There are few things in this world as flat out insane as Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels (Select Audio Visual). Whilst his music is renowned for its weirdness, humour, and creativity, this film makes his music seem normal. It plays out like a confused freak power mash up between Neil Young’s Human Highway and The Monkeys Head directed by a room full of monkeys typing the collective works of Shakespeare.
It’s apparently a critique of the insanity of life on the road, which apparently like the film is bizarre and virtually nonsensical. Frank Zappa appears in the film only as a musician and never singing. He is played however by an uncomfortable looking Ringo Starr, who wanders around in a number of peculiar skits voicing strange oddities and watching people smoke towells. Keith Moon meanwhile pops up in drag as a nun. It’s the result of way too much coffee and the belief that the nonsencial and confused actually means something. Touring can make you crazy, and watching this film can too. You know you’re in trouble when the director, Tony Palmer utilises the liner notes in the booklet as an opportunity to correct all the lies that Zappa spread about the film and take credit for any semblance of narrative, but he does himself no favours, because seriously, if you think this is narrative then your world must be pretty fragmented. Then there’s the London Philharmonic Orchestra who find themselves in the middle of this chaos, providing backgrounds to some very odd spoken wordplays. Apparently it works best on LSD. It couldn’t hurt.
Infinite Decimals are the Melbourne experimental duo of Barnaby Oliver (guitar) and Don Rogers (bass) who walk the line between music and sound in a really interesting way. They’ve just released their debut album 0.18232323… (Audio Actions), which comprises of two pieces, the first a mesmirising shimmer of sound that clocks in at almost 7 minutes and the second, a more difficult elongated piece that develops through repetition and subtle changes into a kind of chugging slab of guitar noise. There’s an almost engine room mentality, rhythmic, mechanical, a locked groove that elicits hypnotic qualities in the listener as the two instruments begin to feel like the one entity. They’re launching 0.18232323… at 3pm on the 24th of April at the Empress with some other great experimental musicians including Tim Catlin.
Speaking of Catlin, his recent duo recording with precocious Dutch producer Machinefabriek, Glisten (Low Point) is nothing short of incredible. Due to its subtlety and lack of bluster (aside from the final third of Haul in which the sound builds into white noise) Glisten’s peace and quiet serves to lower the heart rate and train the ears to operate on a micro level, to appreciate even the smallest gesture. It’s an incredibly still work, Catlin’s prepared guitar drones and Machinefabriek’s manipulations are understated and beautiful, the layers of sound coming across in slow gentle carefully controlled waves, demonstrating the experimental can also be both elegant and restrained.
New Waver is a local artist who is concerned about the social fabric of our society. Particularly Fitzroy. His latest album Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody (Spill) ‘looks at inner city life…exploring culture production and consumption, class relations, romanticisim and real estate.” It’s filled with songs like Hey Dude, which to the strains of the Beatles Hey Jude he wails lines like “the minute the area’s looking hip, we’ll through you out and rent it to bankers.” The video is a camera crusing down Brunswick st. What a passionate man. It’s normally $900,000 but special price for you is free download. http://www.spill-label.org/nw