Smoosh is a Seattle duo consisting 11 year old Asya, who sings and plays keyboards, and 9 year old Chloe, who plays the drums. Unlike other acts of such tender years who get by on cuteness alone, this duo possesses serious songwriting ability and solid rocking chops. Just listen to this track entitled Massive Cure from their debut album She Like Electric. It’s a stomping little gem that just seems too musically mature for such wee moppets. And it easily outrocks anything by the current crop of faux naïf songstresses who pretend to sound like 11 year olds. (Hello, Coco Rosie…) Download the track, share it around, buy the album, and let’s get the bandwagon rolling… Smoosh – 2005’s Arcade Fire… (via david f presents)
OK, that’s me done for the year. I hope you found some stuff here that interested/amused you, and I hope you all have a happy and fulfilling 2005. To mark the passing of this annus shithousus, here’s a cartoon horror theme rendering of Auld Lang Syne by three-theremin-and-one-guitar outfit, The Lothars. (Thanks to Music For Maniacs for the link.) See you all next year.
You might think John Lennon’s untimely death in 1980 would spell the end of his career as a songwriter but, according to spirit medium Linda J Polley, nothing could be further from the truth. Back in 1998, Linda and her husband Gerald first made contact with the spirit of John Lennon who was, at the time, working on choral arrangements with Johann Sebastian Bach. Since then, the former Beatle has become a regular correspondent with Mrs Polley and through her he has passed on the lyrics and melodies to over 100 songs written during his time in the Afterlife; songs which apparently have ”helped hold The Kingdom Of God (Heaven) where he now resides, together during the troubled times There in the last few years”.
When compared with his output while on this mortal coil, the new material exhibits a startling swing to the right. Gone are the pinko peacenik sentiments of old; replaced with gung-ho celebrations of the war in Iraq (Hussein’s Butt Song) and ringing endorsements of rising Republican stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger (Goodbye Davis!). There’s even a song of support for beleaguered popstar Micheal Jackson (We Love You Michael!)
Following George Harrison’s ascension to Heaven in 2001, John was able to put together a band called Beatles and Friends which is currently touring to rave archangel reviews. And, on the personal front, he has recently “officially divorced his former partner Yoko Ono Lennon for her support of homosexuality” and married a dancer named Mary Marie Francesca. (via outsider music mailing list and Museum of Hoaxes)
If you’re in Sydney on Wed Jan 5, then head on down to Club 77 (77 William St, East Sydney) for an evening of goth/industrial/darkwave tunes which is being put on to raise money for disaster relief in tsunami-ravaged South Asia. It starts at 10pm and its $10 at the door, with all proceeds being donated to Care Australia. (Plaudits to Joe and Jeff over at Enmore Station for getting this up and running as quickly as they have.)
Meanwhile, over on the north side, Darp Hau is planning a fundraiser for Thursday Jan 6. Not too many details as yet, but he’s hoping to get a speaker from the Sri Lankan, Thai, or Achenese community, and someone named Mr Beep who will be doing an acoustic set of Marvin Gaye and Al Green numbers.
Anyone know of any other tsunami fundraisers that are currently being organised?
Danish field recordist Carl Weismann was one of the pioneers of wildlife sound recording. His great passion was birds… and his great nemesis was dogs. Back in the 50’s, while attempting to recorded clear uninterrupted birdsong, he found his efforts continually hampered by the interjections of barking canines. As they would wouldn’t go away when the tape was rolling, he was forced to get around this by becoming a master at locating these barks on the recorded tape then cutting them out with a scalpel. This naturally left him with a whole library of snippets of recorded dog barks. Instead of throwing them out, Carl decided to have some fun with them.
He took one of the simplest melodies ever composed, “Jingle Bells”, found dog barks whose tones approximated to each of the notes, and assembled it all into a festive novelty record. Originally, it was intended only for broadcast on Danish children’s radio, but in 1955, it found its way on to a single that got world wide release and it became a hit (selling 500,000 copies in the US).
And thus it became one of the more significant pieces of early sample-based music. There were experiments in tape manipulation by the likes of John Cage and Pierre Schaffer well before Weismann’s corny efforts, but only the elite were privy to these. In contrast, Weismann’s singing dogs were lapped up by the punters and arguably paved the way for popular music based on cutting and splicing, and sampling and sequencing.
If you’d like to hear the doggy bird-botherers in reassembled action, here’s an mp3. A reasonably priced 1971 vinyl repressing of Jingle Bells and Oh Susanna by the Singing Dogs can be purchased through Classic 45’s. (Weismann info plucked from Haunted Weather by David Toop)
Back when I started doing Rummage on air in July 2003, my first ever segment was devoted to song poems – recordings that came out of “music industry looking for new songwriter” ads that were once common in the back pages of many trashy magazines. (For more background on song poems, go to this earlier posting.) So this Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit them and on tomorrow’s show, I will be featuring the opening track from The American Song Poem Christmas album, Santa Came On A Nuclear Missile (mp3).
Lyrically, this song represents the most nihilistic Christmas narrative ever conceived. In it, Santa is transformed into a malevolent, hairless and militaristic alien who arrives on a weapon of mass destruction, and presents the terrified narrator with a laser gun… Unlike previous assaults on Christmas by easily neutralized bah-humbugging outsiders like Scrooge and the Grinch, this "destruction from within" is absolute and irresistible, and it leaves the narrator with little to do but lament the disappearance of all his/her “hopeful dreams”…
Faced with such a grim vision, what did the session musos hired to record it do? Well, they attempted to nullify it by coming up with the most upbeat arrangement possible. The recording opens with the sound of an exploding bomb, but after that, its all breezy organ and lively vocals with only a vague hint of melancholy… Christmas never sounded so gear-grindingly cognitively dissonant…
As 2004 draws to a close, so too does Jan Turkenburg’s excellent 52 Weeks project. Each week over the past year, he and his guest curators have regaled us with a fresh set of (mainly Dutch) musical curiosities and wonders – from disarmingly precocious recordings of rapping children and inspiring reworkings of classics by POW inmates; to forgotten releases by obscure Dutch bands and sampledelic craziness by contemporary underground artists.
And now, to mark the passing of this intrepid endeavour, he’s hosting an epilogue in which all and sundry are invited to nominate their favourite tracks, which will be dusted off and reposted. Head on over to the site for one last chance to sample some of Jan’s succulent sonic offerings.
While he was meant to be studying for his final exams, Berkeley student David Byok found a truly splendid way to distract himself. He compiled a mix CD designed “to introduce dubious Westerners to Bollywood”. This was obviously not enough of a distraction, so he then went one step further and created a Bollywood music primer website, complete with mp3s from his mix CD (which includes the track which Thora Birch boogies on down to at the start of Ghost World), articles about the Indian film industry and Hindi language, and even a list of the most frequently sung words in Bollywood songs (with their English translations).
As far as elaborate study avoidance schemes go, this is one of the most commendable ones ever. Well done, David. You deserve course credits for this, even if it has no relation at all to what you’re studying. (via Boing Boing)
Meet Lamb and Lynx Gaede, ballad-singing 12-year-old Californian twins who play guitar (Lamb) and violin (Lynx). They like listening to the music of Avril Lavigne, Evanescence, Green Day, AC/DC and Barney the Dinosaur… But their biggest musical influence is white supremacist skinhead band Skrewdriver. They do folky covers of many of that odious outfit’s songs, and also perform originals filled with gushing references to Aryan warriors in Valhalla, and lines about freedom existing only for “those with darker skin”…
Unlike many child acts of their tender years, they are surprisingly articulate in interviews and demonstrate an engagement with contemporary issues - such as eugenics. Specifically, they lament the fact that “smart white girls who have good eugenics are more interested in making money in a career or partying” than getting married and having “good-quality” white offspring…
As I said in the title of this post, they truly are the most disturbing pop act to emerge this year. If you want to hear what they sound like then their website has an mp3 of a song called I Will Bleed For You. It has the sort of clunky musical naivete that would warrant it being classed as “outsider” and, for once, I hope it ensures that they remain scorned and derided outsiders forever.
(Many thanks to Stephen Terrell for this link. When he originally posted them on his website, he was flooded with comments that called them a “refreshing change” from “normal pop rap garbage/ bling bling urban (c)rap/left-wing fruitcake propaganda” and proof that “Nazis aren't as bad as everyone thinks”... And, no, I don't think that last comment was ironic…)
(FOOTNOTE: The band name, in addition to sounding appropriately Teutonic, is a reference to the colour of Zyklon B residue, which “supposedly” wasn’t found in the gas chambers, thus rendering the Holocaust a fallacy… Need any more reasons to be sickened by these munchkins?)
Unsilent Night is, to quote its founder Phil Kline, an "outdoor ambient music piece for an INFINITE number of boom box tape players. It's like a Christmas carolling party except that we don't sing, but rather carry boom boxes, each playing a separate tape which is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city block long stereo system!"
The first of these festive boombox performances was presented in New York back in 1992 and since then, it has become an annual 100-boombox-strong event, which is replicated in cities throughout North America. (This year it went even further afield and was performed in Middlesborough, England.) To give you an idea of what it might sound like, there is a CD of some of the pieces used in past performances which can be purchased through Cantaloupe Music. (They also have mp3 samples of these pieces on the site.) (via web zen)
So, anyone interested in setting up a Sydney version of this for 2005?
Ahh, Christmas… The time when creatives in ad agencies attempt to show how creatively “out there” they are by coming up with humorous animated/video Xmas cards for their clients. And this is one of the better ones I’ve seen in recent years... It’s a music video by a phenomenally bad faux boy band called Boy O Boy, who are “hung like mistletoe” and whose answer to the troubled state of the world is a weapon that is “not for enemies you want to take out/its for people you want to see make out”. (via Metafilter)
OK, this is not only one of the most extreme time wasters on the web, but (if you follow it through to completion) a serious test of endurance...Someone far geekier than you could ever hope to be has written a Flash app that lets you select notes for each of the digits from 0 to 9, then uses these as the basis for a musical rendition of the first 10,000 digits of pi... By my (highly inaccurate) calculations, that's close to 2 hours of random crap synth tones... You have been warned.
Sci Fi Hi have posted a series of mp3s of Christmas recordings by the Beatles; one for each year from 1963 to 1969. In addition to being good festive fun; it provides an odd little snapshot of the band's evolution. They start out with silly impromptu renditions of Christmas songs and jokey banter, but over time the recordings become increasingly elaborate; incorporating specially written tracks and fleshed-out sketches. Then, towards the end of the decade, the musical arrangments start getting a lot more surreal, John inserts some barbed references about friction between the rest of the band and Yoko Ono, and finally in 1969, Yoko appears on a recording predicting that the 70's will be a decade in which everything will be a lot more peaceful and people will start "flying around".
(FOOTNOTE: The recordings are ripped from vinyl and have a fair bit of background noise. If you want something more pristine, try this bit-torrent.)
And while we're on the subject of Xmas songs, Senor Tonto has concocted an extreme kitsch-overload rendition of the theme song to Santa Conquers The Martians for your downloading pleasure. This version gleefully incorporates banjo, kazoo and Speak and Spell. (via Boing Boing yet again)
Although they have pretty much been superseded by CD-Rs and mp3s, cassette-only releases were once the only lasting documents of obscure scenes and artists who might otherwise have slipped under the radar entirely. At the time, of course, their circulation beyond a small group of fans was fairly limited (hence their enduring obscurity)... Now, however, some of those fans have dug up the old tapes and made them available to an almost limitless audience, via the web.
One of them is Krucoff, who has posted Lest We Forget, a compilation of 80's Berkeley punk bands, on his website (via Boing Boing). Another is Dutch net label WM Recordings, who have released a selection of mp3s from Bob Chaos, an 80's cassette-only label devoted to strange music from Muncie, Indiana.
If you live the Sydney area, then I urge you to get along to the Mu Meson Archives tomorrow night (Thu Dec 16) as they are holding a benefit for the family of Ubu, the recently deceased drummer of legendary local outsider band, the Mu-Mesons. (For those of you who want some background on the band, I recommend this write-up on the Australian Ad Lib website.)
At the benefit, there will be screenings of interviews from a couple of Mu-Meson docos, previously unseen footage from various Meson gigs in the last 10 years, and a 16mm film of Ubu's wedding. It will be $10 to get in and all proceeds will go to making Xmas a bit easier for Ubu's wife Caspha and his two children, Phoenix and Jovian. (If you've never been there before, the Archive is behind King Furniture on Parramatta Rd in Annandale, halfway between the the Empire and Annandale Hotels.)
From PCL Link Dump comes this link to a compilation of instrumental music from Hungary which was recorded during the late 50’s and early 60’s. For the most part, its flighty fare that might be classified as exotica, and perfect for your Southern Hemisphere summer cocktail party, but what’s interesting (and very poignant) here is the context. As they say on the site: “You can hear the longing, the sadness, the happiness of an oppressed but very living city, reluctantly going to party after the tragedy of the 1956 revolution (historical note: drowned in blood by the Russian army). Sometimes they're groovy, sometimes they're funny (sometimes unintentionally so), sometimes they're based on outright misunderstanding of third-hand international musical forms. And they all helped the listener to believe that he/she is somewhere else.”
This vinyl only album from exotic punk specialists, Tiananmen 89, is easily one of the most significant releases of 2004. How so? Because, it is the first underground rock compilation to come out of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As you might be able to guess, genres as musically aggressive and obviously Western influenced as hard rock and punk don’t have a terribly long history in Iran. Punks have been around since at least the early 1990’s but, back then, the scene amounted to little more than clandestine tape-swapping. (Apparently, you couldn’t even buy an electric guitar.) With the election of Mohammad Khatami as president in 1997 and the subsequent liberalisation of Iranian society, the rock scene has blossomed and a diverse range of styles are now being embraced by young Iranian rockers. On 1382, you can find snotty English-lyric-barking punks Fat Rats, electro with death metal vocals from Dark Earth, the rousing pop metal of Alookal, and this strange piece of prog rock by Oolanbator entitled “Fire in The Dead of Night”. It starts out conventionally enough with a halting piano and blues guitar jam followed by a propulsive organ workout, but then the wailing banshees start to take over…
The album can be purchased through Darbouka Records, along with the rest of the Tiananmen 89 catalogue which includes punk/rock releases from Madagascar, Kyrgystan, Myanmar, Nepal, Paraguay, Malta, Moldova, Kosovo, Indonesia, Albania, Cuba and Romania... just to name a few.
Back in September, I posted a list of bands who make music using children's toys. One of the bands I mentioned was Toychestra, a six woman group from San Francisco, and I wrongly claimed that there was an album by them called "Toy Destroy" which could be downloaded from the Internet Archive. In fact, the recording was called "Toychestra" and it was by electronica artist Toy Destroy, who is male and from Utah. My sincere apologies to Toy Destroy for this appalling piece of late-night-alcohol-consumption-induced dyslexia on my part, and here's the link to his debut EP, Toychestra.
No audio editing software. No experience with remixing… No problem!
For a limited time, pro-audio gear and software maker, Mackie, are giving away their highly-respected general purpose music production suite, Tracktion, for free (registration required). This snazzy little app lets you record and edit multiple tracks of audio and MIDI, add banks of filters to your clips, and even has a built-in sampler. And once you’ve got your head around its not-too-difficult interface, this article will give you all the techniques and tricks you’ll need to assemble your very own floor-clearing mash-ups of Shooby Taylor and Armin Van Buuren. (via the all-knowing music thing)
And while we’re on the “how-to” kick, here’s a great six-step guide to producing traditional dub reggae.
Ever wondered what the whole history of Christmas music would sound like if it were statistically analysed and distilled into a single album?... Well, wonder no longer!
Eigenradio – an internet radio project from the MIT Media Lab which regularly does this analysis on a broad cross-section of stations and extracts “only the most important frequencies, only the beats with the highest entropy” – has applied its esoteric craft to seasonal fare and come up with sixteen statistically optimal holiday standards. In this collection, all the inessential frippery of sleighbells and par-rup-pa-pums has been stripped away; leaving only a dark crystalline heart of ululating tone-scapes, discordant carnival music, and occasional insectoid scuttlings… Play it at the annual family gathering and confirm all their worst fears about you…
Back in the early 60’s, would-be songwriter and “inveterate freeloader”, Dion McGregor, was a permanent fixture on the Manhattan East-side apartment couch of aspiring gay porn director, Peter de Rome. During his stay, it became apparent to de Rome, and McGregor’s songwriting buddy Michael Barr, that McGregor had a “talent” for talking in this sleep…While other people might mumble a few vaguely comprehensible phrases while meandering through somnolescent dream states, McGregor launched into loud, clear recitations of surreal narratives while firmly ensconced in deep REM sleep.
Being an obsessive field recorder, Barr immediately set out to capture McGregor’s nocturnal utterances on tape. The highlights of Barr’s efforts were initially released by Decca back in 1954. In 1999, Tzadik revisited Barr’s tapes with an album called Dion McGregor Dreams Again. (The provided Amazon link features a selection of streaming links) Now, another volume of McGregor’s sleep-talking, The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor, has come out on Torpor Vigil Industries. On this CD, McGregor launches into rambles about nonsensical treasure hunts for Welsh shoelaces and Valentino’s hubcap; “Russian roulette” games involving poisoned éclairs; and the following monologue (downloadable mp3) on the subject of revisiting the past which starts off poignantly enough but eventually degenerates into frantic horror. The CD can be purchased through Aquarius Records.
A couple of months back, Otis Fodder over at free-mp3 net label Comfort Stand offered a mouthwatering proposition to all and sundry – compose some original porn soundtrack music for inclusion on a forthcoming release. Now, the responses to this challenge have been compiled and posted on the Comfort Stand site for download. The results aren’t quite as seedy as I might like; tending towards tastefully funky exotica and electronic tracks with faux-O samples… But there’s still some fun stuff to be downloaded – and its all fully legal.
Imagine a straight-to-video 80’s film about a half-man, half musical instrument alien cyborg from the Planet Mullet who arrives in a small Canadian town to save the local aerobics gym from being turned into a shopping mall car park… If you can hold on to that without your synapses short-circuiting, then you have a good mental image of McRorie, the One-Man-Band-Of-The-Future… He has rhythm-triggering sensors in his Reeboks, synth drums on his chest, and two keyboards slung on his cycle-short clad hips… His website has a video of the man in action (complete with every cheesy 80’s cut transition you can imagine) and some mp3s for you to download.