Thursday, September 27, 2007

A few weeks back Kid Shirt identified a lost genre both historical and he believes coming back (shudder)-- QUIRK. Where glam meets prog meets New Wave.

Here he elaborates , zooming in on Split Enz and Lene Lovich

Now did he mention Duffo of "give me back my brain" not-quite-fame?

Punilux--the single I liked was "Jellyfish". As I recall from Rip-research they were drama students, background in radical theater. There was a big fringe drama/experimental theater thing percolating through the '70s--it was actually this vibrant, edgy area of the culture, believe it or not--and that seeped through into rock a fair bit
pre-punk and post-punk.

Re. the secret connections between New Wave and progressive/pre-punk underground music, I once saw a Cardiacs show --by accident I swiftly add!--at a free festival. It was on Port Meadow in Oxford, 1985 I think. We didn't even know it was on, were just going for an after-dark stroll across the meadow (the Monitor crew alllived within a few hundred yards of it). Tents everywhere, bonfires, a bad tripping hippie-chick staggering through the murk and stumbling over the tent cables... And the Cardiacs were onstage. If they hadn't been, we'd probably have stuck around longer. Who knows, I might have become a crusty! Probably not. I don't get the sense that free festival music was terribly hot in the Eighties. Has it ever been, though? Ozric Tentacles. (Who I have to thank for the revelation that hallucinogens can't actually make music any better than it already is; if it is, lame then the lameness just get magnified, it becomes cosmically lame)

In 1978 NME writer Miles wrote about a New Wave sub-style he dubbed "geometric, jerky quickstep"--exponents included XTC, Devo, Ultravox, with tinges in Talking Heads and Pere Ubu. The herky-jerkiness overlaps with Quirk ("geometric jerky quirkstep" perhaps) but with Quirk as Kid Shirt defined the ancestry's more in Genesis than in the cooler things Miles sources his thing in (Eno, Kraftwerk, Cluster).

Then there's The Tubes, who semi-passed as New Wave despite being horrible muso AOR dullards underneath the rock theatre / satire thing they had going on. (Amazingly there's a track by them, "Drums", on the Booka Shade DJ Kicks mix-CD, a drum solo with screams, some filler interlude from one of their atrocious albums no doubt... A mixed bag, that Booka mix, frequently making me wonder how "anodyne" has become a positive aesthetic in modern dance music, "anodyne" and "dinky" seem to be what people are aiming for. But there's a great track by Brigitte Bardot of all people, which sounds she was trying to be like Lizzy Mercier Descloux). The Tubes, though, didn't really have the herky-jerky thing.

Ah, but what about Kate Bush? Now surely she is in some ways the godmother of Quirk? Or at least a fellow traveler. Think of the mannered vocals, the theatricality of her performances and videos, stilted movements and Lene Lovich-y stark staring eyes... Bush was mentored by mime artist/choreographer Lindsay Kemp (who also taught Bowie)

What was that Russian--actually Soviet, it's so far back--band that they tried to launch over here? Zvuki Mu?!? Saw them once at a festival in Warsaw. 1987. Polish police with machine guns at the back of the venue. They were hardcore quirk. There's a Mittel Europa aspect to Quirk (Lene Lovich, again) that makes me think it's in some ways an anti-rock'n'roll tendency, even an attempt to de-Americanize rock. (The only real American contributor to all this I can think of is Sparks who failed abjectly in their native land.)

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