Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 42

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Improvijazzation Nation – Issue # 42


Thomas Ferella/Kevin Schaefer – EFFIGY:  This is one of the “thickest” CD’s I’ve heard.  It can’t be lumped into a category like ambient, either… too much character and undercurrent for such groupings.  It merits a headphone warning, too… if you listen without headphones, you’ll be doing your mind a disservice.  Find an afternoon (preferably a Saturday or Sunday) on which you have little to do (or need to work out some of the stresses of the previous week), indulge in your favorite stimulant/relaxer, kick back & GROOVE.  There is no doubt that these sound sculptures could be found in the (background of the) latest sci-fi thriller, but they clearly merit a separate listen.  My favorite cut was track 3, “Drumlin” – slow build to a vision of the forces (percussive & reedwise) that power thee UNIVERSE!  If your mind is shallow, you won’t gain a thing from these images, but if you are an initiate, this is KEY to your journeys – & MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact through   Rotcod Zzaj

The Paul Broadnax Quartet, featuring Fred Haas – STRIKE UP THE BAND:  Paul’s piano is superb (really STRONG chops), but his scat/vox add a dimension most jazz quartets can only aspire towards.  Haas’ sax is deep-throated & sultry at the same time.  The other 2 players (Dave Trefethen on guitar & Peter Kontrimas on bass) contribute notably throughout (they are especially present on track 3, “Love Dance”, with latino leanings).  Broadnax’ original cuts were the standouts (as they usually are for this reviewer’s ears)… I just LOVED “Dwike and Willie”, an upbeat walkin’ bass romp.  The last (original) track, “Hawthorn Street Blues” does a wonderful job of closing the CD out.  If you’re looking for wack-city, far-out improv, this won’t fill the bill, but “true” jazz lovers will find this one a keeper for years to come… it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact through Mixed Media, 28 Lockmere Road, Cranston, RI 02910, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

The Nerve Centre – ENERGY FIELDS:  In from Ireland, this rawkin’ CD is way above average!  Multimedia format (they said somethin’ was incompatible with WIN 98, & they were right, but if you click on the tracks under video, the WIN Media Player works just fine).  Some excellent shooting on each of the 5 tracks (5 separate bands represented), great themes & fine music behind, under, ’round & thru.  My view/listen rated McFly as th’ best group all-round.  Th’ toon was “Don’t Let Them Take You Down”, strong lyrics, great playing, & the video contributes a great deal to painting a picture that reminds me (in a most encouraging fashion) of the spirit of the early ’60’s.  Really SOLID image-weave, it’s th’ kind of thing worth watchin’ over & over.  Kaleidoscope was another solid group/tune/vid, too… a haunting piece, somewhat reminiscent (rhythmically) of Chatahoochee Bridge, but much meatier in substance.  Wonderful electric guitar leads, some nice harmonics goin’ on there, too.  The other groups were just fine, too.  If yer’ in th’ mood for some raw energy representative (in a youthful, forward-lookin’ way) of TODAY – this is yer’ TICKET!  I enjoyed it immensely, in fact I want MORE (they’ve got 6 more CD’s comin’ out over the next coupla’ years or so)… gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me!  Contact The Nerve Centre,7/8 Magazine Street,Derry,BT48 6HJ. Tel:(01504)260562 Fax:(01504)371738 email:  web:   Rotcod Zzaj

Joseph Fire Crow – CHEYENNE NATION:  This Makoche CD release is another amazing marriage of musical cultures.  We have reviewed Joseph’s music for some years now, & always been favorably impressed, but this round carries his music to new heights.  He (& the other formidable artists who share the spotlight with him – Gary Stroutsos on percussion, Jon Nyborg on guitar & (of course) Jovino Santos Neto’s piano) literally SOARS in the energy generated by his beautiful flute playing.  I believe this label has really HIT on something… weaving the ancient (musical) traditions of Greece, South & North America (& others) together results in a sonic reunion of sorts!  This union brings all the sensibilities (& sadnesses) together in a mix that yields pure & unadulterated JOY!  Joseph’s playing is immaculate (as it always has been when I’ve listened to his CD’s) & full of heart.  Teachers, PLAY this music for your students… parents, you owe it to your children to let them hear the crystal-clear visions painted by Mr. Fire Crow.  This gets the PICK of this issue for “most forward-looking Native American music”, as well as a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at 208 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND 58502, on the Makoche WWW site,  or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Real Modern Jazz Band – DJAMRA:  This pre-release CD contains some of the most “far-reaching” jazz you’ll ever hear!  6 cutz o’ fury & flurry that will knock yer’ SAWKZ-ovv!  Mood swings, straight-ahead improv & high energies that bring back aural visions of Sharrock (& other totally competent “out” players of thee ’90’s).  If this is pre-release, I can hardly WAIT ta’ hear th’ RELEASE version.  ‘s a quintet that imagines itself to be “big band”, through & through!  Dai Akhani’s trumpet stands out in a big way, but th’ rest of the group takes their turns at pandemonium as well.  Since this was produced in Japan, I’ll assume the players are (mostly) Japanese, tho’ one of the names made me think Vietnamese (or Thai)… not sure why.  At any rate, this is one of the best jazz/rock/improv sets I’ve heard in quite some time… gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me.  Contact on their site, at or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Butterfly Messiah – BUTTERFLY MESSIAH:  Hea-vee dance track mix material on this CD of 3 singles (a prelude to a full length CD release that is tentatively titled “Machines”).  Enchanting, hypnotic & syntho-pop orientations that will hold your attention.  Since it was a sorta’ demo only type thang, I guess I can forgive ’em for a press kit that didn’t seem to expand clearly on Shannon & Robert… guess they decided to let the music speak for them.  Shannon’s vox are clean, & the trax are well recorded.  It wasn’t clear from the liners who was playing what – I’m assuming that the CD release will have much more/better info.  There are some great percussive moments, & the vocal overlays are professionally woven into the construct.  We DO want to review the production release… even these trax merit a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love music they can dance to (& get lost in at the same time).  I’m sure the final release will clock in with an even higher rating.  Contact at 11691 Chapman Ave., Bonita Springs, FL 34135-5980, at their site (  ) or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

North Star – TEMPEST:  Kevin Leonard has been reviewed in our pages frequently over these last 12 or 13 years.  With this CD, he’s achieved new respect in our ears.  This prog-rock outing lives up to the album title, truly a STORM of musical activity that will have you tossin’ & turnin’ from the first bar to the last.  Not only that, but Dave Johnson’s high-end lead guitar sections will have you playin’ air guitar for YEARS to come.  Kevin’s keyboards don’t slouch, nor does the succinct percussion offered up by Glenn Leonard.  Moves, grooves & straight-out rawkin’ SPACE OPERA that will warm thee cockles of yer’ progressive heart.  One of the best composed CD’s I’ve heard in many years, this merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED without doubt (especially for the fan of rock that reaches out into the universe).  Contact (like, TODAY, people) at Space Monster Optional Entertainment, POB 43, Glen Mills, PA 19342, via email to  or visit the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Chiwoniso – ANCIENT VOICES:  WHAT a sweet CD… African oriented vocals, performed in English by “Chi” (her nickname) with the conviction & intensity of spirit that signifies world-class as soon as you hear her first note (of course, the enlightened know that’s because she was born in the magickland of Olywa, where Native Americans say they have “magic rocks”).   She plays thumb piano (mbira) as well, contributing significantly to the rhythm & tone of this splendid musical adventure.  Reviewers who are desperate to “lump” albums into categories will have an AWFUL time with this one… it combines so many elements of music(s) from around the world (while holding true to it’s roots in African traditions) that it just can NOT be classified in any one “hole”!  Any way you listen to it, Chiwoniso is a shining spirit who has such joy in her voice that her soul shines through – all the way to your ears.  This gets the “pick” of this issue for “best female vocal” & (of course) our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating – no matter what your musical preference(s), you’ll find something to enjoy on this album.  Contact at Tinder Records, 80 Mark Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Techno Unit 30 – AUDIOCHROME:  We have always enjoyed listening to Larry Kucharz’s compositions, having reviewed (nearly) all 7 of his CD’s.  This outing focuses on Techno with a twist, Dance with a difference… Larry actually KNOWS how to compose.  This is no amateur “knobbin’ around” – there’s substance here that brings his classical influences to bear on the “Detroit Techno” sound.  I s’pose it’s only right that 3 months after I move (to Detroit), he’s experimenting (in full force) with “different” rhythms than on his earlier albums.  In FACT, that’s what’s always turned me on about Kucharz’ works… they are ALWAYS different than the last… not drastically so, just enough so you must LISTEN to hear the nuances.  A true MASTER of electronic composition, you will hear his works in your head long after you’ve listened on the first spin.  Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at POB 1068, Rye, NY 10530,   Rotcod Zzaj

visionEar – digThesis:  Grrrr-ooo-ve CIT-ee, mon’!  W-O-W, what a pleasant diversion this is!  I contacted visionEar (aka Jim Konen) from a link on the Metro Times Detroit pages (go HERE for th’ goods), advocating that he & I hook up & figure out some way to institute “Operation Wreak Havoc” on good ole’ Motor City.  He sent this highly energetic & forward-looking CD (samples of which you can hear at the Metro Times page link above).  Using a machine that he invented (which he calls the Realtime Performance Module – ROLAND based), he swirls through highly original constructs over self-generated (& very POWERful) rhythm layers that clearly demonstrate talent far beyond the normal scope for techno-based music(s).  He intersperses his fully qualified electric guitar playing with little “tweaks” of odd overlays that will keep you guessing.  This isn’t a “play & throw away” CD, you’ll keep it spinning for years to come… nuances galore in a frame of reference that is very accessible.  Gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Bryan Baker (at is gonna’ LOVE this stuff)!  Ain’t NO doubt but what Zzaj & visionEar will TRULY be twistin’ some aural appendages at some point inna’ future, volkz!).  Contact at 23 W. Lawrence, Pontiac, MI 48342, via e-mail to or on .mp3 at   Rotcod Zzaj


We WANT your announcements/links about great places for D.I.Y.’er’s… SEND us your links… e-mail to 



“Your Source for Music News”
November 12, 1999
ISSN: 1526-2324

Issue #8 of Michael J. Bowman’s ‘zine FREE AGENT can be currently viewed at:


Litter’s Newsletter February 1999 – part 2
.. taken from Litter’s Netnews:


Zapruder Red has a new CD available at (if you’re wondering who
Zapruder Red, check the email address for a clue). Anyways, it’s called
“Glassblower,” and features drum and bass, trip hop, and experimental
electronic experiments… but there’s real drums too! ZR has progressed
beyond the 4-track experiments of his debut CD, “Blackburn,” and the loop
experiments on “Sandy Day.” Combining Casio synth sounds, funky loops, live drum tracks, lo-end bass, and ambient textures, “Glassblower” is the result of a year of experimentation. The results are dark, fun, and groovey.

You can listen to clips here:

Here are what the critics say about Zapruder Red:

“Harsh, relentless guitars and dark, standing synths afflict sickly rhythms
like a dormant cancer in the body. Nauseous electronic textures churn over
passive Trip-Hop beats.” –

“Layers of live instrumental funkiness and freakoutage… Good shit. Like a
jazzier, less death-metal HARLAN.” – Ian C Stewart, AUTOreverse

“Sounds like some kind o’ new flavor of hashish to ME, kid-doze… & that’s
NOT just th’ title of th’ band, either, I mean th’ MUSIC! I listened to all
the tracks they have listed for an upcoming album called “Sandy Day”
(because it was listed as EXPERIMENTAL)… sorta’ like ambient-phunk, if
you can grab onta’ that! Someone needs to take that bass & tweak it in th’
mix a bit… but maybe that’s what they want anyway! This’ll get you
(about) as HIGH as th’ Lebanese I alluded to earlier; HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by us!” – RZ, Zzaj Productions

“Harsh, relentless guitars and dark, standing synths afflict sickly rhythms
like a dormant cancer in the body. Nauseous electronic textures churn over
passive Trip-Hop beats.” –

ZR says check it out.


Zapruder Red


Hello from Sydney, Australia!  I would like to invite you to review the music of Sally Cooper ( artist)



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Moonlight Jazz

Dark without
Is Darklight.
Dark is not Dark,

Dark is

 Michael Adams. Poet After Dark



I talked about you.

Repeating false hopes
drenched in syrup
sticky, and
by poem-glances. War in
veins waged pul-
sating for kisses,
sweet soft caresses until
nothing else mattered…
anticipation, and
talking myself into your deep brown eyes.

Come inside, see my
bittersweet pride, po wer die
I let you rule my cliche’d heart in my head
The drugged heaven-high dreams
to sorry
reality wake-ups.

I’ve never even talked to you—

I made all of this up.


A caress of
swirling currents
patter the panes
washing wet
against my windows
where glass-streaked
sill-races of
liquid diamond dew drops
drip down draining down-
spouts into
peace-cool pools,
small, sky pud-
dles down


I dispose of my good manners
in a clean plastic tagged bag
thrown in the dumpster
on my way by.
Each polite comment
balled up in my fist
scrunched and crunched—
with them gone
you can truly see
a reflection of yourself
in me.


Submitted by Alisha Alway



(for Cassandra Wilson)

Whisper something darkly, something gently steeped
in shadow and smoke.

Reveal the nuances of triumph and torment, torture and trust,
the gray tones of charcoal, silver, slate, smoke.

Filter all impurities and leave only epiphanies,
leave only raw flame, heat, light, smoke.

Billow and glow within like a soul, a wayward supernova,
like love, pride, hope, smoke.


(for Shirley Horn)

Only silence and cold here now, but the hopeful soul stays
cupped to catch you again like summer, like sunlight,
like manna falling from a beneficent evening sky, brimful
with stars waiting to be baptized, renewed
when the harmony returns, pushing the lyrics to grandeur,
a faucet drip transformed into waterfall splendor,
and the delighted piano tinkling its keys beneath
your soaring fingers, a spine enduring a running chill,
the notes enraptured, cavorting about like joyous gypsies.

This is what is meant by living lushly, dying
this sweet death, while the full heart beats on.



Blue Honey

Draped in regal black satin and labored gardenia’s breath,
Queen of the Dejected on her bitter throne, needle-marked
arms stretching out into the mercilessly hot sea of white light,
as if praying to some deaf god, broken heart complementing
the same broken promise, she choked before the voyeuristic
audience as a tear betrayed the source of her passion.
Then through the hushed haze a sudden voice begged
“Don’t just be blue honey, sing.”

And though mired in misery, she lifted up her lovely head
and sang, songs of the lost unforgettable, like slave songs
festooned with despair and dreams of freedom, like war songs
detailing the cruelest battles, validating the human experience.
Thank God she sang.


Submitted by James R. Whitley




I want to be one of your fingers
when you are counting the important things.
But I’d settle for a toe
if your list is really long.


A night like tonight.
The kind of night you wish you had a friend like Tom Waits.
The kind of night when cars won’t start,
but bar fights do,
and women start telling lies.
The kind of night when you want to pick up a woman,
just to leave her in the morning.
Or the kind of night you accuse the bartender
of watering down your scotch.
The kind of night, that if any woman asked
what you were writing about,
you’d have to say her.
The kind of night that started three days ago.
The girl of your dreams just left with a sailor,
your shoes are too tight,
you can’t seem to get drunk,
but you get in a fight.
I have an awful feeling,
that it’s that kind of night.

“Fisherman Of Love”

he looks sad
I can’t imagine why
there is a beautiful lady
at his side
biding for his attention,
and a perfectly good tunafish sandwich
sits in front of him.
She smiling and pleading
trying her hardest to mean something
to him.
The tunafish sandwich,
not caring
one way or the other.
I ask him how he could be so sad
with such a girl on his arm
this fisherman of love
replied simply,
“You should have seen the one that got away.”

“Everybody Hates Nature Poems”

Life spheres
I pry from the earth
in a ritualistic finger polonaise
black coal globes
charred skeletal arms
contorting themselves away from the sun
the tiniest vampires
even more imperceptible than your love
and just as deadly
I handle the mobile poison capsules
as if they were my pets
they crawl across my flesh
like your memory
trying to find a crevice
on my person to shelter them
from light
to give meaning to their
common name
that endears them to me.
The Brown Recluse.
I think I’ll go and get me some soup.



Your hair made me cry.
It was on an old shirt you wore,
that I had lost until now.
I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was.
Just a strand of hair.
I wondered for a long time
if you missed it.
I knew you didn’t miss me.
Maybe you missed your hair,
like I miss you.
Just maybe you were thinking
of how I used to hold your hair,
when it was still attached to you.
Maybe your hair misses me,
the way that I miss you.



In the beginning, God created man.
Man promptly sat down to a breakfast
of eggs and bacon.
(coffee was not created until the day of rest.)
God looked at what had been done and said,
“This is good.”
(God’s no poet.)
God then turned to man and said,
“You are to be the protector of all things.”
but man had not heard her,
because he was late for work,
and had rushed of without his hat.


Submitted by Jason Polecheck




The moment had arrived
This was the day for which he had worked
Hour after hour, week after week, etcetera, etcetera
This was it!
Everyone was here to pay him the homage
He so richly deserved.
His chin upright, he puffed out his chest
The medal of achievement was pinned to his breast.
But then a funny thing happened.
All of the air went out of him
And he fizzled and twirled all over the room
Like a balloon.

I don’t know about you, but

A visit to my parents
is like pouring a bottle of 80 proof
down the throat of a recovering alcoholic.


Surviving and living are two different things.
To be or not to be is the question after all.
He survives year after tedious year
The head of a huge corporation with big testicles
He can show to impress people.
But how does he live?
Who is he when the cheap façade
Is struck from his gravestone?
And why are his snout-faced children
Grubbing so ferociously over the entrails of his will?
No one knows
Including his four ex-wives who have his picture
Nailed to their dartboards.


Submitted by Laurence Overmire


online zine for indie thinkers! The
corporate hand has not gotten to us, and never will. Here you will
read show reviews and see pics of the show just 24 hours after the it
happens! And every month we feature bands and articles that you
really care about. Plus we offer an exclusive huge photo archive of
bands you want to see and all are taken by our professional staff and
is updated weekly with new pictures! Wanna find out when the new
NSYNC cd is coming out? Well go elsewhere you sissy! This zine
features REAL MUSIC FOR REAL PEOPLE ONLY! So sit your fat ass down at  the nearest computer and log on to!


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Now, HERE’S a first… there has NEVER been a Zzaj-rant (before) that wasn’t written by Zzaj.  Our (long-time) underground taping friend Chris Phinney sent me a comment or 3 on the rant I did about GREED in issue # 41… he volunteered to “extend” thee rant with a few of his own thoughts… & here it IS!  THANKS, Chris!



Ahhhh,Yes GREED in AmeriKKKa !!!!

Those big houses! Yeah who needs that much space anyway ?

8,000 & 10,000 square feet huge friggin’monstrositys..

Hell, I work on some of these & let me tell ya,lots of these houses this size only 2 people live there,rolling around this huge place….Man I have a customer who said to me a few years back, “I dont know why I bought such a big house,(6,000 square) when its just me & my wife living here…” (bear in mind that they moved from a 3,500 square foot place).

All I could do was like bite my tongue man, to keep from saying – “status symbol… GREED man – GREED!

Lots of these monstro houses I have noticed hardly have any furniture in them & I have seen some that go for years with sheets tacked up for drapes….

You Catch My Drift ????

This also brings up the question of Why do you need a new car every 2 or 3 years?  Whats wrong with the old ones?  I could understand if it was a lemon or you dogged it or wrecked it, but just because you want it? Doesnt make any sense to me.My work Van is 22 years old & our family car is 12 years old.

This is just another prime example of GREED in AmeriKKKa!

People,why do you need that monster SUV when you only have 2 or 3 people or 4 people in your immediate family?  Well its because you have been brainwashed into thinking that you need it or want it…  But yet they are made for off road action but never see dirt, not a speck.  Or all the 4 wheel drives that never ever leave the asphalt jungle…Well you know the answer !!!!

Folks,Why do you have that inground swimming pool in your backyard & never use it but maybe once a year ?  I could understand it if you used it but….I know why – It looks nice, status, GREED thats why?

While I am venting here may as well lightly touch base on a few other vents,like Cell phones.I understand fully the need for – 1 for emergencies yeah,but to drive down the road & chat away & nearly run me off the road or run over parking breakers, curbs, hit poles & stuff?  Stupid – All because you are just 2 busy chatting away about that TV show last night or little Johnnys soccer game..Forget it…

One more thing that really chaps my hide of late,not related to GREED,but that I feel the need to vent on is Why do you send me your CDs  (I am glad to get them yes) & expect me to listen to it right away(I will as time permits), comment on it right away, but you wont get yourself a free mp3 player for your computer & listen to my new music, which wont be available on CD or tape for a while.Usually you dont even have to download it, just listen….

Ok enuff of that vent type stuff,thanx for listening!!!

As my buddy Carl Howard would say,

Peace! Out!

Choppa Choppa

Bang Bang

Chris Phinney


INTERVIEW with Jerry Kranitz

RZ: I enjoyed the paper issues of AURAL INNOVATIONS. I understand (some of) the desire/need to move to the WWW… pressure, low subscriptions, etc. Were there any other specific factors (job, time, whatever) that influenced your move to the Internet?

JK:  Time and general pressures had nothing to do with the decision to make Aural Innovations a web-based e-zine. I still have all the time I ever did to work on it. The decision was totally based on economics and the need to maximize our readership for the least cost. I was printing and assembling AI at home and the resulting costs, including postage, came to several hundred dollars per issue. At our high point we only had 100 subscribers (but there were also all the unavoidable promo copies). At such a high personal cost, and only 100 subscribers, it was hard to avoid the fact that I’d accumulated over 10,000 hits on my web page in just two years. And that’s when it was really just a big list of links! I’m responding to these questions only two days after Aural- has gone live and we’ve had nearly 300 hits already. I really enjoyed doing a hard copy mag, but if I can get more readers for little cost than that’s what I must do. It also frees up a lot of funds to expand the growing AI catalog, a logical next step for me in promoting independent music.

RZ: Though your ‘zine & label cover Psych/Prog/Space Rock, you seem to have a much “broader interpretation” of what that means. Why? How do you think you can “get away” with that? (I’m assuming there are some Space Rock folks who are just as much “purist” as there are improvisors who are that way).

JK: My interpretation of spacerock is intentionally broad because of the inherently limiting nature of labels, categorizations, and definitions. “Purists” only limit themselves and close the door to hearing great music that they probably would like if they gave it a chance. For example, in Aural Innovations I recognize the pioneering contributions Hawkwind, and am a huge fan myself. But Hawkwind is only one part of what spacerock is all about. Now the Hawkwind purists would surely throw stones at me for not putting the band on a higher pedestal, but I also know that many Hawkwind purists subscribed to AI and praised the mag too.

I grew up listening to all sorts of progressive rock, spacerock, psychedelia, and jazz. I never really knew about genre names until I got on the internet in 1993 and joined all the discussions. Spacerock is a loose theme AI is based on and will accommodate a lot of people’s idea of what they can expect to find in such a mag. Spacerock is LOADED with possibilities. It is limitless. So I deliberately include freaky, but more jazz-oriented artists like Joseph Benzola, W.O.O. Revelator, and Rotcod Zzaj, just as much as I include Hawkwind, Gong, and Amon Düül. In short, Aural Innovations has a theme, but is really about the CREATIVE SPIRIT. If you put your heart and soul into creating something mind expanding, then there’s a home for it in Aural Innovations. How can I “get away” with this? The great thing about this being my magazine is that I can cover anything I damn well please. But I’m comfortable with my arrogance because in over two years and 9 issues, nobody has ever complained about our interpretation. And I truly believe there’s an element of “space” in nearly everything we cover. I’ve been very fortunate to have a handful of wonderful contributors who have submitted articles based on their own interests and conceptions of spacerock and I think we’ve succeeded in covering the gamut of perceptions of what spacerock is all about.

RZ: Since the focus of my ‘zine is D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself, for the uninitiated), I’d like your thoughts & observations on just what that means? Is D.I.Y. music a “threat” to the music industry  or IS there a “music industry” anymore?

JK:  Technology has made disseminating one’s creative efforts (and information in general) affordable and relatively easy for nearly everyone. D.I.Y. music means being empowered to take responsibility for reaching an audience without relying on the music industrial complex. For many years musicians who were aggressive networkers could affordably sell, trade, and give away cassettes of their music. Now they can burn CDR’s on their computers. The problem has always been the limited audience they were able to reach. The internet has taken away many of these limitations because previously the only people the bands could reach were those who actively sought out indie music. But now that the internet has become so widespread the opportunity is there to reach many more people and perhaps open them up to something new. It costs very little to set up a web page where you can put up information about your music and provide sound samples or even entire albums that you’ve encoded into RealAudio or Mp3 formats. And these are perfectly valid mediums. Now that we’re online you’ll start to see reviews in Aural Innovations of albums that can only be heard on web pages.

Is there a “music industry” anymore? Sure there is. Just look through the music section at Barnes & Noble or Media Play, or turn on MTV or VH1. Is D.I.Y. music a “threat” to the music industry? You bet it is. And I’m glad because the music industry couldn’t give a rats ass about the creative spirit. They care about the bottom line… which means $$$$$. But I don’t need to rant about that because anyone reading this publication already knows it. The problem with the music industrial complex is that talented artists who are bold enough to actually challenge listeners get “excluded”. And D.I.Y. music empowers artists to get a shot at being included.

RZ: What do you think the impacts of the Internet on music will be over the next 25 years? Will we see new formats? New presentation methods? Is this good, bad or indifferent?

I think the internet offers possibilities that are very good. For example, web sites allow me to enjoy music as either an active or passive experience. I can listen to a band’s music passively while surfing other sites or working on something else. Or I can make the experience more active by reading the band’s bio and history and such while I’m listening to their music. And oh look, there’s a link to a page where I can go ahead and order their CD right online directly from the band. The point is it’s my choice how involved I want to be. And it will become more and more likely that the average person will be listening to an indie band rather than some band a major label is promoting because it’s all apples and oranges whether you’re visiting an indie artist’s web site or a major label artist’s web site.

I think we’re only in the earliest stages of developing formats and presentation methods. Things will explode once the bandwidth problem is resolved, which I’m sure isn’t very far down the road. Modem speeds, RAM, all those limitations will go away. Computers will soon have the ability to function as stereo components where you can download albums and then play them on the your traditional stereo system. You’ll just select the album from a software “CD Rack” on your computer instead of putting an album on the turntable or popping in a CD. And getting back to your previous question, that’s the point at which the music industry will really be in trouble. But they’re not stupid. I’m sure they’re already planning and plotting for this scenario.

RZ: Back in “the day”, when I was only 19 (mid ’60’s), drugs/trips were considered to be an essential for Space/Psych listening (or playing). I’ve since gravitated away from that scene (stuff just makes me sweat too much now)… are they still an essential? Which raises a question we often asked (ourselves). Which comes first? The “substance” or the “experience”?

JK:  “The day” you refer to was the 70’s for me. And yes, drugs were a big part of listening to the music, though for me it was never really part of the “experience”. The music sure as hell sounded better when I was stoned. But I had a much better “experience” sitting alone in my room blaring the stereo and focusing on the album jackets and reading rock magazines. Except for occasionally sampling mother nature, I’ve mostly given up drugs myself too. The “experience” of music comes first and I’m not sure how much drugs really enhanced that for me. You’ll get LOTS of different opinions on this question.

RZ: What’s your dayjob (or do you have one)?

I manage a software quality assurance team. We help the programmers develop new products and test the software before giving it to customers, but we also work with large companies that want to build interfaces to our system. So I get to see technology doing its magic every day. And I believe that technology should move forward just as rapid-fire as it is. But I also believe we need to keep our feet firmly on the ground. I have NO cell phone, NO beeper, NO palm pilot, none of that crap. Technology is a means to accomplish tasks in not only the most efficient way, but the SIMPLEST way. It shouldn’t rule our lives. You’ll never see me talking on a cell phone in the grocery store. It really pisses me off when I see that.

RZ: Your advice for HOMEMADE musicians?

JK:  In the few years that I have been networking with HOMEMADE musicians, they have typically been the ones to give me advice. But the one recommendation I’ll make is to network with as many people as you can. And always be willing to help out others when you see the opportunity. I’ve learned firsthand that people will be just as quick to return the favor. It’s just like any community.

RZ: You’ve (quite often) expressed that you believe musicians ought to be “paid” for their work? What generates that feeling? How important IS it (to you; to musicians)?

I feel this way for two reasons. First, and the more simplistic reason, is that despite what I said before about the low cost opportunities for producing and distributing music, it still does cost something do to this. The musician is offering a product that will benefit the listener so the musician should, at the very least, be reimbursed for that. Also, if the musician who is burning CDR’s in his/her home can sell and profit from them, then perhaps they can then take the step of having a batch of several hundred made professionally. Even this isn’t financially out of reach anymore. But it takes money.

The second reason is more complex. I firmly support the indie ethic and artistic values. Anyone who has seen Aural Innovations or dealt with me knows that. But I also function quite comfortably in the corporate world and see absolutely nothing wrong with making a profit. In fact, I don’t believe the world can function without SOME element of a capitalist market that includes buyers and sellers. I think it’s great that musicians are willing to create adventurous music that the music industry isn’t interested in supporting. But if that musician does find an interested “consumer” for his/her music, then the musician should profit from it. Some level of dollars probably went into the project, and certainly a lot of time and effort.

But when I talk about artists being paid for their work, I’m really talking about a physical medium like a CD and middlemen like myself who sell them on the artists’ behalf. I’ve been slowly growing an Aural Innovations mail order catalog and the reason it grows slowly is because I pay the artists up-front for the product I carry in my catalog (there are a couple exceptions). I hear indie musician’s frustrations all the time with sending out their CD’s on consignment. That’s not to say the catalogs that carry their music are bad. It’s not possible for them to pay up-front for everything they carry. But there is usually a substantial cost involved to the bands for having to provide this music in the hopes that it will sell. But that’s how, by necessity, the game is played.

I don’t do this for a living so I can afford to run it by a personal philosophy, but I’d rather take on bands slowly, and pay them for their music knowing I’ll ultimately sell the music. I’m currently experimenting with different kinds of advertising and am very slowly proving that I can idealistically sell small label and home produced CDR’s by indie musicians. Despite the “hobby” status of the whole thing right now (albeit a serious one), I would love to do this full- time for a living. “Profit” can be a good thing and benefit multiple parties. If I can pay a band for their music, they in turn have additional funds to keep making music. If I can then sell the music I bought at a fair markup I have helped the band get their music out to listeners that may never have otherwise heard the music, AND in process raise additional funds for myself to add more artists to the catalog. Markets are cruel only when they function purely for the sake of profit, and without a larger goal that seeks to benefit as many parties as possible. Ask me about this again in a year and we’ll see where I’m at.

RZ: What other ‘zines/labels would you (especially) recommend to folks interested in music that departs from the norm?

Unfortunately I have little time to check out other zines. But one really wonderful printed zine that’s been around for a number of years is Expose’, which is subtitled “Exploring The Boundaries Of Rock”. They cover all kinds of progressive rock, spacerock, psychedelia, and experimental music. They have a web site at

I could go on FOREVER about labels, but I’ll mention one that has impressed me. The Music & Elsewhere project is a British label that releases cassettes and distributes CD’s from all kinds of bands, all over the world. Spacerock, psychedelia, electronica, metal, you name it. Just fantastic stuff. They do lots of cassette compilations that allow you to sample the artists they represent. They’ve only recently gone on the web but all indie artists should check them out. They have a web site at Carl “Nomusic” Howard had a similar thing going with his Audiophile Tapes here in the USA, but that was sadly discontinued last year.

RZ: Please use this space to insert profound philosophical thoughts (or inane ones that might someday be considered profound).

Jerry’s quote of the day: “Worthy projects that are not backed by big money only succeed when fueled by people willing to devote their time and expertise”.

Jerry’s advice to EVERYONE: If someone helps you out… never forget it, and never take it for granted.