Neil Young Cloaca is the drummer, and tape loops rep for FAT WORM OF ERROR, and that should be enough. And it is. But of course there is more. Neil lives in the gorgeous village of Turners Falls, MA, and from that vantage point also performs solo as BROMP TREB (his set @ our New England Underground Music Fest was AMAZING), organizes the wonderful events known as the PHANTOM ERRATIC (a newer form of the older Phantom Brain Exchange), sometimes operates a record label called YEAY! PLASTICS, and does other things such as make videos, that you may check into HERE. Quite a guy. His list is thorough.
2013 for me was the odd year of queasy epiphanies. Of extreme phase sublimation, jellifcation of uncertainty, general self-questioning and/or calling-out, and exploding migration in both squiggly meandering paths and stampeding directness. Ugh! Here’s my 2013 inspiration heap:
Diagram A aka Dan Greenwood has kicked into overdrive this year, cranking out sick noise tapes (his collab with Skin Crime Ultra Spasm Guts: Render Aktion and the latest by Offal are particularly pungent offerings) and performing some of the more outstanding live sets this year with his diabolical electrical devices. I can’t squawk enough about how absolutely inhuman his Your Object double-LP on Open Mouth sounds: a masterpiece of truly busted anti-nostalgia/anti-
David Novak’s book Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation. While Noise has never needed nor asked for legitimacy (or “an explanation”), this is the first serious ethnographic and theoretical rumination on noise culture that I’ve come across. Novak depicts the artists’ tools and formal tendencies toward feedback as a spot-on metaphor for the circulation of culture between North America & Asia that has been continuing since the latter half of the 20th century.
As a semi-rural armchair enthusiast of jumpy global musics, I’ve been drawn to emanations from the /rupture-affiliated label Dutty Artz. Celebrating their first six years with a blast of new releases, my two favs Ushka + Brooklyn Shanti’s What Edward Said Mixtape and Geko Jones + Mpeach’s Mas Grave Que Bajo Mix are well worth a few listens. Ushka’s Foreign Brown mix (from February) was so good I finally got outta my chair and down to brooklyn this fall to catch one of her & Beto’s regular iBomba parties – super eclectic fun with a live percussion crew escalating the sweat.
Microcassettes. This year I re-discovered the joys of the near-dead, extremely limiting medium, thanks to this old school noisician-tape-trader from Florida named Hal Mcgee. Every decade, I stumble-upon this guy’s work advocating for weird art and democratic media – first, in the 90’s with Cassette Mythos, then in the mid oughts with the Homemade Alien Music Podcast, and now this incredibly ambitious Museum of Microcassette Art (MOMA).
Scott MacDonald’s book American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary The Cambridge Turn. Like many of Scott’s Critical Cinema books, this is great overview of too often-overlooked and less-than-commercially successful films that deserve attention. In this case, he pinpoints the work and lineage of a bunch of experimental documentary filmmakers out of New England who have and continue to push the very boundaries of what is possible when we make films about at how ourselves or others live.
Leidy Churchman’s book Emergency. It’s a small art book with gorgeous reproductions of his very flat, sometimes muddy paintings. There’s some nice essays in there, but I’m too often just happy staring at the pictures. I especially dig his performance videos that sometimes accompany the works – my favorites showing brushes taped to the ends of broomsticks, as extra-alienated armatures entering the frame, clumsily manipulating paint, objects.
Incite Journal of Experimental Media #4 Exhibition Guide is a thoroughly inspiring read, dissecting the wild and wooly quilt of north american microcinemas and alternative media exhibition practices while reminding me that nothing builds a good creative community better than a person or group of people organizing around focused programming. Don’t get me wrong, I love polyphony & saturation, but a little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
The oddly-titled By Any Means Necessary show organized by Ian McPherson and Julianna Stevens at The Center for Digital Art in Brattleboro 5/24/13 was a fine survey of who’s-who of what’s-what is going on in the exciting weirdo underground in the northeast these days. Held in two spaces in an old mill, the show featured a sizeable and varied video program (which i completely missed) and a beefy lineup of new weird rockers like yip-funkers Guerilla Toss, prolific-unison-throbbers Blanche Blanche Blanche, and brainy-prog-poppers Cloud Becomes Your Hand. Id m theftable also tipped another present into the hoop with a very funny and long confessional-autobiographical monologue preceding his performance. There’s far too many artists included in this show to list here, but the event had a good weight to it without being diffuse.
Ben Hersey, Ieke Trinks, Shea Mowat @ the Montague Bookmill on 10/04/13. Ben’s set of menacing standup settled into a creepy character monologue exploring his own insecurity and dark genealogical probing of the Hersey name. Shea similarly drew upon generational themes, but through a wider set of musical and performative compositions, culminating in an audience-participation scream-along where he drew a gas-spilling, exhaust-puking old chainsaw (sans chain) swinging the revving machine over everyone’s ducking heads. Dutch performance artist Ieke Trinks walked quickly and inefficiently in circles for 60 minutes, attempting to arrange objects on a name-time-line only have their names, functions, and definitions all slip into a very precarious place.
Like Someone in Love by Abbas Kiarostami.
The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer.
Weird Healing by OVERTURE / OPERTURA.
Flaherty Film Seminar, History Is What’s Happening, programmed by Pablo De Ocampo @ Colgate University in June. The seminar is 6 days of high-intensity endurance-watching and intensive group-processing, usually very challenging and heavy work from all over the world. highlights:
People To Be Resembling by the Otolith Group.
Journal and Printed Matter by Sirah Foighel Brutmann & Eitan Efrat.
Home Movies Gaza by Basma Alsharif.
Service of the Goods by Jean-Paul Kelly (and pretty much all of his animated shorts as well).
Ça Va, Ça Va On Continue (It is ok It is ok We Go On) by Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc.
Bonus highlights were Sirah Foighel Brutmann & Eitan Efrat organizing a Questions session near the end of the seminar and half of the already-wound-up audience could not handle it. Kodwo Eshun emphatically stating over dinner that he IS pretentious and unapologetic. And the fact that the programmer named the whole program after an obscure record by The Ex.
Josephine Foster @ the Rendezvous on 6/7/13. Another re-discovery this year was getting back into Josephine’s other-worldly/timely voice. A woefully under-attended show, with her partner Victor Herrero shook me up a bit. Victor is an exquisite player, loose and canoodly but with so much rhythm. I promptly got her 2012 Blood Rushing LP and played that to shreds. I cannot overstate their music’s healing properties.
Originals LP by Glochids on Weird Ear. I’m still confounded by this record, i don’t think i can come up with any good way to describe what i feel, but the sounds are of rich variety and the pieces are short and the album art is splendid. I missed my chance to catch him perform, in a curious swapping of environments, he was in wmass at the precise moment that i was in the southwest.
My sweets and I finally got to spend a spring night at the urban u/dys-topian city under construction of Arcosanti – it is an extraordinary scene of concrete-hippy desert madness, simultaneously exotic and homey.
Pottery. I don’t think I will ever become an expert, but living with a potter has definitely made me waaay more aware of what i eat off of than I ever expected. Steve Theberge makes some cool pots, and now my various slurpings have taken an elevated turn.
Hong Chulki @ Hampshire College on 2/13/13. Korean scrape-meister with fresh turntable techniques, playing an unplugged and needle-less, spinning platter against metal and other detritus producing acoustic sound that no longer refers back to the act of playing a record. Nothing is more invigorating than humans “doing things the wrong way” in pursuit of the sublime.
Dromez @ the Dust Bowl in Hadley on 10/23/13. Liz Gomez aka Dromez high energy sputtering erratic power electronic acrobatics. Scary and exhilarating!
Raven Chacon @ La Brique Montreal on 05/04/13. a groundshaker set violently locking animal horns and electroindustrial debris in uneasy embrace.
Migrations In Rust, Diaphragm @ Flywheel on 12/6/13. Both exhibited such singular aesthetic focus and rich detail in both of their sounds that I was filled with glee to know that A) i barely know both of them and B) there are still many varied/deep wells of weird creativity springing up in wmass/northeast.
Alhena Katsof’s talk about ‘expanded-field’ art practice @ Hampshire College on 11/20/13. Among her many fascinating projects, Katsof spoke about Berlin Dadaist Hannah Hoch, who rode out World War 2 living alone in a small cottage at the end of an abandoned airstrip outside of Berlin. She was a militant gardener who cultivated illegal plants deemed too “impure” for German soil as well as took to hiding the deviant/decadent art and writings of her peers from both the nazis and russians by burying them in her garden.
Lastly, I’m most proud of my partner Fafnir Adamites for taking some big risks this year and making some rad art. More from her in the future.