Laddio Bolocko - Live and Unreleased 1997-2000 3xLP+DVD / 2CD+DVD (2015, No Quarter)

Laddio Bolocko - Life & Times of... 2xCD (re-issue 2001, No Quarter)

Laddio Bolocko - As If By Remote CD (1999, Hungarian + Agog Germany)

Laddio Bolocko - In Real Time CD (1998, Hungarian)

Laddio Bolocko - Strange Warmings of... CD (1997, Hungarian)


the summer before the summer of action was better

I saw Laddio Bolocko play an incredible show in some guy’s basement on the outskirts of Athens back in 1998. One of the band members spent the entire show staring directly into Scarnsworth's eyes; at one point only about six inches separated their faces. The music sounded like Can and theFlying Luttenbachers mixed with free jazz and the best parts of Trans Am. It was crazy and amazing and maybe the best house show I’ve ever been to. I knew very little about them going in, but they were awesome live, so I wound up buying their first album, The Strange Warmings of Laddio Bolocko. The first song on the record, ”Goat Lips”, begins like a Roman triumph, with jubilatory guitars ringing out to proclaim that Laddio Bolocko have successfully vanquished the Dalmations, or something. It quickly shifts into a heavy funk-rock that sounds like the theme song to some high-energy tv cop show, before winding up with a couple minutes of droning, repetitive guitar wank. It's like This Heat crossed with Oneida. It's so good I just want to bash my head on my desktop and let the red stuff flow.

Formed in 1996 and over and done within four years, Laddio Bolocko was the strangest, most slept-on New York band of its time. They had some precedent in far-out outfits like Faust and This Heat, who used studio technology, isolation, and willful primitivism to push their music to into extreme places. And, because they blended '70s experimentalism with elements of American underground punk music, they had distant cousins in post-rock groups, like Tortoise and Trans Am (with whom they toured). Their vibe was very different, though. Tortoise was serene and vibey. Trans Am had a sense of humor. Laddio plowed down a different path altogether -- following common influences toward dark psychedelia and the occult.

Live and Unreleased collects odds and ends pulled from Laddio Bolocko's archives, including rehearsal tapes, concert recordings, and a DVD's worth of grainy concert footage. These are hardly throwaways or fans-only ephemera, though. The set—which spans two CDs or three LPs—adds depth and dimension to the group's unfairly thin catalog, allowing a peek into the communal jamming and weeded-out home studio experimentation that drove the band's creative process.

Liner notes by Oneida drummer Kid Millions give insight into the quartet's brief, grubby existence. After relocating to Brooklyn from southern Illinois during the mid '90s, drummer Blake Fleming, guitarist Drew St. Ivany, and bassist Ben Armstrong found a low-rent practice/living space in then-blighted Dumbo that offered no shower, but allowed no-complaints all-hours music-making.


The 20-minute "43 Minutes of (Excerpt)" is drawn from this time and captures the trio finding its stylistic footing. They trance out big-time here, with Armstrong and St. Ivany plugging away at car alarm-style riffs on bass and keyboard while Fleming goes wild on the kit. The tape marked the emergence of an idea that would drive the band's later work—mainly, the skewing of the senses through high-volume repetition—and also possibly helped to win over saxophonist Marcus DeGrazia, who engineered the session and who would join the band full-time shortly thereafter.

Looking for a change in scene, Laddio later decamped to an abandoned ski lodge in upstate New York. This period accounts for the collection's darker, more abstract material— where the band moved off the grid and completely into its own territory. Tracks like "Catskills #3" and "Catskills #5" are full of alien melodies, haunting found sounds, and phantom piano tones. The music has an eerie energy to it, as if it wasn't so much being consciously written as channeled into existence. It's as if the quartet slipped down some strange Lovecraftian wormhole -- not so much in these sense that the music evokes horror, but that the band's druggy transcendence brings only disquiet and distance. After plotting out the material for their second record, In Real Time, Laddio ended its stay in the countryside and returned to Dumbo, where they landed in an even filthier crash pad. Not long after, the group called it quits. Armstrong and St. Ivany would go on to form the excellent trio, the Psychic Paramount while Fleming would do a few off-and-on stints in the Mars Volta and perform in the bandElectric Turn to Me, along with DeGrazia.

Awesome as they were, it's hard to say that Laddio Bolocko has spawned many imitators. They were just too obscure. Millions' band, Oneida, embraced similar ideas and sounds, but the drummer admits that during Laddio's lifetime, even he had never heard of the band. But it would be hard to replicate the quartet's magic, anyway.

Laddio toured extensively throughout its existence and the live recordings included here—six songs taped during a performance in Slovenia—provide the some of the set's most compelling material. On stage, the band's strange and diverse ideas gel together perfectly. The songs are otherworldly, but visceral. The quartet performs with intensity and shared purpose that seems somehow paranormal, nudging out of their regular songs into unknown territory, searching out an ecstatic state.

 - Aaron Leitko | Pitchfork Media



03.22.1997 – Philadelphia, PA at Nick's Upstairs (as trio) 1st show
04.04.1997 – New York, NY at Biblios (as trio) 2nd show
05.27.1997 – New York, NY at Coney Island High
06.13.1997 – New York, NY at Biblios
08.20.1997 – New York, NY at Knitting Factory, alter-knit theatre
09.26.1997 – New York, NY at Knitting Factory, alter-knit theatre
05.14.1998 – Philadelphia, PA at Khyber Pass
05.15.1998 – DuBois, PA at DuBois Country Club
05.16.1998 – Cleveland, OH at Euclid Tavern
05.19.1998 – Minneapolis, MN at Terminal Bar
05.21.1998 – Madison, WI at Okayz
05.22.1998 – Milwaukee, WI at Cactus Club
05.23.1998 – Chicago, IL at Lounge Ax
05.27.1998 – Lawrence, KS at Replay Lounge
05.28.1998 – Lawrence, KS at Bottleneck Lounge
05.30.1998 – St. Louis, MO at CBGB
06.02.1998 – Houston, TX at EMOs
06.03.1998 – Austin, TX at 33 degrees
06.04.1998 – Austin, TX at EMOs
06.08.1998 – San Diego, CA at Casbah
06.09.1998 – Los Angeles, CA at Spaceland
06.10.1998 – San Francisco, CA at KFJC Radio
06.10.1998 – San Francisco, CA at Openmind Records
06.12.1998 – Portland, OR at Satyricon
06.13.1998 – Seattle, WA at OK Hotel
06.16.1998 – Missoula, MT at Upstairs at Jay’s
06.20.1998 – Edwardsville, IL at Stagger Inn
06.23.1998 – Memphis, TN at Barrister’s
06.24.1998 – New Orleans, LA at Mermaid Lounge
06.25.1998 – Birmingham, AL at the Nick
06.26.1998 – Atlanta, GA at The Point
06.27.1998 – Athens, GA at Nestor Domingo’s House Party
07.03.1998 – Detroit, MI at Gold Dollar
07.04.1998 – Cleveland, OH at Grog Shop
11.12.1998 – New York, NY at Coney Island High
11.??.1998 – New York, NY at Brownie’s
12.??.1998 – Brooklyn, NY at Cave Gallery
02.10.1999 – Hamburg, Germany at Station FSK
02.13.1999 – Bielefeld, Germany at AJZ
02.14.1999 – Aalborg, Denmark at 1000 Fryd
02.15.1999 – Hamburg, Germany at Meanie Bar
02.17.1999 – Brussels, Belgium at Magasin 4
02.18.1999 – Poitiers, France at Le Confort Moderne
02.19.1999 – Lyon, France at PEZ NER
02.20.1999 – Basel, Switzerland at Kulturwerkstatt Kaserne
02.21 1999 – Bern, Switzerland at Reitschule
02.22 1999 – Grenoble, France at 102
02.23 1999 – Padova, Italy at Plan 9
02.24.1999 – Finale Emilia, Italy at ZOO
02.25.1999 – Perugia, Italy at Cantiere 21
02.25.1999 – Pisa, Italy at Macchianera
02.27.1999 – Florence, Italy at CPA
02.28.1999 – Rome, Italy at Ex Magazini
03.01.1999 – Fienza, Italy at Clandestino
03.02.1999 – Trento, Italy at Angi Pub
03.03.1999 – Finale Emilia, Italy at Zoo
03.04.1999 – Trento, Italy at Fausto
03.05.1999 – Zagreb, Croatia at KSET
03.06.1999 – Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia at MKNZ
03.07.1999 – Wels, Austria at Schlachthof
03.09.1999 – Tabor, Czech Republic at Orion
03.10.1999 – Nurenberg, Germany at Komm
03.11.1999 – Cologne, Germany at Underground 2
03.12.1999 – Stuttgart, Germany at Ché
03.13.1999 – Hannover, Germany at Silke Arp
03.18.1999 – Amsterdam, Netherlands at Entrepotdok
03.19.1999 – Groningen, Netherlands at Vera Club
03.20.1999 – Bremen, Germany at Wehrschloss
03.21.1999 – Hamburg, Germany at Molotow
04.06.1999 – Boston, MA at Middle East *
04.07.1999 – Montreal, QC at Cabaret Music Hall *
04.08.1999 – Toronto, ON at Lee’s Palace *
04.09.1999 – Detroit, MI at Magic Stick *
04.10.1999 – Chicago, IL at Metro *
11.20.1999 – New York, NY at Brownies
01.30.2000 – Hamburg, Germany at Molotow
02.01.2000 – Bielefeld, Germany at AJZ
02.02.2000 – Berlin, Germany at Maria
02.03.2000 – Oldenburg, Germany at Alahambra
02.04.2000 – Amsterdam, Netherlands at Entrepotodok
02.05.2000 – Paris, France at Instants Chavirés
02.06.2000 – Kortrijk, Belgium at The Pits
02.09.2000 – Dublin, Ireland at Temple Bar Music Centre
02.12.2000 – Leeds, England at Packhorse
02.15.2000 – London, England at Kitten Club
02.16.2000 – Rennes, France at 25 rue Dupont des Loges
02.17.2000 – Bordeaux, France at Zoo Bizarre
02.18.2000 – Nantes, France at Pannonica
02.19.2000 – Toulouse, France at Le Clande
02.20.2000 – Marseille, France at Machine a Coudre
02.21.2000 – Lyon, France at Pez Ner
02.22.2000 – Trento, Italy at Angi Music Pub
02.23.2000 – Finale Emilia, Italy at Zoo Animal Sound
02.24.2000 – Milano, Italy at Cox 18
02.25.2000 – Bologna, Italy at Linx
02.26.2000 – Florence, Italy at CPA
02.28.2000 – Catania, Italy at Rock Fly
02.29.2000 – Bari, Italy at Taverna Del Maltese
03.01.2000 – Rome, Italy at Ex Magazini
03.02.2000 – Padova, Italy at Plan 9
03.03.2000 – Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia at MKNZ
03.04.2000 – Zagreb, Croatia at KSET
03.05.2000 – Vienna, Austria at Chelsea
03.06.2000 – Nurnberg, Germany at K4
03.07.2000 – Wels, Austria at Alter Schlachthof
03.08.2000 – Munich, Germany at Club 2
03.09.2000 – Bremgarten, Switzerland at Kuzeb/Kleiderfabrik
03.10.2000 – Bern, Switzerland at Reitschule
03.11.2000 – Stuttgart, Germany at Ché
03.14.2000 – Aalborg, Denmark at 7000 Fryd
03.16.2000 – Stockholm, Sweden at Lava
03.17.2000 – Gislσved, Sweden at Teen Centre
03.17.2000 – Lund, Sweden at Kulterhuset
03.18.2000 – Jönköping, Sweden at Kulterhuset
03.19.2000 – Linköping, Sweden at ?
03.22.2000 – Köln, Germany at GebΣude 9
03.23.2000 – Groningen, Holland at Vera
03.24.2000 – Hamburg, Germany at Hafenklang
03.25.2000 – Hannover, Germany at Silke Arp
03.26.2000 – Bremen, Germany at Wehrschloss
06.03.2000 – Brooklyn, NY at Cave Gallery
06.10.2000 – New York, NY at Acme Underground
06.17.2000 – New York, NY at CBGB’s
06.23.2000 – New York, NY at Frying Pan
07.13.2000 – Brooklyn, NY at Galapagos
07.20.2000 – New York, NY at Tonic
08.17.2000 – New York, NY at CBGB’s
08.24.2000 – Brooklyn, NY at Studio 84
09.06.2000 – Chapel Hill, NC at Cats Cradle °
09.07.2000 – Atlanta, GA at Echo Lounge °
09.08.2000 – New Orleans, LA at Howlin’ Wolf °
09.09.2000 – Austin, TX at Emos °
09.10.2000 – Dallas, TX at Trees °
09.12.2000 – Albuquerque, NM at Launch Pad °
09.13.2000 – Tempe, AZ at Nita’s Hideaway °
09.14.2000 – San Diego, CA at Casbah °
09.15.2000 – Los Angeles, CA at Spaceland °
09.16.2000 – Los Angeles, CA at Spaceland °
09.17.2000 – San Francisco, CA at Bottom of the Hill °
09.18.2000 – San Francisco, CA at Bottom of the Hill °
09.20.2000 – Portland, OR at Paradigm °
09.21.2000 – Seattle, WA at I Spy °
09.22.2000 – Vancouver, Canada at Starfish Room °
09.25.2000 – Minneapolis, MN at 400 Bar
09.26.2000 – Chicago, IL at Morseland w/ Panicsville
09.27.2000 – Edwardsville, IL at Stagger Inn w/ Panicsville
09.28.2000 – Detroit, MI at Magic Stick °
09.29.2000 – Toronto, Canada at Lee’s Palace °
09.30.2000 – Montreal, Canada at Cabaret Music Hall °
10.01.2000 – Boston, MA at Middle East °
10.02.2000 – New York City, NY at Bowery Ballroom (final performance) °

* with Trans Am, Pan Sonic
° with Trans Am, Neil Hamburger


Laddio Bolocko played dirty, aggressive, improvised, exacting and oblique instrumental music — with guitars, drums and the saxophonist Marcus DeGrazia — in Brooklyn during the mid-to-late-90s, when the rock scene there was unimpressive at best. (I never saw them. I only knew what became of them: Two members, Drew St. Ivany and Ben Armstrong, went on to found the excellent band the Psychic Paramount; the indefatigable drummer Blake Fleming helped start the Mars Volta.) During the band’s life it rehearsed where it lived, jamming for hours, collapsing the space between free jazz and prog-rock, and put out records in small pressings. Laddio Bolocko broke up in 2001, and two years later the label No Quarter released the band’s studio recordings posthumously. But now we get the tapes from its rehearsals and live sets, and perhaps that’s even better. This was almost a private band, and the box set provokes a kind of double-take: Did this even really happen?

NY Times - DEC. 21, 2015 by BEN RATLIFF