[Review] Caveman Hughscore (1995)

Hugh Hopper and Caveman Shoestore collide in this high-stepping adventure.

Kronomyth 17.0: The brainiac device.

Hugh Hopper, that knit-cap conquistador of cosmic glue, and Caveman Shoestore, a trio of strange young Oreguns, teamed up on the latter’s label (Tim Kerr Records) as the one-off Caveman Hughscore. The whole thing started when His Hughness sent the band songscores which they recorded and sent back, paving the way for an actual recording session together in Oregon. As might be expected, much strangeness ensues: the busy basses of Hopper and Fred Chalenor fuzzed out, sped up and bonding into complex structures; Elaine diFranco’s Vegan (as in Suzanne) vocals and free-spirited accordion/Rhodes playing; Henry Franzoni’s wry observations and awry rhythms.

While this ad-hoc outfit clicks some of the time (“A Rabbit Or A Lemon,” “Dee Dum,” “Oregon Transplant”), a lot of Caveman Hughscore sounds like sub-Zappa/Keneally strangeness. The pedigree here is in the basswork of Hopper and Chalenor, and to a lesser extent in diFranco’s smartly placed keyboard meanderings. The vocals are otherwise distracting and bury some of the goodness underneath (honestly, William Burroughs and Zappa are the only two people I know who can get away with talking over avant-garde jazz and still make it interesting).

Hopper fans may recognize the old Softies tune “Dedicated To You…” and an Isotope track, “Edorian,” but otherwise this is newly minted nonsense for avant/jazz/noise aficionados. Of course, Hugh-genauts expect the unexpected by now, and this album is in many ways an unexpected application of Hopper’s fuzz/fusion vision, just as it seems an inevitable encounter after you hear it. Worth checking out at the end is “Panic,” which is some of the coolest didjeridu music I’ve ever heard (admittedly, it’s a small field, but still). Obviously the meeting struck a chord with the maestro/machinist, who recorded two more albums with Chalenor and diFranco as the abbreviated Hughscore.

The Songs

1. A Rabbit Or A Lemon (6:34)
2. More Than Nothing (7:00)
3. Maja Raja (1:14)
4. Dee Dum (4:34)
5. Scooter Thrash (3:20)
6. Dust My Mind (3:12)
7. Splinter Cat/Edorian (2;32)
8. A Small Seed (5:32)
9. Dedicated To You, But You Weren’t Listening (1:14)
10. Virtual Cats (3:23)
11. Oregon Transplant (2:37)
12. Freak Control (2:19)
13. Extra Lung (3:42)
14. Sasquatch Elevator (1:13)
15. Panic (7:15)

Composed by Hugh Hopper. Arranged by Hugh Hopper & Caveman Hughscore.

The Players

Fred Chalenor (basses, double speed bass, pro one), Elaine diFalco (vocals, accordion, Fender Rhodes, piano, fuzz-wah, wah Rhodes, pro one), henry Franzoni (drums, voice), Hugh Hopper (fuzz bass, bass, double speed bass, wah feedback bass, cats) with Jen Harrison (French horn), Michael Stirling (didjeridu on 15). Engineered & mixed by Nick Kellogg.

The Pictures

Design & layout by Steven Birch. Photos by Marc Trunz.

The Plastic

Released on compact disc in 1995 in the US (Tim Kerr, TK95CD093).

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