Podcast 2020.20 The Last Days

How do you conclude a year like 2020? I’ve already posted my “Best of 2020” compilation, but I wanted to close out the year by focusing on a few record labels that had a substantial impact in 2020. In particular I wanted to focus on I Heart Noise. This episode also features tracks by Raving Pop Blast, Flower Room, Cardinal Fuzz, and Psychedelic Source Records, who managed to put out one last compilation of 2020. Happy new year, everybody. Let’s hope 2021 is better than 2020.

00:00 TMODM – Intro
01:19 Solilians – There Is No Michigan
06:06 Aydin – Cellini
09:43 Skyjelly – Seein It
15:31 William Carlos Whitten – In My Borsalino, Pointing a Revolver
18:00 Turkish Delight – Go Baby
20:17 Sawdust Caesars!! – Flower Pop Show
21:06 Matt LaJoie – Shine a Light on the Light
28:35 Lemurian Folk Songs – Disease Mind I
39:55 Alien Mustangs – Fairy Meadows
49:12 The Janitors – Through The Storm And Into Chaos
56:30 Mugstar – Deep Is The Air
58:18 Petridisch – C/D/E

I Heart Noise Records

Solilians – There Is No Michigan and Skyjelly – Seein It [from In The Running 1 – Skyjelly / Solilians Split, released November 6, 2020]
Aydin – Cellini [from Goodbye Better Sampler, released September 5, 2020]
Turkish Delight – Go Baby [from Howcha Magowcha, released July 16, 2018]
William Carlos Whitten – In My Borsalino, Pointing a Revolver [from Burn My Letters, released June 4, 2018]
Petridisch – C/D/E [released December 10, 2020]

I corresponded with Ilya of I Heart Noise. The tagline on the I Heart Noise website is “Ripping Off Brian Eno Since 2008”, so one of the first questions I asked him was about Brian Eno.
TMODM: What’s your favorite Eno album?
IHN: Nerve Net. I heard casual Eno fans don’t like it that much and I’m not sure why – is it because its too rock-ish for their tastes? Who knows…but I’m convinced its one of the best things he did as a solo artist. A strange brew of electronics, jazz and rock.
Can I add what Thor (@petridisch) had to say about Eno and his albums? 🙂
TMODM: Yes, please do. I have a soft spot in my heart for Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), by the way. Years ago I bought a pair of Bose speakers from my local stereo store and the guy threw in a free copy of Taking Tiger Mountain because he thought I’d like it.
Thor: i can’t say off the top of my head / all are in ways good. Thursday Afternoon, though. Also then there’s Warm Jets which for some reason is a bit more memorable for me than the others, by a hair. i played that one so much in high school.
TMODM: How did I Heart Noise start?
IHN: 2008 – it was my way of documenting obsession with labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Skin Graft Records.
TMODM: It looks like you’ve expanded quite a bit over the years (record label, YouTube channel, blog, curator of compilations, etx.) At what point did you decide to become a record label?
IHN: It was sometime after I met @petridisch back in 2016 – we both talked about how interesting it would be do a physical release and see where things will end up….
TMODM: How did you become associated with the bands on your label?
IHN: Turkish Delight – Thor told me a lot about them and at some point I finally caved in and said “lets do a reissue of their material”
Skyjelly – my association with Rick goes back all the way to late 2000s and the odd (but fascinating) video for “Motorola Monkey” that ended up in my mailbox at some point. At some point I got brave enough to come up and introduce myself in person at one of his gigs and from then on I went to nearly every single gig he and his band played either in Boston or Providence.
Solilians – I had a chance to talk to Ben via email and listening to them I couldn’t help but think that they would make an excellent counterpart to Skyjelly. Jewish drone/space pop meets Middle Eastern psych! More than a slogan – it actually resulted in a beautiful split between the two bands and I’m looking forward to working with Solilians more in the future.
Bill Whitten – same as Ben, except we never really met in person. Much of our communication was via email/social media and at some point he brought up that he’d love for a label to put out his solo album…the rest, as they say, is history.
TMODM: So what are the biggest challenges you’ve faced doing compilations/running a label?
IHN: I think the process of putting comps together went very differently early on. Since we didn’t had much of a following back in the day, I would approach a lot of bands who had no idea about IHN and some of it worked and some resulted in shrugs/misunderstanding. I clearly recall Alan Bishop from Sun City Girls sending me a rejection letter/email. but all in all it mostly worked out well…
Other challenge lies in live shows/booking – I did it, even without prior experience, but some of it was very rough. one time you’d get absolutely no one in the room, other times it would be 30/40 people. last show we did being an absolute highlight of the whole saga – one at AS220 in Providence. but we survived and we learned our lessons, so hopefully we’d get to apply them again some day and see people turning up at our shows/fest.
TMODM: Maybe I should have asked this first: So what’s your story? At what point did you know you wanted to devote your full attention to IHN?
IHN: I think I wanted to do it ever since I figured out someone besides me reads it, circumstances, however, were not on my side until maybe 2-3 years ago. and it helped too that we eventually grew our social media following – that was another factor (albeit I can’t say it was by design).
TMODM: But what about you? Where are you from originally?
IHN: Eastern Europe / Russia – moved to US in 2000. I messed around with posting about music even prior to IHN, but it was mostly one-page/brochure kind of deal and then someone told me about blogs….so that’s probably where it really started. I got in just around the time when MySpace was still going strong.
TMODM: How ambitious are you going to get with IHN? What plans do you have for the coming months?
IHN: Very with a capital V! I’m definitely doing the “best of 2020” over the next 3 months, but I’m constantly working on figuring out how to improve the blog and the forum and reach more people. I think we’re in a good position to get to be seen/visited by even more people next year.
TMODM: Do you think life will ever get back to normal?
IHN: I believe it will sooner or later, but probably later – my estimate is that 2021 won’t be it. Part of the issue too is that we probably won’t even return to whatever “normal” was before the pandemic, i.e. – going to a show. I’d imagine that would require some sort of special passport or ID proving you took the vaccine and it will be a very long time before the fear of infection will dissipate, if ever. some people will still be convinced it was all a giant hoax and that poses another problem. but on the bright side come January we will have someone other than Donald Trump in the office and I put my trust in him to do better than his predecessor on nearly all fronts.

I also corresponded with Solilians.
TMODM: Who would you say are your main influences?
Solilians: At this moment (as opposed to say the first album), in this incarnation of Solilians thirteen songs that define us are:
Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda
Slowdive – Sugar for the Pill
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Low – Shame
Swans – Children of God
Dirty Three – Sirena
Cocteau Twins – Pandora
Burning Spear – Throw Down Your Arms
Stereolab – Super Electric
Earth – Land of Some Order
Masada – Ne’eman
Om – United Knowledge of the Godhead
Borris – Farewell
That said, our tastes are vast, and we listen to a lot more than what solely defines our sound (e.g. The New York Art Quartet, Sun Ra, The Necks, New Zion Trio, Morphine, Lungfish, Hot 8 Brass Band, Windy & Carl, Sleep, Black Uhuru and on and on)
TMODM: You say Solilians coalesced into a real band after Binahs’s Dream”. How would you say your music/approach has changed since then?
Solilians: When we started off with the Binah’s Dream 7” we were a wholly ambient affair, in the drumless vein of Windy & Carl, Stars of the Lid, early Tangerine Dream and Tim Hecker. Neptune Sweet, Gabe and Benjamin at that time were joined by John Cep from The Stargazer Lilies, whose bowed guitar added some real butterfly wing majesty. John left to focus on The Stargazer Lilies and Sharon came into the fold. Sharon and Neptune sang together a lot on our first album (Shin), Sharon in Hebrew and Neptune in her own language so there was a uniqueness there and in certain ways that defined our sound. When we started to work on Shin, some of it felt right drumless/fully floating and some felt like it needed a little kick so we added electronic beats through loads of pedals to reverberate into infinity (with Suicide’s influence coming into focus), Stereolab slowed down to Stars of the Lid (i.e. sparse atmospheres). The first album was very electronic, albeit organically played (feel). We were also joined by the great Avant trombonist Dan Blacksberg on the first album which had a huge effect on some of the sound.
That said, life took over for a bit and Solilians got an offer from I Heart Noise to do a split with Skyjelly. At that time Benjamin was playing with Mike in a bass and drums duo and they had a good amount of tracks ready, albeit far more noisy and doom. Sharon was on leave from Solilians so Neptune took the vocal reins and really stepped up, singing alone and becoming our Iggy. Gabe moved primarily to guitar and Benjamin, who’d played solely keyboards and electronics on the first album, moved primarily to bass so this too changed the feel. That said, the major change was Mike coming in on drums which made the band a million times heavier immediately. The tracks Benjamin and Mike were working on were slowed down to ‘Soliians-ize’ them and that became the release. ‘The Sisko’, a collaboration between Rick Skyjelly Jones Lescault and Solilians came out of a middle eastern-tinged outtake from the original sessions and Rick really brought the whole thing into focus. Now Sharon is back and Solilians is a 5-piece and the new album will reflect the best of all incarnations.
TMODM: What brought you to I Heart Noise?
Solilians: In two words: Jason Russo. Jason has been our great friend for some 25 years now, and he was friends with I Heart Noise via his bands Guiding Light, Pete’s International Airport, Hopewell, and Mercury Rev. We’ve been playing shows together this whole time and we decided to play a show together at the end of our tour with Landing, at Trans Pecos in Brooklyn. It was Guiding Light, Landing, The Stargazer Lilies and Solilians and we were getting all the logistics together for that night (which was a pretty incredible/special evening). Guiding Light had just played an I Heart Noise showcase in Boston and we were asking him how it went. He was singing I Heart Noises praises on how great, fun and cool the bands and people were, and he sent our record to I Heart Noise, saying Ilya loves weird music. Ilya was super nice, really smart with exquisite taste and became incredibly supportive and started promoting ‘Shin.’ We started talking quite a bit and he originally wanted us to come play in Boston. That said, we decided an I Heart Noise Fest would be a beautiful culmination to the I Heart Noise aesthetic that was defined more by a certain je ne sais quoi of weird music rather than any specific sound. The first I Heart Noise Fest took place at AS220 in Rhode Island in October of 2019. MV & EE, Brian Chase (from Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Guiding Light, Skyjelly, Petridisch and Solilians played and it was an epic evening. Ilya had mentioned wanting to put something out of ours and this evening seemed like a great way to do it. Vinyl was decided upon, a split 7” between Skyjelly and Solilians and that came out that night. A longer split EP of 7 songs (1/2 by Skyjelly, 1/2 by Solilians and 1 collaboration between the two) was released the following year in the Spring of 2020, and there was actually an I Heart Noise Presents release show planned with the incredible The 1865, Skyjelly and Solilians for the weekend everything shut down for COVID. And here we are seven months later with 2020 in the rearview. (There’s also been talk about re-releasing a slightly revised ‘Shin’ through I Heart Noise at some point in the future.)
TMODM: Future Plans? What’s next for you?
Solilians: Towards the end of this year we decided the next Solilians release is going to be a shoegaze album. We were just futzing around one night and wrote each other that in 2021 Solilians should do a shoegaze album. It was just a joke, but we took it seriously and now we’re putting our money where our mouths are. It just feels like the time is right. It’s obviously not going to sound like straight shoegaze cause we’re incapable of that (-we’re far to slow), but in the way Boris with their song Farewell slowed shoegaze down to a crawl, some combination of Doom Metal and Shoegaze (Doom Gaze) is what we’re working on now.
TMODM: Looking back on the past year, what is your biggest takeaway from 2020? Any bright spots or just a giant shitshow?
Solilians: It’s a mixed bag but we’re glass half full type of people and 2020 furthered the plot in some very significant, life-changing ways. Obviously the pandemic cast a huge shadow over the world in a once every century kind of way, but some incredible things happened as well and we’re hopeful. Things are looking up and we find meaning in these moments…the great pause was anything but for us (it was kind of an insanely busy year) but in a certain way we will never take for granted live music and being together in a room with people again. 2020 in a very obvious way showed us the power of that magic…there was something missing from the virtual performances, the unspoken collective unconscious symbiotically interacting…all the unspoken language, the physicality of sound and enchantment of performance in a room….it really glaringly pointed out how miraculous, mystical and enchanting live music is. The world is looking up and we’re excited for 2021! 2020 was tough but we’re all about resilience, post-traumatic growth, making lemonade out of lemons, and going deep…it made us look beneath the surface, look at how the past informs the present and how that intern writes our future. If anything, 2020 made us grateful for a great many things, made us appreciate magic, sublimation, and how music gets us through. That is no small feat.

I corresponded with Rick Lescault of Skyjelly.
TMODM: Who would you say are your main influences?
RL: There are so many. From Pavement to Earl Sweatshirt – and every psychedelic/other-worldly thing in between. Lately I’ve been heavily into middle-eastern and African guitar players – Bombino, M’dou Moctar, and some of the Congo distorted analog-techno stuff. That, and anyone who plays a telecaster.
TMODM: What brought you to I Heart Noise?
RL: I made a song and video called Motorola Monkey that Ilya somehow got a hold of. I honestly can’t remember exactly how it transpired but he dug it and approached me at a show one time and asked about working together. I think Skyjelly wasn’t even a band then, just me. Since then it’s been a great relationship and we owe tons of love and respect to IHeartNoise for being great friends and a great label.

TMODM: Future Plans? What’s next for you?
RL: Always something else. We just recorded a bunch of stuff at the hair salon our bass player, Scott Levesque, owns and we’re hoping to do something with those tunes in the upcoming months. Mostly, I’m just dying to be done with this pandemic stuff and be able to play shows again and interact non-electronically with other human beings. Also finding a new practice space…
RMODM: Looking back on the past year, what is your biggest takeaway from 2020? Any bright spots or just a giant shitshow?
RL: Basically, it’s been a shitshow – the snowday that never ends. We’ve been writing and working on some good stuff but I’m pretty much done with the whole thing. Trump’s over – that’s the brightest spot. The fight goes on.

Raving Pop Blast Records

Sawdust Caesars!! – Flower Pop Show [from Strange Creatures (The Best Of Rebels Volume Two), releases March 2, 2021]

Sawdust Caesars!! appear on the Strange Creatures compilation on Raving Pop Blast Records. I corresponded with Andrew Jarrett of Raving Pop Blast.
TMODM: How has Raving Pop Blast been affected by the pandemic?
RPB: Raving Pop Blast! Like everyone else has been affected in that bands haven’t been able to play, so we’ve not been able to sell anything via shows, which is a pain. We do have a small but loyal bunch of regular fans, who have been buying via mail order, which is great.
I think at the moment we’re more concerned with what will happen once the UK very stupidly leaves the EU… Bah! Postage costs are already way too much! It could help to kill off smaller labels like ours as we rely a lot of out mail order sales.
TMODM: What’s next for your label?
RPB: Next we have the Various Artists: ‘Strange Creatures (The Best Of Rebels Volume 2)’ album coming out hopefully late Feb or March 2021 (Waiting on vinyl to arrive)
Followed quickly by ‘The Mudd Club : Bottle Blonde’ LP (Blonde coloured vinyl!!) which is great delinquent Garage punk! then
Sawdust Caesars : A Potential Social Menace Of The First Magnitude’ LP with hand screened sleeves!
Then after that, we have new LP’s by Joe James & The Pariahs (Freakbeat) and The Total Rejection (Garage-Pop-Psych) in the pipeline…so keeping busy!

Flower Room Records

Matt LaJoie – Shine a Light on the Light [from Arrangement 2, released December 4, 2020]

Some thoughts on 2020 from Matt LaJoie of Flower Room Records:
TMODM: Looking back on the past year, what is your biggest takeaway from 2020? Any bright spots or just a giant shitshow?
ML: I have a couple bright spots for 2021. First is Bandcamp Fridays – we’ve never seen the kind of overflowing support that those high holidays brought in 2020, which really kept things moving forward for us despite all the setbacks of the year. And second is a general turn of focus toward creating work to share purely in the digital, ephemeral, realm. Our DJ sets have become digital mixtapes and livestreams, and between IG, YouTube, and Bandcamp Live we’ve beamed live performances from our living room to homes around the world. If we’d been gigging out as usual this year we probably would have never explored those possibilities of performing live for fans remotely, many of whom live in places we wouldn’t be likely to hit on tour. 2020 seemed to collapse the distance between us—paradoxically, just as we were all forced into isolation—and I think we’ll carry those connections and lessons into 2021 and beyond.

Psychedelic Source Records

Lemurian Folk Songs – Disease Mind I [from Finalizing 2020 Compilation, released December 31, 2020]

Discovering Psychedelic Source Records was one of the bright spots of 2020 for me. I devoted podcast 2020.18 to this label, and as I discussed then their improvisational sessions are endlessly inventive. They’re also incredibly prolific and managed to release one more compilation before the end of the year.

Cardinal Fuzz

Alien Mustangs – Fairy Meadows [from Beat Of The Earth, released October 2, 2020]
The Janitors – Through The Storm And Into Chaos [from Noisolation Session Vol. 1, released November 13, 2020]
Mugstar – Deep Is The Air [from Graft, released October 30, 2020]

Cardinal Fuzz’s output this year has been incredible. They’re leading the charge of the resurgence of vinyl.

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