o13–Time Wave Zero (Favorite new band, best record of 2013 so far)

o13–Time Wave Zero

Featuring Mark C from Live Skull, Stuart Argabright from Ike Yard, and Kent Heine from The Holy Ghost, o13 (formerly Outpost 13) has made the record of the year, actually of the past few years, with their new release Time Wave Zero.  It’s a sophisticated mix of new wave, no wave, krautrock, dub, electronic, and ambient music that sounds wholly original and inspired, invoking the present, past, and future (bridging the gaps from 1978 to 1985 to 2013 and beyond) in a totally unique way.

I’m tempted to say that only veteran experimental/underground musicians who never hit the big time and have been keeping the torch alive, making art and music in the background for the last few decades, could make a record that sounds as effortless and evocative as Time Wave Zero.   If pressed for comparisons I’d say this would fit in nicely with some Can, Philip Glass, Live Skull, Orb’s Orbus Terrarum, Suicide, Joy Division, Brian Eno, all in their prime!!!  It’s super-accomplished and stylized, the type of album that all fits together perfectly, evoking a number of moods and emotions that you just can’t get anywhere else.  It’s about time–an album this good and consistent hasn’t come out in many years, especially out of the indie/postpunk arena–maybe the last records this interesting were Battles’ Gloss Drop and Mirrored?

Spotify: o13 – Remote Purity Control

Desire Records: 013 (CD) (vinyl)

Newsflash: Desire Records is also re-releasing some Live Skull records on CD and vinyl, and they’re on Spotify too!  It’s about time, Live Skull is basically as good or usually better than Sonic Youth in their own inspired and unique way (only Sister and Daydream Nation are on par with the best Live Skull records) but many of their best records have never been released on CD until now (or soon, currently in preorder)!!!  A dedicated post on this monumental (I’m serious) news  soon!


Sonic Youth and Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd: Interstellar Overdrive

Kurt: “Exactly which parts of daydream nation sound like pink floyd? Minutemen are prog rock? I think you are stretching your “everything is prog rock” thesis a bit too far. If you said that husker du sounded like king crimson on zen arcade then yes, but really, come on. Exactly which parts of daydream nation sound like pink floyd? Minutemen are prog rock? I think you are stretching your “everything is prog rock” thesis a bit too far. If you said that husker du sounded like king crimson on zen arcade then yes, but really, come on.”

Basically, the first two Minutemen albums as prog rock: the complicated bass and the tricky timing that’s way different from punk rock, the bass is like in Yes or Gentle Giant, the guitar is complicated and tricky, so is the drumming, it’s way different from punk or hardcore, and the Minutemen were big fans of Captain Beefheart which falls under the prog rock umbrella in terms of experimentation.

I would say the first two Minutemen albums are as much prog rock as they are punk, not necessarily like keyboard laden prog but tricky time change prog (Yes and Gentle Giant happen to have bits of both). Daydream Nation, the echo and noise breakdowns like in Silver Rocket and Total Trash, are very similar in parts and vibe to a lot of Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, it’s their most indie album, with Syd Barret, I’m not talking about Dark Side of the Moon or anything.

Check out songs like Interstellar Overdrive (the beginning few seconds sounds exactly like a song on Daydream Nation or Goo even!) or Astronomy Domine, they’re quite different from more mainstream Pink Floyd (which I happen to like too). They’re very experimental noise rock, art rock, postpunk even at times, much different from what people consider more “bloated” PInk Floyd (but which has become much more influential on bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor etc in recent years).

Pink Floyd: Astronomy Domine

Here’s another person in a book on rock calling Minutemen prog rock, saying they fused hardcore and prog… Also here: “Borrowing the pagan impetus from hardcore, the harsh quirkiness from the new wave and the cerebral, and the convoluted indulgence from progressive-rock, the Minutemen concocted the miniature hardcore shrapnels of Punch Line (feb 1981 – nov 1981) and What Makes A Man Start Fires (jul/aug 1982 – jan 1983).

The acrobatic primitivism of these albums became even more neurotic and atonal on Double Nickels On The Dime (nov 1983/apr 1984 – jul 1984), one of the most ambitious recordings of the decade, a veritable encyclopedia of musical styles revisited from the point of view of a spastic genius reminiscent of Captain Beefheart and the Pop Group. After Boon’s untimely death in 1985, the survivors hired a new vocalist, renamed themselves fIREHOSE (1), released Ragin’ Full On (oct 1986 – nov 1986) and pursued a more conscious program to refound the song format, except that R.E.M.-like folk-rock took over Minutemen’s unpredictable structures.” http://www.scaruffi.com/history/cpt49.html

Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth:
“Gary Gersh, who signed us, had some sort of idea that ‘You guys could be the next Pink Floyd,'” Gordon remembers with a smile.”

Here’s a comment on Youtube
“Anybody else think that Sonic Youth ripped early floyd off alot….?” rassault 1 month ago

A whole thread on Piper at the Gates of Dawn on a Sonic Youth fan site http://www.sonicyouth.com/gossip/showthread.php?t=16479

“As D. Boon of the Minutemen famously said, “Punk is whatever we made it to be.” This seemed especially true of the generation of American iconoclasts associated with independent labels such as SST and Discord in the 1980s. Not unlike prog-rock or fusion of the time, these bands experimented with song structure, lyrical content, improvisation, and even crowd control. But unlike their more “respectable” counterparts, the punks sought to disrupt the complacent social order they inherited.”

Live Skull–Rare and Unreleased tracks

Live Skull–Broken Strings (unreleased live at Folk City NYC 1983)

I’ll be adding some Live Skull rare and unreleased tracks here…here’s the first, an unreleased track from 1983 at Folk City, live, I’ve entitled it “Broken Strings” based on some stage patter from Mark C (someone apparently broke three of the strings on his guitar while he was away from the stage!!! If you’re unfamiliar, Live Skull is only one of the best bands of the 80s, sort of the unknown twin to Sonic Youth and just as good, Bringing Home the Bait and Cloud One were just as good if not better at times (though less poppy so less “universally accessible”) than Sister and Daydream Nation. A little more harsh, etc.

Live Skull–Broken Strings (unreleased live at Folk City NYC 1983).mp3

Snakefinger–The Man in the Dark Sedan & Jesus was a Leprechaun

Wow, how did I miss out on Snakefinger for so long? Weirdo new wave experimental prog punk?

Snakefinger–Jesus was a Leprechaun

Snakefinger–The Man In The Dark Sedan

The Best Comic Books of the 1980s: Alan Moore’s Miracleman and Frank Miller’s Elektra Assassin

Okay, this is highly subjective of course but Alan Moore’s Miracleman and Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz ‘s Elektra: Assassin might be the best comic books ever made (or, at the very least,  my favorites).  The plots are intricate and evocative, the scripting and dialogue is unique, and the art in Elektra Assassin and Miracleman (specifically the issues drawn by John Totleben) is innovative and often breath-taking, moving way beyond comic book art into realms of finer art and illustration.

So of course there are runners up which others may find more important to them:  The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Akira (not that the writing in Akira was great by any means, but for the time the novely of the Japanese elements and setting, the great art, and some of the ideas, in a pre-anime-popularity era in the US, was pretty noteworthy).  Note that most of these comics are also by Frank Miller and Alan Moore, who in the 1980s and transformed the notion of what comics could be and created truly graphic “novels” instead of just “comic books”.   Some of the writing and ideas were to standard comic book fare what Kurt Vonnegut and Don DeLillo are to more typical fiction, what David Cronenberg is to more typical movie directors, what Voivod’s Killing Technology, Dimension Hatross, and Nothingface were to typical metal in the 1980s, and what Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation was to typical punk and guitar pop when it came out in 1988.  The 80s, what a heady time for art and culture the 80s were!

BTW I think some of Bill Sienkiewicz’s best art is reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keat’s amazing childrens book illustrations!

Crazy Thunder Road and Burst City: Japanese Underground Films of the 1980s

Okay, so I think Akira was heavily influenced by this 1980 Sogo Ishii film Crazy Thunder Road, which looks awesome:

Crazy Thunder Road trailer

Burst City looks decent, but frankly nowhere near as good as Crazy Thunder Road

Song from the Crazy Thunder Road trailer:
Panta & Hal: Louise

Another song from the trailer:
“DenkouSekka ni Gin no Kutsu” by Shigeru Izumiya

Siouxsie and the Banshees–Arabian Knights & Cities in Dust

Some classic Siouxsie from the early 80s…such a great mixture of experimental and pop sensibilities…

Siouxsie and the Banshees–Arabian Knights

Siouxsie and the Banshees–Cities in Dust