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Jad Fair and Jason Willett



Jad Fair is the reigning madman of the American music underground, a truly primitive and prolific talent who for decades has left some listeners scratching their heads in confusion and others nodding in appreciation and understanding. Fair speaks for the idiot savant, the autistic auteur in all of us. The recordings of Fair's primary band, Half Japanese, sound almost like a courses in how not to play music -- that is, noisily, sloppily, with little to no technical acumen or recording prowess -- but for fans, these albums, as well as Fair's solo recordings, explore and celebrate the primal impulse to make noise and express oneself like a child which forms the basis for so many rock songs. Indeed, Fair has attracted an impressive number of likeminded collaborators to Half-Japanese over the years, including Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker, avant-garde guitarist Fred Frith, and legendary experimental jazz saxophonist and composer John Zorn.

Another regular collaborator over the years has been nonsense noisemaker and multi-instrumentalist Jason Willett, one of the founders of the avant-garde/experimental jazz/No Wave label Megaphone. Willett has contributed to numerous Half-Japanese recordings and has teamed with Fair on several other albums. Fair sometimes plays percussion, but mostly just chirps, rants, and sometimes shrieks like a nasal Lou Reed amped up on a whole lot of Benzedrine while Willett provides the instrumental accompaniment with guitar and bass (usually), electronics and oscillators (often), piano, organ, cello, and miscellaneous other instruments (occasionally). There's little semblance of musicianship here, this is all noise and nervous energy. It sometimes feels like a recording of a very involved music therapy session, and that's its peculiar genius.

The duo has recorded many limited edition albums on Megaphone, as well as 1998's Enjoyable Songs on Alternative Tentacles which includes the featured "Sticky Cotton Candy."