Its called Wipeout...WHY DON'T YOU SHUTUP ?
June 1, 2009 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Alan Vega live... It's not Billy Idol, Elvis, or Springsteen, its just Alan Vega and "Its called Wipeout...why don't you shut up"
posted by celerystick (34 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Vega thread! If you haven't heard the Endless album done with the guys from Pan Sonic, go find it. YouTube has a few of the tracks up (ignore the kooky user made video).
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is simply pathetic.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:00 PM on June 1, 2009

Pan Sonic = GOD, at least judging from their awesome tracks from clicks_+_cuts. Thanks, Burhanistan—checking that out now…
posted by koeselitz at 11:14 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seekerofsplendor: This is simply pathetic.

No, pathetic is not being able to follow a simple, helpful piece of advice even when it's given to you in the post title.
posted by koeselitz at 11:16 PM on June 1, 2009

(pumps fist with crazy long mullet, outrageous facial hair, and rockin leather bar gear)
posted by autodidact at 11:25 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vega really managed to capture some kind of distilled essence of preening pop stars like those mentioned in the post title, and reduce it further into the absurdity that it was. I wonder if Vega was ever in the same postal code as Frank Tovey or if that would have caused some kind of blackhole.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:31 PM on June 1, 2009

From the same set.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:33 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another from that set, which seemed like the best concert in the world in 1983, and much better video quality. and I'll go to bed now
posted by Burhanistan at 11:39 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd classify him as both a "performnace artist" AND a pioner of electronica, and basically one strange seeming man. There are some tics going on with him pun intended.
posted by celerystick at 11:42 PM on June 1, 2009

I came in here to mention the albums with Pan Sonic. I was beaten. Oh well.

I fucking love the first two Suicide records, and it was this love that compelled me to pay to see them play at Emo's in Austin 8 or 9 years ago. It was like watching a Suicide cartoon - two middle aged guys acting tough and grimacing at the audience set to the backdrop of Rev's crappy department store keyboards. It was terrible and it was great. It was Suicide.
posted by item at 11:43 PM on June 1, 2009


This is what Tim and Eric got inspired by? Something about the way he pauses makes me think of Casey Tatum or something.
posted by symbioid at 11:47 PM on June 1, 2009

Do you have to be French to get that?
posted by facetious at 12:11 AM on June 2, 2009

Okay, now, I understand that the notion that Alan Vega is “pathetic” deserves some more response than a witty jibe, so here we go:

Alan Vega and a guy named Martin Rev started a band called Suicide in the early 1970s. Nobody's heard of them now; this is pretty understandable, since they were pretty much about as “unlistenable” (that's what you mean by 'pathetic,' right, Seekerofsplendor?) as the linked track above is. Do me a favor and watch this video of Alan and Martin performing their song “Ghost Rider” in '77 or '78. Okay, yes: you can't tell what Alan's screaming; he's not even really screaming, he's making strange, foreign shrieking noises that don't even approach coherence. And that keyboard, man, well, Martin's just plunking away, repetitive rhythms, droning “melodies” (if you can call three notes played in sequence a hundred times a melody) that hardly get off the ground.

Yeah, I know. 'Geez,' you're thinking to yourself: 'I could just as well be listening to my washing machine.'

Good. Now you're starting to get it.

Next listen to some Suicide that's a bit more advanced as far as quality and as far as depth and difficulty: here is a video of Alan and Marty in 1980. I can't tell you what song it is; I don't really know. All I know is that this noise, this driving, soaring wail that lacks the structure and stricture of what we've always called “music” constitutes a different listening experience than ordinary music. You don't have the thrill of recognition at the understanding of a lyric and a harmonic pattern that is familiar to you, as you almost always do when you hear a song; you recognize whatever harmonic pattern there is almost immediately, but it's so spare that your ear looks for something else and finds only Alan Vega's vocal stabs, lacking melody or lyrical rhythm and yet (if you listen closely enough) careful and well-thought. And suddenly your ear is caught up in a pullulation, a moment when something like order or rationality or reason emerges from the haze.

Sister Ray Says (cover of Velvet Underground, 1981)
Girl (1977)

See, Suicide was different from the others, different from Television and Patti Smith and the Ramones and Richard Hell and all the rest; these American punk bands, as great as they were and as beautiful as I believe their music was, came to deconstruct, to tear apart with the goal of building something better. This project is not an unworthy one. However, Suicide did not intend to build something—that became obvious after listening to the first ten seconds of their first song, when the listener slowly woke up to the fact that they weren't going to fall into a melody, the drums weren't going to pick up, the guitars weren't going to start riffing…they were just gonna keep doing what they were doing. And it was clear, once the newness wore off, that it wasn't an intentionally dissonant sound they were making; plenty of punk bands set out purely to create music that was hard to listen to in an enjoyable or engaging way, but Suicide didn't make songs that were painful, per se; they were only repetitive, and even this repetition became almost soothing in its way…in the same way, in fact, that the sound of your washing machine could be soothing.

Burhanistan mentioned Pan Sonic up above; Pan Sonic are a member of a small movement known as 'glitch music.' Glitch music generally sounds, well, like it sounds when your CD player skips, only slightly more soothing and musical. Anyhow, the glitch movement takes its cue from Luigi Russolo's 1913 Futurist manifesto “The Art of Noise:” (emphasis mine)
For many years Beethoven and Wagner shook our nerves and hearts. Now we are satiated and we find far more enjoyment in the combination of the noises of trams, backfiring motors, carriages and bawling crowds than in rehearsing, for example, the “Eroica” or the “Pastoral.”

We cannot see that enormous apparatus of force that the modern orchestra represents without feeling the most profound and total disillusion at the paltry acoustic results. Do you know of any sight more ridiculous than that of twenty men furiously bent on the redoubling the mewing of a violin? All this will naturally make the music-lovers scream, and will perhaps enliven the sleepy atmosphere of concert halls. Let us now, as Futurists, enter one of these hospitals for anaemic sounds. There: the first bar brings the boredom of familiarity to your ear and anticipates the boredom of the bar to follow. Let us relish, from bar to bar, two or three varieties of genuine boredom, waiting all the while for the extraordinary sensation that never comes.

Meanwhile a repugnant mixture is concocted from monotonous sensations and the idiotic religious emotion of listeners buddhistically drunk with repeating for the nth time their more or less snobbish or second-hand ecstasy.

Away! Let us break out since we cannot much longer restrain our desire to create finally a new musical reality, with a generous distribution of resonant slaps in the face, discarding violins, pianos, double-basses and plainitive organs. Let us break out!

It's no good objecting that noises are exclusively loud and disagreeable to the ear.

It seems pointless to enumerate all the graceful and delicate noises that afford pleasant sensations.

To convince ourselves of the amazing variety of noises, it is enough to think of the rumble of thunder, the whistle of the wind, the roar of a waterfall, the gurgling of a brook, the rustling of leaves, the clatter of a trotting horse as it draws into the distance, the lurching jolts of a cart on pavings, and of the generous, solemn, white breathing of a nocturnal city; of all the noises made by wild and domestic animals, and of all those that can be made by the mouth of man without resorting to speaking or singing.

Let us cross a great modern capital with our ears more alert than our eyes, and we will get enjoyment from distinguishing the eddying of water, air and gas in metal pipes, the grumbling of noises that breathe and pulse with indisputable animality, the palpitation of valves, the coming and going of pistons, the howl of mechanical saws, the jolting of a tram on its rails, the cracking of whips, the flapping of curtains and flags. We enjoy creating mental orchestrations of the crashing down of metal shop blinds, slamming doors, the hubbub and shuffling of crowds, the variety of din, from stations, railways, iron foundries, spinning wheels, printing works, electric power stations and underground railways...
See? Though I don't think he knew about this manifesto, this is precisely what Iggy Pop was talking about in this interview with Dinah Shore in 1977 when he responded to a question about his musical influences by talking about the sounds of big cars, factories and electric razors. Yes, these things can be comforting and soothing—and dramatic, and soaring, and primal, and beautiful.

Suicide makes very beautiful music. And Alan Vega deserves the name “visionary.”
posted by koeselitz at 12:13 AM on June 2, 2009 [32 favorites]

That's how you do it.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:15 AM on June 2, 2009

Thanks for this, celerystick.
posted by koeselitz at 12:26 AM on June 2, 2009

OK, that was weird, I think I kind of get it now.
posted by facetious at 12:27 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have the live CD on which the audience steal Alan's microphone when Suicide are performing at some European punk event.
A cheap tape recorder captured a show in Belgium and preserved the sound of Suicide provoking a full-scale riot just by attempting to play their material during a support slot for Elvis Costello. With each song the crowd audibly become more agitated finally exploding during "Frankie Teardrop" stealing Vega's mike and leaving him to scream "Shut the fuck up! This is about Frankie!" before exiting the stage to boos, catcalls and cheers. This incredible recording eventually saw the light of day as an 'official bootleg' flexi disc entitled "23 Minutes Over Brussels"(1978) and ranks alongside Iggy and the Stooges "Metallic KO" (1976) as a superb document of an act desperately attempting to triumph in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Punks didn't seem to get it.
Their lack of drummer and guitarist was seen by many audiences as an open attempt to insult them, that somehow this duo was not and could never be a 'real' band. As a result, Suicide's appearance was nearly always greeted by a constant rain of phlegm and bottles when ever they took to the stage. Alan Vega had his nose broken during one UK gig an event that would have forced a more timid artist to flee but Vega and Rev had cut their teeth in the performance arts and used any confrontation to stir up their audiences as much as they possibly could, believing that this all added to the unique nature of their show.
Suicide were very influential years after their second album, which could also be expressed as being ahead of their time. Head of David covered Rocket USA in 1986 and Andrew Weatherall's Sabres of Paradise label had a Suicide obsession in the early '90s. There are also some more well known names who were Suicide fans.
Also, thanks koeselitz and celerystick.
posted by asok at 3:24 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

the splendour that can be sought is not the true splendour.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:49 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

(which is my way of saying: more Vega / Suicide threads, please!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:49 AM on June 2, 2009

Suicide are fantastic. Repetition raised to a high art.
posted by vbfg at 4:03 AM on June 2, 2009

In 1986 Alan Vega collaborated with Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy on the 'Gift' album, released under the name of 'The Sisterhood'.

shit, i never knew that!

*goes digging through vinyl*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:37 AM on June 2, 2009

I feel compelled to mention briefly my favorite Suicide-influenced band, that superb Manchester trio, Cabaret Voltaire:

Sluggin For Jesus [1980]
Yashar [1981]
Nag Nag Nag [1982]
Seconds Too Late [1982]
Sensoria [1984]
Kino [1985]
Big Funk [1985]
Crackdown [1985]
Ghostalk [1985]
Sleepwalking [1985]
I Want You [1985]
posted by koeselitz at 5:05 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

koese, it might have been a bit better if you could have found some pre 1980 cabs to link to, as that sound is a little closer to what the vega video was. stuff like 'secret agent man', for example. of course, i couldn't find any.
posted by lester at 5:49 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Right on. Is this only the 2nd Suicide post on the blue?

I can't stop listening to "I Remember," "Keep Your Dreams" and "Harlem" these days. Suicide were absolute visionaries who made timeless music.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:34 AM on June 2, 2009

Alan Vega's self titled LP was the best $1 I have ever spent at a stoop sale.

I put Jukebox Babe on a mix for a friend recently and he mentioned that I put too much "world music" on it-- thinking that Alan Vega had to be some kind of sad not-American Elvis impersonator. Nope. He's the kind of American that makes me most proud!

Great post!

Martin Rev's solo albums are also pretty super!
posted by activitystory at 7:21 AM on June 2, 2009

Suicide was a big influence on Spacemen 3 (which beget Spiritualized and others) -- they've even played together a fair bit and you'll occasionally hear them name-check Alan Vega and Martin Rev.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 7:45 AM on June 2, 2009

i looked up a reference to their 2000/2001 performance on New Year's Eve at the Knitting Factory in NY.

* SUICIDE, PAN SONIC, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, TriBeCa, (212) 219-3006. A singer (Alan Vega), a keyboardist (Martin Rev) and a relentlessly mechanical drum machine made up Suicide, the punk-era band that can now call itself a pioneer of electronica and industrial rock. On its albums, just reissued, Suicide's songs are robotic updates of rockabilly, garage rock and the Doors. It used to play its repetitive riffs until the audience rebelled; now there's more tolerance and humor on both sides. Pan Sonic, sharing the bill, is a deeply minimalistic duo from Finland that layers electronic clicks, whooshes and blips into crisp, slowly evolving mechanized meditations. D.J. Otefsu, better known as the noise-rocker Foetus or Jim Thirwell, plays music between sets. On New Year's Eve, doors open at 8:30; Pan Sonic appears at 10, followed by Suicide at 11:15.

One of the best fucking shows I've ever seen.

Suicide's performances are pretty well described already but i'm going to take a stab at describing Pan Sonic as "OSCILLATOR IMPROV."

Two guys stand on the stage with their separate sets of primitive oscillator patchbays, distortion and delay effects, and maybe a really early drum machine or sequencer (i don't really know what i'm talking about.) the sounds emitted at deafening volume from the separate setups are altered slightly as the expert turning of knobs slowly take the droning analog synth wave patterns in different shapes and beats before converging then diverging again.

the result is an unreproducible pulse/drone/feedback/throb that is constantly evolving at the hands of the performers. and trust me i've played with "turning knobs," what they do takes skill and taste. i've seen hordes of would-be noise mechanics try their hand at doing something similar. Pan Sonic are the real thing.

Here is a great place to start reading about Pan Sonic. Records mostly distributed by Blast First/Mute.

Anyway one last note -- I saw an ONEIDA side project that was just the drummer and keyboardist, and they FURIOUSLY riffed on Rocket USA for something like twenty minutes to finish off a set and by they end they were all-out SPENT. And those guys have stamina... they were going for repetitive transcendence. I'll never see anything like it again.
posted by Hammond Rye at 8:01 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Holy craps, Suicide, Pan Sonic, AND Thirwell all at the same event? Whatever I was actually doing that night was COMPLETELY INCORRECT, and I wish I had known better.

and Cabaret Voltaire comes on shuffle, like it was on cue
posted by FatherDagon at 9:36 AM on June 2, 2009

I was wondering when Foetus would show up in this thread...
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:55 PM on June 2, 2009

In similar sonic territory, check out Bruce Gilbert's solo work (Gilbert was/is the guitarist for Wire). The Shivering Man is about the only bit I could find on YouTube but that album is more instrumental than electronic (though very interesting anyway). "Insiding" and "Ab Ovo" are top notch.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on June 2, 2009

Ah, and here's some bonus Dome for you (again ignore the horrid user made video). If you don't have the four Dome albums plus the 8 Time compilation then your record collection is simply utter shite.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:27 PM on June 2, 2009

For those still watching this thread, you can download Pan Sonic & Alan Vega's "Endless" for a measly $1.53.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:40 PM on June 4, 2009

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