December 31, 2014

Electrical Spectacle >> Krafty twerk

Electrical Spectacle - "Transcontinental"
(self-released, 2001 / 2002; Backporch Revolution, 20__)

Note: I wrote this post on the same day I made my last post, the Paradise Vendors song, July 31st.  The only reason I didn't post this one was the Palestine-vs.-Israel conflict, as well as the rash of beheadings by ISIS.  It just felt inappropriate to post such a fun and flippant song at that time.  Then the Mike Brown fiasco happened, etc., and everyone on social media turned into an idiot, and I ended up spending the summer and fall adjusting my entire sociopolitical worldview to these eye-opening realities.  (Key terms I learned: Cultural Marxism and Identity Politics.)  However, it's now New Year's Eve and this song is the ultimate party jam and this is America, so here you go.

Electrical Spectacle was a New Orleans band consisting of Mike Mayfield and Anton Gussoni.  They made party-friendly electronic dancescapes that answer the question: What would Kraftwerk have sounded like if they had originated in New Orleans rather than in Germany?  Since Kraftwerk literally contains the word "twerk," you know they were a deranged party band in an alternate universe, and New Orleans is an alternate universe, so do the math.  This song sure does sound like it was inspired by Kraftwerk's "Ruckzuck".  That was the theme song for the science show Newton's Apple, which I watched religiously in the '80s.  (Check out this mind-blowing comment about "Ruckzuck" on YouTube by user dabidosan: "Can't believe I'm going to put this out here, but.....This used to be the theme song to the children's show Newton's Apple. Well....when I was little, every time the show would come on......I would take my badminton rackets and flap them on my back while hopping on one leg to this was my 'Mosquito Dance.'")

Mood Modulation EP (CD-R, 2001)

Electrical Spectacle (CD-R, 2002)

I heard this track a lot on WTUL in the early '00s.  I actually have it both on the Mood Modulation EP (CD-R, 2001) and the band's self-titled album (CD-R, 2002).  The mp3 I'm posting here is from the 2001 EP, just because it's surely much harder to find.  Both versions sound almost identical, though the first one was made entirely by Mayfield when it was a solo project, and the second version was made by Mayfield, Gussoni and drummer Louis Romanos when it had become a true band.  My copy of Mood Modulation has cool little pinholes punched into the cover near each corner around the atom design.  "Transcontinental" (even the title has an "international man of mystery" feel to it) is remarkably solid from an instrumental standpoint, down to the snappy drumming and the killer synth attack.  The fact that one person put this whole song together on his own is simply breathtaking.  Some vocals might've helped it to reach a wider audience, but may have also tarnished its aesthetic.  It should've been used in one of those Austin Powers movies, as Fantastic Plastic Machine's "Bachelor Pad" was.

L-R: Gussoni, Romanos, Mayfield; photo from 1/22/02 issue of Gambit

Local indie label Backporch Revolution says this (er, they did back in July... it has now been deleted) about the Mood Modulation EP: "From spaced-out krautrock to space age bossanova, the 2001 debut 4-track EP from Electrical Spectacle is arguably the most-played local release on WTUL in the last five years. It's never been readily available, though, so we're finally re-releasing it on the web."

Local newsweekly Gambit has a great article by Michael Patrick Welch (a.k.a. The White Bitch) which talks about how bands like Electrical Spectacle fit into the early '00s NOLA scene.

I never saw Electrical Spectacle, but I have seen Mayfield live, as a member of ambient droners Liteworks in 2009, and in '80s-style minimal wavers ((PRESSURES)) in 2014.  I don't think I ever saw any band featuring Gussoni, but I seem to remember talking to him about music right outside of the Loyola library in early 2001.  The full-band version of Electrical Spectacle featured amazing Jaki Liebezeit-esque drummer Romanos of chill local jazz/electronic duo Permagrin.  I saw the 'Grin three times, all in 2004, including once at Jazz Fest.

Planets with similar climates: Kraftwerk - "Ruckzuck" (1970), Fantastic Plastic Machine - "Bachelor Pad" (1997), Quintron - "Bug Attack" (1998), Telefon Tel Aviv - "My Week Beats Your Year" (2003), Aphex Twin - "Girl/Boy Song" (1996), Harald Grosskopf - "So Weit, So Gut" (1980).


Anonymous said...

Sky Down said...

Hi Chris! Do you have a e-mail for contact (about Plexi)? Thank you!