The Allure of Roadside Curios
Formed in 1997 by guitarist G.E. Stinson with bassist Steuart Liebig and guitarist Nels Cline, L.Stinkbug consciously chose to complete their line-up with a drummer who could groove - - percussionist Scott Amendola. Both Stinson and Cline prepare their guitars with an assortment of springs, toys, paint brushes, an electric drink stirrer, enough clips to make a beautician queasy, an egg whisk (that's right - - an egg whisk) and numerous other custom-made objects, and run them through a variety of effects, harmonizers and looping devices; same goes for Liebig - - chopsticks between the strings, looping devices, extended technique, the works. L. Stinkbug traffics in "instant compositions" packed with dynamics, textures and virtuosity. The Allure of Roadside Curios opens with an electro-orchestral prelude worthy of Sonic Youth on an exceptional night, building to a roaring, Boredoms-like overture that capsizes into some heavy grind familiar to fans of Lark's Tongue in Aspic-era King Crimson. Yet throughout the album's four tracks (plus a secret fifth one), all recorded live at Bruno's in San Francisco, the quartet's unpitched, heavily electronically altered wakajawaka sprawls like a spacy, permafrost delta in which an electric Miles Davis influence lurks at all times.
Because everyone in L.Stinkbug is involved with numerous other groups, they play together in this configuration infrequently and never tour (their handful of live appearances to date have occurred solely in California - - Los Angeles, Ventura, San Francisco, and Berkeley). The Allure of Roadside Curios is a rare opportunity to hear world-class improvisors together at their best.
L. STINKBUG [NELS CLINE - G.E. STINSON - STEUART LIEBIG - SCOTT AMENDOLA] - The Allure of Roadside Curios (Starlight Furniture 16) Two of LA's finest electric out/jazz/improv guitarists (Nels and G.E. ) combine forces with the phenomenal west coast rhythm team of bassist extraordinaire Steuart Liebig and groovin'-to-free wonder drummer Scott Amendola! Brain-blasting improvisations for adventurous listeners like you and me!
L. Stinkbug at Rocco
L. Stinkbug should be the soundtrack to the TV news. Nothing else expresses nausea du monde with the same pain, anger and electronic permeation. Nowhere else will you find two guitarists and a bassist like G.E. Stinson, Nels Cline and Steuart Liebig, with the phalangeal dexterity, the collective connectivity and the trunkload of vintage burp boxes appropriate to artful representation of the cosmic vomit. And rarely will you encounter a drummer like Scott Amendola who can both get down with the splatter and groove with dinosaur relentlessness. The four are taking a moment from their many other projects - - none of which rises to quite this, uh, rank - - to celebrate the release of The Allure of Roadside Curios (on Starlight Records, recorded live and bleeding). This show's an ideal date destination, if you're dating Godzilla.
(Greg Burk, LA Weekly)
Stinkonia: Leave it to guitarist Nels Cline and G.E. Stinson and bassist Steuart Liebig to share a band with such an odius name as L. Stinkbug. Live improvisation is what this outfit's all about, and with blobs of sound that can congeal - like globules in a lava lamp - Stinkbug can be nothing less that sonically heinous. It's an occasional band with the three in LA. and drummer Scott Amendola in San Francisco, so their several year history is fitful. Maybe that keeps the music fresh. The band has a free-range policy toward form (no Foster Farms musicians here), so the music may involve anything from lush soundscapes to Amageddon-in-a-box. While standard jazz improv is not entirely out of the question, don't hold your breath waiting for it. Fuzz boxes and delay loops (even from the drums!) are much in evidence and the traditional instrument roles are often blurred. These guys are all over the map so be ready for anything.
(Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles New Times)
For many people only two words of encouragement are needed to get them to this show--"Nels Cline." That would be the Los Angeles-based guitarist, widely revered for his inventive noisy-melodic style, who catapulted into alternative rock big time in recent years with the Geraldine Fibbers and Mike Watt. Cline's latest CD, "Sad," made Henry Kaiser's Express top ten list this year. Stinkbug features fellow guitarist G.E. Stinson (formerly of Shadowfax), bassist Steuart Liebig (former bandmate of Les McCann, Julius Hemphill, and others), and the ubiquitous Scott Amendola on drums. In the opening improv extravaganza, Beanbender co-honcho Hsu collaborates in his own inimitable way (which has been know to include "throwing water and/or slapping the faces of many cretins worldwide") with fellow multi-instrumentalist Slusser (whose tour de force CD "Delight at the End of the Tunnel" should be a fixture, or at least a coffee table coaster, in every experimental music-loving home) and the proverbial TBA others; electronics are involved.
(East Bay Express)
Stinkbug at Luna Park
The things electric guitars can do. "The credits don't mention Andean flutes," I mused, listening to Stinkbug's tape. Then it became clear that those tootling sounds were just another of G.E. Stinson's electronic tricks. The twangling, improbably attractive arpeggios and rocket explosions were identifiable enough - - that was Nels Cline, who has virtually defined post-Allmans two-guitar interplay with the likes of Thurston Moore, Carla Bozulich and Woody Aplanalp. I made a side bet with myself that Steuart Liebig wouldn't stick long with those Another Green World bass chunks, and I won: In a minute he was digitizing himself into intergalactic blip-and-scream with the other two stringheads. Drummer Scott Amendola, vacationing from Charlie Hunter's group among other projects, knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, listening for the moment when a little tick-tock or a massive wham would produce maximum impact. What's so amazing? These guys work marvels every day.
(Greg Burk, LA Weekly)
Joyful Noise: Quartet's fearless music-making offers antidote to ubiquitous holiday tunes.
What do you get when you mix two rangy electric guitarists, both of whom are well-equipped with gadgetry, with a bass player and drummer versed in jazz, rock and free improvisation? One answer: Stinkbug, a quartet with no fear of the dark o of cathartic noisemaking.
And it's going to make some artful noise at Art City 2 on Tuesday night, in what could be considered an antidote to the perennial parade of pretty holiday tunes.
The Los Angeles-based group is part of the shifting constellation of new music groups that have been part of the long-running New Music Monday, the series that has been an important regional seedbed for fringe music.
Its offerings lean toward rock or jazz with an emphasis on improvisation.
It began in the Alligator Lounge in Santa Monica, and now takes place in the more central location of the club-theater-bar Luna Park in West Hollywood.
Three of Stinkbug's members - - guitarists Nels Cline and G.E. Stinson and ambidextrous bassist Steuart Liebig - - are veterans of the series. Drummer Scott Amendola, formerly with Charlie Hunter, is now making the rounds of projects in L.A.
As heard on a tape from a live performance (they have yet to make a CD), the group forges a distinctive sound.
Between Cline and Stinson, the palette of guitar sounds is rich with weirdness. Distortion, feedback, echo loops and other modified textures are used in a way that is disarmingly abstract and, at times, almost painterly.
Which is not to say that the guitarists rely on lyricism or melodic strategies. Their sound is not pretty, per se.
In fact, post-punkers, alterna-rockers and head-bangers might well enjoy this group as much as new music and improv-oriented listeners.
Cline, the best known of the group, has been handily crossing over between stylistic worlds in recent years, playing with his own bands as well as rock acts Mike Watt, Geraldine Fibbers and side projects with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore.
It's all in a life's work of the versatile guitarist.
Welcome, now, Stinkbug, a wall-of-sound, two-guitar-based band with a difference, and no road map.
(Josef Woodard, L.A. Times Ventura Edition)