“Guide to Bizarre Behavior Vol. 2

So are you a label or an artist, ShanGORIL La Records? I must know. I have very little patience for research (as everybody should be aware of by now), so if my gratification is not instant and hand-delivered, I say good day. But here’s the thing: I can’t just say good day to you, ShanGORIL La Records, because Guide to Bizarre Behavior Vol. 2, the follow-up to the first entry by that name, obviously, is too weird and engaging to pass off with an annoyed shrug directed at my own ignorance. ShanGORIL La Records, I think you’re the one I’ve been searching for all my life…

Well, at least since the dissolution of the late, great The Fire Show. Anyone remember The Fire Show? Their music felt like it was piped in from another planet, with the vocals hovering over the music as if the two had barely been composed by the same people. It was exciting and new, intoxicating and full of possibility. I get the same feeling from ShanGORIL La Records, here represented on tape as the trio of Brian Bromberg, Suzy Creamcheese, and Ray Bong (but not Ray Dawn Bong). (And yeah, anybody who makes weird music and references Zappa is aces in my book.)

What sets these crazy cats apart is that they’re clearly trying to make music accessible in a pop way, but they’re running it through some Picasso-esque scramble filter and applying a thick sheen of Zappa-esque psychedelic humor. (There’s ol’ Frank again.) No two songs sound the same, and some feel like sketches instead of true songs. All of it combines into a wild, uncompromising whole, with surprises and unexpected detours appearing almost constantly. The whole thing, actually, feels like a surprise detour into some kind of space madness. It’s hard not to get the Lewis Carroll jitters when the vocalist (Brian?) bellows in an affected accent, “Justin Timberlake is my butler!” So it doesn’t matter whether this tape is a manifestation of the record label or a song cycle by a collective intent to mess with my head (just like Coconut Records – Jason Schwartzman, you bastard!), I can’t escape its magnetism. It’s like the donkey on the cover is stepping on my neck while I listen, and not letting me up! (Not that I want to get up, I’m comfortable.)

--Ryan Masteller