Exposé Online banner

Church of Betty — In Search of Spiritual Junkfood
(Ponk FOT11, 1995, CD)

The Code — The Psychosexual Album
(PONK 13, 1995, CD)

Cutler / DiMuzio / Vrtacek — Preacher in Naked Chase Guilty
(PONK 15, 1995, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-11-01

In Search of Spiritual Junkfood Cover artThe Psychosexual Album Cover artPreacher in Naked Chase Guilty Cover art

These are three of the latest releases from the Ponk label, formerly FOT, probably best known for their series of "Passed Normal" compilations. Besides sharing a label, the only other thing these three releases have in common is being completely off the wall – sort of a screwball intellectual irreverence applied to some bizarrely assembled musical concepts. Read on.

Church of Betty's third album is case in point. A five-piece using vocals, guitars, sitar, piano, keyboards, drums, tamboura, and bass, with guests on tabla, additional voices and whatnot, they serve up a distinctive chaotic blend of East-meets-West. Take equal parts of Hindu pop / folk music and a mix of Western rock, psychedelic pop and even a little jazz and avant-garde thrown in for good measure, add some mildly outrageous lyrics with vocals to match and you're probably in the ballpark. Some Beefheart influence as well? At least some of the good Captain's attitude is here, for certain. In all, though, for all its quirkiness, it's one that keeps beckoning for repeated listenings.

San Francisco's own The Code is essentially a six-piece of guitars, keys, reeds, bass, drums, and vocals centered around composer / bassist Steve Horowitz and vocalist / lyricist Sven Rudstrom. Musically what they deliver is exciting fare, it gets off the ground from the very first note and delivers non-stop, pushing the envelope of rock to the edge and beyond, a mix of crimsoid avant- wave jazz-rock mixed with various other irregular ingredients. A swirling maelstrom of jagged ideas, with twists, turns and cacaphonic outbursts at every corner. Rudstrom's more-or-less spoken approach calls the Captain to mind again, a very strong evocation in fact, but the sexually explicit lyrical content is way beyond Beefheart's typical fare and may be disturbing to some. Still, this is certainly worth a serious listen.

With Preacher in Naked Chase Guilty, Chris Cutler (of Henry Cow, Art Bears, Cassiber, and a zillion other RIO formations), Thomas DiMuzio (last seen as a contributor to the 5UU's latest), and C.W. Vrtacek (of Forever Einstein fame) join forces for a full-blown free form improvised noise-fest, 40 minutes taken from a single 66 minute live surround-sound live performance in Hartford, Connecticut in September 1993. Vrtacek's explorative guitar eruptions are suspended between the electronic and percussive backdrops provided by the other two, and – as you might imagine – some parts of this work quite well and others are indeed a bit tedious; but at least the piece has been indexed into a couple dozen segments of three minutes or less, so one can pick and choose the parts that work best for them, or try it different ways in shuffle play. Recommended only for the most adventurous.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 8, 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Chris Cutler, C.W. Vrtacek (Charles O'Meara), The Code Ensemble, Church of Betty

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jean-Philippe Goude - De Anima – Jean-Philippe Goude may be best remembered for his tenure with Richard Pinhas and Heldon, as a one time member of Weidorje, or for his excellent electronic oriented solo album Drones from the early...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues