Fifty Foot Hose. Heard of 'em? Probably not. But to many collectors and avant-garde musicians, this San Francisco band that melded pre-synth electronix and sixties SF psychedelia was the shit. Bands like Pere Ubu, Chrome and Throbbing Gristle have cited them as an influence, and the Hose's only LP now goes for a fistful of dollars, assuming you can even find it.
Spurred by both the heavy interest of a rabid, tape-trading cult following and the constant resurfacing of Hose-like sounds in more "contemporary" music, key Hoser and SF resident Cork Marcheschi -- now a prominent sculptor -- has re-released the band's Mercury album "Cauldron" on CD via his own Weasel Disc label.
Anything that comes with a warning sticker saying "There is nothing wrong with your CD player -- Track 1 is a two minute oscillating rumble tone" has just got to be cool. And it is. Such a succulent stew of flower-power guitar weirdness and goofy sci-fi soundtrack sounds I've yet to hear. Some of the songs would sound almost conventional if it weren't for Cork's hodgepodge electronics rig (including 2 theremins and a plethora of effects boxes), but as it stands they evoke everything from the aforementioned Ubu to Krautrock a la Can, with plenty of Jefferson Airplane-style hippie-psych, art school experimentalia, even some lounge jazz mixed in. Truly trippy, maaan.
The title track, inspired by the witches in Macbeth, is a spooky collage at times reminiscent of, say, Nurse With Wound underwater, and the CD climaxes with the track "Bad Trip," a pre-Hose dadaist outing by Cork: Three musicians in separate rooms manage to synergistically blurt a lysergic 2.5-minute noise freak-out that meets or beats the primal belch and shriek of modern-day psycho-extremists like the Boredoms. Small wonder Fifty Foot Hose didn't get paid when they played that Catholic girls school back in '67. -Mike Rowell