Berlin Bulletin 1: Strange Forces

[Here's a new series of posts with music from unknowns, witnessed randomly upon going out in Berlin—provided the artist has a CD for sale after the show. First off is Berlin expat trio Strange Forces:]

Strange Forces: [title unknown] [mp3]
Strange Forces: «Fields of Aaru» [mp3]

The «healing power» of music is a cliché too old and prevalent to dignify with pooh-poohing. Nevertheless, it's easy to forget—amid all these music videos, viral YouTube campaigns, city billboards, stylists and blogs—that music can indeed channel spiritual currency. That there is music that's more than just the vehicle for one person's vanity, coupled with one company's greed.

I don't know what drives Brisbane, Australia's Strange Forces—perhaps they, too, merely want to fulfill some banal childhood dream of glitz and adulation—teenage dreams of cheap thrills and that ol' coke-pussy-validation triumvirate—rather than genuinely connect with something sincere through their music. But their live show certainly makes it sound as if they're serious about the spiritual possibilities in sound. Drenched in drones, reverb, fuzz, swirling melodies and scuzzy bass frequencies, this is transporting stoner music for the type of introspection forgotten by (or simply unknown to) most artists desperately styling themselves to make the scene.

And Strange Forces don't fit the hipster bill of electro/techno Berlin. The psychedelic trio plays something as untrendy as rock—space rock, to boot! Very uncool, but oh! so good… Toilet Guppies caught them by coincidence at Berlin's recently shut down Raum 18, expecting the noise fare common to this city, so caught unawares by Strange Forces' heady melodies and echoey, voluminous sound—a cocoon in which the mind curled up in a long-awaited foetal position.

So here are a couple of tracks from their first two, self-released efforts—one CD of band material that would have benefitted from a more adventurous producer/more competent (or less competent?) engineer, and one EP of «ambient» stuff that basically consists of instrumentals without live drums. (Apparently this is to showcase the band's talents to venues that, due to Berlin's public noise policy, don't allow drummers. Poor skinsman…)

Anyhoo, enjoy a swirling, computer-glitchy drone piece from their untitled ambient EP and the highlight from their equally untitled debut as a trio: a psych-summery sunkiss with a track title worryingly reminiscent of fantasy role-play or New Age Egyptianism («Fields of Aaru»?!), but that still delivers the goods, fear ye not. This is headphone music for a summer's day in the park, pure and sweet and smelling of death, not the petite one but the Big Sleep, a daydream of the Ancient Egyptian afterlife—«the fields of reeds.» This hypnotic song is a flash forward into triumphant jettisoning from this plane, the deathwish come good like an innocent and beautiful kind of homesickness when you're already on your way and all that's left is to wait. Sweet anticipation as even the patch of grass you're sprawled out on is just a vessel eventually carrying you along to the final station.

Time only goes in one direction, thank Ra…


New Akron/Family Demo Stream

<a href="http://akronfamily.bandcamp.com/album/home-demos-2010">Light Emerges (Demo) by Akron/Family</a>


Net Nuggets 33: Dungeons & Dragons vs. Blondes & Redheads

Blonde Redhead: «Il Padroni (Main Theme/Final Reprise)» [mp3]

This is two-year old news, so no news at all, but it's news to Toilet Guppies as we're a bit slow to catch on:

Chic and gorgeous trio of sumptuous, sad and sexy pop music for the baroque and slightly psychedelic adult, the magnificent Blonde Redhead, wrote and recorded the original score to a documentary about enthusiasts of the role-playing game of choice for sensual nerds of distinction, Dungeons & Dragons!

Thankfully, the combination of exquisite music, documentary film and geekshow is only almost too good to be true:

Wow. We repeat: Wow!


Tonguing Meaning 6: Mark E. Smith

Mark E. Smith: «Puerile Slurred-word Rigmarole» [.zip]

Here's one for all you aspiring authors out there…

As indicated by the recent lack of writerly activity on this here blog, Toilet Guppies has been grappling and wrestling with the written word, always losing. It simply won't do to keep penning the same old improvised blog fluff, rambling and inconsequential, so I turned to the Fall's Mark E. Smith and his «Guide to Writing Guide»:
  • Day 1: Hang around house all day, writing bits of useless information on bits of paper.
  • Day 2: Decide lack of inspiration due to too much isolation and non-fraternisation—go to pub! Have drinks.
  • Day 3: Get up and go to pub. Hold on in there as style is on its way. Through sheer boredom and drunkenness, talk to people in pub.
  • Day 4: By now, people in the pub should be continually getting on your nerves. Write things about them on backs of beermats.
  • Day 5: Go to pub. This is where true penmanship stamina comes into its own, as by now guilt, drunkenness, the people in the pub and the fact you're one of them should combine to enable you to write out of sheer vexation… to write out of sheer vexation.
  • Day 6: If possible, stay home. And write. If not, go to pub.
This really rather splendid advice was recorded for radio in 1983, when Smith's words were still somewhat intelligible—before his meth jaw had turned the inside of his mouth into a chewed-up pulp out of which slurred half-syllables of beer-slobber drop limply onto the floor, the meaning of his speech conveyed not by words but by its constantly sarcastic tone of voice. (Quite clever, really; who can tell whether you can still write, let alone review your stuff, if they can't understand a word of what you're saying?)

So if you, like Toilet Guppies, were disappointed by this year's dismal Fall album—which sounds as if it were backed by a band of random pub yobs playing amateur covers of '90s Rollins Band funk metal jams—have a listen to Mark E. Smith's hilarious but actually quite sensible guide to writing, as well as his ruminations on some of current civilisation's most exciting cities («Amsterdam», «London»), recitation of seemingly random newspaper clippings and, from sometime much later than 1983, a mysterious and eloquently scathing attack on artists who do what Smith himself is doing these days («I'm Bobby»):
Get ahead with your puerile, slurred-word rigmarole and put it out. On the lids, it's down, congealed both the rest of your post-nearly, half-realised, bird-like thoughts clogging the solo '70s or new intellectual skinhead morass!
Whether hilarious self-loathing, a parody of a critic or a cutting down to size of some imitator who remains anonymous (except that he's called Bobby-something), it takes one to know one and it's a fair cop—and a masterly written one, at that…

So, enjoy:
  1. Mark E. Smith's Guide to Writing Guide
  2. London
  3. Manchester
  4. «The rouge smeared on the aged profile of the local THF Cologne branch chairman»
  5. Village Bug
  6. Amsterdam
  7. «A piece I found in an international newspaper on the floor»
  8. I'm Bobby


A Dutch friend found herself in an utter nightmare when helping her father close his restaurant one night. The restaurant was robbed, resulting in the cold and brutal murder of the owner. The robbers are still on the loose, so the Netherlands' version of Crimewatch made this report:

It's a long shot anyone reading this blog will have information leading to the identification of the scum who did this thing, but it's definitely worth a try...