While we were away, an old reader called Sick Nick resurfaced and alerted us to the existence of this duo from the Czech Republic called Harmony Bay, which sounds like the name of a company that makes aromatherapy gift baskets but, in this case, is actually a couple of guys who make crazy, spazzy experimental comedy metal that sounds sort of like a cross between Naked City, Pryapisme and Mr. Bungle. Who knows, maybe the scent of their matching black and multi-colored suits has aromatherapeutic properties, but we suspect it just smells like a couple of sweaty Czech guys.
Anyway, their music is truly something special: cartoonish but also extremely technical, headbanging and hilarious. We have no idea what the songs are about, since they’re all in Czech, but we assume the lyrics are as surreal as the music.
You can hear a whole bunch of their tunes on this Czech website called Bandzone, but to get a complete earful and eyeful of Harmony Bay insanity, look no further than the video Sick Nick shared with us, “Palindrom lučního koníka.” Oh my god, the vocals alone. These guys are amazing.
Today’s weirdness comes to us all the way from Australia (and a suggestion by reader Roman). Darth Vegas might best be described as vaudeville metal. Their music ping-pongs between bone-crushing drop-D chords, sing-song circus-tent music, finger-poppin’ jazz, frenetic ska and sunny surf-rock, usually every three seconds or so. They get compared to Mr. Bungle a lot—like, pretty much in every YouTube comment—and they definitely wear their Mike Patton Fan Club badges on their sleeves. But they bring enough of their own cleverless and technical chops to the party that their stuff stands on its own.
Here’s the first track off their self-titled 2003 album. If you don’t like it, wait a few seconds.
Normally, to write about a band as batshit at The Flying Luttenbachers, I’d be drunk by now. Instead, I’m sitting here sipping Glenlivet single malt like a total boss. Why? Because today marks not one, but two major milestones in the history of our stupid little blog.
First: Today’s our five year anniversary! What’d you get us? Nothing? That’s OK. Technically, you all got us something, because today’s other major milestone is this: We just racked up our one millionth page view. How fucking cool is that? OK, if you divide one million by five years, it’s maybe less cool, but still. Considering our booze habits, obscure subject matter and complete lack of self-promotional skills, we’ve done all right.
OK, now that we’re done patting ourselves on the back: The Flying Luttenbachers. We’ve been saving these guys for a special occasion like today, because they are truly one of the strangest, noisiest, craziest bands ever to turn their amps up to 11.
The brainchild of drummer/ringleader Weasel Walter, for 17 years they terrorized audiences with a mix of free jazz, skronk, punk, metal, noise-rock, no wave and whatever else whoever was in the studio or onstage with Walter that day cared to unleash. They were like a more aggro Naked City, a jazzier Locust, and a faster Captain Beefheart, all marinated in fuck-you Chicago attitude and imbued with the shredding super-powers of your favorite technical death metal band. Weasel Walter called it “brutal prog.”
Oh, and there’s also an apocalyptic storyline about a cosmic battle between a void, a behemoth, and a giant robot buried beneath the earth who can only emerge after the human race has been eradicated. All told via the liner notes and song titles like “Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth,” because all the music is instrumental.
Here, suck on some right now:
That was from the 1995 album Destroy All Music, featuring the band’s confusingly named original saxophonist Chad Organ, along with Weasel on drums, Dylan Posa on guitar, Jeb Bishop on bass and trombone, and Ken Vandermark on sax and clarinet. And I’m not sure I bothered to tell you all that, because that’s one of about 20 different lineups the band went through and it’s not like I’m going to name them all. I suppose some might call Destroy All Music the Luttenbachers’ most mind-blowing work, but I dunno. A few years later, they released this:
That’s from the 1998 album Gods of Chaos, which featured a power trio version of the Luttenbachers with Chuck Falzone on guitar and Bill Pisarri on bass. Then there’s this:
What you’re hearing there is Weasel Walter jamming good with two bassists: Jonathan Hischke on the high parts, or “air” bass, and Alex Perkolup holding down the low end with his “earth” bass. Who needs those extra strings, anyway?
Towards the end of the Luttenbachers’ 17-year run, Weasel Walter seems like he was getting frustrated with his band’s revolving-door lineup. In the liner notes for the final Luttenbachers album, 2007’s Incarceration by Abstraction, he actually specifically says that he intended to record the album with guitarists Ed Rodriguez and Mick Barr…but they weren’t available, so he did the whole thing by himself.
At the same time he released Incarceration by Abstraction, Walter Weasel announced that the Luttenbachers had “ceased operation.” He’s since moved to New York and now holds down gigs in two bands, Cellular Chaos and Behold…The Arctopus. Both of which are pretty crazy, intense bands…but we still hold out hope that Weasel will reconvene some version of the Luttenbachers one of these days, because their live shows look like they were absolutely insane.
We’ll leave you with our favorite Flying Luttenbachers, which has nothing to do with the rest of the band’s output but is just too damn much fun not to include. This is from an appearance sometime in early ’00s on the Chicago cable access show Chic-a-Go-Go. The song is “De Futura” from that two-bassists 2002 album, Infection and Decline. And, by the way, it’s a cover of the French prog-rock/Zeuhl band Magma. Thanks to reader John for pointing that to us. We never would’ve figured that shit out on our own.
- The Flying Luttenbachers official site (last updated in 2009)
- The Flying Luttenbachers on Facebook
- Weasel Walter’s Bandcamp page (featuring lots of FL stuff)
- ugEXPLODE site (Weasel Walter’s label)
- Weasel Walter official site
- Cellular Chaos official site
- Behold…The Arctopus official site
- Flying Luttenbachers catalog on Amazon.com
Today’s weirdness comes to us from France’s thriving avant-metal scene (also home to Sebkha-Chott and Pryapisme) and a reader named Lou (sup, Lou?). Pin-Up Went Down was a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Alexis Damian and vocalist/artist Asphodel. I say “was” because in January, Asphodel announced that she was leaving the group. I guess she got tired of singing “insane music for crazy people,” as PUWD describe their sound. Or maybe the last straw was posing for an album cover with snails on her face. (Actually, her new project, öOoOoOoOoOo, sounds just as insane, and she did all of PUWD’s album artwork. So maybe Pin-Up Went Down wasn’t crazy enough.)
Anyway, Lou sent us a link to the song “Cadavre Exquis” from their 2008 album 2 Unlimited, and we’re sharing it here because it is indeed a manic mix of death metal, Goth-rock, jazz and creepy, funhouse pop. It’s too bad we won’t be hearing any more collaborations between these two, but I bet whatever Damian and Asphodel do next will be just as nutty.
Well, kids, we really missed the boat on this one. A whole bunch of you out there in Weirdo Land have been suggesting almost since we started this blog that we write about Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and we were always like, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll get around to it.” And we blew it off, and blew it off, and now Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is no more. Last week we got an email announcing SGM’s final L.A. show this past Friday, and final San Francisco shows yesterday. “As it turns out,” read the email, “we are being replaced.”
For those of y’all not familiar: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is basically what happens when a bunch of SF art freaks get together and decide to make Dadaist-inspired prog-metal on a combination of traditional and homemade instruments. They were started in 1999 by Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl, who used to be in a band called Idiot Flesh, and also featured members of Tin Hat Trio, Skeleton Key and a dance company called InkBoat. To give you an idea of how friggin weird these guys were, here are the names of some of their other projects: Vacuum Tree Head, Immersion Composition Society, Thinking Plague and Moe!kestra. Wonder which one is “replacing” them?
Supposedly the band was named after an actual museum that burned down in 1916, one founded by a futurist and a “black mathematician” and one that did not allow human visitors. Among the many odd instruments featured in their shows were something called a sledgehammer dulcimer and something else called a “popping turtle.” One of their songs, “Helpless Corpses Enactment,” features lyrics based on James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake; another, “FC: The Freedom Club,” uses texts from the Unabomber. It’s all very intellectual stuff, even if it’s being delivered by guys in topknots and what kinda look like neo-pagan prom dresses.
Although SGM have sadly played their last gig, we supposedly haven’t heard the last from them. The same email that announced the last shows also promised some new studio material, a short film and a live DVD compiled of performances from the past six years. So maybe they haven’t been totally replaced after all.
Anyway, here’s their totally bitchin’ and (we think) mostly tongue-in-cheek ode to Satan (or Lucifer, if you wanna get all techincal), “A Hymn to the Morning Star.” Never has pure evil looked so silly.
- Sleepytime Gorilla Museum official site
- Sleepytime Gorilla Museum on MySpace
- Charming Hostess official site (band featuring Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl)
- Faun Fables (band featuring Nils Frykdahl)
- Polymorph Recording Studios (Rathbun’s audio house)
Another year, more weird bands! The fun never ends.
So it was exactly one year ago today that we finally owned up to our huge man-crushes on Mike Patton and wrote up what we considered to be the weirdest of his many bands, Fantomas. To which pretty much every single comment has been: “Fantomas? No way! Mr. Bungle is way weirder!” Did any of you people actually watch the Fantomas video we posted? But okay, fine, Bungle is pretty weird, too. So why not make it a tradition and declare Jan. 1st to be Mike Patton Day here at TWBITW? We’ll pick another of his projects to write up on Jan. 1, 2012. Start casting your votes now.
As for Mr. Bungle…if you’re not familiar, this was actually Mike Patton’s first band, started in Eureka, California with his childhood buds Trevor Dunn, Trey Spruance and Theo Lengyel. (The band’s original drummer, Jed Watts, quit before they got big.) The band’s early demos were a mix of metal, ska and free jazz, and their music just kept getting weirder from there; by the time they released their self-titled debut album in 1991, they were creating a mish mash of sounds unlike any other band in existence. They released two more albums in the 90s, Disco Volante and California, then finally called it quits in 2004, as Patton went on to his zillion other projects, Dunn went on to play bass with folks like Fantomas and John Zorn, Spruance carried on with his experimental rock group Secret Chiefs 3, and Lengyel went on to, as far as we can tell, drop off the face of the earth.
What’s particularly odd about Mr. Bungle is that, because their music included some elements of metal and because Mike Patton was also recruited to be the vocalist for funk-metal pioneers Faith No More, their fan base early on consisted mainly of headbangers. This led to a few shows in which the Bungle boys would turn on their own fans or vice versa (as described in this article, for example). It also means that, to Mike Patton’s eternal regret, Mr. Bungle was a huge influence on various, mostly crappy nu-metal bands like Korn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. (Patton once said of such bands, “It’s their mothers’ fault, not mine.”)
They also had a long-running feud with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which led to this awesome parody performance at a Halloween show in ’99. Mike Patton does Anthony Kiedis better than Anthony Kiedis does, doesn’t he? (Say that 10 times really fast.)
Mr. Bungle only made one official music video, which was banned by MTV because it featured members of the band hanging from meat hooks and severed dolls heads flying around and various other images that, honestly, seem kinda tame now but were apparently too disturbing back in the days before anyone had seen a Saw movie. That video, for the song “Quote Unquote” is pretty great, but for a true taste of what made Mr. Bungle so wacky, we’re partial to this live video from a 1995 concert. They’re like the masked satanic hotel lounge band from hell. This must’ve sent the few remaining Faith No More fans in attendance scrambing for the exits.