I have to start off by thanking the guy who wrote us up on Metafilter last week, a website that apparently has the magical power to make even a half-assed music blog like ours more popular than catbeard photos. So thanks, narain! Hopefully by the time we post this, you and all the other Metafilterlings won’t have lost interest and moved on in search of…well, catbeard photos, probably. That shit is all the rage these days.
The Metafilter crowd suggested a ton of potential new Weird List fodder that Andy and I are still sifting through, but we wanted to jump right on at least one band submitted by all you highly opinionated newcomers. After much debate, we decided to go with symbioid‘s pick of glitch/noise outfit Computer Jesus Refrigerator, because we liked the name and their videos reminded me of when I used to scarf like 10 Pixy Stix all at once and spin around on the front lawn until it looked like the hedges were attacking me sideways. Yeah, I was basically the Gary Busey of my third grade class.
We don’t know a whole hell of a lot about Computer Jesus Refrigerator. They seem to be from Texas, but we’re not sure what part. This WFMU post says they’re from Austin, but their Bandcamp page is tagged San Antonio and their YouTube channel says they’re from Antarctica, which I assume is a joke but could also be an actual town in Texas for all I know. Maybe next to this one.
CJR is mostly the work of one dude named Michael Vasquez, who also goes by the name of KOKOFREAKBEAN. He likes to call his stuff “tonk honky,” which is as good a name for it as any. He plays drums, keyboards and samplers and also does all the project’s artwork, some of which is fucking amazing. He also designs the band’s costumes, which kind of look like his artwork come to life, in a very Caroliner kid’s-coloring-book-on-acid sorta way. Not sure if all CJR shows feature Vasquez on drums and another person on keyboards, but here’s a show from 2009 that does just that. I particularly like the way he yells at the audience in what sounds like a cross between Spanish, Swahili and Sullustese.
As mind-bending as that was, the videos Vasquez makes for CJR’s little 30-to-90-second bursts of glitchcore are even more extreme. Here’s our favorite.
As if all that weren’t enough, KOKOFREAKBEAN also makes disgusting little video shorts for Funny or Die. If you’re at work, don’t click that link. Guess I probably shoulda told you that in advance, huh?
Listen, we all already knew that Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale was one crazy motherfucker, but he just keeps out-freaking himself with this Black Pus project. The music, which is mostly just Chippendale wailing away on larger-than-life drums, looped-to-death vocals and swarm-of-bees synths, is crazy enough all by itself. But now he has to go and add the kind of visual accompaniment that has me creeping around on all fours to find the gremlins that dosed my nightcap. Yes, I just watched this video five times in a row and I am now actually hallucinating. Either that or my socks really are full of ants. Nah, let’s assume I’m hallucinating.
Anyway, the video is for the chanty/ranty track “Hear No Evil” and you can watch it below. You can also read all about Brian’s unlikely trip to an avant-garde drumming workshop in the United Arab Emirates. Even without the peyote-punk videos, the man leads a pretty interesting life.
Bonus Pus nugget: Chippendale is taking his Black Pus show on the road in May. In case you missed ‘em the first time, you can read all the dates here.
Good news from the Land of Skronk: jazz/noise quartet Little Women is releasing their first album of new material in three years this Tuesday, April 9th. It’s called Lung, which makes sense given that their previous album was called Throat and the one before that was Teeth. We can only assume they’re gearing up to release Bowel in 2016.
Lung features a single, 42-minute composition recorded by the band—saxophonists Travis Laplante and Darius Jones, guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary—in a single take. We’ll let them describe the rest:
The main themes/forms of Lung all have the shape of a downfall of something beautiful. We were working with a Shakespearian form from its conception. The main themes that developed organically throughout the process of creating Lung are: the life and death of humans, the inhale and the exhale, the death of earth (both seasonally and ultimately). These themes exist and are encompassed on both the microcosmic and macrocosmic level, meaning they exist simultaneously inside every sound, every phrase, every section, and the entire piece.
Got all that? Roughly translated, based on the sound clips we just listened to on their label’s website, this seems to mean something like: We’re going to use our saxophones to rip your face off and show it to you before you die.
Lung will be available via Little Women’s label, AUM Fidelity, on CD and as an MP3 download. They’re not releasing it on vinyl because, according to the AUM website, “this composition was created to be listened to in its entirety, and LPs require an interruption.” So there.
If you happen to live in the band’s hometown, New York City, you can let Little Women rip your face off in person at the 92YTribeca on April 20th. Tickets and more information here.
Fuckin’ Pitchfork, man. First they scooped us like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s with Matmos, now they’re the first kids on the block to stream the new Wolf Eyes album. Hey, Pitchfork guys: Weird bands are our thing! Isn’t there a new Fleet Foxes song you can go jizz yourselves over or something?
But hey, whatever, it’s cool. At least someone is giving us all a chance to purge our brains of all that Easter family time with some good, creepy, lo-fi Michigan basement avant-noise rawk. Compared to listening to my Aunt Phyllis complain about gay marriage, hearing Wolf Eyes’ dentist-drill racket is like a chorus of Marshmallow Peeps gently singing me to sleep.
Anyway, the new album is called No Answer: Lower Floors and you can stream the whole thing here. It comes out April 9th on De Stijl Records and I think it’s the first album since 2004′s Burned Mind to feature sorta-founding member Aaron Dilloway. But I don’t have the attention span to keep track of their whole catalog, so don’t quote me on that.
You want a track list? Boom. You got a track list. We may not stream whole albums yet, but we’re still goddamn informative.
1. Choking Files
2. Born Liar
3. No Answer
4. Chattering Lead
5. Confessions of the Informer
6. Warning Sign
“Confessions of the Informer” is the best of the bunch, despite being 12 fucking minutes long. You listening, Army of Gay Unicorns?
When he’s not pummeling audiences into submission as the drummer for Lightning Bolt, Brian Chippendale is pummeling audiences into submission as the one-man wrecking crew called Black Pus. Black Pus mostly sounds like Lightning Bolt, except bassist Brian Gibson is replaced by various electronics and oscillators and other shit I don’t really claim to understand. It’s technology, people! Technology in the service of making enough noise to cause your brain to start leaking out your ears in a thick, gummy discharge.
The latest Black Pus record, All My Relations, is due out March 19th on Thrill Jockey Records and judging from lead track “1000 Years,” it’s going to be a fucking beast. It’s also apparently the first time Chippendale has recorded a full album in a regular ol’ recording studio with other dudes doing the producing and recording and whatnot. Before all you D.I.Y. punk purists start crying “sellout,” fire up “1000 Years” below and tell me it doesn’t sound like Chippendale beat that studio till it called him Daddy. (If you can’t see the Soundcloud player, click here.)
Later this spring, Chippendale’s taking his Black Pus show on the road. Here are the dates:
05-03 Boston, MA- Cambridge Elks Lounge
05-04 Buffalo, NY- Sound Lab
05-05 Cleveland, OH- Happy Dog
05-07 Chicago, IL- Empty Bottle
05-09 St.Paul, MN- Turf Club *
05-10 Omaha, NE- Slowdown
05-11 Denver, CO- Larimer Lounge
05-13 Salt Lake City, UT- Kilby Court
05-14 Boise, ID- Neurolux
05-15 Seattle, WA- Black Lodge ^
05-16 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
05-18 San Francisco, CA- Hemlock Tavern
05-19 Oakland, CA- Lobot Gallery
05-20 Los Angeles, CA- The Smell #
05-22 San Diego, CA- Soda Bar
05-23 Tucson, AZ- Topaz Tundra
05-24 Albuquerque, NM- Small Engine
05-26 Austin, TX- Mohawk (Inside)
05-29 Atlanta, GA- The Earl
05-30 Raleigh, NC- Kings Barcade
05-31 Baltimore, MD- Golden West %
06-01 Philadelphia, PA- PhilaMOCA
06-02 Brooklyn, NY- Death By Audio
*Skoal Kodiak, Seawhores
#Foot Village, Street Buddy
To pre-order All My Relations, go to Thrill Jockey’s official website. First 100 get a Chippendale comic based on a conversation we literally heard 75 different times at South by Southwest a few years back. Click the link and you’ll see what I mean.
Even in the world of weird bands, The Residents have pretty much always hummed their own tune. So it figures that at a time when seemingly ever band on the planet is launching a Kickstarter to fund their next record, The Residents have basically decided to force fans to start their own Kickstarters just to buy their next record.
Did I say record? I meant box set. Wait, did I say box set? I meant MOST GARGANTUAN SET OF MUSIC EVER RELEASED BY ONE BAND IN THE HISTORY OF RECORDED MUSIC.
Seriously, this thing is ridiculous. It comes in a fucking working refrigerator, for starters. It includes everything The Residents have ever released in their entire 40-year history, including 40 LPs, 50 CDs, and approximately one metric butt-ton of singles, EPs, DVDs and God knows what else. It even includes an authentic Residents eyeball mask and top hat. Who knows, maybe even one worn by the actual Residents, since they’ve ditched the eyeballs lately in favor of an old man mask and what I’m gonna call Tusken Raider lounge singer costumes.
And oh by the way, here’s the most ridiculous part: Each Ultimate Box Set (UBS) will set you back a mere $100,000. No, that’s not a typo. You could literally buy a house in Pittsburgh right now for less than the price of this box set. I’m not even misusing the word “literally.”
There are only 10 of these things in existence and they go on sale Christmas Day. Wonder if anyone will give them as gifts? Wonder if anyone will have the balls to put this on their wish list? “Never mind the Xbox, Mom. Or college. Just give me a fridge full of Residents!”
After they’ve raked in a cool million from these box sets, The Residents will kick off 2013 with a bunch of tour dates celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band. After the dates below, stick around for an Ultimate Box Set infomercial starring The Residents’ lead singer, Randy Rose. Oh yeah, hadn’t you heard? The Residents “revealed” their identities in 2010. Apparently their names are Randy, Chuck and Bob. So now you know.
The Residents “Wonder of Weird” Tour Dates:
January 29, 2013 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
January 31, 2013 – Austin, TX – Scottish Rite Theater
February 1, 2013 – Dallas, TX – Kessler Theater
February 2, 2013 – Dallas, TX – Kessler Theater
February 3, 2013 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
February 5, 2013 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
February 6, 2013 – Carrboro, NC – Carrboro Arts Center
February 8, 2013 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse
February 9, 2013 – New York, NY – Stage 48
February 10, 2013 – Washington, DC – Sixth & I Synagogue
February 11, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café
February 12, 2013 – Boston, MA – Institute of Contemporary Art
February 15, 2013 – Chicago, IL – Schubas
February 16, 2013 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
February 17, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
February 18, 2013 – Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
February 21, 2013 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre
February 22, 2013 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
February 24, 2013 – San Francisco, CA – Bimbo’s 365 Club
February 25, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
February 26, 2013 – San Diego, CA – Belly Up
February 28, 2013 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre
Now here’s that infomercial. I could be wrong, but after watching all seven minutes of this thing, I’d swear The Residents must be Insane Clown Posse fans.
Someone suggested this week’s weird band to us over a year ago and I really have no good explanation for why we haven’t featured them sooner, other than the fact that for such a visually compelling band, there are amazingly few decent photos of them on the Interweb. Meet Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet, the greatest avant-garde German noise band ever to dress up like birdhouses.
Actually, that last sentence isn’t exactly true. HGK aren’t really from Germany, nor do they always dress up like birdhouses; sometimes, the lead singer (Hans Grüsel, I presume) dresses up like a tree trunk. Also, as you can see from the YouTube clip in that link—which kinda looks like it was shot in my middle school library—they’re not always that avant-garde. Sometimes they do Motörhead covers. They also do a mean version of “Tea for Two,” complete with tap-dancing. Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet is one of those bands that, just when you think they can’t possibly get any weirder…they get weirder. Even minus the goofy covers and eye-popping costumes, their music is a uniquely unsettling mix of hurdy-gurdy carnival music and migraine-inducing electro-noise assault. It kinda reminds me of the time I tried to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons with an ear infection and a vertiginous codeine high. Remember when they put codeine in cough syrup? Those were the days. But I digress….
The lunatic behind the Krankenkabinet is not, in fact, Hans Grüsel (at least not on his birth certificate), but a Bay Area composer named Thomas Day. Members of fellow Bay Area psychedelic noise wackos Caroliner are (or were) probably also involved in the project; certainly both groups share the same fingerpainting-on-acid design aesthetic. Another SF eccentric named Liz Allbee may or may not have been in on the action. But as far as I can tell, the exact identities of Day’s collaborators remain shrouded behind the myth that Hans Grüsel was a great but semi-forgotten enfant terrible from East Germany.
Day’s first Krankenkabinet release was 2001′s Das Boot, which purported to be a compilation of Grüsel’s “early works” and came wrapped in hand-painted cardboard, again a la Caroliner. One collector site describes the liner notes as looking “worm eaten,” but I’m not sure if that’s because someone stashed it in their basement too long or if the disc just came that way.
Over the next eight years or so, Hans and co. appear to have been semi-regular fixtures on the Bay Area underground art scene; they even toured occasionally. But from what I’ve been able to glean in my research, 2008′s Blaue Blooded Türen was the project’s last release. Since then, HansGrusel.com has been taken over by Asian cyber-squatters and those birdhouse and tree stump costumes have presumably been stuffed into a dark corner of Thomas Day’s closet—although they did make at least one return appearance in Seattle in 2011. The article about that show describes HGK as a “husband/wife duo” and says the dude in the tree-stump costume is a Seattle singer/guitarist named Sean Curley, who I suspect was recruited for just this one show. Whether the husband/wife thing is true or not, I have no idea.
It’s hard to sum up the weirdness that is Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet in just one video, but this clip capturing them in full electro-noise-freakout mode comes close. Is it just me, or does whoever’s playing ol’ tree-stump Grüsel (at the 1:30 mark) kinda look like Mr. Peanut’s angry, coke-addled brother?
This week’s weird band was suggested by one of our newest readers (at least we hope he actually reads this site; he might just look at the pictures and yell “Party!” a lot): Andrew W.K. Andrew sent us a tweet last month in which he name-checked a bunch of bands we haven’t covered yet (but hey, dude, we did not forget TG). Turns out Mr. Party Hard knows his weird shit. Pretty much all the bands he mentioned are indeed freaky deaky. But the freakiest of the bunch, in our estimation, has got to be Wolf Eyes.
In a nutshell, Wolf Eyes are a noise band from Michigan, but there’s more to them than meets the bleeding eardrum. A lot of their stuff is so abrasively noisy that even many noise fans can’t really take it. They also go way beyond the usual rock band format of most noise acts, with lots of sax, electronics and non-traditional instruments. If my partner Andy was here, he’d probably describe them as a sort of John Zorn meets Boredoms meets Whitehouse deal, but really, they’re on their own trip. They’re also fucking terrifying. Not in an obvious Saw VI kind of way. More in a “you might actually go insane listening to this” kind of way.
Here’s the other thing about Wolf Eyes: They are stupidly, exhaustingly prolific. In the time it takes you to read this, one or more of the dudes in Wolf Eyes has started a new side project and probably recorded at least five minutes of feedback experiments and backwards tape loops. Their Wikipedia page lists 20 releases in 2006 alone, not to mention an insanely long list of related bands with such awesome names as Have You Seen the Shining?, Scare Supply and The Man Who Ate Himself. These guys eat, breathe and sleep this stuff, and they probably poop D.I.Y. limited-edition cassette tapes.
Random factoid: Apparently this song was featured on an episode of The Office. Which actually makes sense, because in the right context, Wolf Eyes is so over-the-top sonically horrifying that it actually becomes kind of hysterical.
Second factoid: two-thirds of Wolf Eyes, founder Nate Young (that’s him rocking out in the photo above) and sax/electronics guy John Olson, have a newish band called Stare Case. They sound, not surprisingly, a lot like Wolf Eyes.
Third random factoid and then I’ll leave you with the most random, WTF Wolf Eyes video we could find: Nate Young also releases solo material, mostly as part of an ongoing project he calls his Regression series. You can hear a sample of it here. I bet our buddy Richard from Army of Gay Unicorns will be all over this like Mitt Romney on an offshore bank account.
Okay, here’s that random video I promised you. They’re like the world’s most avant-garde biker gang.
And here’s your reward for making it through all five minutes and 53 seconds of that. No cheating!
“What you’re about to hear,” said the middle one of the three guys onstage dressed in matching gray plaid shirts, “is 100 percent feedback. Okay, maybe 90 percent.”
This was not what I expected out of Negativland, the band/art collective responsible for inventing the term “culture jamming” and notorious for getting nearly sued out of existence by U2. I was hoping for a multimedia extravaganza featuring mockingly sampled TV commercials, pop tunes and maybe a chopped ‘n’ screwed RNC stump speech or two. At least a little self-mutilation, perhaps. But a solid hour of feedback? Not what I had in mind.
The feedback was coming courtesy of a curious little homemade instrument called the Booper, a simple oscillator/FX box invented by arguably Negativland’s weirdest member, David “The Weatherman” Wills. (You can watch The Weatherman’s highly idiosyncratic “How to Use the Booper” tutorial here.) With four or five of these Booper gadgets fired up at once, the three members of Negativland onstage this past Thursday at the Echoplex here in L.A. unleashed a slow-motion tidal wave of noise that was actually a lot less horrible than I thought it would be. In fact, by the end of the performance, I was rather enthralled.
I’ve been sitting here for a while now trying to explain to you how over 45 minutes of improvised feedback could be “enthralling” and so far, I’ve come up with bupkis. We even had a brief power outage that forced me to rewrite this entire post and still, I got nothin’. All I can tell you is that the Negativland guys were very clever about tweaking their Boopers (and yes, I know that sounds masturbatory—and it probably should) just enough to keep all those drones, shrieks, rumbles and roars from getting completely monotonous. It was noise, yes, but it was purposeful noise—or at least they were able to make it seem that way. I’m pretty sure they snuck in a few drum machine beats and loops, too, although I can’t say for sure because my vantage point was too far from the stage. In a nice gesture towards Negativland’s borderline-geriatric fan base, the usually standing-room-only Echoplex put in about 20 rows of folding chairs, but I was standing towards the back. Which is okay, actually, because my borderline-geriatric ears couldn’t have handled all that feedback at closer range.
Apparently this all-Booper show was a kickoff of sorts for a gallery show here in L.A. featuring the art of Negativland. Called “Our Favorite Things,” the show runs through Sept. 30th at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. We’ll try to check it out before it closes and report back to you on that, as well.
Oh, and to all of you who tweeted and Facebooked responses to our “What requests should we yell out?” query—thanks, but it really wasn’t that kind of show. I think even during the encore, if I had yelled out “Christianity Is Stupid,” I would have at best elicited an extra squawk of Booper-induced feedback.