Tag Archives: Acid House

Dinowalrus – Godstar (Psychic TV Cover)

You’ve gotta love it when a band you love covers a song you love, especially when the song covered is one of the prettier moments in a sprawling, inconsistent back catalog. Dinowalrus take on Psychic TV, one of the weirder groups to ever find itself lumped in with the industrial scene (mostly due to lead singer Genesis P. Orridge’s previous band: Throbbing Gristle).

Dinowalrus – Godstar.mp3

Godstar is an ode to former Rolling Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones. Why Psychic TV felt compelled to craft a sonic shrine to Jones is open to speculation (maybe it was the mutual appreciation of loads of drugs), but no matter the reasoning behind it, it was probably the closest Psychic TV got to pure, unadorned pop. And in Dinowalrus’ capable hands, it veers even closer, shimmering with a pristine brightness that belies the troubled subject of the song. (Brian’s doing lines with the angels now…) But the best thing about a cover like this is that it gets you looking into Psychic TV’s recorded output again. (That’s if you’re me. RESULTS ARE NOT TYPICAL.)

Along with about a million live albums, Psychic TV released several albums of near-industrial psychedelia. The oft cross-dressed P. Orridge never shied away from confrontation, controversy or following his muse down a few dead ends. Of all the cul-de-sacs Psychic TV ended up in, none was more inadvertently entertaining than its brief foray into acid house.

Two albums, Jack the Tab and Tekno Acid Beat were released as pseudonymous “compilations.” Along with Towards Thee Infinite Beat and Beyond Thee Infinite Beat, these albums  saw PTV exploring Britain’s exploding club music scene. It was a misguided exploration, though, as Genesis came to the not-altogether-erroneous conclusion that the “acid” in “acid house” referred to LSD rather than the acidic tones of brutalized Roland TB-303 bass emulators. An easy mistake to make, especially if you’re a tourist. Drug use was not unheard of in the club scene (UNDERSTATEMENT), so perhaps the confusion was inevitable.

However, PTV’s two “acid house” albums went long on their slightly-off take on house music and were completely bereft of “acid,” not counting P. Orridge’s no doubt prodigious intake of LSD. So while these albums don’t stand up on their own merits (that being: acid house albums), they do stand up as a curiosity permanently relegated to the outside of the scene. In terms of PTV’s output, the Jack the Tab albums (along with the/Thee twin Infinite Beat follow-ups) are a driveby two-off (like a one-off, only with two albums dedicated to misunderstanding the scene). There’s a sort of a tuneful darkness to some of the tracks (Black Rain) and some naff house tracks (much of the remainder), but there’s also a few keepers.

Psychic TV – M.E.S.H. (Meet Every Situation Head-on).mp3

M.E.S.H. (Meet Every Situation Head-on) is the power of positive thinking as relayed by a drug-addled man in a full-length dress. Jigsaw has a nice minimal funk to it. But if there’s one song to keep from these albums, it’s Joy with its filtered and phased “J-O-Y” refrain and its filtered and phased everything else. Hardly danceable but also hardly anything but a dance track. You can dance to it, but your moves will have more in common with Ian Curtis’ near-epileptic movements (the only way to dance to Joy Division — see also PTV’s tribute to Ian Curtis, I.C. Water) than today’s raver staples (like that hand thing – if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about).

BONUS OBSERVATION: Witch house impresario(s) and all-around mystery men Mater Suspiria Vision seem to be borrowing a page from PTV’s design manual. You can’t sell the brand without a logo. Compare the following two images:

A wonderful stroll down memory lane, as far as that goes. (About 700 words, it would appear.) But we’re here to talk about DINOWALRUS, are we not?!!? We are! So… let’s do exactly that.

A new memory lane.

If I’m not mistaken I was first pointed in the direction of Dinowalrus by ultra-fine music blog Waves at Night which, up until recently, sported a revolving set of background images that would occasionaly, without warning, fill your entire screen (other than what you were reading) with bare female nipples. The site is now much S’er for W and the quality of the music featured remains high, if a little disco-heavy.

The descriptor “drum and drone” caught my eye, as did the band name, an unlikely match of animals, the likes of which the world hadn’t seen since the underrated Cabin Boy, which featured a mythical Halfsharkalligatorhalfman.

Then there was the track title: Electric Car, Gas Guitar.

A very short internal conversation followed. “There’s no way we’re not listening to that!” Sounding pretty much like Hawkwind allowing Lemmy to make all the creative decisions, ECGG is an exhilarating sonic headbutt, not miles away from the muscular post-DFA1979 spacerockfunk of That Fucking Tank.

But the track that took me from fist-pumping rookie to fist-pumping acolyte was Mae Shi’s remix of Nuke Duke’Em, which dials back the speedometer a bit while applying plenty of low-end thump.

Dinowalrus – Nuke Duke’Em (Mae Shi Remix).mp3

Then, of course, there was Actually, the best Spiritualized song ever to not appear on a Spiritualized album (click through for some more CLT wordage).

On top of all this great music and stylistic shift, Dinowalrus is one of the better reads on Twitter (this feels like the most left-handed compliment of all, but I assure you, it is not), ranking right up there with That Fucking Tank (again) and HEALTH (some grains of salt and a strong stomach occasionally need with this last one), all three of which are lively and active enough to remind you that an ACTUAL FUCKING HUMAN BEING is running the Twit, rather than just some PR flack pressing “SPAM” repeatedly.



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Filed under Covers, Rock

Luddite Techno (Featuring the Dirtbombs and That Fucking Tank)

There are probably many, many people out there who would consider a garage rock band’s attempt to cover Detroit techno classics (often spelled with a “x” on various dodgy compilations) the height of disappearing up their own ass/fruitless attempt to stay relevant by covering non-genre songs a couple of decades past their prime. I am not one of those people.

In fact, I was ecstatic (without actually having taken any “E”). There’s nothing I love more than genre-crossing bands and the music they make. (I’m talking about legitimate jumps here, however. Not like Tommy Lee deciding he’s going to rap. Or Limp Bizkit’s bassist with the weird eyes/hairdo deciding he’s going to make a non-Limp Bizkit album. [Although I can’t hold that last one against him. After all, there’s probably no way to “transcend” being a Limp Bizkit member and all the genre-hopping in the world is never going to measure up against being a contributing member to rock and roll’s anal gland.])

Back to where we were: garage rock near-legends The Dirtbombs kicked out an album of techno covers and I was justifiably ecstatic (see above and also I’m writing in the first person so of course I am correct in being ecstatic). While the album was very definitely hit-and-miss (do we really need a sincere 21-minute cover of Innerzone Orchestra’s Bug in the Bassbin?), their cover of DJ Rolando’s Jaguar is a true hit.

Basically, the Dirtbombs remain true to the source material without sounding like the source material. It’s recognizably Jaguar but all electronica has gone Luddic, reverting the highly-machined workmanship back to a decidedly blue collar thump-and-grind of good old-fashioned drum/bass/guitar. It’s like beating welding robots into plowshares or something, to carry the Detroit metaphor to a conclusion that no one will truly respect (or even “get”) if any amount of thought is applied to it.

Here’s the original for comparison:

It truly is a victory for the working class. (OK. I’m done with that. Cue Mr. Moore’s distorted timeline and some heartrending shots of urban decay juxtaposed with CEOs stepping out of the backs of Lincoln Town Cars.)

This sort of thing needs to happen more often: rock instruments taking on processed electronics. And winning.

That Fucking Tank (whom I’ve thrown words at before) announced (via LeTwit) that they had just recorded a cover of Phuture’s Acid Trax. (The use of “x” here is original and intentional. And singular.[?]) I was duly nonplussed. (At this point, I’m making up my own definition of “non-plussed,” seeing as everyone else seems to think they can Do Exactly That. When I say “nonplussed,” I mean cautiously enthusiastic. Internal cartwheels and such. This is generally better than external cartwheels because of a.) possible collateral damage of computer/kids/pets/groin muscles and b.) because no one else in the tri-state area would give a fuck. Not even collectively. And not even with the holidays right around the corner.)

Hell yes. TFT covering an acid track. If anyone could pay homage to a true club classic in a respectfully over-the-top fashion, it’s this particular set of NY space/math rock merchants. They’ve certainly got the stamina and they definitely have the right attitude (a cocksure blend of stripped-down rock propulsion and an unexpected sense of humour [lol heartily at these song titles]). And away they went into the studio, returning with this epic bit of thunder, entitled Acid Jam.

I’m not sure if licensing issues caused the name change or that That Fucking Tank (composing sentences with this band’s name often makes it sound like you stutter) decided that it had strayed a bit from the source material. TFT didn’t wander far, but it’s definitely more a TFT track than a respectful cover of Phuture’s acid house epic. (Still, I’m also inclined to believe licensing was an issue. Cannot for the life of me find a Youtube video of Acid Trax that doesn’t open up with an ad. This link will at least let you skip whatever it is that’s being pushed after 5 seconds.)

Once again, adore that gloriously Luddic rhythm section, which beats your head into submission the old fashioned way. The way the Amish, TO THIS VERY DAY, build barns, houses and Y2K shelters: with brutal percussion and thick, rounded bass. (And beards. But TFT have parted from the ways of the elders on this last issue.)

Sometimes the best electronic music is the old electronic music. The kind made by honest artists, not with tracky machining, but with humans and strings and amplifiers and drum kits.

(The previous statement is very often false. Sometimes the best music is made with a laptop. But we’ll have plenty of time for that elsewhere on this blog.)

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Like the Dirtbombs.

That Fucking Tank on The Fucking Facebook.



Filed under Rock