We’re starting off the week with a flashback to 1984. While I was listening to The Cars and trying to grow my hair into a New Wave mullet, an experimental British musician who recorded under the name Fad Gadget was working on his latest album Gag in Berlin, continuing his attempts to combine pop and New Wave with industrial music. This time around, he was able to enlist some pretty cool collaborators: German industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten. He was so appreciative of their contributions to one track that he named the song “Collapsing New People,” a nod to the English translation of their name, “Collapsing New Buildings.”
According to Dangerous Minds, this video is from a performance of “Collapsing New People” on a show called TV Playback in 1984. Fad Gadget was famous for dramatic, self-abusive stage antics like ripping out his own pubic hairs and tossing them into the audience. Since this was television, I guess he decided to settle for getting tarred and feathered instead.
The world was a different place back in 2006, the last time Slovenia’s Laibach released a new studio album. The iPhone didn’t exist yet, most folks still had MySpace accounts, and Barack Obama was still just some senator from Illinois with a funny name. Into that more innocent era, Laibach unleashed a mindfuck of a record called Volk, which featured grimly Laibach-ian reinventions of national anthems from American, England, China and other global superpowers. For a band that could make even “The Final Countdown” sound like nationalist propaganda to record actual nationalist propaganda was unnerving, to say the least.
Now Laibach’s back with what sounds like another politically charged record: Spectre, an album of original songs about everything from Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (“The Whistleblowers”) to the Arab Spring (“Koran”). It also contains a song, “No History,” that includes “a mini-‘manifesto’ about the album itself, its sonic expression, and the position of the group in relation to its own history,” according to a press release. So for anyone who’s still not sure whether Laibach is actually a bunch of fascists, or just pretending to a be a bunch of fascists, or appropriating fascist iconography to deliver an anti-fascist message…well, you’ll all probably go on arguing about it, anyway.
Spectre will arrive March 3rd in several different packages, including one that includes a 32-page “Party Book” outlining Laibach’s plans to “form an international Party in order to create a possibility for an organised and synchronised international movement, helping to change the world.” You know, typical fan club stuff. The book and CD and/or vinyl also comes with a Spectre logo sticker bearing the slogan, “Fight for Your Right to Party for Your Right to Fight.” We can only hope this means that a Laibach Beastie Boys cover is not far behind.
Speaking of covers…Spectre includes at least two, available only on the CD version of the album. One is Laibach’s take on “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” a blues standard by Blind Lemon Jefferson. The other is their whips-and-chains rendition of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Love On the Beat,” which we include here (in a bootlegged live version) for your listening pleasure. Industrial is so sexy.
Oh and did we mention tour dates? Of course there are tour dates. Check ‘em out after the clip.
The Spectre of Laibach European Tour:
Mar 06, 2014 CH Luzern – Schüür
Mar 07, 2014 DE Weinheim – Cafe Central
Mar 08, 2014 FR Paris – Trabendo
Mar 10, 2014 BE Leuven – Het Depot
Mar 12, 2014 UK London – Koko
Mar 13, 2014 NL Amsterdam – Melkweg
Mar 14, 2014 DE Köln – Stollwerck
Mar 15, 2014 DE Schorndorf – Manufaktur
Mar 16, 2014 DE München – Technikum
Mar 22, 2014 CN Hong Kong – The Vine
Apr 02, 2014 IT Rome – Orion Club
Apr 03, 2014 IT Trezzo (Milan) – Live Club
Apr 04, 2014 DE Frankfurt am Main – Mousonturm
Apr 05, 2014 DE Dresden -Reithalle
Apr 07, 2014 DE Berlin – Volksbühne
Apr 08, 2014 DE Hamburg- Uebel & Gefährlich
Apr 10, 2014 SE Malmö – Babel
Apr 11, 2014 DE Rostock – Zwischenbau
Apr 12, 2014 PL Poznan – C.K. Zamek
Apr 13, 2014 PL Gdansk – B90
Apr 15, 2014 AT Wien – Arena
Apr 16, 2014 HU Budapest – A38
Apr 17, 2014 CZ Olomouc – Šantovka
Apr 18, 2014 CZ Praha – Archa Theatre
May 09, 2014 HR Zagreb – Tvornica kulture
May 16, 2014 SI Ljubljana – Križanke
So here’s an idea Jake and I came up with after too much eggnog: On Sundays throughout 2014, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite weird things that come in non-band form: blogs, podcasts, magazines, record labels, books, films, radio shows, YouTube channels, visual artists and more. There’s just too much good weird shit out there that deserves more than the occasional retweet.
We’re kicking off this new series with one of our absolute favorites: Bepi Crespan Presents…, a weekly radio show and podcast broadcasting out of Canada on CiTR Radio (also home to legendary radio personality Nardwuar the Human Serviette). Host Bepi Crespan plays a self-described mix of “difficult music, harsh electronics, spoken word, cut-up/collage and general CRESPAN© weirdness.” He favors artists like Merzbow, Cabaret Voltaire, Einstürzende Neubauten, Negativland and Ryoji Ikeda, but also features tons of newer bands and composers who probably don’t get airplay on any other FM radio show in the world. He remains, to the best of our knowledge, the only FM radio DJ to regularly play the twisted art-pop of TWBITW favorites Chimney Crow and Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin, and that alone makes him worthy of a hat-tip in our book.
Crespan broadcasts his show every Sunday morning from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. on CiTR; if you live in the Vancouver area, you can find him at 101.9 FM, and if you live anywhere else, you can livestream his show on CiTR.ca. Past shows are posted in podcast form on the Bepi Crespan Presents… website. So next time you’re in need of a heavy dose of avant-garde noise, give one of his shows a spin. You’re pretty much guaranteed to discover something you’ve never heard before, which is more than we can say for 99.9% of terrestrial radio anymore.
Just to clear up any possible confusion: No, this week’s weird band has nothing to do with Christmas or Santa Claus. Their name is merely a statement of fact because, let’s face it, Santa has never actually given you shit. Spoiler alert: It was your parents the whole time!
Now that we’ve cleared that up: Santa Hates You is a self-described “dark electro” duo from Germany who make industrial-tinged dance music accompanied by goofy/creepy/sexy videos that we can’t seem to stop watching. The goofy part comes from Peter “PS” Spilles, a German singer/producer also known for his electro-industrial group Project Pitchfork. The sexy part comes from Jinxy, an Italian singer about whom we know very little, except that she looks great in red vinyl. They both get in on the creepy part. (Actually, Jinxy gets a little goofy sometimes, too, and I suppose Spilles might be sexy if you’re into cigar-chomping German guys in evil clown makeup.)
Santa Hates You’s graver (goth + raver—yes, that’s actually a thing) music isn’t actually all that weird—honestly, we mostly picked them this week because Christmas falls on a “Weird Wednesday” and they have Santa right there in their name—but they bring a twisted sense of humor to everything they do that’s definitely unique. How many other electro-industrial bands can you name who’ve released a pirate-themed album? With track titles like “Watch Out Motherfucker, I Know Karate“? You can’t, because there aren’t any. Santa Hates You has cornered the market on pirate karate goth electro tracks.
But it’s in their videos that Santa Hates You’s weirdness really shines through—especially thanks to Spilles, who mugs his way through them all like some kind of demented mix of Rammstein‘s Till Lindemann, the Tiger Lillies‘ Martyn Jacques, and Heath Ledger’s Joker. He’s hysterical, in every sense of the word. And yeah, Jinxy’s pretty great, too. And not just because she looks amazing in vinyl. She, too, sells the whole goth/industrial “I’m so evil. And sexy. But mostly EVIL!” thing with a giggle and a wink.
SHY’s latest album, released last year, is called It’s ALIVE! and trades in the pirate theme for more of a classic monster-movie motif. But it’s not all reanimated corpses and vampires. Some of the monsters PS and Jinxy take on are just the religious hypocrites and raging dickheads who watch too much Fox News. Merry Christmas, you fucking scum!
P.S. We almost forgot to give a shout-out to reader Emily Brown for recommending that we plunge into the electro-goth funhouse that is the Santa Hates You oeuvre. Thanks for the early Christmas present, Emily! We love you, even if Santa doesn’t.
Good news for fans Eastern European electro-industrial performance art rock: Laibach have announced the impending arrival of Spectre, their first proper studio album since 2006’s Volk. And this week, you can download three songs off the forthcoming album for free from their website. It’s their gift to you, Laibach fans! Either that, or they’ve secretly been communists this whole time.
A press release from the band’s label, Mute Records, claims that Spectre will be their most overtly political album to date. But based on these three advance tracks, it’s not so much political as observational. On “Eurovision,” for example, Milas Fras growls, “Europe is falling apart”—which is obviously true to anyone who’s been watching the news, but it’s hard to tell whether Milas considers this a tragedy or an awesome excuse to break stuff.
The new EP, called simply S, also features a live cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Love on the Beat.” To hear that track, you gotta buy the whole package. If you just want the free shit, hit the Laibach website before Oct. 21st.
Here’s a trailer for Spectre, which is due out February 2014. Clearly, if Milas has to dance, he doesn’t want to be part of your revolution.
This week we’re adding another band to the Weird List that many of you have been clamoring for: Steven Stapleton’s venerable experimental/industrial/sound collage project, Nurse With Wound. For over three decades, Stapleton and his many collaborators have been producing some of the creepiest (and, on occasion, funniest) music ever to come out of the U.K.—which, considering the Brits also gave us such influential noise mongers as Throbbing Gristle and Current 93, is saying something.
From their very first album, recorded live as a trio in 1978, NWW announced themselves as something completely different. Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella was a jarring mix of squiggly electronics, prog/psych guitar freakouts, primal howls and ominous, ambient noise. Though originally released in a run of just 500 copies, it made quite a splash in the emerging London industrial scene—and not only because of its BDSM cover art.
One of the more interesting aspects of Chance Meeting was the inclusion of the now-legendary Nurse With Wound List, an eclectic, expansive catalog of the band’s many influences, from Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire to Stockhausen and Tangerine Dream—though most of the name-checks were far more obscure than those. A handful of bands on our own Weird List appear, including American rock primitivists Cromagnon and French avant-garde accordionist Ghedalia Tazartes. But overall, I have to admit: When you do a blog like ours, reading through the NWW List is a humbling experience. Clearly we’ve got some catching up to do.
By 1981, founding NWW members John Fothergill and the excellently named Heeman Pathak had left the group, leaving Stapleton to forge ahead as a solo act. Enlisting the help of a live drummer and his friend J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus, Stapleton recorded an album called Insect and Individual Silenced that he himself has since dismissed as “terrible.” Then, after a collaboration with power electronics pioneers Whitehouse (a very bleak and atmospheric record called The 150 Murderous Passions, released with the liner note, “This record may be played at any speed”), Stapleton hit his stride with 1982’s Homotopy to Marie, the album he has since referred to as the first “real” NWW release. Full of tape manipulations and dread, Homotopy became the blueprint for what remains Nurse With Wound’s signature style: abstract, slow-moving, cinematic, occasionally abrasive and even more occasionally terrifying. Depending on your disposition, it’s either music that should only be listened to in the dark—or it’s music you should never listen to in the dark.
As weird as eerie noise epics like “The Schmürz (Unsullied by Suckling)” can get, what really makes Steven Stapleton a world-class weirdo are his twisted and often hilarious spins on mainstream music and pop culture. Take, for example, 1985’s The Sylvie and Babs Hi-Fi Companion, an early experiment in sampling, NWW-style. Yes, that’s really the cover art on the YouTube clip. And yes, this track really is called “You Walrus Hurt the One You Love.”
Over the decades, Stapleton has released more than 40 albums and countless collaborations (with everyone from Current 93 to Sun 0))) to Stereolab), singles, EPs and compilation tracks, all exhaustively cataloged on the Nurse With Wound website and much of it now available via Bandcamp. More recently, he’s brought back a touring version of the band, with a rotating supporting cast that includes longtime collaborators Colin Potter and Diana Rogerson (Stapleton’s wife) along with newer cohorts like sound collage artists Matt Waldron and Andrew Liles.
It would be asinine to try to summarize a career like Stapleton’s with a single video—all the more so because he hasn’t released any “official” Nurse With Wound music videos. (A few short films have used NWW music, including this one, but they’re not music videos in any traditional sense.) But this fan-made clip for the 2008 track “The Bottom Feeder,” using the stop-motion art of Czech filmmaker Jiří Barta, actually does a pretty great job of encapsulating all that is spooky and brilliant about Nurse With Wound’s best work.