Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Recently I was picking up one of our dogs from the groomers, and spied a display of CDs by K-9 Fusion. The back cover said, "10 1/2 year old mixbreed, Sven the Love Dog, plays each and every instrument on his debut album. The only exception is the drums, which are played by Sven's owner Steve Brooks. Every intense vocalization is produced by Sven, or one of his canine friends...face it, this Dog's the SHIH TZU! Enhanced CD contains a video of the making of K9 Fusion. See for yourself as Sven pounds the piano, claw-picks his guitar, and gnashes his teeth on bass strings with the ferocity of Hendrix himself." Of COURSE I bought one.

The "album" is actually only 13 minutes. The drums basically hold it down, with random plunking, plucking, and growling on top, giving it a canine free-jazz feel. "Pants" is 7 seconds of a dog panting. Some sounds have obviously been sampled and looped to make it more "musical," but check this sweet funky bass groove: http://www.petradio.com/Content/MusicAndBooks/DirtyDogLoveSamp.wma
Obviously it's been looped, but I find it hard to believe that a dog could come up with something like this even once.
The 8-minute video might be the best thing about this - see Steve the human (a dog trainer here in Los Angeles) jammin' in the studio with the mutts! Get it here: http://www.k9u.net/alphaent/k9uhome.nsf/K9Fusion%20?OpenPage

Which reminded me of my fave album by animals: "The Thai Elephant Orchestra." Real elephants. Real music - not sampled and looped, but recorded live in an Asian Elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Performing on giant custom-made drums, gongs and metal xylophone-type instruments, as well as unmodified human instruments like harmonica and theremin, these pachyderm popstars improvise "tunes" of their own composing. Before you say, "Not another album of elephants playing theremins!" listen to songs like "Swing Swing Swing" (no, not the Benny Goodman one). These beasts possess an amazing sense of rhythm. This isn't just random banging and clanging, but exactly the type of music you'd expect elephants to make - slow, heavy, exotic. Oriental ambient free-jazz.

Their new album "Elephonic Rhapsodies" will be out soon, but with a cast of guest humans, and some "covers" they were trained to play of Beethoven and Hank Williams. Ele-core purisits (ele-core isn't just music, it's a way of life, man!) may be disappointed by this, but there is a bigger group of 'phants this time out, 12 on this song alone: http://mulatta.org/mp3s/Ganesha.mp3, so they haven't sold out yet. From Mulatta Records: http://mulatta.org/

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