Perfect Sound Forever

Tom "Tearaway" Schulte

Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.

Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.

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A cool bit of wax that will put a hip chill in your room is the 3-song Winter 7" vinyl release from Escape Pod (Dead Digital). It's got lo-fi, relaxed downbeat grooves ... That mix real well with the new trigger10d album ...But the Girl's the Same (WTII Records), itself a sleek example of some post-trip hop electronic music with female vocals. This is a remix collection... The new album from Sonic Youth is Sonic Nurse (Geffen) and shows the band to be nursing along its trademark noise pop. This band just never changes, but do not we always complain when our favorite bands evolve? Kudos to Sonic Youth for its beautiful persistence (ED NOTE: I doubt that anyone is going to confuse the new record with Confusion is Sex or Sister)... Warm Strangers (Virt) is the new album from Vienna Teng. This is an engaging and richly arranged collection of moving piano songs from a talented, up and coming artist. Hear an archived interview I did with her... 


This Los Angeles band blends classic EBM music (aka 'Electronic Body Music' or dance) in the tradition of Depeche Mode and New Order with some harder, post-industrial sounds. Timerunner is a fully packed 8-track CDEP on WTII Records. Hard-driving rhythms and infectious beats make this a winner in the genre. Also check out the band's sophomore album, Inpendum for more on the state-of-the-art in hard club music... 


If you have not noticed, Alternative Tentacles has got going a Reissues of Necessity series, making obscure but great works available on CD. The latest is a delicious footnote to '80s goth from Burning Image entitled 1983-1987... Coming along right on the heels of Burning Image was Strange Boutique featuring Monica Richards (Faith And The Muse) on vocals. This band was leaving goth rock behind and heading toward the ethereal shoegazer sound. The Metropolis Records release The Collection: 1988-1994 collects material from the band including its cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" and a QuickTime video for "De Milo"... Another time machine is the eight-track eponymous The Gris Gris Birdman recording incarnates a mid- to late-'60s spirit, summoning The Rolling Stones and Love from that period. You probably missed Greg Ashley's Medicine Fuck Dream; now don't miss this... We have other updates of past sounds, like the cool blend of Misfits and Mano Negra styles on Rappresaglia's Sopravvissuti (Tube Records)... D.O.A. has some hardcore electronic artist's reconsidering its hardcore music on the compilation Let's Start the Action (Sudden Death)... But, all that being said, I would say my pick for the best album with a retrospective theme to cross my desk this month is the bountiful blessing bestowed upon us all by the exquisite and beautiful music on Poor Boy: Songs of Nick Drake (Songlines). Artists paying tribute include jazz vocalist Kate Hammett-Vaughn, rock violinist Ian Moore and avant-garde electronic composer François Houle...

DVD REVIEWS ***************************************

Survival Research Laboratories
Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem
Music Video Distributors

SRL has long existed on video beyond the few privileged to see a rare live performance of robotic destruction. So, a DVD retrospective is a natural evolution. Unfortunately, the segmentation of the programs is rather difficult to take in. Most of the programs are bonus programs and must be accessed individually and the main programs tend to not flow as a total viewing experience. All this means a lot of button navigation is required to take in a significant portion of the material available. The over two hours of footage, making "Battle Bots" look like "Romper Room", includes A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief, The Will to Provoke and the premier of The Delusions of Expediency. Seeing so many SRL films at once it becomes more and more obvious that along with being a feat of engineering, these dramatic events are feats of choreography where robots props and wire-guided missiles enact an orgy of destructions with getting tangled into a hopeless mess too soon. There are special editions of four SRL documentaries with more footage and explanation of why SRL does what it does to robots and animal cadavers. Especially revealing are the interviews and prelude to A Plan for Social Improvement, staged in Amsterdam. The material goes back to early late '70s efforts by founder Mark Pauline, including a 1979 street performance (Noise) for nonplussed passersby. (4)

Donnie Disco
Rise: The Story of Rave Outlaw Disco Donnie
Music Video Distributors

Donnie Disco, premier rave impresario, is here the skeleton upon which is fleshed out a view of rave parties (specifically Donnie's New Orleans raves) from the dance floor to the DJ booth. Based on my single-rave experience, I'd say this DVD documentary is rather typical among rave documentaries that I have seen but does go a little farther in the candor of its interviews and in capturing the feel of a rave through video and audio. Pacing is good as the features moves quickly from segment to segment with the colorful characters of the rave scene. (3.5) 

GG Allin & The Murder Junkies
Raw, Brutal, Rough & Bloody - Best of 1991 Live
Music Video Distributors

The title sums up the hardcore, naked, rude excess of GG Allin's fall '91 shows captured on this DVD. Some of the shows are for a very collegiate looking crowd and they seem as accepting and into it as the punks, which is interesting. However, there is much like this out on the market and what is most interesting here is the first ever interview with GG Allin's mother. She is proud of her boys and very candid about their early years. The interview breaks up the concert footage and is presented in a more complete form as bonus material. (4) 

Jimmy & Tommy Dorsey
The Fabulous Dorseys
Quantum Leap/ Music Video Distributors

This is the story of brothers Jimmy "Mr. Trombone" Dorsey and Tommy "Mr. Trombone" Dorsey. While dissent between the two was an impassable chasm, the rift led to two prolific music careers as told in this music-filled story featuring the brothers themselves, millionaire playboy saxophonist Charlie Barnet, drummer Ray Bauduc and singers Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell. Also featured in the film are Art Tatum and bandleader Paul Whiteman. (3.5) 

Hickey & Boggs
A.I.P. Productions/ Music Video Distributors

We have the outspoken Cosby, the comedic Cosby, but let us not forget the soft-spoken under-acting Cosby that serves as a linchpin in this formulaic 1971 detective thriller. Cosby's partner, played by Robert Culp (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Pelican Brief), is the stereotypical drunkard private eye, crushed under the stress of it all. James Woods plays a cop in one of his first film roles. While this is a reunion of the stars of the I Spy TV series, the storyline is much more dark and the violence much greater than any episode of that show. (3.5) 

CD REVIEWS ***************************************

The Lido Venice
Songs Written Around the Campfire in the Belly of a Whale
ECA Records

This four-song CD EP is an introduction to an edgy indie rock band with some angularity to its sounds. It begins to depart from a basically conventional indie rock formula midway through "Dancing Our Duress (A Pas de Deux)" and gets full clip into a post-gothic, post-math rock sound on "MEDIC!" The blend of damaged folk and hard rock in "Bury Me Next to My Voicebox" makes this also a standout track. (3) 

Canvas Solaris
Tribunal Records

Canvas Solaris offers post-metal instrumental guitar-led rock music with a hard edge. Even harder must be the practice sessions for this stop-on-a-dime, unpredictable and complex music. If the average rock fan is doing arithmetic, Canvas Solaris is doing advanced calculus and that is going to make the music as impenetrable as it is impressive, but the hard-hitting sounds and byzantine grooves are not altogether inaccessible. Not for the faint-at-heart, Canvas Solaris fills the prescription for those seeking serious listening and the solution to the integration of the product of Fripp and Buckethead. (4) 

Various Artists
Neurot Recordings I
Neurot Recordings

Neurot Recordings is the outlet that Neurosis uses to redefine music through its own releases and that of like-minded bands and artists. Appropriately, this two-disc label sampler begins with Neurosis washing over the listener a heavy wave of power and quiescence in "Burn," a track that also appears on the Neurosis album The Eye of Every Storm. Just as appropriately, this roster tour that takes us to one of the very cool projects not born of the Neurosis clan. That is Oxbow and the dark and dangerous improvisation "Time's Up, Sailor Man." Already we have got the basic facts of Neurot Recordings stated: (1) all things Neurosis, and (2) all things fans of Neurosis want to know about. Then comes the previously unreleased track "Reprieve" from Grails, a gathering storm of instrumental sounds that flows nicely into the moody character study "Pauly's Days in Cinema" from Enablers. From Sabers we have "Lion Pose," a piece that varies from spooky, metallic atmospheres of sound to lightening clashes of guitar noise. Even more delicate is the shimmering, twinkling twilight "Untitled II" from Lotus Eaters. This starts a trend of laid-back malevolence from Steve Von Till and Isis before the sudden cataclysm of noise-rock artists Zeni Geva. Back to the instrumental recline with Culper Ring and then a reflective, after hours downbeat ode from Tarantula Hawk, "Untitled." This lets us step down easily into the silence of the stopped disc after creepy episodes from Blood & Time and Neurosis & Jarboe. The second disc is a DVD with some audio-only tracks. The DVD includes Neurosis, Tarentel, Bee & Flower and more with audio selections from KK Null, Vitriol, Amber Asylum and more. This is an excellent package worthy of exploration. (4.5) 

Five Song Sampler
Elembiem Records

These five tracks offer trebly, snotty punk rock that fails to be assertive and catchy enough to get the label "old school" in a way that would be lauding. Of course, the group is reaching back to a root punk sound, but nothing really comes together on this debut prelude to the group's album due out on Elembiem Records. However, there is enough promise here in the Clash-like rhythms of "3813" and "Playing the Villain" for us to adopt a hopeful, wait-and-see attitude. (2) 

Black Dice
Creature Comforts

This experimental collection of bleeps and blips occasionally congeals into something interesting. For instance, a phrase may start out as an ear-grabbing nod to Laurie Anderson, then this is dispensed as a tangent and it is back to video game puree. The damaged art-noise output lacks structure and coherence, a pointless mosaic of electronic chirps and repetitive beats. (2.5) 

Nicki Jaine
...Of Pigeons And Other Curiosities
Shaman Records

This post-gothic vocal album from the talented Nicki Jaine balances full band arrangements ("Octopi," "Antarctica," etc..) with solo pieces ("Animals Crawling", "Sound of Girls", etc.). Her rich, deep voice suggesting mezzo and contralto territories fits excellently with her dark topics on this album that lends true artistry to the gothic style. (4) 

Ladies W.C.
Ladies W.C.
Normal Records

This is a great psychedelic rock record from Venezuela from the '60's. Sung in English, the album is a masterful contribution to the genre. The fuzz and the wah-wah here dress up cool ballads ("Heaven's Coming Up") and screaming rockers ("I Can't See Straight") on this varied time capsule. This tends more to power electric blues and hard rock than to flower power. This had been a vinyl album as sought after as it was hard to find, so it's great that this CD edition is now available of this important 1969 release, perhaps the most important rock release from South America for that year. (4.5) 

Grant-Lee Phillips
Virginia Creeper

In Phillips' voice can be heard elements of Robert Smith (The Cure), Elliot Smith and Al Stewart. Phillips has a soft, post-folk pop delivery that melds well with the semi-acoustic, understated melodies tinged with Americana heard on Virginia Creeper. Grant-Lee Phillips is an excellent songwriter, a one-man bright light in the constellation of Wilco, Whiskeytown, etc. (4) 

Pinetop Perkins
Ladies Man
M.C. Records

Pinetop Perkins, legendary blues pianist, gets several talented women to back him, nearly a different one on every track of this upbeat, swinging blues album (no one seemed willing to add vocals to "Big Fat Mama", though). Guests include Susan Tedeschi ("Since I Lost my Baby"), Ruth Brown ("Chains of Love"), Odetta ("Trouble in Mind") and Marcia Ball ("Pinetop's New Boogie Woogie"). The last, of course, a new take on the uncopyrighted song Perkins is known for and claims to have given to one of his influences, Pinetop Smith. Many of these songs Perkins never before recorded and this is the first new studio recording from Perkins since 2000. While the theme here is talented women singing to Perkins' talented piano playing, a notable exception is Elvin Bishop joining Perkins with some slide guitar on "How Long." As a nonagenarian, Perkins still shines brightly at the keys and does some nice playing along with Ball and Ann Rabson on the piano duets "Pinetop's New Boogie Woogie" and "Careless Love." (4.5)

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