View Single Post
  #4  
Old 08-09-2016, 11:20 AM
scabpicker scabpicker is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Funkytown (Fort Worth)
Posts: 4,151
Hey, I'm arguing over there that Sonic Youth played "microtonal, non-dodecaphonic music with non-Western intent"* and that the specific varieties they arrived at were governed by their cheap guitars that sounded cool out of tune in a noisy way and which they based their sound on. My conspiracy theory accommodates both sides of the argument. Apparently I can back it up with walls of text, too.


But here, I'm gonna argue for the masters of knowing where that line is, blowing right past it, wrapping around a couple of times, and still ending up somewhere near that line. Probably by dumb luck, but they do it. Ladies and gentlemen: The Butthole Surfers!

Paul Leary said "Rock and roll isn't about being smart.", after he and his band had already been testing the theory for almost a decade. When you've got a name like that, scatological, uncomfortable content is to be assumed. If you show up at show where the name of the band is The Butthole Surfers, and you are offended by the content, I don't know what I can do for you. Still, through judicious application of Gibbytronics and an unconventional approach to almost everything in the studio; they produced clever, irreverent, and sometimes pretty smart songs. It's not as clear cut of a stroke of genius as the Ramones, because they were partly extending their path content-wise. Sonic-ally, there aren't really any predecessors, they were more warped than just about anyone. It's hard finding anyone who's as extreme as the Surfers, but were somehow able to pull it all into a rock song.

Examples:

22 Going on 23 - 1987. Warning: This song uses a recording from a call-in show from a woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted. Whether that is true or not, it appears that she is an unreliable narrator through parts of the call. Combined with the editing, it makes for a disorienting nightmare. That is enhanced by the rest of the band's performance. Pinkus' bass is nearly chromatic (the only scale I can see it fitting in is double harmonic), and Leary's guitar work is chilling.

Hay It's "22 Going on 23" in reverse at high speed, and re-worked. The cows at the end of "22 Going on 23" are what sounds like "Hey".

One's a complete nightmare reflecting what I think is a good abstraction of the world that person might inhabit, and the other is a crazy joke song. They both appear on Locust Abortion Technician. There's absolutely no indication of what speed you're supposed to play that record at, on the label or the sleeve. About half of the songs actually work at either 45 or 33 rpm, depending on whether you're interested in the vocals or some other random instrument sounding near it's correct pitch. Many of them aren't at concert pitch at either speed. Clever or stupid?: IBM presents "You Make the Call!"

Their "Day in the Life" equivalent is probably Jimi**. It's the audio version of a Francis Bacon painting for about seven and a half minutes, then a church bell rings, Lurch answers "You rang?", and it drifts off into one of the most creative soundscapes I've ever heard, with bowling for percussion.

So, I'd call them on cutting edge of stupid/clever, even at this late date.

I can probably also make a case for Capitan Beefheart, but that will have to be for another morning.




*But I think I might have settled on xenharmonic.

**Not named that originally, the original record has pictographs for song titles.

Last edited by scabpicker; 08-09-2016 at 11:22 AM.