Once upon a time in my not so distant past, I lived in a house with a rockabilly band, and when one does that, one finds that you cannot fight the power. You begin to adopt the Dean Martin meets Chuck Connors manly-man patois. You start to purchase old man hair care products in hopes of coaxing ones hair into a pompadour of notable structure. You start to scour the thrifts for sharkskin suits and killer shoes. And until the rut of orthodoxy wears you out like it did me, its a good costume to wear. The girls are foxy, the drinks are stiff, the camaraderie is accelerated. And the music - it is a limitless contest as to who can get more obscure and hootier. I had the exotica/lounge thing down, but my roommate George would unearth the finest things. His crowing glory was a series of compilations of stripper singles from the 50's and 60's - bare bones twang and stomp with pre sample outbursts substituting for lyrics. People doing bad Edward G Robinson impressions bellowing out "Thunderboid!" at the chorus. Everyone who came in contact with this music dubbed it the most brilliant stuff ever and wanted a copy, and never got one, lest it up set the power dynamic. Time passed, I moved out of that ship of fools to gradually settle on the outskirts of respectability, and while I'm not the aficionado of Bullshit Hipsterism I once was, when I hear a rockabilly tune, my feet involuntarily start to twist.
I wish I had discovered the wonders of Messer Chups back then, because I might have been a contender for Hippest Unearther of Groove. This Frankenstein of a record is the brain child of one Mr. Oleg Gitarkin, eminent underground Russian twist-a-billy guitarist, Soviet synthesizer fetishist (two different theremin players are credited on the album) and inventor of the mysterious Sintiesator, which he implements to great effect, whatever that effect might actually be. This album is a non stop smorgasbord of Soviet shtick from the butchered titles like "A Plateful Brain" and "In 3 Minutes Till Massacre." The groove is akin to the sci-fi-surf of cult legends Man? Or Astro-Man? (whatever became of them? They were poised to be the next Devo in some eyes.) but with more of a party vibe and deft use of a sampler, dropping in lines from both American and Russian gangster movies, moans of exaggerated estrus and crazy computer racket gone haywire. Since I seem to be on a roll with drug metaphors, this is like watching Pulp Fiction on PCP, where the drums and guitar and effects are vying for your attention, making for a manic exhilarating ride.
Notable tracks are the aforementioned "A Plateful Brain" where a cartoon piano chase is accompanied by this disjointed interchange:
Gangster: Relax...e got him in a box.
Also wondrous is the over the top exotica pastiche "Monkey Safari" which is what you would get if you put every album with a come-hither babe on the cover from any given Salvation Army in a blender, mixed it with lighter fluid, and used the concoction to demonstrate your fire breathing skills when the hostess lights the tiki torches at the next luau. Exactly like that, in fact.
But really, this is so lovingly executed, with the infinitely precise production values Ipecac is noted for, it transcends the novelty aspect of it. The synth textures, like the theremin work on "Not Made in Japan" and the reverbed as fuck Dick Dale guitar and interplay with a bowed bass on "Satan Jeans" are exquisite. And if the audio onslaught wasn't enough, there are 5 mpeg videos on the disc (one for the exquisite "Sex Euro and Evils Pop" and four non album tracks, notably "Super Megera Theremin") which look like if Kenneth Anger had pursued making videos after "Scorpio Rising" and got a bootleg knockoff of Photoshop to do it with. Just brilliant all around. If you still have any nascent love for the whole singer thing, which you know in your heart you still do, this album is a neon nuclear meltdown treasure.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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