Last night, noise swamiFrank "Rat Bastard" Falestra
appeared to Crossfade in a strange dream.
He didn't say anything. But even if he did, it would have been drowned out by the sound of his hands (which were, uh, made of broccoli) forcing his four-string telecaster to cry out in tongues.
Skull-cap gripping his head, chin tucked tightly into his chest, Ray Bans drooping slightly down the bridge of his nose, obscuring closed eyes, Rat stood before a tower of speakers encased in vine from which poured a phantasmagoric, burning-bush picture show of horror, wonder, and ecstasy.
Tall trees swayed like pagan waifs to the sound of filth-caked sorcerers commanding magik wrought from junk, summoning all the hidden, secret sounds of the forest. We awoke in a panic, and sweatier than usual. What did it all mean?
We immediately paid Rat a visit at his apartment-slash-recording-studio-slash-museum in Miami Beach to see if he could give us any insight. After consulting a nearby Washington Avenue psychic -- who asked to remain nameless -- we quickly figured out that the otherworldly locale seen in our dream was, of all places, Indian Meadows in Pentress, West Virgina, site of the annual Voice of the Valley Noise Rally.
The Rally is a three day experimental music festival and camp-out held at a bluegrass fairground in what the V.O.V. website describes as "Moth Man country." Nearly 40 acts -- ranging from costumed noise freaks to collectives that resemble the traditional notion of a band -- will perform over the weekend. Among America's myriad corporate big-stage-and-expensive-water summer festivals, Voice of the Valley stands out as a wholly immersive, truly unique experience.
So, of course, Rat is headlining with the Laundry Room Squelchers. To date, the Squelchers have performed at every edition of the festival. But Rat hasn't really formulated a preference for indoor or outdoor performances. "Meh," he says. "It's all the same."
This very Zen, post-bullshit ambivalence perfectly exemplifies the cult producer and musician's no-frills approach to music. Another example: Last weekend, he was invited by No Fun Production's head honcho (and Miami expatriate) Carlos Giffoni to perform at noise-sax legend John Zorn's gallery, The Stone. When asked how the crowd responded, Rat says, "He wasn't really paying attention," another fitting response from the man who proclaims his motto to be "self-promotion is obsolete."
The Squelchers' appearance at Voice of the Valley will be another tally in Rat's extensive 2011 touring schedule, which has included a number of one-off performances in American cities and two giant Australian editions (in Sydney and Melbourne) of his International Noise Conference, the sprawling noise convention -- boasting hundreds of bands playing 15 minute sets -- that he founded at Churchill's Pub in 2004.
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Simply decoding Crossfade's Voice of the Valley dream vision was unsatisfying. The more we learned about the noise rally, the more we more we needed to know. So from August 25 through 28, we will be teaming up with psychedelic party photographers Bleeding Palm for a balls-out, deep-fried vision quest.
We will hear what the valley's voice really has to say.
Stayed tuned to Crossfade for more about our trek to Voice of the Valley Noise Rally 2011.