Un-earthing Marcia Bassett from dark yet on closer acquaintace, flashy underground

Posted in girls, music by okkame on August 10, 2010

Matthew Bower and Marcia Bassett as Hototogisu


Pitchfork’s The Out Door is an ongoing column contributed by Marc Masters and Grayson Currin, which is along the lines of other major music publications’ useful excavators delving into deep underground such as The Fader’s Freak Scene (not to criticize the girl in charge, but now Freak Scene means less to me compared to it did when Steve Lowenthal of Swingset Magazine was holding the baton) and Stereogum’s The Outsiders(by Brandon Stosuy. Here‘s a great interview of him focusing on his tie to New York’s downtown lit scene with some musical reminders thrown in. He is yapping about and kinda canonizing obscure Black Metal bands on his twitter. In-the-knows know Black Metal popped up into the snob inventory of some spearheaded music obsessives years ago. I heard that hipster dude from Sonic Youth signed some Black Metal band to his label), they are last but not least in doing this unprofitable business. It seems a bit stuffy though, as Pitchfork is the most established.

On the current edition of it, they look at the best underground internet music shops, and they interview a trio of experimental music vets: Dominic Fernow of Prurient and Cold Cave, among many other projects; Marcia Bassett (Zaimph, Double Leopards); and Pietro Riparbelli, who creates field recordings in some of Italy’s most famous cathedrals as K11.

R.I.P. Twisted Village, though having never had a chance to visit your store, I’m a big fan of Major Stars. And WOW to Dominic Fernow and Marcia Bassett, they’re whom I regard as bona fide hipsters in the lineage of New York No Wavers.


Pitchfork: You’ve said people come to see Cold Cave because they’re Prurient fans. Have their reactions been interesting?

Dominic Fernow: The only thing that’s interesting to me is how people seem totally unable to understand that a person might do anything else. It just blows my mind that, in a supposedly free-thinking, forward-thinking culture, how utterly narrow- and close-minded and shut off and conformist so many people are in terms of their expectations of artists. It literally never ceases to amaze me. People just shut down. If you don’t fit into their classifications, their brains just die.


I love Cold Cave but heard they”re a sucky live band and even my friends who saw them attested to it and decided to remain records-only fans. If I interviewed him, I would ask him about their relation to Emo muscially as well as Prurient’s Emo gloves and Wes Eisold’s Emo hair cut (or his whole Emo-Goth presence), and whether he is offended if I call them true Emotronic acts.

Even though I like Dom very much, he’s a dude so naturally bound to be put aside when a Girl equal of him, this time Marcia Bassett, shares my headspace. Speaking of that breed of untypical girls, on my suspended Elisa Ambrogio/Axolotl post, I was gonna express intent to make an one-off girls-only (maga)zine named “Brassy”, a fashion/misc interview/life style (maga)zine in the style of GLU(Lesbo hints will be cool even if they’re not), Me and Apartamento but with appropriate subterranean twists because it’ll feature unsung prima donnas of experimental (rock) music (in a comprehensive sense of it) the likes of Noveller, abovementioned Elisa Ambrogio, Helena Espvall of Espers, Kilynn Lunsford of Little Claw, Nancy Garcia, Jenny Graf and MV Carbon of Metalux, Inca Ore, Marina Rosenfeld, Olivia Block, and of course, Marcia Basset to name a few. The zine’s cover should look like the back side of ephocal No New York (I own the LP despite I don’t have an audio system to play it on) but in exuberant full-colored mug shots. It will also include a compilation cd consisting of  tracks by each interviewee comparable to Not Not Fun’s My Estrogeneration.


To be honest, I don’t dig Double Leopards for a similar reason I don’t Royal Trux’s Twin Infinitives; 


Pitchfork: Double Leopards started around that time. Did you have specific ideas about what you wanted to do with that group?

M(arcia)B(assett): Oh, totally, yeah. The idea was– no songs! [laughs]. We had pretty strict rules about that. Anytime we started to get into some kind of groove or anything that was slightly familiar as a song, we had to break out of it. I was really conscious of wanting not to sound like Un. I stopped playing chords on the guitar, and I started using instruments that I was totally unfamiliar with.

But I like Zaimph, and think Hototogisu rules, and her album with Jenny Graf was so good. And I got hipped to her ancient band “Un” through this interview;


Pitchfork: How did Un end up on Siltbreeze?

M B: We moved to Philadelphia, and the three of us [Bassett, Acker, and Thom Roach] lived together. We did everything together– ate dinner, went to shows, played music. We would record pretty much every night. It was something to do– we didn’t have a TV, so we’d play music. [Siltbreeze’s] Tom Lax just happened to see us opening up for another band. We were well aware of the label. At that time, I would buy everything on a label I liked because I trusted them. So when we heard he was interested through a friend, we thought it was a joke. A few months later, I was at a Siltbreeze show and Tom was at the merch table. I went to buy some stuff, and he said he wanted to put out our record.



Un Trans-Mission 7″ (Slitbreeze, 1996)



From some blogger: “Marcia Basset (of Double Leopards fame), Thom Roach, Tara Burke (Fursaxa), and Grant Acker play as Un, jamming out some free-form squall that brings to mind Avarus and their Finnish brethren.”


Like many other people in this category, she is affiliated with art world – “Mike and I were working at Barbara Moore’s gallery Bound and Unbound, and she specialized in Fluxus material.”  This intrigued me so I stalked; She works as an archivist at Barnard College (you know WBAR-B-Q is a hipster fair). Most interestingly, I found out Hototogisu was a pink affair on this interview;


Pitchfork: How was working with Matthew?

M B: Well, I was in a relationship with him, so you’re talking about two people who are really close, listening to a lot of different music, and really conceptualizing what we wanted to do. Matthew had a lot of very specific ideas. He was the one who would edit all the material, although we would spend a lot of time listening– it’s not as if my input wasn’t there. But that’s also one of my least favorite things to do, to take a scalpel to pieces.


Both are M B which coincidently is the same with the acronym of the current korean president’s name, “Myung Bak”. And lastly, As a Matthew Bower follower and an ardent hipsterziner, I know he was on VICE twice. This is one of the two, containing the below photo. I suppose not many people have seen the photo of this version of Matthew Bower.




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