Since the traditional way to start a New Year, at least around my house, is with lost keys and a raging hangover, I figured we should start off 2015 here at Weird Band HQ with a track that evokes Jan. 1st in all its skull-splitting glory. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the aptly named “Concussed and Terrified,” the latest cold shower of noise from our old pal Richard, aka Army of Gay Unicorns. If you by some miracle do NOT already have a hangover, crank this one up and it’s the next worst thing.
Happy New Year, weirdos!
Our friend Kai from Toxic Chicken sent us this bonkers track by a Canadian producer working under the name Funturistic, on which very formal, almost Baroque-sounding music is performed entirely using sampled animal sounds. It’s called “Rural Kerfuffle” and it’s a 10-minute epic with movements and everything. It is, admittedly, not far removed from those stupid Christmas novelty records where cats meow “Silent Night” or whatever, but taken to a pretty crazy extreme. Enjoy.
I’ve just started reading Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, author Simon Reynolds’ very convincing argument for considering the six years following the breakup of The Sex Pistols to be among the most wildly creative in pop music history. I’m only a few chapters in, but already it’s reacquainted me with, or introduced me to, a slew of fantastic music from that era that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
I’d put The Normal in that overlooked category. Although it’s certainly a project familiar to anyone who grew up in the U.K. in those years, or went to industrial and EBM clubs in the ’80s, most younger fans have probably never heard of Daniel Miller’s post-Kraftwerk experiment in clinically stark electronic music—in part, because Miller only put out two songs as The Normal, before he got more interested in releasing other artists through his label, the influential (and still going strong) Mute Records.
Both of The Normal’s two songs are pretty weird. “T.V.O.D.” is all about sticking TV antennas into your veins, but “Warm Leatherette,” inspired by the J.G. Ballard novel Crash, is about fucking someone who’s just been in a car crash right before they die. So just in terms of creep factor, “Warm Leatherette” wins. There’s also something about its electro-shock synths that still sounds futuristic, even after four decades (it was released in 1978).
Some of my best friends are Christians. Some of my best friends are also heathens and Satanists, so cocktail party conversation at my place can get pretty interesting. But to my Christian friends, I just want to say: When I proceed to make fun of the video I’m about to show you, I’m not making fun of all Christians. Just the ones with bad pitch and dorky breakdance moves.
This video is from a New Agey Christian ministry based in Ohio called The Way International. On YouTube, it’s marked copyright 2007, so I really hope it was actually made in 2007, because that would make it even more awesome. As it is, it seems like the kind of thing that was probably done in the early ’90s when white people from Ohio were just discovering synthesizers and breakdancing, but who knows? Maybe the folks at The Way International took a bit longer to catch on to such innovations.
Actually, you know what? I’m not even gonna make fun of this video. I’m just going to show it to you, because it’s the kind of thing that speaks for itself. And speaks for itself with a really dramatic echo effect.
Polish dance music is an endless fount of weirdness, at least to those of us who aren’t Polish. One of these days we’ll devote an entire post to the accordions-on-ecstasy subgenre called disco polo, but in the meantime, we’d like to share with you another Polish dance-pop artist called MC Diva. We discovered her via an online article called “Short Guide to Four Decades of Disco” (warning: it’s not actually that short) on the very cool website Culture.pl, a guide to all things artsy in Poland. (Shout-out to Kasia from Culture.pl, who wrote to us and shared the article.) That article describes MC Diva’s sound as “power dance”:
No one made [power dance] more popular than MC Diva (Krystyna Stolarska). Her music brought together European hi-nrg from the label ZYX Records and American dance hits. She was a Polish star but she also had followers in the U.S. She performed with DJ Bobo, Fun Factory and E-Rotic. The Polish element in “Dziewczyna z St. Pauli (Girl from St.Pauli)” is the subversive violin.
I don’t know if I’d call the violin on this track (played by Stolarska herself) “subversive,” but it sure is fun. And the video, in which the Diva dances around with buff shirtless dudes, looking like the Polish Sandra Bernhard, is even more fun. (The song and video, by the way, appear to be from around 1994 or ’95, although we couldn’t pin down the exact release date.)
Today’s weirdness was passed along to us by reader Mateusz. Merci, Mateusz! Robotnicka are (or were—it’s not clear whether they’re still together) a French synth-punk quartet active in late ’90s and early ’00s, fronted by a bundle of spazzy energy in a cow hood named Zeseal Goubet. Not much information about them is available online, except for an official bio that’s fun to read (“the singalong dancetrack to the fall of corporate empires and fascist governments”) but short on actual biographical details. They seem to have released one album in 2004 called Spectre en Vue, which includes this delightful little lo-fi dance jam, “Discowgirlz.” The video features trash monsters, so if you’re afraid of cardboard, you may want to avert your eyes.
As obscure as it is, you can actually buy Spectre en Vue in CD form from Amazon.
Reader Eddie sent us a link to this video by an all-female ’80s group from New York called Pulsallama, a short-lived art-punk ensemble made up almost entirely of percussionists, plus some bass guitar and the occasional horn line (because this was the ’80s, after all). According to their Facebook page, their sound was sometimes described, pretty accurately, as “13 girls fighting over a cowbell” (though they eventually slimmed down to a svelte seven-piece). After opening for The Clash and releasing a couple of singles, they disbanded in 1982.
This song, “The Devil Lives in My Husband’s Body,” was a minor college radio hit, which is just further proof of something we’ve been saying for years: The ’80s were an awesome time for weird music.
If you want to learn more about Pulsallama, fringe culture experts Dangerous Minds (who else?) have a great summary of the band’s brief career.
I’m sure every reader of this blog is quite familiar with Iceland’s most famous musical export, the elfin creature with the powerhouse voice called Björk. In fact, I think a substantial percentage of you folks out there in Readerland have decried our failure to include Ms. Guðmundsdóttir on the Weird List. To which we say: Don’t worry, she’ll wind up on there eventually. We work in mysterious ways.
In the meantime: Since we live in busy times, we thought it was worth posting this video for “Mutual Core,” a song off her most recent album, 2011’s Biophilia, in case some of you missed it the first time around. Directed by an extremely talented young filmmaker named Andrew Thomas Huang, who has a genius for transforming the human body into inorganic materials and vice versa (his short film “Solipsist” is maybe even more amazing in this regard than “Mutual Core”), his visuals and Björk’s lyrics and dubstep-tinged music transform the geologic forces of plate tectonics into some kind of freaky-deaky mating ritual of the earth gods. Not even Neil deGrasse Tyson could make science this sexy.
You all know where to find more Björk on the Internets, I’m sure. But if you want to see more of Huang’s work (including videos for Sigur Ros and Thom York’s Atoms for Peace, as well as a cool “making of” video for “Mutual Core”), here’s his website.
A reader from Russia named Lianna sent us this amazing animated video for a song called “Das Produkt” by the Russian Goth/industrial band Teatr Yada, whose name translates to ‘Theater of Poison.” We couldn’t find much information about them, but apparently their lead singer Yan Nikitin died of a drug overdose a couple of years ago. Which is too bad, because based on “Das Produkt” and a few live clips floating around YouTube, he was a talented singer and his band had an arrestingly creepy sound.
Besides the music, the other star of “Das Produkt,” obviously, is the animation, which is the work of a very talented Russian artist/filmmaker called Kol-Belov. If you have an hour to kill, we highly recommend deep-diving into his website.
We’re journeying to rainy old Manchester, England today, where a pair of brothers, Peter and Edward Simpson, are channeling early ’80s post-punk/darkwave/synth-rock gloom under the name Circuit Breaker. For fans of Suicide or any Joy Division song that isn’t “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” their stuff isn’t super-weird, but it does take some unexpected twists and turns, especially on “Worm 7,” an almost black-metal-like dirge from their most recent release, a five-song EP called TV12.