8.20.2008

sein letzter funk komt : grüßt mir meine frau


peter schilling - "major tom"

in 1990, after many decades of forced separation, east and west germany finally reunified, and the two peoples celebrated as one the characteristic that defined them and defied their captors throughout all the years of toil and oppression: a love of terrible music. one of the unsung heroes of this newly-triumphant society was peter schilling, who created a song so lame that the normally-obedient east germans rose up against their soviet oppressors in order that they might listen to a stupid astronaut song.

communism tore families apart; falco brought them together again
BONUS ALTERNATE JOKE: the beginning of the end for the GDR occurred in 1985 when the state-controlled economy inadvertently created massive shortages of nena LPs

peter schilling's "major tom (völlig losgelöst)" is about an astronaut, major tom, who is launched into space, marvels at his planet and then dies in an accident. sound familiar?

it's easy to confuse the two songs, since the themes are so similar, so here's a brief table outlining the primary differences:

david bowie's versionpeter schilling's version
languageenglishgerman
song meaninga metaphorical exploration of the loneliness inherent in mancouldn't tell, lyrics are in german
is it good?yesonly if you're german or unusually high

the worst part of peter schilling's use of the character major tom is that he totally perverts the message of the first song. at the end of bowie's "space oddity," major tom succumbs to the void, knowing in the truest sense the feeling of isolation from all that one knows and loves. in contrast, schilling's major tom fakes his death so he can kick it in space, because he's not even human.* if anyone can tell me how this makes sense, feel free to fill me in!! (don't contact me)

this album cover is god's cosmic revenge for the holocaust

of course, like all '80s musicians, peter schilling later gained weight and began to wear a bandana like john travolta in wild hogs. additionally, like all european musicians, he began to perform shitty eurotrance versions of his "greatest hits," including "major tom" (i'm pretty sure a video of this exists on youtube, but i wouldn't recommend watching it; it's not so much funny or entertaining as just incredibly sad).

john travolta: wait a second, you want me to make look who's talking 4? well of course i'm available!

however, none of this will ever diminish my love for this song. i like it so much that i actually overdrew my bank account purchasing it from itunes, because i couldn't wait to listen to a sick song about a german who goes into space and tricks his wife into thinking he's dead**. why do i love this song? for the same reason that i love freur's "doot doot."***

* know how you can tell this is a stupid theme for a song? because it sounds like i just made a shitty joke, but it's actually the fucking truth.

** incidentally, this is also the plot of goethe's "the sorrows of young werther."

*** i don't actually know what the reason is, but i suspect it's closely associated with my fondness for starship troopers and dog police. oh yeah, the reason is marijuana.

johnny rico: marines! roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it!

8.14.2008

you make me hate you, baby!

sorry for the long gap between posts, you guys know i'm lazy.

i'm not a huge fan of older bands which "broke new ground musically" or "provided the impetus for the creation of a whole new genre of music"* because such groups tend to forgo actual quality in place of innovation [this is a problem with 90% of all experimental/"art" music (see: animal collective)].

however, there are some musicians who defied my stereotyping and actually produced memorable songs while experimenting with or confounding the prevailing musical paradigms of their times. the monks, a '60s music group composed of american GIs stationed in germany, definitely fit into this mold. also, unlike another famous german monk (or even most famous germans, really), they weren't raving anti-semites. so props to them for that, i guess.

say what you will about martin luther, but at least he made whatever germans used for transportation in the 16th century run on time

as their name would suggest, the monks wore the garb of their more-religious brethren, tonsures and cassocks. they also took to wearing nooses around their necks to symbolize death, the sort of symbolism that isn't totally obvious and hackneyed and in no way led to my sardonic laughter when i found out about it.


the monks - "monk chant"

don't be fooled by the title of the above video, it has nothing to do with gregorians, unless gregorians recently got into the habit (get it????) of pounding drums and banging away at organs for jesus (this was also a pun).


the monks - "oh, how to do now"

the above song is also pretty solid. i hate those stupid overwrought comparisons where some hipster describes a band by saying something obtuse ("it's like velvet underground and the mc5 had a baby, who was then tied to a playset with baling wire and molested by nirvana, and after it escaped it punched jim morrison in the balls, and then the now-grown baby was actually a hermaphrodite and fucked itself, and the resulting, hideously inbred offspring was INXS"), but this really sounds like a fusion of ? and the mysterians and the who**.

yeah, i know this post wasn't that great. but you know what? the monks are fucking sick and if you don't agree, i'll symbolically tie a noose around your neck and metaphorically yank on it until you've figuratively asphyxiated.

*these aren't actual quotes, but rather how i imagine hipsters speak when i'm not around.

**in an ironic twist, the fusion of those two bands then worked at knott's for a few summers, got an associate's degree in computer repair, settled down with an armenian chick from arcadia and had a child.***

***...and that child was good charlotte.

8.02.2008

gang of four: the reason why i became a marxist


i try not to bust out a ton of obscure music on this blog because i don't want to be perceived as "that guy who's trying to get a freelance job writing trite music reviews for pitchfork." so please trust me when i say that i'm writing about gang of four solely because i feel their first album is one of the most solid i've ever heard, and not because i'm trying to gain cred with hipsters or marxists.

karl marx: sorry comrade, i couldn't hear the rattling chains of the working class over this old pavement EP. what's that? yes, of course it's vinyl, the tone is so much warmer than those sterile mp3s you listen to! also i only know how to operate a phonograph, i was born in 1818 for fuck's sake.

one thing to note about gang of four is that their music is intensely political; most, if not all, of their songs have subversive undertones regarding capitalism or society. now normally this would be a bad thing, as most political music is terrible (see: any country song composed after 9/11, anything by anti-flag). however, gang of four actually makes great music, spanning a wide variety of genres. on their first album alone, entertainment!, they do a sort-of-punk thing (warning: this video is user-made and thus terrible, you should probably turn off your monitor for the next few minutes):


damaged goods

post-punk:


natural's not in it

and at one point, gang of four even veers into experimental (although unlike most music of this sort, their song is actually good):


anthrax

unlike many campus marxists, who feel comfortable merely speaking about the oppression of capitalism from their parent-provided apartments, gang of four arose from a political culture where there existed actual fascists and racist skinheads. according to simon reynold's "rip it up and start again," the members of gang of four would actually get in bar fights with militant right-wingers. say what you will about their marxist tendencies, but at least they fucked up racists on a fairly regular basis.

anyways, i have to pack for a trip to vegas, so i'll conclude with an exhortation that you should pick up entertainment! as soon as possible. just an all-around solid album. soon you'll want to destroy the colonialist forces in your country as well, whether they're your occupiers or leaders.

"the indian smiles, he thinks that the cowboy is his friend. the cowboy smiles, he is glad the indian is fooled. now he can exploit him."

see you again in a week!