285

The Blitzoids: Stealing From Helpless Children / Look Up

By

Sign in to view read count
Who were the Blitzoids? The few available resources on the band make one thing perfectly clear: they sound a lot like seminal no-wave band the Residents. It's true: the early work of the Residents—before they started wearing giant eyeball masks, employing narrative structures, and presenting themselves as "pioneering" technophiles—looms large over the Blitzoids' two LPs, reissued as a two-CD set by Ad Hoc Records.

However, if one listens to the Blitzoids under the myopic pretense that they were little more than a Residents knockoff, there will be an unavoidable temptation to turn them off and listen to the genuine article instead. Taken on their own merits, the Blitzoids were more advanced musically than the Residents, if less revolutionary, and their collected works have a cumulative effect that can be thrilling—provided you have an open mind.

If comparisons must be made, then imagine putting the Los Angeles Free Music Society, Fred Lane, Fred Frith, various field recordings, radio transmissions, and a haunted house sound-effects tape into a blender. After the blender shakes violently and explodes, spraying globules of audio lunacy across the room, you giggle and dance around like a moron. That's what listening to the Blitzoids is like.

Brothers Steve and Chris De Chiara were running a Chicago record store when they started recording with Jim Nickels. Their first LP, 1987's Stealing From Helpless Children, is a work of unbridled invention, lumping together skronky jazz, tape manipulation, funny sounds, spooky textures and low-fidelity melodies. A reliance on traditional song structures doesn't make the band sound at all conventional, but merely confirms their considerable compositional skill.

Each track is a mini-movie for the ears. "Left or Right?" utilizes Donald Duck laughter for a bizarre refrain; "Try and Stop Us" is a complex sound collage that recalls Evan Parker at one moment, Penderecki at another; "Middle of Nowhere" shifts from a tribal jam session to an imagined Carl Stalling horror film score. It's all held together with catchy vocals, cheapo synth drums and Chris De Chiara's inspired guitar work, which can echo anything from John Abercrombie to Snakefinger. For uneasy listening, Stealing From Helpless Children is surprisingly listenable.

1990's Look Up is even more adventurous. The raw materials haven't changed—backwards tape and talk-radio excerpts abound—but each track is so densely layered that it takes many listens to absorb it all. The songs are still accessible: the lyrics to "Good Vacation" are worthy of Bob Dylan's best hallucinatory narratives, accompanied by music that is more appropriate than Dylan ever attempted.

Rounding out this reissue are eight bonus cuts, including the band's funniest achievements. "Fire on the Mountain" transforms an old fiddle tune into a hoedown from hell, and it's hard not to crack a smile through mangled versions of "A Summer Place" and "The Witch Doctor."

The Blitzoids might have worn their influences on their proverbial sleeves, but their music stands on its own. Give them a listen if your tastes run to the left of strange, or if you just want something to listen to while you're getting blitzed.


Track Listing: The Beard of Percy; No Time; Middle of Nowhere; Sing; Chance; (PL-93-531); Left or Right?; Lobotomy; Try and Stop Us; Pup Tent; Summit Rain; Chair; 13 Dog 23 Nite; Look Up; Double O; Digitus Serpintinus; Good Vacation; Holes; Ever Since; Whither; Fire on the Mountain; Theme from a Summer Place; The Witch Doctor; Hell Hound; Anniversary Mix.

Personnel: Steve DeChiara, Jim Nickels, Chris DeChiara (division of labor unknown).

Title: Stealing From Helpless Children / Look Up | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Ad Hoc Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Poetry For The Beat Generation" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry For The Beat Generation
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Songs Without Words" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Without Words
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Shades Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Shades Of Life
by James Nadal
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Where Is My Mind?" CD/LP/Track Review Where Is My Mind?
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Ma De Re Sha" CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.