Walls Of Genius - "Raw Sewage, Vol. I" (self-released 2003, originally released on cassette
Walls Of Genius - "Ludovico Treatment: Music To Cure Your Ills" (self-released 2003, originally released on cassette 1984)
Little Fyodor - "Idiots Are Closer To God" (self-released 2001, originally released on LP 1990)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: January 2004
Here we go with more reissues from Little Fyodor and his 80's band Walls Of Genius (WoG). We've got lots of Walls Of Genius this time, with a best-of set and a 2-CD reissue, both originally unleashed on the world as cassettes during 1983-1984. I also got a Walls Of Genius bio this time so I'll share with you that the core of the band was the trio of Little Fyodor, Evan Cantor and Ed Fowler, the latter two having played in an earlier experimental punk/new wave band called Rumours Of Marriage. The liner notes indicate several guest participants, and Walls Of Genius notably released 30 cassettes through 1986, either as Walls Of The Genius the band or as a label. Clearly stalwarts of the 80's homemade music underground!
On Raw Sewage, Vol. I, WoG once again treat us to a mixture of assorted rock music, avant-garde free-improv, and drunken (I hope so anyway) basement party antics. The free-improv stuff is varied, though a standout for me was "Making A Deal With The Druids" which includes a cool combination of dissonance, pleasant melody and freaky sounds. As far as songs go, WoG can be completely insane or semi-serious. "Red Meat/Throbbing Earthworm" and "I'm So Glad" are classic examples of WoG's sillier side. The former features seriously raw guitar chord bashing and completely fucked up vocal insanity which conjured up some pretty scary images of what the scene must have been like recording this. At first I thought "I'm So Glad" was a Cream cover, and it may well be. But the lyrics are hysterical and the guys were obviously yukking it up as they recorded it. Ditto for the country fucked "Red River Valley" which is a riot. Though far less insane, I was chuckling at the humorous spoken word on "Murderer's Nightmare", which is actually pretty cool against the interesting percussion. One of the Genius' is a dead ringer for Leon Redbone on "Long Tall Women". We get a taste of Reggae pop on "I Want To Be A Jamaican". And "The Massacre" is a cool little tune that's a mixture of Space Rock and James Bond.
There are also a couple of lengthy tracks that show the jamming side of WoG. "Kristin Called" is a 13 minute raw rockin' basement jam with lots of strange, spaced out and mucho fun electronics. I like the oddball combination of funky electric guitar and synth weirdness. And after about 9 minutes the guitar decides that the synth is outdoing it and goes into feedback laden acid freakout land... and the two are finally in harmony. At nearly 20 minutes, "March Of The Lost Wormsouls" is... let's see... I think I'll call this garage-prog. It's got that lo-fi basement feel, but the music and arrangements straddle the line between progressive rock and free-improv. Lot's happening here. We've got jamming guitar, electronics, and flutes that sound like Sun Ra doing his Nubians thing. There's a main theme that plods along, but it does gradually evolve and things get nicely acidic and spacey. It's raw stuff indeed, but oodles of fun and there's lots of imaginative and elusively sophisticated music to be heard.
Ludovico Treatment: Music To Cure Your Ills is a 2-CD reissue of a cassette release from 1984. CD 1 is a single 47 minute track that features WoG's more experimental sound collage interests. The disc opens with a wandering space wave, percussion and voice samples of kids playing. Various bleeps and burps pop in which adds a playful video game feel to the proceedings. I enjoyed the part where a little girl tells a story while the video game synths dance about, mommy offers a kid a graham cracker, a marching band is going on the television in the background, and table-top percussion encourages the electronics to groove. And amidst all the noodling we hear a lot of really cool electronic space bits, some of which reminds me of what Alien Planetscapes were doing around the same period. And it's all quite fun when combined with the kids screaming, whacky bleeping synths and whatever strange shows happen to be on the television.
CD 2 follows in the same exploratory avant-garde vein, the opening 25 minute track being a highlight with lots of quirky noodling sci fi sounds, cavernous space atmospherics, and oddball voice samples. It's an interesting mixture of serious deep-in-space soundscapes and sound sample zaniness. Just imagine a collaboration between Tangerine Dream circa 1973 and the Residents (lots of Eskimo influences to be heard here) and you'll get something like this. This is pretty cool stuff. A high kosmiche factor but with a solid sense of humor. The other lengthy track on CD 2 is quite different with WoG taking us on a visit to a construction site or machine shop where jackhammers and other industrial strength tools are going full blow... but later in the piece seeming to do so at an intentionally designed rhythmic pace. Interesting.
And now it's time for more FUN FUN FUN with Little Fyodor himself. Idiots Are Closer To God is a reissue of a vinyl LP originally released in 1990 and includes 17 of Fyodor's well crafted songs of silliness and dementia. A lot of territory is covered on this album in a mere 36 minutes. We go from the retared, head bopping, and slightly stoned psych groove of "I Don't Know What To Do", to the ultra whimisal "I Believe In God", and on to the soulful Blues of "Everybody's Fucking", all in a 3 song succession. Fyodor's cover of "This Diamond Ring" is hysterical, though I can just see the sour look on ‘ol Gary Lewis' face. "Sister Schizo" is one of my favorites, being a riotously fucked up Devo alien fuzzed out dance party trip yer brains out number done up in Little Fyodor's unique style. "Coffee Dump" and "Happy People" are rockin standout tracks that feature some kick ass ripping shred guitar. And as the album progresses, despite the zaniness you can't help but notice how solid much of the musicianship is. Overall a fun set of creatively zany songs.
For more information you can visit the Little Fyodor web site at:
Email at: email@example.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Little Fyodor; 3277 Raleigh St; Denver, CO 80212-1707.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz