RRR Records, 1987
Genre: Industrial (non-techno), Midwestern American style
I think I like the IDEA of Boy Dirt Car more than the actual product of Boy Dirt Car. There's some on here worth saving and some that sounds, uh, best left on vinyl. The IDEA of Boy Dirt Car is a buncha bored Midwestern teens, inspired by a Glenn Branca concert but otherwise isolated from the Euro/NYC noise-art scene (SPK, Nurse with Wound, Blackhouse, Whitehouse, Neubauten), decide to set up a recording studio in their vast backyard (in my mind's eye, it's an abandoned camper-trailer set about 500 yards into the woods). They pull together guitars, pedals, glass, metal shards, radios and a glob of Midwestern cabin fever angst. Said boys get snowed in for about a year (because you know it snows up North from like September to May), record jillions of hours of tapes, burn all their album covers for heat, perform no-novacaine denistry on each other, catch small animals and hook them up to treadmills to power their guitars amps and tape machines. That sort of shit. Normal, all American boy shit. Anyway, that's the IDEA of Boy Dirt Car.
In actuality, their noise is little different from many of the other similar cassette tapers who did this sort of industrial ambiance during the '80s (and I've got a box full of tapes to prove it, boyo) - the principal difference was that one day Dan Kubinski and Dave Szolwinski came knocking no the trailer door. Dan and Dave happened to be in one of the hottest bands (underground bands, I mean) at the time - Die Kreuzen - a sort of pre-metalcore, cross between Napalm Death and Celtic Frost, pre-grunge, post-hardcore band if that makes any sense. Pretty soon BDC are touring with Die Kreuzen and people are checking them out, buying their wreckords. They get included on the seminal Sub Pop 100 compilation. They open for all sortsa bands (including Screamin' Jay Hawkins). Die Kreuzen's first two albums on Touch and Go are among that labels' finest of that decade (or at least that's how I remember it, said albums are still in boxes in the closet and I haven't listened to 'em for years) and people are still imitating them. I know, I turn on that stupid metal show on MTV every once in awhile (yeah, insomnia). I'm just implying that perhaps without this association, BDC might have been Boy Dirt Obscure.
So besides the idea" of BDC, what's to like about Boy Dirt Car? Well, I like the cuts that have a semblance of rhythm to them. Makes 'em interesting because at least you can hope they're going somewheres. F'rinstance, the album's "tagline" song, "What Never Ends, Begins Today" sounds like they were turning over the engine in the trailer cum recording studio and they got that "stic-stic-stic" sound that the actuator (don't trust me on that but its the thing that makes the little clicking noise you get when your battery is dead or the engine won't turn over... whatever) and so someone turned on an amp, kicked a guitar or two on and then another amp and then maybe a shortwave and they just layered feedback and noises to get this whole ominous vibe going. It woiks, by george.
"Western Nile", featuring dismembered voices, processed guitar, smashing glass sounds and the only other track with a sort of beat. Some of the vocals are "trying too hard" but the overall effect is creepy enough, I guess, for the genre. Maybe after they recorded this they watched an all night movie horror-thon and realized that they had transposed The Mummy into the barren snow swept windscapes outside the door... and so they went back and listened to it and said, let's call it "Western Nile" cuz it's like those mummies and shit ... ok?
Some people said they saw Boy Dirt Car as "mysterious" and "scary" - I mean by this, not their music so much as the band themselves! Blackhouse were scary to me - they gave these creepy straight-faced interviews for one and the tracks sounded like the soundtracks to multiple unspeakable atrocities - but Boy Dirt Car, I mean, I'd done this type of stuff in my basement. I never thought RRR Records would put it out (maybe I shoulda mailed it to them). And yet they did and Lexicon Devil (Australia) re-released it in a CD a few years back! Scary? Maybe the idea. I'm not saying saying I would want to let them watch my cat for the week but if I saw them coming down the street, I'd probably just shrug and continue clipping hedges or whatever one might do in Milwaukee.
Like I said, I'm less than enamored with the rest of the record wherein they "explore" more "soundscapes" -- maybe I'd reconsider "Prairie Fire" (which, yes, sounds like a prairie fire). So end spiel...
The insert includes a catalog from RRR records and this note from label owner Ron Lessard: "It was real nice of you to pick this Boy Dirt Car album - I do hope you enjoy it - fuck you if you don't." Oh eat me.
Boy Dirt Car (Winter LP) lineup:
Song for download:
"What Never Ends, Begins Today"
Special Guest Disclaimer from ready rock moe rex:
+ for eval purposes only
+ (meaning: buy the records!)
+ all mp3s up for limited time
+ removed if owner requests
+ no direct linking please
+ mind the bandwidth
+ cells off during the film
+ do not place in microwave
- The re-issued album on CD with bonus material (their first RRR record) at Forced Exposure.
- Sonic Recollections carries the original LP and even some BDC reel-to-reel tape (use their search engine).
More Reading and Listening:
- Counter-argument: Australian rock writer, blogroll blogger and Lexicon Devil label-chief Dave Lang explains why he thinks Boy Dirt Car is important (Perfect Sound Forever)
- For the Defense, sort of: Dusted Magazine Reviews the Boy Dirt Car reissue and doesn't like it
- Eric Lunde and Darren Brown are still out there making music - but not together. I believe this is one of Eric's latest projects - video art.
- Brainwashed.com has a review of this record ( scroll down) plus a sample of one of the tracks I don't care for, Winter. Compare opinions and tell me I am right or that I have no ears.