I’ll try to keep this short; it’s late and there’s not much time left. Please forgive me if you’ve heard parts of this story before.
For me, it started with an old box of science fiction. I tore through Samuel R. Delany, Joanna Russ, Gene Wolfe, and others, reliving stories old by the time I cracked the pages. I didn’t care.
To my mind, the New Wave had it: the future was something to play in. This status quo was the most transient of things, its passing viewed with a sense of infinite possibility. If there were other cultures out in space, forward in time, why not here? Why not now?
I lived in one of those amazing, barely-clinging corners of the country too many ignore when they talk about culture of any variety. No metropoli there, just a scattering of people trying their desperate best. By the time I busted open the box full of old books, I had already faced a fair amount of poverty, hardship, and even death.
But here, as the years wore on and I read my way through an uneasy adolescence, was something else: here was hope, in the most dangerous fashion. Somewhere out there, people changed their personalities, moved in unison, turned boundaries into blurs transitory as old blood on a highway.
By that point I did not care about ridicule, and laughed when someone threatened me, but this I was terrified of, sure that the half-described scenes — goths, ravers, activists, and more — faced possibility with a courage I felt I’d never know.
Edmund Welles, 2010 press photo. Aaron Novik, Jeff Anderle, Jon Russell, and creative mastermind Cornelius Boots in the foreground.
Confession: I’ve been meaning to write a feverish and swooning rave-up of Oakland-based musician Cornelius Boots‘ absurdly beautiful and strange and intelligent and mischievous and sincere and meditative and heavy-as-fuck bass clarinet chamber music group, Edmund Welles*, for years now.
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It certainly isn’t for lack of reverence for Boots or his compositions that I’ve lagged. When suffering from blogger’s block, my editorial purview tends to be “when in doubt, crap it out.” But occasionally, there are those subjects that you can’t just casually hork up. You want so badly to do them every justice– to elevate and praise them to the highest and most lofty of misty, Middle Earth-worthy mountaintops. Boots’ ouvre definitely lives in that non-horkable category. Well, then! Having unburdened my guilty conscience…
Yes, Cornelius Boots and friends make music that I want throw a parade for. Or, alternately, throw my frilly undergarments at. While his group Edmund Welles definitely is not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s 100% my cuppa, and hopefully, it’ll resonate with Coilhouse readers who also love waaaay-off-the-beaten-path-no-srsly-bring-your-machete-cos-we-be-bushwhackin’ music.
Edmund Welles […] has the distinction of being the world’s only original, composing band of four bass clarinetists, they invent and perform heavy chamber music. The bass clarinet has a five octave range and a huge span of tonal, melodic, and rhythmic capabilities.
Drawing virtuosic precision from the classical realm; innovation and texture from jazz; and power, rhythm and overall perspective from rock and metal, the quartet’s sound is characterized by a thickness of tone, a density of texture, absolute rhythmic precision, and the extreme use of dynamic contrasts: a dense, pulsing sound capable of expressing and reflecting the full range of human emotions.
They ain’t foolin’. It’s a massive, meticulously structured bass reed sound like nothing else you’ve heard. (Parallels have been drawn between John Zorn’s more recent works and Edmund Welles, for sure, but Boots’ steez feels simultaneously more West Coast and Far East-steeped.) Weirdest Band in the World‘s assessment is pretty spot-on as well: “The bass clarinet is an inherently weird instrument. Put four of them together in one group, and it sounds like a chorus of demon cats in heat fighting over a chicken bone. A demon chorus whose eerie caterwaulings just happen to occasionally assemble themselves into passages from Pixies and Nirvana songs.”
In 2005, they put outAgrippa’s 3 Books, which offers up original compositions by Boots that reflect his abiding interest in the occult and his talent for interpreting uber heavy spine-crunching metal. (Hilariously, Boots calls this stuff an attempt to create “Muzak for conspiracy theorists.” ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!) Additionally, there are Sepultura and Spinal Tap covers. Not to mention the most bewilderingly esoteric and brilliant liner notes you’ll find north of a Trey Spruance solo project. (Buy the goddamn CD. Seriously. No, seriously. Totally worth it.)
Edmund Welles’ second album is called Tooth & Claw, and it’s comprised predominantly of original composition that are as bizarre and heavy as anything Boots has ever written, but with more nuanced elements of avant jazz and modern classical woven into the dense sonority.
Should they choose to delve deep into the dreckish pools of distant memory, some Coilhouse readers may recall this cheeky wee embloggening from 2009, written about the Dictionnaire Infernal, with illustrations by Louis Breton.
She wants to design and print a deck of 69 large (3.5″x5.75″), full-color heavy-stock art cards, each one featuring a Breton illustration from the Dictionnaire Infernal. She’s also planning to create “a supplementary PDF for the deck, with all 69 card images and extended information about each.” She’s given the project room to expand and evolve, depending on how much she raises beyond her minimum goal.
Ariana is all about fastidious documentation, immaculate restoration, and TEH LULZ (see below). EVIL GOOD TIMES. Click on MISTER SCARY ANTEATER OV DOOOO0M to learn more:
An hour ago, the darque benevolent sartorial powerhouse known as Mildred Von launched her official Mother of London website, with a webstore containing her glorious new, never-before-available, ready-to-wear line of MoL garments. Creaking black stroppy strappy happiness. Studs and grommets and buckles. Softly eldritch curve-hugging knits and witchy tees. Go take a look. Go.
You’re still here?! GO!! Drool. Spontaneously ejaculate. Cry molten rubies. Fer serious.
Having some inkling of just how many years of blood, sweat, orgone depletion, and fiery cussin’ went into making this uncompromisingly exquisite line a reality, we here at Coilhouse could not be more happy for Milly, or for everyone lucky enough to snatch up one of her amazing pieces before they sell out.
(And they WILL sell out. Soon. So if you want ‘em, go git ‘em. ASAP.)
Quoth Mildred: “Yes, I might have named all my products after Klingon warriors.” Nope, not fucking around.
More images after the jump. All photos by the fabulous Twink. Gorgeous model is Lacy Soto. Immaculate hair and makeup by Cazzie at Gorgeous Salon on Melrose.
LONG LIVE MOTHER OF LONDON. CONGRATS, DOOD. HEGHLU’MEH QaQ JAJVAM.
The riot grrl ethos is alive and well… in Russia! The above footage of an anonymous feminist punk band called Pussy Riot was shot earlier this month. From the Guardian‘s coverage:
Eight women stood in a line opposite the Kremlin, neon balaclavas hiding their faces, fists pounding the air in rugged defiance. Before police carted them off, the members of Pussy Riot managed to shout their way through a minute-long punk anthem: ‘Revolt in Russia – the charisma of protest / Revolt in Russia, Putin’s got scared!’ [Full lyrics here.]
Since the band formed last September, they’ve been attracting all kind of press with their colorful, expletive-laden anti-Putin protest performances. Huffpo reports:
The group’s current membership, including crew, stands at around 30 people, most of whom are college-educated, hardcore feminists, according to founding members of the band who spoke to the Guardian. They told the paper many members of the band met at small protests and monthly demonstrations aimed at voicing a range of grievances against the government, including political corruption, state monopoly on the media, and banned gay pride marches.
All members of the band are sworn to anonymity, even when giving interviews, because “it shows we can be anybody,” a member told the Guardian.
More recently, Pussy Riot crashed Moscow Cathedral to perform an impromptu rendition of their song “Holy Shit”, and a surrreal, even sublime sort of inverse Benny Hill hilarity ensued:
This perfect, gleaming sliver of transcendent “whaaaa thaaaa faaaaaa??!” comes to us care of a tweet from Keith Jenson of Brainwomb, who claims to be sharing it to polarize the effect of the “‘spirit bomb’ of Harajuku” video that Nadya just posted. (Athough it seems just as likely that he’s trying to insidiously destroy us with subliminal mind control.)
Laughing Squid says that Japanese artist Sekitani Norihiro –be sure to check out that website, but be warned, it is rife with CAN’T UNSEE imagery– made this succinctly fucked-up-beyond-all-reckoning-ness for the digital grindcore demigod Maruosa.