Brandon Bussolini

The underground

The '80s synth sounds of BART: Bay Area Retrograde are fun and of the moment

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Haushcka that's good for the ear, not skin

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Classical music fans might see the instrumental piano pieces by Germany's Hauschka and the American Dustin O'Halloran -- both performing Thurs/25 at Swedish American Hall -- as simplistic. Most of the notes they play are consonant, even if partly obscured by the objects wedged between the strings and hammers of Hauschka's prepared piano. Read more »

The incredibly filthy truth

Blood, chocolate, and moral decadence in the weirdness of Xiu Xiu
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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Since Xiu Xiu's Fabulous Muscles came out six years ago, the indie press circuit has settled in to give the group a long run of 4-or-5-star, 7.5-to-10-point, and good-to-very-good ratings. It's the 2000s' equivalent of 1970s major label benign neglect, which allowed nominally successful artists to go weird in plain sight. Read more »

Sound effects

Mincemeat or Tenspeed put the pedal to the mettle
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MUSIC One can infer a lot about a musician's relationship to hardcore from their effects pedals. Black Flag pissed off the jocks by growing their hair out and exploring ponderous jam-band territory, but modulating the guitar signal might have been a more serious affront. Black Dice took the latter tack, with Bjorn Copeland's guitar playing the role of sound generator in contrast to Greg Ginn's Tourette's-stricken riff machine. Read more »

Veronica De Jesus

GOLDIES 2009: Training our attention on the physicality of drawing, and not erasing a line in 12 years
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arts@sfbg.com

Veronica De Jesus' art is centered on drawing — not limited to it — and is sewn to the practice of putting lines on a page in a passionate, automatic way. While the Oakland-based artist's biography and work speak of displacement and nomadism, her art is unmistakably rooted in the urge to copy and recreate images by hand. Read more »

Cass' corridors

McCombs navigates lovely mazes — or Catacombs — of meaning, until they implode
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONGWRITING Cass McCombs writes songs that feel like walking into a trap. It's clear that the quasi-itinerant singer-songwriter — an old-fashioned term that seems to fit him well — is more aware of genre than the average indie troubadour, which makes his songs easy to enter but difficult to penetrate or exit. His music is not of the confessional variety, though it is indirectly personal. Read more »

This land is 'Methland'

THE DRUG ISSUE: A new book tracks a drug through America's cracks and faultlines
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DRUG LIT Books claiming to be about drugs in some way — whether nominally fiction or nonfiction — all run up against the same problem: pharmacodependency is already culture. Or, as the literary theorist and academic Avital Ronell puts it in her brilliant, uncategorizable tract, Crack Wars (University of Illinois Press, 1993), drugs articulate "a quiver between history and ontology."

Put another way, drugs aren't everything, but rituals of self-maintenance and care, from vitamins to exercise and so on, are built on addictive structures. Read more »

Do the 'bot

Disco popsters the Juan MacLean are only human -- more or less
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

It's a flagship band on America's taste-makingest dance music label, but the Juan Maclean's second full-length of peerless pop disco, The Future Will Come (DFA) is a low-stakes affair. In contrast to the orbit of expectations around the Field's recently released Yesterday and Today (ANTI-/Kompakt), there isn't the sense that it should — or can — be read as a measure of the group's artistic viability.

Which is not to say that Future hasn't undergone intense scrutiny. Read more »

At the desert shore

Throbbing Gristle returns to San Francisco to destroy the universe
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

At some point between the group's termination in 1981 and re-formation in 2004, Throbbing Gristle entered the canon. The more Throbbing Gristle music you've heard, and the more you've read about it, the less likely that conversion will seem. Matmos' Drew Daniels acknowledged as much in his contribution to Continuum's 33 1/3 series on classic albums, an exegesis of the band's most accessible statement, the puzzling 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Industrial Records, 1979). Read more »

First Person Magazine benefit party featuring Gudrun Gut

An homage to the hypnotic state that arrives when you're sucked into your favorite records
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PREVIEW Now two years old, I Put A Record On (Monika Enterprise, 2007) is a record worth lingering over. In addition to being the first solo release from Berlin-based musical gadabout Gudrun Gut, it's remarkable for how unhurried Gut was in getting around to it: she's been appearing on recordings and taking part in bands, including a very early incarnation of industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten, for more than 25 years. Her intervening projects give her the aura of a post-punk Zelig: the all-female punk band Malaria! Read more »