Posts tagged: radio

Desolo Luna Vox Theatrum, fifth Mondays on KBOO

Richard A. Francis

Richard A. Francis

(I was devastated to learn of Richard Francis’ passing today.  Richard was one of the most generous, honest and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, someone who cherished fun and was serious about love and harmony – although his taste in music strayed towards the dis-harmonic and his devotion to the avant-garde often seemed incongruous with his discipline and his attention to planning and detail.

Richard Francis had been a consummate champion of the KBOO community and his passing is a huge loss.

Back in the mid-Eighties, Richard and I at his invitation, and after he had allowed me to substitute for him on one occasion – collaborated on a pair of installments of his long-running program A Different Nature.  The first of these programs was devoted entirely to the music of John Cale, whom we both worshiped; Richard graciously arranged that we meet at his apartment – the walls were covered from floor to ceiling with books – where he prepared a pasta dinner, we discussed European literature and planned the show down to the second; he then loaned me the first three Cale-produced Nico albums which I had yet to hear.

The other program, Sleaze,” kidnapped a 5- or 6-hour late-night block of the program schedule in the service of  Richard’s idea – to make use of the hours that allowed for more racy material than he was usually allowed to play during his usual mid-evening slot.  I recall thinking that Richard’s idea of “blue” material was just as opaque as the balance of his obsessions – much of the “earotica” he saved for this program would have confused any would-be censors. At the two-thirds mark of the program we were getting pretty loopy and it was Richard who strove to keep us on track and focus on the programming rather than our inside jokes.

Ultimately I would settle in to my own program and we would each uphold our individual ends of the air.  At the time I chose to leave my gig behind, Richard was working harder than ever to guide station policy and unite its disparate factions.  I am humbled that after 15 years away I was welcomed back into Richard’s utopian vision of radioland, and I am grateful that we were able to collaborate a final time.

I am somewhat sad and quite disappointed that he was unable to hear this, but I am blessed to offer it as a memento.  This is one of three pieces that I promised Richard for what was to be the last show that he missed.  Throughout the production of these pieces during August 29-30, 2009 – and particularly of “Shaman,” with Richard’s almost unrecognizable voice affecting that of a tired, old man in my headphones – I hoped to make him proud of our collaboration.  It seems that its funereal mood was more than coincidence.  Love and farewell, Richard.  We will do our best to carry on without your warmth and enthusiasm. – Luke Lefler, September 6, 2009)

For ten leguminous years 90.7 FM KBOO Portland was the non-commercial, community radio home of Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours.  Every Sunday at midnight the Baron, bugler at the unprotected gates of dawn and raven-soft underjelly upon the fibrous circuitry, imprimpted his dubious brand of comedy and erstwhile music predications to-upon the greater metro polita, and it was a good run toward a seemingly predestined burn-out in the watershed year 1993.

It wasn’t until July of 2008 that Baron Landscape would endeavor to helm such radio as befit his high standards and return to KBOO with The Wreck of The Broken Landscape (see BLBH #12).  Around this same time we made the acquaintance of Rich Lindsay who informed us that long-time difficult-listening guru Richard Francis was mounting a 101-hour continuous celebration of Surrealism and Dada to overtake KBOO’s airwaves later that summer.

The shimmerling prospect of bloofing eepy radio m’bobs with other types enchanted us ferocious.  Therefore to those 101 diabolic hours, Broken Wounders houred up contributing over two-thirds of one hour – 23:23 of which was the monumental yet rarely-heard feral Boboist putrefaction The Herbed Brie Period By B. Blatherscape, Even (annoyingly unavailable for distribution due to licensing issues) (this situ hath been remedied – LL, 10/2016).

Creating the work for this festival was liberating, and the controversial (to some, anyway) celebration invigorated its many producers, Splice Finders included. Certain key individuals hoped subscreantly to re-air much of the material what had previomously come, and they additiomally desired a permanent place for us Surrealadadactyls to roam.

Thus clungterfly to the spatula joculaire and pursuant to radical reorganization of the KBOO evening program schedule, a place was farted unblong to traverse four hours from 8:00 pm to Midnight on every Monday that is the fifth Monday of a month.  It was crispened Desolo Luna Vox Theatrum, a name Richard explains he came up with “playing around with an English-Latin dictionary website.”  He says it means “Abandoned Moon Cry Theater.”

Presuming that which is abandoned to be either the Moon or its cry, we have Deicided to regularly contribute to the theater, taking our cues from Richard and his co-producer Sean Ongley.  The Anfangsgobs dieser Opfer d’oddio were broken spectales on a pair of Kurt Scwhitters pieces that met (we’re assured) with delight on the part of translator/interpreter Jack Zipes when they aired in June, 2009.

Material by Argentinian poet Oliverio Girondo was feted on the August 31, 2009 Theatrum, and – always down with a theme – Horas Quebradas spritely emboldened Richard’s performances of two pieces from Girondo’s Scarecrow with our prosaic “original music and additional production.”  Affixed hereto via the PowerPress is the elegiac “Shaman (version)” (Scarecrow #15), the choirs of bees and VSTs of which we’ve meddled with even a littly bit further since its air date, for the posterity “version” if one may – enjoy these minutos rotos lánguidos.

“Interlude – Camp Freienorla” (from The Wreck of The Broken Landscape) (BLBH #12)

The story so far: Baron Landscape, former host of the inexplicably popular KBOO-FM program Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours, has returned to the airwaves after fifteen years to host The Wreck of The Broken Landscape (a Radio Tragedy in Three Acts) on July 18, 2008.

play me

“Interlude – Camp Freienorla” occurs between Acts 2 and 3 and finds the Buccaneer Baron smarting from having undertaken an ill-conceived boating trip in the first ninety minutes of the program.  He arrives back in Portland, talks about the failure of the show so far, obtains a coffee refill, and plays an exclusive Sauvie Island Moon Rocket Factory track (thanks again, Dave Klopfenstein) before wandering into the marshy and mysterious “Freienorla Camp,” where he temporarily loses what’s left of his consciousness.   He awakes to discover not only that he has spilled his coffee, but also that he’s being held prisoner by a strange, unnamed captor. This mysterious warden who has an infectious laugh, and who is prone to meandering speeches, ultimately reveals the secret of the Baron’s long-postponed radio journey, or something.

Produced by Splice Finders for Broken Hours, and starring Baron Landscape as the flightless Dutch Boy.  The Wreck of The Broken Landscape was written and directed by Luke Lefler with special contribution by guest star Bob Scheu who plays the off-kilter camp counselor.  Cameo appearance by Melissa Sillitoe as “Suzanne.”  “Interlude – Camp Freienorla” was inspired by Jan Grünfeld‘s “Freienorla Camp,” which is featured prominently.  The producer wishes to extend his gratitude to John Hartog for the natural soundscape recordings that were used in this production.

Alex H. Williams (BLBH #9)

He’s opinionated, he embraced podcasting from the get-go, and I can see his house from my back door, so this may not be the last time you hear Alex Williams on BLBH.  An hyper-active member of Portland’s tech community, as of this blogging he has 1,362 followers on Twitter and he just started his songwriting carreer.   Baron Landscape sits near Alex’ feet (soon to be shod with mpeg-playing slippers) and floats softballs about Podcast Hotel and starving artists, RSS and open source, the thrill of being in Portland today and the agony of moving trees in his yard.  In this ambling and entertaining conversation, pausing only at the 28-minute mark to roll out his FDR-folk opus “Hey, Mr. Bankerman,” Alex endorses Android and subjective journalism, and foresees promise in Obama and the new generation.

Oh and here’s a link to that Marriage Records XLR8R podcast that’s referenced.

(This podcast is not currently available)

Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours – A History (Part One)

It began with Beethoven, Tchiakovsky, The Beatles and The Monkees, and using my grandfather’s multi-speed reel-to-reel to alter my voice.  I considered this a better use of the technology than my grandparents‘ recording their seemingly generic hick spiritual duets.  Likewise did my parents‘ folk and easy listening records generally bore me, their only child.  A notable exception was the loco 2:18 a-side by The Texans called “Green Grass of Texas” (Infinity [INX-001]).

With very good humor, Mom and Dad exposed me to the masters of popular song and unconditionally indulged my music appreciation.  Being undisciplined, however, I neglected to practice and thus could not sustain an interest in piano or drum lessons.   But I was always interested in those paper sleeves and their contents, vinyl discs that made music when you spun them and put an amplified needle in their grooves.

I came of age musically listening to top-40 radio from the late 60s through the early 70s.  Thinking that I was being a dutiful citizen of Radioland, I transcribed playlists and enclosed them in fan letters to the DJs.  Ultimately I would be found toiling in my room for hours recording my own air-checks to cassette tape with a condenser microphone and a turntable.

I really liked songs that had melodic, chiming codas with long fade-outs: “Atlantis,” “Isn’t It A Pity,” “Ride, Captain, Ride,” “Rocket Man,” and Keith Barbour‘s “Echo Park,” to name a few.  Drawn to complex arrangements with classical references and sparkling production, I preferred Simon and Garfunkel and Mason Williams, to The Stones and Creedence.  In these pre-experienced days of mine, the psychedelic, blues-based jams of Iron Butterfly or the Dead did little for me.  They still don’t.  Give me five spins of Badfinger‘s “Day After Day” over a side of Led Zeppelin any time.  Not to say that I never found my way to the land of over-driven metal — I just didn’t stay very long.  No sense of humor there, and little humility.

By the mid-70s I was firmly in a British progressive mode.  I will always have a great fondness for albums of that era by Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and The Moody Blues, as well as solo projects by various members of those bands.  I believe that 1974 in particular was a pinnacle year for albums, including Visions of the Emerald Beyond by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt, and Supertramp‘s Crime of the Century, in addition to King Crimson’s Red and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway from Genesis.

I was profoundly influenced by my high-school friend, the late Steve Abrams.  He was an “audiophile” with a component stereo.  He actually worked in radio, played guitar, collected records and hung out at Everybody’s Music in Bellevue, WA, subscribed to Rolling Stone and smoked marijuana.  Soon I wanted to do and be all of that, and he took me to the FM stations where he’d gotten his foot in the prosaic soundproofed door, turned me on to Dr. Demento, The Firesign Theater, Pink Floyd and The Who, and had a hand on my first joint, which was at a Supertramp concert for which Heart was the opening act.  Bless you, Steve.

Already halfway through college in Bellingham, Washington, I joined the radio station KUGS-FM and rolled out my manifesto on the air, consisting mostly of my own burgeoning collection augmented by whatever the record elves would send us and a few Revox tape effects.  Because the airtime was available and the livin’ was easy I split up my sensibilities into two on-air personalities: Lou Crimson, who would indulge the darker more progressive tastes with a loose and fractured playlist on his program Broken Hours, and Baron Landscape, whose mission was to rifle off the tighter and brighter new sounds on New Precision (named after the Bill Nelson’s Red Noise song).

A circle of friends at KUGS became big fans of the first Killing Joke and Heaven 17 albums and Iggy Pop‘s New Values.  And, as Joy Division and Gang of Four were bringing us the bad news about ourselves, Lou Crimson was laid to rest as the megalomaniac Baron Landscape covetously co-opted the “Broken Hours” name along with its notions existential.  The previous three years had seen more dramatic change in music than anything yet to come (in my opinion) and in far-flung Bellingham from 1980-1982 we were bleating at 100 watts trying to capture one mind at a time with our edgy, new records.

Every great party gradually becomes just another affair, however I stuck around long enough for one particular colleague, Lyle Pearson, to profoundly affect me with his use of multiple studio sources in the creation of imaginary on-air soundtracks — on one occasion it was E. Power Biggs playing a Bach cantata over which he layered some Miriam Makeba vocals and a recording of a Buckminster Fuller lecture, resulting in something otherworldly — something which completely changed my attitude towards radio.

It had become something personal again.

Upon leaving Bellingham I relocated in Portland, Oregon, curled up with my Associates and Marc and the Mambas albums, and began writing and recording my own songs.

I still had the non-commercial radio bug, and in 1983 I re-seeded my non-commercial sensibilities in the Sunday at midnight slot on KBOO-FM in Portland.  Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours enjoyed a run of ten years during which house, industrial, ambient, grunge, shoegaze, and post-rock all faded in and out of the sludgy fin de analogue mix.

At first it was only me, with my records and usually some production tapes that I’d made at home using a couple of two-track recorders, doing pretty much the same type of program I had done in the last year at KUGS.  It wasn’t too long before I began to spread continuing themes across multiple programs, such as Baron Landscape’s Dry Summer and The Broken Will of The People.  Along the way I drew upon the listening audience for collaborators, which is how I met and hosted Scott (0f The Antarctic) Cameron, Kirill Galetski, Billy Miles, Dan Grasvik, Larisa Zimmerman, Laurie Ballantine and many others.  The Miracle Workers and Rozz Rezabek-Wright from the Portland music scene were both guests .

Although the history and progression of Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours can be taken as a whole, I tend to view it in two distinct eras.  The first came to an end September of 1988, after nearly five years during which many of the basic premises and elements of the program were established.

I cannot fail to mention the contributions of my long-time partner Trish, as well as the sole applicant for the position of Air Assistant, Evan “The Subject (010x)” Morris.  Ultmately the three of us fleshed out some of my most ambitious ideas for radio: The Broken Cruise of The Landscape Liner, full of intrigue and adventure on an impromptu ocean liner voyage; Johnny Lansky and his Broken Youths, in which the troubled title teen fulfills his community service obligation as volunteer programmer (oh, the fan mail Johnny received!); and The Broken Continuum of Space, wherein KBOO’s signal is mis-directed into a time warp.  After a second, poorly-planned Broken Cruise ran on the rocks of apathy, I penned and produced an 80-page pledge drive script inspired by the Iran-Contra affair: The Landscape Liner Hearings.

Towards the end of this period I was drinking pretty heavily.  There were brownout and blackout shows and long drunken call-in segments.  There were bleary-eyed mornings-after when I’d listen to air checks of me singing to easy listening versions of Elton John songs – I would soon destroy those tapes.  In September of 1988 I took what would be my longest break in the ten years of BLBH, a one-month leave of drying-out.

WordPress Themes