Picky Picnic are mostly known for their Residents-esque style on their albums Picnic Land and Ha Ha! Tarachine, albums that are completely insane. the style they are not known for is the avant-pop sound that they present on their last two albums.
you noticed that i used the word "pop" to describe these later albums, so it goes without saying that they were something of a great departure from their original style. Kuru Kuru World is perhaps the more ordered and fun of the two later albums.
on this album, the vocals are adorable, not schizophrenic and squeaky. that is perhaps the most obvious difference. the vocals sound like a twelve year-old boy. how they managed to achieve this is beyond me. i entertained the idea that they actually had a boy singing when i first heard this, but it is this way on all of their avant-popish records. this is most certainly the squeaky guy from Ha Ha! Tarachine.
there is nothing dark about this record. it is cute, and catchy as fuck. it's surreal that these guys were making such batshitfuckingcrazy music before. but, to be honest, i enjoy this at least as much as their older music.
6. Love on the beach
9. It's a hysterical place
13. Go Go Twins
Imperium is the seminal work of David Tibet.
some history behind the album before we go on. allegedly, Tibet wrote this album upon what he believed would be his deathbed. according to various sources (that, at one point, were fairly easy to come by), Tibet was suffering both physically and mentally before this album was recorded. he had convulsions, high fevers, and i've even heard that he suffered from hallucinations during this time of illness. it is no surprise that this is the album he would write when death was so close by (in the same way that Rozz Williams' PIG was a perfect suicide note).
Imperium is a lament on the constant looming shadow of death that follows us all from birth to the grave. Current 93 have always been known for making miserable music, but after C93 began to make neofolk the misery was at least tinged with a drop of hope here and there. here is where Imperium differs greatly. there is not a shred of hope to be found on this album.
the album begins with the Imperium tracks (I, II, III, and IV). "Imperium I" begins with Tibet whispering the beginning of Psalm 23. the backing music is made up of contorted moaning, accompanied by a beautiful flute and guitar combo, giving the track an ancient feel, as if it had been plucked from ancient Jerusalem.
there is a seamless transition from "Imperium I" to "Imperium II" (the distorted moaning becomes more feminine [mind you, these aren't sexual moans, but religious]), and Tibet whispers: "how can there be pleasure, how can there be joy" in a flat voice, before singing, "as the whole world is burning". the sudden change from dry, barren, religious whispering to beautiful mourning is quite spectacular. however, the lamentations of death's grip upon life continues. it is bleak, but it is honest. this time around, Tibet is accompanied by a beautifully strumming harp, as well as what i believe is some sort of wind instrument.
the next two Imperium tracks are less beautiful, but equally as important for the album. "Imperium III" is accompanied by more of the satanic mumbling and grumbling from the previous two tracks, as well as a muffled, strangled orchestral sample. tibet hisses, "ten millions years, ten millions tears, i curse all gold and silver" and then references a previous masterpiece "Fields of Rape". we are cut down in fields of rape.
the final Imperium track is a sarcastic, mocking summary of Christ's martyrdom in Golgotha. it has a childlike sound to it, and he simplifies the crucifixion as if one was telling it to a child. "Judas, he betrayed the Christ, and sold him to the Jews . . . and the Jews, they crucified the Christ, and nailed him to a tree."
the second half (as the original vinyl was split into the title tracks, and then the last four), or "Be Locust Or Alone" does not indeed begin with "Be" on the edition that i share with you here (this edition, i believe, is from 2001), but instead begins with "Time Stands Still". "Time Stands Still" is a spectacular song. perhaps one of the best on the album. an uncredited man is sampled quoting from Peter Weiss' play The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (or simply "Marat/Sade"). over this, Tibet changes courses lyrically. now he discusses the inescapable condition of crippling old age (which he could relate to in his sickly state). however, he is not mournful about vitality lost so soon. instead, he mocks: "the tender grass is easily broke, yet who shall shake the sturdy oak? you are more fresh and fair than i, yet stubs do live when flowers die!"
finally, the traditional "Be Locust Or Alone" begins.
"Be" is often viewed as being comical or sarcastic by other reviewers due to the inclusion of the sampling of a child's (what i assume is a doll with a string) that obnoxiously repeats "na na na na!" this sample supplies the rhythm for the track. and while this may be humorous, the lyrics are as dark as ever ("this is where my life has lead me, this is where i choose to stay, this is where i fall apart").
up next is "Locust", the (in my opinion) highlight of this album. "Locust" is a rarity among C93 songs in that it has a strong beat. there is a very tribal feel to it. tibet sings almost joyfully at first, singing "la la la". the track slowly builds sonically (and the theme changes from an a passionate nostalgia for the pleasures of youth [so i assume] to a delirious and literal suicide plot).
the next track, "Or", does much the same thing; a slow build up an explosive finale. at first Tibet rants prophetically above a sample of a german man singing (about the might of the German race, judging from the sound of it). finally, when the song is halfway done and as the prophetic rant has turned for the worst, a post-punk guitar breaks in, and Tibet finally begins to shout: "TAKE ME TO MY DEAD CHRIST, CARY ME FROM SHORE TO SHORE!" the ending is lead by a militaristic drum beat, and it is chaotic, violent, and beautiful.
the final track, "Alone" is another favorite of mine from this album. another post-punk track, Tibet is most gloomy on this track. this most beautiful lyric on this entire album is spoken on this track: "it would have been better not to be the mother. it is sorrowful when a son goes away, let alone when he dies. i watched quietly as the grave was being dug, knowing that he won't come back, and i shall not be here for much longer." the bass of the guitar really picks up at this point, and Tibet finally seems to give all to death. at the end of the track, as Tibet is speaking of images of hell, his voice begins to echo, as if he is finally fading away.
a strange thing about this album is that no credits were included on any edition (i have a physical copy of the 1992 edition, and it only gives credit to Tibet). this leads me to believe that Tibet himself played the instruments (which is not a common practice for him).
1. Imperium I (6:07)
2. Imperium II (5:46)
3. Imperium III (7:01)
4. Imperium IV (3:15)
5. Time Stands Still (2:57)
6. Be (0:53)
7. Locust (9:47)
8. Or (9:21)
9. Alone (7:35)
Yukko Syndrome is a split between two newly founded noise acts (Candy Messiah and Crown of Flowers). the split is dedicated to the idol-pop musician, Yukiko Okada, who committed suicide when she was eighteen (after gaining quite a bit of popularity). she was found in the closet of her apartment in tokyo, crying, with her wrists slashed. a little later she tossed herself from the roof of the Sun Music Agency building. this death inspired many copycat suicides, which were soon dubbed "Yukko Syndrome" suicides.
this split tries to capture the pain she was going through at the time of her death (according to the two artists involved).
a must for any fan of harsh noise and japanese idol-pop.
1. 1# Fan Forever - Candy Messiah
2. Spring Accident: Fall From Seven Stories - Crown of Flowers
A Beautiful Princess
十七歳の地図 is the first album by legendary drug-overdose pop star Ozaki Yutaka (尾崎豊). he was a highly popular rebel, defying his label (Sony Records) and doing drugs like any American pop act. he was so popular, in fact, that when his body was found half naked in an alleyway in tokyo, over 100k fans signed a petition to have his case re-opened; fans believed it had been a murder, and not a simple overdose.
十七歳の地図 was his first album. it is, to me, one of his best.
3. I LOVE YOU 試聴する
4. ハイスクールRock’n’ Roll
8. OH MY LITTLE GIRL