Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 34




Well, this year’s EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL came off in grand fashion. We even got some (good) press, which you can view at There were a few complaints (mostly from th’ “punk” community) about “too much jazz, not enuff punk”, & that kind o’ thing – but in th’ overall view, we think it did more than just “carry it on for another year”.

Zzaj music has suffered a major blow, in that my long-time musical pal Harlan Mark Vale (aka Kramtones) hit th’ dusty trails fer’ Arid-zona, & left me in a bit of an emotional lurch… we’re still in close touch, though, & I expect he’ll make it back up ’round this way for next year’s EXPERIMENTAL festival.

I’m still truckin’ ‘pewterz ’round th’ state, right now putting them in Native American tribal libraries. Aside from th’ travel, couldn’t ask for a better job – & it looks like it’s gonna’ stay SOLID for th’ next year or two.

Hope you’ll all help us keep this ‘zine alive by gettin’ out there & TELLIN’ (all) yer’ friends that this is a publication worth reading! Guess that about wraps it up for this issue. C’ ya’ NEXT time ’round!




Rotcod Zzaj









Joe Fleury: BIDOCHE MUSIQUE – A hometaper all th’ way from Switzerland. Joe sent this in after reading a copy of “I.N.” (all th’ way over there, eh?). Spoken word over top of some interesting bass/synth lickz’. He’s a 4-trakker from WAY back… alla’ way from ’86. Joe calls his poetry “hyper-realist”; I get th’ impression that label comes from th’ (somewhat) “dark” shadings of th’ music he puts under, over, around & thru his words. ‘nother English-mun in a foreign land, it seems. Last one we made close contact with was David Zax, over in Taiwan (wonder if he’s still around – haven’t heard from him in ages). There’s some similarity, tho’ Zax seemed to be more “folk” oriented than Fleury… much more symphonic influence here. This is interesting, tho’ it demands that you not allow any distractions. You must be INVOLVED in his phrasings to get a real sense of th’ mood he’s painting for you. Gets a RECOMMENDED! Contact at Dailles 22, 1752 Villars Sur Glane, Switzerland, via e-mail to, or check out his website at Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Olson: Electronicat./Square 2: Beautiful “white hip-hop” (on parts of this tape) in from our ol’ home-taper pal Jeff! He’ll stay outta’ touch for a year (or so), then pop right back up with some absolutely ASTOUNDING sounds! Some pieces on the “Electronicat” side of this C-60 that are percussively reminiscent of Jacky Ligon & crew (from many MANY years ago in D.I.Y.-land)! I was lucky enough to get to play with Jeff on a coupla’ tapes 6 years back (or so). There are sections on here that remind me just how much of a compositional genius Mees-ter Olson iz’! Luv’d his playin’ then, luv it STILL! One thang thatz’ always stood out in Jeff’s work is his true understanding of the fact that music otta’ be FUN! Well, this SURELY is fun… for th’ listeners as well as th’ playerz’. Ranges all th’ way from that “hip-hop” phunky fun I alluded to earlier to voiceovers to pretty orchestral beauties! For those who want a taste of what D.I.Y./experimental music can be (at it’s best), this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 2510 3rd St., N., St. Cloud, MN 56303, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Glass Candle Grenade: THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE – Trish Thompson’s lead vox on these 6 lil’ toonz’ will BLOW thee roof off yer’ music room… ‘specially when ya’ play this L-O-U-D (like I did – had th’ neighbors screamin’…) J Crisp rhythmic & percussion underpinnings by Robert Hafken provide a (really) stable reference point for yer’ dancin’ digitz (& that lead git-ar (Rick Dalton) on “Scream & Shout” will have ya’ RAWK-in)! This go-round seems to be much better recorded & more lyrically solid than “Debut Re-Release” (which was a fine piece of work, too), reviewed in these pages a while back. This “rocket’s” gonna’ hit th’ TARGET & make GCR take off like a V-2 invading th’ night skies! Watch OUT for this group, ‘specially if yer’ get OFF on solid R&R. ‘nother H-O-T-lanta band! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer. My fave piece was “Everchange”, a scorchin’ lil’ hop-skip ballad! Contact at POB 48743, Atlanta, GA 30362, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Bill Anschell: A DIFFERENT NOTE ALL TOGETHER – Well, folks, if yer’ wanna’ hear wot’ good straight-ahead jazz is all about, you won’t wanna’ MISS this wonderful & refreshing CD. Anschell’s keyboards are lion-like, ya’ know, he’s like th’ KING of his jazz jungle. What’s so wonderful about this lil’ 4-piece (five, when joined by Rick Bell’s tenor on two of the cuts) is that he doesn’t devour his mates, though… first piece, “E.B.’s Dream” (an Anschell original) opens with his great chops, then bows out gently (albeit powerfully) to th’ grand guitar of Scott Sawyer, all th’ while complimented by Neal Starkey’s solid (but phunky) bass & Woody Williams great drums/percussives! Several originals by Bill make this a clear standout for me! One of the HOTTEST pieces is “Crabbin'”, & a big part of it’s attraction for me is Rick Bell’s SCORCHIN’ sax! BEST jazz I’ve heard (yet) this year! Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who love to hear a piano player who (clearly) LOVES what he’s doing! This one is a MUST HAVE! Contact at Blow Hard Music, 2396 Woodacres Rd., Atlanta, GA 30345, via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Esteban: ENTER THE HEART – If your psyche is DOWN, & you’re lookin’ for something to lift your spirits, this wonderful instrumental collection will hit the mark! There is also a wonderful cultural blending that brings together Esteban’s flamenco stylings with eastern musical influences, most notably on “Blue Lotus” (on which he also plays a beautiful sitar)! This is NOT “just another flamenco” album (not that there’s anything wrong with that, either)… what makes it stand out is the intriguing and near-mystical integration of musical inspirations from across the globe. While this CD is grand (and original) enough to merit a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for music lovers (of all persuasions) everywhere, I would imagine that being witness to one of Esteban’s 300 musical performances a year would be even more magical! This is just GREAT music! Contact at Creative Service Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, via e-mail to or at his website at Rotcod Zzaj

R. Carlos Nakai/Nawong Khechog: WINDS OF DEVOTION – You must be centered and focussed to appreciate the artistry of these two wonderful players. I’m not inclined towards heavy “religious” experiences, since I believe that American churches are primarily a malignant outgrowth of Madison avenue. Carlos and Nawong weave beautiful (though often sad) sonic tapestries that will make you wonder how it could ever be possible for men to perpetrate the kind of disgusting atrocities upon each other that are (daily) going on in Europe. If the world is to be healed (?) it will be through music like they play. Creativity abounds, though not at the frenetic pace of today’s favorite FM station. You will be instantly relaxed (as I was), no “lead-in hype”, simple cover design on the CD jacket – it’s their MUSIC that conveys the inner peace they have! This is the first native American/Tibetan combination I’ve heard (this year), & it gets the PICK of this issue for “best healing” music! MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at Creative Service Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, via e-mail to or at the website at Rotcod Zzaj

Antigravity: BOOGIE FOR HANUMAN – A quote (from Charles Ives) in the liner notes of this CD was most impressive… “Beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ears lie back in an easy chair”! Warren Senders is one of a small group (of Americans) that has strong interest in Indian classical music. Blend that together with influences from American jazz, & yer’ gotta’ boogie that will stand up with th’ BEST of ’em! Tabla & Bansuri are mixed together with violin, cello & drums to form a very unique soup indeed! The rhythmic elements are what shine, but this kind of music also imparts the group’s keen interest in high energy as an (almost) unstoppable medium for love. If you listen closely enough, you can hear strange snippets of Irish fiddle tunes surfacing as well. World music without the pretense! This (probably) won’t be for everyone, but it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer. Truly inspirational, a suitable challenge for the “ears” of most folks! Contact at 1168 Commonwealth Ave., 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02134, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii Orchestra: SOUTH WIND – Improv in a “big band” setting (15 pieces, to be precise). This is MOST interesting for my ears, point/counterpoint, as (my own) experience tells me that it’s usually difficult getting a quartet (even a trio) to improvise together. The highlight of this entire album (for this reviewer, anyway) is the together aspects of the compositions, while it’s clear the players have been given (nearly) total latitude to add their own interpretations and shadings to the overall orchestral experience. I’d think this would be especially difficult to pull off in this large-band setting, but they’ve DONE it! Is it improv? You BET! Would I buy it as a gift for my (very American) mom? Doubtful! Is it accessible? (Probably) only for those with some degree of adventure in their blood! Is it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED? Without question! Contact at 1168 Commonwealth Ave., 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02134, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Jliat: 9501 – This artist, from the U.K., sent several of his CD’s at my request, after I reviewed one a couple issues back. Many will find this difficult to listen to… it may (at first) sound like “drone” music. My attraction to it (when it’s well done, as it is here) is the intricacy and subtle expression of pattern that can be heard when it’s really listened to carefully! Primarily organ-based, the overtones that emerge are the key, methinks! Now, it’s true that you wouldn’t play this for th’ local ladies Bridge club gathering (or whatever it is th’ local ladies are in to) – this is music for private listening. The organ starts off in a particular flavor/direction, & just sort of moves forth from there (albeit slowly, maybe even “methodically”) to ever so slight changes – which often lead back to the beginnings. While this is not for the “average” listener, those who enjoy the contemplation of the oceans of space will agree that this is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 13 Wells Rd., Walsingham, Norfolk NR22 6DL UK, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Marsh/Michael Zerang/Jack Wright/John Berndt: THAT NOTHING IS KNOWN – Except that th’ intent is to “know” what that unknown is, thru th’ intimate discovery process that improvised music can be. My ever-so jaded earz’ are attracted almost immediately (after the intro, wherein th’ beginnings of th’ process evolve). This CD is 2 continuous sets recorded live on John Corbett’s “Radio DaDa” program, which should be a dead giveaway for th’ type of music(s) you’ll find here. High-energy improv, with SUPER efficient use of silence and clear spots. Wright’s saxes (alto, soprano & tenor) are indeed a compliment to th’ eerie sounding vocals (can’t exactly call them spoken word, since they’re more like th’ clearings of th’ throat I’d imagine Martians to make) Bob Marsh provides. Michael Zerang does some very interesting twists & turns on percussion, & Berndt provides unique (and very colorful) contrasts to all of this with various reeds & homemade electronic feedback systems. Is it “avant-garde”? Surely! Is it “truly accessible”? Only for the MOST jaded & adventurous earz’… no reason to shy away, though, because for those who want something DIFFERENT, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Jack Wright has been on th’ improvised music scene for years, & (along with th’ other members of this quartet) clearly demonstrates his mastery ( and love) of spontaneity! Contact at 2732 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21218, via e-mail to or on the pages at Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Cochrane: THE PUREST OF DESIGNS We were fortunate enough to get in on Steve’s first couple releases (reviewed a couple issues back). “Designs” is his latest release, & it’s a SMASH hit in this studio, after only 2 listens. In a coupla’ words? GRAND! Glorious! Inspiring! He’s taken his mastery at composition and clear vision of how beautiful the world can be (when you have the right view of it) and turned his ideas into music that will bring the JOY back! The opening piece, “To the Glory of Man”, takes me back to a time when everything I saw was new, exciting and full of adventure. This is my favorite orchestral piece in the last 20 years! He’s added some wonderfully shaped vocal backgrounds that carry his music to even greater heights than on “To See It Made Real”. Steve’s own lead vocals are in a class by themselves – precise, yet warm and emotional. You won’t want to miss this CD – it’s MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & gets our “pick” for 1998 in the “most inspirational” category. Contact at 6230 Starfield Crescent, Mississagua, OT, Canada, L5N 1X1, via e-mail to or on his website, Rotcod Zzaj

Rick Bell Quintet: WAR HORSE (and other stories) – You may remember seeing Rick’s name in this issue a little earlier (in the Bill Anschell review). As often happens here in Zzaj HQ, members of Bill’s group who had their own CD’s began sending ‘em in as soon as I e-mailed Bill with his (p)REVIEW of what I’d written for his CD. As I said in that review, Rick is a sax player with some H-O-T licks! Well, as you might imagine, there’s (qiute) a bit more emphasis on th’ horns on Rick’s CD. Anschell’s piano is still featured, but the compositions (nearly all originals) let th’ horn players (Rick’s sweet tenor & Bob Lewis’ throaty trombone) have a lil’ more room to show off their skills. Full interplay, no “hogging”… I’m listening to “That’s Close Enough” (third time around) now, & it’s very segmented, in th’ sense that there’s room for everyone; th’ kind of jazz (playing) I love. If you love jazz that hearkens back to th’ “good ol’ days” (you know, music with GUTS), this will BE a CD you’ll jus’ HAVE to get! Comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this reviewer! I’m not (quite) sure where th’ “WAR HORSE” theme came from, ‘coz th’ liners were (just) a bit minimal. Contact at 1882 Edinburgh Terr. NE., Atlanta, GA 30307, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Tin Tin Abulus: DEMO SAMPLER – This little tape is in from a Philly band who are most impressive with their improvs. There are spots that remind me (strongly) of old Sonny Sharrock groupings, especially from the standpoint of “high energy”. A five piece ensemble for madness, this won’t be palatable to those who want to hear “The Carpenters”, or “The Five Freshmen”. It’s easy to hear why these volkz’ have gotten chances to play movie scores as well as live improvisation sessions, though. Heavy east coast flavors, nothin’ laid-back about ‘em… some o’ that pent-up “Baptist” frustration comin’ out in th’ fingers? Better’n warts, verzure! John Thomas provides HEAVY bass underpinnings for roundelays that can’t stop once th’ movement ensues! Intent is crystal clear (to those of us who do somethin’ with our music, anyway), no hesitation or phakin’. This group comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all who are bored with AM/FM (& most fare in Tower shops). Contact at 723 S 16th St., Philadelphia, PA or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Kevin Z. Slick: TRAVELER – Zo, yer’ burned out on all that improv, hard rock & great experimental music I’ve recommended to you over the last 5 years or so, right? Ready for a taste of self-styled folk-rock with a lil’ slower pace & a lot of lyrical content, right? Well, look no further. Kevin has been making his own music for several years now, & production values (not to mention the great feel he has for making a song that will immediately open your heart) are among the best I’ve ever heard. His acoustic guitars are played gently, but with very distinctive phrasings, & it’s clear that he’s comfortable enough with his music to make it unpretentious and (totally) inspiring. Slick’s music will lift you OUT of whatever drudgery you’ll allowed yourself to slip into, & make you realize that life still holds mystery and attraction – in th’ simplest of events! Some great music here, “Traveler” gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, for sure! Contact at 6 Rose Valley Rd., Rose Valley, PA 19065, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Wakeup Call: 12 COLD ONES – Even dozen on this CD, & it RAWKZ! Tom Carpenter’s leads jus’ KICK, volkz! Strong percz’ from Chris Spizziri, & Rich Leib’s bass don’t slouch inna’ least lil’ bit! There are sections where I thot th’ drumz’ came across as a bit too “mersey beatish” for this hard-rock style, but that’s completely acceptable in th’ overall. If yer’ lookin’ fer’ music that’ll get yer’ UP off yer’ duff – GET this group. Chicago based, this trio has what it takes to get yer’ blood POUNDING! Alzo, itz’ not just straight-ahead 4 banger stuph for bar after bar… they’ve got some pretty neat (chord) changes in there, & (seem to) know a whole lot more about music than they might admit to! I’m not sure maw would be too thrilled with WAKEUP CALL, but I enjoyed ‘em enough to give ‘em a RECOMMENDED! Contact at 2134 75th Court, Elmwood Park, IL 60607, on their WWW site at or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Alex de Grassi: THE WATER GARDEN – If you’re an aficionado of solo guitar music, you’ve likely heard this gent’s name before. Creative Services Company sent this one, & we’re REALLY glad they did! Alex’s inspiration for the music on the first & last cuts was the massive rains that hit northern California during the El Nino season – you can (literally) HEAR th’ rain falling. There’s no doubt that de Grassi is an astounding player, but if you haven’t heard his music before, you’re in for a listening treat beyond compare. Many others have tried to imitate his full-bodied playing style, but there’s no comparison – the highs and lows, as well as the percussive accompaniment will amaze you! I’ve enjoyed his playing for many years now, & know that you’ll agree instantly – this rates our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED recommendation. A groove you’ll wanna’ get in! Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Anthony Wilson: GOAT HILL JUNKET – Not sure I’m terribly impressed with Anthony’s title for this H-O-T lil’ excursion into NYC (Wilson arranged) big-band jazz turf! Don’t let that detract (in the least) from getting yo’ hands on this one, tho’… if you love jazz that SPEAKS to your moods, you’ll embrace this one in just seconds. Anthony’s guitar is crisp & clear (but not at all overbearing), and well balanced with the other 9 players. Several original comps by Wilson, my favorite being the lead-off piece, “W-2 Blues”… Mike LeDonnes’ B-3 lends a funk air, but without “taking over”, thanks, I imagine, to Anthony’s intiuitive arrangements. First look at Wilson (on the back tray cover) makes me think back to the late 60’s – frizzy haired, with great big nerd-lookin’ glasses, this fella’ just looks too “out” to be playin’ solid jazz like this. Which just goes to show you how important it is to LISTEN before you pass judgement! Somehow, Anthony’s innate sense of how to paint a jazz portrait supersedes any “corners” you might want to paint him into. This is a superbly crafted CD, bound to become a classic, & SURELY a keeper! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & the PICK of this issue for “best arranged & played jazz”! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Joe Parillo: MORNING IN THE GARDEN – What a change of pace this CD is from the last one we reviewed by Joe (issue # 29, called “Block Island Summer”). This sounds much more laid back, sweet jazz fer’ a Sunday mornin’, like Joe says in th’ title. Different players, different style altogether. It’s really nice to hear a shift like this from a player who you already know as excellent in one format. Simple 3 piece this time around, with Nick Cudahy’s bass sounding much like Ron Carter at times. The entire experience is beautifully complimented by Mike Connors’ drums. The feeling that comes across here is comfort! It’s clear that these jazz ballads are right in a groove for all these players, & that they’re comfortable with each other’s directions. Makes it SO much more pleasant for the listener when that kind of love shines through. As you might expect, it’s Joe’s piano that is featured on all these tracks (9 pieces, to be exact). If yer’ lookin’ fer’ “jumpup” jazz that makes you rawk-all-nite, you’ll need to move on to other turf! Imagine yourself in the most beautiful garden you’ve ever been in, surrounded by trees, flowers & gentle breezes… then picture Joe on a little stage right in the middle of the garden, interpreting the beauty that nature provides. You’ve GOT it! Now, to make your summer (& the years ahead) complete – GET THIS one – it comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who crave silky piano jazz in gentle flavors! Contact at Ginny Shea Mixed Media, POB 20568, Cranston, Rhode Island 02920, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Duhart/Katz: THE BRANDON PROJECT – This is a most enjoyable little funk/r&b style CD, in from Crib Notes Records. Want to give them credit for a well-produced trip (for me, anyway) down th’ roads of nostalgia! This brings back memories of those “soul picnics” we used to have back in the mid-to-late ‘60’s. Ya’ know, layin’ out on th’ back lawn with all th’ bros’, snorkelin’ sum suds & talkin’ bad ‘bout rednecks & crackerz’. Snatches, stylewise, of “O’Jays”, “Supremes”, even some faint images of th’ “Temptations”. Sweet soul music that (at the time) seemed revolutionary, but lyrically was SO innocent compared to th’ punkish, crack-ridden (c)rap we hear so frequently today. This is MUCH fun music, make ya’ feel like things are GREAT! & it’s that great feeling that brought a LOT of us (black & yellow, red & white) together during that era! For any who can remember th’ sweet times we had, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at Cribnote Records, 11333 Moorpark St., #373, Studio City, CA 91602, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Moodroom: MOODROOM – This self-titled CD would be hard to “pin down” if you hadn’t heard it yet. CD cover gave me an impression of some kinda’ “new age” (desert sky background did it, I guess), but itz’ a RAWK-er! Inserts are sketchy on band info, & I’d rather know a lil’ more about th’ group – BUT, itz’ th’ music that counts – & if yer’ in thee mood fer’ some GUT wrenchin’ ballads, simple-pleasure basic 4 beat stuph, this’ll fill th’ bill. Music’s not so intense that it’ll shut you down in th’ first 8 bars, & they obviously enjoy playin’ together. Featured vox by Stef Magro are a highlight, & that’s not to slight Mike Wolpe’s bass, Jay Hardin’s keys, Trevor Sloan’s guitars, or Sean Saley’s drums & percussion. Sounds like a “starter”, tho’ without liners or bios, I’d be hard pressed to be sure on that. “I’m Not Crazy” is my favorite piece! Gets a RECOMMENDED, especially if you’re in need of somethin’ ta’ rawk on down th’ road with! Contact at POB 21548, Washington, D.C., 20009, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Dale Thompson & The Kentucky Caddilacs: TESTIMONY – D.T. haz’ been here before, can’t remember how long ago… Christian-based big-band rock, with a strong flavor o’ Hammond (organ-isms). Seems a little more blues-influenced this time ‘round, but that’s nothin’ ta’ be ‘shamed of! This boy’s got that biz-nezz of arrangement down PAT, & hiz’ vox are S-T-R-O-N-G (they somehow remind me of Catfish Hodge)! I’m not sure how Dale (& crew) got away with bringin’ these HEAVY blooz-rawk influences in to their Kentucky environs without arousing th’ ire of th’ local fundamentalists… but, somehow they did it, & if you love punchy kick-budd music (with totally unoffensive lyrical explorations into his religious preferences), you’ll LOVE this – I did! 10 very heavy-duty songs that’d be great to drink a 6-pack to, wax nostalgic & remember all th’ good times ya’ DID have! Comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if yer’ want somethin’ (both) inspirin’ & soulful! Contact at 309 Churchview Rd., West Point, KY 40177, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj


Morgan sent this CD of solo contrabass improvised compositional works in to us – & are we glad he did! This will be a “change of pace”, even for the most hardcore of improv-addicts out there… intricate weaves of tasty tonal theories that will leave you (both) amazed and (at times) unsure. &, of course, that’s what th’ intent is… this is NOT music that can be “categorized”, or lumped in with some easy-to-recognize “genre”. Purely original works, requiring concentration and focus (for both player & listener). Select a Sunday afternoon when all’s totally quiet, no chainsaws rippin’ down trees, & set yer’self down for a sonic oddesy into unknown galactic territory. This kind of intricacy can ONLY come from a personal involvement with the music that most folks (& artists) can only dream of! For those who live, eat & breathe improvisation, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I would recommend, Morgan, that you attach SOME kind of titles to your pieces on the next effort… “Composition I, II, II”, somehow detracts from th’ great artistry you’ve assembled here, eh? Contact at 2424 E. 11th St., Oakland, CA 94601, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Latin Zucchini: DEMO – Full C90 demo tape in from this Pennsylvania 6 piece group. Gourd, this reminds me SO strongly of summa’ th’ lil’ groups I started out with (in another life it seems) back in Kane/Warren! Th’ demo suffers (unfortunately) from pretty lo quality sonics, but th’ heavy horn influence still comes blastin’ through. Think for a moment of th’ early “Blues Brothers” stuph, & you’ll have a pretty good idea of where this is comin’ from. Kinda’ rawkin’ blooz’ you’d be hip-swayin’ to at th’ local roadhouse between Kane & Bradford, eh? Just th’ kinda’ group you’d expect to see in that lil’ roadhouse, too! Fun & bouncy is th’ most apt descriptor. Plenty of high energy, too! Like to hear their first full-length high quality tape or CD, to get a better idea of th’ REAL sound! Not BAD for a demo! Contact at RR 5, Box 572, Altoona, PA 16601, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Jupiter 88: JUPITER 88 – Unit Circle Rekkids owner Kevin sent this in, with a proclamation that this was a truly NEW venture (sonically) for th’ label! Man, he was NOT kidding! Spoken/sung word in a duo from Boston formed by Darla Villani & Michael McDonald. This is a joint release with a new label out of Boston called SubSonic. A marriage made in (sonic) improvisor’s heaven, the music on here is strange because it uses common forms (including – but not limited to – opera, trip-hop, electronic loops & more standard rhythmic formats) to explore new ways of expressing musical feelings. Darla’s pieces (she does most of the vocal work) are haunting without being terribly specific (almost like some of the X-Files episodes). This is one of those thangs that will draw you back again & again! You know, just TRYIN’ to get a CLUE as to that “hidden” meaning in th’ lyrical/musical combinations. Th’ sort of music that’s destined to DEFINE new pathways in music… & lawd knows, we NEED more of that kind of creativity in these days of drivel-rap & tired rawk! “For The Sake of Flying” is my favorite piece, a beautiful composition that is both orchestral & ballad-like! If you want music that’s FRESH & TASTEFUL – get THIS! Comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… & also gets the PICK of this issue for “most creative music”! Contact at POB 20352, Seattle, WA 98102, , or to Subsonic via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Armen Chakmakian: CEREMONIES – Former keyboardist for “Shadowfax”, Armen has given us some unique (musical) insights into his Armenian heritage on this beautiful CD. He integrates skillful keyboard talent with gypsy-like guitars (in the flamenco zone, but not quite as intense), latino influences & other traditional sounds from all over the world into a truly tasteful sound that comes close to jazz (at times), but maintains it’s own identity. If you’re looking for heavy improvisation, this won’t be th’ road to travel, since the music is more in the arena of “composed”. If (like me) you have fond memories of Shadowfax, you may think that’s what you’re going to hear; not so, even though there are several players from that group joining him. The high point of the album for this reviewer is the clarity of his musical vision, a talent much needed in music today. High energy, adventurous, & not at all like much of the “new age” genre – no “listlessness” here. Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer, especially those who yearn for beauty in their musical experience. Contact at Creative Service Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

AthFest ’98: COMPILATION – As a documentary of 19 Athens, Georgia, bands in this local music & arts festival (16-19 July 1998), this is better than th’ average “comp” CD. Sound recording is far above thee norm, & there are some pretty H-O-T rockin’ groups on here. Some hard rockers, near metal groups, little bit o’ ballad stuph, but no “sweet Georgia blooz”. It was nice of th’ artists to donate their tunes (i.e., not charge for ‘em), & that (in itself) merits a notation, ‘coz it’s often hard to get that kinda’ cooperation. OTOH, this is nearly stripped of th’ same kinda’ energy that, say, th’ “Woodstock” album had. Somethin’ just doesn’t set right (with me) when there are this many groups together, & no “mass vibe” comes out of it! Mebbe’ I AM “getting’ kranky” in my old age, dunno’, but this just doesn’t “grab” my aural attention. Prob’ly ‘coz I wasn’t there live, in on th’ action & sweatin’ th’ beer out ‘long with th’ rest of th’ crowds, I reckon. There’s some FINE music on here, but it would’ve jelled better for me if there were some crowd sounds – you know, some indicator that people were there, partyin’ their azz-off, don’cha’ know? Still worth an inquiry to POB 327, Athens, GA 30603, or e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

John Sosnowski: TAEDIUM VITAE – Another plateau reached & time to move on to th’ next mountain. Broca’s Area, which is John & Mike DeLaney, have been favorites of mine ever since I started (in the late ‘80’s) to correspond with home tapers & D.I.Y. artists. This tape has a subtle thrust, percussion driven, that will sorta’ “sneak up” on you. You won’t even realize you’ve been taken over by that alien force until you GET yer’ “dee-vorce”. Having played (in collab) with these two gents, I usually have a pretty fair idea of their intentions/directions; which is what makes this music so attractive to me… it moves in different phases, shifting soundscapes that carry YOU to new heights… hell, you’ll be able to jump MOUNTAINS when attentively listening to “Vitae”. Keep on spinnin’ ‘em out, boyz’… this is GREAT music, gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for ANYone into something new/fresh! Contact at 1819 N. Fifth St., # G-116, Niles, MI 49120, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Blacklight Braille: CARBONEK – Our friend Ashley reviewed th’ last batch that came in from this group (several months back), & she just LOVED ‘em. I wasn’t quite sure on the intro piece, ‘coz it sounded like a lotta’ group grope yakkin’ kind o’ thang that had lil’ ta’ do wi’ music. In th’ cut immediately after th’ intro, they break into a very musically inclined piece with some NICE guitar riffin’ goin’ on (sorta’ “down under” th’ rest, which makes it even more attractive, ‘coz ya’ have to really LISTEN to hear their directions). Since this is Goth-based, I can cut ‘em a little slack, understanding that they have some lurking need to be tellin’ stories (that interrupt their great music), but on “Carbonek”, itz’ just TOO much. Right in th’ middle of a buildup (you know, dirge, story, dirge with more energy, more story, lil’ guitar, more story, etc., etc.) they’ll break some TOTALLY good music with th’ storyline. This continues until cut 6 (there are 17 total), at which point th’ music (& some GREAT nature sounds, like storms, thunder & lightning) pervades. Th’ lead guitar is th’ highlight here, at times (literally?) bringing forth th’ fires of Hades! When they stick to th’ music, this is sup-er-b-i-mus… it’s only when they get too caught up in th’ religious diatribes that they detract from their true abilities. Gets a RECOMMENDED for those who love Gothic music. Contact at 5825 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45216. Rotcod Zzaj

Milli Bermejo & Dan Greenspan: DUO – What a sweet change of pace this lil’ CD is. In from B&K Communications, this (eighty percent) Spanish-language CD features Milli’s sugary vox against Dan’s deep double bass. Many of th’ toonz’ are at a ballad pace, with some hot scattin’ mixed in. If you only have eyes for rapid jazz, this won’t be yer’ cuppa’, BUT th’ energy levels are still high, ‘coz it’s plain this duo enJOYS what they’re weaving for you. It’s especially nice for a laid-back Sunday morning, sun just rising & birds chirping. Greenspan’s bass reminds me a lot of a Seattle-based player, David Friesen – just BEAUTIFUL! Though I don’t understand (a word of) Spanish, catching that undercurrent of Latino rhythm just sorta’ came naturally! This duo were a perfect match for each other, & this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those with a taste for Latin-based jazz; & especially for those who understand the Spanish language. Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Ken Clinger/Tom Furgas: AMBIENT MIX – Two legends in th’ underground/D.I.Y. tape community of th’ ‘80’s/’90’s paint bright aural pictures with their vox/percz/symphonics. Anyone who lays claim to being “up” on th’ hometaper network just HAS to know these names, or you should suspect some kinda’ skullduggery. This outing opens with an astoundingly beautiful combo that uses simple percussive elements (& some guitars, presumably from Tom) melded skillfully with e-z keyboard frameworks to create pleasure for yer’ aural appendages. This is turning out (rather quickly) to be one of my favorite Ken Clinger works (& I’ve listened to about 100 of ‘em by now). Composed rather than improvised, many of these pieces remind me of what a leprechaun forest must sound like in Eire somewhere; just those kind of melodies. For those who want some music that will be both inspiring and relaxing, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 311 Stratford Ave., # 2, Pittsburgh, PA 15232-1108, or via e-mail to Ken at Rotcod Zzaj

Jaws Of The Flying Carpet: ETHNIC ALIEN TURKEY NOISE – J.O.T.F.C. is one of our favorite bands, has been ever since Zalnikor & I first hooked up (many) moons ago! With names like Oool, Babajoon, Dragon Soowing & The White Ape (for the players), you can (just about) imagine that they’re quite able to live up to their long-lasting credo of “ugly music”. This was on (what I presume to be) Canadian Turk-ee day, & th’ j-sheet cover indicates that it’s to “give thanks we don’t play too often”… J A totally twisted kinda’ R&R, turnz & directionz you’d never take in yer’ “normal” thought, this is music that will leave you (pleasantly) disturbed & wondering when they’re gonna’ sign th’ papers for yer’ visit to th’ sanitarium. Zalnikor & crew have been at this for (literally) decades now, & they get more ripe with each outing. Heavy blooz’ influences on this one, less of th’ jazz directions they seemed to be exploring on their last tape. Expect it has somethin’ to do with th’ “atmospherics”, or th’ local herbalizations! Anyway ya’ listen, it’s GREAT improvised thrash, almost Gothic in places! For those with “jaded” as their middle name, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If yer’ anywhere near “normal”, see yer’ M.D. first! Contact at 6397 Glenn Knolls Dr., Orleans, OT K1C 2W9 Canada Rotcod Zzaj

Kevin Slick: TOWING JEHOVAH – We’ve reviewed quite a lot of Kevin’s music (tapes) over the last 3 or 4 months. Many of those experiences were rooted in folk music traditions, & classics in that genre. It’s always very pleasant for us to review an artist who stands out in their endeavor(s), but even more so when they send music that breaks from one genre & moves in another direction. Kevin sent this tape in (perhaps) to show th’ diversity & skill he has in areas other than th’ one he’s recognized for. Well, folks, “Towing” is PURE pleasure. Synth-based ambience with a flair & a total sense of what will “catch” your ears & emotions. I’ve spun this tape (in the car mostly) about 15 times now… it’s the kind of music that is universal & timeless – BUT, not th’ “boring” kind of that ilk. You can’t lump it in with “new age”, or any other comfortable little corner yer’ mind might like to stick it in. This is original music with heavy symphonic overtones, lots of strings, but little nuances that (often) take it out of that “comfort” zone many want to be in. It comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener willing to explore & enjoy new sonic turf! It gets the PICK of this issue for “best ambient creative efforts”. Contact at 6 Rose Valley Rd., Rose Valley, PA 19065, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Fuglewicz: CREEPING JENNY – Our longtime friend Dave lives (now) in Roswell, GA (or so th’ label sez’ – I’m wonderin’ if it wasn’t really Roswell, NM; ya’ know, where those ALIENS began their infiltration), & makes tapes that are (both) inspiring and challenging! This is not music that will set well with traditionalists, or warm th’ heart valves of those who want “normalcy”. Sounds wash over your ears in waves of soaring splendor, perfectly suitable for a sonic Rorschach test in th’ early morning sun! Actually, tho’, this would be better listened to about 5 hours before that, just as midnight begins to bring Jenny outta’ her closet! This tape (& most other compositions by Dave) is not of th’ “screech&screem” variety, more like a sound tsunami that will quietly wash over your persona & mold it into something new & “hex-citing”. I LOVED this one – it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially those with adventure in their ears! Contact at 360 Sheringham Ct., Roswell, GA 30076, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Glenn Stallcop: DREAMCATCHER – Glenn & I hooked up (somehow, can’t remember) via e-mail… perhaps it was in a dream? That would certainly fit the theme of his latest CD. His beautifully improvised solo piano is accompanied by liners that imply the music he does sorta’ “played itself”. I can certainly understand that, as (most of) the music I’ve ever done came across that way. The difference here is Glenn’s SOLID musical foundations! Purist arguments aside, improvised music is SO much better when performed/composed with solid musical “roots”. Thick & rich as a keg o’ “Samuel Adams dark lager”, his compositions will astound & please your aural appendages, in a very relaxing fashion… maybe even stir YOUR dreams. Be sure to keep THIS by th’ children’s beds… with as much trouble as th’ world has hounding it these days, it will make THEIR dreams much more creative & pleasant! This is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & you should GET it! Contact at 13842 South 36th Place, Pheonix, AZ 85044-4545, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

The Bell Rays: LET IT BLAST – There’s summa’ you kid-eez (& prob’ly a few ol’ phartz’, too) who can’t remember th’ wave of excitement we G.I. Joes (like I wuz’ back then) in th’ mid-‘60’s felt when we heard those first strains o’ Hendrix floatin’ ‘cross th’ channel from Britian… or th’ absolute phroggin’ RUSH we got (mighta’ had SOMEthin’ ta’ do with’ th’ substances that wuz’ floatin’ ‘round ‘bout then, too) when we first caught Janis Joplin (or Tina, fer’ that matter) gettin’ out & jus’ KICKIN’! Well, lemme’ tell ya’ volkz’, you DON’T wanna’ MISS this group! Don’t care how old yer’ are, how damned rooted in yer’ ways… this music has th’ same potential to CREATE energy as those way-early groups did! & how appropriate it is that it’s creepin’ up ON th’ millenium. Just when this tired-ol’ rap world & all it’s music-less energy is about to make th’ radio-waves nuthin’ BUT drudgery! You listen to Lisa (Kekaula) beltin’ out those SOUL licks on top o’ Bob Vennum’s striding high-energy bass, Ray Chin’s slam-phunk drums or Tony Fates’ RAWK-in git-ar leads, & ‘dem bonez’ll be a-dancin’! Th’ production quality is SUPER high, too, since it’s on CD! Digital destruction, soul slammin’, whatever ya’ wanna’ call it… this is a KEEPER! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as th’ PICK of ’98 for “best rockin’ soul”! Keep on SHAKIN’ it,

Bell Rays! Contact at POB 46100, Los Angeles, CA 90046, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Clay Chaplin: RECENT WORKS – This was (originally) a submission for the 1998 Experimental Music Festival, & got a (perfunctory) review (by Kramtones) in issue # 32, but I decided (after listening back through it again) that it just HAD to be reviewed for th’ ‘zine! It’s one of the first vocal electronic loop things I’ve heard that had enough “content” to merit a second (& now third/fourth) listen. Subtle is the keyword here… compositions that require close attention, but provide rewards that may not be (sonically) recognized for days, months, years! Some would view this as a disturbing set of sonics, but I found it to be a VERY intriguing listen! The vox fade out into a space journey that will haunt & mystify your mind. Many of these pieces also (appear to) have video components associated with them, & we would LOVE to see/hear the whole work(s), Clay. Be sure & send them our way when you’ve assembled them, eh? This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, but only for those with high degrees of “bold” in their blood! Contact at 23424 8th St., Newhall, CA 91321, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Natsuki Tamura: A SONG FOR JYAKI – Perhaps “Jyaki” means “demented” in Japanese. First impressions being what they (generally) are (strong & lucid), th’ cover of this CD (in from B&K Communications) would have led me to believe this to be “wacked”, even for THIS reviewer (flic of Natsuki, head just above th’ bell of his trumpet, looking genuinely wierd)! Th’ music herein requires a definite sense of humor – if you demand somber/serious in your music, this won’t get you far. Some very odd effects (but not electronic) that come out sounding like someone humming along behind th’ notes they play in clear/clean progression. & that’s (prob’ly) not too far off th’ mark, as much of this episode is like that (along with a burp or two thrown in for good measure). After the opening cut, it moves to more solid playing (horny jazz blues in sections), & Tamura shows chops that would make Louis A. jealous (or make him fly TOTALLY off th’handle). I enjoyed this, but there are many folks out there who would find his playing sporadic & turn it off after that first piece. OTOH, those who love improvised music will find a spot (in their ears) for this immediately! Gets a RECOMMENDED for those who can’t do without a lil’ improv! Contact at &K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Rusty Chainsaw: UFO’S OVER DEALY PLAZA – Rusty is actually Bill Nehl, just up th’ road from our fair city (where he recently played his double-neck guitar in a more experimental setting, at this year’s Experimental Festival). After his act, we chatted a bit about styles, improv & such. He didn’t have any of his more experimental works with him, so he gave me this for review (until he gets a CD or tape done that reflects that side of his musical personal, I presume). This outing features his guitar in some outstanding ‘60/’70’s retro/rock orientations. Actually, I thought he seemed much more relaxed in this arena… with toon titles like “Naked Women On My TV”, th’ title track & “Skinny Dippin’ Boogie”, you prob’ly get a pretty good mental image. His vox are strong & well recorded, but th’ most pleazure is derived from his well-executed guitar work! Bill (or Rusty) has a strong sense of rhythm that would make this CD great for a ride through Montana on long flat stretches, if yer’ get my drift. Title track is th’ closest this CD gets to experimental, & it’s still pretty much chord-based. All in all a quite pleasant listen, & if yer’ in th’ market for well played rhythm/lead guitar, this comes with a RECOMMENDED. Deum machine was th’ only part that got a thumbs down. Contact at Rusty Records, POB 4166, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Ernesto Diaz-Infante – TEPEU – Ernesto was in th’ running (seriously so) for this year’s 1998 Experimental Music Festival, ‘specially after we received his submission for that (& reviewed it, of course), “Itz’at”. While the music on this most recent effort is similar in intent, it’s improvised nature makes it VERY different! Strictly solo piano, all original & intimately improvised composition… when an artist attempts something like this, th’ “gods” (or th’ great white whales, whichever you prefer) MUST be with him, because it’s like pulling gemstones out of a black hole. You do it RIGHT, your yield is pure/simple beauty – you do it wrong, yer’ sucked into a vortex of your own pretense of creativity (much like that black hole). Fortunately for us, Ernesto was inspired by the Mayan god (title of the album) Tepeu. Suffice it to say – I’d LOVE to have this god in my corner. Sad, lonely, loving, introspective – th’ entire wheel of human emotion is accounted for. Truly beautiful music that deserves a HIGH degree of recoginiton & support. Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; among the best improvised piano I’ve heard in several years. Help Ernesto in his efforts as an independent musician & visit or contact him by snail at POB 697, Pacific Grove, CA 98950. You can also e-mail him directly at Rotcod Zzaj

Squab Teen: SQUAB TEEN – This CD came in during the Experimental Music Festival submission period for 1998… it was way too late to make th’ cut fer’ th’ initial reviews that appeared in th’ special “fest” edition of this ‘zine. It got revived, tho’, primarily ‘coz Andy (Zzaj Jr., II) just LOVED it. He sez’ it “goes well with computer games (which he’s doing as I write this)”. Lotta’ cut-up loopstuph, percussion based madness that will (either) drive you MAD, or mad yer’ drive! In some circles, this would be called “white-techno-hiphop-rap-i-mus-fartoid”music. In others, it’d be chastised beyond belief, ‘coz it don’t FIT any category. Which is why, despite th’ (fairly) amateur production values, it still gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If yer’ dig music that DEPARTS, that isn’t tired & is a challenging listen – this is for YOU! Technoid bubblegum, combined quite nicely with arcade anarchy (specially on th’ synth parts)! Gourd, letuz’ hope this isn’t TOMORROW! Contact at POB 2114, Metairie, LA, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Duo Og: LIVE IN YOUR BEDROOM – This tape came to us from Rodney Oakes (midi trombone)… Duo Og is Rodney and Igro Grigoriev (guitar). I’m not sure if this captures live performances (or not), but it’s very intriguing, nonetheless! Th’ ‘bone is a “sliding” kind o’ instrument ennyway, & when it’s run in this midi environment, Oakes is able to milk out ever stranger sounds that will have yer’ head twistin’, turnin’, shakin’ & wonderin’. Elements of space music for sure, would be very exciting in a live performance (at least for those who want somethin’ “new” in their musical experience), but there sections where you can hear shadows of good “old fashioned” jazz pokin’ through! I enjoyed this thoroughly (& we’d love to hear more, Og), though some folks will be challenged by th’ combinations these gents pull off. I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, because I think there are enough folks in our readership who would enjoy this – from start to finish! Contact at 2222 South Mesa, No. 20, San Pedro, CA 90731, or via e-mail to Rodney at Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Beihoff: MOVEMENTS FOR AUDREY – Whoever this Audrey iz’, she mus’ be one FLIPPED OUT chik, volkz! Th’ improvised compz’ on this tape were all done (specifically) for the Olympia Experimental Music Festival, & they fit that theme very well. Th’ biggest drawback to th’ presentation (for me) was that while Dave made a nice effort at putting together a suitable j-sheet, he didn’t list any of th’ instruments (I’m assuming guitar and synths) used to lay this down to 4-track. Solid control of his instruments & th’ mix is good. Sections where it sounds very “trekkie-ish”, starchild & alla’ that. Probably would sound better in a live performance mode than just on th’ tape. There are some sections where th’ high-pitched sounds are near “offensive”, would definitely make my ears hurt if I was doin’ this review spin with phones on. Gets a RECOMMENDED for anyone with a lil’ larceny (& even a faint memory of Hendrix more non-commercial sessions) in their heart. Contact at Bridey Records, 1771 N. Vermont Ave., # 203, Los Angeles, CA 90027, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Austin Luminais: PODOBO – Austin hails from Louisiana, where he’s makin’ good use o’ that swamp gas they got down there… inhales a snort or two, sits down at hiz’ synth, & (over)populates th’ airwaves with relentless improvisational madness that will strike even th’most JADED improvisors (count ME in!) as fresh & tastefully wierd. I can (without doubt) see this feller’ playin’ some WONDERFUL backups for th’ bent poetry of John M. Bennett. Aggressive, thoroughly involved and percussion based is my first impression descriptor for PODOBO. You could use this kind ov improv to train about a ga-zillon gators & go out & take OVER th’ world. Some won’t care for his style, because there doesn’t seem to be a great amount of sophisticated electronic trickery, or keyboard mastery… it’s only when you listen back through (second, third & maybe fourth time) that his wizardry becomes apparent. Thoroughly enjoyable listen, comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want a window into what’ll be on FM in 2001! Contact at 4014 Arkansas Ave., Kenner, LA, 70065, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Asa Metric, with J. Zappa: OBJECTIONS – Asa sent this neat little C-60 in. For th’ volkz’ who wanna’ hear a more “straight” jazz improv, nunna’ dat’ noize stuph – please, THIS will be pure pleasure. Asa provides an essential (and vibrant) percussion base for Zappa to wander over nicely with his tenor sax. There are parts of this that remind me of Wally Shoup’s frenetic sax playing, though Zappa seems to have a more “throaty” signature. These folks work exceptionally well together, & sound like they’re totally aware of th’ other players direction. You folks who eat, live & breathe improvised music know that that awareness is th’ KEY element in deciding if an improvised set was worth yer’ time. Well, these two must have ANTENNAE for each other, & th’ playing shows it! This tape comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those listeners who aren’t afraid of musical challenge. Contact at 1966 SW 5th Ave., Portland, OR 97201, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Dan Blunck: IMPROVISED COOL-ECTION – This tape of free-form sax & drum duets originally came in (too late, maybe?) for the 1998 Experimental Music Festival. It’s a concrete example of the inspiration & high-energy that transpires when a significant level of experience is paired with real talent! Dan’s phrasings are full-bodied & he (almost) “talks” with his saxophone. Unfortunately, there were no credits on this particular submission, so I don’t know who was doing th’ percz. Th’ striking thing to note about Blunck’s playing is that (while) there are no compromises, it’s music that anyone with (even a little) open-mindedness can “grok”. There often seems to be a need for those who do improvised music to get so far into th’ “out” aspects of freestyle that they lose touch with what works for the listener… NOT so here! When th’ frenetic parts come natrually, i.e., don’t feel “forced”, it makes th’ experience stand out & stay in the mind. This artist comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 637 N.E. Auklet Ct., Bremerton, WA 98311, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Straylight: STRAYLIGHT – This group’s demo tape features electronic & acoustic improvisation that will carry you to th’ absolute EDGE! It’s not for th’ timid, & those with too much “normal” in their aural appendages need not apply. Th’ liners/promo stuph reflects a strong degree of performance in th’ East Coast/NYC arena, associations with folks like Pauline Oliveros & a generally strong familiarity with “the turf” normally trod by those into free form music. Th’ weave isn’t any wimpy imitation of “new age”, either… th’ electronics & percussives have a definitive role in shaping th’ overall listening experience, & it comes out smooth, clean & interactive (for the listener). I really did ENJOY this material, & think most will agree when I say that it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. This musical journey will be most satisfying to those who can appreciate forms (or lack of them) that help to create new ideas for the listener. A truly GREAT example of what electronic & acoustic instruments can achieve in an improvised forum! Contact at 480 Riverdale Ave., #3E, Yonkers, NY 10705, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Port: CUDDLEBOT STEPS OUT – A local CD in from “Big Brother Ugly”. Very robotic synth progressions, not “stiff” (like a ‘bot), just “driven”, if you will. “Brother Ugly” sez’ th’ Olympia Experimental Music Festival is an event he hasn’t been to before – but surely SHOULD! This is surely (most) representative of what experimental is all about. Vocal overlays weave in/out/under/through in a nicely haunting fashion. There’s some disco influence (especially in the percussion), but that can be chalked up to th’ ‘bot theme, methinks. Some very inventive toon titles, like “The Fax Bomber of Love” & “Mary McCrankhead”. “Port” seems to have a passion for inventive manipulation, & they’ll invade yer’ head if you leave th’ CD on for more’n 30 seconds. This collection of 15 traks gets a RECOMMENDED from th’ Zzaj! Contact at 217 1/2 W. Holly, # 9, Bellingham, WA 98225, via e-mail to or visit th’ WWW site, at Rotcod Zzaj

Chromatic Persuaders: JAZZYPLAST – Self-described as an “improvised parody pseudo-lounge-funk-jazz” band, Doug Theirault’s lil’ group (who played th’ 1998 Olympia Experimental Music Festival) is a wierd excursion down (somewhat twisted) memory lanes. You won’t think it’s Donald Byrd, or Miles, or even Herbie Hancock – but it’ll DEFINITELY leave you scratchin’ yer’ noggin! Bass seems to pervade, strong saxophone, percussion that’d make Blakey cry (dunno’ if that’s good or bad?). Th’ high-energy sections (th’ ones with th’ FUNK) are way more accessible than th’ freestyle. This is a very clear recording, sorta’ caught me off guard in that respect. Nice flute pieces. If you enjoy music that’s FUN – this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. There’s enough “standard” (pseudo) jazz that you’ll be able to groove, though there are certainly elements of “danger” incorporated, too; this isn’t music that leaves you wantin’ more… it’s all HERE awready! Contact Cyndy Chan at 2813 NE 59th., Portland, OR 97213, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Phreeworld: CROSSING THE SOUND – Ask & I receive… saw a newsgroup posting about this group (whose tape we reviewed – about a year or so back) & asked for their newly-released CD. Well, this is th’ way a band OUGHTA’ grow! Production values are WAY up… I mean, they were GREAT when we first listened to them, but this go-round puts me in mind of some of th’ TOP bands of th’ late ’70’s, in th’ sense of overall continuity & flow. Orchestral guitars, vox that just won’t QUIT, & a rawkin’ energy that surpasses most (these days). Imagine “Yes” on ’90’s steroids, with a (musical) body as grand & meaty as Bachman-Turner, & you’ll come close to knowin’ where these folks are comin’ from! Their ballads are a lyrical experience in & of themselves, as demonstrated on “Perfect Prison”, an adventure story verzure! Crystal clear visions that’ll make those sugarplums (in yer’ head) DANCE! If you didn’t love this band before, you will NOW! Seattle-based, but headed fer’ th’ phroggin’ UNIVERSE! Get on their ship ‘n R-A-W-K-on!!! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & th’ PICK of this issue for “most talented rock”. This band is goin’ GOOD places! Contact at 914 164th St. SE., Suite 201, Mill Creek, WA 98012, via e-mail to You can also purchase this CD from their website, at or call at 1-800-711-3627 Rotcod Zzaj

Larry Kucharz: ELECTROCHORAL DREAMS – What a wonderful change of pace this CD was. Larry composes & plays some beautiful orchestral works (all synth-based, including Roland D-50 & Fairlight3) that will place you in a peaceful world you’ll wish you didn’t have to come back from. This is a far cry from th’ “norm” for “new age” today, in great part because Kucharz has that innate sensitivity to th’ listeners’ emotions that many new age players just don’t GROK! All th’ beauty in th’ world will be (totally) meaningless unless it’s portrayed aurally as from th’ heart, & Larry CAN do that! This is actually th’ sequel to an earlier set, “Metachoral Visions” (which we’d love to review – hint, hint!). This is music you can TASTE, savor & come back for thirds on. It’ll be a KEEPER in th’ (extensive) Zzaj collection, & gets our HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, particularly for those who love choral works! Contact at International Audiochrome, Inc., POB 1068, Rye, NY 10580, or via e-mail to Rotcod Zzaj

Armadillo Radio: LITTLE ARMORED THING – I mean, wot’ would you EXPECT to be depicted on th’ j-sheet for Ken Fletcher’s latest tape? Of COURSE, itz’ an armadillo. Good creative home-taping AIN’T dead – just reincarnated as a hard-shelled creature in Oregon! “Nose & Throat Witch Doctor” is one of my fave pieces (in th’ last 5 years)… percussion-based, as you might have thought, & a witch doctor (Ken?) chanting around a highly imaginative fire of dry bones, gongs, shakers & (I’m sure) some boo-ful dancin’ goils! There are spots on here that remind me of early Eric Hausmann percussive stuff, & other spots that sound hauntingly like “Zeitgeist & Th’ Seven Year Itch” (by my friend Kramtones). If yer’ lookin’ fer’ “sophisticated” or “high-nosed”, go in another direction… this is FUN music that’s not afraid to poke a lil’ fun at ITSELF! Clearly recorded, so it doesn’t sound like tape-hiss nightmares! Won’t be for all of you, but if yer’ like th’ spirit of D.I.Y. – you’ll agree with me that it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 1171 W. 5th Ave., Eugene, OR 97402, via e-mail to or at his website… Rotcod Zzaj




That’s IT fer’ this issue… tell ALL yer’ music friends to SEND their stuff to us for REVIEW! We NEED new material!



Rotcod Zzaj J




There (really) isn’t a ton of D.I.Y. news this time around… some of th’ sites (like GAJOOB) appear to be droppin’ back a lil’ bit, mostly due to personal situations. I know my own personal situation (jobwise, personal relationships, etc.) has changed th’ “D.I.Y. dynamic” in my life, & I know (from talking to many others in this arena) that it’s been changing things in their activities, too.

For those into th’ prog-rawk side of D.I.Y., you may wanna’ check out This is a radio station up in Vermont that plays beaucoup home-produced music!

If you’ve got your own CD, you will want to visit which is a startup site that seems to be FOR the indie artist, rather than tryin’ to SCALP ’em!

Another GREAT site for learning a bit (more) about D.I.Y./music philosophy is at That page was referred to us by our long-time friend Amy Denio, so you KNOW it’s good!

Last (but certainly not least) is a new on-line ‘zine, LAST SIGH magazine, which you can find at



































It would be difficult (if not impossible) for me to write about anything other than th’ latest fiasco our “boy” in D.C. has put himself (& his family, friends & enemies) through…

Th’ idea that a politician could be anything other than a deceitful and crooked slimeball is (& always has been) a concept totally foreign to me. Doesn’t matter to me if it was Bush, Ray-Gun, Harry Tee, or Billy-willy-nilly. When you’re paid to “please” (?appease?) everyone in th’ country, you can’t HELP but be a liar! In order to “get those votes”, you must intentionally deceive very different types of people – & make ’em feel GOOD about being lied to!

WHEN he lied about “who plooked who”, or what else he’s lied about over these many long years (in th’ nation’s capitol, or in Ar-kansas) is a moot point to me… I full-well expect ANY politician to try & lie his (or her) way out of sticky wickets.

That brings me to my point, one you’ve heard me rave & rant about for many years now. Politicians have NO BUSINESS BEING IN GOVERNMENT “SERVICE”. Our best bet would to be to “un-hire” anyone who WANTS to be in a public office. Their desire to be in such a position automatically makes them suspect. I believe the only way to create a government that’s responsive to people’s needs is to run a national DRAFT for those offices that have (always) been considered “political” ones. Th’ first requirement is that if they WANT to be there – they should NOT be there!

IF they get caught (literally) with their “fly open” (or in any other situation that could compromise our national “integrity”) – they’re OUT! That means, of course, that (most) folks who are in such a position would not last very long – after all, we ARE human! The honorable ones (few that there may be) might last a little longer, but there would be severe limits on terms in office. In fact, I rather suspect that most folks placed in a position like this would be CLAMORING to get OUT of it just as soon as humanly possible. There would be little attraction in such an office… long hours, hard work & no “extra” money to be made (shady land deals, abuse of power & all th’ rest of th’ corruption that comes with our present system).

Will it happen? Am I (just) dreaming? Well, I’m a performing artist – I’m ALWAYS dreaming. That does NOT mean somethin’ like this can’t happen, though. I think it’s very important for us to do SOMETHING to build in a little respect for those in (what are supposed to be) public service positions – & a national DRAFT for them is th’ only way (I can think of) to make sure it happens!


Rotcod Zzaj