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    Partch at California Plaza

    November 30th, 2008

    Partch at California Plaza 2007.
    Beneath the blaring hot sun.

    Los Angeles, California
    July 20, 2007

    Harry Partch (1901-1974) merely succeeded in realizing the most perfectly constructed, personal musical universe of the 20th Century. Shunning twelve-tone equal temperament—which has dominated Western music for well over a hundred years—he formed his own 43 tone scale realized through an antiquated pure tuning system known as Just Intonation. Harry then built his own strange, sculptural instruments to realize his exotic scores. Over several decades, he meshed this otherworldly-sounding music with dance and drama into what he called “corporeal” presentations, in which these three elements are fully integrated into a powerful, transporting whole. None of them were omitted or relegated to the background, as in traditional stage plays, classical concerts, etc.

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    Partch at the REDCAT 2007

    November 29th, 2008

    Partch at the REDCAT 2007.
    Leaving Colfax, Californi-ax!

    Los Angeles, California
    May 30, 2007

    Harry Partch (1901-1974) merely succeeded in realizing the most perfectly constructed, personal musical universe of the 20th Century. Shunning twelve-tone equal temperament—which has dominated Western music for well over a hundred years—he formed his own 43 tone scale realized through an antiquated pure tuning system known as Just Intonation. Harry then built his own strange, sculptural instruments to realize his exotic scores. Over several decades, he meshed this otherworldly-sounding music with dance and drama into what he called “corporeal” presentations, in which these three elements are fully integrated into a powerful, transporting whole. None of them were omitted or relegated to the background, as in traditional stage plays, classical concerts, etc.

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    Jandek at Issue Project Room

    November 29th, 2008

    Jandek at Issue Project Room, 2005.

    Brooklyn, New York
    September 7, 2005

    I saw Jandek. He is real. He wore all black with his shirt tucked into weird slacks with a hat, sort of like an odd Houston nightclub look from the ’80s, maybe even ’70s. He looked very old and way skinny, but into playing music. He kinda sounded like Jandek, luckily, and Bat Chain Puller-era Captain Beefheart with Harry Partch on vocals reading a suicide letter, and hints of Sonic Youth-isms. Jandek’s voice was kinda wavering and strange. He never spoke, except when he sang. He would just start playing and it would sound like someone starting up their car–kinda sketchy at first, then he would warm up and usually it would build and sound cool. There were a few duds, but mostly it was good. I liked the performance, but it was monotonous and fairly one-dimensional dirge. Still, it was mysterious and cool somehow.

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    ArthurFest 2005 at Barnsdall Park

    November 29th, 2008

    Los Angeles, California
    September 4-5, 2005

    Arthur is a 1960s-influenced contemporary counterculture magazine who put on an arch eclectic two-day music festival called, appropriately enough, ArthurFest on Labor Day weekend in 2005. Featuring over 40 disparate artists on three stages for two whole days, it was way too much eye candy and ear mess for one human paper towel to absorb! Ranging from acid-folk to noise to psych to electronica to punk to drone to rock to jazz, the music was played on the huge Lawn Stage, the tiny Pine Stage (both of which were outdoors) and the large, indoor Barnsdall Gallery Theater simultaneously at all times, which made it pretty much impossible for any one person to experience much more than a third of it. Following is a photo essay featuring all of the fish I caught.

    Sunday, September 4

    Dos at ArthurFest 2005.
    Mike Watt and Kira Roessler, also known as Dos, hugged the small crowd around the Pine Stage with their dueling bass guitars.

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    Sir Richard Bishop at the Knitting Factory

    November 28th, 2008

    Sir Richard Bishop at the Knitting Factory, 2005.

    Hollywood, California
    June 5, 2005

    As one third of genre-ignoring aural juggernaut the Sun City Girls, six-string-slinger Sir Richard Bishop has, for the flesh-eating lion’s share of three decades, permanently stained the unsuspecting underpants of the musical world. In fact, the SCG were downright notorious for stirring up the pot, the public and their sonic soup with such disparate elements as rock, free improv, country, experimental, spoken word, folk, performance art and dozens of other styles and anti-styles known, unknown and never to be considered. After forcing a wearily counted number of platters and tours upon anyone who was hearty–and smarty–enough to accept them, the trio called it a day when their tubster, Charles Gocher, checked out of this mortal hotel on February 19, 2007.

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    Slint at the Avalon

    November 28th, 2008

    Slint at the Avalon, 2005.
    “Good morning, Captain.”

    Hollywood, California
    March 13, 2005

    Slint was an obscure indie rock band who, when they weren’t bathing in Kentucky’s loveliest lakes, played a few shows and released a grand total of two records from 1986 to 1991. These comedians thought it would be funny to release one of them–a classic album full of mooooody and quiet, loud, quiet, loud, quiet, loud, quiet, loud indie rock–just a hot minute before they broke up. Called Spiderland, the disc, of course, grew in popularity in subsequent years, made an impression on other like-minded outfits and became the toast of the town.

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    White Out and Dos at Spaceland

    November 27th, 2008

    Dos at Spaceland, 2005.
    Dueling banjos, I mean basses. Mike Watt and Kira Roessler = Dos.

    Los Angeles, California
    February 26, 2005

    On a cool winter night in 2005, a duo of duos blasted out some musical band-aids in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. First up, Mike Watt and Kira Roessler, also known as Dos when they share a stage, offered up a widdle while of their intertwined bass shenanigans. Then they packed up and did a disappearing act. What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the words White Out? Correction fluid? Blinding snow conditions? New York space improv duo who have been effing dookie up since 1995?

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    Charalambides at the Smell

    November 26th, 2008

    Charalambides at the Smell, 2004.

    Los Angeles, California
    November 5, 2004

    Ever since I bought Charalambides Historic Fifth Ward and Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast self-titled CDs back in the mid ’90s, I’d always wanted to experience this outfit in a live setting. On November 5, 2004, I finally got my chance at the Smell, a small, volunteer-run, all ages, no alchohol, low cover charge, vegan food-filled venue that hosts tons of music and art shows. In short, my kind of place. A duo version of the band–Tom Carter and Christina Carter–allowed webs of forlorn dual guitar tracery and mournful singing to waft around the heads of the small crowd and on out into the night sky. When the dust settled, I loaded myself down with a handful of their strange plastic disc offerings then made my way home.

    Charalambides at the Smell, 2004.


    Rod Poole at the Smell

    November 23rd, 2008

    Rod Poole at the Smell, circa 2002.

    North Hollywood, California, 1998
    Los Angeles, California, circa 2002

    The acoustic guitar playing of Rod Poole is among the most mesmerizing to enter human heads over the past two decades. Although he started picking in 1972 in a traditional rock / blues vein, by the time the pastel and florescent colors of the ’80s began to burn their brightest in the mainstream, Rod dove headfirst into the dimly-lit underground free-improvisation scene, largely inspired by the icon of the genre, Derek Bailey. As the next decade revved up, Rod befriended microtonal composer Kraig Grady and added several frets to his Martin acoustic guitar to employ an obscure pure tuning system known as Just Intonation, which can support many more notes per octave than the standard 12-tone scale common to Western music.

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