Exhaust’s self titled album was another early release from Constellation (disc number 4). At this point Godspeed You Black Emperor had not defined the label’s sound yet (correctly or incorrectly), so we get Exhaust. Aidan, who is 1-Speed Bike, which did not have very good drums, is the drummer for Exhaust. And man, the drums are awesome here. The drums are again, loud, and they have a great live feel to them–the beats are funky and different and while they anchor what’s going on they in no way keep things settled.
The rest of the band includes a bass, a guitar, a bass clarinet and samples. The samples just aren’t loud enough anywhere on the album. It’s a shame–you simply can’t really hear them, which I guess is the point, but then what’s the point of having them? So the first song, “A History of Guerrilla Warfare” is interesting (again, those drums!), but it’s in song two “Metro Mile End” when that bass clarinet comes out that it totally rules. The third song “Homemade Maggot Beer” is a 20 second hardcore song with just drums and feedback. Song 4 “We Support Iran in Their Bid to Win the 1998 World Cup” is a remix by 1-Speed Bike, and after listening to the full length 1-Speed Bike, it sounds like it– a little dull, a little slow and nowhere near as dynamic as the album. And it has such a good title too.
“Two Years On Welfare” has louder samples–you can hear a kind of political rant going on, but it seems like it could have been used better. But around 1;30 the sounds get really interesting. Track six, “This Is Our (Borrowed) Equipment” is another 1-Speed Bike remix, and it is mostly drums again. “Wool Fever” makes good use of harmonics and drums although it goes on a bit too long. The 8th song, “A Medley Of Late Night Buffet Commercials” is the final 1-Speed Bike remix. Unlike the others I really like this one. True, I wish the song was more akin to what the title says, but the drums are funky and hammering and sound great. “Winterlude” is 40 seconds of squealing radio sounds before the final track reintroduces us to that great clarinet. “The Black Horns Of H2T” reminds us how good this album can sound.
So it’s a mixed bag, but the highs are definitely high.
[READ: April 14, 2014] “Humor”
This article appeared in the December 1958 issue of Harper’s magazine. Mark Twain made over 100 contributions to the magazine (geez). I have often thought that Twain is an author I need to read more of. But when I hear he has contributed over 100 articles to Harper’s alone, my mind reels at the output.
Anyhow, this is an article about repetition in the art of humor. Interestingly, he relates a story that happened forty years before writing this. So the occasions of the joke he tells was in 1918! Woah.
The article talks about the first and second lectures that he ever gave. The first was a success but he was concerned about the second as he had very little in the way of humor to warm up the audience. He decided to make use of an anecdote that everyone in San Francisco had heard many times and were undoubtedly sick of. It had been overdone as long as five years ago. But he decided that he would simply tells the very overdone story over and over until people started to laugh (the precursor of Saturday Night Live, obviously).
Twain says he was on a coach and a fellow traveller told him about Horace Greeley and how he had ridden over the very road that they were currently riding on. Horace told the driver that he was in a hurry so the driver cracked the whip and off they ran. The road was so bumpy that Horace’s buttons were knocked off his coat. Eventually Horace’s head bounced through the roof of the coach. Horace begged the driver to stop, but the driver promised he would get Horace there on time. And the punchline was that he did, too–what was left of him.
Twain says he told it in a very monotone fashion, making it as dreary as possible. Then he looked up, pleased with himself as if expecting laughter. But he received silence. He stood there uncomfortably, some people seemed to pity him but he said there was also anger from the audience. But he pressed on and told the same joke again. This time he received more silence. He looked embarrassed, fumbled with his hand and then told the same story a third time, acting like he was unsure why no one thought it was funny.
This was a risky gambit that paid off and really paved the wait for anti-comics like Andy Kaufmann (I wonder if Kaufmann knew of this joke–he must have it was in Harper’s in 1958, right?).