Thursday, October 1, 2009

Child Pornography – She’s Got Legs [Deathbomb Arc]/Blue Sabbath Black Fiji – Gemini [Deathbomb Arc]

So yeah, this Child Pornography record is like two years old already. Wow. I really f’d my job up there, but the silver lining is it is still available (gotta love the pro-pressed CDs sometimes) and also having listened to this thing countless times over the past two years I’ve grown to love pretty much everything about it.
First of all, this is cleanest CP have ever sounded and while I prefer them best on a gauzy sounding cassette, good production value has its charms as well. The number one instant turnoff about these guys (except the name probably) is the seriously petulant vocals. Can’t tell if it’s a guy or a girl but whoever it is has gone way past bratty, way past sneering, way past “attitude.” I will fully admit, the vocals caused me to keep the album at arm’s length for a short period of time. However though, the record is so charming in its fucked little way that after a bit of exposure you can’t help but love the damn thing, vox included. There are a limited amount of records that I’m more impressed by every time I listen and She’s Got Legs has gold member status in that group.
This thing is a pop record of the highest order, supremely simple and full of familiar elements but, like any great pop record, puts those elements together in a unique fashion. The short intro “Oh Baby” introduces the listener to the attitude of the record, a loop of 808 cowbell and rattling snare and a sample of a woman singing “ah bay-buh.” “Honey Bear” launches into the brittle, lo-fi electro-punk guise that CP often works in. Casio, drum machine, yelped vocals, and skronky guitar. Very killer, but they follow it up with an even more killer jam “TV’s Gotta Hold on Me” which is more Timbaland than anything else including an amazing, straight crunk descending keyboard line. The whole track is super groovy, super catchy, basically an instant party. “Fashion Vomit” pulls a kind of Suicide-thing but twice the tempo while “Cold Fingers” has a more authentic Suicide vibe but filtered through CP’s sweaty lens. Both are great tracks and never actually rely on their influences. “Fuck’n with MC Ren” is about as spacey as Child Pornography can sound, fluttering casio sound effects, garbled vocals and a slowly mangled guitar. By the time they’re at “I Wanna Hurt” one of my especially favorite favorites, they have gotten halfway through the album without any of the previous songs coming close to the two minute mark. This is important because one of the record's strengths is that it moves so quickly, piling on hook after hook. There’s never any chance to be bored because all the good ones are gone before you want them to be and album is only made up of good ones. Anyway, back to “I Wanna Hurt” the album’s default ballad; the vocal refrain of, you guessed it, “I wanna hurt” is perfectly paired with an almost marching keyboard melody——one of the many melodies that will get stuck in your head. “Power Ballad” despite the name is a certified slow jam and possibly the greatest thing Child Pornography has done. An amazingly dreamy bed of keyboard lines and drum machine is concocted which is groovy and catchy and all that but moreover it is beautiful. CP isn’t one to let it’s beauty go unblemished though, saving its snarkiest vocals for this piece. This thing is only a minute and a half but had they stretched it out to an LP side, I’d still be asking for more. “Rock N’ Roll” finds the band reappropriating “shooby-doo-wop”s and “sun glasses at night” for their own bizarre vision of rock n’ roll which is heavy on the attitude and hip swinging. Another one of my favorites is “New Neighborhood” partially due to it having the most excellent guitar playing on the record. “Pixel Palace Ode” after a sputtering, crashing intro settles into a springy, tightly coiled ditty based around a sunshinin’ guitar riff. Consequently, there’s more great guitar playing on “Woot Woo” over a shuffling keyboard beat. “The Ruins” is a quick, chugging keyboard interlude leading into “Up All Night” another great one purely on the basis that it makes you wanna fucking move. The most unabashed attempt at a dance anthem on here. The longest track of the album is suitably titled “Lawrence of Arabia” though the track time is 4 minutes not 4 hours. It’s also my favorite song to sing along to. Even when I haven’t listened in a while I find myself randomly bleating “Lawrence of Arabia-ahawaah.” The track contains all the elements of the other tracks but it’s mellower and, dare I say, uplifting in spirit. There’s a surprisingly faithful cover of “Only the Lonely” at the end (faithful in the sense that it is the band just singing along to the record) and though it’s a fine cover, I gotta side with my main man Roy Orbison’s version. Still it’s pretty funny to hear CP’s distorted yaps in place of Orbison’s croon. Probably the most unexpected way to end a record like She’s Got Legs.
To get me back into the oh nine state of mind, I have Gemini, a recent CD-r by the Scotland-by-way-of-France duo Blue Sabbath Black Fiji. I’ve been waiting for DBA and BSBF to finally collaborate, because both epitomize fun in noise. “Laksa Bath” is an awesome firestarter, insanely distorted and energetic with a ghostly aura of guitar or keyboard just audible. Oh, before we get any farther, it is a must to jam this thing loud. Anyhow its a brilliant track, and sums up BSBF in three minutes fairly well. “Sun Ra was a Wookie” brings in a drum machine. It definitely gives the band a different vibe, I think I generally prefer them without the drum machine cause it can seem to stifle the energy a bit, but in "Sun Ra" they’re pulling all sorts of groovy riffs amidst the noise so the drum machine kinda works as it imbues the track with a strangely straightforward rock vibe. The brief “Coxitocin Syntocinon” nearly gets into down tempo, minimal techno territory while “Eenslachtingshung Onder Het Bet” jumps into an insatiably frantic free rock mindset. Guitar and drum machine, both, relentlessly spitting out frenzied, twisted sonic blasts. “Love Lagoon” continues the aesthetic but replaces the slippery free rhythms with mechanized pummeling. They sound a lot like early Yellow Swans here but a noticeably stronger rock influence. That’s actually one of my favorite things about Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, that they play noise with a rock n’ roll attitude. I love the warped vocal part near the end of the jam which carries into the next piece. Another short one, “Kartoffel Katastrophe” goes straight for the warped vocal jugular making some kind of futuristic robo-Skaters freak out. “Deep Gravy 7” kicks off with straight cheese techno, a marching drum beat and squirty blips. Effected guitar comes in spraying waves of sustain around the track, and around 3 minutes in the jam takes shape with Kraftwerk-by-way-of-The Juan Maclean vocals and sequenced melodies. In true techno-jam fashion the piece keeps building and complicating itself with innumerable layers of melodies and rhythms. Not my favorite song on here, but its still pretty hard not to like and tops the only the "Only the Lonely" cover for weirdest finale.
All in all, two strong DBA releases. Obviously She's Got Legs comes highly recommended, but Gemini is no slouch either. If you haven't heard either of these groups, pick these up cause it's time you did.

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