Saturday, April 3, 2010

Yek Koo - I Saw Myself [Stunned]/Slam Fucking Dunk - Slam Fucking Dunk [Stunned]

Phil and Myste continue be the high priests of bad ass label-running with their untouchable Stunned imprint. This pair of tapes veers a little towards the rock end of things but as with all Stunned releases nothing is ever what's expected.
I don't know what the hell a Yek Koo is (makes me think of those Japanese gigapet things) but I sure like the way it sounds. I Saw Myself finds Metal Rouge member Helga Fassonaki wailing with her voice and guitar over Chris Corsano and Milford Graves drum samples. Recorded straight to dictaphone. Something like this could go either right or wrong but Fassonaki makes it go very right. Opener "Ring of Bone" is still my favorite. First of all, the dictaphone is really working for her because the recording has this surging energy about it. Over an impulsive, jagged guitar riff Fassonaki runs the range with her voice which I think may be tape manipulated as well (or its possibly just a delay pedal.) Fassonaki did an excellent job arranging the drum samples as well, as the fractured construction goes a long way in creating the track's vibrant poly-rhythms. The jam squirms and writhes with the best of that Sublime Frequencies foreign rock n' roll stuff but with a darker, more emotional core. It's a total whirlwind and just a really brilliant piece of work. "Yellow Fever Dance" edges even closer into a "world" vibe. With frantic chimes, feedback and drum collage, Fassonaki lays out a lively bed for her guitar. This stuff is hard to pin down exactly because it's some kind of manic tribal-garage concoction. There's a bit of a trash rock feel, but rather than dissonant deconstruction, it's an inventive, abstraction of primal rock n' roll attitude. The second side holds only one track "Last Lust Lost" which begins with a relatively straightforward guitar rhythm, though with a significant dose of spliced percussion shards. The pace is mellower, focusing more on manipulation of samples and voice than the frenetic swagger of the first side. It's quite a bit longer than the tracks on the first side and the protracted form makes it more into a shamanic trance. Though there are still plenty of sharp, angular elements, on the whole it's more than a little hypnotizing until riding out on a slowly picked arpeggio. The sound still manages to envelope you without going for drone saturation. All in all, Yek Koo appears to be a great project and certainly an unusual one. Worth grabbing this tape for sure, if you can find it. I hope there's more of this stuff to come
This Slam Fucking Dunk tape is the first cassette of Stunned's bonus series which has included some of the best Stunned stuff period like last year's Historians CD-r. This tape is a cassingle of sorts with two longer songs on each side. It reminds me a tad of the Brave Priest tape on Stunned from a while back, although Slam Fucking Dunk's power trio forgoes any vocals. I'd probably call the two jams psych-grunge or something as they're loose enough to fit comfortably within the semi-improvisational psych zone but with a gritty alterna blues vibe. "Side A" lopes along with a mid-paced drum beat and deep synth bass. It's mostly a show for extended guitar riffing and soloing around an off kilter melody, though there's some keys in there and a couple frenzied full-band freakouts. The second side has more of that grunge vibe I was talking about. After another loping intro, the guitar spits out an urgent, high strung melody and the keys take on some heavy octa-bass vowel tones. After the jam peaks, the band slowly loses steam until they launch back into the intro section which doubles as an outro. It's a brief, fun tape of psych jammers. Good for the walkman or any psyched-dudes out there looking to get their groove on with their home stereo system. It's not for individual sale so if you want a copy you gotta grab some of Stunned's other excellent new releases which you should probably be doing, Slam Fucking Dunk or no.

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