Just got into town about an hour ago…

First post from LA, Where I’ll be spending the next few months.  We are staying downtown, and as it turns out there is a fantastic club there called the Smell.  They are cooperatively run, with founder Jim Smith getting help from the bands and people who come to listen.  I found out about the place from a great writeup in LA Weekly this week.  No alcohol, and I saw no signs of the usual bar-like scene of fuckups fucking things up by being wasted on this or that…it’s just about the music, which is fantastic.

Ninjas, from myspace (not at the Smell)

I dropped in this past Saturday during a great set by the Ninja Academy.  They consist of a drummer, Outdo-Ninja and bass player Indo-Ninja (who did all sorts of tapping and chord work run through distortion, echo, and a looper).  For about half the songs they were accompanied by two women, one a Taiko drummer, Gongis Khan, and the other,  Ninjamamalickum, probably getting a most awesome sounding revenge on her parents for making her learn Japanese traditional vocal music.  She had this voice that emits probably the most decibels per pound of any singer in the world.  Check “Robot Falls in Love with Computer” on their myspace page (linked above) for a taste that can’t begin to match the live effect.  The guys wore ninja masks for the whole performance so you could not tell who they were.  Khan was in a taiko drumming outfit and I think Ninjamamalickum wore a kimono, can’t remember.  Ninjamamalickum’s theatrics seemed very carefully worked out and probably drawn from Japanese music, though I know nothing about Japanese traditional music, so who knows.

After Ninja Academy came Good for Cows, a Bay Area instrumental duo comprising Ches Smith on drums and Devin Hoff on double bass.  Smith played with his feet on the drums to change their pitch, and rubbed cymbals to get a peculiar ringing buzz out of them besides rubbing the drums like they were congas.  Hoff played an electric upright bass, sometimes bowed, mostly plucked and occasionally run through some effects.  They rocked too.

I missed the other three bands that played there, Clevis (also listen to their myspace), Totally Serious, and Bay Area shredders We Be the Echo.  I hope I get to catch them some other time, especially Clevis, whose music I liked a lot.

As always, give a listen to my music if you get a chance!  Who knows, maybe I’ll get a chance to play at the Smell too.  If you are in LA, I hope you check this place out.

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