I have to admit, when we started this blog, I really did not think France would be in the running for Country With the Most Weird Music. I was pretty sure it would come down to a three-way tie between America (because we rule), Japan (because even their pop music is weird), and Norway (black metal!), with maybe some former Soviet Republic like Estonia as a dark horse candidate just because they were cut off from western culture for half the last century. But France is killing it, man. Between Igorrr, Rockets, Ghedalia Tarzantes, Magma and now Sebkha-Chott, the Frogs are cranking out crazy sounds faster than blocks of stinky cheese.
Sebkha-Chott were recently brought to our attention by a reader named Sean Buckley. We really hope Sean becomes a regular around here, because Sebkha-Chott is fucking gold. It’s like if Frank Zappa, the Residents, John Zorn and Slipknot drank all the absinthe in Paris and started a Magma cover band. Only weirder than that.
There’s very little info on the web about Sebkha-Chott that isn’t in French and/or translated into English so bad it’s like performance art. Here’s how their Wikipedia page describes their live show:
The atmosphere in Sebkha-Chott’s show is quite particular: the absurd basement is such that the content might not be taken seriously, though, the audience sollicitation is so strong (especially when the audience doesn’t react spontaneously) that kind of an embarrassment or even mistrust might occur. Whatever might be the audience reactions, Sebkha-Chott’s Kourt lays on them to build the show. Each concert thus is a unique event, as neither the setlist, nor the speeches are defined by advance. Still, there are some never-changing things: the shows open on a triumphal incoming of the Kourt (since 2007), which quickly leads to Tyrant’s speech, and they end up on the death of every member of Sebkah-Chott’s Kourt, killed by the Tyrant, mainly.
Oh, I forgot to mention: This is one of those bands, like Magma (or GWAR, for you Americans who don’t know who the fuck Magma are), that has invented their own mythological backstory. Every member of the band plays a role in a made-up world called Ohreland:
The “Tyrant” is Wladimir Ohrelianov II, who also plays six-string bass and does most of the vocals…although in past incarnations, they had additional vocalists with names like Mustach’Man, Cap’n Roses and Hrabe Black Sebbath.
The sort of combination executioner/court jester is Souv Ponky Ponk, who plays sax and occasionally sings in unintelligible gibberish…or it might just be French with a really, really weird accent—what do we know?.
Then there’s the excellently named Yüla Slipobitch, who is some kind of combination prostitute/dominatrix/second-in-command to Wladimir the Tyrant…oh, and she plays drums, machines and “tubular bells,” which we always thought was just the name of a particularly ridiculous prog-rock album but is apparently also, at least in France, an actual instrument.
Over the years, they’ve had various other members, all of whose actual identities remain a secret. Our favorite one is Tupac Promo, who we think might be a puppet and speaks something called “Moron Language.” Which is probably easier to understand than French.
Each performance by Sebkha-Chott is a “stopover” by visitors from the planet Ohreland. Sometimes the visitors from Ohreland don’t arrive all at once; sometimes they take over mid-show. Here’s an example.
As freaky as that was, the band’s latest video tops it by approximately five gajillion miles or so. I know it’s 15 minutes long, but watch the whole thing and I swear you will not be disappointed.
Oh, one last nice detail: Sebkha-Chott record all their music, artwork, videos and stage projections using open source software and release all their shit for free under something called a free art license. So yes, you can download all five of their albums for free from various sources. Here’s their latest one, which is called Ne[XXX]t Epilog. [Note: That link has been updated, at the personal request of Tupac Promo…see his comment below. We don’t wanna burn in hell, Tupac.]
- Sebkha-Chott official site
- Sebkha-Chott on AMMD (Sebkha-Chott’s free label/studio)
- Sebkha-Chott on Facebook (unofficial, we think)