“Live At Maldoror: Volume One” Compilation Cassette (2015)

liveatmaldororAmoeba Music has a cool YouTube! series called “What’s In My Bag?”, where they take musicians and other assorted interesting people into the back room to show us what they just bought at Amoeba.  Some of these episodes are pretty fantastic, and they serve the dual purpose of both being entertaining while also sometimes turning you onto stuff you’d never heard of before.  And it was while watching the Henry Rollins video a few weeks back that I first came to hear of the label Chondritic Sound.  That led me to its Bandcamp page, which in turn led me to the PayPal login page as I threw a bunch of money at them for some of the crazy sounds I heard on Bandcamp.  And the other day a box of vinyl and cassettes arrived at my door, making me as giddy as a kid who just got a package in the mail for their birthday, anticipating something awesome but also secretly hoping it doesn’t contain a sweater.

The Maldoror is a club/bar in Los Angeles that, once a month, does a showcase of dark electronica, and Live At Maldoror: Volume One collects nine of those artists on one tape.  Stylistically there’s a thread of bleakness running through all the performances, but there’s a lot of variety here as well.  Inhalt’s “Vehicle” is reminiscent of Warsaw, a sort of electronic post-punk, while Burial Hex’s “Fire Sign” is dark-goth-industrial, a bit more Bela Lugosi’s Dracula than Freddie Krueger, but still plenty frightening.  As for Victor Portsmouth’s “March 27, 1895”, well, this is purely distilled nightmare juice.  This tape is like a black hole, sucking all light from the room and leaving you with only uncertainty and dread as your companions.

Live At Maldoror: Volume One is available for listening on Bandcamp HERE, and you can also still pick up copies of the cassette (edition of 250) for just eight bucks – and the tape comes with a download card, so it’s definitely worthwhile.

MC 900 Ft Jesus with DJ Zero – “Hell With the Lid Off” (1990)

I’ve had subscriptions to Rolling Stone a few times in my life, though admittedly it’s been quite some time since I had the mag delivered to my door.  However, with all the work travel I did last year I picked it up at the airport pretty regularly, as it usually helped me kill an hour of so of the seemingly unending parade of flights I took from Seattle to Burbank and back.

mc900hellwiththelidoff

The reason I mention this is because I think the first album I ever bought solely based on a written review appeared in the October 18, 1990 issue of Rolling Stone.  Now I’d certainly read reviews and then gone out and bought albums, but prior to October 1990 these were albums I was probably pre-disposed to buy anyway simply based on genre.  But not this one, which might qualify as my first foray into industrial.  I don’t remember what it was about the review spoke to me, but it was clear that I immediately needed to hear this thing.  I speak of course of the massively underrated and almost unknown Hell With the Lid Off by MC 900 Ft Jesus with DJ Zero.  I’ve been looking for a vinyl copy for a few years now despite the fact that I have the CD, and I finally find one last weekend at, of all places, my local joint Vortex.  Vortex has tons of rock and pop and jazz, but generally is a bit light on the electronic and industrial.  But a couple of months back they bought a DJ collection, from which I got some great original Throbbing Gristle pressings, and this time I struck gold with some 80s and 90s techno and industrial.  A lot of them, including Hell With the Lid Off, were in rough shape, but for three bucks had to have it.

And I’m glad I did, because it’s sublime.

Opening with the old timey intro to “A Greater God” and the full blown scratch attack of “Real Black Angel” it’s about 40% hip hop, 40% industrial, and 30% sleazy funk.  I wasn’t a math major, but that means that MC 900 Ft Jesus is giving us his full 110%.  “Truth Is Out of Style”?  Are you kidding me?  Some aliens abducted me and took me on a trip… It’s absurd and ridiculous and thumping and name-drops both Shirley MacLaine and bigfoot.  And honestly I think how beat up this copy is, with all the Rice Krispies snappin’ and cracklin’ and poppin’ actually adds a bit to the metallic edge the whole thing has.

Side B opens with “I’m Going Straight to Heaven,” and man I’m falling in love with this record all over again.  I’m at a loss to give you a lot of insight into the “why,” and it may simply be a sense of nostalgia, but I think there’s something more than that.  I mean, just listen to the free jazz jam that follows, “Spacejam,” a funkadelic quasi-spoken word piece that is both groovy and ridiculous at the same time, riffing as it does about collecting aluminum cans to be turned in at a secret government location (…known only to me…) to convert them to cash.  Because why not.

After a multi-decade hiatus it looks like Mark Griffin, aka MC 900 Ft Jesus, is performing again under his old monicker, which is exciting as hell and makes me wish I was in the Dallas area right now.  Looks like he’s got some downloads of live performances from the 1990s on his Facebook page, and I promise you I WILL be checking those out.  I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a cleaner version of the vinyl as well, which will probably take me another four years of looking to track down.  But that’s OK… this well-used copy will carry me through.