Sunday, January 14, 2007
Boy, it sucks when you're talking about a recording less than 25 years old and the only available image I could find is this one. Great cover though.
"New Music from Antarctica" (yes, for lack of a better solution I file this as though the sounds actually stem from there), hopefully but inaccurately subtitled "vol. 1", was a compilation of tracks from people in the ambit of the early 80s incarnation of The Kitchen, the music/performance/video space that was initially on the corner of Grand and Wooster in Soho before moving up to its current location on West 19th St. (just checked out their site here--looks like there are some interesting things in the video archive). I don't recall the sequence of Directors but around that time they included Rhys Chatham and George Lewis. This comp seems to have been assembled under the direction of Peter Gordon (in conjunction with video work by Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn; the video from this project is apparently for sale here), founder of the at-one-time-exciting Love of Life Orchestra. Ironically then, the two weakest pieces here are the LOLO/Gordon tracks that bracket the release, Gordon already on the downslope from excellent releases like "Geneve" and "Extended Niceties" that would ultimately extend to the less interesting "Innocent" and "Brooklyn".
Sandwiched between, however, are a number of luscious works. Two wonderful songs by Jill Kroesen (who, thanks to diligent research by Rita from Jazz Corner, we've learned owns a resort in Desert Springs CA these days!), "I'm Sorry I'm Such a Weenie" and a great cover of Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me". On the latter, she performs it as a drawn-out moan, anguished, petulant, just herself and piano--quite harrowing.
I think when I first heard it, I found "Blue" Gene Tyranny's "The World's Greatest Piano Player" to be excessively noodlesome, but over the years I've come to really enjoy wallowing in it. A trio with David Van Tieghem and Laswell, it's something of a frolic as Tyranny is all over the place, keeping it funky but not shying from the florid. I always think of Van Tieghem with Anton Fier, btw, as two drummers who concentrate on a pretty narrow spectrum--solid, precise rock drumming--but carry it off surprisingly well. The handful of things I've heard from Tyranny since then have been enjoyable as well, making me think I should check out his work further. He also does some pretty decent writing for AMG once in a while.
My personal highlight of the set, though, is Ned Sublette's extraordinary "I Ain't Afraid of Girls". Backed entirely by horns (including Lewis), this is a warped, extremely catchy C&W song, nasally sung by Sublette with lyrics delineating his, erm, machoness:
I'm afraid of Hollywood and I'm afraid of snakes
I'm afraid of tumbleweed and I'm afraid of rakes
I'm afraid of fire and I'm afraid to fight
I'm afraid of being locked in the john and I'm afraid of eatin' tripe.
But I'm the bravest man in the whole wide world
'Cause I ain't afraid of girls.
I'm the braveest man in the whole wide world
'Cause I ain't afraid of girls!
I love'em when they're hot and sexy
I love 'em when they get a little corny
I ain't afraid when they cry a lot
I ain't afraid when they get horny
I like 'em when they need me and
I like it when they don't
If they take me for stud
Or a savior on a horse
etc... (all lyrics approximated from memory)
Side Two opens with Chatham's "Drastic Classicism", I think the first time I ever heard his music and it's a pretty good one, though not quite up to either "Der Donnergotter" or much of the music on "Factor X". At the time a fascinating adjunct to Branca's work, harsher and less traditionally structured. This is followed by a humdrum Van Tieghem piece, then the Kroesen cover and finally, a sludgy Gordon number (though, interestingly, with Maarten van Regteren Altena and Rene van Aast along for the ride).
I believe this was momentarily available on disc on the Italian New Tone label in the early 90s. Wish there had been a Vol. 2, at least.