Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

MINNY POPS - DRASTIC MEASURES, DRASTIC MOVEMENT

"Take that racket off! Its even worse than jazz!"
This was my wife's reaction to the Minny Pops' LP.
Indeed its hard to reply to this kind of response when the first track on the LP, Springtime I, consists of little more than repetitive electronic beats and sounds a little like a broken heart monitor.

In terms of user friendliness things do improve. However, the Minny Pops make no concessions to popular music or to an easy listening experience. Which is why you should search out this record as soon as possible.
Recoded in 1979 Drastic Measures, seems, to my ears, to be the work of people who wanted to push to the boundaries the simple electronic music devices that they had. Thus we get simple sounds, repeated or looped, discordant squalls of sound, odd noises and sudden moments of clarity. Great stuff! However, I would hesitate to put Minny Pops into the Industrial category. Although their music is at time abrasive there is much humour and many silly moments.
For Minny Pops, the second track there is a recognisable tune and a guitar. The vocals repeat the phrase "I can feel a machine, I can feel a Minny Pop/ He wants to be a machine, he wants to be a Minny Pop". No, I don't know what it means either. However, it is clearly their manifesto and the merger of man and machine is evident throughout the record.
Hologram could be a transmission from another planet. A transmission that is breaking up or being jammed by hostile forces. Or, as my daughter thought, it sounds like Donald Duck talking on a broken mobile. You decide! I think it sounds like the kind of thing that you would make if you have access to synthesizers and a sense of humour.
Total Confusion is underpinned by some electronic percussion sounds which remind me of the tennis game that you used to get for your TV. Over the tennis-like sounds are swirling electronic noises, the occasional murky vocal and some tinny keyboard.

For me the standout track is Dolphin's Spurt. As with all of the other songs here I have no idea what, if anything the lyrics are about. Delivered in a cold manner, very much in the way of a lot of electronic music, stabbing jerky guitar repeats itself while the keyboards make whistling sounds (perhaps a Dolphin's Spurt) and the precise electronic drums act as a metronome throughout. You could dance to this in the slightly spasmodic way that people danced in the post-punk era. And then suddenly its all over.

Motor City could almost be something from Sonic Youth. Clashing discordant guitars vie with the dry emotionless singer in a squealing fight to the death. Or something.
Over on side two we start with Springtime II which again is largely the broken heart monitor but this time with added stylophone.
According to Monica "Living in Bolivia Ain't So Pretty". The pounding bass pushes Monica along, giving it a dark menace. Velvet's like guitars add to the claustrophobic feel as the song drills down into your head. With the robotic vocals, bass and drums there are clear krautrock influences but the shear tightness of the song seems to turn it away from anything 'hippy'.

Flash Goes the Eye features a sound that is part creaking door hinge, part violin bowed a la John Cale, and part kazoo. Yips and howls abound. Its a children's party gone horribly wrong!
I've always thought that MD Mania, the next track, is a song from the Silicon Teens album that has somehow escaped. Upbeat and perky with the kind of bossa drumming that only early synths could produce, its fun and happy until you listen to the lyrics.
RU21 predates the Mary Chain by a good six years and, although it doesn't have the bubble-gum influences of the Reid brothers, it channels the drones of the Velvets and marries it to some 'young love' lyrics. Although in this case there is something not quite right about the attention the singer is paying to the girl. Hypnotic like a road crash. 

Mono continues the tightly wound, choppy guitars, precise drumming theme but adds some arrhythmic hand claps and some dense and almost choking swampy sounds. I'd hate to hear what Stereo sounds like!

The record ends on New Muzak which sounds like a snippet from a Brian Eno ambient LP. If that's the new Muzak I'm going to spend more time in lifts.

1 comment:

  1. That´s a great review for a great record.
    On being a machine, being a Minny Pop. As i remember, Minny Pop was the name of a specific drummachine, probably the one they used.

    ReplyDelete