Since mentioning my Tarkus mural in the neverending Kompakt thread on ILM, my inbox has been flooded with inquiries as to how I obtained such a thing. For the sake of convenience, I’ll respond here.
My wife and I were approached by the staff of Mutant House, a failed “home makeover” program that was beat to the punch by the Discovery Channel’s Monster House. (Gist: A crew of people come over to give your house an off-the-wall theme, usually involving bizarre constructions.) The show needed willing homeowners for their pilot episode, and we were game — as long as they agreed to make our house “Tarkus house” rather than something obvious like “Vegas house” or “Retro-Future house.”
The pilot failed, but the makeover was a success. The game room now features a wall-size mural that recreates the cover of ELP’s Tarkus; matching multi-color carpeting maintains a sense of flow. We have a fleet of RC tarkuses that retrieve the paper or carry our drinks. A wax figure of Keith Emerson now sits at our baby grand; at the push of a button, he and the piano twirl in mid-air (Californa Jam style). Our doorbell chime now resembles that “off to battle” Moog bit from “Tarkus Medley.” And, in keeping with the ELP theme, a 20-foot manticore guards our back yard. (As a footnote, word of our remodeling reached as far as Oslo. A gentleman from there wanted to purchase our house for a large sum and was willing to uproot himself and his family.)
One of the things I can say about Justus Köhncke’s remix of Wolfgang Voigt’s “Hot Love” is that it is funnier than our house. The original, presumably named after the T. Rex song of the same name, was a semi-pleasant shuffle-stomp of a track. Köhncke adds jubilant vocals (credited to Meloboy, but they sure sound like Köhncke) to make it a full-blown cover, as well as some burping children’s program keyboards. That’s all it took to transform a relatively benign Voigt production into something sprightly and noxious.
Those who bet on microhouse in the 2003 microgenre deathpool can officially kiss their wagers goodbye. The top of this year’s class — Audision’s “First Contact,” Luomo’s “What Good,” Ricardo Villalobos’ “Easy Lee,” Ada’s “Believer,” Anders Ilar’s “Coastline,” Luciano & Quenem’s “Orange Mistake,” Mikkel Metal’s “Lowfour Rmx,” Jonas Bering’s “Normandie 1,” Mathew Jonson’s “Typerope,” the Modernist’s “Silicon Minor,” Dimbiman’s “V,” Sten’s “Part Three,” Benjamin Wild’s “You Never,” Rod Modell’s “Solar Cross,” Horror Inc’s “The Sentinel,” Krikor’s “Peeping Tom,” Robag Wruhme’s “Beatkutter,” M.I.A.’s “Milchreiter,” Pleite’s “Pleite,” Jabberjaw’s “Girlfriend” – has been just as terrific and lingering as any other, if not more so. The lack of stagnation, along with the fact that we’re at least five years away from ‘Do You Remember Microhouse?,’ means that the engine isn’t likely to sputter any time soon. Just as important: Every couple weeks or so, something has squeaked out from the woodwork that has stuck out from everything else. The majority of those responsible are also DJs, and you can sense that they are studying and revering their peers’ releases while being pushed into new directions.
Take Matthew Dear’s ‘Dog Days,’ a single off Leave Luck to Heaven, my album of the year thus far. None of the other tracks primed for the definitive microhouse box are quite as singsongy and springboard-buoyant as this one. There’s a steady loose-limbed swing and a periodic Moodymann-gone-teutonic jack to it that might put it somewhere between Herbert and Perlon, if it must be placed somewhere for context’s sake. Dear’s baritone, tightly tailgated by Dear’s near-falsetto, rides the contours of a mass of wriggling keyboard tendrils, stabs of synthetic trumpet and a clipped vocal sample (more like an attenuated millisyllable ground into hiccups). Dear’s voices repeat a four-line nursery rhyme of his own making several times over, and I couldn’t extract it from my head if I wanted to. It’s as contagious as “Hark Hark the Dogs Go Bark,” and the music accompanying it provides enough of a unique thrill alone.
Mu – “Let’s Get Sick”
Mustumi Kanamori and Maurice Fulton detonate five explosives during this improper house track. One can only presume that they are directed at symbols of the deep-house community. Possible targets: Shelter (bomb Shelter!), the Loft, a copy of Blaze’s “Do You Remember House?” and stacks of Naked Music and Spiritual Life releases. A warning signal comes just after ten seconds in, and then the bombs are dropped willy-nilly, almost always amidst flurries of rattling ramshackle percussion. None of the characteristics that typify many deep-house tracks — a steady 4/4 beat, a slick horn punch or two, a sickly sweet melody, a sensible amount of hand percussion, a sense of redemption or joy — are present. The front and back thirds, both of which are drunk with piles of drum tracks tripping over each other, are broken up by a relatively relaxed robo-pop breakdown. It’s safe to say that no funky/soulful house-purist DJ will ever chart this thing.
702 – “I Still Love You”
“I Still Love You” still makes me float after at least 100 plays. It’s like Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness” that way – it’s a romantic song that I will forever associate with summer. I like the way you and Chad didn’t try to make that primary synthetic string bit sound anything like a string section. The handclaps are so crucial, and the simple bass-drum pattern hits me square in the chest. I’d be surprised if the song took more than ten minutes to write. I have yet to see a video for it, but I’ve become attached to this vision of Irish, Kameelah and LeMishah fluttering through a showery meadow with a rainbow above. Their heads are their heads but they have butterfly bodies. You are a bumblebee with a Pharrell head. Rabbits thump their hind legs on drums held up by big grasshoppers. Squirrels play stringed instruments with their tails.
One question though: How can you decide that you love someone? That line basically ruined the song for a couple of my friends.
PS1: I wonder what the chorus of frat boys sounded like when they were singing along to “Frontin'” when you were on Jimmy Kimmel the other night. They weren’t really trying to pull off the falsetto, were they? I know they looked funny.
PS2: I need my Rush bootleg back.
People who think like I think are certain that the songs on a compilation with ‘post-punk’ in the title should be from the late ’70s or the early ’80s. Most of the songs on Rough Trade Shops Post Punk 01 fit into that frame of time, and then there is a small batch of inclusions from the late ’90s and early ’00s sprinkled here and there. On one hand, Rough Trade was smart to bundle the ’70s/’80s groups together with active ones that have taken several cues from that era; it’s timely and works as a cash cow oops crash course for younger Rapture fans. On the other hand is my head, because there is an itch that needs to be scratched: There is a big hole in time, a breach in the bloodline, between the ’80s and the late ’90s, that goes unrepresented. A skim through the liner notes — words like post-rock and Oasis stick out — confirms that the hole was caused by a blind spot.
Was there not a series of bands from this hole that laid part of the foundation for the latest post-punk rebirth? Of course. This series of bands had names — Dog Faced Hermans, Trenchmouth, Brainiac – that were just as ridiculous as those from the original era, and people used a similar list of adjectives — jagged, angular, disjointed, off-kilter, herkyjerky, etc. — to describe their music.
Six Finger Satellite was another group that existed during the hole. In fact, you could fit their entire existence into the hole. ‘Save the Last Dance for Larry’ would have fit nicely on Post Punk 01 between James White & the Blacks’ ‘Contort Yourself’ and World Domination Enterprises’ ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos.’ Or it could’ve replaced DNA’s ‘You and You’ to fall snugly between PiL’s ‘Careering’ and Life Without Buildings’ ‘The Leanover.’ Abrupt psssoup-psssoup rhythms broken up by stop-start dynamics; cranky vocals with a concise, chanted refrain; a near absence of melody; a break-down where the loping bass bobs along and the darting guitars that slashed elsewhere act like alarms’ this description could be used for dozens of other songs, several of which were made during a time that Post Punk 01 forgot.
(Taking sides: revivals vs. waves vs. continuums)
We both know what Chingy means when he says, ‘Give me what you got for a pork chop/She threw it at me like I was a shortstop.’ Chingy gets his easy piece of meat; she gets her own in return. But the it could also be the pork chop, right? Right. So I have this alternate vision of our hero — clad in an ’81 Ozzie Smith throwback — botching a routine 4-6-3 double play at a Rock ‘n’ Jock ‘Chopball game. The rapid-fire play-by-play: ‘It’s a ground ‘chop up the middle from Joey Pants; Mandy Moore fields it cleanly at second and — what’s this? Apparently rattled by a gesture made by shortstop Chingy, Moore aggressively rifles the ‘chop over for the force-out and strikes her teammate across the face. No one is out, everyone is safe. Chingy appears to be taking a dirtnap. If you’re scoring at home, that’s E-4.’
What can I say? That’s the feminist in me.
(The feminist in me, however, does not like the fact that I like ‘Right Thurr’ so much.)