A Lexicon of Desert Devils

17 Jul

Finally got my hands on these two new instrumental projects led by the great CA desert gtrist Gary Arce, released earlier this summer by Dave Lang downunder at Lexicon Devil. Picked em up nearby, too; hey maybe this barrier-free, EU freetrade agreement ain’t nearly as bad as my BNP-supporting neighbours make it out to be! I’m still digging into this warm, rich musical mulch, but I’ll get to typing regardless:

TEN EASTThe Robot’s Guide to Freedom (Lexicon Devil, 2008) The cover artwork gets me thinking back on Gary Jacobelly’s urban primitive artwork that adorned SACCHARINE TRUST’s landmark We Became Snakes LP. And although this rec doesn’t seek to scale those hallowed jazz-rock heights, Robot’s Guide is a similarly expansive, exploratory assertion of just what rock can mean in the here-and-now. While their first (Extraterrestrial Highway) was a late-night, triple-axle studio jam of seismic proportions, this one nudges the formable TEN EAST abilities toward more predetermined, structured ideas. Which means here the jamming is given equal consideration to proggy chord progressions. I hear some of the heavy, spiritual space Wino tried to find with his SPIRIT CARAVAN, the hard blues foundation underpinning FATSO JETSON, even some of the weirdo changes Gary’s earlier SORT OF QUARTET specialized in. And Lexicon Dave is right: “Hogbreath” is the very best Slip It In-outtake BLACK FLAG never wrote (I’m sure occasional TEN EAST organist/gtrist Greg Ginn would agree). This is some forward-reaching, soul-seaching, earth-moving group creation. It’s a momumental artistic wallop my synapses won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

DARK TOOTH ENCOUNTERSoft Monsters (Lexicon Devil, 2008) Guitarist Gary Arce took drummer Bill Stinson aside and, with a choice few others, created this quieter cousin to the above recording. Though quiet is a relative term when you’re talking about guys who dig feedback and distortion as much as these guys do; I suppose contemplative would be a more apt description. They aren’t going for broke, rather letting notes and percussion ring, linger, and fade in a gorgeous but deeply felt way that stays with you even after it’s over. The playing has an easy, human touch to it that envelopes you whole, keeping you warm and helping you cope just a little better with all the nastiness running rampant out there. I’d almost guess this was some bitchen TOILING MIDGETS spinoff I somehow missed out on back in ’91, if I didn’t already know this has it’s roots in the equally great YAWNING MAN. Hey even us rocker types need to crank it down a notch or two late at night; I’m stoked that DARK TOOTH has given me the perfect soundtrack for such times.


What I’m getting at dude, is this: you’re gonna want both of these. Buy the pair and I guarantee all your ears will be over the moon for the remainder of the summer.


9 Responses to “A Lexicon of Desert Devils”

  1. Dave Lang July 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Thanks for the good words. Weird to hear a Toiling Midgets reference, but it fits. I was thinking more Eno/Pell Mell/Meat Puppets, though I think “non-generic rock” fits ’em like a glove. Both CDs are – finally – now available in the US via Forced Exposure. New Yawning Man album, Big Scenic Nowhere, will be out later in the year. Gary Arce is in the UK this week, producing the band, Sons Of Alpha Centurai. He describes them as a kinda metallic take on the Yawning Man/Pell Mell/Slovenly sound. Sounds good!

  2. mrowster July 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I’m thinking later, Mark Eitzel-era MIDGETS, if those guys coulda done it without antidepressants.

    I’ll make a note to check out the SONS OF AC.

  3. mark July 17, 2008 at 6:10 pm #

    I can’t wait to hear ’em. Going to see the Midgets next Friday in SF! Negative Trend is playing at the Fillmore, but I doubt I can bring myself go into that place. Maybe I’ll just play the CD EP and spill beer on the floor of my apartment, along with some popcorn. Ok, navigating away to the FE Store now!

  4. mrowster July 17, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    Mark: Fucking hell! First FLIPPER, now NEGATIVE TREND and THE MIDGETS. Next you’ll be telling me Ricky’s back from the grave conjuring up a SLEEPERS reunion.

  5. mark July 17, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    I hear Ricky’s voice all over the place, here in the Bay Area. Not that I knew him, it just fits the scenery. Either that, or his ghost all pervasive. I’ll let you know how the show is! Yes, Bay Area Punk 1977 is in full effect right now.

  6. Dave Lang July 18, 2008 at 12:55 am #

    I can’t believe Toiling Midgets and Negative Trend(!!) are playing around. Then again, Sham 69 are playing here in Melbourne tonight (sans Jimmy Pursey!), so nothing should surprise me anymore. Jumped the gun regarding FE there; they’ll be listing the CDs next week.

  7. mark July 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    I wish I could see NT, but just loathe the Fillmore and their cretinous staff. I can’t go in that place. Midgets at Bottom of the Hill, which will be fun and low key.

  8. mark October 16, 2008 at 8:35 pm #

    It’s been a few months, but I finally carved out time to listen to Dark Tooth. YEAH! The best elements of Toiling Midgets, Desert Rock, Zeppelin, etc. What a great CD. Wow!

  9. mrowster October 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm #

    Tell Dave at Lexicon Devil. He’d love to hear it.

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