Alvarius B. (Alan Bishop as...)

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I've semi-recently enjoyed several of Richard Bishop's solo acoustic albums (esp. Fingering the Devil and Improvika), but I'm new to his "full band" Alvarius B. project. Curious, I picked up a CD copy of his/their new Baroque Primitiva album a few days ago, and only got around to listening to it last night. Goddam, it's great! Maybe not quite up to the impossibly high standard of Funeral Mariachi, last year's gorgeous Sun City Girls (black) swan song, but very much of a piece with it. The two albums share a similar focus on ethnic forgery, psychedelic folk, mortal sadness and Morricone worship.

Violinist Eyvind Kang guests on three tracks, but otherwise, it's Bishop's ship to sail. Includes a fairly faithful take on John Barry's "You Only Live Twice" theme and a droned out cover of "God Only Knows", here presented as "God Only Be Without You". Could do without the goofy, abrasive "Humor Police", but that's only one short track of eleven. Plus questionable naked lady cover art and much online griping due to the absurdly limited nature of the vinyl edition (want). Who cares though? When the music's this good, packaging and media seem secondary.

Any reaction from more seasoned fans? Pointers to other worthwhile Alvarius B. releases? Looks like there have been 4 proper albums and two splits issued under this moniker over the past 17 years, of which I have heard none. Are they all as accessible and delicate?

(Umm, yeah, I started a SRB thread a few years ago, but this album is good enough, i think, to deserve it's own thread. For whatever reason, I'd like to focus on the Alvarius B. project in isolation.)

contenderizer, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 16:57 (seven years ago) Permalink

First of all...Alvarius B is Alan Bishop, not Richard.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 16:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset is a good one. I don't own any of this stuff, though. I have to hear it all from my SCG completist coworker.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

see, that's the same damn thing i did the other day with merrill vs erika on the EMA thread. fuck. i really thought this was SRB - no idea why, as i've read a great deal about it. which only proves i'm an idiot, lock thread etc. will try to get it shut down. someone less dumb than i should really start one up tho...

contenderizer, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

Ha, no big deal, man. I mix names up all the time.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

yeah, but it's not just the name, it's the actual guy. did wonder why there was so little django guitar on this lol.

contenderizer, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:05 (seven years ago) Permalink

god, i wish i had a SCG completist coworker.

tylerw, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

NOTE TO ALL: please pretend the opening line of the OP goes something like...

I've semi-recently enjoyed several of Richard Bishop's solo acoustic albums (esp. Fingering the Devil and Improvika), but I'm new to HIS BROTHER ALAN'S "full band" Alvarius B. project.

thank you

contenderizer, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:07 (seven years ago) Permalink

Yeah, but talk about impossible tasks.
We trade stuff a lot.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 17:08 (seven years ago) Permalink

haven't heard the record (really want to!) but there was a good brainwashed review (not mine) the other week of this

i genuinely thought when i first joined that he was the admin (ilxor), Tuesday, 24 May 2011 18:46 (seven years ago) Permalink

i adore Rick's solo work, even more so than SCG, btw—go figure

i genuinely thought when i first joined that he was the admin (ilxor), Tuesday, 24 May 2011 18:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

About time this genius had his own thread... I started one about Blood Operatives (LP #3) when it came out, listened to it recently and it still holds up. His first LP is a lot of pretty great guitar instrumentals that have almost nothing in common with the SRB style. The 7" on Chocolate Monk is more of the same. The second record, a 2LP that is also S/T like the 1st, is one of my top ten records of all time. Great songs, great (solo) playing, a relentless & singular vision.

New one is so mellow, kind of wish it had the bite of the 2nd or 3rd ones but it is still a great listen esp. the Bond tune.

Never heard the split w/Nyoukis on Chocolate Monk, I need to shell out for that some day.

There's also another thread about the split CD with Cerberus Shoal.

sleeve, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 19:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

About time this genius had his own thread...

yes, too bad it's so sadly maimed. hey, at least i learned something today. and publicly!

--- --- ---

New one is so mellow, kind of wish it had the bite of the 2nd or 3rd ones but it is still a great listen esp. the Bond tune.

it's precisely the mournful, psychedelic gentleness that i love here. bond tune is great, but i like several of alan's originals at least as much, especially "the dinner party", "face to face with a couple axes" and "well known stranger".

contenderizer, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 19:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

and thanks for the rundown! will try to track down that 2nd (dbl) LP in some form or another

contenderizer, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 19:19 (seven years ago) Permalink

When that 2LP first dropped (shockingly to almost no fanfare, '99 I think?) it became very clear to me that (to generalize a bit) Alan was the "songwriter" of the SCG - heck, there's even a couple of SCG tunes on it, although they themselves never did such a huge and cohesive song-oriented project. The solo work of Richard has imo shown him to be more of the chops-heavy instrumental prowess dude in the band. Gocher's terrifying and challenging solo records reveal him to be the craziest of them all, and probably responsible for many of the SCG's dada-prank trajectories.

So yeah, love Alan's songs probably more than any other aspect of the multicolored SCG world. His guitar playing on those first two records is really interesting as well, it's been toned down a lot on the last two by adding other players.

The Morricone comp that AB curated for Ipecac (Crime And Dissonance) is also key to getting a glimpse of this guy's world.

sleeve, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 20:56 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Forced Exposure Announces Alvarius B. Live Performances

After two decades and six albums of recordings, Alan Bishop plays his first extended East Coast acoustic folk performances as Alvarius B.

Saturday 09/01/2012 Boston, MA, Tavern at the End of the World
Sunday 09/02/2012 Florence, MA, Byron Coley’s VFW
Monday 09/03/2012 Philadelphia, PA, Johnny Brenda’s
Tuesday 09/04/2012 Brooklyn, NY, Union Pool
Thursday 09/06/2012 Raleigh, NC, The Hive @ Busy Bee / Hopscotch

Alan Bishop presents his first Alvarius B. solo performances this September in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, in support of the reissue of his best solo record: his self-titled double LP. These shows also support the digital release of his entire music catalog: the Sun City Girls discography, Alvarius B. solo recordings, and his comedic music act, Uncle Jim.

Bishop is a founding member of Seattle's avant-garde and genre-defying Sun City Girls, whose career spans 27 years and over 50 releases. His work in Sun City Girls, with Rick Bishop and Charlie Gocher, stands as a testament to his fearless exploration of the outer reaches of improvisation and composition. From soundtracks for a never-realized film about the legend of a giant pre-historic flying reptilian, to sprawling radio broadcasts incorporating noise, Italian pop, and found sound collage, the group maintained their singular and uncompromising path from inception. Their musical restlessness still resonates in the wake of Charles Gocher’s passing and their subsequent disbanding.

As founder of the Sublime Frequencies record label, Bishop has released over 70 records, introducing previously ignored musical genres from Syria, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Niger, Thailand, India, Morocco, Egypt, Western Sahara, Cambodia, Algeria, and Turkey.

As Alvarius B., Bishop has penned hundreds of his own original folk songs in a primitive “out” style that is unlike anything anyone else is doing. This body of work is informed by an obsessive love of psychedelic rock, free jazz, exotic music from beyond borders, Italian film soundtracks, and an extraordinary sense of humor. In the last year, Bishop has been living in Cairo, recording new Alvarius B. material in the shadow of the Egyptian pyramids, in the time of the “Arab Spring.” Hopefully some of these songs will be presented at these East Coast shows, along with seminal favorites, and a few gags!

“I think it’s fair to say that in AB we have the most inspiring and wholesome, cussing, violent and truthful musical interpenetrator of the psychic Realities that has probably ever graced this fair and fucked land.” – Trey Spruance (Mr. Bungle/Mimicry Records/ Secret Chiefs 3)

“Sun City Girls were the Sun Ra of the ‘80s punk hardcore scene and the ‘90s indie scene, and remained the craziest, most interesting, and most inspired group into the millennium.” – Tom Lax (Siltbreeze Records)

YouTube links:

Alvarius B.:Cooking with Satan Live at the Josephine

Alvarius B.: You Only Live Twice

dow, Wednesday, 25 July 2012 19:33 (six years ago) Permalink

in support of the reissue of his best solo record: his self-titled double LP

just wanna say again that this is imo one of the best records ever made.

sleeve, Thursday, 26 July 2012 00:12 (six years ago) Permalink

and a few gags!
guess i should hear that self titled double LP! i trust you guys.

tylerw, Thursday, 26 July 2012 02:34 (six years ago) Permalink

see link upthread :)

sleeve, Thursday, 26 July 2012 02:50 (six years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

So the 2nd S/T has now been reissued, six bonus tracks on the CD version.

sleeve, Sunday, 24 February 2013 16:26 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

new album!!!

Alvarius B - The Invisible Hands

just ordered it... CD only for now.

sleeve, Saturday, 16 March 2013 00:25 (five years ago) Permalink

OK so this new one is Alan's new BAND, called Invisible Hands.

two SCG songs - "Hitman Boy" and "Black Weather Shoes"

sleeve, Friday, 22 March 2013 00:02 (five years ago) Permalink

So people were freaking out about this and then I heard the one song and I was like snooooooze. I mean I love/am obsessed with SCG/Rick/Alan but this seemed pretty trad in a boring way. Anyone heard the whole album and can comment?

Badmotorfinger Debate Club (MFB), Friday, 22 March 2013 05:03 (five years ago) Permalink

I listened to the whole thing last night and thought it was amazing, but I am a total fanboy. It was definitely a bit more "rock" than I expected but the lyrics are great and I liked the production a lot. After I finished listening I thought "man that is the best thing I have heard so far this year", so... maybe let's get another opinion?

sleeve, Friday, 22 March 2013 14:04 (five years ago) Permalink

Maybe I will borrow the copy that my co-worker is waiting on? I haven't listened to any of the Alvarius B stuff in a while. I don't own any of it, either, so...

Trip Maker, Friday, 22 March 2013 14:22 (five years ago) Permalink

2nd time through ( I listened in the car today) and I can't see why any SCG fan wouldn't love this.

sleeve, Friday, 22 March 2013 19:38 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh my coworker is getting the 7 inch which I guess contains non album tracks. He's waiting on the album to get pressed on vinyl.
I guess theres an English language version AND and Arabic version that are both going to be in the double lp package?

Trip Maker, Friday, 22 March 2013 20:23 (five years ago) Permalink

ah, that makes sense. I'll try to pick up the 7".

sleeve, Friday, 22 March 2013 21:11 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

this sounds amazing.

mizzell, Thursday, 2 May 2013 15:20 (five years ago) Permalink

espeically the arabic language versions

mizzell, Thursday, 2 May 2013 15:29 (five years ago) Permalink

totally. and it's 6 bucks for the mp3s (english and arabic together) at amazon

adam, Thursday, 2 May 2013 18:45 (five years ago) Permalink

i splurged for the double LP, stupidly expensive but this record is awesome.

mizzell, Sunday, 12 May 2013 18:23 (five years ago) Permalink

^^ the second opinion I was waiting for. I got a pre-order of the 2LP that apparently includes a pillow? It hasn't shown up yet. I'm very interested in hearing the Arabic versions.

Flat Of NAGLs (sleeve), Sunday, 12 May 2013 18:49 (five years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

ALVARIUS B. - Fuck You and the Horse You Rode In On

"The album title pretty much says it all. A brain-splattered document of pre-Sun City Girls weirdness by Alvarius B. (Alan Bishop) from 1981-1983, consisting of raw, live and unfiltered home recordings on acoustic and electric guitar with effects, vocals, flute, harmonica, and other miscellaneous odd instruments. Extremely limited one-time pressing of 400 LP copies." -Abduction.

mizzell, Tuesday, 8 October 2013 13:46 (five years ago) Permalink


money, chicken and other DNA (sleeve), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 14:41 (five years ago) Permalink

(from Insound, fyi)

I had heard about this a week or so ago from Eric L@nzillotta, thanks for the extra heads up. Sounds awesome.

money, chicken and other DNA (sleeve), Tuesday, 8 October 2013 14:42 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

how come no one mentioned the fact that he sounds like Nick Cave on Blood Operatives?

nostormo, Sunday, 24 November 2013 23:36 (four years ago) Permalink

three years pass...
"If you really want to know more about the music, search for the LP version descriptions online (I'm sure they were copy/pasted across many websites) where you'll discover a treasure of valuable assessments contained within. This two-CD edition is primarily being made available to facilitate 41 of my 133 'fans' who will be thrilled that it comes out on Compact Disc -- and at an affordable price in comparison to what buying all three LPs would cost. I think I pressed at least 172 copies of this two-CD so there is room for another 39 'fans' to climb aboard my champion ship. I keep hearing that many of the CDs you've acquired in the past don't work anymore. CDs are supposed to rot, scratch and die after a few years and have therefore become a flawed medium. Sounds more like a pragmatic description of humanity to me. But I have thousands of CDs. Some are commercially manufactured discs and the rest are CDRs and every single one of them works.

Yep, I hired a bearded guy from New Hampshire to check them all and many are 10, 15, or 20 years old. But my mother always told me I was blessed. Or perhaps I have a magic CD player? But people used to say the same about cassettes and now tapes are the cat's fuckin meow. In fact, I know a record store owner who recently sold an entire car full of cassettes. So don't bring your CDs when you jump aboard Julijonas Urbonas' suicide roller coaster (which hopefully gets built soon in order to facilitate plenty of you imbeciles) -- leave them behind for others to enjoy. Getting back to my new album, go find my sampler on YouTube if you want to know what it sounds like. It's better than your new album, that's for sure. Maybe I'll have to do a cassette version of this record in the future so that I can write another one of these fuckin' promotional sheets."

mizzell, Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:30 (eleven months ago) Permalink
"Volume One of three new LPs I am releasing simultaneously called Natural Wonder, this is the more melodic, savvy one and you might like it. Maybe I'm lying and it's the innocent, straight record so maybe you should get Vol 3 (ABDT 059CLP) instead if you're in a darker mood. But that's not really true either. Or maybe it's one of those records that grows on you the more you continue playing it... like a cancer. The musicians who played on all three albums don't deserve to be involved in these kamikaze promotional descriptions so don't blame them for any of this. They played so well on these records, in fact they play much better than you do, and their performances deserve a 'Whammy,' which is the awards show where I'm in charge and the winners get to shoot members of the music industry academy dead in their seats.

That's where it's all headed you know. . . . The modern world of record making has become so fucking dull and obedient that someone has to ram a poison dagger up your asses and since you're all under hypnosis, I promise you won't feel a thing. I could pay Dougie Jones to write this piece to match your intellect or hire a publicity company to promote it but who really gives a fuck? I'm still making records for myself and the rest of humanity doesn't speak my language anyway. By deciding to write my own album promos, I can perform some market research. For example, this album description text will undoubtedly be copy/pasted by most online retailers onto their respective sites because they don't write their own new album reviews or get too excited about music, they simply want to create the illusion that they're in business to sell records. So I could put something like: Fuck all website retailers that copy/paste this description onto their site because they are too fucking cheap, lazy or chicken shit to have an opinion to write individual album reviews -- and they probably wouldn't even notice while doing it. Anyway, back to my new album. These songs are pretty good, most likely way better than your songs, and I don't even have time to be a real songwriter, so what does that say about you? It says that you suck. And most of you do. But you should buy my new three album set because it's probably as good or better than any other LPs that will be released this year. But if you aren't ready to go all-in with confidence, then forget it. I don't want any mudskipper sub-species of the crayfish to buy my records. There are always a few speculators who'll pick up the extra copies you won't buy anyway."

mizzell, Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:30 (eleven months ago) Permalink
"This is Volume Two of my new three LP set, and it's called A Mark Twain August. Now don't go asking me what the fuck that title means but I will say that it may be my favorite of the three. My 'fans', all 133 of them, are pretty smart. I used to think only 67 people mattered on earth, now it could be far less, but it's beginning to trouble me how I've actually accumulated 133 fans. So if you're not a moron, I don't mind if you buy this record. I made more copies than I have fans so I need to expand on the audience a bit but I don't want fucking idiots buying my albums. A brand new car loses value the moment you drive it home, but my records will always go up in value (like my Dodge Ram Van which tripled in value when I drove it off the lot) so this is also an investment opportunity. If you were to walk slowly on a hot bed of coals you may discover that Don McLean never actually drove his Chevy to the levy and that the singer-songwriter is dead, just like all the poets.

What do contemporary poets and the entire Indonesian population have in common? Most of you cannot name even one of them. Homo Sapiens now love to complain and act as if they know how the world works by 'expressing' themselves on their social media networks -- that's become the new poetry. And I think there are only nine people writing songs today that I respect, I'd have to check to make sure. And the Thinking Fellars were a great band -- I could name a dozen more from the past 30 years that I'd call contemporaries, but that's about it. . . . And I almost forgot to mention that Mark Twain's old banjo appears on this record. Oh and this is better than that Wolf King of LA album by Papa John Phillips, for all those who got mesmerized by it 30 years after it came out. There's only three or four good tracks on that and A Mark Twain August has six great tracks on it, at least. "

mizzell, Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:31 (eleven months ago) Permalink
"Serial killing was one of history's greatest art forms. Now it's becoming almost impossible to get a skull-drilling startup off the ground unless you murder for the corporations or governments where you have highly organized protection from any enforceable law but at the expense of sacrificing all the glory for the anonymity required to maintain employment. So, unfortunately, the days of any zit topography random commoner being able to string together a few killings to hit the big time before being caught has almost come to an end. Sad. This record, the third and final volume of my new three-LP set called Heathen Folklore, could serve as somewhat of a manual of inspiration on how one could start such a career, as risky and unpopular as it is. It gets much more fucked-up than the previous two LPs, and sometimes I think it's the best one due to that aspect.

I'd have to give it one more listen but I also think this is the LP with coded messages that could trigger an unsuspecting listener to start his/her career in extreme behavior. But killing isn't everything you know. There are many more ways to express yourself and reach the top of the charts these days. In fact, I saw Burt Bacharach three weeks ago gripping a huge fucking machete while chasing modern dance music architects off his champion ship and into deep water where they hopefully became shark bait. And to set the record straight, Jimi Hendrix did not fake his death and become Morgan Freeman nor was Hunter S. Thompson directing snuff films. But most of that other weird shit you hear about these days is probably true. And I'm working on a film called 'Being Alvarius B.' where all of you loser fucks crawl into my brain and see yourselves from my perspective and then commit collective suicide because you finally realize I was right all along. And I am. Can't wait to make more albums so I can write these album descriptions. Cocksuckers."

mizzell, Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:32 (eleven months ago) Permalink


curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 November 2017 18:08 (eleven months ago) Permalink

To talk about the cover songs, most of these are pretty obscure….

Yeah, I suppose… and even if you know the artist you might not know the song. You might know Morricone but might not know the track "Il Forte/The Fort" is from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, where it's done very slowly, like a funeral march, and I turned it into a more up-tempo thing. And Sly Stone wrote "Are You Sure?" but he gave it to Beau Brummels and produced it. "Wanted Man" is a Dylan song given to Johnny Cash. Yeah, and Lee Hazelwood, and Gene Clark …. Not their most famous songs, but songs that I love, that's why I wanted to do them.

You've appropriated them, you've changed the lyrics to fit more with your own commentaries and your own outlook.

Yes, with a couple of exceptions. I have no problem re-writing anyone. Nothing is sacred when it comes to words or poetry. I find the original "Wanted Man" and the Nick Cave version pretty boring and cheesy. The original is boring and typical for Johnny Cash and fair enough, it's Johnny Cash, it works for 1969, but the Nick Cave version was a little bit cheesy, he's trying to sound like a bad ass and it doesn't work. My version is ridiculously absurd but I think it's more updated and a little bit more wanted.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 November 2017 18:22 (eleven months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Just finished my first listen through the 2CD set. this new set is not really that good IMO. It suffers from a standard "rock" band backing, a lotta predictable chords, and a lotta lazy rhyming lyrics.

the "suitcase handler" song is great, menacing and weird, and the version of Wanted Man is indeed pretty bad ass, but those were pretty much the only standouts for me. I miss the weirdness and bite of the S/T 2LP more now than ever.

sleeve, Thursday, 21 December 2017 20:03 (nine months ago) Permalink

2nd time through, listening at home, and this is opening up a lot more. Lotta good stuff on here that didn't reveal itself in the truck. Nice to have him doing fully produced bitter pissed off tunes after the last few years of barrel scrapings, which kinda soured me a bit. This set could probably have been cut to a single 80-minute disc/double LP instead of a 110 minute triple LP, though.

sleeve, Friday, 22 December 2017 02:10 (nine months ago) Permalink

yeah, i've been enjoying it more and more after a kinda similar first reaction — some of it was pretty close to cracker van beethoven, I thought! but i think there's more than enough good stuff ...

tylerw, Friday, 22 December 2017 03:38 (nine months ago) Permalink

heard some of this on WFMU, p impressive

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Friday, 22 December 2017 04:54 (nine months ago) Permalink

Camper van second and third albums not worlds away from certain SCG stuff tbh

I would never REALLY sign your death warrant! You're my-- my DOG! (Jon not Jon), Friday, 22 December 2017 17:57 (nine months ago) Permalink

yeah, true! (didn't mean that as a slight on CVB, i dig 'em)

tylerw, Friday, 22 December 2017 19:03 (nine months ago) Permalink

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