When the avant poseurs, the underground grifters, and the wannabes finally shut up their chattering there is only one truly legendary name in buzinezz – id m theft able. Based in the US state of Maine in the town of Wild Windham id m theft able is that classic global/local underground figure. Known in Windham and its surrounding townships for countless local shows but also globally revered as the face, beard, and chest of everything-goes-improv and found-object jamz.
Naive in the truest form (natural and unaffected; innocent) id m theft able has a questioning nature, a probing of his own body and environment where each performance and recording becomes a masterclass in how to push and how to pull; how to end up in a space id m theft able himself and the audience didn’t imagine existed.
Id m theft able often puts out tapes and CDRs on his no-holds-barred Mangdisc label but this collection finds a home on fancy-pants Pogus Productions outta New York. Here’s what I heard…
The first seventeen minutes of this disc juggles id m theft able’s precise sound collage and some super-nifty music concrete-style jamming. Picture a salad spinner full of crispy radishes while Boris Karloff slams his forearms down on the church organ. Imagine DJ-ing with random educational records as your neighbors hold a séance next door; then that spooky music box mechanism starts playing by itself!
If you thought that was creepy then “Half for the Father, Half for the River” is full-blown, tower-of-Babel echolalia (in both ears) as id m theft able’s sweet whisper crashes and folds some gentle eulogy into strange and unnatural shapes. The words bounce like rubber, intellectual meaning ricochets off the cranium. I’m reminded of one of those mid 80’s Canadian Sound Poetry tapes that end up on Celestial Railroad. But here! But now!
For me, the pivotal track is the two minutes, fifty-five seconds of bliss “Please be a Dream.” A meditation on rubber band twang and this single, ambiguous line chanted, coaxed, slurred, repeated, broken down, and built up like Chik White’s jaw harp jamming over Sten Hanson’s poetry puzzles. It’s a perfect blend; a tart rhubarb and creamy custard to satisfy the most excitable hunger.
The start of ten-minuter “I’m an Avalanche” mixes small-town domestic recordings with a chamber music approach. Sparse piano and xylophone battle the Bontempi. It’s a relaxing affair for sure. Then id m theft able throws the speed lever into a robotic rap battle, binary rhymes spit rust, before coaxing a tune from a squeaky supermarket trolley.
Things get unashamedly beautiful on the last two tracks “The Curve of the Earth”; invoking ghost poets Mac Low and Tardos with devastatingly simple and powerful voices reading the words “Wet…Mouth…Line…Hum…More” in increasingly cryptic knots and “Purple Rain” adding slurpy vocal jaxx (like hazelnut syrup) over ethereal color-mix incantations (a piquant sorbet) while a fire truck wails in the distance.
Id m theft able’s sleeve notes state this record started a decade ago with a germ of doo-wop in its soul. I can report that this street-tough and saccharine (my working title for an imaginary doo-wop compilation by the way) hits the high notes and the menacing bass spins tales of love, loss, and leaving as skilfully as any Frankie Lymon and his delinquents but with a dash more lipgloss. And that’s damn fine in my book!
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