Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best Music of 2006

Hello Again,

As per Bruno B's directive, here's our third annual shortlist of recordings that most impressed us in the year soon to be snuffed. These choices have been telegraphed for months, but to reiterate:

Album of the Year

Kode9 and the Spaceape - Memories of the Future

(Hyperdub HYPCD001, CD)

Hands down...



Runner-Up

Burial - Burial

(Hyperdub HDBCD001, CD)

No question.



(Not fetishizing the H'dub imprint, mind - it's just how the debris landed.)

Single of the Year

DJ Distance - Cyclops bw Traffic

(Planet Mu
ZIQ148, 12'')

Brilliant, an instant classic... Our number one for months on end. No contest!



Runner Up

Skynet - Swamp bw Isolate

(Argon ARG 008, 12")

Nasty... Sick atmospherics, the slow, boiling roil of the year.



---

(In case you're wondering, ethical considerations necessarily preclude mentions of sounds created by members of TLASILA, OHNE, or any of the labels for which we are grateful and honored to record...)

See you in January!

TS

Monday, December 25, 2006

RIP JB

Fuck... James Brown died of pneumonia a few hours ago.

Mary Rockwell (my son Evan's mom), Michael Stipe (!) and I saw JB and the Flames at a surprisingly ill-attended show at Atlanta's Fox Theatre in 1980.

(Back in the Boat Of days, obviously.)

James was a good six years past his prime by that point, and his performance - heavy on syrupy ballads, half-hearted rap pastiches and desultory medleys of signature hits - was nearly unendurable. We stuck it out just the same, mostly out of respect for his genuinely immense legacy.

I watched Future Shock every fucking week on TBS. Nuff said.

If you've never seen his 1965 appearance on the old Ed Sullivan show, Holy God... Every hip-hop artist on Earth (and galaxies beyond) can kiss his ass.

TS

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sque(a)lched Again, Silenced No More...

It was a great tour... Chris stood next in line to disgraced/displaced/boobjob-eriffic Florida Republican representative Katherine Harris at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson on the short slog back to DC... Wrap-up, analysis, pix, etc., forthcoming.

TS

An Indolent December...

Hey Again... Just haven't felt much like posting of late. No shortage of cobra strikes or boiling pisspots of splooge, but when accelerated entropy is the norm, chaos is but the rustle of taffeta. On the torso of a bloated floater, yeah, but still less than the scream of the faceless.

Where to begin? The Squelchers tour?

We felt lousy about the TLASILA cancellation, so Rat rustled six LRS gigs in the space of an afternoon. Tallahassee (Dec 16) was an odd one: we performed in a thrift store / makeshift squat off the intersection of Railroad and Gay. A loud and largely inert procession of trope gardeners strangled the early hours; those who remained for our set seemed non plussed or flat-out uninterested. Rat deposited his amp on each of their heads... (There were seven or eight exceptions, of course. My friends Pam, Brian and Patrick drove up from Valdosta to ogle the Impala rollover; our Steak and Shake after-party was enlivened by the sight of a widescreen crack attack...

TS

Monday, December 11, 2006

Les Tricoteuses: Wrapped

After the usual protracted post-production insanity, I've at last put Les Tricoteuses to bed. It will be released on Savage Land in the Spring of 2007.

Many thanks to Sergio Leone, whose Once Upon a Time epics helped me through this final weekend of obsessive, microscopic tweaking. Although the album consists primarily of the sound of Rat's sonorous snores run through a vintage Russian ring modulator, I think you'll find it to your liking...

TS

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Let Death Take Her."

Fuck...

--



(Ladder teams arrived 30 minutes after the fire was first reported...)



(One of the luckier patients; no word of the identity or condition of the person next to her...)



(In this already widely circulated photo, a hospital shrink comforts an introspective family member. Hope that's a spliff she's holding...)



(The sign reads "Plan [site map] of Narcological Hospital No. 17." ["Narcological" is a typically blunt Russian euphemism for "drug treatment."] Under any name, a shitty place to die.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Post-Tour Tours: Update

Please note that four of we dozen-odd Shavelings (Rat, Chris, Graham, and I) will be touring in the special, Mad Dog 20/20-shaped Laundry Room Squelchers configuration from December 16 through the 23rd. Check back here for itinerary and additional details, or visit squelchers.com.

Sidebar: We'll be honoring TLASILA's December 20th date at Jacksonville, Florida's Yesterdays Social Club, and have no ethical qualms in doing so. (I, not our former agent, booked the gig.) Our local contact, Lowgun, informs us that they've convened the eighth (known) Shave spin-off clone, one christened To Love and Shave in L.A. This Duval County iteration will be making their live debut at Yesterdays. A must-ogle gig.

In March, Mark Morgan (Sightings, TLASILA, Cocaine, etc.) and I will be touring the American Midwest together. We've bandied about one duo moniker, but we're just as likely to go out sans appellation. Still rather early.

TS

Shrapnel Composite: Surgery Is for Sissies...



(A Wonkette comic-fumetti, itself detourned from Salon and pilfered from the former by yrz truly...)

TS

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To Hell with the Course...

On this, the day of the release of the Iraq Study Group's report, feast upon another grim reminder of the horrors we have wrought...



(Sadr City residents peer into the burned-out husk of a bus blown earlier today apart by a suicide bomber. Those garlands welcoming us as liberators must be stacked to Phobos by now...)

TS

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Delta Don Fleming re: Tour Snuffage

(Excerpted from an email received 3 Dec 06.)

A hard decision, but the right one in my opinion. All the bad vibes and derision was a result of us being handed a bag of dog shit and asked to dispose of it. We passed it around a few times and now it is gone...

As I’ve discussed with some of you on the phone in the last few days I think we should put our efforts into developing the new batch of songs and recording them. I would suggest that Tom and Andrew should have a writing session, now, to develop the new material that has been popping out of Tom’s head. And then we should record it on the heels of a short tour.... We record the band and songs at peak power, the new record is tracked...

West Coast can happen later. Let’s do a short tour and make a record.

- Delta Don

Has He Started Talking to the Walls? (NY Times, 3 Dec 06)

Has He Started Talking to the Walls?

By FRANK RICH

Published: December 3, 2006

IT turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.

The most startling example was his insistence that Al Qaeda is primarily responsible for the country’s spiraling violence. Only a week before Mr. Bush said this, the American military spokesman on the scene, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, called Al Qaeda “extremely disorganized” in Iraq, adding that “I would question at this point how effective they are at all at the state level.” Military intelligence estimates that Al Qaeda makes up only 2 percent to 3 percent of the enemy forces in Iraq, according to Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News. The bottom line: America has a commander in chief who can’t even identify some 97 percent to 98 percent of the combatants in a war that has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.

But that’s not the half of it. Mr. Bush relentlessly refers to Iraq’s “unity government” though it is not unified and can only nominally govern. (In Henry Kissinger’s accurate recent formulation, Iraq is not even a nation “in the historic sense.”) After that pseudo-government’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, brushed him off in Amman, the president nonetheless declared him “the right guy for Iraq” the morning after. This came only a day after The Times’s revelation of a secret memo by Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, judging Mr. Maliki either “ignorant of what is going on” in his own country or disingenuous or insufficiently capable of running a government. Not that it matters what Mr. Hadley writes when his boss is impervious to facts.

In truth the president is so out of it he wasn’t even meeting with the right guy. No one doubts that the most powerful political leader in Iraq is the anti-American, pro-Hezbollah cleric Moktada al-Sadr, without whom Mr. Maliki would be on the scrap heap next to his short-lived predecessors, Ayad Allawi and Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Sadr’s militia is far more powerful than the official Iraqi army that we’ve been helping to “stand up” at hideous cost all these years. If we’re not going to take him out, as John McCain proposed this month, we might as well deal with him directly rather than with Mr. Maliki, his puppet. But our president shows few signs of recognizing Mr. Sadr’s existence.

In his classic study, “The Great War and Modern Memory,” Paul Fussell wrote of how World War I shattered and remade literature, for only a new language of irony could convey the trauma and waste. Under the auspices of Mr. Bush, the Iraq war is having a comparable, if different, linguistic impact: the more he loses his hold on reality, the more language is severed from its meaning altogether.

When the president persists in talking about staying until “the mission is complete” even though there is no definable military mission, let alone one that can be completed, he is indulging in pure absurdity. The same goes for his talk of “victory,” another concept robbed of any definition when the prime minister we are trying to prop up is allied with Mr. Sadr, a man who wants Americans dead and has many scalps to prove it. The newest hollowed-out Bush word to mask the endgame in Iraq is “phase,” as if the increasing violence were as transitional as the growing pains of a surly teenager. “Phase” is meant to drown out all the unsettling debate about two words the president doesn’t want to hear, “civil war.”

When news organizations, politicians and bloggers had their own civil war about the proper usage of that designation last week, it was highly instructive — but about America, not Iraq. The intensity of the squabble showed the corrosive effect the president’s subversion of language has had on our larger culture. Iraq arguably passed beyond civil war months ago into what might more accurately be termed ethnic cleansing or chaos. That we were fighting over “civil war” at this late date was a reminder that wittingly or not, we have all taken to following Mr. Bush’s lead in retreating from English as we once knew it.

It’s been a familiar pattern for the news media, politicians and the public alike in the Bush era. It took us far too long to acknowledge that the “abuses” at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere might be more accurately called torture. And that the “manipulation” of prewar intelligence might be more accurately called lying. Next up is “pullback,” the Iraq Study Group’s reported euphemism to stave off the word “retreat” (if not retreat itself).

In the case of “civil war,” it fell to a morning television anchor, Matt Lauer, to officially bless the term before the “Today” show moved on to such regular fare as an update on the Olsen twins. That juxtaposition of Iraq and post-pubescent eroticism was only too accurate a gauge of how much the word “war” itself has been drained of its meaning in America after years of waging a war that required no shared sacrifice. Whatever you want to label what’s happening in Iraq, it has never impeded our freedom to dote on the Olsen twins.

I have not been one to buy into the arguments that Mr. Bush is stupid or is the sum of his “Bushisms” or is, as feverish Internet speculation periodically has it, secretly drinking again. I still don’t. But I have believed he is a cynic — that he could always distinguish between truth and fiction even as he and Karl Rove sold us their fictions. That’s why, when the president said that “absolutely, we’re winning” in Iraq before the midterms, I just figured it was more of the same: another expedient lie to further his partisan political ends.

But that election has come and gone, and Mr. Bush is more isolated from the real world than ever. That’s scary. Neither he nor his party has anything to gain politically by pretending that Iraq is not in crisis. Yet Mr. Bush clings to his delusions with a near-rage — watch him seethe in his press conference with Mr. Maliki — that can’t be explained away by sheer stubbornness or misguided principles or a pat psychological theory. Whatever the reason, he is slipping into the same zone as Woodrow Wilson did when refusing to face the rejection of the League of Nations, as a sleepless L.B.J. did when micromanaging bombing missions in Vietnam, as Ronald Reagan did when checking out during Iran-Contra. You can understand why Jim Webb, the Virginia senator-elect with a son in Iraq, was tempted to slug the president at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress. Mr. Bush asked “How’s your boy?” But when Mr. Webb replied, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq,” the president refused to so much as acknowledge the subject. Maybe a timely slug would have woken him up.

Or at least sounded an alarm. Some two years ago, I wrote that Iraq was Vietnam on speed, a quagmire for the MTV generation. Those jump cuts are accelerating now. The illusion that America can control events on the ground is just that: an illusion. As the list of theoretical silver bullets for Iraq grows longer (and more theoretical) by the day — special envoy, embedded military advisers, partition, outreach to Iran and Syria, Holbrooke, international conference, NATO — urgent decisions have to be made by a chief executive who is in touch with reality (or such is the minimal job description). Otherwise the events in Iraq will make the Decider’s decisions for him, as indeed they are doing already.

The joke, history may note, is that even as Mr. Bush deludes himself that he is bringing “democracy” to Iraq, he is flouting democracy at home. American voters could not have delivered a clearer mandate on the war than they did on Nov. 7, but apparently elections don’t register at the White House unless the voters dip their fingers in purple ink. Mr. Bush seems to think that the only decision he had to make was replacing Donald Rumsfeld and the mission of changing course would be accomplished.

Tell that to the Americans in Anbar Province. Back in August the chief of intelligence for the Marines filed a secret report — uncovered by Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post — concluding that American troops “are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar.” That finding was confirmed in an intelligence update last month. Yet American troops are still being tossed into that maw, and at least 90 have been killed there since Labor Day, including five marines, ages 19 to 24, around Thanksgiving.

Civil war? Sectarian violence? A phase? This much is certain: The dead in Iraq don’t give a damn what we call it.

Fuck. Tour Cancelled.

It kills me to report this, but we've decided to cancel the tour.

I'm so bummed...

The organization of the trip just wasn't up to our standards, and as a result, everyone within the TLASILA camp had become seriously stressed out. We deserve better.

Many of you have shown us an astonishing degree of kindness, and we appreciate - and have been genuinely humbled by - your efforts on our behalf.

That noted, there were too many inconsistencies, too many loose ends left untied. Until we've found the right mix of support personnel, it may be impossible for this group to tour...

We compromised our sound in order to fulfill our obligations for the Horoscopo trip, but we're not inclined to compromise a second time. It's too gut-wrenching an experience to endure.

For now, we're going to focus on writing, recording. There will be no let up in that regard. As for touring, however, we'll have to wait and see.

Sincerely,

Tom Smith

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sleepless in December... (Ugh)

Shitty pun, but the reality is worse. Another night with minimal rest. This is killing me...

Elyse Perez
phoned at 4:00 AM, drunk and itchy as usual, but also sweet and sexy (as usual). I walked into the pitch-black living room with the phone and lay on the sofa with my eyes closed while EP brought me up-to-date. Girlfriends of Tex-Mex punkers, six-week-old kittens named Tallulah Bean (if my dead mind recalls correctly), "heavy twilight," the fallout from GK's suicide, Dixie Prix gigs involving tear gas jets applied to corneas, etc. She was chilled enough by 5:20 to hit the sheets, but my mind kept on churning. God, I'd give my right false Mick Ronson eyelash for eight hours of zzzzz-thyme...

TS

Monday, November 27, 2006

Другое воскресенье...

Another Sunday, indeed. Actually got some rest the night before.

Thus, a toast to quietude... Watched Rossellini's Open City (three times); listened to a lot of new music (the 8xCD3 Hymen compilation Travel Sickness was top of the day's pops); worked on the forthcoming TLASILA C-60 release for Teenage Whore... Two more minutes wrapped.



Not much else going on; Monday should provide a flurry of tour-related activity.

Les Tric await(s) my ministrations, so I must be off. (Only four tracks to go.)

Thijs van Leer,

TS

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Good Look for Our Forthcoming Tour...

Rat would be especially fetching in this Guignol drag...



(Peter Lorre as Dr. Gogol - here posing as re-capitated knife-thrower Rollo - in Karl Freund's nightmarish 1935 Orlac variant Mad Love.)

Like Flies...

Pere Mort has been busy today... Alexander Litvinenko succumbed, as did the great Phillipe Noiret, Betty Comden (I'm sure our pal Kimbo Rancourt could spin a few tales of her Broadway exploits), Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar (the Palestinian grandmother of 40 (!) who ignited a suicide vest earlier in the afternoon), and (at least) 161 charred and serrated souls in one dreadful swoop in Baghdad. Tip o' the ice shelf, but fuck... Give it a rest, Death!

Evan, keep your head down.

TS

---



(Musical theatre, opera, and other increasingly abstruse popular arts demand much of their creative talent; Comden, here pictured in 1944 with composer Leonard Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and her writing partner of 50 years Adolph Green, made such exertions seem effortless... Comden-Green's "On the Town" must now appear as alien to contemporary fans of Fe-Mail as Coum Organisation would have to late '60s attendees of a Swingin' Medallions performance...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful for the Elemental...



(O, the, er, humanity! Suicide Girls model Marie, from a recent pictorial. Today I am thankful for the small, ink-slathered things...)

Enjoy your holiday. Me, I'm eyeing the tofurkey.

TS

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Noon Tour 1: Dates Posted

Hello,

We'll likely add one, perhaps two dates, but for the moment, consult the graphic below.

TS

--

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Noon: Slowly Creeping Up the Contemporary Christian Charts...

Noon and Eternity notices continue to trickle into HQ. This, the most recent we've received, was published earlier today (11/21).

10

TINY MIX TAPES


Noon and Eternity
Menlo Park, 2006
rating: 4.5/5
reviewer: leveer

To Live And Shave In L.A.: Starring Tom Smith's voice.

That's a plausible summation of TLASILA's recorded output. Not exactly helpful and definitely not thorough, but it is more or less accurate. Of course, Tom Smith has been the proverbial Nick Mason, or Anton Newcombe, of the band. That is to say, the only constant member.* And like Newcombe, and not so much like Mason — the alpha and omega — one can, and must, track the evolution of the group through him. So, we go into any TLASILA record with a curiosity as to what TS has dreamt up. And to wit, being a rat of Hamelin has been a worthwhile pursuit: from the collagery and unhingedness of 30-minuten männercreme to the singular brutality of Vedder Vedder Bedwetter to the (comparably) restrained musicality and techno of Amour Fou on the Edge of Misogyny. This brings us to the shining moment of the new millennium's musical output, The Wigmaker in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg. It is this album that wins TS's abhorrence of the explicative "noise" acceptability and furthermore drives you to reconsider appreciating anything that bills itself as noise. There can surely be no music that is simultaneously so pummeling to your visceral senses and so utterly exquisite. Every horrible sound is heard in perfect fidelity, every sonic contrast thoroughly effective. We are thus formally introduced to the real star of a To Live and Shave in L.A. record, Tom Smith's curatorial abilities.

Noon and Eternity marries these two forces in a heretofore unfamiliar way. The previously raw tumult of Tom's vocals has been replaced with disciplined concordance with the whole. No longer fettered with his dense and verbose poetry, his voice can work purely as the worthy instrument that it had only inconsistently been before. And whatever the motives may be, Noon and Eternity is eminently listenable for almost any audience that might be inclined to listen to a TLASILA record, or read this review for that matter. While indubitably canonical, it strikes far out from the pack; it does resemble the new form of psych that the press pack suggests. Rarely does the intent turn to abrasiveness, and if it does, it is entirely justified as part of an arcing narrative. This is the most conventional and, meanwhile, possibly the most completely realized To Live and Shave album. Not quite (nearly?) the achievement that was The Wigmaker, Noon and Eternity ought to make waves not quite as big, but further reaching, this time as a result of Tom Smith and TLASILA as a whole.

Addenda:

* Rat has been a member of the group from the outset; his tenure is of equivalent length to mine (TS), 1991-present.

We Have a Contender...

I've such a backlog of drum and bass to sort through... Christ, I feel as though I'll never catch up. I'm at least six weeks behind, and there are 156 - count 'em - new dubplates splayed before me. It's nothing I should complain about, of course. On any scale of trivialities, this crisis would trip the you-gotta-be-fucking-joking meter. Still, it's my job to sniff around the frayed edges of jungle's undercarriage, and a few minutes ago I finally got round to a brilliant slab of vinyl from early October.

DJ Hidden - Dead Silence EP (Fear Records UK, 12'')

This is fucking wicked.

Here's a taste of the AA side, "Radiosilence."





(Above, Noël Wessels, aka DJ Hidden. Pic pilfered from discogs.com.)

TS

RIP Robert Altman

Damn... Just heard about Bob Altman's passing. (Only last week I'd been blathering here re 3 Women.) His recent work was awfully spotty, but his best? Sublime, or at least genuinely irritating. Both sides of the same gnarled, acid-etched coin.

I remember running into Kim Gordon at an early NYC screening of the director's lamentable Prêt-à-Porter. Simultaneously we yalped "What are you doing here?"

(I'm certain everyone was asking some variation of that afterwards...)

Yeah, wish I'd given those eight clams to charity, but I'm happy to have paid limpid trust fund ducats to peep the good ones. (Fuck, I even saw Quintet, H.E.A.L.T.H., and Images! First-run, yet.) Didn't have it in me to view much of his post-70s ouevre, nor did I possess the fortitude to wade through the becalmed tide of NPR homunculi who gamely queued for A Prairie Home Companion. (My loss, most likely.) Still and all, good sir, you did well.

Sleep peacefully.

---



(Above, a Yugoslav one-sheet for 3 Women. Below, the poster for Altman's teen-exploit demi-wonder The Delinquents...)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Work Work Work Work Work Work Work

Les Tricoteuses has taken control of my mind.

Manu (the proprietor of Savage Land Records) has now added TLASILA to the label's roster of artists, or at least has begun hinting that there's a release lurking. I'm guessing he's waiting for my over-meticulous ass to finish the goddamned album already.

Go here.

TS

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another Weekend Snuffed...

Andrew W.K.'s back from Japan; haven't had the opportunity to chat with him yet.

Our booking agent's ironing out the final details of the December tour in support of Noon; we'll be organizing the West Coast trip (scheduled for January) shortly thereafter.

Still haven't sloughed off the chest cold, or whatever the fuck it is. Had my annual physical on Wednesday, and my doctor said I was in perfect health. Thus, confusion reigns... Our next album will be an extended meditation on the politics of phlegm.

Working overtime on the final mix for Les Tricoteuses. I promised the master to Manu at Savage Land a month ago... Merde! I'm too obsessed for my own good.

Bygones Dept: I've officially broken bread with Weasel. Once and for all, about stinking time. After GK's suicide, I refuse to entertain absurd grudges... We'll cross-promote the reissue of the TLASILA 2 album, basking in the (limited) glory thereof. Yeah, it's just a TLASILA radio session from '99, but so what? WW mixed the hell out of it... Excuse me while I touch up my rainbow appliqués.

Lotsa movie viewing: Grigori Chukrai's brilliant (and way sentimental) Death of a Soldier, Bob Altman's crazed 3 Women, and a clutch of films from Universal's Best of Bela Lugosi collection: The Invisible Ray, Black Friday (which for some reason really scared the shit out of me when I first saw it as a pup), and the still-powerful 1932 slaughter-fest Murders in the Rue Morgue. (The first two topline Boris Karloff, of course...)



(Shelley Duvall as the stubbornly oblivious Millie in Robert Altman's mesmerizing 1977 classic 3 Women.)

Haven't slept much in the last year - maybe five hours per night on average. Really starting to drive me batty. Finally broke down and ate the two halves of my last Xanax on Thursday and Friday. It was so cool to observe my body slipping away from cranial tendrils. Seven hours of snooze time both nights. But, what the Hell, might as well stay awake forever. I'd hate to miss anything!



(It was grand to sleep more than usual, but now that the stash is all gone I'll have to rough it. Not that I'd been going hog wild - it took me over two years to eat ten 0.5 miligram tabs! Love is hoarding pharmaceuticals...)

Ecstatic Peace sent out a Best of 2006 poll (and holiday horrors checklist) for contributors of TM's Poetry Journal, EP recording artistes, and associated hacks (that'd be me). Unless something completely sick slides under the screen door in the next few weeks, my fave single remains DJ Distance's Traffic / Cyclops 12" (on Planet Mu); my absolute favorite alb of '06 is Kode9 and the Spaceape's Memories of the Future CD (on Hyperdub). Both fucking stellar. As for the other queries, buy the mag, I guess.

After Tuesday's glorious rout, all the television monitors at the university gym have suddenly been switched from Fox News to Lifetime. (Still, far better to hump the treadmill to Stephanie Powers than John Gibson...)

Enough blag for now. Hope everyone's well.

TS

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Spin.com: New Blather

The folks at Spin.com have been asking a few muso types for their thoughts on Tuesday's Dem smackdown of Bush's calamitous presidency, his oafish, immoral Iraq policy, and that goddamned smirking squint. My words have been added to the mix.

Spin.com: Everybody's Talking About...

As you're all doubtless aware, Macaca Allen conceded in VA. Now that we've taken back the Congress, it's time for... Fuck, anything not resembling the last sixsixsix years. Fingers and shrapnel-etched stumps crossed.

TS

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stop Press!

Repubtard Conrad Burns concedes defeat in Montana! Holy crap! If Jim Webb's slim majority over Geo "Chucklehead" Allen holds in Virginia, Dems will have taken the Senate as well.

Hoo-fucking-ray!

And an even holier fuck - AP reports (and MSNBC confirms) that Don Rumsfeld is "resigning," today!

Goddamn it feels good...

From the hutch of the Majordomo: "Koupe tet, boule kay!"

Which, in the language of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, means cut off heads, burn their houses. This seems like the morning to revisit Haitian history, and let's face it: We all know I'm exactly the sort who would relish gulping a quart of black rum out of the roasted skull of Karl Rove.

You should all know that the D.C. air has an agreeable whiff of blood in it this morning, and I promise you all that If I see Bob Novak in the elevator today, I won't hesitate to flick him in his shrivelled little balls. I feel good today, and I don't particularly feel like being polite to scum.

The 110th Congress convenes at noon on Jan. 3, and a handful of bright people -- who know more about this stuff than I do -- expect the subpoenas to start flying by, oh, say, 12:15. Many evil fucktards are weeping. Craigslist will soon be awash with sublets and free Ikea furniture as the junior greedheads begin packing their Beemers and fleeing town.

Enjoy the morning, and let's all chant our personal mantras to make sure that the hanging chads and whatnot line up to send George Allen back home to Charlottesville, where he can fondle his collection of vintage nooses and mammy dolls away from the public eye. I have particular reasons for disliking that tobacco-chewing lunkhead -- not just his overt greed, racism, and general stupidity -- but they're personal, and we need not go into that just now; this is a bright morning, after all, and I'm feeling perky.

Cheers!

CG

Yes!

Thank fucking Christ... The Dems have wrested control of the House, and are still in contention for a one-seat majority in the Senate. Even if MO, MT, and VA remain in the gnarled clutch of the GOP, it'll mean two years of tough scat for Bush, Rove and fellow meth-bottom vermin...

Viva Pelosi!

--

Caught Eastwood's austere, masterful Flags of Our Fathers earlier in the evening. It's performed poorly at domestic feedlots (as of last weekend, a mere $35 million return on a 90 mil investment), but since when did any of you (readers of TLASILA Blog, that is) plop ducats for a Terri Clark or Razorlight alb?

(Okay, Gerard Klauder would have, but for him - and me, if I may be allowed to draft - po(o)p variants were noise, and "noise" was/is soporific.)

Flags is too nuanced, a bit of a downer for flyover yobs. Bobbleheads cite the docudrama's absence of A-list cast wattage has having blunted its BO impact. (By the way, Domhnall Gleeson and Alison Pill have just signed on to star in Saw IV.) Ultimately, who gives a crap about perceived negatives?

Give it up for Clint and absorb an excellent film.



(A phonecam grab from the end credit sequence of Flags of Our Fathers; pic by TS taken November 7, 2006 at the GTC Stadium 16 in Valdosta, GA.)

Tom

FYI: Saw Borat Friday; seditious, audacious, utterly brilliant...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gerard Klauder CD-R Archive

Hello,

Received an email this morning from Rat Bastard - he's begun a Gerard Klauder archive on his Squelchers web, in the process uploading mp3s and cover art scans from 29 (!) of GK's very limited edition CD-R releases. Each album is presented in its entirety.

My suggestion?

Race to the Gerard Klauder Archive.

Good on ya, Rattus. Well done.

--

Cheers,

Tom

Friday, November 03, 2006

Darkness, Darkness...

My parents and I were having lunch in the living room this afternoon, tucking into a curry while watching the latest sordid developments in the Ted Haggard meth / "massage" scandal. While mom, a lifelong Democrat, laughed at the inanity of it all, dad, a Goldwater conservative, seemed unusually wistful. Mother and I discussed the particulars of the case - its ironies, its potential effect on Tuesday's elections, its effective cancellation of the Kerry fracas, etc. Dad seemed to listen attentively. He cleared his throat, made a sweeping hand gesture, and proceeded to ask about a plot of land he'd once owned 25 years ago in Florida...

Alzheimer's is a fucking bitch.

On Irresistibility

Salma Hayek, from this evening's episode of Ugly Betty. Thank Satan for TiVO, well-conceived telenovela adaptations, and large, perfect (natural) breasts on small women.



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TS

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Noon and Eternity: Out Today!

(Amended 21 Nov 06.)

Happy Halloween, ghouls...



Today is the day. Hope you'll enjoy the album.

We're up against K-Fed and Isis, but we'll manage.

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Availability: both Amazon and Barnes & Noble apparently offer it, and your local indie/undie stockist ought to have already purchased it, but I'd recommend Forced Exposure or Midheaven. The latter isn't yet listing it, so my default preference will be the former. I've heard that Borders has ordered it as well, but I've received no confirmation. Export copies are being shipped to Europe and Asia; there will be a double vinyl release exclusive to Australia.

Here's the Forced Exposure link.

TS

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Early critiques:

01

BASS GUITAR

Noise punk iconoclasts TLASILA have run through several different lineups over the years; for this four-song hour-long set, the core triumvirate of Tom Smith (vox), Ben Wolcott (oscillators) and Frank “Rat Bastard” Falestra (bass)* return for a way-out ambient foray into the abyss, with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore diving in headfirst.

Addenda:

* Rat doesn't play bass guitar on the album.


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02

THE AQUARIAN

Iggy Pop was inspired by his father’s electric razor and TLASILA’s Tom Smith was inspired by his father’s racecar track.* The influence of noise in their respective childhoods was obviously different, and it shows, as Iggy Pop makes noisy rock and roll, whereas Smith makes noise with a rock and roll aesthetic. More famous members of this noise collective include Rat Bastard**, Andrew W.K. and Thurston Moore. I know, you’re probably thinking— Andrew W.K.and Thurston Moore— how did this happen? But what occurs is the creepy vibe of Sonic Youth’s soundtrack to the Manson family murders, Bad Moon Rising, combined with composer Alvin Lurcier’s “I Am Sitting In A Room.” The dark tones, dissonant guitar, methodical drums and distorted vocals are nightmarish at times, creating an otherworldly feeling. The CD’s sleeve is also somewhat ironic, with photos of track trophies, humorous fictional bios and song lyrics written out in italics like on pop records.

In A Word: Surreal
Grade: Fuck Grades

Addenda:

* My father owned a stock car, and subsequently formed a racing team.

** Rat loves this line.

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03

PAPER THIN WALLS

A new album by To Live And Shave In L.A. gives us the barest excuse needed to talk about the Miss High Heel record, a hectic noise “supergroup” that featured much of the mid-’90s Skin Graft stable as well as TLASILA founder Tom Smith’s distinctive tape sputter and vocal expulsions. Their one 1998 disc on B-Sides was a skull-splitter, and a big chunk of that split was thanks to Smith’s glam dandyism and his tape editing technique, which was as simple as scanning mainstream pop radio and pressing the “pause” button a bunch whilst recording. This was, as Smith chronicles on his official website, an emergent technique based on his conception of dub. It also fits his lyrical methodology, a borrowing of the William Burroughs cut-up technique to create free-associations snarl-spat in a vaguely Tasmanian Devil manner. Smith was the forerunner of a brutal type of distinctly Floridian freak show (running with the same posse as Harry Pussy, Pussy Galore and Cock ESP)* that even its adherents admire at arm’s length. Partnering with Rat Bastard (Laundry Room Squelchers), the core of TLASILA has been reconstituted since the group’s demise in 2000. The wave of spin-offs (Wikipedia counts at least seven) that were not Smith-sanctioned actually started with the Weasel Walter/Rat Bastard-generated To Live And Shave In L.A. 2,** which is rumored to have nailed the coffin in the Bastard/Smith partnership.*** The line up of the 2003 reformation is represented on the new Noon and EternityAndrew W.K. on drums, longtime compadre Don Fleming, SightingsMark Morgan, veteran Ben Wolcott, Thurston Moore and Chris Grier. The product is surpassingly slick and sick, taking full advantage of the Echo Canyon studio and outcreeping even the new Scott Walker. It’s the most accomplished TLASILA to date, which seems counter to Smith’s anti-music legacy.**** Whilst noise boners are a-poppin’ across the mediascape, they’ve made a freaking lounge disc. It’s pretty great. The 19-minute “Early 1880s” from Noon and Eternity gets another loving makeover here in this edit/remix. Backwards masking meets the long-lost glich meme in a dub tunnel that loops Smith’s warble and wail into a bad-trippin’ house diva. This vowel-stretching, digital direction should not be a surprise considering Smith's involvement in the Mego project OHNE (with Dave Phillips, Reto Mader and Daniel Lowenbrucke). Still, it’s strange how even the chaos of this TLASILA is comparatively subtle when put against the generation of current noiseniks, or even their own past practice.

Addenda:

* Neither Pussy Galore nor Cock ESP were natives of Florida.

** The late Gerard Klauder's TLASILA 2 predated Weasel Walter's TLASILA 2 by several months.

*** Rat and I made nice in 2001. We'd buried the hatchet - never particularly sharp nor thrown with accuracy - two years prior to taking TLASILA out of deep freeze.

**** Sez who?


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04

PLAN B

There’s Noon and Eternity by To Live and Shave in LA (Menlo Park): noise outlaws Rat Bastard, Tom Smith, and collaborators Thurston Moore, Don Fleming and Andrew WK assemble for a suite of blasted, post-Beefheart clatter and face-hits-the-concrete sonic layering.

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05

LA ALTERNATIVE

Far from a local band (literally)– their lengthy name reportedly lifted from a vintage porn flick –Florida’s To Live and Shave in LA are releasing what may be this year’s most under-the-radar comeback album.* Emerging in the early 1990s with a string of vinyl platters and track-crammed single CDs (including works never-to-be released due to several prematurely belly-up labels),** the band dissolved in 2000. But from the vacuum surfaced The Wigmaker in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg, a double disc set slowly mulled by the band over eight years before finally being served up in 2002 to heaps of praise.*** In the following years TLASILA’s core trio of Tom Smith, Rat Bastard and Ben Wolcott regrouped for live shows and slowly amassed a formidable cast of collaborators that nearly tripled their membership. On Noon and Eternity, one of the many pleasures afforded by this new, expanded brood of audio generators is the previously unthinkable pairing of Thurston Moore scraping away his astral-tuned Fender to the heaving drum fills of Andrew WK. Hardly enamored of the hissy sheets and barbed blocks of white noise favored by most of today’s noiseniks, Noon and Eternity is comprised of four monoliths that linger over a menacing grey void. Drums rattle and toll as splotches of distortion and flashes of mangled radio voices swim through errant electrical currents. Most notable, though, may be Tom Smith’s total rejection of the genre’s equivalent to metal’s cookie-monster vocals: the bile streams of caustic barf. Defiantly, Smith sings in an elastic, writhing croon/moan that is rarely hinged and always fascinatingly erratic. In fact, Noon and Eternity plays largely like the distant, all-American cousin to Scott Walker’s avant baroque The Drift. Both are troubling, dense records of alien provenances characterized by abstractly sketched suites of explorative voicework, obtuse words, haunting stretches of twisted sound (Walker even refers to The Drift as being, wait for it, “shaved-down”) and doom-bearing silence. Noon and Eternity is a slow walk through the shock corridor that is contemporary life.

Addenda:

* Only Rat lives in Florida. Tom left in 1996; Ben in '99. Don and AWK live in NYC; Chris resides in DC, Mark's manse is located in Detroit, and Graham's crib is nestled in the Atlanta suburbs. Ben lives in Los Angeles, and TS hunkers down in southeastern Georgia. Thurston and his fam call Northampton, MA home; Rich Russo gets down to the Tampa sound.

** Two TLASILA albums licensed to labels that went bankrupt in the 90s will be issued in 2007 on the Savage Land imprint.

*** Wigmaker was five years in the making, not eight... A rough haul nonetheless.


06

SCHLENDRIAN

Noon & Eternity: Das legendäre Avant-Noise-Kollektiv ist eine der erstaunlichsten Blüten amerikanischer Musikgeschichte. Subversion pur. Sogar MySpace streicht die Segel und und gibt einen „Das gesamte Album in 4 Minuten“- Teaser nicht frei. Muss man TLASILA verstehen? Nein. Man muss sie wirken lassen. The real Avantgarde is smiling. Ja. In den besten Momentenallerdings bleibt es fröhlich im Halse stecken.

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07

KFJC ON-LINE

Tom Smith and some superb friends churn out a new *studio* release. Still Tom’s got those lectro-huskified vocals that get stretched like silly putty through your headphones. I try hard to follow the lyrics without the sheet, and I’m lost in an elastic maze. And it should be pointed out that even armed with the lyrics, the maze then takes on a whole other dimension. Meanwhile the music is built like a tactile dome: pushing up against your eardrums, guitars sound like damaged aircraft trying to take flight before the runway tarmac melts into the earth. Are these the dreams of sirens? Was this recorded whilst under siege? Barricaded in a studio, and not enough food for all the musicans? The drummer Andrew W.K. had to eat one of his own sticks eventually, often he’s left clubbing out a death march to hold the center while radioactive bursts of sound ignite space. But Tom’s loony croon, along with lyrics that invite investigation rather than hammer down an idea, remain the huge attraction. This feels like a protest album, without being boringly plain-spoken. A trophy (as opposed to atrophy) release, topped only by the inner artwork by Oscar Perez.

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08

CHORD MAGAZINE

(Fans of Nick Cave, Young Gods, and opiates take note.)

Rating: 4 out of 4.

Not a band as much a collective, not a collective as much whoever decides to get with founder Tom Smith at any given moment, the oddly-monikered To Live and Shave in L.A. (TLASILA to their friends) has existed in one form or another since 1990. Smith, usually with a core featuring Ben Wolcott and Rat Bastard, has released a seemingly endless stream of tiny-label discs that explore avant-garde soundscapes and man's inhumanity to man, or something. Much like Negativland, each of the group's releases seems to have a life of its own. Noon and Eternity welcomes a star-studded menagerie to the fold - Don Fleming of B.A.L.L. joins Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, and beer-commercial rocker Andrew W.K. plays drums! - and the resulting cacophony seems as much performance artistry as it is music. Odd samples and electronic flashes of sonic light blaze across downtuned post-Sabbath guitar skronk, while a maniacal baritone voice rants and raves in barely decipherable tones for the better part of the entire disc - four songs in 66 minutes, and good luck figuring out when each one ends and the next one begins.* This is not music to drive to, nor will it appear on a snazzy mixtape.** But if you put your headphones on and close your eyes, you may just see God.

Addenda:

* There are two seconds of silence between each composition.

** People have driven to the album.

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09

JERSEY BEAT

After seeing the track lengths of this album I'm not going to lie, I shut off instantly and then I heard the album itself. Thurston Moore and Andrew WK need to stick to their day jobs. If I wanted long songs I'd have put on Starkweather or Neurosis, if I wanted interesting music I'd have put on Throbbing Gristle or The Buzzcocks. Despite having at least one musical innovator I know of off the top of my head, this is nothing new. Each track is a dense offering of atonal whaling and crooning breaking through a reinforced wall of aural psych out seemingly cobbled together for the sake of making something "challenging". This is the equivalent of reading a novel written by an academic who should have stayed that way. Maybe it's my age or overall uptightness that won't seem to dispense into the jam band miasma my friends find themselves in. I still enjoy the old art + rock = art rock equation (note the rock element in the formula), I'm not ready to hear the soundtrack to an art student's exhibit of his/her master's thesis. *

Addenda:

* There are no female MFA candidates in TLASILA.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ugh...

Returned late Sunday. GK's funeral was dire, almost repugnant. After the service I felt as if I'd been throttled... Can't imagine a family less in tune with the life of one of their own.

We (Gerard's muzak-world friends, that is) decided to cobble together an emergency wake and soon began waterboarding sorrows. Lots of booze, tears, absurd anecdotes. I wanted to jump into the pool, especially seeing as it had long been drained, but the grim pall held me in thrall. More shots of tequila, more blather about the dead.

Churchill's was kind enough to open a tab in Gerard's honor. Those of us who made the half-sloshed trek from Kendall to Little Haiti comprised what was likely the least-appropriately attired mob in the club's long history. (Unless one discounts the semi-regular parade of UM Two-Tone clones and Rat's Blues Brothers tribute projects.) Afterwards, Melissa Amodeo, Dan Hosker, Lauren Uszko and I decamped to Lauren's mom's spread in Lauderdale. Finally went to bed at 6 AM, woke up at 2:30 PM. First time any of us had slept well since GK's suicide.

I didn't remove my mourning clothes for 48 hours. None of us felt like changing... But, finally, we agreed to let GK go. He hated that tie of mine anyway.

Spoke frequently with Paige Flash and Elyse Perez throughout the week. (Paige and I talked for four hours alone on Wednesday...) Incalculable sadness. Elyse, Mel, and Paige - the Squelcher gals I met in one wet, horny cluster in 2000 - were gutted by GK's death. (I lost it before the service myself... One look at the memorial photo board and I was a goner.)

Nandor Nevai arrived Friday evening. Great to see him again. He's looking much healthier... His Klauder stories were priceless. Too many metal vocalist references for the assembled mourners, but otherwise, spot on.

It took me ten hours to drive the 490 miles to Valdosta.

No pix, and that's just as well.

TS

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

GK's Demented Art (Part One)

Until we've had an opportunity to sift through Gerard Klauder's personal archive, there may be no way of knowing the number of (extremely) limited edition albums he created. The years 1999-2001 found GK especially prolific, with dozens of releases spilling out of his sick, twisted lil' mind. Our intent is to craft a sufficiently appropriate posthumous compilation...

Fuck, I'm getting choked up just typing these words. It's insane that he's dead...

Below, a photo taken of Gerard in Atlanta on March 17, 2006. We spoke just ten days ago, but his visit to my then-girlfriend C2's home in the Decatur suburbs was the last time we got together. The image I've chosen is blurred, but it captures his dissonant, brooding complexity...



(Gerard Klauder, March 17, 2006, at rest in Decatur...)

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(An exterior view of Same, a five-disc album from 2000, one of dozens GK created in that very fruitful year.)



(Gerard beat Weasel Walter's TLASILA off-shoot to the release gate by rushing not one, but two warped TLASILA 2 albums into the uncomprehending void. Pictured, the sleeve to 2001's The External Organ.)



(GK's second TLASILA 2 release from 2001, Commmiinggg! and Rember'd the First Man or Astro-Man Album. Yup, he was one sick, splendid fucker...)



The evening I first met Gerard (and Elyse Perez, and Melissa Amodeo, and Paige Flash, and the great Tom Gongola, better known by his friends as Tom G), he was brazenly hawking an unhinged loop mashup entitled Tom Smith vs. Squarepusher. We'd convened with Rat Bastard in Tallahassee, Florida to Squelch for a motley coterie of proto-noise hounds at the Cow Haus - one of the most memorable evenings of my life...

(Pictured, Gerard Klauder's Tom Smith vs. Squarepusher CD, from 2000.)

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There will be other posts forthcoming.

The Smack Shire web site is still up and functioning, although the less acute will perhaps believe otherwise.

Love,

Tom

Monday, October 23, 2006

...

Rat Bastard called half an hour ago with news of Gerard Klauder's death. I'm stunned...



His intellect was fiercely acute, his aesthetic intuition second to none. One of the coolest people ever...

Goddamn, what a fucking tragedy...

Gerard and I started The Smack Shire and Memories of Underdevelopment together. He was erratic, half-crazed, blessed with every material comfort yet often convulsed with doubt and self-loathing.

He "got" me, understood my music, my mind, my sense of humor. I thought he was hilarious - droll, acerbic, just fucking brilliant...

From 2000 to 2001 we turned his three-story quayside townhouse in North Miami Beach into a sort of Bizarro World Playboy Mansion. (The welcome mat might as well have read Bipolar Grindcore Whores Only...) Man, those were great, wasted days. So many amazing people passed through those doors (or, passed out in the elevator).

I'm at a loss.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Black Meat: Studio Pix

Travis, Graham, Tom, and Bobbie from the second week in October, Blossoming Noise HQ, Atlanta... I'd promised these last week, but things, as ever, have been hectic.

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(GM, sliding through space and time.)



(Tom's sweet spot...)



(BM, rounding up the dogs, keeping tabs.)



(TM, prepping for the Kansas medley...)

Friday, October 20, 2006

As Promised, Pox...

Below, find four images. The first pair come from the October 13th concert at the Haunted Barn, Hollywood, CA. Ben Wolcott's Oscillator project performed at last Friday's show... The second were pulled from the October 17th event held at Eyedrum in Atlanta. Black Meat debuted its trio lineup there. (Ben, Graham Moore and yrz truly are members of you-know-what as well...

TS

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(Oscillator, in the throes, October 13, 2006. Photo by Louisa Van Leer.)

(Buffy Visick, live at the Haunted Barn, October 13, 2006. The rear projected image was created by LA-based director and TLASILA Miami-era pal Rodney Ascher. Pic by Ms. Van Leer, another Miami friend, also long transplanted to SoCal...)

(Travis Morgan, sauved out for the noizz boyzz, October 17, 2006. Photo TS.)


(Black Meat's stage setup at Eyedrum, Atlanta, October 17, 2006. Pic, as above, by Om...)

Horóscopo: Bons Mots et Longueurs...

(Amended 1 Nov 06.)



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01

MUSIQUE MACHINE

This is my first experience with the wonderful dense and almost airless sound of To Live and Shave in LA. Their sound really is audio overload of the truest form - sounds, melody, voices and singing come at all angles; quite what it all means I’m unsure, but it certainly keeps one's attention and works as great delirious audio acid trip.

There seems to be some sort of story/concept behind it all (this from the press release) :

Horóscopo, Vatican temporal assassin, is ordered to fall 300 years through time to prevent Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Molière) from writing the scabrous Tartuffe. A portal divides, doors fly open... Horóscopo’s eyes roll back into his head, and an empty scabbard clatters across marble. "Taisez-vous, et songez aux choses que vous dites." The Nightgaunts descend...

Which to honest is just as odd and bewildering as the sound of the album itself, so the best thing to do is just let it all rush out at you like a sped-up film as your ears pick out strange melody flourishes, weird mumbled diloguloge, and every other sound element you can think of. This truly must have taken hours upon hours to construct, but this isn't just random audio rubbish piled on top of each other - there seems method to the madness, but quite what it is is unsure. Seemly using elements from their older material, among other things, to make the album... You almost feel like your part of some strange sound experiment, or maybe trapped inside one of those old Victorian machines that were meant to make the mad sane; strapped into a seat, images whiz by and by at seemly faster and faster speeds.

Really I’ve not heard anything quite like this before maybe the closest comparison would be a Nurse With Wound collage track on speed. But, To Live and Shave in LA very much have therir own take on chaos - whether any of it makes sense is another thing, but I’ll enjoy trying to figure it out over the coming weeks.

All that’s left to say is if you enjoy sound collages with a distinctive odd air, apply here. To hear sample tracks and buy direct go here .To be even more puzzled and confused, go to the band's website here.

KUDOS: 5 out of 5

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02

ANIMAL PSI

When I was a kid I was reading a copy of Ben Is Dead when I came across a review of the first Three Mile Pilot LP. The entire review (keep in mind, this was 1993) said, quote:

Sounds just like The Replacements. Where’s my check?

I read this over and over. I was totally into 3MP (see?), yet at the same time strangely attracted to the arrogance of this “review”. I thought, “one day, I’ll be a dick too.” Now I’m inadvertantly asshole enough in real-life (57% according to one online – and therefore bulletproof – quiz), so I chose to pay homage without transgression. I’ve taken liberties with the reference, and indeed the newest release by To Live and Shave in L.A. actually does sound a whole lot like Shalabi Effect at their most experimental and the closely related work of Et Sans (see: musique concrète, sound verité, extreme cut-and-paste). Compiled of recordings from the last four years, the concept of Horóscopo: Sanatorio de Molière is characteristically high (from the Blossoming Noise website):

Horóscopo, Vatican temporal assassin, is ordered to fall 300 years through time to prevent Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Molière) from writing the scabrous Tartuffe. A portal divides, doors fly open... Horóscopo’s eyes roll back into his head, and an empty scabbard clatters across marble. "Taisez-vous, et songez aux choses que vous dites." The Nightgaunts descend... - Got it!

This incarnation of TLaSiLA features: Tom Smith, Rat Bastard, Ben Wolcott, Don Fleming, Mark Morgan, Andrew (WK) Wilkes-Krier, Chris Grier, and special guest Thurston Moore. The music is such an authorless tangle, it’s impossible to parse who contributed what; I can only say that if any of those names pique your interest, you will not be disappointed.

The cover art of the digipak is particularly eye-catching, and I spent a good five minutes staring at it before I realized I had yet to hit play. Track One opens on a collage of death rays, cut-up conversation/crooning, and a little late-night piano melody, all woven through an increasingly pervasive tone-riff. The frequency is always in flux, as this fucked-up radio won’t stay tuned, dialing-in nearby planets and cable satellites. Two intros on a verse and a swarm of digital gnats, the radios continue to shifts, and a glimmering beat actually develops among the alien pulses and bleeps. Streams of liquid spurt through the soundscape and this is all very surrealist. Armies of sound continue to enter at random through track Three, now as a brassy overture bleeds into a traditional minimalism akin to Terry Riley’s live recordings (‘Olson III’ comes to mind in particular). Nothing lasts long on this album, and soon a whole new barrage of transmissions blast through, laced with static and cosmic timbres. Four opens and closes with an exceptionally stimulating series of vocal samples, book-ending a mudslide of thick, greasy rudeness. Either the album becomes more consistent by track Five, or I have just grown accustom to the patterns of randomness, but a theme apparently emerges for each track from this point on; a theme that is introduced early, then slides underneath each successive layer, always audible but more so when new layers are thin or gapped. Seven plays somber like an early requiem, and Eight takes us outside (who knew we were In?) to the sounds of earth-nature, interrupted by what appears to be a five second sample of the history of rock-n-roll, collapsing into a hot, dense little dot.

There are many ways to approach this album, both as a casual listen or a text to decipher; there is certainly too much going on to put into words. This is an exceptionally cerebral album and surprisingly user-friendly, asking no prerequisite from the listener. This is a mature experimental treat for gourmand and novice alike.

Where’s my check?

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03

KFJC ON-LINE

This album is a compiled remix of old works to get fans ready for the upcoming album: “Noon and Eternity,” which will finally feature TLASILA as an octet with newest band members Andrew W.K., Don Fleming and Richard Russo.* These reworked tracks span 15 or so albums from 1991-2006, beginning a new chapter for the band who have not released any new material since the original trio ended in 2002.** Cuts are loopy, grainy and crunchy with a mechanical robotic feel to them. Imagine being in a factory with robots shooting laser pens into your eyes. Frequent high pitched beeps keep your hands close to the volume controls with sound clips approaching unbearable levels at times. Some keyboard/piano clips accompany looped and half-eaten vocals, always surrounded by static, buzzing, churning and cyclical moving part sounds. The chaos and complexity of instrumentation makes sci-fi seem low-fi and empowers people who push buttons. Tom Smith and Thurston Moore could very well be the descendants of men who had to manually sound the alarm. Fine production and use of frequencies often create the sense of real world sounds occurring whirling around our heads. And then you realize its just Andrew W.K. bashing a bottle on your dome...

Addenda:

* Richard Russo hasn't as yet recorded with TLASILA.

** The original trio ended in 1996 when Ben Wolcott left to join Frosty. TLASILA went on a three-year haitus in 2000. The group reformed in December 2003. Ben, Rat and Tom will give a one-off performance as the "original trio" at the International Noise Conference in Miami, Florida in February 2007.

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04

BRAINWASHED

Pretentious art projects fail mostly on one level: they pretend that their conceits alone will win them accolades. The title of this recording and the description it has on Blossoming Noise's Web site refer to Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière and a comedy he wrote that was censored from public performance for a period of time. While it doesn't sound very intriguing to me to begin with, the time travel crap added doesn't help, nor does the relatively lame music.

Thurston Moore plays on this record; maybe the Sonic Youth kids can appreciate that. And the band's name is a bit humorous, so maybe all the hip kids will catch on to that and praise the band's "down to earth" front. Then they'll stumble over French names, time travel narratives, an art for the sake of art cover, and bad sound collage and wonder what the hell is going on. I know irony is the new black and that hypocritical cynicism is the best way to win an argument these days, whoever you're arguing with, but nobody is going to convince me that it's worth trying to decode all the nonsense this group has layered into their release for Blossoming Noise. I'm a fan of whacky concepts, but this seems to be less whacky than it is absolutely unintelligible. If the liner notes are to be taken seriously at all, then everything on this record consists of sounds from previous releases by To Live and Shave in L.A. and are remixed in some fashion so as to capitalize on this concept of assassination and literary history. I don't buy it for a second and, after listening to nothing but electronic chirping for an hour or so, I'm not sure how many people will.

I love it when weird bands that have consumed too much acid over the years play with electronic devices. There's always a certain childishness to their work and, if that's missing, a fairly warped picture of the universe supported by a librarian's knowledge of the occult, the underground, or the otherwise ignored. What I do not like is when someone pretends to be just like that and ends up spitting out an hour's worth of wormy noise that doesn't belong together or doesn't fit together in the first place. Anyone can make a bunch of noise and act as though they've just completed a masterpiece: just slap some stupid arty machinery in the background and maybe some people will be fooled! After trying to find some redeeming quality to this record, I'm convinced it doesn't exist. Machine noise, some static, and some really repetitive analog sound bounce around without any sense of intrigue and eventually end in a wash of yelled vocals, half-dead pulsation, and static. The album is consistently flat, even when it attempts to juice things up, such as on "1643." No amount of turning the volume up to eleven will make anything on this record worth hearing.

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So, we have four critiques, four moods.

Which of the authors would most likely enjoy a long day at a nearby beach with family and friends? Which author might conceivably serve as a Senior Needs Specialist for the Columbus, Ohio branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America? Which personable author might invite a neighbor over for tea and spirited conversation? Which embittered, luckless author is most likely not to have brushed his teeth in the past eleven weeks?

You be the jury...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

300th Post...

Hello,

Paper Thin Walls asked for a Noon and Eternity track to review, and we delivered. Sort of. With each of the album's songs so freakin' long, we instead sent a mashed-up edit of "Early 1880s," Noon's second (and most understated) selection.

Voila! Here's their review, which includes a TLASILA overview (and a bonus Miss High Heel appreciation).

Oh yeah, they gave us an 8.0... Break out the Milwuakee's Best Ice!

TS

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Post-Meat

(Edited 22 Oct 06.)

Stirring slowly... Black Meat made its trio debut last night at Atlanta's Eyedrum. Low-key, but effective. The tour begins in Chapel Hill on the 24th...



(The stage, silent, immediately following the set.)



(The tangled web...)

After the gig, we (Bobbie, Graham and I) washed ashore at Buckhead's inimitable Landmark Diner. Not much on the menu for vegans, but the atmosphere more than compensates... Sam Patton (the genius behind the much-missed Blast-Off Video) and I used to regularly convene there for martinis, blather, the hot Bulgarian waitresses, etc. Pardon me while I weep for days gone by...

Cops gather there in the wee hours after closing down their DUI traps in the club district. High-end call girls and their middle-aged marks make it a second home as well. And, as always, one finds pods of gay dudes slathered in glitter mist and more Eastern Europeans than you can shake a bootleg DVD at... A great family joint, no question. Black Meat will return, and soon. Travis will fall in love in a synaptic flash...

xox

TS

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(I've removed the Horoscopo review posts and re-routed, re-framed the thread. The discussion can resume there, should a continuation be necessary. Horse whisperers, prepare your handstands!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not a Johnny Moped Kind of Day...

More like Luc Ferrari - it's grey out, dismal; an environmental wash of muted tonalities is required...

The weekend was productive. Wrapped the Air Force remix for Xiu Xiu - have no idea if they'll loathe (憝) or be moved to propose (爱恋)... Afterwards, recalibrated my gear, and resumed work on Les Tricoteuses. No wickedness for the rested.

TS

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Schiz-Vid'd...

Really starting to lose it. Last night I watched Ricou Browning's bleak exploit actioner Mr. No Legs on my laptop while watching G.H. Clouzot's terse, relentless The Wages of Fear on the plasma. Lowbrow/highbrow bifurcation, anyone? To pencil in those few vacant nanosecs I read Dennis Perrin's Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue. (I'd romped and stabbed through Don Fleming's copy three years ago, but I found one online for $6 and couldn't resist.) Earlier, I sped past the finale of Frank Rich's The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

My head is a WMD, and my hard drive is naught but night soil...

Sadness Dept: Just heard on NPR that Gillo Pontecorvo died... Drat.

Click here for the New York Times' obit.

He directed the seminal Battle of Algiers and shortly thereafter, Burn!, which starred Marlon Brando. His 1979 film Ogro is also pretty mind-blowing, although minor keys predominate.

Algiers has long been hailed as a masterwork and indeed, in my quasi-august opinion, it's absolutely brilliant. (I screened it at VSU in '04 for my faculty advisors and they seemed fairly stunned by it. None of them had ever seen it before... Strange.) Burn! is far more confounding, but its flaws fail to obsure a provocative subtext. Ogro is a Franco-era policier and all the more grim for its muted tone and washed-out palette. Get 'em and watch alongside Click, or New York Minute. Everything will soon become clear...

TS



(An unusually animated framegrab from Ricou Browning's otherwise numbing 1981 procedural Mr. No Legs... A dire nihil-fiesta, but no less delightful for its gargantuan shortcomings. Uhh, pardon the inadvertant puns, etc.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oscillator: 10/13 Live @ Haunted Barn, Hollywood!

Oscillator will be performing on Friday the 13th at the Barn in Hollywood. Check the flyer below. Our own Ben Wolcott will be on hand to sign your Raudive transducers...

Go see 'em if you're in the 213/310/323/626/818...

TS

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Weekend Rekapitulacija

Hi,

I've been hanging with Graham and Bobbie at Blossoming Noise HQ in Atlanta, enjoying the Moore family's gracious hospitality and devoting nocturnal energies to writing and recording materal for the forthcoming Black Meat tour.

Hit the cineplex on Friday to see The Science of Sleep (my second time, B&G's first), and last evening to be mesmerized by The Departed. Yes, it's Scorcese's best in quite some time. We've plans to infiltrate Jesus Camp this evening...

More gristle forthcoming...

TS

Friday, October 06, 2006

Murder City Daffodils

Compilation construction time is nearly upon us. Menlo Park has commissioned a three-disc retrospective TLASILA box for 2007. What haven't you heard?

1991

My 'Limp' Went Husserl on Me
Spatters of a Royal Sperm

1992-4

30-minuten männercreme

1994

Prostitution Heute!
"Helen Butte" vs. Masonna Pussy Badsmell

1995

Vedder Vedder Bedwetter
An Interview with the Mitchell Brothers

1996

Commmiinnggg! and Practis'd the Black Art*

1997

Tonal Harmony
Sleep
Les Tricoteuses*

1998

Where a Horse Has Been Standing and Where You Belong
Peter Criss vs. Peter Christopherson
Amour Fou on the Edge of Misogyny

1998-2000

Tony Conrad, Fat-Ass

2002

The Wigmaker in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg

2004

God and Country Rally!

2006

Horóscopo: Sanatorio de Molière
Noon and Eternity

2007

Piper's Son (TLASILA/Kevin Drumm)*

(*Savage Land will be issuing Les Tricoteuses, Commiinnggg!, and Piper's Son in 2007...)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New TLASILA photos from Montreal MEG Fest

Taken by Marie-Hélène Tremblay at Sala Rosa, Montréal, on September 1, 2006.

To Live and Shave in L.A.'s set marked the opening night of the three-day MEG Festival...

TS

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(The Rat Bastard...)



(An awesome peek, stage left: Frank, Chris, and AWK.)



(Graham, sans hair fan...)



(Ben, sending flares as usual...)



(My favorite shot, although I appear to be off my fucking nut... Andrew, BW, moi, GM, Rat, CG.)



(Rico... Suave! Greer in mid-Greeritude, Sala Rosa.)