Rabbit Rabbit Radio

(Rabbit Rabbit Radio illustration by Mariko Ando.) 

Next Wednesday, February 1st, professional musicians/married couple/doting parents Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi –whose various other projects have been mentioned on Coilhouse many times— are launching a very interesting new multimedia musical subscription service called Rabbit Rabbit Radio.

“Saying ‘rabbit, rabbit’ on the first of the month is a tradition here in New England,” Kihlstedt explains. “It is said to bring good luck and a sense of renewed purpose. We’ve taken it to heart and are releasing a new song on the first [day] of each month along with photos, videos, and other implicating evidences of our creative process, all on rabbitrabbitradio.com

The Kihlstedt/Bossi family: Matthias, Tallulah, and Carla. Photo by Eurydice Galka.

Last year, not long before the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (a legendary band they were members of) closed its doors, Kihlstedt and Bossi moved from Oakland to Cape Cod with their baby girl Tallulah. “Our lives have changed a lot since [she] was born and since we moved back East.” Kihlstedt and Bossi predict that their Rabbit Rabbit Radio project will help them to accomplish many things, warmly and comfortably, in ways that more traditionally grueling channels (constant low-budget touring is exhausting enough without kids!) could not:

“It keeps us in touch with you [our audience]. It conveys each song with much more depth and dimension than a simple iTunes download would. It holds us to an ongoing commitment to our own creativity. It allows us to be creatively independent from home, which in turn allows us to be good parents. In short, everyone wins. We have finally created our very own dream job.”

Fans who subscribe to Rabbit Rabbit Radio can choose to pay $1, $2, or $3 per month (but there’s no difference in content access; it’s just a chance to pay them a bit more for their efforts, if you can afford to). You can learn more –and get a taste of the quirky, sweet whimsy this lovely duo creates together– from the following YouTube pitch video:

RRR has its own Twitter account and a Facebook page as well.

Rabbit Rabbit Radio is a fascinating-yet-simple premise that feels very new, and fresh, and… cozy! Kihlstedt and Bossi both hope this kind of project takes off: “there are lots of artists whom we would gladly subscribe to ourselves!”  While there may very well be other musicians out there attempting similar transmedia subscription services (and please feel free to give them a shout-out in comments, because we’d love to know more about them, too) it’s certainly not status quo quite yet. Fingers crossed that it soon will be.

The modern quest for reasonable and sustainable alternatives to a more staid career path in the arts is always worth discussing on Coilhouse. We live in interesting- no, scratch that, fascinating times. It might feel daunting to watch the old regimes fall down around our ears, but there’s no doubt about it: we are lucky to be alive during a time period where there’s so much opportunity to build newer, better, kinder infrastructures. Let’s stay tuned in!

Jeff Wengrofsky Talks Punk Rock, New York, and Jewish History…and Announces a Film Premiere

Press photo courtesy of The Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers.

Longtime Coilhouse friend and contributor, Jeff Wengrofsky, was recently interviewed for a prestigious podcast series– Long Story Short, presented by Tablet magazine (a recent winner of the National Magazine Award). Two other two guests in the series are eminent writers Vivian Gornkick and Morris Dickstein.

The conversation topic: how punk rock relates to Jewish history. Jeff has been a footnote to the NYC punk scene since 1982. In the podcast, he puzzles about how Jews have made significant contributions to punk, but the same could be said for their involvement in DaDa, feminism, socialism/communism/anarchism/unionism, The New Left, ecology, and the civil rights movement.

Jeff –who has one of the most astounding original issue vinyl collections of punk on the planet– invited podcast host Liel Leibovitz into his Art Deco lair on the Lower East Side for a fascinating conversation. From Tablet’s writeup:

“…in the 1970s, a very different sort of Jewish artist emerged. Joey Ramone, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Sylvain Sylvain and the other founding fathers of punk rock were as disdainful of the culture as their predecessors were eager to help define it. Wearing leather jackets, singing about sex and drugs, and cultivating their status as rejects, they made music that was loud and fast and much more true to the traditional status of Jews as eternal outsiders. touching on how many young, disenfranchised folks of Jewish descent “the other founding fathers of punk rock were as disdainful of the culture as their predecessors were eager to help define it. Wearing leather jackets, singing about sex and drugs, and cultivating their status as rejects, they made music that was loud and fast and much more true to the traditional status of Jews as eternal outsiders.”

Listen here.

As the Director of the Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers, Jeff has been making a series of films at the intersection of art and life. Several of them have appeared on the Coilhouse website.  The sixth film in the series, “The Party in Taylor Mead’s Kitchen,” is an Official Selection of DOC NYC 2011, the documentary film festival of the Independent Film Channel. After reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Taylor Mead, the scion of Michigan’s Democratic Party political boss Harry Mead, left his
Grosse Point home and Merrill Lynch sinecure for a life hitchhiking around the US. Upon arriving in San Francisco, his ability to write and perform clever, bawdy, homoerotic poems made Taylor an instant hit with the Beatnik scene. He soon came to personify the “Beatnik” ethic in Ron Rice’s classic film, The Flower Thief, in 1960. After meeting Allen Ginsberg at a poetry function, Taylor moved to the Lower East Side of New York, then the Beatnik capital of the world. Taylor was soon a Warhol superstar and came to be featured, most famously, in Tarzan and Jane Revisited…Sort of, and most notoriously, as the star of Taylor Mead’s Ass in 1964. He has since acted in over a hundred films, has acted for the stage, and has published books of poetry.

Fifty-one years after trading in upper-crust luxury for bohemian art stardom, The Party in Taylor Mead’s Kitchen finds Taylor still living the life of poetry, painting, partying, acting, homo-eroticism, gossip, modest living, and indifference to bourgeois notions of hygiene. We visit the octogenarian in his Lower East Side grotto to find him still brilliant, boyishly cute, and ready to party at noon. The film depicts the romantic beauty and squalid dereliction of the bohemian life while dishing the dirt on Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac, Ron Rice, Woody Allen, and Tallulah Bankhead. At 85, Taylor Mead is an ambassador of bohemianism from a world without the internet, cable television, surveillance cameras, cell phones, global positioning systems, credit cards or roach spray.

As this film is short, it has been paired with a longer film that also deals with New York City artists of a bygone era: Girl with the Black Balloons.
They will be shown as a double-feature at these times and dates and locations:

  • 7:30 PM, Sun. Nov. 6, 2011 – NYU’s Kimmel Ctr. 4th Floor (Eisner Auditorium) – Buy Tickets
  • 3:45 PM, Mon. Nov. 7, 2011 – IFC Center – Buy Tickets

Fundraising Push for “The Sea of Trees” by Joshua Zucker-Pluda

At long last, Coilhouse fave Joshua Zucker-Pluda is finishing up his film about Aokigahara Jukai (The Sea of Trees), Japan’s forest of suicides.  Subsidized by grants from the New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA), the NYSCA, and the Jerome Foundation, production on The Sea of Trees began two years ago. The footage is, like everything else Zucker-Pluda creates, haunting and beautiful.

Some background information from Zucker-Pluda on Aokigahara Jukai, and his film’s content:

When Mount Fuji erupted for the second time, in 864 A.D., lava streamed down its northeastern face and into the lake at its base. The area was transformed into a volcanic plateau and in the centuries that followed, evergreen and beech trees grew; their roots clawed the moss-covered rocks, siphoning nutrients and water. A fifteen-square-mile forest was formed: Aokigahara Jukai, the Sea of Trees. Today its trees are so numerous and densely packed that they block out the sunlight and wind. Their roots intertwine, forming gnarled nests of strands shooting in every direction. The foliage absorbs all sound. Walking through the forest, it is impossible to see the sky beyond the canopy or to determine one direction from another. The magnetic materials in the igneous rocks are said to render compasses useless.

The first recorded suicide in Aokigahara Jukai took place in 1340. A Buddhist monk named Shohkai installed himself in one of the forest’s caves in order to perform nyujoh, a fasting ritual meant to purify and, eventually, kill oneself. Other monks followed his example. The popularity of the Aokigahara Jukai as a place to die grew such that, in 1971, local officials and residents established annual patrols for bodies. In 1993, Wataru Tsurumi published The Complete Manual of Suicide, which suggests killing oneself in the forest and includes directions, hotel recommendations, a map, and advice on evading police and local residents. “Your body will not be found,” he writes. “You will become a missing person and slowly disappear from people’s memory.” The book sold millions of copies.

A still from The Sea of Trees.

They say that the spirits of the dead inhabit the trees, that wild dogs roam, that a dragon makes his den in one of the caverns. Abandoned backpacks, bottles, and cell phones sit on patches of lichen. Electrical tape snakes across the forest floor, marking the paths of those who meant to return to the outside. Glacial Apollo butterflies flutter between the branches. Thickets of disc-shaped mushrooms ring the trunks of alder trees. Bush warblers emit their indifferent song. The snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji, which has been dormant for three hundred years, looms above, invisible.

The Sea of Trees explores the Japanese forest where the spirits of suicides linger, silence reigns and compasses fail.

(Chills? Yeah. Me, too.)

Since Zucker-Pluda began his long, often challenging artist-on-a-shoestring journey into the Sea of Trees, other Aokigahara coverage has been completed and covered here. While informative and touching in narrative, that footage doesn’t begin to capture the sublime, often chilling beauty of Aokigahara Jukai. Meanwhile, JZ-P has an astounding eye for composition, pacing, mood. Since the early 00s, he has been consistently producing work in a variety mediums that is reminiscent of Herzog, Tarkovsky, Lynch.

This film is going to be something very rare and special.

A still from The Sea of Trees.

Grant money can only go so far; now Zucker-Pluda needs to raise funds for post-production. Most immediately, he’s hoping to start work on translating all of the interviews from Japanese to English. And so, yet again, it’s indie crowd-sourcing to the rescue. (Gotta love Kickstarter.)

If, through the years, you’ve enjoyed Zucker-Pluda’s phenomenal Roadside Picnic Podcast (a new episode just went up, by the way!), here’s the perfect way to say thank you. He just needs a wee boost. To the Kickstarter, comrades.

Typecast’s “Primitive North America” Mix

“We remember it well now, our younger days, when we got the cassette deck for the car. The windows always rolled up, closing us off to the outside world. We moved steadily as things rolled by, always with the cassettes playing at the loudest possible volume.” [via]

Joshua Z-P (of Roadside Picnic Podcast and A Room Forever fame) and his friend Adam Helms were recently asked by Type Records (home to Svarte Greiner, Deaf Center, Grouper, and Koen Holtkamp, among other phenomenal bands) to compile a mix for their Typecast series. “So a mix we did – one of epic and biblical proportions which we now share with you. This isn’t your older brother’s black metal – there’s no Dungeons & Dragons posturing while wearing corpse paint. Just pure, brutal, lo-fi nihilism full of tape hiss and vinegar.”

LoFiBlackMetalCassettes copy
Cirrhus, Horrid Cross, Haxan.

All tracks were transferred from cassettes, save the Akitsa song. There’s Bone Awl and Ash Pool and freakin’ Ancestors and a bunch of even more obscure shit I don’t recognize at all. Holy balls, this mix is awesome. Sadly, the vast majority of our readers will find it unlistenable. So unless you enjoy making your eardrums hemorrhage with tinny, shrieking, blood-gargling KVLT AS FUCKNESS, please back away slowly from this post without making direct eye contact, and click here instead.

Tracklist after the jump.

See also:

Drifting Away With Headphone Commute


My favorite web discovery of the past couple of weeks is Headphone Commute. First of all, I love the name. It instantly conjures images of foggy morning train rides and late-night buses – hands in pockets, head in space, bobbing along to the music. From the “About” page:

Headphone Commute is an independent resource of candid words on electronic and instrumental music. The range of covered genres includes electronica, glitch, idm, drum’n’bass, breakcore, dubstep, trip-hop, modern classical, post-rock, shoegaze, ambient, downtempo, experimental, abstract, minimal and everything in between. HC is not associated with any artist, band, record label, promoter, distributor or retailer covered by the reviews. There is no hidden agenda behind these words. What you see is what you get. All that means is that we share our love for music because we want to – not because we have to.

A word of caution – this blog is is easy to get lost in upon first visit! Between album reviews, in-depth interviews with labels like Somnia and bite-size interviews with artists like Max Richter, on top of my favorite Headphone Commute feature – mixes available for download, it’s kind of impossible not to spend hours reading, researching and hoarding new music. It’s thanks to Headphone Commute that I found out about The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and had my ears taken to their special place by this incredible Best of 2008 Modern Classical mix. I actually can’t recommended this one enough, especially if you’re somewhere that’s beginning to show signs of autumn. Stunningly beautiful, moody, inspiring. For more mixes see Intelligent Breakcore mix and Ten Favorite Mixes of 2008. Happy listening, comrades!


A Room Forever: Listen Carefully


The oft aforementioned musician/filmmaker Joshua Zucker is a bit of a hero around these parts, thanks to his Roadside Picnic radio podcast (the most recent episode, “Solemn/Nostalgia” is one of his best yet).

Zucker’s considerable talents as a dj and curator tie directly into more personal reasons why I adore the guy: I’ve never met a better listener or a more relentless seeker. It has always seemed to me that Zucker’s primary ambition in life is to make this lonely world more beautiful –and therefore more bearable– through tireless creative striving. His latest, arguably most stunning offering yet is A Room Forever:

A Room Forever is an art project realized as a curated series of limited edition 12″ record LPs. Packaged in a custom-made box with high quality digital c-print covers and letter pressed inserts, each record features and original musical composition on one side and a field recording on the other.


Pressed in one-time editions of 300, A Room Forever takes a unique and personal approach to the vinyl record LP. Conceived as a physical manifestation of the Roadside Picnic Radio Podcast, the project draws upon the rich history and mythologies of audio recording to produce a final object of art that will resonate uniquely within each listener.

More than anything, A Room Forever is inherently about the act of listening.

My copies of the first three records arrived in the mail today. Machinefabriek & Matt Davies (EVP – 001), Svarte Greiner (EVP- 002) and Koen Holtcamp (EVP-003) are all huge talents working in relative obscurity, but with worshipful cult followings. Each edition is beautifully designed and printed, featuring exquisite photography by Kurt Mangum and individually hand-stamped/numbered.

Cover for EVP-002, featuring work by my favorite Norwegian, Erik Skodvin (under his Svarte Greiner moniker). In keeping with Zucker’s fascination with the haunted history and mythology of audio recording, the abbreviation for this series is “EVP”. A wee hint to those who already own one the records: look closely for the mysterious messages etched into the vinyl. My hair stood on end when I realized what they were.

The LPs are selling out very fast. Order them now from Aquarius Records, Boomkat, Other Music or Forced Exposure. Painstakingly well made, rare, and imbued with a sense of mystery and longing, A Room Forever is one of the most collectible limited edition vinyl runs you are likely to see for years to come.

The Intercontinental Radio Show

Serbian punk band Pekinška patka. Hear ’em on The Intercontinental.

Pardon me, are you part shark? What I mean is, if you don’t constantly keep moving, exploring, and devouring, does it feel as though your organs might implode from sheer doldrums? Do unfamiliar smells and sounds intrigue rather than offend you? Are you an incorrigible know-it-all, scoffing openly at poor, unwitting souls who declare Mike Patton’s work to be the utmost pinnacle of musical wackiness?* Would you enjoy traveling to an exotic third world locale with nothing but a ukulele and a homemade shank?

Buddy, have we got a podcast for you.

Based out of WMBR in Cambridge, MA, The Intercontinental is a weekly radio program hosted and curated by one Mr. Jesse Kaminsky. Jesse has an uncanny knack for rooting out the most obscure and delightfully diasporic music you’ll ever hear. As of 2006, the U.N. recognizes 192 different countries, and according to Jesse’s last tally, The Intercontinental has played music from 119 (not counting New Caledonia or Bora Bora or Greenland or Somaliland or Western Sahara or French Polynesia).

Japanese whammy bar surf royalty and Intercontinental regulars, Takeshi Terauchi and the Bunnys.

Recently, Jesse started a podcast feed for the benefit of everyone who’s not living in Boston or near a computer each Wednesday from 6 pm to 8:00 pm E.S.T. So “tune into the sounds of the Finnish Underground, Tuvan Rock, Asian Psychedelic, Russian Lounge, and Inuit beat boxing” and be ready to shake your tuchus.

*Dear rabid Bunglers, please do not hurt me. I give mad props to Mr. Patton. But the world is vast and strange. I implore you: venture bravely beyond the Tzadik catalog on your next record-buying excursion.

Radio Tesla

As a follow up to this post, here’s a bit of Saturday morning listening as we build our own machines, courtesy of Studio 360. They cover some interesting lesser known aspects of Tesla’s life, his life in New York and more. Direct download link is here: direct download link. Enjoy!

An ocean of static, a desert of sound

Mer mentioned the Roadside Picnic podcast here a few weeks back. Hosted by a gentleman named Joshua Zucker, this podcast’s chewy contents are some of the best brain fuel I’ve had the pleasure to absorb in quite some time. The past couple of episodes were especially fitting with the belated arrival of rain in Angel City, and I must take a moment to reflect.

Each installment has a somewhat melancholy-sounding theme, but I’ve so far found this to be the ideal multi-purpose station. It’s marvelous for letting the sound flood and take over just as well as having it as low ambience while painting, writing, reading, or whatever sinister activity you choose to engage in. I suggest you try the former, first.

Roadside Picnic is a blend of ambient drone, atmospheric distressed instrumental, and occasional vocal tracks. At full volume the experience is akin to drifting through walls of dense noise, sometimes falling into pools of melody and being pierced with emphatic shrieks. Like tuning a radio in a radiation apocalypse; faint signs of life puncturing the static of a scorched world. Listen.

Scharpling and Wurster: “The Best Show” on WFMU

I’ve already mentioned the freeform radio station WFMU a few times on C.H. and I surely will again. Based out of Jersey City, this listener-supported outpost of obscure music and culture has been a constant source of delight to me since the mid 90s. Before then, I had no idea that kind of integrity or diversity existed in radio.

Today I’d like to make specific mention of Tom Scharpling’s modestly titled “The Best Show on WFMU”, a comedy segment that often features indie-rock luminary Jon Wurster masquerading as various call-in guests. I can’t think of anything more entertaining to listen to on this chilly Sunday evening than their mind-blowing gaff “The Music Scholar”. The Music Scholar

We all know at least one real-life Charles R. Martin: that elitist snob propped up at the end of every single hipster dive bar in the universe, oozing condescension and pretentiousness, a dismissive amateur musicologist given to Cooler-Than-Thou histrionics and compulsive one-upmanship. Wurster cranks these characteristics up to 11, reducing the most elitist Pitchfork writers or Bedford Avenue disputants to fleecy wee lambs by comparison.