JAAP BLONK “Joyous Junctures” C60 (Eh? / Public Eyesore)

Jaap Blonk is a friggin’ weirdo, but that shouldn’t matter to any of you who read any of this because you’re probably just as big of a friggin’ weirdo if you like all this outsider crap. And I include myself among that number, because I’m writing about all this outsider crap, like all the time. So does it even mean anything to refer to Mr. Blonk as a “friggin’ weirdo” even? I’m not sure it does.

The Netherlands’ answer to … I can’t even think of a contemporary. The Netherlands’ answer to No One, then, Jaap Blonk does a lot with his mouth, making noise, intoning passages, incanting spells. I don’t understand a word he’s saying, because Dutch is not even remotely a second language to me. Which turns out to be fine as the meaning often ruins the whole deal for me. Here, on Joyous Junctures, we get the vocalizations overtop synthesizers, random noise bursts, other baffling instrumentation, and it’s all an incredible ride on the roller coaster of Blonk’s madness. Did I mention there were 27 tracks on this thing, and that it lasts an hour? That’s an awful lot of Blonk, and an awful lot of fun.

In fact, it’s so fun that I wouldn’t hesitate to refer to it as space alien music encountered by the crew of the starship Enterprise throughout their intergalactic travels. Plus, Blonk’s been around so long, I bet he’s been to outer space himself at some point. Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.


BUDOKAN BOYS “Dad Is Bad” (Baba Vanga)

Budokan Boys, the long-distance love child of Vienna-based musician Jeff T Byrd and New Orleansbound writer Michael Jeffrey Lee, is the future of music. Not pop, not electronic, not rock, not new or no wave, but music. Listen here: when you’ve perfected a Nick Cave-by-way-of-Ween vibe (or vice versa, it’s hard to tell which came first), you’ve been in my wheelhouse loooong before the word “perfected” has even entered the conversation. Sometimes Budokan Boys sounds like an electronic version of Shudder to Think. Still, “perfected” remains the go-to word of choice here.

Dad Is Bad on Baba Vanga follows their 2018’s That’s How You Become a Clown on Tymbal Tapes, which I referred to as containing a healthy dose of “cockeyed playfulness,” even going so far as to comment, “Budokon Boys put the ‘fun’ back in ‘What in the fuck am I listening to?’ (trust me, those letters are all in there).” Dad Is Bad continues down the path of bizarro storytelling, with Lee’s just-off-enough narratives (and vocals) veering the whole shebang into an uncomfortable ditch where you may have hit a road sign or something. But Bird’s unrelentingly good-natured electro-on-quaaludes (even when he reaches for his guitar) leavens Lee’s oddities, especially when Lee’s getting really weird like relating a story of a prisoner’s dead body being sent around from city to city and worshiped as a hero’s would be (I’ll let you dig into “The Prisoner” on your own to get the whole story).

Budokan Boys make some of the most off-kilter, dare I say alternative (woops, I wasn’t going to dare to say it) music, even if it’s as experimental as it gets. It has me yearning for the greatest throwbacks of the genre even as it pushes forward with incredible tenacity. There’s not another duo like Bird and Lee out there, I’m just going to say it – they’ve cornered the market on making “weird” as listenable as possible, not to mention making “listenable” as weird and far-out as they can. It’s a pleasure to follow them down whatever twisted path they’re blazing. Just don’t lag too far behind – you never know what’s in the shadows waiting for you.


CHANNELERS “The Depth of Rest” C42 (Inner Islands)

There is no one better at filling their days with beautiful and fascinating meditative music than Sean Conrad, aka Channelers, aka the purveyor of Inner Islands records. This is good news for all of us out here, somewhere beyond the boundaries of Oakland, California (and probably for everyone within those boundaries as well), because if we are lucky enough to get our hands on a Channelers (or Ashan or Orra or whatever) release, our days can also be filled with beautiful and fascinating meditative music. This time around Channelers tackles The Depth of Rest, and by tackles, I mean Conrad really plows into this thing and wrestles it to the ground – all in the most delicate and respectful of ways. Imagine getting so wound up that you have to plow into the idea of “rest” like it’s the WWF defending champion or something! That would be idiotic.

But still, and seriously, the “Channelers way” is in full effect here on The Depth of Rest, its four languid tracks full to bursting with field recordings of birds and insects and water – basically the outdoors with accompaniment from “keyboards, dulcimer, and Irish low whistle.” If that sounds like what you’d expect from Sean Conrad, you’d be right. But Channelers keeps growing, keeps evolving, even though it’s all within that New Age idiom. The depth of melody and consistency of vibe continue to astound, and Channelers continues to be at the crest of the Inner Islands modus operandi. It’s all dream state, probably all the time around II HQ, so somebody’s gotta get in there and craft new fantasy suites and “[project] magical realism … onto the canvas of ordinary perceived reality.” That someone might as well be Sean Conrad. He’s pretty much the best at it.


TWO YEARS ON WELFARE “Talus” C60 (Endangered Species Tapes)

Over two loooong tracks, a thirty-minute jawn per side, Two Years on Welfare, aka Glenn Nelson (who also records as Cloud Dweller, among other things), builds heavy drones a fraction of a second at a time, so that by the time you’re listening to a full second, one of the 3,600 total on “Talus,” it feels like the most important, most weighty second you’ve ever experienced in your life. And again, there are thirty-six hundred of these to go, so you better get used to sitting there and getting bulldozed by the weight of Nelson’s guitar, synths, and other electronics and goodies.

“Recorded during the gloom of 2018 at the Cavernlands in Allentown, Pa.” (hey, I grew up right over the mountain!), “Talus” mimics that gloom and “Cavernland-y” feel for a postapocalyptic sojourn deep underground, where you as a human live with the other eyeless creatures in the unending darkness, unable or unwilling to come out and see what’s happened to the rest of the planet. Look, if you’ve gone eyeless in a cave, something out there ain’t good. Might as well just stay in the cave.

Well, until the earth shifts beneath your feet with a massive blast of feedback and noise and forces you to the cave’s mouth back out into whatever it is that happened and bombards you with religious shortwave radio signals. I don’t need this, man! I’m putting my glasses back on.


UNCLE PO “Night & Forest” (Erizados)

Russian producer Uncle Po, from Krasnoyarsk, drops a downtempo beat tape on Barcelona’s Erizados to help us watch the sun go down wherever we are. Perfect artwork here for Night & Forest, with the pink sky of dusk over the heavily shadowed but not yet completely obscured forest – the titular image! Po winds together delectable samples and laid-back techno, interspersed with snippets of incomprehensible dialogue, marrying the magic of the hour of the setting sun with imaginative melodies. The tunes drift like a cool breeze at a decidedly lower evening temperature, the chill in the air suggesting the imminent arrival of autumn. You gotta get out your flashlight before you venture outside anymore now – it’s just getting too dark.

It’s easy to get the vibe from the titles alone: “Beauty of Night Roads,” “Magic Dew,” “Dancing Around the Fire.” The birds chirp as they settle down for the night; frogs, crickets, and bats begin their nocturnal rituals; satellites and shooting stars flit across time-lapsed sky. Uncle Po breathes evening air, allows twilight to envelope him, and then guides us through the motions of the night. The rhythms are smooth and languid. We dance till morning.