October 31, 2009

Decade In Horror

"Today, we can easily imagine the extinction of the human race, but it is impossible to imagine a radical change of the social system - even if life on earth disappears, capitalism will somehow remain intact." --Slavoj Žižek
The aughties have been kind to horror fans, with a veritable cornucopia of new trends which have altered the horror landscape, in some ways irrevocably.  The world, for its part, has outdone the movies in terms of sheer horror this decade, though that's not to say all that much has changed.  Scientists and experts have known for fifty years that our planet faces imminent man-made destruction; and covert American organizations have been torturing people for about as long.  But the undeniability of these facts have pushed themselves into the forefront of the collective unconscious and made this decade's "torture porn" subgenre a basic inevitability, as unavoidable as the zombie plagues we have all come to need in our lives so much.  Unless, of course, you are the antidote.  Then, likely, you've been pushed further into Pan's Labyrinth where the fascists can't go.

From the very beginning of the decade, Asian horror movies blew minds with their disjunctive weirdness, unexpectedly spawning a diametric slew of bland Hollywood tweeny flicks.  After watching so many J- and K-Horror movies over the past ten years, their patent weirdness have made them all somehow blur together to where I can only distinguish maybe a half dozen notable films from the rest.

French horror came on strong around the middle of the decade.  Owing much to the American slasher movies of the 80s, these movies were as terrifying as the slasher films were when I was a kid .  Where Asian horror confounded and disturbed, the Frogs created terrifically claustrophobic environments for straight up slicing and dicing.  The best of the bunch left me twisted up hours after they ended.

Critics today seem as dumbfounded as ever when groping for an essence to movies.  Most avoid reviewing horror movies altogether, feeling justified that they are as a whole distasteful, sure without basis that they have a negative effect on our society.  But do horror movies really make us want to do things we would not have otherwise done?  Do their depictions of violence engender us with lacivious desires?  Why is it that, while one filmmaker can titillate an audience with depictions of violence, another instills revulsion against the very same acts with no less amount of blood or gore?

Neuroscientists have made exciting discoveries in the human brain of neurons which fire off in imitation of the actions of others.  One study showed that, when people watch the tarantula in Dr. No crawl over James Bond's face, these "mirror neurons" create corresponding connections in the brain so that the viewer  experiences in a true sense what Bond on screen is experiencing.  This discovery has opened exciting new avenues of study into, for example, the evolutionary source for empathy; but neuroscientists seem to scarcely notice the implications it has on enjoyment of movies.  Such is the omnipresence of media today that it often goes unnoticed, even when right in front of our faces.

So much of our discourse about horror movies remains in the vein of outmoded literary criticism, wrought with mysticism and moral confusion. Linda Williams was prescient enough to conflate horror, melodrama, and pornography under the umbrella of "body genres" before there was a neurological basis for it. The concrete effect of movies on our brains and bodies muddies the ethical waters and should force us to start judging movies holistically, according to their effects, rather than making a value judgment as to their "meaning."

Horror films are, by their nature, extreme and the films I am most taken by are extreme in one way or another, either in terms of their effect on the viewer or in the way they stretch the possibilities of the genre. These are not necessarily the "greatest" or the "best" horror movies of the decade.  They are my favorite horror movies.

Click the hyperlinks to watch the trailers.  10 horrors, in no order, particularly:

Inside (2007)
It's the scariest movie of the decade. Inside is so unrelentingly terrifying, so enveloping in its power, that you may not notice how classic it is in its horror structure.  It is really just an amalgamation of horror tropes you see in any movie, but it revitalizes them to a sublime degree.  Specifically, it uses the "Breaking Injury" trope that normally finds its victim with a crippling injury, but in this case, it's a swollen pregnant belly that hinders easy escape.  Taking place entirely in one house, you wouldn't think your suspension of disbelief would hold up after the ninth or tenth hapless victim bumbles in, but it does, and claustrophically so.  Once "La Femme" breaks into the house, dips a pair of scissors into alcohol, and attempts to perform a C-Section on our 9-months-pregnant sleeping protagonist, the movie never gives you another moment to breathe.  

Designed to be a throwaway throwback for double billing with Tarantino's Death Proof, I think Rodriguez's Planet Terror will endure as one of the greatest zombie flicks of all time.  Just wait and see. Time will treat this film very well.  The "missing reel" which playfully skips the second act and all its arbitrary circumstances for how the main players wind up teaming together is a stroke of genius! The seat-of-your-pants production and special effects just go to demonstrate how innovative Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios is.  Hilarious and disgusting, endlessly entertaining, it's one of my favorite movies of the decade from any genre. And was there a better line than "I'm going to eat your brains and gain your knowledge?"

Baby Blues (2008)                           As if using post-partum depression as the impetus for a horror film doesn't sound over-the-top as it is, this Southern Gothic flick manages to frighten the hell out of you while playing with action movie conventions.  It's chock full of one-liners worthy of Bruce Willis and even features an overwrought means of killing people, yet so macabre that you have to wonder how it was ever made.  One scene in particular has this frazzled mother of five cornering her daughter with a pitchfork, chiming, "This little piggy went all the way home!"  It's horrifying, and even more so to find yourself laughing. 

Slither (2006)
Long-time Troma collaborator, James Gunn, makes his directorial debut with this extremely well-made horror-comedy about alien slugs invading a small Southern town.  It's almost slick to a fault, but the creativity, humor, and gross-out horror work togther so well, you can't help but fall in love with it.  Michael Rooker's (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) performance as the mutating man about town is wonderful.  He's disgusting and yet he never lets you forget he's a man held captive in his own body.  The disturbing scene of a woman pregnant with thousands of alien slugs ("The little fuckers are tearing me apart!") is one of the most memorable scenes from any horror movie this decade. 

Let the Right One In (2008)
There is something unsettling in the mixture of adolescent ambivalence with a vampire's need for blood.  Adapted with skillful inference from the novel, it's the story of a bullied kid befriending a gender-ambiguous vampire some time in the early 80s.  Horror rides in the backseat as the psychology and subjective experiences of not just the two pre-teens, but all the town's characters, are explored.  More than any other horror film this decade, LTROI expands the limits of the genre.  The American remake will show that this movie is inseparably linked to the barren Swedish landscape that also gave us Vampyr.  It's the best vampire movie since Near Dark and an instant cult classic.

Audition/Imprint (1999/2007)
Audition was officially released in 1999, but most of us first watched it at the beginning of the decade, and were unwittingly set up by its Fassbinderian pace to be terrified in an entirely new way.  Miike Takashi opened the door in the US to the J-Horror invasion, so it's appropriate that he capped it off with Imprint, a film that's as difficult to watch as it is captivatingly strange.  Banned by Showtime before it aired, it features a Meiji-era prostitution island haunted by demons, a talking parasitic twin, aborted fetuses galore, and a torture scene to make a CIA doctor cringe.  Mistakenly perceived as misogynistic, the film has something to do with Meiji surrender to western Capitalism in the late 19th century and the cultures' mutual contempt for the status of women.  Oh yeah, and every woman on the island has either blue or red hair.

Stuck (2007)
Stuart Gordon masterfully extends to our entire contemporary existence the alienation that comes with struggling to communicate through your touchtone phone with that friendly robot who handles all your billing concerns. What if you were inconveniencing a stranger by being stuck dying in the windshield of their car?  Based on a true story, thankfully, Gordon gives us a vengeful dénouement and his funniest, most inspired movie in years. It's a curmudgeony take on personal responsibility that will freak out anyone who has ever been left feeling less than human in our digital age.

The Abandoned (2006)
Spanish filmmaker, Nacho Cerdà, proved himself to be an unusual talent with his horror short Autopsy which featured a mortician fulfilling his sick whims upon disturbingly motionless corpses.  In his full-length debut, he explores the terror of being hunted by your doppelgänger in this deliberately paced creepfest.  Where Dostoevsky's The Double was about a man's doppelgänger attempting to take over his social life, the identical other here is instead a harbinger of death, a death that should have happened earlier in life but was somehow avoided. Marie and Nicolai suffer any injury they inflict upon their doppelgängers, making it that much harder to fight for their survival  It's a movie with strange powers to disturb in ways that remain mysterious to me.

Dumplings (2004)
Fruit Chan's Dumplings was seen by most American audiences as one of the three short segments in 3...Extremes.  Like Planet Terror, it works much better in its full-length form.  Admittedly overly moralistic, this cautionary fable of a woman willing to do anything to regain her youthful beauty is more squeamish than it is suspenseful in its horrors.  An impossibly beautiful 60-year-old lady sells dumplings out of her apartment made from a very special ingredient she obtains from her other job as an underground abortionst.  She claims her nubility comes from the special recipe and wealthy women like Mrs. Lee, wanting to keep her philandering husband from leaving her, are willing to pay the steep price.  Unfortunately, the dumplings have some rather unsavory side effects.  Dumplings, elegant and understated, leaves you with a nasty aftertaste that is hard to wash out. 

Hostel/Hostel: Part II (2005/2007)
I'll come clean.  I probably enjoyed Park Chan-wook's sentimental Vengeance Trilogy more than this original "torture porn" diptych. But believing as I do that depictions of torture cannot be repressed in this age of extraordinary rendition, I don't mind standing up to resist the Eli Roth backlash. The Hostel movies are as wonderfully stupid as the naïve and entitled American kids who gallavant around the world like they own it.  It's an appropriate horror narrative in the face of American decline and 3rd world capitalist resurgence.  Up until quite recently, we as Americans tended to believe as much in our birthright as we did in the safety of our Chinese-manufactured toothpaste.  But where SawCaptivity, and Wolf Creek tried to turn us on with their depictions of human confinement and torment, Roth's Hostel movies successfully convey his own horror at our return to pre-Magna Carta rules of engagement.  Roth has said he knew he wanted to make horror movies after watching Ridley Scott's Alien as a child and being so terrified, he vomited in his seat.  It's a valuable insight into what makes him tick as a horror director.  Easily, the most insipid review I've read in years was Nathan Lee's take on Hostel: Part II (read here) where he calls Roth "pathetic" and a "pussy" with all the critical faculties of a frightened kid puffing out his chest to prove he isn't scared. He schizoprhenically decries the MPAA's R-rating and Roth's "desperation to shock" while noting that his violence toward the female characters is not brutal enough (hence the misogynistic insults?).  Lee somehow misses the point entirely that Roth has skillfully depicted some rather grisly violence towards women without, for a change, giving it a sexual undercurrent.  I think Eli Roth's movies are a great example of how horror films can best be judged holistically and according to the worldview they instill through their violence.  If critics could begin to examine movies according to how they actually interact and affect the viewer, rather than basing their judgment on blanket principles, maybe they would be taken a bit more seriously.

Honored Mentionables:

• Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy, particularly Lady Vengeance.
• Guillermo Del Toro's Devil's Backbone
• Lucky McKee's May + The Woods
A Tale of Two Sisters
• Fabrice du Welz's Calvaire 
Martyrs + Frontier(s)
The New Dead Trilogy (best to forget about Diary of the Dead)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (if only for Jennifer Carpenter)
The Descent
Return to Sleepaway Camp
The Host

October 23, 2009

The Multifaceted Face of James Kuhn

"Lately, when i look in the mirror, i don't know the person looking back at me. Thats not me! Could i really look like that now? My eyes are the only part of me that hasn't changed. In my face transformations series, my face is covered with paint, but i can actually see myself again. My eyes are looking out at me through a psychological mask. I become my dream self, my fantasies come alive in flesh."
On a snow day in his town of Three Oaks, Michigan, James Kuhn decided to fight the boredom of being stuck indoors by painting his face. His love for painting flesh immediately inspired him to further explore the creative possibilities of face painting. He committed himself to face painting everyday for a full year in what he calls his 365 Transformations series. Now well into his second round of "self-portraits," the his artistic efforts have gained him popularity around the world, with appearances on several talk shows, including this Japanese TV show.
"I never run out of ideas. I drive a bus for the elderly and handicapped for 10 hours a day, so I'm always looking at myself in the rear-view mirror,"
After work, the evenings are Kuhn's time to express himself through the fantasy self-portrait he imagines during the day. Posting over 200 videos and 400 portraits, the sheer volume of Kuhn's creative output is astonishing and he never runs out of ideas. His face transformations include, among many others, Flipper, a bald eagle, a grasshopper, and a hippopotamus.  He has developed a technique of painting up to four faces, using all parts of his face, to show his favorite characters at once (see The Simpsons, Harry Potter, and Wizard of Oz). In a surreal feat of trompe-l'œil, he's even painted the profile of his face on the front of his face, using the eye to peer straight at the camera and out the corner of his eye simultaneously. Finding time outside of painting his face, Kuhn also creates biblical-themed religious art.

At one time a nudist, at age 47, Kuhn is now a born-again Christian. He is openly gay and still remembered in Chicago as the popular drag queen, Junie Moon. Junie Moon walked in many LGBT parades and appeared on a Jenny Jones TV special. Kuhn doesn't have any problems reconciling these two aspects of his character.
I totally believe God created me with a homosexual orientation, it was not EVER a choice, at least for me. Orientation is from God, your behavior is your own choice. Just cuz you are gay dosent mean you have to be a slut! I choose to behave myself! I didnt always though! Jesus changes people!...Christian crossdressers and drag queens for Jesus!
You might consider Kuhn an 'outsider artist,' but the limitations of such a term in light of artistic practice makes me mistrust what I imagine an "inside artist" would be. Kuhn is a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, and cites Leon Golub, Alice Neel, David Hockney, and Yacob Agam as influences. But the striking style and unusual technique of his religious "paint mosaics" certainly invoke the art brut aesthetic assciated with creating art without a motive beyond to create.

James Kuhn is a self-professed TV junkie and many of his face paintings are informed by his pop cultural interests. There is an insularity to his daily video output, accentuated by his painted face and isolation on camera. And yet he has become known the world over for his sublime self-explorations. And his face paintings have only gotten more technically lavish and imaginative, with the majority of his second year of "transformations" yet to come. see: caterpillar//gremlin//rangda//pitbull//lionfish//elvira//


YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/bibleartwork
Flickr Page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hawhawjames
His Blog: http://hawhawjames.livejournal.com/
His Religious Art: http://www.myspace.com/jameskuhngallery

October 16, 2009

JOHN JACOB NILES - I Wonder As I Wander (1957) + The Ballads (1960)

A showman with powerful abilities, John Jacob Niles sang in what he called a "mountain tenor," and Bob Dylan described as:

a bone chilling soprano voice. Niles was eerie and illogical, terrifically intense and gave you goosebumps. Definitely a switched-on character, almost like a sorcerer. Niles was otherworldly and his voice raged with strange incantations.
Henry Miller, in his usual dry and indifferent tone, describes John Jacob Niles, in Plexus, as having:

a clear, high-pitched voice with a quaver and a modality all his own. The metallic clang of his dulcimer never failed to produce ecstasy... Like a psalmist, he intoned his verses in an ethereal chant which the angels carried aloft to the glory seat. When he sang of Jesus, Mary and Joseph they became living presences. A sweep of the hand and the dulcimer gave forth magical sounds which caused the stars to gleam more brightly, which peopled the hills and meadows with silvery figures and made the brooks to babble like infants.
This John Jacob Niles was the same man who always wore such great looking boots and rarely shared the stage with anyone else.  He claimed he could lie in bed and spit on the ceiling, and would sometimes sing "The Hangman" with a noose around his neck.  He was a performer on and off the stage, and seemed proud of his eccentricities.  When he performed the traditional murder ballad "Pretty Polly," he sang it in first person as if he himself was the killer. When the climactic moment came, he would pull out a case knife and stab repeatedly into Polly's imaginary chest until the audience could actually see "her heart's blood flow."

The other John Jacob Niles was the Appalachian music collector and performer of traditional ballads who was rediscovered in the 1950's folk revival and then, subsequently, deemed "inauthentic" by an emerging establishment of academic folklorists. 

While Niles recorded meticulous notes of every folk song he heard and of the people who sung it, they were not notes valued for their scientific detail or rigorous attention to date or location.  When he finally released THE BALLAD BOOK OF JOHN JACOB NILES in 1960, the variants he provided of folk traditionals were not taken seriously by the folklorist establishment.  In his book, culled from over 50 years of collecting, the people he describes sound as mythical as the songs themselves. Another reason, Niles' folkie cred was compromised was the fact that he had sued and won the rights to songs he had claimed to "collected," but was able to show in his meticulous notebooks that he had, in fact, composed them entirely himself.

Niles began collecting folk songs from his Appalachian neighbors as early as 1910 when he was just a teenager, and would take jobs in the outskirts so he could collect songs from the people on his off-time.  But Niles was also a songwriter, inspired both by opera and folk music alike.  He might only obtain a snippet of music from a girl singing to herself, and write the rest of the song the way he saw fit.  Or he might play the folk traditional the way it was first written down in his journal..  There was little concern for folk music or its authenticity in those early days. 

He fashioned his famous dulcimers after those he found in the mountains.  But he crafted them as "Nilesimers" to fit his own personal needs.  The sound was less important than the theatrical value, and he played it a lot like Picasso's "Blue Guitar," clutching it to his chest and often treating it like a dying lover when the appropriate song was performed. 

Frantz Fanon spoke of the way autonomous culture ends abruptly when its things become canonized and tacked to their proper times and places, particularly if by an outside culture.  "Authentic" culture only exists when it has no value added to it, when it is allowed to grow, mutate, and warp itself without any sense of self-consciousness.  While Niles led others to believe his most famous songs, "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" and "Go 'Way From My Window," were "collected" rather than his own written compositions, in making the music his own, he was more true to so-called folk culture than if he were merely subservient to its perceived essence.  

The authentic folk players died in obscurity.  We are left with Harry Smith's ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC (1952 ) and performers like Niles and Guthrie who interepreted folk culture for us.  For his part, Niles grew up in Kentucky around the "folks" themselves, but he also studied music in Paris, sang opera in Chicago, and performed on the radio.  He acquired the bulk of his folk music collection in the 30s when he signed on as chauffeur and porter for the famous photographer, Doris Ulmann.  She was working on a portrait of the Appalachian people in a time when their culture was considered to be dying off in all its isolated, impoverished splendor.  To see the people Niles collected music from, look no further than 'The Appalachian Photographs of Doris Ulmann,' compiled and published by Niles himself in 1971. 

I Wonder As I Wander - Carols & Love Songs (1957)

The Ballads of John Jacob Niles (1960)

October 6, 2009

CRASH WORSHIP (ADRV) - ¡Espontaneo! (1991) + What So Ever Thy Hand Findeth, Do It With All Thine Might (1989)

If you've already heard of Crash Worship, chances are you know something about their live performances.  A typical show might include blood, flour, milk, and fruits, firecrackers flying into the crowd, torches and burning barrels, a trapeze artist spinning from the ceiling by her neck, jugglers, naked firebreathers, drums being passed around, people stripping, dancing, or throwing mud, orgies breaking out, the club being shut down, and audiences keeping the show going even after the power's cut and the cops have arrived.  Strange, then, that the group began as a studio project from San Diego known as Crash Worship ADRV (Adoración de Rotura Violenta -- "crash worship" in Spanish).  They formed some time around 1985 with a revolving cast of players.  Original member, JXL, explained:

"We started realizing there's certain powerful elements that break things up as compared to a normal show, like intense drumming, relentless beat and fire that drives you. It all has a deep effect on people in different ways."

The group's sound consisted of a core trio of tribal drums added with keyboard and guitar effects and layered with tape manipulations and samples.  They eventually relocated to New Orleans where Quintron (inventor of the Drum Buddy) became a member of the group.  Like most bands, their sound is unique, but they share some similarities with Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Dept., Foetus, and Voodoo percussion music. 

Crash Worship directly involved the audience in their act with the help of "worshippers"-- provocateurs usually responsible for the initial mayhem.  As many as twenty drums were beaten or strapped to bodies and every member of the band had a wireless setup so they could move about in the crowd.   The idea was to envelope the audience with a certain atmosphere so that each person was completely engaged in the revelry.

Q: OK, in what way do you "manipulate the audience"?

A: Well, this one guy that used to come with us just used to do his own thing. He would be naked, or nearly naked, and run around coming up behind people and caressing them from behind and then disappearing hopefully without being seen. Or he would crawl around through people's legs and try to dislodge them one way or another. Some people will grab people who are standing around the walls, around the perimeter, trying to be cool and safe and clean, and drag them into whatever's happening in the centre.
Reputation of their live performances often preceded their arrival into town. Police and club managers were especially concerned about the rumors that the group were practicing Satanists. The group never practiced Satanism, but they were members of T.O.P.Y (Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth), a loose collective of artists and others interested in magic without mysticism and founded by members of Coil, Psychic TV, and Current 93.  Although Crash Worship may have been founded on certain philosophical precepts, they soon drifted from any kind of belief system: "Everyone has widely differing interests and we actually don't talk about it that much."

Their interviews were usually as wild as their shows. Read (here and here) more about, among other things, ideally working a crowd into such a frenzy that people start to spontaneously combust.  Real talk.

New Orleans 1993- Lundi Gras

Kansas City 1996 – Old Train Bridge

October 3, 2009

EDDIE GALE - Ghetto Music (1968) + Black Rhythm Happening (1969)

Eddie Gale is most widely known for playing trumpet on Cecil Taylor's UNIT STRUCTURES (1966) and Larry Young's OF LOVE AND PEACE (1966).  He was a long-term member of Sun Ra's Arkestra, and was John Coltrane's choice for trumpet on ASCENSIONS (1965), but could not be reached in time. Throughout much of his musical career, he worked days and nights to support his family. It is said he was fired from more than one job for playing his horn on his lunch break and returning late to work. 

In the late sixties, before the eventual "fusion" of jazz with other genres, jazz labels were already eager to capitulate to their dwindling audience with soul- and psych-inspired albums. Many prominent jazz artists of the day had their turn experimenting with the human voice and the post-bop sound with varying degrees of success.  As time chugs along, the specifics of this kitschy, ethereal wrinkle in time have faded into footnotes, but Eddie Gale's two albums for Blue Note sound more vital today than ever.  Indeed, they are two of the most unique and captivating albums in the Blue Note catalogue. Other notable attempts at the vocal psych-jazz sound include:

SONNY SHARROCK's Black Woman (1969)
ANDREW HILL's Lift Every Voice (1969)
PHAROAH SANDERS' Izipho Zam (1969)
CHARLES MINGUS' Let the Children Hear Music (1971)

The psych-jazz sound reflects many of the interests of the day, including Eastern music, sonic space, Afrofuturism, and radical social consciousness.  Perhaps most notable of all, these albums employ voices at the service of the music, not the other way around like, say, Johnny Hartman.  When not chanting or speaking in low and resonant tones, the voices on these albums share a warbly, shrill quality that is hard to place outside this specific subgenre of music.  It's a strange sound somewhere between call and response, Soul, and the musical theatre. The earliest example of using human voices behind jazz music might be Donald Byrd's A NEW PERSPECTIVE (1963) and the latest McCoy Tyner's INNER VISIONS (1977).  But it is Sun Ra's SECRETS OF THE SUN (1965) that serves as the earliest forbearer to Eddie Gale's sound-- an album Gale appears on.  Gale was strongly influenced by his years with Sun Ra's Arkestra, playing with him until 1980.
"Playing with Sun Ra is a great experience--from the known to the unknown. You play ideas on your instrument that you never imagine. His music provoked me to explore the use of trills, for instance, and the placement of whole tones and then a space chord--ideas you do not find in the exercise books. Traveling with Sun Ra is also interesting. He had me play the role of straw boss one time and it required me to pay one of the musicians to not play on a particular job. Sun Ra, the master psychologist."
At their worst moments, the commercial efforts of these psych-soul jazz records gave us pure sixties kitsch without much in the way of innovation.  Nothing to sneeze at in its own right because these records sound like nothing else.  At their best, however, they offer us a divergent musical history where Black power and political awakening help unite the earth's people, a history now as obscure as Eddie Gale himself.

Blue Note producer Francis Wolff believed in Gale's vision enough to finance GHETTO MUSIC (1968) and BLACK RHYTHM HAPPENING (1969) out of pocket.  No small sum when you consider Gale's ensemble was much larger than the normal jazz group.  Both albums featured two bassists and two drummers (the latter album featuring Elvin Jones) with eleven Noble Gale Singers, all of them dressed in robes. The final result is an irresistable blend of African rhythms, operatic arrangements, lilting voices, and, of course, Gale's trumpet, as brash and avant-garde as it is evocative and passionate.  The concept, as described on the original poster for GHETTO MUSIC, was "to play a significant role in the life experience of the community as a whole."  While it's doubtful such a lofty goal was achieved in these obscure albums, it is certain to have a strong impact on the receptive ear.

Black rhythm happening everywhere...

• Gary Hobish, in addition to mixing and mastering both of these albums, also produced records for artists as diverse as The SubhumansJudee Sill, and Sonny Sharrock.
• Gale's sister, Joann Gale Stevens, played guitar, served as the main voice of the Noble Gale Singers, wrote some of the lyrics and, later in her life, a biography on Evil Knievel.