Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prison Tatt Showcase #1, in review.

Songs with discernible lyrics got you down? The latest paeans to love, loss, heartache and the human condition leaving you in a pool of your own tears? You can always escape into the world of mystery, horror and enchantment that is the Prison Tatt catalog.

So far, we've had eight releases (one, Grasshopper's Calling All Creeps, is out of print, with a repress being contemplated; the band themselves have a few copies remaining), with two more coming very soon, and a veritable avalanche of releases (for a small, independent company, anyway) coming next year.

In local terms, we held our first showcase in the physical world, on the eve of November 10/11, 2011. Attendance was modest, but not too thin, with good friends, true believers, and actually more than a few people whom I didn't know personally, in the room.

The sights and sounds were excellent, as I knew they would be, though even my high expectations were exceeded by the four, standout performances. That's right—I said four, as I wasn't looking to pack the house with performers, each one doing a quick on/off, like some modern version of a Motown review—blast through your "hit," and then off. In many ways, Prison Tatt just has to be different, and as I always say, we're a "hard" label and a "head" label, and I want for our artists to have room to breathe, room to express, and I'll break convention for sure with the noise-scene standard of quickie sets for this reason alone, among others.

So, starting things off, we had NY's The Communion, whose one-sided LP, A Desired Level of Unease, will be out early next year, and in fact, their set was made up mostly of songs from that forthcoming P-Tatt release. It was really important to me that The Communion play this event, they were on my mind from the earliest planning stages, firstly because they're a great band that gets better every time I see them, and secondly because metal is huge part of Prison Tatt, and most of our metal artists are not local. It was critical to me that this aspect of our catalog be represented. Here's "Marble Husk," slated for release on their Prison Tatt record.

Second on the bill, and visiting from San Antonio, TX, was an artist that effectively bridges the noise-metal gap, sonically as well as in spirit—Husere Grav. Todd W's set was phenomenal, with layers of dense, rumbling graveyard action surging about the room. A bit like Roland Kayn, after a year in a cave with the Burzum discography. Husere Grav's Myths is one of Prison Tatt's newest releases, we're proud as fuck about it, and we hope you'll all buy yourselves a copy. Here's an excerpt from Husere Grav's brief-but-astounding performance.

Third came the majestic, mind-expanding, electronic worlds of Long Distance Poison. It was a personal thrill to witness time stopping, even and especially for many of the metalheads in the room, while LDP plied their very unique approach to modern synthesizer music. They're too melodic and long-form to be noise scenesters, and too engaging, and interesting, with layers of dissonance and constantly shifting interplay, to be Emeralds. (Sorry, if only as a contemporary touchpoint of comparison it needs to be said.) Unlike so many others, LDP do this sound right and with innovation, such that notions of "retro" never, ever come to mind. Their Bog Nebula one-sided LP is coming soon on Prison Tatt. Here's most, but not all, of their thoroughly absorbing set.

Closing out the evening, a performance by Chaos*Majik, for this performance the duo of Todd Pendu and Jesse Gelaznik. From the very beginning, I've employed Klaus Schulze as an easy and appropriate reference point for Todd's sound, though as Sarzan noted after seeing this clip, "Irrlicht, with big, hairy balls on it." CM makes a huge sound, whipping and swirling about the room, low and high frequencies set on assault, while subtle, melodic lines make a calming appearance and then just as quickly shuffle off, with the gait of Lovecraft's Old Ones. Engulfing, occult electronics of the highest order. CM's Telestic Madness—Magickal Music will mark Prison Tatt's fourth release on compact disk, coming very soon.

All in all, our evening was a creative and social success. It felt especially good to hear Bianca Ala Muerte say, "YOU did this!," as we looked around the room at the collective gathering. I tend to naturally want to hang back, not be the "star," and not take credit in person (though I'm happy to do it here in this article), and I still feel that the label has a long way to go towards being what I truly want it to be—financially successful, critically and creatively respected, and banging out at least two releases a month. My personal standard will be met when it's my filter that's the star, and the records really start to sell in large numbers, thereby paying for Prison Tatt's continued and productive existence.

Tremendous thanks to all who played (for, as it happens, not a dime in remuneration—so much for the Cameo Gallery and their "expenses"), and, played extremely well at that, as these video clips evidence. What I learned here will be beard-stroke fodder, as I contemplate PT showcase #2.

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