Arrington De Dionyso
It’s a return late Monday engagement from Everett True, publisher of Plan B. Last week, he dove into Stolen Recordings. This week, he writes about his mail. Send him more things to write about at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read all his Sound of the City columns here.
Hugs and Kisses
The Outbursts of Everett True
This week: The fundamentalists have taken over Olympia
You gotta love this job sometimes.
Few weeks back, frantically finishing up my albums column for the new Plan B — excellent new releases from Mekons, Monster Bobby, Adrian Orange & Her Band — I was scrabbling around for the new Old Time Relijun album Catharsis In Crisis. Couldn’t find it anywhere: remembered its invigorating, nasty squalls of saxophone and malignant, festering beat courtesy of gemstone producer Steve Fisk, certainly recalled Arrington de Dionyso’s demented foghorn of an Old Testament voice (something like Mark Stewart of The Pop Group might have produced once upon a time, only even more electrifying), but couldn’t find the damn CD. In despair, I emailed the PR, pleading for another copy — and also the other two-thirds of Lost Light three-CD trilogy this album was supposed to complete.
I’d first been made aware of Dionyso’s elemental, libidinous Yes Wave dance group — “This is a war cry! Can you hear it?” — living back out in Seattle almost a decade back, winding up easily roused Yanks with a few chosen barbs at The Stranger (“You smell exactly like my brother’s asshole”, etc), digging the groove of Old Tim Relijun’s Olympia studio, Dub Narcotic and OTR’s brother-sister groups The Microphones and ICU, entirely roused by Dub Narcotic engineer Calvin Johnson‘s laconic, sexually-charged storytelling, both a cappella and acoustic, lamenting the way folk seem to always ignore the wealth of talent on their own doorstep. I wrote that Old Time Relijun’s 1999 album Uterus And Fire, “Revived fond memories of Pere Ubu’s early Rough Trade singles,” to which someone replied, “This sounds more like somebody torturing a diarrheic goat on the rack,” which I didn’t take to necessarily be an insult (and, anyway, is far more appropriate a description for Dionyso’s throat-singing and bass clarinet-mangling on his relentless, brilliant solo album, 2005’s Breath Of Fire). Since then, they’d drifted in and out of focus — as old, slightly worrying friends have a tendency to do — but this new album really knocked me for six. And then I lost the damn thing.
So. You really gotta love this job sometimes. Earlier today, arrived back from the Spring Hill Barn Farm with my two-year-old son Isaac to find a US-franked parcel unceremoniously stuffed behind the plant pot on my doorstep. Inside were several CDs — most of them decorated with chunky, bold, naive art that recalls Jack Kirby’s muscle-laden superheroes of the early Sixties, pedagogic Greek sculpture and Daniel Johnston’s felt-tip visions of dystopia — and an A3 black and white gig poster advertising a triple bill (Aa, Old Time Relijun and Zorastvooktie), adorned by a picture of a man in a unicorn mask suckling on a naked woman’s breast.
On the back of the poster, Dionyso had scrawled (in un-joined small capital letters):
“Hi Everett! Please find here six (6) CDs total: parts 1-3 of the Lost Light trilogy — Lost Light, 2012 and Catharsis In Crisis. Also, Witchcraft Rebellion, a ‘prequel’ to the trilogy, if you will — there are no hobbits, but rather the Book Of Genesis told from the serpent’s point of view… Also — Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s L’Autre Cap, and Arrington de Dionyso’s Breath Of Fire, two albums that I helped make, concurrent to the recording of 2012 and Catharsis In Crisis, which I feel never got their due respect in the British press — just for enjoyment, really, but you-know. Check ’em out…”
Whoa. Yeah. Aside from noting that the Maher Shalal Hash Baz album (produced by Arrington) does that whole pastoral, brass slightly off-key, Maher Shalal Hash Baz Japanese ambient noise thing as brilliantly as ever; and that Witchcraft Rebellion is heavy on the cowbell, and features main Microphone Phil Elvrum (as do many other OTR recordings) , my attention was drawn mainly to the inner sleeve of the new album, wherein Arrington has reprinted a full-colour diagram behind the workings of the Lost Light Trilogy — or, as he puts it, “A key to the map in my mind’s eye; all songs descend from fractured emanations. All songs contain hidden shards of other songs — like rivulets of water, refracting endless mirrored spectrum from a single source of light.”
In and among his “Exponentiality as spatial archetype,” he has lurid blobs featuring wolves and wolverines, indestructible life! (in the crown of lost light), dark matter and (most importantly, it seems), tigers in the temple; and lines (Los Angeles, music of the spheres) linking same. I don’t have the slightest idea what any of it means — it’s far more impenetrable than Elvrum’s similar voyage into conceptualism, Mount Eerie, where Calvin Johnson plays the Voice of God — but, man, I love the fact it’s out there. And, as I said earlier, the music kicks ass: brutal, fluid, funky, spasmodic, violent, sexual… I wish there were more visionaries like Dionyso around.
HUGS AND KISSES TOP 5
1. Getatchew Mekurya, “Antchi Hoyé” (from the Union Square album The Very Best Of Éthiopiques)
Some of you hipsters might recognise Getatchew’s name from his recent seismic collaboration with Touch & Go’s awesome Dutch anarchist band The Ex: this cut is lifted from a peerless, addictive compilation of Ethiopian jazz from the Sixties and Seventies.
2. Qui, “Gash” (from the Ipecac album Love’s Miracle)
David Yow, like you’ve always wanted David Yow to be. Scratch Acid is not a distant memory.
3. Uni And Her Ukelele, “I’m On My Way” (from the Unicorn Bread five-track EP I’m On My Way)
Like Cyndi Lauper’s first group — the unstoppably optimistic Blue Angel — only with, uh, y’know, ukeleles.
4. Milk Kan feat. Dolly Parton, “Here Ya Come Again & Again”
The cream of the British antifolk lot (rambling, rambunctious, personality-led — as opposed to the US antifolk lot, who are more song-led, staid, rather trad). This one’s a street-wise chirpy rhyme that way out-Nash’s new Lily Allen, Kate Nash.
5. The Singing Loins, “To A Beautiful Woman Growing Older” (from the Damaged Goods album The Drowned Man Resuscitator)
This year’s most beautiful and honest love song, from an unashamedly anti-capitalist, romantic old school English folk band.