The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gig #124: Of late 33: Dabrye, Efrim Manuel Menuck, E Ruscha, JPEGMAFIA, Howling Sycamore, King Vision Ultra, Profligate, Belong, Gary War, The Skull Defekts, Jean-Luc Guionnet & Daichi Yoshikawa, Cabal, High Rise, Go-Kart Mozart


Efrim Manuel Menuck
E Ruscha
Howling Sycamore
King Vision Ultra
Gary War
The Skull Defekts
Jean-Luc Guionnet & Daichi Yoshikawa
High Rise
Go-Kart Mozart


Dabrye Dr. Shroomen
‘In a world where dance beats have been thoroughly embraced by mainstream rappers and Jay Dee acolytes run labels and headline stadiums, the question that looms over Three/Three is whether Mullinix’s once-futuristic productions still sound innovative. “Never affected by new sellers,” gruff-voiced Stones Throw mainstay Guilty Simpson vows on opening track “Tunnel Vision,” an affirmation that could easily double as Dabrye’s own mission statement. Instead of bowing to current trends, he burrows further into gritty ’90s boom-bap and proto-electronic influences (you can hear traces of Daphne Oram, Mort Garson, and Morton Subotnick), weaving internationally-sourced samples into his intricately layered compositions.’ — Max Mertens


Efrim Manuel Menuck A Lamb In The Land Of Payday Loans
‘Although Menuck has always kept himself busy during Godspeed’s fallow periods with projects like Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, something about their activity seems to inspire a need to create independently of a collective. And evidently, this flurry of output hasn’t diluted the quality or dulled the potency of the resulting work: Pissing Stars is a fever dream whose central tensions feel all too real.’ — Bekki Bemrose


E Ruscha Who Are You
‘Making sense of LA takes a lifetime. Ed Ruscha channels the city’s endless freeways, hazy light and bewildering energy through his synthesizers. Though he’s just released his first album under his given name—which he shares with his father, the acclaimed artist—Ruscha first gained an audience in the early ’90s as a member of the shoegaze band Medicine. Since then, his output has moved in multiple directions, mirroring LA’s endless sprawl. He’s been a resident at the weekly Dub Club event, founded a dub-punk band called Future Pigeon and collaborated with the likes of Suzanne Kraft (as Blasé), Willie Burns, Thomas Bullock and, most recently, the cult British act Woo. All the while, he’s been combing the city’s garage sales and thrift stores, collecting gear, clothing, records, books, art and ephemera in his studio, which is situated close to Dublab, where he hosts a monthly radio show. While many of Ruscha’s solo hardware experiments have come out under the name Secret Circuit, the move to release an album under his birth name feels appropriate. Who Are You is a culmination of his work to date: fuzz guitars, cosmic synths and dubbed-out basslines march towards the sunset at a motorik pace.’ — Resident Advisor


JPEGMAFIA I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies (live)
‘What does it mean to be provocative in 2018? JPEGMAFIA has been answering that question for years, draped in a confederate flag. This year’s breakout project Veteran is just the latest installment in JPEG’s impressive catalogue. Stylistically diverse, JPEG’s projects are united by his rage at the forces of oppression, contempt at the hypocrisy of those who claim to be in opposition, and a compulsion to alienate as many casual listeners as possible. Rednecks, the alt-right, and the forces of imperialism JPEG served under during a tour of Iraq are lined up against the same wall as Brooklyn gentrifiers and the diet-woke allies who wear struggle like an accessory.’ — Jordan Darville


Howling Sycamore Obstinate Pace
‘From the ashes of an abandoned project, Davide Tiso, best known for his Ephal Duath project, created Howling Sycamore into its own formidable beast. Combing the technical, extreme drumming of Hannes Grossmann (Obscura, Blotted Science) with his own guitar, and bass work Tiso formed the basis of the band. Opting for traditional prog metal vocals (rather than the harsh vocals usually associated with the style of music) Tiso brought in ex-Watchtower vocalist Jason McMaster to finish the core of the band. Rounding off the lineup for the album are guest musicians Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Gorguts) and, Fester (Burials, Humorous) on guitars, and perhaps more importantly for the overall sound, Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Brain Tentacles) on baritone saxophone. The lineup complete they set out to record the heavy, often schizophrenic music that Tiso had written.’ — Metal Wani


King Vision Ultra Grey
‘King Vision Ultra – aka PTP founder Geng – will release their debut album Pain Of Mind via Ascetic House in early 2018. Geng describes the album as “a rugged medley informed both by interlude-filled, classic hiphop albums I grew up with (ie those by Public Enemy, Wu Tang, Gravediggaz, Beastie Boys, Gang Starr, etc) and the emotional heft of doom metal. It kinda plays out like a radio drama”.’ — The Wire


Profligate Lose A Little
‘It’s rare for a song to capture both the volatility and bliss of love. Profligate—the experimental pop duo of Philly noise musician Noah Anthony and L.A. poet Elaine Kahn—do just that with “Lose a Little.” A highlight from their new record, Somewhere Else, it’s restless and emotional: cold and hot all at once, with an ever-changing palette of darkwave synthesizer tones, sultry bass plucks, and dour drum lines. The only anchors in this sea of noise are Anthony’s foggy baritone and Kahn’s soft soprano, which swirl around each other as they deliver opaque lines about a romance consisting of “staring at the sun” and frigid “January winds.” Their spooky tones and the constant motion of the song make “Lose a Little” feel almost nightmarish: It progresses in fits and starts, like a person drifting in and out of a feverish sleep. Finally, the song settles down, all the moving noise dissolving into a smoky buzz and Kahn’s placid recitations: “There are no little echoes/And I leap into the sea.” From the desperate start to this serene end, on “Lose a Little,” Profligate offer something that’s as complex and engrossing as a sordid affair.’ — Kevin Lozano


Belong October Language
‘Since it’s release in early 2006, Belongs debut masterpiece has accumulated a dedicated cult following, with comparisons to the work of Christian Fennesz and Gas, with some claims that it plays like My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” sans the songs. While these comparisons are useful for filing this album into a particular bin in the record shop, time has proven that “October Language” is a unique album which remains unmatched by its contemporaries.’ — Spectrum Spools


Gary War Home Address
‘While it sheds the lo-fi fog that characterized previous releases, Gaz Forth retains the sense of homebrew weirdness. Gar War’s vocals still sound like they were recorded in a submersion tank, wobbly and bobbing on and off the note, and there are still giallo synths aplenty. The difference is that those elements never fully swallow up the songs. It all adds up to the most focused and digestible Gary War album to date, a perfect balance of Paisley Underground jangle and West Coast psychedelia, as refracted through Dalton’s oddball prism.’ — Tristan Bath


The Skull Defekts A Message from The Skull Defekts
‘This album is a career highpoint for Sweden’s Skull Defekts, a group who have already paid their dues and then some in the field of strafing psychedelic noiserock. Readers who enjoy acts from Sonic Youth to Factory Floor to Gnod ought to be all over The Skull Defekts. Does it matter that this is not only their best album but also their last, since founder member Joachim Nordwall decided to break the band up when recording began in 2016? Mind, even when/if The Skull Defekts are an instrumental band, they can still lock you in their zone. ‘A Brief History Of Rhythm, Dub, Life And Death’, understated title and all, opens the album with a freight-train clatter down the railroad that runs parallel to the autobahn, which is a faffy way of saying it’s on a big This Heat tip. ‘A Message From The Skull Defekts’, its penultimate flourish, is a maximalist frazzler that wraps up in under five minutes but feels, in the best way, like a psychedelic epic.’ — Noel Gardner


Jean-Luc Guionnet & Daichi Yoshikawa 2
‘A collaboration between alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet and electroacoustic feedback artist Daichi Yoshikawa, Intervivos sees Guionnet conjuring an extended alto saxophone technique to embark, along with Yoshikawa’s electronic feedback systems, upon a series of four improvisations. Recorded over a week-long residency at Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery (and released via that space’s very own publishing imprint Empty Editions), the resultant record strikes an unlikely balance between elliptical, open-ended ambience and a desiccated, corroded sonic brutality that registers most immediately at the affective level of dread, which gives way and blooms into its antecedents: the suppressed, unutterable, traumatized materials where nameless bad affect grows.’ — Nick Henderson


Cabal False Light
‘This is a deathcore record and this is a deathcore band. Anyone who might shy away from the phrase are not for this band and though the group may dislike the pigeonholing, that is essentially where Mark of Rot lives (though it does certainly contain characteristics of djent, black and death metal particularly). Anyway, onto the record. The one thing that became apparent on the first few listens was its need to be digested slowly. The subtleties and the nuances of the album definitely require several listens to be truly appreciated, despite the straight-forward nature of the music. Its first impression, more likely than not will be that it feels like 90% beatdown. Bruising while cruising if you will.’ — Max Southall


High Rise Wipe Out
‘High Rise officially came together in 1982, centered around bassist and vocalist Asahito Nanjo and guitarist Munehiro Narita. Both grew up listening to imported Western music—Nanjo obsessed with any soundtrack he could find, Narita exposed to the Doors, Pink Floyd and Wilson Pickett among others via an uncle—before venturing into even more eclectic territory, developing a playing style heavily shaped by groups like Grand Funk Railroad and Blue Cheer. Punk, free jazz, and no wave caught both of their attention, as did domestic projects such as early Keiji Haino outfit Lost Aaraaff and the band Friction (featuring Reck, an early member of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks). The pair found themselves briefly playing in the same shadowy psych band, Kosokuya, but soon grew restless. “I decided to do something ‘hard’ with the people I got on best with,” Nanjo said in an interview.’ — Patrick St. Michel


Go-Kart Mozart When You’re Depressed
‘Well, here it is. Seventeen slabs of Lawrence absurdity, clasped in a gorgeously garish sleeve, effectively mirroring the eccentricities herein. From a distance, I have followed Lawrence of Belgravia, through staple guises – Felt, Denim and several outings for Go-Kart Mozart. But even the kind of uber-fans that Lawrence has always attracted must admit something here. This, without question, is the most effervescent and creative album of his extraordinary career. The songs zing past with outrageous velocity. No second is lost to aesthetic introversion. Furthermore, and given the record’s lo-fi status this is the most remarkable fact of all, his command of simplistic, beguiling pop melody bulges from every single song.’ — Mick Middles




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Ha ha. I saw Liza in concert once. I think at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Probably in the early 80s? I think I remember thinking it was really razzle-dazzle. ** Joey Grantham, Hi, Joey. Oh, great thank you so much! I’ll send you my mailing address as soon as I finish this. Enjoy Lynne, and I’m pretty sure you will. Give her a big hi from me if you talk with her and feel like it. ** Nick Toti, Hey there, Nick! Ooh, ‘Small Moons’ is very nice. Thank you. I wish that had popped up in my searching. I’m glad you liked the Craig Baldwin film. Anti-Banality Union … no, I don’t think I know them or their work. Naturally I will rectify that absence right away. Thanks again, man. How is everything with you and yours? ** Liquoredgoat, Hey, D. Yeah, that seems to be this cold’s story. An international unpleasant phenom. Mine just keeps fucking with me in this almost mellow but not enough way. Let’s rise above. Power of collective whatever. Yeah, SCAB is a great project. Dora, its boss, is fantastic. Take care, buddy. ** Wolf, Ha ha, I don’t know what that is, but I’m happy to be a master of it. Yeah, right? I thought so too. Very eerie sort of pre-CGI meets quasi-CGI thing going on. The Murata thing is crazy. Jesus, I want to see it with my good olde old own eyes. With the gif stuff, I try really hard not to use gifs that are art on their own. I try to use gifs that seem kind of half-assed or weird or inadequate by themselves. Like strays. Like, ‘Oh, you poor thing, why did someone make you? Let me give you a good home’. Or like the gif equivalent of ‘the’, not that ‘the’ is a bad, weak word. Me too, one billion percent I prefer Q&A interviews over that kind where the journalist uses interview quotes to glue his or her own thoughts together or something, but magazines seem to like those better. It’s weird. I love reading Q&As. It’s a beautiful form. But you’re so charming when you’re in Grumpy Old Lady form. Well, most of the time, ha ha. How’s London? One of these days I’m going ‘get’ London and like it. Big up smothered in vegetarian love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. You know Ryan Gander’s work? That was the first thing of his that I’ve seen. It made me interested to see more. I like the look of that Andrew Logan piece. Niki de Saint Phalle, what a weirdo. In the best sense. Happy day ahead for you, I hope. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Same with me on Q&As, although editors haven’t always agreed with my sense of their unvarnished beauty. Q&As are the only non-fiction form I still think I’d be interested in doing, or interested enough to propose doing. I just listened to a couple of tracks off that Moodie Black album yesterday and thought they were very interesting. I know, the Space Replay piece is kind of nagging in a seductive way. Or at least the documentation vid is. I respect Zadie Smith, but I don’t read her much. She’s been very supportive of my work, which isn’t very common among big authors. I did not know about her brother, and, yes, intriguing. Noted. Thanks! ** Misanthrope, Interesting. About your spheres/circles over squares/rectangles thing. Seems like that must be meaningful and revealing about you, but, lucky for you, I have not the slightest idea what it reveals. Well, I hope your cold doesn’t last for weeks and weeks like mine has, although its continual almost mildness is something of a welcome booby prize. His girlfriend is named Antifa? That’s a conversation starter du jour. Don’t know ‘Big Mouth’ ‘cos I basically don’t know TV, or American TV. Sounds kind of wicked. Wicked is good. If I were to take all the movies currently in theaters and rank them according to how likely I am to see them, ‘Love, Simon’ would down at the bottom just north of, uh, ‘The Leisure Seeker’ and, uh, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’. But enlighten me about it, please. Jeez, bureaucracy, who invented that shit? ** Keytun, Lil Hans, you got it, man. It’s yours. Own it. Nation, right. I don’t think I’ve ever been there. No, no, I exited the metro there once by mistake. It was impressive. I think I thought the Hostel movies were a good idea that had be waiting to happen and that he made it happen. ** Right. I made one of my gigs of things I’ve been listening to and interested by for you today, and, as always, I suppose I am suggesting you forage through it and find out if our tastes align in any instances. See you tomorrow.


  1. Dabrye makes some excellent music under his real name of James T Cotton, which I think featured in my Acid House Day on the old murdered blog. The Boxx contains some evil 303 noises.

    Re Ryan Gander, in 2016 I saw a great show that he curated at the Yorkshire Sculpture park. Night in the Museum featured figurative sculptures gazing at abstract paintings from the Arts Council Collection to hilarious and/or poignant effect.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    March 13, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    “Love Simon” is very much worth ignoring.
    Eli Roth holds no interest for me.

    Nice buncha stuff today.

  3. So far, I’m impressed by Skull Defekts, E. Ruscha and King Vision Ultra.

    With further research, Smith’s other brother is also a rapper, using the name Doc Brown (from what she wrote about her family, I think he’s also a comedian.) They did a song together in 2016, called “Empires,” which I liked a lot, and there’s a remix featuring GET OUT star Daniel Kaluyya (I had no idea he sang or rapped), which doesn’t seem to be on YouTube.

    JPEGMAFIA really seems to have a breakthrough with VETERAN, although it’s his fourth album/mixtape. Ken Baumann’s praise for it on Twitter was my intro to him, and it helped that I could download it for $1 on Bandcamp. But since then, he’s gotten a lot of press and there are a number of interviews with him up on YouTube. The fact that he’s trying so hard to offend people, especially white liberals, while doing it in a way that’s smart and funny, probably helps, but songs like “I Think I Might Vote 4 Trump,” from spring 2016, got little attention. Have you heard his latest single, “Does This Ski Mask Make Me Look Fat?”

  4. I regret not commenting on yesterday’s entry, as I love spheres… or circles in general. Circles would probably be my favorite shape, actually. A lot of things I like are circle-shaped: planets, eyeballs, the ouroborus, Jung’s mandalas, boobs, and so on.

    Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of 90’s music, as research for a potential novel that would be set in the 1990’s (that I eventually decided not to go through with): Aphex Twin, Tribe, Portishead, Sneaker Pimps, Beth Orton, Cibo Matto, P.J. Harvey… uh, Vitamin C, ha ha.

  5. Hi Dennis,

    Things are okay at the moment. It’s been a strange year so far. My wife was hit by a car in January (which we’ve been advised not to discuss publicly, so that’s all I’m going to say about it here) and dealing with that has basically taken over my life. The silver lining is that I’ve had time to work on things like my Hammer to Nail column (which had been on hiatus since last summer) and some other projects. I also got good news about some screenings of my movies. A silent movie I made a few years ago is going to play in a festival in Chicago where they hire composers to write original scores and then perform them live. That’s obviously super exciting! I’m also taking advantage of the fact that I’ll be nearby and swinging up to Milwaukee on that trip to work on a new secret (for now) project. I’m trying to pull some strings to arrange a screening in Milwaukee too, but the jury is still out on that.

    Speaking of movies, do you ever do “Please welcome to the world…” posts about media other than books? I have a feature I finished a while ago but never officially released online and I think it’s time to rectify that. Would you be interested in using the blog to help midwife the movie into online existence? I can email you more info if you’d like. And if you prefer saving those posts for just books, I understand and won’t sulk away with my feelings hurt.

    Thanks, talk soon!

  6. Dennis, Dude! Haha, that weird number yesterday was the formula for a sphere’s volume. As a rule of thumb, anything that has π in it is usually something to do with ‘round stuff’. So that was like calling you He Who Rules Orbs or something. I’m back to the more classic but unbeatable Dude today to celebrate the Big Lebowski’s 20th a bit late; I think it was a few weeks ago.
    Argh, I don’t have time to listen to those babes today but I’m bookmarking it for later! I’ve been wondering what Efrim was up to. Is his solo stuff a patch on the almighty gybe?
    London, eh, it’s aight. You know I’m no fanatic or anything, but it’s not too bad really. We’re getting our new flat finally, fingers crossed – planning on wrapping up that never-ending bullshit in May, so we might soon have a guest room for friends to come visit, so, you know, we might at some point need to drag your ass on the Eurostar and feed you a weekend of London Goodies to try and get you to ‘get’ London!

  7. Hey Dennis – Been swamped with work lately, mostly freelance stuff to pay the bills, though I have been spending some time experimenting with some text toward a new possible theater collaboration. Also dealing with heating problems and a sick kitty. All to say, I’m in catchup mode on the blog.

    Really enjoyed the Baldwin day and glad to see he has new work, which had escaped me. I really liked “Mock Up on Mu.” Loved the Tillman day, too. How does her latest compare with “American Genius”?

    Looking forward to these clips soundtracking part of tomorrow and exploring the new sounds. I’m already a big fan of the new Gary War record and that blazing High Rise reissue. Have you dug into the new Breeders yet? I also really like the new album from Shopping called ‘The Official Body.’ Plus dubby electronic act Equiknoxx’s ‘Colon Man’ and the reissue of a rare and lovely Terry Riley soundtrack from the mid-70s called ‘No Man’s Land.’ Maybe these are already familiar to you? If not, I suspect you might enjoy them all.

    Had a dream about PGL and how instead of watching it in a theater audiences were invited to live inside the film via some virtual reality type experience, running alongside the characters and experiencing the plot that way. Seemed cool and apparently my sub-conscience is really aching to check it out. Any news from festivals etc yet?

  8. ive never been far inside the metro there.
    i am phobic of it.
    it feels like a trap or the end of the line or like it
    goes way underground.
    ive seen many strange things in the paris metro, still
    the strangest, the two high-school boys, obviously French
    in very good English, “join us”. i guess its the invention
    of a genre, a version of “the trap”.
    really need a vacation, my hateration is completely out
    of control. been reading about the arab prostitutes of athens
    like its something to do with my life lol. i think
    i will have a little gander at these tunes. freezing to

  9. Big D, Thanks. I think this cold will be gone in couple days. Though they do seem to be lingering for a lot of people this winter. I’ve been getting the headaches and all with it too.

    Hahaha, I’m sorry, my friend DR’s girlfriend’s name is Tiffany. We call her Antifa. She’s all woke and all that, and that’s the nickname we’ve given her. Ever since I met DR, we give people names. We have this one friend we call Dames Talliwhacker, one we call Carol Swallow, and another we call Jenital Warters. A little inside joke with us.

    The blog here is the very unoriginal The Cooper Crew when he and I talk about this place. We can never just call it the blog or whatever.

    I’ve got a friend at work who’d punch you for saying that about 50 Shades. She loves those fucking movies. I think she’s seen the first two at least 50 times each. I just shake my head when she comes in and goes, “Darker was on last night…”

    Circles are the shit. They never end. Or begin.

  10. Hi Dennis, had some news and it’s good. Dare I say the agent’s name here? Not ready yet, but same agency as Jeff. She read the novel, likes it a lot, but wants to do big revisions. She doesn’t sign till after revisions, and that’s OK. So I have a lot of work ahead. She’s got meetings all day Wednesday (today), so she told me to enjoy one day off – major surgery begins on Thursday. I really love her – and this was all a last-minute idea. As I said, we had a great time in her office last week. Will try to get some sleep now, but will probably be up very early for your response and her latest. Thanks always!

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