Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician.

March 1987 saw the Butthole Surfers release their third studio album Locust Abortion Technician. It was a big step away from their 2nd album Rembrandt PussyhorseLocust Abortion Technician coupled with Hairway To Steven which was to follow in 1988 saw the band artistically peak. Albums 3 & 4 for the Butthole Surfers offered some of the most unusual, difficult and most out there records I have ever heard.

You could lump Butthole Surfers with Sonic Youth if you felt you needed too – but they do sound like no other band I’ve ever heard. It’s not easy listening but it is art in musical form. Heavyweight psychedelia, the sound of the late 80’s literally going stir crazy. It makes 60’s psychedelia sound diluted and tame. Post punk experimental genuine psych, the bands 3rd & 4th albums really need to be heard at least once. They are difficult to seperate – as in which one is the best album – it’s the dead heat to end all dead heats.

Sweet Loaf begins with a vocal play – and young boy asking “Daddy, what does regret mean?” The brief conversation plays out before ending with an echoed chant of “Satan” before delving deep with a very mixed up slab of a variant of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf”. It backtracks and lulls but sounds totally crazy the whole way through. Down right weird and wonderful guitar chases the riff. Disorientating globs of sound take the album out from any easy to define genre.

Graveyard has more really messed up sound. Lunatic guitar and slowed down to mogadon levels. On first listen you will look at the record speed. Crawlingly slow and burning with total madness.

Pittsburgh To Lebanon offers more very slow wackiness. It does not sound like a gimmick. Managing to sound totally insane yet authentic with it is a very difficult feat. The band sound like they are from and on another planet. Like the dying embers of a fire the sound is just there doing it’s thing and you can’t help to look (listen).

Weber is a 35 second streak of guitar and more plodding.

Hey offers looped backtracking and ludicrously insane vocal samples. Pulling you backwards through a madhouse of animals and humans is suggested aurally. What is going on.

Human Cannonball thankfully before you go crazy just listening to Locust Abortion Technician is almost a normal structured song. Very left of centre R.E.M. could be paralleled. A driven piece of music and a catchy hook steers the album away from the madhouse hell overall sound. It still fits the album and is very much-needed at this point.

U.S.S.A. then pulls you back under. Hellish sounds and nightmare visions. Impossibly indescribable sounds, electronic yet organic. Brief lulls before pulling you back under further.

The O-Men with its doom intro then spews the most insane vocal delivery ever. Singing in disturbed tongues, ranting by Gibby Haynes and a very unsettling high pitch voice interacting. You almost want out but Locust Abortion Technician grips – you have to see (hear) this through now. As the listener you feel like you’ve ventured too far down a corridor and off-shooting corridors, there’s probably no way out now.

A brief way out is hinted at with Kuntz. As it starts you feel you’ve arrived in a different continent. It sounds stable witha middle eastern vibe before more ludicrous vocals are added by the band and remind you where you are – the madness again decends.

Graveyard gets its second airing. This time the speed is correct offering a more acceptable structure. Exhausting guitar licks and that double drum effect hypnotise and enclose. It’s too late to get out now.

The album closes with one of the most disturbing songs I’ve ever heard. 22 Going On 23 has a sample of a distressed woman calling a late night radio talk show. Do not listen to this track before you go to bed you will have nightmares. Horrible sounds, brewing encompassing real menace. This isn’t music its art in aural form. If it was a film at least half the audience would walk out.

It hardly sounds like I’m endorsing the album there so let me perform a U-Turn slightly. Like a tenfold post punk Beach Boys the Butthole Surfers are a very important band that I believe  played an instrumental part in allowing the Nirvana / Sonic Youth “Year Punk Broke” thing to happen. They allowed that playground to open but get little acknowledgement for this. A pychotic sound so heavy and experimental they make The Cramps sound like Bananarama….

…and to think it didn’t carry a “parental advisory discretion” sticker. The most out to lunch band I’ve ever heard – you should dine with them once at least…

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