Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician

Butthole Surfers
Locust Abortion Technician

Released 1987 on Touch & Go
Reviewed by Lugia, 12/01/2004ce

Butthole Surfers: "Locust Abortion Technician"
Touch & Go T&GLP19, recorded 1986/87, released 1987.

1) Sweat Loaf
2) Graveyard
3) Pittsburg to Lebanon
4) Weber
5) HAY
6) Human Cannonball
7) U.S.S.A.
8) The O-men
10) Graveyard
11) 22 Going On 23

Before getting into the music here, there is an important thing that requires explanation.

Clowns are evil. They are also scary. Clowns are very often components of childrens' worst nightmares. One trumpet player I worked with back in the 1980s used to wake up screaming as a child because he would have dreams about the clown in the painting over his bed coming after him to kill him. And it should be noted that John Wayne Gacy, noted mass-murderer, used to perform at kiddy parties as a clown.

There are clowns on the cover of this album. Make of that what you will.

This album starts off with waves of blissful, etherial music. Calming strings, harps, bliss...and the following dialogue:

"Yes, son?"
"W-w-w-what does regret mean?"
"Well, son...a funny thing about regret is that it's better to regret something you _have_ done, instead of something you _haven't_ done. And if you see your mom this weekend, be sure and tell her...SATAN!!! SATAN!!! SATAN!!!"

...and we're shot headfirst into a sludgy, slow, bashing mangling of Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf", with Gibby snarling something that sounds like "RAPE!!! OF DESIRE!!!" through a pile of delays and other electronic rubble. The effect of going from that intro to THIS is about as close as you get musically to the experience of being thrown into a pit of alligators. Welcome to "Locust Abortion Technician", folks...one of the two arguable peak products of the Texan juggernaut of sheer psychosis known as the Butthole Surfers.

To attempt to describe everything on this album is pretty much impossible. Just trust me when I say that ANYWHERE you put the needle down on this slab is going to be totally over-the-top insanity, like some deranged miswiring of rock machinery from Cologne, Detroit, Houston, and Alpha Centauri hooked up in some way that's almost certain to cause the whole mess to explode!

Let's hit the high points, shall we?

After "Sweat Loaf", the first version of "Graveyard" lurches and crawls all over your forebrain, tape running at the wrong speed, everything dragging like some sort of hybrid of NEU!'s "Super 16" and The Stooges on dental anaesthesia.

"HAY" features drunken yelling, tracks running the wrong way, a vortex of severe weirdness. A great lead-in to the thrash-out "Human Cannonball"...a straight-up punk slammer as only them Butthole Boys can do 'em.

The first track of side 2 was my first intro to the Buttholes. I had spent the previous evening on some particularly heavy acid, and while coming down paid a visit to my collaborator in my ambient ensemble at the time. Jim had this manic grin on, and said "Have a seat...I have something YOU need to hear...RIGHT NOW!" And he dropped "USSA" on at full-blast. I have yet to recover from this. The whole thing starts off with industrial hammering while Paul Leary spuzzes along in the key of R. Then some sadistic bastard grabs the tape speed controls, and everything lurches violently, then Gibby starts screaming "USSA!! USSR!! USA!! USR!!!" through a fatally-damaged prison PA system as someone starts scratching a record. No, not as in hip-hop. Literally. Brutally dragging the tone arm back and forth as 'percussion'. Good Christ. Leary returns to play such great notes and "KREEANNG!!" and "SPRAIIIGNNN!!!" and "BLEAAANNNGG!" over the whole demonically-possessed mess before it all just stops.

"The O-men" is another hardcore skankorama, with lyrics that may be related to the Pentacostal act of faith known as 'speaking in tongues'. Or maybe Gibby's got a bottle of pure liquid amyl in the vocal booth and he's taking big huffs between phrases. Or both.

"KUNTZ" takes a Vietnamese pop tune and subjects it to electronic manglery to get the vocalist to start going "KUNTZKUNTZKUNTZKUNTZ..."...which gets worse and worse and more brain-damaged as this short treatise on what NOT to do with effects continues.

Then "22 Going on 23" gets started with a snippet of radio psychology about someone who 'cannot sleep' before the sludge-o-tastic Surfers kick in over the top in a groove that sounds like a poppy and upbeat...ahhh...Melvins? Yeah, that's a stretch for the mind, I know. Over this, swirling around in stereo like evil spirits, are voices repeating fragments: "...sleep problem...", "...anxiety...", "...medicine...", and the woman at the beginning who keeps releating "I cannot sleep..." It sounds like pure insanity. It IS pure insanity. And with the sound of cows mooing, the whole episode is over. You're safe. It stopped.

This thing is a total mental meltdown. That's really the only term for it. It's beyond psychedelia, and off into some turf that would land average people in the rubber room. Musically, it's primal, primitive, assaultive...and damn close to unique. Even their previous effort, "Rembrandt Pussyhorse", while still being a real brain-roaster, doesn't have the attack stance this does. There was once a rave sampler called "Only for the Headstrong"...but those who thought they were down with that would probably be psychologically incinerated by "Locust Abortion Technician". It just ain't right, as they say down there in the Lone Star state. If you think you can handle this, be my guest, but don't come complaining to me when the back of your head explodes JFK-style all over the wall behind your couch. I _warned_ you, dammit.

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