Razorcake Podcast #23: with Liz O.
Liz O’s first Razorcake Podcast
There’s this monthly club in L.A. called M/R/X-Wolfpak that mixes minimal electronic pop with deathrock in the vein of Specimen and Christian Death. I go to the club as often as possible because the live performances are typically excellent and the DJs consistently manage to stump my trainspotting mind. The DJs, in particular, rekindled my love of the incredibly dark, borderline frightening electronic music that came out in the early-1980s and was first heard by my teenage ears a decade later, forcing me to dig through my collection for the vinyl I lovingly collected years ago. Through the live performances (and from just chatting up people on the patio), I have been introduced to many of the L.A. artists that have become my favorites. You’ll hear both on this show.
Marc Almond and Foetus “Flesh Volcano/Slut”
Credited to The Flesh Volcano upon its initial release in 1987, this track is a collaboration between former Soft Cell singer Marc Almond and industrial pioneer Jim Thirlwell, known in this incarnation as Foetus.
Almond’s exquisite vocals often belie the seedy tales he fills with wit and cynicism. The lyrical content seems perfectly made for Thirlwell’s dirty, electronic compositions.
This album was re-released on CD in 1998, but from my research, it looks as though it may be out of print again. http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/, http://www.foetus.org/
Lydia Lunch & Clint Ruin “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
Like Foetus, Clint Ruin is actually Jim Thirlwell (also J.G. Thirlwell, who composes the score for The Venture Brothers). Here, he joins forces with Lydia Lunch for a cover of the Blue Oyster Cult song that is more dive bar than arena concert. http://www.lydia-lunch.org/
Attrition “A Girl Called Harmony”
I first heard “A Girl Called Harmony” on the dance floor at Helter Skelter, which was the major weekly goth club in L.A. for the bulk of the 1990s. The song was already a few years old at the time, but it fit in well with what was going on in that scene right around 1996 with the popularity of pretty female voices juxtaposed with industrial elements and neo-classical flourishes. Needless to say, it was quite popular.
Martin Bowes and Julia Waller first formed Attrition in 1980, thus putting the band chronologically in line with the likes of Legendary Pink Dots, Test Dept., and other early industrial groups. “A Girl Called Harmony” can be found on the 1991 release A Tricky Business as well as the twenty-fifth anniversary compilation Tearing Arms from Deities. http://www.attrition.co.uk/
Ultravox “Reap the Wild Wind”
Oh, how I love Ultravox with its sweet, electronic melodies cooing through my speakers. This is the lead track off Quartet, which was produced by George Martin and released in 1982. As an aside, http://www.ultravox.org.uk/ is hosting a covers competition. The deadline for submissions recently passed, but the semifinal results should be released soon. I’m interested in hearing the results.
Mark Lane “I Want You”
L.A.-based Mark Lane has been creating dark, electronic pop since the early 1980s. Over the decades, he has collaborated with members of like-minded groups like Klinik, Tangerine Dream, and Attrition. “I Want You” comes from the compilation CD The Anti-Tech Testament 1981-85.
I recommend befriending Mark Lane on MySpace as he posts one obscure track from his catalog every Wednesday and it’s all good stuff. http://www.editionsmarklane.com/
Fad Gadget “Collapsing New People”
Fad Gadget, the project of Frank Tovey, was the first act to sign to Daniel Miller’s Mute Records. Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tovey combined performance art with stark electronic pop in a fashion that would go on to influence a generation of similar artists. Sadly, Tovey passed away in 2002 just as he was beginning to resurrect Fad Gadget.
Interesting to note is that “Collapsing New People” is an homage to German industrial pioneers Einsturzende Neubauten, whose name translates to “collapsing new buildings.” http://www.fadgadget.co.uk/
BIRTH! is the project of L.A.-based music Douglas Halbert. Like his predecessors Frank Tovey and Rozz Williams, Halbert is interested in combining performance art with electronic and noise experimentation. He frequently performs in the middle of the crowd while covered in white acrylic paint. www.myspace.com/thisheadisforburning
Jellowaste is a recent arrival in Los Angeles. Back in New York, he was (and still is, although he’s across the country) the drummer for Din Glorious. Out West, he has been focusing on his solo venture with gigs in small clubs and DIY set-ups on
Hollywood Boulevard (which he plays with BIRTH!). Performing with tracks running through his laptop, Jellowaste’s style is a mix of electronic punk and cheeky death rock a la 45 Grave. www.myspace.com/jellowaste
Einsturzende Neubauten “Yu Gung”
So, this one time, I went to see Einsturzende Neubauten at The Palace and ended up standing right next to the speaker. Naturally, I didn’t have earplugs with me. I heard ringing all night and went to sleep frightened that my ears would never be the same. I lucked out that night and woke up with no such problems.
Never go to a Neubauten show without earplugs. The stories surrounding the loudness of the band’s set are not exaggerated.
“Yu Gung” is from a 12” single that was quite a big hit at goth and industrial clubs for years. Once in a while, if you’re at a club with a super cool DJ, you might still be able to dance to it. http://www.neubauten.org//
SWFT WNGS “Diamond Skin”
A few days after we recorded this podcast, SWFT WNGS announced its demise. This is a shame as SWFT WNGS had become one of the most exciting (and, yes, loudest) groups in Los Angeles. Fortunately, though, new projects are set to emerge in the near future. www.myspace.com/swftwngs