We rarely post entire album streams on this site, for a variety of reasons: a.) Most of the full album streams on YouTube are of questionable provenance, and we don’t wanna get sued; b.) We have very short attention spans; and c.) Most albums are, let’s face it, not compelling enough to listen to from beginning to end. But The Godz’s 1966 debut, Contact High with the Godz, is too amazing not to share in its entirety. So with apologies to the great ESP-Disk label, which reissues all sorts of great half-forgotten freakery from the ’60s (including the tribal noise pioneers Cromagnon), we present Contact High with the Godz in all its glory. Enjoy!
A bit of backstory as you listen: The Godz emerged from the same underground New York folk-rock scene as The Fugs. They went on to release three more albums before breaking up in 1973, although they did reunite a few times in recent years. As the ESP-Disk website says, “There was no precedent for what they did. The weirdest and most far-out bands around at that time were the Monks and the Mothers of Invention. The first albums of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, and the Grateful Dead all lay in the future.” They also pre-dated Cromagnon and The Shaggs by several years. So whatever you want to call what they’re doing—freak folk, psych-folk, avant noise-rock, proto-punk—they were pretty much inventing it out of whole cloth.
A tip of the hat to reader Lowell Brams for suggesting we do a Godz post. Lowell, incidentally, runs a fantastic label called Asthmatic Kitty that many of you are probably familiar with. If you’re not familiar, please check them out. The new My Brightest Diamond video is especially stunning (not in a weird way, just in a lovely way—think of it as a palette-cleanser after 25 minutes of Godz).
When they’re not heading up their experimental noise project, Nautical Almanac, Twig Harper and Carly Ptak (that’s them in the above photo) run Be Free Floating, a Baltimore company that puts people in those sensory deprivation tanks. Which is ironic, because their music—and some might take exception with calling it “music”—is kind of sensory overload. Weird vocals and noises made on homemade synthesizers scud along the surface of a thick stew of arrhythmic percussion and guitar feedback that doesn’t so much overwhelm you as totally disorient you. After listening to a few hours of it, you could probably use some time in a sensory deprivation tank just to decompress.
Reader The ∞ NSA sent us this clip of a half-hour performance by Harper, Ptak and a third guy (possibly Max Eisenberg?) from back in 2005, which seems to be the last time they released any new music. Since then, Harper’s done some solo stuff and Ptak has gotten into photography. And of course, they help people float. Wish they had an L.A. branch, because I just had a long-ass week.
Most of Nautical Almanac’s catalog is pretty obscure, but they do have one album, Rooting for Microbes, available on Amazon.com.
Today’s weirdness comes to use from reader Jake (not to be confused with TWBITW co-founder Jake, who’s passed out under my desk as I type this). It’s a piece of music featuring a unique and not nearly famous enough instrument called the daxophone, performed by its inventor, a German luthier named Hans Reichel. It sounds a bit like a ballet for frogs, and every time we play it, we can’t stop laughing.
The daxophone works with a combination of contact microphones and friction: a thin piece of wood gets attached to a tripod, and from there, the musician uses a thicker block of wood and a violin bow to change the vibrational frequency of the wooden blade. Think of it as the overachieving offspring of a musical saw and a lap steel guitar. Different blade shapes also produce different tones, and Reichel produced dozens of them, all of which stand as beautiful artworks unto themselves.
Reichel passed away in 2011 at the age of 62, but his daxophone lives on; although he never mass-produced the instrument, he made the plans for it available for free on his website (in the downloads section), so other woodworkers and instrument makers could make their own versions of it.
For some reason, most of the really weird shit people are sending us these days is from North Carolina. Turns out there’s more to the Tarheel State than college hoops and vinegary barbecue.
The latest weirdo from the state that also gave us Your Fuzzy Friends, Surgical Vacations and Weird Band Poll contenders Emily Brontësaurus is a redneck singer-songwriter name of Andy Fenstermaker, who goes by the nom de weird of Andy the Doorbum. Most of Andy’s earlier stuff, as far as we can tell, is more quirky than weird, in sort of a Mountain Goats meets Tom Waits way. But he went off the fucking deep end with his latest video, “Evocation: The Beast of Change,” which we understand is the first track off his coming-soon album The Fool.
P.S. Our thanks to reader Eel for sending the “Evocation” video our way. You haunt our dreams, Eel.
Negativland just issued the best Casey Kasem tribute: a remixable version of their banned classic, “U2″
Anyone of my generation was probably pretty sad to hear about the passing of legendary radio personality (and voice of Shaggy) Casey Kasem this past weekend. Kasem, who hosted the weekly show “American Top 40″ for approximately a million years, will be remembered for many things, including something I’m sure he and his family would rather forget: a profanity-laced outtake directed at U2, who were apparently new on the charts at the time, because Kasem dismisses the famously Irish band with the now-immortal line, “These guys are from England and who gives a shit?”
The rant achieved immortality when it was picked up by the pioneering culture-jamming band Negativland and used on a 1991 EP called (0bviously) U2. Because it sampled U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” without permission, U2 became the subject of a protracted lawsuit (obviously) and was eventually taken out of circulation, but it’s lived on in bootleg form (and, in more recent years, on YouTube) ever since. It’s a kind of cautionary tale, really, about the perils of launching into a profanity-laced tirade anywhere in the vicinity of recording equipment—one that politicians, actors and TV personalities continue to ignore to this day.
Now, to commemorate Kasem’s passing, Negativland have announced that they’re reissuing “U2,” complete with Kasem’s “Who gives a shit?” rant, as a free download. But not just any free download—they’re releasing the multi-track masters, so fans and fellow musicians can remix, re-edit and reinterpret “U2″ however they see fit. You can grab the full download (all 278 MB of it) here. Anyone who produces a new version of the track is encouraged to post it on Negativland’s official website or Facebook page.
Negativland first announced this project on Monday, so the interwebs have already swung into action. We haven’t had a chance to listen to all the remixes yet, but so far this one is our favorite:
Rest in peace, Casey.
It’s not every day someone puts a band on our radar that truly sounds like nothing we’ve ever heard before, but Norway’s Sturle Dagsland is one of those bands. Made up of brothers Sturle and Sjur Dagsland, their music is both primal and ethereal, thanks mainly to the crazy vocalizations of Sturle, who seems to be part elf.
They don’t seem to have released much music yet, but you can hear a bit more via YouTube and SoundCloud. Our thanks to reader Esa for introducing us to them. Definitely a great way to cap off another epic week here at Weird Band HQ.
For “Frozen Fish,” the fifth video from her magnum opus, Fish Drive Edsels, Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin enlisted a famous friend for help: Bill Mumy, aka Art Barnes, one-half of legendary comic rock duo Barnes & Barnes. According to our sources at Petunia’s label, Electric Phantom, the video is a dramatic reenactment of how she and Mumy actually met, when she sent him fan mail wrapped around an actual dead frozen fish in tribute to Barnes & Barnes’ most famous song, “Fish Heads.” While we cannot confirm how much of the story is actually true, it certainly makes for an entertaining video—although we’re glad we’re not watching it in Smell-O-Vision.
Art Barnes isn’t the video’s only cameo: Evil sock puppet Werman, who first appeared in Petunia’s video for “Aquatic Plumbing,” also drops by, as does the (as far as we know) nameless apparition that looks like a hand covered with eyeballs from “Lonely Lady,” which has picked up some mad keyboard skills since we saw it last. At this rate, Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin’s videos are going to rival Pee-wee’s Playhouse when it comes to weird recurring characters.
For those of you keeping score at home: Petunia’s next video should be for the Fish Drive Edsels track “House Plants.” Here’s a taste.
I love boobs and I love barbecue. So reader Miss Hawkline of Man Behind the Curtain just introduced me to what I’m pretty sure is now going to be my all-time favorite song forever. It’s called “Boob-A-Q” and it’s the work of an electronic music terrorist from San Francisco who calls herself Kevin Blechdom. As you can see from the above photo, she is not to be fucked with.
“Boob-A-Q” is from an album called I Love Presets, which features lots more electro-funk-freakouts where that came from. It also features some banjo and self-pleasuring cover art. So yeah, you should fucking get a copy.