Waking up to Kranky

Waking up to Kranky

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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NEWS AND VIEWS *******************


Kranky toils away in Chicago
releasing great independent and experimental rock for those in the know. Among
the excellent albums from the label is the new opus from Low entitled Trust.
Recalling Spacemen 3 filtered and ready for easy consumption, Low is melodic
slowcore of an incredibly focused nature. They are probably the only quiescent,
reflective rock band that draws such adjectives as “intense…” Low themselves
helped record two albums by Jessica Bailiff. Now Bailiff strikes out on her
own, as it were, with her third album, this one self-titled and on Kranky. Bailiff
combines a dreamy, folk-rock vocal style with sonic experimentation that borders
on ambient noise… Beside this excellent disc from established artists, Kranky
offers debuts like Model 91 from Christmas Decorations. Far from being
seasonal, this Brooklyn duo uses such nostalgic tools as primitive sequencers
and a melodica to produce what they call “ambient punk.” Their minimalist, directed
instrumentals hide a beguiling complexity… loscil offers a concept album on
Kranky named Submers. This is the Vancouver band’s second album and each
track is named after a submarine. These echoing, slowly pulsing sounds draw
the listener in and build to the final track dedicated to the ill-fated Russian
nuclear sub, Kursk. Their album is characterized by the latent power
and foreboding pressure of the innately malevolent aquatic depths… From Keith
Fullerton Whitman, we have Playthroughs. Keith restricts his source to guitars,
be they acoustic, electric, “or otherwise.” However, once they were on his laptop,
anything went. Whitman took over half a year to use erring modulators, granular
shuffling algorithms and more like delays and effects to create the ghostly
album that owes a lot to such minimalist as Terry Riley and Steven Reich… Also
available on Kranky is Out Hud. Their new album is S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D.
The album is hip, slick art funk. The Brooklyn band cut their teeth on the punk
rock circuit and occasionally this album of hipster glide will erupt into a
noisy outburst, but coming from Out Hud it all makes sense…

Listen to or Buy Trust at CDNow

Listen to or Buy Jessica Bailiff at CDNow

Listen to or Buy Model 91 at CDNow

Listen to or Buy Submers at CDNow

Listen to or Buy at S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. CDNow


Dynamic and versatile vocalist Mayra Caridad Valdés has a warm and ebullient
album available, La Diosa del Mer (Jazzheads
). This goddess of jazz song is sister to Cuban jazz pianist Chucho
Valdés and there is a strong Latin jazz feel to this album, as on “Drume Negrita.”
However, the sax lead on “Mambo Influenciado” is an arty, angular melody that
suggests as much in common with the No Wave school on this varied and sophisticated
album… Pixyish Eden Atwood also mixes exotic styles on her vocal jazz album
Waves: The Bossa Nova Sessions (Groove
). Including the classic “Girl from Ipanema,” this album is tropical
warm and moonlight soft. A standout track is her Bossa take on the Lennon-McCartney
song “Fool on the Hill”… On Kelly Sings Christy (CMG)
Julie Kelly uses patient and precise phrasing in delivering a selection of songs
also sung by June Christy. Christy is known for her cool, Billie Holiday-esque
delivery, but Kelly’s is much brighter as she delivers her renditions of songs
Christy recorded with the Stan Kenton Orchestra… Riding a Zephyr is the
vocal jazz Soul Note album from www.judisilvano.com ” target=”_new”>Judi
Silvano solely accompanied by pianist Mal Waldron. Waldron was in Billie
Holiday’s band for her final two years. She gives her music a tasteful sprinkling
of scat on a collection of delightful originals from the duo…

Listen to or Buy La Diosa del Mer at CDNow

to or Buy Waves: The Bossa Nova Sessions at CDNow
Listen to or Buy Kelly Sings Christy at CDNow


Learning and lullabies for children is the focus of a trio of recordings from
John English from Two Cougars
. This folk singer uses guitar (mostly) with an ad hoc children’s
choir from several schools on 3,2,1 Let’s Have some Fun! More Learning Songs
for Children
. This album features such traditional children’s favorites
as “Froggy Went A’ Courtin'” and “The Ants Go Marching”. The disc’s predecessor
is 3,2,1 Let’s Have some Fun! Learning Songs for Children. Featuring
folk songs for the young from North America and England, English directs these
learning-enabling songs at children up to the age of 7 and the songs are part of a structured
program he presents at teacher training seminars, school residency programs
and participatory musical performances. After such a cerebral workout, the little
ones may want a nap and English offers an excellent soundtrack to this restful
slumber in Night Bear Lullabies. The 15 lullabies presented delicately
on acoustic guitar are from the world over.


Milwaukee’s Beer City Records announced the official signing of legendary crossover
band D.R.I. Beer City will reissue the band’s back catalog in CD-enhanced form
beginning with the Dirty Rotten LP. The disc will include songs from their
1983 demo sessions and two radio interviews from 1982 where the band can be heard
playing songs from their first bedroom-recorded demo as well as live songs from
one of the band’s first gigs. The enhanced portion of the CD will contain a video
of the band’s CBGB’s show in 1984, a photo album/scrap book from 1982-1984 and
a screen saver. The band’s later releases will also be reissued and will contain
bonus tracks and video footage as well. D.R.I. will release a brand new CD sometime
next year.

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STEVE SORTOR, 1953-2002

Detroit musician/songwriter Steve Sortor died in Scottsdale, Arizona on November
17 of apparent congestive heart failure complicated by diabetes. Steve was a founding
member of The Sillies, Flirt, The Roommates, Nikki Corvette, as well as The Mutants.
He was also in Harlow with Wally Palmar, later of The Romantics. Best known as
a drummer, Steve also played guitar and bass and was an accomplished singer. He
co-wrote the song “Break Loose” on America’s Most Wanton (Scooch Pooch),
the new album from The Sillies CD. Poor health and an auto accident forced Steve
into living in a group home several years ago. Virtually all of his personal possessions
were lost at that time, including his collections of Detroit rock & roll memorabilia
and a portable sound and lighting system, each worth thousands of dollars. His
longtime friend Doug Podell of Detroit rock station WRIF-FM provided Steve with
CDs and moral support to the end of his days and was often mentioned by Steve
as his best friend. His bandmates, friends, and former girlfriends remember Steve
for his dry wit and easygoing manner. At one time, he was Detroit’s most in-demand
drummer and was a full time member of up to three bands simultaneously. His work
lives on in the recordings of the bands mentioned above and in the hearts and
minds of the people who knew and loved him.


Including three new tracks, On Reflection (Gadfly)
from Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr compiles tracks from four of the duo’s albums.
Each grew up in musical families and this compilation of mostly early work is
a fiddle-focused combination of instrumentals and duets varying from soulful English
folk to vivid technical displays… From Bukkene Bruse we get Norwegian vocal music
with a typically Celtic feel on The Loveliest Rose (NorthSide).
Recorded in an Oslo church, this warm and intimate recording features traditional
Norse Christmas melodies and the voice of Annbjørg Lien… Also yuletide is A
Winter’s Night: Christmas in the Great Hall
by Ensemble Galilei. Available
on Maggie’s Music, this
16-track disc presents instrumental renditions of some chestnuts along with noel
melodies from Scotland and Ireland as well other Gaelic Christmastime tunes from
Galicia… More from Maggie’s Music is Bonnie Rideout Scottish Reflections.
Rideout is one of the premier Scottish fiddlers of the day, but this album is
no mere exercise in technique and flash. The instrumental album features her
on fiddle and viola and is a tranquil, reflective album for unwinding in Highlander

Listen to or Buy On Reflection at CDNow

Listen to or Buy The Loveliest Rose at CDNow

Listen to or Buy A Winter’s Night at CDNow


24 Hours of TG is a deluxe Throbbing Gristle CD box set with a release
date of December 10. Mute prepared this project in association with all the original
members of Throbbing Gristle and founders of Industrial Records: Chris Carter,
Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter Christopherson. 24 Hours of
celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Industrial Records. For details
of this release visit http://www.mute.com/tg
for updated pictures of the box set as it is built. The 24 individually packaged
CDs that make up this box set cover the majority of Throbbing Gristle’s live
output and is remastered by Chris Carter. The box set will also include a wax
sealed file containing new and unique items and information provided by all four
members of Throbbing Gristle. The collection is presented in a high quality handmade
case. It is also the first time all four members have collaborated and communicated
in 20 years. A new Throbbing Gristle compilation will be released in 2003.

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

Through the Eyes of the Dead Uncut
Season of Mist /
Music Video Distributors

Philip Anselemo, lead vocalist for Pantera, is also the guitarist in death-and-splatter
metal band Necrophagia. He talked vocalist Killjoy into reforming the group in
the mid-1990s after he presented Killjoy with music he had written on the road
for a new vision of Necrophagia. The group’s work in the mid-1980s proved to help
build the foundations of gore metal that is as much aligned with Herschell
Gordon Lewis films as it is with any form of hard rock. This DVD combines those
elements by presenting their grindcore sounds to a string of gory and diabolically
sexual videos. Definitely for the mature and the jaded, the DVD includes such
bonus videos as their Cannibal Holocaust homage and “They Dwell Beneath,”
their Manson meditation tape for honing homicidal tendencies. (3.5)

More on this video title from CDNow

Bill Braggs, Director and Producer
The Doctors
www.waterfall-he.com”“>www.waterfall-he.com” target=”_new”>Waterfall Home Ent. /
Eclectic DVD

Subtitled 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond… , this DVD looks at the history
of 35 years of “Dr. Who” through comparison and remembrances of the seven different
Doctors, as that role has changed actors. This includes interviews filmed for
this release with Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and the now deceased
Jon Pertwee. Photographs span all seven of the Doctors. Each Doctor began
with a distinct unbalance and then helped to shape the depiction of the Time Lord
as they found themselves in the forceful forward motion of a series borne of its
own weight and created under budget and schedule constraints as well as the fact
that BBC studios turned off the lights at the appointed time whether shooting
was finished or not! Among the behind-the-scenes footage are segments from the
episodes “The Smugglers,” “The Abdominable Snowmen,” “The Demons” and the unfinished
Tom Baker story, “Sahada,” presented in a separate feature. Behind-the-scenes views
continue with senior production personnel interviews, such as those with director
David Maloney and producer Phillip Hinchcliffe, as well as former BBC head of serials
and drama, Shaun Sutton. Two Doctors comparing notes, as do two of the numerous
assistants, are among the interesting angles on presentation of the multi-faceted
history of this innovative and adored sci-fi program. (4)

More on this video title from CDNow

John Lennon
John Lennon: The Messenger
www.waterfall-he.com”“>www.waterfall-he.com” target=”_new”>Waterfall Home Ent. /

This DVD is packaged with an audio CD of John Lennon’s words, mostly covering
his views on peace and his efforts to promote that. Those words can be heard on
the DVD, as well, which focuses on the songwriter’s career after The Beatles and
especially the events of his tragic assassination at the hands of confused gunman
Mark David Chapman. Running just under an hour, seldom heard audio and footage
comes mostly from time spent in Australia. Just as his sudden end is the subject
of much analysis here, so is that previous dramatic change, the breakup of the
Beatles, considered. A handsome 32-page booklet includes many black-and-white pictures.

More on this video title from CDNow

BOOK REVIEWS ********************************

David Colbert
The Magical Worlds of The Lord of the Rings
Penguin Putnam/Berkley

Subtitled The Amazing Myths, Legends, and Facts Behind the Masterpiece,
this book was obviously put together with the audience in mind that has been only
now exposed to Tolkien’s work through the latest film treatment. For instance,
the final chapter discusses Frodo’s actions in Mordor and since Peter Jackson,
at least, has not put his vision of this on the silver screen, the chapter is
segmented off as a “spoiler.” Author David Colbert knows how to do these books,
as he wrote the successful The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter. However,
even the would-be Tolkien scholar and hardcore fan with well-worn and well-known
copies of all the books will find this tome interesting. The index, bibliography
and glossary make for handy entrances to the book, laid out like an encyclopedia.
Colbert initially places the Tolkien mythology into the greater sphere of ancient
European and Near Eastern mythology. This is pretty tenuous and could be good
fodder for heated debate among those that appreciate Joseph Campbell as much as
J. R. R. Tolkien. The inspiration from Tolkien’s knowledge of ancient English
and North European lore is well-trodden ground for the initiated, but this presents
it in an easy-to-read manner with plenty of line drawings that will be entertaining
for any reader, whether they just saw the movie or can quote Gandalf chapter and
verse. (4)

More on the book from Amazon.com

Wayne Erbsen
Log Cabin Pioneers – Stories, Songs & Sayings
Mel Bay Publications

As one would expect from a Mel Bay book, Log Cabin Pioneers includes easy
playing music for the amateur guitarist or pianist, or for not difficult playing
on any treble clef instrument. Captured in less than a dozen measures, the accessible
melodies have simple keys and no chord more difficult than a 7th. Several verses
of lyrics accompany these songs. However, such music is just the songs of “Stories,
Songs & Sayings.” The text is strewn with colorful aphorisms from the pioneer
period. Examples are “Better a lame donkey than no horse” from 1854 and the undated
bit of meteorological advice, “Don’t stand in the sun if you have butter on your
head.” The stories come in two varieties. We get homesteaders’ tales, like “The
Shrinking Britches” and a swindle worthy of Huckleberry Finn, “What has 4 Eyes,
3 Heads, and 2 Tails?” But, we also get the stories of the songs and pioneers
themselves. The stories of the people cover their fashion, building techniques
and more – including methods to hide a still. Stories of the songs give the reader
insight into the history and meaning behind “Darling Cory”, “Mary of the Wild
Moor” and more. All this material is arranged topically by section: Cabin History,
Pioneer Construction, Log Cabin Music, Whiskey Making, Cabin Kids, Home & Cooking,
Pioneer Beauty Secrets and Log Cabin Ghosts and Lore. More entertainment and information
can be had in the pioneer slang glossary that defines such obscure archaisms as
explatterate (to crush or mash) and “light and hitch” (come and visit). (4)

More on the book from Amazon.com

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

Benny and the Jets
Benny and the Jets
Ghostown Records

Benny and the Jets have long been an institution in the greater Detroit area. (Yes
this is the same band Elton John sings about.) With warmth, humor and great rock
sensibility, Benny et al give us oldies hits like “Last Kiss” and “Sunspot Baby.”
Benny is an oldies scholar and his deep knowledge of the music and music sensibility
allows him to easily slip in new, allusional lyrics along with performing seamless
medleys live. Their originals are in the same vein, but with more of a hard rock
edge, like the acerbic and cutting “Dumb Girls” that leads off this album. (4)

Various Artists
Rebirth of Heavy
Bully Magazine / The
Music Cartel

The Music Cartel did this excellent compilation, mostly of stoner rock, in conjunction
with Bully Magazine. Sixteen groups, with a track each, populate this budget-priced
compilation with heavy, reverb-laden rock of the highest quality. Standouts on
the comp are Sons of Otis, Natas (from Argentina), Stinking Lizaveta and Fireball
Ministry. (3.5)

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Mark Winges
Freed from Words

Mark Winges’ work does not use words, but is not instrumental, per se. Winges uses
the human voice as an instrument in his choral works. Instead of drawing from
merely lyrics and phrasing as his palette, he instead relies on screams and whispers,
throat singing and whistling along with recitative and lyrical singing. Use of
a childrens choir and adult singers varies the timbre of this neo-classical opus.
The a cappella creation runs a gamut of feelings and settings from the witches’
sabbath of “Magic Strings” to the linguistic deconstruction of the alyrical title
track. (4.5)

Roberta Piket & Alternating

I’m Back in Therapy and it’s all Your Fault
Thirteenth Note Records

Pianist and composer Roberta Piket steps out of her successful acoustic form
with the electric project Alternating Current on I’m Back in Therapy and It’s
All Your Fault
. Her combination of vintage Wurlitzer electric piano with
an array of effects pedals makes for a warm, personal sound on this instrumental
album. (3.5)

Listen to or Buy at Amazon.com

Various Artists
Tipsy Remix Party!

This Tipsy remix gathering brings together many artists in the fields of noisy
experimentation and instrumental pop to pay tribute to the cocktail-electro genius
of Tipsy, the duo of Dave Gardner and Tim Digullia that first captivated record collectors
with their hip party soundtrack Trip Tease (Asphodel, 1996). Gardner himself
curates this sonic museum of Tipsy interpretation. Among the fourteen artists
are Matmos (a stand out with “Schatzi a Go Go”), Optiganally Yours, The Bran Flakes
and High Llamas. (5)

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Terry Bozzio/Billy Sheehan
Nine Short Films
Magna Carta

This is a power duo: drum-meister Terry Bozzio contributes his percussion array
along with lyrics, vocals and keyboards to the accompaniment of journeyman bassist
Billy Sheehan on bass and baritone guitars. Bozio’s lyrics are presented in
the CD booklet and they tell a tale of murderous violence and a lonely, forlorn
desperation. The rumbling, complex rhythms of the music echo the nightmarish content
like background thunder to a malevolent storm. (4)

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Various Artists
Shipwreck Day: A Knw-Yr-Own Compilation
Knw-Yr-Own, 1717 Commercial
Ave., Anancortes, WA 98221

Featuring much interesting talent from K Records asThe Microphones, Little
Wing and Calvin Johnson, Shipwreck Day is a rich collection of the lo-fi
folk-punk sprouting in the Pacific Northwest. There has long been a connection
between this label and K Records, which continues in the line-up for this, their
sixth compilation. All the artists supplied exclusive tracks for the collection,
so you cannot find this material elsewhere. (4)

John Doe
Dim Stars, Bright Sky
Artist Direct Records/iMusic

Jakob Dylan, Aimee Mann and Juliana Hatfield are among the guests along to help
create this beautiful album by a gifted singer-songwriter who arose from West
Cost punk to recreate himself in this mold. Touched as his music is with a heartland
feel, the string bass, pedal steel and organ frame songs of crystalline and Americana beauty. (4)

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David Massengill
My Home Must be a Special Place
Gadfly Records

David Massengill’s collection of acoustic folk songs is a warm and personal recollection
of his Tennessee roots. The New York City-based folk artist has long been regaled
as pure in form even in his “fast folk” work, but combined with this genuine and
rooted content there is an authenticity that delivers a winning
combination. Based on nostalgia rekindled when he went home to care for his ailing
father, My Home Must be a Special Place is a superb, rooted contemporary
folk opus. (4)

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John Latartara
Penetrations: Sonic Explorations in Sexuality

John Latartara uses an episodic approach of explicit, revelatory interviews about
sexual discovery and practice with postmodern music that could be called neo-classic.
This music itself at times offers positively jarring sonic eruptions, as on “The
Perverse Implantation.” The digital and acoustic music that frames these monologues
and a sexual field recording with a prostitute mirrors the tenderness and the
rudeness, the awkwardness and the naturalness of extra-border sexuality. The varying
moods and textures of the music allow for a point of distraction. Listeners can
be detached from the spoken deliveries, or engaged by them, by choice. (4.5)

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The Laura Blackley Band
When a Woman…
Greenhat Music

From Blacksburg, VA and now in Asheville, NC, Laura Blackley offers strong,
leather-and-lace Southern folk-rock. With a proud, bluesy voice she leads her
group through tough, soulful country rock. (3.5)

McLusky Do Dallas
Beggars Group/Too Pure

The spastic post-punk hard rockers in this trio offer sputtering, explosive
music akin to Alice Donut, No Means No and the cathartic Amphetamine Reptile sound.
There is also a crazed country punk element that recalls Glen Meadmore or Slim Cessna’s
Auto Club. Steve Albini did the recording, which was appropriate. This explosive
debut from the British group suggests the Brits are once again selling back to
us revved-up versions of our own sounds. This time it is a dangerous blend of
The Jesus Lizard and early Sonic Youth. (4)

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Reigning Sound
Time Bomb High School
In the Red

This is an especially melodic release from the record label that normally purveys
some of the most caustic of revival garage rock. The spectrum runs from the punk-pop
of The Ramones to the song-oriented Roky Erickson. Well-balanced between what
will get you rocking and what will get you humming, this rooted rock band from
the variegated influences that abound in Memphis is built around frontman Greg
Cartwright, formerly of The Oblivians. (3.5)

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