Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Blurt
In Berlin


Released 1981 on Ruby / Armageddon
Reviewed by Lugia, 18/03/2004ce


Blurt: "In Berlin"
Ruby / Armageddon JRR-103 / ARM6. Recorded live Dec. 1980, released 1981.

1) Cherry Blossom Polish
2) My Mother was a Friend of an Enemy of the People
3) Puppeteers of the World Unite!
4) Dyslexia Rules
5) Get
6) Tube Plane
7) Paranoid Blues
8) Ubu

Ted Milton: vocals/sax
Pete Creese: guitar/trombone
Jake Milton: drums/vocals

We get dropped into this jangly-noisy guitar riff...a sax starts honking Ayler-style...drums thunk along disjointed-like...and then this vocal NOISE starts up, ranting, chaotic, howling like some lobotomized between Howlin' Wolf, Mark Smith, and eYe. "Cherry Blossom Polish" is the track, and Blurt's "In Berlin" is the album. Cut live in Berlin in late 1980, this is one searing shot of popskull post-punk racket that will have you pinging around the room in short order. If not...well, you got a problem, brah.

Fuse equal parts of early Can (ie: the Malcolm days) with a downtown NYC No-Wave sensibility, add more than a little blues and 'New thing' jazz, and the lyrical lilt of Mark E. Smith on DMT, and you're about in the ballpark. It's not an easy album to grapple with, but once the brainwaves lock into this, you 'get it', and it takes over. Not much to Blurt, though...lots of noise being created by this trio of guitar/trombone (yep), vocals and sax, and drums. No bass. Nope. All treble, all noisy.

And did I mention ranting? Ahh, yes...the ranting...hell, even the TITLES here are rants, such as the next track's: "My Mother was a Friend of an Enemy of the People". Hah? Oh, well...not like you can make sense of the proceedings. Once the groove gets down with yer bad self, Ted fires off into various things that may or may not be lyrics. At some points, you can pick up things, but these get followed by sheer vocal pandemonium that could well be Pentacostal speaking in tongues for all I can make out of it. "Liberate my ears!! Komaherfregugnsheaaaiiaaghhh!!!!" Yeah.

Oh, well...it's not like you're supposed to be mining this stuff for content, right? It's the jam that counts, and the jam that satisfies. And Blurt can get a groove happening. "Puppeteers of the World Unite!" honks along before taking off like a shot into the usual groove/nongroove bassless skraaaang and snarl and yowl, then we get perhaps the defining track...nay, philosophical tenet itself...that sums the whole damn thing up: "Dyslexia Rules". You betcha. Ayler-honk meets Arto-sawing meets Elvin-grade drumming. Makes...no...sense. And so?

Ah, well...flip the record over and we get something even semi-conventional...for 15 whole seconds, until Ted starts up with the rantolyzer again. But "Get" is just so groovy in its garage-jazz-racket sound that, damn, you might even be able to make sense of it all, even with lines that sound vaguely like "...get back on the sheetrock!...". And "Tube Plane" is almost jazzy in this sort of disjunct way, like how that first Lounge Lizards album was also 'jazzy'. But not...exactly...nope. Blurt's idea of a ballad? Not sure, but whatever it is, it works.

Then "Paranoid Blues" kicks off the cresta run toward the end of the proceedings, and we get to find out about that trombone. Yeeeee...! And back to that blues-psychosis shotgun-wordnoise approach, and the groovegroovegroove and blaaaang-skrraaanggg. So funky...but....again, not exactly. But yeah. Sort of. But I ask again: and so?

And finally, "Ubu". This is just trouble. Starts with this sort of defective "Red"-era Crimson-cutup loop-riff as played by your 12 year old cousin after huffing freon, then Ted starts up with this damaged honk-waaaaaiiill-honksqueakhonkBLAAT sax thing, and the drums roll and roll on in a Dinger-grade thunkity-thud groove. Attitude on max, these boys just don't care...they're making a big clattery-squawky noise, and it's fun and fucked up and defective as hell. And then it's over as Ted leads us all away with the honky Ayler-bleating like some mad pied piper.

Not your average musical outing, this album, but if you like your music rather raw and groovy and noisy, you'll be all over it. The only real fault I can level at "In Berlin" is about its brevity, as it clocks in at around a half hour. But what a half hour it is.


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