Bonjour, guten tag, aloha, konnichi wa, nook-neck (that’s Klingon) and finally hello! Welcome to this exciting and enlightening new column; a global exposition taking in all of Earth’s four corners searching for and unearthing the best in underground, alternative, weird and wonderful music. Think of me as a kind of sexy explorer and educator; music journalism’s equivalent to Indiana Jones, or Dora the Explorer.

For our first stop on this world tour of music’s criminally under-exposed, we’re heading to the Far East – Japan to be precise, and Osaka if you want to be even more precise. The group in question are a beat-pilfering mash-up collective, the incomparable, inexplicable, Satanicpornocultshop.

Now, a name like that might come loaded with a few preconceptions, causing a few words to pop into your brain: weird, noisy, abrasive – probably some sort of death metal band, you might think. Well Satanicpornocultshop is all of these things, and none of them. Well, except weird. They are most definitely a bit weird.

Formed in 1997 by the duo of Alan Folkroe and Ghammehuche (not their real names, I suspect) Satanicpornocultshop operate according to Levi Strauss’s concept of bricolage – making creative use of whatever materials are at hand. Mashing up samples, in layman’s terms. While they are most often referred to as a hip-hop act, their style is actually spread pretty liberally across many genres; incorporating J-pop, drum & bass, balladry, metal, electro, folk, bhangra, indie and everything in-between.

They released their debut album, 'Nirvana or Lunch?' on their own Nu Nulax Nulan label in 1998, quickly followed by their third album 'Baltimore 72' in 1999, which was released before their second album 'Belle E
xcentrique', which arrived the following year. Confusingly.

In 2001, Folkroe left the group and Ghammehuche brought in four new members to replace him, with even stranger names – Meu-Meu, *es, Vinylman and Ugh (who provides much of the MCing to be found in SPCS’s output, along with a plethora of electronic tinkerings). This was the line-up for fourth album, 2002’s 'Ugh Yoing', once again a self-released effort.

Since then, the group have released six more albums on various labels around the world (including two this year – the unpronounceable 'Arkhaiomelisidonophunikheratos 'on UK label Some Bizarre and 'Catholic Sunspot Apron', once again on their own Nu Nulax Nulan) as well as various EPs and appearances on numerous compilations, including Wire magazine’s 'Wire Tapper 10'. The band has also lost and gained members, losing Meu-Meu and Ghammehuche, but gaining vocalist Lisa, MC Frozen Pine and keyboardist Nakagawa aka Liftman.

In the thirteen years and ten albums that Satanicpornocultshop has existed, the band’s method and sound has become both more expansive and increasingly refined, with their more recent records mixing their weirder elements almost seamlessly with their more accessible pop melodies. Across their discography, many songs pop up more than once in different forms – remixed, re-jigged, or just smashed to pieces and put together in a completely new order.

One of the most notable aspects of SPCS’s output is their propensity to cover popular western hits – from classics like the Velvet Underground’s ‘Candy Says’, throw-away one-hit wonders like ‘Paradise’ by forgotten early-noughties popster Kaci Battaglia (although according to Wikipedia she’s releasing her fourth album this year!!?!?!?!) to probably one of my favourite ever cover versions; their faultless interpretation of Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Your Freak On’ (renamed ‘Pinky’ in this incarnation).

Satanicpornocultshop’s music is probably most easily interpreted by looking at their album artwork – their record covers most commonly feature portraits of beautiful women, which have been photoshopped, added to and subtracted from to create hideous and disturbing collage monsters. Their covers are at once striking, unusual, beautiful and frightening, and that’s probably as close a comparison as you could get to their sound.

Take the frankly brilliant 'Arkhaiomelisidonophunikheratos' for example; tracks like ‘Saddam Fed Bird While Jailed’, ‘Nido’ and ‘Comment Te Dire Adieu?’ could conceivably cross over to a mainstream audience (Well, the more experimental side of the mainstream anyway), while the weird electronic mind-fudge of tracks like ‘Custom Drum Destroyer’, ‘9 Headed Monster’ and ‘2 More Heads Sprouted!’ are about as far removed from the mainstream as it’s possible to get – but somehow these disparate styles come together on this album and not only work together, but compliment each other.

Somehow, this record works; from start to finish, as one whole piece, it all fits together. Just as the girl on the cover – who seems to be 90% hair, 7% animal and 3% actual woman – remains a recognizable and understandable form despite heavy manipulation, so this music works despite being sent through an electronic blender, stamped into a paste with a hip-hop boot and thrown against a wall to see what sticks.

Satanicpornocultshop is a rare gem, given time to grow and develop into the most glorious, glistening crystal, reading and waiting for your admiration. A good selection of their work is available easily on iTunes, otherwise you can order directly from their website at nunulaxnulan.biz. Bon appetit!







Related Links:




Commenting On: Satanicpornocultshop - Gimme Indie Rock!








ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment
 

19264 Posted By: Lisa (Chicago)

Hi Jamie,

I'm looking forward to your rocket ship's next international stop, but thanks for turning us on to this fascinating band.

Lisa


First Previous Next Last