VIDEO PREMIERE: RUBBER BLANKET “APESMA”
Before everyone was so excited about tigers there was Wounded Lion, the L.A. band born a little too late to out-hardcore the hardcore on those 70s/80s comps where only the so-called “art punk” kept their strange potency for decades. Not that the Lion didn’t destroy in their own cheerful way—their delirious cover of “20th Century Boy” was a particular bar exploder—but their best songs had some irreducible ultra-dense core of primal truth so plainly spoken it almost seemed funny, which might have something to do with Pere Ubu‘s realization that it was just a joke, man. And now the irreducible core of Wounded Lion—vocalist/guitarist Brad Eberhard, multi-instrumentalist and sometime L.A. RECORD graphics master Jun Ohnuki, reinforced by sympathetic spirit Lars Finberg, probably best known for his unflagging Intelligence—emerge from the fog of fur and ozone left by the Lion’s disintegration with their new invention Rubber Blanket, which offers comfort and security more than even the name could imply.
Blanket are proudly influenced by some of the murkiest surviving Screamers tapes—something in full display on the first track of their recent full-length Our Album, out now on Space Case, and something just barely off screen in this cover of “Apes-Ma,” final track on Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller).
It’s a cyborg reanimation illustrated with a blizzard of primary-color pixels and a bank of circuit-jamming semi-subliminals, including (says RGB-wrangler Ohnuki) “video screenshots featuring Larry Fischer, Eugene from Decline of Western Civilization Part 1, and my favorite mid-century Japanese textile designer and Living—back then—National Treasure, Keisuke Serizawa.” (“Clearly a result of quarantine,” he adds.) And it moves with the relentless momentum of an Atari 2600 glitching into a moment of apparent semi-sentience. Maybe you remember those rare times when everything went inexplicably wrong and the game seemed to take back control from the player? Truly was it Yar’s revenge.
The original “Apes-Ma” is already psychically disorienting, but it takes on an almost aerodynamic smoothness next to Rubber Blanket’s bristly digital-primitive backing and man-vs-machine call and response. (Something of Threads‘ retro-apocalyptic “skeletons … and skulls” energy in play here, maybe?) Think of those hissy Hardcore Devo demos, made by people in basements for other people in basements—music so underground it never ever saw the surface. But it’s cooler down below, and that’s good for these kind of primitive machines, which as you remember tend to throw off a lot of heat if used improperly, or misused properly. That’s what Rubber Blanket is accessing here: that evolutionary moment when digital music was new and nature—no, sorry, culture—was trying every survival strategy at once. Coelacanth music: built to survive at depth and persist in the benthic regions for aeons.