Monday, May 10, 2010
23 Skidoo - The Culling Is Coming (1983)
23 Skidoo's first album, "Seven Songs," is often cited as a major milestone in the field of industrial music, with its groundbreaking incorporation of funk motifs into the harsh electronic sound of industrial. With their second LP, "The Culling Is Coming," the band went in a completely different and unexpected direction, alienating almost all of their fans in the process. Good for them.
This album is divided into two very different halves, the order of which has been reversed from the original release for reasons that remain obscure. The first part of the CD (side B of the LP), subtitled "A Winter Ritual," consists of the band banging cheerfully away on Indonesian Gamelan instruments. It does not sound like Gamelan music, however, as none of the musicians really knows how to play these exotic instruments. The result is simple, ritualistic, repetitive and thoroughly hypnotic. I'll admit it took me a few listens to get into this, as it sounds completely different than pretty much everything else out there, but once you open up to it, it's really quite beautiful.
The second half of the CD (side A of the LP) is subtitled "A Summer Rite" and is of a completely different character. Recorded live, the music here is even less approachable than the preceeding tracks. It is noisy and consists largely of tape loops, electronic feedback and crude metallic banging. If you can get past the low fidelity recording, there's some pretty interesting stuff going on. After all, this is what industrial music is all about, right? The CD adds a twenty-seven minute bonus track (subtitled "An Autumn Journey") that is similar to the rest of the live material, but it features David Tibet of Current 93 fame on "Tibetan Horn" so that is pretty cool.
As dense and difficult as this album is, you have to give 23 Skidoo credit for bucking people's expectations and going out on a limb. Besides, most of the music is quite good, it just takes some getting used to.