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Scratchrock Volume XIV

October 10th, 2015 Comments off

Album #: 50

Recording Dates: 2001-2004

Release Date: 2005

Catalog: SMR22

ScratchNotes:

By 2001 my musical activities had slowed to a pace that only the Sheep Fiends could fill. There are numerous reasons why this volume that covers four full years is comprised of only live performances. The economy fell apart and my career was in serious jeopardy. My attention moved towards putting together the Skroch 200. I returned to school in pursuit of a Finance Degree. There just seemed to be no time for music; until a phone call or email arrived inviting me to the palace of free thought just off of Bryn Mawr in Chicago.

I showed up for 7 jams in 2001 and 7 jams in 2002 and no jams in 2003 and 3 in 2004. A total of 17 jams in 4 years – that’s 1460 days – a jam once every 85.88 days. This volume of Scratchrock is comprised of 14 songs from 9 of these musical groupings.

The Dentists formed in early 2001 as one of the many failed attempts at creating a “real band” out of Sheep Fiends. DDS ((aka The Dentists)(aka Dave, Doug, Scratch)) kind of learned some originals, but more often just crafted odd takes on a diverse collection of cover tunes like those of Boston and the Monkees found on this disc. After two months or so the Dentists stopped showing up altogether.

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Four Track Sampler

Track 01 – Inside a Room Inside a Cave Inside the Moon (Sheep Fiends) – A favorite of mine from this era. I’m your guide for another improvised cosmic journey backed by a somewhat bluesy performance from the band. Can’t you hear we’re docking soon?   [Scratch on Guitar & Vocals]

Track 06 – Russell’s Potion (Sheep Fiends) – Fuzzed out bass and swooping theremin form the soul of this track, with my warbling guitar and a jazzy beat bringing a healthy sense of confusion to the party.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – Don’t Try (The Dentists) – One of the few original tracks the Dentists worked on during their short stay in the chair. If this song had lyrics, I never saw them!  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 12 – Is That All There Is? (Sheep Fiends) – Brian M. lashes out against the forces of dissatisfaction in this stomping aggro number. A cathartic despair expressing the downside of human interaction.  [Scratch on Guitar]

 

Scratchrock Volume XIII

March 11th, 2012 Comments off

Album #: 32

Recording Dates: 1999 – 2000

Release Date: 2001

Catalog: SMR18

ScratchNotes:

Recording with the Sheep Fiends increasingly made up the bulk of my musical output as my free time turned to other endeavours.  A sick fascination with the stock market ensued, and an emotional obsession was fostered by way of the rise and collapse of Wall Street.  I must forever live with the knowledge that at an April 2000 Sheep Fiend jam, I warned through song that “The Nasdaq is gonna crash” – while in real life I kept my tech stocks and took a beating.

My former role as multi-instrumentalist in the Sheep Fiends became mutated, as I slowly transformed into one of the main vocal presences in the band. My unique improvisational take on reality and what should be done about it meshed well with the more folk and hippie elements typical of the Fiends lyrics. A few of the band members began making edited CDs of our rehearsals, and the Sheep Fiends’ archiving ritual was stepped up a level.

I purchased a digital 8-track recorder which saw little use – “Vikings (part 3)” and “The Skyway” being the only recorded output to date.  I also played around with sample manipulation using my PC, and participated in a few left field collaborations.

Anisa and I kept quite busy during this period, our primary activities being the creation of the “Vortex of Skrochocracy” website, and making preparations to buy a house and finally ditch the dirty city…

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Five Track Sampler

Track 02 – The Rising Price of Gasoline (Sheep Fiends) – Behold my autobiographical rage at the concept of having to pay 20 bucks for a tank of gas. Those were the days my friend…  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 03 – The Wind Cries Howard (MX Skroch and Dave L.) – The Howard Stern show occupies Jimi Hendrix in this indigestion-fraught reinterpretation that I don’t…really…understand. But I was happy to lay down the bass track for this jam and think it’s an amusing one-off track.  [Scratch on Bass]

Track 08 – The Skyway (MX Skroch) – Sadly, a rare example of my solo work during this period. The Sheep Fiends were fairly active and my projects with Suneel were underway so my personal output was scarce. But I really like the few tracks I did knock out; including this rocking tribute to the tollway lifestyle.  [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 13 – The Madness (MX Skroch) – Just samples and effects. Despite a slightly rough final production I think this track sounds just as cool today as it did a decade ago.  [Scratch on Sample Collection & Manipulation]

Track 17 – Unhappyman (MX Skroch and Suneel Viktor) – I pour my freshly plucked sample collection all over Suneel’s synthy grooves to satisfying effect. He thought there was no way he could lose… [Scratch on Sample Collection & Manipulation]

Scratchrock: An Abridged Testimonial (2CD set)

December 15th, 2010 Comments off

Album #: 27

Recording Dates: 1986-1999

Release Date: 2000

Catalog: SMR16

ScratchNotes:

What you are holding is a testimony. It is a memory. It is an egocentric creation prepared especially for your indulgence.

Eleven incarnations,

Forty-three manifestations,

Fourteen years of praise.

Twelve compact discs capture the complete tale in words, song, and imagery. You are in possession of a musical Cliffs Notes. Not so much “greatest hits” as “unique sounds” and “interesting experiences”. I don’t sing very well, so do not bother pointing it out – I am aware. Recordings range from defective boombox to 16 track studio (they each have special qualities). Some tracks were rehearsed to death, others are improvisation. Some lyrics are heartfelt expression, and others are just plain goofy. Let’s just call it a collection of frequencies to bounce off your eardrums in your spare time.

This all began in 1986. My first instrument was the $99 guitar/amp combo from Service Merchandise. I moved on to the Flying V. Then there was the anarchic battle of the bands appearance with the No-Name Band, and the Modulated Casio vs. Acoustic Guitar duels with Brian P. Shortly thereafter came the on again/off again power trio called the Raging Bellybuttons. Brain Plug followed. Solo work was recorded and then I joined IMF. We broke up and came back from the grave as the Hidden. More experimental pieces were actualized; and brief encounters with Redneck Exorcist (not featured on this collection), the Unnamed Band, and the future Mrs. Skroch materialized. Finally, the current projects – improvisational sounds with the Sheep Fiends and the beats with Suneel.

What else can we say? Take a listen. Repeat. Don’t give up too soon, a testimony is a subtly multilayered beast. Give in to it.

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No Track Sampler

Please refer to the individual volumes of Scratchrock for audio samples of this material.

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Scratchrock Volume XII

March 29th, 2010 Comments off

Album #: 17

Recording Dates: 1998-1999

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR13

ScratchNotes:

I graduated from school, got married, landed a decent job and moved back to the dirty city. Our landlord spent every night for two months in our apartment installing a furnace. I ran into Brian C. at former Hidden voiceman Brian M.’s wedding. Soon thereafter I joined the two of them in the fluctuating entity known as the Sheep Fiends. With a revolving lineup of musicians, the band emphasis was on improvisation, and the spontaneity kick-started my lagging musical spirit. Meanwhile, I had met Suneel near the end of my tenure at ITT, and had begun recording industrial music with him.

My primary expression shifted from guitars to sample manipulation with the addition of a powerful home computer. Much of 1999 was spent using that computer to create the first twelve volumes of Scratchrock.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 02  – The Skipper (Sheep Fiends) – Keyboards and guitars pulsate on this low-grade recording from an early Sheep Fiends jam.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 06  – Everything is Kinda Bizarre (MX Skroch) – Clocking in at over six minutes, this tour-de-force of home studio trickery came out well despite my less than compelling vocals. This song illustrates why it’s not too difficult to look outside oneself and see the array of confusion that presents itself. The outro bit is the ending of a very early prototype of the song.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 13  – Ralph’s Reed (MX Skroch) – Speed manipulation and overdriven drums pound away on this foray into sonic religious terror.  [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 16  – Victory Riot (Sheep Fiends) – Just another otherworldly mindfuck typical of 1999-era Sheep Fiends jams.  [Scratch on Sampling Keyboard]

Track 20  – Catfish With Advil (MX Skroch) – The flipside of Ralph’s Reed, this track slows the tempo to a crawl…letting every eerie note sink in.  [Scratch on All Instruments]

Scratchrock Volume XI

December 27th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 15

Recording Dates: 1996-1997

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR11

ScratchNotes:

I was getting straight A’s at my joke of a school, but my musical productivity was lacking.  A band formed with Joe G., his comrade Kirk K., and a singing lawyer named Tony.  We were off to a fairly good start, when some thieving bastard broke down our rehearsal space door and stole important musical gear.  The lack of instruments and practice space caused the band to go their separate ways.

I continued recording solo material, but the overall quality not what it once had been.  In April of 1997, I cut off all my hair.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 01  – The Woman in My House (MX Skroch) – I lived in a small bedroom down in the crooked basement of the crooked house of the Hidden. We had smeared grey and black paint all over the ceiling, and it got cold at night. This track is about that period of my life.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 08  – Hanging (MX Skroch) – Sometimes pinin’ for the one you love can take a turn for the tragic.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 09  – Looking For War (MX Skroch) – Ashtrays, Mountain Dew cans and a wood table provide peculiar percussion on this instrumental experiment in gloom.  [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 10  – So Happy (MX Skroch) – Some folks can never find love. Some folks find it in a few too many places.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 21  – Trying to Live Forever (MX Skroch) – Technology as conformity? Life as routine?  Freedom as an act of self-preservation? No, I’m not really sure what this one is about either. But I sure dig all the crazy keyboard sounds…  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Scratchrock Volume X

November 7th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 12

Recording Dates: 1995 – 1996

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR10

ScratchNotes:

I signed up at ITT Tech, but had eight months to kill.  Working by night, I slaved away at unconventional pop music while the sun glistened.  An experiment with the future Ms. Skroch was recorded.  “The Monstrosity” was born.

Former Hidden art-boy ‘Saint’ Al formed Redneck Exorcist, and I joined them occasionally to rock out in their metalbilly style and odd psychedelic delay freakouts.  I joined them live at Lounge Ax for a few tunes.  Soon I started school, and the schedule crippled my recording efforts.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 04 – Waiting For a Reason (MX Skroch) – Remember driving around when you were a teenager stalking that girl that just wouldn’t go for you? Those were sad days indeed.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 06 – Runaway Fever (MX Skroch & Redneck Exorcist) – I join with Redneck Exorcist to form a dual-guitar powerhouse that ultimately sounds like the audio rendition of a drunken brawl.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 08 – Grievance (MX Skroch & Ms. Skroch) – The words of Rush Limbaugh. The instrumentation of MX Skroch. The mellifluous voice of Ms. Skroch.  [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 10 – Virgin (MX Skroch) – This song really creeps me out, which is odd since I wrote it. Despite the seemingly menacing tenor of the lyrics this track journeys into some interesting musical directions.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 12 – When I’m Drunk (MX Skroch) – The pleasures and pains of alcoholism don’t jibe well with maintaining friendships that are based on trust. I’m just sayin’.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Scratchrock Volume IX

September 27th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 11

Recording Dates: 1994 – 1995

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR09

ScratchNotes:

Climbing aboard a shit-brown truck dubbed the “Urban Assault Vehicle Turdcutter”, the Hidden began a two week U.S. tour.  Colorado, Texas, New Mexico…the band played six shows in fourteen days for around $300 in payment.  A video tour documentary was created in tribute: “Soundmen, State Parks, and Open Sores”.  Unfortunately, the road trip intensified personal conflicts within the band.

Coupled with a quarter-century life crisis, I quit the band to go back to school.  Brian M. departed as well, and the Hidden disappeared.  I resumed delivering pizza, moved in with my parents, and began concentrating on solo work.  With a new workstation at my disposal, I focused on electronic music and pop songs.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 04 – Swell (The Hidden) – I know what you’re thinking – what would the Hidden sound like with a horn section? Find out here as the Hidden re-record this track for the “Brave New Failure” sessions with horns arranged by T.S. Henry Webb and performed by the Fazio Blasto Trio.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 7 – I Love You and You Love Me and We’re In Love (MX Skroch) – Come celebrate codependency in a disintegrating culture with this heavy rocker featuring some rather aggressive guitar playing.  [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 14 – Vikings (part one) (MX Skroch) – Vikings (part one) gives the listener the opportunity to create a horror film in their own mind – with this foreboding track an appropriate soundtrack.  [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 16 – Settle For Me (MX Skroch) – Some people are looking for more than they deserve. Acoustic guitars and lead bass back up this tale of mid-90’s nightclub dwellers. [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 18 – The Specialist (The Hidden) – This track is a nice summary of the direction the Hidden was headed in the latter days of the band. Dissonant chords, spooky verses, stop/start breaks, manic vocals and paranoia. [Scratch on Guitar]

Scratchrock Volume VIII

September 16th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 10

Recording Dates: 1993 – 1994

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR08

ScratchNotes:

Sales of “Stop. I’m bleeding.” proved that the Hidden was truly an underground band.  The band and their art guru, “Saint” Allen Oaks, moved into a house on Chicago’s Northside that leaned excessively.  They set up shop in their cracked foundation style basement – neither mixed crowd reaction, nor poor album sales could deter them.

In-between bouts of drunken perversity, the Hidden prepared 17 new tracks to be recorded with Chuck Uchida under the guise of the “Brave New Failure” sessions.

Personally, I purchased a more professional 4-track and stepped up my experimental projects considerably.  After a successful weekend tour of the Midwest, the Hidden and staff began setting up a half-month trek across the United States.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 02 – Covered With Blood and Twitching (The Hidden) – Starting out as a solo experiment on my 4-track, the Hidden beefed up and spaced out this ode to disillusionment for the “Brave New Failure” sessions. Recorded by Chuck Uchida.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 06 – Bizarre Keyboard Rock (MX Skroch) – A few tracks on Scratchrock Vol. VIII have me playing around with tape speed and Bizarre Keyboard rock is the most frenetic of the bunch. Prepare for takeoff… [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 08 – I Wish I Had a Home (but I’ll Settle For a Quarter) (MX Skroch) – During this period I lived in the dirty city and like everyone else had the pleasure of being accosted by aggressive homeless persons on occasion. They were on my mind, so I named an instrumental after them. [Scratch on All Instruments and Samples]

Track 12 – The Blanket (The Hidden) – Free-range sax blurts and bleeps all over the Hidden’s angular rock stylings. A rare live performance featuring T.S. Henry Webb (formerly of The Flock) on tenor sax. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 23 – Crusade (Instrumental) (MX Skroch) – Prior to the release of this track in its somber, full-blown lyrical version; I recorded this much more whimsical take. Jangling guitars and mellotron inspired keyboards put this version squarely in the ‘Pop’ category.  [Scratch on All Instruments]