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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