Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Off for a while...

Welp, finally sold the house. Unfortunately that means I won't be around a computer for the next week or so while we move. In the meantime, check out the blogs I've listed down the side of the page - they're all personal favorites, are way better then this shitty excuse for one, and have killer stuff! Peace.

Currently watching: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Currently listening to: Herbie Hancock Head Hunters

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Low expectations...

With a cheapo cover that looks like Jason Voorhees stumbling into some Hammer Films gothic cheese-fest, Dead At Birth's 1992 epic Genesis Of A Madman: Book 1 is one of the most unintentionally hilarious CD's I have ever happened upon. Though it sounds like a group, Dead At Birth is in fact one man - Loco - acting as the arranger, producer, mixer and rapper, his album is so weird that I'd like to know who greenlighted the project (and what audience they were aiming for). I guess you could call it hardcore (or horrorcore) rap but it runs like a comedy album. The funniest thing off the bat is how unapologetically Loco portrays himself as the greatest rapper ever. I know the whole "rap badass" thing was in full force in the 90's but this is ridiculous. His "Intro" rips off Ice Cube's start to Death Certificate's "No Vaseline" (or N.W.A.'s "Prelude" depending on what side of the fence you're on) and Loco actually has the balls to back the track with a roaring stadium concert audience. He samples the studio ho's, vacillating between the negative ("Fuck Dead At Birth, Dead At Birth can suck my muthafuckin' pussy") to the positive ("All these bitch wanna know what's under Loco's mask? I wanna know what's in his muthafuckin' pants.") I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who's actually heard of this album, much less a bunch of women so strongly opinionated! How can you top such an introduction? Well, Loco does, and it's actually not the horror-themed tunes that are the hits. "Diary Of A Madman" and "Dead At Birth" are cheesy and stupid, the Gravediggaz were doing it a lot better at the time. It's the ridiculous anthems "Drop The Load Wit' Tha Quickness" (Loco finds out he knocked his ho up and stresses out), "Reneé" (quaint story about the neighborhood ho), "50 Ways To Pimp Slap Yo' Bitch" (is it that hard to guess?), the list goes on and on! Shit, almost every tune on this album is a retarded classic. Loco is all over the place, one minute bitching about race relations then switching up to complain about some homeless guy. He targets the KKK, homosexuals, gold diggers; it's all done (intentionally?) tongue-in-cheek, full of groovy funk beats and funny samples (Sam Kinison's AIDS-bashing intro is pure anti-P.C. gold). Keeping with the annoying fad at the time Loco populates the album with a bunch of "skits": there are some moronic samples of the guys in the studio farting (!) - yep you heard me - and of some of Loco's female admirers leaving sugary sex phone messages. It all just adds to the low-rent awesomeness. Interestingly, my CD lists  "Kill Yo' Self" as the final track #19. Sadly, it's nowhere to be found. Maybe it was too much for the record execs after hearing the previous eighteen tracks. If ANYONE actually has any info on that one I'd love to hear it!! So, with that all said, Loco where are you now? The world needs you back for the 2000's - drop us Book 2!

6/14/15 update: Just re-upped the link with an uncensored version of the jaw-dropping anti-classic "That's What You Get". Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse. Enjoy.

Currently watching: Elephant
Currently listening to: Butthole Surfers Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac

Thursday, July 8, 2010

R.I.P. Old Friend

Today brings both reflection and remembrance... As we go through life, our social skills unintentionally cause us to become somewhat selective and categorical about the people we call "friends". You have your work buddies, family, neighbors, roommates, school pals from back in the day, people at the Kroger that you just sorta "know", etc. etc. whatever. It's weird when these categories intersect, we've all had those moments where we're hanging out with our social friends and we recognize our co-worker at the bar. Ugh. Put out the smoke, check please and I gotta roll. To advance the idea to a more seasonable level, it's interesting to ponder the fate of all of these relationships when you make what the insurance companies call a "life-changing event" (changing jobs, moving, having a kid, picking a different bar to hang out) and those BFF's are no longer an instantly intimate part of your life.

To make a short point long, it's at those "events" when you realize (and unconsciously select) who your true friends are. How many of you still hang out with your highschool buddies? Is it because those relationships were so tight that they stood the test of time or that you've simply never left your hometown? Looking over the 35+ years of my life, it's odd to compare the amount of people I've considered friends (even "good" friends) to the number I'm in relatively frequent touch with today. And I'm not talking about checking someone's "wall" on Facebook or whatever, I mean real interaction. I guess it's just those strange, special relationships that hold strong through time and can handle the physical distances (the typical "we pick up right where we left off" cross-country pal) tend to mature as the people involved do the same. I have friends who were my self-destructive drinking buddies back in college who are now fellow parents. And we still get along great. That's the test of a true friendship.

On July 8, 2009, a true friend of mine passed away. Daniel Frouman.

As with most friends, I met him completely at random. Moving to Austin, TX on a whim in my early 20's, I rented a room in some 70's-decor rancher on the south side of the city. Owned by a nice (albeit strange, moody and probably clinically insane) alcoholic ex-hippy nicknamed "Crazy Bill," the rent was a mere $125 month-to-month. Three roommates: two lived in other rooms in the house and the third had converted the garage into a kind of cave-like den. Since it was a garage he only payed $75 a month. This was Daniel.

I was a complete outsider in Austin. Didn't know anyone. A suburbanite from New Jersey who had recently graduated from college and was "finding himself" (or whatever) by taking off and setting up camp across the country. The first roommate I met was Daniel. Quiet and soft-spoken, we exchanged the basic pleasantries and that was that. I left feeling like he thought I was some type of narc. Years later, once I knew the trials he had been through with his family, I would understand the reasons behind his initial trepidation about "the new guy." Yet by the next time we stumbled into each other he was talking to me as if I were a long-lost brother, passing the beers and whatever else around. He introduced me to the other guys in the house as well as Crazy Bill. Man, what a relief! I knew I had lucked into a sweet place to crash.

I lived at the ranch for about a year and during that time became great friends with the guy. Not only was he "cool," he was incredibly interesting; possessed an amazing shitload of stories for someone who was only 22. He had lived across South America, was chased up to the States by members of a familial cult he escaped, acted as a ball boy for Argentina's world-renowned soccer team, and had a musical sense and could play guitar like no one I'd ever met (then or since). He was supremely mellow yet slyly sarcastic and was a lot of fun to hang out with. Although not one to really raise his voice, he was incredibly intense, as if he didn't feel like wasting words on unimportant stuff. Daniel was definitely a guy you could learn from. We partied throughout that year without worrying about money or jobs or any real responsibilities whatsoever. Credit cards and pawn shops were our cash, Lone Star tall boys were our daily drunk. Stumbling out of bars, sleepless night of continuous partying and music, waking up in a stalled Volvo on the I-35 median, it was an absolute whirlwind of a time.

After a year or so, Crazy Bill wanted to move back into the house. He had been living in the "Love Shack" - a homemade one-room box he shared in the backyard with his giant black poodle and whatever woman he could grab at local swinger parties. It fit a king-size bed and nothing else, scavenged electricity from the house via a web of extension cords and had no running water (let's just say Bill's garden never lacked fresh manure). I guess the novelty of his "living off the land" project had waned and he was ready for stained shag carpeting under his feet once again. Suddenly, the rent went up and we now had our quasi-psycho landlord living with us. Within a week Daniel and I split for another apartment.

For another six months or so we stayed roommates. We rented a tiny cookie-cutter apartment that barely fit the both of us but blissfully had A/C. I never got the feeling he was completely happy there. Being at Bill's gave him some anonymity (especially from the cult folk he worried were after him); now he was on a lease, bills were in his name, etc. There were people below and next to us who would complain if we played guitar too loud. Not enough room inside for people to hang out. No yard. It was the typical starter apartment for someone starting out in the typical working world. He wanted no part of it.

At the same time I was ready to move out as well, but for different reasons. The apartment had unintentionally given me enough of a snapshot into my next phase of my life. My two years of fucking around in Texas was coming to a close. Without knowing it I had gotten sucked into the real world, found a new job on the East Coast, and was moving out. Over time I've recognized that decision as the biggest crossroad in my life. It was the true beginning of my current lot and it's strange to look back and realize it was made (rather impulsively, I may add) by a usually drunk, impetuous and supremely overconfident 24-year old. As the years have passed I've both been regretful and relived that I left Austin. Losing Daniel as a roommate and nearby friend is easily the biggest sorrow.

I helped Daniel move back to Bill's, saw him a few times over those last days and left Texas abruptly. We kept in touch sporadically over the years, firstly through letters and phone; then emails and internet as the technology arrived. Still incessantly calling me "my brotha," I was happy to learn he had started college and stuck with it, over the years I was even more impressed that he decided to go to medical school. Always affable and supportive as I spoke of the hits and misses in my life, there was never any criticism in his candor - in fact it was always the opposite. He had had a bad bike accident that challenged the future of his music playing, however his guitar playing turned out to be the exact rehabilitation his injured hand needed. Positive, positive vibes from the guy on every level. I tried to rendezvous with him a couple times during visits to Austin, unfortunately all attempts ended as nothing more then some cell phone calls and conflicting schedules. No problem, I always figured, we'd catch up at some point....

One year later all I am left with now are the memories and the music...

It is one of the real treasures Daniel brought to my life. I have always been rather picky, eccentric and private about my musical tastes, yet it was easy to open up and play the guy the most fucked-up shit in my collection. Never judging, Daniel happily gave me the skills and knowledge to not only play the stuff myself but appreciate other genres I wouldn't have necessarily liked.

When it comes down to it, music-wise, Daniel was a genius. One of those self-taught protégés who was born with a groove, he had started playing guitar as a 3-year old peddling for coins on the streets of Argentina (how can you say "no" to a kid strumming "Bringing In The Sheaves?") The guy didn't just teach me guitar, he taught me about the guitar. And he didn't stop there. He taught me how to play drums, work 4-tracks, record effects, write music... the list goes on and on. Very confident and comfortable with his skills and instruments, Daniel made a great teacher.

The band he was in during my tenure at the ranch was a funky, jazzy, hip-hop-ish outfit called Sci-Fly. They played some real groovin' funk, very influenced by old Stevie Wonder and Parliament. After the dissolution of the group Daniel continued to record similar-sounding stuff, bypassing the need for a band and playing all the instruments himself. Throughout our later correspondence he would send tapes through the mail containing both new recordings and tweaked older stuff. He had no problem finding guest vocalists and musicians, almost everyone who knew Daniel regarded him as "the guy I've got to play with sometime."

So here are those tapes, broken into 3 CDs which span the years as best as I could arrange. Disc 1 includes Sci-Fly stuff (a live jam and demo tape) as well as some post Sci-Fly musical projects with guys from the band. Disc 2 opens with a hilarious recording Daniel made with his father (which at times he completely disowned) as well as long, bare-bone recordings of what would eventually turn into Disc 3, his solo album The Funk Is Free. New songs and re-recorded stuff, I lost his tracklist long ago so I gave the songs somewhat generic names. They are m4a's ripped through iTunes, reduced to 128kbps so the .zip file would be somewhat manageable. I tried my best to upgrade the sound quality but the analog limitations of over-played (and over-dubbed) cassettes is impossible to erase. Imagine you are playing the songs through your blown-out Sanyo cassette deck and the hiss will be a lot more palatable. The tracks are soulful and jazzy, funky and deep. Whether playing his Gibson or his Rhodes, Daniel had the knack for a good groove. He could make the music funny, fearsome or funky - I'm honored to have been there when he recorded the stuff and that he thought enough of me to send the finalized tracks years later.

Check out the songs and enjoy. I've included the front artwork files in this post but for the backs of the album covers (and all of the other images spoken about here) check out this folder. (P.S. I know I've labeled their flutist Danny Anonymous but that was only because I couldn't remember his last name - it's actually Danny Krashen - sorry dude!)

Additionally, I thought it would be fun to scan in a couple of ancient Sci-Fly flyers that I unearthed. Might have been all of their gigs, I can't remember. Check out versions 1, 2 and 3. Artwork by Roman.

Rest In Peace Daniel. Miss you man. Thank you for helping make living in Austin one of the best times of my life. The funk IS free my brotha.

Disc 1                                Disc 2                                Disc 3

Friday, July 2, 2010

Something to look forward to...

Finally, another horror movie with balls appears to be coming to our shores. Srpski Film (a.k.a. The Serbian Film) apparently wowed (and disgusted) everyone at the SXSW Film Festival in March - pushing the boundaries popularized by the new genre of Hostel-like horror films even farther. Mixing the shady side of the porno industry with the underground snuff-film world, the basic idea is not exactly new (anyone thinking Hardcore or 8mm here?), evidently however, the level of violence, gore, and all-around nastiness the film wallows in, is. Lots of taboos get burned in this one... seriously, read some of the reviews out there... necrophilia, infanticide, perverse torture, mutilation. It's a horror fan's fucking Golden Corral buffet. Screenwriter Srdjan Spasojevic bravely fielded questions after the film's Austin premiere, framing the movie as an angry reaction to the country’s rampant censorship laws (not surprisingly the film has yet to play in its native country). Sure, fine. Regardless of the creators' political stance, I'm always searching for movies with that "why-am-I-watching-this" vibe and this sounds like a winner. Check out the preview trailer on Bloody Disgusting (it's pretty solid) or look it up on IMDb. I'll still champion August Underground as the sickest thing I've ever seen on celluloid but bring on the the competition Serbia!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And If That Ain't Enough...

No sooner had I published the previous post that I discovered another Anal Cunt rarity in the haven't-listened-to-in-a-while department, a rip of a couple cassettes furnished to me by Ohio noizegeek Steveggs back in the mid-90's. Himself the founder of a couple noize bands including Minch and Nut Screamer, the reason we got in touch escapes me, though I'll best-guess that it was related to horror video trading. Regardless, through whatever correspondence/business we had, the topic of A.C. arose and in the mail the cassettes came. The recordings feature A.C.'s 1991 tour with Incantation from Rhode Island down through Texas - some of the shows made it onto A.C.'s Live E.P. but these here are raw, unedited versions. Recorded by Incantation's buddy/roadie(?) Roy Fox, the sound quality varies across the six shows but all in all it's not too bad. There are also some pretty cool rehearsals (to which the band obviously objects to being taped) as well as a couple interviews with Seth. Lastly, a hilarious interview (i.e. someone recording people talking in a van) with A.C. and the Meat Shits' Robert Deathrage. Awesomely offensive stuff, you can barely hear Seth and the guys laughing along because it's really Robert running the show. Recorded right after his seminal Ecstasy Of Death was released, the guy doesn't leave any stone unturned. What a riot of vulgarity.