“This is the second volume of our series collecting the odds & sods of the immortal Nudge Squidfish. Nudge is one of the singular figures to emerge from the Columbus sub-underground rock scene of the 1970s. He was a member of The True Believers (along with Mike Rep & Tommy Jay). He cut a single for the New Age label in ’82, and couple of odd solo LPs while he was living in Nashville later in the ’80s. He was a member of V-3 (along with Jim Shepard) after that. He also released a bonkers full-length cassette on Old Age that was subsequently vinylized by Columbus Discount. More recently, he has become a highly regarded disseminator of UFO videos (Google it). The first volume of this series, You Can’t Have Aliens Without The Squid (FTR 321LP, 2017), was met with gasps of amazement and other tomfoolery. Robot Wars, featuring material recorded between 1974 and 2017, covers even wider stylistic ground than Aliens, and is certain to provoke as many questions as there are answers. The material here is performed by Nudge solo, Root Cellar (a band with Charles Cicirella on smutty vocals), Jayfish (Nudge + Tommy Jay), and V-3. And while Nudge (left to his own devices) has shown signs of being a pop artist, the music here does not hew to that notion. From fine, straight bar blues readymades to spaced-up electro doo-dads to neo-Nig Heistian raunch polemicism, to guitar bursts worthy of Crazy Horse, Robot Wars presents many the faces of the Squid. And yeah, it includes his pop side, but the breadth and balance are kinda staggering. Roll on, Big N!” –Byron Coley, 2020 Edition of 200.
“After five long years of waiting, rural psych masters, Sore Eros, return with an extended statement of purpose. Although their partial spatial dislocation from Western Mass has seemly rendered them a studio-oriented outfit, the lovely tangles of sound they create are as optimally fried as ever. The album was helmed by engineer/producer Adam Granduciel (War on Drugs) who was the only one capable of coaxing the whole band into the studio. Aided by players like Daniel Oxenberg (ex-Supreme Dicks) and Kurt Vile (ex-Nest of Saws), the music on Sore Eros was recorded between Philly and L.A., and seems to owe some its creative modeling to those cities as well. Indeed, the side-long ending track, ‘Mirror,’ feels like it’s equally indebted to left-coast canyon-hugging surf-pop and cheese steak-powered garage-volk readymades. The rest of the album is just as sizzling. The tunes move between large-scale rock moves with Deadly intent and strangely-drifting pop aktion that gets close to Bobb Trimble’s version of otherness. The overall heft is more woodsy than beachy, but maybe I’m just saying that ’cause I’m listening to the thing in the middle of a forest. Pressed at 45 RPM for extra high fidelity, packed up with a poster insert you can throw darts at (just like an earlier generation threw darts at the insert from the first Silver Apples LP), the theoretical swan song of Sore Eros is all a head could hope for. And then some.” –Byron Coley, 2019
“We’re excited to release the debut solo LP by Matthew J. Rolin, currently a resident of Columbus, Ohio. Rolin cut his teeth with garage and psych outfits in Cleveland, appearing on vinyl by Shoreway and Nowhere before he found himself adrift and wandering in the direction of Chicago at the end of 2016. Matthew had always been a fan of Jim O’Rourke’s brilliant Bad Timing LP (Drag City, 1997), and when he caught a set by Ryley Walker soon after arriving in the city, he decided to throw himself into developing his acoustic chops. Without really knowing much about the history or context of the American primitive/concert steel string scene, he managed to create a distinctive sound and approach to the instrument, owing less to the music’s arts-blues fundamentals than to the contemporary players who have expanded outward in all directions from those initial impulses. Playing his first solo gig in Cleveland, opening for Daniel Bachman, an audience member mentioned John Fahey to Rolin, but he had no idea who the guy was talking about! The root-thread of Rolin’s playing flows more from Glenn Jones onward, through Rose and Bachman and Blackshaw and Walker and Lane. I feel like I detect a ‘Vaseline Machine Gun’ urge towards Kotte-esque density in certain spots, but maybe that’s just me. Regardless, Rolin’s talents as a solo player (abetted only by Jen ‘Donkey No No’ Gelineau’s violin on one track) are immediately clear from the first note he plays. Matthew currently works both solo, and in a duo with dulcimer player, Jen Powers. If you get a chance to see him don’t pass it up. Nor should you pass up this chance to score his first long player while it’s hot off the presses.” –Byron Coley, 2019 Edition of 250.
“Proud we are to reissue the final piece of Willie Lane’s original Cord-Art LP trilogy. It was recorded in various spots throughout Western Mass, in the years following the release of Guitar Army of One. Initially issued in 2016, in an edition of 350, this lovely session disappeared into the fog of the forest before most folks were able to catch its scent. Now it has re-emerged with re-interpreted cover art by Max Milgram, and sonics we think will please even the most finicky listener. A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth is my personal fave of Willie’s first three Cord-Art LPs. It has a hazily unstoppable flow, incorporating elements of American Primitive and Bay Area Ballroom-era string greats in equal measure. Mostly played on electric (although there are some acoustic overdubs), the music manages to be abstract and melodic at the same time, with individual lines splanging off in oddball directions, then reasserting their formal qualities inside a single musical breath. The specific quotes that exist inside the playing are crafty, episodic and display a strange syncretic streak. A nice example of this is the sprawling track, ‘New Arrivals,’ on the first side. Lane manages to obliquely reference both John Fahey’s improvisations for the soundtrack of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, Zabriskie Point (1970), as well as Jerry Garcia’s work that was used in place of the bulk of Fahey’s music after he and the director had a savage falling out. Willie reconciles their differing approaches to blues architecture with mighty slide playing and sheer dint of will. Rumors are currently swirling that Willie’s next Cord-Art release will have vocals, so this three pack of instrumental genius may well be the primary documentation of one phase of this maestro’s aesthetic trajectory. Hope you’ve got them all.”
“Amazingly, here is the glorious (long-delayed) follow-up to Fred Lane’s 1988 Shimmy Disc LP, Car Radio Jerome. In the wake of that surreal masterpiece, Shimmy announced an LP called Icepick to the Moon, but it took 31 years to wrestle this slab of bacon to the mat. And you’ll be glad we did. Icepick takes up where Jerome left off. As inhabited by visual artist, Tim Reed, ‘Fred Lane’ (I’ll drop the quote marks after this) is a lounge crooner with smoothly classic vocal chops and a taste for lyrics shaped by Alfred Jarry’s proto-Dada writings. Fred Lane is a creature of the ‘Pataphysical South, inhabiting the same pocket universe as Bruce Hampton and Eugene Chadbourne. And we guarantee his music is as deeply fried as anything you’ve ever heard. Or eaten. The roots of Lane have been explored in Skizz Cyzyk’s great documentary, Icepick to the Moon (to which this is not a soundtrack LP), and are traceable back as far as high school in the late ’60s, where Lane and the late guitarist Davey Williams had a weird-o cover band. A couple years later, they both ended up in the Tuscaloosa Alabama student/hippie ghetto (near the University), where some older artists — Craig Nutt (aka “Ron ‘Pate”) and a few odd others — had formed an art collective, Raudelunas, to do all the whacked out stuff interesting people like to do . . . This was the beginning of a long Alabama Surrealist tradition that includes LaDonna Smith, Anne LeBaron, Wally Shoup, and many others. Anyway, at some point, Reed brought his Fred Lane persona to the party — an accretion of totally insane lyrics and performance tropes, set to what almost sounds like swinging cocktail music until you start noticing the bizarre detailing and avant-garde highlighting. Coming at the same early ’70s moment that lounge retro was functionally hip (Manhattan Transfer, Asleep at the Wheel, Capt. Matchbox, etc.) the results were a complete mindfuck . . . The music, penned by Reed with Roger Hagerty (aka Dick Foote), played by a band with Williams (aka Cyd Cherise) on guitar, is unbelievably fine. Sadly, this was Williams’ last recording session, but the instrumental inventions are a wonderful extension of Jerome (which was notably more sophisticated, sonically, than earlier recordings)…”
Chicago saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, a touring member of Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver and one-third of the inventive Chicago improvising collective Twin Talk, first encountered the music of Moondog a decade ago, while studying at Indiana University. “Initially, I liked the quirkiness of the music and the lore surrounding him,” he says. “I had always thought that there was potential for the music to be reimagined in a more improvised context, but it took a long time for that to actually happen,” explains Laurenzi. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he formed a versatile octet designed to interpret and expand on those sounds. “I started listening to more of his music and I became really obsessed with it, especially a lot of the rounds on his 1971 record Moondog 2. That music is really meticulous contrapuntally and rhythmically, but also super catchy and groovy.” Several of the pieces featured on that octet’s riveting debut Snaketime: The Music of Moondog, including “Nero’s Expedition”, “Lament I”, “Bird’s Lament”, and “Down is Up” utilize rounds, or perpetual canons. Laurenzi assembled a dazzling group of Chicago improvisers for the group, and his inventive arrangements of the material created various paths for each musician to extrapolate on the source material, whether through the extended passage bass clarinetist Jason Stein takes on the opening track “Nero’s Expedition” over the polyrhythmic groove meted out by percussionists Ryan Packard and Quin Kirchner and bassist Matt Ulery before the rest of the ensemble chimes in, or the way the leader’s imploring, powerfully sobbing tenor solo cleaves the cycling melody and practically silences his bandmates before they gently reenter. “Fiesta Piano Solo” deftly expands on the original solo piano work, engaging each horn player to contribute to a buoyantly infectious round robin party, where each statement lifts and inspires the next. The album was recorded live at Chicago’s Hungry Brain in January of 2018, but Laurenzi didn’t expect to release the music until he listened back later. The ensemble — which also includes guitarist Dave Miller, trumpeter Chad McCullough, and alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella — was carefully assembled: a mixture of players Laurenzi had worked with or had desired to. There’s an inescapably human, idiosyncratic vibe to the album, coursing with raw emotion and fragile beauty that both honors the distinctive spirit of Moondog and creates something utterly fresh at the same time. Edition of 500.
“For the first release in Feeding Tube’s Unknown Province series — a run of records dedicated to exploring little known nooks of the Canadian underground, curated by Alex Moskos — we are delighted to bring you the first vinyl reissue of the 1968 zoner masterpiece by poet bill bissett and his fellow Vancouver freaks. We have always been shocked this LP was not included on the NWW list, but Canadian releases often seem to exist in their own universe, so we suppose that’s the ‘explanation.’ Because, in a list of any free-form freakouts, Awake in th’ Red Desert would surely have a high place. bissett was a sound/concrete poet of high repute when this was recorded, and he was also something akin to the king of the Vancouver underground scene. The original album was issued by Jim Brown’s See/Hear label, which Brown founded as an adjunct to his Talon Books imprint. Backed by a band of interesting musicians (a few of whom went on to straighter afterlives), bissett created an insane mass of sound, comparable to what Mayo Thompson’s Red Crayola was doing in Texas around the same time, laced with heavy Fugs overtones. Pure freaked sonics, created while stoned, for an audience that was similarly blasted, and was willing to decode what was going on using the very best acid logic available. Hard for me to describe how much I love this album. And I will attest that this version sounds better than any other available version ever has or could. It is jacked. Nice detailed liner notes by Alex Moskos set the scene as well as anyone ever will, and if you don’t feel your teeth wiggling while this plays, I suggest you may never feel that particular feeling. In your life. bill bissett is still going today, and we heartily suggest that anyone who digs this album runs out and tries to nail down one or another of his wonderful books before the sun sets.” –Byron Coley, 2019 Edition of 500.
2019 repress, gold vinyl! “Silk is the fantastic third LP by Maxine Funke, a New Zealand musician whose first recordings were with the legendary $100 Band (Funke, Alastair Galbraith, and Mike Dooley!), whose music was drifting experimental dust of a very high order. Maxine’s first two solo albums, Lace (2008) and Felt (2012) (originally released as CDR on Galbraith’s Next Best Way and a lathe on Epic Sweep, respectively), were reissued by Time-Lag to great acclaim in 2016, securing her place in the upper echelons of contemporary folk inventors. With the release of Silk, Ms. Funke manages to create an album that merges both of these style threads. Many of the tracks are cast in an intimate mood congruent with artists like Sibylle Baier, Barbara Manning, Myriam Gendron, Joanne Robertson, and other women who have pulled sweetly dark sounds from pockets of deep emotion, abetted largely by acoustic guitar. On a few other tracks, electronic instrumentals hearken back to her work with transceivers in the $100 Band days. The balance between these posts is delicately intoxicating. A readymade classic from start to finish, Silk travels a brilliant series of spaceways with grace and assurance. We should all be so lucky.” –Byron Coley, 2018.
“It has been eight long years since we’ve had a new duo album by Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano. The two have played together in other configurations, but we all know there has always been something special and telepathic about their duo collaborations. From the moment they began playing together late in the last century, Paul and Chris communicated in weird deep ways. And so it is here. Low Cost Space Flights was recorded in June 2013, at Eric Gagne’s “Thing in the Spring Festival” in Peterborough, New Hampshire. And the duo wails through the three tracks. The room in which the performance happened has a nice natural echo, giving a sprongy edge to Flaherty’s lateral sax runs, while Corsano’s feverish percussion dives straight through every hoopsnake Paul rolls in his direction. No surprise. Chris is among the nimblest, most authoritatively athletic drummers to have graced the circles of fire music hell. And Flaherty remains, to my mind, a continuously under-rated player, largely because he’s so rooted to his physical place in the universe that is New England. His style slips seamlessly from freak register space-squeedling to bar-walk honkery to a sort of chess player’s motion-logic. Most of this set veers towards Paul’s harder-blowing end of the spectrum and we say “Halle-fuckin-lujah!” Leave the ballads to the bow ties, for now. Low Cost Space Flights reunites two great goddamn forces of the New England improv scene, and displays their playing at its hermetic, alloyed best. Beautiful Simon Bosse cover art. Great songs titles — “The Dog Paintings of George W Bush”, etc. What’s not to love? Besides lobsters, of course.”
-Byron Coley, 2014