What I love about Trenchmouth is that all 4 members seem to be playing different songs and yet they all work so well together. True, it sounds chaotic and at times unpleasant (such is the nature of punk) and yet when you listen a few times you hear how it all works.
“Telescopic” opens with a crazy punk bass line, the guitars are just screams of noise and the drums are rhythmic yet chaotic (that’s Fred Armisen on drums and he is a wild man). Then lay over the top the disaffected vocals (which are in a different ke)y and you get one hell of a punk song. The feedback squalls at the end let you know that they have no intention of being on the radio.
“Power to the Amplifier” condenses all of that noise into 2 minutes of fury.
“The Dawning of a New Sound System” starts with some crazy guitar chords (showing you just how weird the guitars are) but this song has a pretty catchy chorus (with backing vocal shouts of “Hail Hail”). ”Yes, This is the Place” offers slightly less abrasive guitars and a very smooth middle section.
“Capsule” actually opens with a sound similar to Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” and it has a different vocalist (although I don’t know who). The percussion on “Confectionery” is amazing, while “In the Event of a Struggle” is another 2 minute cycle of styles. “The Future Vs. Centrifugal Force” sounds the most like that mid 80s SST style that I like so much–kind of a jam feel, but short and punky.
“Sea of Serenity” is listed as “Swing Version”, although I don’t know if there’s another version. This one has intense guitars (don’t they all) and frantic drumming. It also has a wonderful third part with a great off-kilter guitar riff. The final proper song is “Hit Men Will Suffocate the City” and it is more of the same noisy wonderment. It ends with a great bass line.
The final track is “Now I Have Tasted Life” and it is absolute filler. A weird addition, it’s 7 minutes of slow melodica noodling and occasional reggae sounding guitars with random percussion There’s also some feedback squalls. It sounds like one of their real songs stretched out and slowed down. It would be okay if it weren’t so long. But it’s hard to blame anyone for experimentation when the rest of their experimentation is so good.
It’s obvious why Trenchmouth weren’t popular (although you can hear proto-Primus all over this record–I wonder if Les and Ler knew Trenchmouth at all?), but it’s a shame their music is so hard to find.
[READ: November 30, 2011] “The Musical Brain”
I have been meaning to read César Aira for a little while now. He’s on my list of new authors to check out. So I was pretty delighted to see this story (translated by Chris Andrews) in the New Yorker.
There are so many wonderful and unexpected aspects to this story that I was constantly kept on my toes. This also made it somewhat challenging to write about.
The story appears to be autobiographical (we learn late in the story that the narrator is named César), about an incident that happened when he was 4 or 5. It is set in the Argentinian city of Coronel Pringles and it talks a lot about his family and the town that he lived in.
I loved the strange little details he threw in about his family. Like his mother’s “invincible suspicion of any food she hadn’t prepared herself” or the provenance and outrageousness of his father’s wallet.
As the story opens, César remembers a night when the family went out to dinner. And on that occasion, he recalls the high school headmistress Sarita Subercaseaux holding forth in the corner of the restaurant while people brought her boxes of books. He concludes (in the present, but had no idea at the time) that they are donations for the new library that is to be built (and of which Subercaseaux will be the head librarian).
He remembers Subercaseaux very fondly both from the library and from school, and when he asks his mother about her, we get the first of many erasures of the past. His mother informs him that Subercaseaux died long before he was born. Which of course he knows is impossible. But his mother’s memory is better than his!
On that night in the restaurant, rumor got out that the musical brain (which I had forgotten was even the title by the time we get to it, since everything else was so fascinating) is in the theater next door.
We get a lengthy diversion about his mother’s feelings about theater in general and then finally we get to see the musical brain. Oh but wait, there was a trip to the circus that evening as well. And the circus was especially interesting that year because of the massive controversy. There were three dwarves in the circus. Male twins and a woman. The woman was married to one of the twins, but was having an affair with the other. When she told her husband, the entangled dwarves ran out followed not to far behind by the husband, who was brandishing a gun.
This made the whole community uneasy–dwarves running around with guns! But it also brought the community together because they felt safer in numbers. Hmm, maybe that’s why they were at the restaurant in public that night. (You see, reversals upon reversals).
Oh and back to the musical brain….
So the musical brain has a strange history in their town. Everyone wanted to see it, to host it in their homes. Some people loved having it while others feared it and its incessant music. But César’s family never had an opportunity to host the brain. So having it right in front of them at the theater was simply too tempting. Sadly they couldn’t hear very much over the roar of the people in the theater. Nor were César and his younger sister allowed to touch the brain. But of course, they do, when their parents aren’t looking. And what happens next is the beginning of what seems like an entirely new story.
The end of the story wraps up all of these wonderful threads together–books, dwarves, brains–but not before turning completely surreal. I can’t even mention anything that happens next because the wonder of the reveal is what really makes the story terrific.
I simply couldn’t imagine how he was going to wrap it all up. I couldn’t imagine how it got from A to B. And I couldn’t stop reading until I was done. Now I have to find one of his translated novellas (holy crap, his Wikipedia bibliography is over 45 books long!)
For ease of searching I include: Cesar Aira