AMN Reviews: Idiot Flesh – Fancy (1997; Vaccination Records)

download-2One of the downsides of virtualizing your record and CD collection is that you can’t just look at it anymore – instead, you are staring at a user interface for a searchable database on your computer or mobile device. Still, every so often you manage to come across an album that you fondly recall as a favorite, but haven’t heard in years. Recently, that happened for me with Idiot Flesh‘s third and final album, Fancy. Enjoy this AMN retro-review.

Trying to pigeonhole this group is an exercise in futility. The closest comparison would be their contemporary, Mr. Bungle. Clownish, theatrical, punk-influenced experimental rock with disturbing themes and dark humor is the norm on all of their albums. As for influences, listen carefully and you’ll hear strains of The Residents, King Crimson, heavy metal, modern classical, Captain Beefheart…the list goes on.

Despite being a four piece, Idiot Flesh moves seamlessly between power chords, avant chamber rock, and even approaches being orchestral. The group consists of Nils Frykdahl and Gene Jun on guitars, Dan Rathbun on bass and Wes Anderson on drums and percussion. But their instrumentation also includes flute, castanets, violin, cello, trombone, marimba, bassoon and found objects. All four members contribute vocals. Fancy also includes around 10 guests on vocals and additional instruments. The emphasis here on vocals is not by accident. All 13 tracks feature singing to some extent, many including large choral elements, and assorted background spoken-word craziness.

If we are going to start anywhere, it has to be with the 9-minute Chicken Little. The group gives writing credit to Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Boulez, and Bela Bartok. But just dropping those names won’t necessarily given you a lead on the direction of this track. Complex heavy guitar themes with intricate bass / drum parts are predominate. Interspersed are silly lyrics, and occasional flute and violin breaks.  In the middle of the track, the group partakes in a semblance of a country / western hoedown, fiddles and all.

But Fancy actually begins with a demented circus piece, Dead Like Us, featuring bouncing horns that belie the dark content of the choral singing. Following this is Idiot Song, another clown-rock piece with slow atmospherics. The album also includes Twitch, a grinding industrial-influenced piece, with shouted, distorted vocals and staggered rhythms. Drowning explores a slice of an addict’s life. The lyrics on all of these tracks tell disturbing stories of disease and death, recurring themes for Idiot Flesh.

To that point, Teen Devil Worshipper explores the sicker side of the group while telling the (unfortunately true) story of a list-obsessed ritual murderer. Here, the vocalists chant through the lists in the first person, not unlike the Dead Kennedys would do when personifying deplorable acts. Other tracks that include the group’s twisted sense of style (though in a more humorous fashion) include Cheesus (Dance Mix) and People in Your Neighborhood, the latter a funk and blues oriented, sarcastic take on Sesame Street.

Needless to say, Fancy is not a happy album. Funny at times, possibly offensive, and ridiculously creative, but not pleasant.

Frykdahl and Rathbun went on to form Sleepytime Gorilla Museum with Carla Kihlstedt.  The same three, along with Anderson, contributed to early Charming Hostess recordings.  All members have more recently been involved with avant-garde stage productions and performance art.

Fancy is 20 years old. Does that make it an oldie? Or a classic? Regardless of categorization, no efforts aside from those from Mr. Bungle come close to the twisted sounds that emanate from formally-trained minds and limbs of Frykdahl, Jun, Rathbun, and Anderson. A desert island disc indeed.

Seattle Scene: February 17-24, 2017

From Seattle’s Wayward Music Series:


Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center

4th Floor, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle 98103 (corner N 50th St. in Wallingford)

Every month, Nonsequitur and a community of like-minded presenters and artists offer ten concerts of adventurous music in an informal yet respectful all-ages setting: contemporary classical, free improvisation, the outer limits of jazz, electronic music, microtonal/new instruments, sound art, and other extraordinary sonic experiences.

Loscil + B. Pioulard + bardo:basho

Inverted Space Ensemble
Fri. Feb. 17, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Inverted Space Ensemble presents its 5th Annual Composers Concert. This concert is dedicated to presenting newly composed works alongside a diverse mix of contemporary and experimental music. Featured composers are Charles Corey, Jacob Sundstrom, Ania Stachurska, Clint McCallum, Sergej Newski, Beat Furrer and John Cage.

Melanie Voytovich
Sat. Feb. 18, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Percussionist Melanie Voytovich and friends bring you a night of new work with premiers by Bradley Hawkins and Ella Maher/Melanie Voytovich + works by Benjamin Marx, Elliot Cole, Ivan Trevino, and David Molk. Featuring Storm Benjamin, Scott Langdon, and Maggie Brown (percussion), Brad Hawkins (cello), and Ella Maher (dance).

Upcoming Events (always subject to change; check our website for updates)

If you are interested in playing on the Wayward Series and have never done so before, PLEASE READ THIS before requesting a date.

THU. 2/23 – Lori Goldston debuts solo cello songs in response to poems by Melissa Mueller

FRI. 2/24 – Noel Kennon & Austin Larkin

Frequency Festival in Chicago Previewed

English: Art Institute of Chicago Maim Buildin...

Source: Bleader.

The Frequency Series, programmed by Reader staff writer Peter Margasak, presents new classical and experimental music at Constellation nearly every Sunday night. Its first concert was in April 2013, and the series celebrates its (almost) fourth anniversary with its second annual festival, which this year runs from Tuesday, February 14, through Sunday, February 19. Constellation hosts four of its seven concerts; the other three are at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the U. of C.’s Bond Chapel, and the Art Institute’s Fullerton Hall.

Cuneiform Records Crowdfunds Art Zoyd’s ’44 1/2 Live and Unreleased Works’ Boxed Set

Source: Cuneiform Records.

It is a MASSIVE release by ART ZOYD of all previously unreleased material. It will cost us a fortune to manufacture this, and we do not have a fortune, so we are asking Art Zoyd’s fans and our friends and fans to help us to be able to release this by paying for their copy in advance directly from us. This will give us the needed funds to pay for its manufacture which we need in order to make this set a reality.

Important, please read: If we do not sell enough copies of this set here, by March 1, we will be forced to cancel the release and your money will be refunded. If all goes as we hope and plan, we will send you confirmation of production in early March, and we will ship the boxes and shirts to you sometime in May 2017.

12 CDs featuring:
• Live in Berlin, The Loft (April 1986)
• Häxan, Live in Copenhagen, European Capital of Culture (February 1996)
• u•B•I•Q•U•e, Live in Maubeuge, La Luna (January 2000)
• Lindbergh (circa 1990)
• Le mariage du ciel et de l’enfer, Live in Paris, with the Ballet National de Marseille (Roland Petit), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (March 1985)
• Live in Paris, Le Golf Drouot (1972)
• Live in Nancy (1975)
• Live at Pop Club avec José Artur, Radio France (1974)
• Live in Paris, Théâtre de la Renaissance (1976)
• Live in Mons, with Musiques Nouvelles (2000)
• “La Nuit du Jabberwock,” with members of Musiques Nouvelles, Live in Armentières, Le Vivat (2002)
• Live in Grenoble, 38èmes Rugissants Festival (1990)
• Live in Maubeuge, Art Zoyd with the Orchestre National de Lille (2000)
• Symphonie pour le jour où brûleront les cités (1975/orch. 2000)
• Live in Mexico, Art Zoyd with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México (1999)
• Armageddon, actes 2 & 3, Live in Lille (2004)
• Musiques Inédites demos (1987-1992)
• Faust (unreleased, 1992)
• Les Présidents (1980)
• Korbes (1995)
• Live at Pop Club avec José Artur, Radio France (1975)
• Les Escalators mystérieux (2005)
• Globe Arena (1989)
• Musique pour le Six-Centenaire du Beffroi de Bethune (1988)
• Bethune 1789 (1989)
• Les Inattendus de Maubeuge “Spoutnik” (1993)
• Les Trois Mousquetaires
• Flixecourt Tisserands
• La Guerre de Marguerite
• Au nom du Père (1991)
• Malbodium (1987)
• L’étrangleur est derrière vous (1983)
• Terra Terra! (1986)
• Live in Nancy (1975)
• Live in Reims, Maison de la Culture (1980)
• Live performance (excerpt) for Radio Tonkraft, Stockholm (October 3, 1979)
• Marco Polo (1984)

2 DVDs featuring:
• 44 1/2, the birthday concert, Live at Maison de la Musique, Cap’Découverte, Le Garric, France, Rock In Opposition Festival 2015 (September 19, 2015)
• Live in Berlin, Centre Culturel Français de Berlin (April 14–15, 1986)
• Live on Phase IV / FR3 TV, Hôtel de Ville de Maubeuge (December 1982)
• Nosferatu – Teaser (1988)
• Musique pour l’Odyssée / FR3 Nord Picardie TV excerpt (1979)
• Le mariage du ciel et de l’enfer (excerpts) / Antenne 2 TV (1985)

International Contemporary Ensemble in Chicago

Source: International Contemporary Ensemble.

February 17 to February 20, 2017
Various Locations
ICE returns to Chicago for its next iteration of OpenICE, featuring four days of free programming from February 17 to 20. The weekend launches OpenICE’s partnership with the Rebuild Foundation, and concludes with a special President’s Day presentation of Tyshawn Sorey‘s Perle Noire: Meditations on Joséphine, a re-imagining of Josephine Baker’s work, featuring acclaimed soprano Julia Bullock. Throughout the four days, ICE presents open rehearsals, discussions and workshops in collaboration with Chicago-based composer Morgan Krauss and Stony Island Arts Bank resident artists Train and Maggie Brown, as well as engagement activities with Glass Lantern Slides, a collection of over 60,000 slides from the University of Chicago’s Department of Art History housed at the Stony Island Arts Bank.

Friday, February 17 @ Stony Island Arts Bank “Smart Room”
6760 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago, IL 60649
1 – 2:30 PM Open Rehearsals
2:30 – 4 PM Workshop with Morgan Krauss
4 – 6 PM Glass Lantern improvisation session with resident artists Train and Maggie Brown

Saturday, February 18 @ Dorchester Arts and Housing Collaborative
1456 E. 70th St., Chicago, IL 60637
11 AM – 1 PM Workshop with Morgan Krauss
2 – 5 PM Open rehearsals
5 – 6 PM Cultural Center Concert Preview at 5 PM

Sunday, February 19 @ Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602
3 PM OpenICE Concert
Édgar Guzmán (b. 1981): Low End DJ for bassoon, cello and tape
Suzanne Farrin: l’onde della non vostra for oboe
Jason Eckardt (b. 1971): Asarum canadense: Wild Ginger for bassoon (4′)
Arlene Sierra (b. 1970): Cricket-Viol for singing violist (3′)
Walter Zimmermann (b. 1949): Marginalie: The Paradoxes of Love for soprano and soprano saxophone (6′)
Salvatore Sciarrino (b. 1947): Muro d’orizzonte for alto flute, English horn and bass clarinet (10′)
Drew Baker (b. 1978): Nox for unspecified instrumentation (tutti) (12′)
featuring Alice Teyssier (flute/voice), James Austin Smith (oboe), Campbell Macdonald (clarinet), Ryan Muncy (saxophone), Rebekah Heller (bassoon), Wendy Richman (viola) and Katinka Kleijn (cello)

Monday, February 20 @ Stony Island Arts Bank
6 PM Perle Noire: Meditations on Joséphine

5049 Records Podcast Episode 103 – Aaron Siegel 

Source: 5049 Records.

Aaron Siegel was born in Maryland, educated in Michigan and has been living in New York City since 2001. He has studied with Alvin Lucier, Ron Kuivila, Anthony Braxton and Bunita Marcus among others. In addition to composing and leading his own ensembles, since 2011, he has co-lead Experiments In Opera, with whom he has produced over 30 new operatic works since its founding in 2011. Aaron is a multi-faceted composer/performer, a unique individual and great guy.