Category Archives: From The Vault

dub rifles cd booklet cover

Revisiting the Dub Rifles

dub rifles cd booklet cover

THE DUB RIFLES
A Retrospect by CKUT’s Vince Tinguely

A few years ago, I read a beat-up copy of Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige. One could immediately sense this was a damn clever book when it came out back in 1979 – back in 1979 there weren’t too many books partaking of ‘punk’ design values – a lurid pink-black-and-yellow cover, featuring a stark cartoon portrait of a Ziggy-era Bowie-clone. It stood out to such an extent that I remembered it, a quarter-century later, when I came upon it in some thrift shop or other. Based on that odd media-memory alone (in our mediated world much memory devotes itself to media) I bought the book.

Reading Subculture: The Meaning of Style now means reading it as an artifact. Hebdige was writing about the punk subculture in Britain, specifically – dragooning ruminations upon its ‘antecedents’ like the mod, teddy boy and glam scenes in order to pad the book out beyond a couple of chapters. (Weirdly, he completely ignores or excludes the hippie subculture of the sixties – apparently because hippie culture was so big it falls outside of the purview of the ‘subcultural’ focus. But to me it looks like an omission big enough to drive Kesey’s bus through. I guess he likes his countercultures nice and small and contained within the dominant überculture.)

He was writing about punk in the very midst of that scene’s flourishing, which lent his thoughts a nicely unfinished, unpolished and inconclusive flavour. What I found most stimulating about the book was Hebdige’s examination of British Rasta youth culture as the flipside of the British punk scene. For some reason it was only by reading this book that I finally ‘realized’ the connection. It’s a strange thing, since I know for sure I lived this connection at the time.

I distinctly remember the first time I really felt like I was participating in something that I’d only previously known through mediated forms like records (ie. Gang of Four’s Entertainment, and the Lee Perry-produced Bob Marley and the Wailers bootleg bought at Canadian Tire for $3.99) – when the Dub Rifles played Domus Legis, a law frat house in Halifax, in June of 1983.

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From The Vault: Los Microwaves

Digging through an odd cranny of the music office (where, seemingly, an old music director/volunteer had set aside some records for VENUS [Thurs 12-14h])we found this gem of a record.  Formed in San Francisco in 1979, new-wave/post-punk/synth-pop band Los Microwaves released only a few singles/EPs and one full length: Life After Breakfast.  Shooting the gap somewhere between Devo/Gang of Four/XTC and teeming with that particular brand of cheeky erratic humour that defines so many of those artists.  Singer/synth + bass player Meg Brazill’s vocals are upbeat and break the monotony of male-fronted… dance punk???

Closing track here:

Life After Breakfast can be purchased as a re-issued LP/DVD from Dark Entries Recordings

From the Vault: Shlonk! — Ee-Yow (1990)

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Photo courtesy of Michelle Bouchard, Shlonk! drummer.

This blogger heard rumours about (very in-famous) Montreal punk Shlonk! around the CKUT hallways while looking for some diversity in the male-dominated 80s-90s cassette section. While our copy of their demo tape has been lost to the ages, I tracked down the vinyl release of their first and only LP.

Formed out of Montreal’s 80s weird-Anglo underbelly, Shlonk! were an all-girl punk band who associated closely with New York’s SCUM Rock community. (In this case, SCUM stands for “Socially Conscious Urban Musicians”, but see also Valerie Solanas’ tract of the same name.)

The record is a scuzz-covered testament to the scene’s creativity: crass, bold, and intelligent, Shlonk! mine hardcore, punk, and sludge metal for material, and they really, really don’t care what you think of it.

While they undoubtedly earned the “punk” label–for both music and lifestyle–the record is frenetic and diverse, accessing deep, aggressive, subgenres as much as conventional hardcore. . “Shlonk!” (the track) begins dissolves quickly into a repetitive, melodic riff and doomy vocals that wouldn’t be out of place in a metal song. Almost instantly, as if they were found out, the song flips on its head once more before being dragged back to its sludgy roots.The band gravitates around novelty with child-like glee; they abandon ideas as soon as they lose energy. The rest of the record is similarly hectic, with thirteen gloriously varied tracks, each of which has staying power.

Very little information about the band is available online, but I was able to track down a transcribed interview with the one and only Lorrie on CKUT’s ‘Aack!’. True to form, the band says very little.

Despite remaining fiercely underground, the band apparently played to rapturous audiences in Europe, and played some reunion shows in Toronto and Montreal a few years back. Check out this video for “Arm Your Children”, which showcases their brand of anarcho-madcappery better than I ever could. The video even features a close friend of CKUT as “Junior”, the armed child…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmF2HT9OceA

Bassist Colleen MacIntyre sadly passed away in 1996.

The full album is streaming on soundcloud below:

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From The Vault: Odds – Diesel You Could Benenena (1990, cassette)

Diesel244The CKUT Music department has been reorganizing the Music Library’s Canadian cassette section, and with this task has come many little joys and oddities previously lost to the ages. Over the next few weeks, I will be profiling some of the library’s deepest cuts, focusing on local and Canadian tapes. When I can, I’ll be contacting the artists to get their perspective on their dustier releases, and to give them a chance to publicly reflect on their work, whatever they might be doing now.

Odds – Diesel You Could Benenena (Self-Released, 1990)

Composed of Montreal natives Martin Dumais and Daniel Langlois, Odds is a noise project from the early days of the Montreal electronic avant-garde underground. Mixing fractured beats with samples that seem to collapse in on themselves with a heavy dose of industrial, the tape freewheels through synthetic ambience, heavy ground percussive whirrs, and even a stray congo beat or two. The tape overflows with excitement; the sounds seem to be novel to both the audience and performers. The full tape (including secret track!) is streaming on Soundcloud.

Dumais has become somewhat of a fixture in the Montreal and European doom-drone-black-metal-ambient community (which is larger than you might imagine); he has released nine records under the name AUN, and has played locally at almost every venue and festival in the city, from MUTEK to Suoni, Piknik Electronique to Cagibi, Cafe Campus to Katacombes. Internationally, he’s toured Europe (avant-metal’s spiritual home), and has performed at SXSW, Barcelona’s Sonar Festival, and quite a few more.

Dumais seemed surprised (or, at least, what I took for surprise via email) that I asked about this tape–he doesn’t have a copy anymore. He started putting out these noise tapes as a series in 1986, and remembers this as his favourite. It sold through the long-defunct Bunker Records’ St-Denis storefront, which was, at the time, Montreal’s hot spot for industrial and experimental tapes. (Bunker Records’ releasing arm put out some truly bizarre music, notably the scuzz-industrial band “…Of Tanz Victims”, whose second tape Holiday In Siberia I will be diving into eagerly in coming weeks).

At the time, Dumais was listening to a mix of industrial, early techno, and post-punk, whose combined influence paved the way for his later work: he cites Sonic Youth, Ministry, Front 242, and Coil as defining acts. The tape was a collaboration with best friend Daniel Langlois. The pair were a self-described “community of two”, making art and music at St-Catherine’s Foufounes Electrique, which back then was a “real refuge for outsiders of all sorts”.

Montreal’s avant-garde community was, and remains today, small, with an audience of mostly musicians, and Dumais found early on that CKUT and Francophone community station CIBL were the only avenues for broadcasting this kind of music.To this day, Dumais is more popular in Europe, despite a string of successes in Montreal’s local community. (CKUT remains critical to the Montreal avant scene; AUN’s recent release was in the CKUT charts just the other week.)

Dumais plots a clear path from these early, experimental recordings (recorded straight to cassette) and his more developed work in AUN. The line is clear: both AUN and Odds share a commitment to space and patience, as well as broad and inventive sounds that straddle industrial and ambient aesthetics. The Odds tape, from a younger artist, is more unsettled, jumping between sounds and styles freely, excitedly, while AUN’s darker releases are content to steep in long tones for minutes at a time. This release is enigmatic and inventive, and CKUT is happy that we could unearth this small piece of Montreal’s weird history.

 

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From the Vault: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Caravan (1962)

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Art Blakey’s first on Riverside features the inimitable Freddie Hubbard on trumpet; Wayne Shorter,  tenor sax; Cedar Walton, piano; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Reggie Workman, bassist. These form the Jazz Messengers in late 1962, whose lineup was constantly revolving save for Blakey who led as percussionist, bandleader, and spiritual center for decades. Though his contribution is relatively subdued on this album, his effortless syncopation is undeniably the backbone of the group. The title track, written by Juan Tizol and first performed by Duke Ellington, is a standout on the album. The soloists wade in and out, responding to each other along with an ever-intensifying rhythm section. Blakey’s solo beats down like the desert sun, cymbals chiming with the breeze. The rest of the album restates and expands on tones and themes first presented, a true bop classic. Check out the link to “Caravan” below!!

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From the Vault – Leadbelly Legacy Volume Four (1953)

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I don’t really need to say much about this one. Old blues singers of Lead Belly’s calibre send a shiver down my spine every time. This 10″ compilation, put out by Folkways in 1953, is posthumous as Huddie Ledbetter passed away in 1949. His distinct voice and fingerpicking style  remain as haunting and breezy as ever. The self-proclaimed “King of the 12-string Guitar” was a true easy rider. Though you may not be able to find a copy of this particular record we have here at CKUT, his recordings are a must-have. This old country blues seems to suit any occasion well, particularly hot Montreal summers. I’ve linked the title track down below, listen in!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d-HfhIntQY

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From the Vault: Out of the Fog – The Halifax Underground 1986

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A wonderfully rare record appeared in MCR (that’s our live broadcasting studio for those of you who aren’t up on the CKUT lingo) a few days ago, and the station’s been buzzing about it ever since! This piece of Canadian music history compiles songs from a multitude of Halifax bands approaching their fourth decade. The album quickly moves from reverb-drenched pop to heavy, grungy goodness and beyond. Though the only thing tying these artists together is their collective scene, you can really HEAR it. A beautiful picture in time. Big thanks to Sarah Fahie, host of Beyond the Horizon, for digging this gem out of the CKUT library.

Good luck finding yourself a copy! Here’s a little write-up on the album if you want to dive deeper:

http://www.tranquileye.com/fog/out_of_the_fog/herald_fog_review_1986.htm

 

Gateway

From the Vault: Gateway – S/T (1976)

Gateway

 

Perusing CKUT’s enormous library for hidden gems is one of our favourite pastimes here in the music department. Though I stumbled upon this record by chance it already seems to fill a gap I never knew existed. Recorded in 1975, Gateway’s first, self-titled record speaks volumes. Upon first listen the swirling sounds within immediately remind me of Pat Metheny’s early works with Bob Moses and Jaco Pastorius. Not surprising considering the artists involved and their various musical histories. John Abercrombie on guitar, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and last but not least Dave Holland on bass. Gateway (the album) is filled with surreal interweaving and dazzling textures; the trio seems to speak as one.  Find yourself a copy if you dig!!

Here’s a link to the first track:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cctTBs_YU-o

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From the Vault: Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959)

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This week’s pick quickly jumped out at me as I perused the Super Lock-Up section of our library. Mingus Ah Um was released in 1959, while the virtuoso bass player was based in New York. An immensely fruitful year for evolution of jazz music, other albums include Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Bill Evans’ Portrait in Jazz, and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come. Mingus Ah Um stands up to all of these, a major achievement, and features many songs now considered classics of the genre.

The music itself is extremely colourful and vibrant, perfect for the recent arrival of warm weather. Openner “Better Git It In Your Soul” hits hard and fast right away with a steamin’ rhythm section and a heat wave of horns. The rest of the album is consistently engaging yet diverse, with a few slower songs among the cacophony. This is a formative album, people. A must-have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGJM6l_gf7c