Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

When I was 19 I worked as an intern for SOUND CHOICE magazine as a way to get free records and contribute somehow to the fanzine underground. They were an hour away from my college, lurking in a very normal suburban house in Ojai, California, and committed to a very erratic & bong-intensified publishing schedule. I always thought the “underground cassette culture” was kind of bullshit, at least with regard to the revolutionary aura that Sound Choice cloaked it in, but there was bound to be some neat stuff buried on musty tapes from those years, and sure enough, there is. BABY 63 was the bedroom project of one 21-year-old Karen Fletcher from 1984-86, and she embraced radical industrio-minimalism at a very young age & proceeding accordingly. She was in with those Virginia-based PSYCHODRAMA nutballs, remember them? Unlike them, her clanking racket was very listenable and pretty creepy to boot. The very hot B-side “Shark Watch Maker” approximates the sound of a buzzing army of cicadas with big teeth marching in formation with a direct beeline for your children, with drone-vocals and clattering percussion keeping time; the angry/weird A-side's not half bad either. Sort of like similar lost closet-case DIY acts from the early 80s a la REDNESS, SILVER ABUSE, or the REVERSIBLE CHORDS, Fletcher conveyed a real deep sense of doom and dread in the most disjointed manner. I dig it, and it’s nice to have it resurrected out of the goodness of S-S Records’ cold, cold heart.