Red Krayola – Parable of Arable Land 10.0

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Giu 15 2010, 4:17

Mayo Thompson is the man and I can’t state that hard enough. Here’s a guy, who, in the late 1960s, was not only politely asked not to play in Berkeley, he was given money not to do so ($10). Apparently he freaked out the hippies too much. Anybody who is too weird for the acid fried social refugees is a friend of mine. And it wasn’t like this was a one-off; he made some pretty excellent albums after his first one. But this one rocks like no other. Even as I play this, I see a fly buzz around drunkenly around the speakers, disoriented by the sound emanating from within. This is clearly a good sign.

Now we’re treated to an instant barrage of the most indulgent of noise, which are called “Free Form Freakouts” for our reference. Don’t worry; the name delivers. Each one of these freakouts consists of 50 people or so getting together and making random noise. For one of them, a girl tries to keep a beat by rubbing two matchsticks, but fails in her attempt to bring structure to this rollicking chaos. Titled songs don’t fare much better, but do appear to have some loose structure.

Lyrically, it is hilarious. “Eating babies for nourishment”, “I got in my pocket a hurricane fighter plane” are among some of the funnier moments, but not limited to these. His delivery has a smart-ass attitude towards it, which probably blew away his audiences (he dressed extremely conservatively usually with a tie and at least vest to further fuck with heads).

At no point do you think these guys know how to play that well. That’s part of the fun, how crazed and incompetent it is. Later on, you’ll have Jad Fair and all those others doing similar things, but he started it to some degree. Instead of being intent on coherent songs, Parable focuses on fun and losing its mind. Parts of this do get somewhat graspable, in a perfect world “Hurricane Fighter Plane” would’ve become a top 40 hit.

What’s amazing about this huge amount of energy, general incoherence, and freaked out craziness is how little attention they got at the time. Blown off as a bunch of druggies, they unfortunately didn’t stay around along enough to make a huge amount of music together, though Mayo recycled the band’s name through numerous permutations. Even now, when LCD Soundsystem did their pissing contest of a song “Losing my Edge” these guys didn’t get a glance, despite another kooky member (Captain Beefheart) getting an honorable mention.

Listen to all the way through and watch it suck you in. For a few months, I surrendered myself to this unstable beast of an album and only listened to this. And I’m not referring to the length, it’s a short album, but it demands a lot. You have to throw usual requirements like technical expertise, hooks, and any bit of normalcy out the window. Once you hear it, you cannot forget it; it is a true trip in the greatest and best sense of the word. Parts of this will stick with you for some unforeseen period of time, perhaps the rest of your weird life.

This spawned so many great musical movements from it; you can hear bits of indie rock, industrial, noise, etc in its weird meanderings. But if you give it a chance, you’ll see exactly how brilliant this all was. And why Mayo Thompson is the coolest man on the damn planet.

Mayo Thompson
Red Krayola
Captain Beefheart
Jad Fair
Losing My Edge

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