Saturday, October 27, 2007
SPOTLIGHT :: CRANK STURGEON
It feels good to finally update this thing and what better way to do it than with some reviews of the wacky dada-riffic noise and all around fishiness we've come to know and love from everyone's favorite contact mic abusing man-fish... Harpswell, Maine's CRANK STURGEON. CRANK has been recording and performing live since 1992. He also hand-makes his own line of super reliable high quality contact mics (of which I own 2). Check out www.cranksturgeon.com to learn anything you'll ever want to know about CRANK STURGEON and life in general. Exactly 2 months ago CRANK sent me a package containing the following...
NOVASAK / CRANK STURGEON - split CD-R (Swamp Of Pus)
NOVASAK starts this CD off right with a blistering track called "Right Hook to the Jaw", a nearly 7 minute excursion into contact mic'd funkiness and white out distortion. His second track sounds to me like a feedback loop improvisation. It covers a decent amount of ground but doesn't hold my attention as much as the imploding factory sounds of the first track and at 12 minutes it runs a little long. CRANK's first track, "gilituz-n-gha (meme)" brings the mood back up with a discombobulated mess of terrifying vocals, stereoriffic cut-up percussion, and intense carnival sounds. "For Hucket - Keep Her Limber" starts off a little more restrained but soon devolves into the clanging percussiveness and burping distortion CRANK STURGEON is known for. At 4:54 the distorted madness of the track gives way to a feedback tone that is so high pitched it's almost inaudible. My dog woke up from his nap with a terrified look on his face and tried covering his ears, no shit. The last track is a mail collaboration between NOVASAK and CRANK STURGEON. It's an interesting mixture of found sounds, spoken word, and junk noise randomness. CD comes sealed in a nice blue envelope with 2 full color inserts. Contact Swamp Of Pus for price and availability... www.swampofpus.com.
CRANK STURGEON / DENNIS NASLUND AND THE SUICIDAL ACCOUNTANTS - split c62 (The Terrorists Win!)
The beginning of "Protein Bliss" has me convinced that CRANK STURGEON is the TOM WAITS of noise. Maybe it's the awkward sense of humor that comes through in his music, maybe it's the old man crankiness of his voice, or maybe I'm full of shit. "Protein Bliss" is an expansive 31 minute noise epic in nine parts. CRANK pulls from the usual bag of tricks (absurd stream of consciousness vocals, random instrumentation, and beyond distorted cut-up contact mic fuckery) but is somehow still able to absolutely captivate the listener. I mean really, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. DENNIS "the pink boxcutter" NASLUND (TTW label dude) has been kicking around the Portland, OR scene for a while now. On this release, he and 3 friends drop exactly 31 minutes of slow paced, thick & crusty, lo-fi as fuck noise. Vocals creep in occasionally as do some cheesy samples drenched in um... tonality but the bulk of this recording is dominated by syrupy distorted mush. I'm really digging the lo-fi brutal-assault mentality of it all but 31 minutes is a long time to keep this going, especially after the emotional roller-coaster that was "Protein Bliss". Tape comes sandwiched in between two card-stock "certificates of death" (from 1927) stapled together with a full color insert. "No really... thank you"... www.theterroristswin.cjb.net
CRANK STURGEON - "Bark King Haggard" c15 (Barfing Dagger Recordinds)
This release looks super nice. A standard tape case containing a clear c15 with a printed label on each side and a handmade insert wrapped in a beautiful piece of xerox art, the whole thing wrapped in a piece of binder paper with a child's (I'm assuming) magic marker drawing. Sound wise it's classic CRANK... crunchy, choppy, original noise that is absolutely gripping in it's absurdity. A big factor in CRANK's sound is the use of stereo panning and here he uses it to it's full potential. I love this shit and the fact that it's only 15 minutes long means that you can squeeze it in whenever you need a quick fix of spastic, schizophrenia. Limited to 47 copies... myspace.com/barfingdaggerrecordings
NOGGIN / ERIC BOROS / CRANK STURGEON and ID M THEFT ABLE - split CD (Manufracture)
Wow. Here's an interesting release. A real pro-pressed CD split between three different veteran artists. Bellingham, Washington's NOGGIN is the duo of Michael Griffen and Eric Ostrowski playing violin and guitar respectively. They've been improvising together as NOGGIN since 1993. Theirs is a very busy, meddling sort of free improv full of string brushing and scraping. These 3 tracks are probably my favorites on this CD. NOGGIN wouldn't sound completely out of place on John Zorn's Tzadik label though they might be a little noisy for the bulk of the Tzadik crowd.
France's Eric Boros (one half of the duo, VIALKA) has been here and there playing noiser musics since the early 90's as well. His track, "Noise Wakame" is a mash up of a bunch of live excerpts from his 2003 Japan tour. He employs everything from effected voice and electronic crackle to contact mic'd bong rips (that's what it sounds like at least). At times it sounds like CRANK STURGEON in slow motion. Because this track is made up of several recordings I found it a little disjointed and difficult to get into. It's an interesting listen but it still doesn't really come off as a fully engaging piece of music.
The CRANK STURGEON and ID M THEFT ABLE track is a live radio collaboration recorded for WMPG FM in Portland, Maine. It's hard to tell who's doing what exactly but I don't think it really matters. "...A Still Summer Evening's Border Crossing Impaired (w/ Stolen Almanac)(It's Probably the Beards)" is an exercise in complete oddball randomness. I would have loved to have been there when they performed this. I bet it was hilarious. What does it sound like? Well imagine if you will CRANK STURGEON in all his fishy glory. Now get some other weirdo who can do a dead on impersonation of CRANK STURGEON. Now get both weirdos going at the same time. It's fucking crazy right? Yeah, it's kinda like that... www.manufracture.net