Huntsmen bassist Marc Stranger-Najjar on a spoken-word poet with a beautiful brain | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

Huntsmen bassist Marc Stranger-Najjar on a spoken-word poet with a beautiful brain 

Plus: Musician and producer Sanford Parker on what it’d sound like if acid started a band, Reader associate editor Jamie Ludwig on a visual history of the first psych band, and more

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A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

click to enlarge A 1960s photo of Roky Erickson that appears in Paul Drummond's book 13th Floor Elevators: A Visual History - WILLIAM WARNER
  • A 1960s photo of Roky Erickson that appears in Paul Drummond's book 13th Floor Elevators: A Visual History
  • William Warner

Jamie Ludwig, Reader associate editor

Paul Drummond, 13th Floor Elevators: A Visual History Most biographers move along once they've published, but some subjects demand further exploration. Paul Drummond, author of the 2007 13th Floor Elevators history Eye Mind, returns with a new look at the world's first psychedelic band, from the 1950s Texas childhood of singer-guitarist Roky Erickson through the group's 2015 reunion. The book is filled with photos, poster art, newspaper clips, and other ephemera, but its extensive oral history could easily stand alone.

Mind Melt Video archives Livestreaming abounds while we shelter in place, but maybe you'd rather see an old show you missed. Local metal promoter Rodney Pawlak has been uploading concert footage from Mind Melt Video Magazine, the cable-access show he ran from 1993 till 2003. His YouTube offerings include alt-rock, punk, and Sunday metal uploads (when he'd usually be hosting Exit's CMF Metal Sundays). His 1995 Weed Fest Chicago video is a snapshot of another universe, and his trove of Acid Bath shows will fix the tragic shortage of Acid Bath in your life.

  • Rodney Pawlak's 1995 footage of Weed Fest Chicago

National Independent Venue Association The importance of independent music venues can't be overstated, and they're already struggling to survive COVID-19 closures. This week, more than 800 member venues in the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), including dozens from Illinois, sent a letter to Congress asking for support and relief. In the meantime, you can still support Chicago venue staff by donating to fundraisers.

Jamie is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge London-born spoken-word poet Kate Tempest - JULIAN BROAD
  • London-born spoken-word poet Kate Tempest
  • Julian Broad

Marc Stranger-Najjar, bassist of Huntsmen

Thundercat, It Is What It Is No one can deny Thundercat's prowess, and the fact that he's breaking into the mainstream as a virtuoso bassist is very encouraging (as my personal mission is to make the bass cool). I love his George Duke–esque singing style, along with his nods to Duke's compositional approach. He's also got this sort of sarcastic lyrical voice that's a reminder that you don't have to take life so seriously!

Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters Holy shit. What a powerful record. I had other submissions in mind, but Fiona's new one came out as I was writing and immediately jumped to the front of the line. Her choices across the board are just on another plane of existence: the production, the percussion tones, the captivating lyrics, and of course her perfectly unique voice singing them over the delightful (and almost through-composed) piano parts!

Kate Tempest, The Book of Traps and Lessons This one came out last year, and I'm admittedly just getting into the world of Kate Tempest. I was introduced to this London-born poet's beautiful brain when I listened to her contribution to "Blood of the Past" by UK space-jazz band the Comet Is Coming. Never had I imagined loving poetry and spoken word until I heard what she has to say. Just listen to the Book of Traps and Lessons track "People's Faces" and try not to cry. Her musical poetry is soul cleansing.

  • Kate tempest performs "People's Faces" in the Paste magazine studios in July 2019.

Marc is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge The cover art for the 1997 Muslimgauze album Narcotic
  • The cover art for the 1997 Muslimgauze album Narcotic

Sanford Parker, musician and producer

Muslimgauze, Narcotic This is what acid would sound like. Not like the sounds you hear while tripping, but like if acid were a person, learned to play an instrument, and started a band—it would sound like this album. Bryn Jones released dozens of albums under the Muslimgauze name before he passed away in 1999, but the 1997 release Narcotic is the one that has always stood out to me. It's been the soundtrack to many of my overnight drives while traveling or on tour (and on acid).

Granular synthesis The process of granular synthesis involves taking an audio sample and splitting it into thousands of grains that can then be pitched, time stretched, and rearranged to create insane-sounding pads and textures. The idea of breaking a sound down into a single tiny grain and then manipulating that single tiny grain is pretty mind-blowing. Add a dark room, lots of reverb, and psychedelics, you'll have hours of wasted . . . I mean productive time.

  • Simple examples of granular synthesis and processing

Roadburn Festival Based in the Netherlands, Roadburn is like no other fest. It hosts a wide variety of musical acts, including metal, folk, experimental, and electronica. I've had the pleasure of playing it six times with five different bands. Unfortunately, it was postponed this year due to the coronavirus, but there are several live releases from previous years available—I highly suggest you check them all out. Better yet, go to Roadburn when you finally can and experience it in person. There's even a hash bar a few blocks away with a neon Old Style sign. I don't know why—it just is.  v

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