Thursday, September 13, 2007

First Record Club in quite some time last night, first I've attended since May having missed June's. Special guest Chris Cochrane, a guitarist who some may know from bands like No Safety, Curlew and various Zorn projects was in the house and proved a pleasure both personally and musically. For a first timer, he leaped off the deep end by playing Side Two of Lennon/Ono's "Two Virgins", the 12-minute track that consists of the brutally rhythmic switching on/off of a radio over muted everyday background conversation. In the best tradition of Fluxus, it goes on and on, carrying you past intense aggravation into odd appreciation, though the (I think) humanly manipulated rhythms I could have done without. Chris' second selection, in a lovely about-face, was one of Satie's "Cold Pieces" played with extreme languor by Yves-Jean Thibaudet, a beautiful performance. I found out later on that Nayland had done the cover for the Zorn release, "Weird Little Boy", one I never picked up, which Chris is on. I've also, unfortunately, never heard his own release on Avant, "Bath" (I think Nayland did the cover for that one as well).

David Mitchum, the evening's other guest, played a track by Battles, a band I'd been wanting to hear (the one with Braxton's son Tyondai). Not quite the cold math-rock I'd been expecting, more an overtly goofy version of King Crimson, complete with munchkin vocals; sorta interesting. When his second piece began, I'm sitting there thinking, "I know this one. I heard it a long, long time ago...Weekend!" When my brother Drew stayed with us for a year or so in 1982, he had this album (Alison Statton's post-Young Marble Giants band) and I really enjoyed it. The cut was "Drumbeat for Baby", a memorable enough title, and I was pleased that at least my musical memory seemed to be fairly intact 25 years later.

Nayland played a rather hilarious piece by LA glam-rockers/would-be aliens Zolar X and a really nice one by Stew, a name new to me, from "The Naked Dutch Painter". A fine Brigette Fontaine song from Julia off "Kekeland", her disc with Sonic Youth, an excellent piece via Dan from his favorite unknown Swedish band, Komeda. Nina brought a humorous deconstruction of a Bach composition from the Goldberg Variations by the German bassist Sebastian Gramms but her final selection was a knockout, a recording from somewhere in the South Pacific of an acapella chorus some 125 strong that did the strangest pitch shifts; everyone thought there was some post-production but not so. It actually made you feel queasy, like you were out on choppy seas. Very odd but also very moving in a way.

A fine evening. Oh, I went fairly straight ahead last night, bringing the David Garland track, "Noise in You" and that amazing Shiina Ringo piece I raved about a while back.

On the way over, stopped by DMG and picked up Pita's LP, "A Bas la Culture Marchande" on the No Fun label; didn't have a chance to listen yet.


Richard Pinnell said...

So if I get this right Brian, your Recod Club essentially consists of a bunch of you turning up somewhere there is a stereo and playing music to each other?
I'm not sure how the logisitcs of that might work... If you all bring say two albums, thats maybe two hours listening each, times however many people are there? Or is it just snippets that you play and talk about them a little?

I've just never heard of anything similar, but it sounds a lot of fun. kind of like audition in many ways, but there's just two of us at that.

Brian Olewnick said...

Geekily precise organizational details (and RC history) may be found at

Each person brings two tracks, so entire albums are not listened to Unless, like me, you occasionally bring something like ErstLive 01, currently the RC record holder for length at about 28 minutes. Each track is played twice, once in silence with no info given and again in the "background" while the track-bringer talks about it if he/she feels so inclined and commentary, rarely derisive, is offered).

There are 6 core members plus usually a guest or two. Last night one core member was absent and there were two guests, making seven. We began about 7PM, take a break for dessert between rounds 1 & 2, and finished about 10:30.

Assuming as a given one's inherent dorkiness as well as a interesting cross section of participants, it is indeed great fun.

There's an offshoot of our original RC in Chicago, a schismatic group nearby in Manhattan and two recognized, though unorthodox, sects in Brooklyn.

Richard Pinnell said...

Sounds incredbily geeky, dorky, in fact right up my street! looking at the lists of what have been played I imagine you are considered to be head weirdo of the club?!

Looks a lot of fun, though somone played Wham! at one meeting though...?

Anonymous said...

The John & Yoko track was from "Unfinished Music: Life with the Lions", not "Two Virgins".

Nice track, though.


Brian Olewnick said...

Yeah, my stuff tends to be the oddest, though sometimes Nina gives me a run for my money. Historically, the members have been more rock-oriented than anything else. Dan's a big Beatles fan, for instance, and has a soft spot for Scandanavian pop bands, all the better if they use French horns in lush arrangements.

The guy who brought Wham! is a member of that schismatic group--possibly that selection led to his excommunication, although the odd, seemingly ironic pick can be interesting. Once in a while, someone brings something that never in my life I would've thought possibly contained anything of value but turns out to be--at least to some extent--an impressive work, Kenny Rogers' "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)" being a recent example.

That Stew track Nayland brought last night--I'm not a big Randy Newman fan at all, but it struck me as a really good Newman piece injected with some actual soul.

You never know! That's one of the things that makes it so enjoyable. That plus some excellent, fascinating people to hang around with.

Brian Olewnick said...

Dan, I thought that was the same album? AMG seems to list it as such.

Alastair said...

I wasn't at the Record Club (although I fear Richard might drag me along to a UK version any day now) but there are definitely two "Unfinished Music" John/Yoko LPs: "Two Virgins" and "Life With The Lions". Never heard the second one, can't remember much about the first, although I have it somewhere on vinyl.

I'm sure Chris is a lovely bloke but you didn't miss much with "Weird Little Boy", Brian. I've sold my copy.

Alastair said...

RP: "kind of like audition in many ways, but there's just two of us at that."

You're forgetting our hundreds of thousands of eager listeners, who have been petitioning Resonance for our return. Soon, my pretties, soon...

Richard Pinnell said...

Yes I often forget that people might be listening.....

Al, are you getting emails from me? Not getting replies if you are?

Brian Olewnick said...

Alastair, my recollection of discussions about Weird Little Boy from back in the zorn-list days are pretty much in line with your evaluation.

And answer Richard's e-mails, wouldya?