N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Interview Series #26: Hans Grüsel

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   

Hans Grüsel, the illustrious and mysterious!  Head of his Krankenkabinet, may or may not be a German synthesizer wizard from the 70s having haphazardly immersed himself into the neon cardboard scene of San Francisco, armed with psychedelic gingerbread costumes and lots of different kinds of wood-grain.  Rumored to be a co-conspirator of the excellent freak label Resipiscent,  Grüsel's work  is a perfect wash of psychedelic synthesizer squalling with unpredictable perversions, such as a cover of bygone standards "Tea for Two" or "Me and My Shadow",  an alternate soundtrack to a silent film version of Alice In Wonderland, or just new directions in globular synthesis in general.  Grusel was kind enough to rework material for no part of it's 333REDUX release.

1.  What types of things have you been getting into lately?
Circuitry of the Buchla 100
Tina Weymouth
Practical LSD Manufacture (3rd edition) by Uncle Fester

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  

i do it as a fArtest

3.  How would you describe what you do?

An ever-changing woodgrain diorama of dark forest characters.

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?

Woodgrain rings.

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).  

Yes, the supernatural is a giant part of my being. I prefer psychics, magic, ghosts to gods.
Spirits are the most tangible of the collection.

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?

Breaking out of a 9 month womb?

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?
“I Should Have Cut the Eyes Different”

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?  
Caroliner Rainbow Open Wound Chorale - Rise of the Common Woodpile

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?

The Story And song from The HAUNTED MANSION

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent?  

Fucking Hell Yah!!! We are all floss.

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.  
Betsy Ross?
I’m sure she could sew a mean costume.

13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote?  
Not an epitaph but a composition:
"Embalmers Piece". My second vocational aspiration is
that of a mortician, thanks to an interest in the mortuary sciences (my
third is that of a butcher, given my love of meat). The Embalmers Piece is
a scheme of modified soundparts that can be inserted in to a corpse
before burial.
These soundparts emanate in one of two (or more) fashions:

a) Underground for a traditional burial (turn it up loud)

b) Aboveground in a crypt or vault style entombment (a more
sophisticated art gallery wafting)

I can imagine a cemetery full of these graves. Each a different voice,
yet with the unity of a chorus. I plan to have my body prepared for
 burialas the first tome.
Any Mortuary Scientists out their willing to collaborate with me on this?
If so please contact me at hans@hansgrusel.net

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Interview Series #25: Christopher Sienko

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.


The Museum of Inconvenient Formats
Scheduled March 2019
Chris is a gift to noise culture.  I'm not sure if there is anyone else who writes at his caliber on behalf of the primitives.  Most might know him as one half responsible for the massive AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE magazine (considering its relatively massive presentation, it is hard to simply call it a magazine), but he has been writing for a number of sites, especially Gaper's Block in Chicago for a number of years.  "ALAP" has apparently shut down operations for its next issue, which was more than five years in the making at least, but some of those articles, I'm told, will resurface eventually (perhaps by the time this interview surfaces in two years).  At this moment (March 2019) Sienko's writing can be found in the fledgling Indiana zine "Vulcher".  When coming up with this interview series, Chris was one of the first people that I thought of, because while he is not a noise artist (and it's rare that people participate so intensely without being one), I'm quite sure, based on his writing that he perfectly navigates that line between having an objective view and having the experience of getting knee deep in the trenches. Being reviewed by Chris must be like being picked up out of the gutter by a guy who specialized in rare flowers that only grow in gutters. 
  1. What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?
This might be a lame answer, but jigsaw puzzles. Last summer, I bought a jigsaw puzzle of a Jackson Pollack painting (“Convergence”) at a garage sale. I haven’t done puzzles since I was a kid, but the absurdity of a jigsaw puzzle of something so thoroughly non-representational really sung to me. When we had the epic cold in Chicago this winter and were stuck at home, out came this puzzle from the back of the closet. It turned out not just to be a thing to pass the time while the outside world was uninhabitable for humans, but a real exercise in deep visual concentration. I’ve seen a few of Pollack’s paintings in the museum, but I’ve never stared as deeply at a Pollack as I did over those two and a half weeks. More than just trying to find that one piece that fits, I really found myself just obsessively staring at these criss-cross patterns and filigrees, imagining the physical arm and hand gestures that could bring on these patterns, seeing them turn into almost representational forms, and then back into abstractions, back and forth.
Having completed that, we’ve now moved onto a puzzle of Hieronymous Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” It’s fun in a completely different way, as strange little tortured (or ecstatic) faces and buttocks pop out at you from the tiny pieces.
Other than that, I’ve been getting into tracking down the locations of long-gone bookstores in Chicago, working on improvements to my new house (my wife and I bought a bungalow in 2018), going to the Chicago Film Society (located a 15 minute walk from my front door on the NEIU campus), and trying to write material without any expectation of whether it’ll be published or not. 

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  If you don't like that question, what do you have to say about true art (vs. "entertainment")?  

I don’t think about it in that way, artist or hobbyist. I just do what I do. It’s a hobby in the sense that I rarely if ever get paid money for it, I guess. It’s not a hobby in that I want to spend the rest of my life doing it. Though people also have the same hobbies their entire life! I am currently trying to work on some new ideas that will possibly be closer to “art” (or at least abstraction) while still operating as someone who writes stories about almost-forgotten noise artists.
I guess this maybe fits with the question of what I’ve been getting into lately, but I’ve realized in the last few years that the type of sound art that really excites me would be roughly described as “quasi-academic nonsense.” Things like the Gregory Whitehead “Vicekopf” 7-inch that RRR put out. Maybe there’s truth to it, but the Hafler Trio’s “Three Ways of Saying Two” is like a thrilling adventure movie about a scientist/philosopher who may be completely fictional. Any time where a piece of work (music, film, fiction) is setting itself up as a source of information but clearly devolves into half-truths and outright fabrication is becoming more thrilling to me, possibly as a controlled version of the world itself, where definitive truths about anything become increasingly difficult to determine.
Anyway, true art vs. entertainment is a hard one to officiate. One of the things that makes me laugh the most about noise is that it has these two seemingly opposite poles implanted into it, with reasonable adherents on both sides. For some, noise is good when it’s exhausting, and it’s bad when it’s fun. Other folks would like to “rage out” to some cool noise, and would rather not be in the presence of something that makes you bored or exhausted. I kind of like that side one of the Observation Clinique LP gives me a stress headache, so I guess that makes me on the “Music Should Hurt” side. But I also shook my head vigorously and with joy seeing Incapacitants play in New York 10 years ago. Is stuff that’s hard to endure “art” while stuff that makes you pump your fist “entertainment”? To 99.9% of the world, it’s all garbage, so please yourself.
Using the dichotomy of art vs. entertainment automatically puts art on a higher plane, and by extension, creates a Canon of True Art that was done almost as a refutation of entertainment. Did you feel terrible after that Tarkovsky movie was done? Good, that’s art. But for a good chunk of human history, art was something that was made freely and with/for enjoyment. There’s lots of art that’s art but is also commerce (handmade jewelry, driftwood sculpture). Noise as an enterprise is kind of like driftwood sculpture. Everyone who makes it has a slightly different take on it, there’s only a handful of people who are into buying it, and the sale of it usually nets about enough money to buy a case of beer on the weekend. It’s a cottage industry of people with specialized tastes for people with specialized tastes. But it’s still art.
So what about the notion of art being something that brings our mind into a higher state vs. entertainment which keeps our minds off of our troubles? Maybe that’s a good definition. Sorry, I’ve completely worried this question into five paragraphs and still have no answer.

How would you describe what you do?
I buy a ton of records, listen to them every chance I can, scribble notes, and hope that my thoughts on the records and what they do inside my head semi-accurately translates to the page. Noise (and most non-musical sound creation in general) sounds to me like a new language being written every day. All of these distinct sounds and structures and gestures that noise performers create out of thin air sound like phonemes used in new ways of conveying thoughts or experiences. If the deep melancholy I felt halfway into the track “Queer Patrol” on Richard Ramirez’s Start Again CD can be brought into words, the writing goes beyond being a consumer guide and into a shared understanding about what chaotic, semi-organized sound can bring out into the air and, by extension, why we stand around in unheated basements watching people shake metal and turn knobs. I’m trying to figure out what I (we) get out of all this, and how these weird sounds and gestures can mimic some aspect of our joy and anger and melancholy that high-flung “art” and music can’t. Similarly, reading other peoples’ writings about noise and music gives me almost as much pleasure as listening to the stuff, because it connects all of us as being excited about this thing that we don’t quite understand.

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
I used to spend a lot more time trying to pick the catchiest, flashiest words to describe sounds in specific moments. Since I’ve never had a noise project myself, I can’t explain things in terms of flanger abuse or filter sweeps or whatever with any credibility, so I’d go out of my way to use the purplest prose possible to describe the tape, moment by moment. Endless paragraphs about electric-blue lava flows and psychic whipcracks and cascading sheets of rats covered with nails raining down on you. Stuff like that. I still do that, of course, but now I spend more time trying to call up the experience the sounds creates in my head, the atmosphere and intangible, time-stopping moment of perfection. Also, because I’ve listened to thousands of noise records over the years at this point, I spend a lot more time focusing on what a release is doing that I haven’t heard before, and how an artist keeps advancing in what they do, which is why so many of my reviews will cover 3 or more records by the same person.

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?
It needn’t be huge, but find some way to bring some new thing into the world that wasn’t there before you arrived – a new type of thought, sound, word, kindness, food, laughter, something. And if you can’t always improve the world, at least do what you can not to bring a lot of needless suffering into it.

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).  
I believe in people who believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, and gods. Let’s say that. I haven’t experienced much of it myself, but I’ve seen great art that’s influenced by these things and had great experiences in the presence of people who believe in them. Like strong drink or drugs or arcane philosophies, the stuff you list above reacts in interesting ways with the chemistry of certain people and drives them to do, think, or create things larger than they could otherwise. Good enough for me.
By comparison, people who are really into conspiracy theories give me stress. When I hear someone giving an incredibly convoluted story about how this or that mass shooting is a false flag deliberately staged to take away our guns, it just drains the life out of me. On the one hand, a good chunk of conspiracy theories can be Occam’s Razor’d into dismissal – the earth isn’t flat, dipshit! – but the notion of having to gather up that mountain of evidence that would refute this stuff seems like a long march to nowhere. Here are the ten ways we can tell the earth is round. “Well, but what about this one photo taken on this one day 60 years ago where the shadow breaks the other way?” By comparison, people who believe in psychic powers will tell you the reason why is because they’ve felt them in their lives, not because they’ve been scraping up covert, suppressed photos of Tower Seven from a different angle, etc. Jesus, this answer is making me exhausted just typing it.
All that being said, look up Preston Nichols’ theory about the 1975 disco hit “Sky High,” recorded by the band Jigsaw. Nichols contends that, because of an experience he had in 1983 where he bought multiple copies of the single, all of them unplayable, the song had been trapped in a closed-down time loop and sent back into time to 1975, unavailable to the world but still remembered. That one is at least interesting and doesn’t end with people running up and yelling gibberish the faces of grieving parents.

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?
If you mean what is an experience where I acted most definitively and did what I was meant to do, then helping write the first issue of As Loud As Possible fits the bill. That was the most sustained bit of writing I did that actually translated into a worthwhile finished project. There was also a certainty of intent at that time that I never felt before or since.

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?
I’ve written over 300 long-form book reviews over at Goodreads. In particular, from 2013 through 2016, I had a long, multi-bus commute to and from work, and I took the time to get into reading, especially fiction. At my peak, I read 85 books in one year. At a time when I was feeling like my writing structures post-ALAP were getting stale and repetitive, writing about plots and characters and ideas and the magical alchemy these things can do in your brain livened up my writing in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Not just the sheer amount of writing I did, but making myself review everything with no expectations of what the “scene” would think of my reviews, gave me this open space to figure out how to write. Some of those reviews, in my opinion, are some of the finest writing I’ve done, and believe me, it’s rare to hear me actually praise any of my own writing. Around 2017, the spell was kind of broken, I started reading a lot less again, and my policy of reviewing everything has starkly fallen off, so maybe it was just a moment in time that can’t come back.

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?  
I could (and probably will) spend the rest of my life enjoying and trying to decipher Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives. As for noise records, I never tire of Emil Beaulieau’s Anti-Performance cassette. You can hear it on youtube if you can’t find a copy. It’s still the default sound I think of when I think of Harsh Noise. The Shadow Ring’s three records on Swill Radio (Lighthouse, Lindus, and I’m Some Songs) are empirically perfect as well. I can’t think of a thing you could do to improve any of those.
My notion of “perfect records” or “desert island picks” are also records I don’t listen to regularly. The idea of taking records I’ve heard a million times (Pink Floyd’s Animals, The Beatles White Album, The Residents’ Commercial Album, Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night, everything by the Firesign Theatre) onto a desert island seems odd to me. I can recreate those albums in my head, almost note by note, word by word. A desert island disc is something I can’t make head or tail of now, and with any luck, still won’t understand in 30 years when I’ve finally died of eating irradiated shrimp coming in off the mainland.

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?   
The most sustained memory I have as a young child was probably around ages 3 to 5. It was something my dad and I did regularly, a game we played. There was this cardboard box that had a small, rectangular hole in the bottom. You would lay on the ground, put the box over your face, so it would be completely dark except for this small rectangle of light over your face. I remember we had these small ceramic Sesame Street Christmas ornaments, and whomever wasn’t in the box would take one of the figures (always one at a time), put it in view of the little window, and talk to the person in the box. I don’t know how we came up with this game, but I loved it. It was always a weird little one-on-one conversation between me and Bert, or my dad and Oscar the Grouch, or whatever. It wasn’t elaborate stories or adventures. I just remember it being a dialogue. I have several photos of this happening, so I know it’s not just something I imagined.

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent?  
It really varies on how much I love the art, how much tolerance (or not) I have for the flaw, how much I empathize with the person, or, maybe most importantly, whether the flaw in question colors the art. I balance the equation differently with each case.
Also, any time I find out that so-and-so who I liked is actually a skeevy sexual predator or whatever, it always strikes me as an awesome opportunity to check out some new artists who, I don’t know…might not be skeevy sexual predators. I don’t like the way the argument has been framed as two sides – do you cast them out into the wilderness, or do you clutch them to your breast in defiance of the world’s evolving sense of appropriate conduct? If a large number of people who I once admired turn out to be scumbags or psychopaths, my first thought is not whether to protect them or reject them, but to learn about what else is going on out there in the world that I might not have noticed? Tom Ellard of Severed Heads said he used to delete his sample bank every few years so he didn’t get too comfortable using the same old sounds over and over. I still have a fair number of scumbags in my collection (and in my head), and they probably won’t be driven out into the desert any time soon. But I also evolve and find other types of people interesting over time, people who don’t treat women like garbage or play grab-ass with Nazi symbology in the interest of “embracing the dark side.” A lot of what I thought was cool and profound at age 20 sounds vapid and childish 25 years later. But if it still works, whatever that means at the moment, then in it stays. But finding out someone I liked was a creep is usually an opportunity to expand my world, not contract it.

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.  
Honestly, Robert Ashley is a big one. Not only do I love his language, his word choices, his humor and his reproductions of human behavior, I also admire that he was from a family where hard daily work was accepted as a fact of life, no matter the profession. He came from a farming background, and moving to the city to study music (let alone avant-garde composition) was an uncommon life choice. The fact that he told himself, deliberately, that if he was going to be a composer, he had to work hard on it every single day, ten to twelve hours a day or more like a job, just deepened my admiration for him. I don’t put in the work like he did, but I really do have a voice in my head reminding me that if I’m going to do this, I need to commit fully to it every single day. I also admire Franz Kafka for making his masterpieces while holding down a day job and laughing at the things that were breaking him down, Thomas Pynchon for creating his stories on enormous canvasses over very long periods of time, and Jane Bowles for, as her husband Paul put it, being unwilling to buy store-bought nails or tools in creating her works, but smelting every nail and every tool by hand, even if it meant only writing one short story every couple of years. I admire David Cronenberg and Don Delillo and Charles Portis for really only having a few obsessions that they just keep re-working until they refine them to perfection. I admire Robert Downey Sr.’s personal use of language without regard for whether it makes sense to anyone else. I admire Flannery O’Connor’s use of unpretentious language in a way that conjures weird, bleak magic. I think I admire people who are slow and methodical in the way they approach their obsessions and present them to the world, mostly because I aspire to be that way. I admire way too many people, honestly. This could be a huge list. Maybe I’d get more work done if I wasn’t so busy admiring people.

13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote?  
Whatever you are meant to do in life, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” – Doris Lessing

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Interview Series #24: Michaella Babbitt

 The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar. 

Michaella is one half of the synth pop project WAX FRUIT, and I like the directions they have been taking.  I've been aware of their work since they had a name that offended people unreasonably so, and it's probably been active for around 10 years.  I like that the lyrics have more of an overt purpose than a lot of derivative work in this vein, and the melodies have their own force, to my ears, irrespective of their notch in history.  Their recent tape (I reissued it since this post was scheduled in March 2019) also has some experimental directions to it, thanks in part to the fact that the other half, Dom Dufner, has a long-running noise project called Sigulda, and as a whole it runs like a carefully crafted lo-fi gem of the cassette culture underground's bygone "glory" days.  Well anyhow, having toured St. Louis more than thrice, I've done shows with these folks and slept on their couch.  Michaella took me to a record store that she used to work at, which is more like a library than a little boutique shop, and we have in general spent a fair amount of time talking about music.  As a DJ, I'm quite sure she is STL's greatest kept secret and although I have not attended, I understand she has a Synth Fest that is going strong for a while now. 

1.  What types of things have you been getting into lately?
The same types of things I have always been into, just in different modes. That's the thing about being an artist- you never truly master everything. You master modes and move on to new modes, but it's all same desire to create and expand your skill sets. A never ending search for one upping yourself is kinda fun, you know? 

If you want specifics- writing fully actualized compositions on my MC505, record collecting (as always), and a vast variety of arts and crafts. Learning to cope with my mortality and "reality" and making art from the subsequent feelings and thoughts. 

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  
I kinda feel like you only earn the moniker "artist" when you monetize your output. And as a woman, most art created by us is considered "craft" or hobby art, so from an outward perspective what I do is craft, or hobby. But I consider it art because I consider most everything art. If you created it with your hands from your thoughts- it's art. So, technically, both.

3.  How would you describe what you do?
I have many, many, MANY ways that I harness my creativity. I try to do it every moment. In expressions, the words I choose, the way I use gestures and move my body. The "main" outlet observed by my conscious mind is musically for my band, wax fruit. Sometimes on the edge of falling asleep my brain is just pumping away playing me a synth pop symphony. I write songs about things that I think about... and obsess about. I'm obsessed with the future, specifically the dystopia we're setting ourselves up for. I love to think about AI, and how mankind is so dismissive of machines evolving to have machinations of feeling. Obsession seems to be a trend with me. I get obsessed and enamored with things, use synthesis to absorb the feelings and then move on to new things and experiences. 

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
Generally, ideas morph and change over time anyway, so my creative process is as varied as there are problems to solve, or not solve. I always hated the manufactured finiteness of fine art and how pieces I would work on never truly felt finished, even when I would have to force myself to stop working on something to keep from completely "ruining" it. It is endlessly frustrating to never feel satisfied by things you're creating. I also think that when you're making "art" you are more apt to scrutinize your output through a lens of what you think "art" should be... When I was a student, I would seek out incompatible materials to watch the decay process and to ensure that my projects would not survive very long because I want my art to die. I want it to decay. There won't be any left past my lifetime.My art serves as a living artifact to me. and that's pretty much it. 

That's why I like to write music. Some songs write themselves and are set in stone, but some songs in our repertoire have been evolving for years, and sound completely different from where they started. Sometimes you just don't feel that way anymore and it's totally ok to change your art to accommodate that changing and evolving. Sometimes we just stop playing a song because I just don't feel that way anymore, so it feels weird to go through the motions of the feelings I had. Generally, when that happens the songs get renewed or updated in some way, because I don't want to scrap something that has potential. I just want to bring it back to relevance in my life. 

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?
I would say my main philosophy for making is that of the Hegelian, or triad approach- thesis, antithesis, synthesis- and has been for a long time. It's why I end up with a lot of triptychs. I am always drawn to the number three. And witchcraft (rule of threes). I have a lot of philosophies, but my main squeezes are "don't be an asshole" and "be a dick and get be'd a dick to".

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  
I believe in magic to a certain degree, psychic energies and ghosts, but not gods. Gods are created by man, obviously, so I guess you could believe in Gods if you believe in certain feelings being so strong that they make manifest incarnate, but I prefer to not give any man that much power. I prefer to believe in magic or ghosts because they are specifically tied to the inclinations of the willpower of people. I practice divination regularly, and am always so impressed at my subconscious ability to manifest the answers to my inquiries.  I produce the answer by pumping energy into an inanimate thing. And often it's an answer I don't want to hear, but that's the beauty of divination. It's just honest. If it tells you something good, and it makes you happy it was all you. And if it tells you something bad and it makes you unhappy, you're just not ready to accept the truth and need to sit with your discomfort. 
7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience? 
I have many, many MANY definitive experiences. So many that I find it hard to pin point one. I think there's a most definitive experience, then another experience comes along and proves more definitive. One of the most definitive experiences of my life was having a 20 lb ovary surgically removed at 22. It's was a good thing that it happened, but it was traumatic in the worst kinds of ways. Another definitive experience was this last years synthfestl, which was just a fantastic time from beginning to end. 

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of?
 I have all irons in the fire at all times. The nice thing about Saint Louis is that much of the scene is just a blank canvas waiting for the freaks to be free.

what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask? I am a huge bore.

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"? 
 Yaz- Upstairs at Eric's comes to mind. It's an album that i've played dozens of times and it's good all the way through. Every time. After years of replaying. Also, Roxy Music's first record. Erykah Badu - Worldwide Underground is also up there. Patti Smith's Horses. Thee Satisfaction- Awe Naturale.

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall? 
 I remember meeting my first step dad when I was maybe 3? I was terrified of him, and would be proven correct in that assumption time and again.

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws? 
Of course, because I can still listen to David Bowie understanding what came to light. 
To what extent?  Well, everyone does mental gymnastics to like what they like, or they just own up to liking it regardless of what that person did. People just love a scandal, and to simultaneously infantilize and sexualize women. So, you know, you just differentiate the person from the process, and take the art at face value instead of this persons philosophy. That goes a long way.

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?
  It's wrong to idolize humans because they will almost always let you down.
 Who are they? if I had to pick one.... I don't know.... Tina Turner... No, no, Aretha Franklin. 

 Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.  
Both are incredible performers who overcame adversity in many forms. Aretha, especially because of her humanitarian efforts. 

13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph? 
"damn could she cook a steak"  

Or what is your favorite quote?
 "if only they had one neck and that my hands were upon it"- karl panzram talking about people who were trying to get him released from prison.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Interview Series 23: Heather Smyth Hanan

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   

 Heather Smyth Hanan is an artist and a psychic.  In fact, she taught at a school for psychics in Berkeley for several years.  I like her paintings a lot, because they share the sense of an abstract landscape, while to me, they also have a depth to them that still suggests to me that it is a portrait or a character study just the same.   Heather wrote her (unfinished) responses in time for a deadline while recovering from cancer.    EDIT:  Heather passed on in August of 2020.  

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?
Reality Winner and Chelsea Manning are my heroes, women who gave up everything to help steer the country they love towards greater transparency in its governance.

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent? 
artists and flaws and appreciating their work.  Oh, after reading that fat book about picasso by arianna huffington back in the early nineties, it depends on what stupid thing(s) they did.

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can recall?  
My first memory is at eight months up at the sheep ranch in Montana, they were butchering chickens and showed me one running around after its head got cut off, but somehow the mists of time have erased any and all bloodiness.  They put me up on a horse.  The black iron cauldron had a fire under it, this is where they threw the chickens to boil off their feathers, I quess, in hindsight.

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"? 
there are many perfect albums.  so many.  heart, little queen.  always skip the first song, baracuda, too thunderous to start with so fuck it.

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?
that side project is making and taking rso (rick simpson oil) to cure some cancer.  The thc triggers the individual cancerous cells to turn their apotosis ability back on.  the cdb helps you sleep deeply, which you must do to heal.  I highly recommend everyone grow different varieties of their own cannabis.

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?
most definitive.  so far, during these last 68 years there has been a goodly number of those.  sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  My favorites have always been when everybody wins, everyone feels good and magical and seen.  this question makes me want to answer a different question for myself:  what failures of mine have made me a better person.

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If not, what is your favorite conspiracy theory?  
do you believe in?  jeez.  if i experience it, it is real to me.  I am a psychic.  I had to get training before it killed me, I was taking on other people's diseases. 

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?
philosophy, I like to pretend that I am the dancer lover of the poet li po.  yeah, that's my philosophy: why not? btw, mostly he only pretended he was drunk.   don't fix it if it ain't broke works too.  somehow  I might be missing the point of what philosophy is, ya think?

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
Dance.  more dance.  local theater.  draw costumes .  draw draw inks colored pencils chalks and then finally money and time to paint!!!   yay!!! I was forty years old. more dance.  I'm interested in how casual can i be about painting, about composition,about colors, about brush strokes and yet have it all pull together with dynamic tension.

3.  How would you describe what you do?
describing what i do:  I pay attention to the needs of the moment.  there is a cycle to creativity that includes down time, stupid time, fallow time, nothin happening time.  if you cannot handle that with some grace, chances are good it will be difficult to explore anything new.  Sometimes I meet young artists and they think they are all depressed and need pharmaceuticals. nah.  go watch a funny movie, they are good for you, enjoy yer down time, it's there to keep you humble. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021


Chris Phinney has been active within the realm of experimental music since 1982. Whether it has been his main recording project, Mental Anguish, or his label, Harsh Reality, Chris' involvement with the development of 1980s cassette culture and beyond, is immeasurable.

In late 2019, Chris was hit by an uninsured driver. The collision compounded previous injuries, and found him in a wheelchair unable to work. Phinney is the father of four children, three of which were still dependents at the time of the incident. To top it off, the accident occurred not long after a divorce, the untimely passing of a new life partner, and the death of Phinney's mother. The aftermath of this incident involved multiple surgeries, as well as a month in the hospital with head trauma, hip trauma, and numerous fractured bones.

There has been a gofundme page for Chris Phinney, but it occurred to us here at NO PART OF IT HQ that maybe this message is not reaching enough people within the realm of underground/experimental/noise/music scenes as much as it could.

This compilation was put together as a benefit for Chris to help offset some expenses. It is a multinational collection of work spanning four decades, and was created in the spirit of early cassette culture compilations, with a mind for freeform college radio as well. Compiled by Arvo Zylo, "Modus Vivendi" features some artists who've worked with Chris Phinney in the past, as well as standout artists he's likely never heard of.

Every penny in profit for this release goes to Chris Phinney. Or, if one is so inclined, they can donate directly here:


The compilation features tracks by:

GITANE DEMONE (Ex-Christian Death)
RISARIPA (Gallhammer)
LUER (M. Taggart AKA PCRV)
*Plus a bonus track for the digital download by Modelbau (Frans de Waard)

There will be two different versions of the cover art by Bradley Kokay (Whose benefit comp is still available, by the way).  There will be a "red edition" and a regular edition of the layout.  Collect 'em all!  


Sashash Ulz was a somewhat short-lived project out of Petrozavodsk, Karelia, an area of Russia bordering Finland. Headed by Sasha Mishkin, and heavily active in the first half of the 2010s, I first heard of Sashash Ulz through a tape on Minnesota's Lighten Up Sounds. The tape was a marvelous example of lo-fi tape-looping and layering, where cheap keyboards and percussion loops just galloped in and out of a marvelous, mangled headspace. I enjoyed it, but I eventually came to find out that this one-man outfit has much more to offer, and a diverse array of approaches within the realms of experimental music. Some of it is quite musical, with a great sense of melody, and a lot of Sashash Ulz material has that great, haunted, lo-fi feeling that, to me, helps the emotional effect of the music sometimes. I will say that I use the word "haunted" in the most optimistic sense. Some of these tracks have a peculiar, but strong air of positivity. This coupled with the often crude double exposures that come with most of Sashash Ulz's releases helps to create an overall atmosphere like that of another world altogether.
I am not certain if some of this music is rooted in traditional folk, or if it is simply an outsider level of song-writing, but it can be interspersed with memorable sound collages, eloquent ambient passages, compelling guitar noise, and apparently tape loops of field recordings with animals/insects/strange creatures. At times, there is a genuine curiosity as to whether or not a real church organ is being recorded with a tape recorder, or if a cheap keyboard is being augmented with cleverly primed effects... through a tape recorder. I was given permission to create a compilation of favorite material from this now defunct project, and I naturally focused on the strikingly odd ambient, atmospheric, and raw elements that were on offer. Sasha Mishkin is still active, operating with more current production values, and the Sashash Ulz name has been put to rest since 2015. We here at NO PART OF IT are thankful to be able to illuminate some snippets from the past that deserve more attention.

 Pattern Recognition comp was reviewed by Jerry Kranitz, author of the book Cassette Culture: Homemade Music and The Creative Spirit In The Pre-Internet Age!

Various Artists – Pattern Recognition (A Benefit Compilation for Artist
Bradley Kokay
"The fires in California and Oregon have been devastating. Among the unlucky was Oregon based artist Bradley Kokay, who lost his studio along with it over 20 years of his work and personal belongings. In an effort to raise funds for Kokay to rebuild, No Part Of It label honcho Arvo Zylo has gathered members of the experimental/noise community to put together this nifty compilation. The 13 tracks on the Bandcamp page include a mixture of experimental scene veterans and artists that are new to me.

Lots of great variety here. GX Jupitter-Larsen serves up rolling waves of ambient clatter noise, shepherded along by gentle orchestral music. Modelbau contributes a far too short bit of spectral space. Mama Baer combines doomy string strums and plucks plus German language spoken word. (Marking down Mama Baer as someone to look into further.) Howard Steltzer (with assistance from Arvo) transitions from noise rocking, to tension, and on to clatterous, aquatic textures. I like Justice Yeldham’s blend of acid noise and what could be a mad laughing elephant. Illusion of Safety create the sensation of being inside a wildly reverberating drainpipe. irr.app.(ext) lays down an ambient combination of playful toy instrument (sounds like a marimba) and percussion. Hal McGee and Jeff Central team up for a mesmerizing yet spooky journey into space.

Eric Lanzillotta contributes some of the most quietly ambient music of the set, sounding like a low-key electronic chamber ensemble in space. Mental Anguish (Chris Phinney) creates a glacially symphonic and highly tense audio experience. Sharlyn Evertsz and Arvo Zylo team up for some droney/staticy soundscapes that roll bumpily over some other worldly landscape. Over 10 minutes it builds up to ear splitting levels of intensity. Novasak comes roaring in for less than two minutes of quirky, wildly frenetic noise assault. And Torturing Nurse seems to pick up where Novasak left off, blasting away with 10 minutes of batter, clang, and squall that creates a pleasant rhythmic flow. Excellent compilation!
Stream/download and CD purchase available here. The download includes bonus tracks."

Review by Side-Line

Trou – Grjòthaugr (Album – No part of it)
Genre/Influences: Noise, Ambient, Experimental.
Format: Digital, CDR.

Background/Info: The album “Grjòthaugr” from the French project Trou was originally self-released on cassette format in 2017. The American label No Part Of It has now re-released the three original songs of the album. Trou has released an impressive number of productions, but this work was a rather unknown production from the Frenchman.

Content: Trou totally fits to the approach of No Part Of It. The tracks are bringing elements of Noise and Dark-Ambient together, resulting in a kind of Abstract work. Endless loops are taking you away for a trance sensation created by sonic effects and loops from field recordings and other noise sources. The tracks are pretty extended, like there’s no end.

+ + + : “Grjòthaugr” is the kind of production that will please a very restricted number of people, but they must be for sure absolute fans. It’s an extreme sensation, but there’s something to say about the ‘controlled’ Noise approach of Trou. You don’t exactly get the feeling being exposed to a sonic wall; there’s also a part of Ambient running through the composition. I personally prefer the shortest cut, which will however take you away for a deadly sonic assault from over the 15 minutes (!).
- - - : The tracks are repetitive and when it all looks like it becomes endless –the last track going over the 34 minutes, I think a little bit more diversity would be a welcome gift.

Conclusion: Trou can be translated as ‘hole’ or ‘void’ and the work of this artist literally suck you away in a dark and unknown hole. This sound is brain damaging!
Best songs: “Herbspalast”.
Rate: (6).

Review by Side-Line
Blood Rhythms – Zerrissenheit (Album – No part of it)
Genre/Influences: Experimental, Noise, Ambient, Abstract.
Format: Digital, CDR.
Background/Info: Arvo Zylo is running No Part Of It where he releases most of his works. The American noise operator now strikes back (again) under the Blood Rhythms moniker. The specificity of this work is that Arvo Zylo played on John Cage's first prepared piano! He also got a helping hand from Dave Phillips, Bruce Lamont and Blake DeGraw (The Colour Out Of Space).

Content: You easily can recognize Blood Rhythms by the use of repetitive loops, which are mixing elements of Noise. Some of the tracks are pretty long and not really into variation or progression, but it creates a dark and tormented work. Some passages have something Cinematographic like while the saxophone played by Bruce Lamont has something alien-like. You clearly can hear the piano –especially at the fourth track, which has been transposed into a loop as well.

+ + + : What I like the most at the work of this artist is the diversity of the influences although the sound procedure is quite similar the entire album long. Everything has been put into loops, creating an endless sensation. Different kinds of sonic manipulations have been used; from field recordings to the use of saxophone, which isn’t exactly an element I expected, but it’s an original approach of experimenting with Noise. My favorite track is the last one, which creates a horror-like sphere as if announcing a nearby disaster.

- - - : As I already mentioned for some previous releases, this work is meant to please a very restricted number of music lovers; for so far we can consider Blood Rhythms as ‘music’ in the classical sense of the meaning.

Conclusion: Blood Rhythms is not exactly the kind of project that has been set up to make people happy after a stressed day; this is a perverted sonic exposure, which gets my support!
Best songs: “Zerrissenheit 7”, “Zerrissenheit 3”, “Zerrissenheit 5”.
Rate: (7).

Credo In Deum – Blood Soaked Sand (Album – no part of it)
Genre/Influences: Experimental, Noise, Ambient.
Format: Digital, CDR.
Background/Info: Credo In Deum is a new project driven by Robert LaBarge. This American artist got some recognition with Buddhist On Fire, but got involved with multiple other projects. This is his debut work under the Credo In Deum moniker.
Content: The album clearly sounds like it’s into Experimental music, but reveals a diversified approach. Buzzing sound waves supported with manipulated vocal (sampled) parts, noises like hail, diversified field recordings, ghost-like passages and a final track turning into pure Noise are the essence of this sonic voyage.
+ + + : I like the work’s diversity and especially some of the Ambient parts have something pretty visual like. I was impressed with the heavy, monstrous sound treatment at “Path Of The Fierce Beast” and the overwhelming sounds mixed with field recordings at “Sodomized With Spikes”. “Blood Soaked Sand” is one of the most varied releases from the No Part Of It label, like taking some distance with the familiar, endless looping sequences from most productions.
- - - : Even if the album is more diversified, it however remains a very extreme sound experience, which will appeal for a restricted number of fans.
Conclusion: “Blood Soaked Sand” is a work that caught my attention for its accessible experimental format characterized by some great sound treatments.
Best songs: “Sodomized With Spikes”, “Battered Wife Syndrome”.
Rate: (7).

156 (
Adel Souto
was aired on Phillip B. Klingler 's Mutation Theory program, along with
Chris Phinney
& Ed Drury, Crawl Unit (Joe Colley), Architects Office (Joel Heartling), John Oswald, Samuel Goff & Mariam Rezaei, and Oren Ambarchi, among others! Thanks PBK!

Nital Etch was aired on
Phantom Circuit
, along with Harold Budd, Hawkwind, and more! phantomcircuit.com/listen-now/310.html

was aired on
Phantom Circuit
, along with Brian Eno, Mental Anguish, Severed Heads, and more! https://phantomcircuit.com/listen-now/313.html

was aired on another episode of
Phantom Circuit
! Thanks again!

Side Line REVIEW
Blood Rhythms – The Universe Spilling Out Of A Spider’s Bowels (Album – No part of it)
Genre/Influences: Noise, Ambient, Experimental, Industrial.
Format: Digital, CDR.
Background/Info: Arvo Zylo aka Blood Rhythms has been very prolific in 2020, having released several productions on his own label No Part Of It. This work features seven new tracks for which Arvo Zylo got the help from a few contributors.
Content: Blood Rhythms in a way is the ambassador of the label, the sound being characterized by endless, harsh noise-driven loops, but still featuring other influences such as Ambient, Industrial and Experimental. This is exactly what this opus brings to the listener.
From disturbing sound atmospheres to heavier Noise outbursts, the tracks are mainly long duration –even moving over 20 minutes, like bringing the fans into a state of trance. I also noticed a short track, which sounds like an intro for the cut coming next.
+ + + : The way of composing the sound remains similar to other releases; there always is this taste of using similar sequences, but the diversity of the influences make the work always interesting. I especially like the tormenting and monotone sound waves running through “Nookleptia” and “Subterranean Holiness”. I however have to admit the harder “Flaming Wound” is my favorite one for the total climax in the final part of the cut.
- - - : Why must some tracks be that long when there’s less diversity? I have to admit I’m often losing the focus when a work is repetitive and getting you this endless feeling. “Wheel Of Anguish” is the perfect illustration of this sonic monotony.
Conclusion: Even if Blood Rhythms is sometimes too recurring it always creates some commotion during the listening.
Best songs: “Flaming Wound”, “Nookleptia”, “Subterranean Holiness”.
Rate: (7).

WAX FRUIT – Drowned by The World We Live In (Album – No part of it)
Genre/Influences: Electro-Wave, Minimal-Electro.
Format: Digital, CDR.
Background/Info: Michaella and Dom are hailing from St. Louis (USA). They were previously active under another name and are now active under Wax Fruit moniker for a couple of years. Several digital singles were released and they this year joined hands together with No Part Of It to unleash their debut album featuring seven songs (which seems the fetish number of the label).
Content: The album features several previously released singles.
The sound of this band is clearly inspired by 80s Electro-Wave/Pop music. The songs feature typical analogue sound treatments and effects, but it’s the entire spirit hanging over this work that smells like the good-old 80s spirit. There are several instrumental songs featured, but still a few tracks with vocals. The songs are pretty short, which is another link with the 80s.
+ + + : I was positively surprised discovering
, which sound-wise has nothing in common with the other label bands –mainly dealing with Industrial/Noise/Ambient/Experimental music. This album brings the 80s alive and especially the magic of the analogue sound treatments and sweeping effects are pure nostalgia to me. Every single piece has something thrilling and there’s no real song to throw away.
- - - : I regret the album is only featuring 7 short songs. There are 3 instrumental songs featured, which are fine, but a little bit more vocals could be a bonus.
Conclusion: Wax Fruit is a cool surprise if you like vintage electronic music connected with Electro-Wave/Pop music.
Best songs: “Synthetic Reality”, “Nightmares (Become Real)”, “Done Before”, “Julien & Juliet”.
Rate: (7½).

review at Cassette Gods! I think there might be copies left at
Personal Archives
. If not, I have a couple stashed. Thanks to Jacob An Kittenplan!

Arvo contributed a track to this
Culture Is Not Your Friend
compilation, which also features tracks by
, thisquietarmy, Insect Ark, and more.

An out-of-print Blood Rhythms cassette was uploaded to youtube by Watchtower Archives. It is an untitled collaboration between Arvo Zylo & Christopher Ilth, created with no computers, and released only through xerox newsletters/money orders during NO PART OF IT's "no net label" phase. It was dubbed on a dying cassette deck, and apparently transferred at a lower volume, so sound quality is pretty quiet. All audio was recorded direct to 4-track in an old warehouse. Hand-numbered, hand-stamped, hand-made covers in an edition of 44, released in 2014.

18 minutes from the master tape is available for subscribers here.

Thirteen Hurts' Threshold was reviewed at KFJC:

pedal noise project of Richard Adams aka The One Eyed Zatoichi for some odd reason, a veteran of the Norcal and Denver Noisefest circuits, apparently been making sounds since 1977. burbling gurgling harsh noise textures: overpowering megatons of aqueous feedback and swirl. this is a rerelease of a 2011 CD it seems, part 2 of a pair on Arvo Zylo’s No Part of It label. got some sonic treats with impressive dynamic shapes and studio tricks like stereo panning and soundscape layering. this aint no run of the mill HNW record, plenty of surprises to jump sizzle and scare.

Various Artists – Modus Vivendi: A Benefit Compilation for Chris Phinney  reviewed by Jerry Kranitz!  Thanks Jerry!

2020 has certainly been difficult for everyone but it’s all been multiplied for Chris Phinney. The incident that prompted music citizen extraordinaire Arvo Zylo to organize this benefit compilation was Chris being hit by an uninsured driver late last year while walking across the street, leading to a string of surgeries and medical bills. I talk to Chris regularly and have insight into the challenges he has faced.

However, whether you know Chris or not doesn’t have to matter, because this is a killer compilation of 19 experimental music and avant-psychedelic artists, including some impressive luminaries from the homemade music underground.

Among the heavyweights is the late great Minóy, with an eerily deep space excursion. Attrition contribute a beautifully somber piece from the spectral Gothic beyond. PBK (Phillip B. Klingler) creates noisy, edgy, droney, creepy space wave layers and pulses. Cephalic Index (Mike Jackson) conjures up a bit of good fun collage craftsmanship. Aaron Dilloway contributes a quirky and strangely but awesomely rhythmic sound construction. Arvo and Chris team up for a blend of noisy wind tunnel and disorienting pulsations. Little Fyodor delights with 30 seconds of wigged out organ grinder lunacy. And I’m tickled to see Plastic Crimewave included with a totally trippy guitar piece.

There are also lots of artists that are new to me. I won’t step through all of them, but among the ones that got my attention was Content Nullity, who crank out some Goth infused noise-rock. Cool stuff, I’ll have to check out more from them. Theater Of Ice’s tune sounds like The Residents gone totally drugged psychedelic. Need to hear more from these folks too. risaripa brings to mind something along the lines of The Residents/Snakefinger’s Satisfaction. Really freaked out, love it! Lots of interesting noise and spaced out artists too.

GREAT compilation, you can’t go wrong, AND it’s for a good cause! Purchase CD or download from the No Part Of It label Bandcamp site

Sashash Ulz, as well as two tracks from the Benefit Compilation for Chris Phinney, were aired on The Institute of Spectra-sonic Sound, alongside tracks including Brent Gutzeit, Rovellasca, Nihil Impvlse, and Hecker.  

The aforementioned Side-Line Reviews have been migrated from facebook to their website.

*Please pardon us while blogger's new interface is counter-intuitive as ever*