Tingo Tongo Tapes, The Dwarfs of East Agouza and Psychedelic Vietnam: June Round Up

The days are getting longer, warmer and far busier as we enter June of 2018. RCU will soon be moving its physical location (its spiritual location is still up for debate) and the ‘To Review’ pile is as large as ever. So here’s a quick run down of some of the most interesting stuff that’s been recently sent in, getting some spins or left on heavy streaming rotation.

Tingo Tongo Tapes

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An indie cassette label out of Oakland, California, Tingo Tongo Tapes focuses on a wide spectrum of outré, experimental and absurd music.

From the prepared trumpet and modular synth duo, Burnt Dot, and their crazed and downright beastly performance at the 2017 Norcal Noisefest…

…to disorientating, multifaceted sound collages, like Fire Mix by Baglady…

…you’re never sure what you’re going to hear next from this buck wild label, but you will surely never forget it!

Cuasares – Afro-Progresivo

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With the ever-approaching summer, you’re going to need something hazy, danceable and  intensely groovy to listen to. Guerssen Records’ reissue of this 1973 Argentine lost classic is exactly that.

Mixing Afro-Latin rhythms with acid rock guitars, noodle-y synth-weirdness and mellow vibraphones, Waldo Belloso created a masterpiece that has sadly slipped way under the radar. Hopefully, this reissue will help the album gain the respect and fan-worship that it truly deserves. Imagine if the Ngozi Family or The Psychedelic Aliens cut a record with Os Mutantes and Stringtronics (with perhaps the additional guidance of Erkin Koray) and you might get something that sounds a little bit like this.

The Dwarfs of East AgouzaRats Don’t Eat Synthesizers 

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Good gawd this album! This Cairo trio (yes, all of this sound is somehow created by just a trio) produced a total slab of fascinatingly eclectic music that bounces around a massive variety of styles and genres with ease. Elements of everything from Ethiopian jazz to Syd-era Pink Floyd psychedelic freak-outs and avant-garde noise rock appear across the album’s two suite-sized tracks.

Hypnotic primal jams rich with spiraling organs and twisted, fuzz guitars? Trembling, claustrophobic saxophones that evoke Pharaoh Sanders? And The involvement of Alan Bishop from Sun City Girls, you say? What’s not to love here?!

(Side note: This is one of those album titles that I dearly love and will always wonder what exactly inspired it.)

The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – Planet Lam 

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From Cairo, we go to Bangkok for the resuscitating, insatiable grooves of the aptly named The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band.

As featured last year on a great feature about Southeast Asian psychedelic bands by Bandcamp, TPBMIB stewed together a heady brew of steamy dance music that’ll surely send your brain to a more enlightened plane of existence.

Channeling everything from traditional Thai sounds to dub music and lightning-paced psychedelic rock, it may be virtually impossible not to have a fun time listening to this record.

The CBC Band 

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From Thailand, we go to Vietnam to highlight the legend of a current obsession of mine— the mighty CBC Band.

The CBC Band started out as a family of very talented but struggling musicians in Saigon during the Vietnam War. They quickly developed a following and started to make ends meet by playing freaky, fuzzed-up covers of contemporary Western songs for American GIs at the CBC bar (hence the name).

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April 30th, 1971

While vintage recordings of the group are seldom and often very difficult to track down, two strong original songs, sung in their native language, surfaced on the Saigon Rock & Soul compilation (one of these being “Tinh Yêu Tuyệt Vời,” as seen above). These tracks positively radiate with growling guitars and some downright righteous drumming that you’d swear you’ve heard on a classic James Brown record somewhere.

Elsewhere, bits of their cover material, which includes songs by the likes of Grand Funk Railroad, Jimi Hendrix and The James Gang (as well as probably the hardest Carole King covers ever) have popped up on YouTube here and there. A sampling of a supposed double disc release of these recordings can be found here:

The band’s dramatic career nearly overshadows their music. While playing at the CBC bar, a bomb went off inside and reportedly destroyed the venue, wounded the lead singer and killed an American soldier and a teenaged fan. Around this time, the group performed at Vietnam’s first ever rock festival, the Live at Saigon Zoo event.

While on tour outside of their country, The CBC Band hid out in Thailand while attempting to seek asylum in Australia. According to a video that features some rare official footage of the group from around this time period, they were then declined asylum and they ran off to Bali, Indonesia, then to Malaysia and had to make a break for it to India. They stayed there until South Vietnam fell in 1975. They then applied for resettlement in America. While waiting for an indeterminate period of time, they were taken in by a group of Tibetan Monks and given food and shelter.

Finally, like many of their refugee Vietnamese brethren at the time, they settled and found work in Houston, Texas. It was here, in 2011, where the band held a reunion concert, with many of their original American veteran fans in attendance.

I really hope that this story eventually is given the rockdoc treatment sometime in the near future.

-KH

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