Charlie McAlister Death Water Estates 7"
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From the late 80s through the late 90s Charlie McAlister recorded and released an ungodly number of tapes upwards of 70 by some counts (even Charlie isnt sure) on his own Flannel Banjo label as well as on the numerous other micro-labels that flourished during this period. Youd expect that such a furious output would dilute any good ideas into watered down repetitive junk, but the opposite was more often the case: Charlies inspired mix of banjo-driven songs, collage pieces, and whacked-out radio plays only seemed to get more interesting with each release. By 1994-95 he was at a real pinnacle, releasing four of his finest cassettes: Suburbian Beachtown (Flannel Banjo), Southern Promenade Porch Party (Flannel Banjo), Fake Punt Egg Roll Bomb Pass (Car-in-Car Disco Product), and Have Fun This Summer (Car-in-Car Disco Product). On Death Water Estates, Charlie has chosen songs from these four tapes and blended them together into a seamless whole.
Those familiar with Charlies more pop-structured work on Mississippi Luau (Catsup Plate) will find the music on Death Water Estates more rough-hewn: there are crazy banjo and steel drum (!) driven pop songs aplenty, but theyre buried in between collaged pieces, found sounds, iron pipes clanging, field recordings, manipulated radio plays, etc. Charlie, at this point in his recording career, kept laying sounds upon other sounds until he got the overmodulated, lo-tech wall of sound he wanted. Charlie was listening to a lot of Due Process (RRR Records industrial damage unit) and you can hear the musique concrete influences at work in the crazy sound sculptures hes working with here, though Charlie infuses the whole thing with a particular Southernness thats all his own.
Make no mistake this is fun music. The songs are some of Charies finest, full of wry humour and anti-suburban vitriol; Urge to Leave and The Day the Strand Burned are particularly excellent examples of this. Even the most out there sound collages are engaging and amusing: tweaked square dance records, a monotonous listing of those buried at sea, promotional pieces by a Miss South Carolina from God-knows-when. And the whole thing has an unmistakable Southern charm, recalling debutante balls, marsh mud and oyster beds, mint juleps, kudzu covering the telephone poles, and a half-lit Chik-Fil-A sign out by the interstate.
Edition of 300 copies in foldover two-color silkscreened