Sunday, January 31, 2010

Classical Nerdage: Minimalism

Recently Ive been hanging out at the IC office quite a bit. Ive heard a lot of music by Philip Glass playing in Mr. Cobras office and its inspired me to do another post on classical music.

This time I'm going to cover a movement rather then one specific composer. This movement is called "Minimalism".

Minimalism began in the bay area during the 1960's amidst the drugs, rock n roll, and freaks that are most often associated with the region at the time. The story begins at UC Berkeley with a couple of guys who could easily have been mistaken for some of the Haight Ashbury types at first glance. The story really starts with La Monte Young...

La Monte was a talented jazz saxophonist early on. I don't know how many of you guys nerd out on jazz but La Monte actually beat out Eric Dolphy for a seat in the Los Angeles City College. La Monte ended up in Berkeley, CA where he began to get more and more interested in long sustained tones (according to La Monte it was a life long obsession, so perhaps its more accurate to say that he began playing or writing them). In 1958 Young wrote the first piece that was referred to as minimalist, titled, Trio for Strings. With its long sustained tones, countered by long sustained silence, this piece is closer to drone then the dense, rhythmic music of the others associated with this movement. La Monte has been cited as an influence several times by the always hyped drone metal duo Sunn O))). While he was part of the minimalist scene and is most often mentioned in relation to it, his music is unique and not quite like the rest of the guys associated with the style.

While at UC Berkeley La Monte met and began a life long friendship with fellow composer, Terry Riley...

Riley began experimenting at the San Francisco Tape Music Center during the 60's as did another minimalist, Steve Reich. More about him in a minute. Terry Riley composed the definitive "minimalist" piece in 1964 called In C. Originally this was a tape piece consisting of 53 short loops, all in the key of C major. The loops are played in different combinations throughout the piece. It is commonly performed by real live musicians. Here's a preview...

This piece has been a source of inspiration for many people outside of the "classical" scene. One of the more notable examples are Japan's, Acid Mothers Temple. They recorded an album creatively titled "In C" in 2002 which included their interpretation of the piece (Check out a preview here).

This is a perfect example of the style that has come to be called minimalism. Philip Glass has been vocal about his opposition to the term "minimalism". He prefers the title "music with repetitive structures". That doesn't quite have the same ring to it but it is definitely a better description.
Whatever you want to call it you have to agree that this stuff puts you in a unique mood. All the repetition almost can make you feel like your in a trance. African tribes have used repetitive rhythms to prepare for war or hunting. There is definitely something primal about music like this. The combination of the western classical instruments and approach to harmony makes for some good listening.

A more recent photo of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and La Monte's wife, Mariam Zarzeela

Those crispy critters above are what I'll call the "west coast minimalists". Although La Monte Young moved to New York in the 60's and still resides there today, he retains a certain west coast aesthetic that can't really be denied. Both of the above were open about using drugs in the 60's. Terry Riley has a tape piece titled "Mescalin Mix" and La Monte has stated that he hardly remembers the 60's at all. Both got more into some pretty far out ideas (especially La Monte) later in life.

There are two other major figures in this movement which could be called the "east coast minimalists". The first is Steve Reich...

In my opinion Steve Reich has written some of the better music in this style. Reich spent a majority of his life in New York, but is no stranger to the west coast. Early in life Steve's parents divorced so he split his time between Los Angeles and Manhattan. He traveled back and forth by train which he says sparked his initial interest in repetition and rhythm. Later on he spent time in the bay area at the tape music center where he made some pretty trippy pieces. I could have written a full post on Steve's music alone. There are no shortage of gems in his "discography".
Two essentials are Music for 18 Musicians and Different Trains. I'm also pretty fond of Electric Counterpoint myself. Any of you who play drums or who have some knowledge of music theory should check out Drumming. That shit will melt your brain, no joke.

The final major figure in Minimalism, also hailing from New York, is Philip Glass.

Glass is one of the best known contemporary composers today (second only to John Williams Id say). Philip was recently featured on IC here. I, like many people today, was introduced to contemporary classical music through Philip Glass. These days I don't listen to much of his music. Nothing against the guy, a lot of his stuff just sounds the same to me. A couple exceptions are, Einstein on the Beach and the soundtrack to The Hours for solo piano.
Even still hes undeniably a major force in modern music and was another key player in the minimalist movement. In fact if you talk to him hell tell you that he created the whole thing himself. Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who were at one point close friends, no longer talk to one another because Philip has denied Reich (or Riley and Young for that matter) contributed in any way to his idea. A bit of an egomaniac Id say but that's just my opinion.

There's one final composer to be mentioned when talking about minimalism. This is John Adams...

John Adams is a little younger then the previous four composers. While he wasn't there for the first days of minimalism his music has become synonymous with the style. On top of writing some sweet tunez this dude is also a pretty funny, down to earth guy. A lot of composers tend to come off as overly academic, snobbish, and self important. John Adams is a welcome exception to that stereotype. To get a sense of his personality check out his blog Hell Mouth.

Ready to check some of this stuff out?

Check out In C by Terry Riley here.
Purchase here.

Check out Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich here.
Purchase here.

Check out Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass here and here.
Purchase here.

Check out Shaker Loops by John Adams here.
Purchase here.

Check out the Black Album from La Monte Young here.
As far as purchasing goes...

La Monte has rarely been recorded and the little that has been is usually done in a small press. At Amoeba records here in San Francisco they have one DVD available from him (which is the most they've had in the 4 years Ive frequented the store). Its priced close to $1,000. So basically your not going to be able to be able to buy anything from this guy for a while. Were it not for the internet I don't know that I would ever have got the opportunity to hear anything by him, unless I was to go to New York and see him live. This album is a little weird so be warned. Its drones, the first track is sine waves and the second is La Monte and his wife singing. This might not be your cup of tea but I wanted to include it anyways.

Nerd out!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


The American Southwest has much more to offer than bolo ties and Kokopelli bumper stickers. Indeed, there is a kick-ass hardcore scene over there as well, one that has been pumping out scads of awesome bands (like this one) for over two decades. But no discussion about Southwest Hardcore would be complete without mention of of the region's GODS: LOGICAL NONSENSE and WORD SALAD.


You might remember Logical Nonsense making an appearance here on IC several months ago, when I posted their debut full-length Deadtime. That record definitely had a melodic (even poppy) edge to it at times, but any hint of user-friendliness was long gone by the release of Expand The Hive four years later. This is some angry, brutal ass-kickery, delivered amongst a cacophony of samples, squealing feedback, and pure fucking HATE. Hive was followed by 1998's Soul Pollution, which I'm sure I'll get around to posting someday as well.

Logical Nonsense formed all the way back in 1989, and defied all logic (see how I did that?) by keeping the same six-man lineup throughout the course of their career. They split up in the early 2000's, but re-unite occasionally to play shows. In Santa Fe, these guys are LEGEND.

(PS - Sorry about the crappy resolution on the cover art, this one definitely deserves better. But alas, I have no access to a scanner and the internet is no help today...)

Download HERE
Purchase HERE
Logical Nonsense on Myspace


Word Salad were from Albuquerque, and are surprisingly hard to track down on the internet considering the quality of their music. I posted this split with Hellchild awhile back, but Deathmarch is leaps and bounds better, a grinding, shrieking beast of record chock full of sludgy, stop-on-a-dime breakdowns, blastbeating insanity, and furious shredding. I caught these guys live once in the late 90's. It was like.... FUCK.

And check out the pissing monkey on the cover.

Download HERE
Purchase HERE
Word Salad fan page

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Hatred. Angst. Despair. Volume. Depression. Sickness. Alcohol. Pills. Anger. Frustration. Heroin. Death. Evil. Pain. Distortion. Alienation. Frustration. Suicide. Ugliness. Wrath. Foulness. Putridity. Drugs. Hallucination. Blood. Torture. Dreadlocks. Spite. Murder. Blasphemy. BUZZOV*EN.

Buzzov*en Myspace


Well, it's Friday afternoon again. Time to slack off.
You guys know what that means, right? Another shitty tattoo post, duh! IC readers made it abundantly clear after the last crappy tattoo post that they aren't above laughing at someone else's mistakes -- in fact, it seems they can't get enough of it.
Today, though, I'm going to change things up just a little. Using my unparalleled skills in both MS Paint and GIMP, I will be altering pre-existing tattoo photos to make the bad good and the good bad. That's right: WIN will become FAIL, FAIL will become WIN, and quite possibly, WIN will even become FUCKWIN.

Indeed, the 'Sweet/Lame' post rises again! Behold:

Down here on the left, we have a fine example of what I would consider a pretty "sweet" tattoo. Sure, it's a fine line, but "ME" having sex with "YOUR MOM" while flipping the bird just barely lands on the "good tattoo" side of the fence.
To the right, you will find my masterfully-rendered "lame" version. This tattoo crosses the line. Are we getting the idea?

Conversely, we have the LAME full-body piece shown below. I mean, sure, this chick is dedicated to feline body mods or whatever, but if you're going to "go all the way", you might as well "GO ALL THE WAY", right? How 'bout some prosthetic teeth, facial piercings, and plastic surgery? Don't half-ass it.


Another close call: This dude's WAL*MART tramp stamp. Ballsy, yes, but this piece pretty much qualifies as nothing more than an unfunny party favor.


Add potty humor and outdated internet slang... GOLD.


We've all seen this guy before, am I right? Textbook example of a SWEET fuckin back piece, possibly the SWEETEST EVER. What could ever cause this epic collection to turn sour?

Bradley Nowell, bro.


Similarly, we have this dude (below) and his amazing Judas Priest/Mount Rushmore tat.
But I'm gonna have to blow your mind and call this piece 100% LAME. Why?

Where's the drummer, bro? This tattoo DEMANDS 100%, and you only gave it 80.

Scott Travis has been with Priest since 1989. If you don't consider him a full-fledged member of the band at this point, I think it might be time to rearrange your priorities.


HTML joke tattoos?
LAME as fuck.
With the exception of LOL*FART up there, internet-themed ink is an unequivocally BAD idea.
But I have a surprise for all of you: This tattoo is actually on the neck of Hollywood hunk Jonathan Rhys Meyers, best known for his appearances in 1996's The Disappearance of Finbar and 2005 made-for-TV movie Elvis.
The HTML "end head/start body" tattoo seems dumb and tasteless until you consider Rhys Meyers' follow-up move, the forehead tattoo shown below that he recieved right after filming From Paris With Love with Scientologist John "It's about TERRORISTS!" Travolta.


Okay, I get it.
"Stay Gold". Golden Girls. Ha. Ha.


It's a corny play on words, and conjures images of The Outsiders rather than the heartwarming cameraderie shared by elderly women in the early 90's.
Whatever happened to OLD PRIDE (below)?


Below left: Bicep tattooed on bicep? "Meta", but not meta enough. LAME.
Below right: Bicep within bicep within bicep tattooed on bicep? Now THAT's "META". SWEET.

Again: If you're going to "go all the way", GO. ALL. THE. FUCKING. WAY.
Elaborate Warhammer 40K back piece? Sooooo close, dude. But LAME.

This is how it should be done.


I have a sad prediction to make: This is NOT the last Twilight tattoo you will ever see. It fucking sucks, but it's reality.


But I have a question for Team Edward over here: What's up with the hair? I mean, does dude's wig actually look like that? I thought guys stopped doing that shit with their bangs in the late 90's, am I wrong?
Of you're going to get a Twilight tattoo, you might as well give credit where it's due.

Sweet: David Schwimmer, you are my life now.

Dumbass. Why would you get a tattoo of some fleeting internet/social networking fad that no one will even remember in 5 years? Tattoos are FOREVER, dude. Myspace IS NOT.
If you're going to get inked, go with something that will never go out of style...


Then again, we have tattoos like the one shown below. What could I possibly add or take away from this piece that would make it any SWEETER or LAMER than it already is?

Nothing, that's what.
You win, Bob Seger And The Silver Bullet Band back piece.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Welcome, friends, to a brand new feature here on I.C., an ongoing series I call 'Bromantic Interludes'.
The basic idea: I give a one-word concept to a guest blogger, who in turn creates a digital "mix" based on that concept for us all to download. Simple enough, correct?
Of course.

To kick things off, I was lucky enough to enlist RyGar (right), sole proprietor and mastermind behind the brilliant and addicting (Nobody Knows) I'm New Wave. RyGar has been a friend of The Contraption since way back, and knowing of his propensity for indulgence in green, leafy substances, I assigned him the following concept: "DRUGS".

I should have known it would happen -- RyGar was so enthusiastic about the subject at hand that his mix couldn't be confined to just ONE volume. Expect more from him (and others) in the near future...


First off, let me thank blogmaster and all around awesome dude Shelby Cobras for having me over as a guest. I promise not to make a huge mess, bro.

Drugs - I love them. I mean, I'm not like, snorting crystal meth off the tits of a silverback gorilla in my spare hours, but I've had some truly great times 'tripping the life fantastic' as they say. Most of my hard substance abuse adventuring happened in my mid-teens (94-98, though, to be honest, I'm not the greatest when it comes to remembering chronology). I guess I was about thirteen the first time I smoked weed. There was this older kid, Bryan Duft (not his real name), who was kind of a pagan, pre-corporate-merchandise goth. He showed up at my friends apartment with something he called 'creeper weed', and we smoked a couple bowls while watching Beavis and Butthead. Some people say they don't get stoned the first time. Those people suck at getting high/life. I was fucking ripped! I laughed and giggled for hours. I understood, almost immediately, that our parents and teachers were full of shit. Pot wasn't dangerous, it was awesome! And, if pot was great, what about all the other drugs? Crack seemed a little sketchy, and not much fun, judging by my step dad's vacant, drooling mug. Heroin was rock n'roll, but it gave you AIDS, and almost definitely killed you. What was left? Mushrooms, Acid, Speed, ecstasy, PCP, and pills in every color of the gay rainbow. In the next few years I made my way through all of them, and I'll tell you more about that in future installments.

This first mix is mostly straight-forward 'songs about drugs'. Genre-wise, it's all over the place, but mostly lands on the "Punk/Hardcore" side of the proverbial fence. "Why isn't there more Metal?", I can hear you whine. Probably because these songs were chosen for their lyrical significance concerning the theme at hand, and metal isn't known for lyrical coherence. Also, during the years that I was doing the drugs, I wasn't listening to much Metal. Sorry, guy. Maybe I'll get some more blastbeats and grunts on the next mix. Now, get properly munted on the substance of your choice and enjoy:

DRUGS: Vol. 1 - Ingestion and uptake.

(click on image for full size tracklist)


You like stony riffs, bro?
Well the riffs don't get any stonier than those delivered by Oakland's own Drunk Horse, who have been hotboxing the brains of unsuspecting audiences for over a decade. Drunk Horse was playing classic rock way before anyone else was, all the way back in the late 90's. Like the bastard nephew of a methed-out Allman Brother or perhaps the Southern son of a sleazy Sabbath, The Horse belts out licks that were custom made for drinkin', fuckin', or droppin' the tranny on that beat up Camaro you just scored off your old lady's cousin. Semi-tongue-in-cheek lyrics about moustaches ("Greazy Moustache"), arcade games ("High Score"), and easy chicks ("Tempermental Woman") sweeten the deal significantly, but let's not forget what we came here for: The riffs, man. Those stony, stony riffs.
This is their first album. If you like what you hear, check out 2003's Adult Situations or 2005's In Tongues.

Bonus for the music nerds: Drunk Horse is one of the rare bands that has mastered the fine art of the major seventh chord. Ever heard a sarcastic guitar riff? These guys have you covered.

Download HERE
Purchase HERE
Drunk Horse on Myspace

Below: One of the best fucking band photos ever, almost as good as this or this or this.

"Ass Out - Passed Out" & "Greazy Moustache" live at The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, 2004. They even throw a little Magma in there ("Hhai"):

SHOWS, etc.

WORM UOROBOROS (Profound Lore)

HAIL SATAN (Mercyful Fate tribute band)

Does anyone in the Bay Area even read this blog?

In other news, Scientologists have solved the crisis in Haiti and Steve Jobs has announced the release of a really big iPhone.


Illogical Contraption, meet God of Shamisen. God of Shamisen, meet Illogical Contraption. You guys are soul mates.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Cumbersomely named after a Deicide song, Behead The Prophet - No Lord Shall Live were part of a large, healthy queercore/occult/punk/grindcore scene that blossomed in and around Olympia, Washington in the early-to-mid 90's. Their music was the beautiful catastrophe that occurs whenever punks decide to play metal: Absolute fucking chaos, basically, with songs rarely surpassing the one minute mark (in fact, the longest song on this 22-song album clocks on at 1:30). And did I mention that they had a violin player who would improvise/shred over every song (Michael Griffen, who passed away last year - R.I.P.)?
This is a fucking sweet little record that everyone needs. The samples alone are worth the cover price. Don't believe me? Give it a listen and tell me I'm wrong.

Download HERE

Below: Lead vocalist/Edgar Winter impersonator Joshua Plague.

B.T.P.N.L.S.L. on Myspace

B.T.P.N.L.S.L. live in Las Vegas. A shitty clip, but gives a good idea of how chaotic their sound was. Also featured: Joe Preston in a sparkly cape.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I wrote about Pavor rather recently, heaping praise upon their 1994 album A Pale Debilitating Autumn at the beginning of last month. I said what I needed to say about them back then, so click the link if you'd like to learn about this perplexing and talented band.
I think what is remarkable about Furioso is how little it differentiates from APDA - after all, these albums were recorded 9 YEARS apart, and yet Pavor delivers the same unrelenting tech-grind with little to no stylistic change and just a slight increase in production value. This definitely isn't a bad thing. PAVOR sounds like PAVOR, no matter what the decade.
Since I've already said my piece about this Germanic shred squadron, I'll give you instead these two chunks of useful information:

First, a definition of the term "furioso":

furioso [ˌfjʊərɪˈəʊsəʊ] Music
adj & adv
(Music, other) in a frantically rushing manner
(Music, other) a passage or piece to be performed in this way
[Italian, literally: furious; see 'fury']

An apt summation of the music on this disc if ever there was one.
And second, a press release quote from the band itself (via icoulddietomorrow):

"To all wimps, dilettantes, kiddies, fakes, and other boring lowlifes out there that keep making fools of themselves by trying to be evil, brutal or even musically relevant: STAY AT HOME AND PRACTICE!"

Fuckin' A.

Download HERE
Purchase HERE

Pavor fan page

Pavor, "Furioso":


Sweden, 1988: Sorcery - "In To The Sign of Evil"

Florida, 1988: Deicide/Amon on public TV

Sweden, 1988: Nihilist - "Sentenced To Death"

Florida, 1988: Death live, "Pull The Plug"

Sweden, 1989: Carnage - "Torn Apart", live

Florida, 1989: Nocturnus - "Standing In Blood", live

Sweden, 1990: Dissection - "Severed Into Shreds"

Florida, 1990: Obituary live - "Cause of Death"

Sweden, 1990: Entombed live

Florida, 1990: Morbid Angel dicking around at their practice... Shed

Sweden, 1991: Dismember live

Florida, 1991: Jon Oliva.....????


Sunday, January 24, 2010


The Dynamite Masters Blues Quartet (or, much more commonly, DMBQ) are quite possibly the finest live act I've ever had the privilege of experiencing - A chaotic, violent, psychedelic circus of distortion and bodily contortion which often ends in blood, lots of spilled booze, and a whole shitload of blown eardrums. DMBQ are regarded as rock stars in their homeland of Japan, but usually play small clubs or even basement parties when they tour the U.S.
Until I saw these guys live, I had never witnessed a drummer crowdsurfing - while still playing their kit. I had never seen a kick drum fly across a venue and bash a hipster in the face. I had never seen a bass player climb a wall and finish a song from the balcony. DMBQ changed all that.
The band has existed for 15 years, touring extensively and releasing a slew of eclectic and varied albums. In 2005, they were involved in a horrible accident on the New Jersey turnpike which killed their second drummer, Yuka "China" Yoshimura. My friend Michelle (who was booking their tour) was in the van as well, and despite her injuries convalesced and now runs her agency Panache Booking out of NYC. Although they were devastated by China's death, DMBQ carried on as well, recruiting the amazing maelstrom known as Shinji Wada from King Brothers to take her place.
The DMBQ sound has changed quite a bit over the years, and they are undoubtedly at their best in modern times. If you've never had the experience, I can give no higher recommendation for a live concert. Keep an eye out for them on their next tour.


The band started out playing a much more Boredoms-esque
style of experimental rock and roll, as evidenced by this early full-length. Fable is full of repetitive grooves, which run from droning to funky. An assortment of strange noises, gibbering dialogue, and buzzing weirdness run over the top of the whole thing, and at one point the music stops completely as we are treated to an audio clip of someone walking down a hallway, taking a piss, and flushing the toilet. But the entire package remains an interesting and engaging listen, urination clips be damned.
Japanophiles and noise rockers alike will dig this one.

Download HERE


Black Hair finds DMBQ much closer to their modern form, rocking really hard and fast and stripping away the experimental pretense in favor of pure lo-fi debauchery. This recording is much more analogous to their live show, as was their 2005 release Essential Sounds From The Far East (buy it here).
Word has it that a new DMBQ album (titled The Cold One) is coming soon...

Download HERE
Purchase HERE
Old DMBQ Myspace
Official (if minimal) website

DMBQ live at 12 Galaxies, San Francisco, 2007. This was an amazing show, video courtesy of my Bro Kevin:

The drum thing: