Ecstasy Mule Contemplates Hunting + Drinking When the Rainbow is Enuf

by Ecstasy Mule

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Inwood Musical Combo Accidentally Makes Third Record
By Keith Blakely (UPI)
May 10, 2008

Len37 and Casey G, the avant-blues collective known as "Ecstasy Mule," spent one evening recording their first record. Their second record took over two years, even though it was less than a half hour long. And now, the band says, they've stumbled onto a third, just four months after the previous one.

"It just kinda happened," said guitarist G. "Everything was found on the streets of Inwood. Even the music. It comes off an old cassette tape that was sitting on the sidewalk."

"Well, that's not really true," guitarist 37 interjected, during an afternoon interview at Patrick's saloon in their Inwood turf. "We did record the music."

"Yeah," came G's reply, "whatever."

The band chose the archaic "maxi-single" format for its new release, "Ecstasy Mule Contemplates Hunting and Drinking When the Rainbow is Enuf." The project harkens back to the glory days of the CD single, they explain, when instead of different songs the listener would be treated to several versions of the same song.

"The maxi single was key to the development of improvised music in the 1980s and 1990s," G explained. "All of the greats did them - Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, Fred Frith, they were all using the maxi single format to promote their full-length releases."

"I don't know about that," 37 butted in. "I don't really remember any of them doing that. And this isn't really promoting a new record - it is our new record. Well, it is and it isn't."

The song featured on the maxi single is called "Missouri Couple Seeks Law Against Hunting and Drinking." The different versions include performances by guest musicians Kristen Persinos (of the rock and roll ensemble Imposter Syndrome), Motoko Shimuzu (from toycore duo Spin-17), Mikey IQ Jones (a member of the Brown WIng Overdrive musical outfit) and Reid Gray, who has performed with Ecstasy Mule in the past.

"Reid is a brilliant musician, a classical pianist with a huge knowledge of musical history," 37 said. "We didn't really use him for that, though."

The maxi single is available through Downtown Music Gallery and Squidco, as well as by contacting them directly through their MySpace site, and they plan to sell it at concerts if they ever do any more. They are also offering a special deal on both the new record and the previous one, "Ecstasy Mule Sings Songs of Love and Redemption," packaged together in a Ziploc bag.

"It's a pretty good record," G observed, dropping a shot glass filled with bourbon into his pint of beer. "A lot of other people have made records that are way better, but it's not that bad."

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REVIEW FROM DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY
Ecstasy Mule is Len 37 and Casey G on acoustic & electric guitars, bouzouki, Korg and electronic effects. This is their third release and again they surprise me with their wacky inventiveness. This 38+ minute disc consists of four different versions of "Missouri Couple Against Hunting & Drinking" with three different vocalists utilized. On the first track, Reid Gray reads what sounds like a police reports of the knuckleheaded mishaps of those who shouldn't own guns and end up hurting themselves. The music is contemplative and dark, giving us time to consider these sad adventures. The music seems to get darker and more treacherous on each piece. Motoko Shimuzu's voice is somewhat spooky on the second track with guest percussion from our own Mikey IQ Jones (from Brown Wing Overdrive). Kristen Persino does the spoken word thing on the third track and reminds me of one of my grammar school teachers, somewhat scary but real. Len and Casey do a fine job of evoking the darker side of life when threatened by idiots with guns. Track 4 features mostly layers of looped talking with some distant beats. Strange and fun sounds for strange and fun times. - BLG

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REVIEW FROM THE SQUID'S EAR
Ecstasy Mule's latest 'maxi-single' presents in three parts "Missouri Couple seeks Law Against Hunting + Drinking", a piece performed live in distinct ways three times in New York City. Each features a different narrator or text interpreter &emdash; Reid Gray, Motoko Shimizu, and Kristen Persinos &emdash; and each uses a variety of acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, keyboards and effects to create a yowling and clattering complement to the stories being told. Ecstasy Mule has clearly been listening to the modern e-a improv world, twisting it in the ways that Chris Forsyth, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, or Volcano the Bear might, choosing from a broad palette of approaches and sound sources to create an active, growling and constantly shifting environment.

The 'Mule's Len 37 & Casey G are free improvisors at heart, swaying closer to the rock idiom, but borrowing from many modern ideas of improvisation of interest to fans of Fred Frith, No Neck, Sun City Girls &c.. The three tracks of this release were each recorded at different venues around New York City. Each presents in narrative style news articles of gun accidents, taken from a collection of note cards kicking around the sidewalk of Dykman Ave in Northern Manhattan, presumably used to prepare someone in favor of gun control. This becomes the guide for the piece, each brief article read in a flatter and more observational way than conventional news-casting. The music is free-form and blues based, influenced as much from downtown NY as psychedelic blues forms.

To distinguish between the three recordings: "Grand St." is a thick mix of acoustic and electric guitar, often heavily effected, countered with ringing tones and percussive sounds, while Reid Gray's acerbic implications give the piece the clearest of the three narratives; "Dean St." is the fuzziest and perhaps most unique, the 'Mule in a dark mood of droning distortions and aggressive barrages of percussion provided by Mikey IQ Jones of Brown Wing Overdrive, while Motoko Shimizu invokes an alien distance to the articles with blackly humorous implications; "207 St." is the more intricate and best recorded, from their own back yard at 207 St. Gallery in Inwood (upper Manhattan), creating rhythmic tornados of sound like the howl on a forsaken plateau, Kristen Persinos providing the most passionate reading of the three.

"Hunting + Drinking (Add Bonus Beats Mix)" is a musique concrète piece taken from field recordings of various Ecstasy Mule performances, and a spoken word piece constructed for dj disturbed of Squidco Radio. That piece uses multiple computer voices reading the comments of a poster in two upper Manhattan online forums, who objected to the "207 St" performance for both the artsiness of the music and his perception that Ecstasy Mule was taking a stance for gun prohibition. This latter provides a good observation about the perspective of the piece and its potential interpretation, as the "Missouri Couple..." narrative simply replicates the sentiment of an anonymous opinion without casting judgement — the reading is either flat, taken out of cultural context, or oddly sardonic and non-committal. As the title of the piece explains, this is Ecstasy Mule contemplating the issue in light of the fack that "the rainbow is enuf." It's good to see that words can still incite, even if they are cast off and found on the ground.

I leave the brief final piece of the album to the listener as an appropriate ending to a very articulate and twisted collection of live performances and its exuded studio composition. With a glass of absinthe, this mule is just right!

- Phil Zampino

credits

released May 8, 2008

(BATT004)
Text and cover art found on separate occasions on Dyckman St., Manhattan. Cover design by Kurt Gottschalk.

Len37 + Casey G played acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, Korg PSS-50 + electronic effects.

Live vocals: Reid Gray (1), Motoko Shimuzu (2); Kristen Persinos (3)

Vocal program: Phil Zampino (4)

Drums: Mikey IQ Jones (2)

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BatterrieRecords New York, New York

Batterrie Records was named for the battery that exploded inside a tape deck when ADD Orchestra was trying to record. In addition to the inaugural release by ADD, Batterrie has issued CDRs by Ecstasy Mule and by Kurt Gottschalk, who more or less maintains the operation. ... more

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