Outsight Radio Hours and Yours

Cooler than a black plastic spider ring

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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Ratings are (1) = :(, (5) = 🙂

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News And Views

Porcupine Tree Delivers New Album Deadwing In May

British band Porcupine Tree is wrapping up forthcoming album Deadwing (Lava Records). One track, “Halo,” features Adrian Belew (King Crimson, David Bowie) on guitar. Another guest, Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth, lends backing vocals and secondary guitar work to a number of tracks. For more information, go to http://www.porcupinetree.com.

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Each month I try to find a CD or two sent to me that is perfect, soporific audio to drift off to sleep to. This month Listening Point (Spiritwood Music) by Eli Bissonett does the trick. The title comes from a book by wilderness proponent and activist Sigurd Olson. Indeed, this CD is meant for “instilling respect for the remaining wild places of this Earth,” as Eli says. The instrumental arrangements of violin, acoustic guitar, piano, and percussion are serene and relaxing where the bright elements of the guitar melodies are like a kaleidoscope of bright sunlight through forest branches. Much of this album will be familiar as the title track includes “Scarborough Fair” and the album includes Pachelbel’s Canon in D along with works by Arvo Pärt, Debussy and a rendition of Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind”.

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Tekito Communications Project

Tekito Communications is quietly at work on a book/CD project featuring over a dozen underground, experimental groups. Among the confirmed artists for the project are The Tape-Beatles, Vas Deferens Organization and Electric Voodoo. Stay tuned for more info.

Cocteau Twins at Coachella

Cocteau Twins play Coachella Valley Music Festival on Saturday, April 30, sharing the stage with Coldplay, Bauhaus, Weezer, and more. Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde will take the stage as Cocteau Twins for the first time since 1996. Cocteau Twins hope to play a series of festivals and other exclusive events beginning in June and continuing into the fall. “The Cocteau Twins’ music has an infinite, timeless beauty, and their influence on so many of today’s top artists is clearly evident,” said, the band’s agent William Morris’ Marc Geiger. In the last few years, each band member has been hugely active in many areas of music and film. Fraser features on the Lord of the Rings soundtracks and collaborated with artists such as Massive Attack, Peter Gabriel and, most recently, the composer Yann Tiersen. Guthrie and Raymonde formed the record label Bella Union that Raymonde now runs. (The roster includes The Dears, Explosions in the Sky, and Laura Veirs.) Information on Cocteau Twins is available at http://www.cocteautwins.org.

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Fourth Annual Tape Op Conference

Tape Op magazine announces the fourth annual TapeOpCon in New Orleans, LA June 10-12, 2005. TapeOpCon is a conference for both professional and amateur producers, engineers, musicians, and anyone with an interest in the music recording industry. As at previous TapeOpCons, this year’s panelists and participants are an impressive array of internationally recognized talent. Returning from previous Cons are Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex), Steve Albini (Nirvana, Jesus Lizard), Mitch Easter (R.E.M). Comedian and film star Harry Shearer (a.k.a. Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap) returns for a second appearance as Con MC. There will be over a dozen workshops focus on subjects like Pro Tools, Mastering and DIY Software. This year’s Con features a full working, live studio where panelists and participants will cut live demos and talk about their studio techniques. Numerous sponsors will have an expanded exhibit area showcasing their studio wares and services. For all details on registration, directions, accommodations and conference details, please go to http://www.tapeopcon.com. For information about Tape Op magazine, please go to http://www.tapeop.com.

DVD Reviews


Critical Times: The Henhouse Sessions

Music Video Distributors

This is a documentary of Fishbone, a band ever-moving forward, working in Henhouse Studio. This is a close inspection of the band at work in the studio getting such material recorded as “Last Dayz”, “Permadawnutt” and “Demon in Here”. Angelo also gives us a tour of this house and we get to see him try to convince his bandmates more time is worth investing to get a theremin worked into the mix. Multiple cameras and good editing keep this documentary well paced and interesting. Special features are three videos: Fishbones “Skank N’ Go Nutts” (alternate take), Dr. Maddvibe (“The Undesirable Desirables”), and two from Trulio Disgracious (“Get Drenched” and “Food for Squirrels”). (4)

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Mike Leigh

Collection, Vol. 3

Water Bearer Films

Mike Leigh is known for filming without any initial script. The improvisation this requires of him and the actors lends the scenes an authenticity that recalls cinéma vérité. Especially for the American viewer, this is helped along by the fact that the actors will be largely unrecognizable. (The biggest exception in this Collection will be Timothy Spall, now well known through Harry Potter.) These are not Hollywood films and there are no happy endings here or even clear resolutions. Instead, we are invisible observers of slices of British working class reality. The three films in this collection are Four Days in July, Home Sweet Home, and Kiss of Death. Four Days in July takes us to Belfast in the mid-‘80s, just before the annual July 12th March of The Orangemen to celebrate the 17th Century victory of the Protestant William of Orange over the Catholic King John II. We observe this land of bitter division through two couples preparing to have their first child. One couple is victimized by the British occupation; one is the family of a soldier in that occupation. If you enjoyed Napoleon Dynamite, witness Kiss of Death as the tale of another hopeless, gawky youth on the outside of common society and failing miserably to get in. This is the tale of perhaps imbalanced Trevor, the undertaker’s assistant. Home Sweet Home (the film with Spall), observes the lives of unhappy postmen. One of these mail workers tries to make up for his failed marriage through affairs with the wives of his coworkers as we watch small souls rattle around in empty lives. (4)

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Circle Jerks

Live at the House of Blues

Kung Fu

Multiple cameras and excellent sound contribute to this excellent punk rock concert from the long-lived and potent Circle Jerks. The 30-song set is a worthy document of how punk rock used to be, and still should be. It is very tight for a punk rock live show, as Zander Schloss points out in the commentary. These guys may not look punk rock any more, but they sure are at the top of their game musically. Once you have this DVD, be certain to enjoy the self-deprecating commentary from Keith Morris and Zander Schloss. (4)

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CD Reviews

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum of Natural History

Web of Mimicry

SGM offers a head-spinning, peerless blend of the avant-hard and tongue-in-cheek art rock. If you liked the group’s first studio album, Grand Opening and Closing, you will love this. This group, which includes Carla Kihlstedt of Tin Hat Trio, is known for its relentless touring and that road effort honed this material to a fine edge that cuts through the spineless rock reductionism of today’s indie crop. It also offers intellectual fodder for the listener to ruminate on, such as “…the human race with technology is like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine.” Sometimes comparisons are made to Meshuggah and Mr. Bungle for the group’s sound. That is true enough but needs to be blended with inspiration from Zappa, GWAR, and Barkmarket. The music is memorable, moving and inspiring. (4.5)

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Man Man

Man Man

Ace Fu

In Man Man, the low growl and rumble of the Tom Waits storm is stretched long through the lens of orch pop and the Dufus-Chandler Travis matrix. The sonic carnival arises from children’s chorus, Rhodes organ, horns, bongos, xylophone and more. Unusual, angular yet oddly hypnotic rhythms recall Morning 40 Federation and Barkmarket. (4)

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SubArachnoid Space

The Red Veil

Strange Attractors Audio House

The instrumental, heavy music of SubArachnoid Space navigates a psychedelic headspace well known to this cybernaut group with a decade of exploring experience. The hard rock tunes are not metal enough to keep them from slipping effortlessly into the astral plane. Over the years, the music from the group has coalesced from a cathartic circular dirge to more structure, song-like material. This album continues that trend in sophistication. Hear my interview with Melynda Jackson of SubArachnoid Space. (4)

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Patrick Wolf

Wind in the Wires


This is an album of ragged, dirty-sounding keyboard ballads that cross between Nick Cave’s lounge act with a Bauhaus breakdown. The sound also reminds me of Voltaire, but not in mood. The mood is more like early Depeche Mode, when the goth kids called it “Depressed Mode”. So maybe Voltaire meets PJ Harvey is more like it. The young artist (aged 21 as I write) really pushes himself vocally and is inspired by the extended vocal techniques of Meredith Monk. This is a good album and I expect a fascinating career from Wolf. (3.5)

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Collections of Colonies of Bees


Polyvinyl Records Co.

Using guitars, computers, a synth and more, Collections of Colonies of Bees presents acoustic guitar music through a kaleidoscope. Sliced and diced like being run through Gallagher’s Sledge-O-Matic and then stitched together with the care of grandmother’s needlepoint, this instrumental album where nine tracks are titled “fun” walks a tightrope between the two worlds of an uneasy hodgepodge and hypnotizing complexity. (3.5)

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Tom McNalley Trio

Tom McNalley Trio


This is a guitar-led free jazz trio. The instrumental music is largely loose and sometimes even thunderous. The standup bass has one foot in melody and one foot in rhythm, filling out these live-recorded compositions. At times the music displays a hesitancy and lack of certainty that is off-putting, but this is basically a worthwhile side trek into destination out. (3)

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If Man Is Five

Blood is the Ink Hate is the Story

This is an ambitious, far-reaching DIY release. The group covers a continuum from goth rock to art rock musically and the vocals (mostly Angela Timon and Brianna Salazar) stretch from a what-you-would-expect sneering snarl to gentle pop styles to a technical soul delivery with a lot of flourishes. All of these disparate elements are imperfectly rendered and only loosely stitched together, but taking in the vision the group is beginning to render makes this band one to watch. (2)

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Clarity Process

Killing the Precedent


This sophomore release makes me seasick with the crest and trough of angry hard rock and the shrill peaks of a mighty melodic episode. Now featuring keyboard and sampler the new, re-tooled Clarity Process may be striving to be the Rush of indie rock. (2.5)

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Undersea Explosion

Undersea Explosion


This five-song EP starts with three songs mostly in the garage rock camp with some gothic overtones. It is good, even exciting music at times, but not memorable overall. The last two songs find the band pulling it back a bit for some rocking soul with a real swinging feel that is not overdone. “Bottom of the River” and a song that would make Joey Mellon proud (“The Trepanator”) are catchy and melodic with “The Trepanator”, a damaged rockabilly ballad, being the best. (3)

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Ben Lee

Awake is the New Sleep

New West

Smooth and easy, this is electro indie pop romance in the tradition of Badly Drawn Boy and Ben Folds Five. (Ben Folds and Ben Lee have collaborated as The Bens.) Ben Lee is a nascent pop genius now only now 26 and connects a career begun in punk rock with a present and future bright with shining, scintillating pop gems like “Catch my Disease”. (4.5)

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All Theory and no Action

Has Anyone Ever Told You

Thus alluring music of Egon sounds deceptively simple, but there is much depth and intricacy to the arrangements of these indie pop gems. The quartet sparkles with guitars and keyboards on sunshine melodies like softly psychedelic “Tina Lizardo”. Spin this little aluminum disc and you will turn on the smiles and turn off the worries. (3)

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Michael Columbia

These are Colored Bars


There is some mathy, angular, entrancing, jazz-damaged music on this album from experimental rock journeyman duo David McDonnell (Olivia Tremor Control, Need New Body) and Dylan Ryan (Icey Demons, Orso). Sometimes, the music is an eerie, cinematic, sci-fi oddity (“Baseball Museum”) that would work well for a segment of Dr. Who where the Tardis navigates a dense belt of gentle but massive Styrofoam asteroids. The album was recorded at Chicago’s Truckstop Studio and produced by Griffin Rodriguez, DJ White Lightning and Butchey Fuego of Pitter Pat. (3.5)

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Audra Kubat

Since I Fell In Love With The Music

Times Beach

Take your favorite elements of Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones and you find them in this gently mellifluous Michigan singer-songwriter from her first album after relocating to New York City. While her music is ornamented with keyboard and more, it is the basic and pristine beauty of Audra, her song, and her guitar that makes the grade on each track. (4)

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Stiv Bators

L.A. Confidential


Of the Stiv retrospectives out there, one may think there is no need for another. However, Bomp trumps them all and comes out with the one collection to have in a glorious power pop cornucopia of unreleased outtakes from the 1979 and 1980 sessions recorded by Greg Shaw. (The album now works as a testament to both Shaw and Bators.) The fun, peppy, pop here did not actually win over Dead Boys fans at the time, but considering his chosen solo direction by itself, there is pure pop genius in “The Last Year” and “Not that way Anymore”. The package includes a 24-page booklet with photos and detailed liner notes. (4)

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Lackawanna Blues

Music from the HBO Film


So well does this HBO film soundtrack mix original recordings with new versions of blues staples that at first listen it may not even be apparent this mixture is the case. New takes come from Macy Gray, Robert Bradley and a punchy take on “Caldonia” by Mos Def. “Caldonia” makes a great opening for the album that also includes Big Joe Turner (“Boogie Woogie Country Girl”), T-Bone Walker (“Party Girl”) and more. (4.5)

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The Duhks

The Duhks

Sugar Hill

This fresh, exciting band has an ear-catching Celtic-gospel style. The Winnipeg quintet’s secret weapons are soulful vocalist Jessica Havey and talented fiddler Tania Elizabeth. I am thinking if Alison Krauss had been born as fraternal twins in Ireland we could have had The Duhks earlier on. As it is, we are glad to have this Canadian group now and its fresh interpretations and arrangements of such classic material as “Death Came a Knockin’” and “The Wagoner’s Lad”. The album also includes an attempt at fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”, though it does not really seem to fit. Béla Fleck co-produced the album, as he obvious sees The Duhks as fellow travelers down the road of contemporary approaches to roots styles and material. Fans of Nickel Creek will be glad to find The Duhks paddling in familiar eddies of the newgrass stream. (4.5)

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Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Kaiser: Yo Miles!



This is the third chapter in the voyage Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Kaiser are making into the dark forest of Mile Davis’ mid-‘70s electric period. Jazz and classical figure Wadada Leo Smith ably handles trumpet duty to a rhythm section of bassist Michael Manring and drummer Steve Smith. Electric guitars come from Kaiser, Chris Muir and Mike Keneally. There are several others and such guests as tabla and percussion master Zakir Hussain in a highly diverse unit all sublimated into the successful incarnation of the spirit of the dark magus. The 2-CD set was recorded live, directly to a stereo DSD recorder, analogous to how Davis recorded live to analog tape. The discs are hybrid CD/SACDs, the current high fidelity standard in CD technology. (5)

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Jimbo Mathus

Knockdown South

Knockdown South

This is the debut release from Jim Mathus’ Knockdown South Records. On this album he takes his blues out of the Mississippi juke joints (where it was for Stop and Let the Devil Ride) and into a more contemporary urban club setting by including electro-boogie and the odd hip-hop beat. This is all tastefully done and the result is a hip, often slowed-down modern blues album. (4)

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Small Stone

This is an album creepy and terrifying. The female trio offers deep, dark and mysterious rugged instrumentals like watching perturbing motion on the surface of an underground lake. Then there are the screamo songs of melodic noise rock. Bridging this subterranean chasm is such reduced metal as the potent chthonic ballad “The Same”. This is music for black lights and stormy nights. (4)

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Amy Ray



Consider the title of the album and such track titles as “Driver Education” and “Rural Faggot”. Amy Ray reaches back to explore the transition from youth to adulthood in settings and situations that confront authority and convention with a successful exit offered by the wide way labeled “rebellion”. Roughly one part of the songs were recorded with the bassist and guitarist from Team Dresch (Jody Bleyle and Donna Dresch) while Kate Schellenbach (Luscious Jackson, Beastie Boys) played drums. These songs have an almost polished, professional, large sound. Another part are backed by Alabama garage rock outfit Nineteen Forty-Five, The songs, like “Covered for You”, are lo-fi and even fragile in comparison. (4)

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The 11th Hour


This is a progressive electronica album. It strives to be more melodic and soulful that what usually comes from the Metropolis camp. This is a new incarnation of the group that built a name combining horror and electronics in the ’80s. Where that era may have had a foot in Alien Sex Fiend, Psyche now treads in the land of Alphaville. The shadow of that earlier blood-drenched horror is now a sorrowful haunting. The melodies are strikingly etched in crisp lines of electric piano. (3)

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Outside Closer


Oh, poor Hood, I think. I think they will be just like Swell, or Sleepyheads … years of damaged pop genius and then where are they? Heck, Hood already has the years of damaged pop genius done. This is the group’s sixth album. The tracks here have visitations of orch pop and extended stays with mellow breakbeats. Electronics and programmed beats drive away some of the warmth of the songs, but it could also be said the melody and strings breathes life into the chilly, angular rhythms. (3.5)

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The Scrub

Life’s Torn The Tuna Out And Left Me For A Bread Roll

Do the Dog

This high-energy skacore four-song CDEP is from a new UK band from Bristol. The sound foundation is 2-tone ska, the attitude is punk and the delivery is excellent. (3)

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At War With Self

Torn Between Dimensions

Free Electronic Sound

This instrumental jazz-fusion power trio is multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar (guitar/mandolin/keyboards) with Michael Manring (fretless bass/e-bow) and percussionist Mark Zonder (Fate’s Warning). Blasts of heavy metal guitar punctuate fast but precise lines from Manring’s bass. Fans of Dream Theater and late-period King Crimson will appreciate this laudable debut effort. The music is rather breezy and not substantial at times, such as “A Gap in the Stream of the Mind Part One”, but there is much promise for the future if the trio stays together and continues in this direction. However, I suspect these three busy fellows will are already off in separate directions. (3)

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…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

Worlds Apart


Songs like the title track and “Rest Will Follow” echo a cynical outlook from the new album by a band trying to craft a commercial sound with artistic integrity out of their noisy past. The aggression has been sublimated by emotion and the noise by muscular melodies. Overall, I say the group is the better for it. Purist fans of the group may disagree when they hear sea gull samples in “The Rest will follow”. However, the group has stood out of the safe shadows of Sonic Youth and Pixies to test itself in the glaring sun of music that needs more than texture and delivery to pass the test. On that test the group definitely gets a passing grade, but it still needs some improvement in the arrangement and style categories. The group has its trail of dead, now it must animate those corpses. Much of this opus is lifeless. There are all these layers of sound, but often no depth. I hope the group, though, does not fall through the thin ice it placed itself on and continues to build things up in this direction of sophisticated, dark art pop. (3.5)

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