Intermittent D.I.Y. music / art / life writing projects.

TRADITIONAL MUSIC FROM OGYGIA: Ritual Drama of Ogygia’s Imperial Court (Lahmogie Institute)


This hand-stamped CDR came in a rectangular zip lock bag black and included white photocopied artwork with hand-stamped and hand-painted flourishes of black and metallic gold. I am hugely fond of this packaging with its humbly idiosyncratic pseudo-antique-pamphlet design. The recording and the aesthetic of the packaging does come across like the intimate ritual recordings of some obscure and isolated monastery-like place, just as the enclosed “Ogygian Court Drama: Live at the Lahmogie Institute” pamphlet describes. An 11”x17” paper is folded in half to form an 8 ½” x 11” 4-page booklet about the proceedings captured in the recording. The disc has 9 tracks of beautiful, quiet, peaceful ethnically-twinged thought-spacers all equally pleasure-inducing. It’s a stimulating and calming joy to listen to start to finish. Gongs, flutes, whistles, sitar (or pseudo-sitar), metals, zither?, organ, hand drums and strange voices make up the sound palette. There is a touch of foggy, misty reverb on most all of the tracks. Resonance of strings and metals is emphasized in the playing of instruments. Strings and resonant percussives are allowed to ring out and float over other elements. The album does indeed sound quite like some kind of court music, complete with dramatic arc. It’s really beautiful stuff that is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to when attempting some time in a calmed and thoughtful state of mind. It’s grounding and humble while also being highly stylized and impeccably delivered.


The wonderfully obscure Lahmogie Institute ( seems to be the home of Tuluum Shimmering, and this music seems to relate to aspects I’ve heard in Tuluum Shimmering music.


I have an LP of Tuluum Shimmering (Ulau Tau Spirit of Sun) which sadly I have not yet listened to, acquired at the same time as this disc. I’ll be getting that out very soon and finally hearing it, as I’ve recently ordered a phono preamp to enable use of my turntable. Tuluum Shimmering’s shop (!releases/c10qy) features some newer self-released recordings which have a strikingly similar aesthetic in the artwork as well as the sound. Releases in thematically cohesive series such as these Tuluum Shimmering / Lahmogie Institute recordings can be addicting. The theme & variation within chosen aesthetic parameters becomes increasingly pleasing to the eye as the releases multiply; especially when the music, too, continues to increase in enjoyability after repeat listens.

Alan Courtis & Aaron Moore – Bring Us Some Honest Food LP (Dancing Wayang Records)


In the discordant, jangly, textural multi-instrumental sounds on this album is a pointed concern with honesty. We’ve got an album title saying “Bring Us Some Honest Food”, and all of the track titles have the word “honest” included. I take it as the artists’ playful injection of thoughts regarding the debasement of art, food, and life activities. We have ice cream cones and hamburgers on the cover, and we’re talking about “pork pie” and “dishonest dessert”. Pork is nasty in most cases, especially when we’re talking about what is probably a greasy spoon sort of restaurant, or perhaps cheap canned pork, or a bag of pork rinds – which is what I’m imagining based upon the titles and the frequent hamburgers and ice cream cones on the cover. Pigs are also very intelligent creatures, so to stuff thousands of them into short, long buildings and subsequently harvest their flesh to make cheap breakfast for the masses seems disrespectful at best.

The food industry takes what could be “honest food”, and debases it through mechanization, monoculture, mass-marketing, and other monkeying. The music and film industries do the same in their own ways. The food industry causes environmental and biological pollution and numerous other imbalances. The music and film industries cause psychological imbalance and other sorts of chaos and squandered human potential. I suggest that these problems stem from various types of dishonesty. These kinds of thoughts are what I get out of the titling. I may not be correct, but I am amused when an artist’s work inspires me to run with lines of interesting thought without making me feel brow-beaten. The titles and artwork of this release speak of open experimentation with undercurrents of political / social topics of concern to the artists. It’s great when an artist overtly takes a stand or makes a statement about something, but to subtly tickle ideological sensibilities through playfully vague wordage and artwork is -in my opinion- often a classier way to make points, if that’s what they’re trying to do.

Aaron Moore‘s name I recognized from Volcano the Bear, a somewhat Nurse-With-Wound-like diversely experimental group whose work I’m not very familiar with but enjoyed much on the album The One Burned Ma. Aaron is a British multi-instrumentalist whose emphasis is in percussion. He has experimented variously with himself and with other artists including A Hawk and A Hacksaw, Tom Recchion, Boredoms, Thierry Muller, Gospel of Mars and others.

Alan – alternately Anla- Courtis is an Argentinian guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who many people may know from the group Reynols, and from collaborations and/or performances with a gigantic number of luminary experimental artists. Anla / Alan has been present on numerous releases across many iconic labels, and was the subject of a Wire Mag. article a while back (July 2014 – Yoshimi P-We on the cover).

About Bring Us Some Honest Food:

The sounds on this recording seem to be derived from lengthy improvised sessions which were edited and mixed with care. A wide breadth of approaches and sounds are present, focused mostly on a consistent shuffle of miniature mood pockets; a feeling or textural atmosphere is established, some variation is sought within it, and it is shuffled away as the next wave sweeps or plops in. Prepared piano, electric/acoustic guitars, percussion, misc. feedbacks, tapes?, coronet/trumpet, and voice are included. The lead track, “Portions of Honesty”, centers around a prepared piano and eerie drifting distant guitar textures punctuated with jittery, pensive percussion. I was surprised at the inclusion of vocal melody, though I struggled to pick out what words were being said. The piece is amorphous but tightly strung together, making it easily the most concise piece of the album. Some of the guitar playing (particularly “The Honest Waitress”) has a rustic, bluesy, western feel to it, which is slanted to the left with an oddness of its own. When the guitars are not utilized as a noise-making device, they are played with a melodic free-form approach which ambles through well-honed wandering-soul themes. “The Honest Waitress” is most representative of this free-form themeplay, spanning 7 minutes of a minor key picked mostly on a down-tuned acoustic guitar. Feedback and other textures sweep in and out as the acoustic 6-string shifts from foreground to background and back again at intuitively scheduled irregular intervals. “Honest Pork Pie” focuses more on strange noises and drones. Accelerating / decelerating delay pedal overloads are set against manipulated samples and other electronic garble, all skittering and noodling through the frequency spectrum at a steady metamorphic pace. Some weird muffled voice mumble-play occurs towards the end, as does some percussive sounds of cymbals. Side B, consisting only of “A Dishonest Dessert”, is a darker piece, and probably the most discordant of all. Hesitant subtle tones emanating from what sounds like reed instruments (oboe?) -OR- guitars played with a bow begin the piece. A chord is assembled between the 3 or 4 intermittent echo-laden random dronings of this mystery instrument. One of the album’s only clearly rhythmical segments starts in at about 5 minutes, with soft tapping on some metallic objects. Bells and other wooden percussion are rattling about in harmonious yet eerie combinations. Tapping drumsticks and hi-hat continue the rhythm as the sounds become weirder and a trumpet shows up. Really this piece wanders all over the place, and is a work of mostly live improvisation with a minimum of overdubs and effects added. There is a lot of open space and attention to the texture and tambre of the individual instruments. Panning is careful and consistent in the mix throughout the album, which adds nicely to the studious usage of reverbs and echoes all fitting to their respective audio elements.

Included in the LP are some humorously absurd / surreal notes written by Tom Recchion about each side of the album, which can add to one’s understanding of it all. These, to me, come across not unlike various non-reviews of albums I’ve read over the years in small online publications. Such non-reviews in the context of a blog work more for the entertainment of the writer and less for the information of the reader. Such things are usually only enjoyable to read when you’re not seeking to learn much about the actual thing they purport to be writing about. They are specifically-inspired random acts of creative writing, just as these liner notes are. The notes here by Recchion could count for whatever purpose you choose, and in the context of liner notes for an LP they are a welcome addition of content.

This is an interesting album in the tradition of live avant garde performance, meaning that it is -to me- less of a studio work and more of a work of instrumental performance relying upon the artists’ abundant musicianship and ingenuity. Though there is evident and consistent studio trickery afoot here, my mental image of this work is of a couple of highly talented improvisers working together utilizing their experience-wrought technical ability right there on the spot.

Listen / buy it here.

Basked Unit – LMNOP c50 (Old Frontiers)


Basked Unit as they appear on this recording make a low fidelity drone-space-wash sort of abstract drumless psychedelic music. LMNOP is the one-microphone-in-the-room variety of basement tape experimental/industrial psychedelia. Prime. The Unit’s small group of sound manipulators together improvisationally create dense atmospheric sound pictures, and spontaneously make a cross-fading slide show out of them.

Present group members Scott Johnson, Mike Pouw, Josh St. Denis, and Sean Gadoury work together adeptly, one member’s output never souring the overall mix. Improvisational choices are studied. Would-be awkward moments are subsumed into the stream of instantaneous drone-texture composition; rendered logical, made into sub-points and texture in the proceedings. These are very good improvisers with good ears.

The tonalities they choose to drape over the underlying earthy sound-murk are more than appropriately hypnotic. This underlying earthy sound-murk consists of various rumblings, statics, reverbed-out things of all sorts, drones, and feedbacks. On top of this dense foundational weirdness (which is akin in ways to the atmospheres of the previously reviewed PBK + ANLA COURTIS tape…) during some segments are magical tonalities loosely painted by effected guitars. There are times of doom, surrealism, and gnosis on this tape, performed sensitively and interspersed carefully, so as to provide a continually interesting listen.

The tape is sold out at Old Fronteirs. Possibly because it was released in 2011, but we’re really not sure. It could be because of anything, really. It may be possible to find it somewhere, though, so you should try if you’re interested.

Actually, I would be willing to trade my copy of this for something interesting or otherwise meaningful/valuable if the right offer came my way: d h a l pe t ri AT g m aIL do tc om

The label is no more, but Sean Gadoury still posts new collage artwork at his tumblr page on a fairly consistent basis as far as I can tell. His collages are nostalgic, surreal, playful, on the metaphysical / mystical side.

Check out the artwork and ancient history of Old Frontiers at the site:

Ashtray Navigations – A Shimmering Replica (vhf 2015) with a discussion on prolificness


There’s a part of me that might want Melanie O’Dubshlaine and Phil Todd to go crappy. Maybe I have a nihilistic current that runs through me which assumes that everything I’ve held close to me as truthful and sublime will one day be revealed as hollow or (maybe worse?-) be bastardized down to something cheap, vacuous and vain. For some reason I found myself listening to this album and waiting for it to become crappy. Ashtray Navigations occur frequently; at least 6 full albums have been released since 2013. There have been a good amount of e.p.s, singles and other appearances, too. With such a consistent flow of material, the cynical part of me assumes that at some point the quality will give way to something I will not like nearly as much. That’s the way a lot of artists’ work may go when they unwittingly fall into the trap of overly-frequent releasing; their quality filter might break down and they might start releasing material that whiffs of stale fast food breakfast sandwiches. To such ill-inspired over-releasers one might say, “Just because you pooped it does not mean it’s golden.”

It’s not often that I myself feel inspired to say or think such things, though. I don’t think that being prolific inevitably signifies anything in particular, but as implied I have in the past felt like certain more prolific artists’ overall message might have been more potent if the massive quantity of material was not working to dilute the intensity. My thoughts have been modified in recent years. I’ve come to respect, understand and even enjoy the concept of frequently releasing material. I certainly don’t hold it as a preference, but certain artists’ message and sensibility is inextricable from their habit of releasing material incessantly all across the globe. Frequent proliferators derive a special kind of satisfaction from constant creative activity. This satisfaction is then compounded by the artist’s subsequent physical and/or electronic precipitation of the creative work outward into the web of minds on Earth, and also into the other various spaces and dimensions in and around that web. This process is a transmutation of specific types of energy through very specific psychic and dimensional paths and filters. I would call this a process of digestive breakdown. It happens with any creative act, but with frequent proliferators the mindset is more focused on the experience. The artist relishes the experience of the creative act & process more than any notions of consistency, logic, restraint, etc. The point becomes much more about uninhibited transmission & psycho-sensory enthrallments of energy, and a lot less about hitting meticulously sculpted and weighty conceptual bulls-eyes. I’m sure there are other ways that frequent proliferators think about their activities. “Just for the heck of it” or “why not?” are also fine enough reasons to create and proliferate on a constant basis. Most any act of creativity and the subsequent dissemination of its resulting energies I would think of as a net gain for the universe, myself included, -as long as it comes from a genuine place within the creator. Each creative act has its own trajectory through the world once the creator sets it loose, and the more creations an artist instigates she/he becomes more likely to transmit intended energies and/or cause reactions. Do I have to subject myself to every creation by Dr. Noisemaster Guy and every one of Dr. Noisemaster Guy’s preposterously numerous bastard projects, sometimes several of them being born on the same day? No I do not, and neither does anybody else. Do I have enough cash flow to be able to keep up with such artists’ output? No sir or ma’am. Even if I did, I probably wouldn’t. That’s just me, though.

Returning back to my lurking cynical thoughts, that part of me expecting a decline in prolific ol’ Ashtray Navigations’ quality was wrong in this case. They can do no wrong, yet. This collection of 10 tracks proceeds logically from more recent Ashtray Navigations recordings with its usage of sparse electronic rhythms and continuation of their special flavors of psych improvisation. Many of the weird -almost campy at times- rhythm loops and percussive sounds are mixed in at strange levels which subvert expectations of foreground and background. The mix is often somehow creatively off-balanced, perhaps by something as haphazard as mic placement. This characteristic, and the various distinctive choices / limitations of effects, filters, and electronic sound sources make up the present-tense archetypal Ashtray Navigations bouillon. With this basic formula, they travel into different dreamy territories alight with frenetic, painterly guitar shadow-play. Phil Todd’s guitar is usually there amidst the various clouds of texture, unassumingly cavorting with uninhibited gestures. The voice of his guitar, when present, is always clear and confident but never approaches self-importance.

To mention and highlight a few specific pieces:

“Quite Village” has a playful bossa-nova plus Can plus Faust plus Ralf-and-Florian Kraftwerk sense about it, which is of course slathered in AN’s skittering guitar noise-melody and textures. This piece is a folk-stomping psychedelic campfire zone-out based on Les Baxter’s “Quiet Village”. Fun and energetic. There are some textural pieces here on this album that do not have such apparent guitar presence. One such piece, “A Dustprint”, is focused on synthesizer textures. There is some fantastic deep feeling exploration within Tangerine Dream or Vangelis-like territory, but with a distinctive subconscious-mind-movement grit and abandon. The warm tones of the synths echo out into a delayed-out space amidst fizzing and rumbling textures. An arpeggio comes in near the end, tying the piece up sweetly with a solid dose of rhythm and suggested melody. “Crawiling to Zero” is a dark synth drone piece which achieves different but similar goals. Another of the sort of touch I enjoy so much about Ashtray Navigations’ work is the inclusion of misc. field recordings and/or found sounds (See the beginning of the release, Tristes Tropiques). At the beginning of “Seventies Concorde Proboscis” we find what sounds like some seagulls recorded from a boat dock, which then cross fades into some intimate video arcade ambience. This is an enjoyable left turn, which provides variety, some extra perspective and headspace for the album. Aspects of some sampled rhythms and sounds on “The Banian Tree” remind me of some very early recordings by SPK, Cabaret Voltaire or Zoviet France. This track evolves to bring out some heavier synthesizer action with unapologetic arpeggiation which is paired gracefully with idiosyncratic lo-fi drones, textures and freeform guitar. The album overall has a lot of creative mixing going on as well; heavy use of panning occurs on many tracks, along with much filtering and effecting of performed sounds. The words on vhf’s web page for the album sum it up nicely, “Phil Todd and Melanie O’Dubshlaine essay a kind of guitar-and-electronics exotica with burbling rhythms, Heldon-like laser guitar leads, field recordings, synth racket, etc.”

From the perspective an admitted fan and follower, this is a thoroughly enjoyable further deposit of Ashtray Navigations’ creative research. It also would make a good introduction point to A.N. for any uninitiated and curious enjoyer of experimental psychedelic music. When these Ashtray Navigations people finally screw up maybe I’ll notice, and maybe I’ll deliberately forget about it.

Listen below and/or BUY HERE.