The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gig # 149: Lately Songs: Youth Code, The Black Twig Pickers, Psychic Hotline, Dry Cleaning, Innode, Tyler Holmes, Mainliner, Norf Face, Venus Ex Machina, The Notwist, Melvins, Paul Leary, Institute, Stuck Sunsets, Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt, Aki Onda


Youth Code

The Black Twig Pickers

Psychic Hotline

Dry Cleaning


Tyler Holmes


Norf Face

Venus Ex Machina

The Notwist


Paul Leary


Stuck Sunsets

Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt

Aki Onda


Youth Code Consuming Guilt ‘They say if you used to be punk, you never were in the first place. Can you really say that about Youth Code, though? The Los Angeles duo make EBM that seemingly betrays their hardcore roots, but a closer listen reveals the thrust of the music is all punk. Sara Taylor and Ryan George, both of whom handle vocals and electronics, move like a hardcore group, even without the conventional instrumentation. It hasn’t always been well-received: they got a mixed reception opening for AFI earlier this year. They are supporting VNV Nation and Skinny Puppy this fall, though—so two of their main influences recognize them.’ — Andy O’Connor


Black Twig Pickers Sheets of Rain, Streams of Sun ‘The Black Twig Pickers are a group defined by their forward thinking approach to a type of music most often associated with times gone by. Over the course of eight full-length records, including collaborative releases with Jack Rose and Charlie Parr, a split LP with Glenn Jones, and numerous EPs and singles, the group has established itself as a collection of dedicated practioners of old time music re-cast and shaped by their appreciation of modern improvisation, drone, and punk. While not at odds with the experimental scene that has fostered them or the old time circles they travel in, The Black Twig Pickers thrive in the in-betweenness of those two worlds, proving that the exploration of the outmost bounds of sound and the exploration of decades old tradition and community aren’t as different as one might think.’ — Thrill Jockey


Psychic Hotline Pulse ‘One artist who definitely incited a party every time they played is New Orleans-based Ruth Mascelli. As well as being a member of the punk group Special Interest, Mascelli also released music under the Psychic Hotline moniker. From 2015 to 2019, Mascelli put out five tapes on underground labels featuring a mixture of synth-punk, banging techno, and bedsit synth-pop. To put a bow on the project Mascelli has released the compilation, The Wild World of Psychic Hotline. This fourteen-track album picks a selection from this short, but impressive output.’ — Nick Roseblade


Dry Cleaning Strong Feelings ‘“Strong Feelings,” a new song from UK art-rock band Dry Cleaning, is a bundle of contradictions, wringing pathos out of detachment, narrative out of non sequiturs. The quartet’s strong clutch of EPs and singles stamped an identity around speak-singing, mundane profundity, and churning post-punk, with dry observations on everything from Meghan Markle to personal wellness. The track’s release coincides with the announcement of their debut album, New Long Leg, and it’s a fitting introduction, more upfront than anything they’ve done to date yet still slippery as ever.’ — Marc Hogan


Innode PTMKN ‘The music of Innode has been described as rhythm and noise, with electronic and acoustic elements assembled into precise, quasi-minimalist constructions. With SYN, the band expands on this basic idea in terms of form and sonic palette. There is a clear shift away from programmed drum patterns toward acoustic or electronic drums played live. Synthesizer sounds are still pure, and the arrangement remains controlled, but Innode has broadened their musical investigations to include more expressive passages and micro-melodies. In contrast to previous works, the tracks represent an integration of material coming from three musicians, finally merging into a single unit.’ — son of marketing


Tyler Holmes Nothing ‘Holmes (They/Them) is a singer-songwriter, visual and performance artist who uses music as a therapeutic device. Coming from a turbulent and traumatic ‘cult-like’ early life, they have spent a lifetime crafting their own Black, Queer narrative by pushing the limits of their imagination, Holmes envisions themselves as the imaginary child of Björk and Tricky, using a surrealist lens on a wide variety of genres, often blending diaristic narratives with dark, dream-like whimsy. Autobiographical and absurd, their writing is alluring and uncomfortable.’ — Get In Her Ears


Mainliner Dual Myths ‘Mainliner are a noise rock band from Tokyo, Japan. The band was formed in 1995 by guitarist Kawabata Makoto and bassist Asahito Nanjo with the intention of creating a new form of psychedelic music. They released four studio albums before the members went on hiatus to pursue other musical interests. On December 20, 2011 Kawabata Makoto, Koji Shimura and newcomer Kawabe Taigen began recording new material again.’ –collaged



Norf Face More ‘In recent years, grime has faced scrutiny from new-school rappers such as Aitch, who last May announced, “No one younger than me is bothered about grime,” sparking a debate across social media. Yet many genre pioneers, such as D Double E, are still releasing music to critical acclaim even as the likes of Novelist, KwolleM and Skepta reinvigorate the sound. And now we have the latest big grime and UK-rap-infused project ‘Norf Face’, which sees rappers JME, Capo Lee, Frisco and Shorty – all Tottenham, north London natives – unite as a one-off collective across nine explosive tracks.’ — Nicolas-Tyrell Scott


Venus Ex Machina Grace ‘She’s made an AI opera, been involved in various art projects and composed for film, now Venus Ex Machina has deployed her debut full-length – a sprawling dystopia of decaying industrial beatscapes, squealing noise, drones and disorienting sound design. “Lux” isn’t just a collection of odds and ends, it’s a narrative universe that coaxes full mental attention – described in the press release as “a requiem for an earth beset by environmental change.” ‘Grace’ is a kinetic club cut that has the gritty energy of post-punk and the bioluminescence of science fiction all at once, with rolling percussion and queasy synth drones.’ — Boomkat



The Notwist Al Sur ‘Nearly two decades have passed since the release of the Notwist’s Neon Golden. An ingenious synthesis of indie rock and electronica, the album was a shining example of “plinkerpop,” Morr Music founder Thomas Morr’s term for a wave of delicate, humanistic electronic pop music that emerged around the turn of the millennium. Vertigo Days, their first in seven years, uses a long period of absence and a rupture in the lineup as a route to reinvigoration. New to the fold is Cico Beck, who replaces Martin “Console” Gretschmann, the master programmer who aided the Notwist’s evolution from indie rockers to electronica mavens. On Vertigo Days, this introspective, somewhat hermetic band looks outwards and engages with new languages, perspectives, and voices.’ — Louis Pattison



Melvins The Great Good Place ‘For better or worse, the Melvins will forever be associated with a prevailing pop-culture narrative that’s been reinforced so much over the last 30 years it’s become a minor form of heresy to question it. The history of the Melvins, of course, intertwines with the ascension of Seattle, grunge and, in particular, Nirvana in ways that position the band as a catalyst for all three. While it’s fortunate that the Melvins have always been universally acknowledged for their contribution—their plodding, Black Sabbath-inspired style essentially birthed Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains—the reductionist version of the story we’ve been recanting all these years doesn’t serve the band’s accomplishments.’ — Saby Reyes-Kulkarni



Paul Leary What Are You Gonna Do? ‘Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers is back with a new music video for “What Are You Gonna Do,” a track from hisstudio album Born Stupid. “What Are You Gonna Do,” is an amalgamation of trippy psychedelic clips that merge into the unholy as Leary’s face randomly appears and disintegrates into the abyss. This psychedelic hellscape is greeted by the song’s unique blend of punk and indie rock, with pop like tempos and progressions, contrasted heavily with Leary’s deep, satanic-like vocals. Toward the end of the song it sounds like it might end with an ethereal guitar line, but it soon gets swallowed by brooding ambiance.’ — mxdwn



Institute 01. Salt, 02. Dead Sea, 03. Giddy Boys, 04. Bureaucrat, 05. Familiar Stranger, 06. Success, 07. Weak Times, 08. Immorality, 09. Narrow & Straight ‘From their start around a half decade ago, Institute has been band of agitators, crafting tensile and anxious songs—playing grayscale post-punk with a Stoogian swagger. But they used to operate on a smaller, more personal level. Their songs dealt with Brown’s immediate concerns and poetic existential musings. But given the way the world’s turned, he says, he was forced to think bigger. “It felt inevitable, as a band actively recording music right now,” he says. “What are you doing if you’re not addressing this absurd world?”’ — Colin Joyce



Stuck Sunsets Climb! Delitism is described by Patrick Atkinson as being a record that evolved out of the loss of his brother with “its title a macabre joke about competitive brotherly love and death being the ultimate trump card.” ‘Climb!’ was the very first song that Patrick Atkinson wrote for the album. He explains that its story is “told cinéma vérité style from my viewpoint as a child who would sit at the top of the stairs wishing I was an adult.” Atkinson adds that the “song transitions through to the tragedy that would make me long to be young again.”’ — Simon Godley



Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano Distance of Sleep ‘Sadly, many will hear Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt’s latest LP, Made Out of Sound, as “not-jazz,” though it would be more aptly described as “not-not-jazz.” In a better world, it would warrant above-the-fold reviews in Downbeat, or an appearance on David Sanborn’s late-night show (if someone would only give it back to him). More likely, we can hope for a haiku review on Byron Coley’s Twitter timeline to sufficiently connect the various improvised terrains trodden by this long-time duo — but if you’ve been able to listen past the overmodulated icepick fidelity of Harry Pussy, it should surprise you not an iota that Orcutt’s style is rooted as much in the fractal melodies of Trane and Taylor as it is in Delta syrup or Tin Pan Alley glitz.’ — PALILALIA



Aki Onda Silence Prevails: East Village Community Gardens During the Pandemic ‘Aki Onda is an artist, composer, and curator. He creates compositions, performances, and visual artworks from those sound memories, and he is particularly known for his “Cassette Memories” —works compiled from a “sound diary” of field-recordings collected by using the cassette Walkman over a span of last three decades.’ — Pioneer Works




p.s. Hey. Sorry this post is so late in arriving. My blog had big, mysterious technical issues, but they seem to have been resolved now. ** Misanthrope, Us too. No thunderstorms so far though. Ah, yeah, taxes. I should talk to my tax guy, I guess. ** David Ehrenstein, Glad you dug her work. See, that Pasolini sequence you linked me to doesn’t do a thing for me. Its greatness escapes me. He and I are just not bedfellows, I guess. ** Dominik, Hi, Dom! I’m happy you like Liz’s sculptures. She’s awesome. It’s true, social media brings out this need in a lot of people to have constant attention and this idea that whatever they’re doing or feeling or eating for dinner is something that everyone they ‘know’ should know about. They don’t seem to even question whether everyone wants to know about it. Like their friends are their therapists. It’s very strange. And then the influencers thing in a lot of cases is that to the max. I’ve always thought that I had to do something to earn others’ attention, and that the attention should be focused on the thing I did or made, not on me and my ego or whatever, and I always believed that how that attention manifested is ultimately a private thing that I’ll never know about or understand. But maybe it’s an introvert vs. extrovert kind of deal. Social media is an extrovert’s world. Or something. I haven’t seen any friends who don’t live in Paris in the flesh in forever. Thank fuck for Zoom and Skype, but it’s not easy even so. I’m happy that you guys managed a lengthy, fun virtual visit at least. Ha ha, about the advantages of eating semen? That’s quite an assignment. Yes. this week should end up being pretty busy, maybe starting today, I’m not sure. Rehearsals and Zoom meetings and even an in-person meeting maybe. The hacking is still going on, believe it or not, still all the time, day and night. I’ve kind of mostly managed to forget about it except for the avalanche of WordPress emails reminding me its continually happening. Although the blog has been behaving a little wonky and difficult starting last night, and I hope that’s not an effect of the hacking. As soon as life restarts, I’ll hunt for a Yaoi convention. It could be. Like I said, some substantial portion of Parisians seem to be extremely into anime, manga, and all that stuff. It is interesting how, in devising these ‘loves’, one (or I, at least) do seem to learn previously unknown things about myself, ha ha. Love making everything in the world tiny for a few hours so you can stomp around destroying whatever you want like Godzilla, G. ** Steve Erickson, Yes, the blog is acting weird right now, on the inside too. I’m not sure what it is or means. Unfortunately, I think that Lil Nas X is what passes for adventurous these days. It’s a conservative era. Everyone, Mr. Steve Erickson has a new song for y’all “inspired by Brian Reitzell’s score for HANNIBAL, especially his practice of using processed samples of non-musical objects. I sampled myself shaking household objects and put them through distortion, phasing, reverb, etc.” and it’s called ‘Digestivo’. ** Brian, Terrific Tuesday, Brian! Super glad you like Liz’s work. I can totally get that maybe the way to see and appreciate Pasolini’s work is as a whole, an oeuvre. There are a lot of great artists whose work works that way, I think. I really think I’m going to have a dawning moment when I finally get on the Pasolini train. I think if I still did psychedelics, that way of seeing would probably work. Oh, really, about ‘Kindertotenlieder’? That’s cool. Like I said, it’s my fave of our pieces. I don’t know if it’s objectively best, although it could be, but it just especially gets to me. It’s one of the two pieces of ours that has played in New York. ‘Jerk’ is the other one. ‘Crowd’ will play there in October unless the Covid stuff ends up delaying that again. Transfer application … you mean that you might change schools, or … ? Have you not read ‘Story of the Eye’ before? You’re in for a big treat, if not. I’ll check out what ‘Omori’ is. I still haven’t gotten my Switch. It’s maddening. Maybe I’ll do something this week whose success seems to warrant the reward of a Switch. Have a swell one! ** Right. Up there is a gig of music I’ve been listening to and liking enough to recommend. There are quite a number of actual songs in there, which is kind of unusual for my gig posts, and maybe that will friendly it up? In any case, I, of course, request your ears and eyes too in most cases. See you tomorrow.

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  1. Dennis, Probably best to talk to the tax guy just to make sure everything is all right. You don’t want to be 90 and getting a letter from the IRS saying you owe a bunch of money (even if you don’t; that happens, you know?).

    My mom’s CT scan went well yesterday, though she did get dizzy from the dye and had to be carted out of there in a wheelchair. She’s fine now. Just awaiting the results.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    March 30, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Intense stuff today. “Institute” ahs a certain Post-Iggy charm

    Warren Beatty is 84. I admorehim as much as I do Pasolini

  3. Hi Dennis ! Thank you for all these songs. Yummy. I discovered Bill Orcutt just a few months ago. I liked this concert in Mulhouse very much : https://youtu.be/puxj1gIZmh4. And thank you for yesterday’s post about Liz Craft. You said her name during our little interview, and since then I’ve been trying to find out more about her work. I love the Hairy Guy with a basket of flowers. Looks like me. And some weeks ago I finally read your essay “Too Cool for School” about UCLA that I found in Smothered in hugs (should have read it before the interview, pff). I love that essay. It’s always been a little mystery to me how it is possible to “teach” art. Well, there are many clues in this essay : taking students to amusements parks, for example. Just a little info : I heard that Philippe Grandrieux will be interviewed this friday on France Culture (Par les temps qui courent). It’s live on friday at 10pm. It’ll be available on their website obviously. I saw Un lac at La Clef last autumn, and it was great. Ph. Grandrieux was there, and he talked for a hour or so : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05YQRNinH8A.

  4. Hi!!

    I’m really glad the blog is all right!!

    I’ve been trying to figure social media out for a long time, mainly because it’s such a huge part of life by now that it seems kind of inevitable if one wants to put anything “out there.” In my case, this means SCAB and my freelance editing business. I find it extremely hard to tap into how platforms like Instagram work because I wish to only focus on what I actually produce or offer, and it’s often difficult to “translate” that or keep it accessible without the dinner pictures, which I’m not interested in sharing. It’s not so bad with SCAB now, after three or so years; a small community who really appreciates the magazine for what it is (and not for who they perceive me to be apart from SCAB) has been born, but the struggle is real with my editing line, haha.

    Apparently, if you eat semen, you stay healthy and strong, although there was a paragraph that talked about the importance of not sharing it with others (because that way, we keep others healthy instead of ourselves), which raises another few questionable theories, haha.

    Even to me, your busy week sounds so nice! Hell, you might meet REAL people! Please let me know how everything’s going; let me enjoy some diversity through you, haha.

    Jesus about the hacking! I really hope the blog’s little illness yesterday/today wasn’t because of that.

    I definitely feel ready to go to a YAOI con too. There’s always some YAOI at our usual anime cons, but they’re the ones selling out first, obviously…

    Definitely, haha! Sometimes, I’m so surprised by the love my mind conjures up, haha. Thank you, I embrace your love fully! Though, I have to admit, I might just kneel and hug all those tiny things. I might not have the heart to stomp on them even if that’d be the perfect opportunity to destroy some things worthy of destroying. Love selling his car and house and moving to Costa Rica to work at a sloth sanctuary, Od. (This love did not surprise me.)

  5. This NHS WiFi blocks any YouTube links but the texts are intriguing to say the least. From the descriptions I’ve earmarked Youth Code and Psychic Hotline for further research.

  6. Shane Christmass

    March 30, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    Some serious tunes to listen to at work today. Xo

  7. Hey Dennis – This post has been soundtracking my afternoon of freelance work to wonderful effect. The Notwist and Innode particularly jumped out. Enjoyed the Tyler Holmes and trippy Paul Leary. I didn’t know Dry Cleaning had a full length coming – the new song sounds cool.

    Have you heard the rest of that Psychic Hotline compilation? Is it as compelling as the track you selected?

    Recently heard the new GBV single and it made a particularly big splash in my mind. Been enjoying the new Iceage singles too. Have you checked them out?

    Stephanie’s doing better after her surgery. Weekend was that and prepping taxes and lots of rain. Not one for the books. I did make some more inching progress on the novel and trying to keep that modest momentum alive. Got photos back of my last installation, which I wasn’t able to show b/c of Covid. Glad to have the documentation, which looks good though of course it’s impossible to capture the spacial element and vibe of the piece.

  8. Have the hacking attempts totally stopped? Could your blog’s issues yesterday be connected to them?

    Did you hear Dry Cleaning’s near-doom metal cover of Grimes’ “Oblivion,” recorded for 4AD Records’ 40th anniversary celebration of its back catalogue? I’m looking forward to their debut album’s drop on Friday.

    Thumbs up to Institute, Innote, Psychic Hotline, Stuck Sunsets and Norf Face!

    My piece on Lil Nas X is out now: https://www.gaycitynews.com/lil-nas-x-montero-call-me-by-your-name-music-video/

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