Rascal Reporters — Happy Accidents
(ZNR CD-1010, 1988/1996, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-02-01
What do you get when you combine two one-man bands? Why, Rascal Reporters of course. Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer are the men responsible for the music of this highly idiosyncratic American group. One listen to Happy Accidents and you are likely to come away stunned at the complexity they dish up on this 1988 production. Not only is there no improvisation, but each musician plays and composes only his own pieces. And a host of guests appear to flesh out the arrangements. There is a great bass contribution from Guy Segers, whom many will be familiar with. The most prominent guest though, is wind instrumentalist, Dave Newhouse, from the Muffins. Almost like a third member, he adds just the right sparkle of flute and saxophone.
"Weigh-In on the Way Out" is a three-part suite comprising what was side one of the LP. This composition never ceases to amaze me. Steve Gore treats the themes here in a number of ways, which includes very clever (if they were planned) little snippets of references to some rather well-known melodies. Some of the moments here capture the style and tone qualities of Egg's Polite Force album so deftly that you would swear it was recorded in 1971. Even the instruments seem ancient, just the way I prefer it. That must be a Farfisa organ they use. And boy can they play it! Jazz elements sneak in here and there as Gore takes us around the block in a whirlwind of styles. "Weigh-In" dances around with a gleeful madness that is charming, with an extraordinary sense of melody line. Parts of it almost remind me of a soundtrack to a 60s TV drama. Back when they really knew how to write 'em. Days later, and that theme is still bouncing through my head.
"Trucks" is Steve Kretzmer's contribution, another epic around the twenty minute mark, but it bears scant resemblance to his partner's work. On this side the music takes a darker twist, venturing into a dense forest of ideas. More emphasis is on the rhythmic aspect rather than melodic, so it is likely to require greater attention. Kretzmer's organ and synth playing boggles the mind with its sheer adroitness. It will surely keep any listener busy for a long time deciphering all the keen counterpoint with the bass.
This reissue contains over 30 minutes of bonus material from 1995, the bulk of which measures up to the standard set by what appeared on the LP version. You really can't go wrong with this CD — the apotheosis of what Rascal Reporters are all about. Highly recommended, as a great example of a very particular American twist on the experimental-progressive music genre.
Related artist(s): Rascal Reporters
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more