Thursday, March 22, 2007

DAS KABINETTE – The Cabinet (7-inch, 1983)

If you’re not familiar, Das Kabinette's "The Cabinet" serves to give voice to the classic silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which is the story of a mad doctor, a misunderstood monster and a lovely maiden. With lyrics that loosely mirror the original screenplay and music that keeps to the dark, hypnotic mood presented by the film’s groundbreaking expressionism, this song, as playlists will reveal, has become a classic in itself.

The A-side is without a doubt one of the better minimal wave/synthpop tracks to come out of the vast wasteland known as The Eighties. For one, it’s surprisingly lush for this particular genre and time period - with multiple layers of synth, 177 words of narrative lyric, and some dramatic guitar picking towards the end, the band's approach to song writing seems far superior when compared to the simplistic monotone format favored by the majority of their peers. Secondly, a good amount of minimal wave recordings suffer from piss poor production, which is certainly not the case here as all the elements have been properly leveled, resulting in an exceptionally crisp sound and a pleasingly slick presentation. To top it off, this is Das Kabinette's sole recording, instantly qualifying it as a hard to come by collectable and a prized possession for anyone lucky enough to own a copy.

DOT #10 (link removed due to reissue)


Cheesy video, but worth a view due to its obscurity.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

HAGAR THE WOMB - Idolization

Rare live footage for all to enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

AKA – Red Therapy (EP, 1980)

This is no-wave through and through –funk, jazz, blues, punk– it’s all here, smashed together into one big, messy, spastically bouncing ball with the letters AKA stamped across its bruised side. Now, I looked, and looooooked, and looooooooooooooked(!!!), but wasn’t able to find much information concerning this arcane Canadian crew. But what I do know is that this was their prized recording, and unfortunately the only recording they completed for that matter.

“Red Therapy” operates much like a wind-up toy… just twist the little thingy and stand back for a colorful display of animated derangement that pokes and prods while spilling guts all over the place. Each of these six songs -although easily identifiable as AKA- has a unique texture to it, making for a nice palette of seemingly mismatched sensations that will pester, delight, enthuse and confuse. The EP begins with stop-n-go jabbing from the short and abrasive opening track “God”, then abruptly shifts to a melody-driven, Talking Heads/Devo-esque song called “City Drugs”. The singer has a boisterous style, often quivering from low to extremely high pitches in the transportation of a single syllable… just imagine Alfalfa from Our Gang fronting a freaked out cartoon artpunk band and you’ve got the right idea. You’ll want to dance when “634 Dog” unleashes its ultra squeaky, raw funk attack; and you’ll keep dancing once the antigravity effects of the dizzy and twisting “Ragged Andy” kick in. But beware, because the next track, “Fear”, aims to molest the mood with its creepy crawly pace and disturbing declarations; while the closing song “Mental Timeboms” goes completely bonkers, threatening to push you over the edge with some really batty time changes and confrontational posture. Amazingly enough, there’s a great deal of pop sensibility camouflaged beneath AKA’s unconventional approach to their music, but after just one listen they should easily win you over with personality alone. Try it.

DOT #9

Sunday, March 11, 2007

YOUR FUNERAL - Handsome Young Man (unreleased track, 198?)

Just a few years back a friend of mine from the band Soul Merchants made me a compilation of Denver-related bands, much of which I believe to be unreleased. Now, seeing how I already adored the band Your Funeral, you can only imagine my excitement when discovering that right there on that comp was a Your Funeral song I hadn’t yet heard or knew existed. So here it is… fierce… garage punk… another song by Your Funeral!

DOT #8

CIRCUS MORT - Self-titled (EP, 1981)

Before they graced us with the monolithic Swans, Michael Gira and Jonathan Kane released this curious relic of bash-you-up NY postpunk called Circus Mort. Sharing a musical approach not so terribly unlike their peers, Circus Mort were able to carve their own pint-sized niche by taking the basic angular, bass-driven postpunk formula, and injecting it with a good dose of grit and gravel resulting in something that might best be described as Wall of Voodoo smacked in the face with a Big Black shovel. This self-titled EP is the band’s one and only studio recording, and although only fourteen minutes long, it promises to bend your mind and body with it’s commanding presence and sour disposition. Gira’s trademark vocal style of testosteronian grunts is already in full force here, and if you listen closely you can almost hear a feathered white beast angrily wading through the music’s chunky, jagged no-wave underpinnings. From the dangerous pitter-pattering of “Swallow You” all the way to the super fun, slaphappy “Watch The Puppet” this EP will have you in state of blissful confusion - trapped somewhere between the dance floor and the moshpit.

DOT #7

Monday, March 5, 2007

DA - Dark Rooms (7-inch, 1981)

It’s just pass 3am and you’re alone in a haunted house, trapped in a dark room and hiding beneath your covers from whatever might be lurking just outside your door. You listen for signs of company, but can only hear the eerie silence that surrounds you. You continue to probe through the quiet and suddenly notice the sound of breathing. Something breathing... and it's much closer than you hoped. Perhaps right there in the room with you... watching you... slowly closing in to introduce itself to you. You continue to clutch the blanket like a shield above your head; the air within is cold and dense, almost too dense to breathe, but you struggle. Your chest tightens squeezing your heart as it begins flutter. You try to stay still, but your body betrays by convulsing in terror. You can feel the thing now looming above you. The air seems colder and colder… denser and denser. You so badly want to peek, but don’t dare for fear of the horrific realization that this could be the end. So instead you cautiously wait and imagine your dreadful destiny opening itself wide to swallow you away...

So let’s face the facts here, more likely than not a band’s debut recording is far superior to all subsequent recordings. Be it a 7-inch single, a 5-song EP, or full-length album this initial release usually establishes both the bands musical style and lyrical themes (skill usually comes later), consequently dictating a specific fan base. So as sad is it may seem, seeing a fledgling band dropout due to insufficient resources (a.k.a. lack of label interest) can actually be quite promising –exclamation mark-

Case in point this Chicago based band called DA. Three-fourths female (yes, I have
a minor obsession with XX musicians!) and a quarter male, DA were active in the early 80s, releasing two singles and one comp track, before slipping away into obscurity. Of all Dawn, Dave, Gaylene, and Lorna’s studio recordings the song “Dark Rooms” from the 7-inch of the same name stands out starkly among the rest. Comparable to output from bands like The Veil and Leningrad Sandwich this gothpunk requiem will have you bewitched from opening guitar strum to final cymbal crash.

DOT #6

Thursday, March 1, 2007

HUMAN HANDS - Hereafter (LP Comp, 1988)

“…they looked like freshmen chemistry students or somebody else’s nerdy younger brothers, so that you were actually somewhat taken aback with the amount of ENERGY and CONVICTION with which these guys would play their stuff.”

Formed in 1978, Human Hands played a style of artpunk similar to that of bands like Magazine and B-Movie. With nearly five years under their belt it’s surprising to know that the band’s discography is so barrenly lacking, with only a single 7-inch (“Trains Vs Planes”, 1981) and one EP (“Jubilee”, 1982) needed to complete the list. However, there are about three compilations available for those of us who need more from this Los Angeles quintet… there’s a double-LP set with demos and live material that is often confused for their first full-length… there’s a decent CD collection put out by Grand Theft Audio Records… and then there's this LP from 1988 entitled “Hereafter” which features the band’s studio recordings including some hard to find compilation contributions. Standout tracks are the threatening and climatic “Stix and Stones”, the ever shifting and rushed jazz gone bad “Blue Eel”, and the crunchy punked-out “I Got Mad”.

Members would go on to perform in better-known acts like Dream Syndicate, The Romans, and Wall Of Voodoo. And in recent years the band has re-un
ited minus a couple key members. Find their myspace profile here and their official website there.

DOT #5