Standout Track: No. 4, “There Is No Consolation Prize,” a 33-minute blast of cosmic instrumental improvisation from the D.C. psychonauts. Scott Verrastro, the band’s drummer, percussionist, and occasional flautist, plays pots, pans, and glass bottles as well as his own kit on the track. Bassist Craig Garrett “laid down a groove thicker than crude oil,” he says. “We locked in, and the magic just took over.”
Musical Motivation: Expansive Headache is the band’s first studio album. Vinnie Van Go-Go recorded the sessions at 611 Florida Ave. NW, Verrastro’s residence and performance space, using a mobile 8-track lent by VHF Records founder Bill Kellum. Launched in 1991, VHF released influential records by Flying Saucer Attack, Skullflower, Pelt, and Rake (which included Kellum and Vinnie Van Go-Go). Verrastro was deeply inspired by VHF’s stable; the label, he says, “was releasing improvised psych-rock, freak-folk, and drone way before any of it was considered hip by the indie-rock cognoscenti.”
The Prize is Right: Kohoutek is an instrumental band, but during the recording of Expansive Headache, the band members asked a friend, Jim Brophy, to sit in the next room and improvise lyrics. In the end, the band decided not to use the words because, Verrastro says, “they were detached from the music.” But Brophy’s efforts weren’t a complete waste of time: Elements of the extemporaneous phrases ultimately became song titles. “I chose the ones that reflected the music best,” Verrastro says. “I like ‘There Is No Consolation Prize’ because it sounds so utterly nihilistic.” —David Dunlap Jr.
Kohoutek plays Friday, Sept. 28, at Velvet Lounge.