Moby Dick by Robert Plant’s Dingleberry (Kansas City, Missouri)
I could spend my entire review of Robert Plant’s Dingleberry’s Moby Dick tape trying to explain what it is. And I don’t mean that in a metaphysical or aesthetic sense, but literally what it is that has been recorded; the instruments, the beings playing the instruments. Because to call this guitar music, or punk rock, or sludge metal—that would be doing it a great disservice, and stripping from its description this tape’s very palatable uniqueness.
Moby Dick is certainly punk music to the extent that it follows the “do what we want, for however long we want” ethos of a punk band. The music is wild and vicious, with gesticulating guitar fuzz wrapping itself around and around drums that seem to have been recorded through some sort of ancient tape deck—that’s how fuzzy and crunchy they are. The songs on Moby Dick are curt and aggressive, maintaining an incidental combination of the guitar-drum attack pattern of noise icons Boredoms with the sludgy, horror-infested tone of a doom or sludge metal outfit.
There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Suddenly Human” in which Captain Picard enters his living quarters to find a Talarian youth listening to music from his spartan, militaristic homeworld. Moby Dick is what should have been playing: music that is aggressive and energetic like punk, but something that also sounds alien, and entirely unique. For a group making no claims of experimentalism, Robert Plant’s Dingleberry manage to sound plenty experimental – more so than most of the countless groups who label themselves as such.
Occasionally, the tape will mix in pre-recorded media, giving it a bizarre RJD2 feel for several sumptuous moments. These don’t last, and the tape returns to what it does so gloriously, insanely well: grinding, hypnotic guitar assaults backed by meticulously deconstructed industrial drumming. Robert Plant’s Dingleberry comes from the same wild Kansas City DIY scene as hardcore acts like Meat Mist; they are shrouded in mystery, much of it stemming from their ridiculous name. But this is not a duo to be trifled with lightly: their music is fierce and powerful and aggressive—definitely worth a listen for more adventurous users.
Don’t look too closely at the cover art.
The Dream of a Knicker by Beat For Sale (Richemont, France)
The word hypnotic is thrown around a lot when discussing electronic, beat-based music, and usually the term is given to music that is repetitive enough to draw you in but lacking the tonal ingenuity to merit anything more specific. But on The Dream of a Knicker, Beat For Sale aim for a more literal hypnotization; opener ‘Tell Me‘ lures you in, Svengali-like, with swarming doom-laden synths, and before you know it you are bent to its will. Beat For Sale craft the kind of “dark” and “sexy” euro pop that the more indie-oriented may point to as the nadir of music, but given a chance to breathe, this EP has plenty going for it in terms of stellar production and musical alacrity.
Salima Bouaraour sings with the kind of ambiguously European voice and winkingly sex-obsessed lyrics that make otherwise decidedly Euro-trash music entirely listenable. Christophe Biache and Samuel Ricciuti create enough of an electronic spooktacular to merit academic listen, with Moog, Korg, and Roland synthesizers working overtime without becoming overwhelming. These songs are all about texture, and to a large extent songwriting has taken a backseat to magnanimous drones and Drive-style percussive tones.
Though perhaps a little soulless as a result of its synthetic posturing, The Dream of a Knicker is not without heart. Bouaraour’s lyrics are funny and weird, and the group has a decidedly non-national, inclusive feel. This is electronic music in spirit, if not necessarily in form, because it puts you on the same level as the musicians—the silly, chant-along lyrics serve this philosophy quite well. Though not an EP I would recommend for a sit-down listen, The Dream of a Knicker is the perfect collection of anthems for a night out at Dracula’s haunted rave.