Boomkat Product Review:
Wire faves 75 Dollar Bill have their 'Power Failures' remastered and reissued by Berlin's Karlrecords. Assembled from rehearsal jams, live recordings and overdubs, it's an endearingly rickety set of hybridized DIY psychedelia, led by Che Chen's free-floating Mauritanian riffs.
NYC underground duo 75 Dollar Bill, aka percussionist Rick Brown and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Che Chen, broke out into the avant-mainstream in 2019 when they released their acclaimed 'I Was Real'. But grounded by the pandemic, their proposed tours and collaborations were cut short, leading them to release a run of material on Bandcamp. 'Power Failures' was one of those lost era recordings, and now gets the deluxe treatment with a fresh remaster and long-awaited vinyl edition. Far from a collection of odds and sods, it documents the duo's jams and collaborations, bringing in guests like Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, violinist Sue Gardner and Buchla player Yasi Perera.
The root of each track is still Brown's spirited wooden box rhythms and Chen's brilliant guitar playing, inspired by his studies with Mauritanian guitarist Jeich Ould Chigaly, but the new additions add secret sauce where necessary. On 'Power Failure #2', Brown and Chen fabricate a loose groove, leaving room for Steve Maing's soft alto horn wails and Gardner's angular violin riffs; they almost sound like a full band, ducking between one-another playfully without losing the essential lilt. '15 (IRA)' is even more ramshackle, and more endearing, recorded scrappily so we can hear the full room and building into a powerful, skronky crescendo with Kaplan shredding mercilessly. Briefer is '15 (YASI)', a more pensive recording with Chen on flute and feedback, and Perera cutting in with celestial, West Coast new age-style synth. Very strong stuff.