Don Campau and Eric Wallack - "Wreck A Lilac" (Lonely Whistle Music 2002)
Don Campau - "Man On A Mission" (Lonely Whistle Music 2003)
Don Campau - "Lowercase Fraud" (Lonely Whistle Music 2002)
From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)
Don Campau, underground veteran musician and purveyor of indie tunes across the radio waves, sent me a nifty package of three recent releases, each one, as you might expect, consisting of completely different styles of music. Here's the lowdown on each...
Eric Wallack has been highly active this past year appearing on collaborations with several veteran underground greats (see reviews of teamups with Greg Segal and Rotcod Zzaj this issue). And what a treat it's been because Wallack is one of the most talented and creative free-improv guitarists I've heard in some time. On Wreck A Lilac he and Don Campau crank out 16 tracks of music that vary in style, including traditional Blues and acoustic techniques, freeform improvisations, and even surprised me with a bit of fairly tripped out psychedelia. "Onofrio's Return" is the trippy drifting psychedelic excursion, and "Uncut El Topo Edit" is similar, though it goes off into a strange but very cool jazzy direction while being backed by Indian styled percussion. "Heart Of Darkness Water Scene" is another standout, consisting of more Indian percussion plus a combination of acid-psych rock guitar licks and extended whining Frippoid notes. Also expect to hear lots of interesting sounds and efx, often used in subtle but effective roles. Many of the tracks sound composed as they communicate distinct melodies and direction. Among the instrumentation the duo employ are electric and acoustic guitars, bowed bass, mandolin, bass, Chapman Stick, synthesizers, percussion, turntables, and effects. The CD is less than half an hour long and the songs typically in the 1+ minute range, but Wallack and Campau succeed in serving up a range of interesting and impressive playing on their respective stringed instruments.
With Man On A Mission, Campau displays his rock n roll singer-songwriter talents. There are 6 track on this short CDEP, but what we have are accessible songs backed by well thought out and constructed music which varies from fiery rock to toe-tapping funky bits, and more intricate progressive rock influences. There seems to be a number of artists in the underground that are known for their free-improv and experimental work, but also have good old songs and rock n roll in their hearts (Bret Hart and Greg Segal are two others that are prominent in this regard). Campau manages to say a lot in a mere 17 minutes, though the two heaviest rockers are my favorites. "Man On A Mission" is a fiery rock song with some nice raw guitar and as a bonus we have Mark Kissinger guesting on rhythm guitar. "Among Other Things" features ripping garage rock. And we even get more psychedelia on "I Melted", which has a trippy hippie flower power feel. A nice set. I'd love to hear more of Don's song-oriented side.
Sub-titled Experimental Sound Mixes, Lowercase Fraud is 360 degrees from the other two releases, being exactly what the sub-title claims. Tracks 1-15 are short snippets recorded for collaboration with Zan Hoffman. Each bit is a survey of a particular sound and efx theme utilizing electronics, percussion and guitar (and freaky harmonica on one track). We hear abstract free-improv, sounds manipulations, and some very spacey bits. But all are brief statements barely exceeding a minute that were apparently intended to be part of something larger (i.e., the Hoffman collaboration). Still there are lots of good ideas across these tracks that I would love to hear more fully developed. And speaking of fuller development, the last couple tracks are lengthier excursions into sound exploratory realms. "Take Care Of Your Teeth" starts of with slowly wandering and pulsating electronic tones, alien attacks, voices from announcements, and various sound manipulations. Then it goes into a brief space/psych/jazz segment that I really liked with flutes, droney Middle Eastern sounds, and chanting and efx'd vocals by Robin O'Brien. Finally, "Lowercase Fraud" features synthesizer by Hal McGee from his Deep Space Search Engine CD, plus Campau on bowed bass and mini disc manipulation. Like Hal's CD, this is a voyage into deep dark space with Campau adding mucho cool effects. Lots of cool and strange candy for the receptive ear.
For more info on these and other Don Campau releases, plus loads of other cool indie sounds,
check out the Lonely Whistle Music catalog web site at:
Don hosts the No Pigeonholes radio show on 91.5 FM KKUP (www.kkup.com) in Cupertino, California the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 3-5 PM. European broadcast and additional internet archiving by Radio Marabu at: http://www.RadioMarabu.de.
Contact via snail mail c/o Lonely Whistle Music; PO Box 9162; Santa Rosa, CA 95405.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz