Thursday, August 14, 2014

Audioblogging: Niceties!

You've been patient with me. Some of you have downloaded the music I've been posting and, I imagine, been either bored or irritated by the screechy sounds. Now, finally, a fun payoff!

OK, so to refresh: PS Bingo started in 1985 as a noisy rock band in Tucson. When I moved back to San Diego, I retained the band name (for some reason), and proceeded to make hellacious noise music, both live and on tape.

In about 1987, however, just for fun, I started to make a series of strange, kind of sing-songy nursery rhythm-type songs, mostly for my own amusement, on a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. These were short drum machine and vocal pieces, and they were so strange and retarded that I let few people hear them, although I did perform a couple of them live once in a while. The whole idea was that these were "nice" songs, as opposed to the clamorous noise music I usually made. I'm still proud of these, and can honestly say that they don't sound quite like anything else you've ever heard. I can't think of a single band or musician that influenced these, so maybe they're my most "honest" music?

These were made in 1987-1989. Some song notes:

Watching Cutie Kick: When I started making these songs, I had a really dumb housemate, a spoiled young woman who at one point literally punched me in the face because she thought I intentionally talked about things she didn't understand just to make her feel stupid. I'll call her Vicky. At one point she bought a pet parakeet which she named Brice. "No," I said, "you should name it Cutie!" Within days, she had forgotten the bird's name, so Cutie it became. Cutie was, even by parakeet standards, an exceptionally idiotic bird. It would not fly, preferring to hop around on the floor. One day, Vicky broke the damn thing's leg when pushing her chair back from her desk, and the whole thing became a massive ordeal for all concerned. And Cutie just would not leave its bandage alone, which made the healing process even more agonizing. I was using Vicky's computer to type a research paper, and was constantly distracted by Cutie's constant pecking and scratching at its broken limb. On the other hand, it finally learned to fly ("I guess he needed that extra push") because of his broken leg. This aggravating chain of events inspired this song.

Virginia on Virginia: The most disturbing part-time job I had during this period was helping out an old lady in La Jolla with her cleaning, errands, etc. She had an ancient dog who I had to feed and tend to, and everything was depressing in this house! She talked endlessly of her glory days as a La Jolla socialite, but then one day the Blue Book (the social register) came in the mail and, for the first time, she wasn't listed in it, which was very upsetting to her. One day she looked out the window and admired my car, a cherry-colored 1964 Ford Falcon, and pronounced, "I think it's important for young people to have red cars," a line I'll never forget. This song features kalimba, and an instrumental version is also included.

If I Told Him: This is a more-or-less straight reading of Gertrude Stein's poem about Picasso set to drum machines and cardboard box and water bottle percussion. I muffed a few words, but not bad, considering. This recording helped me earn an A+ from Jerome Rothenberg in my "Dada and Surrealist Poetry" class at UCSD!  I also did a version of Byron's "So We'll Go No More a Roving" which I'll try to unearth for Niceties Volume 2.

11Steps 2 Heaven: This has nothing to do with "12 Step" programs. There was this guy who hung around the college radio station who was absolutely ridiculous. He was super "spiritual," and fancied himself to be some kind of philosophical genius or something. He ended up sleeping on our couch for a while (which Vicky HATED). I said to my other housemate, Al, "Why did you invite him to stay here?" Al replied, "Me? I thought YOU invited him!" Bill was obsessed with the number 11, so I wrote this song to make fun of that, and also to say that, really, he should just get a job at Dairy Queen or join the Unarius flying saucer cult in El Cajon. So this song combines my fascination with Unarius with my exasperation with Bill. This song is completely a cappella.

Bubble Butt: The stupidest of the batch. This song is built around a sample from the early Nintendo game Balloon Fight. The lyrics were inspired by people who wear spandex but should not. This is a nursery rhyme for disturbed, weight-conscious children and features xylophone.

Again, I realize that the other music I've posted here is difficult to enjoy, but these tunes are fun, and I think you'll stand a better chance of enjoying them than the others.

The zip file (160mb), which includes a deluxe PDF booklet with lyrics, can be downloaded here.

The rest of the "Niceties" songs will take a while, because they're locked up on the 4-track masters. They include covers of Madonna's "Justify My Love," Wire's "Three Girl Rumba,"  Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" set to a Funkadelic sample (!?), and songs about the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre and a frog named Delilah.


Diane Griffin said...

Downloading this now. I can't tell you how excited I am to hear these tracks!

Anonymous said...

These tracks are so cool. I have a copy of FLAE and no matter what my attitude is like that day the music sticks for hours.