Monday, February 23, 2009

Captain Beefheart - trout mask replica (1969)

A highly complex, completely disjointed free-jazz funk blues which predates no-wave by about a decade.

Amidst the chaos, one can trace, to cite a few examples, a disguised convoluted harmonic progression in "Hair Pie Bake 1", wild up-and-down dynamics in "Sweet Sweet Bulbs", the robotic nonsense "Neon Meat Dream Of A Octofish" - featuring a devilish guitar solo counter-effected by a clarinet on fire, the faux chamber music of "Dali's Car", the multi-layered delirium of "Pena" etc.

It's hard to actually tell, but actually each piece is quite different than the other. It's like each piece represents a different diagram in a geometrical parabola wihch in turn represents structured chaos, though sometimes things are far more playful as in the clownish funfair big-band exercise "Sugar 'n Spikes", or in the sketch "Ant Man Bee".

Get it here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Birthday Party - junkyard (1982)

The Birthday Party stripped their sound to the bare essentials in Junkyard and if it didn't benefit them directly, it at least highlighted the substance of their demonic songs. It started with the ghostly explosive blues "She's Hit", whose tender (sort of) melody revealed a softer side in Cave. But it was not to last, as "Dead Joe" steamrolled it's way with a lightning-fast spasm. And there was no respite.

The hellish growls of "The Dim Locator" followed, and then the supersonic metallic nightmare Elvis-image "Hamlet" (unreal), then another menacing punk-blues ("6" Gold Blade") with a rollercoaster panic-inducing chorus. Finally, "Junkyard" proved that beneath the carnage lay a mature band that knew how to tamper with dynamics for as to provide mood. In the meantime, "Several Sins" let surface a spiritual side, with it's deformed faux-gospel crooning.

Get it here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Les Georges Leningrad - deux hot dogs moutarde chou (2002)

Les Georges Leningrad's debut blends the frenzied post-punk of early Section 25, the no-wave of the Contortions and DNA, and the synth-punk of early Tuxedomoon, but also updates these sounds for the digital age, adding grotesque vocals, distorted drum machines and electronic noise ("Lollipoplady", "Bad Smell", Didi Extra"). Spastic robotism prevails in "Georges V" and in the Residents cover "Constantinople", while too often they sabotage their grooves with noisy absurd instrumentation (as in the blues parody "Unimpermeable" or the quasi ethnic "Ccamcknenechn"). This insane energy and approach escapes the limits of mere imitation; Deux Hot Dogs is a worthy continuation of the post-punk program of the late 70's by a group of genuine fans and weirdos.

Get it here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sonic Youth - confusion is sex (1983)

Sonic Youth signaled the transition from the no-wave to the noise-rock, underlined by the epic, menacing, irregular structure of "She's In A Bad Mood". Yet it was still rock: psychedelic, progressive and industrial. Sonic Youth never meant to destroy rock 'n' roll like the original no-wavers, but rather apply the new culture into it.

The nightmares of Lydia Lunch (think "The Agony Is The Ecstasy") were a reference-point in the ritual of doom "Protect Me You". They also resorted to horror theatrics in the semi Stooges cover "Freezer Burn/ I Wanna Be Your Dog" (first suspenseful tension, then all hell breaks loose), that also featured a nice display of Glenn Branca-inspired guitars.

"Shaking Hell" was essentially one long theatrical sketch, a music-hall from an industrial hell. Instead, an indicator for the future was the supersonic noise anthem "Inhuman", while "Confusion Is Next" was a different kind of punk, the most claustrophobic and progressive post-hardcore yet. Finally, "Lee Is Free" flirted with the subliminal and the possessed religious primitivism, echoing Circle X's similar experiment from the same year, but in a less ambitious way. Get it here.