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NIHILIST SPASMS: Is Venereal Electric the dumbest band to come out of St. Louis since the Strangulated Beatoffs? Is there any question about it? As in, so dumb that it's kinda brilliant? Do you care? Do you have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about?

No, you don't. Only about 25 people in town do, and actually, this segment isn't even about Venereal Electric but, rather, about the "brains" behind VE, Andy Ortmann; his more prolific and visible outfit, Panicsville; and, most important, about the record-release party Ortmann's label, Nihilist Records, is hosting to celebrate the release of a new Phut single at the Side Door on Friday, Feb. 26. "We're going to be giving away a TV and a guitar and, hopefully, free haircuts," says Ortmann. "This guy I know cuts hair in West County, and I think he's going to be giving away vouchers." Alas, there won't be haircuts onstage while the bands are playing, although the majority of the audience probably needs one. "That'd be great, but I think (the hairstylist) might be too drunk," Ortmann says. "And if he's doing that, somebody might not be happy with his work and he might not get a good tip. Visually, that'd be stunning, though. I don't know if I can talk him into not drinking, but if so, he might be up for it." In keeping with standard Panicsville live fare, the event will be a multimedia extravaganza, with films being projected on walls and general chaos ensuing.

Panicsville's forthcoming album, music from which will be performed Friday night, strays from the structured, in-yer-face noise assault of prior releases and into the realm of rhythm. "It's almost like a hit record," says Ortmann. "There's 15 tracks, and none of them exceed three or four minutes. But it's not necessarily 'dance,' because it's structured with noise, but it's also structured in beats. Then again, parts of it are extremely noisy speaker-busting stuff, and then other parts are more electro-acoustic; it's the most dynamic record I've done. It's definitely going to be electronic for what we're doing, but it's going to be everywhere from really quiet -- just miking up little creaks and squeaks -- to super-loud cochlea-crushing -- but then also booty-shaking."

Phut -- the band actually celebrating a release, their new single on Nihilist, at this release party -- is an instrumental trio featuring Tim Garrigan, who plays the high guitar parts; Nathan Warren, who plays the low ones; and Jeremy Brantlinger, who bangs on stuff. There's no bass, which messes things up if you're looking for some concrete center to Phut's music or if you're used to tapping your feet to the beat. And actually, only a fool would attempt to capture on paper the sound on the "Hot Carl" single that's being released, but, being that I'm that fool, think of their sound as somewhere between Devo, U.S. Maple and the NYC No Wave sounds of Mars, DNA and very early Sonic Youth. Here: Have you ever seen those photographs of the webs that spiders spin after they've been given a bit of acid? That's almost exactly the sound of Phut, the most adventurous guitar band in St. Louis by a landslide. Also on the bill is the Eugenics Council, but we don't know who they are.

-- Randall Roberts

Want to get on the fast track to fame and fortune but can't get your music heard on the Point or Extreme Radio? Send music of all kinds to Randall Roberts, The Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Blvd, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130; e-mail randall_roberts@rftstl.com.

 
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