Exclusive(?) recording below!
This show was the first in a long time that I actually bought tickets to in advance. I don’t know how likely a sell-out actually was, but this was definitely one of a few real can’t-miss shows so I didn’t take chances! (the next show I have tickets for is “Royal Trux” performing Twin Infinitives in Dec.!!!) This was not only a unique collab show between these two peerless avant genii, but a release show for TWO Harry Pussy double albums, the band which Bill Orcutt was guitarist for. Does it go without saying that they are one of my all-time favorites? Does it go without saying that Bill Orcutt is one of my all-time favorite guitarists? Probably one of very few people whom I could watch play guitar unaccompanied indefinitely without becoming bored.
The show was at a place called Roulette, in a big, fancy room which seemed like it more often hosted plays or something like that. Everyone sat in folding chairs in rows. The show was in the popular solo/solo/duo format, with Chris Corsano doing a solo drum performance first. He basically improvs way, way off the grid and outside the box. What are usually percussion instruments become almost textural, sometimes being played in an irregular flurry, or scraped, or piled with curious objects. Corsano found some ways to “play” the drums which I haven’t seen anyone else do, like blowing through what looked like a plastic plunger flush against the drum head, turning it into a weird kind of reed/horn instrument.
Then it was time for the Bill Orcutt solo segment. Orcutt has come up with his own unique guitar stringing (two low and two high), and his own tuning, and his own technique, and hell, his own genre! He has named several of his songs with the word “blues” which makes a kind of sense. The guitar was a Spanish instrument, it wasn’t built to be played the way the original bluesmen did. But they came up with a whole new approach, invented without training. And that’s what Orcutt has done too. His playing is often spontaneous and free, often dissonant and clamorous, but never just one thing. There’s a lot of weird, original technique at play too and it’s not just noodling, it’s often riffing on parts that seem practiced, even if they’re barely holding together. There are spontaneous vocal exclamations too, and the whole thing feels like a musical speaking in tongues, channeling something from beyond our realm of logic.
And then came the duo! Bill Orcutt was also playing electric guitar, which he has not been doing since reappearing with his solo act. The very first thing that struck me was how much it sounded exactly like Harry Pussy. So it was LOUD and HARSH. It became really weird to hear this sound coming out of these two people who were sitting on a clean stage in front of a room full of adults in folding chairs. The guitar amp blew a fuse about a minute and a half in, and a replacement had to be found. Then they blasted through a batch more “songs” each about two minutes or less in length. I believe they were all improvised and could have been stretched out to any length, but they just all kept ending after a minute or two. And they didn’t play too many of these. There was probably about 20 minutes of music total. Short, fast, and intense, I’m incredibly glad I caught it. I also got a copy of the Harry Pussy “One Plus One” record, which rules. Some of the material appears on other releases, but there’s a lot of quality unheard stuff and the whole thing makes for a very coherent album.
I also recorded it! And so I present to you an exclusive, as far as I know, a recording of about half of the concert:
*Out of respect to the artists and the venue, I’m not including the whole show. As can be seen in the photos, Roulette was wired to record this show in much higher fidelity, so maybe someone plans on releasing a real recording of this show? In that case please consider this a preview. If anyone wants me to take this down, I will. Conversely, if those involved want to tell me that it’s fine to share the entire recording, let me know!