All The Usual Cultural Tangents

from the desk of Matt Silcock:

It's been well over a month since my last update and I feel terrible. I mean, there are some things going on. There's some Last Visible Dog news; the label has just firmed a deal to release a marvelous CDR by the Minneapolis guitar quartet Entrance. Two long and dense tracks filling your world with hum. Look for it quite soon. Perhaps just as soon will be a new CDR from the musical empire of Campbell Kneale, Vespertine by Birchville Cat Motel. This is an artist that has several releases, some of them on the finest labels in the world, which makes the statement that it might be Birchville's absolute finest hour even more shocking, though no less true. It's distant, it's arctic, and it does the same glorious thing for a really long time.

In MCMS news: the group has selected a place to record in for their next release. Evidently this room has a piano. In the meantime, they are finishing up work (in other words, trying to figure out when they can spare $60 at Kinko's on color copies) on the covers for their next Last Visible Dog release. Known as "The Album of Love" by some and "definitely not The Album of Love" by others, this release features some folky pummel along with the expected psychedelic barrages, inspired not a little by a special extra member who came all the way from Salisbury, Maryland to Lincoln, Nebraska just when he heard these sessions were going down. (Or maybe it was the other way around...)

In even more MCMS news, look for an MCMS/Yermo split CDR, to be released by Celebrate Psi Phenomenon in the near future. And, one of the members of MCMS will be putting out a solo cassette on Freedom From. This could appear as a release by Cheyntara, Sump, Solid Gold Dancer...there is uncertainty. Either way, it'll be the same music.

The holiday season is out of control, isn't it? Hope yours was something else. I'd like to thank everyone in the world for making this such a low-key New Year's Eve. It seemed that no one believed the hype! And not one terrorist action! Not that this will inspire anything delusional like having faith in humanity, but it sure was nice, wasn't it?

Plenty went on in the last couple weeks--the Pablo's Triangle show was an absolute gas. Because the Lincoln police, bored as usual, decided to start enforcing occupancy laws in bars about a year ago, there were people waiting in line outside for up to an hour to get in! They missed the INCREDIBLE last set ever by Doctor Solo, a warped set by Omaha's Tangelo Zamboni which somehow mixed the Cramps, hippie jamming, and Syd Barrett in somewhat equal measures, an incredible reunion by muppet punk pioneers Roosevelt Franklin (exactly like they were six years ago, only better), a reunion by the two-man army known as Tyranny of the Should, and an exhausting hour-long set by Pablo's Triangle. It was bliss.

Late-breaking news about the Juice Newton tape: after finding the legendary cassette under a stack of books, Jeremy Ripley has announced that the contents are 'terrible.' Not as good as he remembered it sounding four years ago. In fact, he said that the best parts of the cassette were between-'song' arguments amongst the trio...which of course means...coming soon, a special-edition cassette single: Juice Newton, The Arguments.

You know, all this talk about Roosevelt Franklin, Pablo's Triangle, Tyranny of the Should, et al, cinches it: I'm gonna make one of those Pete Frame-style rock family trees about this scene. It goes back at least six years and encompasses about twenty-nine bands. I'm gonna make it, I swear!

Ladies and gentlemen, announcing a new band from the High-Knee family: The Free Birds. This is a trio featuring Matt Silcock, P. Snaker of Brooklyn, and the inimitable Ron Wax. Hushed late-night acoustic/battery-op groove jamming. There's already a double-LP in the can, but since that's not practical, there may be another sort of release in the offing--stay tuned?

And oh yes, dear reader, before I depart from this installment of the High-Knee Knews, I would like to fulfill my promise to spin you the tale of Mike Elsener's performance at the most recent CMJ festival. As dedicated readers of the Knews will know, Mike was a cherished member of the Lincoln music community, doing time in such landmark groups as Superglue, Pablo's Triangle, Plastik Trumpet, Cheyntara, Bedwetting, and Tyranny of the Should. A little over a year ago, he moved to San Francisco. There, another Lincoln expatriate runs a label called ToYo Records, and one of the bands on his roster is called Transitional. Said band was invited to this most recent College Music Journal festival in New York City. When they told their label boss that they wouldn't be able to make it, he offered the slot to Mike--the only catches being that Mike had to pose as Transitional, and he had to pay his own way. Eager for a vacation, and flush with cash from a new job waiting tables, Mike accepted. Upon landing at LaGuardia, he phoned his old cohort in Pablo's Triangle, Brooklyn resident Matthew D. Focht. After rounding up some other New Yorkers and visiting San Franciscans, "Transitional" was ready for a gig. They arrived at their scheduled venue, a Manhattan lesbian bar called Meow Mix. A packed house awaited them, and they got a fully improvised set of music that can be best described as belonging to the ??? genre. Mike's instrument of choice was a blender, which he used to mix potent alcoholic drinks which he handed out to lucky audience members. The patrons of Meow Mix were proverbially rocked. "Transitional" was offered a gig there the following week. When one of the members sheepishly revealed that they weren't actually Transitional, the response was "That's okay, can you play anyway?" Of course, the answer was "no"--some things are just meant to be one-shots.

Mike Elsener and Ben Armstrong of Pablo's Triangle reflect on past gigs.

Stay tuned for more Knews.

Oh yeah, speaking of Pablo's Triangle, they're reuniting! And it feels so week from tonight, one time only, a show at Duffy's Tavern. Everyone's back in town for the holidays. Even Pablo's spinoff bands that are already defunct are reuniting for the show (such as the sadly short-lived synth-pop genii Doctor Solo). It's gonna be a full house, but if you're in the neighborhood drop by and we'll make room for you. Duffy's Tavern is at 1412 O Street, downtown Lincoln. Music starts around 10PM or something.

I know Lincoln is a 'backwater' and that everything is the usual five years behind here, but all the 'techno DJs' in town are still mired in the same old four-on-the-floor "house music all night long" groove. I mean, Club 1427 on a Thursday night is still a very sexy place to hang out, but even the DJs who've moved 'beyond' house are only just now getting to the most familiar of drum and bass patterns. Yeah, it moves the crowd, and I've got no problem with it. But where's the underground??? I've always said that the day I heard someone from Lincoln sitting in their bedroom and using a sampler wrong I'd sign 'em to the High-Knee 'contract.' It took five years, but it's happened. Stay tuned for the debut cassette from D.J. Drunk.

I'm very excited to see the second recorded appearance of Lincoln legends Pablo's Triangle. The first was on Cock ESP's tour-only cassette Cock Soup, in which a live version of their song "Girlfriend" was heard in its entirety, including ESP's violent stage-jacking coda. And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the latest Aquarius Records catalog:

V/A "La Foresta Della Morte Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (ToYo) cd 14.98
Purporting to be an Italian horror movie soundtrack (it's not), this locally-produced comp manages to make you wish there were such a movie, if only to see how the pretty awesome selection of songs on here could be made to fit into it. Contributors include The Need, Joan of Arc, Collosamite, Thrones, Impaled, Armatron, Transitional, Melt Banana, The Champs, Pablos Triangle, and more. As you can see from that list, this is a strangely varied comp indeed, from metal to emo to no wave, but it all somehow seems to fit together just like a "soundtrack" should. Good stuff.

Congrats to Pablo's--word is that the song appearing is "Sexonice." Congrats also to the other Lincoln band appearing, Armatron. Now I should just spin the tale of how former Pablo's/Tyranny of the Should/Cheyntara/Bedwetting member and current San Francisco resident Mike Elsener took a free trip to CMJ in NYC in order to pose as some other SF band that decided to cancel. (He played to a full house.) I'll post it when I get the details...

Jeremy Ripley has suggested giving High-Knee Records and Tapes the rights to press 'the good parts' of the long-suppressed boombox practice recordings by Juice Newton. (The great Lincoln noise/rock band with Jeremy on guitar, not the great Virginia Beach/SoCal pop/country singer with Otha Young on guitar.) Luckily, Jeremy is like me, and feels that making 3 or 4 cassette copies with an original cover and packaging consitutes "pressing a record." Available for mailorder in 2000. (We'll make more than 3 or 4 if we get more orders than that.)

I was always taught as a child to 'love thy neighbor.' But I'm tellin' ya, I'm not going to miss my upstairs neighbors when their lease runs out in January. I won't miss waking up to the sound of him coughing out his 9th bong hit at 10:30 AM, while shouting things like "Fuck you, punk ass bitch!" at his Sega football game. And I won't miss the sound of him turning on Lincoln's own 'active-rock' FM station, 106.3 "The Blaze," on so loud that the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Korn, and the Scorpions pound through my ceiling at a volume just louder than where I keep my stereo. I won't miss him repeatedly letting his dogs poop right in front of our back steps, and threatening to "kick our fucking ass" after we finally left a note asking if they would mind picking up after their dog. (He said it to his girlfriend as he was going up the stairs, loud enough for us to hear it through the walls.) I won't miss hearing him yell at (or just to) his girlfriend all day, or hearing him utter, in slightly less agitated moments, such eavesdroppable bon mots as "[your brother's] a sack of shit, and he stinks like one too." You know, I've seen a lot of apocalyptic Hollywood thrillers, and I've listened to my fair share of satanic heavy metal, but this guy strikes me as being truly evil. He makes me feel, all at once, a) scared shitless, b) like a "total art-fag," and c) like an extremely well-balanced and successful guy (and I'm a 29 year old pizza delivery driver). I wish I could say that I joyfully blast the New York Dolls, Albert Ayler, and The Dead C all day and night in order to prove some kind of point about not being a "punk bitch," but it just doesn't work that way. (In answer to the appropriate question, "Why don't you move out?": We really love our place. Good price, hardwood floors, a huge kitchen, central air, our own laundry, a private outdoor patio perfect for barbecues and poker, etc.) Latest random unintentionally eavesdropped argument phrase: "It's not even a hundred dollars!!!" (12/17/99)

The Lullaby for the Working Class tour diary has been moved to NOUGAT.

Happy Halloween! In the spirit of the season (it features samples from a horror-and-monsters sound effects record), the long awaited (by maybe three people) followup to Live in Rochester has been submitted by DJ Dawn Rickles (not his real name). Entitled Return to Headquarters and appearing on one-sided cassette, this takes off from the noise/comedy crudity of Rochester well into the inverted stratosphere of the collective underconscious. 40 minutes of never-a-dull-moment, mostly made up of queasy Rickles/Layton duets for unskilled turntable and tape improv. Broken up by nowhere samples, acoustic racket, brief tape collage, flirtation with obscenity, and many varieties of found sound involving random humans. Only awaiting some cover art. And maybe a few pre-orders. (Dawn Rickles may be slow, but he does poor work. Kick him in the ass a little. This is a college town, whaddaya expect.) See this column for news of official release.

Even more in the spirit of the season, I was tapped to play a zombie by Dawn Rickles sideman Ivan Layton in a commercial he produced at his 'day gig' with Lincoln's KOLN/KGIN. (Referred to by locals as "ten-eleven".) Those able to tune in to late-night Lincoln television may be lucky enough to see me lurching around with white pancake makeup on my face, frantically clicking a remote and saying "MORE SPORTS!" over and over again in a 'spooky' zombie voice. (I never found out exactly what the ad was for, but like most things in Lincoln that actually get publicly advertised, it obviously had something to do with sports.)

Happy September, everyone! Last night was not only my 29th birthday, it marked the occasion of a brand new session by the Cheyntara lineup that recorded Live in Lincoln. That was three years ago, but this time the approach was pretty much the same: venture out into the emptier places of a nighttime plains city (parking garages, a city campus sculpture garden, an empty room in a warehouse space where a punk band is practicing) and make some all-acoustic racket. (Unless cheap batteries through toy speakers doesn't count as "acoustic.")

On this night we also made an attempt at busking for the 1AM bar-closing crowd down at 14th & O. Unfortunately, we got a late start and most of the smaller Tuesday night drunk-traffic had dispersed. It wasn't a total failure; we did get two requests: one for "Stairway to Heaven," which was promptly honored in an a capella fashion, and another from a rather sour-pussed jock who rudely tossed us a quarter and wondered in certain terms if that was enough money for us to 'please' stop playing. (The Zeppelin requester, a 'college'/'hippie' girl, had a friendlier comment: "I dig it, yo.") About twenty minutes later, despite a relocation to the relatively much emptier-of-humans Love Library Link Plaza, we encountered yet more of the college macho 'gang' violence that has been plaguing the avant-skree scene since the get-go. In the midst of a piece, a pair of young beery jocks, out on a late-night mountain bike spree, materialized from the darkness beyond the Link. I didn't even know they were there until one patted me on the head. They didn't get off of their bikes, but as they rode by slowly, one of them said "You guys are jammin'" in the sarcastic lunkhead tone that can only be developed from years of watching MTV daytime programming. Startled, we nodded back, probably with some sort of sheepish 'art-fag' grins. Then they were gone. It was a little freaky, but seemed harmless enough. Unfortunately, five minutes later, these boys, obviously after some sort of mischevious conferring, came tearing back through the space at high-speed with the express purpose of running over our tape recorder, which they did, sending it flying about ten feet across the plaza stone. Luckily, it had a leather cover on it and emerged from this confrontation unscratched. J. Merritt, slightly wounded, said "YOU SUCK!" but the boys were already gone, tearing off at high-speed back into the night for good, letting out a war whoop as they disappeared. Some of these incidents can be heard on a forthcoming cassette release by White Tapes of New York City.

TV City featuring DJ Dawn Rickles rocked the house at Club 1427 just two weeks previous. The occasion was a photography showing by DJ S'Hane; owner Dimitri kindly let the City take over Special K's lofty DJ booth and mix dictaphone-created cassette madness all night long (along with lots of early-Seventies Miles Davis on vinyl). There will most likely be a TV City cassette on High-Knee sometime in 2000.

Proteus Films may play their first-ever gig outside of Jay Kreimer's basement on May 7th 1999 in an attempt by Holy Ghost front-man and this label's namesake Chris Heine to stage a many-band short-set bill at Knickerbocker's. Stay tuned!

Aarrrghhh!! It's 5AM...have ye visited our gallery???

Or would you like to go back to Headquarters?