The demented sound of John Gavanti
December 4, 2015 5:20 PM   Subscribe

"Oh Ancient Ocean!/You are nothing!/Vast you may be!/Next to me what are you?/I am beautiful pink and you are stinky green!" In 1980, members of No Wave bands Mars and DNA recorded John Gavanti. An operetta loosely based on Don Giovanni, it's the story of a man with magical powers and a strong libido who gets it on with a lioness and a grandmother "in the beautiful autumn of life," among others. It was recorded in an all-vaccuum-tube-equipment studio that Sonic Youth later used to record 1987's Sister. Glenn Kenny at Trouser Press said "Some have called this the most unlistenable record ever made, and that's a fine invitation indeed." There's a review of sorts here. There's an unreadable fake(?) interview with fans and musicians here.
posted by goatdog (6 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. The overture sure is dissonant.
posted by egypturnash at 5:29 PM on December 4, 2015

This is actually pretty good! I don't know what to make of the Jandek comparisons other than I guess it's the baseline for a particular kind of outsider-art music. The goings-on here are a lot more self-aware about itself than that.
posted by ardgedee at 5:31 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this - I was dimly aware of its existence, but had never heard it before. Interesting that it doesn't sound very No Wave-y really ... but then Arto from DNA has transformed himself from skronky geek noise merchant into smooth samba-tinged lothario so maybe I shouldn't expect consistency.
posted by sobarel at 5:49 PM on December 4, 2015

I've only listened to a small portion but I plan on listening to the whole thing when there is nobody home. Sounds good to me. "Unlistenable?" I don't think so. You know what's unlistenable: modern country, christian rock, anything with auto-tune.
posted by charlesminus at 10:00 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

It would be interesting to see that on stage as an operetta. It's much more sonically dynamic than I expected from the description. I really like it.
posted by Kattullus at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2015

I always liked that record. No idea why people would call it unlistenable.
posted by klausness at 5:04 PM on December 5, 2015

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