Saturday, October 25, 2014

Drop of Blood in the Bucket - Les Vamyprettes

Outside of "Thriller" there's not much popular music geared towards Halloween, though I'm probably forgetting a ton of stuff as I'm not a fan of Metal music and don't have much time to investigate.  Last year I focused on Slang's album The Bellwether Project, and while that's a really good album its not exactly horror-based.  Greetings from Burkittsville was closer but wasn't always creepy (though that last track was pretty chilling).  Luckily I combed the bowls of my computer and found a group not only explicitly horror-related but also expertly creepy, the enigmatic one-single electronica project Les Vampyrettes.  A one-off collaboration between Holger Czukay of the seminal Krautrock group Can (whose solo electronic projects were already pretty stellar) and producer Conny Plank (who did production on most of Kraftwerk's stuff and Devo's album Q: Are We Not Men...), Les Vampyrettes only existed long enough to release one 12'' single, putting them in the class of Karen Verros and Geechie Wiley who didn't even release a whole album before fading into the night.  As per the oblique moniker, it's not only common but practically industry standard for electronic artists to work under pseudonyms, such as Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, but in the case of Les Vampyrettes the lack of a human face only furthers its cause.  Not that the deliciously unsettling music needed any help, though.

Side One has the song "Biomutanten" which gets things rightly foreboding right away with metallic drumming and a slow bass flange, making me think that tomandandy had the song on their mind when writing the soundtrack to The Mothman Prophecies.  This continues steadily throughout the track, with random sirens, klaxons and screeches peppered along for good effect.  At the center is a deep, reverbed voice incanting what is apparently nonsense, though I can't understand him and wasn't able to find the lyrics online - but does it really matter what he's saying?  He might as well be reciting a lasagna recipe and I'd still have to order express delivery on several pairs of brown pants.  The best information I've been able to find on the single comes from the excellent mp3-distribution goldmine Egg City Radio where, as you can see here, he includes both tracks for download.  The guy who runs it is usually really good at unearthing info on super-obscure artists but he was at something of a loss, aside from a hilariously translated paragraph I won't spoil for you.

"Menetekel" swaps out metal for a swamp, the bass slow-marching along on two notes while underwater beasties burp into your ears.  Somebody forgot to turn of a metronome in the other room and Plank is having a lot of fun warping record scratching and radio noise with the bend dial.  This results in the song being shorter and a little less spooky but nonetheless not something you'd like to meet in a dark alley adjacent to a discount chainsaw store.  Once again I haven't the John Carpenter's The Fogiest what the singer (?) is droning on about, so I'll just have to assume it has something to do with wearing someone's sideburns as coattails.

If there's one thing this record really reminds me of, especially "Menetekel", it's "There's a Planet in My Kitchen", one of the two B-sides on the 12'' single of Siouxsie and the Banshee's cover of "Dear Prudence".  My Dad had this single and the song remains one of the most goofily enigmatic LP's I've come across, but I'll let you make the decision with this handy YouTube recreation:

It's funny how the digi-processed ramblings of potential serial killers can bring back the memories.  The problem with assessing Les Vampyrettes as a group is that they only have two very similar songs to their credit, though that may have been their intention anyway.  Perhaps some questions are better left unanswered, such as how a pair of such spooky tone slabs escaped from the bathouse, and since every re-release of the single has gone under we may never know for sure.  I'm thankful once again that YouTube exists so obscure wonders like this can go straight for the jugular.


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