Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 56

Issue # 56 REVIEWS

Robin O’Brien – THE WAILING LAYER:  It’s been quite some time since we heard Don Campau’s partner Robin… & it was worth waitin’ for!  Some boogie’in stoff on this lil’ CD!  Still a folk orientation, but there is a lot more percussion backing, beautiful electric & acoustic guitar works (by Robin, I assume?) on each of the pieces.  “Rhythm Thing” is just what it says, with her vox emphasizing the beats just perfectly… a favorite cut for me… there’s some humor in it, too!  Must be somethin’ ’bout that California air, too… track # 7 (“Sticks # 6”) reminds me of Grace Slick a lot.  There are some really nice effects on Robin’s vocals on cut # 10, “America, My Baby”, & “Love Song For Don – in three parts” just ain’t what you might think it would be… heh! heh!  Very creative, very enjoyable, & a definite MUST for collectors of “underground homemade”.  This album gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who enjoy folk/rock that “ain’t what it used to be” (& I mean that in a good sense)!  Contact at POB 9162, Santa Rosa, CA 95405, or thru Don’s site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Harlan Mark Vale – ENTELECHY:  As we expected, th’ desert has done something to Kramtones’ music… was it th’ cactii?  Or too much sun while poundin’ tires?  This (latest) CD from Mark’s studios in th’ Arizona desert is full of wonder & life!  As you listen to th’ grand solo synth-washes & inspired drum lickz’, you’ll think yer’ sittin’ on th’ edge of a universal rawk-show.  Th’ (?pent-up?) energy of 2 years (or more) of not playin’ frequently is totally focused on th’ creative process.  There are some compositions that approach th’ orchestral… on others, you’ll think you are witness to th’ “newest of the new” electronic wizardries.  We are (like totally, man) proud to be able to carry this in th’ Zzaj Productions catalog… you can look at the offering HERE, or listen to sample cuts (FULL songs) on THIS page!  Vale is really in touch with the beauties that music can bring (always has been, actually), & on this carefully crafted album, he raises the bar from both the production and performance standpoints.  This is some of the highest energy music to ever come out of Kramtones studios… it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for listeners who want both beauty and verve!  Contact at Kramtones, PMB-2, PO Box-700, Ash Fork, AZ 86320, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

The Abstractions – SONIC CONSPIRACY:  After you’ve listened to th’ opening piece on this grand piece of (musical) anarchy, you’ll wonder how it could be a conspiracy… I mean that first cut is SO blatant, those being conspired against would know they couldn’t escape th’ onslaught.  It’s not only on that cut, either… Romus sax work is as effervescent & dynamic as ever I’ve heard him; Bob Marsh (vibes) is in a slightly different “zone” than when we heard him play live here in OlyWa a couple of months back, but it’s still turf that all fans of improvised music will want to travel in… Scott Looney’s percussion is flawless (as it was in th’ live set at the 8th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival)… & our friend Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s acoustic/amplified guitars are just as enchanting as ever.  Th’ dimension (that I hear being) added which makes th’ album so spooky is th’ VOCALS.  Jesse Quattro is greatly responsible for that… lady is a MONSTER… accelerating at warp-speed on the opening cut, then joining all (track 15) in one of the most haunting vocal/instrumental improv selections you’ve ever heard before.  Th’ whole band is something you should keep your ears tuned to if you want to be in touch with where 21st century improvisation is going!  SMASHING album, harsh for some listeners (perhaps), but work that easily merits a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for adventurers everywhere!  Contact via email to  or on the site, at   Rotcod Zzaj

Boundary Issues – SLEEP DEP:  Yah, you’ll be awake all nite with this groovin’ lil’ CD, no doubt!  Dave Storrs’ drums (alone) will have ya’ rawk-in into th’ wee hours – but, when you put th’ heavy rhythms he lays down together with beautiful (& high-energy) guitar leads (some sections remind me a lot of the playing of my fellow collaborator Mark Kissinger) by Steve Willis & th’ absolutely strange bass lines by Page Hundemer, you’ll feel like you just invented a new variety of high-end meth or something!  The music on this album departs from th’ jazz/improv leanings that have become familiar on many “Louie Records” releases; turf more closely related to phunk’n’groove fusion come wailin’ out at ya’ – & it’s a TREAT!  Frequent readers of these pages will realize that we have been reviewing a LOT of “Louie Records” releases… & that is, of course, because their output is phenomenal!  I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz/improv listeners who want a taste of something (ever so) slightly different from Storrs & crew!  This has CLASSIC potential!  Contact at Louie Records (which has Mr. Storrs at the helm, actually), 644 SW 5th St., Corvalis, OR 97333, on their WWW pages, at  or via email to  Rotcod Zzaj

Goodheart/Allen/Powell Trio – I CAN:  Great pleasure to be reviewing this CD, since I just heard them perform live at the 8th Annual Experimental Music Festival.  “Fresh” in my mind, if you will.  Matthew Goodheart’s piano playing (both keyboard & string-board) is flawless on the (mostly) composed pieces!  Josh Allen is an impressive person, size would be described as extra-large, I guess… his sax work is of th’ same stature… it is uniquely his, too, in th’ sense of style; notes woven in/out between the keyboards & percussives in such a way that you often don’t realize just how much he is contributing to the overall.  Th’ absolute joy & (good) humor that is evident in drummer Garth Powell’s presence is pure sonic pleasure.  During the festival, as well as on “I CAN”, I was very favorably impressed by each member of the trio, as regards their ability to express clear exuberance for life & the living!  If you haven’t “experimented” with music(s) lately, this is a perfect point of entry!  High-energy playing throughout the album, along with well defined musical personality make it easy to give it our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  VERY enjoyable!  Contact at or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Don Campau – WHATEVER STICKS:  As in th’ improvised world, Don’s comps here come across with very free-wheeling feel throughout on this CD.  Still very high-energy pieces (lots of nice little bells & otherstream sounds all across the tracks), but with a really relaxed feel!  More voice-loopin’ that I’m (necessarily) used to hearing from Don, but done with ultimate style… in fact, th’ recording makes th’ commercials & such come across in a more high tech fashion than many Zzaj releases along these lines (not that that’s terribly important).  Campau holds true to th’ “D.I.Y.” & home recording ethic (as he always has), but this listen is somehow more “experimental” than other CD’s & tapes we’ve reviewed from his studios.  I just loved the acoustic guitar on trak 8, appropriately titled “segment for guitar, organ, birds and burglar alarm”!  21 fantastic cuts for your listening pleasure.  If you wanna’ know where th’ underground “came from”, you’ve got to get hold of this one.  MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by Zzaj!  Contact via email to at his web pages on or via snail to PO Box 9162, Santa Rosa CA 95405   Rotcod Zzaj

Tunnels – PROGRESSIVITY:  Shades of Mahavishnu, but in a 21st Century fusion mode, this CD has some of the most beautiful & forward-moving energy music we’ve ever heard (& we’ve heard a LOT)!  Percy Jones does bass, John Goodsall is on guitar, with Mark Feldman furnishing excellent violin works!  These guys KNOW what they’re doing, & their love of music shines through with crystal clarity.  In fact, as you listen through/to all 10 of the tracks, you can see that they are moving fusion in different directions than it’s ever been… some very intricate rhythmic structures (that I just loved) & a kind of dedication to giving the listener a pleasant (tho’ challenging) listen.  Th’ CD liner has a blurb that I’m taking partially out of context to illustrate my feelings after listening… “an abundance of intense blowing and other forms of sonic weirdness that may cause harmful side effects such as hives, palpitations, fibrillations, aneurysms, dizziness… do not play while operating heavy machinery or while under the influence of smooth jazz” – heck, th’ description alone makes it worth listening to!  & from our perspective, this merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as the “PICK” of 2002 for “best fusion yet”!  A keeper that every lover of musical energy will HAVE to have!  Contact at Buckyball Records, POB 2034, Radio City Station, NYC 10101, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

forgetthingswith – FORGETTHINGSWITH:  Well, th’ listener won’t easily comply with this artist’s name… hard to forget his unique piano/keyboard stylings, OR his vocals!  The recording was done straight, “no editing, none” to quote him.  His compositions/improvisations are crystal clear & packed full of energy!  It (prob’ly) helps that I had just watched him perform (live) with Arrington De Dionyso… but, that’s not th’ crux o’ da’ biscuit here… this CD is one of the most interesting piano-oriented CD’s I’ve ever heard (& that’s really saying something, since I listen to so much music).  He combines all registers of the keyboard (AND his voice) into an exciting adventure that keeps the listener on the edge all the way through!  I really like his use of the bass end of the board, but he can range up & down with ease.  Some improvisors (like myself) have high energy, but nowhere near the ability in scales & dexterity that “forgetthingswith” has.  It’s nearly impossible to “brand” his music, either… there are strong jazz chords across the album, but you can hear elements of classical in there as well.  VERY enjoyable, but requiring attention to the details – “background” listeners need not apply.  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact via his website at or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Rik Wright – ISOMORPHISM:  Some of the Great Northwest’s best players are involved in this super jazz/improv CD from Rik!  I got the review copy directly from Dan Blunck ( alto/tenor/soprano player who I (only recently) met at Bert Wilson’s house after reviewing Dan’s music some years back).  If you’re familiar at all with the Seattle music/recording scene, you’ll recognize Jack Straw Productions as a name that is automatically associated with excellence… the bulk of this recording was done there.  Wright’s guitar-playing is superb throughout, as is his mastery of the loop/sample material.  Dan’s reeds blend perfectly with the other players (basically a quintet, with a couple of guest artists), & his clear love of playing shines through.  I was highly impressed with Reuben Radding’s bass (and contrabass) playing… style-shifts occur across the album, but he keeps everything moving flawlessly.  There’s a drummer on here (Randy Doak) who is highly energetic – but doesn’t let that get in the way (at all) of sharing the sonic turf with (all) the other artists.  There are no “klunkers” on this album… & the range of the compositions goes all the way from electronique to high-end “big band”… my favorite trak is cut 5, “Speaking In Tongues”… don’t flake out becoz’ of th’ title, either… only relijuun this haz to do with is jazz!  All other traks are Rik’s compositions, but “Tongues” was co-written with Blunck, & is an exciting tune that will help to define jazz in the 21st century… some great guitar by Wright on this one, as well!  This effort gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz fans of all persuasions!  Contact at  HipSync Records, P.O. Box 4187, Seattle, WA 98104, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Evan Parker – LINES BURNT IN LIGHT:  Martin Davidson, of the EMANEM label, had sent this CD of Parkers’ solo soprano sax improvisations in a pack of several other EMANEM releases.  Davidson recorded this (live) at St. Michael and All Angels Church (London) in October last year.  You will have to be a “dedicated” improv listener, or it may not be very enjoyable… OTOH, if you’re reading this magazine, your ears are (at least) somewhat adventurous, & you’ll find this a real treat.  Evan’s tones are intricate & almost like spiderwebs… in fact, hold that image… as you listen, you can see sunlight glinting off of the webs he weaves, noticing sonic nuances every time your focus comes back to the center.  The images he paints are very dense, thick… rich tones that require intensity on the listeners’ part.  There are symphonies in his choruses with himself, but you must listen carefully.  I wouldn’t advise headphones… you’d be better off with a good stereo rig, sitting right in the center – but be sure you’re not going to be disturbed – you must absorb the totality of his playing to come (even) close to comprehension.  A VERY good album for those who love pure improvisation.. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact through Martin Davidson, 3 Bittacy Rise, London NW7 2HH England, on the site at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Rudis/Custodio/Diaz-Infante – CRASHING THE RUSSIAN RENAISSANCE:  You’ll hear lotz of “crashes” (as well as burns, singes & “ow-ies”) on this masterful little improvised CD in from Pax Recordings.  Ernesto’s guitar is prominent in the mix, but the synth-lines (from Rudis, Matrix 12) are quite audible as well.  If you’ve got th’ history in your head, think (way) back to many of the TransMuseq works that Davey Williams & LaDonna Smith played on… now add 21st century synth/electronics & change th’ guitar from purely electric to amplified acoustic, & you’ll have a pretty good idea!  HIGH energy, intricately woven textures & spacey vox that keep your mind racing, trying to anticipate th’ next bend in th’ groups’ twisted itinerary.  It is often very hard to capture this kind of improvisation on a recording, but this one was done exceptionally well… it’s REALLY close to “being there”.  Fans of Bobby Darin & (other) bobby-soxers probably won’t find this trips th’ light fantastic for them… but dedicated improv listeners everywhere will HAVE to get this one… it’s MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… gets our “PICK” of the issue for “best electronic improvisation”, too!  Contact at Pax Recordings, POB 591138, San Francisco, CA 94159-1138, on the site at or through the promoter,   Rotcod Zzaj

Jacintha – LUSH LIFE:  This woman has a voice that will make you fall immediately in love… not (just) with her, but with life & it’s ups & downs.  There’s soul in every one of her lines… not th’ “Aretha” kind, much closer to Ms. Holiday, I’d say.  Late nite & smoky kind of set… cats creepin’ thru th’ alleyways in pleasant pursuit of kitty pleasure… ya’ know.  Jacintha has a style that belongs to no one else & a voice other singers’d die for!  With a power jazz-band backing her up (folks like Anthony Wilson on guitar, Darek Oles on bass, Bill Cunliffe with some masterful keyboards, + a whole host of other players), she grabs your mind on th’ first note & doesn’t let go until th’ album is ALL over!  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more abundant version of “Summertime”… in fact, I don’t think you have, either.  I can’t get over how cosmopolitan her vocal style is… she connects with you in an instant!  GREAT music for those in love with quality vocal jazz… gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, as well as “PICK” of this issue for “best female jazz vocals”!  Contact through   Rotcod Zzaj

Soulfood – LATINO GROOVE:  If those 4 margaritas have got th’ blood pumpin’ so hard in yer’ feet that you’ve just GOT to get up & dance, this IS th’ CD to do it to!  Featuring dance/trance grooves from DJ Free (as well as DJ Jezus Juice), along with a cast of players too long to list here, this is one hoppin’ little album!  It’s not the kind of music to meditate to (at all), but you sure can feel the fire these volkz generate.  There is a kind of haunting sense of deja vu when listening, for those who grew up in th’ (dreaded) disco generation, I suppose… but it is saved by the excellent guitar works and percussives.  Some will consider it so much fluff, but I enjoyed it enough to give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact through the site at, via email to  or at SOULFOOD Music & Media, PO Box 631, Chanhassen, MN 55317  Rotcod Zzaj

Sutrobath – AQUATICA:  No doubt that it makes sense to have a title like “Aquatica” for a band so close to th’ Puget Sound… they are, in fact, from Port Angeles, where the proximity to the water makes it a natural.  Some B-I-G rawkin’ sound that takes th’ listener back to the high end of epic rock.  It’s definitely a “big band” (nearly orchestral) experience, & I especially enjoyed their ability to evolve simple acoustic patterns into full-blown psych-trippin’ productions!  Thought I was listenin’ to (th’ best parts of) “Abbey Road” on cut 3, “Never Been Better”!  Excellent compositions, wonderful recording & clear love of th’ music combine to give the listener an experience they won’t soon be forgetting!  Good Gourd aw’mighty, shards of BTO on those power git-ars on “Solo Tonight”.  This group will go FAR… keep your ears on them – ‘coz they know how to use th’ music to build your emotions up to a fever pitch… “Holiday” (my favorite trak) is a perfect example of a tune that is accessible to ANY listener with energy in their blood… just KICKZ’, man!  They get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, as well as th’ “PICK” of this issue for “best epic rock”!   Contact at 620 East Lauridsen, Port Angeles, WA 98362, via email to or on their site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Reddy – MEADOWLARKING:  Beautiful lil’ CD popped in through th’ mail slot, featuring Dracut, Massachusetts’ guitarist Chris’s fantastic playing… boy knows how ta’ (literally) dance on them stringz’, kidz… GREAT music!  Some nice acoustic guitars down under, close to where th’ bass riffs keep th’ beats going.  It seems unfortunate (to me) that there’s no website, & th’ “promo” sheet had little info to glean more about the artist(s) from.  We’ll be sure to contact him, though… we want to know more about Chris – before th’ “big guyz” get hold of him!  Absolutely rawkin’ guitar play that lets th’ listener soar to th’ stratosphere (& beyond).  I hear some strains of Jeff Beckian stuph in there, but style-wise, it’s a lot closer to my playin’ pal VisionEar (Jim Konen) over in Pontiac, Michigan.  Crisp recording, excellent licks & a clear love of playing, along with a heavy dose of talent make this album an absolute WINNER – a definite KEEPER!  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Our only complaint was that there weren’t enough trax to get a full “high” out of it!  Keep your EARS on this player – you’ll be seeing/hearing much more from him in th’ months & years to come!  Contact at Digital Kitchen Productions, c/o Chris Reddy, 188 Haverhill St., Dracut, MA 01826, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj   

Dana Cunningham – DANCING AT THE GATE:  Subheaders on the CD jacket say “contemplative piano”, which automatically makes me think – “new agey”, “boring” & 100 other not-so-flattering adjectives.  That shows just how wrong first impressions can be… but, you must listen to Dana’s expressive solo keyboards to appreciate th’ dance she’s able to do with her fingers!  “Reflective” is one of the meanings in the Thesarus… in this case, Ms. Cunningham paints calm (though very much alive) sonic reflections of the wonders around her in New Hampshire.  You won’t find any improv “scorchers” here… no “tearin’-up-th’-keys” or treks to oblivia… simple walks through the countryside, breathing in the beauty and exhaling very creative sound pictures.  If you love solo piano that takes you thru the full range of emotions on the palette, you’ll agree with me – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – a definite KEEPER!  Contact is Dana Cunningham, P.O. Box 512
Jackson NH 03846 USA, via email to or on her site, at   Rotcod Zzaj

Isis – NEW DIRECTIONS:  This beautiful singer was discovered and produced by Arturo Sandoval.  Though th’ release sheet declares it as “Latin Jazz”, it leans more (to my ear) in a “jazz singer” direction.  This may be because it has a pretty even mix of Spanish and English songs, with old standards like “Misty” & “Stormy Weather” on it.  My favorite track is “Stormy”… th’ blues with a down&dirty jazz arrangement.  Any way you listen, you’ll hear th’ talent Isis has for diggin’ down deep & touching th’ listeners’ ears!  I doubt there will be a lot of improvised music fans who will rush out to buy this, but they’ll be missing a very pleasant & relaxing listen.  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Strong production & heavy backup band have a lot to do with that, but Isis is clearly a talent on th’ rise!  Contact at POB 164833, Miami, FL 33116-4833, or via email to  Rotcod Zzaj

Deepak Chopra/Brian Scott Bennett – WHISPERS OF HEALING:  Another “musical healing” CD in the series released by “The Relaxation Company”.  We reviewed one of them in the last issue, “Whispers Of Now”; very enjoyable.  On this outing, Bennett’s music backs reading by Brittney Browne (of texts composed by Deepak.  The compositions (both the music and the spoken word) lead the listener very gently into a state of introspection that could probably be achieved (nearly) as easily by meditation techniques; but it is my belief that the music can/does assist one in getting to the proper attitude much more quickly.  Don’t expect these albums to perform miracles… you must focus in during time that is reserved for renewal!  I enjoyed this one very much… it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us – particularly for therapists needing something that will work very effectively.  Contact via the site at or via email to    Rotcod Zzaj

Greg Grant – MUSTH:  We reviewed a great little CD from Greg in issue # 55, “BISBE STREET”.  This album (came in the same package) features Greg’s intriguing alto & nylon string guitar against equally enchanting drums and percussion by Johnathan Bernson.  Much less formatted, a lot closer to improvised… though the hardcore in improv-land will protest that it’s not “out” enough.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the sensitive and emotional excursions through the spaces between the notes, though.  The players are totally in synch with each other, and never let go of the awareness necessary for creation.  I find myself enjoying this even more than “BISBE STREET”, most likely because it is improvised.  “Across The Courtyard” (track 3) is a wonderful example of what can happen when the energies are allowed to gel slowly, actually growing into a tune.  Some of the cuts could be (just) a little longer, perhaps, but (I understand), you record what you play!  For listeners who want music that is highly original with tasteful colors, this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at POB 191 Fortine, MT 59918, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

SoundDoctrine – AN INCIPIENCE:  PERSEVERANCE – THE SOUNDTRACK TO A NON EXISTENT MOVIE:  Well – if you can get past th’ title (& of course, I’m not positive I’ve got it all down right) – you’ll be RAWK-in!  Jere B, who sent th’ accompanying letter/promo sheet, declares they are an “Alternative Christian Funk Band”… & PHUNK-ee they IZ!  Sum heavy bass-poppin’, kickin’ drums, keyboards that’re highly reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis (or, in spots, George Duke), some great synth-lickz & lotza’ other kewl stuff to git yer’ toes tappin’ & lettin’ th’ gospel flow!  Good Gourd-a-might-ee, if they’d a’ had music with this kind of high energy when I was a baby Boy Scout, I’d still be dancin’ at th’ altar.  As tongue-in-cheekly as that is rendered, there’s an element of truth, to be sure… these folks could have held my attention, even at my highest state of irreverence… & I can’t help but believe that th’ message they preach through their music would be far more attractive (to thee earz’ as WELL as th’ soul) than all th’ finger-pointin’ & brimstone I waded through (I was a P.K., yah).  This is a kickin’ soul-influenced album that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us – along with th’ “PICK” of this issue for “best funk&soul”!  Be sure & SEND us yer’ NEXT release!  Contact via email to  or through their site at  (though I didn’t see any links to the CD there).   Rotcod Zzaj

Jane Blackstone – NATURAL HABITAT (NYC):  Definitely uptown jazz, with some kickin’ vocals by Jane… & she CAN kick!  Her voice has some amazing qualities… sultry as well as sad; joyful as well as jovial; light as well as heavy… well, you get the idea!  Some wonderful jazz players behind her (she plays piano, too, tho’ not on this album).  This isn’t dark-blue-smoky-room stuff, tho’, it’s more like jazz-on-the-garden-lawn, if you get my drift.  The highlight for this listener is her ability to weave a scat/improv in to a heavy standard (“Without A Song”) & still make it come off sounding like it was s’posed to be part of th’ original recording.  I really enjoyed the emotion conveyed on track 3, “The Rainbow I See In Your Eyes”, too.  This is our first listen to Jane’s jumpin’ jazz vocals… a really pleasant & sophisticated album that no true jazz fan will have trouble with me declaring as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact through her site, at or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

the TRADE – I MI LUNASA:  “rich, dark sound” is what th’ promo sheet has at th’ very top… really a great description of what you’ll hear on this cool CD in from Yo’hio!  Definitely alternative, no improvisatory excursions for your ears.  It’s a 4-piece that will quickly wrap yer’ ears into their mystery… traces of some of my psychedelic wanderings in th’ late ’60’s as well.  Enhanced video here, too… b/w, nicely put together, as an added attraction.  They’ve got boundless energy for th’ playing & Robin Wedlock’s vocal style is – in a word – “breathless”.  You can hear a heavy dose of “attitude”, but with their talent for rawkin’ – they’re entitled.  Definitely late-night FM trip kinda’ stuff, with some heav-ee guitars throughout!  Anyone who digs on “th’ trip” ev’ry once in a while will dig this like an archaeologist in Egypt!  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want their music to breath new life into their ears!   Contact at Jetdog Records, 3380 Pendleton St., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221-1138, via email to   or on their site, at   Rotcod Zzaj

Sopi – FANIA:  Sopi is from Sengal in West Africa.  On this (her debut) CD, she treats us to some heartfelt & soulful treatments of songs (mostly) in her native languages (Peulh, Wolof, Sarakhole and Mandingue)… the listener will realize very quickly, though, that it is not the earthly language that is important – she speaks in the language that spirit converses in!  There is a fair amount of call/response here, but Sopi’s vocals are strong and provide a clear presence throughout the album.  The musics that accompany her are in full energy mode, even approaching the orchestral; for that reason, there are far too many players to list here, but in addition to the rhythm (which one might expect) there is also some beautiful acoustic guitar work.  I’m impressed enough to rate this as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who is willing to dig deeper than the words (or the language they’re rendered in).  A GREAT album!  Contact at Tinder Records, 80 Mark Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Meri Von Kleinsmid – CHI-TAPE:  Meri sent this great CD collage of “life in Chicago” – accents & all.  The liner notes (written by our friend Christopher DeLaurenti) point out that Meri’s original tape was “snatched” from various sound bytes while she and her husband were living in thee Windy City (they reside in the Seattle area now… she is an active member of Seattle’s experimental music collective, “SoniCabal”).  Hi & lo fi are married in a fashion that paints a grim portrait of th’ turf some poor souls (in the midwest) inherit… ads, Christian gospel radio from both sides of th’ trax, & pristine polkas will enlighten you as to th’ absolute drudgery that can be experienced (I’m quite familiar with it, ‘coz I grew up about 300 miles east of there).  62 snippets that give you a taste of a life you’ll never want to live… heh! heh!  This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a unique enough sonic experience to merit a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want to hear what some folks hear day-in, day-out.  A definite chronicle of Chi-town in th’ early ’90’s!  Contact at or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Jean-Pierre Saccomani – MUSIC FOR TIME:  Very spacy ambient pieces on this CD in from France.  Our (long time) friend/contributor Jean Luc H. Bertehelot mixed and mastered one of the tracks, so I’m assuming there is some connection (musically) there as well.  Saccomani works in a very orchestral frame to etch musical mem’ries for your pleasure over time.  His compositions use build and release to strong effect, and will stay in your brain for days, weeks… even years!  You won’t experience these pieces as you would a rock tune, obviously… they are the kind of music that serves as background for peaceful dreams (or nitemares, depending on what you ate just before retiring)… but you will not soon forget them, either.  This was particularly true of the title trak, which is my favorite on the album.  Headphones are strongly advised, as that’s the best way to hear what Jean-Pierre is saying to you.  If you can’t settle back for an hour or so, you may not enjoy this… but if you can, you’ll agree that (for space/ambient fans) this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Deep and invasive music with a few pleasant sonic surprises.  Contact at 11 Avenue Montaigne, 77270 Villeparisis, France, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Frank O. Pollizzi Band – PROFITABLE MUSIC FOR THE YOUTH OF AMERICA:  Profitable in what sense, we wonderz’, Frank?  More’n likely, it’s th’ historical merit that makes it worth gettin’ this great lil’ CD!  History is relived, in a certain sense, as Mr. Pollizzi plays guitars, drumz & bass that are hauntingly similar to thee Zzaj gourd – UNCA’ FRANK (as in Zappa).  OTOH, Zappa would’ve prob’ly never condoned such a lotta’ loop-dub stuph… he would have approved of th’ overall musical experience, tho’… rawkin’ guitars that stick a B-I-G (middle) finger in th’ face(s) of thee moralists & traditionalists!  Is it destined to become a collectors item?  Only for collectors of insanity.  Is it ROCK?  Waall… almost… it IS independent & energetic music that is highly creative; & that sez’ enough for this reviewer to rate it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  If you dig th’ obviously odd – GET THIS ONE!   Contact at 3649 W. Pony Trail, Tucson, AZ 85742, or via email to  Rotcod Zzaj

Diane Renay – SOME THINGS OLD & SOME THINGS NEW:  Some of the songs/styles on Diane’s CD will make you (if you’re old enough) nostalgic for old episodes of “Surfside 6” or “Hawaiian Eye”…. some of those old shows that Connie Stevens used to sing in.  Actually, she sings th’ kinds of songs I grew up on… Pat Boone (in his heyday, before th’ scandals) & Patty Duke (“It’s My Party”) kinda’ stuff!  It’s a double CD, so plan on lots of chocolate malts & bubble-skirts in yer’ den to get mentally prepared for the listening.   There certainly won’t be too many fans of improv/jazz beatin’ th’ record store doors down to snatch this album up… but th’ katz’ I used to smoke cigz’ with outside th’ soda shop (imagine they’re STILL hangin’ out there, too) will prob’ly dig this.  All in all, a nice enough remembrance to get it a RECOMMENDED for those listeners who wanna’ remember their first (’60’s) date.  Contact at Diane Renay, Inc., POB 96836, Las Vegas, NV 89193   Rotcod Zzaj

The Horse Cock Kids – JAYROCK:  We reviewed these volkz’ way back in issue # 28… so itz’ been a few issues (& a few years) since we heard them.  Still really homespun & definitely D.I.Y!  There are sections where it sounds like th’ ol’ “Rubber Soul” recording sessions, very “Beatles-zy”… others where you could swear th’ “Doobie Brothers” were reachin’ out to touch yer’ ears (track 11, “Fast One”).  As in th’ first outing, there’s lots of acoustic guitar & some nice vocal harmonies comin’ off.  Since there are 50 cuts on th’ album, none are longer than a minute & some are only a few seconds long.  It’s a fun thang that merits a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all listeners who want a taste o’ homespun… & definitely in th’ original spirit of D.I.Y.  To contact “HCK”… visit them on th’ pages at, via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Roger Espinoza – CAFE FUEGO:  Lovers of luscious Latino guitar & passionate percussion everywhere will (or ought to, anyway) FLOCK to buy this one!  Roger’s guitars are enchanting, but (at the same time) persuasive & powerful.  If your blood hasn’t “moved” in a while, it WILL when you listen to this!  Espinoza has a strong style on the strings, but not in an overpowering sense… he communicates a sense of life lived in all it’s passion (and/or fury).  Excellent recording that makes all the instruments come through the speakers as though he was playing a concert for you in your living room.  The CD is a delight to listen to, one of the best Latino-based musical albums I’ve heard in the last year… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  High-spirited & lovely music for an afternoon/evening of great listening!  Contact through the pages at or via the publicist (MUSIK INTERNATIONAL), at   Rotcod Zzaj

Hook – HE’S THE PANTS:  Or, so th’ promo sheet… AND th’ website… AND th’… well, you get thee idea.  Th’ difference betwixt Hook & so many other pretenders to th’ “underground” throne, tho’, is that he actually understands those beats… knows how to compose something that’s meaningful to thee ear, th’ mind, th’ phroggin’ heart, even!  I am impressed – which I’m sure was his intent – & you will be too.  Really broad range of styles, synths with progbeatz’, spirited treks that border on th’ fringe o’ hip-hop & some nice echoed vox stuph that is really blended nicely into th’ mix.  Th’ only problem I had with it is that there wasn’t even a trak-list, or credits… you can go to his site, at & find a lot of information, but I’m just old-fashioned enuff ta’ want some kind o’ cover art.  Matters not a whit, tho’, ‘coz this kid’s got some great rhythms (very danceable, too) & a clear musical sense of where he’s goin’ with it… gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  We’re hopin’ Hook will send more of these excellent releases our way.  Contact at th’ afore-noted site, or via email to    Rotcod Zzaj

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  by luke buckham

factory tears


the twilight had a whole tree of smashed oranges in its mouth
i wrap her in her own blankets
and she casts them off
to lick up gasoline with fabric on the flickering rugs
that stretch into the unexplored woods yanked by headlights
the twilight had a whole tree of smashed oranges in its mouth
magnetic lipsticks bending the mirrors toward the city
reflection smeared beyond time
i wrapped her in her own blankets
she threw them off
the bedroom floor turned to ice under my feet


Christine Hamm
23-33 30th Ave, #b-7
Astoria, NY  11102


Thirteen Ways of Killing a Kitten

I start to fill the tub.
The phone rings and I answer it.

I hear a lamp being knocked over in the next room.
I slam the door open.

I bring home a plastic bag of groceries. I leave
the bag on the kitchen floor while I do laundry.

I open the dryer door to check my clothes.
Theyre not dry yet.  I close the door and turn
the dryer on.

I chase the kitten.  I trip and theres an
unpleasant noise.

My front door is heavy and poorly weighted.
It swings shut before I can stop it.

I come home one day and it has disappeared.
No trace. Ever.

I put down roach motels.

My window is propped open by a cheap screen.
The screens tips under pressure and the window falls.

I use flea powder.

Theres an older, jealous cat.

I step away from the stove to watch the X-files
while spaghetti boils.

In my dream, I give birth to the kitten.  I hold it over the rocks
at the ocean and it falls.  I cant stop it.  It disappears.  I hold it in my
wrapped in a pink blanket, face up, then its gone.



Christine Hamm
23-33 30th Ave, #b-7
Astoria, NY  11102

In the elevator

going up to your apartment
you jam your hand
down the front of my pants.
And I’m not wearing underwear.
This is sudden and
makes me wet
but I think you close your eyes
not to see me
but to see yourself.
You’re living in your own private
porno flick.
I’m not starring.
I’m just an extra.
I’m just along for the ride.



Christine Hamm
23-33 30th Ave, #b-7
Astoria, NY  11102

Poem for Richard

In your loft
with the lights low
we sit talking
of religion, color theory
and Spielberg:
while I just want
to fuck




by Charles Rice Goff III (1984)


Spots In The Swirl


mold in bathtubs

ghosts on TVs

typos in libraries

coughs in symphonies

rust in superstructures

shorts in utilities

poinsons in waters

weapons in nations

prisoners in governments

humans in environments


Oh the pain of not being remembered

Either with sorrow or regret

Is worse, I know, than knowing those

Who will never let you forget.


My Confusion

Lost in my confusion.
Contradicting my lies.
I have these feelings,
They aren’t gonna die.

Remorse is a virtue,
Find out what I did.
Confusion is burning,
It’s time that I hid.

The dark shines upon me,
Clouding my path.
Something has filled me,
Boiling my wrath.

To die would be gracious,
Drop out of the race.
To hide in the dark side,
Not showing my face.

Cautious am I,
To know my heart ache,
End my confusion,
How long will it take.

Caved in my crevice,
Hide in my hole.
The fires of passion,
Still burn in my soul.

My head slowly spirals,
My conscious decays.
So stop my frustration.
Please! Take it away.

Ad Infinitum,
Never to end.
My lost salvation,
Will buckle and bend.

Stop my confusion,
End the onslaught,
For my desolation,
Against, I have fought.

To gaze into starlight,
To smile without fear.
I never will know these,
My confusion is here.

While many do fear it.
I know all is lost.
For deep in my soul,
A marked line have I cross’t.

To find a clear motive,
To search and be seen.
And all that I ask for:
‘Gainst someone to lean.

So notice my warning,
Don’t follow my plight.
Confusion confused me.
Beware of the night.

A tale I doth tell you.
Not to fear but to learn.
So stop my confusion,
Is all that I yearn.

From dawn till time ending,
Hold in my embrace.
Stop raging bitterness,
Drop out of the race.

Thoughts of mere magic,
Grandeur, delusion.
Stuck in euphoria.
Stop my confusion.

So follow my teachings,
Take heed, straightaway.
Show your emotions,
Keep confusion away.

Not hear my advice,
Time will tell tale.
Carry on your pilgrimage.
Through thunder, storm, hail.

Ian Miller


by Charles Rice Goff III (1991)


Good Friday


As I celebrated the anniversary of the crucifixion,

the construction workers were pouding in their nails downstairs.

I could taste a bit of Christ’s blood

as every 6:30  AM nail was hammered into my eardrums.

On Easter Sabbath the do-unto-you brothers rested, thank the Lord.

On Monday the devils returned with buzzsaws from Hell.

The deity of Progress offered no mercy.


  by luke buckham


immediate access


escalators pushing the walls into beauty
driveway touching the trees shadow alive
electrical-wire tumbleweeds shrink in my cobbled vision
the boards of unbuilt houses pile up
becoming walls of laziness
the pudendas in the porn magazines
are sealed shut by television sunlight
cold accidental flesh odors trimmed
knives wafting out through kitchen windows
materialising in a hand that doesn’t want them
the blades pop out of the handles with a smell of exstinct plants
fossilized onions carrots buried by stalagmites
basement odors dragged by gentle sawblades
carving out a boat that is warped by mere oxygen


by Charles Rice Goff III (1991)




Two mosquitoes land on my skin.

They push their bloodsucking mouths right in.

They fatten and fly,

and they mate in the sky,

my blood in their eggs when they die.



by Charles Rice Goff III (1985)


Here Now


I started thinking about being there,

and it took me about a second to conjure the idea

that must have subconsciously thought about

thinking about being there

before I could possibly know

that I’d be consciously thinking about being there,

and I’ll bet that you’re just a bit disappointed 

that amidst this questionable group of words

is where we ended up.

Just think of where you could have been…



Blackest Rose

When the world looks down,
and the sky seems grey,
who know that love
would end this day?

If the pitch black rose,
would wither and die,
Would the dreamers sleep?
And would the hopefuls cry?

If from a glance,
came a lustful stare,
Then would you stop?
Or would you care?

When the time is right,
When the signals show,
Will a love, like rose,
begin to grow?

Ian Miller  – – –  12th June 2002


  by luke buckham


cancelled once


walking outside the sores of the body
watching the saxophone trampled by cars
letting out it’s last discordant notes
i see children spending my own energy
and my vision peels back the faces of their parents
then my skin cells fall through their grocery bags
tunneling through the off-white textures of seeds
inside the vegetables about to be completed by the stomach
and robbed of individual color
i want to swallow the streets whole
but there’s no basin elsewhere to vomit them into





Zzaj:  I’ve been riding this “etherspace wave” for some many years now…  how many years since YOU started surfin’ that wave?

CRGIII:  Your question has two answers. In the sense of a generic ethersurf of recording and performing strange and unusual “music”, that probably started when I was about 4 years old in 1963 or so. My parents got a reel to reel tape recorder that totally fascinated my innocent little brain. Although I no longer possess any of these ancient documents, I still have a couple of pieces that I recorded when I was about 12: covers of Beatles songs done with Jews harp and kazoo, overdubbed using this same primitive parental recorder and a portable Panasonic. I learned clarinet in third grade, giving me a bit of experience in the world of traditional instruments and western musical notation. Bored with the hokey junk I was forced to learn on the clarinet, I gave up my lessons by sixth grade and haven’t had any traditional music instruction since. Composing and performing continued to be part of my life though—acquiring a guitar at age 15, followed by an ever-growing collection of recording devices and instruments as time progressed. Recordings that others might consider to be interesting started to flow around 1979. My residence in Berkeley I’m sure influenced these “ethereal” works. I got heavily into the distribution and exchange of these recordings in the early/mid 1980’s, founding the Taped Rugs label during that time.

The second “answer” involves a project that I still am a part of, “The Herd Of The ETHER SPACE.” This is the name given to a vast variety of sonic interactions with several different audio explorers, core members being myself, Killr Kaswan, Robert Silverman, George Gibson, Stu Sands, and Steve Schaer. I was involved in a number of projects (Temporarily K.Y., -Ing, Disism) during the time that many of the first Herd compositions were created, but the first Herd recordings were never released nor even named until about 1989. At that point in time the Herd became the project that I was most involved in until I moved to Kansas in 1996. Killr, Robert, and I just recorded together last summer, so the Herd lives on. Kansas was the birthplace of my more recent collaborative efforts: Turkey Makes Me Sleepy and Magic Potty Babies.

Zzaj:  When it comes to musical adventure, you seem to have a premium on “out” composition.  Where does that come from?  Is it in your blood, or is it “learned”?

CRGIII:  In addition to the heavy influences of those I’ve collaborated with, I think my work is mostly a reaction to all the various things, audio and otherwise, that my little brain gets exposed to. Often my works are a reaction to those things in my life over which I have no control, attempting to funnel my frustrations into something other than whining and self pity and my joys into celebrations that others can share. I also get bored rather easily, so I’m always striving to create something that doesn’t sound like anything else. Each composition has its own life, a style that fits the purpose, and while there are certainly elements of just about every musical style in my works, I find no need nor desire to follow anyone else’s particular formula unless it seems appropriate.

A lot of my techniques are bastardized versions of what I hear and see. A good example is how I learned to create reel to reel tape loops from watching a number of Frippertronics performances. With –Ing and Disism, I worked with individuals who co-wrote material that used the tape loop as a compositional tool for pieces that could be recreated for live performance. Another bastardization is my vocal style, which contains elements of vocal techniques used by Todd Rundgren, Karen Carpenter, Sammy Davis, Homer Flynn, Ray Collins, and Diamanda Galas (now isn’t that a potent cocktail?)

Zzaj:  Please describe your “studio” setting (no matter how humble or grandiose).

CRGIII:  I’ve got a lot of tape recorders, phonographs, and a computer. These devices are all used as compositional tools.   I have a large collection of odd records and tapes, which includes a lot of spoken word and musical nonsense to edit materials from. I snip up bits of internet samples and TV streams. I also like to make “field recordings” of just about anything, and these come in handy for composing as well.

As for “traditional” instruments: some guitars, a clarinet, an alto sax, a micro moog, a (very warped) bass, a large collection of flutes and whistles, and a whole bunch of percussion goodies fill up the tool box. I also have a great big bunch of toy instruments, of both the acoustic and electronic variety, and I often find ways of monkeying the electronic ones to do things that they weren’t intended to do. One of my faves of these is a thing that creates both train and animal sounds which I augmented with a pitch bender. Of course I enjoy making my own instruments from scratch too, and I have a large collection of wind and percussive types.

Zzaj:  Our readers need to know the whereabouts of your WWW lair… please point them in the write direction… & expound a bit on what your website “means” in the greater scheme.

CRGIII:  Well, the site is Taped Rugs Productions at As for what’s in there, there’s a whole lot of sounds from various projects, some reviews and interviews, a bunch of visuals, links, and, of course, a catalog. There’s about 100 recordings in the catalog. As far as the site’s “meaning”, hmmm….: a place for the exchange of ideas maybe, certainly not a place for making profits. As is the case for most avant home recorders, I spend a lot more money than I make on my artish endeavors, and my intent is not to capitali$e from my work, but to share it.   My little brain’s definition of what art is: an expression of human interaction, a close approximation of something sacred. I don’t have any first hand memories of what went on in human prehistory, but I get the feeling that musical expression started long before the idea of “profit” was ever conceived of. Music for money takes away some of its power, and I want all the musical power I can get. People can buy my recordings, but I try to charge just enough to cover my expenses. Mostly I trade them with other sonic explorers for the sake of expanding mutual experiences.

Zzaj:  There are many players in today’s “underground” scene.  The truly great ones (in my opinion) are those no one ever hears of until they happen upon a tape or CD by them.  Who are some of these “unknowns” (in your opinion).

CRGIII:  Well, for me, having been involved in the whole home recording underworld for so long, “unknown” is a very relative term. I’d rather refer to these individuals as heroes who haven’t entered the consciousness of mainstream society, but who have made a significant mark on the world of audio exploration. It would be difficult to name them all, and I certainly don’t want to offend anyone I leave out. Some of the pioneers who immediately come to mind for having stuck with their craft with persistence and ever-progressing creativeness include Hal McGee, Chris Phinney, Don Campau, Al Margolis, Bret Hart, Zan Hoffman, Brian Noring, Amy Denio, Tom Sutter, Michael J. Bowman, and indeed you yourself Rotcod. I have a collection of home recordings that is so vast, it’s hard for me to find ways to store it all in my house. Among those tapes, CDs, and records, I have way too many favorites to mention here, including large collections of material that’s all from one person or project. A couple of the more recent entries into the fray who I believe are producing a lot of excellent work are Tom Bollinger of Yippee Bean, Tim and Terry of Stone Premonitions, and the one-of-a-kind Buzzsaw.

Zzaj:  Are you a blood (or by marriage) relative of Sun Ra?

CRGIII:  No, but I did feel very much “at home” watching him perform. Nice of you to ask though.

Zzaj:  You (like myself) seem to be greatly aware of the necessary junctures of words/music.  Why is this so?  Did you lust for your English teacher, or what?

CRGIII:  I’ve got two writing degrees from UC Berkeley, for whatever that’s worth. I started writing creatively when I was about 6. My English teachers were always very supportive of my writing skills, but seldom sexy. Language is just another art that I’ve practiced extensively, and, as with anything else, practice leads to developing techniques. Communication seems to come in many forms, and I enjoy dabbling in as many as I can. I’m not sure why—probably just brain cell arrangement.

Zzaj:  If you were writing the Zzaj-Rant (as guest ranter), what would you rant about first?

CRGIII:  I think I’ve done a bit too much ranting already here, but if you want more, I’ll rant about how the potential for humanity is so great, but those who hold so much of the power to fulfill that potential are so lame. More of the world’s resources are used to kill, hurt, and control people than for any other purpose, and that’s just plain stupid.

Zzaj:   What “projects” do you have coming up in the next year (or so)?

CRGIII:  Working right now on a collab with Bret Hart and Hal McGee that I think’s gonna be a winner. Got a lot of solo stuff going on with computer edited compositions. Hoping to do some cover songs later this year. Just recently I started some minimalistic projects with local collabors Mike Adams and Josh Duringer. I hope to get my old Turkey buddie Eric Matchett involved in these too, and after enough stuff’s collected, issuing it for public scrutiny.

Zzaj:  Words of wisdom for all those aspiring “ether-junkies” out there in D.I.Y.-land?

CRGIII:  Feel it, express it, share it, and always keep in mind that the sun’s gonna melt the earth some day


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     I don’t usually ever consider putting myself (or my thoughts) in a format like this; considering the events of our current political state make it appear we may be living in what may be described in the future as a time of historical significance in this country; therefore, I MUST write…


     We all are aware of what a mess this country has become.

all indications point to a “tip of the iceberg” situation. you

know the details. (how could you not); there’s hardly anyone that hasn’t been touched in some way by the goings on in the last year or so. and it’s not just about terrorisim that i’m talking about here.  I,  as well as many now living in this country, share in a national anger over the failed promise of the american dream.

Politicians and big business here apparently now fancy themselves as improvisors of policy and practice; their lack of chops, however, is obvious; this stuff, no matter how it’s played (damage control), all sounds bad!


At one time we were a bright shiney star with boundless energy. We were a warm and fuzzy land of opportunity.

Then over the last few years, we began to swell into a huge red giant burning up everything inside us.    Now we’re at the beginning of a point where everything seems to be collapsing upon itself.     America is now trapped in the singularity and none of us can escape it.   Is this the end of the world?   Perhaps!   The end of America?    Well…yea, i think so.


I’ll never invest in this country again. I don’t want an American car (even if most most of it is built in mexico).  I don’t want to be marketed to any more, reduced to widgets whose only purpose is something you extract money from.  Guilty or not, we’re all  going down with the ship this time.   At the helm, our multitasking leaders, those who are running and ruining this country at the same time.   Your blatent disrespect has earned my apathy.


If John Wayne was alive he’d probly be sayin somthin’ like

“thanks Osama, we’ll take it from here!”  13 original colonies (and isn’t that an interesting number)


America…there’s nothing right and nothing left.


Who knew?


Till next time….