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Rascal Reporters

A B O U T

C A T A L O G

C O N T A C T

R E V I E W S

N E W S

L I N K S

M P 3 ' S

S P O N S O R

 

 


A B O U T

About: From the ashes of "Raw Meat" (an earlier, "rock/noise" 2-man group, with musicians Steve Gore, and David Johnson; operating during the late 1960's/early '70's), rose the Rascal Reporters in 1974. Steve Gore remained; David Johnson was replaced by Gore's high school buddy, Steve Kretzmer. Both musicians shared similar interests in life and music, both were composers and musicians, and both just happened to play keyboards and drums. A perfect musical union was formed that continues to this day, and beyond. Both Steve's were born in 1958 and raised in suburban Detroit (Oak Park, Ml). Both Steve's are left-handed. During the years 1975 and 1976, the group literally were writing and recording one song per day, everyday, throughout both years. A 12-CD box-set of unreleased music could be culled just from these two years alone. Steve Gore, renowned for never erasing any piece of music from any tape at any time or any year, is largely responsible for the existence of the 30-year "bottomless" tape vault known as the "RRkives." The first attempt to "go public" was in 1978, with a planned 45rpm picture-sleeve release, "My Name"/"Ricky And His Dad." The release was cancelled due to lack of funding, though the two songs will appear on the "Rascalities 1974-1999" 12-CD box set, to be discussed further on. Public exposure finally came in 1980, when Archie Patterson of Eurock then based in California, released the Rascal Reporters' full-length "cassette album," "Freaks Obscure" to the world. This was one of Eurock's very first releases in the relatively new era of "group self-produced albums on cassette." This was immediately followed-up with "We're God," also a Eurock cassette release, and also issued in 1980. These two releases established a small, but strong world-wide cult following for the band. People suddenly wanted to hear more of this strange, bizarre, often obscene ("Freaks Obscure"), though definitely rooted in the British Progressive Rock movement of the late 70's, Rascal Reporter music. The group complied, issuing a 45rpm single in 1981, and a Landmark LP in 1984, "Ridin' On A Bummer," which boasted guests Fred Frith, and Tim Hodgkinson; their first reuniting since the break-up of their group, Henry Cow, in 1978. The Reporters' popularity increased greatly after this release. The Rascal Reporters' legacy was permanently cemented in 1988, when they released their "masterwork," "Happy Accidents" LP. The musicians they loved and were influenced by, were suddenly becoming their friends. As such, the LP. boasted guests, Guy Segers of Belgium's "Univers Zero", Nick Didkovsky of New York's "Doctor Nerve," Dave Newhouse of "The Muffins" (a very frequent contributor to their work; almost a "third member" of the group), Steven Feigenbaum, CEO of the Cuneiform Records label and Wayside mail-order company, playing his final-ever musical performance (guitar) on an album, David Kerman, of "5uu's," "U-Totem," and guest drummer on far too many CD's to list here, James Grigsby, leading composer for the group "U-Totem," as well as Steve Kretzmer's virtuoso bass guitar-playing older brother, Paul Kretzmer, who has been an RR "3rd" member on and off for 20 years. "Happy Accidents" sold out quickly and audience demand for more became greater. Up to this point, all music was released on the group-owned label, "Hebbardesque." Neither of the two Steve's are able to ``read or write" music in the formal sense. All music is composed by ear, and the "rote-repetition" discipline. It is certainly a bizarre coincidence that both musicians play keyboards and drums (Steve Gore being a stronger drummer; Steve Kretzmer being a stronger keyboard player), and compose music. Another very odd method of the group is this: The majority of the music is both completely composed and performed by only one of the two members at any one time. Basically, two "one-man bands" working together, forming a unique "Four-man band" comprised of two individual musicians with differing, but complimentary composing styles. Inviting guests to record with them is difficult. The music is so complicated, that the guest must be able to "reach music that the RR's don't know how to "write" out. The best-case scenario involves guest musicians who can both read music, and also play by "ear". It is estimated that there are over 1,200 completed RR songs on tape in the "RRkives," thus allowing the band to retire, and rely strictly on archive releases, something the group would never do, as they are dedicated to the concept of continual musical evolution. The unique aspect of The Rascal Reporters is they are able to compose in virtually all musical genres: Progressive, Pop, Christian Pop, Jazz, Cabaret, Techno/Dance, Rock, etc. They are as simple as you want them to be, or as complex as you would like them. For the record, The Rascal Reporters' major musical influences are: The Beatles, Frank Zappa Gentle Giant, Egg, Hatfield and the North (and off-shoots), Henry Cow, Soft Machine, The Residents, Gryphon, The Enid Stackridge Univers Zero, Art Zoyd Tipographica, The Muffins, Burt Bacharach, Bela Bartok, The Archies, PFM, Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson Judy Collins, U-Totem, Bread, The Regeneration, Herman Szobel, Krzysztof Komeda, Genesis, Magma, etc.

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C A T A L O G

Tape Releases: Freaks Obscure (1980) We're God (1980) Vinyl 45 Releases: Guns for Jerry's Kids (1981) Vinyl Album Releases: Ridin on a Bummer (1984) Happy Accidents (1988) CD Releases: Purple Entrapment (1995) Happy Accidents (1996) We're God (1997) Foul Tempered Clavier (2001) The Mind Boogles (early 2005) Official Bootleg CD Releases: Riding on a Lavender Freak (1998) Holly's Biaural Curiosity (1998)

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C O N T A C T

Contact:
www.rascalreporters.com rascalreporter@mail.com


Email:email youremail@email.com

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R E V I E W S

"The Four-Tempered Clavier" Review Review from progressor.net Prologue. From real and virtual friends of mine, those who love complex, adventurous music (like myself), I've heard a lot of positive opinions on this band yet never listened to it until now. The good people at the US' "Pleasant Green Records" made a great surprise to me with the latest Rascal Reporters' CD, as I've never heard from them (up to now, though I've sent them a message, confirming that I got the CD, right after it arrived here). I appreciate all unexpected surprises, but especially those with albums of really complex and intricate music as in this case. The Album. It became obvious to me these Rascal Reporters have nothing to do with any rags and even with ragtime or reggae already after the first listen to "The Four-tempered Clavier" album. On the contrary, their musical tales remind me of incredibly profound, full of unusual philosophic computations born somewhere in non-Euclidean spheres of mind, fiction that I have never read (heard!) before. I don't know how to define the music of Rascal Reporters, except that this is very progressive music. Unlike other reviewers, I wouldn't place it under both the banners of RIO and Canterbury or one of them. I can't name "The Four-tempered Clavier" a work of Jazz-Fusion (in the progressive meaning of the latter word, as always), as I hear just a few real improvisations here (performed by Dave Newhouse on sax), while structurally most of the themes, arrangements and solos on the album are based on the laws of European Classical Music. Some of lots of the wonderful solos, all of those change one another kaleidoscopically throughout the album, just remind improvisations, though actually, these solos were thoroughly composed. On the other hand, despite the fact that basically this album was created in a symphonic key, on the whole it sounds like a unique, extremely complex Classic Progressive Rock that is not only very well intermixed with unusual Avant-garde forms, but mixed with them so extensively that it makes impossible to find really a proper definition of this music. The first two tracks, The White Bloodsheets and especially Seven Is a Long Time, being more accessible than all the following compositions of the original "The Four-tempered Clavier" album, sound like a kind of introduction to the real content of it or, maybe, like a test for the listener. If the latter overcomes these first two steps, and additionally, finds it interesting to move upstairs, then, most likely, such a listener is already a little familiar with the musical forms that remind rather of the geometry of Lobatchevsky than even your typical RIO (Present, U Totem, 5UU's, etc), let alone the Canterbury sub-genre. Just a few episodes on the album sound either like pure symphonic contemporary Classical Music or have more or less obvious jazzy feel, and RDS is the only track here that represents (just) a set of outstanding drum solos, performed by Steve Gore alone. (So, it is the fifth track, Raw Drum Solo (whose place is, in my view, only on live albums), that has eaten a half of a rating star.) All other compositions, beginning with Shoe Salad and up to (and including) Prism, are filled with a seemingly endless changes of themes, arrangements, solos, sudden raises and falls of tempos, forming of extremely unexpected structures and the immediate crushes of them, unbelievable complex time signatures, tonal and atonal interplays between various soloing instruments, etc, again and again, over and over, without any repeats or returns to (even) the moments that have sounded before. At the first sight (listen!), it seems everything is too amorphous and unstable here, like the neutrino systems. Any experienced ears, however, find all these things very interesting already in the process of the first listening to "The Four-tempered Clavier", so after a few listens to it they'll (logically!) discover that all structures of the album consist by no means of mosaics and fragments. Actually, they're more than stable - they're strong, as they're based on the laws of composition, which, at the same time, is based on the laws of Classical Harmony, but not on improvisations that are always performed with using just those notes that are in harmony with input keys and the changes of theirs as it is in real Jazz and in the free forms of avant-garde. The last track Tomorrow is the only song on the album (lyrics by Gore, most likely), but vocals parts are done probably the most diverse way that is possible here: that's what makes this track a wonderful ending of more than a wonderful album. As for the four bonus tracks, while the inclusion of the first two of them on the album looks as if unnecessary, the presence of the two last ones looks like a confirmation that the duo's very own, original and innovative approach to making progressive music was the same even twenty-five years ago - in the very beginning of their creation. That's what brings to me an essential feel that Rascal Reporters' creation was and still is of a united stylistic conception. This factor - the main character of the real Titans - is above most of the performers of the current wave of Progressive Rock movement. Summary. Recently I've come to consider RIO the fourth chief genre of Progressive (but not as one of its sub-genres) - in addition to the first three 'whales' that it stands on: Art (Symphonic) Rock, Prog Metal, and Jazz Fusion (in the true meaning of the latter - a Confluence; in our view, this is the Confluence of any Jazz-related music and Progressive). But just lately, I've found that the creations of a few contemporary progressive bands, being greatly innovative and original, don't fit into the conditions of any of the four Progressive genres. At the same time, the music each of these bands play, differs one from another quite radically. So I didn't see any other way other than unite these bands (for the time being) in, conditionally, another one chief genre of Progressive whose term would sound as abstract as creative writings of these bands are indescribable. This way, a Fifth Element is discovered - at least within Progressive Rock. And Rascal Reporters fall in that category, too. "Happy Accidents" Review reprinted from a review by Michael Bloom from the Boston Phoenix THE RASCAL REPORTERS:ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE The Rascal Reporters may be the most unlikely musical amalgamation you could run across. They're two composers/collaborators from suburban Detroit, not the place you'd expect to spawn progressive rockers. And perhaps that's why the band doesn't "play out," or labor to rehearse "performance" versions of its material—and why it acquires its sidemen by mail order, as I will explain in a moment. The Reporters' metier is the four-track living-room studio, but they don't let their homebrew circumstances excuse slapdash work or impede the flow of imagination. Each side of the Rascal Reporters' second album, Happy, Accidents (Hebbardesque), offers an extended suite by one Reporter. The three parts of Steve Gore's "Weigh In on the Way-Out," on side one, present the same rather elaborate melody played in a different style; then each part explores it. This development is raucous and witty —Gore shares some of Frank Zappa's twisted affection for the varieties of American pop, such as the cocktail jazz in part two, which is entitled "The Chalky Substance Variations" On the other hand, some of the inventions in the first section, "Pilgrim's Pride," recall Stravinsky's rhythmic permutations. (Both Reporters started out as drummers, so their impulses naturally turn to rhythms. On Happy Accidents, each plays guitar, bass, melodica, and lots of keyboards as well as drumming.) Side two, Steve Kretzmer's "Trucks," is, if anything, even denser. The tunes in the first part ''Thunderstruck,'' all but trip over one another; at least the second, "Moonstruck," which incorporates a few of the same fragments, is taken at a more stately tempo. Here too there is a hearty sense of humor, as can be seen from the punning titles; the abrupt transitions contribute to the general goofiness, along with the synthesizer honks and uproarious marches. With its chordal intricacies, metrical modulations, and continual air of playfulness, this music descends from Soft Machine, and especially drummer-turned-keyboardist Robert Wyatt. There are other inheritors of the Softs' spiritual heritage contributing to Happy Accidents. The guest performers come from all over the reap; some of the most distinguished include Guy Segers, from Belgium's Univers Zero, playing a slippery bass melody; Nick I Didkovsky, guitarist/mathematician from New York's Doctor Nerve; and Dave Newhouse, erstwhile composer and multi-instrumentalist with the Muffins, who appears all over Happy Accidents from his home studio in Albuquerque. So many holdouts for progressive rock own four-track technology that the Rascal Reporters can make records-as-correspondence-art: musicians mail the master tapes back and forth, overdubbing in comfort at home. "We're God" Review Republished with permission from Eurock catalog. RASCAL REPORTERS: WE’RE GOD: This one really flashes me back to the good old days as The Rascals were one of the first bands ever offered by Eurock in the era of self-produced cassettes. This newly restored reissue of their classic 1980 debut recording once again reminds me of how great music can be when it’s done in the pure creative spirit. WE’RE GOD is a strange hybrid of Canterbury prog and RIO fusion filtered through the lens of Middle America. Messrs. Gore and Kretzmer not only could compose and play, but had a twisted sense of humor so the whole affair comes off a bit like a pre-K Frank Zappa. Fun to listen to and suprisingly STILL progressive musically today.

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N E W S

27 July 2004 STEVE GORE INTERVIEW http://www.agarthaprog.com/default.asp?pag=news&id=459 31 March 2004 THE RASCAL REPORTERS ARE BACK The Rascal Reporters are currently at work rehearsing for their 7th studio album, "The Mind Boggles" for release in early 2005, a year which also brings about the celebration/anniversary of 31 years of music-making together for Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer.

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L I N K S

Links: The Rascal Reporters recommends the following listed sites.

Cuneiform Records
Fred Frith Home Page
Plesant Green Records
Wafer Face Records
Eurock
New Sonic Architecture
Search Msn
Askjeeves
Overture
Dmoz.org

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M P 3 ' S

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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S P O N S O R

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