HR057 - Cephalic Index — Bubba Vulvus — C60 — 1987
Song For Bubba
I Want To See The Children Play
Thought Procedure Malfunction
D i ss g r a c e
Song For David
Inside Looking Out
All sounds created by Michael Jackson except guitar sample at the end of Side B by Edward Ellis.
Thanks: Chris Phinney
Final Mix: December 2, 1987
REVIEW by Jerry Kranitz
Bubba Vulvus is a 60 minute cassette by Michael Jackson’s Cephalic Index project. All sounds on the tape were created by Mike except guitar samples at the end of Side B which are by Edward Ellis.
‘Song For Bubba’ is an electro and clankity grooving song that opens the set. It brings to mind an early Residents meets tribal-industrial plus twisted children’s tune blend. Fun choppy rhythms, creepily merry melodies and backwards garbled/collaged vocals. ‘I Want To See The Children Play’ has a similar Residential feel, being an eerily somber melody that’s pleasant but with a string of brief tape interruptions that are followed by a strangely seamless yet disjointed flow. The jumbled vocals sound like a creepy chipmunk demon child singing from beyond to a small chorus of macabre melodies. Halloween music for the avant-garde.
‘Thought Procedure Malfunction’ sounds like early 80s video game music turned into the soundtrack to an industrial action adventure. The music flows but keeps getting hysterically interrupted by chaotic runs of crazed effects and what sounds like scanning along a radio dial. Eventually these two themes come to grips with one another, resulting in the synth soundtrack cranking out its minimal pounding melody to a peppy little robotic insect swarm take on the Chicken Dance. Love it! ‘D i ss g r a c e’ features a rising and falling farting drone tone plus marching electro percussion that sets the stage for an array of efx’d political speech samples (think I hear Hitler in there). ‘Song For David’ is another cool combination of eerie and comical vibes, bringing together quirky melodic/rhythmic patterns and shimmering ghostly lullabies. After a while the music shifts gears to an ominous piano melody anchoring a whirly swirly and disorienting synth melody, before leaving the piano’s gloomy melody to go solo to the end.
The entirety of Side B is taken up by the 30+ minute ‘Inside Looking Out’, which is far more purely sound focused than the music heard on Side A. It opens with tangled rhythms and a warped children’s song vibe that is similar to the music heard on Side A. But it quickly veers off into varied rhythms, playful tones and effects, theremin fun (sounds like a theremin), and from there embarks on a continually mutating mélange of sound patterns and collage. The guitar samples by Edward Ellis are brief, repetitive looped bits add a choppy jamming feel. Fun stuff!
INTERVIEW with Mike Jackson by Jerry Kranitz
JK: When I interviewed you for HR038 (Chimerical Dysentary), that had been the third Cephalic Index release. This is next in the HR catalog, but were there others between Chimerical Dysentary and Bubba Vulvus, on your own X-Kurzhen or other labels?
Michael Thomas Jackson (MTJ): By now, I had releases on SOUND OF PIG ("Crieblood"), aUDIOFILE ("Being"), NIHILISTIC ("Abskamarkeega"), "Suck" and "Atrophy", most notably on XKURZHEN, maybe others? LSD At this point the sampler days were reigned in and the ARP Odyssey had been somewhat tamed. It was the pop music statement of what CI was all about LSD and would never be again until now.
JK: Chimerical Dysentary was released in 1986 and Bubba Vulvus in 1987, which in those days was nearly a lifetime in creative and personal difference/growth. Were you still heavy into your X-Kurzhen label? Any other projects than Cephalic Index and Cancerous Growth?
MTJ: I was an active member in VIKTIMIZED KARCASS, ISOLATION and R.B.S. (a hardcore band) during this period and booking shows in Memphis. It was at this point that I discovered musique concrète and free improvisation that seemed like long lost friends. XKURZHEN was very much alive. Things were in flux because I was moving. The final mix/master/whatever for Bubba was my 18th birthday. LSD. In less than a month I would set up shop in Boston; it's a going away party of sorts. Fun! WOMENS LIVE MATTER!
JK: This was a fun tape to review. I mentioned children’s tune feel a couple times, merry melodies, creepy chipmunk demon child, Chicken Dance, ghostly lullabies, I made a couple of Residents analogies…
MTJ: Very perceptive! ‘I Want To See The Children Play’ was actually composed while on a hillside on my grandparents' property in rural Tennessee. I was visiting them before I moved to Massachusetts and wandering their property when I heard some children singing and playing in the valley below. LSD I won't deny the influence of either Syd Barrett, The Residents, nor Edward Ka-Spel here, but perhaps being 17 and high says a lot. The whole thing is a going-away present to the Tennessee I thought I knew in 1987. ‘Song For David’ is not a song but a farewell to a friend with a Swans nod. And there's no such thing as a creepy chipmunk; those fuckers are cute as shit!
JK: But Side B, which was one long track, seemed different, being as I described in the review as being more purely sound focused.
MTJ: A Brainbow in Crooked Hair; Bine Swolt Firty Fove; pousseur; CAGE; hockstausen; horneyfeau; thraxton; ensitchell; pierre(s); CAN; stapelTON; I was getting gloriously wet (concrète) with LPs from the libraryies publique e phinney y papa... furrpect & in love...
JK: Is that a theremin on ‘Inside Looking Out’?
MTJ: in 1987? Come on man! ARP Odyssey. Even today I only know a few able handlers of the Theremin.
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
JK: Tell me about ‘D i ss g r a c e’. What were all the speech samples? Any meaning to the spacing in the letters?
MTJ: Seems really juvenile now, but it was really a holdover from that industrial culture crap. Yeah, it's Hitler, I thought the SS and spacing was obviously disparaging to the philosophy but it still looks bad and I hope that you are all intelligent enough to get it! I must admit to loving the Mattel drum pads to give it that BQ sound; thanks Mike Humphreys!
PALANSTENIAN LIVES MATTER!
JK: I can’t resist asking…. ‘Bubba Vulvus’? Any meaning? (Yes, I ask looking at the little embryonic feller on the cover art)
MTJ: Bubba Vulvus was my imaginary friend until I was 4 years old. He had a job, house, car, was a widower... the image seemed arbitrary until you brought it up. I once wrote a song about his commute. My parents never thought I was crazy for any of this shit.
JK: Who is Edward Ellis, who provide the guitar samples used on ‘Inside Looking Out’?
MTJ: Ed lived in a fraternity house at the university across the street from my parents' place on Jackson Ave. I was introduced to him by David Peterson (of RSVP and song for dude here fame) and we jammed a bit. I'm pretty sure none of us were supposed to be there. There were no drugs. He performed live in one of only two Cephalic Index performances on WEVL. He was an open-minded Frippite that seemed to be bank-rolled by his parents and had nothing to lose. I had him play a Prince riff more or less and he fucking loved it. I hope he is well.