“RestOfTheDrumTracks/DeadDrum” C30
(Uuhngreh Schpuggenuh)

At the recent Grammy Award ceremony, Kanye West said some remarkably stupid things about Beck winning Album of the Year over Beyoncé. Before you say “Who gives a big fat crap about the Grammys, or what Kanye West said at them?,” hold on, buckaroo! This isn’t about Kanye West in the slightest. This is about Kaleidoscope Death, a fucko-noise-folk butt-punk combo from North Carolina. They’ve released a kind of double-EP on B-more label Uuhngreh Schpuggenuh (and I canNOT believe I had to type that). It’s the one I’m reviewing right now. Check out the name above, and the link below. And then GET OFF MY BACK.

What’s this Grammy nonsense, you ask? Well, Kaleidoscope Death also had something to say following Beck’s Grammy win: “We, the members of Kaleidoscope Death, agree with Kanye West.” (What?! No!) “Yes. We believe that Beck should give his Grammy to Beyoncé. And then we DEMAND that all the awards given at the 1995 Grammys be given to Beck for his work on Stereopathetic Soulmanure. That means you, Tony Bennett, must relinquish your Album of the Year statue for MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett. Bruce Springsteen’s Song of the Year Grammy for “Streets of Philadelphia” should go to “Satan Gave Me a Taco.” Best New Artist, Sheryl Crow? No! Beck. And he should also get all the Grammys for all the other categories, including Children’s (The Lion King), Country Album (Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Stones in the Road), and Historical (The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks on Verve). Once this 1995 catastrophe is rectified, we could maybe start giving a shit about the more minor ills from this year that Kanye’s talking about.”

Wow. That wasn’t expected in the slightest. But it’s not exactly out of the blue either. Kaleidoscope Death owe a great deal of this tape’s listenability to Stereopathetic Soulmanure, an odd-and-ends compendium of crazy lo-fi experiments that’s also one of my favorite Beck recordings ever. So I’m pretty effing into what Kaleidoscope Death is doing on these EPs, since they embody the spirit of Beck’s earlier and punkier stuff in a very flattering way for both artists. (By the way, the title of side A comes from the fact that the drum tracks recorded for these songs were the last ones recorded that day. The second one has no real drums, but there’s some weird percussion on songs like “Sloppy Peeper.”)

These recordings are certainly more reminiscent of “Tasergun,” “Pink Noise,” and “Thunder Peel” than anything off Morning Phase. Songs like “Cardboard Skyline,” “Mr. Death,” and “Beans & Eyes” rock themselves to seasickness, thrashing and lurching almost without abandon, but with an acute sense that in their DNA lies a primordial tie to No Wave. (Hee hee – DNA.) There’s a silliness to KDeath’s tunes, sure, but they’re executed in the best experimental basement tape way, with lots of fuzz and hiss and grime, lots of dirty energy, and a willingness to work within the confines of their recording situation. Thus they emerge from their studio space (or crawlspace, or whatever) with a totally weirded-out but riotously listenable cassette, barfing forth from your speakers with sassiness and rigor. And the collection of “unique stuffings” appended to the J-card is a treasure trove of bizarro-ness – how did they know I was in the market for odd dress shirts from 1992? Remarkable! Produced in an edition of 25 (I’ve got #11). Kanye needs to respect this artistry – he should give his awards to Kaleidoscope Death.

--Ryan Masteller