Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
NATIVE HIPSTERS "THERE GOES CONCORDE AGAIN...."....Proof positive that a little too much ear-scraping UK DIY art/noise can tip the tables on one's enthusiasm for it. The NATIVE HIPSTERS (also known as "...And The Native Hipsters") released one of the most bonkers, closeted slices of madness ever in 1982 in their "There Goes Concorde Again" 45, a true evil genius home recording guaranteed to polarize between those who find it weirdly transfixing & those who believe it to be utter garbage. As Douglas Wolk describes the track in a recent Boston Phoenix:

".....("There Goes Concorde Again") pivots around a jazz bass that doesn’t walk so much as trudge, note by exhausted note. Bells and faint, woozy guitar effects attempt with limited success to follow it where it’s meandering. Eventually, Nanette Greenblatt, a/k/a Blatt, starts rambling in a dazed sing-song about fat women walking up a hill and thin women walking down. "What do they do down there that results in such an increase in size and weight?" Her voice is squeaky and wobbly, the voice of a dithering matron, not a singer; her timing is distracted and irregular. Then she spies something she likes: "Oooo, look! There goes Concorde again! Oooo, look, there goes Concorde again!" She remarks on the Concorde’s appearance over and over. She pauses for a minute (as the bells and whooshes hover uncertainly) before repeating everything she’s said, from the beginning. Then she does it again, trying to understand what she’s just said....."

Then there's this CD, which capitalizes on some recent attention for the song by compiling 17 Native Hipsters tracks, all recorded from 1979-2001 with various lineups (with Blatt & William Wilding as the constants). It's a real exercise in patience if you ask me. I find the experimental basement electronics, fucked-up loops and especially Blatt's bizarrely appealing vocals to be admirably standoffish, but after a couple of spins, I was dying to turn the thing off 5-6 songs in & put on -- christ, I don't know -- some Tammy Wynette or something. I think it's fair to say that many of these 45rpm post-punk British DIY heroes -- your BEYOND THE IMPLODEs, your DANNY & THE DRESSMAKERS etc. -- were very well-suited to their 7-inch medium; i.e. best enjoyed in small increments of time. There's not a language that I know of that can adequately "review" experimental music such as this -- I just know that a walloping 60-minute dose of it isn't for me.