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27 July 2010

Burning Star Core - 'West Coast Spring 2004' (What The --?)

Vinyl Underbite returns from summer holidays! With all apologies for the lack of notice, but, no, we haven't died or disappeared. So those of you clinging to our every transmission, seeking Underbite satisfaction, can now return to the regularly scheduled programme with this adventure. West Coast Spring 2004 begins with a quick line check before C. Spencer Yeh explodes into some skittery violin fuckery, with Robert Beatty's "acoustic appraiser" (that's big talk for a hearing test machine) counterpoints and understruts things. As a duo there's a lot of space, and it's probably the only way this cassette-fi quality is tolerable. Instead of being murky and disappointing, my attention is drawn to the movement, energy and interplay instead of the psychedelic aspets of the sound layers. That's not to say this isn't an outer exploration of timbre and tone - Beatty's ringing echoes are pointed and haunting, created a pretty bad trip that occasionally takes centre stage (Yeh knows when to drop back and let Robert "solo"). There are times when they get so busy chasing their own tails that it becomes impossible to distinguish the two instruments, and it's nice to think that these sounds, created six years ago, live on in this wax, to be replayed over and over. This was originally released as a cassette series and this LP collects the highlights, with Side A being from Seattle and Side B from San Francisco. The vocal-driven Yeh material is clunky and hoarse, again due I think to the recording fidelity, and it sounds less voice-like than other recordings of his, apart from a few breakthrough bits of gnarlanguage. Side B has a spoken introduction - the audience sounds small, but enthusiastic, which is the best kind, right? -- and then begins with some searing bright light drone, slowly opening and unfolding and pulsing. This is perhaps where the lo-fi nature leaves one wanting, as the distortion of the recording equipment prevents the blissout from taking centre stage. It's okay though, because by the end things have descended into a bit of a tussle, which is continued in the next (brief) track, another jerky free-for-all that blends dancing fingertrips with blurting electronic windbreaking and squealing glimmers. It ends before it really gets anywhere, and then after an unintelligible introduction we hear Beatty's angry toy arms and a megaphone-styled voiceline. It ends like a drunken remix of Bill O'Reilly's A Current Affair outbursts, and distance has truly been covered.

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