Your Flesh Magazine

Issue #22

This was the last issue of Your Flesh that I wrote anything for; certain aspects of my life kept getting in the way, and it was time to move in a different direction. Still, it had been an illuminating year, and much was accomplished, during the time I had been involved with the magazine. Looking back,no regrets. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat. Hell, I might even make one or two of the same mistakes, just for old times’ sake.

Elsewhere in this site, there is an interview with David Yow of The Jesus Lizard that also appeared in this issue of Your Flesh; those guys were always a blast to hang out with. Other interviews that appear elsewhere in this site – Kim Deal of The Breeders, and Fugazi – were originally slated for Your Flesh, but Pete passed on both, basically saying he didn’t want to use the names of the artists to sell the magazine. Subsequently, those pieces appeared in later issues of The New Puritan ReView, which I had continued publishing while working for Your Flesh. Occasional reviews ended up going from one publication to the other as well, depending on deadlines, column space, etc. Never once was there a conflict of interests between what I did and what Pete did; we each had our own thing to do, and we minded our own businesses, as it were. At the end of the day, it was simply the end of the day.

Amanda By Night
Meet The Emperor 7″ EP
Side project for Superchunk bassist Jim Wilbur – make that the lighter side; garage-variety pop with a slightly somber tone at that. Production fares so lo-fi it’s almost perverted. This is far less aggressive than one might expect, with leanings toward the cutting edge via an almost sinister abrasive quality not hinted at on the band’s 1989 debut single. The guitar sound here is fuzzier than Wilbur’s alter-ego bombast, the songwriting decidedly quirkier in a manner seldom flirted with since the last exodus from Manchester. Interesting variation on the big-sounding, clanging of acoustic-oriented rock that’s been happening as of late; in a more convincing manner than so many, and a lot more charged up. An unexpected lure into aural dementia featuring twisted ’round vocal harmonizing and loco-motivated six-string clatter, equal parts eerie and catchy as heck, like the dark ain’t nothin’ to be afraid of. Kind of cool actually, you think you’ve got something like this pigeonholed and then they sneak up under yr skin like they’re the forerunners of the whole indie scene. Apparently this is the group’s format of choice – there’s a new one on the way at this very moment – but methinks an album would better reflect their diversity in a much wider scope. Still, they could do a lot worse than to continue surpassing their own standards, as they’ve done here. [Susstones]

The Darkside
All That Noise LP
Slinky seductive basslines slither their way into a swarthy and sensuous sashay of wah-wah ear candy, coupled with deadly precise snare murmurings, and it’s all you can do to avoid being sucked into the mesmerizing sway of The Darkside’s hypnotic weavings. The phoenix emerges from the ashes of transcendental time travelers Spacemen 3, chillingly encapsulating the melodic edge of that group, yet reshaped into a soulful outpouring of lithe moodiness and anticipation. Possibly the smoothest offering from this lot since their initial outset—or any offspring thereof—recycling tried-and-true elements of R&B along with a spectrum of “psychedelic” phrasings that come off as breathtakingly fresh in these lads’ nimble fingers. This is an album full of subtle irony, from every chakra-clenching heartbeat rhythmic hook to the very last knee-jerk snare shot. “Noise” is anything but, and serves furthermore as a substantial primer to essential pop formula – without most of the attitudes, in this case. Pure soul food. [Beggars Banquet]

Fluid Mask
Flesh Sparks To The Beat 12″ EP
What begins as industrial-based disco fodder cuts loose unexpectedly into frantic bone-pummeling torrents of cathartic rhythmic mayhem for its own sake and nothing less. Anyone who has the nerve to admit actually liking dance mixes will work up one nervous sweaty funk over parts of this, and go weak in the liver over other parts out of sheer terror, one would imagine. Drum machine ruckus mates squirming bleeding fuzz guitar with gravel-throated angst, and whatever happens to come out alive does so through no fault of this unholy matrimony. Those who play the trend-by-numbers game are likely to miss the boat completely, and it would be a shame indeed. One of few precious efforts to upgrade the simple notion of “dance” music, which in the right hands is an extremely viable medium in it’s own right. Considering how “uncool” most folks catering to the whole indie thing would blindly tag the whole dance genre, however, this massive 12-incher more than rises to the occasion – integrity and originality intact. A lot more of you probably do dig this kind of noise and are just too chickenshit to admit it. The jig is up with this one. [Vision EP]

Hitting Birth
Hits Of Birth cassette
Myself being of a persuasion leaning towards instruments that are played rather than manipulated; opens up the question as to whether or not manipulation is or is not the method of playing much of the new-fangled technology that winds up designated as “instrumentation’ these days. Mostly it all sounds to me like excerpts from news programs, voodoo rituals, natural disasters and someone else’s vinyl grinding to a bloody halt under the thumb of the new left. Evil being re-directed to serve any purpose still remains evil; in this case, as with so many angst-filled sampling noodlers and would be expressionistic terrorists, it merely falls flat, a few goosesteps short of it’s own unfulfilling legacy. There’s been enough of this pseudo-beat[box] racket surreptitiously pumped out of every suburban nook and cranny to make me wonder if some folks aren’t trying to do to guitars, etc. what the CD industry has been doing to vinyl for the last five years. Not that I’d wanna hold my breath waiting for an answer; some clever lad with a sampler would more than likely try to capture the sensation with a similar flurry of pieced together Krishna chants and military sound offs to the melody of a slowed-down rap rhythm, and in our desperation for something pure, we’d have to re-invent the pan flute or something. [P.O. Box 4112, Portland, OR 97209]

H.P. Zinker
Beyond It All LP
Hans Platzgummer & Co. are able to create some very intricate mind weaving melodies, although it seems that since the band ditched their drum machine, the songwriting has become a bit more dazed and confused. There’s something about the pressure of unrelenting technology that forces creative minds to either ride the cutting edge or abandon ship; once they’ve crossed the lines of obscurity it’s just never the same. Now that H.P. is a full-fledged band, the overall sound has surrendered to traditional rock clichés, dynamics notwithstanding. This is a group that can create moods through delicate texture and spin them around until you’re ready to tear your hair out, without batting an eye. I understand they got bored with their earlier sound, that’s their right. Unfortunately, I don’t know if trading it for a sound so mass-produced already is going to make much of an impression on the ears of eager listeners everywhere. I wanted to like this record, but the sad truth is, there are so many records being made by so many mediocre groups, it takes something truly outstanding to really make its presence felt in the midst of it all. Since I already know-that this lot can make at least one decent record – their 1989 debut LP, …and There Was Light was an emotional masterpiece – I wish they’d stick to the premise of the original line-up and just let fate decide the rest. Trying to manipulate the natural course of events is only likely to bring ruin upon their heads. Such a fate seems undeserving to a group who can actually outshine the pack, but thus far seems content to merely keep up with it. Time will tell, I suppose. [Roughneck]

Jesus Lizard
Goat LP
Like their reptilian namesake, this lot scampers across the waves rather than moving with the flow or resisting its gravitational pull. Jesus Lizard continues to break new ground as purveyors of innovative filth, expounding further than ever before on a well-scratched surface of minimal tension and harmolodic rhythm. The fourth vinyl outing from this band of wayward Texans reveals an upbeat edginess merely hinted at previously. Guitarist Duane Denison moves away from the patented cyclical acid-blues riffing which earmarked the group’s earlier recordings, opting instead for a threadbare tension of split-harmonics and a heavily distorted barrage of augmented funk-albeit Southern fried. David Sims’ bass stalks these tunes like a serial killer bent on leaving a trail; always remaining one step out of reach while maintaining a tight grip on your spleen. Relative newcomer Mac McNeilly expands on the established primal thud theory, chopping up natural rhythm like a combine and gracefully letting beats fly like a fleet of Ninja stars. Vocal mercenary David Yow, who could have been named for his tireless larynx suffrage, remains in a class of his own invention, spitting out tales of woe and deviancy like so much of last night’s phlegm. In case you’re still clueless, Goat is an aural panorama of delight and disgust, pulled taut one moment by a sinewy thread of riveting terror and suspense, shattered into an ear-splitting cadence from hell the next, suddenly and without warning. The Jesus Lizard have come a long way to establish their credentials as twelve-tone visionaries and perhaps an unlikely Touch & Go super group as well, managing to outpace their reputation where lesser groups would be content to simply fall back on their laurels. [Touch and Go]

Boris Mikulic
Heresy LP
God, when you hear stories like this one, you can’t help but wonder to what degree one’s art is truly inspired by their life, etc., vice versa. Virtually imprisoned in a Yugoslavian orphanage until the age of 12, exposed to the music of Jimi Hendrix upon emergence and immediately spurning the over – commercialization of metal-inspired drudgery; young Boris involuntarily embarked on a personal journey of aural de-mythification. Given Mikulic’s removed cultural stance, Heresy could be considered nothing less than brilliant. Employing self-developed technology and a state-of-the-art approach, Mikulic combines a combination of sampling and instrumentation (how much is physically played, I’m not sure, save the guitars); the only difficulty lies in distinguishing these well-crafted compositions from any number of similarly influenced post-industrial forays, from early “New Wave” robotic pop to current neo-fascistic “House” type funk/rock. One has to question the continued use of such well-worn clichés as sampled female moaning, for instance-what could it possibly represent at this point? A paean to women? A love song? More exploitation? Mikulic has obviously developed a keen technical prowess, but his first solo recording makes no attempt to separate his idea of “composition” from an over-saturated glut of club dance mixes, which is an incredible irony for a man who has lived his whole life just for the privilege. [Caroline]

Reign Sanction
Broc’s Cabin LP
“Sub Pop!” “Produced by Kramer!” The truly trend-conscious among you know by now how accurate the whole name-dropping shebang is, eh? It don’t apply here, bub. Refreshingly non-characteristic of the label’s more ‘typical’ output, not to mention a galaxy removed from the producer’s “normal” habitat, Broc’s Cabin defies any categorization which may be implied by its locale. A journey through the past that careens and swoons inside a delicious sonic stew of wah-wah heaven and disparate vocal damage, this LP dares to come across as one of the more uplifting psycho-folk-countrified-garage type slabs o’ wax to plop itself down between my ears in a …er …dinosaur’s age. This sizzling substance rocks ‘n lulls you into an absolute quandary as it skitters mind-bendingly ‘cross yr tattered nerve endings, leaving a gaping emotional whirlpool in it’s wake. The bad news is that the advance cassette has the whole damn album on both sides, so there’s been no real incentive for me to remove it from my Walkman in about a month now. Mind-altering as an acid lullaby, and twice as potent. [Sub Pop]

Terminal Cheesecake: Meathead
b/w God: Car First 45
A tried-and-true concept to be sure – a singles club whose releases consists of two bands covering each others’ material. Yeah, it’s been done before [and what hasn’t?] but I daresay with less imagination in pairing of groups, for starters. I’m not about to spill the beans right here, you’ll just have to write the good folks at ClawFist and find out what time it is. Those of us caught spinning this little gem can presume it’s late enough as it is, otherwise we’d be tremblin’ in our boots at sounds such as this spits out. The trance-inducing wallop of Terminal Cheesecake rips through yr gizzards like a chainsaw, ably wielded by the similarly notorious God. Brutally commercial by nature, although I wouldn’t expect to hear it reworked for Muzak in the near future. Hordes of of buzz saw guitars nonchalantly trample potential production to shit, and that’s the good part… Terminal Cheesecake on the other hand display such a healthy dose of sophisticated uncouth and heavy-handedness you’d think they wrote the thing themselves, and if that sly sporadic tribal pounding don’t leave ya with a slipped disc, nothin’ will. Chainsaws this side, plenty sharp too. Both sides’d provide an insightful and amusing soundtrack for film clips of natural anatomic disasters; kinda the aural equivalent of kiddie morning TV for grown-up baby boomers. Pay up. [ClawFist]

Various Artists
Hard To Believe [A Kiss Covers Compilation] LP
Still they keep a-comin’. Covers LPs, that is. I dunno, if this was gonna be real tribute to Kiss, the whole thing would’ve consisted of Alive-era material, in which case most of the groups featured here would’ve had more room to strut their stuff, as the latter-day material suffers from lack of originality or enthusiasm, and can hardly be considered representative to begin with. Go ahead and crucify me, I liked the early stuff; by the time the second live LP came out, the band I grew up with had vanished entirely – even before the make-up came off. Of course, the inclusion of some of the groups on this compilation make it a treat regardless; thumbs-up performances by Melvins, Skin Yard, King Snake Roost, and Nirvana lend the whole idea a bit more credibility, as these groups at least capture the sheer energy that allowed the original Kiss to exist beyond their greasepaint. What’s really “hard to believe” is that a tribute such as this one contains so much insubstantial filler, both in choice of material and convincing performances, as though the novelty itself was more of a motivator than capturing a classic 70’s rock legend in their prime. With the sole exception of the above named groups, this package only serves to further unmask the band one more time. Best to let sleeping dogs lie, in this case. [Psi-Sex]

Various Artists
Psi-Sex 14 cassette magazine
“All songs are the same song, and they’re all about love and loneliness” [ – Beautiful Losers]. Yeah, and all groups are the same group, only I’ve not a clue what they’re on about, in this case. Editor D.C. Lee and several cohorts apparently do this on a regular basis, so you can look for a new release every three months or so, if you’re willing to pay the price. The “groups” featured here do carry their own individual thumbprint identity, so on that basis you could probably ascertain that there are at least a few constant themes throughout this unusual audio documentary / sound track to detached living. Wheat is a standout contributor to this particular “issue”, possessing [possessed?] a quirky and whimsical interpretation of world events such as the Berlin wall and Presidential lineage, against a minimalist patter of neo-wave synthesis. Beautiful Losers get backhandedly cerebral on the listener, offering such nuggets of sage advice with a dead friend, not to mention a reverent butchering of a Leonard Cohen classic. The second side of this lengthy audio ‘zine carries the most weight in terms of the Avant-Garde school of composition, and goes so far as to include a melancholy serenade by Lisa Carver [a.k.a. Suckdog], which definitely rates points in the “something for everyone” dept. A little editing and reassembling would make the difference between spectacle and spectacular, but still not beyond intrigue, especially to purveyors of the creative fringe. Might wanna ditch the sleeve’s bondage pix though, as no real purpose is served by their inclusion, and only points at cheap sensationalist interest, which contradicts the flow of the thing as a whole. [Psi-Sex]

© J.Free / Your Flesh; 1991; 2022

Here are a bunch of reviews I contributed to Your Flesh:

Your Flesh #19 Your Flesh #20 Your Flesh #21 Your Flesh #22