Review- Light Bulb 4

Various Artists

Light Bulb 4 – Emergency

(LAFMS 1981) From Blub Crad to ID Art to Darker Skratcher, I never met a LAFMS comp I didn’t like, and this one, acquired at the same time as Pigs For Lepers, is my favorite of them all. Ricocheting back and forth from themes of rampant human decay, paranormal and supernatural phenomena, the campiness of mainstream wholesomeness (1950s style in particular), absurd and adolescent humor, and the elusive kernel of triumph within self-defeating nihilism and inward-looking mockery, the Emergency cassettes are a source of the contemporary avant garde’s most valuable asset – the irrelevancy of barriers between naïf outsiders, intuition- driven slackists, and sarcastic conceptual complainers. It establishes the central role of a common, infinitely malleable vernacular available to anyone with a desire to get mucky with it. The variety here is so initially stunning that it seems like nothing in the comp’s two-hour duration is remotely similar to anything else on it, even if that isn’t the literal truth: real songs made of backward tape loops, strummed folk tunes, spastic punk bands that run the gamut from unison drum-pounding and shouting to out-of-control dementia to college nerds in overdrive, destroyed electronics, shit that sounds like a senior citizens attempting a space opera in a cafeteria, janitors chasing mice with brooms, lunatic lounge singer impersonators, repetitive machines, ridiculous parodies, geeky showtunes and cartoon music, surreal carnival nightmares… et fucking cetera. In the end, this comp should be considered a major work, a blueprint for subsequent generations – not only in regards to content and form, but to character. The Canterbury Tales of noise.

by S. Glass, both published in a column called “The Essentials” in Special Interests #4, 2010. Mikko Aspa, ed.


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