NIHILISTIC SEA SHANTIES AND BUSKER JAMS FROM THE SUBWAY TO HELL Alvarius B.

The Sun
City Girls’ younger Bishop brother has his twisted ’98 classic
remade, remodeled and reissued.

 

BY RON HART

 

Since crawling from a scorpion hole in the Arizona desert
nearly 35 years with his brother, guitar great Sir Richard Bishop, and late
drummer Charles Gocher as the Sun City Girls, Alan Bishop has been rubbing the
American music landscape rawer than hamburger meat. Though getting his
start as a card-carrying member of the Phoenix skate punk scene alongside the
likes of the Meat Puppets and Jodie Foster’s Army, the younger Bishop sibling abandoned
the conventional idea of the scene’s anti-establishment ethos early on and he
and his fellow Girls began to infuse free jazz, tape loops, surf guitar and a
smorgasbord of Middle Eastern, Northern African and Southeast Asian musical
elements into their seemingly bottomless cache of material. They conspired
musically from 1984 until Gocher succumbed to his valiant battle with cancer in
2007, putting an immediate end to the group as an active entity. 

 

But as a solo artist, Alan Bishop really lets his freak flag
fly, especially whilst recording under his Alvarius B. moniker. And perhaps his
most definitive statement as an act under his own accord is his second
eponymous full-length from 1998, which now enjoys a long overdue makeover
courtesy of the SCG-helmed Abduction Records label.

 

 


alvarius b. – alvarius b. (album preview) by experimedia

 

“I think its fair to say that in AB we have the most inspiring and
wholesome, cussing, violent and truthful music interpenetrator of the psychic
Realities that has probably ever graced this fair and fucked land,” hails
former Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance in his impassioned liner notes for
this two-CD revamp of Alvarius B, first released as a limited edition
vinyl 2LP set back in the day. Truer sentiments could not be expressed better
in the context of the original 39 tracks, a twisted cache of nihilistic sea
shanties and busker jams from the subway to hell that pushed the boundaries of
public tolerance to the limit, evidenced on tracks like “Blood Baby”
and “The Great Fuck Inaccessible.” This updated edition of B. adds
six new bonus tunes from the initial recording sessions, done between the years
1994 and 1996 on a portable tape recorder in Seattle, Washington.
Judging by the sound of disc one’s buggy “Insect Dilemma” and disc
two’s “Crackled Witch,” with its “brainwashed skulls in a
shrunken pot,” the extra material is as equally damaged as any of its
final cut counterparts.

Alvarius B. is a masterpiece of apocalyptic
death folk that is indeed not for the faint at heart, with all of its
avant-garde discordance and vulgarity. But if you have the abstract gumption to appreciate the kind of ravenous
deconstructionism Bishop brought to the table in spades here, this is up there
with and the 1990 Sun City Girls classic Torch of the Mystics and
his brother’s Salvador Kali as a must-own addition to your music
library.


 

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