Monthly Archives: February 2013
“We’ve played some serious shitholes on this tour,” Matmos‘ M.C. Schmidt said Monday night. “But this is not one of them.”
The man did not fib. The Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a gorgeous space with high vaulted ceilings, great acoustics and extremely uncomfortable chairs. Chairs aside, it was the perfect space in which to soak up the many bizarre sounds put forth by M.C. Schmidt and his partner, Drew Daniel, who were there to perform tracks from their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, as well as a few old favorites.
Matmos put on a much more entertaining show than you might reasonably expect from two dudes hunched over a couple of folding tables festooned with cables, laptops and vintage synths. Aided by members of their opening band, Horse Lords, on guitar, drums and woodwinds, they cranked out a pretty diverse and dense wall of sounds, including some made by objects one doesn’t normally see at a concert, much less one being held at a cemetery. But more on that in a sec.
Horse Lords—like Matmos, a Baltimore band—set the tone with some highly percussive post-rock that was punctuated Andrew Bernstein’s gloriously noisy, looped saxophone riffs. They weren’t quite as unhinged as Baltimore’s last great noise merchants, the late lamented Ponytail, but you can see where they have the potential to seriously fuck up some shit. No surprise Matmos invited them to serve as both opening act and touring band.
When Matmos took the stage, they were a study in contrasts: M.C. Schmidt looked like a tweedy liberal arts professor, while Drew Daniel was decked out in full punk/industrial/leather daddy regalia, wearing a studded leather Merzbow jacket that probably had several Japanoise fans in the audience wiping drool off their chins.
They began the set with “Very Large Green Triangles,” the lead single (if Matmos has singles) off The Marriage of True Minds. In case you haven’t been keeping up with our many Matmos posts, True Minds is the duo’s possibly serious, possibly tongue-in-cheek attempt to create an entire album using extra-sensory perception: They stuck test subjects in an isolation chamber, then tried to transmit the album to them telepathically. Then they recorded the subjects’ descriptions of what they were seeing and hearing in their isolation-chamber mind-movies and built songs around samples of those descriptions. So “Very Large Green Triangles” is based on a test subject talking about, well, seeing very large triangles. With me so far?
To evoke their mind experiments in a live setting, they had Horse Lords guitarist Owen Gardner narrate “Green Triangles” while wearing opaque glasses and giant headphones. I think we got the extended-due-to-technical-difficulties version of the track, because M.C. Schmidt kept fidgeting with the onstage sound board and making “What the fuck?” faces for about five minutes before his keyboard would emit any sound. Sucked for him, I’m sure, but it actually turned the song into an even cooler, more epic jam than it is on record.
They followed that up, fittingly, with their cover of the Buzzcocks’ “E.S.P.”, in which Drew Daniel did a nice job channeling his Merzbow jacket into a throat-shredding lead vocal. Side note: Turns out it’s very hard to head-bang while wearing glasses. Drew kept having to hold his hand over his Warby Parkers to keep them from flying off into the audience, where they no doubt would have been used to barter him out of his Merzbow jacket.
I thought they might play more stuff from True Minds, but instead, they went right into “Lipostudio” from their surgery-sampling 2001 album, A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure. To recreate the liposuction sounds from the studio track (“recorded right here in Los Angeles!” M.C. cheerfully noted), M.C. Schmidt blew what appeared to be a duck call and a small flute into a bowl of water. The effect was both cooler and grosser-sounding than you might expect.
Next came the balloons. Oh, the balloons. I’m not sure what album this track was taken from, but it was hilarious and totally magical. If there is such a thing as a balloon maestro, then M.C. Schmidt is surely one.
Did I mention the visuals? Ah, the visuals. These guys know how to keep an electronic music show interesting. Then again, they’ve played with Björk, so you’d expect nothing less.
Matmos finished their set with a song from their 19th-century-folk-inspired album, The Civil War, which was a jaunty way to finish the show. There was whistling and something that I think was an autoharp. Until you hear them string together songs from throughout their six-odd-album career, it’s easy to forgot how insanely diverse Matmos’ catalog is. It could all easily be the work of four or five completely different groups.
Drew and M.C. wrapped things up with one of those encore-but-not-really moments when the band makes like they’re going to leave the stage, but then just mills around for a few minutes before someone finally grabs a mic and asks the usually rhetorical question, “Do you guys wanna hear one more?” (Just to be clear: I love when bands do this. Fuck the encore, stay up there and keep playing, dammit!) In response to Drew’s query, “Lounge or disco?”, the crowd wisely and lustily replied, “Disco!” So we got treated to a little Matmos-style thumpy-thumpy before having to walk back through the cemetery to our cars, which was a nice way to end a memorable evening. It would’ve been more memorable if we could’ve actually danced instead of just rocking back and forth in those uncomfortable chairs, but let’s not get greedy.
P.S. Many thanks to our buddy Phil for supplying the additional photos. And to Gary for the extra ticket. And to everyone who helped score me a seat in the second row. I am telepathically transmitting warm fuzzy feelings to you all.
So it appears that while we were mucking about with Facebook polls and Valentine’s Day playlists, the Tiger Lillies released their new album. It’s called Either Or and it’s available now in good old-fashioned CD form on the band’s website. You can preview snippets of all 16 tracks on Last.fm, but it appears the only way to hear the whole thing is to buy it. What a novel concept!
The Lillies describe it as one of their weirdest-sounding albums, and based on what we’ve heard so far, we can’t argue. It’s loosely based on the writings of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, specifically a portion of his 1834 work Either/Or called “The Seducer’s Diary,” which sets forth the notion that pleasure-seeking is the noblest pursuit and “all evil deeds are justified as long as they give meaning to people’s existence.” (Jake will be thrilled to hear this, since it’s pretty much how he’s lived his whole life anyway.) On many of the songs, Martyn Jacques seems to be using less of his trademark falsetto, and guest multi-instrumentalist David Coulter provides some new sounds and textures by playing everything from banjo, ukulele and violin to nose flute, jew’s saw, weeping saws, maracas, omnichord and clackamore. (We’d never heard of that last one, either; apparently it’s a kind of jew’s harp.) The album is also the first to feature new drummer Mike Pickering.
In support of Either Or, the Tiger Lillies have put together something new and different (would you expect anything less?): the “Either/Or Cabaret,” set in 1937 Shanghai, which was nicknamed “Sin City” because of its decadent nightclubs. The cabaret features not just the Lillies themselves but 10 Danish and Chinese actors playing various chanteuses, dancers and nightclub patrons. Unfortunately, as of now, the only place you can see the show is in, well, Shanghai—where it’s running now through March 3rd at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre. After that, the Lillies have a few upcoming performances in France, Britain, Germany and Istanbul, which you can learn more about here. No further dates for the Either/Or Cabaret have been announced, but something tells us we haven’t seen the last of it.
Till then, we’ll tide you over with this Either/Or Cabaret promo video. Looks pretty decadent, all right.
Can robots trip balls? We’re about to find out. Captured! By the Robots, the world’s greatest Journey-covering nearly-all-robot band, is heading out on tour this April and May, and they’re promising a mind and/or CPU-expanding show the likes of which we sad little meat puppets have never seen. There will be baby eating. There will be dildo trombones. There may or may not be some unicorn riding. Or maybe there will baby riding and unicorn eating. You don’t know, and neither do we. All we can do is tell you the dates.
4/17/2013 Slabtown Portland
4/18/2013 Chop Suey Seattle
4/19/2013 The Palace Missoula
4/20/2013 The Shredder Boise
4/21/2013 Urban Lounge Salt Lake City
4/24/2013 3 Kings Tavern Denver
4/26/2013 The Brick Kansas City
4/27/2013 Triple Rock Minneapolis
4/28/2013 The Aquarium Fargo
5/1/2013 JD’s Bar Green Bay
5/2/2013 The Frequency Madison
5/3/2013 Cactus Club Milwaukee
5/4/2013 Martyrs Chicago
5/5/2013 House Cafe Dekalb
5/7/2013 TBA Marshall
5/8/2013 Mac s Bar Lansing
5/9/2013 Blind Pig Ann Arbor
5/10/2013 Grog Shop Cleveland Heights
5/11/2013 The Note West Chester
5/12/2013 Chameleon Club Lancaster
5/15/2013 The Hideaway Johnson City
5/16/2013 Milestone Club Charlotte
5/17/2013 The Jinx Savannah
5/18/2013 The Earl Atlanta
5/22/2013 Artmosphere Lafayette
5/23/2013 TBA Austin
5/24/2013 Double Wide Dallas
5/25/2013 Rubber Gloves Denton
5/28/2013 LAUNCH PAD Albuquerque
5/30/2013 Rhythm Room Phoenix
5/31/2013 TBA San Diego
6/1/2013 TBA Los Angeles
I’ll repeat here what I already told C!BR on their Facebook page: When you gearheads come to L.A. (and you better, godammit), you should play The Smell. That place is awesome. Bring a few robot floor fans, though. Otherwise you’ll probably blow a gasket when the temperature hits 120 and the walls start sweating.
We’ll leave you with a behind-the-scenes video of C!BR drummer DRMBOT0110 stress testing his double kick-drum. If you’re a drummer in a death metal band, you might wanna start looking for other work.
It’s yet another first here at Weird Band HQ: This week, two artists will share the title of Weird Band of the Week. It seems only fitting, since Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer and Professor Elemental were finally able to quash their long-running feud and agree to share the top of the chap-hop heap.
Let’s back up a bit. “Chap-hop” is a term that, as far as we can tell, was originally coined by Mr. B (real name: Jim Burke), a London rapper who adopted the trappings of the British “Chappist” movement, a subculture devoted to the more genteel ways of Downton Abbey-era England, complete with lots of tweed, liberal use of the word “jolly” and well-manicured facial hair. By combining dandyish style (and an adorably retro instrument called the banjolele) with the rhymes, beats and cocksure attitude of hip-hop, Mr. B created a whole new subgenre of music. Or did he?
This is where it gets interesting. Because you see, before Mr. B ever dropped a rhyme about his watch fob, another chap in nearby Brighton by the name of Professor Elemental (real name: Paul Alborough) was mixing rap with Edwardian swag on songs like “Cup of Brown Joy,” an ode to tea drinking whose loopy, low-budget video has racked up 1.5 million views on YouTube, making it a chap-hop anthem on par with, say, “Gin & Juice.”
Although Professor Elemental initially identified himself as a “steampunk mad scientist” (you can tell he’s steampunk because he sometimes wears goggles on his pith helmet) rather than a practitioner of chap-hop, it wasn’t long before he discovered the existence of Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer and began drawing battle lines. “I can’t walk down the street these days without being mistaken for Mr. B, or without folk asking if I am going to battle the cad,” he said in an interview with The Chap, the scene’s magazine of record. In 2010, two years after both chap rappers first rose to prominence, he released a song and video called “Fighting Trousers” that called out Mr. B in no uncertain terms.
Mr. B eventually responded with his own shot across the bow, a capital little brag track called “Just Like a Chap.” But by this point, the battle was all in good fun, as you’ll see towards the end when Professor E himself makes a good-natured cameo.
Anyone wishing to further weigh the relative merits of chap-hop’s two leading lights should peruse footage from this 2011 “chap-off.”
Although we do find Professor Elemental’s Jules Verne-inspired zaniness entertaining, and although he certainly meets the criteria for weirdness set out by our esteemed blog (the fellow has a gorilla butler named Geoffrey for a sidekick, by Jove), we tend to find Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer a more satisfyingly polished performer. Maybe it’s the banjolele that gives him his edge. Or this video. Or the fact that, unlike Professor E, he seems to know how to use a straight razor.
It’s worth noting that Mr. B and Prof E have inspired a whole chap-hop movement, and there’s now a host of other artists busting rhymes like it’s 1899: Poplock Holmes, Class Rhymes and Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire, to name only a few. At this rate, chap-hop seems poised to outlast the post-Downtown Abbey acting career of that fool who played Matthew Crawley. Seriously, why would anyone quit the best show ever on British television? What a cad.
P.S. We almost forgot to thank readers Wallicoth and Charm Man for introducing us to the joys of chap-hop. Good show, gents!
- Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer official site
- Professor Elemental official site
- The Chap-Hop Shop (Mr. B’s online store)
- Professor Elemental on Bandcamp
- Professor Elemental on Facebook
- Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer on Facebook
- Mr. B on Tumblr
- “In ‘Chap-Hop,’ Gentlemen Rappers Bust Rhymes About Tea, Cricket” (good article about chap-hop from, of all places, the Wall Street Journal)
- Professor Elemental’s catalog on Amazon.com
- Mr. B’s catalog on Amazon.com
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.
Matmos‘ ESP-inspired album The Marriage of True Minds finally arrives this Tuesday (Feb. 19th)—but you can stream the whole thing now, courtesy of the folks at Pitchfork. Thanks, Pitchfork! You just saved us the trouble of writing an album review. Now we can spend our Sunday as the Good Lord intended: drinking wine and watching Downtown Abbey reruns.
Instead of reviewing The Marriage of True Minds, we shall instead be bringing you an in-depth account of the L.A. date of Matmos’ current U.S. tour, which takes place Monday, Feb. 25th at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Yes, in Hollywood, even the cemeteries get turned into entertainment venues eventually. We’re just that shallow and hedonistic.
We’ll leave you with this spooky Marriage of True Minds preview video. Listening to music like this in a cemetery might leave scar us for life, but it’s a chance we’re willing to take.
It’s another first here at TWBITW—our first-ever guest post. The author is Rebecca Metz, creator of Vagina News, a blog that discusses women’s issues and vaginas in the news. (How often are vaginas in the news? More often that you might realize, especially because when they are, everyone tends to scrupulously avoid saying the word “vagina.”) She also happens to be my wife, so y’all be nice to her, K?
Rebecca has a keen eye for misogynistic horseshit, so we decided to ask for her insights into the latest video from Insane Clown Posse, “Hate Her to Death.” But first, let’s watch and judge for ourselves, shall we?
Now, let’s get Rebecca’s take:
I didn’t know a lot about Insane Clown Posse. I knew they were bald guys in clown makeup who didn’t understand how magnets worked. I knew their fans were called Juggalos, and Juggalos sometimes look like Goths, but they’re not the same thing, because I once saw a guy ask a couple of Goths if they were Juggalos, and the Goths had never heard of Juggalos. And that’s what I knew about Insane Clown Posse.
Then I watched the video for “Hate Her to Death.”
So there’s this cheerleader the Insane Clown Posse guys like. A lot. She’s funny and caring and pretty and bendy and they like to draw pictures of her radiating a Jesus-like aura. (In the video, ICP are represented by a sad loner. We know he’s a sad loner because he’s wearing the sad loner uniform—a black hoodie—and he’s an artist, the official hobby of sad loners. Sad loners are all one pretty cheerleader away from the next great graphic novel.)
Anyway, the problem is that she “don’t belong to” our clowny heroes. She may or may not belong to one of several hipster bullies—but she definitely KNOWS them, because they show her the cheerleader-as-Jesus drawing. But instead of leaping into the sad loner’s arms upon seeing herself as Jesus, she goes to the gym and stretches, because she’s dumb or selfish or something.
And while the sad loner could just tell her he thinks she’s incredible/unforgettable/breathtaking/earthshaking and see what happens, come ON. She should KNOW that from the picture, right? What does he have to do, come out and say his feelings in WORDS? LAME.
So since he’s being bullied by hipsters and the cheerleader doesn’t love him (which is stupid of her, everyone knows sad loners make the best boyfriends) and he doesn’t seem to have friends or parents or a therapist to talk to, the cheerleader clearly has to die. It’s so sad. For him.
Well, first she has to watch her bully-hipster-maybe-boyfriend die, because that kind of thing makes cheerleaders feel terrible, and eliciting terrible feelings is Step One in Hating Someone to Death. But ICP are super sensitive to concerns about school violence, so they avoid the sorts of weapons people are always freaking out about, and kill the hipster by first choking him with a magic spell and then stabbing him with a pen. Everybody loves magic and pens!
ICP also understand that, while the cheerleader totally deserves to be the object of the sad loner’s rage because she’s happy and he’s not, killing pretty girls is among people’s least favorite kinds of killing, so you have to be real subtle about it. What to do, what to do… AHA! Crumple up the cheerleader-as-Jesus picture in an act of murder-foreshadowing! (They make sure to say “I fucking hate her to death” a bunch of times at the end so we’ll know what the crumpled picture means. It’s like poetry. Video poetry. Voetry.)
Thanks to “Hate Her to Death”, I know a lot more about Insane Clown Posse. I know they lack basic communication skills, don’t know how to process unpleasant emotions, and support violence against women as a means of expressing anger—but in an über-creative way that makes it awesome instead of representative of a serious cultural problem. I know they like to hang out in badly-lit libraries. And… that’s it. Am I a Juggalo now?
Our friend and former Weird Band Facebook Poll™ champ Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin has been bugging us all week to post her first-ever music video. So here it is finally! Sorry it took us awhile, Ms. MacP.
The song in the video is called “Carnival (Introduction’s Aside)” and it’s the first track on her album Fish Drive Edsels. It’s a pretty cool visual representation of the funhouse world that is Petunia-Liebling’s music. Hope she’s got more trippy visuals in the works.
Wikipedia describes this week’s weird band as a “free jazz orchestra,” which is a little like saying that Fight Club was a movie about making soap. Meet the Shibusashirazu Orchestra, and let’s all appreciate, once again, how exponentially more batshit crazy the Japanese are capable of making anything, even something as already batshit crazy as free jazz.
Shibusashirazu, which apparently translates to something like, “don’t be cool,” was founded in 1988 by a guy named Daisuke Fuwa, who outside of Shibusashirazu seems like a perfectly nice, unassuming jazz bassist who makes music like this. Fuwa assembled a group of his fellow jazz musicians to perform music for an avant-garde theater troupe called Hakken no Kai, and that somehow morphed into the insanity that is the Shibusashirazu Orchestra.
Since then, the band has continued to tour all over Japan and Europe with a rotating cast of some 20 to 30 musicians and performers, the most striking of which are the near-naked butoh dancers, covered in white body paint and writhing, climbing the scaffolding and engaging in general freakery. There are also video projections, giant balloon creatures, live action painters and enough all-around sensory overload to make Cirque du Soleil look like C-SPAN.
For awhile, we were starting to think Shibusashirazu only had one song, because every single YouTube video seemed to feature the same giant horn-fueled jam session with the same 14-note refrain that sounds vaguely like the hero’s theme from some ’60s martial arts movie. But eventually we were able to figure out that they have, in fact, released eight albums’ worth of material—some of which even just sounds like conventional modern jazz. It’s almost weirder in a way to watch those eerie butoh dancers gesticulating to a nice Kenny Kirkland-style piano solo.
Oddly, two readers (thanks, Sam and Giovanni!) suggested we add Shibusashirazu to the Weird List within a week of each other—and they both forwarded the same video, which features a particularly over-the-top version of that signature 14-note jam session, taken from a 2002 festival in Fuji. So we present it here for your enjoyment. This is really one of those videos where, just when you think it can’t get any nuttier, it does. Our two favorite parts are the giant mylar balloon dragon and the Caucasian dude at the 2:12 mark shaking his head at the camera in disbelief. Oh, and the dancers dressed like a swarm of bees. And the…oh, just watch it.