Spot Check 

EDITH FROST 9/7, EMPTY BOTTLE This is Frost's first local show since the release of her third album, Wonder Wonder (Drag City), in July. To pull off her willowy ballads and mesquite-smoked torch songs on the record, she and producer Rian Murphy employed no fewer than 11 musicians; for this gig, which kicks off a tour, she'll be backed by a slimmer ensemble comprising violinist and guitarist Jim Becker, bassist Ryan Hembrey, and cellist Amy Domingues (all of whom appear on the record) as well as drummer Adam Vida. BACHIR & MUSTAPHA ATTAR WITH CRITTERS BUGGIN 9/8, MARTYRS' Dubbed Morocco's "4,000-year-old rock 'n' roll band" by William Burroughs, the Master Musicians of Jajouka--an ancient family whose centuries-old mandate is to heal the denizens of their village in the Rif Mountains through music--cracked the world-music market before there was one. Starting in the 60s, recordings made by Paul Bowles, Brion Gysin, and Ira Cohen made the rounds of the literati. Then in 1971 Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, recorded by the Stones guitarist, reached a slightly broader audience, but the ooo-trippy effects Jones added were laughably redundant--the Master Musicians' own utterly distinctive howling, whirling trance music being already about as psychedelic as it gets. (Ornette Coleman recorded them a few years later, showing markedly better taste.) If that album was the beginning of the end of the group's appealing purity, their 1992 release, Apocalypse Across the Sky, recorded by Bill Laswell, was the end of the beginning of the end, opening a gateway for the group and in particular its current leader Bachir Attar (son of the bandleader in Bowles's youth) to collaborate with the likes of Elliott Sharp, Lee Ranaldo, Maceo Parker, and Talvin Singh. Now Bachir and his youngest brother, Mustapha, are on tour with the goofy Seattle jam band Critters Buggin, who have a penchant for song titles like "Hairy Parched" and "Sonic Broom." According to legend, if the Master Musicians ever stop playing the world will end, but there's no word on what sort of wrath this will bring down. SIMON JOYNER 9/8, SCHUBAS In these prudish days, solitude is as much a vice as anything else--a decadent pleasure when chosen and a trap, strong as any addiction, when it isn't. Omaha singer-songwriter Simon Joyner partakes, and as a result much has been made of how it might or might not fuel his art. There may be something to it, or there may not: the young Bob Dylan wasn't particularly reclusive, and the young Leonard Cohen did much of his bleak romantic serenading from the hardly remote confines of the Chelsea Hotel (though as Joyner puts it, a hotel's just "A place you can rise in the same place as you fell / To get lost in solitude and saved by yourself"). At any rate, he isn't completely alone on his new Hotel Lives (Truckstop), where arrangements by Fred Lonberg-Holm wrap the spindly lines of his brittle tunes like ice on tree branches. Will Hendricks, Michael Krassner, Lonberg-Holm, and Glenn Kotche form the main band; Jim Becker, Gerald Dowd, Guillermo Gregorio, Jessica Billey, Joe Ferguson, Todd Margasak, and others add graceful touches. But tellingly, though most of those folks live in Chicago, Joyner will play these two gigs (one early, one late) solo. ALAN LICHT 9/8, 60DUM Though he's developed a solid reputation as a collaborative player (in Love Child, the Blue Humans, Run On, and a touring lineup of Papa M, and with Loren MazzaCane Connors, among others), I think my very favorite works by New York guitar godling Alan Licht are the type exemplified by his new solo album Plays Well (Crank Automotive). Licht is a talented improviser, but he's at his finest when he's purposefully shaping music and stretching it out, and like 1995's Sink the Aging Process and 1999's Rabbi Sky (both on Siltbreeze), the new disc comprises two long-form pieces, each a bold and cunningly wrought bit of long-attention-span theater that weds Licht's twin loves of minimalism and havoc. For this Lampo-sponsored performance, he'll play a solo set, then lead an ad hoc group dubbed the Alan Licht Intervention through a version of his composition Betty Ford--originally performed solo at the 1998 No Music festival in Ontario--rejiggered for seven guitars and screwdrivers. The other six guitars will be played by Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of the Sea and Cake, sound engineer Casey Rice, Eleventh Dream Day's Rick Rizzo, the Dishes' Kiki Yablon, and Bobby Conn. The evening will begin and end with amateur wrestling videos Licht constructed from found footage and wrote sound tracks for; one of these, Baba O'Wrestling, uses loops from the Who's "Baba O'Riley" and Blondie's "Heart of Glass." DAVE NAVARRO 9/8, GUINNESS OYSTER FESTIVAL Having played guitar in not one but two of the most overrated bands of the late 80s and early 90s (Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Dave Navarro was set up for a fall: his solo debut, an attempt at making his name as a songwriter, was bound to be overrated if it sucked and underrated if it didn't. As it turns out, Trust No One (Capitol) is one long overheated whine, dressed up with high-gloss production and dated-out-of-the-box mod-industrial flourishes. It's great that he wants to "exorcise the darkness" and all, but he can't break free from LA notions of sensitivity long enough to lift even a version of "Venus in Furs" out of made-for-cable melodrama. With what can only be described as silicone-tit guitar sounds, cheap money-shot climaxes, and "treated" vocals, I'm pretty sure it's the second worst Velvet Underground cover I've ever heard--a standout in a glutted field. The CHERRY VALENCE 9/9, FIRESIDE BOWL; 9/10, EMPTY BOTTLE This Raleigh quintet's name--a nod to the right-side-of-the-tracks girl who falls for Ponyboy in The Outsiders--was on everyone's lips after the band opened for Nebula and the Gaza Strippers at the Empty Bottle in June. Even though I didn't see them, I can imagine why: with dueling male and female guitarists and a singer-keyboardist who sometimes jumps behind a second trap kit and isn't afraid to bust into a falsetto, they reanimate rawk with touches of psychedelia, R & B, and hard Parliament-style funk. (And their eponymously titled CD, released by Estrus this spring, seems to indicate a slight but promising broadening of the garage bastion's scope.) Both bills also feature Kill Rock Stars boy bands the Tight Bro's From Way Back When (see Critic's Choice) and C Average. W.A.S.P. 9/12, HOUSE OF BLUES When I wrote last week that I was nostalgic for the days when commercial metal bands still sounded like they were capable of having fun, a new W.A.S.P. album wasn't quite what I had in mind...but here it is, Unholy Terror (Metal-Is). While W.A.S.P. were always pretty second-string even as commercial metal went, their moralist-appalling tactics were always a hoot, and while the new album isn't what I'd call good exactly, they were never really about the records anyway. Go for the volume, the codpieces, and the opportunity to toast Jesse Helms's retirement. SUBARACHNOID SPACE 9/13, FIRESIDE BOWL Prolific but perennially below most folks' radar, this San Francisco quartet (whose name, while it conjures images of starfaring spiders, actually refers to a compartment in the spine that contains cerebrospinal fluid) released two albums simultaneously last fall: A New and Exact Map (on the German label September Gurls) and a live-on-the-radio set of songs to be worked out for future studio recordings called These Things Take Time (Release). Founding guitarist Mason Jones, who's previously recorded under the name Trance and ran the Charnel Music label, continues to forge and maintain links with all things trippy, out-there, and Japanese, growing his own garden of Pacific Rim dream rock in the Bay Area. This project's sound seems to get bigger with each release, as Jones and fellow guitarist Melynda Jackson develop their interweaving freak-out style, traveling at sub-light speed through a galactic sector somewhere between Sonic Youth and Hawkwind.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joe Tunis.

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