If you are going to be in Los Angeles this Friday, a strange convergence of worlds will occur at local arts space Dem Passwords. Rapper Riff Raff SODMG will do a rare live performance amongst the likes of Extreme Animals and James Ferraro. To give you a sense of the absurdity of it all, Riff Raff is best known for his brief stint on MTV reality show From Gs to Gents. The premise of the show is to transform hip hop fashion casualties into high class gentlemen. Riff Raff’s comittment to his yarn corn rowed weirdo glory lead to him not lasting too long on the show. These days Riff Raff has re-emerged in the web zone as a rather prolific rapper. His rhymes have a brilliance that he seems to goofily stumble into from time to time. As incongruous as it might seem at first, Riff Raff’s “super fruity crazy swag” fits in well with the likes of Extreme Animals. Many of Riff Raff’s videos, such as the one posted above, feature an eye for color worthy of Paper Rad.
Tonight, Los Angeles bids adieu to Show Cave, one of its most vital and active DIY venues. Founded by Eric Nordhauser and Hazel Hill McCarthy in 2006, and located at 3501 Eagle Rock Boulevard, it was the kind of place locals would pack into on a Friday night to catch musical performances, video art shows hosted by pygmy goats, dance parties, and people in little black wigs doing god knows what. Tonight’s send off features performances by Zones favorites James Ferraro and Matthewdavid, in addition to some ghostly electro from Octavius and a plethora of dark dance sounds from DJ M.E. The reasons for the venue’s closing have not been publicly disclosed, though it certainly represents the end of a gloriously weird era for the Los Angeles scene. Fortunately, according to an announcement posted on the Show Cave tumblr, a reincarnation may be in the works:
“Thanks to all the amazing artists and people that have made this last year at Show Cave so very fun, weird, abstract, obscure, hilarious, dirty, and danceable. Do not shed too many tears…….Show Cave will continue to live in a new location(s) in a future space and time.”
Matthewdavid: “Group Tea (Feat. Flying Lotus)”
Around the time Rose Quartz first mentioned Monopoly Child Star Searches on AZ, I remember running into Zack from Greatest Hits at a house party and asking him whether he thought Mr. James Ferraro was the man behind the latest hypnagogic mystery project to emerge from the OESB/Outer Limits/Pacific City gang. As I predicted, he said yes; Ferraro, also present, looked down at the ground and said he had no idea what I was talking about.
The first thing I learned from this new promotional video for Bamboo For Two, out this week on Olde English Spelling Bee, was that neither of them was really lying. MCSS is the brainchild of one Spencer Clark — aka. Charles Berlitz, Black Joker, and Vodka Soap, and 1/2 of the Skaters with Ferraro — but his new LP rallies together a supergroup of tape deck bandits including Dolphins Into The Future’ Lieven Martens, Orphan Fairytale’s Eva Van Duren, and Ferraro himself. The second was that Spencer Clark (or at least his new alter ego) is a bit of a wild card. September’s Make Mine, Macaw CD-R sounded like black metal on quaaludes; this one sounds like a monkey-romp through the jungle, and is presented as an ode to parrot love. (more…)
A glass eye just popped out of your TV dinner. The tinfoil on top is rustling of its own accord — though stop-motion animation certainly isn’t out of the question — and the crab on the menu just reached out a leg and swiped it back in. Whatever is inside must be pretty hot and tasty, because a cockroach the size of a tennis ball just climbed out and walked over your hand, which is really the hand of a mannequin. Pretty fucking revolting, sure, but your hand didn’t even flinch because it was so busy resting lifelessly atop a remote control.
Uh oh. Now it is time for dinner so the foil is unfurling from the surface of the dish. Your rice and beans is glistening with the dew of a thousand freezer burns — revolting in the most secretly appetizing kind of way — but the only way you know how to consume is with your eyes. So you zoom in on the thing, closer and closer until you discover an intricate mosaic of spores, which upon closer inspection is actually a microscopic city in its own right — nay, a suburb. Through a series of Orson Welles-style dissolves, you find yourself hovering above the roof of a house — then inside the house, where a mother with one eye is carting in some peas and carrots to her potatohead of a husband in the living room, just in time for TGIF. Oh yeah, it’s the Monsters. Let’s watch TV with the Monsters.
But we are already watching TV with our hero, Jim Ferraro — that was established at the beginning of this ode to the city of Los Angeles. And I must admit that he already sort of looked like a cartoon, sitting there rocking out to the boobtube in his signature jean jacket — the same one I saw him wearing when he played at Issue Project room last week — and that I wasn’t quite sure whether he looked more or less real when he suddenly morphed into a skeleton and his eyeballs popped out, like a protagonist in a DARE commercial. DARE to keep kids off TV — as seen on TV.
The lifeless hand on the remote control flips us though a thousand real and second life scenarios, fastforwarded and rewound, sped and slowed: walking on top of the Bugs Bunny inscription on the Hollywood walk of fame; discovering the boots of a streetwalker just a few paces away, and wondering what the hell she is doing there in broad daylight. An electric guitar propped up against a TV screen looms larger in the frame than an iconic replica ten times its size, suspended in the middle of a city square — but not nearly as large as the wiccan symbol we discover spraypainted above a few garbage cans in a back alley.
No wonder the soundtrack sounds like a collage of all the half-remembered ’80s skate videos you never actually saw; hanging on Ferraro’s VHS camera, we olley and McTwist and Mongofoot our way through Los Angeles until we don’t even know where we are anymore — even if everything around us still looks as familiar as ever. The point is, Ferraro could just as easily be cruising past a Hollywood Video in Stamford Connecticut, and we would still recognize LA. “Demon Channels” starts feeling pretty cosmic when we realize that it doesn’t really make a difference. (more…)
Live, Big Troubles kick up such a sandstorm that it’s hard to remember that the band began as a bedroom recording project — or, rather, two separate bedroom recording projects, two hermetic hearts that began beating as one when high school buds Alex Craig and Ian Drennan got together last summer and decided to start a band. When the duo rolled up to Newtown Radio last Thursday, the station — recently fitted with a deluxe leather couch and a fridge filled with junk food and sodas — felt homey enough to bring us back to the days when the guitar-playing and songwriting half of Big Troubles had yet to round out into a full rock line-up.
Alex and Ian played out of the same guitar amplifier, sung out of the same mic, and babbled away in the kind of half-English vernacular you probably remember sharing only a few times in your life with one or two very close friends. They couldn’t seem more like two peas in a pod — which is why I was slightly disconcerted when, following the set, Alex presented us with a hand-drawn Venn diagram designed to represent their friendship: two giant circles labeled “Alex” and “Ian,” with only a tiny sliver of overlap at the center. I can’t remember what they said the middle part represented, but I think it had something to do with food. Whatever the reality of the situation may be, I like to think of the Venn diagram as a nice metaphor for the way their instruments interact in the episode you hear below: two runaway orbs of screaming guitar noise, colliding here and there into the shape of a song. At times they overlap a little too much, sharpening into points of feedback — but that’s kind of where the magic begins.
For those of you who tuned in for the first hour of last week’s show and were a little freaked out to discover a rambling discussion between a man with a heavy French accent and a panel of small children, please be cautioned: we don’t know why or how, but Underwater Visitations was hacked! Luckily, we were able to rescue the true-blue episode from the Newtown Radio archives — including a first hour of jams by Ari Stern and yours truly, and a Big Troubles-spun spool of semi-mainstream ’80s gold, which we proudly did not decide to censor.
“Underwater Visitations Episode #4: The Big Troubles Episode”
Every day can’t be Hannukah. For pretty much the entirety of this colossal Underwater Visitations episode — 3 hours long, and with an in-studio by Ducktails to boot — the “Visitations” part of the equation was just a few blocks away, trapped inside a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare that involved being unfairly compensated by taxpayer dollars to sharpen some pencils and fill out my name and address on about fifteen identical forms. Luckily, I managed to convince one of my superiors to let me slip out for a bit, and I rolled up in just in time to hear Matt Mondanile layer multicolored streamers of sound over the most lovely of bongo polyrhythms — not to mention throw in one of his signature 90’s cover jams, this time from the Slanted and Enchanted era. Among parts of the episode that I MISSED, DJ Bryce Hackford of Behavior slow schooled his way through his impressive collection of “tropical” vinyl, Real Estate‘s Etienne Pierre Duguay swung by with some friends to talk about the Market Hotel Project, and DJ Ari — the “Underwater” side of UV — unearthed a common musical lineage in Bruce Springsteen, ESG, and Steve Reich. Maybe not Hannuka, but definitely a full house.
“Underwater Visitations Episode #2: The Ducktails Episode, with DJ Bryce Hackford and Some Visitors from Market Hotel”
Something I’ve discovered in my 25 years on this planet is that when life begins to feel like a tilt-a-whirl that you can’t jump off, contemplating the possibility of life on other planets is a great way to shuttle back down to earth. Case in point: if you take a moment or two out of your day to consider the fact that somewhere, perhaps trillions of light-years away, there is another sentient creature sitting there wondering whether you exist, and if you in turn are thinking about him, then that swiftly approaching tax deadline or drunken romantic mishap really won’t seem all that important. You might even be able to say to yourself that in the grand scheme of things (and I’m talking the REALLY grand scheme of things), they don’t matter at all. After all, we should probably just be grateful that out of all the atoms in the solar system, the atoms inside our bodies just happen to have drifted into this here gravitational orb, and that the planet earth just happens to be endowed with a mysterious thing called life. Whatever that is. If you’d like to try this technique out sometime, Ivy Meadows, Harry Painter, and I recommend Arthur Radio Voyage #7 as a soundtrack. Just remember to bring your space goggles, and maybe some dehydrated ice-cream for a snack.
“Arthur Radio Voyage #7: Alien Receptor” (02.28.10)
Postcard for Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland Autopia, 1955
Trekking in the January sleet into the far corners of darkest Bushwick has its rewards. Last Sunday, McGregor from Chocolate Bobka and I had the pleasure of doing an hour-long guest spot on Arthur Magazine‘s new weekly emission on Brooklyn’s Newtown Radio, broadcast out of a unexpectedly cozy enclave on the fourth floor of an unmarked industrial warehouse. The subject du jour was Retro-Futuristic Utopias, so I arrived at the studio expecting to pull together a spiel on Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland Autopia, the Ecological Art movement of the late 1960s, and Douglas Trumble’s 1971 science-fiction classic Silent Running. Instead, we ended up spinning some warped 21st century psychedelia, eating cookies courtesy Arthur Radio co-host Harry Painter’s grandma, and dancing like the slow section of a slow school. (more…)
“I don’t know what my art is about. I don’t know what my life is about. My work just happens like shit. Shit isn’t moral. It just comes out.”
— Totally unrelated artist’s statement, discovered on the wall of a coffee shop in North Brooklyn on October 23rd, 2009.
The first thing I did when David Keenan’s hotly debated “Hypnagogic Pop” article came out in The Wire last June was log on to the Terminal Boredom message board–not because I read it all the time, but because it was the site where that debate began, as far as I could glean from a preliminary Google search. And the first thing I saw when I logged onto Terminal Boredom was a question that would make a really big imprint on my subsequent readings of the piece, partly because it was written in all capital letters and tickering from right to left across the screen: (more…)