There’s a sub-sub-underground label called Feeding Tube Records that many of you know about, and maybe have a record or three from. Yet while we were all busy waiting for buses, filing our nails and making dinner, they were popping out even more beautiful new vinyl records from some of the world’s weirdest weirdos, at a Roger Bannister-paced clip, no less.
Oh, you say you didn’t hear about that Donkey No No LP nor that edition-of-200 Buck Gooter thing when it came out? That’s almost entirely by design. The people whom were meant to notice, noticed. They may very well already live in Western Massachusetts freak country – along with label head Ted Lee and co-conspirator Byron Coley, who operate a Feeding Tube record store & art gallery called Rozz Tox – or maybe they’re just better with the internet-ordering trigger finger than the rest of us, and are regularly picking up these outer-limits transmissions based on the label’s reputation and its Coley-penned press kits alone.
Hey, I definitely don’t like everything on the label. You won’t either. I haven’t even heard half of it. It can’t be sampled on Spotify, it’s not up on Apple Music, and much of it’s not even on Bandcamp, either. It’s solely on limited-edition vinyl and sometimes even (gasp!) tapes. Those LPs seem to be coming with download codes most of the time now, which is as it should be. Sometimes their artists are so self-consciously daffy or mind-bendingly “free” that they’ve broken from the moorings of “music I can listen to” and entered the room-clearing world of “turn that shit off, please”.
Yet there are some phenomenal mind-erasers from 2013-onward that capture just how wonderfully Feeding Tube has captured some of the most experimental and socket-bursting creative artists like no multiple-genre label since ESP-Disk:
- BURNT ENVELOPE – Alien Nation: Collected Singles Thus Far
- VIRGINIA GENTA / DAG STIBERG / DAVID VANZAN / JON WESSELTOFT – Det Kritiske Punkt
- JOANNE ROBERTSON – Black Moon Days
- MARS – two volumes of Mars Archives plus two live albums (and I think even more to come)
- DANIEL BACHMAN – Miscellaneous Ephemera and Other Bullshit
- JACK RUBY – Jack Ruby
- MYRIAM GENDRON – Not So Deep As A Well
- RUTH GARBUS – Rendezvous With Rama
- SEX TIDE – Possession Sessions
- THE COOLIES – Kaka
Don’t know these gems? Well, they’re the ones “popular” enough to have dented my own considerably more pedestrian tastes, and they’re damn good records. You think that shit’s out there? You oughta hear the Curse Purse and Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Baer records. Or some of the newer ones we’re going to talk about in this piece.
As mentioned, Feeding Tube is on a relentless mission to uncover the strangest and most outré slices of the underground, often mixing those sorts of releases in with experimental guitar folk, free jazz and sometimes even thundering garage punk stuff. I’ve got a bunch of the recent ones assembled around me, as well as a turntable upon which to spin them, so let me clue you in on the sonic mysteries I’ve unlocked in the course of exploring their many delights. Like I said, it won’t always be pretty, but if it wasn’t a little rough around the edges, it wouldn’t be on this label in the first place.
Let’s start nice and easy with BRIDGE OF FLOWERS, who are ramshackle Western Massachusetts heirs to “I’m Set Free”-era Velvet Underground crossed w/ muffled PSF Records Japanese psych. Their debut album is a chiming collection of live tracks and demos, appropriately called Live / Demos. I’m really into it. It has this totally tossed-together feel, with tracks cut so that it appears that only 5/6ths of them were judged as “presentable”, with the strange, random deletion of any and all opening and closing seconds. Sometimes, as on “Dream (Vessel)”, it sounds like 45rpm music being played at 33rpm speed. Because it is demos and live stuff, Coley astutely says in the liner notes, “Should we expect greater things of this band as they go along? The smart money says yes”. Just as that first Dream Syndicate EP in 1982 quickly gave way to “The Days of Wine and Roses” within the year, so too perhaps shall Bridge of Flowers travel. No pressure.
OMEED GOODARZI is another Feeding Tube local doing a real outerworld/nether limits mind-trip with his debut Zoltar Hid All The Locks / Minnows LP. Ben Chasny meets the Hampton Grease Band in the Sun City Girls’ caravan of scars? That’s what I think, anyway. It’s a song cycle built on ever-shifting sands, sometimes loner folk but more often a plodding dose of annoyance, served up on many plates. I can pluck out bits that I’d love to hear again, but that would mean wading through the stuff I didn’t. On the other hand, LOUISE BOCK has created a droning and expansive sleep/dream state on the often-horrifying Repetitives in Illocality, a soundtrack to her own psyche with electrified cello, lap harp, synthesizer and multi-tracked vocal fragments that chop and stutter at will. Her name’s not Louise Bock, either – it’s Taralie Peterson, and she’s also in a duo called Spires That in the Sunset Rose. Now you know! Really otherplanetary stuff that reassembles the brain waves if one listens closely enough. I actually had to cram mine back together just to write this paragraph.
It really chaps my hide that I’d never heard nor heard of THE DOOZER before this year, the year they (he?) released their (his?) sixth album Figurines on Feeding Tube. The other five were on other labels, including Siltbreeze. It’s way up in my alley. Electrified English folk-n-strum, with enough cranial-loosening psych elements (baffling lyrics, astral guitar wandering etc.) to suggest a deep affinity and perhaps marination within the weird UK 90s underground of Ashtray Navigations and Vibracathedral Orchestra, with a dose of Alastair Galbraith to boot. Or maybe it really is just a fella who once read a really good article about Syd Barrett in Mojo. The songs are actual songs, with a few arty forks in the road, and all with a fairly pleasant and sometimes poppy disposition. I think I’ve listened to it more than just about anything else this year so far, and I think you should, too.
NEW PARENTS maybe don’t really belong with this bent crew, but hmm, lemme check the spine here on Transient Response – yep, says it right here: “Feeding Tube Records”. On one level it’s this sorta soft-serve, cosmically-inclined 1970s private press folk rock, perhaps created by a friendly group of Jesus people. Male and female vocals harmonize and trade off, and it wouldn’t be totally off the mark to compare them with Big Blood, being from the Northeast and all. On another level it’s like one of those alt-country/folk “No Depression”-ish nightclub acts I kept running into at the Tractor Tavern in the late 90s during my two-year run as a resident of Seattle, leavened with a little violin. Just like Amanda X on Siltbreeze or De De Troit on Mystic, it leaves one to puzzle out, “now how did this get here?”
Sometimes when I worry about the crisis of delayed adulthood that grips modern society, I’ll come across a band that calls themselves something like the WEEPING BONG BAND, and my heart sinks even further. At least this band has Anthony Pasquerosa as a member – you may know him from his solo guitar work or from his crude blaster of a punk rock record as Burnt Envelope. The duo’s album, Weeping Bong Band, is instrumental, somewhat droning early morning sunrise music, with shimmering guitars and a general vision-summoning of waterfalls, rainbows and mist. In other words – it makes me wanna thrash on their noses and go “hippie”.
I’ve really enjoyed certain works by both Englishwoman SOPHIE COOPER and Frenchwoman DELPHINE DORA on their own, so it’d make sense that they’d be even better together, am I right? Get Sophie’s Our Aquarius and Delphine’s Eudaimon and you’ll see why one might posit such a thing. Yet on their new Divine Ekstasys the sum really is less than its parts, and I say that as a fan. Cavernous, mostly wordless incantations over ethereal and sometimes menacing drones or experimental abstractions. Cooper makes some lovely drones with Julian Bradley as part of her side project The Slowest Lift, but I just don’t feel that there was enough “pre-planning” or something before she and Ms. Dora let it fly in the studio. Maxine Funke said in the 5th issue of my fanzine, with regard to this duo, that “having their music on is like having angels in the house”. Why am I not hearing these angels??
I’ll tell you what I do love, though. It’s this album by free-sax goddess METTE RASMUSSEN and guitarist TASHI DORJI – an album that they’ve seen fit to call Mette Rasmussen / Tashi Dorji. I hope these two play together in duos for the rest of their days – as long as Rasmussen can still be allowed to play with Chris Corsano sometimes on the side. What a cranked-up improvisational frenzy this thing is, particularly right out of the gate with “Cattail Horse”. I haven’t put in my ballot yet for “Free Jazz Pieces of the Year” yet but I already know this is going to win. These two really communicate and let fly together beautifully; Dorji’s electric wall of hum and static is often the perfect reaction to Rasmussen’s absolutely over-the-top saxophone wail, which rivals Virginia Genta and Herr Brötzmann himself for deepest ear-cavity cleansing. And guess what? It’s on Feeding Tube.
Ever been at a party or home gathering, where all of a sudden that quiet guy in the corner has just busted out his acoustic guitar around 11pm, and then everyone’s forced to sit around in varying degrees of embarrassment and comfort, listening to him drone on with his “originals”? Now you can have this warm feeling in your own home with MAZOZMA’s Stark Joy album. It’s a guy named Mike Turner, and he’s recorded his own rustic, heavy-on-the-strings, acoustic songs of personal torment and love on his iPhone (it says here). All very languid and very first take, with not a one of them distinctive enough to listen to a second time. But I’ll definitely listen to ERIC ARN & MARGARET UNKNOWN’s frantic, two-guitar improvisation LP Paranza Corta again for sure. When these two really get going with their unusually-tuned, well mic’d acoustic interplay, it sounds like the perfect soundtrack to an ant colony documentary, sped up 100x. It’s pretty berserk. Last year I bought Eugene Chadbourne’s 1976 Volume One: Solo Acoustic Guitar, and this reminds me more than a little bit of that.
Finally, there’s drum hero CHRIS CORSANO’s wild 2000 team-up with saxophonist PAUL FLAHERTY – who just turned 70 (!) – called The Hated Music. This was put out back then by Coley’s label Ecstatic Yod and is getting a reissue here eighteen years later. It’s a decent combination of long-drawn out wails from Flaherty and crazed rolling & filling from Corsano. While I found the longer tracks to be pretty turgid affairs, and the dying quail sounds Flaherty’s calling up on “Incident at Powder Ridge” to be flat-out grating, the duos hits back hard with an absolutely feral piece like “Rut One” – and now I totally get it. I have a disc with these two fellas + Mette Rasmussen that improves upon this infinitely by her presence, so I think I’m just going to go and listen to that one instead.
I render my conclusions thusly: this is probably the most varied and deeply underground label on the planet right now that still keeps a pinky finger hooked onto the pulse of what was once called “rock and roll”. Much of it is nothing of the sort, and that’s what makes Feeding Tube both so boggling and wonderful – if you don’t know the artists already, anything you pick up under the FT imprint is just as likely to be two guys farting into a paper sack as it is a Velvet Underground-inspired rock record as it is some mutant slice of freaked-out free jazz. Keep your ears open both for its pleasures and its dangers, and you’ll be approaching the wild world of Feeding Tube Records appropriately.