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The University of Hartford

Music Reviews & Other Fun Stuff
by Alan St. Laurent

Yahowha 13 - I'm Gonna Take You Home (Swordfish Records)  Yahowha (yahowha.org) was a hippy cult in California led by the enigmatic Father Yod in the 70's. Periodically certain members of the group would get together and jam with the tape rolling. The original vinyl of their releases is scarce but the Captain's Trip label released a 13 CD box set of all of it! The good news is that this acid freak combo's output is trickling out one at a time on Swordfish records in the UK.
 There's not a lot that can prepare you for the madness these recordings invoke. This could be the ultimate acid album ever, but I myself have yet to hear any of the other 12 albums. Pockets of psych guitar swirl shuffle at you while at times, Father Yod himself rants and vocalizes over the band. This is not the sort of conventional LSD trip you Pink Floyd fanatics are used to. These guys just did what they did and channeled the grooves from another space. It's all very ragged and loose with an emphasis on letting inner space dictate the outcome.
 Father Yod can be heard at the end of one of the tracks exclaiming; "We have found that when we create in the eternal now it is heavy." Heavy indeed! This is pure, unadulterated drug rock that only the most die-hard freak will comprehend. There's no telling what these guys would be doing today had Father Yod survived the hang gliding accident that allegedly took his soul in the late 70's.
 Rumor has it that Yahowha 13's absolute best recording is "Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony." Swordfish records has this one slated for a CD reissue sometime in the near future. I've got my money ready!

Kawabata Makoto - O Si Amos A Sighire A Essere Duas Umbras? (Important Records)
 Guitar speed guru Kawabata Makoto when not leading the Acid Mothers Temple collective puts out a solo zone piece every once in awhile. This his newest release on Important Records and it could be considered New Age music.
 Kawabata and I have an affinity for enjoying very long drones. There's something about feeding your head a continuum of sound that changes very slightly throughout. The temporal world can be left behind for a time and Kawabata knows how to erase it.
 This disc is comprised of two long drone pieces. One an acoustic guitar track and the other electric but both treated the same way. A quote from the disc itself on the back: "The music on this album was entirely improvised on a single guitar which was divided into three separate systems and connected to three reverb units and one delay unit."  This recording will be a great addition to your collection if you haven't experienced Kawabata's zones. He is constantly releasing this sort of solo outing without much variance on the matter so don't bother if you're familiar with his catalog. But if you have NO clue who the hell Kawabata Makoto is and want to TRULY space out, this is the ticket. Put on the headphones with this one and forget who you are.

The Conet Project - Recordings Of Shortwave Numbers Stations (Irdial Records)
 
This has got to be one of the oddest discs I've ever stumbled onto. A 4 CD collection of shortwave numbers stations recordings. What are numbers stations? Well, there's a lot of speculation and wonder as to the answer to that question.
 Shortwave radio enthusiasts have been stumbling on numbers stations recordings for decades. What they'll hear is usually a random sequence of numbers spoken by a male or female voice over and over again. Sometimes these transmissions are preceded with music or a tone and sometimes not. They've been broadcast from countries all over the world for many years and nobody has ever been able to truly define their purpose.
 This is a disc set that Irdial Records has reissued. Apparently the first run of this collection sold out pretty quick awhile back.
 What are these transmissions? Where do they come from exactly? Who is receiving them? Is this specific code for various spies in different countries? No government has ever come clean on what these transmissions are used for.
 The booklet that comes with the Conet Project set is massive! Mostly a resource for shortwave radio fans to ponder but the text is HIGHLY intriguing. According to the author, a journalist working for a famous magazine once asked The British Department Of Trade and Industry (the FCC in the UK) for information on numbers stations. The DTI representative said the following verbatim: "These people shouldn't have any interest in numbers stations because they shouldn't be listening to them because they are illegal to listen to." Illegal? That's like saying it's illegal to watch CBS News! The signal is out there for anybody to tune in but don't do it, it's illegal. Spooky.
 The whole thing is so subversive you can't possibly hear this without getting goosebumps. There's so much recorded here over four CD's that while I was listening, I eventually tuned out the actual numbers and voices and the whole thing became a REALLY odd head-trip!
 This could be the scariest thing I've EVER heard and it's a catch 22. You listen and wonder the whole time these discs are spinning yet we may never get the answer. A constant source of (Twilight Zone theme inserted here) curiosity, fear and confusion with no closure. A true fright fest if there ever was one.

Blues Explosion - Damage (Sanctuary Records)
 Why, why, WHY did the Blues Explosion steer this album toward a mainstream audience from a production angle? They've jumped labels from Matador to a major for the second time and the results are disappointing, but not entirely.
 Jon Spencer calls this one "the mother of all Blues Explosion albums." Don't believe him! I mean, we LOVE Jon Spencer and owe a lot to him for his skronk and scream over the years, but the Blues Explosion have compromised some of that in favor of hopefully turning some new heads their way. Or so it would seem.
 Their new semi-major label Sanctuary promises to promote this album all over the place in music magazines and the like. Yeah that might garner some new fans but the old ones are going to ho-hum this one. The rock and roll hooks and mayhem of old are there but buried under a sludge of overproduction. The songs are typical Blues Explosion stomp, why this album deserves a listen but it may take several spins to get past the awful studio mess laid on top of them.

 In addition to the mucky overproduction there are a ton of guests on this album, which mires the Blues Explosion sound. Public Enemy's Chuck D. can be heard on Hot Gossip, which is a GREAT song but do we need a rapper? When I hear the Blues Explosion I wanna ROCK! The bare bones approach that worked so wonderfully on their last album Plastic Fang is lost. Too many fingers in the pie!
 For all the work put into creating "Damage" boasting several guest musicians and producers it just sounds like a bunch of overdone leftovers thrown together to make an album. If you wanna hear these tracks in true Blues Explosion fashion you'll have to catch them on tour this fall. I saw them do most of it LIVE in July during a short pre-tour and these songs had me stompin' and jerkin' like they're supposed to. Bring me the LIVE bootleg recordings this winter!

Fly Pan Am - N"Ecoutez Pas (Constellation Records)
 They're from Montreal. Everything they do is in French! Why do they warrant a listen? Well, you can tell they've done their progressive rock homework and they take what they know and twist it into their own brand of indie rock space prog groove. Canada isn't all Bryan Adams and Triumph anymore. They have a thriving music underground that's worth investigating.  This is Fly Pan Am's third, proper full album release since 1999 and quite a departure from their earlier stuff. The last two albums were completely instrumental favoring gaps and spaces in the music. This one sees them filling out their sound much more and adding some vocals here and there. The voices aren't all that prominent however which shows these guys really love to just let things jam.
 Fly Pan Am love to surprise the listener with sudden warps into noise and smatter that don't make sense. You'll be thumping your hand to an incessant drum and bass beat with swirls of guitar shimmer for five minutes or so then WHAM it stops and you're taken to noise, or maybe even a very quiet drum thump with distant squiggles of electronic noises. Somehow they manage to bring you right back to where your fingers were thumping, but by the time that happens you wonder where you just were and how you got back to pole position.
 This album sees them favoring a louder more rocking sound. Earlier releases had Fly Pan Am sounding more methodical and the breaks in the music were MUCH quieter. Their first self-titled disc had breaks in the music where the listener could experience a vacuum cleaner. Now the cloud of dust is back with a vengeance. If you love progressive and experimental rock jams this band is absolutely one you can't pass up. cstrecords.com

Boredoms - Seadrum/House Of Sun (Warner Bros. Japan)
 The Boredoms have been absent since 1999's "Vision Creation Newsun." Since then various members of the band have been embarking on solo projects and the like. They've even mutated themselves into an alter ego minus any guitar or bass and called themselves Vooredoms. This is a Boredoms recording from the vaults apparently.
 To wait 5+ years for this is criminal. The freaks I know that worship the Boredoms are going to be disappointed. This album isn't terrible in any sense of the word, but no new ground is covered. The Vooredoms have been doing LIVE shows in the U.S., UK and Japan for three years and the salivating fans were hoping for a studio release of that lineup. Unfortunately Warner Bros. Japan has unleashed Seadrum/House Of Sun.
 The disc is comprised of two tracks that clock in at over 20 minutes each. Seadrum is first and just sounds like a leftover from the Vision Creation Newsun period. Drums, drums and more drums with Yoshimi vocalizing over them and some piano thrown in to round it out. No it's not bad, but it just sounds as if the Boredoms reached a euphoric nirvana with Vision Creation Newsun and needed to get just a tad bit more of that out of their system. A Vision Creation Newsun afterthought if you will.
 Track 2, House Of Sun, could be a Ravi Shankar raga. 20 minutes of sitar drone that sits nicely in my collection, but is entirely too unnecessary after nearly 6 years of Boredoms withdrawal. The Vooredoms are three drummers and Eye Yamatsuka on vocals and electronics. Their LIVE shows over the last three years are now legendary amongst the fans and allegedly the almost 60 minute piece they perform is recorded and in the vault. Where the HELL is it?
 The Boredoms "Seadrum/House Of Sun" is only available in Japan and probably will stay that way. If you're a FREAK like me and you just gotta have it, you can go to cdjapan.co.jp and grab a copy. If you haven't heard their last album, Vision Creation Newsun, which IS available domestically on Birdman records, I'd stick with that and bypass this one. Vision Creation Newsun was THE album to end the 20th century with in '99. Read Julian Cope's review of Vision Creation Newsun at headheritage.co.uk in the Unsung section and you should be convinced.

WWUH: November/December Program Guide 2004 ©

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