A Real Nice Clambake
(Butte County Free Music Society - 35) CDR $8.00 (Out-of-stock)
Recorded at a confusing and ambiguous event in 1987 at Wooj, where pockets of inexplicable activity included the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble applying their singular style of awkward to guitars, bass, Casio, wooden recorders, mandolins. Cassette players throughout the house were recording, while others played loops, telephone answering machine messages, and field recordings. Numerous television sets broadcast anything from The Brady Bunch to cornball noir, while radios broadcast The Isley Brothers, Crosby Stills & Nash, XTC, Paper Lace, Malcolm McLaren, and The Archies. Hours and hours of material was edited into four tracks totaling 51 minutes in length. The incidental, the involuntary, the unintended and the accidental take the lead on A Real Nice Clambake, which captures and repeats sneezes, coughs, burps, mumbles, grunts, moans, clicks, clacks, and clunks, the obnoxious zont of cables getting plugged in, tape hiss, bottles opening, keys and bottle openers rattling on tables, silverware scuttling on porcelain plates, and doors slamming. Mics are jostled and papers are shuffled, amid the spastic xylophone–windchime hybrid of coffee mugs getting stirred with strange vigor. The motor of one of the tape recorders wheezes so loudly that its own microphone picks up the sound. The group’s magical ineptitude perseveres through abrupt left turn after abrupt left turn, dizzying in their constancy, and through stretches of meandering guitar-playing, repetition, interruption, and the peculiar declarations of those present. Released to coincide with Bren't Lewiis's performance at Colour Out Of Space, November 2011. Includes an Industrial Expressionist collage made of hand-painted screen, fragment of found photograph, and defective scrap from commercial print shop.
At The North Pole, Easter Day, 1982
(What The ... - WHAT012) LP (one-sided) + 3in CDR $14.00
In comparison to the only other available 1980s recording of a complete live performance by the BLE (the side-long “Industrial Barbecue,” on the BUFMS boxset), At The North Pole, Easter Day, 1982 is starker and more minimal overall. Performing as a quintet at an open mic night in a student cafeteria, the group had played live only once prior and had yet to amass the collection of ubiquitous tape players and answering machines that accompanied most subsequent performances and recordings. The absence of overt forward progress in some parts gives the performance an incidental resemblance to those tense moments in grim power electronics just before the singer goes berserk, but then ridiculous verbal repetitions and Top 40 references come out of nowhere like nerdy Fluxus rehearsals in the middle of a New Orleans funeral. Other segments highlight the difference between aboriginal metal percussion and pots ’n’ pans getting banged together by people with a remarkably spastic sense of rhythm. Visually, Bren’t Lewiis were like a cross between the jackets of early Nurse With Wound albums and a bunch of hicks impersonating Spike Jones and His City Slickers. Television sets flickered throughout. Doug Roberts brought his bicycle onstage. Dressed in a labcoat and white wool-felt USAF boots, howling into his signature plastic lawn flamingo, Lucian Tielens stretched the limits of publicly acceptable intimate congress with inanimate objects. Tim Smyth wore a bunch of Christmas lights attached to a Civil Defense helmet. Amoeba Man had a garbage bag filled with helium balloons taped to his head and toilet paper wrapped around his face. As some sort of oblique Day-Glo homage to Carmen Miranda, Gnarlos wore a handmade upside-down sweatsuit. The amplified 21-foot aluminum sailboat mast, the undisputed star of the show, was so unwieldy that use of a special freight door was required just to get in and out of the building, and yet a single, lonely metallic “ploong!” was pretty much the limit of its sonic palette -- appropriate testament to the methodology of this absurdly inefficient group. Includes insert printed with glow-in-the-dark ink, and a reproduction of the flyer advertising the show. Edition of 129. All orders placed here include a 3-inch CDR of previously unreleased hoot, not available elsewhere.
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS63) CDR $8.00
The first of two warm-up prequels to the group’s upcoming reimagining of Live at Pompeii, “Squat And Elevate The Perforated Cylinder” sweeps swatches of ring modulator grit across expansive Herbertian wastelands like second-hand, moose-befouled flying carpets. Lucian Tielens and Gnarlos attack the fetid void by cacking together spritz mosaics sourced from an interstellar vinegar bath. The newest member of the group, Count Darkula draws on previous experiences within the cold hard swamp and fires off volleys of epic woont, diseased mastication struggles, and mechanical flutters. Picking up on the intrusion of turd-nourished car alarms (because Bren’t Lewiis always records with the windows open), The City Councilman counter-attacks with fractured yelps from bio-chimerical slaughterhouses and a black yoga move known as “upward oozing glue gun.” Fragments of his electric guitar fwa-garnk seep into the obstacle course from all corners, deflecting mushy roars as they deep-throat throbbing and discordant echo. The second one “Plummeting Blobs Of Unguent” is slightly more low key but every bit the exercise in weightless, animalistic flailing. Pre-recorded reel-to-reel tape yoink passes through layers and layers of distressed transmissions. The edges of unidentified blocks of congealed fluids crackle and crumble. Fur-choked warbles pulsate from the intestines of a lunatic grizzly sickened by the irresistible sweetness of blood berries and lead paint. The distant screeches of metallic fruitflies gnawing the mold off the sides of a dumpster become the sickening threat-assessment howls of cats with telephone abdomens. Bracketing the twin epics are: a sullen invocation by gargoyles forced to navigate insectoid percussion, the luminescent yawp of Babuna Virus, belligerent gurgitations, and acid reassurances; and Limphoma’s impromptu, heckle-based “My Down Booties Were Eaten By Pat’s Dog,” recorded live opening for The Tenses, ending the album in a mangle of stomped-upon slurry.
F.A. Henderson's Casino Sordide
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS61) CDR $8.00
Recorded in Portland, Oregon, under the influence of King Tubby, The Frogs, and shared fantasies about a 30th Century interpretation of Grey Gardens, the foundational spwahaohao of F.A. Henderson’s Casino Sordide could easily pass as the soundtrack for a demented, Justice-Schanfarber-hosted straight-to-public-access travelogue. The ingredients manifest includes: jumbush; damaged sitar; shamisen-type thing; kalimba seemingly custom-made for Richard Keel; suitcase zipper; messed-up log with big lead bolts, wire, and sounding gourd attached (like a Gambian ko that could double as a cudgel for a midget Viking); metal lid from tea canister; ScratchBox; air mattress pump; acoustic guitar; toy ukulele; flutish wind-instrument made of wood; Velcro; big exercise ball; bells; lychee-shaped keychain; metal ruler; plastic lid from a bottle of hot flash pills; homemade zither; cat toy; aloe vera gel; mild dyspepsia; and wood scraped with pushpins. These quiet, understated recordings are considerably gilded by overdubs of loops, tape manipulation, found noises, remote individual performances by farflung members of the group. Two mid-’80s tracks previously released on their debut cassette Make It Stop, along with new collage pieces, cast this album as the red-headed stepchild of Pork Queen’s Strang geeking the sort of quasi-shaman visions present on Buffy Saint-Marie’s Illuminations, covertly harassed by parasitic sociopaths, temple desecrators, and a language-impaired tribe locked in a basement long after the tornado has passed.
Fix It Again, Tony
(Butte County Free Music Society - 45) LP $20.00
This first-time collaboration by avatars of the new generation of European improv and blue-haired spazimodo mutants is something of a gloriously awkward thwack marathon of crumbled guitar noise, otherworldly howls, and stuff falling down stairs. The spontaneous recordings, performed in a single 90-minute session, are cut-up, multi-tracked, looped, and reassembled into thirty-two pieces that are more scrambled than the unrealized fears of an acute entomophobe, and, according to Morgia, “sometimes sound like Twin Infinitives chewed by Polyphemus.” Cover art by the amazing Todd Emmert. Edition of 175.
Found On Road, Dead
(Butte County Free Music Society - 46) CDR $8.00
A single track, just over sixty minutes long — the companion piece to the quartet's LP Fix It Again, Tony, using the same material from the same session, completely different mix and edit. Covers are hand-cut from discarded rejects rescued at a print shop. Insert has small metallic medallion glued to it. Edition of 50.
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS49) CDR $8.00
What The Red Dragonfly calls “the well-mapped out, but slightly unmeasured, off-kilter nature” of Bren’t Lewiis’s (ahem) music welcomes overmodulation, sound saturation, tape hiss, tape decay, tape damage, room noise, and many an audio defect aided and abetted by AM radio, cell phones, police scanners, weather-damaged microphones and speakers, and anything else that could impinge signal fidelity. Massive tape collages dejectedly shuffle through hopelessness and despair. Percussion-only pieces seem to be aiming for regal, yet achieve debasement. Slowed-down, amplified voices reinforce the feeling of beaten exhaustion. Tempos come from objects getting dragged clumsily across the floor and field recordings of children, machines, and workers. The same mound of objects, electric gizmos and detritus from Rapture Piles is here (as well as some of the same tape loops and answering machine microcassettes), along with new recordings of throat-clutchingly spastic electric guitar noise, claustrophobic violin, plainly declaimed words, reel-to-reel tape, and more decrepit toys. Scandalously repetitious, enthralled by the arbitrary, and peculiarly deadpan, Bren’t Lewiis does all three in a minute and a half and makes it seem like a month. Comes with a reproduction of one of the original 24 tickets to the never-performed theater piece. Edition of 50.
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS58) CDR $8.00
On the duskiest and murkiest album so far by this group of noise hillbillies, looped excerpts from studio improvisations form the congealed muck where chunky ashes of cacophonous live recordings embed and dissolve like wilted arugula paste. The album’s opening and closing tracks tear off their own feathers and hurl themselves down an embankment, choreographed by Tom Timpson’s eBay-worthy 45s on the turntable. Corrupted technique is on fine display here — a cross between Aufgehoben with lobotomies, a tourist hotel band attempting to cover The Starfuckers, and the Christian folk trio Jandek once played accordion with during his days in the military. Defeated-sounding whine’n’wheeze is the order of the day, as are Nyoukis/Constance-influenced collisions of the preordained and the spontaneously erupting, in which cut-up, looped noises and purposeful soliloquies compete with one another and sickeningly abstracted content. Lucian Tielens, wielding guitar and antique potato masher, wreaks King Guillotine-like depuration upon the unclean. Among the dark guitar extrapolations, dense processing, no-instruments montages, field recordings, live performances, and zero tolerance for finesse, warmth, or stylishness, highlights include “Baked Alaska,’’ the score for immobilist filmmaker Melvin John Addington’s Vast Expanse Of Rock And Snow, performed live by Tielens and Gnarlos at Colour Out Of Space in 2011, using nothing but toys and objects purchased at 99p shops in Brighton, England; and a centrally located duet by Tielens on Fisher-Price turntable and Silvia Kastel on electronics and voice, burbling like a mudpit underneath a crimson haze with more grace than typically dared by BuFMS mutants. With three inserts, including flyer reproductions and an industrial expressionist collage. Edition of 100
Harvester Of Eyes
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS57) CDR $8.00
A year in the making and largely informed by the Ensemble’s roots and experiences in the level of DIY broadcasting that SCTV once lovingly parodied, this 56-track bucket of stovies is Bren’t Lewiis’s most thorough homage yet to vox populi media: call-in AM radio, YouTube, public access TV, infomercial fails, obsolete instructionals, and amateur self-help cassettes that offer guidance of dubious utility. You get several meanings in the blink of an eye (to paraphrase Olivia Tremor Control) in this 69-minute rationality-flouting obstacle course. Assertions and their opposites contain veracity and patent untruth. Cyclical repetition meets the deliberately deployed and the gloriously arbitrary. Electric guitars and toy instruments and maniacal grunts careen across layers of grinding reel-to-reel noise and compromised cellphone transmissions. Looped fweeps and saturated hornk keep time throughout stretches of impromptu stress tests, insect percussion, anonymous background rumbles and rustles, pizza cutter schwing, and the crackle of scratchy old thrift store records. Sing-song chirps from skewed pop and cult memories meet hacked and damaged recordings of insufficient improv and anthropomorphized household objects. With two inserts. Edition of 100
All Tedium House orders of this item include the bonus three-inch CDR Translation Of The Dress, with twenty-two tracks in twenty minutes.
Make It Stop
(Training Bra) 7-inch $6.00 (Out-of-stock)
The debut vinyl by this early ’80s free-improv, Smegma-influenced outsider collective of Butte County-based freaks. Found objects, homemade instruments, prerecorded tapes and vinyl, psychotic cover versions of AM fodder, and a resolute lack of music skills abound. "Deeply peculiar," Weird Record of the Week — CMJ. Members went on to play in Vomit Launch and Glands of External Secretion.
Map of Something?
(Butte County Free Music Society - 51) CDR $8.00 (Out-of-stock)
Two long, trigger-word-dominated tracks composited from a grim live set at The Terminal in Oakland and a hotel room recording. Kitchen-based shenanigans, inbred instrumental passages, pre-recorded voices and sound effects, live noise, samples, loops, electronics, home-made devices, field recordings, and fractured readings derived from DVD liner notes and hospitality literature. Students of veterinary medicine will find much in common here with their study of digestive disorders of livestock. All feel-good grooves are dead on arrival, put out of their misery by the lethal anti-suave of this ensemble with a perpetually rustled hive mind. Edition of 50.
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS62) CDR $8.00
In abundance here are excerpts from a March 2016 appearance in the Creative Music Guild’s Outset Series at Turn Turn Turn in Portland, Oregon -- plastic egg stomps and solitary hockey ape by Gnarlos; ecto-synchronous screech from cassette players left under chairs and tables, pre-recorded by Babuna Virus, Lindy Lettuce, and The Viper; and Lucian Tielens in DJ Bruce Haack mode with his gigantic all-in-one toy console. Highlights from No Spray 205 sessions include a marvelous solo by Tielens on popcorn box, bent Memorial Day ragas with mammoth curls, and a cut-up of a clutzy failure’s stammering death spirals sourced from a found self-help cassette. But it’s the 26-minute storage closet recording “Erika’s Last Day” that is the centerpiece of the album. From Tom Timpson on the credit card machines to newest ensemble member Count Darkula raking a window to nowhere and working cardboard tubes like Paul Lynde dry heaving into a didgeridoo, the only other source for such extended anxiety and astonished dread would be a psychic battle between a levitating junior high school shop class and a home-ec class rolling around the kitchen blind-folded. One part guerilla confinement test, one part circular firing squad, the no-instruments track boasts the wince-inducing weeent of metal clothes hangers getting dragged across a metal dowel, old doors opening and closing, the hoarse scrape of porcelain mugs and bowls grinding on a nail sticking out of the wall, the brittle clink of jars and vases rotating against one another, and the insane helium whine of sticks making frantic scribbling gestures on cardboard boxes. Slats on doors of wooden cabinets and plastic hangers are clacked; boxes of nails and screws are shaken; cans of paint, vacuum cleaner tube, metal rods and anything else that could be held onto are dropped on the floor and kicked back and forth. So, yeah, it’s a very percussive odyssey, in the same sense that a hornet’s nest thwacked moments ago with a tennis racket could also be considered percussive. Using enhanced cross- pollination techniques such as running the water in the sink and molesting components of half-built mannequins, the group passes an important milestone in their self-imposed primal grunt therapy.
(Butte County Free Music Society - 33) CDR $8.00 (Out-of-stock)
Performed inside a darkened, cavernous student union on the evening of April 28, 1984, this after-hours guerrilla action corrupts the thirteenth text from Aus den Sieben Tagen in a barn where damaged minotaurs are stabled. Lucian Tielens, Tim Smyth and Gnarlos were in constant motion, re-positioning themselves throughout the building, possessed by plastic flamingo, goink visions, and the compulsion to insert their heads into buckets and howl. Four excerpts totaling eight minutes in length appear on Three Christs of Ypsilanti (Siltbreeze 2010), but this is the first and only time the recording of the complete, uninterrupted 47-minute session has been available. In addition to "hurled cafeteria cutlery, defective boomboxes and answering machines blaring prerecorded tape, the public piano, and a variety of unidentified flailing objects," brentstrumentation includes The Nube Tube (a corrugated hose from a hair dryer swung like a bullroarer), harmonica, metal remnants of antique armaments, hula hoop, socket wrench, aluminum bicycle crankset, toy guitars, toy pianos, bongos, glassware, marbles chucked off the balcony, the staircase, aluminum cans (kicked), pie tins (spun), metal coils, jewelry, Star Wars pinball machine, moans, gurns, chants, sneezes, whistles and insectoid heralds. Includes an Industrial Expressionist collage made of hand-painted screen, fragment of found photograph, and defective scrap from commercial print shop. Edition of 50.
(Butte County Free Music Society - 48) CDR $8.00
Another transmission from the pataphysical intersection of surrealist cabaret, show-tune bombast, enhanced dementia, and vintage Caedmon Records, recorded live in San Francisco, October 2012. No instruments were used in the rendering of the ensemble's emerald-colored darkness, jagged with alien corrosion and haze that befouls the synapses, just mounds of thrift store objects and yard-sale treasures. Highlights include a quintet for lettuce spinners, and covers of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Klaatu, Magazine, and A.M. Baggs. Freeform weirdness from beginning to end. Edition of 50.
(Butte County Free Music Society - 44) 7-inch $8.00
Both versions of “People,” the aloof masterpiece by Mancunian iconoclasts Gods Gift, are covered simultaneously on the A Side, as Bren’t Lewiis shambles along on fuzz guitar, warped keyboards, and Colour Out Of Space field recordings, while the imperious Silvia Kastel intones her dispassionate but resolutely negative critique of mankind. The B Side continues with a severely bent cover of both versions of “O Jackie O,” itself a damaged charm song by Chicago trio ONO, here performed on messed-up kazoo, holiday wrapping paper tube, and tape-manipulated field recordings from the swamp where Annette Funicello’s head was buried by The Allman Bros. An unhealthy tape piece brings the record its queasy conclusion. Overall, totally appalling, but in a good way, like the talent show scene in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Edition of 100.
The Armless Marvel
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS59) CDR $8.00
This supplementary hit of the dark, bad acid that birthed Bren’t Lewiis’s Hard Molt (via elagabalusian section, according to the doula) wallows in a comparably jagged dead-end of monolithic schmutz. Skull-bending free improv waterlogged by tape manipulation, body-snatched sound collage, and gaseous disorientation; off-center guitar wobble impaled on spikes of fuzz; relatively meditative spaz-outs, household objects, tape noise, waves of fweemp; apocalyptic, maniacally saturated and self-engorged Echoplex; lascivious caliph vocals, the moist fwapping of a bicyle-powered chicken-plucking machine, field recordings, and disturbing phlegm loops; murky, impaired fidelity. More inscrutable than a murder at an old-fashioned smorgasbord. Includes industrial expressionist collage insert. Edition of 100
The Thirteenth Century German Poet (And Who Can Forget Him)
(Butte County Free Music Society - BUFMS55) CDR $8.00
Rampant gaping immensity and pathologically polychromatic hoot from the BuFMS wing of Saint WTF’s Asylum. Micro-episodic tape pieces (with a head-spinning variety of appropriated voices, noises, electronics, music and sound effects) merge with field recordings, cut-ups, loops, improv, live performances, and a range of cover versions that includes a Korean plastic surgery infomercial, bona fide poetry, a book review, a YouTube waif, and Van Morrison. The group delivers pastoral yet alien meander à la The Way Out by The Books, spots of electro-creep worthy of Ruth White’s Flowers Of Evil, entertainment at a LAFMS barbecue, and a variety show extrapolated from the A.M. radios in the background of Firesign Theatre’s Everything You Know Is Wrong. A dazzling and peculiar assemblage. Edition of 50.
Three Christs of Ypsilanti
(Siltbreeze - SB131) LP + 3-inch CDR $15.00
The first post-BUFMS-boxset disgorgement of ramshackle outsider clatter and howl from one of California’s many rural nowheres exposes previously hidden, 25-year-old whack-off (à la Smegma and other bent LAFMS trippers, the UK’s A Band, 5 Starcle Men, Yximalloo, Gastric Female Reflex, Id M Theft Able, and the sort of visionaries currently promoted by labels such as Chocolate Monk and Beniffer Editions). The murky “Take It Out And Kill It” whirls around in conflicting directions in a manner one critic long ago described as “schizophrenic muzak.” “Dark Surprise,” a 1986 recording from the crossroads of DIY autism and darkened psychedelia, is previously unreleased (the first playback of the master tape didn’t happen until 2008). In contrast to the group’s usual embrace of any and all kitchen sinks in the immediate vicinity, this recording was made solely with electric guitars, voice and prerecorded audio frottage. Book-ending both sides are excerpts from an after-hours, no-audience, guerrilla action recorded in a multistory, split-level university student union, using hurled cafeteria cutlery, defective boomboxes and answering machines blaring prerecorded tape, the public piano, and a variety of unidentified flailing objects. “[As] secretive as a posse’ve Masons bidding in a goat auction … a weird , befuddlin storm comin’ outta the night … tryin’ to charm you into the muddy arms of the undertow.” –Roland Woodbe, Siltblog NOTE: Copies of this LP purchased here include a 3-inch CDR of previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Time Lady Rangoon
(Chocolate Monk - CHOC241) CDR $8.00 (Out-of-stock)
The second volume in Chocolate Monk’s Well Spliced Breath series of “sound-tape collage, text-sound, radiophonic, horspiel-type muck.” Above a hazy razzle dazzle of simultaneous background music and spoken word records typical of The Sidney Africa Safari (the KCSC radio show where the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble were regular guests in the early 1980s), skull-crushed revelations about human anatomy and reproduction are expressed, interspliced with surreal texts, fractured word association and a climactic go-crazy. Peculiar sound effects and dusty music come and go amid an ancient Asian circus from the afterlife, a nonsense raga, spastic in-studio percussion, tape collage, loops and excerpts from damaged audio- and videotape, haphazard turntablism, and the unbridled yelps of milk-deprived semi-mechanical gargoyle pups. Edition of 60.