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.


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.



Early critiques:



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.


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




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


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

** Rat loves this line.




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.


* 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?




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.




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.


* 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.



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.




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.




(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.


* There are two seconds of silence between each composition.

** People have driven to the album.




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. *


* There are no female MFA candidates in TLASILA.

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