BJÖRK

Bjork 3

I have this utopian view that the common person – like your gran, or the guy who works in the sandwich shop – actually wants an adventure, to hear something they’ve never heard before. I might seem leftfield, but I’m really not trying to be weird, you know.

Björk, Daily Telegraph, 2005

Born: 1965, Reykjavík, Iceland

Featured album: Medúlla (2004)

SO YOU WANT to be an art-pop genius? Well, it helps if you were born a child prodigy – just ask Captain Beefheart, Diamanda Galás and Nina Hagen. But with the exception of maybe Kate Bush, few gifted youngsters who’ve grown up to traverse music’s outer limits have attained the sort of mainstream recognition Björk has. Maybe that’s because she’s as earthly as she is otherworldly, as attuned to pop as she is to the avant-garde.

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PRAYERS ON FIRE (1981)

prayers-on-fire

Artist: The Birthday Party

Label: Missing Link
Producer: Tony Cohen, The Birthday Party
Cover art: Jenny, Poly & Evan
Length: 42:06

WEARING NOTHING BUT a loincloth, and with the word ‘HELL’ painted on his chest, a skinny geek twirls around a stripper pole in a circus tent before emerging into a burning Melbourne trash heap, where he cavorts with his bandmates, several psychiatric patients, and a goat. Those only familiar with Nick Cave as Australia’s answer to Leonard Cohen might be shocked to see this video for “Nick The Stripper”, which perfectly captures the carnivalesque hysteria of The Birthday Party’s Prayers on Fire.

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THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

birthday-party-the

We went from a raw garage band through experimentalism back to raw blues almost. It was kind of like that, we just ended up doing raw, violent experimental music.

Mick Harvey, Stranded, 1996

Formed: 1978 (as The Boys Next Door), Melbourne, Australia

Featured album: Prayers on Fire (1981)

IF HELL WERE a circus, and that circus had a strip club, The Birthday Party would be its house band. One of the most blasphemous and licentious groups to emerge from the post-punk movement, their career was an all-too short and brutish plummet from grace, filled with drugs, debauchery and some of the most violently original music to come out of Australia both then or since.

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BUTTHOLE SURFERS

Butthole Surfers

We… come from the same place of just hating what we heard, and wanting to make something that was even worse that people would hate even more and somehow get paid for it. That’s what we were trying to do; make the worst records possible.

Paul Leary, Our Band Could Be Your Life, 2001

Formed: 1981, Texas, USA

Featured album: Locust Abortion Technician (1987)

IF IT’S TRUE what French symbolist Arthur Rimbaud said about a systematic derangement of the senses being the source of true creative inspiration, then the Butthole Surfers might just be America’s greatest artistic visionaries. There are few audio-visual experiences as mind-shatteringly disorientating – to band and audience alike – as a Butthole Surfers show.

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