MP3 Bite the Wax Tadpole - Turn Me On, Dead Man
Bite the Wax Tadpole: mind-melting soundtracks for movies in your head, combining whupass guitar rock; avant-garde free improv; loop-based electronica; spiky modernism; fiendishly intricate postmodern folk tunes; and spoken-word narratives.
17 MP3 Songs in this album (69:02) !
Related styles: SPOKEN WORD: With Music, ROCK: Psychedelic
People who are interested in Tom Waits Shriekback Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band should consider this download.
Formed by Mark Dery and Darren Smith in 1985, in New York City, Bite the Wax Tadpole was in some ways symptomatic of ‘80s information anxiety: taking its name from the mangled tagline of a Chinese ad campaign for Coke, the duo sprang from the homebrew cassette revolution and NYC’s downtown music scene. Although BTWT played East Village art-club gigs (with Sophie B. Hawkins sitting in on drums), the group mostly toured Smith’s Jersey City bedroom, composing and recording songs—soundtracks for mental movies, more accurately—on a four-track tape deck.
“Ever since childhood, I’ve always wanted to make music that defies categorization,” says Smith. “Mark’s spoken-word stuff was not quite poetry, not quite rap, not quite prose, and—while reminiscent of Laurie Anderson—totally unique. He was the Rex Harrison of the avant-garde (that’s a compliment!) and, in his willingness to bend genres, a kindred spirit. Soon, with Mark telling stories and me exploring every instrument at my disposal—hexaphonic guitar, cornet, balalaika, dumbek, banjo, fuzz vocals, and amplified Cheeto munching—we were collaborating feverishly.”
This was music made by men in small rooms, with all the twitchy-eyed, Lee Harvey Oswald intensity that implies. Smith, a guitar, trumpet, and synth virtuoso who had studied South Indian vocal music, Balinese gamelan, and electric banjo (with Peter Tork of The Monkees!), proved an ideal foil for Dery, a chronic word-aholic whose spoken-word performances were somewhere between William S. Burroughs’s deadpan monologues and Jack Nicholson’s scenery-chewing rants in The Shining. The landmarks on Smith’s mental map ranged from Bartok to Bollywood, Ice Cube to Meredith Monk, Barton Fink to Godel, Escher, Bach; Dery’s foremost influences were Burroughs, Paul Bowles, and J.G. Ballard. Together, the pair made music full of dark humor and quantum weirdness, with a dream logic all its own.
The group released two titles—Between You, Me and the Lamprey (1988) and O.D. on Bourgeoisie Boy Milk (1990)—on the underground cassette-only label Sound of Pig, garnering college-radio airplay and critical accolades: “wonderfully funny...a wild and wooly trip through bizarre minds” (Factsheet Five); “stunningly original and disturbing” (Option); “a masterpiece...a uniquely bizarre little gem” (Ear). In the early ‘90s, BTWT recorded an album’s worth of material (much of which appears here) with Lower East Side scenemakers Elliott Sharp, Christian Marclay, Yuval Gabay (of Soul Coughing), and Samm Bennett (of Chunk).
Turn Me On, Dead Man—the title is taken from the backwards-masked phrase supposedly lurking in The Beatles’ “Revolution 9”—anthologizes the best of Bite the Wax Tadpole’s early years.
“We were musically omnivorous,” says Dery, “mashing up ideas borrowed from garage-sale oddities and our own overheated imaginations—hip-hop, Led Zep, musique concrete, obscure ethnographic recordings like The Bororo World of Sound, unintentionally hilarious LPs like this 1950s’ instructional record called A Man’s Work, (‘The World of Men. The World of Work. It’s big. And it’s got all kinds.’) But we weren’t just another cut-and-paste collage band. I was writing these voiceovers for imaginary movies—not really poetry, but not exactly songs, either—and Darren was composing these mind-melting soundtracks that encompassed whupass guitar rock; avant-garde free improv; loop-based electronica; spiky modernism; and fiendishly intricate postmodern folk tunes, showcasing his two-handed tapping and hot-rodded Hexaphonic guitar. Our connection was damn near telepathic. It was a marriage made on Mars.”
Twenty-odd years later, he and Dery are still pushing the conceptual envelope, says Smith. “Looking back on Bite the Wax Tadpole’s golden years, I’m proud of what we did, especially in light of the conformity of the Reagan era," says Smith. "And we had a fucking blast doing it.”
Five Reasons You MUST Order a Copy of Turn Me On, Dead Man :
1. Sixty-nine minutes (and two seconds!) of chewy nougat and chocolate-y goodness. It’s flavoriffic!
2. A six-page CD booklet, printed on high-quality paper, overstuffed with lyrics and commentary on the disk’s 17 songs, and featuring the ironic yet insouciant graphic design of Carlos Morera. Buy this stunningly designed artifact of the Late Caligulan phase of the Bush imperium for Morera’s work alone; sell it on eBay a decade from now, when your 401k has turned to ash and you’re spending your retirement as a minimum-wage barista at Starbuck’s.
3. Bite the Wax Tadpole builds Vocabulary Power! Can you define “magnificat,” soldier? How about “skirl”? Or “trepan”? Or “lancet”? This is the only CD intended to be listened to with a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary handy. The only collection of https://www.tradebit.com? songs that includes a tune about a febrifuge. (Look it up, sailor. Or you could just…buy the CD!)
4. Forget Cultural Literacy; Turn Me On, Dead Man contains enough grad-student literary allusions, obscure historical references, smartypants wordplay, knowing riffs on pop culture, and deadpan meta-whatever to give Jacques Derrida a spastic colon.
5. Where else can you hear a full-tilt rocker about a tyrannical boss who thunders, “You’re gonna be a dissected crayfish, and I’m gonna be the man in surgeon’s greens wiping your entrails across my lapels”? A bizarre monologue by a worker on some David Lynchian assembly line (or is it a slaughterhouse?) that churns out an unspeakable product involving creatures with “sucking discs on the tops of their heads”? A musical suicide note, narrated by the Nazi nudnik Rudolph Hess? A techno elegy about the sinking of the Titanic, set to a sampled loop and sung by the ship itself (”A prunefaced corpse, his features blurring, sits crosslegged on the ceiling of my ballroom, warming his hands by the chandelier”)? We’re just saying…