dead notes 9

Welcome to Dead Notes #9. In early 1969 we find our bohemian freaks spaced out on STP and nitrous oxide, holed up behind a 16-track recording console working on their palindromic 3rd album, Aoxomoxoa. The sessions are described as “a little weird to very weird” and the blossoming partnership between Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter results in lyrics so obscure and far-out that the resulting album is split between fan favorites and inaccessible cuts that only the deepest heads could fully appreciate. In the middle of January the band are guests on Hugh Hefner’s short-lived, yet too-corny-to-be-cool, program Playboy After Dark. With their merry band of rogues in tow, including acid king and benefactor-cum-soundman Owsley Stanley – who made it his personal mission to dose Hugh Hefner’s Pepsi – the party goers loosen their ties and tops while Garcia strums the lysergic chords of “Mountains of the Moon”. Days later the band’s crew is stumbling up the steep stairs of the Avalon Ballroom, arms filled with equipment, to begin a month’s worth of recording for their seminal release Live/Dead.

hamilton campFrom the wholly acoustic album, 1969’s Welcome Hamilton Camp, this deep and brooding Dylan cover resides amongst a small collection of musical meditations in the form of original songs and hypnotic covers ranging from Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel to Leonard Cohen.

Coupled with the reverberations of harmonica accompaniment (sounding not unlike Neil Young’s harp), Camp’s vocals transcend most folk singers and lend themselves to an operatic comparison which takes each song to new heights. He dabbles with folk narratives and tells stories of Indians and soldiers, but it is the tone and phosphorescent atmosphere of this record that is most important.  words / p dufrene

Hamilton Camp :: I Shall Be Released

LindaMcCartney

A sonic medley of oranges and browns, falling leaves and autumn tones. Embrace soulful western ballads, gentle whispers and cold and gritty tunes that demand the tempting warmth of your winter coat. Because it is almost time, but not quite yet.

Aquarium Drunkard Presents: November – A Medley

Out on The Unseen Green Obscene lp via Reverberation Appreciation Society. Shot on Super 8 while driving around LA looking for Brian Wilson. The video is a throwback to the Pet Sounds promotional videos.

Weyes BloodWeyes Blood is the project of Natalie Mering. On her latest lp, The Innocents, she has crafted a soundscape that is brighter, clearer, than the murkier, more lo-fi psychedelic outings of past. But that’s not to suggest that the music is any less haunting. After all, on “Hang On,” Mering wakes up in a tomb. This is gothic, elegiac folk – stately and majestic.  Her vocals are measured, solemn and deliberate, evoking a bygone manner of British folk. And, to be sure, this is a vision where the atmosphere is thick with ghosts. The core instrumentation of vocals, guitar, keys and drums is clear, but they are not free of possession, warping into a swirl of loops, delays, echoes and drones. On “Some Winters,” Mering’s voice and piano drift across the tape like a phantom white dress, haunting the halls of an Old Victorian. A spirit on loop, like a skipping record waiting to be set free.

There is a marked evolution throughout this work, though, and it finds Mering coming to terms with the past and moving herself forward. On “Bad Magic,” the most starkly acoustic song on the album, she sings of finding the ocean and a runaway train; vessels to help her find a new way. Brushes of dawn are conveyed through gliding elysian organs on “February Skies” and the (mostly) instrumental “Montrose.” Album closer “Bound to Earth” emits a divine sense of calm, a heavenly wordless wash of backup chorus and synthesizer. Here, Mering discovers that dark times are not end times and makes peace with her ghosts. And while there is certainly a mournfulness that hovers over this record, it is less séance, more opening of the gates. words / c depasquale

Weyes Blood :: Hang On

mad-daddyOur weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice, every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 362: Count Chocula Intro ++ The Tomko’s – The Spook ++The Blue Echoes – It’s Witchcraft ++ The Gories – Casting My Spell ++ The A-Bones – Mum’s The Word ++ Elvira – End of Side One ++ Screaming Lord Sutch – She’s Fallen In Love With A Monster Man ++ Baron Daemon & Vampires – Ghost Guitars ++ Frankenstein – This Is The Fiend ++ Ronnie Cook & The Gaylads – Goo Goo Muck ++ Donovan – Wild Witch Lady ++ The Frantics – Werewolf ++ Radio Spot – I Was A Teenage Werewolf ++ The One Way Streets – Jack The Ripper ++ The Swamp Rats – Louie Louie ++ 5 Blobs – The Blob ++ Charles Bernstein – Jail Cell ++ Radio Spot – The Vault of Horror ++ Steve King – Satan Is Her Name ++ Lee Kristofferson – Night of The Werewolf ++ Evariste – Connais Tu L’animal Qui Inventa Le Calcul Intégral ++ Donovan – Hurdy Gurdy Man ++ Kip Tyler – She’s My Witch ++ Red River Dave – California Hippie Murders ++ Lou Reed – Halloween Parade ++ Red River Dave – California Hippie Murders ++ The Cramps – I Was A Teenage Werewolf ++ Os Rocks – I Put A Spell On You ++ Sonics – Psycho ++ RichardSwift – Drakula (Hey Man!) ++ Otis Redding – Trick Or Treat ++ Lori Burton – Nightmare ++ Don Hinson & The Rigamorticians – Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood ++ The Madmen – Haunted ++ The Misfits – Horror Business ++ The Ramones – I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement ++ Monsters Crash The Pajama Party ++ Joy Division – Day Of The Lords Broadcast – A Seancing Song ++ David Lynch – Dark Night Of The Soul ++ Dead Mans Bones – Lose Your Soul ++ Jay Reatard – Nightmares ++ Siouxsie And The Banshees – Halloween ++ The Cure – Fear Of Ghosts ++ Maniacs Are Loose ++ The Velvet Underground – Venus In Furs ++ Destroy All Monsters – Vampire ++ Fang – Diary Of A Mad Werewolf ++ Wade Denning & Kay Lande – Halloween

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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(Welcome to Videodrome. A monthly column plumbing the depths of vintage underground cinema — from cult, exploitation, trash and grindhouse to sci-fi, horror, noir and beyond.)

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While Halloween goes hand in hand with horror, perhaps nothing captures the playfully gruesome spirit of the season quite like a musical horror comedy.

But blending laughter, tunes and good old-fashioned human slaughter is not an easy trick to pull off—nor are there many treats in this underserved genre. Beyond Sweeney Todd and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, fans face the prospect of quenching their music-horror cravings with tremendous schlock stupidity like Hillbillys in a Haunted House or Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Thankfully, a recent high definition update of Brian De Palma’s wild glam-goth spectacle Phantom of the Paradise makes a worthy addition to this exclusive category, and a fine choice for your haunted harvest viewing pleasure.

The plot focuses on Winslow Leach (William Finley) an idealistic but talented young composer who is hoodwinked by the shadowy music mogul Swan, framed for drug crimes and imprisoned, then maimed, disfigured and forgotten. Re-emerging as the Phantom, he stalks the nooks and crannies of Swan’s Paradise Theater sabotaging sets and offing those who defy his musical aesthetic, before being tricked into writing a magnum opus for his muse, the beautiful, vocally endowed Phoenix (played by Jessica Harper, later of Suspiria fame).

Subbing in rock ‘n roll and a scurrilous music industry backdrop, the film offers a remix on Phantom of the Opera, while stitching references from works such as Doctor Faustus and Psycho together with themes from classical Gothic horror and high show biz satire.

Culminating in a bloody, campy, cheap effects-driven cacophony of electric guitar haze, dancing, screaming and 70s fashion, Phantom cuts a visually arresting exploration of the corrupt and creepy, with a soundtrack that sticks in your head. It’s also early evidence of the budding talent and filmmaking passion of De Palma, who hints at some of his later, bloodier work (Scarface, Carrie) while demonstrating heart and a sense of humor.

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Of course, as can be expected from a B-movie of this era, the acting is unremarkable. From a technical standpoint, the film’s low budget nature is evident throughout. But no matter. The real highlight is a bizarre and captivating mix of songs and performances that artfully aids and abets the Phantom’s mad, music-fueled quest for vengeance.