Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I've been listening to a lot of 90's US indie over the past couple of weeks, more specifically Sebadoh and it's weird, In that time Egypt's own Dr Evil has stepped down and the ever stylish and entertaining king of Libya also appears to be on his way out. A butterfly flaps it's wings in London...

Who knew the true awesome power of Lou Barlow's lo-fi love-torn cries?

Work commute soundtrack aside I managed to indulge in a very interesting compare and contrast experiment last week.

I took it upon myself to answer that age-old question:

Who would win in a fight between Noah Howard's 'The Black Ark' and the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory? Okay so in the end it turned into more of a Pepsi challenge than a no-holds barred Ultimate FightingTM cage-fight kind of fight but either way the results were interesting.

Ladies and gentlemen in the blue corner all the way from New Orleans, the dark destroyer, free-jazz heavy weight Noah Howard's 'Black Ark'! And in the red corner weighing in at approximately 120grams the soundtrack to Gene Wilder's magnum opus 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'.

Obviously it would have been tough for me to judge this one myself, I have a lot of emotional baggage attached to both records which would make it impossible to be an impartial judge of the proceedings. This is why I have employed the help of Ren mystery kid and all round awesome midget person...

So. 'Black Ark' starts out okay. We like the drums. Then the skronking starts and our resident judge looks a little perturbed. He manages to sit through the first side without breaking into tears but about two minutes into 'Mount Fuji' the first track on side 2 he starts to panic. At first it sounds like he's trying to sing along but in no time at all his wailing is evident. I manage to settle him down sufficiently to sit through the rest of the album but as 'Queen Anne' comes to a close it's not looking like a good night in the ring for free-jazz.

As a side I bought this from The Sound Library in New York. The Sound Library has now closed.

'Willy Wonka' crackles to life and straight away I can tell he thinks this is in a different league. Is it the instrumentation, the candy-coated lyrics or Gene Wilders creepy but caring voice? All I know is he likes this. 'Pure Imagination' flows into 'The Candy Man', then 'Cheer Up Charlie' and straight into 'I Got a Golden Ticket'. Punch after punch it flows like a greatest hits album. In fact it's only the 'Oompa Loompa' songs and interludes that stop this from being a stone cold hit for the judge.

As it is every time they start he has a face of fear, a look of confusion and this is understandable. There was always something wrong about the Oompa Loompas. They were a bit 'rapey', Funny haired orange-faced fuck monsters, dressed like painter and decorators in an attempt to distract you from their true modus operandi - Oompa Loompa's don't want to put up your flock wallpaper, they want to set fire to you and eat you.

Despite this there is a clear winner and it's sadly it's not Noah Howard.

Admittedly unsurprising results correlated and published I can now go back to wondering about the true power of 90's American indie rock. Could Sebadoh really be used as a sonic weapon in the global war against oppression? Could we explore Mars if we were able to successfully harness the power used in the recording of 'Bubble and Scrape'? I just wish I hadn't played Yo La Tengo on the way to work as that may or may not have caused a catastrophic earthquake in New Zealand.

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