Saturday, September 12, 2009
7" EXPLOSION - PT 13
Post 13 in this seemingly endless yet easily distracted 7" series has to go to Brazilian LSD witch DE KALEFE and her 1970 (?) psychedelic garage pop platter Guerra b/w Mondo Quadrado. Bizarrely, this was pressed on 33, even though both tunes are barely two minutes long, and was released on 'Artistos Unidos", which is presumably a UA subsidiary. The A-side also featured in Coffin Joe's brain-strafing surrealist horror flick Awakening of the Beast (where I'm guessing the year from).
I don't speak any Portuguese, so I don't have a clue what she's singing about, and the lyrics on the back cover are just rubbing it in. Is Guerra an anti-war tune? An ode to the apocalypse? A Manson-esque statement of intent? I was gonna post the lyrics up, in case some kindly Brazilian stranger washed up on this URL ((while googling for 'David See')) - but sod it. Sometimes comprehension only gets in the way of a good thing.
Guerra starts off with some spooky reverb clatters and wheeps, before De Kalefa's backing coven drifts into fragile guitar'n'organ crypt-pop, her spectral, echoey vocals beamed in from some beat club at the end of the universe. Give me this over Bat For Lashes performing to a bunch of gnats at Bestival, any day! Lyrically, I couldn't say whether Mundo Quadrado counts as the earliest incarnation of the notorious TIME CUBE theory, or if it's just cocking a counter-cultural snoot at straight society - but as an anthem for hippies scrambling around Sao Paulo on mopeds, it's pretty lush. I have to say, judging by the sleeve, the Brazilian hippies had much better haircuts than their British and US counterparts.
I haven't been able to turn up much info on De Kalefe, except she recorded at least one other 7", a cover version of Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang. Maybe it's just as well - it'd suck to discover she ended up running for office, or presenting contrived TV dating shows. Perhaps, if she's still alive and googles herself, we'll find out.
Then again, perhaps we won't.
Some bloke called Mark came down to our floor and was gabbling on about how a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Well, that's shitty luck, we said. Must be the worst aviation disaster in years. Mark, who had a face like a horse and who always looked suspiciously nervous, even when he was smiling or laughing, left us and I went back to swapping emails with my mate Chris, randomly surfing the internet and finishing a 2,500 word article on ultra-high-pressure hull-blasting equipment.
Then everyone started flooding in to our floor, saying a second plane had walloped into the remaining tower. Me and Chris went for a fag in the drizzle outside, and everyone was asking, "HAVE YOU HEARD?" - all happily talking to each other, rather than splintering off into their own private factions. My sister rang me, asking "HAVE YOU HEARD?" I remember feeling quite excited about the whole thing, especially when umpteen rumours of impending doom started to whizz around the office like wildfire.
First off, someone announced that nine planes had been hijacked, and that one was heading for London! They were going to crash it into the Lloyd's Building, allegedly, and staff there were being evacuated. It was the moment when the teacher left the classroom; people running around, empty desks, cracking up laughing in the kitchen. This monstrous assault on the forces of liberty, an evil attempt to curtail the freedom of the most democratic nation on Earth; and, here in London, we were all pissing ourselves and chatting away in a state of euphoria, heading for the conference room to turn on the TV and watch the repeated handycam footage of the kamikaze jet exploding, again and again and again.
The BBC admitted they didn't know how many rogue planes were now circling the skylanes, honing in on their intended targets. By 4pm, we were all switching off our Macs, sticking our jackets on, hooked on adrenaline. "I HOPE THEY TAKE THIS FUCKING PLACE OUT!" grunted Pete, an antisocial designer, and we all laughed.
Me and Chris went down the pub, by which time we'd heard another plane had bellyflopped onto the edge of the Pentagon. How many Iraqis and Afghanistanis alive that afternoon, now interred in bits and pieces?
We went to The Fox, where the girls from the fashion retail company downstairs all hung out. Eric, the friendly, tattooed French barman, gave us a pint on the house. He was like, "HAVE YOU HEARD?" Some guy in a grey pinstripe suit and pink tie, late 40s/early 50s, put down his copy of 'Metro' and told us: "It's the Chinese. They're the only ones with the ability to pull this off. They're the best pilots in the world, it's too meticulous to have been anyone else." GWB had had a load of hassle with the Chinese shortly before, when a US spy plane had knocked a member of the Chinese air force straight outta his cockpit. I guess this incident was the only real lead Ol' Pink Tie had to go on for his hunch, but he was convinced this whole thing was retaliation for that aerial mishap.
If China had the bottle to take out the WTC, this'd be a world war. The thought that there were scores of unaccounted-for, commandeered planes zooming through the clouds, on a mission to obliterate the West, was weirdly liberating. You probably think I'm a cunt, but I honestly found the thought of apocalypse infinitely preferable to finishing my article on the safest ways to remove paint from the hulls of container vessels((by the way, did you know that you can lop a (wo)man's arm or leg off with a water jetting gun set to a pressure of 2,000 bar?)) Worries about money, rumours of job cuts, visions of deadlines, all evaporated into the ether. I really felt alive.
We progressively got drunk, and couldn't stop talking and joking about it. Eric put on the same CD that The Fox always played on a nightly basis, a compilation with the dub cut of Horace Andy's "Money", some stuff by Lee Perry, Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On". I savoured my Stella and watched the punters roll in, all "HAVE YOU HEARD?" Nobody looked that worried; but, for a bunch of supposed mindless office drones, they had some of the most inventive, creative theories regarding the day's events. Suddenly everyone was an expert on fucking planes. "Do you know why they don't allow you to smoke in plane toilets?" Pinstripe gabbered. "Because of the chemicals in the loo. They're highly inflammable. Light up a cigarette in the toilet, and you take out the whole back of the aircraft!"
Bullshit, laughter and beer. Anyway, it's hard to fear the reaper when you're sitting in front of a fresh pint, and when Sam, the dyed-hair riot grrrl from the fashion company downstairs, is holding court with her mates in the corner.
Chris and Eric went out for a spliff, I joined them for a fag. Purple twilight warping over Old Street, office blocks poking into the horizon. We talked to the fashion mob, Pinstripe, the two beardy artist guys who'd turned up on bicycle and were more worried about their wheels getting nicked.
We asked the fashionistas how they'd customise their gasmasks once Armageddon kicked off for real. 'Shocking pink / muddy brown camo' was the overall winner. Chris wanted MEAT IS MURDER scrawled on his - but then, for a ragga fan, he sure had a strange fucking obsession with The Smiths. Me? I fancied a touch of class in the fallout shelter - my gasmask would be zebra print. I decided I was in love with Sam, though I barely knew her. Unfortunately, when one of her friends asked Chris if she could scrounge a fag, he just grinned like a dope, his brain mushed with weed and lager, and slurred, "I'LL GIVE YOU ONE IF YOU GIMME A KISS". Apocalypse was making monkeys of us all.
I staggered back home around midnight, with a kebab in tow. My flatmate, Dave, was sitting up watching the BBC reports, the same jet, the same tower, BLAM, the same fireball, the same yank gurgling "HOLY SHIT!" Dave couldn't understand why I seemed so excited about it all. How could I explain or understand why I'd just had such a great day and night out? "THIS ISN'T A FUCKING JOKE," he snarled at me, as the arse fell out of my pitta bread, splattering the flimsy wrap with steaming grease. "THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF THIS...IT'S JUST THE EXCUSE THOSE REPUBLICAN FUCKERS NEED TO START A WAR". Bush on the screen, apeman smirk. Blair on the screen, trickle of glistening moisture on his upper lip. Those who can't cry in public, but emotionally snot it out instead. Dave in a huff. Concerned BBC anchor. Unprecedented, freedom, liberty, evil, Bin Laden.
Chris went off the rails, he discovered his ex-wife was seeing someone else and he lost the plot. Work made a quarter of the office redundant, blaming the 'tragic events' for the downturn in magazine ad revenue. My mum sent me a form I had to sign, giving the hospital the all-clear to leave my Alzheimer's-ridden dad to it should he drift into a coma. "They say if they try to revive him, they might end up breaking his ribs," she sobbed down the blower. Dave developed a serious drinking problem which killed him in 2003. Sam stopped going to The Fox, Eric went back to France. And September 11th, an easy enough date to pronounce, became '9/11' forever. 9th November, fall of the Berlin Wall; one enemy swapped for another.
Shit aside, it was a good night out.