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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Finisterre - Storybook (Live at Progday 1997) – Let me open by saying buy this! Why? Well Finisterre is a great band and it would be great way to say thank you to Peter Renfro. This album has been released on Peter’s Proglodite Records label....  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues