Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Professional Music By Nightwalker - In Shop We Build Electric Chairs 1984-93

Professional Music By Nightwalker
In Shop We Build Electric Chairs 1984-93


Released 1999 on Fading Captain
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 19/12/2006ce


This album was the 3rd installment in Guided By Voices' leader Robert Pollard's side project series Fading Captain. Pollard initiated the series after GBV signed with semi-major label TVT in 1998. Pollard used this series for his more esoteric side projects. The official title of this record is Professional Music By Nightwalker 1984-93 "In Shop We Build Electric Chairs." Supposedly Nightwalker resided in Indianapolis, Indiana (a short distance from Pollard's Dayton, Ohio base.)

Nightwalker had issued 2 45's previous to this album "Firehouse Mountain" a one sided 45 and a split 45 with another Pollard alter-ego Freedom Cruise. Like Robert Johnson there is only 1 official photo of Nightwalker and man do they look weird! One guy is dressed in a tuxedo, another is a fairly normal looking mid 60's beat-rocker, the last guy of the 3 is just too much, he has a curly afro type haircut and is dressed in a ski sweater and plaid pants that look like the official outfit of the PGA tour circa 1973 (aka Johnny Miller Menswear), the guy looks like a serial killer!!!! I'm not really sure if it is actually Nightwalker or not, I guess I don't really care because the photo is fucking incredible. There is a poster of the photo available on the GBV website which has the caption "Traquillizers For Sick Minds" and I think I need to have one. I have become something of a Nightwalker fanatic.

I first bought this album in 1999 and to be honest I thought I was being put on. The music contained on the record is extremely lo-fi and raw. I think I played it once and filed it away. It is only recently that I have begun to revisit the record, and right now I'm kinda obsessed with it and all things Nightwalker.

The opening number "Drum Solo" is just that, a 55 second drum solo (not even Ginger Baker would have the balls to open a record with a drum solo), but Nightwalker are not your average, everyday combo. "The Fink Swan (Swims Away)" is a very raw Bo Diddley type number that reminds me of GBV during their "Vampire on Titus" album. "Kenneth Ray" is an extremely raw track that revisits the theme of the GBV number "Expecting Brainchild" (If there's a hell below, Kenneth Ray ain't gonna go.) "Dogwood Grains" is up next, it is an extremely creepy folk ballad which sounds as if it was recorded in a shack in the hills of Kentucky, and I absolutely love it.

"Amazed" has the organ sound of 1967 Country Joe & The Fish welded into a re-fried acoustic ballad which has an effect in the background that is similar to that weird sound effect on Subway Sect's "Ambition" single. "Signifying UFO" is a short instrumental that leads into the seriously deranged "Ceramic Cock Einstein", this piece is totally off the rails, it features a creepy Bela Lugosi style organ intro which eventually turns into a blast of atonal noise that would make the original Seattle grunge band The Smashchords proud. "U235" is a brief Indian styled number that is part Third Ear Band and part Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Hold on to your hat because the next track "Weird Rivers & Sapphire Sun" is so strange I was tempted to sleep with a nightlight on after hearing it. It sounds like an Native American Indian funeral dirge, try to imagine Redbone being dosed with STP.

"Trashed Can Goods" is short punk styled tune which brings a bit of relief from the horrifying previous track. The album closes proper with "Those Little Bastards Will Bite", this one stretches out to a full 11 minutes, it reminds me in places of The Godz, Skip Spence's "Grey Afro" and the Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady." I'm also reminded of the intro section of "The Pusher" by Steppenwolf from the "Early Steppenwolf" album (actually recorded by The Sparrow.) This piece of delerium brings the record to a close in the style of Amon Duul 2's "Yeti." I don't think there is anything more I can say about this record, it must be experienced!


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