Sunday, April 30, 2006

I don't like your face

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My last post included the intricate a cappella harmonies of Ex-girl. This post contains the equally intricate vocal syncopation of Furious Pig. Coincidence? Totes. Furious Pig is what it would sound like if a gaggle of carolers with tourette's syndrome showed up on your porch during the jolly season and peppered their songs with shrieks and raspberries (not the fruit) and mutterings of "i don't like your face" before simulating the sound of a gattling gun and pretending to die right there on your doorstep.

In 1978 These boys, influenced by ethiopian polyphonic chants among other things, traveled to London fresh out of high school to participate in the finals of the Melody Maker's Rock/Folk Contest. They didn't win, but at least judge Bob Geldof, who must have known it was christmas, told them they had balls. A year later they returned to London, squatting (no time for a job when you're torturing your vocal chords for up to 8 hours a day) and practicing their act, which would have really been something (what?) to see live--apparently the choreography was as intricate as the singing and their drum kit was made of fire extinguishers, biscuit tins, plastic containers and the like.

Soon they were touring England with the likes of The Slits, The Fall, and the Television Personalities, playing regular gigs in London with the crew of comedians who became AbFab, recording a soundtrack for a William Burroughs book, being featured on NME's C81, doing a Peel Session, and recording some of their songs, including those posted below (1980), with Rough Trade. So basically they had their hands in everything cool going on in the whole world at that moment.

Furious Pig - I Don't Like Your Face
Furious Pig - Jonnys So Long

I got most of the above info as well as the tracks from Ubuweb, a fantastic wealth of free information, film, and music that proves that there really is such a thing as a free lunch, so go there.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ex-Girl at Spaceland, April 22, 2006

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Ex-girl, from Japan, are like a smoothie made from Shoichi Aoki’s fruits and the Powerpuff Girls, colorful and tasty but with the gritty aftertaste of some powdery energy boost. They make discordant yet catchy pop-opera punk about space-frogs and mushrooms, claiming the planet Kero Kero (Kero is Japanese for “ribbit”) as their place of origin. Unexpected harmonies, complicated vocal syncopation, and jarring time signatures (see:here) misled me to think they had to have been classically trained as musicians before rewriting their own history as Ex-girl, but apparently they had no musical experience before they got together in 1997.

Ex-girl have released five albums, several of which were produced by Hoppy Kamiyama, an incredibly prolific producer responsible for loads of good Japanese pop and known affectionately as the Japanese Eno. The tracks posted below are from their fourth album, “Back to the Mono Kero” (2001). With this album they impressed someone enough to be asked to join Siouxsie and the Banshees on their European tour, which is cool.

Ex-Girl - Waving Scientist at King Frog
Ex-Girl - Pop Muzik (cover)

Ex-Girl live is a sight to behold--their shows include custom-designed costumes, projected animation, and choreographed spasms. On this fine evening they took the stage dressed as lobsters, doing a little exoskeleton shuffle onto the stage through the giant gullet of king frog. After a hyperactive set that included a pitch-perfect execution of the a cappella intro to “Waving Scientist at Frog King” they left the stage for a costume change and came back as anime froggies for an encore rendition of James Brown's “Get on Up.”

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Russian Electro

I don't know anything about this fellow Vershinin, and I haven't been able to find any information on him. His stuff sounds old, analog, I imagine this guy as sort of a pioneer in Russia, inspired by early european electronic acts like Kraftwerk and Einsturzende Neubauten while his soviet contemporaries were churning out idealistic, state approved ballads.

These two songs, Elektricheskiy Poezd (Electric Train) and Igraiu s Robotom (something Robotic) indicate a fascination with industry, technology, and robots that further supports a comparison to Kraftwerk--it's easy to think of "Elektricheskiy Poezd" as a Russian counterpart to "Trans-Europe Express" and "Igraiu s Robotom" to "The Robots."

As for his name, it could be a reference to a character in The Three Sisters, one of Anton Chekhov's plays about the downfall of Russia's privileged class. Chekhov's Vershinin is a charming, philosophizing, adulterous battery commander who's wife repeatedly tries to kill herself. Maybe Vershinin has named himself after Chekhov's character, or.....maybe Vershinin is just really his name.

Vershinin - Elektricheskiy poezd
Vershinin - Igraiu s robotum