Have you ever seen a more amazing sci-fi inspired disco video than this?* I think not. La Bionda were known for being some of the originators of Italo-Disco and for that I tip my beer to them because as you know, this blog is littered with references and videos paying homage to this gem of a genre.
Sally Shapiro-Spacer Woman from Mars (1980s)
*I thought Spacer Woman from Mars was pretty awesome especially after it was matched with these clips from Xanadu.
When I first heard the term Witch House I thought it was a joke, like I knew it was a real genre but I thought the term was used tongue-in-cheek. I was wrong. There’s a real scene out there associated with it, it started in New York but has since spread out all over the country. It’s home in Los Angeles is the tiny storefront club called Show Cave in Glassell Park. (It’s right across the street from a house where I bought my first communal living dining room table in 1995 from a family of junkie white folks. The dad yelled at his wife for selling us the chairs with the table and flicked his arm at us as we were loading the vintage chairs in our car, fucken take ’em, damn! he yelled). I wrote about the Show Cave scene in my review of Tearist. I like the place, it isn’t obnoxious like so many other clubs are, folks seemed downright relaxed, almost friendly and comfortable in their skins. I’m not expecting the same for tonight’s show at The Echoplex where I will see the above band, considered the torch holders of the Witch House scene, Salem.
Salem is notorious for being one of those bands that doesn’t give a fuck but who cares if they space out on interviews when they make such badass music. I have a particular fondness for their early stuff which is like hip hop slowed down PCP style until it sounds like some wicked gnome spewing mush from a broken jaw. I’ve read the older songs were influenced by Houston based DJ Screw who is known for his “screwed and chopped” beats. However, the sound goes back even further, check out Hell Interface Project I posted about a couple of weeks ago. In any case, all the music is right up my electro alley and I’m looking forward to hearing how it all sounds live. Also, gonna do my fair share of scenster watching and gonna count up all those upside down crosses and triangles the audience is sure to be sporting in true Witch House style. Psychic TV, anyone?
Interesting take on the Witch House phenomenon here. Grave Wave, hehe.
I must press myself to write blog posts when I’m inspired. I often wait too long, needing more time to do research or frustrated by my struggles with grammar. Often times the posts never get done, they remain ideas in my head, the words long forgotten in the subsequent days.
This is one such post. I’ve wanted to share this song since this blog started, it was going to be part of series of posts examining how the rhythm of certain songs matches the rhythm of travel of the respective music makers. Te Vahine is one example. The rowing of the canoes, the sloshes of water against the vessel as it is propelled by dozens of arms and the energy of the ocean, I imagine these things gave this song it’s extraordinary rhythm. This song is so heavy with it, so compelling in it’s undulating movement of voices that I can’t listen to this song without some part of my body following the beat. It’s believed music was used by Polynesians as a form of oral tradition and to aid in canoe navigation. I would imagine the rhythm was equally as important as the words.
The song is performed here by the Tubuai Choir from the Polynesian island of Tubuai in the Austral Islands near Tahiti. While most of the island music suffers from the crush of Christian missionary zeal which systematically stamped out indigenous sounds and references from the natives’ musical repertoire, Te Vahine is one song that sounds like it could have been sung prior to the arrival of The London Missionary School. It lacks the touch of Mormons which makes it much more listenable than the rest of the album.
From the liner notes:
This old song is about a warrior woman, Te Vahine, using the power of the sky to dispute a high warrior on his declaration of war. She challenges him by taking his spear from him.
Last night, we drove around the peaks of Northeast LA, looking for the perfect view of the supermoon. The clouds teased us by intermittently blocking our view but finally, high up in Elysian Park, the sky cleared and the twinkling valley was illuminated by the perigree moon, lighting up the sad Los Angeles River as it made it’s silvery traverse through the Metrolink yards.
“No vento que lança areia nos vidros,
na água que canta no fogo mortiço,
no calor do leito dos bancos vazios,
dentro do meu peito estás sempre comigo”
This 7 inch was a surprise to me, I found it my vinyl collection yesterday. How long I’ve had it, I don’t know. Where I bought it, I can’t remember. I do know I haven’t heard anything so beautiful in awhile. A perfect song for a dark and cloudy day.
I just don’t have the time to give this band the words they deserve. I saw them play last Saturday and it was one of the best shows I’ve been to in ages. They are the real thing. The music seems to consume them when they are on stage. I was up front for the most of the show and I looked in Yasmine Kittles‘s eyes. She was was in an almost trance. I’ve never quite seen anything like it. If she’s faking it and it looks authentic, does that make it real?
While they are being lumped into the witch house genre (yes, fourth post on this page to mention this genre), I don’t think the label is totally appropriate. The scene at Show Cave where they played, definitely has an aura of witchiness about it and is known as the Los Angeles location for bands of this multi-named genre (the others being rape gaze, haunted house, drag).
I must admit, while I’m not much for scensterism, I actually felt quite comfortable there, lots of black clothes, asymmetrical haircuts, a sorta a urban gothic mixed crowd, gay and straight, White/Latino/Asian, young and old and people dancing. Yes, I said dancing and for real, like moving more than a few inches back and forth. Not even those crazy dubstep beats get the crowd moving all that much at Low End Theory (another Northeast LA club I frequent). There were dudes going crazy like apocalyptic dancing, in their black leather jackets and their dark hair flopping about. After awhile though, I stopped noticing what was going around me and got lost in the beats and Yasmine’s on stage acrobatics. And then out came the pieces of metal percussion she is becoming known for, her signature metal pipes that she bangs together in the most brutal and rhythmic ways.
At one point, she and the pipes come tumbling off the stage and land at my feet. She’s rolling around the floor with her mike, the sound coming out of her just as deep and vibrant as before. Then she jumps up and whacks the metal pillar I’m holding onto. Whoosh, the air rushes across my face and I jump back and smile. What a way to go, I think to myself, death by percussion. After, the song finishes, the circle of audience doesn’t move and looks at her metal percussion instruments strewn across the floor. She’s sitting on the stage. And there’s this weird moment where we all wonder if we should pick them up and hand them to her. It seems as if she’s waiting for this but none of us move. It’s almost like they are sacred objects not worthy of our pedestrian touch. After a minute she picks them up and the show is done. My friend says “Geesh, someone could’ve helped her out!” She doesn’t need our help.
Carol and Snowy Red-Breakdown (1981 original, this remixed version is from the late 80s)
More music! I never intended this blog to be all about music but it has for now.
I came across this song while listening to French New Wave bands on Youtube and was blown away by the tight beat in those first thirty seconds. I can totally imagine lots of bands now wholly using this sound for their own. Just give Carol and Snowy Red some credit. Even back then they had names for all the tiny subgenres and this was called “New Beat.”
Yeah, I know. I’ll never get over it. Go ahead and say it, I’m the shoegazer that never looked up.
I can’t help but like new music that sounds like old music but the old music that at one time sounded new. You know what I mean? Think Cocteau Twins.
Red Moon are two sisters from Göteborg, Sweden. Until recently, they were unsigned and probably not really famous anywhere. They should be though. Their sound is ephemeral, beautiful, moody and yes…just a tad witchy. Throw them on a mix with Fever Ray or Austra for a nice melancholy afternoon of music.
Their new album, I Am Here has just been released, listen to sound clips here.