of the Damned,
a CD by Arundo.
Emergency Records, Oakland.
Arundo, not the tender reed cut from its culm, but G. P. Skratz and Andy
Dinsmoor, words and music respectively, and I thought that was the last
good thing I might find to say about this disc gauging from the first
track, but I was wrong. This is sweet shit. The first cut, "Ignorance
Sutra," is a willy-take on the black-clad poetry-sniffing coffee set,
ironic generalized narratives stuffed with petulance and a cut-rate transcendent
vocabulary, not the "bad beatnik poetry" I'd taken it for, but a parody,
actively conscious, with some fairly high-rent verbal pyrotechnics in
interesting places, and there were plenty of hints, like the title, which
hadn't registered (or I am so used to being disappointed in these matters,
I expected the worst). It was not, in fact, until I was fully interwoven
into the play as plasticity of "Freaser Teaser," the second piece, with
its irritating strobe narrative suggesting the paralysis of a death experience,
nearly recommending it, to end in the farcically enigmatic, that I realized
"Ignorance Sutra" for what it was, and went back and actually listened.
All a set-up for the third, a must click
if there ever was, "Art and Culture," beautiful evening raga, Godzilla
like they shoulda done it, all flapping appendages and stereoscopic narrative,
turning in pain and horror, frozen epic death struggle, a damned intelligent
Scratz reads these pieces deeply attentive to the dramatic register, the
melodia or heart of the story in each. He is thinking. Dinsmoor is also
sensitive to the pieces, or he is, equally, the pieces for me,
now that I have heard them as the songs they are, in collaboration, though
to suggest labor would belabor it. Vibrant as the cut reed itself, he
plays guitar, tabula, bass, sitar and recorder. Scratz is a poet
and Dinsmoor is a musician. Not that they need anyone to tell them.
Another sign of art going on: each of these
pieces is distinct, each fully conceived. There are comic elegies, narratives
both as fluid tissue and as flying overarching mental landscapes, ideas
mundane and fantastical cheek to cheek, singing. (Do you think these guys
know the Fugs? How not?) Even my notes on the remaining cuts reflect the
variety and vitality of the entire: "Round Midnight," crisp suburban haiku;
"Banana Ghazal" and "Banjo," snippets of surgical mistakes, flying foreskins,
magical fields of artichokes at evening, and so forth; "The Exterior Distances,"
echolalia of worlds within words; "Triumph of the Damned," darkness
raga, magical formulation, words caught in their spell; "Doorwayman,"
neo-prophetic stylings à la WWF, that he would spit his tooth is
Some pieces might be a few light notes too
heavy for me, but it is so lovely to run into intelligent and human work
that I would overlook far greater than that which might be, after all,
a simply a difference in taste, a difference within which there is much