Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Panic! At the Discography: Gasp

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
1971


Gasp
An Earwig's Guide to Traveling: Collected Vinyl and Unreleased Tracks 1996-1999
Avant Garde Farm
2005

Gasp were fuckin' weird. That's the first thing you need to know. Like Melvins-level weird. They had an album called Drome Triler of Puzzle Zoo People and stage names like Professor Cantaloupe, ferfuckssake. You try to tell me what that's even supposed to mean. But their very weirdness was this SoCal "psychedelic power violence" band's greatest asset: an outre attitude that set them far (FAR!) outside the musical boxes erected by their mid-90s contemporaries (bassist Cynthia got more conventional when she went on to Despise You). Unlike the lightspeed hardcore of the day, Gasp brought a more brooding brand of sludgy noise to the power violence plate and they took their goddamned time about getting there. They mixed up Man is the Bastards bass bludgeoning with weird burbling noises, random jazz freakouts, manipulated tape insanity and other oddities. If Swans had been a power violence band then Soundtracks for the Blind probably would have sounded something like this retrospective. The most beautiful part of An Earwig's Guide to Traveling is that it doesn't feel like a discography record. There's a seamlessness and an intention to Gasp's oddity that stitches together all 65 minutes into a single psychedelic trip, making it the rare discography that feels like a unified album experience. Where Man is the Bastard tried to reconcile man and nature through low slung bass and screeching effects, Gasp were on a trip straight to your pineal gland and if their weird samples and soothing tape loops couldn't lull you into a trance, they would break on through to the other side using brute force. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to hear that The Endless Blockade have Gasp records stashed in their collection because the Canadian power violence revivalists see to be operating on the same cosmic wavelength. While An Earwig's Guide to Traveling is a slow starter, those with the patience to synch to its vibe will find themselves transported, as though all of the songs were written and recorded of a piece rather than trickled out as splits and 7-inches over the course of half a decade. Too weird to live at the time, Gasp's power violence excursions have survived the band's death as new generation's connoisseurs turn on, tune in and freak out.

5 comments:

Kevin said...

Mike from Gravehill was in GASP too!

One of my favorite bands, and a big influence but it might not show.

Prof Cantaloupe has some things going on:
http://www.ngwtt.com/prof.htm
http://kboo.fm/node/8517
http://www.myspace.com/magneticbrown

DesiccatedVeins said...

Gasp was so excellent. I'm always bummed that there's not a comparable band to listen to after I'm done listening to Gasp. I just have to listen to Gasp and more Gasp until I don't feel like listening to something like Gasp anymore.

Also Gravehill's a sick band I always forget about. I would not have suspected that they shared members.

DesiccatedVeins said...

One of Professor Cantaloupe's songs is called "Hold Me Closer Tony Danza." That's the funniest thing I've ever heard and now I have "Tiny Dancer" stuck in my head. [PS Never use the thing where it reads the Captcha to you. That is the scariest thing that I've ever heard.]

kanchan tyagi said...

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DesiccatedVeins said...

Hahahaha, what an awesomely weird spambot.