Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Invincible Donovan University

Holy shit. Lately I've been thinking about applying to some grad schools, or at least starting the process by taking the GRE. But honestly, I just haven't had a clue about which programs I'd be interested in. Enter Invincible Donovan University. Problem solved.
That's right...Donovan Leitch is starting a university for transcendental meditation. With David Lynch. Not making this up. It's really going to be called the Invincible Donovan University. He speaks:
"The Maharishi told me during that 1968 visit that I should build a university in Edinburgh. I went to my room and drew a beautiful dome-shaped place of learning," he said Friday.

"I didn't know what to do because I couldn't do this on my own. But then I met David Lynch, who told me about the positive effects of TM in education. Although it's taken me 35 years, I will do what the Maharishi told me to do."
Apparently Lynch has been bringing transcendental meditation to schools across the US in hopes of reducing crime and drug use among teens. He believes that it would take "only 250 students meditating to protect Scotland from its enemies and to bring peace, to stop violence and drug abuse."
Sign me up. Though I doubt the tuition will be as peaceful with Donovan involved. This reminds me of my little brother Adam's dream of starting a Donovan museum after studying in Glasgow a few years back. I'm sure after hearing this news he'll attempt to be a member of the inaugural class.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


But this one's local!
Yeah, I know. I wasn't even going to post about Magic Flowers Droned, the new Horseshit record, because just about anyone hitting this silly page knows how I feel and how they feel about the Psychedelic ones. It's great, they're great, they're even better with Kevin D on bass, and this debut full-length is a top-five of the year for certain. No point in wasting time on critical blather. I'd rather talk about Rich's Papa John's hat he's always wearing, or Matt's new sleazy 80's Italian vagabond look he's been sporting lately.
But in a recent interview Matt went and inspired me to find some criticisms with the new record, which with, after finally nabbing on vinyl, I've settled into a nice daily listening routine. And yes, it's easy to find faults with the album's second half, especially in the mash-up of two perfectly great songs, but in reality the record just becomes more interactive with each flop of the needle. JUST LIKE THE NEW RADIOHEAD! Except this record will cost $10 every time, and has better songs. If you don't like the mash-up turn the channel to the left or right. It's up to you. If you don't like the version of "Bad Vibrations" you can skip it. It's up to you.
Mason Jones of Dusted says it sounds "as though it was recorded by placing a hand-held in the corner of the room and hitting the red button", which couldn't be further from the truth, in fact it sounds like Mr. Whitehurst went a little crazy with the knob twiddling in places. If you know him as a sound man at Bourbon St. or Blues Station you're probably used to his idiosyncrasies. He's obsessive about the way things sound, oftentimes to a fault. Go back and listen to the paper singles Mason, those were the tape deck-in-a-corner sessions.
My final fault would be with the design, or lack-thereof, on the back sleeve. It's not so great, some of it works but it looks a little last minute thrown together. The front is really great, especially produced at twelve inches.
So there, Matt, are my faults with the record. It's still at this point my album of the year. Magic Flowers Droned and Psychedelic Horseshit are that rare art where the flaws only enhance its power and relevance. Matt and Rich seem to revel in imperfection, so long as it is new to them. Every so often it really does result in complete shit, but when the reward is this high you have to keep betting on the horse.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Times are Leary

As a compliment my previous post's relaxation vibe (and going against my FIY ethos) I bring you a rapidshare link to Dr. Timothy Leary's Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out Soundtrack. The album, from 1967, features minimal psychedelic instrumentation - mostly sitar - as the backdrop to a spoken-word summarization of his philosophies. I find Leary's voice to be quite relaxing and his ideals to be more and more relevant with each passing year. Some of you I'm sure will disagree. Tune In's soundtrack is a great prelude to what Leary did in Germany a half-decade later with groups like Ash Ra Tempel.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Beginning of the New Age, Again

Dig, if you will, a picture:

That's J.D. Emmanuel, circa 1982, amidst his gear during the genesis of a small private-press album titled Wizards. As soon as I first viewed this shot on Volcanic Tongue I knew I had to hear/have whatever it was this guy created. Without any further reading I checked fusetron, ordered myself a copy of the Wizards vinyl that's been reissued by Belgian label Dreamtime Taped Sounds, and began peeping around for more info about this mysterious guru. What I found was endearing.
Apparently J.D. (Daniel to his friends) Emmanuel is a (not-so) regular ol' Texan who's been making minimal electronic for last three decades. Inspired heavily by the work of Terry Riley (along with other minimalists like Reich and Glass) and to a lesser extent the mid-70's output of German artists like Moebius and Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler, Emmanuel set out to make spiritual relaxation music for various levels of meditation. As a self-taught expert on personal meditation and consciousness expansion, Emmanuel hoped to help others reach the "Seperate Realities" he was discovering through this new electronic music.
His first published piece was an album titled Rain Forest Music, which is available for download in its entirely on his website here. It is a pretty excellent set of tape loops (think Eno circa Discreet Music) against Emmanuel's field recordings of Texas forests, waterfalls and zoos. But Emmanuel's true masterpiece is Wizards. There's a reason why this album has been the object of nerdly desires for years, and the subject of a 2007 reissue. Wizards' 37 minutes contain some of the most delicate, captivating minimal electronic ideas ever put to tape. It is a song cycle containing five parts, each one based upon a cyclical synth pattern along with some form of melody. "Part II: Prayer" builds upon "Part I"'s simple repetition of notes with a more free-form use of sharp synth melody. These two tracks are similar in theme to much of Cluster's Zuckerzeit or parts of Low's second half. That is, it wanders along with other classic kosmiche nebula not missing a beat.
The album's three remaining tracks are longer and even more cosmic in spirit. Actually, the more I listen to these longer pieces the less Terry Riley I hear. These parts are more raw than anything the American minimalists recorded, and actually remind me of Conrad Schnitzler's Rot and Blau albums and Klaus Schulz's best work. Emmanuel does an excellent job of humanizing the synth without sacrificing the idea that it is an electronically programmed device. At its best, Wizards can either assist in relaxation as an ambient soundtrack or be the vehicle to whatever conscious voyage you wish to take.
It goes without saying that 2007 is a great revival year for Mr. Emmanuel. Still alive and well and living in Texas, Daniel has recently updated his site and has been posting some rare pressings of his work on eBay. The demand for a vinyl reissue of Wizards twenty five years after its release is direct proof of his growing influence on modern spiritual music. He says that a cd reissue is in the works, so those of you without turntables who want a copy won't have to wait much longer. But for now, you must seek out the last remaining copies of the vinyl or play the samples he provides on his website. Either way, Wizards and all of Emmanuel's work is worth your time.

(alternate artwork for Wizards)

Tupac Is Alive Dudes

Seriously, I've been saying it for years. Tupac Shakur is alive and well and is planning the biggest comeback in music history. Here's a Holla Back Exclusive for proof. Believe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Catatonia Is Taking Me Home

Right now I'm really tired of every Dick and Jane trying to profit off of "indie" music. So it's totally refreshing to find a band like CATATONIC YOUTH who have not only given away copies of their debut cdep/poster (now out of print) but are now giving away their songs on myspace. Four songs are available on their page - did you even know that little download link could be used? Fuck streaming. Yay free.
Anyway, based on these four songs alone Catatonic Youth are one of my favorite new bands of the year. From the sound of it they're/he's/it's a one-man jams band utilizing supreme guitar riffage, really basic drum machine runs and some maniacally echoed vocals.
The sound has plenty of the Keith Morris/Darby west-coast fuck-it vibe butting up against primitive Suicide utility, with a bit of blue-collar glam tossed in. Rodney Bingenheimer would dig it for sure. Hozac will be putting to wax what will eventually be called "Piss Scene" but not until early next year which is a bummer because I want this on top of my 7" pile right now. Go and listen friends!