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Published: 2008/08/22
by Jesse Jarnow

Indie Weirdo Round Up – Anamanaguchi, The Lift Boys, Negativland, Sonic Youth with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow, Space Oddities

Power Supply – Anamanaguchi (8bitpeoples)
It was only a matter of time before somebody thought to cross-wire ecstatic 8-bit sunshine with ecstatic dudes playing guitars, drums, and bass, and New York’s Anamanaguchi don’t disappoint. The music is over-the-top glory-rock, all fist pumps, pogoing, and spastic lurches. Packing seven songs into just over 20 minutes, the band coasts on pure adrenaline, with little room for maturity. But it’s a decent enough gimmick to support mad bombings like "Airbase" and neon arcade waves like "Video Challenge." Somehow shredding seems acceptable again when the changes come over hyper tempos and delicious 8-bit droids deliver the roto-thunder. Go!
Anarchy Village/Anarchy Way – The Lift Boys (Smalltown Supersound)
Give or take a bicoastal 88 drummer excursion in August, and some more States-side in-the-round meltdowns, the latest from Boredoms’ leader Eye is a two-song EP under the Lift Boys moniker. Originally created for a Manhattan art exhibit in 2005, the 12-inch carries on the dreadlocked noise conductor’s fascination with tribal/psych grooves, here taken in an even clubbier direction than Seadrum/House of Sun, the Boredoms’ last proper album. ‘Anarchy Village’ and ‘Anarchy Way’ are still plenty heady tripouts, but it’s dance music through and through, best spun—if the acid hasn’t worn off and the solar-powered generator firing your hillside party is still kickin’—just before sunrise. If not, headphones in your bedroom work just fine, too.
Thigmotactic – Negativland (Seeland)
As the literal advance guard in the copyfight, who went up against U2’s legal nastygrams on their 1991 U2 EP, the collage-happy provocateurs in Negativland have rarely been about accessibility. And though their new album, Thigmotactic, their 28th since 1979, contains lyrics like ‘I wish someone would send a bomb to every advertising executive’s home, I know there’s a lot in New York and L.A.,’ they are—for the first time—sung over chord changes. Led by Mark Hosler, the band’s expansive samples and outright appropriations are still present, but less so. Hosler focuses on melodies, even delivering a harmonica solo on ‘Basketball Plant.’ But it’s hard to know where the subversion ends and the songcraft begins, blurps of static and strings and gurgling voices coming to the forefront, now organized by the bounds of key. Surprisingly catchy and pleasingly weird.
SYR 8: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth – Sonic Youth
If there’s one type of record the world needs more of, it’s Sonic Youth jamz. Though inclined towards the psychedelic, it’s not an everyday occurrence that the New York art-punk vets go full into the deep end. Usually, they just play songs. But their self-released SYR imprint, first an outlet for improvs from their Echo Canyon studio, has been an issuer of the band’s one-off live adventures where they space it out. The newest, from a 2005 festival set in Denmark, has the five-piece Jim O’Rourke-era Sonics joined by free sax squonker Mats Gustafsson and Japanese noise technician Merzbow, whose high-pitched squalls sometime sound like gas being released. By halfway through, after the hosts have played for 15 or so minutes on their own, the assembled reach new territory. The Youth’s guitars (and Kim Gordon’s occasional sing-screams) do plenty, but—as usual—it’s drummer Steve Shelley who plays hero. Well deployed.
Space Oddities: A Compilation of Rare European Library Grooves – various (Permanent Vacation)
Just as flowers or sky or the naked body might look different to successive generations of painters, updated to show off the latest innovations in modernism or impressionism or cubism or whatevs, the sound of outer space has yielded a variety of approaches from musicians through the decades, from the Grateful Dead’s "Dark Star" excursions to Sun Ra and Lee "Scratch" Perry’s various Afro-interstellar-arks, to David Bowie and Elton John’s glammed-but-lonely aliens/astronauts. Space Oddities, compiled by French DJs Jess and Alexis Le-Tanand, is the sound of outer space on the dance floor from 1975-1984: lines of green grid expanding over starry blackness. The music starts ethereal with Jean-Pierre Decerf and Gerard Zajd’s ‘Reaching the Infinite’ and Alan Shearer’s ‘Sons of the Snake,’ but quickly the grid fills with neon and turns into stardust disco/proto-trance like Yann Treggar’s ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ and Frank McDonald’s ‘Robot Dancer.’ The ether returns periodically, seeping out from Roger Roger’s watery ‘No. 15’ and elsewhere.

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