I’ve just started reading Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, author Simon Reynolds’ very convincing argument for considering the six years following the breakup of The Sex Pistols to be among the most wildly creative in pop music history. I’m only a few chapters in, but already it’s reacquainted me with, or introduced me to, a slew of fantastic music from that era that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
I’d put The Normal in that overlooked category. Although it’s certainly a project familiar to anyone who grew up in the U.K. in those years, or went to industrial and EBM clubs in the ’80s, most younger fans have probably never heard of Daniel Miller’s post-Kraftwerk experiment in clinically stark electronic music—in part, because Miller only put out two songs as The Normal, before he got more interested in releasing other artists through his label, the influential (and still going strong) Mute Records.
Both of The Normal’s two songs are pretty weird. “T.V.O.D.” is all about sticking TV antennas into your veins, but “Warm Leatherette,” inspired by the J.G. Ballard novel Crash, is about fucking someone who’s just been in a car crash right before they die. So just in terms of creep factor, “Warm Leatherette” wins. There’s also something about its electro-shock synths that still sounds futuristic, even after four decades (it was released in 1978).
A reader from Russia named Lianna sent us this amazing animated video for a song called “Das Produkt” by the Russian Goth/industrial band Teatr Yada, whose name translates to ‘Theater of Poison.” We couldn’t find much information about them, but apparently their lead singer Yan Nikitin died of a drug overdose a couple of years ago. Which is too bad, because based on “Das Produkt” and a few live clips floating around YouTube, he was a talented singer and his band had an arrestingly creepy sound.
Besides the music, the other star of “Das Produkt,” obviously, is the animation, which is the work of a very talented Russian artist/filmmaker called Kol-Belov. If you have an hour to kill, we highly recommend deep-diving into his website.
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.
We were catching up over the weekend on some old shows by our friend Bepi Crespan, CiTR-FM Vancouver’s leading weird music deejay, and were immediately intrigued by the playful electronic soundscapes of Moebius Neumeier Engler, an improvised collaboration between pioneering German/Swiss electronic music composer Dieter Moebius, jazz/krautrock drummer Mani Neumeier and industrial rock icon Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps. Unfortunately, you can only hear snippets online of their brand-new album, Another Other Places, but its 1996 predecessor, Other Places, has a few tracks streaming on YouTube. Here’s one of the more ominous numbers, a mix of industrial stomp and swarm-of-bees synths called “Anabolica”:
For more on Moebius Neumeier Engler, visit their label site, Bureau B.
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.