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"Helen Butte" Vs. Masonna Pussy Badsmell
To Live & Shave in La
"Helen Butte" Vs. Masonna Pussy Badsmell
Genres: Alternative Rock, Special Interest, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (37) - Disc #1


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All Artists: To Live & Shave in La
Title: "Helen Butte" Vs. Masonna Pussy Badsmell
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Caroline Distributio
Original Release Date: 8/15/1996
Re-Release Date: 8/6/1996
Genres: Alternative Rock, Special Interest, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Experimental Music, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 798686323529

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CD Reviews

The genius of To Live and Shave in L.A., partially revealed.
Authur Davis | New Haven, CT, USA | 10/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Well, this album won't make the fans of Japanese noise music very happy, but for other, more adventurous souls...To Live and Shave in L.A., always elusive in their intent (and thus frequently misunderstood and reviled), are now critically revered, viewed primarily as the band who "destroyed" noise orthodoxy by presenting a scurrilous, irreverent new paradigm. They mocked underground culture mercilessly, but reserved their most foul approbations for themselves. They lacerated their recordings, gleefully ripping them to shreds with manic dub intensity, re-packaging everything in absurdist "free-glam" garb. It was an approach that few Japanese noise purveyors could even begin to fathom (although The Boredoms' brilliant Yamantanka Eye, an avowed TLASILA fan, seemed to work within an equally bizarre parallel universe); artists such as Merzbow and (Canadian elders) Nihilist Spasm Band seemed, in comparison to To Live and Shave in L.A., to be stuck in a previous century. The shift was that dramatic, that sudden.With the recent canonization of TLASILA's mad ringleader Tom Smith (interviews and reviews in The Wire, The New York Times, other "high-toned" publications who once would have blanched at running a piece on such a motley ensemble), it has become obvious that Smith and To Live and Shave in L.A. were working on an altogether higher level. They blended hyper-literate texts (see this album's "The Six in The Six Wolves," "I Slur a Name," "A Low Mass Will Be Said" for proof) with hyper-speed, musique-concrete deconstructions of rock sonics, all filtered through a Crypt/Estrus low-fi aesthetic. (The irony is that Smith worked as a professional sound engineer for a television network, and recorded all of TLASILA's ten albums at state-of-the-art facilities!) "Helen Butte" is maddening, of course. It's mastered in a very odd fashion, and mixed in such a way as to defeat comprehension. These shadings, although intentional, could have been discarded. Only toward the end of the album, when the piano intro to "Bataille = No Stipe" crackles out of one's home speakers, do things begin to resemble "music." Elsewhere, the multi-tracked insanity spirals in all directions, with massed layers of voices colliding with heavily fuzzed bass guitar riffs (reminiscent of the playing of King Crimson alumnus John Wetton) and screeching, sputtering oscillators. Smith claimed to have a "production epiphany" in late 1995, and this assertion seems to be an accurate one. Subsequent albums (1997's "Tonal Harmony," released in the UK on tiny independent Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers, 1998's "Where a Horse Has Been Standing and Where You Belong," issued in the USA on the micro-indie Western Blot, and 2002's widely-praised 2-CD masterpiece "The Wigmaker") seem to explode off the stereo, yielding dual delights - their cool textual inscrutability was at last matched by equally brazen obelisks of continuously fragmenting sonics. Sheer madness! TLASILA broke up in 2000, and in their wake a slew of new groups (such as New York's Sightings, Lexington, Kentucky's Hair Police, Switzerland's OHNE, who record for the prestigious Mego label) have rushed into the vacuum. All site To Live and Shave in L.A. as a signal influence."Helen Butte" is a transitional work, but at least half of its tracks hit home, striking with weird unpredictability. They definitely weren't noise, or junk, or whatever label old-school fundamentalists prefer to attach to their music. To Live and Shave in L.A. were that rarity - sui generis, completely without precedent. If the nude centerfold of the obviously drugged-out Smith doesn't put you off, then you're in for an anti-musical treat with "Helen Butte." Give it a listen, but remember to leave the lights on!"
So much junk rock is better than this...
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 12/06/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)

"With the existence of stuff like Lasse Marhaug, mid-era Merzbow, Crash Worship, the Nihilist Spasm band, etc. etc. ad nauseam, one wonders why anyone would bother spending money on a band who does it with such artlessness. Anyone can throw equipment around a studio and howl into a microphone (and yes, I realize the stupidity of using that argument when trying to distinguish between junk rock bands), but for some reason, the Americans just don't seem to have mastered the art in the same way others have. Perhaps it's because the Japanese, the Norwegians, et al. don't record and release without a couple of steps in the middle. When you hear a junk rock release by Merzbow, it's obvious there was some cleaning, a whole lot of cut-and-paste, and an eye toward the wholeness of a composition involved. With TLASILA, if anything on here had post-production work done to it, or if there were any pre-planning involved, I can't hear it. The new listener to junk rock is advised to seek out early Merzbow recordings (Merzbox Sampler contains a number of tracks from that era, and is much more avaliable than most of his early stuff is in its original form) or the recent Jazzkammer disc Hot Action Sexy Karaoke for a much better example of what can be accomplished by breaking stuff."
An experience in sonic enlightenment
Robert P. Beveridge | 08/10/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sick, twisted, and only blown away by live performances of the material, there are no easy ways to describe this album except you can achieve half of the tone by putting your radio stations between signals, pushed up to ten, put a meagaphone next to your head and have someone scream loudly while thumping on a bass guitar.Brilliant stuff here."