Sunday, April 24, 2011

CAVE BEARS "Tragic Ceremony" c52 [Ozonokids]


Yikes, been meaning to get this review up here for awhile but these Cave Bears are so preposterously perplexing I wasn't sure how to generate the feel of this tape into sensical language. Each time I thought I was onto something it was "nope, back to the drawing board."
Silly spoken word snippets start it out but they're taken over by no-fi rock outs--I mean seriously no-fi maybe even anti-fi; agitated vocals, a grinding bass riff, tortured guitar feedback all whipped into an unintelligible mess-one of best portions of the tape. It throbs and oozes, like a pustule-ridden pulsating mutant tongue. There's an odd female voice acoustic ditty in there too. Someone's little brother or sister takes over on the mic during one portion ("This is funny. Oh my God") while the band is just doing some practice jamming. There's some aggro-old timey hillbilly rockin' later on with a feral yelper, someone attacking a twangy guitar and random harmonica interruptions. The first side features a lengthy sample of some guy gushing about his obscure photography magazine collection (or something; he mentions Tonya Harding for some reason at one point) while the Bears add odd snippets of electronic music around the source recording. It's one of my favorite moments on the tape because there's this connection forged between the two oddities, the person in the recording and the people making this recording. This unfortunately lapses into grating dry heaves into the microphone. This is the Cave Bears world, a violent shifting back and forth between something cool and weird and something annoying and weird.
The B-side is full of junk shop dumbassery. Someone sings about a "horror world" and then someone half sings that "murdering is really cool" over a reggae song. This devolves into someone asking "was anyone at the Strange Maine show?" At another point they try singing about a "dragon crystal magic motion" and the "confusion." Aware of the ridiculousness of this whole ordeal one person asks "Where'd the reggae go? Bring back the reggae." The reggae isn't brought back. It just continues to play very quietly. Is this something you want to listen to? That is a question you will have to answer for yourself.
It's hard to categorize this tape because Cave Bears is a band that makes music that loosely resembles songs (except when they're hanging out chatting about whatever enters their minds.) There's almost always guitar, drums and vocals, yet as a creative entity they have no regard for the way you're "supposed" to make songs. Songs are often cut short or interrupted by snagged tape, the singers just say whatever comes to mind, the guitars provide no hooks or melodies, the rhythm section doesn't keep perfect time. It's the kind of thing that some people view as not knowing how you're supposed to play an instrument and others would view as not caring how you're supposed to play an instrument. Some people probably don't see a distinction between the two.
How much I enjoy a Cave Bears release depends on my mood. Sometimes their all-nonsense rock is a lot of bizarre fun. Other times it's an abrasive and generous bestower of headaches. I personally think they could use an editor to put together all the good stuff on a c15 instead of spreading the good stuff over the course of 52 minutes, because this tape did not need to be 52 minutes long. If you do make it through the whole tape though you are rewarded with a nails-on-the-chalkboard cover of "House of the Rising Sun."
Cave Bears... they're one of those bands you either love or you hate, or you think they're okay.
Tragic Ceremony features awesome artwork, kudos to Arnau Sala and his Ozonokids label out in Barcelona.