Saturday, August 14, 2010

Human Ear Music tribute

It goes without saying that the Human Ear Music label and that whole LA music/art scene surrounding it made a huge impact in my life when I stumbled across their brown sounds and psuedo-intellectual bohemian philosophies some 4 or 5 years ago. Until then I had never been attracted to any particular subculture, but all of a sudden I was drawn towards this eccentric, kind of dark, yet classy mix of artistic junkies (to be blunt). It seemed to me at the time like an underground Hollywood, and its in part what made me want to move to LA, and changed my mentality towards a number of things, mainly music, fashion, and drugs. The obvious and biggest influences for me were Ariel Pink, John Maus, and Holy Shit, but today I want to shed some light on some of the lesser known Human Ear groups/affiliates. Keep in mind a lot of this material is what some would consider to be 'novelty music,' so don't be expecting anything too incredible. Not saying this stuff is bad, but there's a reason these bands didn't get Ariel Pink level recognition.

SuperCreep - Lo-fi synth duo consisting of Jason Grier and Julia Holter. Quite a competent pair and they produced some really cool, interesting sounds during their short-lived time as a band. A few people dissed them for riding on Ariel Pink's coattails (before it became cool for everyone and their dog to do this), but I think they had their own thing going. They eventually split up to pursue solo projects, but even those dissipated after a while. Haven't heard anything from either of them for a few years now.

Vibe Central - These guys apparently had some notoriety garnered from being overly dramatic and fucked up all the time, never playing shows, booking fake shows, releasing a shit load of (mostly unlistenable) material recorded from drug dazed jam sessions - mainly from just being crazy. If you can't handle Ariel Pink's early material, you'll probably want to steer way clear from VC, because it makes Ariel sound like U2. I lived with Aaron Frankel of VC for a few weeks and the guy was bipolar to the extreme, not to mention a total compulsive liar. I could tell stories about this guy all night long. Bastard promised me a Vibe Central/Ariel Pink "box set" which I never saw the likes of. Apparently he and Andrew Arduini and Nicolas Amato had a falling out and the latter two produced the video/song below to spite Frankel. It's actually a really cool song/video, but the whole drama I find amusing knowing one of the parties involved.

Ry Rocklen - My roommate Ellie actually studied art under this dude and had access to a lot of his material, but I've had this particular album (High Ry's) since the soulseek days. The most noticeable of Rocklen's attributes is the dynamic changes he can produce with his voice. As far as voices go, its actually kind of awful, but he has a lot of range with it. His music is lo-fi tape recordings of warm guitar strumming and synth keys over drum-machine beats. Pretty simple stuff really, but he has some unique and well-written songs. He is also a very talented sculpture/installation artist.

Pete Um - This dude performs a lot and writes a lot of material which he releases either unconventionally or not at all (because I can't seem to find anything outside of this one EP that I have). He also likes to video tape himself a lot (like seriously, a lot.) As far as I can tell he mostly just fucks around, and could very well be an outsider musician who doesn't know how to play any of his instruments or operate any of his gear outside of clueless experimentation. He's like R. Stevie Moore meets The Shadow Ring. The only song worth anything on Africa is a Fridge is the titular track, which, although short, is pretty awesome. The rest is just tripe and a little too weird for anyone's taste.

Softboiled Eggies were a project of Janet Kim of Tiny Creatures and Part Time Punk's Benjamin White with a revolving cast of members coming and going. Drawing from a vast pool of influences, the Eggies contained a wide variety of sounds from keyboard based sugary 60s pop to experimental new wave with post punk characteristics. I saw them play a few times... once in SF, and twice in LA and they always sounded great live. They had a better video than the one below up on youtube for "So High" but I guess that was taken down for some reason. Oh well, here's the video for "Glassy Eyes" instead:

A long time ago, I had both Bubonic Plague albums, but I don't know what happened to them. Bubonic Plague was the precursor to Geneva Jacuzzi's solo project, albeit much better. They featured some really unique and catchy lo-fi dark pop sounds. Can't believe I lost those...probably sunk with the ship with the loss of my old hard drive. Oh well, you can get a taste of their spooky, angular pop at their myspace page if you're interested.

DOWNLOAD (SuperCreep - Cancer +, Vibe Central - Hitsingles/hexamples, Ry Rocklen - High Ry's, Pete Um - Africa is a Fridge 7", Softboiled Eggies - Hardboiled):

Edit: found my Bubonic Plague stash! Features the albums No Bosses No Bullshit and Instant Coma:


  1. you got veeceed,i know where you live fool.

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