crush and foam: Dalek and The Diskettes
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


So I'm only freshly returned from a near-three week foray into Slovenia, with a late stop in Venice. In Slovenia: sladoled, nyoki, caves and Alps. In Venice: thunderstorms, a regatta, canals canals canals. They are both beautiful places, and you ought to visit. More than once.

In my absence, I missed all sorts of things. Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service) told Wired magazine that he liked our blog. (Hi Ben! Please drop me an email if you are reading, as I would love to talk.) Okkervil River's Will Sheff wrote beautifully here about Tim Hardin. Dan and Jordan said graceful things about nice songs. New Orleans drowned. And then there's lots more, I suspect, particularly on other blogs, which you will have to point me to in the comments. My earliest glances show that Tuwa, in particular, has had a very busy few weeks.

I'm still in that reeling travelling limbo space, even after two days of work, so I'll write about two opposite songs.

Dalek - "Asylum (Permanent Underclass)". I saw Dalek live in Zagreb, last year, with my friends Oto, Tomislav and Petra. Oto's email seems broken, so I haven't talked to him since that week. There was snow on the ground, Croatians packed into KSET, and up on stage these American men with laptops, tattoos and a microphone. It was a swirling heave of noise - louder than anything I can remember, - a headache churn that you wanted to fall forward into. Dalek play gas giant hip-hop, iron dust hip-hop, haze and weight and an MC with nimble toes. His flow turns sideways and slips through the grit. He nods, points and spits at the sun.

"Asylum (Permanent Underclass)" is from this year's album, Absence. It's a song about imprisonment. There's drone and scream, cement clap drums, a bassline like a breadcrumb trail to livable life. There's also Dalek's voice, angry and totally certain. Amid the sonic squall it's Dalek who anchors us; whenever he speaks, we can breathe, we can listen. (It's scary when he gets diced and chopped, and when he goes away entirely.)

This isn't post-apocalyptic music. This is music from a time when we can still scream rage, demolish buildings, when we can still "combat". Words still have meaning.


The Diskettes - "How Bizarre". I scoffed then, but today I regret that I didn't go to the Electric Circus on the Rideau Canal ca. 1997, that I didn't do a teenaged dance on the ice. Who cares about intimidating twentysomethings in gelled hair and vinyl trousers. Who cares? OMC was playing and I would bet money, real money, that they played "How Bizarre". (What else would they play?) And even then, in secret, I loved that song.

So imagine my pleasant surprise that The Diskettes love it too. There's more than enough room for a bossanova version for "How Bizarre". This cover feels like it ought to precede, not follow, OMC's version. Paul Fuemana's lying on a beach in New Zealand, pissed off with his band, wishing for a hit, and in the bluesky sunshine he has dream. When he wakes, Maggie's percussion's in his ear, water on rocks, and there's a vague memory of Emily & Dave's harmonies. His dream was chaste, it was kind and very friendly, it promised kisses but did not kiss. So Fuemana sits on the sand and thinks of this sweetness, he thinks of the letter he just got from his friend in Melbourne, his friend who wrote "I miss you a lot" at the end, before the signature, he thinks about lyrics, and he laughs because he can only think of nonsense. But that's quite okay. "Freshly-pasted poster" almost feels like poetry. "How bizarre," he says to himself, giving it a drawl. (These are words he remembers.) He laughs again. "How bizaw / how bizaw." He nods.

[buy lots of Diskettes stuff by clicking the x on their website. "How Bizarre" is from a 90s tribute comp at Blod Records -- only $3 ppd!!]

Posted by Sean at September 8, 2005 1:45 PM

slovenia is absolutely beautiful. i was there for a week in october and i wish i could go back to explore more. nice dalek post by the way.

Posted by Jesse at September 8, 2005 2:50 PM

Thanks for the mention. [Looks around the place, notices it in horrible disarray] Funny how I seem to think of the shanty as cloistered--not fully public for some reason. Which is of course completely ridiculous.

You'll write more about your trip, I hope. ^_^

Good picks, as always.

Posted by Tuwa at September 9, 2005 11:53 AM

I enjoyed the little bit on Dalek, I saw them open for Isis a few years ago. I had never heard of them before, and was completely blown away.

Posted by piginthesnow at September 9, 2005 5:31 PM

Nice to see you've returned :D

Posted by Rich at September 10, 2005 7:29 PM

When I visited Australia and New Zealand in the summer of '96 (I believe that was the year), the tour bus we rode on played How Bizarre on repeat. For hours. On more than one day. The song is totally ruined for me (but I'll give The Diskettes' version a chance).

Posted by Lester at September 11, 2005 11:13 PM

Dave Barclay is my hero!

Posted by Christine at September 17, 2005 9:52 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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