Lake of Dracula / Weasel Walter Quartet CDs reviewed by John Graham
Sep 14, 2007, 02:35
LAKE OF DRACULA Skeletal Remains CD WEASEL WALTER QUARTET Revolt Music CD
In the mid-1990s—back when the phrase “No Wave” wasn't tossed around like a $2 training bra—Weasel Walter reigned as the (then mostly forgotten) genre's biggest memorialist. His hair molded into insect antennae, he bounced around Chicago with one No Wave flea circus after another, exposing audiences to malignant noise-rock sickness. Sickness, for example, like Lake of Dracula. Hacking atonal two-note rhythms from his guitar and then javelin-tossing it across the room into his amplifier, Walter & Co. would wreak magical havoc while a few confused attendees gaped. Or maybe fled. Hipsters just weren't into to this crazy shit back then. They certainly didn't do the psycho go-go shimmy like they will to likes of XBXRX, Ex Models, or Liars today. Lake of Dracula released one lonely album and vanished with the dawn.
Or so it seemed.
Thankfully, Walter saved some sonic shrapnel, remnants, and leftovers from Lake of Dracula. Savage Land Records then kindly agreed to release these Skeletal Remains, the second (and almost surely last) Lake of Dracula album. If you never heard the band's original disc on Skin Graft, this may come as an abrupt revelation: minimalistic, treble-sharpened guitars staple themselves through mechanistic marching snares while vocalist Marlon Magas pukes random, unintelligible lyrical effluvium through the microphone screen. I believe I once described it as a scathing impersonation of synth-punching punks Six Finger Satellite after suffering a massive aneurysm. Anyway, it was great in the late '90s and it's still great in the late '00s. An intense mess of true No Wave anti-music. Seek ye it with drool-stained dollars at your own peril.
Of course, one of Weasel Walter's other longtime guises is Flying Luttenbachers, who began life as thrash jazz assassins (if we may respectfully pilfer a Naked City song title) but soon transmogrified into proggy metallists. Well, the Weasel Walter Quartet—now based in Oakland, CA—don't play the heavy metal game. Revolt Music is straight-no-chaser free jazz, with whiplash sax blasts from the first note to the last. Walter is on drums here and he flails away as if he's fighting off the spirits of Gene Krupa, William Hooker, and Hamid Drake. Meanwhile you've got multiple bassists, a guest visit from guitarist Henry Kaiser, and saxophones flying all over the place like Dorothy and Toto getting blown out of Oz. The ever-shifting quartet normally plays small venues in the Bay Area and the effect of this “revolting” skronk is usually massive sensory overload. The CD captures the quartet's literal sound just fine—but the sweat and intensity must be seen in the flesh for full appreciation of the band's Herculean hurricane. [Lake of Dracula: Savage Land; Weasel Walter Quartet: ugEXPLODE]