Net Nuggets 39: Tape Worms from Dirty Beaches

Have you of late lost all your mirth, allowing yourself to sink into despondency and fantasies of suicide made all the more pathetic because you have absolutely no intention of going through with them? Not to worry! In such times of emotional paralysis—every thought in any which direction just another imagined road to futility and regret—there's only one thing for it:


… some tape hiss to dredge the shallows of your consciousness, plus a little guitar twang and '50s aw-shucks! trembling vox to sex up the muscle memory, make you come alive again, bucking and rearing to go! If all your desire has gone limp and withered up, dissolved into the nothingness you'd like to follow it into, these sounds should do the trick. Things are never so bad kicks can't be had. (Well, not always, anyway.)

Here, then, is Dirty Beaches. They—or he, young master Alex Zhang Hung-tai—started out making homespun, lo-fi instrumental noodlings that were a little unremarkable, but exploded in 2009 with worded songs springing forth from the point where the caveman stomp of rockabilly, the motorik of krautrock, the shit of shitgaze, the aesthetic of Suicide (the band) and the ethereal, yet twisted sensuality of early David Lynch films all converge in a sultry murk of rambling, suggestive sound. Eerie, creepy, sexy sounds—the mutterings (and occasional yelps) of a confused pervert driving his lonely lorry at night, kept awake by speed and reveries I think it best not to mention.

There are few cocktails as potent as lust, fear and confusion. Did I forget fun? Man, I did not forget fun. And if you ever wondered what a grown man crawling on his hands and knees towards the custodian of his pleasure sounds like, wonder no more.

Before releasing their latest album, the highly recommended Badlands, out now on Zoo Music, those Dirty Beetches had a penchant for releasing their music on magnetic tape, and in very limited editions. Here's a sampler of the finest songs and soundscapes from those discontinued releases, starting in 2009 until more or less the present (with the exception of readily available CDs/digital albums and singles, such as Badlands, a split EP with US Girls and the «No Fun» single).
  1. Like Dreamers Do
  2. Paris
  3. Black Horses
  4. White Sand
  5. Golden Desert Sun
  6. Motorcycle Rumble
  7. Shadows
  8. Coast to Coast
  9. Low Rider
  10. Forever in Gold
  11. Shangri-la
  12. Gone to Hell Come Friday
  13. The Singer (a/k/a The Folksinger)
  14. Teenage Queen
1, 4, 8, 9 & 11 from Dirty Beaches (2009)
2 & 7 from
Night City (2010)
5 & 10 from
Solid State Gold (2010)
3, 6 & 14 from Omon Ra II/Dirty Beaches split C-30 (2010)
12 & 13 from Dirty Beaches/Conor Prendergast split 7" (2011)


A Mixtape While You Wait

Please excuse the inactivity. More rarities to come. For now, here's an old mixtape from the back of the hard drive. It exemplifies a regrettable axiom of art: That the best is the worst, while the worst makes for the very best.


Doctor, Doctor!

Toilet Guppies' dear friend and very own GP recently had a little setback. He's almost a fully licensed doctor, so he can take care of himself, whether through treatment, self-medication or just the fact that soon he'll be filthy, stinking rich and stalked by gold diggers and hot, lonely women who've read one romance novel too many. Still, a little pep talk never hurt anybody. Here, then, is Toilet Guppies' ode to a very good friend and the best doctor no money can buy—a compilation of catchy ditties and comedy routines about doctors, patients, ailments, surgery and, er, pharmacy

So, if you're a doctor, nurse or just plain sick, go no further. In the immortal words of Dr. Nick Riviera:
The kneebone's connected to the… something
The something's connected to the… red thing
The red thing's connected to my… wrist watch
Uh oh!


Toilet Guppies Celebrates the Arrival of Summer!

The other day, honorary toilet guppy Maja Nilsen sent me a reminder of the occasionally sublime tones of (probably involuntarily) psychedelic Brazilian girl group Quarteto em Cy. And since the music of Brazil immediately evokes in the northern European images of tropical forests, deserts, beaches and sun, it's the lazy man's summer sounds. Shorthand for park times. (The safe, daytime kind.) And what do you know? All the way up here in Norway, summer is finally here! You only need to smell the sizzling sausages and bushes fragrant with latex to tell.

As it happens, my brother is a distinguished connoisseur of all music Brazilian, so I went through his extensive collection of classic and obscure records to compile this little doozy of instant sun. I've avoided the obvious—bossa nova and tropicália—and settled for less famous MPB («Música Popular Brasileira», an umbrella term for post-bossa pop and rock). The comp is limited to what is arguably MPB's golden age, from 1969 to 1972. From the trippy to the poppy, a lot of gems, never noticed in Europe (and probably forgotten in Brazil by now), came out of the vast country in those years. Not as fucking suave as bossa nova, but not as hit-or-miss experimental as tropicália, this is effortlessly melodic music of substance and texture, avoiding the perky pitfalls of stereotypically «tropical» music, exploring instead the deeper, more sincere feelings of ecstasy, anxiety and political resistance to dictatorship—often to a samba beat!

Don't expect any oil drums or out-of-tune vocals from beautiful, but insipid chanteuses singing about «heart» this and «heart» that, all set to easy listening arrangements redolent with soccer, carnival, G-strings and heartache on the sand. There's more to Brazil than bananas, sex and street children, you know.

But there's always sun in Braziliana somehow. Enjoy the rays!


Free Tickets to see SWANS & James Blackshaw Live in Oslo!

For anyone in Oslo this weekend, Toilet Guppies has two spare tickets to the SWANS gig on Friday (6 May), to be given away for free to the first man, woman, beast or child to claim them.

If the transcendent din, so loud it might make you forget who and where you are, of Michael Gira's curious brand of oddly disciplined, yet excessive and decidedly perverse derangement isn't your cup of tea, note that James Blackshaw plays support. I'm loath to use adjectives such as «meditative» and most of all «magical», but Blackshaw's delicate, ever-ascending blend of instrumental bluegrass and classical guitar actually qualifies. You will be transfixed. For a little taste, download the above mp3s, recorded live in studio for NPR a couple of years ago. Just know that he exerts a far more mesmerising effect live.

And afterwards, SWANS will give you the greatest release this side of sex.

Send Toilet Guppies an email to claim one or both tickets.