Saturday, November 19, 2011

RENALDO & THE LOAF - Songs for Swinging Larvae lp

Hard to write about something so near and dear to my heart. Words don't fail me as much as trying to pare down the sheer amount of love I could gush about this LP. How do you succinctly write a couple paragraphs about something that changed your parameters about what music was (and wasn't)? (sniff, sniff) DAMMIT! I love you Renaldo and the Loaf.................
I stumbled upon Renaldo and the Loaf (hereafter refered to as RatL) by way of a little set of videos called "The 1 minute movies" released by the RESIDENTS. I was already oddly fascinated by the Residents brand of un-music and eager to lap up anything they, or their record label, RALPH records put out. A friend of a friend made a trip to visit his sister at Parsons (sniffy art school) in NYC and brought back a vhs tape full of what became my obsession with this weird music for years to come. Within the group of losers and outcasts I hung out with at school, this video had become legend, like that of some mythologized snuff film, before most of us ever got a chance to see it. The owner of the said tape, again, a friend of a friend, wasn't willing to show just anyone the video. It got to be built up like he had captured a murder or images of Satan on that tape and not just anyone could see it. Finally, after some convincing, and the pledge to never tell anyone where we'd seen it, the video was played after school one day.

ERASERHEAD was the first thing on the tape and although creepy, I thought at the time, it was about an hour too long. Next were 2 short films made by some students at Parsons, both pretty forgettable (which I did). The last things on the tape were the earlier mentioned, 1 minute movies, by the Residents. WOAH, I was completely blown away. Like I said, I was already a fan, but getting to see moving images of these weirdos made quite an impression. Up to that point, I had only my young, very un-expanded brain to conjure up my own images of what the Residents were. Other than the music, and arresting graphics on their records, not much was know, including the identities, of the "people" that made this strange noise. But, enough about the "Eye Ball Guys" as my son calls them, I'll save my Doctoral thesis on them for another post.

One of the long video montages was titled Renaldo and the Loaf "songs for swinging larvae". I thought maybe this was a Residents"joke" band or the like, as I had never heard of them. For the next 5 minutes and 33 seconds, I was pinned to my chair with the genuinely disturbing images that flashed across the screen. I can honestly say that NOTHING ever made me feel that unsettled before. That video, which I later learned was actually 3 separate songs, was seething with imagery and ideas that society deemed taboo. Check em' out for yourself and prepare to be creeped. The music captured the precise feeling and look of the video (or vice-versa) and I was dumbfounded to find out who Renaldo and the Loaf were.

Two of the songs, along with several others, ended up being released by Ralph records as Songs for Swinging Larvae by the band Renaldo and the Loaf. I was pretty happy to see and actually hold a copy of this, fearing the videos I had seen were some elaborate hoax perpetuated by the Residents. Nope, RatL were actually a real band, from the U.K. and here was their debut LP. The first thing about this LP that smacked me in the face was the deranged art on the cover. Handsome chap courting the sexy insect lady? What the....... I couldn't wait to play this thing, as the artwork and anticipation were killing me. As soon as I could get it on the turntable, I did, and boy was I FLOORED!! Two songs from the video were there, but there was so much more. The songs oozed and squeaked out of my speakers, the next one weirder than the last. I sat, again, dumbfounded by what I was hearing. Even though the Residents had prepared my ears for disparate sounds of the avant garde, this was like hearing an inanimate object speak.These were the sounds of being held captive by a race of miniature people, breathing helium and entertaining you by tapping, tinkling, scraping any object within reach. These sounds were as exhilarating as they were ominous and I was hooked. Were these sounds, indeed, made by normal human being like you and I?

In the pre-internet days, it was sometimes hard to find out about your favorite artists, especially those who were purposely mysterious and this pretty much summed up everything on Ralph records. If you got on their mailing list though, they sent you propaganda about the stuff they were releasing. This was the entry from the spring 1981 catalog about the release of Songs for Swing Larvae: No synthesizers, no political stance, no great philosophies, no created images, just normal, inquisitive people who delve into their own world for inspiration and diversion. This is an album of primitive modernism, energetic, obnoxious noises, manic, high-pitched vocals, and sweet brilliance. Songs for Swinging Larvae is startling. Though if you know anything about Ralph at all, you're liable to realize right of the bat why Renaldo and the Loaf fits into the Ralph family: they're not afraid to be attached to the future. Still. no great amounts of information contained in that, but at least some light had been shed. I came to terms with simply enjoying this LP without knowing much about the band. It was only years later, through a couple of short zine interviews, that I knew anything at all bout these guys. Now in the Google age, I've found out every bit of minutia surrounding these fellows that I could ever possibly want to know.

Doesn't change anything though.....I still feel the same simultaneous pleasure and dread when listening to this as did the first time the secretive video tape was played all those years ago. Looking back, now I understand why the owner of the video tape was so reluctant to show just anyone what it contained. Even now, with our over-stimulated, over-technologized appetite for more, these videos are still pretty risky and taboo.......

Boom Boom Crash Crash

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MAINSPRING - August 23 1994 - April 5 1996

I shared this with a friend this morning. So while the fucking download is up I may as well post it here.

I often feel that after the birth of emo and all that revolution summer stuff Detroit had an awesome and progressive emo/screamo scene through the 90's. Maybe one of the best. With all those closet dust collecting 7"s in every town anywhere who knows. This is a fucking weird ass time for emo or whatever and I just know that I was hearing a lot of play off the original bands going in all directions in most reaches of the dirty mitten (michigan).

I could post something more aggressive or screamo like Jihad or some shit (their split with ottawa was reissued recently. Get that shit. ottawa kills on that record.) I could up something more avant garde and experimental like Constatine Sankathi. But I fucking ain't doing it today.

I've been up for far too long doing far too much stuff so this is plain and simple MAINSPRINGs discography as far as I know with some live tracks. Thank you Cass Records.

Fucking, whatever...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CRASS - You're Already Dead 7" single

I figure there isn't a whole lot about CRASS anybody could say that hasn't been said already. With their seemingly love/hate relationship with music fans it is undeniable that CRASS is one of the most influential punk bands of all time. I must admit their sheer ineptitude with instruments is great. It allowed them to cultivate their own unique sound. I am not going to get into the same love / hate with their politics in the post. If anybody wants to duke it out on that subject go for it in the comments.

Now you probably wonder why bother making a CRASS post at all. Everyone and their mom has already heard CRASS. Well for starters this presents the songs in their original format. You're Already Dead in it's original format stands out particularly. As best I recall "Nagasaki Is Yesterdays Dog End" only appears on the CD Best Before... 1984 outside of this single. The song is changed for the Best Before CD. So here you get it in it's original form. The last reason I can think of to bother making posts about CRASS is for the layouts of their original vinyl releases. They are all remarkable in one way or another. Sleeves unfold into panel upon panel of their diatribes and manifestos and the awesome artwork of Gee utilizing every imaginable space. I am particularly fond of full on poster sized Gee collages versus the microscopic crap on all the CD's. So there you have it.