The Nervous System
An AAJ Records Compilation
This awesome compilation is well worth picking up just for the selections by Home and Frankenfinger, two of my all-time favorite bands from Florida. I was not at all surprised when I heard that these groups had relocated to New York City. The two key members of the once Tallahassee-based Frankenfinger have started a new band in Brooklyn called SCUBA, and Home, who were originally from Tampa, are also now residing in Brooklyn.
The song “Why Did You Steal Our Flannel?” from Frankenfinger’s last recording sessions in Tallahassee is a wonder of great production and unique use of effects. It starts out with understated, reverb-heavy guitar and trippy, flanged vocal harmonies. The guitar-led musical backdrop is full of subtle electronic blips and whistles that help make the song hard to get out of your head once you’ve heard it. The catchy chorus is soon followed by some pleasantly disruptive washes of guitar distortion and frantic vocals that convey an atmosphere of deliberate confusion that is soon resolved when the song returns to its mellow beginning.
Home recorded “Blame it on Medical Sciences” exclusively for this compilation. The tune starts out with neo-impressionistic layers of synth-strings, piano, zither-like guitar, and orchestral kettle drums that sound like a surreal march that could have accompanied the haunting procession of the Foxes in Kurosawa’s film Dreams . Two and a half minutes into the song, Home’s trademark off-kilter vocal harmonies begin. The song ends as abruptly as it starts, trailing off with some quirky, percussive machinery sounds. Home’s ever-evolving sound suggests a combination of European prog-rock, American indie-rock, and the eccentric compositions of Harry Partch.
Judging by the other bands included on this compilation, it seems that Tallahassee’s music scene is brimming with talented pop craftsmen, the consummate group being Nel Aspinal, who are wisely given the opening spot on this CD. I’m also impressed with the over-the-edge hard-core punk/rap of “Empire of the Dead” by Cream Abdul Babar, who come across with the intensity of Atari Teenage Riot, but with much more focus. Other highlights include former Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker’s cover of “Louie, Louie” from her out-of-print first solo album, and the jangly, violin-tinged pop of “John’s Reward” by the Invaders from a Forbidden Planet. I’m very surprised that most of the groups included here haven’t been swooped up by medium- to major-sized record labels by now.
Albert Ayler’s Jukebox, 1350 Mahan Dr. #E-4, Suite 203, Tallahassee, FL 32308