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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mister Fuckhead & Company Reviewed at Auxiliary Out

Auxiliary Out

This project was masterminded by Arvo Zylo, unfortunately better known as Mister Fuckhead. The "company" in question is a huge series of collaborators he recruited to produce these 90 minutes. The tape consists of six live recordings and two recorded in a meat locker and the line-up ranges from Arvo and one other to like eight people, all huffing away on brass instruments, manipulating tapes and electronics or just plain out banging on shit. It's one of the most monstrous 90 minutes I've come across, and perhaps a bit too much to take in in one sitting but taken a few performances at a time it's pretty enjoyable.
The tape starts off with one of the strongest performances. It's a live recording from 2008 featuring a quartet on drums, tape loops, guitar, scrap metal and electronics. I can't quite make out the samples from the tapes, it could be some kind of fucked classical piece or folk tune but at times it even seems a little like a 70's disco/funk jam. Anyway, so you got someone messing with samples meanwhile the world is basically collapsing. The rest of the crew gets really heavy and moves like a fucking juggernaut, splintering everything in its path. The drummer hits them like a bastard and the guitar gives it a steady rock n roll underpinning that really ties the jam together with a sludgy bow on top. The quartet builds to such a relentless, unholy racket it's quite staggering. It's phenomenal really. The second piece, recorded in 2007, switches gears with a duo formation on scrap metal, electronics, glass and vacuum. Rather than the monolithic skull crushing of the previous piece, it moves along somewhere in between mild harsh noise and free-percussion crews like Albero Rovesciato. The piece is navigated through jangling percussion, sharp blasts of feedback, synth filter sweeps and electronic rumble. It's a good track, well-paced and the duo definitely have a handle the rhythm of the piece. I'd be curious to see what else this duo formation would come up with. The final piece of the side was recorded under a year ago and it expands the ensemble to 7 people. One or more people are credited to all of these things: baritone sax, electronics, guitar, electric drill, scrap metal, saxophone, modified trumpet, bass, cymbals, blood, coronet and vocals which is pretty insane. Looking at a line-up like that I was expecting another noise assault a la the first track but they actually deliver something much more unsettling. Someone's crooning about temptation against brass and reed squeals, metallic clinks and clangs and fearsome power drill work. There's way more space in this piece than previous tracks making it feel a lot more ominous and disjointed. The second half of it finds lilting brass met with shrieks from a modulated power drill and its real disconcerting.
The second side houses five pieces. The first two are shorter and were recorded by a wind ensemble in a meat locker. Five people play baritone sax, coronet, saxophone and trumpet. The first piece somehow manages to recreate some of power drill-like grind from the last piece. Maybe I accredited it incorrectly before. The piece flowers (or wilts) into polyphonic disharmony. The next piece finds Mr. Fuckhead layering various recordings from the meat locker on top of one another, creating a much more unyielding, dissonant plate of sound than the previous track. Both are cool pieces particularly the second one and they show another facet to the Fuckhead and Co. identity. The third piece of the side is another live performance that expands the ensemble to eight, now including trombone, tuba and french horn(!) It's awesome, a throbbing, swollen mass of resonance. There are nearly imperceptible melodies hidden deep within the swampy brass drones. It's a pretty brilliant piece of creepy horn-blowing. The next track finds the group in a seven piece formation still with many horns in tow but with the addition of electronics (and kazoo.) A couple minutes in, after establishing some core drone waves, a few trumpets and possibly coronet start soloing and it's pretty fucking cool! The ensemble creates this swirling vortex of brass and reeds lead by a great central melody continually contorted and modified by that group of trumpets/coronet. It's odd because out of nowhere on this rather dark and noisy tape there's a fascinating centerpiece of beauty. Around halfway through a really bassy sound starts wiggling around and a few filter sweeps worm their way in as well. That horn melody continues but it's slowly dro(w)ned out by jittery electronics but makes occasional resurgences before the track splinters and slowly sputters to a halt. It's a fantastic 15 minutes, quite possibly the best work of the whole tape. The final piece features three people with tapes, electronics and field recordings at their disposal, kicking off with classical music in a cloud of noise. It's a weird track cause there's this pervasive prickly static but occasional intimations of melodies underneath the white noise. I think the piece suffers from following the previous one because the majority of it comes off as significantly less dynamic. I really like the final five minutes of it though, lots of weird loops intermingle freely with a little melodic undercurrent before bringing the tape to a close.
The thing I like most about the tape is that Zylo has assembled a burgeoning group of individuals with an even larger tool chest to explore the many sonic products possible from their collaboration while simultaneously creating a unified aesthetic over the course of 90 minutes (and a couple years.) Well done.
The c93 is limited to 93 copies, it's a lot of bang for six bucks and the tape looks really nice, with matching labels and matching red shells and cases; you can tell a lot care went into the packaging just as well as the music. There's also a special edition triple cassette version with handmade art and whatnot available as well. Check hereor record stores around Chicago for copies.

Many thanks to Drew, he has a good radio show/podcast on his page too...

There are a couple of copies at Reckless Records