Posts Tagged ‘spastic’

Phantom Tollbooth

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Phantom Tollbooth
Homestead Records, 1986

Considering the year, the debut album from New York nutjobs Phantom Tollbooth could be considered an influencial landmark of screamo mathcore — had anyone heard the fucker. Their back catalog was a mainstay of cutout bins throughout the late eighties and nineties, probably the result of slightly weaker follow-up records and the lack of audience for the sort of selflessly unhinged and intensely cerebral hardcore The Tollbooth was dishing up. You can trace back the explosion of fractured mathy hardcore in the 1990s and early 2000s to this record, as demonstrated with bands like The Dazzling Killmen, Last of the Juanitas, and Brass Knuckles for Tough Guys. With discordant shards of guitar and jazzed-up rhythm section that wouldn’t find much of an audience until a decade later, this record should be considered a reference point for the evolution of hardcore punk.


Phantom TollboothPhantom Tollbooth LP (21.1MB)


Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Xerobot/Duotron split 7"Xerobot/Duotron split 7″
Coat-Tail Records, 1995

Xerobot is another long gone and forgotten band that epitomizes why Noise for Zeros exists. They splurted out a few DNA-mutating records from the depths of the upper midwest — Madison, Wisconsin to be exact — and dissolved before getting their due. Perfectly named, Xerobot’s mechanically tense and controlled (robotic) song structures and sounds were rigidly inhuman, but blown out and distorted (xeroxed) enough to push them out of any smoothly-polished Kraftwerk or Servotron ghetto into the chaotic spasm of classic No Wave groups like Mars, DNA, and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. In fact, they fit nicely into the elusive “Now Wave” genre of the late ’90s with bands like Lake of Dracula, Melt-Banana, and U.S. Maple. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of their sound were the crazy person vocals by Greg Peters, who simply has to be heard to be believed: insane, hilarious, animated, retarded, maniacal, pissed, rambling and frothing and anything but dull. Just sample the tracks below and you’ll see what I mean. He’s currently fronting Buck Pig after a few years in the awesomely-named My Name Is Rar-Rar. Two of the Xerobots headed west to San Francisco to form The Numbers, who’ve gone on to relative indie rock fame with a pop-infused version of the sputtering punk contortions that Xerobot made famous — or not so famous, as their obscure and underrated place in punk noise history has shown.

The first two tracks are from their split 7″ with Michigan doinkmeisters Duotron, and “Lumber” comes from their contribution to the second of Coat-Tail Records’ brilliantly conceived 60 Second compilations, which featured bands doing 60-second songs — a format perfectly suited for a band like Xerobot.

60 Seccond Compilation 7"


Xerobot – “Tickle Time”
Xerobot – “The Train Conductor and The Army Man”

Xerobot – “Lumber”
from Coat-Tail Records’ 60 Second Compilation 7″, 1996

Xerobot – “More Than Kittens”
from Chunklet Magazine’s Money Shot compilation CD, 1997


Buy Xerobot’s Control Panel CD at Coat-Tail Records


Friday, March 20th, 2009

Epic Fits
Skin Graft, 2007

Yikes! It’s been over a month since my last post, which sort of fits today’s post, “Epic Fits” by the UK uber spazzpunks PRE. I’d nabbed a few tracks (see below) from the Skin Graft website and thought about picking up the album for quite some time, but sort of wrote ’em off as covering the same ground as other high-tension no wave spazzoids like Melt-Banana, Dmonstrations, and Xerobot. And while they’re definitely in the same league, PRE has their own chops and more wound up energy than they seem to know what to do with, pushing each jabbing guitar burst and shriek past any sensible limit, skillfully crafting a sonic intensity that’s comparable to electrocution. It’s ridiculously confrontational, yet ridiculously fun too with unexpected twists and turns, like the extended lock groove that takes over “Scenes from A 1963 Los Angeles Love In,” stamping the riff into the ground relentlessly before it stops on a dime and snaps back to form. Then there’s the noisy, horn-assisted leitmotif of “Popping Showers” which keeps the track interesting as it sprawls: it’s the second song on the album to hover around the 4-minute mark, which is an epic amount of time for such an overamped genre. The title fits perfectly. Anyway, I’m kicking myself for not getting around to buying “Epic Fits” until now and for letting this blog go without a posting for so long. I’m anxious to redeem myself by jumping on their upcoming  “Hope Freaks” album when it’s released this summer, and by kickin’ the NFZ postings into high gear in the next few weeks…


PRE – “Drool”
PRE – “Fudging on Our Folks”
PRE – “Popping Showers”


PRE on Skin Graft Records
PRE on MySpace