Monthly Archives: November 2010

Dwarr

A long time ago, back before bands could mix entire albums with a secondhand Macbook and a pirated copy of Pro Tools, a guitar-toting loner from South Carolina named Duane Warr set out to make the heaviest heavy metal album ever, more or less by himself. The fruit of his labor was a 1985 (or maybe 1984?) album called Starting Over that didn’t really sound all that much like metal, but definitely sounded like nothing else before it and not much since. Part Sabbath and (probably by accident) part Residents, Starting Over and an even more amazing 1986 album called Animals were pretty much ignored at the time of their release but have since become cult classics among fans of weirdo, lo-fi stoner rock.

Warr dropped off the face of the earth for about 15 years—supposedly after becoming a Born Again Christian and renouncing all his old music. But he surprised everyone by resurfacing in 2000 with a third album, Holy One, and even followed that up with a fourth LP, Times of Terror, in 2003. Seems like he’s still a bit of a recluse though: The guy who posted the only original Dwarr video we could find (seen below), added a comment on YouTube noting that “I used to run the Dwarr MySpace page, but unfortunately I’ve been out of touch with Duane for a long time now. There are even more Dwarr videos, but I only had permission to post this one.” And the write-up for the 2010 reissue of Animals on Drag City Records gives no biographical background at all, only this awesome quote from Duane himself:

“I was working 12 hour shifts down at the sweat factory. One day, I was having a bad day and had a problem with one of the older guys. All of a sudden he pulled his packing knife out on me. I felt a rage running up through me and went running at him. He put the knife away very quickly. That night I had the dream for the title song ANIMALS. In the dream, I ate the human flesh, I crushed the human bone, I was an animal.”

It’s possible that is all just an elaborate put-on and Duane Warr’s mysterious backstory is all just part of his shtick. Or it’s possible that he just doesn’t want the world to know that he’s actually this guy. [Update: We weren't sure when we wrote that, but we have since confirmed that yes, that really is the man behind Dwarr, all cleaned up and selling real estate. Read this interview/article for the proof.] But we’re pretty sure he’s just a bonafide wackjob. And even though he’s kind of a terrible musician, he totally fucking rules. (P.S. The video has a weird, sorta pointless intro…give it about 30 seconds, it gets good, trust us.)

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Aesthetic Meat Front

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(Photo: Lilly M via Wikimedia Commons)

Hi, kids! How was your Thanksgiving? Did you stuff your face? Good, cuz today’s weird band is gonna put you off your leftovers. You’ve been warned.

The Aesthetic Meat Front is the performance wing of a group called the Asthetic Meat Foundation, which was started right here in Los Angeles by a twisted individual named Louis Fleischauer. The stated aim of the AMF is “ritual against human devolution” or some shit, but really what they mostly seem to be interested in is in coming up with arty, creative ways to do horrible things to themselves in public. If Jigsaw from the Saw movies has a favorite band, it’s these guys.

Now apparently based in Berlin, the AMF like to fill their performances with what Fleishauer calls “human instruments.” This includes some really high-tech gadgetry like homemade EEG machines that turn brain waves into sound—but mostly it just consists of using hooks and needles to wire the performers to various sound generating devices, then yanking the performer’s flesh around and seeing what kind of wacky noises they can generate. Besides cries of pain from the performers and groans of horror from the audience, that is.

Fleischauer’s website has a gallery of some of his more stomach-churning creations. Among our favorites: a microphone inserted under the skin (and then played by essentially mouth-farting onto whatever appendage the performer inserted the mic into—the arm seems to be the most practical) and a “human harp” made by piercing someone’s back with a bunch of wires and then pulling them taut. The AMF MySpace page also mentions something called a “vaginal scissor dance” and honestly, we’re afraid to even ask what that one’s about.

You wouldn’t think the “music”…and yeah, it definitely deserves to be in quotation marks…that comes out of all this would be of much interest to anyone, but you can in fact buy all sorts of Aesthetic Meat Front goodies from A-M-F Records, including something called the Embalmer Tapes that was made entirely from an unauthorized audio recording of an embalming session. Eat your heart out, Matmos!

Anyway, below is a video of Fleschauer and friends getting freaky at something called the Castle Party last year. Don’t worry, it’s not all that disgusting. Just try not to think about the fact that all those metal contraptions they’re wearing have probably been sewn into their skin.

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The Cycologists

It recently came to our attention that a site called Oddee.com posted an article called “10 Weirdest Bands” that not only mentioned three bands we’ve featured here on TWBITW—it actually lifted my copy on Rudely Interrupted and Barnes & Barnes verbatim. The nerve of these people! At first we were going to sic our lawyers on them, but then we remembered: a.) we don’t have lawyers, and b.) we only noticed this in the first place because we got a massive spike of referral traffic from Oddee.com, who were at least nice enough to give us a link back in return for swiping my sparkling prose. So fine, we’ll let it pass. But we do think Gracie Murano’s Twitter bio should be amended to read, “Trolling the Internet for other people’s work and loving it!” “Copy+Paste” does not equal “Writing,” Gracie. Just saying. [Update: She's since changed her name to Grace Murano and apparently been promoted to Editor-in-Chief at Oddee.com. No bad deed goes unrewarded, it would seem.]

But hey, turnabout is fair play, right? So I figured I should take this opportunity to tell you, our loyal readers, about a band we learned about from reading Gracie’s “10 Weirdest Bands” article. (I won’t actually steal her copy, though…if it is her copy. I have my limits.) The band is called The Cycologists (say it out loud, you’ll get it) and it’s the creation of one Linsey Pollak, a kooky Australian dude (yes, another one—wonder if he knows Justice Yeldham?) who makes musical instruments out of bicycle parts. Sometimes he performs with two other musician/cyclists, doing spontaneous outdoor performances like the one in this video that was posted in the Oddee.com article. Other times he performs solo onstage, under the fairly awesome alias of Professor Squealy Deetbum, manipulating various parts of the bike to make percussion, woodwinds, strings and all sorts of other unexpected sounds. It’s all pretty goofy, but the effect can be really cool—especially when he uses spinning spokes and a loop pedal to create a skittering backbeat, which you can check out in the video below.

It’s worth noting that The Cycologists is just one of Pollak’s many projects, and a lot of them are just as weird. He also makes instruments out of other everyday objects like vegetables and condoms, and has a band called Brides of Groove that consists of three guys and a girl wearing wedding dresses and playing woodwinds over cheesy electro beats. I could go on, but really you should just visit the guy’s website, click on the “Current Projects” link, and curse yourself for what a lazy bastard you are. I mean, when was the last time you said to yourself, “You know, six bands just isn’t enough—I think I’ll start a fake Albanian “Balkan kaoss pad electrodance” duo, too”?

Hurra Torpedo

Today’s weird band was suggested by a reader named James Sooy, who does a cool blog called Unsound Music that you should go check out as soon as you’re done reading this. To quote James: “I’m surprised not to already see everyone’s favorite kitchen appliance band, Hurra Torpedo.” Well, to tell you the truth, James, we’re surprised, too. How did we not add these guys to The Weird List sooner? Clearly we’re still learning on the job, folks. Bear with us.

Anyway, for anyone not familiar with the awesomeness that is Hurra Torpedo, it’s simple, really: Three Norwegian guys playing cheesy pop covers (and originals, but mostly they’re famous for the covers) with a combination of guitars and kitchen appliances, including stoves, refrigerators, pots, pans and various other things we can’t quite identify. We’ve never actually seen the inside of a Norwegian kitchen, which puts us at a slight disadvantage here. Oh, one other note: They wear matching tracksuits. Datarock totally style bit these guys.

Hurra Torpedo had their 15 minutes of web fame back in 2005, when somebody uploaded an old TV performance of the band gleefully massacring Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” That clip’s been viewed over a million times, and rightfully so; it’s pretty close to genius, especially when the dude singing backup vocals starts imitating that melodramatic “boom” on the original by attacking his stovetop with what appears to be some sort of Norwegian ice breaking tool. And flashing his pale Norwegian ass because his ill-fitting tracksuit pants start falling down.

We kind of assumed the band was some sort of jokey one-off, but apparently not: That “Total Eclipse” performance supposedly dates from 1995 and the band still performs around Europe to this day, although they haven’t been to the States in a while. That’s a shame, because what the kids in America really need in these troubled times, we think, is to hear Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” played on kitchen appliances. It sure beats the hell out of the “Glee” version.

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The Wet Spots

We were turned on (no pun intended) to today’s weird band by my friend Julia, who knows people in that whole polyamory community—you know, the people we used to called “swingers,” before they decided to develop a whole code of ethics and openness and mutual consent and take all the fun out of sleeping around. (I kid, I kid! Polyamory rocks, if that’s your thing. I can barely handle one intimate relationship at a time, but that’s just me.) Anyway, apparently this duo called The Wet Spots is pretty popular with the poly crowd—as well they should be. I mean, being kinky has always sounded like fun—but rarely has it sounded this totally adorable and non-threatening, too.

The Wet Spots are a husband and wife duo from Vancouver—yes, they’re Canadian, which makes sense given that Canada is easily the most adorable and non-threatening nation in the Western Hemisphere. Before they were the Wet Spots, Cass King was a sex columnist, and John Woods played in punk bands. Now they present themselves as sort of a hotel lounge act that does breezy, jazzy songs about anal sex, fisting, foot fetishes, polyamory and pretty much anything else you can think of that any combination of healthy, open-minded folks might do to get each other off. It’s like Cole Porter meets Penthouse Forum, except the girls get to come more. And the Cole Porter stand-in isn’t wearing any pants.

To get a sense a better sense of The Wet Spots’ unique mix of naughty and nice, there’s a clip of them doing a show at Burning Man in 2008 that’s pretty fun. (You’ll know they’re really at Burning Man about 25 seconds in, when a dude in Mad Max drag walks through the frame looking for a seat.) But to really hear them at their most outrageous, we just had to present the official video for their most famous song, “Do You Take It?” Totally NSFW…and totally adorable. Oh, Canada.

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