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Headless Household

Label: Self Produced
Released: 1995
Views: 417


Fan Fair; Hypothyroid Dough Boy; 3 a.m. Western (All the Whiskey in China); Expectators; House Rules; News Flash (Toronto Blues Society); Dance Peace; (Open Letter to) Manfred Eicher; Ernesta; In His Absence; For What Ails You (and Slight Return); Pig in a Polka; Nodding Up Front; Hefty Darlin'.


Dick Dunlap
Joe Woodard
Jeff Kaiser
Gilles Apap
Tom Buckner
saxophone, tenor
Nate Birkey
David Binney
saxophone, alto

Additional Personnel / Information

Dick Dunlap, keyboards Tom Lackner, drums, percussion Chris Symer, bass Joe Woodard, guitar

Album Description

Eclectic outfit Headless Household's third album, "ITEMS" (1996), makes no pretense of cohesion or linear logic. It is simply this: 14 tracks and 70-ish minutes of music and sound; sundry tracks nabbed out of the air, various studio recordings, and sonic forms nurtured inside Dick Dunlap’s sampler. With luck, the center holds. The core group was and is: keyboardist Dick Dunlap, drummer Tom Lackner, bassist Chris Symer, and guitarist Joe Woodard. Special guests this time around are: violinist Gilles Apap (“Three A.M. Western (All the Whiskey in China”), New York saxist David Binney (on “Expectators” and “For What Ails You”), saxist Tom Buckner (“(Open Letter to) Manfred Eicher”), singer Jennifer Terran (“News Flash (Toronto Blues Society)”), Jeff Kaiser (“Ernesta,” “Hypothyroid Dough Boy”), trumpeter Nate Birkey (“Hefty Darlin’”—apologies to Neal Hefti) and Ellen Turner (“Pig in a Polka”). Let this be the first chapter in what will hopefully be the ongoing manifesto of "Itemism." Review from All Music Guide, by Francois Couture: "The title of this album is the best possible description, not only for this particular release, Headless Household's third, but for the entire output of this strange band from Santa Barbara, California. Because Headless Household is all about eclecticism. The band plucks items from a very wide range of musical genres. The album opener, "Fan Fair," sounds just like... well... a fanfare, while the next song ("Hypothyroid Dough Boy") is driven by an angular funk rhythm with a little guitar melody very reminiscent of the theme song from the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon. The song then breaks totally free, only to come together once again, this time topped by a dismembered solo from guest hornist Jeff Kaiser. The next tune, "3 A.M. Western," is a beautiful (and very tonal) country/jazz ballad and the fourth a free improv jam. I won't describe the album track by track, but by now you should get the idea: whatever it is you just heard, there is absolutely no guarantee the next minute will be in the same vein. On Items, Headless Household touches mainstream jazz, free jazz, western, polka, some very cheezy things and Zappa-like avant-rocking. The pool of guests musicians appearing on the album also has something to do with this ever-changing sound, adding to Household's basic guitar/keys/bass/drums instrumentation trumpet (Jeff Kaiser), violin (Gilles Apap), alto (David Binney) and tenor (Tom Buckner) sax, even some vocals on two tracks. Don't think Headless Household lacks direction though. All this variety serves them well and the listener, although often surprised or taken off-guard, doesn't feel lost in Items. These guys know what they're doing and they do it very well. Fans of Frank Zappa and the likes, or simply those who appreciate not being able to predict what will happen for the next hour after the first two minutes of the CD, should definitely try to track this one down." · HOUSEHOLD INK 119. Fan Fair/Hypothyroid Dough Boy-1/3 A.M. Western (All the Whiskey in China) -3/ Expectators-4/ House Rules/ News Flash (Toronto Blues Society) 5-6/ Dance Peace / (Open Letter to) Manfred Eicher –5/ Ernesta/ In His Absence/For What Ails You (and Slight Rleturn)-4 / Pig in a Polka-2-3- 5-7/ Nodding Up Front / Hefty Darlin’-2-5 69:55. Dick Dunlap, kbds, sequences, samples; Tom Lackner, d, perc, ryl; Chris Symer, b; Joe Woodard, 9; Jeff Kaiser, peck h, tpt-1 only; Nate Sirkery, tpt-2 only; Glues Apap, vln-3 only; David Binney, asA only; Tom Buckner, ts-5 only; Jennifer Terran, vcl4 only; Ellen Turner, vcl-7 only. No location, December 1995. "Headless Household is the core cooperative quartet of Dunlap, Lackner, Symer and Woodard. Various guests add to the eclectic musical scope of a startling project. "Fan Fair is a sample heavy, sequencer-intense mix that cross-fades into the rather flat funk of "Hypothyroid Dough Boy." Gilles Apap's violin carries the melodic lead of Woodard1s lyrical ballad "3 A.M. Western." The opening three performances reveal this cooperative's challenging scope ranging from fractal freescapes ('tExpectators") to New Age ballads ("For What Ails You/Nodding Up Front); from electronic experiments ("Dance Peace/In His Absence") to jaunty dirge fanfares ("House Rules") or ballads like News Flash" and "(Open Letter To) Manfred Eicher" with its uncanny recreation of the cool yet lush romanticism of the classic ECM sound. Most surprising of all, perhaps, is the smooth relaxed groove of "Hefty Darlin'," a slick and loving demonstration of Headless Household's ability to play with a precision, depth, warmth and ease of feeling that can rival any other outfit in the professional mainstream. Lovely stuff." --David Lewis, Cadence, August 1998 "From Santa Barbara, keyboardist Dick Dunlap, drummer Tom Lackner, basst Chris Symer and guitarist Joe Woodard are quite a creative group. On this, their fourth recording, they include everything from free improv to straightahead jazz with creative asides thrown in that include comedy, Country & Western, electronic fusion, blues and progressive rock... it’s quite an enjoyable mix from this group of talented and creative musicians." --Jim Santella, L.A. Jazz Scene, April 1997

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