Mp3 Killed the Vinyl DJ 7: David Pajo

Papa M: «Orange World» [mp3]

When you've insomnia even in your dreams, you know it's time to put a lullaby on yer stereo. And what better lullaby than a song that's already dreaming, its sleepy voice guiding you through a beautiful, apocalyptic cityscape that exists uniquely in a mind, untouchable and unknowable to the rest of the universe, until the voice's drowsy monotony makes you drift away before the words have even finished? This soothing song by Papa M a/k/a David Pajo makes you feel safe in its arms. No harm ever came from the same place as this voice. Perfect if you need to catch up on your shuteye. Just come to Papa…

This unassuming, unknown little gem is from an out-of-print vinyl-only Tiger Style 7" split with Entrance, the other side of which you can download here.

Sweet dreams.


Net Nuggets 29: Light from the Mouth of Infinity

Larkin Grimm: Live at the Knitting Factory [.zip]

Following hot on the heels of posts with music by terror-deploying Jihad Jane & the 70 Virgins, then the merciless moral assault of Lydia Lunch, here's music from another incarnation of fierce femininity, «compassionate destroyer» Larkin Grimm—the singer with the most wondrous and frightening mouth anyone's ever likely to behold, wherein existences and entire universes spiral and intertwine as they're created and destroyed, at whim & will. A dark and echo-laden cave of a mouth that could probably gobble you up in one fell, delightfully annihilating swoop, crushing all the illusory associations connecting the thoughts that together make up you between its grinding teeth, before passing you through the bowels of some sort of wild Heaven until you come out the other end—soiled, confused and happy!

Forgive me, yet again I digress. Today's post gives you an edited version of a live recording of Grimm's late 2009 performance at New York's Knitting Factory, backed by a band that sports Berlin-era Iggy Pop and David Bowie producer Tony Visconti. The concert showcases six songs that have yet to see official release on a studio album, and if it gives a glimpse into what we might expect from possibly the best songwriter of the new decade later in the year, 2010 is going to be well good in terms of art. Just have a listen to «Pool of Milk».

I've nothing else to say. Listen to the music already.

(Here's the tracklist. For your listening convenience, I've edited out tuning and banter, leaving just the music:)

  1. Paradise
  2. Blond and Golden Johns
  3. Pool of Milk
  4. Paved with Leaves
  5. Flash and Thunder
  6. The Butcher
  7. Dirty Mind
  8. The Burglar

[Download a higher resolution, unedited recording of the entire gig for free over at the NYC Taper blog, the kind people who recorded the concert and graciously made it available to us all.]


A Music Video You'd Never See on MTV

These days, the world of music often seems indistinguishable from the world of ads & commercials. (Thank you, Andy Warhol!) And when you realise that by far most people not only willingly accept, but actually embrace flashy music videos and their cynically assembled pop hooks as expressions of real human emotions other than greed (combined with a pathetic need for validation), aren't you filled with bottomless sadness? Perhaps solipsism, even, as you come to realise you are surrounded by gullible automaton consumers capable only of mimicking the feelings portrayed on so many sitcoms and rom-coms, not only «feeling» but perhaps even dancing and singing along to what some big cheese fat cat with a cigar commissioned from his media whorebeasts, the spiritual force of music reduced to, you know, like, hairdos and stuff?

So refreshing, then, to stumble upon a music video such as this, obviously not put together to push a name or brand, but rather an idea. This music video, unlike almost all others of its kind, doesn't say «Adore me—and give me your cash while you're at it,» but is rather a spit in your face. It's a bad smell reminder, like a dog having its snout forced near its own poo by an angry master eager to house train, of what people and society basically amount to:

What are you going to do—turn your snout up at your master, with eyes that say «It wasn't me»? This one's undeniable. Which is another word for «truth». Maybe someone should introduce the concept to Lady GaGa or Fever Ray or whoever...

(Oh, and by the way, the song is «Orphans» by Lydia Lunch's Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, and is from 1978. Puts the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their hyped hipster retro-cast-as-innovation fashion scenester ilk into perspective, 32 years(!) on, wouldn't you say?)


Rare or Unreleased 45: Jihad Jane & the 70 Virgins

Ofo The Black Company: «Allah Wakbarr» (Jihad Jane & the 70 Virgins remix) [mp3]

Toilet Guppies' resident music consultant, DJ Sheik Yerdixxx, has a past as mysterious as it is dubious, and who knows what unlikely and unsavoury connections one would find if one were to look into it. Some say he used to go clubbing in Kabul. Some say he recently deejayed in Dubai. We, for one, think it best not to ask questions. Especially after he emailed us this mp3, of unknown origins and hitherto not found on any of your common hipster music blogs. It would seem this is a Toilet Guppies exclusive!

About the track, Yerdix is of precious little help, providing absolutely no info about the mp3 or how or from whom he got it. But Googling the title, we came across a track on the compilation Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos—Ofo The Black Company's «Allah Wakbarr»—that appears to be the original. According to the mp3's ID3 tag, the remix has been done by a group or artist called «Jihad Jane & the 70 Virgins». We could find no MySpace or any other kind of page for said artist, nor any info whatsoever anywhere on the world wide interweb. Any help or details would be much appreciated. (Please feel free to leave a comment below.) We only know that Yerdix is not computer literate enough to remix anything, let alone something as boombasstic as this garage break beat floor killer, so it's not him. Perhaps he brought it back from clubbing in Beirut, or Dublin or Philadelphia

It has been suggested that perhaps a renowned DJ is behind the remix, like Pilooski, the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Moby or some such, hiding behind a pseudonym to deflect any controversy from their own brand. Or maybe it's one of those viral marketing campaigns leaked onto unsuspecting blogs. Who knows?

And who cares, as the track absolutely rocks the kasbah. Islam never sounded this compelling! We just hope it's not a call to jihad, as this certainly stirs up a lot of irrepressible energy in those listening to it. May it be channelled in a sexual rather than violent direction, insha'Allah. The «70 Virgins» part of the remixer's moniker certainly suggests a more amorous approach than your average al-Qaida/Taliban/Hamas/Hezbollah/PLO strategy (although the «Love is you, love is me!» chorus of Ofo The Black Company's original has been omitted in the remix)…

Whatever the case, enjoy. God is great!


Tonguing Meaning 5: Captain Beefheart

Don Van Vliet: «Stand Up to Be Discontinued» EP [.zip]
  1. Fallin' Ditch
  2. The Tired Plain
  3. Skeleton Makes Good
  4. Safe Sex Drill
  5. Tulip
  6. Gil
Even more annoying than the hype surrounding mediocre artists in the mainstream is the hyping of overrated underground legends at the hands of cultural elitists. Captain Beefheart is the stuff of legends. His name (and the myths surrounding it) are far better known than his music. Why? Because the tall tales—the Cap'n taking impressionable young musicians practically hostage, his sect-like regime causing post-traumatic stress disorder in some—are more entertaining than his music.

Not that he set out to entertain us with his cerebral attempts at artistic innovation. Still, the genuflection at the feet of his asexual, heartless mathematical jazz rock and his faux-Surreal aphorisms by chin scratching, would-be cultural subversives (read: music lovers living in their mother's basement) has a tendency to deafen even the din of his musical output.

[Garage-era Magic Band playing desert blues on a sandy Cannes beach.]

That said, Safe as Milk is a rocking garage record to be reckoned with, and the Cap'n's late-'70s/early-'80s albums abound with the kind of demented spazzticity that the fashionable New Wave bands at the time so wished—alas!—that they could summon up. As for Trout Mask Replica, the album that made (and still makes) Beefheart's name, leave that to the musicologists and the jazzturbators. (And to people who listen to music for the novelty, obscurity or shock value. Yeah, yeah, so the Cap'n is «eccentric». How does that imbue his work with validity, again?)

[New Wave-era Magic Band playing desert blues in, er, the desert.]

The Cap'n, as much as his adoring fans, seems to consider himself something of an artistic genius. He's not—even though he has made up for himself a distinct sound unlike that of anyone else. The Cap'n will never appeal to a larger audience, not because he's misunderstood or because he's too special for the average population (people who are, by definition, mediocre), but because his songs aren't generally valid to the human experience. For some, maybe. But for most it's gibberish. And grating, at that.

But Trout Mask Replica doesn't sit in untold snobs' bookshelves for absolutely no reason. The Cap'n has his moments. He even has a way with words—although they don't strike heart strings, the gut or your funny bone. They miss all those, but hit everywhere else, which causes a strange sensation. Briefly. Before you move on to something great.

Toilet Guppies endeavours to spread audio otherwise unavailable to consumers, while avoiding to post stuff that's out of print or deleted simply because it's shit. Sometimes it's a tightrope walk. These spoken word pieces by Don Van Vliet—the Cap'n's real name—are not shit. Well, two out of the six readings («Fallin' Ditch» and «Gil») aren't; the Toilet Guppies jury is out on the other four. But I can safely recommend those two. Sure, I don't listen to them when I'm crying in the shower, but there's a certain quality there that his fans, I'm sure, would call «je ne sais quois». And we all know what that means.

But I've been a bit harsh here. Legend has it that in the early 1970s, Beefheart's long-suffering backing band had had enough of artsy-fartsy obscurity and cornered the Cap'n into recording a more accessible album. The results—Clear Spot and The Spotlight Kid—are some of the Beefheart's best and least wanky albums. See what I mean on this groovy German TV performance:


Gonna boogie for the doctor
I'm gonna boogie for the nurse
I'm gonna keep on boogiein'
Until they throw me in the hearse
I gotta boogie!


Love (Pt. 6), or, The Affectionate Voyeurism of the Devoted Pervert

Toilet Guppies returns on a Sunday with another installment in a series closely scrutinising feelings of love in modern song. This time, it's the turn of songwriter Michael Gira's vehicle the Angels Of Light:

The narrator in «Evangeline» doesn't promise the object of his desire anything; doesn't proclaim lofty ideals, intentions, feelings. And the lyrics don't offer any short and sweet couplets that easily lend themselves to being quoted by people in love—nor is the word «love» (or any of its literary surrogates, such as «heart») ever mentioned in them. Yet «Evangeline» may be the ultimate love song.

For years this was simply a beautiful piece of music to me, a vague rather than subtle love song, so deceptively unassuming is the sentiment contained in the lyrics. But when all the clichés have been expressed, yet again, in lists of reasons for loving whoever it is you love, and you have announced to your lover or to the world just how they make you feel, there is something that remains. Something that—provided your dedicated affection is true—no word will ever be able to capture or convey. This is the essence of what you're feeling, and the only thing words can do is to surround and close in on it, letting you follow the progress of sentences as they lead you, as if into a spiral, towards the ineffable. Then, just as you're there, the words let go and the grasp you thought you had dissolves with your focus, and the feelings return to a state of warm fuzziness enveloping your consciousness, yet never penetrating it. But for a moment, at least, you were closer.

And to do that you need words less loaded, overly used or distracting than the familiar, four-letter L- and H-words. You need words such as these, capturing not the feelings felt but describing the situation in which they arise. Did you ever watch on as your lover slept?
There's a silver stream laid across the sky
And this city lifts up its arms to it
As I wait for you, Evangeline
Yes, my eyes have seen your unselfishness
And my fingers touched your two sleeping lips
As the echoes passed just above our heads
As the city flashed just beneath the clouds
That concealed the stars and reflected sound
But protected us from an emptiness
And then drifted down in a diamond mist
As I watched you breathe, as I watched you dream

And your tenderness and your innocence
You were far away with your secret bliss
You were far away with your perfect god
You were far away in a silent field
Where the yellow dust traced your naked skin
Where the gentle flame kissed your hollow lung
Like an acid stream
Like a shining vein
With your moonlight chain
With your open gate
With your steel door dreams

I can feel it now
Feel it now

Then it's gone
With this song, M. Gira proves that it's only by saying nothing that you can say everything about something. It's one of few love songs that don't stoop to expressing the inexpressible, but rather set the scene for the unutterable to play out. Perhaps only fools rush in, but at least this romantic doesn't make even more of a fool of himself by chasing the ineffable with words that can never deliver what they're meant to mean.

And on that note.

[A hi-fi studio version of «Evangeline» can be purchased on the exquisite Angels Of Light album How I Loved You.]