Thursday, July 9, 2009

Match of the Day... reviewed!

Scribe/friend/co-conspirator Ken Shimamoto graciously tortured his ears for the sake of penning a review of the album for I Love Fort Worth:

Call Matt Hickey “Mr. Misunderstood.”

Reviewing Search for Numb, the debut full-length from his band the Fellow Americans, I accused him of harboring “an unhealthy obsession with the Oklahoma City bombing.” (The song I quoted in support of this thesis, Hickey insisted, was about a bottle of champagne.) That very same disc garnered praise from no less of a personage than ex-Village Voice music editor Chuck Eddy on the basis of a T-shirt Hickey was wearing in the CD cover pic, which Eddy assumed was a Pere Ubu referent when in fact it was the name of another, even more obscuro outfit. Hickey then demonstrated his penchant for the quixotic and willfully perverse by releasing a CD that folks who know will tell you was the best thing he’s ever done (even going back to his pre-Famericans band, the late, lamented Rio Grande Babies), then turning around and breaking up the band before they’d played a single show in support of said CD.

Full disclosure: Matt Hickey is a friend of mine. We sometimes drink beer at the Bull & Bush together. After he’d pulled the plug on the Famericans, I coaxed him out of “retirement” to play a farewell show with Stoogeaphilia at the Moon. I invited him to play with me in the improv band PFFFFT!, in which context he sat on the floor behind my amplifier, playing nearly-inaudible synthesizer. It seems he didn’t like the pressure of performing live with the Famericans, particularly when he was serving as frontman after singer Jeff Price bailed while copies of Search for Numb were still hot off the presses. When PFF(F)T! joined forces with Terry Horn and Mark Cook’s Yanari to be reborn as the Hentai Improvising Orchestra, Hickey built himself a simulacrum of a traditional Indian instrument called a gopichand from a Folger’s coffee can and bits of guitar detritus. Terry and Mark call him “Gopi-Matt.”

Hickey’s an Uber-Angophile – he digs soccer and Guinness -- whose ears are big enough to dig PiL and Throbbing Gristle as well as Blur and, um, Deep Purple. He lives in Weatherford with his novelist wife and they raise horses. He’s always having to leave the gig early so he can muck out the stables or whatever it is people who live in Weatherford do. He has a quirky sensahumour and likes random weirdness, which perhaps explains this, the debut release from his portentously named solo project.

Match of the Day comes to you in a manila project folder, probably filched from his day job, that lists the contents as “1 CD-R, 1 Photocopy of the album cover,” the total selling price as 99 cents (he’ll sell you a copy via his Myspace thingy for two bucks postpaid), and the net profit as “priceless.” The music consists of a single track, 45 minutes long, which sounds like the noise a cassette makes while it’s getting mangled by an unruly tape player. Hickey says the piece was kloodged together from several shorter pieces, which appear to have been overlayed on top of each other – “A aural loaf I refused to pinch.” He adds, “It was fun, though, throwing everything into the mixer and hearing what sonic cacophony came of it.” If you listen to it long enough (a feat it took me three tries to accomplish), you can actually hear variations within this sonic soup – kind of like the snippets from Beethoven that Lou Reed claimed were woven into Metal Machine Music.

I heartily recommend this disc to any club sound technician who’s been searching for a soundtrack that’s guaranteed to clear the room at closing time.

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