Kendra Steiner Editions

August 28, 2016

now available in North America: ANTHONY GUERRA/BILL SHUTE, “SUBTRACTION” (KSE #350)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:48 am

ANTHONY GUERRA & BILL SHUTE

“SUBTRACTION”  (KSE #350, cdr album)

guitar and poetry, originally released in 2011 on Black Petal Records, Australia

(ordering info at the bottom of this post)

SUBTRACTION 2016 cover

Very excited to announce the KSE reissue of the acclaimed guitar-and-poetry album SUBTRACTION, originally released on the Australian “Black Petal” label in 2011. I’ve recorded 6 or 7 poetry and music albums, and my voice has appeared as a “guest” on other people’s albums, but SUBTRACTION is to me the best of them all, and the one I give to people as representative of my work. Australian guitarist ANTHONY GUERRA was a perfect collaborator who totally “got” the feel and texture and sound of the poems. Anthony and I worked out the details long-distance (me in Texas, him in Japan, where he was living at the time), and then Derek Rogers recorded my poetry tracks, which we then sent to Anthony, and he recorded guitar parts to complement the words. These were poems, most of them Texas-set, which I was doing in readings in 2010, and Anthony’s sparse, aching, “high and lonesome” guitar work perfectly complements those qualities found in the poems. Anthony had been living in Japan for a few years at this time, and there is definitely a koto-like quality to his guitar work, while others have found a Jandek or a Loren Connors-kind of feel to it. One could not speak English and have no idea what my poems were saying, yet by my delivery and Anthony’s music, they’d “get” the feel of the pieces. I grew up listening to the poetry and jazz albums of Jack Kerouac and Langston Hughes, and also the John Cage/David Tudor INDETERMINACY album, and you’ll hear all of those as influences here. There are not that many worthwhile poetry and music albums out there today; give this one a chance. The German “Bad Alchemy” magazine recently compared the album to the Wim Winders film “Paris, Texas,” and if that comparison intrigues you, you’re probably the perfect audience for the album. My poetry has evolved in the years since SUBTRACTION, but I still work some of these into my readings today, and the opener “Marion, Texas,” I still use as an ice-breaker when reading to an unfamiliar audience. It works.

Working on this album with Australian guitarist-composer ANTHONY GUERRA was an honor. I was a devoted listener to his music, and one his 2009 album with Mark Sadgrove called IRON SAND inspired one of my poetry chapbooks….I still consider IRON SAND one of the great albums of the second half of the 2000 decade. Here is a brief bio Anthony provided:
Anthony Guerra is from Sydney, Australia.

He currently plays in Love Chants, Vavenge, Galah Galah Galah, Mysteries of Love, Mysteries of Love, Life Groove Orchestra, Your Intestines, Antipan, Vodka Sparrows, Desert Luck, and in a duo with Patrick O’Brien.

He has released music on labels including Quemada, RIP Society, Alberts Basement, Breakdance The Dawn, Chemical Imbalance, Ftarri, Digitalis, and PseudoArcana.

He runs the label Black Petal.
Black Petal can be found online at-
www.blackpetal.com
https://soundcloud.com/black-petal

He previously ran the label TwoThousandAnd (with Michael Rogers).

KSE is proud to offer the first American release of SUBTRACTION, a work deeply planted in the soil of contemporary Texas reality. If you are not familiar with my poetry, SUBTRACTION is an excellent entry point.

This is the last release from KSE’s Spring/Summer line-up, delayed from a planned July release. We’ll be back in September with a strong Fall/Winter release schedule, including new albums from FOSSILS, the duo of TOM CREAN & MATT ROBIDOUX, MATT KREFTING, MORE EAZE, the duo of LISA CAMERON & DANIEL HIPOLITO (aka Smokey Emery), and ALFRED 23 HARTH. Alfred’s album will close out 2016….then we’ll return in early 2017 with the KSE 11th Anniversary Compilation album, take a break to promote that properly, and return in the Spring with a series of excellent and surprising new releases, beginning with a new album from San Diego-based composer Alan Jones (of Laminal Sound fame), which I’m very excited about.

Don’t forget to score some of our other recent releases while they are still available.

CDR’s  including SUBTRACTION   $8.00 each, ppd. in US——-

OUTSIDE THE US, one album is $18.00 postpaid, first two albums are $20.00 postpaid, then $8 each postpaid after that—sorry, but it now costs almost $14 US to send one CDR overseas….you save A LOT by buying more than one—in fact, the price on an order of two or more HAS GONE DOWN!

1 album= $18, 2 albums= $20, 3 albums= $28, etc. Thanks for your understanding of this. The Post Office now charges $13.75 to mail ONE cdr without a jewel box to Europe or Asia!

KSE #336, ALFRED 23 HARTH, “Kepler 452b Edition”

KSE #318, ALFRED 23 HARTH & JOHN BELL, “Camellia”

KSE #351 (CDR), MASSIMO MAGEE, “Music In 3 Spaces”

KSE #350 (CDR) ANTHONY GUERRA / BILL SHUTE, “Subtraction” KSE reissue of album originally released in 2011 on Black Petal Records, Australia 

KSE #335 (CDR album), REVEREND RAYMOND BRANCH, “Rainbow Gospel Hour…On The Air!”—a wonderful hour-long AM-radio broadcast, mastered from cassette, capturing the warmth and joy of Rev. Branch in both music (lots of it) and spoken message

KSE #334 (CDR album), BRIAN RURYK, “Actual Size…degress again” (sic)

KSE #333 (CDR album), ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, “Tunnels” solo 12-string acoustic mantra guitar

KSE #331, “KSE 10th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM” featuring newly recorded, exclusive tracks from members of the KSE family: ALFRED 23 HARTH,  SARAH HENNIES, RAMBUTAN, VANESSA ROSSETTO, ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, DEREK ROGERS, BRENT FARISS, MATT KREFTING, GRAHAM LAMBKIN, and MASSIMO MAGEE

KSE #328, LISA CAMERON & NATHAN BOWLES, “Liquid Sunshine” percussion duo

KSE #326, MORE EAZE (aka Marcus M. Rubio), “Abandoning Finitude”….cover art by Bob Bruno

KSE #322,  WEREWHEELS (Sir Plastic Crimewave & Dawn Aquarius), “Live, Raw and Psycho In Japan”

KSE #320, MIKE BARRETT & TOM CREAN, “Casual Luddites”

KSE #310 (CDR) MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Accidental Prizes”

KSE #293  MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Stylistic Deautomatization”


NEWEST POETRY CHAPBOOKS:

($6 US ppd/$7 elsewhere ppd)

KSE #364 (poetry chapbook), LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL, “Make The Light Mine”

KSE #325 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Trickle-Down City Limits”

KSE #302 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Satori In Lake Charles”

Kendra Steiner Editions is now in our ELEVENTH year of operation and we’re up to around 350 music and poetry releases in that time. Thanks for your support over the years. Being devoted to formats such as hand-assembled, hand-cut poetry chapbooks and DIY CDR albums, which are always being written off as antiquated and/or obsolescent, is more difficult with each passing year, but we release PHYSICAL works which you can hold in your hand and which possess substance and texture and are ARTIFACTS. We’d like to think that some of the “spirit” of each releases is found in its three-dimensionality and the hand of the artist is always lurking.

The new FOSSILS album should be available in September….see you all then….

July 26, 2016

Get your KSE orders in by July 31st for immediate shipment (we’ll be gone August 1-12)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:32 pm

Be sure to get your KSE orders in by JULY 31st. We will be in Southern Oklahoma from August 1-12, without internet access, and won’t be shipping again until August 13th. For the finest in eclectic, forward-thinking music and contemporary poetry….we’ve got LOTS of recent releases for you to choose from:

full-sized CDR’s ($8.00 each, ppd. in US——-

OUTSIDE THE US, one album is $18.00 postpaid, first two albums are $20.00 postpaid, then $8 each postpaid after that—sorry, but it now costs almost $14 US to send one CDR overseas….you save A LOT by buying more than one—in fact, the price on an order of two or more HAS GONE DOWN!

1 album= $18, 2 albums= $20, 3 albums= $28, etc. Thanks for your understanding of this. The Post Office now charges $13.75 to mail ONE cdr without a jewel box to Europe or Asia!)

KSE #336, ALFRED 23 HARTH, “Kepler 452b Edition”

KSE #318, ALFRED 23 HARTH & JOHN BELL, “Camellia”

KSE #351 (CDR), MASSIMO MAGEE, “Music In 3 Spaces”

KSE #350 (CDR) ANTHONY GUERRA / BILL SHUTE, “Subtraction” KSE reissue of album originally released in 2011 on Black Petal Records, Australia 

KSE #335 (CDR album), REVEREND RAYMOND BRANCH, “Rainbow Gospel Hour…On The Air!”—a wonderful hour-long AM-radio broadcast, mastered from cassette, capturing the warmth and joy of Rev. Branch in both music (lots of it) and spoken message

KSE #334 (CDR album), BRIAN RURYK, “Actual Size…degress again” (sic)

KSE #333 (CDR album), ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, “Tunnels” solo 12-string acoustic mantra guitar

KSE #331, “KSE 10th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM” featuring newly recorded, exclusive tracks from members of the KSE family: ALFRED 23 HARTH,  SARAH HENNIES, RAMBUTAN, VANESSA ROSSETTO, ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, DEREK ROGERS, BRENT FARISS, MATT KREFTING, GRAHAM LAMBKIN, and MASSIMO MAGEE

KSE #328, LISA CAMERON & NATHAN BOWLES, “Liquid Sunshine” percussion duo

KSE #326, MORE EAZE (aka Marcus M. Rubio), “Abandoning Finitude”….cover art by Bob Bruno

KSE #322,  WEREWHEELS (Sir Plastic Crimewave & Dawn Aquarius), “Live, Raw and Psycho In Japan”

KSE #320, MIKE BARRETT & TOM CREAN, “Casual Luddites”

KSE #310 (CDR) MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Accidental Prizes”

KSE #293  MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Stylistic Deautomatization”


NEWEST POETRY CHAPBOOKS:

($6 US ppd/$7 elsewhere ppd)

KSE #364 (poetry chapbook), LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL, “Make The Light Mine”

KSE #325 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Trickle-Down City Limits”

KSE #347 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Monumental Movements: Cassette Poems Three”

KSE #302 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Satori In Lake Charles”

Thanks for your support over these 10+ years. We’ll be back on August 13th. Any orders which come in during the period August 1-12 will be shipped on the 13th.

OK 1

Ardmore, Oklahoma

OK 2

Sulphur, Oklahoma

OK 3

July 23, 2016

The Norman Petty Trio: Complete Album & Singles Collection (Nor-Va-Jak 2-cd set)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 4:50 pm

THE NORMAN PETTY TRIO

COMPLETE ALBUM & SINGLES COLLECTION

(Nor-Va-Jak, 2-cd set)

musical genre: lounge/cocktail
64 tracks – from the original mono master tapes
3 albums (Corsage / Almost
Paradise / A Petty For Your Thoughts)
1 EP – 14 singles
including 45 releases by Vi Petty & as the “Charlie Bee Combo” 

available from     http://superoldies.com/norvajak/CDs/trio/triocd.html

norman petty trio

I just rec’d my copy of this fine collection today and wanted to share my excitement about it. Before I say anything else, though, I need to point out that there is not one note of rock’n’roll on this album, even in the broadest definition of the term. Now that that’s understood…

Clovis, New Mexico’s NORMAN PETTY was one of the great rock’n’roll producer/engineers. While his name is most associated with Buddy Holly, he worked with hundreds of artists from all across the midwest and southwest….and a number of bands even came down from Canada to work with him, in the hope that some of the Petty magic would rub off on them. And more often than not, it did. Petty loved the studio environment and he was a great tinkerer, someone who was quite interested in the TEXTURES and COLORS of the sound. He had some kind of ideal sound in his head, and as a studio whiz, he worked with the musicians to get that special something onto tape. The exhaustive reissues of the Fireballs catalog over the years from Ace UK, as well as all their unreleased material which has come out, is a perfect case study for what Petty could do in the studio. With a master guitarist such as George Tomsco of the Fireballs, who could probably produce ANY imaginable sound or tone on his instrument, and the engineering/producing mind of Norman Petty, the large Fireballs catalog is one of the most interesting SOUNDING bodies of work in rock and roll. Like Link Wray or Bo Diddley or Duane Eddy, Tomsco and the Fireballs, with producer Norman Petty, created almost cinematic recordings that have held up decade after decade, and also recordings that because of the effort and quality put into them back in the day, still sound great in digital sound on today’s CD’s. I could go on for hours on this theme, as a lifelong fan of Norman Petty’s productions, but this post is devoted to a new reissue of Petty’s OWN music, the recordings of the NORMAN PETTY TRIO.

I had heard a scratchy 45 or two of theirs back in my active vinyl collecting days, but never heard much of their work, and when you think about it, you can’t really have a deep knowledge of Norman Petty without hearing his own recordings. The core of the group is Petty’s own organ (and other pre-synthesizer organ-like instruments) and his wife Vi on piano, with a few other instruments, usually gtr and drums and sometimes bass. The recordings were made between 1954 and 61 and were issued on a number of labels, RCA’s “VIK” subsidiary, Top Rank, ABC-Paramount, Columbia, Felsted, etc. Petty always licensed his productions to any number of labels, and perhaps those contacts were initially made during his Norman Petty Trio days. The group did have some national hits, and they have a very appealing sound. Yes, they are clearly in the “lounge” category, although some of the later sessions have a more pronounced beat and could be lounge answers to the instrumental records he was cutting with rock and roll combos. However, most of the music is the kind of thing you’d hear at a nightclub in a moderate-sized city, where couples who could afford it would dress up for the evening, drink martinis and various cocktails, perhaps have a steak and shrimp cocktail or an elegant salad or whatever, and dance to a band such as the Norman Petty Trio. This is really not jazz, although clearly Petty appreciated jazz, and he had the good taste to do Ellington covers among other jazz tunes. He was aiming, I’m guessing, at the audience who enjoyed Peter Nero or Carmen Cavallaro….cocktail music (Wikipedia calls this genre “light music”). While much of what we retroactively call “lounge music” is padded with strings and too much instrumentation, and has an instantly kitschy sound, the main selling point of the Petty Trio is their clean, sharp sound, a sound with a good amount of space and room to breathe. Even then, Petty understood that quality small group productions needed that space, and in these excellent transfers from the original MONO tapes, the three-dimensional but understated sound comes through beautifully.

Of course, we should give a lot of attention to Violet Ann Petty (“VI”), keyboard player on many Petty productions. She clearly has classical training, as I first discovered when ACE issued the unreleased Fireballs album BLUE FIRE. I’d be getting into an atmospheric Fireballs instrumental and suddenly this rhapsodic piano would come up and I’d be transported to some concert hall for 16 bars! Some of the material here has the flavor of the “light classical,” but mostly (on piano and celeste) she engages in a kind of counterpoint with her husband on organ—-in fact, it’s much like a couple dancing, Vi’s piano and Norman’s organ-work, one leading, one following, not getting in each other’s way, not stepping on any toes, being light on their feet, and being elegant and classy….and that’s EXACTLY what this music communicates, and surely what the supper-club audiences of the day would have wanted from the Norman Petty Trio.

Lounge music is not for everyone. However, if you had to make a case for the “cocktail music” genre, The Norman Petty Trio would be the artists to play for someone. There’s nothing campy or kitschy about this music. Although it is not jazz, it has all the good qualities one enjoys about a trio led by, say, Erroll Garner. The tempos are excellent for dancing, and as I stated earlier, it’s clean and understated and supple music.

It’s also very important to hear for the serious fan of Norman Petty’s productions. And it explains a lot about some of the “square” qualities that would surface on his productions from time to time. This album is 95% instrumental, but the few vocals show that his taste in vocalists would be in the manner of the Four Freshmen or Doris Day.

Again, this album is not for most people reading this post, but I feel an obligation to help promote this release, because it’s an important piece of the Norman Petty story, and for the person who enjoys lounge/cocktail music, it’s a real treat. There are 64 songs, all in fine, clear mono sound with a wonderful presence, and as an ABC-Paramount promotional ad included in the inside of the CD package reads, it’s “beautifully recorded.” Interesting to note that that’s how this music was sold in its day. These performances are the roots of Norman Petty’s musical universe. As such, hearing them clarifies a lot about his later work. Thanks to compiler Shawn Nagy for doing a superb job with this set. It’s as “classy” in that old school sense as the music on the discs.

petty 45

July 15, 2016

new poetry chapbook from Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, “Make The Light Mine” (KSE #364)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:16 pm

MAKE THE LIGHT MINE

11 new poems from LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL

KSE #364 (poetry chapbook)

$6 postpaid in US / $7 postpaid elsewhere

payment via paypal to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com

please include a note with your order listing what item you are ordering and also your mailing address (which paypal often fails to provide me)….thanks!

LUIS 2016

While contemporary poetry has painted itself into a corner in many ways and gets less relevant and more self-validating by the month, we’re all fortunate that independent poets such as LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL continue on, oblivious to trends. Luis has appeared in more than a hundred literary magazines, both online and print, and has a number of chapbooks, including seven from KSE since 2006 AND he was one of five featured poets in our POLYMORPHOUS URBAN: POEMS FOR LOU REED collection from 2014. Also, when we did the KSE 9th Anniversary event in Dallas last year, I read selections from three of KSE’s core poets over the years: the late Doug Draime, John Sweet, and Luis.

Two years is too long without something from him in print here, so I approached Luis about doing another chap of new work for KSE, and he graciously presented me with about 50 recent poems, all gems, and from those I selected 11 and sequenced them in a varied and ever-surprising running order, which serves as an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with his work….and a fresh and exciting re-acquaintance for his many devoted readers.

Luis is certainly in the international lyric poem tradition, a tradition that is consistently being refreshed and remaining relevant. I know that when I am “introducing” someone to poetry, trying to get someone as excited as I am about poetry as an art form, I will often give that person a bilingual edition of Neruda. There is no pretentiousness there in his work—-just a depth and an elegance and an understanding of life, with lines constructed from the things of everyday life. Whatever one’s culture or time period, the work of someone like Neruda or Cavafy or even W. S. Merwin transcends walls and artistic movements and political situations to speak from heart to heart, from soul to soul. It provides a poetic hand extended from the page to the reader, ready to take you along.

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal writes beautiful lyric poetry that uses unadorned language and an understated voice to pull the reader IN to his world. His use of the “poet” narrative persona is masterful and never calls attention to itself. The speaker is a poet, the way another man might be a chef or an auto mechanic or a carpenter, and he uses the tools of his trade to understand the world….and to make the world a little bit more understood for those who read his work. His poetic voice is calm but his content can deal with the tragedy and loss and pain of life, and often there are subtle non-sequiters or the narrator expresses delusional tendencies. There is also a kind of incantatory quality developed from everyday detail—-the kind of thing one can find in, say, Gertrude Stein or Toni Cade Bambara’s works. Luis’s poetry grows out of….and creates on the page….a world full of orange groves and gravel roads and dimly-lit furnished rooms and half-melted ice cream cones and unshaven grandfathers….and longing for a better tomorrow. Reading Luis’s poems (and they always read well ALOUD too) reminds one why poetry does matter to real people living real lives. Thus, KSE is proud to present this new collection from a contemporary voice that deserved to be heard, to be pondered, to be savored. LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL.

Luis is also a master of “voice” as an entryway into character. In his day-job, Luis is a professional whose position requires him to LISTEN to a lot of people, to read between the lines of what they say, and to anticipate their needs and what they are REALLY trying to say….or trying to avoid saying. He brings that kind of sensitivity to his work–each poem is spoken by  characters whose language defines their worlds and their thought processes. You are inside their heads, seeing through their eyes, and USING THEIR VOCABULARY AND THEIR SYNTAX when you are within the world of one of Luis’s poems.

Whenever I speak with Luis, he is always introducing me to a Latin American or European lyric poet I’ve never heard of, or ONLY heard of but not read, and I’m always the richer for it. I wish he had a blog where he discussed his voluminous reading!

Get your own copy of MAKE THE LIGHT MINE, 11 new poems from Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal…..only $6 US / $7 elsewhere, postpaid. Ordering information at the top of this page.

KSE also offers many other chapbooks of contemporary poetry and CDR albums of experimental music. Check the “available” page on the top right of your screen.

As always, thanks for your interest and support over KSE’s ten years!

———————————————————————–

previous KSE poetry chapbooks from Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal (all out of print)

KSE #59, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, “Without Peace.”

KSE #82, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, “Keepers of Silence.”

KSE #100, Ronald Baatz & Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, “Next Exit: Seven.”

KSE #103, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, “Garden of Rocks.”

KSE #122, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal. “Still Human.”

KSE #141, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal & Cynthia Etheridge, “Overcome.” 

KSE #174,  Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, “Digging a Grave.”

KSE #272 (poetry chapbook) POLYMORPHOUS URBAN: POEMS FOR LOU REED, featuring new Reed-inspired poetry from LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL, JIM D. DEUCHARS, MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, A. J. KAUFMANN, and MATT KREFTING. Art by David Payne.

July 14, 2016

thoughts on Jack Kerouac’s ‘Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha’

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:47 pm

Since my teenage years in the 1970’s, Jack Kerouac has been an author whose work has meant a lot to me. While I’m glad that On The Road brought him fame and continues to bring him new readers, it was never a favorite of mine as I preferred his more structurally innovative works such as Tristessa, Visions of Cody, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, and posthumous works such as Some Of The Dharma (confession: I have not read the “teletype scroll” version of On The Road—-that may well be quite different from the one we all know). Although I am a poet and not a fiction writer, Kerouac’s work has had a great impact on me…beginning in my youth when I carried around a copy of Tristessa in my back pocket. After all, I have written THREE poetry chapbooks inspired by Satori In Paris (one, SATORI IN LAKE CHARLES, has been published—-the other two should be out within the next year). Presently, I am re-reading Desolation Angels, and within the first ten pages, I had a flash of insight:  closely observed details of the immediate environment, juxtaposed with images and situation from memory but retold with a bit of license and some of the details changed, juxtaposed with spiritual musings, held together with stream-of-consciousness flow….hey, that’s EXACTLY what I’m doing with many of my poems!

Also, one of the great values of Kerouac’s work for future generations is the unflinching candor of the narrative persona. Kerouac’s persona in many of his works reflects many of the less-than-desirable qualities and biases of 20th century American males. I’m not sure whether the author viewed his narrator in that manner, and Mr. Kerouac might well consider that a revisionist take on his work, but it’s an inevitable outgrowth of his emphasis on candor and on unpacking the different levels of the self on the page (in other words, there is a strong mid-20th century male chauvinist vibe to much of Kerouac’s work which could be off-putting to readers, especially female readers….best to ascribe those qualities to the narrative persona, analyze them, understand the views of that time better, and not use them as an excuse to ignore the other 95% of the work which is of much value).

Let’s move on, though, to the subject at hand in this post, Kerouac’s posthumously published WAKE UP: A LIFE OF THE BUDDHA. Kerouac spent a good chunk of time on this book and consulted many works to write it. He had the enthusiasm of a convert and no doubt worried about getting the details right. The superb introduction to the book by Prof. Robert A. F. Thurman perceptively observes that Kerouac tended to favor (and consult works from) the Mahayana branch of Buddhism (my own studies have been in that area, along with Chan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism), and for someone not brought up in a Buddhist-dominant culture and who was not a comparative religion major and who did not have access to the internet, Kerouac should be lauded for producing an excellent lay-person’s guide to the life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama and the tenets of that view of the universe and of consciousness.

I first read the book soon after its publication, and initially I found it somewhat disappointing. I’m not sure I finished it, even. Clearly, it had been cobbled together from sources, something which Kerouac did not deny, so in a sense it was the Jack Kerouac paraphrase of this material. However, in the true “erase the ego” spirit, little of Kerouac’s individual character is left. Of course, that was not the function of this work–it was meant to be a factual study and a text meant to convert–so I perhaps should not attack it for not being what it did not set out to be.

I re-read the book a few years later, and DID finish it that time around. My main impression of the book at that time was that while it was a solid and interesting piece of work, it had the humorless over-sincerity of works by converts…..think Bob Dylan’s first-two “born again” albums. Or better yet, track down some of the audience recordings of live shows from Bob Dylan’s born-again live shows where he interacts with the audience. Kerouac and Dylan are both men of great wit and sarcasm and especially of grounding their work in the particulars of life as it is lived. When Dylan is composing songs dealing with religious generalities in a doctrinaire fashion, he is not doing what he is best at, what he is valued for. The same goes for Jack Kerouac.

Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha should convince anyone out there who still considers Kerouac an undisciplined writer (there are probably still a few) that he was a craftsman of great self-discipline. In fact, Wake Up often comes off like a commissioned project which was completed in a thoroughly professional manner.

A few weeks ago I finished reading the book for a third time as well as listening to the audio book. I don’t think I will be re-visiting the work again, unless I need to for research purposes. Again, it’s a solid and professional lay-person’s guide to the basics of the story of the Buddha. However, to be honest, this could have been written by any number of people. Yes, I do understand that to honor the material, Kerouac did want to erase the hand of the author, and that he did well, but it lacks the edginess, the groping for answers, and most especially, the grounding of spiritual ideas in lived experience. That is done far better in THE DHARMA BUMS or DESOLATION ANGELS. If you want Kerouac’s improvisations on many of the ideas in this book, done up in a playful and stylistically innovative manner, try the amazing SOME OF THE DHARMA, which is pure Kerouac, while dealing with many of the issues in this book in a weighty manner. Those books, and others, are what make Kerouac a great spiritual author. Kerouac was also a man who sought to unify faiths, insisting that there was common ground between Buddhism and Roman Catholicism. He was NOT a doctrinaire man. Wake Up presents a doctrinaire perspective in the dry and overly respectful manner of a recent convert. Kerouac the artist appreciated ambiguity. This book represents a period in his life when he sought to be a doctrinaire member of a particular faith. It’s interesting as a cul-de-sac in his life and career, but there’s little here that anyone who knows Buddhism 101 is not already familiar with.

An innovative, open-ended literary work such as SOME OF THE DHARMA provides a lifetime’s worth of reading and material to chew on. A novel such as DESOLATION ANGELS shows Kerouac doing what he did best….integrating lived experience and rich detail with spiritual groping. I can return to it every few years and find new insight in it…and also enjoy the rich details of the journey and the flow of the voice. And THE DHARMA BUMS presents the same Buddhist agenda as Wake Up but does it in a much more human and contemporary (and artful) method….a method which, ironically, will result in many more people being brought into the Buddhist fold, if that was indeed Kerouac’s intent.

Those of us for whom religious traditions are mostly of value for the metaphors they provide or for their cultural significance will find little of permanent value and little that is distinctly Kerouac in Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha. It’s great to have it finally in print, and it fills an important gap in the man’s life and writing career, but I won’t be keeping it close at hand as I do SOME OF THE DHARMA and DESOLATION ANGELS, and I won’t be mentioning it the next time I am explaining Kerouac’s significance and value.

wake up

July 13, 2016

new from ALFRED 23 HARTH, “Kepler 452b Edition” (KSE #336)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:42 pm

ALFRED  23  HARTH

“Kepler 452b Edition”

An allegory of life in an alien area

CDR album, KSE #336

full-sized CDR’s ($8.00 each, ppd. in US—

OUTSIDE THE USA , one album is $18.00 postpaid, first two albums are $20.00 postpaid, then $8 each postpaid after that—sorry, but it now costs almost $14 US to send one CDR overseas….you save A LOT by buying more than one—in fact, the price on an order of two or more HAS GONE DOWN!

1 album= $18, 2 albums= $20, 3 albums= $28, etc. Thanks for your understanding of this. The Post Office now charges $13.75 to mail ONE cdr without a jewel box to Europe or Asia!)

Also, please note the new policy for foreign orders, which is unfortunate but necessary, as it now costs us $13.50 to send ONE album overseas. The new pricing policy actually saves overseas customers money when buying two or more albums, and saves you more the more you buy, as compared with our previous pricing. Thanks for your understanding. This is a low-overhead operation and we try to keep YOUR costs as low as possible.

Payment via paypal to  django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com

Please include a note with your paypal order including the items ordered AND your mailing address (which Paypal often fails to provide me)….thanks!

A23H KEPLER

Excited to welcome back ALFRED 23 HARTH for another KSE release. Mr. Harth’s work for KSE since 2011 has been a sustained and wildly eclectic body of work, both solo and with a wide variety of world-class collaborators. This new multi-layered solo creation, KEPLER 452-b EDITION, a Suite in 29 parts, “an allegory of life in an alien area,” grew out of Mr. Harth’s creating a track for the KSE 10th Anniversary album (which is still available–check the ordering page to your upper right). It makes sense that a man whose career has been spent going beyond boundaries and whose work is rooted in the post-human would take his sound-art into a parallel/alternate universe. Go back and listen to A23H’s “Just Music” album from 1969. It’s not like ANYTHING else coming out of that era….and that’s pretty much been the story ever since. Even when he works with someone with a well-established style such as Paul Bley or David Murray, they sound different when in an ensemble with Alfred 23 Harth.

As with Harth’s previous KSE album “China Collection,” what we have here with KEPLER-452-b is a series (29, to be exact) of short pieces which can be approached in a variety of ways. Think of them as sound-transmissions from that parallel/alternate universe. The distant signal fades in on the first track and fades away as the album concludes. As Mr. Harth is also an acclaimed visual artist, perhaps we can also think of this as an exhibition of 29 minutely-detailed small pieces. The listener can approach the album many ways. I took KEPLER with me to the Louisiana bayou last month and listened to it a number of times in a number of ways in that rural area beyond the reach of the internet and outside the range of cell phones. First, I played the album straight through a few times to get the layout of the terrain, then I put the album on “random” and experienced the tracks in different playing orders, savoring the new juxtapositions. THEN I did what I had done with the China Collection album: put each individual track on “repeat” and appreciated the structure, the multi-layered construction of the sound collage. Each piece is unique and an exercise in miniature sound sculpture, with tiny details (the kind of tiny details which pull one in) worthy of an artwork by Wols. Were I banished to the proverbial desert island for a year and A23H’s KEPLER was the only music I was allowed, I daresay that I would not get tired of it and I would not have explored ALL of its depths. Maybe after the 500th listen I could pontificate on the nature of the Keplerian culture that produced these sound sculptures! Yes, I am quite impressed with this album!

Listeners got a first taste of the KEPLER project when Mr. Harth sent a track (an exclusive track NOT on this new Kepler 452-b album!) for our KSE 10th Anniversary compilation album (which is still available, by the way). He got so into the project that he created an entire new album. As A23H explains,

Kepler-452b Edition:
Bill Shute asked me if I would like to contribute to the KSE 10th anniversary compilation in 2016. I started working on some tracks to have a multiple choice and after a while I had created a strange music movie in the head and thought of designing these remixes for a new CD. While finishing this plan NASA announced the news about an earth cousin Kepler-452b Edition on July 23rd in 2015 feeding all sorts of speculations & imaginations about this planet. The music of the CD Kepler-452b Edition could be a projection of those. I grew up in times of Jazz & Space Age – how would life sound if I grew up on earth’s cousin?
A23H, July MMXV

We’re honored that Alfred 23 Harth has chosen to share a number of his recent creations through KSE here in South Texas. I have followed Mr. Harth’s work for 40+ years, since hearing CANADIAN CUP OF COFFEE as a teenager in Colorado, but every one of his unique creations is an equally valid entry-point to his work….so why not start now! And yes, Harth’s acclaimed saxophone work is woven into the fabric of this album, so those who seek that fix will not be let down…get your copy NOW!

Please get your order in before AUGUST 1 as KSE will be closed from AUGUST 1-AUGUST 12 while we are in Oklahoma. We’ll open for orders again on August 13. Thanks. Don’t forget to pick up other A23H albums along with your copy of KEPLER:

Also available by ALFRED 23 HARTH on KSE:

KSE #331, “KSE 10th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM” featuring newly recorded, exclusive tracks from members of the KSE family: ALFRED 23 HARTH,  SARAH HENNIES, RAMBUTAN, VANESSA ROSSETTO, ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, DEREK ROGERS, BRENT FARISS, MATT KREFTING, GRAHAM LAMBKIN, and MASSIMO MAGEE

KSE #318, ALFRED 23 HARTH & JOHN BELL, “Camellia”

And while picking up your fix of A23H music, why not check out some of KSE’s other CDR albums of forward-thinking music!

full-sized CDR’s ($8.00 each, ppd. in US—outside US minimum order of TWO albums….first two albums are $20.00 postpaid, then $8 each postpaid after that )

KSE #351 (CDR), MASSIMO MAGEE, “Music In 3 Spaces”

KSE #350 (CDR) ANTHONY GUERRA / BILL SHUTE, “Subtraction” KSE reissue of album originally released in 2011 on Black Petal Records, Australia 

KSE #335 (CDR album), REVEREND RAYMOND BRANCH, “Rainbow Gospel Hour…On The Air!”—a wonderful hour-long AM-radio broadcast, mastered from cassette, capturing the warmth and joy of Rev. Branch in both music (lots of it) and spoken message

KSE #334 (CDR album), BRIAN RURYK, “Actual Size…degress again” (sic)

KSE #333 (CDR album), ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, “Tunnels” solo 12-string acoustic mantra guitar

KSE #331, “KSE 10th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM” featuring newly recorded, exclusive tracks from members of the KSE family: ALFRED 23 HARTH,  SARAH HENNIES, RAMBUTAN, VANESSA ROSSETTO, ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, DEREK ROGERS, BRENT FARISS, MATT KREFTING, GRAHAM LAMBKIN, and MASSIMO MAGEE

KSE #328, LISA CAMERON & NATHAN BOWLES, “Liquid Sunshine” percussion duo

KSE #326, MORE EAZE (aka Marcus M. Rubio), “Abandoning Finitude”….cover art by Bob Bruno

KSE #322,  WEREWHEELS (Sir Plastic Crimewave & Dawn Aquarius), “Live, Raw and Psycho In Japan”

KSE #320, MIKE BARRETT & TOM CREAN, “Casual Luddites”

KSE #310 (CDR) MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Accidental Prizes”

KSE #293  MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Stylistic Deautomatization”

ALFRED KEPLER PHOTO

An excellent interview with ALFRED 23 HARTH can be found here:  http://www.asymptotejournal.com/interview/an-interview-with-alfred-harth/

And Mr. Harth’s own website can be found here:

http://alfredharth.blogspot.com/

July 3, 2016

El Rostro del Asesino/Hand of the Assassin (Spain 1967)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:53 am

EL ROSTRO DEL ASESINO (aka Hand of the Assassin—-Spain 1967)

directed by Pedro Lazaga

starring German Cobos, Paloma Valdes, Jorge Rigaud, and Fernando Sancho

HAND OF

Spain’s 60’s film industry was not as large as Italy’s, but Spain produced a steady stream of films in multiple genres (peplum, spy, crime, horror, mystery, western, etc.), some of which got a theatrical release in North America, and more of which found a home on late-night UHF television. As with Spanish art and literature, there is a distinct and rich national character found in Spanish film. Even dubbed in English, a Spanish film can be identified as NOT ITALIAN probably within the first 3 minutes. This review is of the English-dubbed HAND OF THE ASSASSIN, which did air on American television back in the day. It’s a shame this did not get a theatrical release here as it would have been perfect bottom-of-the-bill fodder for the rural drive-in circuit—-the settings are unique, the atmosphere is vaguely Gothic and mysterious, and once it becomes a murder mystery, the romantic couple in the car could check back-in every five or so minutes and the dialogue would fill them in on whatever they missed.

Basically, what we have here is a rural inn in NE Spain (not far from the French border) run by an older and controlling man and his younger and unsatisfied wife who was once a nightclub singer but gave up that chancy career for the stability of marriage to a “secure” mature man. The vacation season being over, most of the guests have left, so only one staff member, Pedro, remains. The wife drinks excessively and the early scenes have a nice “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” feel to them.

The inn itself is quite interesting. The opening credits give thanks and acknowledgement to a monastery where the film was shot, and being a monastery, it doesn’t look at all like a traditional Inn or hotel. Some of the IMDB comments on the film find this a flaw, but really, the filmmakers were quite astute to shoot there. With the religious icons and high ceilings and foreboding feel of a monastery which is hundreds of years old, a mysterious and semi-Gothic feel is created, and this is added to by fog and some kind of fuming cauldrons in the basement, which are alluded to as “mineral waters” in a line of dialogue. With a well-done atmosphere, a lot of flaws can be forgiven in a film such as this.

Heavy rains then hit the area causing flooding and washing out the roads, so a number of various travelers are forced to seek shelter at the inn. Thus, we have our diverse mix of people needed to get the main plot going.

Among the travelers is ANOTHER dysfunctional couple with older controlling man and younger unsatisfied wife. The lady who co-runs the inn, as a former nightclub singer who has had a lot too much to drink, decides to sing a song for the guests assembled in the dining room for a light dinner and coffee and/or cognac. Before she starts, that other couple have a physical argument at their table and their briefcase falls to the floor, opening and showing wads of cash. They quickly close it and get back to their arguing. Then the hostess/singer asks for the lights to be turned off for atmosphere, and does a wonderful and sexy Spanish torch song for a few minutes. When the lights are turned back on after the song, the older man with the briefcase is found stabbed in the back and the money is gone.

The film then kicks into a kind of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None vein, and of course everyone’s backstory begins to emerge and then we move from character to character and back and forth. There’s the retired military man, the multi-generational family, the academic, the scientist, the man who spent a few years in jail for a crime he did not commit, the grandmother, etc. All are played realistically by a fine cast many of whom will be familiar to fans of 60s Euro genre films. Each performer finds small “bits of business” to ground their characters in something the audience will accept as “real.” Especially good (as he always is) is Fernando Sancho, best known for countless portrayals of Mexican military officers and bandits in Eurowesterns, but a man who worked in many types of films, and here he’s quite effective as the man with the criminal past. Just watch the scene where he is standing near the hotel front desk next to the postcard display….keep an eye on the small details of his character. Yes, this film is dubbed in English, but the flat, functional dubbing actually works well in this context as the characters don’t talk too much so what they DO say is delivered in a somewhat jaded and tired manner, which is just what’s needed. Also, the retired military man, played by Jorge Rigaud, is dubbed by the same voice actor who dubs Jack Palance in many films. You’d think IT WAS Palance, though I don’t think Palance would be doing voice work for other films the way Edmund Purdom did. In any event, this would probably be the character Palance would have played if he’d been in this film, so that fits just right.

As is common in this genre, or in any Ten Little Indians homage, when you think the film is over, it is not, and you realize you’ve been watching everything the wrong way throughout the film.

Director PEDRO LAZAGA’s name did not ring an immediate bell, and checking his credits, I see that his best-known film to North American audiences might be the excellent GLADIATORS 7, starring Richard Harrison. He has a number of unexpected camera angles, he seems to be a good actor’s director, and he knows how to create and sustain a mysterious atmosphere. Also, whoever did the production design/dressing of sets on this also did a fine job by taking the monastery setting and using a lot of what was already there, adding only what was needed to complement it.

HAND OF THE ASSASSIN has excellent atmosphere, a fine cast, a wide variety of seemingly shifty characters, a unique monastery setting, a decent murder mystery plot, and a pace that’s both on the move and leisurely enough to caress the details. Had I seen this at 3 a.m. on a UHF station in 1975, I would have been raving about it for decades to anyone who’d listen. Even though I’m getting to it a bit late, it still delivers the goods to those who want such goods, and it’s a testimony to the professionalism and creativity of all involved with the production….and the under-rated 60s Spanish film industry. Who needs the corporate crap at the local multi-plex. Take a chance….watch a film you’ve never heard of.

June 28, 2016

KSE on Twitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 11:59 am

Well, I’ve decided to move this operation up to being 15 years out of date technologically rather than 25 years out of date, so we now have a Twitter presence. It’s listed as BILL SHUTE so please look for “Bill Shute” on Twitter and add KSE to your “feed” (or whatever you do there). Those who find the FB posts and blog entries too long-winded will enjoy KSE’s Twitter content. I’ll also include exclusive material and images there to make it worthwhile.

As always, thanks for your interest and support over the years….

June 25, 2016

new from MASSIMO MAGEE, “MUSIC IN 3 SPACES” (KSE #351)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:29 pm

MASSIMO MAGEE

“MUSIC IN 3 SPACES” (KSE #351, CDR album)
1: Concert
(Eb Clarinet, recorded live at Hundred Years Gallery by Daniel Kordik)
2: Living
(Horizontal and Vertical Electro-Acoustic Alto Saxophone, conjoined selections of home recordings)
3: Cyber
(Audiovisual Digital Art Object, made with recording of sopranino saxophone)

full-sized CDR’s ($8.00 each, ppd. in US—

OUTSIDE THE USA , one album is $18.00 postpaid, first two albums are $20.00 postpaid, then $8 each postpaid after that—sorry, but it now costs almost $14 US to send one CDR overseas….you save A LOT by buying more than one—in fact, the price on an order of two or more HAS GONE DOWN!

1 album= $18, 2 albums= $20, 3 albums= $28, etc. Thanks for your understanding of this. The Post Office now charges $13.75 to mail ONE cdr without a jewel box to Europe or Asia!)

payment via paypal to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com

please provide a note with your order listing the items you’ve ordered and your mailing address….thanks!

MASSIMO 2016 cover

Very excited to release a new multi-dimensional exploration into the possibilities of improvisation from saxophonist MASSIMO MAGEE: MUSIC  IN  3  SPACES.

Recently, Mary Anne and I had the privilege of experiencing the massive Frank Stella career retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (it’s there until September 18th, so check it out…very much worth the drive from Austin or Houston or Oklahoma City). We all know the 1960’s works–explorations using geometry as a launching pad– for which Stella is best known (although seeing these close-up where the minute detail can be observed makes them come alive and displays the endless variation within the painting and drawing), but the more recent work (and he’s still at it) where the images leap from the wall and explode at the viewer in three full (or even FOUR) dimensions were a revelation. Clearly, Mr. Stella has been taking the geometrical experiments of his early work and then extended and developed these in a logical and in some ways an inevitable manner, growing his art exponentially while still exploring and pondering the questions he dealt with in his 60’s work. The pieces are not really sculpture, but a kind of unique extension of painting and collage (he’s also been quite prolific—there’s an entire sequence of works inspired by Melville, for instance), growing it three-dimensionally. It was an impressive and also a humbling retrospective–the man’s life work has been devoted to DEEP exploration of an aesthetic territory. That kind of passion and that kind of imagination is inspiring!

While standing in the presence of one of Stella’s six-foot deep and twelve-foot high three- dimensional works, I thought of Massimo Magee and his works EXTENDING the solo peformances of various reed instruments (on this album it’s clarinet, alto sax, and sopranino sax). If the basic solo saxophone performance (think Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Lee Konitz, etc., going back of course to Coleman Hawkins’ seminal mid-1940’s solo saxophone recording PICASSO, which you can find on You Tube, if you have not heard it) can be thought of as similar to Stella’s 60’s geometrical works, studies and line and form and shape etc., then Massimo Magee’s various extensions of the solo performance genre develop the form exponentially and bring in extra physical and spatial dimensions to the experience. Magee brings a similar passion and imagination to his explorations.

Magee has always been someone who treats improvisation in an analytical manner, with the intellectual rigor of a philosophy major…but also with a sly wit and a painterly appreciation of texture and landscape and negative space.  His twenty-six volume set of “Collected Solos” (which you can download here for free!  https://arraymusic.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/ar15-collected-solos/   ) is the most thought-provoking and massively liberating investigation of the possibilities of improvisation I’ve ever encountered. If I were in the proverbial “house on fire” situation and could take only ten music items, “Collected Solos” would be one of them. This new album MUSIC IN 3 SPACES continues Magee’s fascinating explorations of improvisation in multiple dimensions. Here is the artist’s own discussion of the three approaches to improvisation on the album’s three tracks:

With ‘Music in 3 Spaces’ …the basic premise is to situate my playing in 3 different ‘spaces’ as an exercise in contrast and general terrain mapping. A kind of stocktake of where I’ve been and where I am. The first space is ‘Concert’ – acoustic, unedited improvisation in a room with other living, breathing people, sharing the moment as it happened. That old magic that hasn’t failed yet.

The second space is ‘Living’ – an edited excerpt from lengthy, relaxed, nonprecious home recording. More exploratory, less ‘presented’, less immediate and electro-acoustic.

The third space is ‘Cyber‘ and it’s this one to which the new development relates. This is a digital art object designed to be read by the computer as both an image and as a piece of music, both forms arising from the same data. It’s a truly digital object for which a direct analogue equivalent is impossible, and something that can only properly be understood by the computer in digital space. The file read as audio is the third track on the CD. Read as an image, it’s a visual art piece that I’ve just been told has earned a place in the winners group exhibition for the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art’s 2016 international juried competition.

This ambitious agenda produces a rich and challenging listening experience. It’s fitting that Mr. Magee is on a label which has featured artists such as Alfred 23 Harth and Forbes Graham and Ernesto Diaz-Infante because he is doing bold, vibrant, and important work that any fan of those gentlemen would surely appreciate. We’re proud at KSE to have featured Massimo Magee’s work on a number of albums (and he was also on our 10th Anniversary compilation album, which you can still order….and I’ll also announce that he’s scheduled to be on the 11th Anniversary album which will be out in January 2017), and MUSIC IN 3 SPACES is one of his most essential works. Order your copy now. And those in the UK (where MM presently lives and works) should keep an eye/ear out for his live performances.


And while you are ordering your copy of Massimo Magee’s new album, why not check out our OTHER CDR ALBUMS OF CONTEMPORARY FORWARD-THINKING MUSIC 

full-sized CDR’s ($8.00 each, ppd. in US—outside US minimum order of TWO albums….first two albums are $20.00 postpaid, then $8 each postpaid after that )

payment via paypal to    django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com

Please include a note with your paypal order including the items ordered AND your mailing address (which Paypal often fails to provide me)….thanks!

KSE #336 (CDR), ALFRED 23 HARTH, “Kepler 452b Edition”

KSE #350 (CDR) ANTHONY GUERRA / BILL SHUTE, “Subtraction” KSE reissue of album originally released in 2011 on Black Petal Records, Australia

KSE #335, Reverend Raymond Branch, “The Rainbow Gospel Hour…On The Air!”

KSE #334, Brian Ruryk, “Actual Size…degress again”

KSE #333, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, “Tunnels”  solo 12-string “mantra strumming” guitar from this West Coast innovator

KSE #331, KSE 10th Anniversary compilation album with Alfred 23 Harth, Sarah Hennies, Derek Rogers, Massimo Magee, Vanessa Rossetto, Rambutan, Graham Lambkin, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Brent Fariss, and Matt Krefting.

KSE #320, MIKE BARRETT & TOM CREAN, “Casual Luddites”

KSE #328, LISA CAMERON & NATHAN BOWLES, “Liquid Sunshine” percussion duo

KSE #326, MORE EAZE (aka Marcus M. Rubio), “Abandoning Finitude”….cover art by Bob Bruno

KSE #322,  WEREWHEELS (Sir Plastic Crimewave & Dawn Aquarius), “Live, Raw and Psycho In Japan”

KSE #318, ALFRED 23 HARTH & JOHN BELL, “Camellia”

KSE #310, MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Accidental Prizes”

KSE #293, MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Stylistic Deautomatization”

…..

NEWEST POETRY CHAPBOOKS:

($6 US ppd/$7 elsewhere ppd)

KSE #325 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Trickle-Down City Limits”

KSE #302 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Satori In Lake Charles”

KSE #347 (poetry-and-photography chapbook), BILL   SHUTE, “MONUMENTAL MOVEMENTS: CASSETTE POEMS THREE”

As always,thanks for your support of KSE and all independent, non-aligned arts organizations. We have to more albums coming out in late June/early July and also a poetry chapbook from Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal. We’ll be closed for the first two weeks in August while travelling in Southern Oklahoma, and then in the Fall we’ve scheduled at least SIX new albums and a number of new poetry chapbooks. Stay tuned….

 

June 23, 2016

THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER (Mexico 1967/1970), directed by Albert Zugsmith, starring Troy Donahue

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:46 pm

THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER (EL PISTOLERO FANTASMA)

Starring Troy Donahue, Sabrina, Emilio Fernandez, Carlos Rivas,  German Robles, Elizabeth Campbell, Pedro Armandariz Jr. , and Billy Frick

produced circa 1967, released in Mexico in 1970

produced, co-written, and directed by Albert Zugsmith

(note: this film is included as second feature on a lovely 3-disc Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome, accompanying the Russ Meyer/Albert Zugsmith German-lensed production of FANNY HILL from 1964)

As a fan of both producer (and sometime director) Albert Zugsmith and of actor Troy Donahue, I have been interested in this film for decades, but it seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth. The IMDB mentions a VHS release in Germany in the 1980’s, but films issued on PAL European VHS usually find their way into collectors’ trading circles on DVD-R, and this had NEVER surfaced. A clip was online in the mid-1990’s, and I managed to watch a few seconds of it  (not even enough to tell if it was in English or Spanish—-the rumor I’d heard was that it was shot in both) before my dial-up computer crashed. Now, thanks to Vinegar Syndrome (I was a contributor to VS’s initial project, a crowd-funded release of three “lost” Herschell Gordon Lewis sex-oriented films), THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER is on the bottom of the bill (where it should have played at US drive-ins but, alas, did not) with another Zugsmith project, Russ Meyer’s FANNY HILL, in a handsome 3 – disc set. Clearly, the Meyer film is the drawing card for most viewers, but I’ll leave that to others to review, and indeed, they already have.  I’m old enough to have seen Meyer’s 1970’s output theatrically (and some of the late 60’s items such as VIXEN and CHERRY, HARRY & RAQUEL were still playing theatrically in the mid 70’s) and even got to chat with Meyer himself at the Denver “champagne premiere” of BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA VIXENS at the Ogden Theater on East Colfax, where the director himself poured the champagne, so I’m happy that FANNY HILL (a quirky, troubled production that’s not really typical of Meyer’s work….it certainly would not be the film I showed someone to get him/her interested in Meyer) has made it to Blu-Ray/DVD in a sparkling, eye-popping transfer. However, we’re here to discuss the other film on the program.

I first heard of Zugsmith when I was a teenager in the 1970’s. First of all, his “golden age” films, many of which starred Mamie Van Doren, were given extremely low ratings (often “Bomb”) in Leonard Maltin’s film guide, so THAT intrigued me, and also films such as THE PRIVATE LIVE OF ADAM AND EVE never played on TV, at least in the areas where I lived. Second, when I was in high school, a few of us collected odd and obscure 16mm trailers, which we’d splice into reels and then watch in the HS auditorium. We created a school club for this, believe it or not. One of our handful of club members worked at a theater in Blackhawk/Central City and thus he had access to lots of strange trailers, one of which was called MOVIE STAR AMERICAN STYLE, OR LSD I HATE YOU (circa 1968), which was directed by the same Albert Zugsmith who’d made the Mamie Van Doren films years before. It looked to have been shot in black and white but “color tinted” (as with the Filipino sections of Al Adamson’s HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS) and the parts I saw also seemed to have been shot silent and post-synced with ironic dialogue and commentary (although as the film has not yet re-surfaced, I can’t swear the whole film is post-synced). While today, anyone can see strange z-grade sexploitation films such a Barry Mahon’s SEX KILLER or the various films of Doris Wishman (and hundreds of films a few rungs BELOW those) on DVD, at the time, I’d never seen any grungy z-grade porn or films such as BABY LIGHT MY FIRE or BLONDE ON A BUM TRIP, so MOVIE STAR AMERICAN STYLE seemed edgy and strange. Also, the super-low budget and grimy quality of the film seemed odd coming from someone who’d once worked with Orson Welles and produced films for MGM. Needless to say, that trailer planted a seed in me, and since then, I’ve sought out any 1960’s Zugsmith films I could find, and yes, the ones I’ve seen such as PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS (aka On Her Bed Of Roses) WERE both grimy and very low budget. And edgy, though not in the manner that most would associate with the word. The trailer for MOVIE STAR AMERICAN STYLE is on You Tube, and it’s somewhat the same as I remembered it (though my memory embellished it a bit over the decades). Let’s watch it before we discuss THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER: http://youtu.be/3DpTmvmz-u4 .

Notice the nods to silent comedy—-the very over-the-top slapstick, the ridiculous sound effects (heard on the cut-up versions of silent films that played television in the 50’s and early 60’s, and which was parodied in Jay Ward’s FRACTURED FLICKERS), the pie fights, etc. It’s kind of like an R-rated, scuzzy version of the kind of primitive gag-oriented humor found in Keystone Kops-era Mack Sennett or the films of Larry Semon….or in the trio A Ton Of Fun….the kind of shorts NOT praised as great art the way Keaton or Harry Langdon are. The kind of humor, minus the sex and the decadent Hollywood vibe, is what Albert Zugsmith pursued and took to the limit in THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER. Comedy westerns had some draw at the box office (think Cat Ballou and TV’s F Troop)  and The Monkees TV series (which seems a BIG influence on Phantom Gunslinger) was both a popular AND a critical hit with its sped-up slapstick and surreal plots and situations, so perhaps Zugsmith felt that a combination of the two would be marketable, amped up and going WAY beyond what anyone else was doing in terms of PURE slapstick, and then taking it lightyears beyond THAT in terms of being self-reflexive and out-cartooning the cartoons. That’s what we’ve got here with THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER, and say what you will about Zugsmith and his body of work, NO ONE had ever made a film like this before, and no one has made one since.

After his successful run as a producer and then director in the late 50’s and early 60’s, a run that seemed to die out following the release of 1961’s DONDI, based on the comic strip, and 1962’s CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER, starring Vincent Price (a pulpy surreal trip of a film that is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive and should not be missed by ANY fans of Price or of the bizarre), Zugsmith seemed to be testing the waters of international production. Films could be made MUCH cheaper in countries such as Mexico or The Philippines, and with Zugsmith’s track record as a successful Hollywood producer to impress the locals in other countries, he probably did not have trouble finding investors and getting support from local authorities. The IMDB lists two shot-in-the-Phillipines Zugsmith productions for 1963, both starring the great George Nader (AFTER his Shannon TV series but before his series of German-made Jerry Cotton crime films), ZIGZAG and THE GREAT SPACE ADVENTURE (ZIGZAG, of course, has nothing to do with the 1970 film of the same name starring George Kennedy). FANNY HILL was made in Germany in 1964, and Zugsmith made a film in Mexico prior to PHANTOM, a strange mystery called THE CHINESE ROOM, that is allegedly based on the famous racy novel by Vivian Connell. CHINESE ROOM can be found among grey-market video dealers if one searches, and it’s a fascinating dream-like film that should be rediscovered. After getting a VHS copy in the 90’s, I tracked down the source novel, and while it’s been almost 20 years since I read it and watched Zugsmith’s film, I remember that very little was taken from the novel beyond the title and some general concepts and a few details. THE CHINESE ROOM shared some cast members with THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER, so I’m guessing ROOM was made first  and that PHANTOM was the follow-up.

I don’t believe THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER got a US theatrical release, which is a shame because it’s so ODD that had it been dumped on the bottom of the double-bill at drive-ins, the word-of-mouth about it would have made it a cult film years ago. It also does not seem to have ever gotten in American television rotation…I don’t remember it ever playing UHF stations at 3 in the morning. There are Mexican movie posters of it in circulation (see one below) and it’s listed among Mexican film releases, so we know it played there…which leads me to another question. I’d heard way back when (don’t ask me where) that this was available in both English and Spanish versions, as I believe THE CHINESE ROOM was. The Mexican actors used in the film all seem to be speaking English, so perhaps Zugsmith cast the film with Mexican actors and actresses who also spoke English. What’s the Spanish version like, and where is it? Who knows….

In any event, the print used here of the English version is sparkling and widescreen and far better than one would have expected. The best way to describe THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER is to say that it revels in taking every Western cliche to and beyond the limit AND it’s kind of like a live-action version of a Road Runner cartoon. The fine musical score is pure cartoon, the acting is broad and exaggerated as much as in a Dean Martin or Carol Burnett TV show skit, some characters have their names and/or functions listed on signs which they wear, and the hero, played by Troy Donahue (who was always good with comedy, particularly in his “second career”), gets killed many times and comes back to life just like Wile E. Coyote. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anything remotely like this before. Director Albert Zugsmith clearly liked the lowest-brow silent comedy (or perhaps the parodies of them such as Fractured Flickers) and knew how to handle Bowery Boys-style rough-housing, and he serves up both for 90 minutes here. And that might be the problem for the average viewer….in some ways this reminds me of those feature films which grew out of Saturday Night Live skits. They are funny in ten-minute doses, but drag when extended to feature length. Considering that silent comedy shorts were either one or two reels and Three Stooges two-reelers ran for 17 minutes or so, it could be that a full feature film of this kind of low-brow physical comedy and absurdist exaggeration of western cliches is too much for the average viewer.

However, those who enjoy the bizarre and who revel in films which are totally uncommercial will undoubtedly savor THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER. The print is beautiful, the film is full of eye-popping color and attractive western sets, the original musical score by Gustavo Carreon makes you feel like you are at a circus during the clown sequences, and the entertaining all-star cast of Mexican supporting actors and actresses (in English!) along with Sabrina and of course Troy Donahue (looking a bit like Arch Hall Jr.) make things enjoyable to watch….IF you want 90 minutes of cartoon-style Western comedy made in Mexico. I have a feeling that Albert Zugsmith achieved EXACTLY what he set out to with this film…and I’ll take this unique product from the mind of auteur Zugsmith over 99% of what’s playing at the local multiplex.

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