends.” The follow-up, bearing the freak-jamming title Beyond the 4th Door, is out March 15 on Thrill Jockey.
1. Ann Steel - S/T
Deceivingly saccharine synth pop from Italian minimalist composer Roberto Cacciapaglia, who previously worked with the likes of Franco Battiato in the early ’70s, as well as recording Sonanze in 1975, a milestone in Italian minimal/cosmic music. The entire record gives me the feeling of walking thru a futuristic shopping mall with massive fluorescent lights blaring in your eyes, in a good way. It’s hard to choose a favorite song, but the album’s single, "My Time," is a definite pop classic. (Jed)
2. Franco Battiato - Sulle Corde Di Aries
The pinnacle of Battiato’s many awe-inspiring ’70s albums, in my opinion. The prog influences from his first two albums have been dialed down significantly this time around, to great effect. There are some nice examples of Battiato’s overly dramatic singing mixed with some baroque vcs-3 synthi and tumbling, proto-minimal techno rhythms. The track "sequenze e frequenze" sums up everything in 16 minutes and is kind of like a mission statement for ’70s Italian minimal/experimental music in general. A truly unique listen that never ceases to amaze me. (Jed)
3. Mass - Labour of Love
Some seriously downbeat, and defiantly experimental, post-punk. Mass were around for an unfortunately brief period between the members other bands, Rema-Rema and the Wolfgang Press, and other than a 7”, this is their only recorded document. The album acts as a whole, with themes occasionally appearing in different variations throughout the record. A massive bummer of a record that sounds unlike the rest of the early ’80s UK bummer scene. (Jed)
4. Algarnas Tradgard - framtiden ar ett svavande skepp, forankrat i forntiden
Swedish psych from the late ’60s/early ’70s will always hold a very special place in my heart, and this head spinning album was my first taste of that world. The sheer amount of *sounds* and genres covered on this album might seem overbearing on paper, but the way in which they weave everything from tranced-out psych, medieval folk melodies, tape cut ups and more into a defined whole, one that is both transcendently out yet still grounded in the earth, is like true nirvana. (Jed)
5. The Electronic Hole - The Electronic Hole
Loner weirdo Phil Pearlman made this album for personal use in 1969 to attract potential band mates. Heavily influenced by the droning of the Velvets, but closing in fast on some Spacemen 3 zones, he single-handedly worked a masterpiece of super loose, fuzzed to the max psych/garage raga. I love how erratic this album feels, the rhythm’s constantly slipping every which way and the guitars just jingle and jangle and spill out the windows while silky, rubber bass lines carry his musings along with the gentlest of ease. Apparently, he ran his guitar into a kid’s organ to get some of the extra crispier guitar lines. Nice. (Nick)
6. The Walker Brothers - Nite Flights
While Scott Walker wrote and sang the first four tracks on Nite Flights, sadly the other "Walker" brothers took on the rest of the album and paled tragically in comparison. These four songs draw on disco, pop, a rock band and an orchestra and of course Scott’s voice, which, as always, is what seals the deal and makes this a delightfully cold, apocalyptic wet dream. The highlight, however, is definitely "The Electrician," which delves to some seriously terrifying depths. It begins with a looming synth, more likely to be found in a John Carpenter score… "Baby it’s slow, when the lights go low, there’s no help, no" and later "If I jerk, the handle, you’ll die in your dreams." Fuck me! A triumphant orchestra soars through a chorus before it returns to the torturous depths and back again. So dark. (Nick)
7. Crash Course in Science - Signals from Pier Thirteen
I love these four songs! I wish this harsh group had more output but sadly they were but a mere blip in Philadelphia during the late ’70s. These tunes use synths in the best of ways, creating amazing textures that eerily dance around the beat. I love the vocals, too, completely icy and aloof in the greatest of ways! They did such a great job at making sounds that brought in a harsh industrial aesthetic with a total minimal synth pop feel. Love it! (Nick)
8. Baby Grandmothers - S/T
Late ’60s Swedish guitar music at its finest. Total transcendent rock with spaced, yet grooving drums and bass, and just the right amount of vocal howling. The guitar sound is so pure, simple melodic lines being pushed thru a Marshall stack. These long songs set a distinctive melancholy vibe of cold winters and endless barren fields. (Dewey)
9. Alice Coltrane - Journey In Satchidananda
Perhaps the quintessential spirit jazz recording. Deep in meditation, the music buzzes to the sound of tambura, and is pushed forward with endlessly repetitive bass lines. Alice’s swirling harp and cascading piano arpeggios allow Pharoah Sanders to blast his saxophone into the outer regions of the universe. Plus, you can never go wrong with Rashied Ali behind the kit! (Dewey)
10. Group Doueh - Beatte Harab
My favorite current release. Just can’t stop listening to this stuff. Sublime Frequencies have been putting out some of the most hard-driving trance music going with their North African series. Group Inerane and Group Bombino round out the scene for total desert shredding. Vocals shout out in despair and joy, while a funked-up kaleidoscope of guitar, cheap keyboards and hand drums jam ’til the sun comes up. (Dewey)
By Dusted Magazine