Friday, January 07, 2005

Black Helicopter

Black Helicopter
I once wrote a song using the often psychotic dialogue that came from a phone "action line' that a newspaper had set up (I think I even posted it here several weeks ago). Black Helicopter takes it one step further:
Black Helicopter take their lyrics almost verbatim from the twisted ramblings of a sociopath who used to loiter at the "Clerks" style convenience store owned by the father of drummer M. Nicholas. Secretly recorded on a boom box, tapes of this warped, misogynistic, unemployed Teamsters' ranting serve as the inspiration for Black Helicopter’s lyrics. The subject matter is loathsome, yet steeped in a realism that cannot be manufactured.
The so-called sociopath (I think they've misdiagnosed him but whatever) says a lot of offensive things such as in "Good Times" where he rants about the ignomy of someone supposedly naming a boat after that "negro" TV show or in "Bitch Move" where he fantasizes about taking out a female newscaster. By doing this, the band can take a step away from responsibility and yet still shock the audience (and perhaps get people to talk about them). They also can't be blamed if their songs don't make a lot of sense or go anywhere although for the most part they do - at least the ones I've selected below. Still, its a concept that might work best as a side-project and not the focus of fulltime band. Another ethical question arises - should they compensate their lyricist or tell him that they've used his words or is it just a found object?

The music is not at all shocking, though, a bit of sludgey, sober Flipper crossed with a looser Mission of Burma. Since their members came from Kudgel and Green Magnet School, respectively, I guess that's no surprise. There's also a lot that reminds me of Killdozer and Big Black. They often use repetition and layering of noise and this can be mesmerizing - for instance in the latter half of "King of Wormtown" - this supports the delusional patter of the lyrics quite appropriately. At other times, the lack of a real lyrical structure forces the music to be built around the words rather than vice versa and this leads to some interesting song decision such as in "Mousemeat" - sometimes it works and other times ("Little Davey Bowditch") it doesn't.

If you're in the area, they are opening for Mission of Burma next Thursday (Jan 13) in Northhampton, MA. Their record label should be commended for putting up a generous amount of MP3s. A few of them are worth a spin if this is your type of music and I've ranked them from my favorite to least (there are more at the website below). If your not into this type of music and just curious about how the concept works, I'd download "Mousemeat" and if you like that check out the others:

King of Wormtown
The Good Times

- Black Helicopter Website (the photo above came from this website although its rehosted via Hello)
- You can download all the Black Helicopter MP3s that are offered by the Traktor 7 Record Label


peelitback said...

That's the whole album there on the T7 site.

Jim H said...

Thanks for pointing that out. The Traktor 7 website isn't the easiest thing to suss out. I assume that the Mousemeat cut, though, is from a compilation?

peelitback said...

No "Mousemeat" is on the album. If you've not seen the disc, it comes in a digipack that folds out into a pop-up of the band members talking to the guy.

They do have a song on the "Theft, Arson, Vice, Murder, and Death" comp T7 put out a while back, but I can't remember the name of the track off hand and don't have my copy close.