Of all twenty first century musical wackos I can think of, Londoner Nathan J Whitey is the one I'm most impressed with right now.
Dec 1 2005, 12:00am
Londoner Whitey Karro (friend) and 1999's Johan and Jonas at a fancy dress party. Photo by Åskar Brickman.
Of all twenty first century musical wackos I can think of, Londoner Nathan J Whitey is the one I'm most impressed with right now. He's the kind of fucked up basement rock star that A.R.E. Weapons dream of being. Whitey's story is that he used to be a journalist, got broke, lived in the streets and then took up music (like, it was supposed to pay the rent. Well, maybe those Kylie remixes did). It turned out to be a good move though, without it we wouldn't have brilliant singles like his new 12" Non Stop (1-2-3-4 Records), which also features the mind blowing flip side "A Walk in the Dark". With deadpan vocal delivery, Spacemen 3 guitars and subliminal electronic beats Whitey is the closest thing there is to a disco Jesus and the Mary Chain. I know that dozens of artists have tried this formula before (people close to the Reid brothers like Primal Scream for example) but none of them have Whitey's Prozac-like, indifferent expression. Unlike most rock artists he's not all eager to state how freaked out he is. He just delivers, and that makes him so much scarier.
The healthily insane Razi B, also known as Boy From Brazil, may not be very frightening. He is nonetheless one of very few artists who can boast a life reminiscent of a Tintin book storyline. Son of a Palestinian diplomat he received weapons training at a PLO camp when he was twelve years old. During the seventies his father worked at Palestine's embassy in former German Democratic Republic, which for the most part meant throwing parties for radical celebrities such as Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Genet and more or less dubious weapons dealers. According to Razi, he spotted terrorist Carlos "The Jackal" making out with Deep Throat porn star Linda Lovelace in the family's home during a party. Razi, who used to play bass in Stereo Total, now lives in an apartment in Kreuzberg, Berlin with his wife. He makes music and curates sex exhibitions. If this sounds too much like someone nostalgically bent on seventies radical chic trying to create a good story for promotional purposes, so be it. If it wasn't for the fact that Razi's Boy From Brazil project is the best inheritor of the psychobilly legacy to date, I couldn't have cared less. But the combination of a good life story, electronic killer riffs and the fact that Razi has updated Lux Interior's stage act by adding a swastika armband to the platform shoes for extra effect, is enough to make me buy the Boy From Brazil thing wholesale. Check out Razi's "Pocket Rocket Queen" on the otherwise lame compilation Le Nouveau Rock'N'Roll Francais, out now on Sonic Mook/Chronowax, or buy last year's Boy From Brazil album Pointless Shoes (Transsolar Records). Razi can also be heard along with Daniel Wang on Kaos' album Hello Stranger (!k7).
There's a whole string of other oddballs this month. Chris Teckham for example. He's the man behind Ten Benson, whose robovox ZZ Top stomper "Robot Tourist" was one of 2003's most impressive rock anthems. Allegedly he's in the studio right now recording a new album. Which in this megalomaniac's case may not be an easy task. Since Teckham started Ten Benson in 1996 he's had one discernable pattern: he drops members like Hunter S. Thompson (R.I.P.) dropped acid. Teckham's problem seems to be other human beings, so don't be surprised if Ten Benson has a totally new line up when the next album arrives. Teckham worked in an insane asylum for two years and claims that's his primary source of musical inspiration. With his inability to interact with anyone besides himself in mind I'm thinking he probably didn't get a pay check for his work on the ward (towel folding, Rorschach test filing etc). Whatever the truth may be, a new Ten Benson album is something all rock kids should look forward to.
What else? If you ever wondered what a Burzum song would sound like in the hands of Cabaret Voltaire, the Stockholm band 1999 is the answer. Led by the dark prince of Stockholm's gonzo kraut rock scene, Johan Hinders, 1999 have earned the status as one of the strongest live acts to come out of this town in years. Their debut single Midnight People (Release The Bats) from 2004 is a nice piece of gloom pop trash, but it matches in no way the band's live performances. I'm guessing their best recordings are yet to come. And if they play anywhere close to you, don't miss them. They're great live, in a disturbed, GG Allin kind of way.
Speaking of live gigs, March 25, at Pusterviksbaren, Gothenburg, is the date for the new noise grinding machine The Skull Defekts' first show ever. The Skull Defekts feature former Union Carbide drummer Henrik Rylander and Kid Commando guitarist Jocke Nordwall. They make cold, fucked up minimal noise rock with a kraut edge. Their relentlessly hard sound got to have something to do with the fact that they rehearse in the basement below the Psychiatric section of Sahlgrenska Sjukhuset in Gothenburg, in a room where dysfunctional hospital beds are stored. A Skull Defekts EP can be expected later this year on Ideal Recordings.
ALBERT & HERBERT