Walls Of Genius - "Raw Sewage, Vol. II" (self-released 2004, originally released various cassettes, 1983-1985)
Walls Of Genius - "Before …and After" (self-released 2004, originally released on cassette, 1984)
Little Fyodor - "Beneath The Uber-Putz" (self-released 2002, originally released on LP, 1988, Small Tools Tradition)
From Aural Innovations #30 (February 2005)
Ok kiddies, still more fun reissues from the 80's band Walls Of Genius (WoG). Gobs of genius is dripping down the walls on the second volume in the Raw Sewage series, featuring gems originally released on cassette between 1983-1985. The core of Walls Of Genius was the trio of Little Fyodor, Evan Cantor and Ed Fowler, along with a number of guest contributors. As usual we've got a riotous mixture of fun songs, crazy cover tunes and very cool freaky rock and experimental stuff. Starting with the hysterically dire warning of "Abandon Ship" we're off and running. Songs like "Bugs", "She Was A Voodoo Queen" and "All Get Drunk" are a riot. These guys are craftsmen when it comes to creating some of the nuttiest songs on the planet. "Cheap!" is a standout track of lo-fi insanity. It's hard to explain… on the surface it just sounds nuts, but the combination of the screaming singing, messed up sort of scat vocals and guitar is… I don't know… just really cool in it's own completely crazy way. And "Forced Child Labor" consists of killer guitar work and a playfully dark musical theme that sets the tone for lyrics about… ummmm…. The benefits of forced child labor? Wild stuff. Fun cover songs include a rousing triple vocal and acoustic guitar rendition of The Beatles' "Honey Don't", a spaced out cover of "Johnny B. Goode", a laid back dreamy version of "Secret Agent Man", and the Woodstock generation will surely remember "Joe Hill".
Getting down to some really serious music, "March Of The Lost Wormsouls" returns from Raw Sewage Vol. I, but in a much abbreviated form (20 minutes down to 4+). This is a wildly freaked out psychedelic tune that recalls the glory days of Yeti era Amon Düül II, but of course done in a firmly WoG fashion. One of my favorites. But then the next few tracks…. are these the remainder of the full length Wormsouls? Whatever… I didn't dig out Vol. I to compare… it's all cool stuff, especially "Excerpt, South Boulder Creek", which features more psychedelic sounds, this time with a strange lo-fi Middle Eastern vibe. "In The Belly Of The Pyramid" features some great guitar freakouts, and "All Danced Out" is similar but with a spaced out atmospheric feel. "A Night In Tunisia" is a lengthy alien space synths and acoustic guitar workout. It's an interesting combination as the guitar explores Blues, Spanish and psychedelic stylings while the synths just trip around.
The fun continues on Before …and After, a reissue of a cassette from 1984. "Four More Years" opens the set and showcases the more sound and tape splicing experimental side of WoG, taking loads of Ronald Reagan blathering and glomming it all together along with an assortment of other voice samples, a parade of field recordings like machinery, planes and air raid sirens, soundscapes, drones and acidic industrial explorations. Wow… what a ride. "Impressions Of Denver" is a similar mixture of ranting, field recordings and free-wheeling improv music. "March Slob" is an oddball instrumental that comes across like the theme to some Middle Eastern kids TV show. And "Night Rat" features WoG at their most avant-garde, mixing piano string mutilation with from-the-throat gurgling.
Among my favorites tracks are "Sister Schizo", which blends cool 60's styled electro-jazz and completely alien grooves. WoG crank out more grooves on "I Followed You For Years", though this time we're in brain scraping funky acid soul territory. WoG really get down with the aptly titled but completely spaced out"The Lemon Rock Rag", a wild combination of mind fucked contrasts! "Eternal Secretions" is like lo-fi basement tapes Manuel Göttsching. And of course no WoG release would be complete without some cover tunes, and on this outing we get "I Live For The Sun", a song by 60's band The Sunrays, and a rocking fun version of the classic "Twist And Shout".
Finally, we've got a reissue of Beneath The Uber-Putz, a Little Fyodor set originally released on vinyl in 1988. Despite the seeming outrageousness of much of what's going on here, Little Fyodor is a craftsman when it comes to all things musically silly. Many of his songs are well written and produced and genuinely catchy. "Small Talk" and "Nobody Wants To Play With Me" are excellent pop songs with elements that bring to mind XTC. "I Wanna Be The Buddha" is one of my favorite songs of the set, being a head bopping, toe tapping example of pop-swing. "Pity Me" and "Useless Shit" are solid rockers with some nice ripping guitar. "I Can't Relax" would go great on a Dr. Demento prog rock special. "Won't Somebody Fill The Void" is like Hawkwind' Space Ritual run through the Fyodortron. And there's the pure hysterical craziness of songs like "You Give Me Hardon" and "I Go To Parties". I laughed like hell listening to "You Give Me Hardon" when I realized I was writing this review on Valentine's Day. I really SHOULD have played this ode to the object of my dreams to my wife but I chickened out. And finally, Beneath The Uber-Putz doesn't have the cover tunes that the WoG releases generally do, but Fyodor comes as close as you can get with "Like An Earthquake", his own comical reworking of Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane". Lots of gems here and much from both Little Fyodor and Walls Of Genius to delight fans of the 80's homemade music underground.
For more information you can visit the Little Fyodor web site at: http://www.littlefyodor.com.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o Little Fyodor; 3277 Raleigh St; Denver, CO 80212-1707.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz