Speak In Tongues supergroup Walls Of Malm—plus Thrones, Lit-Ex & Warlocks in May 2000

This was one of the most thrilling, fun performances I’ve ever been a part of!

Walls Of Malm was a one-night-only, no rehearsals Speak In Tongues supergroup playing an ambitious three-part composition by Brian Straw.

READ: An interview with musician & Speak In Tongues sound person, Brian Straw

First part was called “Plants & Animals.” Second part was a duel between the two halves of the ensemble. The finale was a wild group improv.

Straw says:

My memory is fading from the Speak in Tongues days. I can feel new neuropathic highways opening in my brain from taking in all these old pics though… Memories change I guess. I wish I could go into detail about what inspired Walls of Malm but in reality it was just another night at Speak In Tongues. The show never ended there. We were always collaborating and throwing projects together just because we could. Complete creative freedom.

The personnel for this experiment in audio upmanship was:

  1. Stephe DK – Ranting
  2. Aaron Davis – Saxophone
  3. Brian Straw – Guitar + composer
  4. Steve Peffer – Vocals / synthesizer
  5. Ron Kretsch – Guitar
  6. Ted Flynn – Electronics
  7. Sean Carnage – Bass
  8. Matt Kuchna – Drums
  9. Jake Kelly – Conductor + poster artist

Jake Kelly reminisces:

Hmmm… My memories are a little fuzzy. I definitely remember being the signal man, I believe I banged on a big pot to signal the stop? Also, it must have been a few months earlier but the Warlocks played some noise show at SIT and really blew the doors off (French horn, two bassists, crazy singer who was running around with a flaming toaster who scaled up the front wall… It was wild!) and I fell in love. I think I pushed for them to be on this show. If I recall correctly, it was a different line-up (no French horn!) and they were slightly underwhelming. Sadly, them’s the breaks when ya book improv noise bands ha ha ha! They *did* do something with fire (maybe they had a microwave on stage and microwaved metal or something?)… [That correlates with my memory of the evening as well. -SC]

And they, with so many other acts that literally played with fire, sort of give me a tingly cringe—that we tempted fate many times and managed to come out with our skins intact. This wasn’t that long before the Great White Station fireAnd for once I’ll say I was glad SIT was already closed, because I don’t think it would have made it past the inspections in the wake of that.

As far as the poster, it holds up well, but if I did it today I’d give him two more little pointy arms on the other side ha ha—even that boy out!

I wish wish wish I had photos or—better yet—audio or video of this structured freakout, but we have the amazing poster by Jake and the score scrawled on the back of the poster by Brian Straw:

Speak In Tongues Walls Of Malm Thrones Lit-Ex, Warlocks May 26 2000 Cleveland Jake Kelly

Poster: Jake Kelly.

Composition: Straw.

The noise we made interpreting Brian’s scribble took the tops of people’s heads off!

Everyone in Speak In Tongues—players, audience, residents, Ralph—were floating on air after our burst of sound.

Ex-Melvins Joe Preston unleashed his one man tower of bass power, Thrones, and we also heard from Lit-Ex and Warlocks (as Jake described above). The folks who played after Walls Of Malm kinda had a hard time following it all up.

What an incredible night.

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READ: An interview with musician & Speak In Tongues sound person, Brian Straw

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