We first learned about the pioneering synthesizer work of Doris Norton when we did a post last month about the Italian esoteric prog-rock band Jacula, for whom she played keyboards in the early ’70s. Turns out she went on to create even weirder and more cutting-edge music as a solo artist, always testing the limits of the available technology to create never-before-heard sounds. She even got sponsored by Apple in the early ’80s to create some of the first music produced using personal computers.
Over the course of the ’80s, her music evolved into what we recognize today as synth-pop and early techno. But her first three solo albums, Underground (1980), Parapsycho (1981) and Raptus (1981), featured some of the craziest synth experiments of her time (or any time, for that matter). Among other things, she tinkered with translating biorhythms, brainwaves and “psychic energy” into synthesizer music—hence the title of the track below, “Psychic Research,” from Parapsycho. (It’s not the full track, but since Parapsycho was reissued last year, all unauthorized tracks from that album seem to have been pulled from YouTube.)
Wayne Coyne, all is forgiven. We forgive you for dickishly slagging your recently fired drummer in a lengthy Rolling Stone interview. We forgive you for hanging out with Miley Cyrus. We even forgive you for At War With the Mystics. Because though we had our doubts (boy, did we ever have our doubts) about this Sgt. Pepper tribute album you and the Flaming Lips have been teasing all year, when the full list of collaborators was revealed yesterday, it was guaranteed to raise a smile. Brian Chippendale’s electro-noise project Black Pus on “With a Little Help From My Friends”? Maynard James Keenan and Puscifer on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”? Julianna Barwick and Phantogram on “She’s Leaving Home”? Count us in!
Even the non-weird collaborators listed on With a Little Help From My Fwends (as they’re calling the whole shebang) are, for the most part, pretty solid. My Morning Jacket and Dinosaur, Jr. main man J. Mascis should give “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” a welcome heavy-psych kick in the pants. The combination of retro-rockers Dr. Dog, rapper Chuck Inglish and lo-fi psych-rocker Morgan Delt on “Getting Better” is intriguing, to say the least. Tegan and Sara are a bit shrill for my taste, but presumably they’ll turn “Lovely Rita” into a lesbian folk-pop ditty, so that’s cool. I’m even prepared to hear Moby and Miley Cyrus’s work on “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” with an open mind, so long as Miley doesn’t get too carried away with any melismatic bullshit and Moby doesn’t transpose the whole thing into a major key and try to make it sound like a sunrise yoga class at Burning Man.
The whole thing is due out Oct. 28th and will benefit the Bella Foundation, which helps struggling pet owners pay their vet bills.
The complete list of tracks and collaborators are below, right after this version of “Fixing a Hole” by Lips side projects Electric Würms. Sounds like that hole still needs some work, guys!
The Flaming Lips 2014: With a Little Help From My Fwends tracklist:
01 My Morning Jacket, J. Mascis, Fever the Ghost: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
02 The Flaming Lips, Black Pus, the Autumn Defense : “With a Little Help From My Friends”
03 The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus, Moby: “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”
04 Dr. Dog, Chuck Inglish, Morgan Delt: “Getting Better”
05 Electric Würms: “Fixing A Hole”
06 Phantogram, Julianna Barwick, Spaceface: “She’s Leaving Home”
07 The Flaming Lips, Maynard James Keenan, Puscifer, Sunbears!: “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
08 The Flaming Lips, Birdflower, Morgan Delt: “Within You Without You”
09 The Flaming Lips, Def Rain, Pitchwafuzz: “When I’m Sixty-Four”
10 Tegan and Sara and Stardeath & White Dwarfs: “Lovely Rita”
11 Zorch, Grace Potter, Treasure Mammal: “Good Morning Good Morning”
12 Foxygen and MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
13 The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus, New Fumes: “A Day In The Life”
We’re journeying to rainy old Manchester, England today, where a pair of brothers, Peter and Edward Simpson, are channeling early ’80s post-punk/darkwave/synth-rock gloom under the name Circuit Breaker. For fans of Suicide or any Joy Division song that isn’t “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” their stuff isn’t super-weird, but it does take some unexpected twists and turns, especially on “Worm 7,” an almost black-metal-like dirge from their most recent release, a five-song EP called TV12.
Back in late June, we got to interview our current No. 1 Weirdest (One-Man) Band in the World, Dr. Reecard Farché, better known to his penis-loving minions as Anklepants. Reecard—or, more accurately, the man behind Reecard/Anklepants, Josh Head—chatted with us for over an hour from his home in Berlin about everything from how he got interested in animatronics to why the Berlin music scene kinda sucks right now.
The interview was originally conducted as part of an article I wrote about breakcore for Insomniac.com, an electronic music site run by the folks behind such massive EDM festivals as Electric Daisy Carnival. But only a few Anklepants quotes made it into that piece, so I decided to transcribe the whole thing (well, most of it, anyway—an hour-long interview adds up to a LOT of words) and post it here so you weirdos could learn more about the man behind the mask.
We began by talking about what was, back in June, still the hottest Anklepants-related topic of conversation: his mind-blowing live set for the Boiler Room DJ video series.
Weirdest Band: I don’t know what to call you: Josh? Reecard?
Anklepants: Josh. I don’t know who that other guy is, really. He’s certainly not here now.
WB: So let’s talk about that Boiler Room set. It got quite the response when it first came out.
A: Yeah, man, it’s completely nuts. In that first period, it was just ridiculous. I was getting emails every five seconds…it was just streaming in. It’s been less ridiculous since then, which is good. It’s hilarious to see what people write now that it’s getting more mainstream coverage.
My voice was completely fucked at that gig. That was my seventh show in a row, and I blew it out like three nights before that. I really fucked it up. And then I smoked a cigarette. I don’t smoke often, but sometimes when I drink, I smoke. I smoked one cigarette and my voice was fucked. I couldn’t even really talk before that gig—so that’s how much I was straining my voice.
WB: When you booked the Boiler Room show, did you have any inkling that it was going to be such a big deal?
A: No, I knew that would happen. It’s got the biggest captive audience for something of that nature, with people who are completely sedated by the DJ standing there playing tracks. That’s the thing it’s brought to my attention: I didn’t really realize how many people have been born into the world where DJing is the normal for music. People still think I’m DJing. I’m not DJing. People still don’t understand what I’m doing. You’ve never seen bands? People manipulating machines? Some of the haters’ comments are just so stupid: “I’ve never seen someone doing that on the decks.” There’s no fucking decks. There’s nothing like that. And they think that I’m just singing over the track for the hell of it or something. They don’t realize that it’s my music.
So I’m definitely not DJing. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, really. With the equipment that I use, there’s definitely no name for it, because it doesn’t exist [outside of my shows].
A: Usually when I play it’s completely fucking rammed and people aren’t afraid of it. Probably since the Arte thing, that interview…
A: Yeah, it’s Germany and France. I don’t know if you know of this thing, but it’s the biggest arts show in Europe, really. It’s on mainstream, pay TV. So after that, my next few shows sold out straight up—in Germany, in Switzerland. They were fucking packed.
I can cum with the mask now. And at lots of gigs I’ve got guys and girls just lining up for me to cum on them. I’m not exaggerating. This happens all the fucking time. This Boiler Room gig is the first gig where you would see people standing like this in over a year. It’s usually people jumping up trying to grab me.
WB: So wait, the mask shoots liquid now?
A: Yeah, yeah, it has for quite a long time. It’s hard to see. There’s some photos where you can see when it’s fluoro coming out, because I put like glowstick fluid in there. It’s a button on the microphone I can just press at any time. There’s a small pump and a small tank. But anyway, this is the thing: People go crazy normally. This is why it kind of annoyed me. I was like, “Fuck, come on.” It was just a shame that when it finally gets a lot of coverage, it looks like people are scared. I think a lot of people thought that was the first gig, or normally I do something else. But it’s been happening for five years.
WB: Was the jester outfit new?
A: I’ve worn it on and off for awhile. But I wore it that whole tour. The black one is really, really hot. It kills me. It’s so nasty. I see stars easily five times a show when I wear that. I mean, I do anyway most of the time, because it’s so hot.
WB: In the mask?
A: Yeah. When I have the black [costume] on, the only thing exposed to the air is my eyes and my hands and my mouth. It does up really tight around my neck. Which I could loosen up, but I like that suit because you can’t see any skin. So the illusion of the head being my head looks a bit better from a distance. But it gets so hot. The pants come up to my armpits and it’s all wool. So when the jacket’s on, there’s two layers of wool around my chest. So yeah, I’m completely drenched and the suit is completely wet by the end. It takes days for it to dry out.
WB: Did the music for Anklepants come first, and then you designed the mask? Or did it start with the mask?
A: Well, the mask was originally an idea for this stupid porn film me and my friend came up with. It was these two characters driving around space in a beat-up old spaceship, beaming girls up from different places and seducing them on the spaceship and having weird orgy parties. I mean, we still might make this film. But this is where the character came from. And at the time, I was making a lot of music with a friend. I was in bands with him and also making lots of electronic music with him. And I was like, “Hang on, maybe we should use this as a character for a music project.” ‘Cause I was already using the bear. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this teddy bear that I used to use? There’s videos of it around.
WB: No, I don’t think so.
A: The first animatronic thing I ever used at a gig was an animatronic teddy bear, which straps around my upper torso—and that goes with a whole different music. There are some Anklepants releases that are called Le Bear, but eventually it will be a separate thing. It was a pretty shit animatronic, but the new one is gonna be crazy. So yeah, that was the first one, and then I was like, “Well, there’s this penis character, maybe we should use this.” And at the time, we were making a lot of really slow, strange techno. There’s a handful of tracks that are from that but I don’t ever really play them. But it was like 110 BPM and really slow, and I dunno, I don’t even know how to explain it.
WB: Just slowed down techno?
A: Yeah, but this really kinda wonky thing with these really sleazy-sounding vocals, all pitched down. Just stupid, weird, joke kind of tracks. And I was like, “Well, that character would fit perfectly. The dicks would be moving in time.” Because at first, there was two of them.
WB: That’s right, I’ve seen some of those where you have a dancer in a mask, as well.
A: No, that’s a different one. The very first gig was two of us singing and two of us operating machines. So there were two animatronic cocks like in time, doing all different moves like synchronized. It just looks hilarious when they’re moving together. That was the first gig, but after that, he never wanted to play again. I don’t know what it was—he never said. He was kind of my best friend but he’s pretty weird with communication. I haven’t spoken to him in like a year now. Though I haven’t been back to Australia in five years, mind you. I’m going back soon and I’ll see him. But anyway, it was definitely a different idea at first and then—I mean, the music existed way before the cock face.
When I first worked on films and saw animatronics being built and started to learn a bit about the control systems and realized I already knew a bit about the electronics already, because I was really into radio-controlled cars and shit like that. I used to race them. So I was like, “Hang on, I can kind of understand this.” And I always wanted to do animatronics. I used to ask the electronic engineers questions. And then I found out a lot of the old animatronics were MIDI sequenced and I was like, OK.
The systems I use are far superior to [film work animatronics] now, as well. It’s kind of overtaken what I was first trying to emulate. Because you can’t manipulate audio when you’re programming for films. You can’t slow it down very easily with the systems they use. And they’re so expensive. What they pay a hundred grand for I can build for like 200 Euros.
WB: Would you ever want to get back into doing animatronics for film?
A: Oh, I still do. I’m doing two film jobs at the moment. But it’s not the same as if I was in Australia working for the same people—or being in the U.K. When I was in the U.K., it was just non-stop. But in Germany, it’s not as often and it’s not as much money.
WB: But it sounds like you’re too busy now with Anklepants anyway.
A: But it’s been like this. I’ve been gigging most weekends since I’ve been in Europe, since 2010. There haven’t been many months I haven’t played at least one gig in another country. This is the thing that’s hard to notice from the outside. I mean, yeah, it’s getting more popular in Europe, but at the same time, I think most of the coverage at the moment is from America and Australia. In Europe, I’ve played in most places multiple, multiple times.
A lot of the traffic I’m getting at the moment is from America. I think it’s the biggest surprise for America. I dunno—it’s not that strange. Fucking weird shit goes on in Europe all the time. I mean, yeah, it’s a robot dick face. But the music is not that weird. I could go out right now and 100 meters from my house, I bet you there’s something more obscure going on.
WB: How would you describe your music these days?
A: The newest stuff, the next Anklepants music is going into different microtonal ideas and more ethnic scales, different tunings, and more acoustic instruments, custom-built things. Really different. But I dunno, it’s parodying different things, critiquing things. A lot of different people might like different bits of it, and then maybe realize that they shouldn’t be so concerned about what’s good or bad about it.
I don’t think anything I do is that strange at all. And nothing is new. Animatronics is from the fucking ‘60s. Everything I use is old. Even the technology—it might be new combinations of things, but the sensors and stuff have been around for fucking ages. So it’s just mixing all different things together.
WB: As a writer, I find “breakcore” useful to describe your music. But it’s also a bit arbitrary. I’ve heard Otto Von Schirach’s music described as breakcore, Venetian Snares, your stuff. But really, if you put all three of you side by side, your music is pretty different.
A: Yeah, if it’s got breakbeats in it that are sped up and chopped up—I mean, I do have some songs that have this.
WB: Yeah, like “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick”…
A: Yeah, of course, but this is about the generic breakcore scene in Sydney. I was involved in this scene a bit when I first started Anklepants. I did listen to [breakcore] but I was really just fascinated with the technicality of it. I was never into chopping up pop tracks and speeding them up. That infuriates me, to be honest. Not many things infuriate me, but when people just get a Britney Spears song and speed it up and put a distorted gabber kick under it…this just infuriates me. It’s literally just turning a knob.
This is where society’s getting so fucking lazy. I’ve met people who do this stuff and some of the attitudes are just unbelievable. They think they’re crazy and wild. But I’ve had quite a few of them tell me what I should change. It’s pretty weird. They’re supposed to be rebels that don’t care about what anyone else does. But then—this is when I [came up with] this stupid thing, the übergrunde, a direct inversion of the mainstream. All they’re doing is the exact same thing. They have their own clique. They’re the same. So this kind of breakcore—I just think it’s stupid.
WB: So when you do a track like “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick,” it’s a parody of that scene?
A: Yeah, the lyrics are, “When I come to the bowels of the party, I really like to look at your dick at the party.” It’s just saying, when I go to the shittiest party—and it’s all guys, mind you—we just look at each other’s dicks. That’s what the lyrics are. They’re so stupid, but I just made them one day when I was so pissed off after I played one those gigs, with these assholes who pride themselves on being so completely open, and then you play their gig and they just give you a bunch of attitude and tell you what you should change in your music.
WB: What have they said you should change?
A: “It’s good but after you see it’s a dick, it’s like, whatever.” People just always try and put shit on it, because usually, what the problem is, if I play a gig with them, no one fucking watches them, they watch me. This is obviously the problem. It’s a weird thing with Anklepants, because obviously some people might not want to look at it, or they want to see the funny side. But a lot of the time, all people want to talk about is the dick face. They forget there’s even music there. And if they talk about the music, they just say it’s horrible.
But then there’s the other kind of breakcore I got interested in because of different kinds of software. For me, when it comes to anything you might call breakcore—this fast, heavily programmed music—it’s just the technical side I’m interested in, really. There’s just so many techniques trying to create contrast between different hits, different notes. The more contrast there is, the more your brain is being triggered that it’s a new thing that it’s hearing. This part of it I’m really interested in: tricking the brain, so when you’re listening to it, your brain feels like it’s constantly being shown something new. I like hearing all the techniques and people using all different hardware and software all mixed together. It’s still kind of exciting. And it’s like a challenge as well, because you have to use a lot of tricks with production to make all the sounds come through in the mix. It’s kind of like a weird jigsaw puzzle, and it’s kind of like a game, and it’s kind of problem solving.
WB: I think that’s what interests me about it, as well. Just the production skills involved with something like what Igorrr does, for example, taking classical and metal and breakbeats and stitching it all together….
A: I mean, Otto and Venetian Snares, those guys, they’ve been doing it way longer than me. I was playing in bands and stuff for a long time. I’ve played guitar since I was nine. Jazz theory and all kinds of stuff. I was doing that and I suppose they were making electronic music. I’ve been making electronic music for probably 15 years, but Anklepants is only since 2008. I was into all kinds of music, but a lot of metal when I was younger. I really only ever got into electronic music to add it to a band. Anklepants will be a band eventually. Not this new thing—Clock_yange is like a one-off thing. Anklepants will be a full band that’s got all these crazy instruments and all kinds of things going on.
WB: Is that the goal with something like the face-tar?
A: Yeah, and as soon as I start getting big enough bookings, where I can afford to have other people…the first person I want to bring in is a drummer. I’ve always wanted to use this guy in Australia who I’ve played in two bands with. And he’ll be using a mixture of conventional rock drums, but also triggered and strange electronic percussion, weird instruments that are electronic and acoustic and moving, as well. And he’ll have some character. But yeah, the main focus is to get the guitar built. Although that instrument is based on a guitar, it’s gonna have a lot of sensors and things.
I used to manipulate the music a lot more, especially arrangement-wise, before I had the wireless microphone. When I built that microphone, it started to be more about the microphone vocal manipulation. When the guitar comes, the music will be as manipulated as the voice. When it joins together, everything’s just gonna be way more free.
As we take the plunge back into the Monday-Friday workweek grind, let’s all take a moment to remember that, no matter how boring and demeaning our day jobs may be, we are not robots. We are lions!
This heartwarming tale of feline/machine bonding comes to us courtesy of reader Marco, who shared it on our Facebook page. The duo behind it is a German (by way of Australia) brother-sister act called Die Roten Punkte, which apparently means The Red Dots in German. You can learn more about them on their website.
September Weird Band Poll: Vote for The Artsy Chicks, Can Can Heads, L.A.Drones!, Shibboleth, The Velveteen, or WE
This is our biggest Weird Band Poll™ yet, people! No, it literally is. We usually only have four or five bands and this month we’ve got six. We like to keep you on your toes.
Here’s the dealio (don’t you hate when people say “dealio”?): Voting ends midnight Pacific time on Sunday, Sept. 14. The winner of the poll will be named our Weird Band of the Week starting on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Don’t cheat and vote multiple times, for fuck’s sake. It’s not like there’s some cash prize at stake. Save your cheating for more important shit, like marriage and taxes.
[Sorry, this poll has closed. Check back here Wednesday, when the winner will be revealed. And bookmark this page to partake of future polls. We do a new one every month(ish).]
For more on this month’s bands, read on:
The Artsy Chicks
There are zero chicks in the Artsy Chicks, so the name is kinda false advertising. But their music is pretty freaky, so we’ll let it slide. They’re a five-piece from Montreal and they do everything from free-form jazz-rock experimentation to finger-poppin’ surf rock. Here’s a link to the weirder of their two albums, Kwoto Zeetrus, and here’s their less weird album, which is more surf-inspired but still has some nice, skronky sax.
Can Can Heads
Another crazy quintet with some wailing sax, this time from Finland. Can Can Heads describe themselves as “violent music with a gentle heart.” If that’s a little too vague for you, they also say they’re “heavily influenced by No Wave, Skronk, Free Jazz, Hardcore Punk, all things noisy.” Most of their songs seem to be under two minutes long, except one seven-minute joint called “The Great Depression,” which makes sense, because that actual Great Depression lasted for-fucking-ever, as my granddaddy was fond of pointing out. Here’s a link to their latest album, Butter Life, and here’s something that looks like an agriculture instructional video but is actually a clip for their song “Breakdiscodance.”
L.A.Drones are a duo from right here in Los Angeles, which probably explains the exclamation point in their name. Us L.A. folks tend to get very excited about ourselves. Their name is a play on the Spanish word “Ladrones,” which means “thieves,” because much of their music is made up of samples stolen from other songs. Not that my Spanish is that good…pretty much all I know how to say is “Mas cerveza, por favor,” but that’s what L.A.Drones! tell us their name means. Being thieves, they wear masks. They list their influences as “Electro, KrautRock, Dub, Acid, Space, Noise.” Here’s their Facebook page and here’s a live video of them performing the song “Horrible Dreams.”
Shibboleth are a trio from Ireland that call their music “experimental dark-ambient,” which sounds about right. Sometimes it almost sounds like doom metal, other times it’s like weird, lo-fi Goth rock with banjos. We don’t know much else about them…they just emailed us with a few links and said, “We think we’re pretty weird.” Agreed, fellas. Here’s their EP Farewell on Bandcamp and here’s a zero-budget but pretty creepy video for their song “The Cannibal’s Standpoint.”
The Velveteen are also from right here in Southern California, but up the road a ways in Ventura, which is like a sleepier version of L.A. with less movie stars and more surfers. They’re a four-piece, assuming you count their puppet Fum, which you totally should because he’s the lead singer. They’re named after their guitarist/trumpet-playing rabbit, Baron Von Velveteen, who also plays bass in another weird band called Cirque Noir, and also have a keyboard/melodica player named Professor Z and a drummer named Christopher Coyle, who really needs to step up his game and come up with a wacky alter ego if he’s gonna be part of this band. Oh, and I guess they just added another puppet named Foe, so maybe they’re a five-piece now. They’re pretty new on the scene, having just played their first gig this past May. Here’s a live clip, and here’s their website.
You might call England’s WE a high-concept band. They take famous pop songs and do robotic electro-pop covers on them in which they replace the word “I” with the word “We.” That’s it. That’s literally the only thing they do. According to their website, “WE translate the monstrous, violent, and traumatic, revolutionary process of the abolition of identity into pluralized pop.” If you say so, dudes! Get in on all the pluralized pop action on their SoundCloud page, where you can hear such “We”-ified classics as “WE Want to Hold Your Hand,” “WE Kissed a Girl” and “(WE Will Be Your) Father Figure.”
So there you have it. Remember to cast your vote before midnight Sunday, Sept. 14, and may the weirdest band win.
In less than three weeks, we’ll finally get to hear Syro, the first new album of Aphex Twin material from electronica demigod Richard D. James in 13 years. But for us impatient types (read: every single Aphex Twin fan on the planet), the enigmatic producer gave us an early treat today: a YouTube stream of Syro‘s first track. “minipops 67 [120.2][sourcefield mix]” is a deliciously sexy slab of old-school breaks and ambient techno, with vocoder vocals and what sounds like a combination of vintage synths and 808s. It’s maybe not the most ground-breaking thing James has ever released, but it’s atmospheric and, to no one’s surprise, impeccably produced.
We meant to tell you all about a series of Syro listening parties happening all over Europe and North America starting tomorrow, but apparently you had to RSVP to them by last Tuesday. Oops. Instead, you’ll just have to settle for the Syro track list. We’re not sure what the numbers mean; presumably they’re part of some system James has for cataloging unreleased material, but it’s hard to say. Could he really have 163 unreleased songs? He did claim a few years ago that he was sitting on at least six albums’ worth of new material, so it’s possible. [Update: Astute reader friendsound points out that "minipops 67" is at a tempo of 120.2 BPM, so that's actually what the numbers refer to. Mystery solved!]
01. minipops 67 [120.2][sourcefield mix]
02. XMAS_EVET10 [thanaton3 mix]
03. produk 29 
04. 4 bit 9d api+e+6 [126.26]
05. 180db_ 
06. CIRCLONT6A [141.98][syrobonkus mix]
07. fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]
08. CIRCLONT14 [152.97][shrymoming mix]
09. syro u473t8+e [141.98][piezoluminescence mix]
10. PAPAT4 [pineal mix]
11. s950tx16wasr10 [163.97][earth portal mix]
12. aisatsana 
Syro arrives Sept. 23rd in the U.S. (Sept. 22nd everywhere else) on Warp Records. You can pre-order it here.
This week’s band is usually described as “math rock,” a style Jake and I have bagged on in the past, partially out of sheer ignorance (back in 2010, we tagged Little Women as a math rock band…um, no), partially because, let’s face it, there are a lot of crappy math rock bands out there. Start-stop tempos and unconventional time signatures, in and of themselves, don’t make guitar-based music interesting, or even all that weird—but our inbox overflows with such dreck on an almost daily basis. So to all you struggling young math rock bands out there, we say: Study the catalog of Tera Melos, and then get back to us. If you can make music half as challenging and (here’s the important part) fucking fun as these guys, we and all the other jaded hipster music blogs might actually start paying attention to you.
Guitarist Nick Reinhart and bassist Nathan Latona started Tera Melos in Sacramento, California in 2004. Initially they were an instrumental quartet, with guitarist Jeff Worms and drummer Vince Rogers, although Worms quit pretty soon after the band started. Their debut album was an untitled collection of eight untitled songs, just labeled “Melody 1,” “Melody 2″ and so on—which was a bit ironic, given that most of the tracks were not so much melodies as kaleidoscopic explosions of processed guitar churning over insanely intricate drum patterns and basslines.
The band’s second full-length album, 2010’s Patagonian Rats, marked a major leap forward. Reinhart had occasionally contributed vocals in the past, but now he was a full-fledged lead singer, and new drummer John Clardy was every bit as technically precise as Vince Rogers but could lay down the occasional in-the-pocket groove. Now Tera Melos sounded like something new: a flashy, complex math-rock band with a fondness for melody and atmosphere, sort of halfway between two of their tourmates, Dillinger Escape Plan and Minus the Bear.
It was also around this time that Reinhart emerged as a bona fide math rock guitar god, with a unique way of using pedal boards to extract maximum sonic impact from his instrument. If you can stomach the host of this video and his relentless ass-kissing, some of the tricks Reinhart demonstrates are pretty impressive. This live in-studio performance gives an even better idea of his guitar/pedal wizardry:
But at the end of the day, it’s not Tera Melos’ math rock chops (or even their refreshing sense of humor about the genre, as seen in the banner art at the top of our site this week) that earn them Weird Band of the Week honors. What really puts them over the top are their music videos, which are nearly always amazing. Here’s “The Skin Surf” from Patagonian Rats, in which they engage in a bit of crustacean osculation while dressed up like the world’s lamest Weezer cover band:
And here’s “Weird Circles” from their latest album, last year’s X’ed Out. Who’s hungry for some Yum cereal?
But their crowning video achievement to date has to be “Bite,” also from X’ed Out, in which music and visuals merge into some kind of overlapping Battles/Primus/Kyary Pamyu Pamyu hallucination. By the way: It’s worth noting that all of these videos were directed by the same guy, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker named Behn Fannin who is clearly some kind of dark, twisted genius.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t once again thank the reader who turned us on to Tera Melos, matp662. I bet matp1 thru matp661 put together are still less cool than you, sir!
Update: Right when we make Tera Melos our Weird Band of the Week, they drop yet another crazy video! Please to enjoy their fresh-pressed latest, “Sunburn”: