srijeda, 30. travnja 2014.

Gobby - Wakng Thrst for Seeping Banhee (2014)

Gobby details <em>Wakng Thrst For Seeping Banhee</em> LP for UNO, shares hellish video for 'Red Seal'

Imaginacija u doba duhovnih kolika. Bizarni semplovi u otopljenom vrisku.


“Noise accompanies every manifestation of our life. Noise is familiar to us. Noise has the power to bring us back to life.”– Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noises
The distances between noise, ambience, and music appears to be shrinking. In terms of materiality, the musician’s ability to sculpt has become nearly limitless. Past musical movements have all but distilled sound down to a withered sigh, but here with Gobby’s second full-length effort, Wakng Thrst for Seeping Banhee, one can only laugh throughout the album’s digressive pondering — that is, if there were a path to begin with. With sub-granular rubble made up of consolidated swaths of formerly familiar songs and life experiences, alongside the industrial rails of frequently missed downbeats and propulsive bursts, the record becomes a barely-listenable, haphazard refraction of musical ontology.
As an entry point, album opener “Season 1 Episode 5” begins with a sample that calls to mind the cartoon DuckTales. In it, a monologue trumpets the possible theme of the incorrigible mess of a record that follows, speaking to the uselessness of the theorization of identity and the absurdity of searching for a prime base as a means to find meaning. Gobby seems to be concerned with identification through ponderous action, not identity itself.
While you may hear impressions of melody, sometimes carried by a rhythmic sway, there are really only qualities. The record, sliding by and enveloped in itself, is a series of patches, moments that are completely irrational even when played in isolation. If music listening is normally done “vertically,” where the passing run-time is just a conveyor built for structurally-bound melodic and harmonic voices, where the search for progressions and new sounds allow for the textures to interpolate the space of the ears and the overall duration of their occurrence, then listening to Gobby is not a vertical experience; here, there is only the indiscretion of moments collapsing.
“Well, first, let’s establish that the development of language as a critical mechanism for communicating with other sentient beings was proof of the importance of the imagination (as opposed to the physical world).”
– Tao Lin (at Netzkultur in Berlin)
The depths of imagination is as digressive as Tao Lin’s quote. Imagination, despite its root word “image,” has no shape; it lives in a space that has yet to form. Moving further into this thought, the idea behind musique concrète was to tame instances of life, making the certifiably real moment a material and stretch it into the realm of the imagined. Gobby distorts this with harsh collisions of possibly personal voice messages with high-frequency screeches, oscillating in odd (non)intervals, creating something of an offshoot of concrete. What we hear is the destruction of moments and any discernible body activating this. The record is, in a way, automatic and without utility.
That said, what’s interesting is Gobby’s penchant for harmonic construction (of musical and colliding figures) and general, soaring beauty. It’s a difficult record, but we’d be remiss not to explore its genuinely fascinating and materializing aspects. In the past, elements of Gobby’s music have been attributed to his fascination and ultimate warping of AFX- or Phuture-branded acid house. But the spreading out and paring down of acidic and overdriven soundscapes in Wakng Thrst for Seeping Banhee crosses the boundary. This headphone listen is antienvironmental, antiuniversal, anticommunal; it’s exploratory in its beating down of the beaten-down. Phuture’s elicit “I Am Your Only Friend” comes to mind: the house percussion beats along at a steady groove, as the voiceover berates and seduces the listener, handing over to the subject the listener and turning the environment within which the song exists on itself. The warehouse hedonism becomes conscious of its denizens, and the denizens become conscious of their hellacious environment. Gobby does similar here. In this sense, we can then speak to an anthropogenic ecology made alive, a sort of counter-meta-consciousness: the work “works” its framed situation.
I can’t help but think that the lack of reviews, despite the relatively heavy press for Wakng Thrst, is decidedly political, an obviously determined and axiomatic “no comment.” There are no easy labels or terms or agreeable solutions for this record; it is the conclusion, the hovering disaster that music has been heading toward since recording mechanisms became feasible. This music references nothing but antithesis, nothing but a nonprocedural end to the now completely-exposed, curatorial, and congratulatory nature of the music industry. There aren’t even the remnants of discarded fetish sounds like other forward-thinking records. Wakng Thrst gives you the future as it has always been: a grand wasteland, filth and slush and the oozing boils of human’s overexertion of our environment’s materials.
For every bastardization of the collectivism of sounds (in the form of pop, in the form of righteously “bad” music), Gobby gains that much more chewed-up material, bound in the context and constraints of both listener and industry pleasure. We asked for this with every un-ironic taut of pop music as replacement for philosophical/socio-political thought — that is, for every Lorde and Lena Dunham, there is a Gobby and Harmony Korine on the other end, sucking up the lazy idealizations and using this new-found merit-less mode to spit back at the lazy half-ponderers who hide behind these pop figures and their half-truths. In other words, Wakng Thrst for Seeping Banhee is an undressed capital-realist, plasticized figure, turned more real than the original and then consuming it entirely.
Filmmaker/theorist Maya Deren’s writing in the essay “Cinema as an Art Form” sums up the phenomenon of Wakng Thrst for Seeping Banhee’s existence and the lack of conversation surrounding it quite beautifully:
In the end, the imagination does not pay. The imaginative individual is represented either as a psychic criminal who will receive his just deserts at the hands of a society determined to reestablish the sane way of life; or as a psychically diseased organism which should be restored to a normal condition.
Whether we like it or not, music has reached a point of indecipherable noise, endless flipping of worn-down modes. Gobby, in turn, using this aimless time, the decidedly agnostic stance of press and listeners to be less “Deconstruction in Art Symposium” and more “let’s treat whatever stupid shit that can be done and combined as a mode of (non)critique.” Digression is progression, aimlessness is transcendence. - DeForrest Brown Jr.

Gobby has a defiant attitude that matches his label, UNO, a New York outfit that casually drops albums and confounds expectations for fun. His deconstructive—or even just destructive—style generally has two modes: he can bang out techno like a natural, as with last year's Fashion Lady or his stunning debut New Hat, or he can pulverize beats into dust the way he did on last year's Above Ground. His new one, the inscrutably-titled Wakng Thrst For Seeping Banhee, proudly takes the latter approach, for what might be his most dumbfounding release yet.
Wakng Thrst is confrontational from the start, taking a sharp turn away from the techno of Fashion Lady and heading into much weirder territory. There are still drums, but they're forced into lopsided patterns, like the garbled garage of "Friday For Spiralhead" and "YeOldeBitch," or the feet-dragging thud of "Tonka." "Kill Dog Because Hungry" suppresses an insurgent breakbeat with a wall of filters, while seven-minute centrepiece "Like If You Pee On The Side Of The Bowl" hearkens back to his own techno work, taking it apart until it's a series of chimes and percussive devices that stutter like cellphone interference.
Those are the most accessible parts of the record. The rest of it flies by in bursts of speech and noise, some 30 seconds long, some three minutes. As a result, Wakng Thrst seems confused about what it's trying to do, drowning considered standouts ("Red Seal") in a sea of distorted muzak ("Pay Fonrew Shii," "Gums"). It sounds like Gobby took whole songs and sent them through a shredder, and while that kind of reckless method can be fun, it could just as easily wear on your nerves.
It's not as if Gobby doesn't know what he's doing. The tongue-in-cheek "The Beautay" has all the uplifting power of a hymn, slowly blooming with brilliant streams of organ—a reminder that he's a capable of a lot more than he lets on. But his mind wanders constantly. Even if Wakng Thrst has enlightening moments like "Beautay" or "Red Seal," they're surrounded by a minefield of sound collage and brutal distortion that can be a real chore to get through. Gobby's at his best when he's focused, and there isn't much of that here.

 Watch the video for Gobby's 'Slick Boi Gel', off his forthcoming <em>Fashion Lady</em> LP
Fashion Lady

UNO NYC's Gobby samples Third Eye Blind, <em>Swingers</em> and more on delightfully weird mixtape

Mixtape from the Du Pt.1

utorak, 29. travnja 2014.

Randy Gibson - Apparitions Of The Four Pillars: The First Pillar Appearing in Supernova

Glasovni drone za upitnike na granici prostora i vremena.
A naslovi su mu ovakvi: Circular Trance Surrounding The Second Pillar with The Highest Seventh Primal Cirrus, The Utmost Fundamental, and The Ekmeles Ending from Apparitions Of The Four Pillars II-x-2012 20:12:43 - 21:18:22" NYC




Avant Media curator and NY-based composer Randy Gibson has stated of his Apparitions of The Four Pillars in The Midwinter Starfield Under The Astral 789 Duet, “My ultimate goal with my work is to create a fully enveloping meditative experience that allows the listener to transcend time and place and be fully in the performance.” That particular goal was achieved in unforgettable manner for this listener when the work was presented in Manhattan on March 1st, 2014 as this year's festival closer. Time seemed to gradually suspend itself as the piece unfolded, from its full drone beginning until its eventual finish 190 minutes later. In between, the six musicians—Gibson (voice and sine waves), Jen Baker and William Lang (trombones), Drew Blumberg and Erik Carlson (violins), and Meaghan Burke (cello)—collectively generated an hypnotic mass of slowly mutating sound that advanced almost imperceptibly through multiple stages; mention also should be made of the critical contributions made by Oscar Henriquez (video sculpture) and Kryssy Wright (lighting design) to the work's presentation. Shortly after the performance, the composer spoke with textura at length about Apparitions of The Four Pillars and other projects, including The First Pillar Appearing in Supernova, his recent cassette release on the Important Records sub-label Cassauna.
01. Now that the 2014 Avant Music Festival is over, I'm curious to hear your impressions of the festival in terms of how successful it was, artistically and otherwise. And how has the public and media response to the festival been?
This year's festival felt really wonderful. I was extremely proud of the performances we presented and the diversity they represented. Alvin Lucier wrote a remarkable new vocal work for Joan La Barbara to perform and getting to work on the electronic elements of that performance was incredibly exciting and rewarding. We also presented John Cage's Europera 5, which is something that Kryssy Wright (our lighting designer) and I have been dreaming of doing for years.
The response we've gotten to the festival is really great. When Megan Schubert and I set out to put together our first one, we never could have dreamed where it would take us. But in the last couple years, we've both really felt like we've become a fixture of the downtown scene in New York and that we're offering composers a really special opportunity to do that crazy thing they've always been thinking of but haven't had the right place. Being able to help bring these works to fruition is extremely satisfying.
02. Since 2003 you've studied with La Monte Young and since 2005 raga singing in the Kirana tradition with Young and Marian Zazeela. Are those studies still carrying on today and, if so, how frequently? What does a typical lesson consist of?
I do still study with Khan Sahib La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Jung Hee Choi. I'll have a formal lesson every couple of months, but really, it's about so much more than that. Every moment with them is an education; I'm constantly learning, and they're constantly pushing me to learn more and be better. I come from a very independent background, educationally: I got kicked out of a few schools, I would drive my music teachers to quit, and I dropped out of University after two weeks, but it was always because I was questioning, pushing the boundaries, finding my own way.
From the first moments I spent with Khan Sahib and Marian, which was a late-night composition lesson sometime in 2003, I knew that under their tutelage I would find my right path. Khan Sahib is a truly remarkable teacher and is incredibly supportive of the work that I do. Whether it's hearing a story of the great masters of the past, passed down through the generations, or Khan Sahib selecting a raga for me to learn that, through lots of practice will move my voice to the next level and give me a deeper understanding of the form or reflect some aspect of my own compositions, or something as simple but profound as a blessing at the end of the day on my way home, or those silent moments of contemplation after a performance. It's all a part of a bigger picture that I know is just the beginning of a long and transcendent journey.
03. Let's discuss the March 1st performance of Apparitions of The Four Pillars in The Midwinter Starfield Under The Astral 789 Duet that was presented in Manhattan. First of all, given that the piece has been presented before (albeit in different configurations), was this latest presentation, with its arrangement for two trombones, two violins, cello, voice, and sine waves, the most fully realized one to date?
This was the best performance of the work to date, and I think the best ensemble I've had as well, which is a big part of it. I'm constantly revising, improving, and building this idea of Apparitions of The Four Pillars. The earliest incarnations of this work relied heavily on the mathematical relationships of the tuning, separating out each “Pillar” and then combining them. These versions were very successful and taught us a lot about how the piece could function; they were sort of prototypes for what the piece could become. In 2012, I presented two different versions of the work, Circular Trance Surrounding The Second Pillar, a seventy-minute septimal raga written for the vocal ensemble Ekmeles, and The Third Pillar in Primal Imperfect Palindrome, a two-hour-plus work for solo trombone written for William Lang, who has been performing Apparitions with me since I began working on it. This was a new way of really delving deeply into a single aspect of the work, and I learned a lot from how these pillars could function as their own entity.
Last year we presented a work with the same title as this year, and the two are clearly related, although this year's approach to the material felt much more free and natural, whereas last year we had used a slightly more traditionally notated score. I think the listener would clearly hear the two pieces as the same piece, but for us as performers, this year's version felt like a major step forward. We were really all focusing and performing at a very high level, and it felt like a great spiritual communion.
04. In reflecting on the concert, I was reminded of a recent review of a Morton Feldman recording in The Wire in which the writer commented on the above-average degree of concentration required by both the musicians and listeners for the respective performance and reception of the work. How draining an experience is it for you and the other musicians to perform Apparitions of the Four Pillars, given the degree of concentration involved in performing a work of 190-minute duration? And what kind of pre-concert preparation is undertaken to get such a work ready for presentation?
It's incredibly draining. You're right, the degree of concentration that we have to maintain is extremely high, not only to perform for these sorts of durations, but also to be tuning as accurately as we are and listening to each other in this highly active way. We are functioning as a unit on stage, and having this hyper-sensitivity to what everyone else is doing as well as to what you, yourself, are contributing is very, very draining. In many ways, the duration is the least strenuous aspect of the work. After the performance this year, as we were collecting ourselves backstage and sharing our feelings with each other, several of the performers remarked that they felt like they could have gone another half hour or so, at least.
You know, I don't write with the duration in mind, unless it needs to be something quite short; I just think about what I need to say and let it happen naturally. So while the duration is certainly an aspect of the preparation, the mechanics of being on stage (comfort, hydration, etc.) for that long are one thing, I think our biggest challenge is a mental one.
05. Could you elaborate on the guidelines that the musicians operate within as they play the piece and to what degree those guidelines allow them to improvise?
This was the area where we had the greatest improvement this year. Last year the score was two pages long, and the performances lasted around two hours, much shorter than I thought it would be, whereas this year the score was only a single page, and the performance was just over three hours. Basically, the score is a series of chords, with an approximate duration assigned to them based on a single statement of the melody that happens within the drone at the highest range of our hearing. There are set ways that we move through each chord, as well as specific pitches for us to focus on, but the entire composition, except for a short moment near the end is completely improvised. I've been working with most of these performers for a long time, and we can listen to each other and understand what is needed to make the work a success, and so because of this I've been able to make our guidelines more freeing, allowing us to focus on creating beauty in the moment, with each other, rather than feeling tied to some notes on a piece of paper.
06. One of the most compelling issues that arises from the listener's experience of the work has to do with time, and I'm not referring to simply the detail of the 190-minute length, even if that in itself is compelling. Listeners who grow up within the Western tradition bring to musical reception expectations about development within a given piece. One of the more fascinating things about Apparitions of The Four Pillars is that it challenges convention by having development occur at a much slower pace, a move that in turn brings about a corresponding adjustment, a recalibration if you prefer, within the listener. If I'm remembering the concert correctly, for example, as the musicians' onstage performance drew to its conclusion, their individual contributions grew ever more minimal until their playing ended altogether. Yet this development occurred in such a prolonged manner that it required a great amount of concentration for the listener to realize that the material was being reduced in this way. Could you describe, then, how notions of time and development operate in your work, as well as comment on how challenging it is for you and the other musicians to become comfortable in effecting that temporal adjustment in the material as it's performed?
I like the idea of a recalibration; that's really what it is. And I think this is one of the reasons I choose to include the approximate duration in the program. One of La Monte's most famous tenets is that “Tuning Is A Function Of Time,” and I try to keep that in mind when I'm performing. As Terry Riley has said, “Western music is fast because it's not in tune,” but if you look at Indian music, you see the tempo slow. The majestic alap of a well-rendered raga is stunning, and duration becomes an aspect there. One of my favourite concepts, and one that I return to over and over is from the alap of a raga, a concept called bhadat where each pitch is systematically introduced, slowly, and one-at-a-time, ascending the scale. I take this practice now as a method of structuring the chords of my work. Each subsequent chord introduces a single new pitch, and it's our job as performers to set that up so that when it happens, it seems like the logical next step and emerges naturally from the sound world we've built up. We don't even use the full scale available to us in this work until well past the two-hour mark. That's how I'm dealing with time on a grand scale.
One of the few concepts that I've held to from my early interest in the works and theories of John Cage is his idea of a micro-macro-cosmic relationship, “subdivision by a square root.” Basically it's the idea in a lot of his early works that every small section is related to every larger section proportionately. He was usually referring to rhythm when he talked about this, but you can apply it to any aspect of the composition. So in this piece there is the vertical statement of the scale, the drone in which we perform, then at the next level down is this single statement of the central melody within that drone that takes a little over three hours. Each chord that we're performing is based on the current melodic pitch that's changing within the drone, and our moment-to-moment thinking concerns this melody as well. It's the idea that every aspect of the work is interrelated and connected.
As performers, this temporal shift happens quite naturally. As I've already said, these musicians have been performing with me for a long time. Drew Blumberg has been playing my work since about 2002, and William Lang has been performing it since 2010. I choose musicians to work with that have, in addition to the technical proficiency to be able to perform the tunings, the right demeanour and personality to perform it effectively. Mariel Roberts, a truly gifted cellist, wasn't able to perform this year, but introduced me to Meaghan Burke who is equally phenomenal. When I first met Meaghan and told her about the duration, the idea was met with an enthusiastic thumbs up and a “Great!”—that's the kind of performer I'm looking for. So I think that our own comfort with the scale of the work comes across to the listener in a way that guides them gently into this sort of time-scale.
07. It was fascinating to see that after the musicians' contributions to the work ended and they left the stage, there was no applause but instead silence, with the only sound remaining the drone. How do you account for that response, and is it characteristic of the audience's response to the work? Is it less satisfying for those performing not to receive the immediate gratification of applause?
It's interesting you mention this. A long time ago Pandit Pran Nath established the idea of no applause after his concerts, which, I think goes back to a more serious, religious, spiritual approach to music which Guruji promoted, and La Monte and Marian have followed this practice as well. So every single concert of theirs that I've been to has not had applause at the end. Applause really acts as a reset button on the experience, and if we're interested in creating something eternal, then why would we break that with applause? You hit the nail on the head here mentioning “the musicians' contributions to the work”—this is exactly right: the drone continues and is as much a part of the composition as what we do as performers. I never had to tell the audience not to applaud, but last year, we made a conscious decision to just not encourage it, to remove the visual cues that we are so attuned to. I discussed it with the performers last year, and they all agreed that it would be nice to not have the interruption of applause, to really let the vibrations continue. And they did, we finished performing and left the stage, the drone didn't change, the lights didn't change, the video didn't change, and there was no applause. It actually feels really wonderful to have the drone keep going unimpeded, to allow the music to live on in our minds.
08. Let's shift the focus to your latest release, The First Pillar Appearing in Supernova, which was recently issued in a cassette format on Cassauna. First, in what way does this release, which features two half-hour settings, relate to the Apparitions of the Four Pillars, and, secondly, why is it being presented on cassette as opposed to, say, a CD format?
For the Cassauna release, I focused on cassette again, as I had for my earlier release Analog Apparitions for The Tapeworm. So the format is really a part of the piece. The vocal drones were recorded onto cassette and then manipulated on cassette into the pieces you hear. The dual-sided nature of cassette as well is interesting to me, and something I explored with these works.
To answer your question about how they relate to Apparitions, it's this: each side takes half of the scale and very slowly presents it as a chord. It's The First Pillar—24 32 36 27—on both sides, but on the first side 24 and 32 implode into the tones between that space, the Abyss, on the second 24 and 36 move outward to 32, filling in The Midwinter Starfield.
This was all done one pitch at a time on a variable-speed cassette player and layered. The first side is exclusively voice, the second side has a bit of violin, but once the full chord is sustained it becomes otherworldly. Someone jumping into the work in the middle probably wouldn't immediately recognize the instrumentation.
09. As you're aware, I greatly admire your Just Intonation piano recording, Aqua Madora, which was chosen as one of textura's top 10 albums of 2011 (reviewed here). Are there any plans to do another piano album as a follow-up?
I'm actually working on a new piano piece for the amazing pianist R. Andrew Lee, known for his long-duration performances. It's going to be a part of the Apparitions of The Four Pillars family of works, but will use a new technique I've been developing for adjusting the harmonic language of the piano, and I'm hoping we'll be able to release a recording of that piece at some point.
10. Admittedly, a studio recording of a work rarely captures the magic of a live presentation. Nevertheless, it would be wonderful to have Apparitions of the Four Pillars available in a physically documented form. Is there any chance of that happening someday?
I'd love to release a recording of this work, but it would most likely be a live recording, as Aqua Madora was. The magic of a live performance is really something, and, I think with this piece, the recordings are clean enough that one could potentially be releaseable.
It's really a matter of figuring out the right format to release something that is over three hours long without cutting it up into chunks, which I simply wouldn't want to do. Perhaps a DVD would be the right choice. -

Voices + Sine Waves (2009)

These works represent the most primal and basic of materials; voices ethereal and guttural; sine waves pure and distorted. Most of these pieces have been scores for short films or dances, but exist on their own as recordings of a single performance. Exclusive to this CD release, and not available for download, is the rāga influenced "The Third Pillar with its Lowest Primes and Memories of The Second Pillar from Apparitions of The Four Pillars III-iii-2010 20:02:56" - 20:20:17" (Brooklyn) performed by Randy Gibson, Will Lang, and Drew Blumberg.

Ekmeles in music by Randy Gibson Photo: Tear-N Tan

Circular Trance Surrounding the Second Pillar with The Highest Seventh Primal Cirrus, The Utmost Fundamental, and The Ekmeles Ending from Apparitions of the Four Pillars

Of the five-night Avant Music Festival, the two nights I caught seemed an almost ideal snapshot of what its curators – Randy Gibson and Megan Schubert – have in mind. On the first evening, listeners who entered the dimly lit Wild Project space (an appealingly intimate venue in the East Village) met a sensory catalog: the hum of a sine wave, the air slightly smoky with incense, microphones onstage surrounding a rug with two candles in the center, and a slowly evolving video by Oscar Henriquez – abstract shapes in reds, purples and greens – projected on the stage’s back wall.
Gibson’s opus might have the longest title I’ve ever encountered: Circular Trance Surrounding the Second Pillar with The Highest Seventh Primal Cirrus, The Utmost Fundamental, and The Ekmeles Ending from Apparitions of the Four Pillars. Slightly over sixty minutes long, it was written for the vocal group Ekmeles, directed by Jeff Gavett, who’s also one of its baritones. As the sine wave continued, the seven singers slowly entered from behind the stage, quietly took their places and gradually began to join the electronic tone with their own syllabic chanting. (The texts are in Sanskrit, culled from the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian book of hymns.)
Gibson’s trance-oriented esthetic reflects his rāga studies with composer La Monte Young and his wife, visual artist Marian Zazeela, and (with a few reservations) I found the piece fascinating. Circular Trance is built on the vocalists’ ability to produce pure harmonies that combine with the sine drone, creating a shimmering cloud of sound. During the hour, the voices would ebb and flow – sometimes emerging from the drone, at others being engulfed by it. The effect was often hypnotic, and it was a marvel just watching the singers tackle Gibson’s minute changes in pitch, often with tones sustained for long stretches of time.
My sole concern was due to a program note, “portions of tonight’s performance may be at an extreme volume,” which made me apprehensive, worrying if the sound level would equal say, the atomizing charge of Rhys Chatham’s Two Gongs. As it turned out, the level was gratefully stable but still felt slightly too forward (on a 1-to-10 scale, maybe a 5 or a 6), like standing next to a loudspeaker emitting mild feedback. Despite the richness of the ethereal tones being produced, I wondered if the result might have been even more successful if the voices and electronics had been more equal partners. Nevertheless, there were still many moments of transcendence.
The second night was a tribute to John Cage, whose centennial is being marked all over the world. A soulful touch: a small potted plant – a cutting from a larger one that originally belonged to the composer – was carefully placed on the floor throughout the concert. Living Room Music was deftly performed by the four members of loadbang (Alejandro T. Acierto, Mr. Gavett, William Lang and Andrew Kozar), merrily smacking their palms on the floor, on books and magazines, on a coffee table. One section uses text by Gertrude Stein: “Once upon a time the world was round and you could go on it around and around.” If the performance here didn’t quite have the amusing context of a recent Juilliard version, the quartet scored points for clarity and simplicity, of which I suspect Cage would have approved – not to mention the book resting on the table: The Chicago Manual of Style.
Before the concert began, Gibson asked the audience to flip coins to help decide the lighting design (nicely handled by Kryssy Wright) for Concert for Piano and Orchestra. (The word “concert” is used deliberately, reflecting the composer’s intent that all members of the ensemble are to play at once, but without any particular relationship to each other.) Vicky Chow was the admirable pianist, immersed in an octet of musicians playing, talking, singing, whispering – but as if each were in a private world.
Next came the stark Ryoanji, with Lang on trombone, Schubert as vocalist, and Gibson carefully striking a drum and a wooden stick simultaneously, one with each hand. Ms. Chow returned for the glittering piano part in Nocturne, with violinist Drew Blumberg in icy counterpoint, figuratively skating above her. The program closed with Four3, one of the composer’s last works, with Blumberg, Chow, Gibson and Lang seated on the floor, each with an array of rainsticks (hollow tubes of various sizes with small objects inside, which when slowly tilted create a soothing replica of droplets falling). Periodically one of the musicians would rise and slowly walk to the piano, softly pressing a key or two, while on the back wall, Elliot Caplan’s film of Beach Birds For Camera flickered onscreen. As I watched the silence of Merce Cunningham’s dancers (filmed in black-and-white), the result took on a poignant cast that I could not have possibly anticipated.
- Bruce Hodges

Aqua Madora V​-​ii​-​2008 21​:​07​:​26" - 21​:​54​:​40" (NYC) (2011)

Not many recordings include a credit for the piano tuner, but in the case of Randy Gibson's Aqua Madora, it seems entirely appropriate, as it's a recording featuring Gibson playing in just intonation using a just intonation Estonia 190 piano (its full title is Aqua Madora - for Just Intonation Piano and Sine Waves). Begun in 2005, the work is notable on mulitple counts: it's heavily influenced by the compositional studies Gibson initiated with La Monte Young in 2003 plus Gibson's raga studies in the Kirana tradition with Young and Marian Zazeela; and it's a work that grew out of a video-dance collaboration Gibson undertook with Ana Baer-Carrillo. As conceived, the work is based on themes of water and mourning, hence the Aqua (water) Madora (sorrow) title, and was premiered in June, 2006 with the video (featuring Dani Beauchamp) establishing the dramatic arc of the material. The Brooklyn-based Gibson, who complements the live presentation of his ritualistic just intonation works with incense and lighting, is also artistic director of Avant Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to collaborative artistic endeavors, and co-curator of the Avant Music Festival.
Aqua Madora is forty-seven minutes in length and comprised of six separately titled sections presented without interruption. That it was recorded live in concert on May 2, 2008 at the Gene Frankel Theatre in New York City is at times apparent in the occasional creak of a bench and cough, but such touches only humanize the recording. Appropriate to the title's water allusion, the reverberations produced by the piano's sustain creates an impression of fluidity between the notes played, as if they possess a liquidy dimension that allows them to flow into one another. In the opening part “Alap,” soft sine tones are the first sounds heard, after which sparsely distributed piano pitches appear, with each one introduced slowly (a method of pitch introduction called 'badhat') while the sine tones persist as an underlying drone. The just intonation dimension of the work is readily apparent in pitches that will at first strike the listener accustomed to standard tunings and conventions of harmony and consonance as unusual, but adaptation sets in quickly. Without interruption, Aqua Madora carries on into “Drone (Skyline)” with stately chords announcing its onset and Gibson's playing growing more rapid, intense, and, with the playing swelling into multiple layers, denser. “Bed” alternates between reflective and more aggressive passages before the thick clusters of “Drone (Ice Flow),” a remarkable twelve-minute section, appear to take its place. “Table” again arrests the driving forward movement and replaces it with a ponderous and spacious eight-minute meditation, the generous spaces between the notes enabling the sine tones to once again be heard.
This is a special recording that'll appeal to not only listeners interested in La Monte Young and Charlemagne Palestine but more generally those with an appetite for innovative piano-based work. Gibson has made it available in two physical editions, a limited-edition digipak CD (70 copies) that includes a booklet with program notes from the recorded performance and a hand-embellished version (30 copies) that's hand-numbered, signed, wrapped in handmade Japanese paper, scented with roses, and sealed with wax. Oh, and that piano tuner? His name's Kaz Tsujio. -

Composer Randy Gibson’s 50 minute long Aqua Madora, for sine wave drones and piano tuned in just intonation, is an exquisitely lovely piece. Gibson uses his studies of tuning systems, composition, and singing with LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela as a jumping off point – even going so far as to tuning some of the intervals (particularly seventh scale degrees) in homage to these masters of early minimalism.
As touching as this tribute is, especially at a time in which the importance of Young’s work is not nearly as widely known as it should be, Aqua Madora is not just about expressing gratitude for knowledge transmitted between teacher and student. In collaboration with Ana Baer-Carrillo and Dani Beauchamp, Gibson spent a long time refining this piece as a multimedia work containing film and dance.
One needn’t have these visual elements to enjoy the suppleness and subtleties of Aqua Madora’s music. Gibson’s play with intervals that sound “out of tune” to those accustomed to equal temperament is particularly sensitive. He allows the tangy appearances of these notes to color the drift of harmonic progressions and provide fascinating variants that add a tinge of the unexpected to scalar passages.

Aqua Madora
La Balada del Güetback
Doleo Æternusi left you on a cold day in december
Mujeres de Juárez
One Wall

Heavyweight harmonic drones from the always surprising Tapeworm imprint. Brooklyn-based composer, Randy Gibson, was a student of famed minimalist La Monte Young and his two compositions here are firmly rooted in the studied traditions of his tutor. Given the quite specific titles of “The First Analog Pillar with its Simplest Primes and The Harbinger of The Second Pillar with The Low Modora Cornerstone and The Outlying Primal Cirrus from Apparitions of The Four Pillars”, and “The Third Analog Pillar with its Lowest Primes and The Ersatz Souvenir of The Second Pillar with The High Madora Cornerstone and The Outlying Primal Abyss from Appararition of The Four Pillars” you basically know this guy isn't just f**king about. Crafted from eighteen hours of recordings layered over two sides, these compositions are concerned with the just-intonation and “purity of sine waves in complex prime-harmonic relationships” which sounds incredibly intimidating, but is actually quite beautiful, if you've ever succumbed to the work of La Monte Young, or felt your chakras quivering while listening to the likes of Eleh. The experience is ritualistic and enveloping and shouldn't be undertaken while operating heavy machinery. - boomkat

One of three new releases on UK cassette label The Tapeworm, this one featuring two sprawling side long excursions into just intonation drone from Brooklyn composer Randy Gibson, a student of legendary minimalist composer La Monte Young. Gibson fuses the traditional concepts of prime harmonic just intonation with modern tape manipulation, the tones as important as the mechanisms producing them, the sounds lush and layered, heaving and undulating, overtones and subtle sonic colors, rife with subtle shifts, tape speed inconsistencies, peppered with bits of hum and hiss, crunch and creak, a sound more organic and human than clinical and composed, the sounds seeming to breathe and expand, some serious deep kosmische drift for sure.
The two sides here are created from 18 hours of recordings condensed into two half hour epic swaths of deeeeeep rage like dronemusic, the sound constantly evolving and mutating and subtly shifting, from ethereal hazy shimmer to thick reverberating metallic buzz, a gorgeously expansive dronescape created using just voice, cassette boomboxes and just intonation toy organs. Wow.
Total deep drone blissout for sure. Essential listening for the aQ dronemusic faithful...- Aquarius Records

The Education of Randy Gibson

Plenty of composers flourish within the halls and harbors offered by academia, developing their artistic voices and finding their professional footing; Randy Gibson understood pretty quickly that he wasn’t one of them. While his education now spans training in composition, electronic music, and percussion—including the study of Balinese gamelan, traditional Japanese music, and raga singing—only a portion of that instruction occurred within the confines of the typical classroom. After two years of part-time attendance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, his try at full-time composition study ended after two weeks.
“The university experience was not really for me,” Gibson admits with a shy laugh. A year later, he moved to New York and began studies with La Monte Young. “It was a much larger, more interesting education, I think, than I could have gotten at the school, and I’ve never regretted it.”
If the three-pages-and-growing list of compositions which now crowd his C.V. is any indication, it’s a path for which he need make no excuses. It is, however, one for which he offers a great portion of credit to the role Young has played in his development.
“As soon as I went to my first composition lesson with him, it really just opened my ears and my mind to what had already been present in my work,” Gibson recalls. “These repeated structures, these slow tempos, these longer statements—my studies with him really sort of freed me to be able to explore those and really take them as far as I could.”
The relationship proved to be “a perfect fit,” their first lesson beginning just after midnight and ending six hours later. Though Gibson began by studying composition with Young, that eventually expanded to include raga singing as well, providing additional revelations concerning the structure and the character of the music he wanted to write. He traces subsequent works such as his Aqua Madora (for just intonation piano and sine wave drones) firmly back to this study and the influence of Young, particularly the example provided by The Well-Tuned Piano.
While Gibson is careful not to simply co-opt the music that he’s encountered through his studies, the ritual of presentation in traditions such as raga singing speak to him deeply. Using lighting and incense, he surrounds his own audiences in an experience from the moment they enter the performance space. The compositions themselves explore form and tuning in a way that often leaves room for variation and further exploration with each performance. Out of just intonation, sine waves, extended durations, and close collaborations, Gibson is building a vocabulary for his work that has carried him deeply into a particular sound world alongside a special group of performers who are up for the challenge. This is particularly evident in the large-scale frameworks of pieces such as Doleo Æternus (for soloists, drone performers, and rhythmic performers [any variable pitched instruments] and computer; 90-120 minutes) and Apparitions of The Four Pillars (an evolving composition model for just intonation toy organs, variable pitched instruments, prime harmonic sine waves and harmonically related delay lines; variable durations). If these complexities mean the pieces are not destined to become part of the standard repertoire, that’s fine—that’s not Gibson’s goal. He’s looking, rather, to create a particular and immersive experience for his audience.
Yet even if the strategy of following “an all encompassing theory in which I can create new things” appeals to Gibson, he doesn’t need to yolk the audience with the details. “What I want to pursue is stuff that is beautiful and stuff that is powerful and emotional and is complex, but there’s a simplicity to it,” he explains. “The audience member doesn’t care if it’s the 81st harmonic or the 1331st harmonic. From the audience standpoint, it’s about how the music sounds.”
Admittedly, this may still not be for everyone. “But nothing is,” he acknowledges, “so why not just do the best that I can at what I really want to do.” -

5 Questions to Randy Gibson (composer, co-founder of Avant Media)

Randy Gibson is a composer and performer living and working in New York City. He is the co-founder of Avant Media, and produces the Avant Media Festival, which showcases experimental music from the last 100 years and today. The Fourth Annual Avant Media Festival will take place February 15-23.

As has been mentioned in other interviews, you left the traditional university education route to go to NYC, eventually becoming a student of La Monte Young. Could you talk a bit about the circumstances that prompted the move away from academia?

Well, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with organized education, even from a very early age. I attended Montessori school, and I think the self-guided nature of that was extremely beneficial for me. In high school, I was in a sort of unique situation in that the town where I grew up had this amazing University, and a program where, as long as it wasn’t offered by the high school, you could take classes there. So I took full advantage of that, I studied theory and ear training, I took a fantastic class in 20th Century theory where I was one of only three students, and I took an interdisciplinary performance class helmed by my then composition teacher, Michael Theodore. This was a truly extraordinary class, and I met some amazing people and learned how to collaborate. I founded Avant Media with Ana Baer-Carrillo who I met in this class.
When I went to the university full-time, this freedom was suddenly gone, and I couldn’t pursue the things that I truly wanted to pursue. It was actually an incredibly easy decision for me to leave the composition program there and move to New York and just see what happened.
Randy Gibson
Randy Gibson

As you’re coming up on a decade of studying with La Monte Young this year, how would you say your own music has evolved in that time? There are obvious surface-level connections between your music and Young’s, e.g. duration, sine waves, and tuning, but I’m curious about how you’ve incorporated these ideas in finding your own voice.

At that first composition lesson, I was still very much finding my voice. There had been these themes running through my work up to that point: repetition, extremely slow tempo, fluidity, unrepeatability; but they were sort of all just in a cloud, floating around with no real direction. La Monte helped to clarify the situation for me, to allow the space for my sounds to be their own.
Aqua Madora CD CoverI had been working with electronics, but in this very unfocused way. Through examples like The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry… and Just Charles And Cello In The Romantic Chord I began to take these generated sounds I was using and order them according to the rules of just intonation. With Aqua Madora (my just intonation piano work with sine waves), I began to really explore how the vibrations of these intervals could encourage very deep feelings. My interest in purely generated electronic sound has been long-standing; I never wanted to work with “traditional” synthesized sound, and if I was going to work with electronics, I wanted it to be because electronics were the only way to realize something. The purity of sine waves, especially, appealed to me; the simplicity of them, and their potential for great complexity. Through La Monte’s uncompromising example, I feel like I am finally developing my own artistic language, uniquely my own, but deeply rooted in the tradition he pioneered.

The Avant Music Festivals have featured the music of John Cage quite a bit. What do you think draws you to Cage’s music, and how has his music influenced your own writing?

The thing I love about every time I get a new Cage score to begin working on is what a perfect little puzzle it is. Delving into his instructions, trying to unravel their intent, is an absolute joy. And then getting to realize that on stage, with an audience that is totally up for it, is just an amazing experience. We’re working right now on trying to figure out a realization of Variations IV for next year’s festival where the bulk of the material would actually be the set up for an evening performance of Europera V. I don’t know for sure if this will happen, but really seriously considering these sorts of things is what led to our realization of 49 Waltzes For The Five Boroughs; really carefully looking at the intent and realizing it was a way to listen, an impetus to go outside and hear the city around you.
Cage was really the reason I started writing music. I had been a percussionist (and a pretty good one) for a long time, but I heard a recording of Ryoanji and it just completely changed me. This was music that had nothing to do with anything I had ever heard, and I became obsessed. A lot of my early work was very heavily influenced by Cage: I used chance operations, did graphic scores, time brackets, etc.… Now I feel like that influence is still there, but more as an underlying spirit of openness, of letting sounds be sounds. My aims now are definitely different than when I started, but at my core I’m still a believer in Cage’s philosophy.

The annual Avant Music Festival is about to enter its fourth year and has featured an impressive array of performers and composers in that span. What have been some of the difficulties/lessons/surprises that you’ve encountered in that time while starting a festival from scratch?

You know, that first year, Megan and I really had no idea what we were doing, the first festival was put together from scratch in two months, with time to really plan now over the years we’ve honed in on what it is that we want to promote, what we felt was missing in the New York scene. This whole idea of focusing on the composers, the creators of the music, has been a touchstone for us. We really feel that this is something that’s not being done as much as it should be: composer-focused curation with a good dose of multimedia. This has always sort of been second-nature for me – It’s tough to do a multi-composer night when the work is well over an hour long – and my core desire is to create a complete experience for an audience. I think one of the biggest difficulties, but also one of the most rewarding aspects, in doing what we do now is getting this idea across: encouraging people to see a concert completely devoted to a single composer. I truly feel like this gives an audience a deep understanding of what it is a composer stands for, but maybe it’s easier to sell a concert with a bunch of diverse works, sort of something for everyone; I’m not really interested in doing things the easy way though.
I think the biggest surprise, and joy, for me is when a composer learns something about themselves. Last year we worked with Jenny Olivia Johnson as one of the featured composers, and it was the first time she had ever had more than one of her works played on a single concert. That was really rewarding, making that happen for someone. This year we’re working with two composers, Kitty Brazelton and Nick Hallett, who are both a bit more accustomed to concerts of their own music, but it’s really great – Kitty hasn’t really performed on this scale in New York recently, and so this is sort of a great homecoming, and Nick is making a really beautiful concert work that is focused and clever; I think will be a wonderful evening.
Randy Gibson First Pillar Performance

What’s next for you? What would you like to see Avant Media accomplish in the coming years?

I’m really excited about the piece I’m performing this year, and the group of performers. I’m hoping to be able to perform this work more and more. Last year I wrote a very large, expansive solo for the trombonist William Lang, and we’re working on finding some new venues to continue to refine and present that work.
For Avant Media, I really want to see us expand what it is that we can offer to the composers we program, to do more off-the-wall projects like and release more recordings. I’m hopeful that over the next few years we can continue to build the Avant Music Festival into a must-see event, and can use that to bring exposure to less-known composers who are creating beautiful work.

Nine Minutes for The Four Pillars in duet with The Paris Drones recalling The Midwinter Starfield Theme for violin and electronics - commissioned by Erik Carlson - 9 minutes - World Premiere: The Stone, New York, NY, March 26, 2013 :: Erik Carlson, Violin

Apparitions of The Four Pillars In The Midwinter Starfield Under The Astral 789 Duet for ensemble and prime harmonic sine waves - ca. 120 minutes - World Premiere: Wild Project, New York, NY, February 15, 2013 :: Randy Gibson, Voice; Drew Blumberg, Violin; Mariel Roberts, Cello; William Lang and Jen Baker, Trombones - video sculpture by Oscar Henriquez, lighting design by Kryssy Wright

The Third Pillar in Primal Imperfect Palindrome with The Souvenir of The Second Pillar, The Floating Cirrus over the Pumping Slush, and The Highest Moving Chordal Motif from Apparitions of The Four Pillars for solo trombone, digital delay, and prime harmonic sine waves - ca. 170 minutes - World Premiere: Wild Project, New York, NY, February 27, 2012 :: William Lang, Trombone - video sculpture by Oscar Henriquez

Circular Trance Surrounding The Second Pillar with The Highest Seventh Primal Cirrus, The Utmost Fundamental, and The Ekmeles Ending from Apparitions of The Four Pillars for seven voices and prime harmonic sine waves - ca. 60-70 minutes - commissioned by the vocal ensemble Ekmeles - World Premiere: Music At First, Brooklyn, NY, November 18, 2011 :: Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble - video sculpture by Oscar Henriquez

Apparitions of The Four Pillars with Their Lowest Additive Primes as limited to the 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 11th New Primes chosen Cyclically, The Toll of Premonition, The Memorial Connector over the Outlying Primal Abyss, and The Mid-Winter Ending - 110 minutes - World Premiere: Wild Project, New York, NY, February 11, 2011 :: Randy Gibson, Just Intonation Toy Organs; Will Lang, Trombone; Drew Blumberg and Catherine McCurry, Violins; Mariel Roberts, Cello - Performances in the Four Pillars series are accompanied by a video sculpture created by Oscar Henriquez

The Third Pillar (third version) composition based in Apparitions of The Four Pillars for prime harmonic sine waves, toy organ, voice, cassette boomboxes - 30 minutes - 2010. World Premiere as The Third Pillar with its Lowest Primes, The Analog TwentyFour Truckera, and The Ersatz Souvenir of The Second Pillar with The Madora Cornerstone and The Outlying Primal Abyss from Apparitions of The Four Pillars under a grant from the American Music Center: Cafe OTO, London, UK, December 9, 2010 :: Randy Gibson, Just Intonation Toy Organ, Voice; Dale Cornish and Parker, Cassette boomboxes


ponedjeljak, 28. travnja 2014.

Gustave de Kervern & Benoît Delépine - Aaltra (2004), Avida (2006)


Bolesni belgijski filmovi s artističkim super-egom.
Umjetni bubrezi između Montyja Pythona i Jacquesa Tatija.

Like film reels as well as like life itself, roads can take people on wild detours and unexpected digressions before winding up at an arbitrary endpoint - and so the road movie has always been a winning cinematic genre, where the accumulated details of the journey are every bit as important as the final destination. In the road movie, viewers expect a bit of deviation from the norm, expect to travel off the beaten track as much as on. It is a genre where a certain amount of eccentricity comes fitted as standard - but even so, the Belgian road movie Aaltra features just about the oddest mode of trans-national conveyance since a 73-year-old drove across America on a lawnmower in David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999). For the bumpy ride that Aaltra offers, there are simply no seatbelts to fasten.
Ben (Benoît Delépine) is a disgruntled commuter, more interested in professional motocross than in getting his lonely wife (Isabelle Delépine) pregnant. Gus (Gustave de Kervern) is a lazy farmhand. Both are disgruntled, selfish, hopeless, petty, rude and barely likeable - and they also just happen to be next door neighbours, locked in a seemingly endless feud of minor disagreements and escalating mean-spiritedness.
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One day, their tit-for-tat rivalry leads to a violent altercation, in which both men are accidentally crushed by Gus' tractor, and they find themselves side by side in hospital beds, completely paralysed from the waist down. Abandoned and alone, each man sets out separately on a journey across Northern Europe - Ben hoping to catch some motocross events and Gus seeking compensation for his injuries from the tractor company Aaltra, based in Finland. Yet their crippling disability keeps bringing the pair together and soon they have become partners in wheelchair crime as they make their way to Aaltra and an unexpected double punchline.
After Ben and Gus have been confronted in hospital with the permanence of their condition and the untold difficulties it will bring to their lives, for a brief moment either man is shown quietly weeping to himself in bed. It is a sequence that reveals, through contrast, the essential style of Aaltra. For these are the only close-ups to be found in the entire film, and they are also, quite simply, the only two shots that in any way invite our sympathies for Ben and Gus. Every other crisp, black-and-white image has been captured by cinematographer Hugues Poulain in long shot, maintaining a cool, flat distance that excludes sentiment, or easy identification. Even the accident itself is presented with an oblique matter-of-factness that makes it seem no more significant than anything else which befalls the duo.
And there's the rub. The unwritten laws of genre would have it that cinematic disability is somehow as ennobling as it is life changing, and that the principal players in a road movie should undergo a transformative rite of passage. Yet in Aaltra, these laws go right out the window. Ben and Gus were arseholes before their accident and remain arseholes after it and their journey is not towards personal improvement, redemption or the overcoming of impossible odds, but rather it takes them merely to a place where they seem always to have belonged.
Some of the people that they encounter in their travels, including the racist motocross fan, played with typically reactionary relish by Benoît Poelvoorde (Man Bites Dog), respond with ignorance, indifference or sickening abuse to their wheelchair-user status; but the fact remains that Ben and Gus take full, manipulative advantage of anyone who makes the mistake of showing them some kindness. As one of their victims (Jason Flemyng) puts it after Ben has made off with his motorbike: "It's people like you that give people in fucking wheelchairs a bad name." If genre dictates that we should like Ben and Gus, the film does its best to dissuade us of this predisposition, exposing along the way our own prejudices about disability.
Written and directed by its two stars, Belgian stand-ups Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine, and seemingly named in such a way as to ensure its place at the top of any film database, Aaltra is a celluloid tribute to the deadpan style of Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki (Ariel, Leningrad Cowboys Go America, The Loser Trilogy), culminating in a brilliant cameo from the man himself. Grim, bleak, misanthropic, confronting and, of course, uproariously funny from beginning to end, Aaltra is a must-see for those who like their comedy Jim Jarmusch dry, rather than Farrelly Brothers broad. - Anton Bitel

I've only met one other person who has ever heard of Aaltra. I find most good cinema by idly channel-hopping on late-night television. With Aaltra I needed to see just one frame and a panning shot to know it was for me. I'm not some grand connoisseur; with so many bland-looking movies it's very easy to tell an interesting one in a few moments. Aaltra is shot in grainy black and white with long, slow takes. I was laughing, too: a mirth that started low down – illicit – then rose to delighted hilarity.
Aaltra was written and directed by two French comedians: Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern, who also play the lead characters. It's not just weepingly funny and politically incorrect. To my tastes it's wonderfully shot and constructed – every scene shows a real cinematic imagination at work. The directors are sensitive as to where the camera should be; they construct visually layered scenes and cut just when a scenario is drained of all meaning and poignancy.
Delépine plays an awkward moto-cross fanatic, sacked from his job and jilted by his bored wife; De Kervern is a disgruntled farmworker and near neighbour. Both are injured in a freak combine harvester accident – which is their own fault. They are hospitalised together and subsequently confined to wheelchairs. The narrative takes off on an insane road trip, both of them teaming up in an odd and silent solidarity, attempting to hitch together in their wheelchairs towards Finland to claim spurious compensation from the company – Aaltra – that manufactured the combine harvester.
Both are wonderfully cast. Delépine's lugubrious face shifts into exasperation. Glum De Kervern looks like a defunct, permanently ungrateful Grateful Dead roadie.
Aaltra flies in the face of this hateful ideology that fictive characters must be attractive and sympathetic to be fascinating. They are greedy, grumpy, selfish Machiavellians, but in wheelchairs. The unsparing surveillance of their fallibility reminds us of the subtle cruelties of Fellini, Ferreri or Buñuel. Like all works of misanthropy, Aaltra justifies itself by its own casual exposure of inhumanity. Our initial discomforts and sensitivities toward the physically disabled are slowly and beautifully undermined. Especially in a scene (that seems to be real footage) where the surreptitious camera witnesses De Kervern "aggressively" begging on a small-town street and when spurned, physically assaulting pedestrians, though from the confines of his wheelchair. It's impossible not to marvel at the public's astonished horror but also its swift hostility.
Again and again these two wheelchair users test to breaking point the patience and compassion of the good-willed burghers around them. Yet from their perspective we also see the world as an utterly antagonistic and unwelcoming place for the wheelchair-bound.
Our two heroes finally reach Finland, where what they discover is as ironic and wicked as we had a hunch it would be. There is a wry cameo from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. As a worthy companion to the films of Jacques Tati, Aaltra deserves to be far better known. - Alan Warner

Avida (2006)

Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern, co-directors of the 2005 cult favorite AALTRA, return with AVIDA, another eye-popping dark comedy. The loony French filmmakers appear in leading roles as two of the three men whose plan to kidnap a wealthy woman's dog goes horribly awry. Instead of nabbing the dog, the "kidnappers" are forced to help its owner, Avida, carry out her death wish. In a cinematic universe all its own, AVIDA features stunning black-and-white cinematography that highlights the filmmakers' penchant for politically incorrect, scatological tableau sequences that both offend and amuse. As Variety put it, "Somewhere between Monty Python, Jacques Tati and a slideshow of New Yorker cartoons, this critique of life's cruel inconsistency confirms the French co-directors' gift for reinterpreting surrealism in a humorously modern key." Features a cameo appearance by legendary French director Claude Chabrol.  -

A pair of monstrous lips scarfing down potato chips - in a strange echo of The Rocky Horror Picture Show - open this little comic gem. Pitched somewhere between Jacques Tati and the joint ventures of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali in its mission to amuse and offend. Filmed in grainy Fifties-style black and white and in an almost full-screen aspect ratio (what the DVDs like to describe as "television friendly"), giving a decidedly old-fashioned feel to the proceedings.
The hero of the piece is a deaf-mute portrayed with beguiling Frankenstein's Monster-like innocence by co-director, Gustave de Kervern. When we first meet him he is apparently employed as an animated chew-toy for the amusement of a rich fellow's Doberman guard dogs. Apparently anything Kervern is involved in has a knack of going very, very wrong and justice is seen to be done in a suitably bizarre fashion.
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Next we are introduced to two zoo employees who get their hedonistic jollies tranquilizing each other with rifle darts intended for the larger animals. As if that wasn't enough, one of the two has a penchant for wrapping himself in sticky tape (co-director Benoit Delepine). The two have devised a plan to kidnap and ransom a spoiled pet with the aid of de Kervern's muscle. It should come as no surprise when this too goes awry. Our would-be kidnapper's then resort to abducting the dog's wealthy owner, Avida.
Avida is portrayed by well-upholstered actress, Velvet, who perfectly embodies bourgeois malaise but she has her own agenda and by force of personality soon imposes it on our hapless trio, who, in their usual inept fashion try to humour her.
Surreal vignettes some funny, some disturbing, pepper the narrative. Along the way there is a suicidal bullfighter who chooses to test his skills on a Rhino and a fellow (Claude Chabrol, no less) who likes to gourmandize the zoo inhabitants. A visit to the taxidermist is a particular assault on the sensibilities, which is perhaps a pity as with that event goes any chance of reaching a wider audience.
All the zaniness leads up to a final unexpected visual coup, in colour too, that perfectly fits the nature of the film and its aspirations.
Directed with a knowing visual flair, perhaps a little tightening in the script department would help, but overall this is an enjoyably anarchic festival treat. I'm sure the directors would be appalled at the thought but with a little work they might actually have had a commercial hit on their hands
- Tony Sullivan

nedjelja, 27. travnja 2014.

Curt McDowell - Thundercrack! (1975)

Ultrakultna pornofrafska, horror crna komedija. Film koji je bio prebizaran čak i za poklonike kultnih filmova.



If you're at all familiar with underground cinema, than you've probably heard tales about this flick for years. But actually seeing the damned thing is a different matter entirely. Crass, sick and hilarious, this no-budget b&w feature is filled with the essence of pure, undiluted cinematic derangement. Like the earliest works of John Waters, it revels in taboo-shattering shocks and an undying love for Hollywood kitsch. Gloriously overwritten by George Kuchar, and directed by the late Curt McDowell (who was one of Kuchar's first students), it's a torrent of comically-lit cliches, heated to the point of lurid parody. The time: A dark and stormy night. The setting: An old, secluded mansion -- the home of the terrifically obscene Mrs. Gert Hammond (Marion Eaton), who staggers about the place with heavy, mismatched eyebrows and a vomit-caked wig. And as the night progresses, more and more visitors arrive at her doorstep, stranded by the inclement weather. One guy has a fear of ladies' girdles, another is the Christian wife of a country western singer, a few more were in a car wreck, and George Kuchar himself shows up (and steals the show) while transporting circus animals. The characters then proceed to fight, fuck and spout pages and pages of dialogue, while Marion plays voyeur through secret peepholes -- watching the males play with vacuum-powered penis enlargers as she masturbates with a huge cucumber. A smorgasbord of 42nd Street goodies are left out for the guests' disposal (the predictable array of blow-up dolls, jellies, dildos, et cetera), and they're certainly tested out thoroughly. Everyone has dark, nasty secrets. Everyone has weaknesses which are eventually exposed. And all the men have hairy asses (which we get in WAY-too-loving close-up). Of course, the best is yet to come, when the viewer is introduced to Marion's dead hubbie, who she had pickled in jars after he was killed by locusts; and her son, who's kept locked in the basement with Elephantitis of the balls. Plus, since the filmmakers have every other sexual combo on display, why not toss in a horny gorilla with a taste for young men, and Kuchar's indescribably demented story of having sex with an ape?!... With a running time of over two hours, the film may sound like a task, but it never slows down and NEVER shuts up, not even for the sex scenes. Never one to waste film stock, Kuchar has the characters rambling incessantly, even in the middle of a blow job. This is a full-blown, near-perfect parody which cobbles together a cast of Irwin Allenesque characters, and then steeps them in hardcore sex and disturbing imagery, until it becomes a twisted, OLD DARK HOUSE-style soap opera. The performers are all appropriately hyperactive, with Kuchar bringing power (and flying spittle) to every word. But the flick's true joy lies in George's gift for scriptwriting. The movie's packed with long, lush monologues, wall-to-wall revelations, plus dialogue so dense (and often drowned out by the score) that it's impossible to ingest in only one sitting. But is it erotic, you wonder? Not to the unimaginative mainstream viewer, but I certainly found something cruelly, crudely seductive in its fondness for fetish and secret pleasures. Without question, THUNDERCRACK! is one of the great underground sleaze epics, and a touchstone for all independent filmmakers to come!
Steven Puchalski

Is it possible for a film to be too bizarre, too outrageous - even for cult audiences? That was certainly the case with this one, which was played briefly at midnights and drove people from the theaters in bewildered repulsion. But, then, it was ahead of its time. I had heard about it for twenty years before finally seeing it, and it was definitely worth the wait. You have never...and I mean never...seen anything remotely like Thundercrack.
This black-and-white underground film really defies conventional description, but let me try...It's mainly about Mrs. Gert Hammond (Marion Eaton), an alcoholic widow who lives in a large house on the prairie. She spends much of the film's opening scenes talking about her dead husband, Charlie. During a thunderstorm, several wayward travelers seek shelter for the night. There's a woman who bathes (and pleasures) the besotted Mrs. Hammond and speaks incessantly of religion; there's a gay hustler trying to go straight and the man who picked him up (who just lost his wife in a dreadful accident involving a flaming girdle); and there's a pair of young women whose car exploded after they picked up a man with two crates of stolen bananas.
The group spends the night speaking in ridiculous, hilariously melodramatic style about their various bizarre obsessions and having brief (but definitely hardcore) sex scenes in every conceivable permutation. Straight, gay, solo, and even with a gorilla. Yes, a gorilla. Let's move on...
During the course of the film, we learn that Gert's husband was torn apart by a swarm of locusts, and that his remaining body parts are pickled in the wine cellar. Gert also has a son, who was a sex-fiend and had a room full of toys to enhance his solo fun. Gert watches through a peephole as her guests enjoy themselves in the toy-room while pleasuring herself with a large cucumber. We then learn that the boy went to the tropics for exotic accoutrements, where he contracted elephantiasis of the testicles. Gert keeps the freaky mutant in a locked room for his own protection.
The fun really starts when a circus worker named Bing (George Kuchar) shows up. Bing tried to run his truckful of animals off the road because he didn't want them tortured by crippled children at an upcoming fair. The animals (who are roaming free outside the house) include a gorilla named Medusa, who happens to have an insatiable lust for sex with men. The houseguests spend the rest of the film trying to stay safe from the animals while indulging their personal obsessions and keeping Gert away from her trusty meat-cleaver. The hitch-hiker gets the hustler to submit to being his butt-toy in exchange for his crate of bananas so the young man and his new-found girlfriend can get away. Things really get silly when Gert puts Bing in a wedding dress and marries him to the gorilla.
It's really pointless trying to summarize any more of this hallucinatory plotline, so let me just say that if you're looking for something funny, weird, and absolutely extreme, this is the movie for you. It flows a lot like a dream - one character will say or do something completely insane and the others will accept it as if it was perfectly normal. One is reminded of Bunuel's Phantom of Liberty as envisioned by John Waters. The grainy black-and-white photography and odd lighting add to the dreamlike effect, as does the film's extreme length. Luminous Video offers a 2-hour version, while Video Search of Miami reportedly has a 2-1/2 hour cut. It's never boring, though, and your jaw will be hanging open in amazement through most of it. George Kuchar's script is brilliantly surreal, and Curt McDowell directs with style belying the low budget. This is a movie that really deserves renewed life on video, and (now that it can find its intended audience) should become a cult classic.- The Amazing World of Cult Movies

Take a cliched Horror-story beginning, a remote Gothic mansion, an insane hostess, a group of strangers (four men, three women and a gorilla) and you pretty much begin to see that this is not meant to be a serious film, but rather a parody of several other (older and better) ones. Social and sexual confusion & misunderstanding guarantees that this odd cast of characters will come together and entertain & amuse for 120 minutes.
Is it possible for a film to be too bizarre, too outrageous - even for cult audiences? That was certainly the case with this one, which was played briefly at midnights and drove people from the theaters in bewildered repulsion. But, then, it was ahead of its time. I had heard about it for twenty years before finally seeing it, and it was definitely worth the wait. You have never...and I mean never...seen anything remotely like Thundercrack.
This black-and-white underground film really defies conventional description, but let me try...It's mainly about Mrs. Gert Hammond (Marion Eaton), an alcoholic widow who lives in a large house on the prairie. She spends much of the film's opening scenes talking about her dead husband, Charlie. During a thunderstorm, several wayward travelers seek shelter for the night. There's a woman who bathes (and pleasures) the besotted Mrs. Hammond and speaks incessantly of religion; there's a gay hustler trying to go straight and the man who picked him up (who just lost his wife in a dreadful accident involving a flaming girdle); and there's a pair of young women whose car exploded after they picked up a man with two crates of stolen bananas.
The group spends the night speaking in ridiculous, hilariously melodramatic style about their various bizarre obsessions and having brief (but definitely hardcore) sex scenes in every conceivable permutation. Straight, gay, solo, and even with a gorilla. Yes, a gorilla. Let's move on...
During the course of the film, we learn that Gert's husband was torn apart by a swarm of locusts, and that his remaining body parts are pickled in the wine cellar. Gert also has a son, who was a sex-fiend and had a room full of toys to enhance his solo fun. Gert watches through a peephole as her guests enjoy themselves in the toy-room while pleasuring herself with a large cucumber. We then learn that the boy went to the tropics for exotic accoutrements, where he contracted elephantiasis of the testicles. Gert keeps the freaky mutant in a locked room for his own protection.
The fun really starts when a circus worker named Bing (George Kuchar) shows up. Bing tried to run his truckful of animals off the road because he didn't want them tortured by crippled children at an upcoming fair. The animals (who are roaming free outside the house) include a gorilla named Medusa, who happens to have an insatiable lust for sex with men. The houseguests spend the rest of the film trying to stay safe from the animals while indulging their personal obsessions and keeping Gert away from her trusty meat-cleaver. The hitch-hiker gets the hustler to submit to being his butt-toy in exchange for his crate of bananas so the young man and his new-found girlfriend can get away. Things really get silly when Gert puts Bing in a wedding dress and marries him to the gorilla.
It's really pointless trying to summarize any more of this hallucinatory plotline, so let me just say that if you're looking for something funny, weird, and absolutely extreme, this is the movie for you. It flows a lot like a dream - one character will say or do something completely insane and the others will accept it as if it was perfectly normal. One is reminded of Bunuel's Phantom of Liberty as envisioned by John Waters. The grainy black-and-white photography and odd lighting add to the dreamlike effect, as does the film's extreme length. Luminous Video offers a 2-hour version, while Video Search of Miami reportedly has a 2-1/2 hour cut. It's never boring, though, and your jaw will be hanging open in amazement through most of it. George Kuchar's script is brilliantly surreal, and Curt McDowell directs with style belying the low budget. This is a movie that really deserves renewed life on video, and (now that it can find its intended audience) should become a cult classic.-

A group of weird strangers, seeking shelter from a raging thunderstorm, end up in a mansion named Prairie Blossom in Curt McDowell's underground cult classic. Mansion's hostess, Mrs. Gert Hammond (Marion Eaton), is a lonely alcoholic widower, whose husband died under bizarre circumstances, and her son apparently "doesn't exist" anymore. Shocking secrets and lustful copulations are abound, as the mysterious strangers start getting acquainted with each other in the dark corridors of Prairie Blossom!
Even after decades of digging through the scum infesting the B-movie sewers, it's possible to run into a completely flabbergasting film every once in a while. THUNDERCRACK! (1975) is one of those films. Made by notorious underground artists Curt McDowell and George Cuchar, THUNDERCRACK! is what late-night cult movie theaters were truly invented for. THUNDERCRACK! is a strange amalgam of absurd comedic elements and hardcore porn, and probably the most walked out film in existence—at least according to legends. Here's a rough estimate of the ingredients this sizzling gumbo is made of:
  • A giant load of John Waters' bad taste 
  •  Ed Wood's ludicrous technical incompetence
  •  Overabundance of Tennessee Williams-esque writing
  •  Douglas Sirk-style melodrama gone awry
  • Black & white haunted mansion horror movies from 1940s
  • Grungy '60s & '70s porn reels
Put the ingredients in a blender, add some bananas, alcohol, and a sex crazed gorilla as seasoning, and you might come up with the 'underground bisexual porno horror comedy' THUNDERCRACK! has been described as being, but even that explanation doesn't fully convey the filthy madness and absurd hilarity at hand here. It's important to keep in mind that THUNDERCRACK! is indeed a bisexual film; it features ample amounts of explicit hetero- and homosexual sex scenes. The sight of a mustachioed man inserting a rubber cock up his hairy arse might be just a tad too much to behold for squeamish viewers.
Of course, when viewing a cult film such as this, it inevitably raises the question 'Who needs to see this?' Possibly nobody, but I'm certainly glad that it's possible to make a film like this without getting shot. Perhaps films like THUNDERCRACK! are the ultimate test by which the lenience of a given society is weighed. Basically, THUNDERCRACK! is completely vulgar and tasteless trash, but even trash has a purpose in shaking prudish, conservative values.
Defending the film gets even more interesting when one considers the fact that director Curt McDowell's sister Melinda McDowell acts in the film, performing hardcore sex acts on-screen as her brother is directing her from behind the camera. Mind-boggling, to say the least.
It's always a strong merit for a film when you see a drunken female protagonist digging her wig from the toilet—on which she had vomited just a second ago—and putting it back on her head. Also, it's a plus when you see a gorilla giving one of the male protagonists a handjob. The voyeristic Mrs. Hammond also spies on her sexually overcharged guests through peep holes and pleasures herself with a cucumber while they engage in both hetero- and homosexual acts of intercourse and masturbation—sometimes with the aid of various sexual devices.
But despite all the marvelous vulgarity on display, THUNDERCRACK! feels terribly long. Obviously, as a B-movie, THUNDERCRACK! doesn't really have much substance to it, and the prolonged dialogue and monologue scenes drag on forever—the end result has a sedative effect despite all the sexual perversions on-screen.
The DVD version of THUNDERCRACK! I have is 122 minutes long! Watching it through without any interruptions is a daunting endurance test—just like Tinto Brass' CALIGULA (1979)—and a great way to measure one's tolerance for  trash movies. Unbelievably, the original version runs for staggering 158 minutes, which is mind-boggling to say the least. Usually, B-movies like this have the common sense to run for 80-90 minutes, but THUNDERCRACK! is basically the GONE WITH THE WIND of trash movies. Recommended only for seasoned veterans of super strong trash. -

Imagine Rocky Horror in black and white and as serious perved-out schlock-horror. Now, let's soup up the story a little...
We have a big old mansion on the hill. Some strangers are caught in a thunderstorm as their truck breaks down and they decide to seek shelter. They are shown to a room in which they can change into some dry clothes (this room just happens to contain a wide variety of sexual 'aids'). Maintain an atmosphere of menace.
Soup it up a bit more. One of the characters is love-sick for a sex-crazed gorilla with whom he had an affair back in the days when he used to work in the circus. The owner of the mansion has the remains of her husband pickled in various bottles in the kitchen. Her son contracted a weird condition in the Far East that made his balls so heavy that they crushed things and sent him crazy (so he's behind a locked door and trying to get out).
Into what is becoming an increasingly complicated story that involves cliched situations treated and re-created with incredible vision, add the odd 'porno' scene (why have pretend ones?). The effect of this is equally unsettling. Just as you get into the comfort zone of camp horror, some carefree full frontals make you feel distinctly on edge - all the better to freak you out for the next scary plot development. I should add that a bountiful mix of hetero and gay sex ensures it is not a film for dirty old men unless they are exceedingly liberal, and the sudden shifts between genuinely erotic and scarily weird make you feel involved with the characters rather than observing them from a superior height.
I saw this film for a second time in 2005 and it was apparent that a number of very explicit scenes had previously been deleted. As the graphic sexuality runs simultaneously with double and triple puns explaining the subplots, it makes much more sense with them in and makes the film more cerebral than the average psychotronic experience. The acting by lead character Marion Eaton is also outstanding, almost Shakespearean, and contrasts with the tongue in cheek hamminess of other cast members in a way that makes your jaw drop. One of the most unusual films you'll ever see, I can't imagine anything more weird if John Waters was abducted by aliens and then regurgitated all over someone making a psychotic horror spoof with political and psychological undertones.
If you like cult films this is a jewel. Go and see it with very open-minded friends, or people you know very well!
Thundercrack! is a cult classic for the seriously open minded -

Keeping track of rugged men with mustaches is not my strong suit. In fact, it's one of the weakest suits I own. No foolin'. Stand two guys in front of me with mustaches (it's entirely up to them if whether or not they wear nothing but a white jock strap when they stand before me), and I'll have a hard time telling them apart. However, the makers of Thundercrack!, the epic black comedy/erotic monstrosity from the mid-1970s about girdle trauma and inter-species intercourse, doesn't merely toss two mustache-sporting gentlemen in my general direction, uh-uh, they chuck four, count 'em, four, freaks with hair growing above their mouthy crevices at me over the course of the film's two and a half hour running time. Luckily, their facial hair wasn't what caught the elongated pubes of my fancy in its bear trap of love as I watched this bizarre oddity unfurl its lumpy mucus all over the spastic thimble collection that is my unconscious mind. If you can believe this, there was facial hair in this movie that buttered the dimples that pepper my inner thighs that didn't involve burly men with mustaches, and it was located on the expressive face of the alluring Marion Eaton, the demented sex kitten who now visits me in my dreams on a nightly basis thanks to her squishy labia drenched in five gallons of low carb marmalade. Of course, I'm never asleep at night, so these dreams are more like daydreams. Except they occur at night, making them nightdreams. Whatever you want to call them, every time I get dressed or undressed, I always try to imagine that Mrs. Gert Hammond, the character Marion plays in Thundercrack!, is watching me from an adjoining room through a pair of holes drilled in the eyes of a painting of George Washington. However, since this Canada, the eyes belong to Anne Murray; if you thought I was gonna say, Pierre Trudeau or  Sir John A. Macdonald, I'm afraid to tell you that I don't want portraits of creepy-looking men, no matter how important they were to history of Canada, staring at me as I'm getting dressed or undressed in the comfort of my own mental asylum. 
We all know what I'm doing, but what is Mrs. Gert Hammond doing as she watches me get dressed or undressed? Excellent question! She's inserting a peeled cucumber into her quagmire-esque vagina. Duh, squared!
Eyebrows! Shit! Fuck! Piss! I can't believe forgot to mention that it was Marion Eaton's always deranged eyebrows that diverted my attention from the mustaches on the faces of the fellas in this film. There I was, putting all this effort into setting up my rational obsession with Marion Eaton's eyebrows in Thundercrack!, and I decide to go on this weird tangent about drilled holes, peeled cucumbers, and, of all things, Anne Murray. It was totally unprofessional on my part, and I promise that it will happen again. Imagine if I didn't happen again? I get shudders just thinking about it. On the positive side, my off-kilter digressions are gonna put my kids through college someday.
If I had my druthers, my children, the statuesque Agnieszka (she likes Jem and collects defective scrunchies) and the pugnacious Zbigniew (he likes Sgt. Rock comics and has a rational fear of centipedes), will hopefully get into any number of the fine community colleges that litter the borough of Brooklyn, New York. Why there? Well, they have an excellent Canadian History course (learn all about John A. MacDonald and the cultural significance of Anne Murray's pussy), and, more importantly, that's where Roo (Moira Benson) went. Who the fuck is Roo, and what did she learn at a community college in Brooklyn that was so great? For one thing, she knows how to make an atomic bomb. And secondly, she gives great head. How do you know that? Just ask the cock attached to Bond (Ken Scudder), as I'm sure it will tell you what an oral delight it was to intermittently splosh around inside Roo's pretty mouth.
Opening with a scene that features Mrs. Gert Hammond (Marion Eaton) sitting in her kitchen on a stormy night mocking the weatherman on the radio, the film, directed by Curt McDowell (Loads) and written by George Kuchar (Hold Me While I'm Naked), quickly moves onto the road where we meet Bing (George Kuchar) as he's driving through the aforementioned storm. Ranting about circus life and informing us that "gorillas are different from children because they have more hair," Bing is clearly insane. The next character we meet is Toydy (Rick Johnson), who's hitchhiking in the rain. Eventually picked up by Sash (Melinda McDowell), a chick who got a red butt in Tuscon, and Roo, a tough city girl with sensual lips, Toydy thanks the ladies and gets in the backseat. Distracted by Toydy's cock (Roo insisted that he pull it out), she looses control of the car.
The fate of the threesome is unclear, as we don't see what happened to them. But Bond tells Chandler (Mookie Blodgett) that he saw an explosion. Unimpressed by what Bond saw, Chandler continues to drive. Isn't he gonna stop to see if they're all right? No, I'm afraid not. For you see, the House of Philips Unlimited is where Chandler is going, and no-one, not even a car accident, is going to stop him from reaching his destination. What's going on at the House of Philips Unlimited? Well, his late wife, Sarah Lou Philips, daughter of Leland Philips, the girdle king of central Texas, died because of the girdles they make at the House of Philips Unlimited, and Chandler has made it his mission in life to destroy his former father-in-laws girdle factory.
Seemingly unaffected by the world around him, Chandler continues on with Bond, a guy he picked up at the bus station. Hold one. The bus station?!? That's sounds kinda gay, if you ask me. Oh, believe me, I would never ask you. But you're right, it's gay, all right. Traumatized by the girdle fiasco, Chandler is now only sexually attracted to men, hunky men...with mustaches...who hang out outside bus station bathrooms. Suddenly, their conversation, which has has so far run the gamut from dodo bird tattoos to bongo drums, is interrupted by a not-so wily woman named Willene Cassidy (Maggie Pyle), the wife of a famous country singer.
Somehow convincing him to check on the car accident, Willene tells Chandler and Bond to meet her at the large house at the end of the road. When Mrs. Gert Hammond hears a knock at her door, she can't believe her ears. Realizing that the voice on the windy side of the door is not only a human voice, but a woman's voice, Mrs. Gert Hammond starts to freak out. Obviously not accustomed to having visitors, she asks Mrs. Cassidy to "please forgive the delay," and goes about fixing herself up. However, in her mind, "fixing herself up," entails drawing on eyebrows in a haphazard fashion and vomiting on her wig while wearing a black slip. As strange as it sounds, I happen to know several people who are into the whole "mature ladies who vomit on their wigs while wearing black slips after they fall in the toilet" fetish, so this scene should be right up their alley. 
Welcome to Prairie Blossom. I hope your brain is ready to absorb some fucked up shit, because Thundercrack! is about to get weird. Putting her vomit-stained wig back on, after giving a couple of shakes, Mrs. Gert Hammond finally gets around to inviting Willene into her home. The film's first big laugh comes thanks to Gerd's forgetfulness in regard to the history of Prairie Blossom, as the schmaltzy piano music stops and starts when Gerd does.
"How many days and nights has your womanly body been deprived of a wash cloth," asks Mrs. Cassidy before she removes Mrs. Gerd Hammond's slip. Placing her surprisingly taut body into a warm bath, Mrs. Cassidy proceeds to cleanse Mrs. Gerd Hammond's filthy frame in what turn out to be the film's first erotic sequence. Well, at least I thought it was erotic; Mrs. Cassidy goes to town on Mrs. Gerd Hammond's tired, aching vagina with the devotion of a loving mother.
After changing into the shortest kimono humankind has ever seen, Mrs. Gerd Hammond, her pussy refreshed and vibrant like a summer day, welcomes Bond, Toydy, Roo, Sash, and Chandler into her humble abode. There's no sign of Bing, but I'm sure he'll be around soon. While sitting in Mrs. Gerd Hammond's living room, Chandler tells the group what exactly happened to his wife on the day her girdle burst into flames. Just in case you wondering, the animosity that was prevalent between Chandler and Bond on the road continues inside Prairie Blossom, as the two of them are constantly fighting with one another.
Telling them to take off their wet clothes, and "change into apparel hanging before them," Mrs. Gerd Hammond invites them to get dressed in a bedroom at the end of the hall. And so begins the "pealed cucumber dildo voyeurism" sequence, so named because it involves a pealed cucumber dildo and voyeurism. Watching each of her guests get undressed in a room that is littered with pornographic materials through a pair of holes in the wall, Mrs. Gerd Hammond stuffs her box while Chandler uses a masturbation machine, Roos pleasures herself with a conventional dildo, Sash plays with a puppet, and is soon joined by Bond (he's wearing a condom with a chicken head on the end), and Toydy penetrates an inflatable sex doll while penetrating himself with a conventional dildo.
Somewhat flustered after Toydy catches her in the act, Mrs. Gerd Hammond retreats to the kitchen, where she talks with Mrs. Cassidy about her son (it was his room where all the guests got changed/masturbated/had sex). I liked the look on Mrs. Gerd Hammond's face as Mrs. Cassidy inadvertently ate her pealed cucumber dildo, as it reflected the look most people would probably sport if someone started to unwittingly eat your unwashed, veggie-based sex toy. Oh, and in case you were wondering what the status of Mrs. Gerd Hammond's son is, she explains it by saying, "My husband is dead, my son no longer exists." I know, what could she mean by that?
As you would expect, or maybe you wouldn't, it is, after all, Thundercrack!, the characters pair off together: Chandler and Sash have sexual intercourse in the wine cellar, Roo gives Bond vigorous blow job (work that cock, girlfriend! man, her snotty face makes my twig hard), and Toydy toys with Mrs. Gerd Hammond in the kitchen.
Suddenly, an elephant roars. It would seem that a throng of decrepit circus animals are running loose outside, including a gorilla named Medusa (Pamela Primate). It's at this point in the film, which is exhaustively long at 158 minutes (the ideal length for a movie of this type is around 80 minutes), that Thundercrack! starts to display its razor sharp wit. The dialogue that centred around Chandler's vendetta against the House of Philips Unlimited was sort of clever and Mrs. Gerd Hammond's passionate defense of her pickling technique was delightfully stupid.
When Bing finally does show up, things get even more weird. Yeah, I know. You wouldn't think that was physically possible if you were to judge by what has transpired up until this point, but they do; get weirder, that is. Wondering why a bunch of heterosexual women and gay men are hanging around the house belonging to a crazed mature woman with a rocking bod and a set of eyebrows that look like they were applied by an apoplectic dandy fop, Bing is flummoxed and a tad ansty in the pants department (his Kucharian cock longs for ripe gorilla pussy). But don't fret, Chandler fills Bing in on all the juicy details.
As Bing began to tell the tale of how he and Medusa first became intimate (a gorilla handjob underneath the big top), I couldn't believe I was still watching this. Anyway, since Medussa is crazy about bananas, and Toydy had brought along two crates worth (he always travels with fresh fruit), Bond decides to allow Toydy to fuck him in the ass in order to procure a crate. The idea is for Bond and Mrs. Cassidy (they're in love) to distract the gorilla with the bananas so that they may escape his furry clutches. It's a long time to wait for some gay sex, but it's totally worth it. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch (don't worry, Toydy used plenty of lube), but I did appreciate the man-on-man action that came near the end of this bizarre exercise. Oh, and as Mrs. Gerd Hammond would say, "People come and go, but the cucumber must stay." I think I know what you mean, Mrs. Gerd Hammond. I think I know what you mean. -