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Phillppe Petit, "Henry: The Iron Man"

cover imageAs loathe as I am of the term, perhaps this is conceptually the best approach to the "mashup" in recent memory.  Rather than just slapping together two disparate songs with the same BPM for the sake of being "hip", Petit (a member of Strings of Consciousness and head of the BiP_HOp label) has instead created a soundtrack synthesizing the classic Lynch film with Shinya Tsukamoto’s esoteric cyberpunk nightmare, resulting in a cacophonous, disorienting mess of sound.


Beta-Lactam Ring

This is one of those faux soundtracks that doesn’t require any familiarity with the conceptual source material to enjoy, but the characteristics of both films shine through in the composition.  The opening "Salaryman’s Dream" jumps in immediately with mangled and flanged string tones, rustling static  and the occasional random percussive crash.  Over the clicks and deep, pulsing bass assaults, the electronic wreckage begins to resemble industrial presses crushing metal garbage into cubes, and one can almost visualize the metal fetishist from Tetsuo looking on in a sexual frenzy.  Swirling harsh alien ambience envelopes almost everything, while mutant horns sound like lost radio transmissions from Sun Ra still traveling through space.  The long piece closes on banging, almost traditional industrial rhythms.

The second track, "In Tokyo Henry Spencer is Fine" brings in more of Petit’s vinyl fetish, layering complex surface noise and sped up guitar spinning off vinyl.  The collage of noise is more restrained here, but still menacing, with blown out feedback tones blasting through.  The sound oscillates between noise and softer sounds, but the overall sound is alienating industrial chaos.  Petit throws in the a bit of the FM3 Buddha Machine as well, but under heavy treatment and processing.

The closing track, "Lady in the Radiator Meets the Fetishist" again lays on the surface noise heavily, while adding stuttering vinyl scrapes and rising guitar feedback, invoking a sense of lurking dread that gets more and more intense.  The track moves at a limp, like a slow moving lava flow destroying everything in its path.  Through the flaming muck I can hear more brain damaged jazz horns with tremolo-ed fragments of techno synth, and the track becomes an unending battle between jazz, techno, and pure noise.

Even without using any of the original source material, Petit combines the schizophrenic noise chaos of Eraserhead with the abstract industrial dystopia of Tetsuo, and the combination works out very well.  The symbolism is wonderful here, though as a listening experience, it’s almost too intense.  The sense of dread and menace never relents, there are no quiet or introspective movements, the darkness just continues on and on.  Perhaps that’s the point, though!



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Review of the Day

Like a mixture of Sigue Sigue Sputnik & The Fast. Totally new wave, as if I didn't just tell you that comparing him to those two. Sigue Sigue Sputnik was Tony James band after he played bass for Generation X. Tony James was responsible for the atrocious mix of The Heartbreakers 'LAMF ReVisited' when he and Johnny took the mix money and played Doctor instead of making that record "big sounding" like they were supposed to. They just washed the masters in reverb and trashed a legendary album until the original mix was reissued several years later. Despite this judgment glitch Tony James was an incredible showmen and creative force. Sigue Sigue Sputnik were reviled for their "Love Missile F1-11", though it became a classic of its genre. The Fast were a way ahead of their time band from NYC that combined a love of Sparks into a punky power pop that predated 'new wave' by a few years. You'd do well to check out another NYC band The Speedies as well. Their "Let me take your Foto" 7" is still 10/10. The Fast and The Speedies were peaking around 1979. The Fast have songs on both Max's Kansas City compilations, plus some great 7"s and an LP. Back to Sylvester Boy. There are a bunch of songs on this disc that are just so fine. Sonovac and Sylvester Boy are doing almost exactly the same thing, and the two of them are my picks of the week from the Other Music section of this weeks gullbuy. This CD is the first non Chicks On Speed release on their label. It is the third release of the label.


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