19.12.10

RIP Cap'n!

Take some notice, people, because eccentric singer/painter/hermit/cult figure/cult leader/all round legend Don Van Vliet a.k.a. Captain Beefheart just passed away.

10.12.10

4.5 Million Native Speakers Can't Be Wrong

We may seem mighty international here at Toilet Guppies, but actually we're born and based on the fringes of Europe, in Norway—the land of wood and minimalism (and now black gold, motherfuckers, ha ha!). It's a language group of only 4.5 million people, so any verbally based art such as song, film or literature is doomed to obscurity.

In most cases, that's just as well. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's a pity. A wrong we here at Toilet Guppies intend to right with a few introductory anthologies of Norwegian music. First off, Norwegian-language songs, brought to us by the hardy few Norwegians who resist English on the radio, English on TV, English at the cinema, English on the Internet, English on blogs(!), English in your band and Swedish in the service industry.

Some of these songs are bad melodies with good lyrics. Some are good melodies with bad lyrics. Some are even good melodies with good lyrics! But I've tried to avoid bad melodies with bad lyrics, which is why you won't find any black metal on here, even though it's Norway's main cultural export. I've likewise snubbed our second musical export, designer electronica. But those wreckers of soul usually sing in English, anyway. Besides, you're all modern guys, of course you've had Röyksopp in the ears before…

But there's rock, pop, punk, post-punk, new wave, shoegaze, hardcore, trip hop, folk, world, spoken word… jazz… We do everything here in Norway.


[All mp3s are ID tagged. The titles and artist names should show up when you unzip the download. If you're curious about context, meaning and all round gossip, please consult the track-by-track liner notes below.]


1. «But One Day, When the Rains Come» (2003)

This singer/journalist means to Norwegians what Johnny Cash means to North Americans. Should you spot a Norwegian crying, chances are
he or she's been listening to one of this TV personality's tone deaf sea shanties.

This track was inspired by a trip to the Kalahari Desert. Despite a thumb piano lending the song an exotic «world music» feel, the scraping fiddle echoes traditional Norwegian folk tones as it laments and hopes against hope for a reunion with the one that got away:
I know it is you,
my love,
passing me by.
But I cannot see you
through the heat, dust and wind.
Merciless is today!
I have no song to sing,
not a word to say.
Although I know it is you,
my love,
passing me by.
But one day, when the rains come!

You know it is I,
your love,
passing you by.
But you cannot see me
through the heat, dust and wind.
Merciless is today.
You have no caress for me,
not a word to say.
Although you know it is I,
your love,
passing you by.
But one day, when the rains come!
Norwegian has no language for the erotic. Sexual terms are either obscene cuss words or medical Latin, the space between the filthy and the sterile an unimagined blank. But Norway values nature above all things, so the suggestive metaphors you have to resort to when trying to be sensual tend towards natural imagery. Here, as the scene is set in the «desert» of lovelessness, it's only natural that rain should take on an air of almost mystical ejaculation:
And rain will come!
The clouds will melt together
into one mighty, heavenly heart
that graciously squanders, pours
its pure and clear, celestial blood
and gives life
to this earth that suffers.
Then we may meet, you and I,
with laughter, song and kisses,
so that our cracked lips
burst and bleed.
And we shall call out
to men, verdure and beasts:
Look! Our love, too, lives.
2. «The Death Song»/«Flowers for Genet» (1976)
When the day has arrived and the hour's arrived
And you shall be stood up 'gainst the wall to bleed
And those who once loved ya
Have long since left ya
Then you shall see: Dying is lonely indeed

For the day shall come, and the hour will come
When the sand beneath you is red as a dye
And when they come for ya
Recall how I implore ya
O brother, it is strangely lonesome to die
This recital was laid down in the studio just days before its author took his life. He was one of few sorely needed mavericks in Norwegian cultural life, from the 1950s until his suicide in 1976. An anarchist sympathiser, convicted pornographer, closet homosexual and Anthroposophist, it's not surprising that the poem to follow «The
Death Song» in this medley is a prayer to the Virgin Mary, for grace on behalf of «pimps and sodomites, flashers and transvestites, pederasts, fetishists, poets and masochists, drunkards and junkies… thieves, whores and Genet»—all those who hung crucified next to history's most admired martyr, alone on his cross but for the dregs of society who, the romantic liberal's old trope goes, are the only ones truly able to appreciate the passion of the Christ. (If you disregard all the sociopaths and idiots hidden among the ranks of the unlucky, he may have a point.)

If you ever wondered why Norway's such a hotbed of noise music, note that, in accompanying «The Death Song», even jazz musicians created shrill, metallic soundscapes worthy of industrial music—a genre only invented the year before.

3. «I Wet My Dagger» (1980)

The most common murder weapon in Norway is the axe. Still. In 2010. We have guns.

In this little ditty, a breathy 70 year old sings, a little too lustily, «I wet my dagger in your hot, brown blood!» Blood is never described as «brown». It's always «crimson» this and «red» that. The effect of describing it as «hot» and «brown» conjures an eerie titillation—as if you'd actually stabbed someone for the first time, only to find it's not at all like you were made to think, but an experience that far surpasses any imagination or expectation! Then there's a line towards the end that translates into something like, «The yearning hunts you like fire in your loins»… Wow. I wish I'd had a grandfather like that to guide me through life… It makes me think of the guy I once worked with in a cemetery, who took me aside on my first day to tell me, «You ain't a man until you hear the groans of pain turn into moans of pleasure.» He peered into my eyes, held his stare, then walked off—the only time I ever saw the eyes behind the sunglasses he always wore…

But I digress. According to Wikipedia, this old man's the best selling Norwegian recorded artist ever. Perhaps his status as best selling artist and the murderous prevalence of the axe are somehow connected?

4. «Advice to Hobo's Model (from Tarantula by Bob Dylan)» (2001)

Here's a rare recording; an obscure collaboration between electronica duo Xploding Plastix and Oslo's resident old beat poet, Jan Erik Vold, best known for his countless odes to the tram(!) and a rather idiosyncratic recitation style: a lazy drawl complete with bizarre intonation that makes everything sound like a comical moan, delivered in the working class sociolect of east Oslo.

Naturally, this was the go-to guy when they needed someone to translate Bob Dylan's unreadable novel, Tarantula, into Norwegian—an especially superfluous enterprise, seeing as even Dylan didn't much care for the book's speed freak gibberish. (The original won Spin Magazine's «award» for most unintelligible sentence in a book written by a rock star, with the doozy, «Now's not the time to get silly, so wear your big boots and jump on the garbage clowns.»)

Yet Vold and the Pastix' performance of the chapter «Advice to Hobo's Model» works. The Oslo beatnik's inimitable wry wink of a voice is set to a cinematic score like a detective rifling through the lines, searching for clues in Dylan’s amphetamine burn out bullshit prose:
paint your shoes delilah—ye walk on white snow where a nosebleed would disturb the universe… down these narrow alleys of owls an flamenco guitar players, jack paar an other sex symbols are your prizes—check into the bathrooms where bird lives for when he comes flying out with a saber in his wing—a country music singer by his side—digesting a carrier pigeon… ye just might change your style of fornicating, sword swallowing—ye just might change your way of sleeping on nails—paint your shoes the color of the ghost mule—the paper tiger's teeth are made of aluminum—youve a long time to Babylon—paint your shoes, delilah—paint them with a sponge

look! like i told you before, it doesnt
matter where it's at! there's no such
thing. it's where it's not at that you
gotta know. so what if tony married his
mother! what's it got to do with your life?
i really have no idea why youre so unhappy.
perhaps you ought to change your line of
work. you know. like how long can someone
of your caliber continue to paint pencil
sharpeners… see you next summer, good to
know youre off the wagon.

prematurely yours,
Funka
5. «Gods of Nature (Hanging valley mix)» (2001)

I said this would be a Norwegian language compilation, but I'm including a song in Sámi because it's a language family just as indigenous to the country as Norwegian (if not more so). There are nine living Sámi languages (four of them spoken in Norway). This singer simply says she sings in «the Sámi language», which probably means it's in Davvisámegiella, by far the most spoken Sámi language in Norway. Other Sámi tongues face dire challenges; Ume Sámi only has about ten (10!) fluent speakers left—and most of those guys actually live in Sweden. (Try having a decent conversation in that language.) In any case, I have no idea what the words to this song mean.

This singer is the most famous Sámi artist. That doesn't mean she makes traditional music. Usually it's jazzed-up, ethno-fusion «world music» with New Age leanings. But this track has been remixed by a Norwegian pioneer of ambient techno who graduated from chill-out music for frazzled ravers to a more experimental and accomplished science of sound. Here, he transforms the New Agey world jazz of the original into something at least hinting at the spiritual release promised by the singer's considerable talent, yet rarely delivered by her arrangements.

But not a bad word about the woman who declined an invitation to perform at the opening ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, because she didn't want to serve as an ethnic alibi, and who did a little yoik towards the end of the Christmas carol(!) she sang at the prince and princess' royal wedding, live on TV, full well knowing that yoiking in church is about as offensive to pagans as it is blasphemous to Christians.

6. «The Cunt Was a Wild Animal» (1926)

This number is from a collection of field recordings of curses, invocations and dirty ditties sung by descendants of Finnish immigrants to the southern forests along the Swedish-Norwegian border, ever since the 1500s. The Forest Finns have an official status as ethnic minority in Norway. This particular song was recorded in 1926, and is not a curse or invocation, as this approximate translation from the Finnish makes abundantly clear:
The cunt was a wild animal,
the cock a crooked fellow.
Come, my sweet, straighten 'im out,
like you did last eve.
Ibsen it ain't, but the static from the wax cylinder recording can compete with the best of Norwegian noise music any day.

7. «Crazy Horse» (1981)

This post-punk outfit from the country's rock capital, Trondheim, was the Joy Division, Birthday Party or Scratch Acid of Norway. The track rocks harder and better than most any other recording that's ever come out of this country. The lyrics are unintelligible, so don't ask. Something about social pests and raging like a crazy horse.

8. «You Are a Shit» (1980)

This is 22 seconds of pure punk, and with words like that— «You're a shit» made to rhyme with «Crush yer face»—there's no need for one second more, really. (Would you even want this muck to last any longer?)

I'd translate the lyrics, but the poetic acrobatics this would require are sure to botch up the simplicity—well, let's be honest: the idiocy—of this song.

9. «Sick & Tired» (2006)

I already mentioned my gig at the graveyard. One day, a man came in to fasten the tombstones to the ground, to stop them falling over brittle, little children playing in the cemetery. (Norway—where playgrounds are graveyards!) The guy mentioned he played drums in a hardcore band whose name can only be translated as «Brutal Cock». Thus they are contenders for best band name ever, after Norwegian death punks Turbonegro.

In this band's adopted home town of Trondheim, the poison of choice is what locals refer to as «karsk»—bootleg liquor/moonshine/white lightning, with just a dash of cheap, acidic percolator coffee in it. This music is the soundtrack to the kind of unique inebriation this engenders, as well as its hangover. In a sense, this is moonshinecore.

The lyrics?
Sick & tired of me job!
Sick & tired of me job!
Sick & tired of me job!
Sick & tired of me job!

Sick & tired of me band!
Sick & tired of me band!
Sick & tired of me band!
Sick & tired of me band!

Sick & tired of yer mug!
Sick & tired of yer mug!
Sick & tired of yer mug!
Sick & tired of yer mug!

So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!
So sick & tired!

Feels so good to be at work!
Feels so good to be at work!
Feels so good to be at work!
Feels so good to be at work!

It's so cool playin' in a band!
It's so cool playin' in a band!
It's so cool playin' in a band!
It's so cool playin' in a band!

I am so fond of yer mug!
I am so fond of yer mug!
I am so fond of yer mug!
I am so fond of yer mug!

All is well!
All is well!
All is well!
All is well!
All is well!
All is well!
All is well!
All is well!

So sick & tired!
All is well!
So sick & tired!
All is well!
So sick & tired!
All is well!
So sick & tired!
All is well!
'Nuff said.

10. «Accepted» (1981)

This solo artist is best known for having penned her autobiography in automatic writing, confiding in us that she'd been in touch with extraterrestrials—contact of the very third kind, indeed. (Of the fourth and fifth, even!) But in 1981, she was still just a teenager who wrote lyrics in an unorthodox half-Norwegian/half-Swedish hybrid, inexplicably delivered in what sounds like an English accent. Nothing was trendier in Norway at the time than new wave and reggae, so this teen just as well combined the two.

In the song, the narrator goes to work—a job she hates, on account of all her miserable, backstabbing colleagues who «have never learnt to smile»—only to hear from her boss, «You don't fit in here, we're letting you go.» The chorus then asks, apparently in all earnestness, «Why am I never accepted?!» It's an absurd and shit piece of writing, but what she lacks in literary prowess she makes up for with feeling.

In Norway she's considered a bit of a joke on legs, but this song has far more energy and attitude than most Norwegian artists could ever muster in all of the recordings of their careers, put together. It lacks the self-consciousness that inhibits most Scandinavian music, trying so hard to be effortlessly cool.

11. «Strange Bird» (1984)

This song—from a rocker most famous in Norway for sporting a bold 'tache, shameless mullet and over-sized, red eye glasses—is the «Billie Jean» of Norwegian pop music. Which is no mean feat, considering it features an accordion.

Recorded in 1984, this was a time before budget airlines, so Europe still held an exotic sway over the imagination of inhabitants tucked away on the corner of the continent. The lyrics here reflect the alienation of isolated Norwegians, «Europe» just another word for «homesick» as the narrator sings of his sorely missed loved ones. You wouldn't think it to look at us now, but Norway was once the poorest country in Europe.



12. «Disaster» (1994)

If David Byrne had an IQ of only 50, Talking Heads may have sounded something like this:
Let me tell you about the day when Roald went out to buy some fruit
Everything went wrong that day

My jacket! My jacket! Where is my jacket?!
My jacket! My jacket! I cannot find my jacket!
My shirt! My shirt! My shirt! My shirt's gone missing!
My pants! My pants! My pants! I've misplaced my pants!
My pants! My pants! I seem to have misplaced my pants!
My socks! My socks! My socks! My socks are gone!

Someone's hogged all my clothes!

Roald didn't dare go out on the street
naked to purchase some fruit
He draped himself in a sheet
Better believe he looked lame, when down the road he skipped
But there was a banana peel—and yes, he slipped

I hurt myself, hurt myself, hurt myself! Ow! Ow! Ow!
Fucking banana peel, it was in my way!
Shit! Shit! It fucking hurts like hell!
Shit! Shit! Shit! It fucking hurts like hell!

Someone's laying traps for me!

Eventually he reached the square
and not a moment too soon
'cause the stalls were about to close up
Would've been too bad if he'd have to leave with unfinished business
But Roald ended up one big mess

Pears! Pears! Don't you have any pears?!
Apples! Apples! Apples! Don't you have any more apples left?!
Bananas! Bananas! Don't you have any bananas?!
Bananas! Bananas! Bananas! Why doesn't your stall carry bananas?!
Peaches! Peaches! Why don't you have any peaches?!
Peaches! Peaches! Peaches! Why doesn't your stall carry peaches?!

Someone's bought all the fruit I want!!!
Someone's hogged all my clothes!!!
Someone's bought all the fruit I want!!!
Someone's laying traps for me!!!
This is a complete disaster!!!
This is a complete disaster!!!

Fans love this song so much, incessantly calling out for it during concerts, that the guy who wrote it penned a sequel called «Anti-disaster»; a subdued and awfully boring song where everything goes well with our beloved protagonist.

13. «Thor the Cook» (1993)

This middle class pop band is beloved by students. Generally, their music won't rock your world, but the singer is a considerable literary talent with a keen eye for social realism. I'm not even going to try and translate the lyrics; the flow and humour are too difficult to transpose.

The narrator is out eating with his girlfriend and her father, a sailor, when they meet Thor, the cook on the father's ship. Thor the cook is the kind of drunk given to sentimentality and paranoia, extending embarrassing compliments one moment and disconcerting threats the next.

Norwegians know the words and belt along to this song, because everyone's met a guy like Thor. Women tend to complain about feeling unsafe, telling guys we can't possibly understand what it's like to be a poor, little girl in a world teeming with rapists, not being able to walk down city streets by yourself or go travelling alone, etc. But such girls have no insight into the dynamic between men, and don't realise that guys behave differently to each other than they do towards women. The threat of rape is often replaced by the threat of violence (when it is replaced). Upon meeting a sexually confused and not-so-gentle giant packing a knife in his jacket and 'roid rage in his bloodstream, your Y chromosome won't protect you. On the contrary; other men are often considered legitimate targets when a guy can't take his sexual frustration and emotional humiliation out on the woman who just spurned him. On the bus, in the bar, on the street, you're likely to meet some guy like Thor, who tells the protagonist:
«Hey you, I love you, you bastard!
You have so much sensuality
But soon I'm gonna punch your teeth in
'cause ugly boys are the absolutely worst to me»
The protagonist has to suffer the indignities of being cornered into a conversation with an emotional cripple forever vacillating between the maudlin and the hateful:
He clenched his fist and his eyes were mean
He said, «What you need is more discipline»
and I strongly resented his dedication
Finally, the hapless young man snaps himself, in the gloriously cathartic last refrain:
«Hey, Thor, I think you're a right bastard!
You ain't got much sensuality
I ought to punch your rotten teeth in
But it's too late, it's plain to see…»
14. «Dead Man's Tango» (2002)

This is a band from Stavanger, in the west of Norway. Trendy Norwegians tend to disdain them, while students of the hard sciences and, er, Germans love them. With antiquated instruments and metallic percussion, they take the most obvious elements from Tom Waits and Einstürzende Neubauten and normalise them, softening the edges.

Still, the twang & tremble of this guitar is sure to make you want to sway & grind. With sultry string work like that, I'm prepared to forgive just about anything. And it's not every day you hear a banjo like that…

As for the lyrics, they're a dispatch from some war, by an officer who's losing his religion—and his sense of rhythm: the chorus goes, «There's no life to my tango!» Although I suspect this has more to do with the NATO alphabet and his radio communication set-up than dancing—«My tango's dead!» Don't ask me about army lingo, I politely but firmly declined my invitation to be conscripted by the Norwegian Armed Forces (and all I got were papers stating I'm certifiably insane).

15. «Party» (2009)

Social realist singer/songwriter fare, with Gothic Americana arrangements and words to the point, about life in country towns. As this guy proves, it's entirely possible to be funny whilst remaining sincere:
Twelve o'clock, in came my ex
and pestered us with her complex
She was pissed, said «I'm breaking up with you»
It's been over since '92
She said, «You used to set fire to stuff
Now you've a bike with a bag on the rack
Hairline's thin—and you're fat
You big bluff»
16. «The Ballad of Ole P. and Bente L. (with a Later Remark about Astrid Å.)» (1972)

In 1972, this Norwegian singer/songwriter—still young, virile and inspired at 25—churned out this dizzyingly fast-paced set of Dylanesque lyrics tracing the downwards trajectory of a relationship turning sour. They describe the dynamic between a boy and a girl more than midway between mutual infatuation and reciprocal disgust.

Unfortunately, the heavily structured lyrics are so dense with clever rhymes that any attempt to translate them would be a nightmarish and futile enterprise. This song is best enjoyed by people who understand Norwegian, but here's a taste of the last few lines—rather simple and tame and not nearly as smart or funny compared to the first part, but still written by Norway's most poisonous pen:
You may wake up alone
or wake with he, she or it
Stay with whomever you like
I just don't give a shit
Put on your favourite threads
Dance on your favourite floor
But the clothes that you got from me
won't fit you anymore

You are alone
We have arrived at the end
You've had your chance
You got your song
There will never be
another one
My friend
17. «Kissing» [A/K/A «Gonna Shoot Myself on Christmas Eve»] (1985)

Contrary to popular belief, Norway is not the world capital of suicide. It's Lithuania that is undisputed master of self-deliverance, followed by Russia, Belarus, Hungary, Slovenia, Kazakhstan and Estonia. Still, for such an affluent, egalitarian and peaceful country, Norway does nurture a bit of a tradition for «the gentleman's way out».

Mr. Per Bergersen, for instance—although it's been disputed whether it was assisted suicide or homicide, seeing as the singer/songwriter was in fact shot and killed by a mate (who was subsequently convicted of murder). To be fair, though, the singer/songwriter had penned several tunes about offing himself, the most infamous being this Christmas song.

Per Bergersen has been a cult figure ever since the above debacle, with his one record of demos and live music—a charity release for the local small town youth club, limited to a thousand copies only and released in something like 1990—being quite the collector's item.

(And yes, he was from the coldest place in the country.)

Here's a quick and dirty translation, just so you get the picture:
Gonna shoot myself at Christmas, there'll be quite the spray
Don't you try and stop me, we all die anyway
I'll do it by the Christmas tree as soon as the bells chime
because I'd like to celebrate in a way that's mine

Granted, I can see why you think this idea is crap
but my head is empty, so you can shut your yap

The best part is imagining all the resulting mess
Hope those who come to clean it up will start to obsess
'Cause I'll be using a shotgun—instant lobotomy
and as my own added twist I'll shove it up in me

I aim to use both barrels, to see how far it goes
Think it will go to my head, let's see how far she blows

We'll decorate the Christmas tree with brain mush and with blood
A bit of piss, a couple of guts and spinal cord in a hood
Hope those who find the mess see something to appreciate
And if they don't, well, I guess it's a little too late
And here are some shakey junkies out of the capital performing their version of the song. It's not got the manic, venomous energy of the original, but I love the reactions they get from their fellow fiends:



18. «The Shadow of Doubt» (1987)

This group's singer is one of the finest rock lyricists out of Norway, but the band's music is uneven. This is an exception: Standard and forgettable «dying love» lyrics are set to dreamy drone rock of the first order, four years before Loveless. If you like the Brian Jonestown Massacre or Spiritualized, you'll love this.

19. «Pantheon» (1994)

This band started out as Norway's answer to Tool, but has ended up an unseemly mix between Nine Inch Nails and Scooter. Their lyrics were always a bit adolescent, the teenager's idea of profound—vague and grandiose imagery that gives the impression of saying something:
I see the white of the eye
I see the black in the soul
I see a temple 'tween the trees
I see a tower in many colours
And on it goes; you get the gist. But that's no reason to turn your nose up at the music, swirling, harmonious and atmospheric.

20. «Child of the Forgotten Race» (1961)

This track is a kind of field recording, made in 1961 by a Norwegian fiddler and silversmith who paid a 43 year old female «Traveller» (Norwegian Romani) in silver jewellery to sing for him in his house. The recordings languished for 39 years until someone finally released them. The singer was never a public figure or recording artist.

Romanis officially referred to as «Romanisæl» or «Tatere» arrived in Norway in the 1500s. Traditionally, they were nomads. They speak Scandoromani, although that's conspicuously absent from their recorded music, which is in «Svorsk»—a hybrid of Norwegian and Swedish. Much is made of their musical tradition, but recorded output generally limits itself to hymns, psalms and traditionals well-known in other countries and languages. (With an odd predilection for Christmas carols.) Relatively few are Romanisæl compositions. You will, however, find songs that distinguish themselves from Norwegian folk music, in that they're wailing, teeth gnashing, chest beating laments—a character trait that's kind of frowned upon in a Protestant culture that values stoicism and «not burdening» others with your shit.

There are no such coy reservations with the Romanisæl, who, to be fair, have had more to complain about. These days they're associated with the state persecution they were subjected to for decades: forced settlement, abortions, adoptions and displacement of children, lobotomy, etc. Coerced sterilisation was practised by the state from 1934 until 1977, and the Romanisæl have levelled accusations of ethnic cleansing. Scrutiny into records, however, shows that less than 0,3 per cent of men and women sterilised by the state—125 out of 44,000 people—were Romanisæl. Currently there are an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 living in Norway. (Settled Norwegians were also sterilised, lobotomised, etc., but as that motley crew of eccentrics, promiscuous women, the mentally disabled or ill, the destitute, orphans and the Lumpenproletariat don't belong to clearly defined groups, there's no one really to speak on their behalf. Victimisation belongs to the Sámi, Romanisæl and war children.)

This song a not a standard hymn, but a Romanisæl composition, taking the listener through the travails of Travellers—and a lot of other tribulations that have little or nothing to do with being Romanisæl. («The seducer came and I surrendered,» she sings.) There's love (lost), imprisonment, destitution, ostracisation, religion… all the ingredients to make a compelling story, sung in a relentless a cappella—an unyielding voice that saves the music from the self-pitying sentimentality otherwise indicated by the words.

Don't you admire someone who doesn't need a single instrument or visual aid to bolster or hide behind, just pouring it out there?


Awrightee, that's it for now. Toilet Guppies will be back with more Norwegian should-be classics in 2011. Dæffen sjteike!

25.11.10

Norwegian Winter/Scandinavian Minimalism

-8°C and occasionally snowy, 'tis the season of frozen monochromatics! Say goodbye to the colours of the rainbow, say hello to white snow and black night, the tidy distinction between the two non-colour colours increasingly blurred until the snow is a polluted grey melting on top of everything beneath those grey skies, which are neither day nor quite night. Need a pick-me-up?


The download above is pure winter music. It's got the industrial atmospherics of a city, yet sounds more like the cosmic hum heard only in an arctic landscape, between winds. The static made by molecular clouds of atoms, the waves inside a stone, a snow crystal or anything else you might care to think of. There aren't any familiar-sounding instruments or other recognisable sounds that otherwise give rise to associations or prejudices, limiting your experience. This is audio as meditation, without mantras, words, melodies, rhythms, patterns or other emotional cues reducing the complex into just one perspective, feeling, thought, memory or hope. This music is a sliding scale free of absolutes, which is what makes it not only difficult but wrong to try and describe it. But if you're skeptical of the old Scandinavian Minimalism, so often neat, sterile and functional, this is minimalism as mysticism, rather than design. If less is more, then the least is the most.

These recordings are by a Norwegian artist whose specialty is sound—an audio savant with an ear that seems to be able to capture what escapes ours entirely. (The record company that releases his music refuses to make its catalogue available in mp3 format, due to the inferiority in sound.) He started out as a minimalist noise/ambient solo artist, but is now almost exclusively a producer who no longer records or performs his own solo material. He once said in an interview that the pride of Norwegian New Age jazz, the internationally acclaimed Jan Garbarek, should be shot for what he's done to Norwegian folk music. (I don't recall him elaborating, but I'm sure Garbarek playing Norwegian folk schematics in the insipid tone of the soprano saxophone and dipping it liberally in synthesizers, taking any grittily sincere significance it may have had and reducing it to housewife demographic «spirituality», would do it.) Now he's making a similar kind of atmospheric jazz himself, as member of an acclaimed improv outfit. He has also worked with Garbarek's artistic kissing cousin, Nils Petter Molvær, who does exactly what Garbarek does, only with a trumpet, condemning the soul of Norwegian music to easy listening for urban dwellers with a nostalgia for nature.

This compilation, however, focuses on our noise artist's solo music, which doesn't err on any side of such bland existentialism. You can buy all of his albums in one box set now (even the ones initially limited to editions of 500 copies), as well as a dreamy remix project CD, all of which come very highly recommended. You can't find better music from Scandinavia (or finer ambient noise from anywhere).

This compilation collects none of those readily available recordings, only the non-album tracks that you can't find in one place or release, and which are more likely to disappear in the respective obscurities of its special interest compilation albums, remix projects, EPs and singles. Most of these tracks tend towards the subtle, insular fuzziness of the artist's later recordings, rather than the more grandiose noise of his early stuff or the experimental instrumentation of his mid-period pieces. Much of it may not be his best material (although some of it comes close), but it's the sound of winter. They're saying this year's going to be a cold one.

So curl up in a ball to conserve your warmth and let your mind drift off to the sound of inside…

22.11.10

Easy Listening Nightmare

Am getting a bit lax, I know, with few uploads and all these viral YouTube clips, but somebody sent me this for the second time and I simply have to acknowledge the immensity of it:



In my restless search through the world of music, I've had my dalliances with easy listening. Bossa nova, exotica, cocktail lounge soundtracks, sleazy soul, big band crooner type stuff… and I only became convinced it's all absolutely psychotic music. It's what sociopaths lacking the emotional cues will put on, because that's what they think other people would like. It's what neurotic, pill-popping alcoholics use to drown out all the failures of their life, constantly muttering at the back of their minds. I mean, what do the hired hand studio musicians feel when they play this stuff? What did the writers and arrangers think when they put all of this together? Is there any discernible human emotion at all, apart from a most audacious denial of the facts of life? Who are these people?

Nothing illustrates these misgivings as much as this piece of Soviet stylee easy listening. I suspect there are no lyrics because any lyrics might get the writers, performers and producers in trouble with one or the other ideologist, fickle and sadistic Marxists partial to internecine power plays that put everyone else at risk of ending up in the GULAG. And so a man with a decidedly unhealthy vodka pallor who already looks like a stiff stiffly walks in, smiling bravely as he croons a song of utter denial of the grim, meat hook realities waiting there outside the studio, and which is keeping a close eye on this man, even here and now as he lip syncs to the least expressive music possible, eschewing not only words but even any kind of sincere human emotion that could possibly reflect the reality of any human being, anywhere in the world.

This is the sound of someone asking you if you're happy, when you know that if you don't pretend to be content they'll cart you off to a torture chamber, because discontent equals dissent—an indictment of what they believe to be true and correct, and if it weren't, they will have been so horribly wrong and have wreaked all this tragic havoc for no good reason, so it's better to force people to smile, smile, smile! and keep up the pretense. That way you ward off guilt and maintain your power.

It's an easy listening nightmare.

19.11.10

Get Ready for the Big Squat!

Today is World Toilet Day! And in the event of the Big Squat, we here at Toilet Guppies are posting our absolute favourite track by incredibly prolific 60-something pervert of distinction, Tonetta:



You can have your Milton and your Shakespeare and Ginsberg and who-have-you, I'll take this any day:
I came across a blanket of shit
Guess some dimwit did it
Not only scat, but piss to boot
When I looked in the mirror, I saw it was you



Well, I protest the wrongdoing
And made me eat the whole damn thing
I learned my lesson about where I shit
And now I sit and do it on the toilet
Like the best of art in history, it's educational for the kids and funny for the grownups. Unfortunately, the schizo-scat track is not yet available for purchase. But for other, almost as mesmerising songs from Canada's finest semi-cross dresser past middle age, go straight to noble enablers of deviation, Black Tent Press, who also carry solo efforts by Paz Lenchantin of longstanding Toilet Guppies favourite Entrance (currently the not-so-favourite Entrance Band) and Papa M A/K/A David Pajo.

And while we're on the subject of toilet business, do you remember this one?



Happy Toilet Day! And remember: Open defecation hurts women the most.

9.11.10

Net Nuggets 35: Red Money

Red Café feat. Diddy & Fabolous: «Money Money Money» [mp3]

Toilet Guppies isn't rap's biggest fan. But if you need a break from touchy-feely singer/songwriter fare, cathartic rock'n'roll, catatonic ambient, mindfucking electro or spine-warbling noise, here's one of the very few rap rarities in Toilet Guppies' collection—a yet to be released track from 2008 by Red Café. I have no clue who he is, but apparently Diddy a.k.a. P. Diddy a.k.a. Puff Daddy a.k.a. Puff a.k.a. Puffy a.k.a. Sean John a.k.a. Sean Combs makes an appearance (seen below, shocked at the appearance of a one dollar bill among his regular, heavyweight denominations).

I know, I know… but the track is actually good. It's easily the best song about money Toilet Guppies has ever heard, with eminently quotable lines such as «Blocka blocka blocka / Money money money / Any given day I'm pourin' honey on your money and I murder everybody»!

7.11.10

Never Mind the Salsa, Here's... Hispanic Garage Rock!

¡España! A land untouched by Toilet Guppies… Most of the people who check out this blog do so from IP-addresses in Indonesia (hello, Indonesia!), so in an attempt to break Spain and the 30 per cent of South America that isn't Brazil (no offense, Indonesia), I have put together a primer of Spanish-language rock'n'roll, as a tribute to all my Spanish friends (all three or four of 'em—and that's counting the Catalans), one Mexican acquaintance, some Peruvian regrets and three Norwegians I know who are trying to learn Spanish.

For a northern European infected with Protestantism, it's immensely beautiful to see how in Spain people know how to enjoy life and the moment they're in. Like when they're indulging in an absolutely delicious cuisine (one of the world's tastiest!) that, once you take a bite, sends a message throughout your entire body that this shit is unhealthy, the mortality it reminds you of making you feel more alive, not like you're merely preserving your body with all these nutritionally correct foodstuffs.

Spain! The land where they still indulge in bloody, brutal animal sacrifice in public. (Still in touch with what it is to be human, warts and all…) Where you can buy witchcraft paraphernalia in run-of-the-mill specialist shops that aren't even considered weird or unusual. (Keeping the mystery alive…) Where the brown eyed girls' voices are as sensually rough and gravelly as the coffee is smooth and rich… Where the sun actually warms!

Even in the bars, they give you napkins made out of paper that doesn't absorb, so that you have to use a ridiculously extravagant amount of them. And due to a complete and systematic lack of bins in these bars, like a naughty child you have to gleefully throw all those discarded tissues right onto the nasty floor, until at the end of the day you're sat in an oversized ashtray and they finally sweep up the rubbish and the ashes and cigarette butts (because no health freaks refuse you to smoke in public in Spain!). Only then will they put all of that trash in a bin liner that, in more practical cultures, it all went straight into in the first place… And let's not forget the siesta—two hours of sleep or fucking in the middle of the work day, which snowballs your schedule to the point where you don't eat dinner until ten at night—again, against the express advice of your physician.

These self-indulgent, non-functionalistic routines, rituals and ways to go about everyday life, some of them bordering on the idiotic, all amount to one defiant rebellion against the grinding boredom, grim inevitabilities and unhappy accidents of human existence. Rationality's got nuthin' on the complexity and immensity of life, to the point where living your life sensibly isn't sensible at all, so you may as well move to Spain and enjoy yerself!

Or, in lieu of that, listen to some great Spanish-language music, from Spain and equally groovy (if not more so) South America—where mothers pushing prams sexually harrass you in the street and little Lolitas on scooters wolf whistle like hardened construction workers as they drive past. Where the girls are fiery and prone to a violence that defies the dull demands and expectations heaped upon their gender.

Naturally, in the long run the Latin passion, heat, possessiveness, faked intimacy and lack of both punctuality and a neat social order will prove grating on a northern European, but let's pretend I'm not Norwegian for now and that the New World of South America is the Promised Land. In such a promised land, I would like the soundtrack to sound something like this:


These dilettante rockers didn't invent or even re-invent the wheel, but they made something that lasts to this day—a mix of fun, sex and anxiety that's unaffected by nostalgia, irony, pretentions of cool, etc. In addition to a couple of deranged Peruvian originals (check out the cojones on track 21! And 22 gives Norwegian black metal a run for its money any day), there's the unexpected rendition of Desmond Dekker's golden ska oldie «Israelites», as well as a whole host of Spanish language covers of British and US American garage rock staples like «Hey Joe», «Gloria», «Pushin' too Hard», «Little Girl», «Take a Heart», «19th Nervous Breakdown», «For Your Love»… There's the ultimate version of «Wild Thing», rather freely translated as «Loco te patina el coco», performed by some joker calling himself Juan El Matemático (who competes with Los Johnny Jets for best artist name on this comp). Bo Diddley's no-nonsense warning «Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut» becomes even less of a compromise as «Hey, monstro».

Incidentally, there's only one group on here from Spain (I think—some of them I don't know where the hell they're from). Others are from Mexico, some Colombia, some Peru, one from Brazil. I suspect Argentina, Chile and/or Uruguay (or was it Paraguay?) may also be represented, but who knows and who cares, it's all in Spanish and it kicks culo. Some of these tracks are so obscure you wouldn't even be able to find them on secondhand vinyl—you're lucky to get them as low bitrate mp3s after thoroughly scouring the Internet for amateurish Third World music obsessives' dodgy uploads, so don't come pissing and moaning just because some of the tracks are as low as 160kbps and full of vinyl crackle and hiss. The wildest music most true to the spirit of rock'n'roll was never about high fidelity, anyway.

So, roqueros y roqueras, bring out the tapas, cocaine and sexism, and rock out to these scuzzy southern sounds of the '60s. ¡Viva España! and all of her former colonies and la revolución! Rock y roll!

5.11.10

Hate's Back!

For all you toilet goldfish lucky enough to live in or around London, one of the most notable young bands making the rounds these days—no-nonsense bludgeoners of ennui, HTRK (pronounced «hate rock»)—is back, after recent tragedies such as the suicide of bass player Sean Stewart and the death, from cancer, of producer and collaborator Rowland S. Howard. On Saturday 27 November, the band, now a duo, premiers its new material at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, with added visuals by Conrad Ventur.

The purveyors of oversexed sounds that conjure the feeling of lazily masturbating to take your mind off of everything that's lined up to be digested, dealt with or simply endured, are back!

30.10.10

Something Awfully Hip

A hippie friend/enemy—apparently in the throes of psychosis at the time—once sent me the question, «Mr. Posh Punk Sex Symbol, are you ready for the Duke?» Cryptic, you might say, but still my all-time favourite question anybody's ever asked me. Didn't quite know what to reply, or even what the question was supposed to mean, but I surmised my confused or visionary friend was trying to call into question my credibility and sincerity as a human being—to call me, in a word, a «hipster», and to prepare this hipster for the violence of a revolutionary revelation that would baptise my soul in a fire of undeniable truth, its timelessness banishing all that soon-to-be-dated stuff from my fickle mind and returning me to great integrity, saving me in the process.

Still, being called a «hipster» is an insult, even to hipsters. Especially to hipsters: It's like being accused of following trends when, as a follower of trends, your secret dream is to actually be a trendsetter. Consequently you loathe the implication that you are, in fact, a mere sheep in the contemptible flock, whose irrelevant anonymity and humiliating subservience it was that made you want to rise up and be different (yet adored!) in the first place. It's the hipster's eternal dilemma. In the words of the great Ken Nordine, the hipster wants to «be different, yet stay the same».

Be that as it may, hipsters are universally despised, even by themselves. So much so that no one ever called himself a «hipster». Admitting to being a hipster is tantamount to implying you're following rather than setting trends, which is hardly hip. It's like the Messiah claiming to be the Messiah; ain't nobody gonna buy it. Now, I'm not going to sully my dignity by rejecting the implication that I'm a hipster. (Someone who has to protest to others he's not a hipster obviously is one.) Instead, let me draw your attention to the funniest website on the entire World Wide Web and what they have to say about hip folk:

The picture above is hilarious as is, but the article it illustrated is even better! I found it on a reactionary Christian/satirical website (take your pick, I can't possibly decide whether the comedy is intentional or not) called ChristWire. It's the very best in out-of-touch tabloid Christianity. There's a plethora of articles with titillating titles such as «Obama Is Literally Hitler», «Do Gay People Have Feelings?», «Do Mormons Think They're Better than Christians?», «Science of Homosexuality: Lesbian Mice FucM Genes Reveal Why Gay Males Are Moody and Dysfunctional», «History of The Beatles Haircuts: Hairstyles Directly Correlates Approximation of Drug Use», «The Anti-masturbation Movement’s 14 Greatest Inventions», «Afro-Saxon Rage Caught on Tape», «Is My Child’s Schoolteacher a Secret Sex Addict?», and so on. Then, just when you've been perusing the site long enough to become convinced that, sadly, this is in fact a serious website, you come across this:

This website truly is a godsend; say goodbye to boredom, people. I mean, who put this collage together?! Who actually sat down to find all those pictures, then to invent those categories? It takes a big freak to entertain, and this is very entertaining… In one article—the hot topical «Dressing Up as Lady Gaga This Halloween Is a Sin Against Jesus»—you can read that
October is the cruelest month for Christians in America. The summer is over, school semesters are underway and we look forward to the special joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The one tragic distraction in the middle of all that cheer is the institutionalized celebration of a pagan festival. Many will throw themselves wholeheartedly into this barbaric affair, spending hours making effeminate costumes, stocking up on overpriced sweets and decorating their homes with pentagrams and skeletons. Why do so many Christians willfully engage in this vile, hedonistic ritual?
Priceless writing from one Stephenson Billings, «Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children's Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector». Two of his pet hates are hippies and hipsters. Yet the two terms' root similarity can be confusing, so Stephenson lays out the difference between the two:
Hipsters, while also predominantly Caucasian, tend to come from more affluent backgrounds [than hippies] and their sophistication shows. The hipster rebels against wealth and power by slumming in urban, ethnic ghettoes. They use family money to create farcical careers as unpublished authors or fashion designers. They tend to be far more sexual and consequently likelier carriers of herpes and genital warts. Hipsters fetishize clothes above drugs, while for hippies it’s the opposite. There are far more homosexuals in the hipster demographic, for the hippie does not enjoy expensive hair products and tight clothing. Hippies are more often overweight and unappealing physically, as hipsters use more cocaine and cigarettes than their peers and remain lithe and active. Both groups are unnecessary distractions for children and should be avoided with a concerted, parental effort.
Snort some of that coke, light that cigarette and scratch those genital warts just beneath your tight clothing, dear reader, here's something awfully hip: a sampler of some of the most notable music of 2010. Are you hip to it? ARE YOU READY FOR THE DUKE?!


Merry Hallowe'en!

12.10.10

Mp3 Killed the Vinyl DJ 8: Jana Hunter

Jana Hunter side of split LP with Devendra Banhart [.zip, 192kbps vinyl rip]

Jana Hunter occupies an odd space, not quite fitting in with the suburban-garden-goblin-gone-metropolitan-hippie-bohemian fantasy crowd, nor with more brooding singer-songwriters whose words dribble derision on the stock sentiment of «love & light.» In equal measure, there's something for nerds and something for Nihilists on Hunter's albums.

Although far more subtle than most exponents of Freak-Folk/Weird-Nu-Americana-whatnot, Hunter is one of its most remarkable artists—in part because she's more subtle. There's no sunny San Fran fluff here, nor contrived eccentricity; what there is, is a certain kind of mumbly murk that sets her work apart from sunshine psychedelia and willfully naïve folk, and is more reminiscent of, say, Skip Spence or Sly Stone (ca. There's a Riot Goin' On)—only without that nervous breakdown feel to it.

Yet it's not doom & gloom; there's humour, there's positivity. The good and the bad are inextricably interwoven, not separable at all in Hunter's recordings. Everything simply is as it is, as Hunter reports it without judgment, obsession or attachment. This may be the closest popular music gets to Buddhist mysticism, simply by virtue of the music just being itself, without contrivance. There seems to be no agenda, no message, no ambition, even. What you get is merely what it says on the tin.



Not that it's easy to read what it says on that there tin. Everything about the words and music seems to occupy the space in between the lines. There doesn't appear to be a commitment towards anything, and although that may sound boring, it's actually a kind of revelation, as Hunter tiptoes through a minefield of masculine hatred and feminine love, guiding you safely to somewhere you've never even thought about, where no one wants to crush, own, smother, penetrate, enter or subsume you. And surely, the sweetest embrace is a lullaby telling you (as on personal favourite «Black Haven») «to never, ever wake up»?

These tracks are all from an untitled, out-of-print, split vinyl-only album released in 2005 on Troubleman Unlimited, with Devendra Banhart on the other side. My transfer is a bit shoddy, I'll admit, but Toilet Guppies makes no excuses: This is what vinyl sounds like, and when they only released the material on this format, that's what you get. I'm not about to spend hours «restoring» music I bought new and mint on a supposedly superior format. These transfers are still far, far better than nothing. Or, if you're a Nihilist, damn near as good as nuthin:
  1. «Black Haven»
  2. «A Bright-ass Light»
  3. «Crystal Lariat»
  4. «That Dragon Is My Husband»
  5. «Laughing & Crying»
Don't forget to enjoy.

11.10.10

Tormented Rappers vs. the Man

Saul Williams: «Freestyle (live from No Man's Land)» [128kbps mp3]
Salaam Remi: «Made You Look (A/K/A In My Bed) (instrumental with guns)» [192kbps mp3]


A few days ago, Pitchfork reported that Nas is having a public dispute with his record label, after an email from him to Def Jam executives was leaked. Apparently, the rapper is outraged that his second volume of outtakes(!) is not being marketed aggressively enough by Def Jam.

Reading Nas' rant, it's interesting to note that a man who makes his living on words—streams and streams of rhythmically delivered swashbuckling and vaguely expressed hype about how Nas and his homies roll/do/wear/drink/smoke things and perform various activities (without really specifying anything, except perhaps where exaggerated and usually unprovoked threats are concerned)—a man ostensibly so gifted with the gab cannot spell. Yet let's not lower ourselves to petty pedantry. What's far funnier than ignorance of spelling, words and their meanings are the sky high pretensions of a wordsmith who uses so many words to say so little. Idiocy is only funny (rather than just depressing) when the fool thinks him- or herself profound, or otherwise blessed with superiority of historical importance. Thankfully, then, Nas' lack of logic (or just a set of relatively coherent values) gives us some of the most entertaining statements coming out of hip-hop in 2010:
From: Nas
To: LA Reid, Steve Bartels, Steve Gawley, Michael Seltzer, Joseph Borrino, Chris Hicks
Subject: PUT MY SHIT OUT!

Peace to all,

With all do [sic] respect to you all, Nas is NOBODY's slave. This is not the 1800's, respect me and I will respect you.

I won't even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. People connect to the Artist [sic] @ the end of the day, they don't connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again its [sic] the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist's dream and aspirations. You don't help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job @ selling it. The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren't.... not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn't work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn't understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation [sic]

This isn’t the 90's though. Beefing with record labels is so 15 years ago. @ this point I just need you all to be very clear where I stand and how I feel about «my label.» I could go on twitter [sic] or hot 97 tomorrow [sic] and get 100,000 protesters @ your building but I choose to walk my own path my own way because since day one I have been my own man. I did business with Tommy Mottola and Donnie Einer, two of the most psycho dudes this business ever created. I worked well with them for one major reason……. [sic] they [sic] believed in me. The [sic] didn't give a fuck about what any radio station or magazine said….those [sic] dudes had me.

Lost Tapes is a movement and a very important set up piece for my career as it stands. I started this over 5 years ago @ Columbia and nobody knew what it was or what it did but the label put it out as an LP and the fans went crazy for it and I single handedly built a new brand of rap albums. It's smart and after 5 years it's still a head [sic] of the game. This feels great and you not feeling what I’m feeling is disturbing. Don't get in the way of my creativity. We are aligned with the stars here, this is a movement. There is a thing called KARMA that comes to haunt you when you tamper with the aligning stars. WE ARE GIVING THE PEOPLE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT. Stop throwing dog shit on a MAGICAL moment.

You don't get another Nas recording that doesn't count against my deal….PERIOD! Keep your bullshit $200,000.00 fund. Open the REAL budget. This is a New York pioneers ALBUM, there ain't many of us. I am ready to drop in the 4th quarter. You don’t even have shit coming out! Stop being your own worst enemy. Let's get money!

-N.Jones [my italics]
Interesting that a guy whose creative endeavours mainly consist of self-centred bullshitting about bling and sexual and violent bravado, invokes the words «karma» and «soul» (and «truth», as coming from the «innermost» «depths» of this purported spiritual self). One minute he's the tortured artist castrated by the Man, the next he's giving a fat cat money maker's pep talk—as if he can't decide whether he wants to battle the unjust deprivation suffered by his multitudes of fans, all ready to fight for a much larger budget to promote a second volume of outtakes (unless they're already «dying», that is), or whether he simply wants more cash to buy gold chains and some nouveau riche decor worthy of an MTV reality show episode.

Be that as it may, when delusions of grandeur meet the limitations of reality, a Messiah complex is born. But if you want to be Christ, you need to be prepared for the crucifixion. Actually, Nas is loving it, which is why he's inventing this persecution in the first place.

It takes a certain something—or someone—to make you side with a big corporation for once. Unlike Saul Williams, rapper of substance who was given producer Salaam Remi's incredible backing track to Nas' «Made You Look» (and Amy Winehouse's «In My Bed») to say something actually relevant to someone beyond only Nas himself. Whether you agree with Williams' political sentiments or not, at least he's not just gazing into his own diamond encrusted navel.

We can't recall when and where we came across Williams' rare recording, but it was ages ago. «Made You Look (instrumental with guns)» was the B-side to Nas' by now out of print CD single «Made You Look», which, in all fairness, is a monster. Nas may not be the sharpest shiv on the cell block, but the man's got flow and a voice:



Keep it real, etc.

9.10.10

Net Nuggets 34: Deerhunter & a Ghost of the Russian Sex Industry

Deerhunter: «Helicopter» (Diplo & Lunice mix) [mp3]

We here at Toilet Guppies don't much care for advertising, especially in cases where it pretends to be art, as with «music videos». Yet the new single by Deerhunter is so sublime you should hear it (without actually illegally downloading it), so here's the relatively inoffensive video, for your listening pleasure:



Diplo and Lunice's remix, however, is freely up for grabs. It's a good listen, too.

The song is based on a true story, as told by author Dennis Cooper:
Dima (real name Dimitry Marakov) was born in 1986 in the town of Nalchik, Russia. From a young age, he dreamed of working in the fashion industry as a designer. Lacking the moral or financial support of his parents, he actively sought out contacts within the industry through the internet. At the age of 14, he became acquainted with a successful fashion photographer in St. Petersburg who invited the boy to come live with him and work as his assistant. Dima accepted the offer and moved in with the photographer. According to friends of Dima, he became the older man's lover for approximately the next year. He eventually grew dissatisfied with the lack of benefits he had been promised would result from the arrangement. He left the photographer to become live-in lovers with a wealthy man who provided the financial backing for a conglomerate of pornographic gay websites. It was at this point that Dimitry adopted the stage name Dima and, with the help of false documents that corrected his age to the legal 18, began a successful career modeling naked and starring in hardcore sex videos on the gay websites financed by his lover.

Between the age of 15 and 18, Dima was a highly sought after pornographic model and performer. He saved the money he made from modeling to pay for the tuition at a leading college of fashion that he hoped to attend when he reached 18. At a certain point, Dima began supplementing his income by renting himself out as an escort within his lover's circle of associates and acquaintances. According to friends of Dima, they included several leading figures in the entertainment industry as well as one of the most powerful men in Russia's world of organized crime. Dima began to express concern to his friends that the organized crime figure had become obsessed with him, but he refused to accept their advice to stop seeing the man because of the large amount of money these dates were earning him. Sometime in 2005, Dima abruptly left his lover, gave up his modeling career, cut off all communication with his friends, and moved in with the organized crime figure. The last public Dima sighting was late that year when his friend Ignat Lebedev, who was also working as a male escort at the time, accompanied a client to a private sex club where he claims to have witnessed a very thin and confused looking Dima being forcibly sodomized by a group of perhaps ten to fifteen men. Lebedev claims his client identified one of the men as the organized crime figure and dissuaded him from speaking to Dima for his own protection.

Lebedev claims he described what he'd seen to Dima's former lover and was told Dima had been killed the previous week and that he shouldn't speak of this again. Lebedev reported both incidents to the police, but after interviewing the lover and being told Lebedev had made the story up, they declined to investigate the matter. In 2006, Lebedev persuaded a prominent Russian gay journalist to write an article on Dima's disappearance, but during the course of investigating the story, the writer was abducted by unknown assailants, beaten, and told he would be murdered if he wrote the story. Dima has not been seen or reliably heard from in three years, although in early 2007 another organized crime figure, Evgeny Ershova, who was awaiting trial on an unrelated murder charge, claimed that in late 2005 he witnessed a young male prostitute matching Dima's description be pushed out of a helicopter over a remote forest in the north of Russia. Before Dima's ex-lover died of lung cancer in late 2007, he reportedly confessed to friends that Dima was sold as a sex slave to a man in the Ukraine in late 2005 and had lived until late 2006 when he'd committed suicide.