Reviews

RECORD REVIEWS

Ultrabunny Volume Merchants / Unsafe At Any Age LP

Volume Merchants sets this LP in motion. Four songs starting with “Small War”, a gurgle-drone of brooding robot frog talk with eerie alien sounds of flying saucers scanning for life. I swear I hear a sooty factory toiling way down in there, like the kind Henry walked home from in Eraserhead. It’s too low to be sure. I might’ve imagined it. “Medium War” moves away into Confusion Is Sex tribalism. Which is fine, even though I could have melted into “Small War” for hours. “Large War” and “My War” finish off the last half, sometimes getting a tad tedious from some pedestrian rock patterns, but still wailing and pounding at a destructive pace. Once “My War” dives into a finale of feedback and wide flange, the mood comes close to returning to the shadowy “Small War” beginnings. The side is for sure at its best when building up to what’s about to get torn down.



When I put this LP on for the first time, I started backwards with Unsafe At Any Age. I was folding laundry while thinking about the consumerist crank of black Friday. But I snapped out of this mundane bullshit pretty quick thanks to this record. This is my third listen now, and it’s this side that I dig the most. The demented furor of the second song, “Fight War”, introduces helium high bellows which carry over into the manic march of “Not Wars”, with vocals at an equally perverse octave. All the guitar and bass no-wave clangor is a lovely boiling of urgent ideas and immediate impulses. But the absolute brilliance of “Hot War” takes the cake. It is almost five minutes of laughter on the brink of tears, the maddening cackle of people that have lost their minds. The loop carrying this bedlam is like the inner groove of a shattered 45 spun in slo-mo. A ghost of a siren signals, but is unheard, engulfed by endless cracking-up. “Not War” pulls you out of this with tones modulated into what feels like an exit sign blinking into being in the middle of a black hole.



A great record all around. The moodier parts reminded me of Religious Knives, but I admit I wanted something a little more from a few sections of Volume Merchants. Nothing as savage as say Sword Heaven, even though the thought crossed my mind. All of the LP was recorded live on location by Malcolm Tent on various dates throughout January of 2010 at a slew of spots, from NY, NJ, to here at home. This is all improv that was then “stitched” together at Salon TPOS, and based on the dates of the performances listed, I think the assemblage is completely anachronistic. “Each side of this LP is a suite, meant to be enjoyed as a whole” reads the back, along with a recommendation to take a break between sides. Because these guys are on the older side, they have way more living and listening under their collective belts. So the experience this LP offers is focused and intense but with plenty of room for your own twisted sense of what they’re getting at.
-CTIndie.com

Ultrabunny – Volume Merchants / Unsafe at any Age LP


I guess I must either be the rebellious type (I’m not) or be a glutton for punishment (possibly). There is a suggestion printed on the back of this record that says that the listener may want to take a break between sides, so I happened to blaze right through it and haven’t noticed any odd side effects or illnesses. I guess all is well. In actuality, I think time is a factor here these days, but I’ve managed to give this a few spins since it arrived in my mailbox.

 I was a bit surprised to see this passed along to me by Ultrabunny member and CT music scene vet Malcolm Tent. I honestly figured these guys could give two shits about press, and by looking at their page it would appear that they really don’t for the most part. So why in the hell do I have this? Either way, I am pretty happy to get a chance to listen to this expected chunk of demented improvised noise and that they felt the need for me to hear it.


The two sides of this record have been individually named, thus the title Volume Merchants / Unsafe at any Age. It’s a bit of a patchwork deal in which most of these tracks were captured live on stage at various places on the East Coast back in January I believe. And by listening to this a couple more times, I’ve began to kind of understand why they suggested that I take a few minutes away from the record before proceeding to the flip. The A-side Volume Merchants is a more meditative take on the bands free improvised noise with the drums more so leading the way with a tribal like repetitive pound. Obviously as the side progresses through track by track the band builds towards a larger and uncompromising barrage of sound, with glides of noise that start to seep in that take the form of jet engines deciding to park in your room. It all eventually winds down in the same manner that it built itself up, and as whole the Volume Merchants side has a lasting effect that results in some curiosity for another listen.

The Unsafe at any Age side is probably more in line with what people come to expect from this group, as they take a drastic turn away from calmer pastures and head straight into the bizarre and generally amusing. This is the side though that I believe would be better benefited in a live setting, as you can imagine the sort of stage weirdness that would be taking place if you were just able to see it, and you know thatís true as Ultrabunny and itís members have 20 plus years under their belts of doing just exactly that. If youíre not familiar with their history, then I suggest reading up a bit on the band’s website. Anyway, abrasive use of distortion and warped vocal effects are in steady use here on this side and Iím not sure if I am smiling because I am trying to balance out a bit of a creep factor if I am just that thrown by it that I have to crack a smile. Either way itís entertaining and effective, but again probably more so in a live setting. Any unfortunately I believe I am bit too far away for that to be happening anytime soon.
-Builtonaweakspot.com

Ultrabunny Volume Merchants / Unsafe At Any Age LP

Why Ultrabunny haven’t come into my life before now defies all reasoning. The band is a trio comprised of two members of GG Allin and the Bloody Apostles -guitarist Bobby Bunny and bassist Malcolm Tent, who also served a few years with one of America’s best, most influential black metal bands, Profanatica and Pete Beest on drums, though the drummer on this LP appears to be Doc Prorock. Their music could almost be called no wave, as it consists of improvised punk rock explosions and noise, but instead of looking to the past, Ultrabunny are about the present tense, here and now.



The LP is comprised of two “suites,” one on each side, although “war” appears in every song title with some not-so-subtle nods to classic punk rock, i.e., Black Flag (“My War” at the end of Volume Merchants and Crass (“Fight War” and “Not Wars” in Unsafe at Any Age). Shorter tracks tend to be bursts of ear-splitting guitar-loop noise, but it’s really when the drums dominate that Ultrabunny’s musical chaos thrives. Itís a lot like The Cows or God Bullies without the rigid song structures. When vocals creep in, theyíre twisted, nightmarish distortions.



“Large War” from Volume Merchants and “Fight War” stand out as the most driving punk rock songs, featuring insistent bass grooves, crashing drums and MC5/Stooges-like guitar jamming, even a bit of Controlled Bleeding in their more rock modes.

It is difficult to do improvisation right. When done wrong, it can be agonizingly boring self-congratulating masturbation that goes nowhere and does nothing except waste the audience’s time. But when itís on, as it is here, itís dead on.

Long live Ultrabunny!
-Chuck Foster, The Big Takeover

Ultrabunny – Volume Merchants / Unsafe at any Age LP

I saw these CT locals open for An Albatross at the Heirloom Arts Theatre back in 2008. They play wild improvisational rock with elements of jazz, psychedelia and noise. This record begins with moody, otherworldly feedback waves, eventually merging into dissonant guitar-and-bass zephyrs that are reminiscent of 1980s experimental rock, such as early Sonic Youth and Boredoms. About midway through the second side, some freaky, cartoonishly high-pitched vocals kick in, breaking down into maniacal chipmunk laughter on “Hot War.” Basically, what Iím trying to say is that this record is really something else. The tracks build from basic elements (traditional drum patterns and guitar/bass chords) to create layers and evolve into a moody, almost post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The mixing and mastering job is impressive as well, considering this albumís content is from six different live performances in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
-Mark, Redscroll Records

Ultrabunny – Volume Merchants / Unsafe at any Age LP

This mysterious, minimally packaged record showed up here a few days ago with a note only stating “Since 1988 – Ultrabunny – Nuff Said!” Apparently that actually wasn’t “nuff said”, since I had no idea what I was putting on my turntable, but it turned out for the best, as any one-sheet for the record would’ve made it sound less listenable than it is. As hinted, Ultrabunny has been dealing in shredding, experimental noise-rock for over two decades now. It’s pretty searing stuff, but if you like music with the oft-vilified “noise” tag attached to it, you’re probably in for a treat. It lacks the song structures of purveyors like Sonic Youth or Lightning Bolt, but it also won’t burn out your vestibular system or have your family screaming for you to turn it off, so there’s a nice balance.
-omgvinyl.com

Ultrabunny – Volume Merchants / Unsafe at any Age LP

Ultrabunny are a band based out of Connecticut with a long and varied history of old band names and whatnot. I’m no historian of obscure bands based out of New England, so I won’t bore you with the details but members of Ultrabunny were once in a band called BunnyBrains and I’ll leave it at that.

I leave it at that, because I’ve heard a good portion of BunnyBrains material, and I’ve also heard a good portion of Ultrabunny material (all of their vinyl output at least—they release small run tapes/CDRs of every live show they play) and Ultrabunny totally blow away anything Bunnybrains ever did.

Ultrabunny play an interesting psyched-out blend of space rock, punk, and noise. Every song is improvised and jammed out until your head is pounding from the volume and your neck is broken from banging your head. The bass and drums (which are fucking HEAVY) keep everything from falling apart while the guitarist/vocals plays his guitar in a way that sounds like he’s just stepping on it and messing with effects pedals (I’m sure he’s actually done that more often than not actually). All elements combine to make a sound that is equally disgusting and genius but not in a stupid artsy kind of way. This is noise rock for the working man, all the fucked sounds you love without having to pretend to like shit like Stockhausen and whatnot. I’m rambling now.

This album consists of two suites, each taking up a side of the platter. They are pieced together from various live shows to create two long trips of sonic goodness. The sides really flow together well. Each has their ups and downs chock full of spacey feedback loops and delayed sounds that seem to be going nowhere and then before you even realize the drums and bass will kick in and you have a heavy groove going. I love this record, it’s definitely my favorite of their material I’ve heard so far.
-I Own Some Records blog

Ultrabunny – Volume Merchants / Unsafe at any Age LP

Improvised and recorded onto a 3-track, the [latest] album from Ultrabunny is a lo-fi noise infested treat to the senses, each side a suite of songs meant to be heard all the way through. On the four part Volume Merchants, some electronic drone and flicker suddenly give way to drums and squalling guitar, the band breaking into Hawkwind meets Acid Mothers Temple mode, something they continue until almost the end of side one, the suite finally dying away in a cloud of feedback and distortion. Side two contains Unsafe at any Age which maintains the noise quota, whilst moving into Kraut/Psych territory, attempting to subdue their enemies through the use of volume. As the track run together picking out highlights is difficult, however the introduction of fucked-up vocals on “Not Wars” (I think), adds a certain craziness to the music that may have been lacking before. Equally disturbing, the highly weird “Hot War” is the stuff of nightmares, before the album ends with a short drone. Invigorating stuff that is well worth checking out.
-Terrascope.co.uk

 

BAND REVIEWS

Basement Rock

Some stupid ideas work in the art world. Though he failed to conjure the level of art he desired to, Ed Wood‘s Plan 9 from Outer Space has remained in the cult cannon precisely because it is so bad that it’s good. The Shaggs — a three-piece featuring three sisters who lacked any notion of how to play their instruments — created innocent, mildly dim-witted, wildly creative pop tunes.

Then there’s Connecticut’s own BunnyBrains. Birthed in Danbury, the band is simultaneously the best and worst thing to come out of the Nutmeg State — a fusion of high concept punk rock and the lowest of low sleaze. Imagine the sound of the Butthole Surfers‘ brown acid punk mating with Hawkwind‘s hard-edged space rock, Killdozer‘s stern, weird narratives and Corey from “Life Goes On” and you have a small idea of the band’s sound. Bobby Bunny described the band’s sound best in the singles collection Sin Gulls-Goring St. Eddy, calling it “mind numbing utter crap and noise.”

BunnyBrains’ storied history features a one record deal with Matador (then home to Pavement, Liz Phair and Helium), earning a photo spread in a feature on style in the New York Times Magazine and a tour with new age yodeling beard-o Devendra Banhart (wherein Dan Bunny shaved his legs and flicked the dirty cream at the audience). Most of the bands’ songs showcase Dan Bunny screaming strange notes while a rotating cast of a rhythm section cranks noisy sludge rock that sounds. Many times swirls of distortion pair with a chaotic “anything goes” exterior and wrap around a bouncy beat for a somewhat catchy BunnyBrains tune. The rest of the time, the band loops ridiculous sections of tapes, records nonsensical ramblings and ridiculous mumblings.

But the signature of the band’s existence was (is, depending on who you ask) their live show. The typical BunnyBrains show centered around Dan Bunny, who sometimes threw assorted foodstuffs at the audience, ran around naked and violently attacked audience members. The last BunnyBrains spectacle I witnessed featured general acts of sexual deviancy, fake blood, a stained wedding dress and some skronk rock guitar solos.

Since their heyday, the band dissolved into two factions. Ultrabunny carry the band’s torch musically, with original BunnyBrains members Malcolm Tent (owner of Danbury’s now defunct Trash American Style record store) and Bobby Bunny. They’re the Velvet Revolver that sprouted from the ashes of the BunnyBrains. Meanwhile, Dan Bunny commandeered The Bunny Brains title and the band’s spirit, spreading the chaotic atmosphere throughout the underground. Through anarchistic tendencies and gonzo performances, Dan has gained gallery exhibits and performance from elite New York art hounds. Guess stupid is as stupid does
-Steve Kobak 12/05/2008

[Dan = stupid? Finally someone noticed that. Don’t confuse us with him please. -ultrabunny]

Ir para a rua gritar com os ULTRABUNNY

Atè que pode parecer o contrário com um nome como Ultrabunny, que mais parece designar um sociedade secreta de cheerleaders dedicadas a uma sistemática violacão dos jogadores de futebol americano. Acontece, porèm, que este trio de Connecticut não è propriamente uma girlband.

E tambèm não è uma boyband, não só por causa da música que toca, mas tambèm porque não são rapazolas que a integram. Andam por aÌ a rebentar tÌmpanos desde 1988, antes com o menos efeminado nome BunnyBrains.

Mas atè que se entende: a sua referÍncia musical mais remota è o glam rock dos 70s.

O guitarrista, Bobby Bunny, tem o Brian Eno de Babies on Fire como herói ; a capa de um dos discos dos Ultrabunny è um pastiche da do álbum Stranded, dos Roxy Music. [Thats actually Country Life. -ed.]

Não è, porèm, glam o rock desta banda sui generis. Os jeitos e trejeitos do punk são nela mais do que evidentes, mas as estruturas rÌtmicas são fixas, como no krautrock e no funk, e a postura è muito evidentemente metaleira, ou não tivessem dois dos seus elementos pertencido a grupos de black metal.

O longo cabelo do Bobby tem, aliás, a tendência para ficar preso nas cordas da guitarra.

Esta è utilizada exclusivamente para produzir feedbacks e nuvens de distorcão. Há algo da no wave nova-iorquina, com os DNA como melhor exemplo, mas tambèm não è disso que se trata. A coisa tem tudo a ver com as trips cósmicas do stoner rock, mas também não è o modelo psicadèlico dos Kyuss ou dos Acid Mother Temple que impera.

Isto è guitarrismo noise chapado, situado algures entre os Stooges de Iggy Pop e Metal Machine Music de Lou Reed. Com algo de Butthole Surfers pelo meio… O que quer dizer, acertaram, que isto è old school da boa.

Volta e meia, fazem umas covers dos DEVO, o que è mais um sinal de maturidade.

Por dentro, por cima e por baixo

Bobby Bunny è um maníaco dos computadores (tem 32 em casa) que se entretèm a arquivar todos os conteúdos digitais do planeta Terra que lhe captem o interesse.

Malcolm Tent, o baixista que habitualmente se esconde por detrás de bizarras máscaras, daquelas usadas por serial killers nos filmes de terror, não podia ser mais hippie, com o seu regime 100% vegan e uma bonomia que já não è deste tempo mais propÌcio a que se incendeiem carros da polÌcia.

O baterista, Chris Prorock, veio substituir Pete Beest, aparentemente porque Bunny e Tent queriam alguèm de muito primário a bater com as baquetas. O anterior já era bom demais.

Os temas dos Ultrabunny seguem a mesma receita: estruturas predeterminadas com improvisacão por dentro, por cima e por baixo. Ou seja, cada concerto è diferente dos outros.

Tudo o que fazem contèm mensagem polÌtica. Contra a guerra recente no Iraque, a atual no Afeganistão e a futura (preveem) com o Irão. Contra o corporativismo que domina a Amèrica e contra a indústria da música. “Kill corporations by starving them of your dollars!”, recomendam.

De apoio, igualmente, a várias causas: Civil Liberties Union, cultura hacker, luta palestiniana, ao movimento Occupy. Com ocasionais piscadelas de olho a duas emblemáticas formacões anarquistas de ambos os lados do Atlântico: Black Flag e Crass.

Aliás, o site do grupo è claro quanto ao que pensa: foi Bush quem mandou derrubar o World Trade Center, no contexto de um golpe de Estado fascista ainda a decorrer com Obama.

Ando a ouvir isto incessantemente nestes últimos dias, numa espèãcie de aquecimento para a greve geral que aí vem, e agora convido-vos a fazerem o mesmo e “irem para a rua gritar” …
23/06/2013 @14:16 | RUI EDUARDO PAES
-Bitaites.org, Portugal

 

SHOW REVIEWS

Ultrabunny/Myty Konkeror/Ferocious Fucking Teeth – December 19, 2010
@ Redscroll Records – Wallingford, CT.  (original article here)  (photos here)

So much loudness for so few individuals. I really had to pull some strings to get all my schedule ducks in a row to make it to this one, and apparently I was one of six people who did the same. Dear Connecticut, sometimes you are so collectively stupid. There were a few audio glitches, but nothing insurmountable. Ferocious Fucking Teeth, who share at least one member with Brava Spectre, tore through a really great set straddling the blistering/bludgeoning fence that built to a great crescendo. New London has always been good to me. Ultrabunny, who I hadn’t seen in years…steal the “most gear for one show” award from Tarmak about ten years ago. My friend Malcolm, the sole bass player of the entire evening, is always a pleasure to see in any of his mediums and outlets, and it’s amazing to me that these three found each other to communicate with on the noise level. I really dug Bob‘s jury-rigged telecaster body with the Korg Kaoss pad thing bolted to it. Myty Konkeror, who somehow practiced in Milford right down the street from me without me knowing a damn thing about it, assembled their Brooklyn and New Haven components to supply three of us with dreams of measured cacaphony. Total 9-volt graveyard of an evening…you should’ve been there.

Ultrabunny / Acid Mothers Temple / Apse / The Antarcticans – May 17, 2006
@American Legion Hall – Wallingford, CT (photos here)

Ultrabunny (previously BunnyBrains 88) was weird. Its three members donned much pink clothing, bizarre three-holed ski masks, and one was even topped with a cowboy hat. They churned out a propulsive brand of Butthole Surfers-style noise rock, heavy on the bass (provided by minor CT music scene celebrity Malcolm Tent) and skewered with oblique, effects-laden guitar, courtesy of Bobby Bunny. It was all laudable hubbub for an Acid Mothers Temple opening band, and everyone seemed to be into the groove, when suddenly a shaving cream volcano erupted. Well, make that two masked, jump-suited mischief makers, doing their best to whitewash everyone in the room with a thick coating of the cream. They sprayed cans, they threw pies, they writhed around alone, together, on top of unsuspecting audience members. As Ultrabunny blazed along, the masked duo slowly (and erotically) began to reveal themselves – as attractive Asian women in tiny bikinis and high-heeled boots. By the end of the set, the only word swinging like drool from mouths of the remaining brave onlookers was “debauchery,” raw and unadulterated, breathtaking and worthy of the Temple.
–Dan Sorrells Delusions of Adequacy

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