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radiobombast

27
Dec 2012

“Talent Made Me Love You”: Transmission 9, 2012 December 26

Lady Catharsis and Catharsis Junior visit the studio on a night that is too snowy for most people to be out. "Rescue Dog Radio" was meant to air live before BOMBAST, and "Radio Waves" was meant to air live afterwards, but both Allison and DJ Stu were sensible enough to stay home.  Not the Catharsis family!  We crazy.  I did finally get to speak to DJ Stu, when he called in to say that he wasn't going to risk a drive into town.  He said that he routinely listens to BOMBAST, which I took as a compliment.  It was, right?  I routinely listen to "Radio Waves," which is the only show I've heard in 10 years of living in Ithaca that has broken off this chunk of funk.

This was a vacation night for all three of us, and such a night will not occur for another four months or so.  It seemed like a good opportunity to bring the two "other voices" of BOMBAST into the studio live instead of recording and editing voiceovers--live is much easier for people with lazy tendencies like me.  As luck would have it the National Weather Service predicted 10-14 inches of snow for us beginning that afternoon.  We only wound up with about 4, but most of that happened before showtime.

Thanks to global warming the city is now out of practice dealing with situations like this, and the roads weren't in any condition for driving.  We are not going to win parents of the year for this, but it is much easier to get a 9-year old to walk a mile in the snow, each way, if she is hopped up on candy--this explains the "gummies" reference late in the first hour, as Catharsis Junior is by this point about to give up back-announcing music and sink into a vortex of sugar-assisted Ninjago research.

But all of this is worth it for the sake of tuneage, isn't it, listeners?  Lady Catharsis brings her "A" game in this soundclash--why have only two visits to the "Listening Parlour" when the Lady is going to be sitting in the studio for two full hours?  We unfortunately had to truncate the spoken-word segment at the end of the Bongwater track in case any cranks were listening, pen in hand, waiting to report something to the FCC [this really does happen].  But we did finally get to play Blancmange--we had meant to during the 12-inch extravaganza a couple of weeks ago, but the extended version of "Feel Me" is, we both felt, quite poor.  Allison deserved a better song for her vinyl rehab, so "Bedsitter" got the nod.  Just as well--I don't know how I would have followed the Blancmange track had I not just discovered the Jimmy Edgar recording this past week.

For your further enjoyment, here are some links to accompany the banter from the voiceover segments.  The making of the "Debaser" record was indeed documented by The Raw Story, via Wired; information on the John Dowie 7" is available here and here [apparently there are, pace me, inexpensive copies kicking around, if you're willing to go featherless and pay for shipping from Germany]; finally, here are those leg warmers.

Technical note about the mp3 files: I continue to struggle with them.  There's a difference between what I capture on my digital recorder and what people hear when they actually tune in to the station.  When you listen to radio, whether it's a receiver snagging terrestrial broadcasts out of the air or an internet stream, what you are hearing has undergone dynamic range compression, sometimes pretty severe depending upon how commercial the station is and how it chooses to compete for listeners' attention.  "Dynamic range compression," for the lay person, is the process of smoothing out differences in volume, so that the loudest parts of the signal are made quieter and the quietest parts of the signal are made louder.  This is done to pretty much all recordings and radio broadcasts--when you consider that many people listen to music in pretty noisy environments [a workplace, a car on the highway, and so forth], it makes sense.

What my recording device actually captures is the signal straight from the control room mixing board, BEFORE this compression is applied.  That's just the way the station is set up at this moment, and I think everyone's just recovering from the fundraiser and the holidays, so the signal paths in the studio probably aren't going to change any time soon.  Also, I don't think the microphones in the studio are compressed before their signal goes to the board, as is often the case in "professional" radio.  So the raw sound files I'm working with are riddled with crazy dynamics, which is "good" from a "documentary" or "art" standpoint but makes for a weird listening experience at times.

Before uploading the podcasts to this website, I edit the sound files using Audacity freeware.  I've been experimenting with the built-in compressor settings in this application but I'm really not happy with what I hear, especially when it's applied "globally" [to the whole file].  I have resorted to spot-fixing the craziest peaks in the signal, "normalizing" the individual channels to 0 dB, and letting it go.  So, except for these sporadic problem spots, the sound files are uncompressed, meaning that they might sound "quieter" than other recordings you hear on the internet.  While no digital file can exceed 0dBFS in volume, a compressed file seems "louder" because the human ear perceives averages, not peaks.  Apologies for the quietude--you can always crank it!--and for the long explanation.  It's just that I've spent a considerable amount of time on this particular sound file, trying to give you the best listening experience I can.

I know there are better audio editors out there--I have some--but Audacity is currently the "quick and dirty" solution that is giving me the easiest time, such as it is, working with sound files of 2 hours' duration.  If any tech-heads out there hear some anomalies in the files that they feel I could solve more effectively, and have specific advice on how I might do so, please send me a PM.

Technical note about the podcast website: I'm considering this a milestone, but I have finally reached my storage capacity, meaning that beginning with Transmission 1, today, each new podcast upload means that an old broadcast goes to the "archive."  Subscribing on iTunes by clicking the box on the right-hand side of the page is a way to get all the existing episodes.

BOMBAST playlist, 2012 December 26, 8-10 p.m.

  1. AFX: "Boxing Day" [Rephlex]
  2. The National Jazz Trio of Scotland: "Oh Xmas Tree" [Karaoke Kalk]
  3. Bob Dean and his Hi-Way Wanderers: "I'll Take Her from the Valley" [Collectables] ***"Listening Parlour"
  4. The 13th Floor Elevators: "You're Gonna Miss Me" [International Artists]
  5. Tom Waits: "Frank's Song" [Manifesto] ***"Listening Parlour"
  6. Shelter Point: "Forever for Now" [Hotflush]
  7. Opal: "Happy Nightmare Baby" [SST] ***"Listening Parlour"
  8. The Carnations: "Scorpion" [TT Shaker]
  9. American Music Club: "The Hula Maiden" (live) [Demon] ***"Listening Parlour"
  10. Pixies: "Debaser" / "Gigantic" (live) [4AD / FNAC]
  11. John Dowie: "It's Hard to Be an Egg" [Les Temps Modernes]
  12. Loretta Lynn: "Hey Loretta" [MCA] ***"Listening Parlour"
  13. Little Annie / Baby Dee: "Perfect Gift" [Tin Angel]
  14. Darling Farah: "Aangel" [Civil Music]
  15. Commodo: "Raymond" [Didlybom]
  16. Blancmange: "Feel Me" [Island] ***"Listening Parlour"
  17. Jimmy Edgar: "Hrt Real Good" [Hotflush]
  18. Divinyls: "Ring Me Up" [Chrysalis] ***"Listening Parlour"
  19. Throbbing Gristle: "20 Jazz Funk Greats" [Industrial]
  20. Primal Scream: "Slip Inside This House" [Creation / Sire]
  21. Miracle Legion: "Sea Hag" [Morgan Creek] ***"Listening Parlour"
  22. The Bags: "Survive" [Artifix]
  23. Bongwater: "Talent is a Vampire" [Shimmy Disc] ***"Listening Parlour"
  24. Moullinex feat. Peaches: "Maniac" [Gomma]
  25. Thin White Rope: "Burn the Flames" [Munster]
  26. The Human League: "Marianne" [Caroline / Virgin] ***"Listening Parlour"
  27. Teenage Fanclub: "December" [Creation / DGC]

next time: a small avalanche of small records.  --kid catharsis

20
Dec 2012

“I Always Come Back”: Transmission 8, 2012 December 19

On a night when we "celebrate" the Winter Solstice and the upcoming "Mayan Apocalypse," who better to serve as co-host than Persephone "Goddess of the Underworld" Doliner?  Nobody, that's who.  So glad to have her intelligence and wit livening up the broadcast again.

The good thing about guests is that they take the show to unexpected places.  I would never play the Rolling Stones under normal circumstances--see the "Under-Exposure Policy" for details--but the opening of "Gimme Shelter" is a sublime passage of music, and perfect for this show on this night.  The Dropkick Murphys--again, not really on my radar--bumped a similar-sounding recent tune from Half Man Half Biscuit, which I hope to play very soon.

We herewith [begin to] induct the departed Coil into the Bombast Hall of Legends, where they join The Fall, Stereolab, and Billy Childish.  We have heard quite a bit from them at this point, so we'll put them aside until the Spring Equinox rolls around.  Since "modesty is a virtue, but honesty is [my] policy," I will say that the segue between the Current 93 piece and Coil's "Magnetic North" and the one going from "Christmas is Now Drawing Near" into "Crashing Sphere" are two of my finest moments in radio.  Coil!  Your difficult music lends itself to beautiful transitions!  Salut! If you want to hear those last few moments of David Tibet's voice in their original isolation, "I Have a Special Plan for This World" is available on Youtube.

BOMBAST playlist, 2012 December 19, 8:00-10:00 p.m.

  1. Gabriel Ananda / Alice Rose: "Struck by Light" [Basmati]
  2. Magnetophone: "And May Your Last Words Be a Chance to Make Things Better" [4AD]
  3. Prefuse 73: "The Only Recollection of Where Life Stopped" [Warp]
  4. Coil: "A White Rainbow" [Eskaton]
  5. Esquivel: "I Feel Merely Marvelous" [Bar/None]
  6. Thee Headcoats: "John the Revelator" [Damaged Goods]
  7. Willie Williams: "Armagideon Time" [Heartbeat]
  8. Johnny Cash: "I See a Darkness" [American] ***"Listening Parlour"
  9. Los Saicos: "Demoler" [Munster]
  10. The Flaming Stars: "Lit Up Like a Christmas Tree" [Vinyl Japan]
  11. The Rolling Stones: "Gimme Shelter" [ABKCO]--Persephone's selection
  12. Coil: "North" [Eskaton]
  13. Orbital: "Where Is It Going?" [ACP]
  14. Current 93: "I Have a Special Plan for This World" [Durtro]
  15. Coil: "Magnetic North" [Eskaton]
  16. Kristin Hersh: "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" [4AD] ***"Listening Parlour"
  17. The Dropkick Murphys: "The Season's Upon Us" [Born & Bred]--JD's selection
  18. Fai Baba: "In My Time of Dying" [A Tree in a Field]
  19. Coil: "Christmas Is Now Drawing Near" [Eskaton]
  20. Starkey: "Crashing Sphere" [Civil Music]
  21. The Clash: "Armagideon Time" [Epic / Legacy]
  22. The Specials: "You're Wondering Now" [EMI]

Next time: the Catharsis Family Circus, en vivo.  Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

18
Dec 2012

The Rules

The other night, I asked Lady Catharsis to read over my "Hall of Legends" post.  "I don't understand," she said, "why you want to create all these rules to tie your own hands."

Well, I thought it would be funny to deploy a phrase like "Bombast policy," which I love to say out loud, and to have all this stuff that I could invoke from time to time, an ever-growing mountain of arbitrary things that didn't necessarily add up to anything coherent.  But Lady Catharsis is a tough audience, and perhaps you are too.  Here goes, anyway:

Bombast was always meant to be non-specific in terms of genre.  Usually it succeeds.  Indeed I have a very hard time describing the program succinctly to someone who asks me about it.  "You really have to listen to it, and you might not like all of it, but you will probably like something in it."  That's about the best I can do.  It may seem that Bombast is all over the place, and indeed that is one of its selling points, even though I am selling nothing.

Still, I have established some basic guidelines and standards for myself just to keep the process of programming BOMBAST interesting and challenging, and to prevent laziness, jadedness, and complacency, to which I am prone.  And I figured that by making these "rules" public I could give listeners--all five of you--a glimpse into the process, and a standard to which you could hold me--a failsafe in case the show loses its edge.

ZEAL OF APPROVAL:

No doubt you have seen those "skinny jeans" sported by many a dude.  They are not for me.  My thighs are robust and muscular, and, truth be told, fatty as well.

TMI, to be sure, but it's but one of several reasons why I cannot strike a hipster pose.  I enjoy dark comedy and satire.  I am not humorless.  But irony is not something that I do particularly well, and historically when I have exhibited pretensions of being "above" this or that thing, they have always been undermined by my own vulnerability to the stupid.  The joke is on me, sooner or later.

You have my promise that everything I choose for airplay on BOMBAST is something I genuinely love.  No cheap jokes, only valuable ones.  I don't pretend to like any music just because I think it's "cool."  I'm too old.  No trolling the listeners--you are not experimental subjects.  I like you.  Mostly.  I know that you won't be as crazy as I am about every single entry in the playlist, but everything on that list is played in good faith.

THE "LISTENING PARLOUR" WITH LADY CATHARSIS:

This is my wife's chance to "hack" the show.  While there would be some overlap in a Venn diagram of our musical tastes, there are many artists and albums about which our opinions differ.  The aim of this segment--increasingly, "these segments"--is to stretch the boundaries of the show, and spur me to find relationships between the music I would play and that which I wouldn't play.  Lady Catharsis could easily have her own program, but doesn't want one.  "I would just plug in my iPod," she says, "and say, 'I like ME!'"  I've heard worse shows.

ANTI-ROTATION POLICY:

A "rotation," in radio parlance, is a set number of songs that a station plays over and over again.  In the digital, automated era, it could be around 400 to 500.  Prior to this, that number would have been smaller.  This playlist is further broken down into "heavy," "medium," and "light" rotation, with "heavy rotation" meaning that you might hear a song every 3 to 4 hours.

A show like Bombast, which airs 2 hours a week, would maybe air a given song once every six months under these conditions, so it would seem that a rotation is nothing to worry about.  This is where the host's idiosyncracies come into play.  I don't know whether it's Asperger's or just the run-of-the-mill "laziness" and "complacency" I alluded to earlier, but something about me craves familiarity and repetition.  If I didn't put a roadblock in their way, I would keep coming back to the same groups, if not the same songs, week after week.  I know I'm not alone in this, as I have heard other local radio personalities do this with their shows.

So the "anti-rotation" policy, which isn't actually written down anywhere, is that I don't wish to come back to a given artist too soon once I've given them one airing.  "Backward never, forward forever," as the mighty U Roy would say.  But we should never say never.

What, then,  is "too soon?"  It's subjective, so let's just say that "too soon" amounts to "before a considerable amount of time has passed."  Helpful?  No?  Okay.  Given the wealth of interesting music in the world, and the constant stream of new releases, it seems silly to repeat ourselves on consecutive broadcasts, or even to play the same thing again within a few weeks after the first airplay.  It's been suggested that this "anti-rotation policy" could apply to tracks instead of artists, and about that there are two things to say.  1) Again, there is so much terrific music to be discovered week after week that even playing the same artists too frequently diminishes the ability to play all the fantastic things I hear. 2) There are a few escape clauses that allow me to make exceptions without feeling too bad about myself.

THE EXTREME GENIUS EXEMPTION:

Everyone has a different shortlist of artists and albums that fit this category, but, let's face it: the rules are different for some people and some works.  Some bodies of work are so varied, and yet so consistently interesting, that you can come back to them without feeling like you are repeating yourself.  So, to return to that phrase we used earlier, a "considerable length of time" depends, on a case-by-case basis, on how often we can revisit the same people without feeling like we're being repetitive or lazy.  Hopefully this makes sense.

The "extreme genius" exemption can also apply to individual releases.  Again, we all have different opinions about which releases should be considered special, but for each of us certain albums or EPs come along that we find truly extraordinary.  The BOMBAST anti-rotation policy isn't meant to be a technicality that cheats listeners out of hearing how *consistently awesome* a given record or cd is, or a flimsy excuse not to satisfy a listener's interest in hearing more than one song by one artist.  Historical trivia: we have read that John Peel was so blown away by "Head Over Heels" by Cocteau Twins that he played an entire side of the LP on one night's broadcast, and the entire flipside the next night.  But moves like this must be reserved for exceptional music; otherwise they have no value.

The "Hall of Legends" is one way of "making moves" like this, and we will try to induct the deserving on a semi-regular basis.

THE CURRENCY EXEMPTION:

Of course if I play something by a given artist, and then that artist surprises me by releasing something new shortly thereafter, I am not going to be all recalcitrant about playing the new thing, unless the new thing really lets me down.  Who among us hasn't been there?

THE TIMELINESS EXEMPTION:

Especially early on, as the show approaches certain seasonal observances for the first time, I might revisit some familiar faces simply because they have recorded songs that seem "just right" for a given show.  Also, sometimes big things happen in the world that get us thinking about this or that topic.  I'm not terribly into "theme" shows--especially right this moment, after having programmed SIX in a row [wtf?].  There's nothing wrong with just playing a broad range of outstanding music week after week, but like everyone I am occasionally vulnerable to the charms of topicality.

THE "ANTI-BOB MARLEY POLICY":

jk, I don't really have one of these.

THE "UNDER-EXPOSURE" POLICY:

This is what the "anti-Bob Marley" policy, as it has come to be known, really is.  Here is the deal.  WRFI is an independent, non-corporate radio station, and IMO it should privilege independent, non-corporate music.  So that is one goal.  Another worthy goal is that of providing value--not just in the local radio landscape, but also in the sense of not wasting the listeners' time by playing material with which they are already well familiar, and which some of them probably have in their personal collections.  There is plenty of music that you hear over and over again without even meaning to, and I don't intend to be part of that problem.

I don't have a handy list of those acts I consider to be well-enough-exposed already, or a guideline for what music is sufficiently "independent."  It's subjective.  You don't have to be happy with my judgment--change the station, or, better yet, join WRFI as a volunteer and get your own show that does a better job than mine with this stuff.  I'll be one of your listeners, I promise.

ANYWAY:

these are the policies that come to mind at the moment.  There are more, probably, rattling around in my brain "like dried beans."  And, as I have said during some show or other, "Bombast policies are meant to be violated."

So I have little idea what any of this amounts to, other than an unsolicited glimpse into my mind.  You're welcome!

Enjoy the program.

18
Dec 2012

Inching Away from Competence: Transmission 7, 2012 Dec. 12

[UPDATE: Audio file restored 2014 July 31.]



According to some rough math, my storage capacity at this website allows for 8 or 9 "Bombast" programs to be available here at a given time.  Assuming that I have a regular show for the foreseeable future, that means that an individual podcast can be found here for about two months before it is relegated to the archives.  So for the next two months, I'm going to feel like I've got my pants down, on account of this broadcast right here. [UPDATE: now that the storage deal has changed, I can keep this here "forever" and be permanently embarrassed.]

"Performers" will tell you there are nights when things just aren't working.  Sometimes circumstances conspire against them, sometimes the energy is just "different" somehow than their other, better performances, sometimes they can't find focus, sometimes they really need to root down and bring it but can't.  I don't know which of these factors were in play on the night of December 12, but I strongly feel at least one of them was.

Lady Catharsis assured me after the show that it didn't sound bad on air--at least no worse than normal!  And I did receive a couple of compliments on the music.  Which goes to show that what is happening inside my head as the show is being broadcast is much different than what goes out on air. 

Still, I'm not at my best.  The usual errors are there, plus some interesting new ones.  I'll let you figure those out for yourself.

My co-hosts, Allison Kitchener and Josh Dolan, were superb, and without them, this show really would have sucked.  So thanks to them.  It was a bit much, taking on this all-vinyl extravaganza just because it was 12.12.12, and trying to perform amateur psychology on Allison as well as show Josh some of the workings of the board.  Multi-tasking is not my thing.  "Neither is teaching," I hear some of you saying.  Whatever.



Some genius thought it would be noble to adopt a documentary policy with regard to these recordings, and I have tried to adhere to that as best I could.  This time out, the inconsistencies of the turntables and the mixing board got the best of me.  I have added dynamic range compression in order to smooth out what would otherwise be an [even more] irritating listen.  Which reminds me--I should also thank Rene Borgella, who went above and beyond the call of duty in getting the turntables in functional shape, pretty much exclusively for this program.  It's not his fault the levels were so weird.



Themed programs are a bit like theme parties--one, every once in a while, might be enjoyable.  Five in a row is mentally and spiritually exhausting, which perhaps accounts for my subjective impressions of this particular show.  I'm looking forward to "retreating" into the usual BOMBAST all-over-the-mapness, which we will do December 19 [which, as I write this, is "tomorrow."]  While that program is nominally inspired by the Winter Solstice and the upcoming "Mayan Apocalypse," it is lending itself well to the usual free-form randomness.  A surprisingly large and diverse group of musicians seem to take inspiration from doomsday scenarios both global and personal.

BOMBAST playlist, 2012 December 12, 8 to 10 p.m.

  1. Pixies: "Gigantic / River Euphrates" [4AD]
  2. Four Tet: "Pinnacles" [Text]
  3. Soft Cell: "Bedsitter" [Some Bizarre] ***"Listening Parlour"
  4. Thin White Rope: "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" [Zippo]
  5. Bauhaus: "She's in Parties" [Beggars Banquet]
  6. The Darkness vs SFB: "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" [SFB Remix Series]
  7. The Dub Syndicate: "Night Train" [Industrie Discografiche Lacerba]
  8. Burial / Four Tet / Thom Yorke: "Ego" [Text]
  9. A.R. Kane: "When You're Sad" [One Little Indian]
  10. Rowland S. Howard / Lydia Lunch: "Some Velvet Morning" [4AD]
  11. The Residents: "Hit The Road Jack" [Ralph]
  12. O.M.D.: "Tesla Girls" [A&M] ***"Listening Parlour"
  13. Biting Tongues: "Compressor" [Factory]
  14. 23 Skidoo: "Language" [Illuminated]
  15. The Dub Syndicate: "Ravi Shankar Pt. 1" [On-U Sound]

Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

17
Dec 2012

The Hall of Legends: Transmission 6, 2012 December 9

[UPDATE 2015 January 2]
The Hall of Legends continues to grow, slowly. There are now 15 inductees:

The Fall [charter members, explained below]
Stereolab [charter members, explained below]
Billy Childish [inducted 2012 December 9, audio below]
Coil [seasonal inductions--Winter Solstice 2012; Spring Equinox 2013; Summer Solstice 2013; Autumn Equinox 2013]
Prince Far-I [inducted 2013 April 13]
Dif Juz [inducted 2013 June 26; Gary Bromley interview; Richie Thomas interview]
Little Annie [inducted 2013 August 21; interview]
A.R.Kane [inducted 2013 August 28; Rudy Tambala interview part 1 and part 2]
The Dub Syndicate [inducted 2013 October 19]
The Wolfgang Press [inducted 2014 May 14Mark Cox interview; Andrew Gray interview; Michael Allen interview]
Ivo Watts-Russell [inducted 2014 June 4; interview]
Breathless [inducted 2014 August 19; Ari Neufeld interview; Dominic Appleton interview]
John Peel [inducted 2014 August 30]
The Durutti Column [inducted 2014 November 25; Vini Reilly interview]
Heidi Berry [induction 2015 January 6]

We herewith induct Billy Childish into the Bombast Hall of Legends.  The Hall, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is a sparsely-populated place.  There are only three members.  [UPDATE: see above.] First of all, I chose the word "legends" as opposed to "fame" because the show tends to celebrate music that is mostly un-celebrated by the larger world.  Second, as you might guess, I have some weird standards in place to assess candidates and determine membership.

One door to the Hall of Legends is marked "utility."  No, it is not a closet, but instead a recognition that the show "uses" someone's music or ideas on a regular basis.  In fact the two existing "members" of the Hall of Legends entered through this door.  I don't have the time to give induction speeches here, but I will explain how they "got in."

(1) The Fall: "Bombast" is the Fall song that you hear as the usual introduction to the broadcast [when the show is not specifically-themed].  That song, especially the phrase, "feel the wrath of my bombast," works in the same way that the show tries to--you can read it according to its contemporary meaning, that is, "expression too pompous, inflated, or pretentious for the occasion," or its archaic meaning, the stuffing or padding that filled out a garment, i.e. superfluous fluff not meant to be seen directly.  Is that enough to justify inclusion?  Hell to the yes, but were it not for this, they could easily have entered the Hall through its other door, probably as the first inductee.

(2) Stereolab: I mentioned this earlier, but they provide the usual underscoring to Lady Catharsis's introduction to the "Listening Parlour" segments.  Is this enough?  Unlike the Fall, they just provide underscoring rather than an enduring concept for the program.  But they, too, would probably have entered through the other door, sooner or later.

What is that other door?  "Sustained Extreme Genius Without Much Appreciation," through which our third inductee strolls on this podcast.  "Wait," I hear you saying.  "Aren't those first two bands--as well as Billy Childish--pretty well appreciated?"

No.  I mean, sure, their fans are devoted, but feel free to PM me when any of them turn up in a Victoria's Secret holiday special, or a hurricane relief concert.  Or when Coachella offers them seven figures to reunite and headline, instead of relegating them to this or that tent.

What is "Sustained Extreme Genius?"  Okay, here's where I admit I just make this stuff up as I go.

How about this for a totally subjective litmus test: a 2-hour [or thereabouts] program entirely devoted to this artist's music is just enough to barely scratch the surface of the awesome stuff.  How about--instead of picking ten albums* by 10 different artists that would make an extended stranding on a desert island** bearable, I would feel totally complete being stuck with just about any ten records by this one act?

*the exact number isn't important.

**I never understood this tired hypothetical exercise--if your iPod doesn't run out of power, is that a long enough stay for you to call it "being stranded?"  If it does lose its charge, what does it matter what you've loaded onto it?  Or--if we substitute a device that won't run out of power--why would I have been traveling near this remote place with a wind-up gramophone?  What was my destination?  What was my agenda?  Wouldn't those circumstances have determined what music I was carrying with me?

Anyway.  There are other totally subjective litmus tests in play, but those are the two that came to mind most readily.  Childish aces them both.  Also, anyone with the authority to send Jack White to the dunce's corner has to at least make the Hall of Legends ballot.  "Momentary Extreme Genius at a Time When Someone Needed to Display It" might be a third door to the Hall, but I fear that it would become more of a floodgate.

Anyway, friends, I present to you Billy Childish, Legend.

As expected, the follies continue.  I refer to Childish the painter as "William Hamper" instead of "Steven Hamper," his given name, although I would hope to be forgiven for this since Billy has used several noms de guerre over the years, and "William Hamper" does appear here and there in the discourse.  Also, I narrowly avoid "striking out" in my attempts to play my first vinyl records at the station.  I get nervous and say stupid things like "I'm lowering the needle onto the stylus" or whatever it was.  ["You're a nervous host," Lady Catharsis tells me.]  "Strike 1" and "Strike 2" provide some lengthy bits of dead air before I finally bloop a base hit with "Headcoats On."  This leads me to think I'm Rod Carew or something, giving me enough false confidence to plow forward with ambitious plans for the subsequent program.  But that is a discussion for next time.

BOMBAST playlist, 2012 December 9, 2-ish-4 p.m.

  1. Thee Mighty Caesars: "Wiley Coyote" [Big Beat]
  2. The Buff Medways: "Troubled Mind" [Transcopic]
  3. Thee Milkshakes: "I Can Tell" [Hangman's Daughter]
  4. Holly Golightly: "Virtually Happy" [Damaged Goods]
  5. Thee Headcoats: "Pocca Hontas Was Her Name" [Damaged Goods] ***"Listening Parlour"
  6. Mickey and Ludella: "Stop and Listen" [Vinyl Japan]
  7. Thee Headcoatees: "Louis Riel" [Vinyl Japan]
  8. The Pop Rivits: "Laughing at You" [Sub Pop]
  9. The Pop Rivits: "Kray Twins" [Sub Pop]
  10. Thee Headcoat Sect: "Headcoats On" [Hangman]
  11. Thee Mighty Caesars: "Strange Words" [Crypt]
  12. The Buff Medways: "Don't Hold Me Back" [Vinyl Japan]
  13. Thee Milkshakes: "I'll Use Evil" [Hangman's Daughter]
  14. Thee Milkshakes: "Can't Seem to Love That Girl" [Hangman's Daughter]
  15. The Delmonas: "Temptress of Love" [Sub Pop]
  16. Thee Headcoats: "My Dear Watson" [Estrus]
  17. Mickey and Ludella: "Do I Expect Too Much" [Vinyl Japan]
  18. Thee Headcoat Sect: "Deerstalking Man" [Hangman's Daughter]
  19. Holly Golightly: "Head Start" [Damaged Goods] ***"Listening Parlour"
  20. Thee Mighty Caesars: "Death of a Mighty Caesar" [Big Beat]
  21. The Buff Medways: "Mons Quiff" [Transcopic]
  22. Thee Milkshakes: "Seven Days" [Big Beat]
  23. Thee Headcoatees: "Ballad of the Insolent Pup" [Vinyl Japan]
  24. Thee Headcoats: "All My Feelings Denied" [Crypt]
  25. Mickey and Ludella: "That Look You Gave to Me" [Vinyl Japan]
  26. Thee Mighty Caesars: "Don't Break My Laws" [Crypt]
  27. Holly Golightly: "Look for Me Baby" [Vinyl Japan]
  28. Thee Headcoats Sect: "Ready Sect Go" [Vinyl Japan]

next time: hopefully we do more good than harm.  Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

14
Dec 2012

Keeping It Peel: Transmission 5, 2012 December 8

This show pays tribute to legendary BBC 1 host John Peel, who died eight years ago.  There were many words written at the time of his passing, from some of those who have made a big difference in the world of music, and the BBC even retains its tribute webpage, "Keeping it Peel," to this day.  To get a comprehensive bio, or an account of just how much he meant to musicians and other people in radio, sites like this are the best resources.

I can only tell you a personal story, in two parts.

THE BEGINNING:

In a previous life, I had a weekly radio program on a college station.  I began volunteering there in the fall of 1986.  That term, New Order, one of my favorite acts, had released their Brotherhood album, a record which disappointed me at the time [but, in retrospect, one that I think many bands would kill to make].  It is silly to invest so much emotion as to be "disappointed" by these wonderful things called "records" that drop into our lives from time to time, but that was one of the least silly things about the person I was back then.

Anyway, in the "Currents" bin at the station there appeared that October another record by New Order.  This one did not have the usual Factory / Qwest imprint but was instead the first release [cat. # SFPS 001] on a brand-new label called "Strange Fruit."  The four songs had been recorded four years earlier, and only for radio broadcast.  All of our records at the station had stickers on the cover so that DJs could comment on the contents.  [Related anecdotes will follow, I'm sure.]  This sticker bore just five six words: "the way things used to be."

And those contents?  New Order's cover of Keith Hudson's "Turn the Heater On" was a boundary-stretching reggae excursion that quickly got my mind off Brotherhood--

but more importantly that record started a life-long obsession with the "Peel Sessions" series of recordings made specifically for John Peel's BBC show.  Not living in the UK, this was the closest I could hope to get to this greatness, ironically inspired by England's restrictive "needle time" laws mandating that most music on the radio be performed "live."  I could not have the same experiences that Her Majesty's subjects of all ages have testified to, listening avidly to John Peel several times a week, having their lives changed by his stunningly broad taste in new music, his charmingly haphazard delivery of the music, and the freedom and comfort that artists felt when recording for him.  But I could at least listen to the records, without which my life would be much shabbier.

THE END:

By October of 2004, the BBC had been streaming online for about 3 or 4 years, during which time I had finally been able to experience the John Peel "wingding" in its full context.  The "needle time" regulations had been relaxed, but Peel was still inviting bands to Maida Vale, still the finest studio environment that some of those bands ever experienced.  I finally got to hear my share of segments like "Pig's Big 78" and the legendary "Festive Fifty" yuletide countdown.  On a nightly basis, Peel, by now in his sixties, was outpacing his younger Radio One colleagues in taste and innovation.  It was the best of times.

That fall I was especially busy for whatever reason and had neglected the program's streams and archives for several weeks.  I tuned into the stream one night and heard unfamiliar voices on the air.  I immediately wondered whether Peel had been let go, or quit--his slot had recently been moved to a later hour, and I seem to remember reading that he wasn't very happy about it, what with it screwing up his nightly commute from London to his house in East Anglia.

Soon, it struck me that something much worse could have happened to him, so I did a quick news search to see if my fears had any foundation.  I was relieved to discover that he was simply on vacation in Peru, and that the guest hosts that week--I don't remember whether it was Siouxsie or the guys from Orbital on this particular night--were totally planned.  I went on with my day, thinking that I would catch up with John Peel when he was back from vacation.

A few hours later that evening, I was doing a news search for something totally unrelated, and saw the headline: "John Peel Dies."

Sometimes the circumstances in which you are struck by loss compound the loss itself and become inextricable from the actual event.  I don't know how things would have been different had I heard the news in some other way and not experienced the brutally random stomach-punch of this bizarre evening.  But I do know that it somehow gets a little dusty in the room every single time I think about this, even eight years later.  And as much as I treasure my personal collection of Peel Sessions recordings, I would trade the whole thing in exchange for still having John Peel around.

If any of my programs approach a fraction of the quality that Peel delivered on a routine basis, I will consider that a life goal: met.

ANYWAY--

I do feel very good about this particular show, in large part due to the companionship of a fellow volunteer at WRFI, Persephone ["Goddess of the Underworld"] Doliner [thanks for that, Catharsis Junior!].  Persephone, as you will hear, is a natural for radio and her commentary on the music is a delight.  I know you will agree with me on this.  I begged her to come visit me again during the normal Bombast show, and I am happy to report that she will return.  I need to take advantage of the free time she has before she [hopefully] gets her own program, tentatively named (I hope I have this right) "Gran-ola's Variety Hour."

Of course the show could not pass without a grievous error, and I called it beforehand, but we still repeated it three times: Amayenge are of course from Zambia, not Zimbabwe.  Also, I'd forgotten to bring my Cure cd, so I was playing that track off my laptop, which accounts for the momentary craziness of the levels and the fact that the next track starts playing through the station ID at the end.  Some would call it slapstick.  There will come a time when you will consider that a tame example.

Notable omissions: I should really have played Peel favorites PJ Harvey and The Wedding Present, and planned to, but it is a habit of mine to ramble in my shows, guest or no guest, to the point where I must skip some items in my intended playlist.  No doubt "Jeremy," friend of Bombast, will be disappointed that the David Gedge Experience didn't get a deserved airing.  Jeremy: if you ever find yourself in the Ithaca area, I'm hoping you will make an appearance on the program so that we can properly induct them into the Bombast Hall of Legends.  I can't give them the pomp they deserve all by myself.

BOMBAST playlist, 2012 December 8, 7-9:30 p.m.

  1. The Specials: "Longshot Kick de Bucket / Liquidator / Skinhead Moonstomp" [EMI]
  2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: "Day Tripper" [Experience Hendrix / MCA]
  3. Orbital: "Lush [Euro Tunnel Disaster] / Walkabout" [Internal]
  4. Robert Wyatt: "I'm a Believer" [Strange Fruit / NME]
  5. Young Marble Giants: "Brand New Life" [Strange Fruit]
  6. George Lewis & His New Orleans Music: "Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula" [Trikont] ***"Listening Parlour"
  7. Plaid: "Eph" [Warp]
  8. Eat Static: "Area 51" [Strange Fruit]
  9. The Flaming Stars: "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" [Vinyl Japan]
  10. Billy Bragg: "This Guitar Says Sorry" [Dutch East India]
  11. Nico: "Secret Side" [Strange Fruit] ***"Listening Parlour"
  12. mum: "Awake on a Train" [Fatcat]
  13. Culture: "Lion Rock" [Strange Fruit]
  14. Amayenge: "Munise Munise" [Strange Fruit]
  15. Timeshard: "Oracle" [Strange Fruit]
  16. Olly Oakley: "The Jovial Huntsman" [Trikont] ***"Listening Parlour"
  17. Stereolab: "Difficult Fourth Title" [Strange Fruit]
  18. The Fall: "Theme from Sparta F.C." [Castle]
  19. Pixies: "Wild Honey Pie" [4AD]
  20. Gang of Four: "At Home He's a Tourist" [Strange Fruit]
  21. Gallon Drunk: "Drag '91" [Strange Fruit]
  22. The Cure: "10:15 Saturday Night" [Strange Fruit]

Next time: Put on your headcoat.  Strap that thing upon your head.  For now, enjoy the music and banter! --kid catharsis

13
Dec 2012

Bombast meets Sapsquatch: Transmission 4, 2012.12.08

[UPDATE 2013 Feb 17: Realized that final track of show was actually a repeat of "Real Gone Crazy Dub." This program is archived now, so a golden moment lives forever.]

At times, it was difficult to get people to commit to airtime during the WRFI fundraiser.  We were / are a bit understaffed, not everyone has programming ideas or a "concept" for an ongoing program, others have ideas for programs but aren't ready to roll them out yet, people have better things to do with their Saturday afternoons [not me, of course], and so on.  This is one of two instances in which I stepped in to fill a void.  I just loaded up my case with a bunch of random reggae and ska collections.  Naturally, the lack of planning led to a great show.

"Sapsquatch" is not a person but a side venture undertaken by Josh, who is now a friend of the program.  We had a really good conversation, both on and off-air.  He'll be back on the show, and we're hoping he also gets a show of his own.

Meanwhile: if you're living in the Ithaca / Watkins Glen / Odessa area, consider "liking" Gardens 4 Humanity and attending their Pop-Up Kitchen series.  I really do miss the ABC Cafe, despite how deadpan I sound at the moment I say it.

Lots of mistakes during this show--playing the wrong track on a cd, etc.  "No show would be complete," and all that.  No "Listening Parlour" selections this time out due to short notice.  Sorry, peeps, you're stuck with me.

BOMBAST playlist, 2012 December 8, 4-ish-6 p.m.

  1. Little Roy: "Bongo Nyah" [Heartbeat]
  2. King Tubby and the Aggrovators: "Real Gone Crazy Dub" [Blood and Fire]
  3. Nana McLean: "Don't Worry About Me" [Heartbeat]
  4. The Gladiators: "Know Yourself Mankind" [Front Line / Caroline]
  5. The Heptones: "Book of Rules" [Mango]
  6. Keith Hudson: "Michael Talbot Affair" [Blood and Fire]
  7. Dub Specialist: "Banana Walk" [Heartbeat]
  8. U Roy: "Runaway Girl" [Mango]
  9. I Roy: "Black Man's Time" [Music Club]
  10. Lord Tanamo: "I'm in the Mood for Ska" [Trojan]
  11. Prince Buster: "Judge Dread" [Dojo]
  12. The Cables: "Baby Why" [Heartbeat]
  13. Little Joe: "Tradition Skank" [Blood and Fire]
  14. Lee "Scratch" Perry: "Satan Dub" [ROIR]
  15. Prince Far I: "Message from the King" [Front Line / Virgin]
  16. The Ethiopians: "Reggae Hit the Town" [Mango]
  17. Leroy Smart: "Ballistic Affair" [Mango]
  18. Ini Kamoze: "Trouble You A Trouble Me" [Mango]
  19. The Maytones: "Money Worries" [Palm]
  20. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Generation Upsetters: "The Tackro" [Attack]
  21. Horace Andy: "Problems" [Pressure Sounds]
  22. Harry J All Stars: "Liquidator" [Music Club]
  23. The Untouchables: "Tighten Up" [Trojan]
  24. Prince Philip and the Musical Intimidators: "Falling Dub" [Blood and Fire]

next time: a visit from the Goddess of the Underworld.  Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

13
Dec 2012

Let Us Have [a] Toast

The much-discussed video for last night's "Listening Parlour" selection.

See if you can spot the irony.  I admit I'm having a hard time.

13
Dec 2012

Keeping Promises, pt. 1

Yesterday I made a promise to play something by Daphni. Many things happened, but not this.

The first in a sure-to-be-long series of corrections and compensations.

12
Dec 2012

“This is Hi-Fi”: Transmission 3, 2012 December 5

This is the first of several shows that happened in quick succession during a week when I spent more time at the station than at my house.  Really, the week was a blur, and I'm sure there are parts of it I should be glad to have forgotten.  At any rate, WRFI has a new control room with new recording capabilities.  I think the music sounds better on this podcast than on the previous ones--the levels are more consistent, anyway.  I sound like I'm on a crap microphone, but our mics got switched around quite a bit last week.  I'm intelligible, at any rate--at least in terms of sound quality.  Bear with it; the sound gets better as the show progresses.

This broadcast features a few subtle bits of comedy--it marks the first time that Lady Catharsis and I bickered over a "Listening Parlour" track.  While The Selecter were by no means my favorite band of that temporal/geographic/cultural nexus, they are within the strike zone of what I would play on my show if left to my own devices.  The "Listening Parlour" is meant to be LC's chance to hack the show.  Not to play out the quibble here, but I feel that she has done better, and she will intervene more drastically soon.  Oh, and she's got two "Listening Parlour" segments on this show--it just made more sense to do one per hour than one total.  People really like these respites from me.  It's beginning to make me paranoid.

Also, I sound out of breath when back-announcing the Thievery Corporation track because I literally was.  I had just run down three flights of stairs and back to let Allison, fellow volunteer and host of the "Rocket J Canine Radio Hour," into the building.  I really need to get in shape.

Oh yeah, and the Mary Lou Lord song is "His Indie World," not "His Indie Scene."  The show wouldn't be complete without basic factual errors.

Dec. 5 was the first of many "themed" shows--3 more during the fundraising week, which will be posted soon, as well as a 12-inch tribute on Dec. 12 and an "Apocalypstice" program on the 19th.  On Boxing Day we will resume our usual shambolic mix.  I'm looking forward to it!

Near the end, prior to the Bob Marley track, and again after the Steel Pulse track, Rene comes in for some extended on-air pitching.  Say hello to Rene, everyone.  Anyway--he, along with Brian Kerkan, basically finished the building of our new control room.  He is an old-timer, having been with WRFI from the beginning, which is about 10 years ago.  People who love music and would prefer less talking--I did think about editing some of the fundraising segments, but I figured that at the end of the day this is just a humble low-resolution podcast, and once I start surgically removing things that actually happened, even though they might not make for great radio, where does it stop?  Bombast has enough policies at this point.  I think it's more important simply to post the shows as documentary evidence of what actually went out on air.

Oh, and by the way, we could still use your money--wrfi.org.

Before I leave you, I also want to introduce Catharsis Jr., who does our new intro.  Look for some interesting segments from her, soon.

BOMBAST Playlist [2012 December 5, 8-ish to 10:00 p.m.]

  1. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: "Radio Prague" [Virgin]
  2. Love Corporation: "Palatial" [Creation]
  3. Denim: "Middle of the Road" [Boys' Own]
  4. Felix Da Housecat: "Analog City" [City Rockers]
  5. Meat Beat Manifesto: "Radio Mellotron" [Play It Again Sam]
  6. Mission of Burma: "This is Hi-Fi" [Fire]
  7. Kings Have Long Arms: "Rock And Roll Is Dead" [Discograph]
  8. The Jazz Butcher: "Road Runner" [Glass]
  9. Pablo Moses: "Music Is My Desire" [Mango]
  10. The Paragons: "The Same Song" [Trojan]
  11. The Selecter: "On My Radio" [Chrysalis] ***"Listening Parlour"
  12. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: "This Is Helena" [Virgin]
  13. Thievery Corporation: "Radio Retaliation" [Eighteenth Street Lounge]
  14. Mary Lou Lord: "His Indie World" [Kill Rock Stars]
  15. The Cramps: "It's Just That Song" [New Rose]
  16. J Dilla: "Anti-American Graffiti" [Stones Throw]
  17. Justified Ancients of Mu Mu: "Don't Take Five (Take What You Want)" [KLF Communications]
  18. The Clash: "Revolution Rock" [Epic]
  19. Nearly God: "I Sing for You" [Durban Poison / Island]
  20. Bob Marley and the Wailers: "Trenchtown Rock" [Tuff Gong / Island]
  21. Steel Pulse: "Sound System" [Mango]
  22. Thomas Dolby: "Radio Silence" [EMI] ***"Listening Parlour"
  23. Billy Childish and the Spartan Dreggs: "Radio Dreggs" [Damaged Goods"]

next transmission: reggae hits the town.  --kid catharsis