Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Western Mass. collective BOBBY and Chicago dub practitioners Eternals.
Listed: BOBBY + Eternals
Named after a fictitious front man, BOBBY is in fact a seven-person art-folk group, made up of recent Bennington college graduates. To record their self-titled album, founding member Tom Greenberg an his fellow classmates Julian Labat, Molly Erin Sarle, Amelia Randall Meath (also of the band Mountain Man), Roby Moulton, Paolo Menuez (alum of Hampshire College), and Martin Zimmermann holed up in a remote house in Montague, Massachusetts to work on their developing sound. The end result is a fascinating exploration of rhythms and anti-rhythms punctuated by layers of instrumental oddities, percussive odes and synth oscillations. This attention to polyrhythm and acute awareness of how to build tension is what ends up making BOBBY an absolutely fascinating band to listen to, and so much more than an after-school art project.
1. Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information
Buttery psychedelic soul. Shuggie’s soft vocals and fluttering guitar lines weave a silky mesh fabric wrapped tightly around brilliant bass, drums and keys. It’s a happy house.
2. John Coltrane - Ascension
“What we play is life” -Louis Armstrong.
3. The Pharcyde - Labcabincalifornia
Heard this record before the classic Bizarre Ride II. Pharcyde was the one group that bridged the musical taste gap among my friends back in high school. "Bizarre Ride" was the party soundtrack while "Labcabin" taught us how to relax.
4. Arthur Russell - Another Thought
This album consistently saves me, and keeps me company on the road.
5. Blake Mills - Break Mirrors
When I listen to Blake Mills, the timbre of his voice moves into plunging static chords played on the guitar, harsh drums, and creates one huge cohesive face, made out of sand. And the face sort of moves and looks like one of those games they put in waiting rooms made out of nails, and you press your face or your hand into the nails and then your sister, or your mom, or whoever is in the waiting room with you, sees the shape of your face through the movement of the nails. What I mean to say is, every sound on this album feels like different representation of Blake Mills, like a different nail within the waiting room game. Each nail is necessary for the overall shape of the story. Sometimes when I listen to music I see different colors being explored, Blake Mills seems to be exploring different shapes with the same color. I guess I spent this paragraph writing about nails as sound because I can’t even begin to comment of Blake Mills’ incredible ability to tell honest and exciting stories with his words and music.
6. Frank Zappa - “Sofa No.2” from One Size Fits All
The perfect anthem for any young man’s bar mitzvah or high school graduation. This song will be played at my funeral when they catapult my flaming corpse into the pacific. L’chaim!!
7. James Ferraro - Genie Head Gas In The Tower of Dreams
A cut, a juxtaposition of one sound piece next to another, then another cut, and all of a sudden, we as the listener are somewhere along the 15 minute time marker of the second track of this quiet, but busily adventurous release; is that water I hear, real dripping water seeping into my eardrums as I dream myself floating slowly and alone inside of a enormous empty coliseum; where have I gone, and how have I gotten here? Can this be described as classical? A harpsichord—the musical instrument—being juxtaposed next to bells sounding like glass breaking; a mysteriously complex wall of sounds Mozart was once rumored of hearing in one of his dreams, or, a homespun musical sound collage for the new third-world classical movement, from dreamers for dreamers
8. Boredoms - Soul Discharge
This record is perfect accompaniment to everything from Law & Order to Camara Loca on Telemundo—best enjoyed as a sun-warped vinyl cranked to 45 rpm. A few of us saw Boredoms do 9Boadrum in 2009, and for me, the sight of Eye, in the form of a heavy-minded shaman, chanting and pounding on a seven-necked guitar while nine fantastic drummers essentially burst into flames in a circle around him, briefly renewed my faith in humanity. This is 20 years prior and really fucking raw.
9. Slick Rick - The Adventures of Slick Rick“After I dropped out of high school I lived on the street of Kansas City for 8 months. I scrounged together enough change to buy a CD player and some headphones and for most of that time the only compact disc I had was The Adventures of Slick Rick. Listening to his parables about the perils of a life of robbery as well as his warnings about promiscuous sexxx shaped my experiences, and in turn, my life. And, in turn, my music. I feel that musical experience directly draws from the life experience of the human attached to said musical experience. Slick Rick always knew and will know what to tell me when I needed advice (Martha Reynolds)
10. Robert Owens - I’ll Be Your Friend
Lisa and Robert and I came out as being homosexual at the age of 24. I was anxious and had compartmentalized the processes of the human attached to said musical love birds. Along with the music of the new friends we had we also had the music of our past. Leigh dressed my dog as he woke up this morning to this hot classic from the golden era of Chicago house
Damon Locks and Wayne Montana of the Eternals have been playing together in bands for almost two decades, including the punk, no-wave band Trenchmouth and now the Eternals. Throughout the lifespan of the Eternals, which has seen them record albums for Thrill Jockey, Aesthetics, DeSoto and now Addenda / Submarine, the core duo of Locks and Montana has remained constant. On their latest endeavor, Approaching the Energy Field, the band have produced their most “out there” record yet, and by Eternals standards that’s saying something. Still present is the influence of dub, and post-hardcore, but this time around they’ve managed to channel the spirit of Sun Ra’s spiritual jazz as well. The result is a sound that is incredibly hard to categorize and may take a while to fully digest. In short, it sounds like an Eternals record, which is just the way they like it.
1. Sun Ra - Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy
It is impossible to credit just one Sun Ra record over so many other possibilities of influential recordings. I was going to pick the album Out There a Minute because it has the version of “Love in Outer Space” on that record but I went with this one because of the overall character of the record. There is an alluring inventive, spontaneous spark to the futuristic science fictional jazz that continues to inform and invigorate. The tune “Moon Dance” is forever a favorite from this session. For its overt other worldliness, Sun Ra’s music is so tactile, of the moment and present. This is a great thing to witness. (Damon)
2. African Head Charge - Drastic Season
This record still inspires today. I never tire of listening to it. From Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label, African Head Charge delivers modern art in sonic form. Abstracted, highly constructed then deconstructed rhythms combined with brilliant aural experiments that are at once fantastic in scope and at the same time focused in intent. A group whom, in their heyday (along with label mates Dub Syndicate, Singers and Players, Creation Rebel & Missing Brazilians), epitomized the rough, dark reggae influenced outsider art that I grew to hold so dear. (Damon)
3. Lounge Lizards - No Pain For Cakes
When I was living in NYC 1986-88, the Lounge Lizards along with the music of Charles Mingus were my entry points to understanding jazz. The Lounge Lizards’ version of jazz had a very punk sensibility which spoke to my post punk point of view at the time. They began their musical career making an artistic parody of jazz that quickly simply became a unique expression. At the time rap music was delivering amazing, powerful records like Run-D.M.C.’s Tougher Than Leather and Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Records like these were in sharp focus in my brain. The underground music scene I came from had, in my opinion, lost its footing and I was looking for different types of expression. In walked the Lounge Lizards and they linger in the alleyways of my mind. John Lurie’s (the Lounge Lizards’ band leader) artistic expression in conjunction with his appearance in Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise helped open another pathway for me to follow. (Damon)
4. 9353 - To Whom It May Consume
I saw my first 9353 show about 2 months after attending my first hardcore show (Minor Threat, Government Issue, Social Suicide and E.N.B. [Eric’s new band]). Their approach made an indelible impression on my growing musical psyche. Their music is as fresh today as it was then. Whilst I was busy wrapping my head around all the music that was coming my way from Trouble Funk to The Stranglers, 9353 totally
made me think and rethink again. The mantra of, "It’s ok. It’s not loaded. I’m a good driver. Don’t worry honey." from “Famous Last Words” floated around in my head long after the needle had left the record. They were a kind of anti-establisment that was anti-anti-establishment. They seemed to find the underground Washington DC scene too conventional and forced me to process even more ideas about what music & art could be. The 9353 show flyers more than any others created an atmosphere for the band before their records even came out. (Damon)
5. The Clash - Sandinista
A weighty record that so many mistakenly avoid delving into. Sandinista is how they got from “Train In Vain” to “Ghetto Defendant.” From way back in the Trenchmouth days we always talked about putting out "our" Sandinista. It is possible we have made every record since Trenchmouth’s The Broadcasting System "our" Sandinista. One thing Sandinista taught me at an early age was that you can do anything you want. Your band can sound like anything you want it to. There is no need to pick a style and stick with it simply because, if you are making the music it will sound like you. The fashion statements that The Clash made throughout their career (minus the coonskin cap and Ray-Bans that Joe Strummer rocked near the end ) were also appreciated. (Damon)
6. Lee Perry
I have been listening to Lee Perry’s production and songs for over 25 years. His part in the history of not just Jamaican music but so much western music is immeasurable. He was an uncredited part of the music coming out of Studio One. He would find talent, put together songs for them and make them sound great. After years of not getting his due he left the studios of other people and decided to start his own endeavors. The Black Ark was born. The power of his Black Ark Studio at its prime is unbelievable to me. Records by the Meditations, Congos, Prince Jazzbo, Heptones, Junior Byles, George Faith, junior Murvin, the Wailers .......almost too many to imagine. Working with Lee Perry brought out the best of them. The way the songs feel and sound is always original and often a little crazy. I often describe this era as sounding primordial. Not being able to hear the sound of a studio but more the sounds that are just there. Like a natural occurrence happening and changing and shifting, the sounds blend and become something altogether new. Cow’s Moo, babies cry, thunder shakes, tape edits bend your mind and somehow it all works. Always the coolest and always the bass is rocking. A true genius and always a huge inspiration. (Wayne)
7. Funkadelic and Parliament
From when I was in high school hearing their music made me feel a little messed up, in a good way. The way crazy distorted guitar songs would seamlessly change to doo-wop and then burning funk to classical music with big chanting hooks always intrigued me. Back then I didn’t really understand where it was all coming from. I didn’t know George Clinton was a doo-wop singing hairdresser when he was younger, but when I found out it made perfect sense. The grit and soul of their recordings sounded and still do, a little out of step with the rest of the funk coming out at the time. This is what made them bigger than the genre to me. Some favorites of mine are Funkadelic, Maggot Brain, Up for the Down Stroke, America Eats it’s Young, and Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome. These records are like music lessons to me. The arrangements are always interesting. Also, as a bass player, hearing Bootsy as a young kid blew my mind and honestly it still does. (Wayne)
8. The Temptations
All the old stuff is of course great. It’s a part of all of our DNA. But the music that moves me the most is a period of theirs often called psychedelic soul. The records 1990, Psychedelic Shack, All Directions, Cloud Nine, and Solid Rock all have killer songs. They were experimenting with new sounds, topics, and vibes. Even though they were not writing their music, it was the start of them expressing themselves. Political songs were coming out of them for the first time. 8 and 9 minute songs expressing the pain and anger of the late 60’s early 70’s injustices was something new at the time. Coming from the Temptations past of singing short love songs, these records were just plain nuts. The work Norman Whitfeild did with them as their producer allowed these type of changes to happen. He was instrumental in the vibe and sounds of these LP’s. His use of space and fuzzed out guitars is fantastic. You can also hear plenty of dub delay and phaser effects on these records too. (Wayne)
9. John Coltrane
The spirit of his music has always been unique to me. Hearing him searching for something in his solos is an amazing thing. When I hear him find it, it can scare the hell out of me. When the quartet was firing together they could be as gentle as breeze or as burning as a volcano. For a hot volcano tune I will choose “Afro Blue” from Coltrane Live at Birdland. There is a section in the middle when the band is lifting and lifting and it sounds as if they cannot get any higher when something magical happens. Elvin Jones and Mcoy Tyner push it past music and into outer space then Coltrane busts in. Listen loud if you can. Beautiful. I would like to add that at the end of the tune the audience of what sounds like about 50 people start clapping. This has always blown me away. I want everyone on the planet to hear and feel this music. To imagine only 50 people being able to hear this live kills me. I have had many moments watching live music and being moved deeply when there was less than 50 people around to witness the magic of the moment. Sometimes in filthy places some times in nice clubs. I feel very lucky to have had these experiences and hope that everyone would want to see and hear something real regardless of what’s popular. For a smoother cut check out “India” on Impressions. There was a time when I was younger when these records were always on in my house. I do not play Jazz but this music has been beyond inspirational musically, it has been an important part in me growing up and learning. (Wayne)
10. Sun Ra - Live at the Cubby Bear in 1989
This isn’t a record; it was a live show. At the time, as a 20 year old, I had the Sound of Joy LP and didn’t really know too much about Sun Ra. I was very excited about the show and got there early and sat in the front row in the middle. All the bands equipment was on the stage and I was getting ready to hear some stuff like the music on the Sound of Joy. The group didn’t just go on stage and play. They started singing and playing and marching from the basement into the room single file. Slowly taking their places on the bandstand while playing. As they were walking past me playing the most amazing music and chanting I was still adjusting to what was happening and started cracking up laughing I was enjoying it so much. As the show went on they were rocking everything that the Arkestra does: soundscapes, african grooves, tin pan alley songs, jazz, free music...all the time with the best vibe and spirit. This show was one of my life changing events. It made me have to hear all of Sun Ra’s music and figure out why it sounded like it did. Hearing the great width of his music is pretty amazing. So much is available now it’s great. Go find some. (Wayne)
By Dusted Magazine