I don’t know about you, but after all the shit that went down in April, I could use a little happy action in May. So let’s start the month off on a candy-colored electro-punk note, shall we? Meet Räuberhöhle, the happiest band ever to emerge from Berlin. (Sorry, Einstürzende Neubauten.)
Räuberhöhle, which is German for “Robber’s Cave,” is the brainchild of a tattooed, J-pop-obsessed Kirsten Dunst lookalike called Krawalla Chan. Since 1999, Krawalla has been turning out bleepy, hyper-caffeinated electro-pop over which she sing-shouts like a cross between Kathleen Hanna and an army of rioting Japanese schoolgirls. There are elements of punk, disco, electroclash, chiptune and Japanese synth-pop, none of which would be weird in and of itself, but all of which Krawalla combines in some highly quirky and occasionally brilliant ways. Add to that a live show that often features puppets and a guy in a bear suit (named Bärchin) and you got yourself one unique bundle of ausgezeichnet.
Given Krawalla’s candy-raver/My Little Pony cosplay aesthetic and the fact that many of her songs have titles like “Shake Yr Anus” and “My Heart Bleeps Noisy Beeps,” you’d be forgiven for assuming that Räuberhöhle is just a feelgood party band. But she’s also written an anti-Pope song and has another one titled “The Collective Face Of German Volkszorn” which we’re pretty sure is political even though we’re not actually sure what it’s about. It has lots of spoken-word samples of German people sounding angry, so it must be about something.
Mostly, though, Krawalla writes songs about having fun and feeling good about yourself—especially if you’re a girl or, as she charmingly puts it on her website in broken English, “Gays, women, handicapped. These whole fringe groups… I am down with them as long as the personal level is okay.” Take this awesome video for the song “I’m not part of the shit,” which is all about letting your freak flag fly and not being, well, part of the shit.
But perhaps no video better sums up the fearless wackadoodlery of Räuberhöhle than this clip for “Shake Yr Anus,” in which Krawalla and her furry friends torment mall security and (no, really) fart glitter. Many thanks to reader Irrealidad for sharing this with us a few weeks back. It’s the best thing to happen to anuses since…no, that’s a sentence better left unfinished.
Today’s weird band was brought to our attention by a reader called Hola-Ebola, who is rapidly emerging as our new MVR (Most Valuable Reader). Hola-Ebola (“H to the Ezzo” to his friends) also turned us on to Dirty Sanchez. Truly, H-E, you are a veritable geyser of weirdness.
This band is called Gidropony, which is apparently Russian for “hydroponic”–or so says the one English-language article was could find on this band. That article also notes that the band hails from the small industrial city of Saransk, about 400 miles east of Moscow, in what is apparently the Russian equivalent of the Rust Belt. And there’s definitely something uniquely Russian about Gidropony’s mishmash sound, which mixes the crazy videogame synths of chiptune with elements of punk, electro and drum ‘n’ bass in what sounds like some bored Russian kids’ vague, thirdhand idea of what hipsters in Brooklyn must be listening to. They’re like the aural equivalent of cheap knockoff Levi’s, or that fake version of Donkey Kong you downloaded off BitTorrent that bombs your PC with Russian porn pop-ups.
Gidropony, who appear to be made up of a guy-girl duo plus some additional live musicians, call their sound “discoviolence” (also name of one of their records, which you can actually buy on Amazon) or sometimes just “trash.” Occasionally it’s downright catchy, other times it sounds like someone having a Nintendo-induced seizure. And when they make videos for their songs, they really delve into the pop-culture scrap heap, as they do on this fairly mind-blowing clip. Warning: it gets dirty. And we’re not just saying that to get you to watch to the end.
Several of you good people out there—most recently, our homey James Sooy over at Unsound Music—have suggested that we check out this duo called Gangpol & Mit. Or sometimes it’s Gangpol und Mit—even though we’re pretty sure they’re from France. Anyway, whatever the hell they’re called, we finally decided to fire up some of their videos on YouTube, and man. Meet your new favorite legal high, people. This is some trippy shit.
Gangpol & Mit are actually both musicians and graphic designers, and most of their songs come with nifty cartoon videos that are sort of a cross between that swingin’ ’60s tiki guy Shag and “Itchy & Scratchy” from The Simpsons. They all look totally groovy, baby, but they nearly always end in horrible violence. (That’s actually a pretty good nutshell description of the ’60s in general, come to think of it.)
The music, much like the cartoons, usually has some groovy elements, but it tends to erupt into electro-spazz freakouts and/or 8-bit breakdowns at unexpected moments. Put the two elements together—music and cartoon videos—and madcap hilarity ensues.
It’s impossible to single out just one Gangpol & Mit video as their weirdest, but this suggestion from James Sooy is definitely right up there. Stay with it, it really goes off the deep end at about the one-minute mark.