Review- Smegma – Pigs For Lepers

Smegma
Pigs For Lepers
(Pigface 1982 / Harbinger Sound 2006)
Following a brief period during which I was losing (and foolish enough to even engage in) an aesthetic bullfight with a bossy academic and self-appointed gatekeeper of the avant garde, I ended it by nailing to his office door a plastic bag filled with the remnants of his cassettes I’d torched. The only reason I prevailed – and this was a personal turning point – is because of Smegma’s Pigs For Lepers. Here was music by people who might be angry, or they might be demented, or they might be on drugs. Or all three, or none of the above. Didn’t matter. They made music with objects and they made noise with instruments. They played records in the middle of their songs, they had tape loops, they were indescribable six ways from Sunday precisely because they were so familiar. It was like a sci-fi visitation from my future self. They weren’t claiming to be weird in a horribly fake, self-conscious way; they just did what they did, and the only reason it might come off as weird is if the observer is a lot more normal than he’d like everyone to believe. Pigs for Lepers rocks. It destroys music and builds everything anew guided by nothing but the band’s own DNA and chromosomes. Raw and primitive, and sophisticated as well, it’s amazing how well put together such ramshackle hideousness feels. Given the choice between (a) getting browbeaten indefinitely by some cock who champions poetry with auto-punctuating words like “her/story” and gallery shows with names like “Last Works / Lost Works,” or (b) LPs with babydoll-headed chickens on the cover by people named Ju Suk Reet Meate and Amazon Bambi and Dr. Id, well, let’s just say finding this album was an “oh, fuck, yes” moment.


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

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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