Big Plastic Finger – “Launching The Tone Arm” (Starry Night Records 2012)

Big Plastic Finger is the New York City based quartet of Bonnie Kane on saxophone, flute and electronics, Scott Prato on guitar and electronics, Brian McCorkle on bass, vocals and electronics, and Mark McClemens on drums. I had previously known of Mark from his time in the late great space rock band Born to Go. And Bonnie and Scott have been in a laundry list of bands that occupy virtually every point on the psychedelic-space rock-garage-jazz spectrum, including The Brian Wilson Shock Treatment, who also have a new album out (review posted shortly after this one). I have fond memories (over a decade ago now) of seeing Born to Go at the old Strange Daze Space Rock festivals, as well as Bonnie performing there with W.O.O. Revelator, and Bonnie and Scott with World Of Tomorrow.

Launching The Tone Arm is an intense set of improvised Psychedelic Jazz Funk Space-Noise-Core jams. Characteristic of what’s to come is the opening track, Winnebago Man, a tripped out cacophony of saxophone, guitar, bass, drums and manic alien electronic effects. The bass sounds like Bill Laswell did on those wild 1980s experimental rock-jazz-funk albums, and the guitar has a Beefheartian sound. But the whole is a free-wheeling but intense spaced out free-jazz-psychedelic garage rocking jam. The roller coaster ride continues on Things We Don’t Want To Admit Are True. I love improvised music where each musician is seemingly off in their own realm, yet it all gels together seamlessly. Bonnie free-jazz jams on sax, Mark pounds away on his kit, Brian’s bass rolls along and you can feel each note deep in your chest, Scott is cranking out a variety of interesting and contrasting rock and psych patterns on guitar, and it’s all happening in a gorgeous noise-festie glom. Finding A Good Use For The Growing Pile is another cool free-jazz and space-noise-punk-core jam. I like how Scott plays a slow bubbling guitar solo against the ultra-intense noise party that’s blazing away, and Brian’s vocals add to the psychedelic freakout aspect of the music. Ditto for Assembly Of Presence. I like the contrasting combination of Bonnie’s wailing sax and Scott’s guitar which is creating psychedelic effects and soundscapes, but also rocking out. The effects are like a massive alien invasion, and the rhythm section is ROCKIN’. Low Together (Worm Forward) is another standout which opens with a rocking combination of jamming flute and funky psych guitar. After a few minutes Bonnie switches back to sax, we hear some manic vocals, and the electronics go supernova again.

The two sides of this vinyl LP (digital download also) clock in at nearly 45 minutes and listening to the entire album left me drained. This is really intense spaced out rockin’ stuff. Highly recommended to people who think it would be fun if John Coltrane, Captain Beefheart, Guru Guru, Material, Massacre and F/i could all play together as one band.

For more information you can visit the Big Plastic Finger web site at:
Purchase the vinyl LP and digital downloads at the Big Plastic Finger Bandcamp site:
Bonnie and Scott also run Starry Night Records, which stocks both new and used vinyl, much of the used stuff being collectable:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Comments are closed.