06 December, 2011

Six songs to make people who clearly aren't into the same things you're into squirm a little.

On Sunday, M. Martin posted a piece about ten disturbing or offensive songs. It was pretty good, I thought. And then M. decided to throw down the gauntlet with the question, "Where's yours?"
So I racked my brain and all I could think of was Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady". I thought about including Melvins's "Hung Bunny" from Lysol (and that would be "Hung Bunny" on its own, not "Hung Bunny / Roman Dog Bird") because if you put that song on, yeah, you can clear the room but it's probably not going to leave anybody with any long-lasting weirded-out impressions.
And here's the thing: I genuinely like the songs and records I'm about to share with you (with the exception of the very last entry on this list) (again, the last entry on this list is the only thing on here that I find truly vile or repugnant) (and because things on the internet have to be said in triplicate: I like everything on this list except for the very last entry), I would prefer that you actually go check them out. Enjoy them. It's what music is made for: enjoyment, entertainment. But I get that not everybody has the same tastes that I do and there are probably a lot of folks who would get easily weirded out by these selections because they're not the kind of thing you see on TV or hear on the radio.
Also? I got as far as six. Why only six? Because I'm at damned work right now. I opened the office, grabbed a glass of ice water, and began writing this post three hours ago.
Also? I didn't number these things. Why? Because I don't really get into ranking things. That's what the man wants you to do.

Michael Small / Jane Fonda, opening theme from Klute
For two minutes at the very beginning of the 1971 film, Klute, the viewer is treated to Michael Small's composition for xylophone and piano where in the xylophone goes through staccato ascending and descending lines that invoke the howling of wind through trees and the piano arpeggiates triads here and there; there's an occasional flourish of chimes in the background and the whole thing is drenched in reverb. And for the first twenty seconds, you're of the mind that it would be creepy enough as it is but somebody made the aesthetic decision to go for broke and laid a tape recording - hiss and scratch and all - of Jane Fonda talking in the most nonchalant, hell, positively coquettish manner about S&M, reassuring you that "you mustn't be ashamed" because "nothing is wrong". All she asks is that you don't hurt her too badly. Seriously, if you've ever wanted a boner you were unsure about, go pick up Klute sometime for the opening titles alone.

Leopard Leg, The Seven-Sistered Sea Secret of Shh Shh Shh
More or less the whole record, yeah, as it's only two songs - "Dasos Skoteina" clocking in at twenty two minutes and some change and "Sea" coming in at a little over twenty three and a half - performed by this English female ten piece* improvisational drum troupe. It's not all drums, though. On "Dasos Skoteina", there are little chimes and a ukulele and oh my god the moans of the damned from the abyss and a clearly possessed woman speaking in tongues. Eventually, you start to wonder where the drums went. Well, something like woodblocks or maybe just clanking of drumsticks comes back in about halfway in. You get maybe a minute and a half before the moans come back. For a change of pace, somewhere in the sixteen - seventeen minute neighborhood there's a singing saw.
"Sea", comes across as a continuation of the first song, which is why I'm putting the two together. It starts off ambient. Plays around with you for about six or so minutes, before the ladies of Leopard begin hollering in English and you get a bit of that before a blaring horn tells the ladies to set shit off. There are more than a few times that their screaming reminds me of the early days of slasher movies, when the slashers had class, like Leatherface. And the fact that there is no discernible rhythm, more than likely due to the fact that we're talking about ten drummers improvising in a room, just makes the chaos that much more intense.
Also? This band is my desktop wallpaper.

*Tastiest. KFC bucket. Ever.

Speaking of food...
Throbbing Gristle, "Hamburger Lady"
Kind of required listening. First let's let Genesis P-Orridge explain the song:
Genesis busily tells me about the origins (genesis?) of "Hamburger Lady" - "We tried to simulate the position of a woman who'd been burnt from the waist up and in this terminal burns unit in Portland, Oregon. They keep her alive and they called her the Hamburger Lady because she looked like a hamburger. So we all combined to simulate a delirious state and also the ominous evil malignancy of when you choose to keep a body alive.
The song goes like this:
This is the kind of song that makes you turn on the lights. All of them. Even in the middle of the day.

Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Trans"
Somewhere between orchestral music and musique concrète is "Trans", the thirty fifth piece in Stockhausen's catalog, the one that came to him in a dream. It's actually pretty captivating and intense, not really disturbing, but try to put this on at a kegger. You'll either clear the room out or be invited to leave. After all, the working title was "Musik für den nächsten Töten". I'll let you take that to Google Translate on your own time.

Naked City, Absinthe
This happens to be my favorite Naked City record, despite Leng Tch'e being more or less the big, hulking, half hour monster that I usually like (think Sleep's Dopesmoker and Boris's Absolutego). It showcases more of Fred Frith's improvisational skills over a (here's that word again) musique concrète backdrop of splashing water, creeching strings, and what sounds like the bird house at the zoo (at least on "La Fee Verte"). As with the Leopard Leg record I mentioned earlier, the whole record feels like a single piece. Of course, if we're talking about giving people the heebie-jeebies, I mean if that's really what you want to do with this record instead of, you know, enjoying it, you won't have to get much further than "Val de Travers", the record opener.
Bring home a nice girl from the bar. Put on this record. Watch her leave.
Invite your new neighbor over for a barbecue. Put on this record. Watch him leave.
Put this on at your New Year's party. Watch people squirm a little.
And I doubt any normal bloke who's into, I don't know, whatever normal folks are into, even if he gave it an honest try would make it through "Artemisia Absinthium".
Basically, we're talking about a record where this...
Naked City - Absinthe
... is the cover. And the thing is? It sounds exactly the way it looks.

That song that Ethan Suplee sings in American History X
I found it on YouTube. Looks like it's titled "The White Man Marches On". Even if you haven't seen this movie but still know what it's about, you can pretty much figure out what the song is about.
I'm not going to embed the song here nor am I going to link to it. It actually fucking disgusts me that there is a song like that out there. I wonder if Ethan Suplee felt a little fucked up after having to sing along to it.

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