Gutbrain Records

Sunday, 28 August 2005

Thanks to everybody who came to the show at Tonic last week. After we (pictured above) finished playing, Andrew D'Angelo took the stage with Trevor and Jim and played an amazing set! I hope I can see that group again soon.

I watched the new Ultraman movie a few days ago and was really disappointed. I was never a follower of Ultraman and the like, but I love monster movies and the Ultraman series is famous for its monsters. Like the old Gamera movies, though, it's really for children, which may explain why I never got into it. I never saw Ultraman on TV when I was younger, so I didn't get a chance to see it when I would have been most likely to enjoy it.

I'd heard that 2005's Ultraman was a darker story, though, more for adults, with really good special effects. Since something similar had been done with Gamera in the '90s, I was optimistic. I'm sorry to report that Ultraman doesn't have much to offer other than a few isolated moments which made me think that sequels could be better.

The movie has terrible music, the worst kind of wailing electric guitar garbage, like what you hear in TV commercials for the army. This kicks in immediately, as they introduce our hero, a fighter jet pilot. Top Gun seems to be the model here, not anything from the wonderful world of Japanese fantasy.

(Top Gun's success as a recruitment film is well known, and I wonder if there's any connection between this angle of the Ultraman movie and Japan's current controversial drive to widen the scope and increase the activities of its Self-Defense Forces.)

Anyway, our fighter jet hero flies into a strange red light which affects him in a way known only to everybody watching the movie. Then you'll sit there for about 45 minutes, wondering when the hell he's going to turn into Ultraman already. You probably won't wonder much about his son with the rare disease, but the filmmakers evidently thought that this question would be of paramount importance to the audience.

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: The Assault of Legion (1996) and Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999) proved that a satisfying adult update of a popular children's franchise can be done. Gamera 3 is the best, highly recommended, but you have to see the first two, which are also very good, to get the most out of it. Ultraman you can skip.

In other news, last spring I started keeping track of all the different kinds of beer I drink. Yesterday I noted number 200. Almost all of them have been very good. Only 10 of them would I not want to drink again. There were five that I liked better than the rest:

La Choulette Ambree, a Saison from France's Brasserie La Choulette

Belgian Strong Dark Ale from the NYC Home-Brewer's Guild

La Binchoise Brune Tradition, from Belgium's Brasserie La Binchoise

La Trappe Quadrupel from the Netherlands' Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven

Herold 14¼ Bohemian Bronze Lager from Pivovar Herold Breznice in the Czech Republic

Favorite American breweries included Ommegang, Sixpoint, Southern Tier, Stone, Avery, Dogfish Head, Brooklyn, Goose Island and Stoudt's.

Favorite German beers included Schwelmer Weizen, Engel Bock, and Pinkus's Organic Ur Pils.

Some greatly enjoyed English Ales were Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Fuller's Porter. In fact, just about any beer from Young's or Fuller's is worth drinking.

Sunday, 14 August 2005

I just added a few CDs to the column on the left. These are recordings which I'm on but which are not available from me.

Jubilee is the new Alice Bierhorst CD and it's amazing. You should buy it right now! (Click on the picture of the CD to go to Alice's internet shop.) I play guitar on a few tracks, using a Univox tape delay and a 50-year-old amplifier. Also joining Alice on the CD are Laura Cromwell, John Mettam and Pete Galub.

Mr. Dorgon's latest release, Smell the Glove, is insane. There's a mixture of stuff on it, including the sickest harmonica playing I've ever heard. The part I'm on is a field recording of Mr. Dorgon and I performing at a benefit for a pirate radio station in Brooklyn. I play theremin and Mr. Dorgon plays clarinet. Listen carefully and you may hear the moment when I worry that I've broken the theremin after thrashing the "pitch" antenna with a length of chain. (You can get a neat sound that way but, yes, be careful.)

We sort of reprised this duo a few years later, to provide a live soundtrack for a production of Luis Buñuel's Hamlet, probably the only play ever written with stage directions for a "numismatic dolphin". For Hamlet, I played theremin and Mr. Dorgon played electronics.

The Dim Sum Clip Job CD is, wow, ten years old now, I think. John Zorn released Harmolodic Jeopardy on his Avant label. It features Laura Cromwell, Mr. Dorgon, Jay Brown and myself, with special guests Kenny Wollesen, Chris Cochrane and Hope Cromwell. It was recorded by the great Martin Bisi.

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Yesterday I went to Footlight Records for probably the last time. After 30 years as a shop specializing in theatre and film music, they're being forced by a rent increase to abandon their space on W 12th St and go "internet only".

The same thing happened to Midnight Records a year or two ago. They specialized in rock and roll, and are listed in the back of Nick Tosches's Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll as a good source for recordings of the artists he writes about.

Midnight Records was priced out of their space on W 23rd street after 20 years of business. Now there's a Ben & Jerry's at that address. I'm beginning to think we should change the name of the city to New New York™.

When Footlight made it known that they would be leaving their space, they discounted all of their vinyl by 75%. I dropped by and bought some random things. Most of them I could have lived without, but the soundtrack to Spellbound is worth having, as is Kenyon Hopkins's music for a TV show called The Reporter.

Yesterday I was walking by Footlight Records and I saw a CD in the window, soundtrack music for the television show Burke's Law. I kept walking, then stopped.

I don't really like Burke's Law much — though there's at least one episode worth watching, which stars John Cassavetes as a Marlon Brando/The Wild One-type biker who lands the lead role in a production of Hamlet and delivers all of his lines in biker/beatnik poet argot ("To be or, like, not to be, man!")— and I couldn't remember anything about the music.

But I turned around and entered the shop. I found the CD on the new releases shelf and right behind it was another CD on the same label, of soundtrack music for the television show Honey West.

I had the same reaction. Don't really care about the show, can't remember the music. Both CDs were $22.95 for about 30 minutes of music, not much of a deal.

Then I noticed that track #9 on the Burke's Law CD was called "Drum Madness". And I remembered that Honey West had cool opening credits. I bought them both. I'm listening to Honey West right now and it's quite nice.

For me, that was a quintessential Footlight Records episode. I'll miss them.