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Various Artists 

Niacin Sun

Wednesday, Dec 22 2004
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Locally produced zine Bananafish has explored the underground's fringes since 1987, exposing a panoply of ultraobscure musicians and visual artists as well as such edgy genres as extreme noise to a wider audience. Sadly, No. 18 marks the last issue of the rag, reportedly due to geriatric Publisher I. Vern Beezer dying while watching a presidential debate. Like many of its predecessors, 18 comes with a CD of exclusive tracks from artists profiled in the mag, and this one's a corker. Seven of the 13 pieces are excerpts from cassettes found by ex-Crawl Unit "noise mumbler" Joe Colley, including two documenting a frazzled woman dealing with her Alzheimer's-afflicted husband. It's unsettling, voyeuristically entertaining stuff. Colley also contributes a chuckle-worthy noodlefest field recording from the Sacramento Guitar Center; other cuts include some dynamic, surprisingly listenable noise from Burning Star Core and Monotract, a haunting tune courtesy of Vancouver's Mecca Normal, some nice avant-classical by Argentine composer Nelson Gastaldi, and the mumbled absurdist theater of experimental writer Jim Leftwich. Challenging and eccentric, Niacin Sun is an appropriate swan song for a vital publication.

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Mike Rowell

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