Thursday, 10 March 2016

Go-Kart Mozart - Instant Wig Wam And Igloo Mixture (1999)

You know how you have first flushes of love tunes, those songs you will forever associate with a certain time when you began seeing a certain person, or possibly even having it off with them? If not, just bear with me. I kicked off with U2's Pride (in the Name of Love) which happened to occupy the pop parade just as I became involved with my first ever girlfriend. My second vaguely proper relationship arrived nearly a decade later and was scored to American Rock by Denim, which is possibly a bit of an odd choice, but is at least indicative of just how much I loved Denim at the time.

Naturally I had high expectations of Lawrence's next thing, and yet I've never quite got to grips with Go-Kart Mozart. I know it's supposed to be a sort of no frills Fine Fare yellow label version of Denim or something, and therefore has a bit of a pound shop stench as an inherent part of its musical genome, perhaps even as its mission statement; and having wasted at least twenty years of my life recording tinny novelty songs on crap equipment, Instant Wig Wam And Igloo Mixture should be a shoe-in for me.

I like the theory behind it, although the term theory suggests deliberation when it's probably mostly just gut instinct. Go-Kart Mozart is the Island of Misfit Toys of rock, the true face of our history. Stewart Maconie and other Spangle-gobbling revivalists have fooled us into accepting a version of our childhood in which Ziggy Stardust often read the six o'clock news, Faust were on Blue Peter every day, and On the Buses was funny.

I recently spent nearly a year writing a novel set in 1975, and part of my research constituted a month by month account of major news items, what was on the telly and what we were listening to. It was weird and slightly depressing, because whilst it's fun to remember the cool stuff, by sheer numbers it was mostly Barry Blue, Mike Batt, Jimmy Savile, and Kenny on Top of the Pops all in their matching jumpers with K on the front; and Go-Kart Mozart is assembled from this material, all the crap which we've written out of history, the details which will never, ever be remembered as cool, the stuff which just wasn't funny or charming enough for any of those I Heart the 70s shows. Musically this is the sort of gear which even fucking Stereolab wouldn't touch with yours, mate.

Accordingly, for all the dinky Bontempi tunes, Instant Wig Wam And Igloo Mixture feels oddly like one of those power electronics albums which pulls no punches in its mission to drive you to take the record from the turntable and fling it out of the window in disgust. It feels peculiarly extreme, particularly Drinkin' Um Bongo which combines African bloodbaths with cartoon juice box nostalgia to genuinely unsettling effect. It inhabits a world in which homosexuality is limp of wrist and will probably tell you to shut that door, and it writes an opera around Birmingham's Bull Ring shopping centre without so much as a smirk. It would make more sense if it was all done for chuckles, but it feels weirdly in earnest, which is itself funny, I suppose. I might like it more had it been recorded as a Denim album, although I suspect that may be missing the point, whatever it was.

Forget all those post-industrial types churning out album after album of self-conscious Dadaism, this is one of the weirdest things I've ever heard, and I still can't tell if I even like it or not.

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