Isn't it wonderful how anybody can be a great singer these days? It used to be that you'd have to be professionally trained and hone your voice for years before you were really ready to get on stage. What with auto-tune and delay pedals to correct or cover-up vocal imperfections, anybody can be a pop star. It's freeing, I guess.
By the same token, making weird electronic music used to take a computer so massive and complicated that only universities could afford them. Now all you need to do is plop a few pedals on the floor, hold down a single note on a keyboard, turn a bunch of knobs blindly, and bam! You're a psychedelic drone band, ready to release as many cassette tapes as you have dime-bags. Democracy in action, my friends!
But there’s still no replacement for the real thing. Id M Theftable (pronounced "iddum theftable") is perhaps the most insubordinate and virtuosic sound artist I've seen with my two eyes. Sure, dude can manipulate a bunch of knobs. But all he needs is his mouth and hands to produce a mind-blowingly far out noise set. The collage is so frantically paced, detailed and wide-ranging that there's no doubt there’s a real master is behind the wheel—even if he’s steering the car off a cliff.
Indeed, much of Id M Theftable's live sets consist of spazzy slurping, clapping and stream-of-consciousness mumbling. Heady electronic manipulations are met with simple gestures like tossing a bag of pennies on the floor. One of the more interesting "instruments" in his set-up is an amplified wire sculpture. I've seen him drop marbles down it, so that they clatter and echo as they run down a winding path. Attached to the sculpture is a handle that spins the device so that the whole thing creaks and shrieks, and then drops down with a dramatic crash. All in all, it's a comprehensive clusterfuck of all levels of culture and weirdness—fluxus and vintage kids' 45s are taken with equal reverence.
Id M Theftable's god-given name is Scott Spear. He lives in the woods off a highway near Portland, Maine. He'll often go out into the woods and use sounds of running water or birds to use later for collages. Part of his encyclopedic influences must come from nerding out in Strange Maine, a record store that doubles as a concert space and safe haven for weirdo artists. Scott's played hundreds and hundreds of shows—taking a look through the bills he's been on reveals a bona-fide who's-who in underground noise. Currently, Scott is touring England with Crank Sturgeon, a mainstay of Northeastern noise who's known for crafting massive dadaist costumes out of trash and paper mache and attaching contact mics to all kinds of half-broken devices. Scott's also released dozens and dozens of tapes, LPs and 8-tracks, many of which have been released on his own imprint, Mangdisc.
Mangdisk has put out some really wild found recordings. One of the blurbs to a release in the found series reads: “the unbelievably intimate, insane and beautiful audio journal of a teenage girl. Blunt honesty, absurd paranoid rants, surreal confessions.” Another reads: “An old man obtains a 1980's model Yamaha keyboard and, with seemingly minimal technical ability, pecks out what he remembers of a few old songs.” Whether it be accidental tape silence, painfully bad vocals or damaged, moldy tape quality, the unintended musical effects of these found tapes help reveal just how Scott is hearing music. In an interview with Foxy Digitalis, he waxed that “'real music' is as much sound collage as anything I or anyone else does, I think. The only reason they are thought of as “real music” and not merely a collage of sounds is because we are so used to the sounds being collaged in those particular ways, that those combinations of sounds are familiar. Sound becomes music whenever you hear it as music."
There really are no words for the mind-destroying weirdness that is an Id M Theft Able live performance. Watch this incredible and hilarious set below, which ends with Scott heckling a drunk audience member who claims to be Jerry Garcia's cousin.
Previously — Nautical Almanac