Freak Scene #37

May 11, 2009

Every other Monday, Jamie Johns draws attention to the choicest selections of the weird underground. In this edition of Freak Scene: a No Fun Fest preview, Starpimp and some thoughts on black metal and its place in her world.

First, this weekend is No Fun Fest, New York's premiere weird music festival. Merzbow canceled because of Swine Flu. However, the groups I am looking forward to the most are still on: Bastard Noise, Grey Wolves, Kevin Drumm/Prurient, Skullflower, and Yellow Tears. Also: MUCH LOVE TO THE BLANK DOGS, WOOF WOOF.

There are also a few great shows around the Fest, so if you did not get the chance to buy tickets (only Friday tickets are still available), you can still enjoy something:

May 13: WIERD Records party with Hive Mind, Martial Canterel, Envenomist, and R. Jencks at Home Sweet Home

May 14: Raglani, Tree Tops, Masqves (members of Emeralds), and others at Paris London West Nile

May 16: No Fun Fest Infinite Sound and Image at the New Museum

An afternoon of films and performances by Jim O’Rourke, Carlos Giffoni, C. Spencer Yeh and Prurient, as well as members of Noveller, Hair Police.

And of course the fest is May 15 to May 17. I will be there all three days and will have some good stories, tapes and hangovers to bring back.

When I listen to black metal, I mostly want to feel like I am hearing about Satan, the occult, magick, isolation, and anything dark/perverse/deranged but, you know, not in a dilettantish or kvlt way. I am not really interested in either of those things. My day to day life is relatively normal: I am a college student, I like records and I watch Real Housewives of New York City, so the themes (Satanism! Occultism! Nightmares! Dark sexuality!) of black metal are a pretty sharp contrast to what I live. People always seem to like what is taboo and terrifying the most, or maybe I am just fascinated by the hyper-masculinity the genre personifies. I get misty-eyed about my Huggy Bear LPs and I used to read Catharine Mackinnon like she was a prophet, and I don’t know how either of those entities would feel if I met them as a fan and then started talking about a song called “First Rape” which I am really digging right now, while intense black metal fans (read: Boys! Boys! Boys!) would probably cringe if they read this. There is a real freedom to the genre that I find refreshing and liberating as a listener and a fan. The best groups are those who do not back down from their dedication to their ethics, content and extreme sounds.

This week the latest Malkuth record, Sefirah Gevurah, has taken over my turntable. I can’t really tell what the lyrics are about–which is the case for most records in this genre–but it’s a HEAVY record. There are no electronics or vacuum cleaner-esque recording styles, but plenty of occult imagery and RIFFS. I could listen to this thing all day long (and I have). It is absolutely relentless. Along with a Satanic Warmaster cassette I picked up earlier in the year, Malkuth is one of my favorite listens in the genre of the still young year. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and now available from Hospital Productions.

Funny story: On the train ride back from buying the record, the dean of the fellowship office at my university was sitting a few seats down from me. We had met before a few times but we had a meeting later in the day to talk about a few fellowships I am applying for. When I got into the office, the first thing he asked me is if the record I was looking at on the train (and, in his words, made me look so happy) is as heavy as it looked. All I could say was YES, YES IT IS!

This one is from the archives and a bit different from Malkuth: Star Pimp. Last summer when I was in London, spending time with my good friend Siobhan, she was reminiscing about her favorite groups coming up in the ’90s. She brought up Star Pimp and said I had to check them out. The weird/random samples and the fuzzed out, drug-fried guitars are reminiscent of the best Butthole Surfers material (…Another Mans Sac to Locust Abortion Technician, in my estimation.) Lead singer Marcelle Poulos’ vocals are both coquettish and feral. Throw in some sludgy bass lines and you have a pretty perfect record, at least for me. Song titles including, but not limited to: "Yoko Phono," "Vegan Pussy," "Size Zero" and "Slave Girl." A review of one of their records from Pandemonium said this: “First and foremost, Star Pimp claimed to have fucked people in the following list of bands: Meat Joy, Fang, Sinister Sisters of Satan, K-Tel Wet Dream, Nice Strong Arm, Jesus Lizard, Steel Pole Bathtub, Babes In Toyland, Butthole Surfurs, Yeastie Girls, Scratch Acid, Frightwig, Growing Up Skipper and last and most frightening, the Melvins.” Rad and underrated!

All three of their full lengths were released on Boner Records. My favorite is Seraphim 280z, which is still available on vinyl: get it here.

GOOD NEWS: FREAK SCENE IS GOING TO CHINA THIS SUMMER. If anyone has any suggestions for what to do and see, please e-mail—I will be in the promised land doing research on women’s publications in the 1950s but want to find some good Freak Scene-friendly places.


Jamie Johns

4304 Lerner Hall

2920 Broadway

New York, NY 10027

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Freak Scene #37