Monday, December 29, 2008

Old Hearts

The following article is from the New York Times. It talks about the Faust, Gate, Thurston Moore and Cul de Sac show that happened back in May of '94, arranged by the Table of the Elements label at Real Art Ways. The show has sort of become part of local folklore, but mainly because almost nothing like it ever happens in the Hartford area. I was fortunate enough to watch a video of the show this past weekend. A big surprise: the T. Moore band, then going around as Male Slut I think, was Psychic Hearts. More on that after you read this:

Published: May 3, 1994

Dinosaur rock bands like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Traffic may be on tour this summer, but so are some of their lesser-known contemporaries. And they have sledgehammers.

"Don't retire" were the first words Jean-Herve Peron sang tonight when the 25-year-old German band Faust performed at Real Art Ways here. Then Mr. Peron, who is in his mid-40's, smashed a few television sets.

Faust is generally credited as the first band to perform the industrial music made popular by noisemakers like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. It is also among the first groups to create electronic rock music in a recording studio with no intention of performing it live. Even in its heyday in the early 1970's, Faust didn't tour much. Until this year, it had never performed in the United States.

Tonight the group (which included two original members, Werner Diermaier and the French-born Mr. Peron) extended a little sympathy to the audience. During a rainstorm that delayed the outdoor concert by two hours, it performed "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" as a kind of warm-up, beating rhythmically on large pieces of scrap metal as Mr. Peron sang.

During its actual performance, Faust wasn't always so noisy. A duet between a jackhammer and a chain saw faded into a gentle acoustic guitar solo; French and German poetry preceded brutal feedback attacks. Faust espoused a violent back-to-nature agenda that wasn't out of date, although it did seem silly when Mr. Peron held a goldfish bowl and instructed the audience to "listen to the fish."

Whereas tonight's performance was a collage of song ideas and performance art, Faust's concert on Thursday night at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan consisted of a single musical idea. The group collaborated for the first time in 22 years with the violinist Tony Conrad on a 45-minute violin-and-percussion drone that is featured on its record "Outside the Dream Syndicate," recently reissued by Table of the Elements.

Mr. Conrad stood silhouetted behind a white sheet, slowly bowing a violin with a bridge that was flattened to produce a constant, harmonically rich drone. Mr. Peron stroked a double-necked guitar while Mr. Diermaier maintained a hypnotic drumbeat. Like the music of other progressive German groups of the same era, the song seemed endless but never boring. Infrequent chord changes and subtle rhythmic nuances pushed the piece along slowly and rapturously.

At both performances, Faust was preceded by Heino Keiji, a Japanese guitarist, and Gate, a guitar duo consisting of Michael Morley, from New Zealand, and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Gate created a wall of impersonal feedback; Mr. Keiji played the guitar so quickly and adeptly that it sounded as if six musicians were playing separate and distinct parts.

On the bill tonight only, the guitarist and singer for Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore, performed new songs with the Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelly and Tim Fuljohn, a guitarist. As Mr. Moore read sarcastic lyrics from large pieces of cardboard, the trio played underdeveloped but promising songs constructed of basic rock riffs and atmospheric guitar noises.

Well, it turns out that the NY Times journalist wasn't the only one underwhelmed by the T. Moore set; Glenn Jones from Cul de Sac told an Italian mag (I don't have a date or title of the mag, but this was on the Cul de Sac page) this:
I enjoyed myself very much. It was an outdoor show, and consisted mostly of waiting around in the rain for several hours while Faust made last minute repairs to the stage. Due to this delay we only got to play an abbreviated set. Keiji Haino followed with his assault on the eardrums; Gate (with Lee Renaldo) I thought were more interesting, playing with varying levels of noise and sound textures in a thoughtful manner. The Thurston Moore Band, with guitarist Tim Foljahn and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, was perplexing. (I remember these lyrics: "Kick out the jacks, and I'll buy the snacks. . . .Superchrist!" Is he trying to sound Japanese?) But, what the hell -- the kids seemed to like it.

"Perplexing"? Hmph. That perplexing project became Psychic Hearts, one of my favorite records of all time, a record that is for this kid as inspiring today as the first day I heard it back then. After watching the video, I grabbed Psychic Hearts off the shelf and pulled out the Elegy for All the Dead Rock Stars 12 inch. I moved over to the window so I could get the sunlight to catch the Rita Ackermann etching on the B side. I never even ended up putting Psychic Hearts on. It was good enough just standing there by the window puzzling over the perplexing etching.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's really something else how everyone in the world these days seems to have their own blog, yet when you ask for help with a page like CT Indie, there's little interest. Unfortunately for me, I'm in a fix that has resulted in CT Indie being neglected. I expect to have even less time to devote to CT Indie in the future and so I've asked for help a number of times. Now I'm extending that request to people I don't know. I do have a couple of specific posts that I would like to get up here, including a rather rare late 90's recording of the Lee Ranaldo / Leah Singer project Drift when they came to the Municipal Cafe. In other words, I would like to continue contributing when I can.

So, if you think you can give a hand, send a message to ctindiemusic at gmail dot com.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Icelandic invaders tonight at the Space

Wednesday, December 3 2008 - The Space and Manic Productions Presents:

KIRA KIRA w/Dygn, Belly Boat, and The Files and Fires

The Space
295 Treadwell Street
Hamden CT
$10.00 - 7:00PM - All Ages

Click here

Click here

I'm incredibly bummed out to not be able to go to this show tonight. It turns out I've been a fan of Dygn for quite awhile now. If you're a fan of Sigur Ros, then you likely know about Riceboy Sleeps. If you've visited the Riceboy Sleeps MySpace page, then you've probably seen a project called Limbic Somnus, or nowadays, Slumber Party in their "top friends". This guy John down in Maryland is making some potently ambient sound sculptures under several different monikers, each distinguished by mode and mood. Dygn is one of them. Fresh from a gig down at Cake Shop in NYC, Dygn follows Kira Kira on up into New England, nicely stopping here, then playing Sierra Grille up in Northampton, MA Thursday night, along with a few other dates further north.

Kira Kira (from Iceland) is Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir on thumb piano, music boxes and all kinds of toys wired with contact mikes. She also plays guitar, glockenspiel and of course loud lady laptop. These kids have been playing with Kira Kira lately: Alex Somers on piano, glock and casio puppy. Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson on trumpet, flugelhorn and music box. Hilmar Jensson on guitar. Samuli Kosminen on percussion (dingalee dang). Pétur Hallgrímsson on lapsteel (skriðgítar). Magnús Helgason on super 8 projector. Guðlaug Dröfn on glock and piano. Kristinn Gunnar Blöndal on drums. For fans of CocoRosie, Mum, Sigur Ros, etc. on Smekkleysa.

Dygn are beautiful ambient drone music from Maryland. Among this guy John's other killer projects such as Slumber Party, which used to be called Limbic Somnus, also check out another of his called Mothersday.

Belly Boat: Cutesy, ramshackle folk from Zoe Latta and Silvie Deutsch in Santa Cruz, CA. Their voices clamor for attention like small children but then suddenly out of the dixie-cup folk they pull together into sweet earnest pop songs. Mostly comprised of the two voices, some dime store guitar, piano and the breathy squeeze of an accordion, Belly Boat is the sound of joyous inexperience; and where others drown themselves in layers of perfection, Zoe and Silvie let their rough edges charm you until you let them fall away and reveal the pop gems at their center.
Not Not Fun Records

The Files and Fires is the result of ongoing collaboration between multi-instrumentalists Tyler Smith and Ian Tait. For fans of Six Parts Seven, American Analog Set, etc.