Monday, August 11, 2008


Firstly: thanks to the mighty Droid for letting me take a crack at a Blogariddims mix. I hope y’all enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed doing it.

This mix is a deliberately genreclectic collection, ie it doesn’t plough any particular musical furrow. Instead, the tunes are linked around a vague theme of, erm, Ontological Hysteria – in that they all display some sense of impending pandemonium, either real or imagined…all the artists or songs here reveal some level of inner tension that manifests itself in the form of all sorts of batty symptoms from low-level teeth-grinding to full-on howling-at-the-moon midnight bareneck nekkid dancing. Songs on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, basically.

Of course, there a whole raft of musical nutcases and maniacal, outsider artists I could have accessed from Roky Erickson to Lee Perry to Syd Barrett and back again – in fact, I could’ve filled a whole mixtape with fucked-up Psych and Garage Rock alone – but I didn’t: I wanted something to make something a bit more playful and varied, and to create some unexpected linkages between artists and genres. But, most of all, I wanted this to be a fun listen.

There’s hopefully something here for everyone. A mixture of the obscure and the blindingly bleedin’ obvious. An hour of howling psychos would be more than most people’s patience could tolerate, so I played around with the pacing and the intensity, leaving plenty of points where your ears can take a breather. This mix isn’t about industrial-strength angst; it’s more about that moment just prior to things coming unglued; the pivot–point where joyous abandonment or gentle eccentricity can tilt into something darker and altogether more *eeek* obsessive.

I had faaaar more material than I could use in an hour-long mix, so a whole bunch of tracks got sacrificed to F’naklaax, the God of Musical Flow. So apologies to Anton Webern, Felix Kubin, Jean Luc Ponty, Gentle Giant, Kevin Coyne, 10cc, The Demons of Negativity, blahblahblah. These tracks all went direct from vinyl to .wav files on my PC, where they were then edited and sequenced, then ripped to a deliverable .mp3. I’ve left all the crackles and pops in place, ‘cos that’s part of the listening experience, innit. The only non-vinyl track was pinched from my mate Dom’s own “Variety El Punko #2” mix-CD when I realised to my incredulous horror that I didn’t have my own hiss-smeared copy of the seven-inch in question.

Okay, then: it’s time to pop a valium and swill it down with a large brandy - not that I’m, uh, encouraging irresponsible listening habits – but here comes the Ontological Hysteria Mix. And, oh yes, there will be violins.

Download as an mp3 here.

Blogariddims episode summary here.

Link to feedburner.

Here's the track-listing:

Goblin – L’alba Dei Morti Viventi
Goblin – Zombi

“They’re coming! They’re coming!” Two tracks lifted from the 1978 “Dawn of the Dead/Zombi” soundtrack and re-edited. It starts with a sense of creeping, lurching unease and notches its way upwards into a realm inhabited by ethereal Voodoo choirs and a staccato, drum-fuelled Dark-Funk work-out. Music to leave yr body to.

I looove Goblin; but they never fitted any standard Trad.Prog template. Euro-Sinestro, fer sure.

Kalyanji Anandji - Disco Cammata

Keeping it funky, but all wrong. Pounding Bollywood drums, off-colour Casios, crazed whoops and thunder-crashes: this sounds like the title-track to some obscure Curry Western with Ganesh coming to town in a sequinned chariot inlaid with ivory and armed with a Colt .45 that fires lightning-bolts. Let the disco range-wars commence!

Amon Duul II – Dem Guten, Schonen, Wahren

My favourite band ever. Probably.

I won’t bore you with the whys and whathaveyous, suffice to say that I’ve always imagined this to be the soundtrack to the 1968 Situationist uprising if it had been perpetrated by a coven of cackling witches. An occult art-riot. With violins. Renate is just the best vocalist ever, if it’s shrill, screechy, collapse-of-civilisation type narratives that you’re looking for. And I am.

The Doctors of Madness – I Think We’re Alone Now.
Ultravox! – Young Savage

The Doctors were the perfect collision of art-school and stage-school: Warhol n Burroughs n druggy, whiney NY nihilism filtered thru D. Bowie. Street-smart, yet also mid-70s Brit nudge-nudge-wink-wink. They’re one of the great lost Rock bands, I think, inhabiting a twilight trench in the no-man’s land twixt Glam n Punk.

Like early Ultravox! they liked a bit of violin along with their Ballard and Burroughs, did The Doctors. Bloody drama queens.

And how great is that black n white photo on the inner-sleeve? If that had been the main album cover then The Doctors would be total fucking legends by now.

And speaking of UV!: here they are - back before they went all poncey, skinny-tied and synthetic - complete with an exclamation-mark and a hysterically breathless John Foxx vocal performance that leaves me puffed out just listening to it. This one’s for Dom. “Watcha, Warren!”

Mick Ronson – Hey, Ma, Get Papa
Ennio Morricone – Danse Nuptiale

Some shrill, overwrought Post-Glam from guitar-god Ronno, replete w/ pumping pub piano and parping ARPs. God, I love this record from the bottom of my platform-boots.

There’s a fine line between hysteria and slapstick and the next track gleefully straddles it. Morricone is renowned for his expansive/expressive Western themes – often peppered with Exotica and wilfully obtuse choices in instrumentation - but this is the musical equivalent of a bar-room brawl, with cow-pokes and can-can girls duking it out with custard-pies and synthesisers.

It’s like a flickering old silent-film whose missing frames are signposted by Pianola syncopation and rattling cutlery-rack percussives – the Old West populated by headless chickens! - it’s almost as if the track has little holes in it, moments that have fallen out the bottom of The Reality Film, creating a sense of pandemonium and blind panic as the celluloid unspools. Still, nice to hear someone squeezing in a quickie in the back of the stage-coach before the world ends.

Ilhan Mimaroglu – Agony
Kurt Weisman - Happy Mouse Blues
Os Mutantes – Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai

If the previous track exhibited a Fear of Impending Non-Linearity, then that sense of slapstick foreboding is made manifest here, as we skirt the edge of the Abyss itself, falling down into a tape-spliced soundrealm populated by every girl that ever dumped you, every dog that ever bit you, etc. And some horses.

Still, there’s some startling 1965-vintage tape- and modulator-generated sonorities on display here. Turkish Musique Concrete: who woulda thunk it, eh?

This neatly segues into a wonderfully fragile and out-there piece of gtr and laptop Folk-Pop by Kurt Weisman – the only contemporary piece in this mix. This is from a gorgeous EP that came out on James Toth’s Mad Monk imprint a couple years ago and I recommend you speed over there and try’n hoover up any remaining copies. It sounds like an Autechre (or maybe Notwist) rmx of Syd B fronting The Chipmunks.

It also fits rather well with the fuzz-toasted Pop.Concrete shapes roadtested by 60’s Brazilian Trop.Psych band Os Mutantes (Actually, I cheated here a bit and kept in a few seconds of the tracks that preceded and followed this.) This is from their ‘difficult’ second album (ie casual browsers always opt for the first one). My own vinyl is of doubious prevenence with a South Korean address stamped on the back.

Pasquale & The Lunar-Tics – Moon Madness
The Scouts – Mr. Custer Stomp

I genuinely don’t know anything about the next two records, though I did try Googling on them a few days ago to little avail. Suffice to say they’re a couple of faux-tribal (60s?) novelty cum garage-rock records. The Pasquale tune exhibits some seriously berserk echo-dek abuse that would even have Lee Perry reaching for the fire-extinguisher. "Mr. Custer Stomp" sounds like it should have been covered by The Fall: dig the cavalry-officer constantly ordering his men ever onwards like a bad case of verbal OCD...tho it sounds like he's accidentally taken charge of a troupe of Injuns instead. It seems to somehow herald the complete collapse of authority in some obscure way. Both tunes are available on the Jungle Exotica series of albums that came out a decade or so ago.

Tin Huey – Chinese Circus
Pere Ubu – Non-Alignment Pact
The Residents – Picnic Boy

Another triumvirate of panic-stricken tunes for ya:

Tin Huey were a New Wave cum Beefheartian Proto-Quirk band that featured on Stiff Record’s Akron, Ohio comp. All sped-up vocals and ratchety Pre-Post-Punk gtr-work. Good to hear that they’re back recording and touring again after an absence of 20+ years.

Non-Alignment Pact: “It’s all because of you, girl! It’s! all! Because! Of! You!” ‘Nuff said.

Lene Lovich! Everybody’s favourite Eurodisco scream queen neurotically yelps and gargles her way through a minute’s worth of throbbing synths and a Snakefinger solo sooo slippery that it sounds like he’s wrestling with a bucket of eels. That’s a great Victorian-style swoon noise she makes too. And I love the way she says the word ‘that.’

Steeleye Span – New York Girls
Leo Sayer – The Show Must Go On

My good friend Spike heroically loses it down the phone sometime circa 1997, not realising that one day he’d time-travel through the Void and introduce a Steeleye Span song. Shrill and trebly – a horsehair bow scraping at cat-gut strings - the violin is easily the best-known musical signifier of melodrama, neurosis and inner turmoil, but the ukulele can sometimes give it a run for its money in the comedic mock-frenzy stakes. Especially when the ukulele is played by that well-known paranoid-bipolar Peter Sellers.

And as for the vibrato technique so-beloved of English Folk-singers – well, am I alone in finding it queasily-neurotic and uneasy-on-the-ears? Still, Maddy Prior - an underrated vocalist, or what? Her performance on "Weary Cutters" is as haunting as anything on Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares or Liz Whatsherchops' version of "Song to the Siren." I'll happily fight anyone who doesn't like early Steeleye Span. Come and have a go if you think yr gaudete enough!

From ukulele to banjo (I think) as Leo wipes off the clown make-up and trashes the one-man band set-up in favour of a good ol' fashioned middle-class whinge. This is Chas and Dave auditioning for a role in The Kids From Fame.

Aphrodites Child - Break

'Course, I was gonna put a Demis Roussos track on this mix, but opted for his former band instead. Most of their "666" album falls into the realm of full-on flat-out post-apocalyptic, intergalactic hysteria, but I've picked the most mellow (and probably best known) of their tracks cos it's a cool 'I'm outta here' kinda song. Well, why the fuck not, eh?