Friday, January 28, 2011

Eugene Chadbourne/John Zorn

"School is a double album released on Eugene Chadbourne's Parachute Records label in 1978. Each of the two LPs was organized by Chadbourne and reedist John Zorn, respectively. This album was Zorn's first professional release. It is an intriguingly raw document of the sort of embryonic, non-idiomatic free improvised music coming out of the American scene in the Seventies.

Disc one features Chadbourne on a variety of guitars, electric and acoustic, in solo, duo, trio and quartet settings featuring accompaniment by Zorn, guitarists Henry Kaiser and Davey Williams, violinists Polly Bradfield and LaDonna Smith and soprano saxophonist Bruce Ackley (of ROVA). The tone of the music is generally very stark, organic and abstract. In this music, there is an emphasis on what can be done sonically with simple tools, i.e. the instrumentalists depend more on contrast, space and timbre than electronic manipulation or effects. Even when sparse, the music is generally manic. It is often difficult to identify who is producing which sound. At many moments, all of the instruments take blatantly percussive roles, displacing any notion of meter violently with shard-like, disjointed atonal outbursts. For the most part, the players investigate the outer limits of extended technique capable on their axes, but at times, disorientingly traditional musical phrases appear, if only for a moment. Of particular note on disc one are the bizarre composed unison figures executed during the quartet piece 'The Shreeve.'

Disc two features three versions of the John Zorn game piece 'Lacrosse.' The group features Mark Abbott on electronics, Chadbourne on various stringed instruments, LaDonna Smith on violin and viola, Davey Williams on banjo and guitar and Zorn on saxophones and clarinet. The music hinges on a continual disruption of silence and harkens back strongly to the seminal work of 20th century composers such as Mauricio Kagel (cf. 'Acustica'). The overall tone is very dry, evoking timbres of wood and blunt metal, peppered with primitive electronic touches. It is a sort of brusque, randomized chamber music, subtly violent and terse at all times.

This vinyl transcription was recorded on a Technics SL1200MK2 turntable through a NAD amplifier to a Sony D-50 digital recorder at 44.1/24 bits. The audio was cleaned up through careful use of the Waves Click and Crackle filters, and limited slightly and dithered with the Waves L-1 Ultramaximizer with IDR."

- Dr. C. Everett Poop, Portland, Maine, 1.24.11

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Eugene Chadbourne/John Zorn.

School (Parachute)
1. Solitude
2. Duet
3. The Return of Romance
4. The Shreeve
5. The Fling
6. Missing Persons
7. Welcome West
8. Lacrosse (take 3)
9. Lacrosse (take 4)
10. Lacrosse (take 6)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Universal Order of Armageddon

It was in an old house outside of Annapolis that Tonie Joy decided to start a subversive organization, a religious cult without the religion. Their house would be the temple, with the shows being the services. His roommate Andrew suggested "Revolutionary Guard of Armageddon," which was eventually changed to "Universal Order of Armageddon." The Order consisted of Tonie Joy (guitar), Brooks Headley (drums), poet Colin Seven (vocals), and Colin's 16 year old cousin Anthony Malat (bass). He began their indoctrination by forcing them to watch Devo's The Men Who Make the Music.

The house became known as 169 House (or sometimes just "The Temple") and they began hosting gigs in the basement. They all worked day jobs so they could take their message to the people, touring the country in an old church van. They were once asked to take someone's confession -- dressed all in black, it was an easy mistake to make and Colin did indeed forgive her sins.

Tim Kabara was a close friend and compatriot of the band who shared these recollections:

"The first time I saw Universal Order of Armageddon was in a in Pasadena, MD basement on March 19th, 1993. After months of persistent but polite encouragement to come see his band play, bass player Anthony Malat (a grade ahead of me at school but a fellow 'weirdo table' lunch companion) convinced me to show up. I was immediately converted to their cause. If UOA played a show, I was there. Based in Baltimore, I would regularly go to DC, Annapolis, or the hinterlands of southern Maryland to see them play. I even made the three hour drive to Richmond, VA on more than one occasion for a show.

A few months later, I arrived early at 169 House so I could hop in the van and drive to DC with them. After watching Fugazi perform a mind-blowing afternoon set at the foot of the Washington Monument, we headed to St. Stephen’s Church so UOA could play on a bill with Heroin, Candy Machine, Tar, and Jawbox. Despite being good friends with Anthony at that point, I still didn’t really talk to the other members of the band, who were a quiet bunch when not on stage. At some point in the van, I tried to articulate something to Tonie about how beautiful the City EP was, how I wanted to hang one on my wall. Without missing a beat, Tonie, ever the salesman, responded 'Then you should buy two copies!' It may have been the first time we had ever spoken to each other."

Tim was also generous enough to share their demo tape, recorded at The Hat Factory with Tony French. "Painfully Obvious" and "The Entire Vast Situation Act I" later appeared on the split with Born Against, while "City," "Mud," "Close to Far Away," and "The Fence Song" appeared on the City EP. "Desperate Motion" and "Act II" (renamed "Four Measure Start") were both re-recorded for release on Longer, Stranger and can be heard here in their original form.

Thanks to Tim Kabara, Anthony Malat, Tonie Joy, Colin Seven, Brooks Headley, Jimmy Joe Roche, Chris Harring, Josh Bonati, Ari Fishman, Mike Treff, and Lauren Martin.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Universal Order of Armageddon.

Demo (Vermin Scum)
1. Painfully Obvious
2. Act II
3. Mud
4. Close to Far Away
5. The Fence Song
6. The Entire Vast Situation Act I
7. City
8. Desperate Motion

City EP (Vermin Scum)
1. City
2. Mud
3. Close to Far Away
4. Fence

Universal Order of Armageddon/Born Against (Gravity)
1. The Entire Vast Situation Act 1
2. Painfully Obvious

Symptom (Jade Tree)
1. Symptom
2. Visible Distance
3. Flux

Longer, Stranger (Gravity)
1. Longer, Stranger
2. Desperate Motion
3. Four Measure Start

The Switch is Down (Kill Rock Stars)
1. Visible Distance
2. Switch is Down
3. Stepping Softly Into
4. Clear Set
5. Benedict
6. No Longer Stranger

A History of Compassion and Justice (Lengua Armada)
1. Close to Far Away

Rock Stars Kill LP (Kill Rock Stars)
1. Painfully Obvious