Heathen Harvest

[Joe+N - Head Cold - Dirty Demos(UK)]

Carbon Records is one of the more adventurous resources for homemade experimental music based in the U.S. This label / distribution outfit always has some interesting offerings, often international releases that can't be found anywhere else but direct from the artist. This saves the American consumer the hassle of converting dollars to euros and whatnot, and gets that Macedonian lathe-cut vinyl in your mailbox within a couple of days. One of their resident artists is New York's Joe Tunis aka Joe + N, whose live outings consist of guitar improvisations and often involve some aspect of the environment in which he performs. In fact he has been known to do 'day tours,' in which several concerts take place in various climes throughout a given day. This 3' disc captures him in a Rochester performance augmented by a melodica, released by the fledgling UK label Dirty Demos.

'Head Cold' is clearly an open-microphone documentation as the first sound on the disc is that of a bin full of glass bottles being dumped in the background. Coincidence or not, Joe's loops kick in as if on cue. Delay pedal treatments of guitar and melodica crunch louder than breakfast cereal, but supply the sufficient nutrients. When the guitar work takes over, he settles into a groove not unlike a less-dissonant take on the kind of riffage that the Sonic Youth axe-men established some twenty-five years ago. There's a drone-rock flavour here that falls somewhere between Earth and Loren Mazzacane Connors.

Part two opens with the same chord that the last one ends on (open), but gets run through the pedal grinder with a little more immediacy. String-mangled chaos ensues over a ground figure until the melodica makes a return, but why ?It just makes for a bit of awkwardness, like Tunis is trying to juggle with too few hands. The guitar work was more than good enough on it's own for me. At any rate, once Joe regains his physical bearings a great passage of guitar / melodica interplay resumes. There's some wonderful tone blending here like an accordion shoved lovingly into an over-heated catalytic converter. And then it's over; such is the fate of the twenty-minute release.

I appreciate what Tunis is doing here, but it seems more suitable for the live experience. I especially love his 'day tour' idea and would jump at the chance to follow such an artist around town for a day. On disc I wish he would just stick to playing the guitar and tweaking the hell out of his delay pedal(s) because he's obviously got this down to an art form. All in all there's nothing revolutionary here, but the guy's prolific enough to warrant some investigation into his output. And while you're there, check the Carbon Records mail order site; never know what you'll find.

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