“weird” could be anything, really
May 15, 2013 6:08 PM   Subscribe

The Weirdest Band in the World is a blog devoted to singers, musicians, and bands that are crazy, silly, improbable, eccentric, grotesque, idiosyncratic, inexplicable, insane, or otherwise unusual. Bloggers Andy and Jake write about bands both successful and obscure, whether metal, jazz, hip-hop, or whatever other genre, always with an unflagging appreciation for what makes these bands unique, and with none of the snark and jeering that often laces articles elsewhere about people doing weird things.

Their Weird Band of the Week this week is Gulaggh (or :GULAGGH:, previously :STALAGGH:), who make horrifying, nihilistic albums consisting of the recorded screams and wails of patients in insane asylums, children from youth mental hospitals, and rape victims. The result is arguably not "music" by any stretch, but feels like a brutally raw documentation of humanity's worst pain, anguish, and suffering.
It’s so thick with human suffering and despair that it literally makes your skin crawl. The room seems to get darker the longer you let it play. People avoid eye contact with you for days after you’ve listened to it. It might be the bleakest “music” anyone’s ever recorded.
Most remarkably, Gulaggh always treat the mental patients they work with as willing collaborators, and obtain full written permission from all of them.
We always tell all vocalists who participate on our projects what :STALAGGH: is all about. Most of them agree with our ideology. ... Several of them called recording with us the best therapy they ever had.
posted by narain (20 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Reminds me of the book Songs In The Key Of Z, which turned me on to Wesley Willis and Captain Beefheart.

I don't like the idea of calling everything as diverse as whiteboy chap hop to GWAR to genuine artists like Klaus Nomi 'weird', as it sorta marginalizes them and shoves them into a box.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2013

Whiteboy chap hop? What the hell other kind of chap hop *is* there? Ignorant though I am, I'm really curious...
posted by motty at 6:42 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have this fantasy of blasting Wold out my windows at Halloween to keep kids away, but I think this Gulaggh would be much better.
posted by daHIFI at 7:06 PM on May 15, 2013

oooooh, Igorrr is their number 2 on their top 100. yay! :)

Due to This Dangerous Minds article about the Stones, and their mention of Jandek, who I correspondingly looked up, which led me to, the wiki page about "outsider music". This led me to discover The Shaggs (SLYT) and I just *had* to see if they were on the list, my hope was raised when I saw that number five on their top 100 was "Primus" (really? I suppose "weird" doesn't mean "obscure", but... Well I admit I never saw a Primus show. I guess they're goofy... And, I suppose " 'weird' could be anything, really" covers, it.

When I hear The Shaggs, I can't but help hear some strange prefiguring of Shonen Knife, the girls speech impediments (?) sound a bit like poorly pronounced English, the poppy, slightly grungy/basement-rock sound of the clanging guitars and banging drums. But... The out of tune-ness, and then when you really listen and hear what's going on there, as bad as it is, there's really this kernel of some bizarre genius underneath. The guitar lines that follow the vocal lines out of sync just a tad lending an almost psychedelic echo effect, the haphazard rhythms that stutter just out of time and then back again. They lyrics are some strange matter-of-fact philosophy, tied into some interesting sense of hippieness, but not so far out that it ends up being Timothy Leary and The Shaggs... It's really quite amazing, I think. Good? I don't think I can call it that. But Amazing? Most assuredly.
posted by symbioid at 7:10 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

DUDE! They feature The Fabulous Downey Brothers! They're my local band crush right right now.

They have better videos, but this is my favorite song.
posted by lumpenprole at 7:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

First, yay weird stuff!
Second, the :GULAGGH:/:STALAGGH: projekt project hits like ten of my maximum obsession buttons, but with all due respect, I cannot submit myself to even a single second of actually listening to their creative output.

From the interview linked above:
The mind of the mentally deranged is far more interesting than the minds of sane people. Living in constant fear and pain causes the soul to fill with hate and despair and will give you visions of the realms of darkness and death. For those people these images feel real. This is why we use real insane people to do our vocals. They can transfer their mental suffering into sound for :STALAGGH: and we can spread their despair and fear across the minds of many others, and make it feel real to them as well.
Several of them called recording with us was the best therapy they ever had. They could release all their fear, pain and frustration by screaming.
I know there's some bluntness in translation worked into there, but goddamn.
The ::STALAGGH:: project is a trilogy meant to evoke the atmosphere of German concentration camps and the ::GULAGGH:: project is a trilogy that's supposed to be the aural equivalent to Soviet gulags. They will only release those two trilogies before disbanding altogether and, presumably, going off to live in nightmares and/or spider-filled caves that are made of nightmares. Here's their last.fm page! Can't wait to listen to the Stalaggh radio station!

::emits high-pitched whine of fear::
posted by divined by radio at 7:13 PM on May 15, 2013

OMFG - They don't have Computer Jesus Refrigerator!
posted by symbioid at 7:15 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Geez, yeah, yr right, they write about *everybody*. (except for the awesome band that I actually searched for).
posted by NoMich at 7:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Three Day Stubble

That is all.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 7:50 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wow, I love this. I agree with everything that divined by radio said about :STALAGGH: in that they're absolutely fascinating to read about but too terrifying to actually listen to.

The blog as a whole hits exactly the right tone with the writing, IMO:
This week’s weird band was suggested to us by a Facebook fan named João Nox, who we assume is from Portugal, because his name is João and this band Blasted Mechanism seems to be virtually unknown outside of Portugal. Which is a shame, because these guys fly a freak flag that should really be traveling in international waters. I’m not even sure what that means, but I haven’t had much sleep.
but there's just too much there for me to try to start diving in! Great post!
posted by valrus at 7:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I lied. I started diving in. Oh my fucking God. note: some split seconds of NSFW and heed the warning at the beginning
posted by valrus at 8:19 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gulaggh is totally going on the through the window on Halloween night. Actually, I think I'll aim the speaker out of a basement window.

Their write up is really spot on and interesting, though, and I appreciate they treated it with more critical respect than LOL DEATHMETAL. It really is horrifying and immediate. Yikes!

Great post.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:24 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

:STALAGGH: is a low brow version of what Schimpfluch Gruppe was doing in the '90s (like a Texas Chain Saw Massacre to Schimpfluch's Der Todesking). Eber and crew do that kind of intensity in a way that is much more rewarding when you get past the shock value, IMHO.
posted by idiopath at 9:21 PM on May 15, 2013

quoting a comment from the Wolf Eyes article:
"as an avid fan of unconventional music (and, also, writing), I cringed SO MANY TIMES while reading this."

took the words right out of my mouth

"A lot of their stuff is so abrasively noisy that even many noise fans can’t really take it." [citation needed]

"They also go way beyond the usual rock band format of most noise acts" WTF? what noise acts is he even talking about? I cannot remember the last noise show I went to where someone had a rock band format. And I go to a lot of noise shows.

Wolf Eyes are decent for the more rock side of noise, but there are major failings to appreciate context here (while writing in a way that implies he has some kind of intimate familiarity).

And he leads off with the fact that Andrew WK tweeted them about the band, and leaves out the part (which you can get from a fucking wikipedia article) that Andrew WK was briefly in the band (well, kind of, questions of who is or isn't in a noise band are often complicated or messy).
posted by idiopath at 9:48 PM on May 15, 2013

HAH I just found the exact Eber track that the :STALAGGH: reminded me of. I'd been trying to find that for a while.

Also Outandin Artaud is a fucking awesome name.
posted by idiopath at 9:52 PM on May 15, 2013

:GULAGGH: reminds me of my favorite part of my favorite Zulawski film, Possession, where Isabelle Adjani has a 3 minute freak out in a subway platform tunnel and screams like a woman... possessed... and it's amazing. The sound of the screams in the tunnel are incredible, along with her performance - Possession is one of the few times I've been impressed with production audio (assuming that's what it is and not some magical, magical ADR and processing, which I very highly doubt). And so yeah, that GULAGGH stuff is similarly cathartic, in a primal scream kind of way.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 10:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know he's usually not the kind to get litigious, especially over intellectual property (which he plays with daily), but Mr. Yankovic should sue.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:43 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is the blog I have been waiting for!
posted by tommasz at 5:36 AM on May 16, 2013

Primus, really? Maybe that's just me growing up in the Bay Area in the 80's. The Residents don't seem that weird to me either. Or Mr. Bungle, but that's definitely me living in Arcata in the 80's.

Oh yeah, that band you think is weird sucks too.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:07 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: The prosthetic penis-nose is the least weird part of it
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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