Monday, November 02, 2009

TLASILA History: 1990 to the Present? Ja.

(Amended 3-4 Nov 09.)

Hello Again,

Now that I've transferred the raw files for the Menlo Park retrospective from DVD-Rs (64 of 'em, to be precise) to a now-swollen external drive, perhaps it's time to lay out a plan for the box (or whatever packaging format or apparatus the music will ultimately be housed in), and retrace the history of the collective. As you are doubtless aware, we have never been at odds with each other, have never uttered a cross word or calumnious oath at the mention of another member of the organization (which in 2009 has raised nearly $143 million for açaí and pomegranate research), and are in complete accord with everything that is, was, and shall ever be with To Live and Shave in L.A.

In other words, we have been riven with acrimony and discord for ages, but despite the rock and roll stations, we will deliver the amputations. This record will set your timelines to Year Zero. (1990.)

Why 1990? Because that's when the first TLASILA demos were recorded. May 1990, to be precise. There were two tracks originally, one titled "Jad," the other, "Neil." I sent a copy of them to Don Fleming for feedback, and he gave me his thumbs-up for both the new direction and the moniker.

(Peach of Immortality was inching toward more overtly composed structures in early 1990, especially with the unissued "Ponyfur"/"180 Grady" single, recorded for Ned Hayden's doomed Primo Scree imprint. The tracks, admittedly too fucked for publication and done in more of a rush than necessary, contained no vocal elements or text, but their jumbled aesthetic informed the initial [1991-2] Shavian sound. And, as you may recall from previous posts, once I'd ogled the box art for Ron Jeremy's 1986 low-budget, low-lighting, low-IQ, low-everything vid To Live and Shave in L.A., I swooned, chortled, and proclaimed to myself on the spot - Valdosta, Georgia's still extant Video Warehouse, sometime in the autumn of 1988 - that I would appropriate the pitiable handle for my next project.)

With Don's imprimatur secured, I made two additional TLASILA demos in July 1990. The first contained two tracks, "U-Waft," and "Live For...," and the second, recorded 12-15 July, had three compositions, "'Toast to...'," "Prod. Beds," and "Nothing U Waft (loop ii.)."

That's 42:56 of TLASILA, laid down and sent round to intimates (DF, Mike Green, Tim Seaton, Fred Ware, and probably Greg Chapman, although memory blurs re GC) by the middle of 1990. The die was cast. (In pleather.)

However...

Matters always tend to get confused. As Peach of Immortality, Tim and I worked for several years on an album called Taxi zum Shoah. Given POI's astonishing, uninterrupted record of abject commercial failure, 95% of the labels which were sent the final, 1989 mix of TzS passed on it without comment. But, in late 1990, Noiseville, the slightly-overweight-Indiana-dude-listening-to-a-third-generation-Voivod-dupe-on-a-K-Mart-Walkman knock-off of late 20th century imprints, made an offer. Not for Taxi, but for a single. By Peach of Immortality. I explained (by old-fashioned letter - this was a few years before email) that I had a new name in mind for the project, but the always generous N'ville proprietor replied via post that I'd be making a mistake if I applied even a hint of eyeshadow. I was desperate, so I agreed. For two years I shelved the TLASILA name in public, but I'd long embraced the TLASILA aesthetic and abandoned the structural schematic familiar to the few remaining fans of POI. Research and development was pursued with diligence.

(Miami) POI was TLASILA.

From early 1991 through October 1993, all TLASILA recordings and live performances were credited to Peach of Immortality.* As POI, Rat Bastard and I mixed and produced the above-referenced EP for Noiseville, Spatters of a Royal Sperm. During innumerable sessions with various Sync Studios engineers (primarily Rat, the ill-fated Edward Bobb, and Looch, Rat's partner in the studio, and sometimes by myself, either after-hours at Sync or at Telemundo, the Spanish-language network where I toiled as a freelance audio engineer from 1992-1994), I recorded great swaths of four albums that were ultimately abandoned (My "Limp" Went Husserl on Me, Everything That Arkansas Needs [kudos to the great Sam Patton for the ace nomenclature], Baby to a Violent Grave, and The Lineaments of Gratified Desire). Some of the tracks from those aborted compendia were stripped from their moorings and retrofitted for 30-minuten männercreme: "Trip Right Over It" (July 1992), "Lena Krassner 1949," "Pull Chains of Memphis," and "New! Skin Chamber Lite!" (all from February 1993). Even "Ponyfur" reappeared, emerging from the archival murk as a 14-minute extended dub crafted during the Lineaments sessions.

* There were exceptions. For the 20-year box, I found a cassette explicitly marked "TLASILA - Performance Template No. 1." From 1992. (Don't worry - there will be an excerpt.) Even under self-imposed deep cover, I strove to disrupt chafing paradigms...

Soon (Spring-Summer 1993), I was engineering the sessions by myself. I worked a lot of overtime at Telemundo. I wouldn't have given Martin Hannett (or Martin Rushent, or even Martin Barre, or Moon Martin) any sleepless shit-fits, but I was finding my own shrill, stripped, streptococcal voice.

I was also continuously working at home on edit templates, new compositions, texts, design concepts, and other distinctly Shavian motifs during this purgatorial pause. When Noiseville dropped the outsized medicine ball on Spatters (early autumn '93), I summoned the gumption to restore the TLASILA name to the already sizable body of distress we'd created in balmy, boring South Beach.

Simple as that.

On September 30, 1993, Peach of Immortality's set list included gnarled 30-mm standards "Pictures at an Exhibition," "Long Georgette Jacket," "Piss, My Heart," "Unobscured Miss," "Foul Thérèse," and "Weakness Spits." The lineup that evening? One Tom Smith, on tapes and voice. The set was recorded off the board by Rattus Bastardus. By October, we were doing the exact same set (or combinations of those songs, and newer ones) as To Live and Shave in L.A. And by November, TLASILA was performing compositions that would eventually show up on "Helen Butte" vs. Masonna Pussy Badsmell.

The work created between early 1991 and September 1993 could never have been made by Peach of Immortality, at least as the group was originally conceived by Jared Hendrickson and myself, and as later fulminated by Tim Lane Seaton and I during the group's extraordinarily fecund death throe (1988-1991). In Miami, "POI" was a placeholder, an avatar, and nothing more. As soon as Spatters was exiled, there was no point in clutching the past to our chic purple vinyl breastplates. To Live and Shave in L.A. entered the surveillance game in May, 1990, worked in back-channel black ops as Peach of Immortality through early October 1993 (with at least one notable incognito trip to the liquor store), and dumped the alias later in that month when its cover had been irrevocably compromised.

(Note that both Jared and Tim were, and continue to be, exemplary musicians. I'm working with Tim again in Rope Cosmetology. But, during that season of nascence, instincts ran counter to the known. And do so to this day.)



(Here's a rarity - a test copy of 30-minuten männercreme, still bearing the soon-to-be-jettisoned POI moniker, from August 1993.)

Click here to download the opening remarks and first expulsion (30-mm's "Shot Your Mouth Off") from Churchill's, Miami, May 20, 1993. The group is yours truly, on voice and tapes. Either Rat B or Ariyah O recorded the set. (Sorry, there was no engineer credit on the tape, but it's most likely one or the other.) Apologies for the very distressing display of hubris...

The 20-year retrospective will thus not obscure truths nor ignore opposing perspectives, and address misconceptions head-fucking-on.

Part Two will follow later.

Hope everyone is well!

Best,

Tom