I'd totally forgotten how bonkers and utterly bizarre that album is! Perhaps the most quintessentially British album ever this side of Willy Wonka, "Death By Chocolate" (2000) is a concept album by Mike Always who, it turns out, was head of A&R at Cherry Red Records, a label that helped launch bands such as Felt, The Monochrome Set or Everything But The Girl.
In 2001, Always hooked up with some musicians and a 19 year-old hotel maid (!) called Angie Tillett and they set upon recording Death By Chocolate's debut album, which brings elements of freakbeat and 60s psych together with Angie's dry monologues. On most songs you won't hear her sing but recite an endless litany of all the things that were considered sweet, innocuous or innocent in decades past, kind of like a Prevert catalogue of sweet little nothings. The songs on which she actually sings are also really good, very folksy and comforting.
The end result is quite surprising and also, truth be told, a bit creepy at times. It almost sounds like a robotic, machine recreation of a long-gone past teenage England that never existed in the first place. The music is more cheerful than all the later "hauntological" bands that would follow but there's a sense of incoming dread that I can't shake off. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this? Another album called 'Zap The World' would follow in 2002 and they briefly returned with a 3rd release much later called "Bric-a-brac" in 2012.
I found this delicious interview that was made when the debut album came out and when they were really pushing the whole "sweet teenage chambermaid loner from the provinces" concept very hard. Makes me think of Pizzicato Five's delirious recreation of what made pop 'pop' a decade prior!
Illustrator John Coulthart's journal feuilleton and its weekend links selection is one of my favourite online treasure troves.
Last week did not disappoint with this bandcamp selection of Zeuhl bands, divided into 3 parts:
Old School Zeuhl, Zeuhl Goes Global, and New School Zeuhl. "There is No Prog, Only Zeuhl: A Guide to One of Rock’s Most Imaginative Subgenres" can be accessed here.
More info on this particular brand of music invented by French Avant-Garde pioneers Magma available on Prog Archives, which also includes a long list of bands in that vein and a good definition of what separates Zeuhl from prog rock:
Zeuhl is an adjective in Kobaïan, the language written by Christian Vander, drummer and founder of the French band Magma.
While far from being an expert on the genre, here's one of my favourite albums which don't appear on the bandcamp list by EIDER STELLAIRE. This is from their 1981 debut album.
Construction workers woke me up today from one of the strangest dreams I've had recently.
In the dream, I was chatting at work with someone I didn't know well about "Anna", the 1967 made-for-TV movie starring Jean-Claude Brialy and Anna Karina, with music and lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg. Following our discussion, the person from work proceeded to invite me to some kind of informal rehearsal with a tribute band he was doing. I accepted, thinking the band was just starting out and that there'd be five of us drinking beers and making some noise.
But when I got to the rehearsal place, I was led to this gigantic opera house of immense proportions with thousands of people sitting everywhere or lying on the ground.
I sat down with the rest of the crowd and realized everyone was here to take part in this weird free-form musical experiment to see if you could build a musical from scratch, with no direction or preconceived music of any kind.
Of course, everyone was chiming in and voicing out their opinion as to how we should proceed, making the whole endeavour impossible. A few strong-willed 'leaders' rapidly emerged; angry, belligerent men quite vocal in their telling off of others like myself who were - at least in the beginning - making some initial artistic suggestions with great enthusiasm.
In the end, before I left, all the massive crowd could manage was this basic yogic hum, "Aaaaah-Naaaaaaah" with some sporadic attempts at Gregorian inflections no one could manage properly. The whole scene began to feel like a directionless mass not going anywhere, with no priest at the helm to steer the crowd to any kind of grand finale or resolution.
Claude Chabrol was in the audience too, and I remember him looking particularly befuddled at the whole spectacle.
Just found this old flyer I wrote once for my friend DJ Mamazzoni, in the style of the old Marvel Universe handbooks. The artwork is all Mamazzoni's and I think it rules!
Just wanted to share this theory I have regarding John Boorman's sequel which - everyone will agree to this - is a bit of a mess. But what if it all happened in Richard Burton's head?
Quoting from my initial post on Letterboxd:
"Finally, after all these years of carefully avoiding this movie like a plague of locust, I caved in and sat down to watch, bewildered and greatly amused, this train-wreck. What can I say? Definitely a product of its time: Uri Geller, ESP, nonsensical parapsychology all mixed up with - faint - traces of the original and at least a more serious attempt to give Father Merrin and good ole Pazuzu a bit of an origin story.
I don't know much about horror podcasts (the few I've tried before didn't do anything for me), but Jonathan Sims' The Magnus Archives over at rustyquill.com has won me over. I'm only 7 episodes in at the moment (they're into their fifth season, I reckon, and Ep. 181 is now online, not counting the specials and other shows they've done!), but I can't wait for the bigger mystery to unfold. Each episode is a statement narrating a supernatural encounter or bizarre event, read by the organisation's newly appointed head archivist. The Magnus Archives has thousands of such tales waiting to be sorted out and recorded for future filing by Jonathan Sims... But as the podcast's creators warn us: "Individually, they are unsettling. Together they begin to form a picture that is truly horrifying because as they look into the depths of the archives, something starts to look back…"
So I guess watching The Social Dilemma, in spite of its tacky dramatization and really bad 'fictional' scenes (The Extreme Center!) finally helped me fully transition from "I definitely should do it" to "let's get the fuck out of big tech social media now". This website has lain dormant for far too long and I'm actually *paying* for the damn thing (and I don't mean that in a negative or derogatory way, not paying means you are the one being sold, as we've all learned by now).
So from now on, I've decided to keep my Instagram & Facebook account online only for the Metal Punk Tape Exchange, my eventual self promotion and close friends' interaction. I've had up to here, frankly, with the way my feed was messing up with my head and the documentary really helped me have a clearer view of why it had that effect on me (it's all about Dopamine levels, surpriiiise!) and what needs to be done. So I've deleted most Google apps, Facebook and switched off all notifications on my phone, installed DuckduckGo on all my devices, and decided to move all my written contents here, to this website (which does have a Google tracker on, o the irony, but DuckDuckGo will switch it off for you, presumably).
And while I was busy learning what tools are being used for tearing apart the fabric of society, I started reading a new book by someone very dear to my heart, one of my favourite authors for almost 30 years now, namely Jonathan Coe, which also deals with a somewhat similar theme (Brexit).
Much to my surprise, I didn't know he was using characters from The Rotters' Club and The Closed Circle in that one, which made me want to re-read those in the first place. Coe really has a knack for stating the obvious through subtle human interactions and the little things that speak volumes.
Anyway, books! We all need to read more books! Stay away from our phones and get some actual reading done, words on paper and all that.
Also while I'm here, I just wanted to immortalize for *ahem* posterity on this blog's first entry this catch up tape I did for someone who got ripped off during our worst round ever of Metal Punk Tape Exchange, AKA the Phantom Tape Round, when so many people and tapes mysteriously vanished into thin air or on their way to the Post Office.
I wish my printer did better justice to the gorgeous Brantonne art I used for this one. He was one of the regular painters doing stuff for magazines like Fiction or Fleuve Noir books and their famous '"Anticipation" series of sci fi novels.
And in case you were wondering, there really was a book called Métal de Mort in French ("The Catalyst", in English), written by Vargo Statten AKA John Russell Fearn who was probably writing pulp fiction novels in his sleep judging from his massive bibliography! I really had fun with that tracklist by the way, aiming for a total old school Voivod/sci fi tech thrash vibe! Check out Transilience and Terrahsphere if you've never heard those bands before, incredible stuff for sure! I played some songs of theirs in past episodes of Poison Beats, and will also push forward some Krakkbrain (killer defunct French band with great musicians who ended up in Misanthrope if memory serves) and that fantastic Jester Beast demo from Italy in the near future!
And last item for today, before I forget, on the trail of that Jonathan Coe I stumbled upon a british experimental film maker/documentarist whom I'd never heard of before, Patrick Keiller, whose work seems absolutely intriguing to say the least! Woops, just realized "London", the first movie in his Robinson series is being distributed by my old friends at ED Distribution here in France. The world is filled with such beautiful coincidences.
Current regurgitations of popular artefacts