O-Type-WESTERN CLASSICS CD (Family Vineyard)
The MX-80 family of fine underground rockism has sure been busy as of late, what with their now-controversial WE'RE AN AMERICAN BAND CD being unavailable for export and whatnot, and for a buncha old geezers I guess these guys are doing a lot better than I would expect folks their age (late fifties!) to be doing at this time (mainly, looking for WORK!). Unfortunately, not all of the maniacal jazz/rock/metal-fusion that's being pounded out of the same creative pool that gave us past classics by Chinaboise not to mention those great Ralph-era albums remains...take this new O-Type spinoff CD f'rinstance. Now I've been a upfront and center fan of this Bruce Anderson/Dale Sophiea MX-80 side-project ever since I heard their first (and currently unavailable) cassette tape when it came out back during those best/worst of times days (1986 to be exact), and although their subsequent offerings have been what you would call intriguing, nice, listenable yet somehow pushed to the back of the collection I couldn't say that they were useless. It's just that what I liked in MX-80 (Sound), the variety of side-projects of theirs I've heard and their various seventies/eighties recordings perhaps didn't translate very well into my music listening parameters here in the mid-oh-ohs. Artists grow in their musical developments and so do listeners, and although said performing acts may still have many of the same qualities now that they had two decades back, somewhere down the line paths crossed to the point of irreconcilable differences where specific portions of their style and procedure just don't mesh with whatever it is that I'm looking for when I want to do a little carpe diem myself.
This new CD is evident of that...WESTERN CLASSICS is a pleasant, well-constructed and maybe even enjoyable release (featuring what I assume are reworkings of film scores in the inimitable MX-80 fashion though since I don't think I saw any of the films in question I can't tell you), but there seems to be nothing here that really zones me to heights of rabid devotion that used to have me blabbing the MX-80 name to anyone who'd dare stand still for a minute. To me, it's pretty much toned-down and watered-over O-Type that, like I said, is listener-friendly enough yet has more than a little of the original metallic zooomph missing, a shame since it's that very joy de atonality that made Anderson/Sophiea et. al. such titans in an already-swelling pool of musical creativity back in the late-seventies. If you are interested in hearing these two longtime standbys at their unmitigated peak may I recommend the original MX-80 Sound numbers recorded before the arrival of Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney that ended up not only on the DAS LOVE BOOT CD collection of instrumental MX-80 recordings but the still easily-obtainable BLOOMINGTON ONE sampler from 1975 where the Anderson/Sophiea duo plus drummers sound about as un-hinged and as uncorrupted by current technoglitches as they'll ever be.
For those of you who think I've lost my bonkers by writing what could be called a rather negative review of one of my favorite avant-rock aggregations (a review which still doesn't give an in-depth description of the sounds included as one would hope for---maybe because I feel so disoriented and dejected like I've just come from an ether party after listening to this thing) consider this...at least I didn't review the new CD by another MX-80 offshoot, mainly Pluto's SHOEHORSE EMERGING on Rastascan which sounded so much like a typically energy-less attempt at past glories by leftover new wave heavies of the seventies (including ex-Tin Huey saxist Ralph Carney) that I couldn't even listen through the entire platter. At least the Anderson/Sophiea axis is not on this one (the only MX-80 player who remains here's "Hoss" Weinstein, and I'm sure some purists wouldn't even consider him a bona-fide member of the group) but it still sounds too "1982" to me, if you get my drift.
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