who is lance? joe murray on odie ji ghast, thf drenching and the damian bisciglia mystery

January 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 1 Comment
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Odie ji Ghast & THF Drenching – Angy is You (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.321, edition of 50)

Damian Bisciglia and Friends – Volume One: The 1980s (CD-r, Ri Be Xibalba)

Damian Bisciglia and Friends – Volume Two: The 1990s (CD-r, Ri Be Xibalba)

angyangy 2

Odie ji Ghast & THF Drenching – Angy is You

There’s no lead-in or gentle border zone on this crispy disc.  This one heads straight for the sweet meat right from the get go.

Ultra-soprano & goof-scat-artiste Odie ji Ghast (relax: it’s the very proper Greta Butikute in an all-in-one moth-suit) goes

ohohohooo

and

ah ah ah ah

on it like some Ono swallowed the Auto Tune.

THF Drenching (resplendent in matching orange) uses the Dictaphone to tap into and release a very peculiar energy this time, it’s very thin and metallic and flexible like an iron garden hose… on it!  I think it smells a little of voodoo… more on that later.

They duo it all together, bringing hot jazz chops of their very own making.  I’m a man of the world; I can picture Blue Note doods sucking a tooth at this lot.  But, make no mistake this is as Charlie as it is Mingus, as Gerry as it swerves into the crew-cut Mulligan.

But, as ever, the placement and setting of simple voice jaxx and Dictaphone (with the occasionally snippet of daft field huff) is all important.  These jams seem to move to different corners of the room.  At one point the haggling ‘la la’ from Odie comes from the ceiling above the door.  At others Drenching is accompanying on dog-toy and feedback-whine from behind me.  I’m pretty sure we don’t have cinema surround-sound secreted about the place so the next logical assumption is that this is bloody witchcraft.

Like that Wanda Maximoff they freak with the fingers casting slow-release incantations.  At first I’m lost in a high-pitch snitch-jam, next hippy guitar thrums and the deep Manc burr of THF mutters ‘choreography’.  There’s more than one way to haunt a guy.  I got your number!  Plant that dancing suggestion then steal my pumps in the night… or something.

The whirl of pinch builds up and up and up until the sound palette is a wash of the finest cool blues and sea greens, incidentally making this a perfect kayak record.  And that’s before the closing Inuit twist sent me off as happy as an otter.

OJD & THFD… Just ‘on’ it.

db outerdb inner

Damian Bisciglia and Friends – Volume One: The 1980s

Damian Bisciglia and Friends – Volume Two: The 1990s

These two mysterious discs plopped through my door with no note or nothing.  The return address quotes one ‘Lance Lincoln’ and the tongue-wrenching cipher ‘Ri Be Xibalba

It’s a rum do for sure.  Opening up these plain discs I see the name Damian Bisciglia and am instantly reassured.  I’m sure readers will be aware of Damian’s impressive, inventive and essential discography along with the tragic facts of his recent death… no need for me to go into that here.

These two compilations of Damian’s work are split into two decade-long chunks; the 1980’s and 1990’s and highlight his huffing and puffings with Dinosaurs with Horns, Points of Friction and all manner of short-term, one-off, knee tremblers with an assortment  of gawky-goons (Adam Bohman, Joseph Hammer, Rick Potts, Tim Alexander etc).

I slip the silvery 1980’s disc in first and I’m gently spooned by some vocal hi-jinks (‘The Gods Speak…) that although being clearly labelled as germinating in January 1981 could easily be a Skatgobs or Noize Choir joint coughed out last week.  The soft blubbers and whispers start to form into almost-words and then decay with each syllable rotting internally like an over-ripe fig.  The similarly structured ‘A-E-Ahh-O-Ewh, Closed-Eye Baby Swiss’ has a logic straight outta the South Coast poetry scene.  This is so damn ‘now’ sounding it’s scary.

The instrumental pieces take a leaf out of Martin Denny’s book and go for that exotica feel but rather than a tacky Tiki Bar we’re pulling up a pew in a domestic diner or campus bookshop.  Whip-smart ideas float between plucked and rubbed strings or pittery-pattery percussion.  A music box tinkles for a while; tape loops float like smoke rings, snippets of field recordings (a bus transfer station?) are overlaid onto the ticking of a tin box and rubber drums.

The tape-collage is never far from your shell-like and shorter pieces like ‘Do You?’ and ‘Balloons’ get in quick, do their thing and fuck off leaving you with a grimy ear-worm as rich and itchy as golden river silt.

Suitably warmed up I place the 1990’s disc into it’s snug laser carriage.  The decade between these recordings seems to have smoothed things – a little like when the tide polishes nasty glass fragments into beautifully scuffed sea-green pebbles.  The ‘Excerpts Of Various Improvisations’ might sound pretty self explanatory yeah.  But what you can’t pick out is the magpie-like pick and approach: pinch and then a peck, a dribble then a dash.  I’ve always been a fan of this approach to music making since hearing The Faust Tapes at an impressionable age and sort of wondered why all music wasn’t made like this.  Sure thing Stevie Wonder, write a song if you have to, but don’t expect me to listen to it all in the right order man.

But the bulk of this 1990’s affair is made up of humble experiments on turntables, guitar and zither.  Simple ideas are played out in real time… again this ‘single-approach’ style is another notch on my bedpost and a welcome sorbet to the sonic blancmange that assaults me on a daily basis (especially at Christmas).  It’s focused and precise but allowing enough elbow room for dropped cues, fumbled skips and relaxed smears to make my wee brain pulse with a sickening ‘bada-boom-bada-bing’.

The closer ‘Improvisation On Wire Mesh Sculpture’ becomes a ‘whammo’ from a Batman fight scene; primary and bold, right between the eyes with a wonky smile.

The programming of these discs is wonderful with a reliance on clear placement and thoughtful juxtaposition.  There’s not no attention-seeking noise or dumb macho splutter.  It’s essentially a sound-diary being opened at random for sure; but with this Pepys of this freaky-invention you get a Great Fire on each page.

OK… so you’ve read my spiel.  I’m hoping you feel informed and curious yeah?  But that’s not the end of the story.

As I mentioned before there was something not quite right about the way these turned up so I checked out the Ri Be Xibalba site.  There’s no mention of these discs at all!  I manage to find a (fairly well hidden) contact address for Lance.  I dropped him a line and, the next day a puzzler appeared on the in-box…

Who is Lance? I run Ri Be Xibalba as a one man operation and my name is Eric. I have never heard of these CDRs until yesterday. Apparently whoever did this is sending out copies for review, but I can’t find anything else about them. I don’t understand why someone put my label name on these releases.

Curious eh?  Me and Eric corresponded some more and it seems like someone has gone to great lengths to make these recordings look as if they have come from Eric and his Ri Be Empire.  With label mates like No-Neck Blues Band and Sun City Girls it seems like a comfortable home for sure.

Copies were sent to the one-and-only Frans De Waard who wrote it up in his Vital Weekly (1012) and me and, who knows who else?  Eric points out that ‘Lance Lincoln’ is some Buffy the Vampire Slayer character so that slaps extra egg on my face!

So what next?  It seems like these are genuine Bisciglia recordings and as such deserve a wider listen.  What’s beyond question is that this is some good shit and I think you’d like to hear it.  But how?

Will the real Lance Lincoln please step forward.

I guess I could just put them on the Internet Archive or something and let people make their own minds up.

Hey, we’re a collective Hive Mind right.  What do you think my most supple and reflective reader?

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Ri Be Xibalba [Editor’s note: yeah, I know, but where am I supposed to link to in these weird circumstances?]

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  1. BISCIGLIA UPDATE: Top Bisciglia scholars have confirmed these are genuine DB soundz originally sent to a few friends inside a ‘cassette creation’ way back. I’m no further forward working out where they came from but at least I know its no faked-up juxx. More news as I get it…


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