down a rock music rabbit hole

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(Image above from a Birdeatsbaby video)

This is how an entire afternoon can disappear. Recently I was perusing a long list of rock music genres and sub-genres when I came across this one:

Italian Occult Psychedelia

How could I not look into it? Before long I was on Spotify listening to a band called Cannibal Movie.  Imagine if you dumped a beat up old carnival organ into a swamp, and then the Creature from the Black Lagoon sat down and began to play. The sound burbling up from the water is their song, “Fame.” 

Take a less distorted organ and add somber drumming and gothic chanting and you’ve got Capra Informis. Music to play at a goat sacrifice – “Tunnels of Cliphoth.” From here I moved on to …

Math Rock

I listened to music from several bands in this genre and really couldn’t detect a common denominator (ha ha) among them. One British group called Three Trapped Tigers had an album called “Numbers: 1-13” with songs labelled 1, 2, etc., as befitting math rock. I like a lot of this music. Another group, from Japan, called Ruins was utterly different and berserk. I recommend this inspired weirdness called “Skhanddraviza,” which must be a homage to Frank Zappa.

Folk Metal

I started with Finntroll. I don’t know why, but this combination of black metal and a type of Finnish polka music was hard to take seriously. It kept reminding me of the Stonehenge scene from Spinal Tap. Much of this genre is Scandinavian. However, the Orphaned Land is out of Israel, mixing metal with Middle Eastern folk music. Here they are live, doing a number without the deep growly voice technique they use on other songs. Finally, I’ll end with:

Dark Cabaret

Picture a group of young circus vampires trying to look menacing while playing squeezeboxes. Face makeup, accordions, and a theatrical style create the cabaret and lyrics about death and destruction make it dark. The Tiger Lillies recommend mindless insurrection in “Start a Fire.” I really like the stop motion style video for this Birdeatsbaby song called “The Trouble.”

You can have the same adventure I did by following the links to the music videos above. As an avant-guard metal band, Gorguts, says, “As spleen takes over me, resound, the echoes of my threnodies.” Live at the Brutal Assault festival.

(Avant-garde metal band, Giant Squid.)

angels and demons in the recording studio

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In tonight’s spin class when we got to a particularly hard “steep” exercise, the instructor played some music that I would give the old fashioned label of heavy metal. I know there is death metal, grindcore, metalcore, and various other permutations of metal, but I couldn’t tell you the difference between them. Don’t know what band it was, but you could pry the lid off a coffin with the singer’s voice; very deep and growling and scraping the vocal chords.

His verses alternated with others sung by a children’s choir, and that achieved some of the ghastly effect intended. Pairing children’s voices with something quite different is an old gambit in the music business. Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper come to mind. But the first time I came across it was on Leonard Cohen’s 1967 album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen on the song, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” It’s an unbelievably beautiful song. Personally, I think it might be better without the child singers and the twanging mouth harp, but that’s Leonard for you. I’m so used to that version now I don’t even notice.

Recordings of children’s choirs should be mixed with the sounds of:
humpback whale songs
electric can openers
radio static
a cat fight
a 28.8K modem connecting to the Internet

I give you these ideas for free and you may become famous and wealthy. You’re welcome.