Blunderpussy is a new solo project from Earthling Society ship commander Fred Laird. Fred makes quite clear that this is nothing like Earthling Society when he describes it as “a 40 minute aural collage in the vein of the Faust Tapes and Metal Machine Music.” This is an interesting combination of analogies. The Faust Tapes, the 1973 album by the German band Faust, is a cut-up collage of strange music, oddball songs, random voices, noises, and sounds. I’ve always liked the album for its accessibly abstract montage of ideas. Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, on the other hand, is something I’ve been ambivalent about, being a double album, free-wheeling noise-fest that I’ve found “interesting” at best. Not that Reed wasn’t doing anything that hadn’t been explored by numerous notables among the avant-garde. It just wasn’t what the public or his record company were (understandably) expecting, and I find it a difficult listen.
Blunderpussy, it turns out, is more like the Faust Tapes in that it’s a collage work of ideas that can be abstract but multi-layered and continually in transition. In fact, the cover art implies as much with its cut-up style and back cover that looks like a 1980s homemade music cassette culture tape. There are two tracks in the almost 20 minute range – Just Like Regular Chickens Parts 1 & 2 – though each have multiple sub-sections with nifty titles like Theme from Thunderpussy, Rosy Crucifixion, Psilocybinaut, Roger the Pornographer, and more.
The album starts off with dense noise waves that eschew sheer white noise in favor of sound molding and has a harsh spacey vibe. And from there Laird piles on the thematic twists and turns. I like the combination of industrial factory sounds and traditional space electronics which segues into a nosily ethereal and freakily distorted Psych song. Fred sings a “normal” tune accompanied by a plodding rhythm section and freakout guitar amidst a boisterous haze of increasingly coarse lysergic mayhem, ultimately pelting the listener with noise blasts and a parade of miscellaneous sound samples. A lulling piano melody plays accompanied by frantic, grating, and eventually spacey howls. And throughout we experience minimal, industrial, yet rhythmic noise patterns, accompanied by electronic constructions that create an “almost” musical sensation. And for the finale Laird rewards the listener who has made it this far with a bit of normality in the form of a nicely trippy Eastern influenced Psychedelic and spaced out exploratory jam.
In summary, Laird doesn’t just string his ideas together willy nilly, but, rather, it all flows quite seamlessly, holding my attention throughout and revealing new tidbits with subsequent listeners. At times I was reminded of the Throbbing Gristle slogan, “industrial music for industrial people”, though Laird is treading territory that is just as much Faust at their most avant-garde, Burroughs/Gysin cut-up, The Residents styled zany, and general sound montage and surreally Psychedelic experimental. C’mon Earthling Society fans… take the plunge.
To stream, download and purchase the Blunderpussy CDR, visit the Earthling Society Bandcamp site at: http://earthlingsociety.bandcamp.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz