Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Gonna Be A Children’s Psychiatric Hospital Christmas!

Pastor McPurvis sez: "For the past two years around Christmas, I’ve shared this wonderful album performed by the children in the Inpatient Music Therapy Program at the University of Michigan’s Children’s Psychiatric Hospital." But this year he presents an interview with Charles Whiting and Ken Michalik, two of the music therapists responsible for the concert.

By all means, if you don't have this one yet, grab it here. It's true outsider gold.

Mr. Whiting still hears from the saxophone soloist, who credits the program with saving his life, every year around Christmas."

Pikachu Orchestra

I'm a bit too busy with holiday action to post much now, but you gotta check out Japanese madman Kaseo and his circuit-bent orchestra of Pikachu toys. Not only did he rig one of these talking (now squawking, screeching & squeeling) toys with a theremin, he even sells them - if you can read Japanese.

Kaseo - Pikachu Orchestra (video)
Kaseo - circuit-bent Pikachu (mp3, different performance)

His site has tons of pictures of his custom-altered electronic toys, and mp3s, like this Hello Kitty telephone "tune." Noise, glorious noise!

Friday, December 15, 2006


Thanks to one of the Grand Poobahs of maniacal music, Otis Fodder, we're walking in a weirdo wonderland with the release of HOLIDAY FREAKIN, one of the most deliriously bent collections of Christmas music ever.

Somewhere between a DJ mix and a compilation, Otis and pals mix in campy seasonal sound-bites with songs by everyone from Mae West, Raymond Scott, and Oscar The Grouch to such cult figures as French "library music"/Moog legend Roger Roger. Outsider music is well represented by the painfully sincere songwriter Gordon Thomas, Danger Woman's "Sleigh Ride" to Hell, and the kids of the Univ. of Michigan Medical Center Children's Psychiatric Hospital, who come off like a more funky version of the Newhall School District's concert. And then you've got the Chinese Kids Choir, 2 Live Jews, and some French rap to provide a little ethnic diversity. All in all, it's 23 tracks of CD-filling seasonal silliness.


An older "Holiday Freakin" collection is available on the page as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


It pains me to admit this but...I think DJ Riko might have more weird Christmas records then I do.

His annual
Merry Mixmas mixes are a beloved holiday tradition, and his latest might be my fave one yet, featuring songs like "Senor Santa Claus," one of those amazingly stereotypical Mexican "dialect" novelty records of the '50s (e.g.: "I theeenk").

Alongside favorites from the likes of Mark Mothersbaugh, The Partridge Family, and The Sonics, is a version of Jingle Bells sung in Pig Latin. Apparently it's from a whole album of Pig Latin Xmas songs, but I couldn't find any info about it on the web. Riko kindly sent me this song, though, claiming it's the best thing on the album:

"A Pig Latin Christmas" - "Inglejay Ellsbay"

And don't forget: The King of Jingaling and his elves are back in action over at:
Falalalala, for all your rare and unusual Christmas music needs.

Thanks to DJ Riko!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Psst! Hey Mac...(looks around) Want some Wild Man Fischer?

I don't know what nice person put this stuff up, or how long it will last, but two of Larry's out-of-print albums are available as zip downloads:

"An Evening With Wild Man Fischer" pt1

"An Evening With Wild Man Fischer" pt2

His first, released by Zappa. Some of you are no doubt familiar with this one, but I had never heard:
"Wild Man Fisher and Smegma Sing Popular Songs" - Recorded between '73 & '75, Larry's "lost years" between Zappa and his Rhino Records releases, only released on vinyl in '97. Features a fantastic 15 minute destruction of Gladys Knight & The Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia" performed with Smegma, a loose collection of loonies from the Los Angeles Free Music Society, including future Dream Syndicate member Dennis Duck.

Further evidence that pre-punk L.A. was more then laid-back hippie "soft-rock." See also: Capt. Beefheart, The Runaways, Sparks, Zolar X, Morton Subotnick, War, Charles Wright, The G.T.O.s, Kim Fowley, The Watts Prophets...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" is a holiday standard, but this version of the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" has to be the finest one I've ever heard played on bicycle parts. San Francisco composer Johnny Random was hired by an ad agency to write Christmas music for a bicycle commercial, with one stipulation: the client wanted the music performed using actual bicycle parts. The 40-second result is a wonderful piece of sampling utilizing the following "instruments":

Glockenspiel & Clarinet melody = spokes.

Cello & Violin pizzicatos = plucked derailleur cables.
Triangle = disc brake hit.
Percussion = shifting, coasting, finger over turning spokes, chain pulls, braking, clipping into pedals, back-spinning, air out of tires.

Johnny Random:
"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"

Which reminds me of last year's "Toolbox Christmas" album.

There's a surprising amount of bicycle music out there, as you can see here. Appropriately enough, I'm writing this after riding - just took one of my regular bike exercise trips, so, needless to say, all this has me thinkin'. Don't be surprised if you see me coming down the
Burbank bike path on a bike rigged up with, like, tubas'n'shit.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


"A Singular Christmas" is the work of one Brian Whitman, a smart-aleck from one of America's premier science academies, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As he describes it, "...what is special about Christmas music? Let’s take the objectivist view– that there is something in the composition, construction, timbre or production in every popular Christmas song that makes it fit into the genre...What I could do is try to distill holiday music down to its barest essentials. My hypothesis was that if we could figure out the dominant components of Christmas music...then yes, we’ve cracked the code — we can have Holiday Forever, a Singular Christmas." He then uses computer talk incomprehensible to me to describe what he did, but ultimately "Dozens of holiday records went into the machine, and out came the sixteen tracks you can hear today."

I suspect the song titles reflect the tracks' ingredients, e.g. "Faithful Clear" might have used "O Come All Ye Faithful" + "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear." Upon listening to these tracks, however, I was amused to find that there's nothing "Christmas-y" about them. (So much for "cracking the code.") Nonetheless, it's a nice collection of Eno/Fripp-ish ambient/industrial/drone loveliness.

Brian Whitman: "Currier and rum king" - way too short at 47 seconds - I listened to it 3 times in a row.
Brian Whitman: "Grand hotel pout twice" - beautiful shimmery-ness; also too short (1:26)
Brian Whitman: "Pum pa chestnut pies" - hypnotic drones fade in and out; a kind of "Music For North-Pole Airports"

Friday, December 01, 2006


Vicki Bennett wears two hats: as host of the WFMU radio show "Do or D.I.Y.," home of all things "avant-retard," she spins everything from ethnic music to kitschy novelties to the work of experimental "composers," revealing the musics' connections and obliterating any artificial genre classifications in the process.

As People Like Us, she anticipated the mashup scene by years, creating surreal audio and visual collages that burst with an almost childlike glee, but, as on gorgeous tunes like "SwingLargo," can also be strangely moving.

Occasionally both worlds collide when she uses her radio show as a testing ground for her People Like Us releases.
During one segment last Sept. 18, she mixed Hawaiian steel-guitar music, South American Indian chanting, and Carl Stalling's cartoon sound effects to such glorious effect I recorded it off the station's audio stream. When I asked Vicki if I could post it here, she said, "I laughed my head off doing that section, I actually wanted it to go on the whole hour. It is actually becoming a People Like Us track in it's own right on an album I'm releasing with Ergo Phizmiz next Spring." Yay!

People Like Us: "Do or DIY excerpt 9-18-06"

Although Do or DIY is usually a summer-season show, there will be a
three hour WFMU-web special on 14th December, 6-9am EST, to be later archived as a Realplayer stream.