Wednesday, December 4, 2013

RAW ON. ep.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013


Monday, December 24, 2012


"Pagan Tiger Swing Band" reviews.

"Pagan Tiger Swing Band (Lp)"
released July 2012

Not such a fan of this band's name (sounds like a bad hippie jam group who do US government conspiracy inspired songs) but I do love what they're laying down on this LP. I can't identify all the players, but it does have Columbus Discount main man Adam Smith on "oscillating feedback network"(!), and at least one member of Guinea Worms and Necropolis also in the ranks. Overall, it has a constant running vibe very similar to El Jesus De Magico, a sort of dubby and dirty Midwestern psych-out with various other tricks and influences coming in and out. It's loud and deep and sometimes reminds me of the nastier Twisted Village products, Wormdoom in particular. "Foolish Pride" opens triumphantly, sounding like a spaceship making its landing on earth during an electronics shitstorm with guitar/bass riffs falling from the sky. Smith's oscillating feedback network (whatever the hell it is) sounds amazing. Some tunes go for the melancholic and heads held low Cheater Slicks-esque approach, but mutated with electronic effects, more drugs and less alcohol ("Fancy Lines", "Picking up the Man"). Listening to endless jams like "I've Been Mad for Quite Some Time Now" makes you feel like you’re doped up and watching tracers scream through the sky while a garage band is stuck in a time loop playing the same riff over and over. Serious shit. Fave cut might be "Neither Do You" which sounds like the best Guinea Worms line-up deconstructing "Hey Joe" while hopped up on (and covered in) glue. The record of course ends on a massive drum-n-psych barrage ("Executive Suites") and stick around for the after-party Satanic dub bonus track as well. This is exactly what I wanted the last El Jesus De Magico record to sound like. Best Columbus psych record since 'Scalping the Guru'. Fantastic. Scum stats: 300 copies (100 each on black, white and swirl), with hand painted sleeves (with track listings done in ball point pen!) repurposed from the Used Kids' dollar bin.(RK)

  From the one true dead angel
Man, this is a confusing record. Because it was recorded at Columbus Discount Recordings, I thought it was on that label -- but no, it's actually on another label entirely, something that's not made terribly clear by the album's deliberately mystifying packaging and liner notes. It certainly sounds like it could be a CDR release; it's all about the lo-fi, mind-melting psychedelic garage rock experience. Just to make things more confusing, there are apparently a couple of unlisted songs (meaning, the scribbled titles on the jacket are not terribly helpful), and the songs themselves are deeply mysterious, sounding something like the product of members of an obscure religious cult jamming in the temple basement. Half the time the treble-heavy guitar sounds like a piano fed through miles of reverb, and while the bass and drums provide a regular (if sometimes ramshackle) rhythm section, the addition of "oscillating feedback" adds a spaced-out layer of sound that makes it all the more otherworldly. Even more intriguing is how the guitar and oscillator tones frequently mimic the sound of a demented gospel choir -- or maybe those really are vocals buried in the background and drenched in so much echo that they're indecipherable; certainly the liner notes appear to include lyrics, although they're written out in such a primitive form of hen-scratching that it's hard to tell. (There are clearly discernible vocals on a couple of songs, but that doesn't mean there aren't hidden ones elsewhere; this is definitely a band that likes to play it close to the vest.) I can't decide if they were high on drugs or Jesus when they made this, but either way, it's a pretty surreal listening experience, and definitely one that's probably best appreciated while under the influence. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies (100 on black vinyl, 100 on white, and 100 in fluorescent swirl), housed in hand-drawn / silk-screened jackets repurposed from old record jackets scavenged from the Used Kids Records free bin.

From Yellow Green Red:
There’s something about an LP jacket so thickly crusted with paint that I find undeniably appealing, from my copy of the Universal Indians / Gravitar split LP (which is still somehow wet!) to this wonderfully disorienting LP by The Altered States Of The United Snakes. I think anyone outside of Ohio probably figured this was an LP by the Pagan Tiger Swing Band from the cover design, but nope, it’s vice versa. Not sure if this is anything more than a one-off project from what must be some group of Columbus Discount buddies (a Cheater Slick? a T.N. Viking? Some sort of Basshole?), but I’m not too concerned with The Altered States Of The United Snakes’ touring plans – they gave us an album of nicely-distorted rock songs and that’s good enough for me. Musically it’s not too far from El Jesus De Magico, or maybe even The Dead C (if you want to expand the geography), but really this sort of thing has to come from Columbus; even Australians can’t rightly fake it. It’s kinda like the Columbus indie-rock answer to the early Comets On Fire records, where you can tell they’re in some cramped and stinky room, high, and jamming their songs harder and more extended than they should (who’s gonna stop them anyway?), with one guy chain-smoking and running keyboards and tapes through a space-echo just for the hell of it. Sounds like something I’d want to hear, and it certainly is!

Still Single
Played this once a while back and learned that it was Columbus guys who’d used this name back in the ‘90s, and are now reconvening for a full-length largely in the spirit of Jim Shepard’s musical legacy. Songs and vocals are very reminiscent of the meatier side of V-3, except for a little hollowness which Shepard’s spirit would have filled in his own band. It’s nothing to worry about, though, as this one is a worthwhile listen of patently overeducated, well-read Ohio males in the demeanor and delivery expected from that town’s bands. Songs take a lot of left turns in the name of coupon-clipping profundity, and these guys make that sort of turbulent sound with a natural touch. They share a member with Guinea Worms and in a way Pagan Altar Swing Band plays as the aggravating afternoon to that band’s blackout drunk late night at the bar. Don’t let this perceived lack of enthusiasm steer you away from this record; it’s a good one, but I’m having trouble piecing together why, apart from who made it, where and when. If you are after Ohio rock that is a few cuts above, this’ll be it. Comes in a hand-painted/screened/written-on sleeve and looks really good in a very sloppy sort of way, though that split-second pause between tracks will not go away once you hear it. 300 copies. (


Monday, November 26, 2012



Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Columbus Alive
Like many a musical mad scientist, Davey Highben inhabits his own distinct reality, one where contradictions and chaos are means to making sense of earthbound existence.
For Highben, making music is “the only thing that really brings me to peace,” even if that music is among the least peaceful racket a human being could conceive. He is a self-proclaimed perfectionist who “could work on something for 10 years trying to get it right,” but someone with Highben’s hunger for creation “(doesn’t) have the time to wish for the perfect idea of something.”
Instead, Highben leads his band Altered States of the United Snakes (AS*US for short) on a sonic scouting mission, attempting to pluck transcendence out of the ether and bask until it dissipates. They leave their lo-fi punk rock open-ended, keeping structures loose and always searching for new approaches.
As bassist Fred Pfening explains, “We’re trying to find the moments where it goes beyond what we could plan.”
While Pfening and drummer Mat Bisaro have become trusty co-conspirators with Highben over the years, other catalysts have come and gone. The sonic upheaval once provided by departed guitarists Tom Derwent and Adam Fleischer now falls to The Unholy Two noisemaker Adam Smith and his oscillating feedback network.
That said, the band’s lineup and sound have stabilized a lot since the days when Fleischer would invite guests to play with AS*US on a whim.
“For a while, since we never practiced, it seemed like a good idea,” Highben said.
This Saturday they’ll celebrate the latest document of their combustible cacophony. “Pagan Tiger Swing Band” was originally released last fall as a comically limited CD-R. Now 300 copies are coming out on vinyl courtesy of Ohio experimental label Lost Treasures of the Underworld.
The band is playing two release shows in the same day, one at Used Kids and one at Ace of Cups, which seems like a good way to cut your audience in half. But as Bisaro put it, “I don’t think any of us are in this for the audience.”
Photo by Greg Bartram

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"Pagan Tiger Swing Band (cdr)"
released August 2011
limited to 39 handmade cdrs...
self released. out of print.

The Other Paper
Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 6:57 pm | Updated: 7:02 pm, Wed Aug 3, 2011.

Noise as a musical expression has gained a much wider audience in this century than in the previous one, with mixed results. The problem is the same as with punk rock: With the cost of entry so low, few genuine talents emerge.

That brings us to the collective efforts of the Altered States of the United Snakes. Before its new release, Pagan Tiger Swing Band, one could safely have overlooked the group. Now, it is best not to. This time around, Davey Highben and company have honed their splattered sound into an instrument of stabbing beauty.

What separates the artists from the poseurs in noise is their ability to stretch their creative vision out and onto a skeleton of structure. It is not an abdication of the absolute freedom of noise, but an acknowledgement of the limits of that freedom. The short list of such artists includes the likes of the Flaming Lips and Boredoms.
AS/US have taken their sound and melted it down into something resembling Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising, Pink Floyd's Meddle and Guided by Voices' first six albums of hissy beauty. The band has eschewed intentional (or unintentional) weirdness for three of recorded music's better sonic toolboxes and is infinitely better for it.
Time will tell if this is a mere dabbling with structure or Altered States finding its natural sound.
The Altered States of United Snakes will perform along with OBNOX and Andrew Graham and the Swarming Branch at 10 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 6) at the Rumba Café, 2507 Summit St. Note: A Trifecta listing in the July 28 edition incorrectly stated the show would take place last weekend.

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                                       ALTERED STATES of the UNITED SNAKES (AS*US)
                                                                  "Exectutive Suites Ep"
                                                                 released October 2008
                                                             limited to 50 handmade cdrs...
                                                                 self released. out of print.

 from Smashin' Transistors:
 Take of some of the drugs that Pink Reason has lived on and give them to Skip Spence when he was recording "Oar". Sure, Skip's brain was mess up on all kinda who knows what but the things people were burning up their braincells up on back then look like Vitamin Water compared to some of the toxic things people today ingest for a buzz no matter how damaging the not so long term effects . Then imagine if Neil Young heard the results of such a thing while he was on tour with Sonic Youth (the only time I've even seen Neil live but something like the 5th for SY) and the idea of putting together a rural route influenced doom rock band together. Critics and his label would've buried the thing but eventually people like the Altered States of the United Snakes would dig it back up and declare it theirs. Feedback gives way to tape loops that then gives way to rattly acoustic guitars and pie tin cymbal crashes. It gets noisier as it goes on culminating with AmRep recorded on one bargain priced mic slime. And that's just the first song. Calling Columbus, Ohio their place to live they fit right in in the college town that bands like El Jesus de Magico, Necropolis, the Unholy Two and Psychedelic Horseshit also lay their hat.

 from Terminal Boredom:
 If I gave this a blind listen, I’d probably guess that it’s a Columbus, Ohio release. I’m not sure what that says except maybe that there is some groupthink going on among the city’s musicians. On this demo, AS*US have the following going for them: great color copied collage artwork, endearingly sloppy hand-written notes (lyrics, I think, but the emphasis here is in the slop), and the music has its moments—“Radio. Tape. Deck.” and “Coat of Arms” stand out. But the highlights are buried among the unnecessarily long jams that dominate the disc and make listening a chore. The twelve minute “Executive Suites” is particularly painful and the twenty-four minute live set at the end blends into a single, unmemorable track (even the reprised versions of songs that I like from the studio material drag here).(DH)

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