Thing of the Day
Weasel Walter alert part two: Weasel on Cardiacs
Legendary stalwart of underground drum mayhem Weasel Walter is touring the UK this week - see yesterday's Thing Of The Day for details. Earlier this year, he contributed to Moe Staiano and Dominique Leone's collaborative fundraising San Fransico gig for Tim Smith of Cardiacs, with this neat review/testimonial:
If the band Cardiacs are regarded as some kind of hidden treasure in their U.K. motherland, well, their reputation is pretty much nonexistent in the U.S. A true cult band by definition, those who know are RABID, and I am one of them.
About a year ago I distinctly remember some random person on the internet commenting to me, "You've never heard Cardiacs?" Uh, no! Well, I hadn't. Believe me you, I am a professional, compulsive music geek. I have spent every waking moment since I was a small child listening, playing, pondering or researching music. I know more music trivia than anyone should know, even minutia about bands and musicians I couldn't give a fuck about. For example, to this day I can rattle off the personnel to the band Haircut 100 without stuttering. See? Yet, despite the fact that Cardiacs sprung peripherally from the hyper-documented late '70s U.K. punk/post-punk culture explosion, I had never seen or heard a mention of them until that fateful moment.
I don't remember what specifically I heard by them - probably something from the era when they still wore wacky makeup - but at the time I quickly wrote them off. The same way I wrote off, uh, John Coltrane. Sparks. Magma. You know, other benign artistic nonentities. Ha ha ha. Now, it was obvious they were up to something, but whatever it was didn't quite click with me at first meeting. I do remember that what I heard seemed a bit overly quirky and self-conscious to the extent that I was turned off it. Still the name stuck in my craw, like almost all band names do.
Spring forward to a few months ago . . . some other random person mentions the band again, so, naturally, I get to work, doing my dutiful research. On Youtube, I find a video for a live studio performance of a song called "Signs" from their 1999 album Guns. Click. I get it.
Now, it might be easy for jaded music snobs to hear this song and snort, "Uh, sounds like the Pixies, whatever." But that's too glib, too snide. It is pop. It is dark. The composition has a tendency towards having a beat or two lopped off a measure here and there, but there's something unnervingly, definitively, emotionally apocalyptic about "Signs" that deftly sidesteps the comparison. Oh, yeah, and, by the way, this is the only song I know of in their ouevre which sounds remotely like this. It is the exact inverse of their early, hammy schoolboy hijinks. "Signs" is a devastating, surreal threnody in four minutes time.
WEASEL WALTER, ALEX WARD and JAMES SEDWARDS will be playing together this coming Wednesday at Café Oto, London E8. - here's the tour details:
Weasel Walter/Alex Ward UK DATES June/July 2011
Monday, June 27th 2011
The Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, Dalston, London N16 8AZ
Doors: 8pm, music starts 8.30
Weasel Walter/Steve Beresford/John Edwards/Alex Ward/Alan Wilkinson
Various smaller combinations drawn from the above musicians, followed by a quintet.
Tuesday, June 28th 2011
Oxford Improvisers at Folly Bridge Inn, 38 Abingdon Road, Oxford OX1 4PD
Admission: £8/£6 concessions
Weasel Walter/Alex Ward/Stuart Chalmers/John Grieve/Martin Hackett/David Stent/Pat Thomas
Various combinations drawn from the above musicians.
Wednesday, June 29th 2011
Cafe Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL
Admission: £6.50 advance
Weasel Walter/Alex Ward/James Sedwards
Friday, July 1st 2011
The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton BN1 4JA
Admission: £5 suggested donation (members and guests)
Weasel Walter/Alex Ward/James Sedwards
Saturday, July 2nd 2011
Doubledotbash at South Street Arts Centre (21 South St.)/R.I.S.C. (35 London St.), Reading RG1
Weasel Walter/Alex Ward duo
One day festival organised by the Doubledotdash!? collective and South Street Arts Centre. 3 stages, many acts.
(... always remember to check details before setting off).
Here's another Cardiacs video: