Shits and Giggles' "Trick Or Treat"
Oh fuck. I hate seasonal music. And Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays, notwithstanding the opportunity it always brings to see The Great Tyrant at The Chat Room, which is the only live music you're likely to see in that venue nowadays. (It was funny the other day, talking to a friend who didn't realize that the Fairmount is closed and the Chat stopped doing shows back in July. Fort Worth music venues have the longevity of mayflies, it seems.) I hate candy corn (the candy), although I love "Kandy Korn" (the Captain Beefheart song). And I quite like this new LP (pressed on 180 gram vinyl, yo) that I got from Aaron Gonzalez just before playing the very worst show of my entahr life at Station 20 (formerly the Firehouse Gallery, now also no longer booking shows) last Saturday night. I don't blame the record for that, though.
Shits and Giggles is the confluence of venerable Dallas via Nawlins 'n' Atlanta noisicians Vas Deferens Organization and Ariel Pink, an L.A. born 'n' bred avant-garde weirdo with a love for '70s and '80s pop (see below) that puts him in the same league as Nathan Brown and Har Mar Superstar, except he's on Animal Collective's label now and so presumably his stuff gets distributed better 'n when he was just handing out burned CD-R's (maybe not). Trick Or Treat is released on VDO's Free Dope and Fucking In the Streets label, which will probably ensure that if it isn't already, this blog entry will be impossible to Google for folks that filter their Internet. And it's hardly seasonal music, nor is it the cloying confection the front cover art, at least, might lead you to expect.
First side starts out with a cacophonous collage of found sounds 'n' sampled beats, giving way to Aaron's pop, trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez, playing something that sounds either Weill-esque or like Pink Panther soundtrack music before sighing Four Freshman harmonies send things careening into a dense jungle the way Miles Davis might have imagined one back in the On the Corner time. Dennis takes one wild, F/X-laden ride that dissolves into musique concrete weirdness and a scraping arco bass solo from Aaron that plays out behind a hubbub of chattering voices. An ethereal, Southeast Asian sounding interval ensues, with some dude nattering on in what sounds like backwards Hindi. A rather Henry Cow-like ostinato follows, with Dennis' octave-divided trumpet playing ghostly washes in the background. The atmosphere gets spookier as the groove breaks down into an amorphous, sprung-rhythmed morass like something from the recesses of Electric Ladyland or the Faust catalog.
Turning the rekkid over (to perdition with Nick Hornby's revisionism, I'm still geeked on "the romance of the artifact"), the proceedings resume with sub-volcanic rumblings and glottal torture that recall Zappa circa Lumpy Gravy, giving way to machine beats, trumpet fanfares, and more backwards vocalismo reminiscent of the Residents at their most impenetrable. The highest harmonic from a sheet metal saw makes a guest appearance, setting the stage for the entrance of the Master Musicians of Joujouka (or their cousins). Things finally settle into a mutated jam-band groove, with pitch-shifted guitar keeping things off-center like Bo Diddley on belladonna. I suppose my point regarding all this mess is that there's always something new to be diverted by in Shits and Giggles' sonic funhouse. It's a bracing tonic for sonic ennui, even.