Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2021 December 31 • Friday

Hey, it's New Year's Eve! I never go to New Year's Eve parties if I can avoid, regardless of public health crises. My favorite New Year's Eve is probably still the time it was pouring rain and I was alone in my apartment drinking a nice rosé, eating an entire wheel of Éposses and watching Arport 2 (1975).

It's hard to beat that, for me.

Let's face it, the contemplation of another year coming up means summoning the energy just to deal with all these people everywhere. Not you, of course, you're fine, sometimes even an actual pleasure to have around, in theory, anyway.

So the last night of the year is best spent in solitudinous study of something rather remote from real life.

This year I might need it even a little more than in years past, since I've just read this zine called Harpagmos: A Collective on Emotional Abuse.

Harpagmos was a new word for me and the zine gets off to a bit of a shaky start in its attempt to offer a definition of it, in which it calls a verb an adjective. But the point gets across anyway. It's something seized, often a spoil of war. The implication is that this might be you, from the point of view of an abuser.

It's always interesting to read about other people's lives and in this case it's educational as well. Different experiences are presented within descriptions of different kinds of emotional abuse, of which several were new to me: Emotional Cannibals, Narcissistic Supply, Triangulation et al.

It's worth reading and re-reading. My only quibble is that it should have maybe been a little tougher on the complexity these situations can sometimes have.

Everyone knows about gaslighting these days, or at least feels comfortable throwing the word around, but I often encounter people who seem to have an attitude that they are never wrong about anything and never forget anything or have a memory of something that's faulty or incomplete in any way.

My life is, thankfully, quite free of gaslighting—I think!—but I would imagine that part of the horror would be that we are always wrong sometimes, none of has a perfect memory or always impeccable and altruistic instincts and reactions, and abusers can exploit these real and actual human qualities that we all possess.

It would be, after all, easier to convince somebody they're wrong when they're right if you've already brought to their attention instances when they were actually wrong but thought they were right.

But this is a fascinating, rewarding and educational zine, and a real zine, too, done the old-fashioned way with staples and everything.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve party!

2021 December 29 • Wednesday

One good thing about 2021 was all the photo zines Reuben Radding published. They're fantastic on several levels and in years to come should also be valued as vivid documents of this time and place.

And there was one more that came out, Space Invader, very much worth purchasing if it's still available.

If you go to his website you can read an interesting anecdote that presumably accounts for the title of this latest volume.

But otherwise the photos speak for themselves.

2021 December 27 • Monday

A long wished for original soundtrack recording is the 706th Soundtrack of the Week: John Barry's gorgeous music for The Tamarind Seed.

Barry wrote one of his loveliest themes ever for this movie, which is really saying something. And then he arranges the hell out of it with jazz versions, multiple vocal versions and numerous classic Barry orchestral versions, with devastating use of strings, harp, flute and brass.

The vocal version of the theme goes by the name "Play It Again" and one of the singers, "Wilma Reading", brings a Shirley Bassey-like quality to it that fits very well.

In whatever arrangement, with its swaying melody and haunting descending chromatic movement, it’s simply pure pleasure to listen to over and over. And Barry's use of ostinato in cues such as "Judith Remembers" might even make you think of Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score.

Silva did a wonderful job with this, including source music and some unused cues. If you know John Barry, you should know what to expect. And if you love Barry’s music, you either have this already or are ordering it right now.
2021 December 24 • Friday

Here's a fantastic book we just read: CenterForce by T. A. Waters.

They had me with the inside-front-cover pitch:
Ben Reed is stoned.
Ben Reed is armed.
Ben Reed is alone on the highway on his BMW
Ben Reed is under surveillance.

A man sits in an office a thousand miles away from Ben Reed. He watches a screen. Ben Reed is a white dot on that screen. The man can kill Ben Reed by pushing a button on his desk, It will be legal.

Because Ben Reed is alone on the highway on his BMW. And because he's a longhair freak.

And then on the copyright page, it says: "This is a work of fiction—at time of publication".

That was 1974 and the author kind of has a point.

But what's really cool about this book is that it's not a straightforward narrative. It's more like a puzzle for the reader to assemble. The form of the narrative shifts constantly.

There are sixty-four chapters, one for each of the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. Each chapter is named for one of them and presumably there's a connection between the meaning of the hexagram (e.g., "wu wang: innocence") and what happens in that chapter but if so, it wasn't always clear to me.

And the chapters themselves might be a portion of an official document with some information deleted, or it might be a poem or lyrics from a rock song or written in screenplay format or as a scene from a play, or a letter, or it might be all dialogue but the reader only hears the words of one of the speakers. And so on.

Some of it is written in conventional prose but even then Waters will have fun with it, such as with one chapter that's written from Reed's point of view while he's tripping on mushrooms.

I was very impressed. It is, I suppose, a slight book that doesn't build to much of a climax or perhaps add up to much in the end but it was unusual and kind of thrillin a lot of the time and I'm very glad that it crossed my path.

The first line is "He had had no desire, in June Utah evening, to have killed the man; and now that it was done, he had no desire to linger, to look at the body that was too still".

2021 December 22 • Wednesday

Here's the August 1963 Science and Mechanics magazine, worth it for the cover alone.

The undersea robots are a Shell Oil product and called Mobots. The Mobot is about 14 feet high, weighs 7000 pounds and has a powerful claw. I'm sure it's fine.

Also in this issue is an article on the military uses of fire, particularly in flamethrowers and napalm, the latter apparently having acquired the sobriquet "Yankee Hell Jelly".

On a lighter note, you can build a Photo-Theremin, which uses photocells instead of antennae.

According to the caption, "The schematic diagram is simplicity itself". Good to know.

Interestingly, "the Photo-Theremin has some practical applications. As an aid to the blind it could be used to indicate relative amounts of illumination, indicating for example, the position of doorways, windows, etc".
2021 December 20 • Monday

It's the holiday season and we are literally on vacation, relaxing after a few days days of culinary adventures and record and book shopping in San Francisco.

I'll say right up front that these soundtrack reviews are probably rarely interesting and sometimes inexcusably lazy. Which is why I never try to make excuses.

Today will be one of those days. But what is there to say? It's a brilliant re-recording of a lesser known score by the colossus of the genre, my favorite composer, Bernard Herrmann. Huge thanks to Quartet Records who made this happen and have provided so many other fantastic soundtrack releases.

Bernard Herrmann’s music for Endless Night is the 705th Soundtrack of the Week.

It's Herrmann. It sounds like him. The heartbreakingly lyrical ostinati and wide ranging emotions, from whispers to screams. Beautiful writing for harp and startling use of a Moog synthesizer.

It's just great.
2021 December 17 • Friday

There are more new things! Although these new things do not actually involve me, I'm giving them both my higest recommendation.

It's been an honor and a constant inspiration to be friends and collaborate on music with Chris Moore. He is a brilliant songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist, artist and teacher as well as being one of the most admirable people I've ever known.

Even if I had never met him, I would still be a huge fan of his music.

And so it's always a great day when something new from him becomes available and that has just happened!

Head on over to bandcamp and pick up his new EP, which is called jaunt.

It's amazing and I'm going to be listening to it a lot.

But there's more Moore!

This 45 arrived in the mail today, two songs from some band Chris had like thirty years ago. I never heard of it and didn't know what to expect. After giving it a spin I had to text him immediately to tell him I was knocked out by it. It's just really, really good. I hope there's more from this group out there somewhere.

Chris did new art for the release and it would be worth buying for that alone. But the two songs are awesome. The band is Crossed Wire and the songs are "Spent" and "Sound Salvation".

You can get it from Dowd Records.

Once again, my highest recommendation for both of these. I even bought the Crossed Wire t-shirt!
2021 December 15 • Wednesday

There are new things!

First, the new Gutbrain Records release! This is a follow-up to Bob Davoli's Wistfully Yours.

The new Wistfully Yours Solo Edition revisits eleven songs from the previous album but this time they're performed by Davoli alone, on guitar and two-part harmony.

There are a few different options for purchase on Bob Davoli's website.

Next, please enjoy "Disco Envy", the new single from Irish jazz/ska band The Piseógs. I play guitar on it!

Also, Ron Jean-Gilles has made a couple more cool films to go with two Mantic Trio tracks, from our recent release, "Spills".

He did

this one

for "Unbecoming", the first track on the album, and

this one

for "Local Echo", the last track on the album.


2021 December 13 • Monday

I always thought Last Mouse on the Left would be a good title for an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. Also Mouse by the Cemetery.

But anyway, David Alexander Hess’s music for Last House on the Left, technically a remake of an Ingmar Bergman movie, is our 704th Soundtrack of the Week.

For the “Intro & Opening Credits” you hear some dialogue from the movie (“Piss your pants”) and then a groovy psych folk rock song very briefly (“And the road leads to nowhere / And the castle stays the same / And the father tells the mother / ‘Wait for the rain’”).

Then there’s a weird electric bass and electric guitar duet for “Little Cows Looking for Some Grass”, kind of free improvy, with the bass mostly making low rounded noises and the guitar sharper, higher sounds.

“Wait for the Rain” is the song we got a taste of in the opening credits, with different lyrics. It’s followed by the “Baddies Theme”, a short instrumental cue that’s in the slapstick merriment children’s programming zone.

A somewhat similar feeling is explored in “Man’s Birthday Surprise”, which also revisits the “Little Cows” musical idea.

Flute kicks off “Water Music - Sadie and Krug”, which also has percussion, strings, electric bass and guitar, sort of pastoral folk country rock with, unexpectedly, a kazoo coming in with a carnival sort of feel. Eventually a singer also shows up to sing about Sadie and Krug. This might be diegetic or somehow a meta moment as the song seems to be about what’s actually happening in the movie.

A synth bomb announces “Phyllis Spills Her Guts”, which is mostly some weird sounds and a fair amount of space, plus some birds, wind and more descending siren-like tones plus some random electronic blurts.

Delicately plucked acoustic guitar introduced “Now You’re All Alone”, whose title is quickly sung by a male vocalist who goes on to add “Feeling that nobody wants you / And you’re looking for someone to hold your hand / Someone who’ll understand”. Piano adds a lot to the song, with bass guitar being the only other instrument. It has a surprise at the end, though, a gunshot and some birds.

Which makes a decent segue into the sounds of chickens that kick off “Ada’s Chickens”, a short cue that also reprises “Baddies Theme”.

“The Chase” begins as a gently groovy, low key acid rock instrumental but then becomes a percussion ensemble showcase, with timpani and triangle joining hand percussion instruments and some other mysterious noisemakers.

Then we’re getting groovy hippy again with the gentle sunshine folk rock of “Daddy, Put Your Coat of Many Colors On” which, surprisingly, doesn’t have lyrics, leaving the melody to the flautists.

Things get slinky and groovy with the intriguingly titled “Mayhem Montage”, which has acid guitar soloing in the first minute before everything switches unexpectedly to arhythmic synth weirdness. It wraps things up by having the synth play some kind of demented clown melody.

For “Ice Cream Song” there’s almost a John Fogerty feel to the groove, but it’s mostly acoustic with singers just going “La la la la la la”.

If you were wondering when some kind of organ was going to join this all over the place acid psych folk rock pastoral hippy groove free improv synth percussion combo, then the answer is now, in “Urban Snatch”, which has another impressive groove and features both organ and hand percussion.

At first there’s more quiet than sound in “Blow Your Brains Out”, but then we get back to the “Wait for the Rain” song, plus more dialogue from the movie.

As far as evocative titles go, “Etude for Chainsaw — Goodbye, Dick” is way up there. It’s mostly weird electronic sounds, pretty demented.

Things are somber at first for “Aftermath & End Credits, with some slow, low tones, but then it jumps back to the Sadie & Krug song with different lyrics.

Then some bonus tracks: a vocal version of “Daddy, Put Your Coat of Many Colors On”, a ballad with a gospel sound (thanks to the organ) called “New York Times”, a lush hippy folk rock song called “Promised Land” and a long blending of “The Road Leads to Nowhere” and “Wait for the Rain” with a sophisticated arrangement and a lush, colorful, deep sound.
2021 December 10 • Friday

After Robert Webb's autobiography, we had to read David Mitchell's autobiography, of course.

It's called Back Story and it's a very different sort of book but also delightful and hard to put down.

Robert Webb and David Mitchell are professionally funny and their books are, unsurprisingly, humorous as well. While Webb's story is also one of trauma and grief and anger, Mitchell's is more unusual.

The showbiz memoir almost always traces a path through pain and hardship and narrow escapes from personal demons. You won't really find any of that in Back Story.

Amazingly, Mitchell's autobiography is funny, thrilling and addictive reading, always exciting. And this is something of a miracle because nothing ever happened to David Mitchell!

It's quite amazing. He describes a placid and uenventful middle-class childhood with a complete lack of upheaval and suffering. If his account is accurate, the only really upsetting thing that ever happend to him was that his grandfather died. As grandfathers tend to do.

But—Mitchell has spun the material of his memories into gold. If How Not To Be a Boy gave some insight into why Robert Webb might have evolved into not just a brilliant comedian and comic writer but an actor with impressive range and depth and capacity for underplaying that's on a genius level, then Back Story gives readers a view into the mind of a virtuosic writer and thinker.

This is not a casually written book. One of its master strokes is its framing device, which is simply that Mitchell is taking the reader along with him as he walks around London, something he does regularly as therapy for chronic back pain (literally the only other trauma in this book besides the passing of his grandfather).

As we walk with him he points out various things, remarks on the histories of different neighborhoods, is unfailingly witty and allows his thoughts to wander time and space as fluidly as our city stroll, taking us through the story of his life so far.

This would be more than merely effective just on its own but when you get to the end of the book, with Mitchell transformed by his love for Victoria Cohen and her love or him, this charming literary device turns out to be its own story with a marvellous conclusion that might just bring tears to your eyes.

It's a more quotable book than Webb's is. How Not To Be a Boy was a journey that held me in thrall. Back Story was just as engaging but there were countless paragraphs I read out loud to anyone who would listen.

In the end both books were funny, touching, inspiring and laudable. I hope they both write second volumes.

The first line of Back Story is "This is one of those misery memoirs". (It's not.)

2021 December 08 • Wednesday

It was a Very Important Person's birthday yesterday and why not celebrate with a book we both enjoyed? I refer to Robert Webb's funny, moving, insightful How Not To Be a Boy.

It's a bit of a hybrid, this book. On the one hand, it's that very familiar thing, the show biz memoir, how the TV star became a TV star, where they came from and what they went through.

On the other hand it's a very compassionate call to arms about the global force generally and conveniently known as "the patriarchy" and its long, multi-tentacled reach, as well as its poisonous effects on men and women alike.

Webb started life in a time, place and culture firmly embedded in conventional/patriarchal ideas of who people were and what they did and how this tracked to biological sex approximately 100% of the time.

Webb himself had no attraction to or even skill at many of the expected behaviours and attitudes and had a childhood strongly shaped by loving his mother and, well, maybe hating a strong word, but let's just say not having anywhere near as positive a relationship with his father.

It's a page-turned and there's some brilliant comic writing. While, say, David Mitchell's syntax and vocabulary (and of course wit) might place his writing style in the same zip code as P. G. Wodehouse's, Webb is the only writer whose work has actually reminded me of a Wodehouse novel.

(Peep Show in fact reminded me of how Bertie Wooster's Drones Club peers might conceivably be living in the post-aristocracy twenty-first century, assuming they weren't the children of billionaire corporatists.)

While there's something funny on every page of How Not To Be a Boy, there are also many sad and moving passages as well. Reader, you might cry.

Webb is implacable and convincing on the subject of patriarchal pressure to conform to confusing and destructive gender biases. He's put not just a lot of thought but also study into it but wears it lightly.

He's very honest about many things he's done that he is definitely not proud of and the vulnerability he risks by being so unguarded contribute to our sense of him as a trustworthy and sympathetic guide not just to the story of his own life but to the social and cultural forces he describes.

The chapter titles might give you some ideas: "Boys Aren't Shy", "Boys Are Not Virgins", "Boys Don't Fall in Love (with other boys_", "Men Don't Need Therapy", "Men Know Who They Are" and so on.

And for fans of Mitchell & Webb, the story of their first encounter is very sweet.

The first line is "If I get this right, Tess Rampling will definitely want to have sex with me".

2021 December 06 • Monday

The 703rd Soundtrack of the Week is Together Brothers by Barry White!

It starts off with "Somebody's Gonna Off the Man", a song with a great groove and lyrics along the lines of "In the name of justice / In the name of peace / When will this killing and fighting / Ever cease". It's got great energy, especially from the drummer, and the arrangement and structure are reminiscent of "Eleanor Rigby", which I wasn't expecting.

Then there's "So Nice To Hear", which sounds like a love theme. It's an instrumental, with lots of strings, a harp, and melody played on various instruments, including what sounds like a glockenspiel at one point.

Things get funky again with "Alive and Well", a short instrumental based on a segment of "Somebody's Gonna Off the Man".

"Find the Man Bros." starts off with some sharp musical stabs before launching into a lean and muscular funk groove with some killer rhythm guitar work before ending on a brief and surprisingly ethereal note.

Another short but devastating hard groove comes right up in the solid and spare "You Gotta Case", which also has great guitar playing.

Whistling starts out "Killer's Lullaby", which has an eerie and off-kilter sound and feel, with the piano doing almost all of the work in the first half, before the rest of the orchestra comes in, with what sounds like synthesizer and harp most prominent.

It's only at this point that we get the "Theme from Together Brothers", a funk/soul that continues the pizzicato motif from "Somebody's Gonna Off the Man" but puts it in service to a different number with swooping string lines, razor-edged wah-wah guitar and am impressively "modern" melody.

"Getaway" starts out sounding like traditional dramatic underscore for a suspense sequence but then some electric instruments start sneaking in and then it just explodes with one of the heaviest grooves yet.

This is followed by instrumental versions of two songs, "People of Tomorrow Are the Children of Today", which we haven't heard yet but is a soaring soul anthem, and "Somebody's Gonna Off the Man", basically the same as we heard it before but without the lyrics.

Perky percussion and flute followed by some John Williams-ish string work make "The Rip" into a cue that could fit into any number of movies that needed music for a tense and suspenseful sequence.

Then there's "Stick Up", a variation on the main idea for "Find the Man Bros.".

"Dreamin'" is a very short and lush love cue with weeping strings and a deep pocket from the rhythm section.

The eerie whistling from "Killer's Lullaby" returns for "Killer's Back" and the mysterious atmosphere continues, but in a very groovy way, for "Do Drop In".

In "Killer Don't Do It", the whistling is paired with what sounds like a bassoon and some kind of analog synth for a very unsettling cue that would easily fit a horror movie.

Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible music seems to be explicitly referenced in "Here Comes the Man", which also throws in some string writing that suggests more mystery.

The deep groove and lush vibe of "Dreamin'" is revisited for "Dream On", which has some beautiful playing by the rhythm section as well as saxophone before bursting into some staccato action figures unexpectedly at the end.

And then we get Mr. White singing again in the full-on soul attack of "Honey Please, Can't Ya See", very much like his hit songs that we know and love.

"Can't Seem To Find Him" is a mix of hard funk grooves with bits of music that would work for action or horror movie cues.

And then the record concludes with the vocal version of "People of Tomorrow Are the Children of Today", great melody and uplifting lyrics.

2021 December 03 • Friday

A recent visit to Brooklyn's Desert Island, perhaps the best comic book shop in the country, resulted in spending a lot of money on a bunch of Charles Burns stuff.

That's partly because it's just not that complicated. If Charles Burns does something, I buy it. I'll probably get around to buying the Charles Hiaasen books that Burns did the front covers for someday. And whatever else might be out there.

Probably the highlight of this recent spree is the book Love Nest, which is a collection of single panel illustrations that very clearly indicate a scene from a story in progress, although the one image might be all we ever see.

Also in our haul were the first two books of Burns's latest work and while this would normally be the highlight, these are in French only at the moment, with the English-language version coming later.

It looks amazing but I've only glanced at it because I just want to do the complete story in the original language as soon as I get the opportunity.

Immediately enjoyable is Vortex, an exploration of ephemera from Burns's recent Toxic series. Here you see the magazine and comics covers that were lurking in the background of the pages of Toxic but you get a really good look at them. And there's a bunch of other stuff in there too. It's a must-have.

And then there were the actual ephemeral background comics themselves, some mini-size, some regular. These are blank on the inside but have front and back covers.

I think I got seven different ones.

The last time I encountered something like this from Charles Burns, I was able to figure out most of the alphabet and even a couple of numbers.

But these appear to be a different alphabet. I assume that the title is Nitnit, so that's three letters. But there isn't a whole lot else to go on and I'm not feeling up to the challenge right now.
2021 December 01 • Wednesday

New release!

Mantic Trio, a free improv group consisting of Chris Moore (drums, percussion), Lee Feldman (piano, keyboards) and myself (guitar, electronics), reunited last spring, went into a studio and made a record!


This is, what, nine years after the last one? Something like that.

If you click on the image above, it takes you to the Bandcamp page, where you can stream it and/or buy it.

Last October we played at Open Source Gallery in Park Slope and it was really fun.


And we're going to play again, this Saturday, Dec 4, at 5pm, at Branded Saloon, one of our favorite places! Hope to see you there!