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#81 - Feb. 2001

MEDIAMIX
Miscellany That Is Found Appealing

The Drum Buddy Show — with Mr. Quintron, Panacea Pussycat, DJ Trachiotomy, and special guest Ernie "Mother-in-Law" K-Doe
(VHS Video. Distributed by Skin Graft Records)

What is the Drum Buddy? A toy? A tool? A google eyed puppet-pal? A revolutionary light-actuated rhythm synthesizer? A beautiful handmade kinetic sculpture? You already know the answer. It's all of these things and a whole lot more.

I remember the first time I saw the Drum Buddy, back in 1997 or 1998. I was performing in New Orleans and I visited my close personal friend Mr. Quintron in his 9th ward home, the Spellcaster Lodge. After touring the garden, living quarters and sipping drinks in his custom-made nautically themed bar and cabaret basement, he asked if I would like to see his secret workshop. Quintron explained that the existence and exact location of his workshop was so secret that even he himself did not know where it was and only after smashing through one of the walls with a sledgehammer was he able to find it. He led me through the rubble into a small, hot and intensely humid room. I screamed when I saw the 40-foot boa constrictor coiled on the floor in the corner. "That's my chief of lab security," said Mr. Q, "But I'd like you to see something I've been working on for a while." On the table was a crude apparatus.

"Looks like a coffee can on top of a record player with a light bulb hanging inside it," said I as soon as my heart slowed down.

"So it is," he replied, "but listen!" And with that he illuminated the bulb and set the can spinning. After a moment the room filled with loud static, chirping squeals, low rumbles, moans and scraping drones. I covered my ears. Quintron fussed with his creation, adjusting wires and caressing the wildly spinning can as it shot intense beams of light around the room. Slowly but surely, the wall of noise began to clarify, revealing a peculiar, syncopated beat. I uncovered my ears, enjoying the funky rhythm. And in the corner, the giant constrictor had arisen and was swaying gently to the music. "I call it the Drum Buddy," said Quintron.

Three years later, The Drum Buddy isn't a pile of scavenged parts in a Louisiana basement anymore. Now it's the star of an informative 30-minute entertainment video that demonstrates all the incredible things Mr. Quintron's invention can do. After years of refinement and precision engineering, the Drum Buddy can play Rock, Latin or Hip-Hop beats, synch up with the most sophisticated digital sampling equipment, resist fire and even emulate the gentle sound of crickets on a summer's eve. Quintron demonstrates all the possibilities in front of a live studio audience, and assisted by two professionally overly enthusiastic television moderators. There are many testimonials from music industry pros, as well as performances by MC Trachiotomy and a sensational version of "Fever" sung by Ernie "Mother-in-law" K-Doe. There's a puppet fantasy episode from Miss Pussycat depicting Mardi Gras celebrated at the center of the Earth. And everything held together by the magic sounds of The Drum Buddy.

I'll admit that I'm biased, but this is by far the most exciting, funny and entertaining infomercial I've ever seen. And I've seen plenty. You think that Counter Top Rotisserie is a good show? This is better. The drill-saw thing that can cut anything? This is better. Weird bible computer video game show? The Drum Buddy show beats them all. Because not only are the production values top-notch (good lighting, sound, editing, graphics, etc.), this infomercial has real humans, which is pretty rare in the medium. And if you can spare $999.99 you just might find yourself ordering one. Order it today, play it tomorrow!
   (by Bobby Conn)


The Air Lost Breathing — Simone Muench
(Helicon Nine Editions, $9.95)

We've never looked too kindly upon printing poetry in our little family magazine. There are three general reasons. We don't care for it that much for it; there are other outlets for it; but mostly we feel 99.9% of the submissions that we receive are awful. There was one time, however. We were hoodwinked about six years ago when a Lumpen associate asked a friend to submit one of her erotic pieces to us for one our sex issues. POETRY! We shrieked, NEVER! That her piece struck us as being so damn good confounded us. We proudly printed it alongside a collage of erotic clip art and twenties cheesecake photography and we've never printed another poem since.

Late last year a book was slipped into my hand. I read it. It's erotic, it is about love and no love, observations for the passionate and sophisticated white trash girl in you. It's by Simone Muench, the woman whose poem we printed six years ago. We'd print her poems again if she'd let us. If this is any credit to her prowess, so be it.
   (by Edmar)


Mute Magazine
($6.95, www.metamute.com)

Quimby's Qveer bookstore stocks essential reading for any subcultural moment. You're into punk rock, voila! Twenty punk rock zines reviewing the same tired old songs. You wear leather and like handcuffs with your eggs, BAM! Fifty bondage and deviant sex titles. You want the real underground news shit? A whole rack of political education is next to the Murder photography books. But what about you, critical information seeker? You know who you are, lurking behind that monitor, emailing off about memes and the Ars Electronica festival to your friends in San Francisco. You are Avante-gardist in spirit, if not action, seeking the unusual developments of new media, and new art discourse, You are trying to change this world, art fucker, dealing in urls to your friends as if it was a crack sale in Garfield Park. They don't make a magazine for you, do they…? Yes, they do. Read Mute magazine. Quimby's imported it for you, so look closely on the rack next to the conspiracy magazines. It's a mix of creative industry coverage, Smart cyber new media critique, electronic disturbance tactics and generally right on political discourse that will keep you up to date in the hidden developments of cultural resistance. Made in England by real humans Mute will destroy any Wired-mentality you may have picked up by accident.
   (by Edmar)


K48 no. 1
($19.95)

I hate Quimby's. Each week a new delicious shipment of transformed trees leaks onto the tables and shelves. Each week those yellow signs shriek "new" at me and I inspect the goods to see what happens next. And after looking around at everything for what seems like an hour I ask the inevitable "Did anything happen this week?" question, because I know I missed something. I always miss something. Hannah always replies "yes, or yeah check out that...." She points to it. I start to freak. It's either a European Design book I passed by or a little tiny piece of beauty published out of New York or Japan. This time it's from New York. It's a tiny book/magazine with a CD inside. I don't even care what the contents are; nine out of ten times I know that these impossible projects will stretch the boundaries of Indy publishing. This one pleases. I take it home. It's a new project featuring the things the publisher loves, of course. Printed on nice matte paper, with an inserted CD by some weird-ass electronic music collective called Amoeba. There's good design, great concept, nice execution, sweet printing and relevant articles to me, at least. Cindy Green, of Fischer Spooner is interviewed by the cat that does Index magazine music reviews. Volume one design project superstar, Mathew Owens, is also a member of the cast, as is presumably more of the who's who of NYC's aboveground underground scene. Beautifully interlacing the interviews are nice graphic moments, photography and illustrations. K48 is relief for the obsessed design and indy culture junkie.
   (by Edmar)


Gasbook 8: Futurvision
($90 or so)

Most desired by today's designer targeted market is the "Fuck — why didn't I think of that?" concoctions of Gasbook. For some years now this Japanese company has been curating some of the best work in the international design world, publishing interactive multimedia CD-ROMs that feature works by today's new media and design elite. Each issue comes packaged in a more advanced form than the previous. Usually there is a T-shirt audio/multimedia CDROM/poster/postcard/booklet combo that includes weird Japanese fonts, new experimental electronic music and examples of artists' work, videos, pointless games, music videos, broadcast design, commercials, web design, whatever is completely bad-ass. Being an advocate of the Japanese design aesthetic and a worshipper of their obsessive curatorial and editorial vision I must impress upon you designers and art directors out there that every issue will envelope you. Every issue will make you wig out. You will be inspired. You will be humbled. Issue 8 has a DVD-ROM and multimedia CD-ROM. The DVD features great animation, music videos and broadcast design by people whose names will mean nothing to you. Get it online at www.shift.co.jp or go to Prairie Avenue bookstore. I can't wait to blow another 90 bucks for issue nine due out soon!
   (by Edmar)


The Fire Show
(Perishible Records)

The Fire Show's self-titled debut album is a scattershot of conflagrations. Former Number One Cup (an English drink of Pimms and ginger ale) members Seth Cohen (aka. Olias Nil) and Michael Lenzi (M. Resplendent), teamed with ES Roth on drums and Crian Lubinsky on bass, oscillate between the clever and the melancholic, between dissonance and silkiness. From the austere simplicity of "F. Pilate['s]" "say what you mean or don't say anything. . . If grace could be born of inconsistencies" to the more ambiguous "Explosion : Cerebellum" — "the seraphim and cherubim reverse our swords with their documents"-O. Nil and M. Resplendent's lyrics swing between the corporeal and the cerebral. The interplay between Resplendent's sultry, dusk-laden vocals and the two guitars creates a chiaroscuro effect so that most of the songs though thick with gravity and sadness have a muscular, strident affirmation. With a Paul Celan quote in the liner notes and a Dylan Thomas interruption in "F. Pilate," The Fire Show manages to be both reverent and irreverent without the pretentiousness born of an overdose of cleverness. In the only song not written by them "Who Do You Love," they move from the combustible to the delicate with a maniacal choral interruptus of "I drink gasoline" that fades out in a high-pitched gothic etherealness. The opening and ending tracks are a reversal ("F. Pilate" to "Pilate F."), but both end with the refrain "if I could have your love" creating a circularity that strives for connection instead of disjunction. This isn't music to sip tea to; it's music to throw a temper tantrum to. It's music to fuck to (not due to its tempo, but because of its yearning, wrenching sounds). Music that manages to investigate death while remaining invigorating. Music that soars and that you should "listen to with love, as intended."
   (by Simone Muench)