5uu's — Point of Views
(Cuneiform Rune 85, 1987/1996, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1996-08-01
From the beginning, led by drummer Dave Kerman, 5uu's started out as the west-coast answer to the European RIO music of the day. Their first mini-album Bel Marduk & Tiamat echoes that more challenging and complex musical ethic from a point far outside the progressive mainstream. One might consider their music "experimental," but in fact its elemental constructs are essentially the same as any other progressive rock type music: odd rhythms, unusual time signatures, oblique melodies, conceptual lyrics. The differences are primarily in the arrangements, which can be extremely sparse (intentionally so) using atypical combinations of the basic instruments (two guitars, piano, bass, drums) in even more unusual ways, and in the vocals, sung by Curt Wilson, which tend to harbor a more punky, aggressive attitude a-la Talking Heads. A year later the band would release a single "Misery Loves Company" / "Hot and Cold Frog," which introduces sax player Lynn Johnston (from the Motor Totemist Guild, another LA RIO influenced band with a more modern classical approach), adding a whole new dimension to the 5uu's sound, and providing the seed that would grow into the band's future endeavors.
The next 5uu's album Elements would in fact be a full collaboration with the MTG, with members of both bands playing throughout, resulting in flute, cello, sax, vibes, and various other instruments being integrated into their sound, but the majority of the compositions were still written by Kerman. It also marks the addition of full-time keyboardist Sanjay Kumar. Wilson's vocals take on a less aggressive stance to fit the more tempered nature of the new 5uu's style, with liberal use of multi-part harmonies — one may even be reminded of Godley & Creme or early 10cc at times. Overall, Elements is a far more mature and satisfying work than their first, relying more on instrumental savvy and less on gimmickry, moving the band into a more unique style away from their more typically styled RIO beginnings. One more song, the haunting "Carousel of Progress," would be recorded in '87 for one of the RéR Quarterly releases by the 5uu's proper (without MTG involvement) before their long recording hiatus, which officialy ended in 1990 when 5uu's and MTG joined to become U Totem.
Cuneiform has reissued all of this early 5uu's material on the single CD release Point of Views, including the single and the RéR Quarterly track, all available for the first time in digital format. For those who only know the latest 'trio' version of 5uu's that released Hunger's Teeth in '94 and the ensuing tours, these early works are very different, and show the band in their more formative years with a wider palette of ideas. In all an excellent release that I'm sure most would enjoy.
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more