AVS # 6 | Sight Unseen (2001)

Remember how it started with indigestible bands like Fluf and The Presidents Of The USA ? Well, it continued for a while (never use the CDs that labels send you, never), not to say until such recent past that we might as well call it “the now”. If the Transworld videos have been ground-breaking on many levels, definitely killing the derelict filming look inaugurated with Rubbish Heap and pioneering the “fixed-camera-on-a-tripod-filming-for-a-whole-day-with-cars-and-people- going-really-fast-in-the-street”-type intros, they’ve never really let the music lovers in awe as far as selection.
Until Sight Unseen that is, which contains besides the three albums below a lot of definitely worth-your-money music –surprised that Jay Mascis doesn’t have an exclusivity contract with Alien Workshop? So here it is, all broken down : A Visual Sound # 6, another partial and musical voyage to the faraway land of skate flick music Nerdistan.

(Oh, and the good old “click on the sleeve, see the part” hi-tec feature is back)

Cali Agents: How the West Was One
used: Neva Forget
(Henry Sanchez)

The Black Sabbath tune might have given the wrong impression –it was his choice too, thank you very much, not some Rocco scheme- it’s pretty notorious that Henry Sanchez has been a great archivist of underground Norcal hip hop. In Sight Unseen’s case, for “the part until which you had counted me out”, as he bluntly puts it on his Myspace page, he chose a tune from Cali Agents, the bicephalous unit made of Rasco plus Fresno’s finest, mixtape king Planet Asia, straight out of their second album. Or did he ? “I didn’t choose it”, Henry told me, “I didn’t get the impression it was up to me. I would have used some old Cellski song.” For those who didn’t know, the latter is another one of these underrated SF MCs who used to also go by one of the best nicknames ever, Break-A-Bitch, so it’s safe to say that the Daisy Age didn’t smell like roses for everybody.
On a more serious note, Cellski has six albums under his belt and rolled with Yukmouth, E-40, the RBL Posse and Cougnut, so street cred isn’t really a concern here. On his side, Henry also added that some alternative choices of his would have been Silk The Shocker’s Ain’t My Fault, or in a totally different genre, Baba O Riley by The Who, “but for these I didn’t even ask cause I knew it would be out of the question”, he swears. So that was it. Nevertheless a good tune, from a classic undergoundesque disc.

Sizzla/Anthony B: 2 Strong
used: Haunted and Nervous
(John Cardiel)

For whatever mysterious reason, good reggae’s barely ever used in skate videos. Sure, from Sergei Trudnowski to Ryan Nix there have been exceptions -see this post. But one part will forever outshine them all : Cardiel’s rabid Sight Unseen section, set to the ferocious rant of bobo dread-in-chief Sizzla Kalonji. Fight fire with fire. Perfect match. While some see it as Miguel Collins’ golden age for the Star Trail label, this late ‘90s tune represented a perfect balance of raw dancehall energy and the then-still-somewhat-melodious singjay style adopted by the young Emmanuelite.
Since a handful of early, absolutely necessary LPs (besides 2 Strong, shared with Anthony B, count Praise Ye Jah, Black Woman and Child, the 1998 Reggae Max compilation), Sizzla has been über-prolific, shooting 45 after 45 with a bunch of good full-length surprises along the line (The Real Thing, or the R&B hybrid Soul Deep, or the recent Judgement Yard mixtapes) and a lot of forgettable efforts too. Who’s counting ? He isn’t. What matters here is how parallel Cardiel’s and Sizzla’s destinies were at this very point in time, and how it showed in John’s first full part since the Dogtown video.

The stitches: 8×12
used: My Baby Hates Me
(Dustin Dollin)
Besides the interesting Oxnard scene from the early ‘80s, and a bunch of bands from these days and ages, California hasn’t necessarly bred a whole lot of interesting punk outfits lately –unless of course you are looking for the soundtrack to a wakeboard/FMX video, and if that’s the case LagWagon probably has a new, 345th, album out.
So even though The Stitches come from Orange County, even though they tried to recreate a genuine 1977 punk sound twenty years too late, well, this album is actually, almost hurts to say it, good. Plus they stayed on obscure labels on purpose (Disaster, Vinyl Dog, Kapow…), had really good albums names (12 Imaginary Inches is one) and matched perfectly Dustin Dollin’s skating. Apparently they skate pretty good themselves, too, their singer Mike Lohrman used to be sponsored by Circle A –Salman Agah and Ed Templeton started the same way- and he even built a ramp in his mom’s backyard. The icing on the cake? According to a memorable Thrasher interview, he also revealed how Jim Greco used to call him « 20 times a night for fashion advice, plus he wanted to hang out and smoke crack and play guitar ». Not to mention how Lohrmann once pissed unpuposedly on an undercover cop at Sadlands… So that would be Greco, Dollin, punk, pee, drugs. You do the math. Even if they carry that heavy OC burden, The Stitches are, like, totally awesome.


One Response to “AVS # 6 | Sight Unseen (2001)”

  1. buddhamunko Says:

    white text on black background HURTS EYES! great blog though

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