Monthly Archives: June 2011
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.
Weird music lost a pioneer last week: Larry “Wild Man” Fischer, a paranoid schizophrenic street musician from Los Angeles who was “discovered” by Frank Zappa and went on to become one of the leading lights of so-called “outsider music.” Fischer, who hadn’t released any new music since the 1980s, had apparently been holed up in an assisted-living facility in Van Nuys since 2004, where he was taking medication to control his mental illness. Unfortunately, the meds also dulled what he called “the pep,” his frequent manic episodes that were responsible for most of his musical outbursts. He died last Thursday at age 66 of heart failure.
Fischer’s story is a rather sad one, as he was by all accounts genuinely off his nut and never fully reaped the benefits of his cult musical status. Still, he had a Zelig-like ability to turn up all over the place: His debut album, An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, was one of the first albums released on Zappa’s Bizarre Records in 1969. He appeared on Laugh-In in the ’60s and Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2004. When Rhino Records was just a retail store in the ’70s, they got Fischer to record a promotional jingle, “Go to Rhino Records,” and released it as their first single, thus launching what would go on to become one of the biggest novelty and reissue labels in the industry. In the ’80s, Fischer recorded albums with Barnes and Barnes and cut a single with legendary jazz singer (and George’s aunt) Rosemary Clooney. It’s fair to say the man rarely let his mental illness interfere with his productivity.
Los Angeles attracts more than its fair share of wingnuts (like this guy), but the loss of Wild Man Fischer really is a blow to the city’s offbeat charm. No longer will Sunset Strip crawlers and UCLA students be able to “buy an original song for a dime” (a favorite Wild Man sales pitch when he was out busking) on their way to happy hour. Wild Man Fischer might be an acquired taste at best, but his is the kind of crazy that makes the world a richer place (even if it too often fails to enrich the person behind the craziness).
We’ll miss you, Larry.
- dErailRoaDed official site (documentary about Larry “Wild Man” Fischer)
- “Wild Man Fischer, Outsider Musician, Dies at 66” (New York Times obituary)
- Wild Man Fischer on Rhino Records
- Wild Man Fischer on MySpace (unofficial page)
- The Fischer King on Amazon.com (rare Rhino Records Wild Man Fischer compilation)
Lots of artists use toys as musical instruments—but the way DJ Nu-Mark does it is pretty special. I’ve been a fan of Nu-Mark ever since his days with the indie hip-hop group Jurassic 5, but I had kind of lost track of what he was up to, until someone hipped me to this video of him playing with his growing array of children’s toys. The way he samples and cross-cuts between them like they’re records and turntables has to be seen to be believed. Watch the whole thing, trust me—the best part comes at about the 4:00 minute mark. Anyone know what that toy is with the different colored cubes on it is called? Next baby shower I get invited to, I’m totally buying one.