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Brief reviews only; I don’t have the oomph to do full essays for what I’ve already discussed elsewhere or by other means; or which might not warrant further exposition when succinctness will do. It might be an age slash intolerance thing, a loathing to repeat myself. It might be the allocation of time slash attention management regarding the major projects of one’s life vis. all the other little extras one engages in. Or the sheer number of things to dribble about.

Primus, Tales From the Punchbowl

I’ve been listening to a bit of prog of late, and somehow Primus slipped right into this mindset. Although the song scale is nowhere near symphonic proportions, and the emphasis is on groove and wackiness (the kind that likes weirdos, fishing, carnivals and carnies), I’m still a big fan of the Primal approach. Especially live. It’s something that could never come out of France, for instance. Col. Claypool is a twisted personality for sure, but his bass style is totally commensurate and never solely-soloing as Prog goes. It’s a tone I quite like, that big fretless bass, full and earthy and simple in a way that belies all the tap and slap, which ain’t Funk either but rolls frenetically. The secret of the band, in my humbles, is Larry LaLonde: a guitarist somewhere between a modern (alt.gen) Fripp tone and lead player and the ultimate team slash rhythm player. One of my favourite players. At times purely sonicaly minded, playing sheets of noise or trim backing. Dissonant and then hokey. Referential but always tasteful. A pure band guitarist, nothing that screams solos or pained guitar faces. He almost functions like the bass player in the band, which is why I like him so much. Anyway, the album. Definitely a progression in terms of studio and musical sound from Pork Soda; still a little patchy, but nicely varied in song contour. The longer pieces are best. Grooving unexpectedly, rhythmically intricate and tuned. Less about DMZ-related states of mind, yet so much more than a band you might only like at uni. Someone should have let these loonies do a set for MTV Unplugged while they were still together. Still, Oysterhead takes up where they left off. What’s Larry doing, I wonder?

Robert Wyatt, Rock Bottom
A man is lost and wandering in a mist-laden haze somewhere in Cornwall. Wild hair and wild eyes, he keeps brushing imaginary flies from his face. Raving or turned inside out, he commits the stories of his life to a portable tape recorder. He’s got the normal voice of someone in a teahouse reading a newspaper to a friend, missives of an estranged correspondent burying his broken heart with crazed abandon. Burying everything he knows in the past. The eerie impression of someone addressing himself from the outside in, estranged and wilful, remote and fractured. Lamenting someone he was by addressing another. Improvising with mild histrionics. He likes the hillside mists because it’s like walking through acres of water, enveloping the depths and the aether. He has an affinity for the glistening rocks and the open spaces of his head, or is it the freaky midget inside trying to get out. His eyes connote running and diving at the same time.

Great horns too (Kick Horns?). The album leaves you wondering, How the hell did they write and structure this weirdly inward escapade, musically speaking?

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:26 pm
Rock Bottom is *such* a great album, and I love your descriptions.
As I remember it, Wyatt composed the music while spending a year recuperating in hospital after the fall which left him in a wheelchair. I think he was on heavy duty pain-killers and in a dreamy weird mental space. I guess it shows. If you haven't already, you should also check out Matching Mole. This was Wyatt's band after he left Soft Machine ('Matching Mole' alludes to the French for Soft Machine - machine molle, or thereabouts). Best albums are Little Red Record and Matching Mole.
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Alternatively, read about it at: The Slow Review or the long blog. Or even Nurture Health

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