Kitchen Terrors

There used to be this old-timey radio program called Inner Sanctum, which is now mostly available on Archive.org. Out of all the old horror and suspense radio shows, Inner Sanctum was the grisliest. Sometimes it was just disgusting. And in my favorite ever episode, this bank robber visits a black market doctor who has a secret office in the basement of this building. The bank robber wants to get plastic surgery to change his appearance—he's worried about getting caught and executed.

The doctor straps the robber down to the operating table so he won't struggle during the surgery. He uses this opportunity to extort more money from the bank robber. Then he begins the surgery, without anesthetic.

He intones something along the lines of "There will be no painkillers for the likes of you, Rocco!"

The sound when he starts cutting, right before Rocco begins screaming, is really, really upsetting. Right after he beings screaming, the show abruptly cuts to an advertisement for Lipton Tea. But right before that commercial, it's really goddamn upsetting. Even if, like me, you were gleefully reveling in the campy opening sequence and organ cues.

I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but I often have a much more visceral reaction to sound than to film. And there's nothing quite like spending the evening slistening to a weird sound scape record whilst eating a peanut butter sandwich and staring out the window. And while I know that this shit isn't for everyone, part of me can't believe that it isn't more popular. Of course, it isn't easy to get one's head around the many, many, many albums of weird soundscapes and ambient clankings and experimental, you know, stuff . Finding something really good can be difficult unless you are already clued in to this sort of thing, which most people aren't. I'm not even, really. However, I've been listening to this album by The Sonic Catering Band called Seven Transdanubian Recipes, (or, in Hungarian, Szónikus Élelmezési Együttes Hét Dunántúli Recept)and it's one of the weirdest/greatest things I've heard in a while.

I don't know if this can officially be called experimental music, since each of these sound pieces use the preparation of a particular recipe for their source material. These sounds then get manipulated and generally screwed around with, and the end result is pretty unsettling.

From a 2003 interview for MIELE Magazine:

You could argue that what we're practicing is the antithesis of experimental music as most of our recordings have followed a very strict formula in that we let a given recipe dictate how a certain track will sound and develop. [. . .] A typical Sonic Catering session involves three phases: cooking and recording the meal in question; selecting and processing the raw sounds we want to use and finally, editing and layering. Raw sonic and culinary ingredients both become transformed into something thoroughly other both on plate and headphones.

Song titles like "Covert Feeding," "Lactic Sugar Dream," and "The Alimentary Canal by Night" may (or may not!) give you some idea of what to expect. I suppose that the easiest comparison to make would be Nurse With Wound, and like that outfit's better recordings, this album is a fully-realized, completely successful whole. Weird hissing, bubbling, gas burning howling in strange empty spaces . . . this album sounds malevolent for so long that it actually gets pretty funny, and then doesn't really seem funny, and then, after a while, you sort of give up trying to think about it and just agree to inhabit the space that it creates. Extremely enjoyable musique concrète for evil, hungry listeners.

No comments: