May 23, 2007

Screech! Skronk! Smash! Harry Pussy Live

Harry_Pussy.jpgAh, yes. This takes me back… In the mid 90’s, Harry Pussy were one of the pre-eminent purveyors of free-punk scream-n-skronk, and here is a video of them doing what they do best – letting drummer Adris Hoyos screech like a banshee till she catches breath, then launching into an apoplectic rock-out din (with more screeching from Adris)... Too free-form for ya? Well, here’s something a bit more song-based – their “classic” cover of Showroom Dummies by Kraftwerk. (video via WFMU)

Posted by Warren at 09:01 PM

May 21, 2007

Wigan Casino

Metafilter user sgt.serenity points us to this wonderful documentary about legendary Northern Soul club, Wigan Casino. From 1973 till 1981, thanks to loop-hole in local licensing laws, Wigan Casino played host to soul music all-nighters that attracted young fans from all over the UK. Such was its fame that in 1978, Billboard magazine voted it “The Best Disco In The World”. This documentary was filmed for Granada TV in 1977 when the scene was at its height. It not only includes great footage from the dancefloor, but also provides some measure of social context, with participants explaining how the club provided a sense of community and an escape from alienated lives in soul-destroying menial jobs. (Older Wiganites also pop up to remind everyone how much worse life was for Wigan youth back in their day.)

Posted by Warren at 01:10 PM

May 20, 2007

Help Solve A Mystery: Identify This Album Of Japanese Kids' Songs

Mystery.jpgTaylor Jessen is a man on a mission, and he needs your help. He is trying to track down a copy of an obscure album of exotica-styled Japanese children's songs. He first heard tracks from the album on an archival recording of a free-form radio show by comedy group Firesign Theatre, which was broadcast on Los Angeles station KPFK-FM in the early 1970's. The tracks were just one set of sound sources thrown into the mix that underscored their wild improv, so they were never back-announced. (The album originally belonged to a member of the troupe but it has long since been lost, along with any enduring memory of it.)

After much searching, Taylor has scraped together information about some of the song titles, but still doesn't know the name of the album or who recorded it... Here are mp3s of show snippets on which tracks from the mystery album appear (along with YouTube videos of the mp3s being played on Adobe Audition.)

Clip #1 (mp3) - originally broadcast on Nov 22, 1970. The name of the song we hear is Chugoku-Chiho no Komoriuta, a traditional lullaby from western Honshu.

Clip #2 (mp3) - originally broadcast on Nov 22, 1970. The name of this one is unknown.

Clip #3 (mp3) - originally broadcast on Dec 9, 1971. This one is called Anta-gata-dokosa.

Clip #4 (mp3) - originally broadcast on Nov 22, 1970. This one is called Tawara Wa Gorogoro, or Straw Rice Bags in the Storehouse.

And finally, Clip #5 (mp3) - originally broadcast on Nov 18, 1971. The song is Toryanse, or Let Me Pass, a Japanese nursery rhyme that is now apparently played at Japanese pedestrian crossings.

If you have any information that can help Taylor on his quest, you can contact him at ironybread at earthlink dot net. (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 01:12 PM

May 10, 2007

Young, Gifted and Basque

Basque.jpgFor the last 25 years, the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) has been the dominant political force in the Basque regions of northern Spain. As part of their cultural policies, they have consistently promoted traditional music as an unquestioned cornerstone of Basque identity. The result has been a stultifying lack of self-criticism that has effectively sidelined those with more radical musical agendas. It’s a situation that Arto Artian is looking to change..

Formed late last year, this net label, which was featured in a recent profile of the Basque avant-music scene in The Wire, mainly focuses on experimental artists; but there are occasional forays into styles like electro and industrial. To give you a taste of their output, here are three very different acts who are featured on it:

Oier Exteberria (mp3) – from Ondamedia (Basque for “catastrophe”), a soundtrack designed to accompany a series of postcards parodying iconic Basque images. The music itself is a Otomo Yoshohide style collage of traditional Basque tunes underscored with a recording of doctors performing an autopsy. In the course of it, they remark: “It seems dead but sometimes it seems to reanimate.”

Joseba Irazoki (mp3) – a guitarist who specialises in processed pastoral post-rock. This is from his album, Tokian tokiko.

Gutariko Bat (mp3) – the Basque Fugazi; this track is from a compilation of their recordings from the mid 90’s.

Posted by Warren at 01:09 AM

May 09, 2007

Speaking In Whistles

On La Gomera in the Canary Islands, the locals devised an unusual way of communicating across the deep valleys that carve up the island - they whistled. This whistling was not merely a way of announcing one's presence, it was a fully fledged language. One that was sophisticated enough to be translated into the language of the Spanish conquerors when they arrived in the 16th century. (The YouTube video at the top of this post demonstrates an example of this, with English subtitles.) Since then, this unique language has been declining and was on the verge of dying out when it became a part of the syllabus in La Gomeran schools in 1999. Since then, there has been something of a revival of the language and in 2003, La Gomera played host to the First International Congress of Whistled Languages. (via Neatorama)

(There are other examples of whistled languages in Turkey, the French Pyrenees, Mexico, Alaska, Nepal, China, and Greece.)

Posted by Warren at 01:53 AM

Mobile Phone Rockers: The Handydandy

Handydandy.jpgIncluded in the programme at the recent Mobile Music Workshop in Amsterdam was a performance by the world's first Bluetooth-enabled rock band, the Handydandy. This quintet of Austrian media artists, who formed in 2005, attach guitar straps to mobile phones, sling them around their shoulders, then "play" the the phones like electric guitars; ripping through all the traditional rockist poses as they dial up sound sources on nearby laptops. For some gigs, they even encase the mobiles in plywood cut-outs of Flying Vs so they can smash them at the end of the set. (A video of some of this plywood "guitar" smashing action can be downloaded here.) For more videos of the Handydandies in action, check out this set on YouTube, and if you want some mp3s, drop them a line - they have a limited run album coming out this month.

Oh, and if you're after a job, they're looking for a cell phone tuner (skills: roadie-experience, rodeoing with at least one of these bands: meat loaf, alice in chains, trail of dead or the nihilist spasm band) (via We Make Money Not Art)

Posted by Warren at 12:48 AM

May 01, 2007


Wolfgang.jpgIt’s always nice to get emails from other mp3 bloggers, especially when they’re ones who are doing unusual things with the medium. Wolfgang Dorniger is an Austrian sound artist with a passion for field recordings who uses his blog to post just that – field recordings of ships, car washes, bus rides, church interiors and so on. Some of them he uses in his works, some of them are just interesting documents of environmental sounds. All of them are available as a podcast.

Posted by Warren at 11:27 PM

Rummage Rewind: Wee Willie Shantz

Shantz.jpgBack when Rummage was winding down into its last sabbatical, I received an email from Justin St. Clair at portal,, about an enigmatic artist known as Wee Willie Shantz, who I'd already featured on Rummage and who was responsible for one of the strangest records ever recorded. For the purposes of those who aren’t acquainted, I’ll repost the following apt description of his work that was originally posted on the now defunct Oddball Auditorium:

Can you imagine John Cage jamming with Negativland inside a moving boxcar full of victrolas... or perhaps an old backwoods codger, swigging mash whiskey from a facejar, has been working on these songs for 40 years and he finally got a chance to record them, but the only band he could find was a family of occultists who live at the junkyard. Anyway this record has it all -- prepared sound objects, recording manipulation, sing-speak vocal somewhere between nursery rhyme and shaman ritual, semi-aleatoric stringed instruments, and even a sublime saxophone solo.

Justin had already pointed me to a second recording by this bizarre backwoods troubadour, and his latest email revealed a third. Since then, he's uncovered two more recordings and Cheezeball has become the host of Shantz's unofficial home on the web. If you haven't already, I urge you all to visit it and revel in the work one of the great forgotten oddballs of American music.

Posted by Warren at 09:22 PM

The Terror Of Little Marcy!! On YouTube!!!

I’ve always found the music of Christian puppet “songstress”, Little Marcy, somewhat unsettling. Partly because of songs like God Is At Working Within You, which the celebrate being unconsciously “controlled from within”, but mostly because I know that the squeaky child-like voice behind Little Marcy is actually the natural singing voice of her operator, Marcy Tigner! (That’s why she became a puppeteer…)

Now though, my uneasiness has to turned to skin-crawling dread as a result of finally seeing this apple-cheeked golem in action… Watch, if you dare, as she crooks her elbow at unnatural angles, stares at you with those cold, deathless eyes and croons about Jesus wanting her for a sunbeam; then shudder as she is joined by her grinning zombie minions for a rendition of I Don’t Have To Wait Until I’m Grown Up (To Be What Jesus Wants Me To Be).
(via the Sound Scavenger mailing list)

Posted by Warren at 08:18 PM

Music From Sea Waves

Zadar.jpgIn 1977, sound artist Bill Fontana took a tape recorder down to the Kirribilli ferry pier in Sydney Harbour and discovered “music” in the sounds of the waves sluicing water into bore holes on the dock. (You can hear samples of it in this Quicktime video on his site.) The recording eventually reached the ears of artist in residence at the San Francisco Exploratorium, Peter Richards, and he sought to emulate this wave-produced music by embedding PVC and concrete pipes into a jetty on San Francisco Bay; at heights where they could be reached by the incoming tide. He called this creation, the Wave Organ. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to track down any online audio of the Wave Organ in action, but reporter Megan Edwards describes it as “like listening to the world's largest sea shell. It's like distant drums, muffled cymbals, quiet thunder.”

More recently, this concept of a wave-driven instrument was incorporated into the 2005 refurbishments of the quay at Zadar in Croatia. This version, called the Sea Organ, consists of a series of whistle openings built into the steps of a promenade that descends into the Adriatic. Unlike, the Wave Organ, the dulcet tones of the Sea Organ have been well documented in YouTube videos, a downloadable mp3, and a CD that can purchased from the official site.
(via Neatorama and Metafilter)

Posted by Warren at 07:24 PM