Angus MacLise

Brain Damage in Oklahoma City

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Emboldened, perhaps, by the response to their previous Angus MacLise compilation, The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, Siltbreeze unearthed another hour or so of 1968-1972 MacLise material for this follow-up CD. It seems ridiculous to speak of a follow-up as "disappointing" for such an uncommercial artist, also considering that this was not crafted as a follow-up, but simply compiled as another dip into the archives. Nonetheless, it is disappointing, and not as interesting as Siltbreeze's first MacLise anthology, even though it dates from exactly the same era. Admittedly it's a fine line between whether the avant-garde constructions MacLise specialized in were entrancing or enervating, yet Brain Damage in Oklahoma City falls on the wrong side of that line just as surely as The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda fell on the right side. "The Loft Collage" and the mercifully brief "Another Druid's Next" are grating and noisy, and not inspiring; "Haight Riot Mime" sets MacLise's ever-varying bongos patterns against Daniel Moore's wearily winding scat vocals; "Epiphany" puts his hand drums against wife Hetty MacLise's bummed-out funereal organ; "Drum Solo" is just that, with barrel conga and bongos, in pretty low fidelity. These relatively brief pieces are but a warmup for the half-hour "Dreamweapon Benefit for the Oklahoma City Police Dept. Pt. 1," in which his barrel conga, Hetty's tanpura, and Tony Conrad's "limp string" (constructed with a section of vacuum cleaner pipe) embark on an endless, cacophonous, arrhythmic jam with flute, recorders, and voice. You're not off the hook when it finally peters out; part two of the same piece follows, lasting 13 minutes. No, avant-garde music isn't necessarily supposed to be pleasing, but it could certainly benefit from more focus and elevated moods than were brought to the table for these performances.

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