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Listed: Petit Mal + Golden Triangle

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: U.K. post-punk duo Petit Mal and Brooklyn contemporaries Golden Triangle.

Listed: Petit Mal + Golden Triangle

Petit Mal

Petit Mal are Melanie Gilligan and Benedict Seymour, an artist and writer respectively, who first started to publicly release music as part of the Antifamily collective in London. The duo have been described as practicing a kind of electro-pop fusion of Chris and Cosey and Alain Robbe-Grillet, with Gilligan’s icily melancholic vocals and Seymour’s synths and piano staking out an unironic reinvention of post-punk and electro sounds. Their single “Crisis in the Credit System” failed to penetrate the charts, but is, as far as they know, the only song to predict the current collapse of capitalism as we have unfortunately known it.

Petit Mal have just released their eponymous first album on Difficult Fun records. They will be in New York, playing a series of live shows to promote the album this March, with date at the Sculpture Centre in Queens on March 15.

Ben’s 5:

1. Brian EnoAnother Green World (1975)
I like this record for many qualities: the combination of acoustic and electronic sounds, its elegance and lyricism alongside more abrasive and melancholy moments. The combination of pulsing bass synth and deep, metronomic piano together with Robert Fripp’s astringent, skirling guitar produces a sound that still seems totally new.

2. Wim MertensStruggle for Pleasure (1983) & Maximizing the Audience (1985)
Mertens’ hypnotic, urgent, new wave piano music (with amazing touches of crumhorn, drum machines and vocals) not only makes the piano ultramodern but even manages to make minimalism emotive. I like some Terry Riley but Philip Glass and Nyman are mostly too pompous, too ready for their afterlife in big concert halls. Mertens’ music never sounds like an exercise and is simultaneously more ascetic and more emotive. And Mertens looked cool! Check out You Tube for proof.

3. Paul BleyOpen, To Love
A spare, loose and precise approach to piano music that emphasizes how nothing happens over something or space rather than activity, ground as much as figure. Not that all music doesn’t run on some version of this, but in Bley’s interpretations he seems to be making a point of what he isn’t playing.

4. ClusterGrosses Wasser (1979)
To continue the keyboard theme, this is another great album for transfigured piano. Cluster exude a certain German efficiency that borders on the clinical but even in the chugging and shuffling roboticisms a warm dark piano acts as a counterweight. It’s strummed and has a lot of reverb, and makes me think of the ultra minimal diagram-like line drawing on the outside cover. It’s spacious and generous but empty and graphic, but with an urgency that lends feeling to the restraint.

5. The AssociatesThe Affectionate Punch (1980)
I love the complex way these songs develop, more supple and with a wider musical range than much of the post-punk stuff now popular. There is an economy in the use of drum machines and synth lines but I like the interweaving and often slightly disjunct motifs, a certain sense of excess. I like the defiant pathos of it, immune to fainthearted irony and an embarrassment at emotion.

Melanie’s 5: Some new discoveries and old favorites…

1. The FatesFuria (1985)
As far as I know this is the only album by The Fates, a band formed by Una Baines, the first keyboard player for The Fall who went AWOL early on. Its punk attitude rubs weirdly against the folkish (Wiccan, even) campfire song or chant-style of many of the tracks but forthright feminist lyrics manage to suture these otherwise contradictory elements. Its bursts of vocal harmony and ceremonial drums create a strange and fragile kind of mischief, adding to the beauty of its catchy and haunting melodies.

2. Red Krayola with Art & LanguageKangaroo? (1981)
For a long time this was my favorite Red Krayola album, recorded with Lora Logic a bit before she and the band did the theme song to the movie Born in Flames. An Old Man’s Dream approaches psychoanalysis from a class perspective and tells the discipline where to shove its misconceptions, using Logic’s topsy-turvy vocals and a base line with a lot of bounce as the vehicle. Plekanov is simply Mayo Thompson singing Leftist text to heavily reverbed piano but it never fails to get me.

3. Michele Fedrigotti and Danilo LorenziniI fiori del sole (1979)

This electronic piano album takes simple elements – Early music-influenced arrangements played solo and electronically processed – and makes them cyclical, meandering and dense. It is played with a peculiar serenity but also a relentless drive to try out its idea.

4. Brigitte FontaineBrigitte
One of Brigitte Fontaine’s sharpest albums, it is also the one most influenced by the politics of her time. Fontaine’s songs on this album are inventive, with lyrics that are incisive and often tough – on the family, social conventions, the State – but also deeply involved with emotions pulled in all directions.

5. Diane ThomeNew Music by Diane Thome (late 1980s?)
Not a favorite so much as intriguing, I bought this vinyl compilation of Diane Thome’s works for $6. While Thome may be undervalued, she achieved some important female firsts: the first woman to graduate with a music PhD from Princeton and by one account the first woman composer to write computer-synthesized music. She apparently spent her career in academia but the dramatic and atmospheric character of her compositions seem unorthodox (to my untrained ear at least). Levadi winds operatic vocal melodies influenced by Sephardic song around arpeggios of synthesizer harp. The mysterious mood of her music can veer into the transcendental, possibly even New Age-ish, but the core is discordant, provoking feelings of rupture not calm.

Golden Triangle

Golden Triangle took its name from the shape you get when you connect Memphis, Austin and Atlanta on a map. That’s where these playful garage rockers are from, but now they live and thrive in Brooklyn. Featuring current and ex-members of Angry Angles and Viva L’American Death Ray Music, the GT fit nicely into the city’s newly-appreciated garage rock scene, where everything sounds like it could be on In the Red or Goner Records. Golden Triangle actually got their start on Atlanta’s Rob’s House Records, a mostly wax label with a nose for talent, but have since jumped to Brooklyn (mostly vinyl) label Mexican Summer, a subsidiary of Kemado. The band’s LP hit the shelves last Tuesday. Expect a review soon.

1. Germs - Germs GI
Some of my favorite songs ever, especially “Lexicon Devil.” I loved it even more after reading the book Lexicon Devil – one of the greatest teenage novels ever.

2. Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Nico
My favorite band. I always hear something different when I throw on this joint. They made some messed-up pop songs, all twisted up in their way of doing things.

3. Monks - Black Monk Time
Any given song on this album will get people dancing like maniacs, including me - especially “Oh How To Do Now.” Their live footage that I’ve found on YouTube is pretty rad, too. They had some wild parties in Germany.

4. Ramones - Ramones
The Ramones always make me happy when I listen to them, no matter what mood I’m in. They were the masters of catchy pop. That girl from U.S. Girls said it best when she said that the element that is most memorable in songs is the singing, and its true – people always sing songs that they like – and everyone knows how to sing Ramones songs.

5. Grauzone - “Eisbär”
This song is a fave of mine for no particular reason. It’s just good to dance to. The bass line is nice. The Ooga Boogas did a cover of this when I saw them live last year, but they sang about panda bears I think, instead of the original German version. The panda bear version still sounded good.

6. Los Saicos - “Demolicion”
This is another song that’ll bring the house down if you’re deejaying somewhere.

7.The Seeds - The Seeds
One of my favorite all-time records that I listen to all the time. The original flower punks.

8. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Darklands
Just another album I always go back to, like that Velvet Underground one. Really pretty melodies that sound like lullabies. I’m into anything that sounds like a lullaby. All their songs are sing-a-longs, too.

9. Lydia Lunch - Atomic Bongoes
This reminds me of being out late in someone’s basement somewhere in New York, up to no good.

10. Joe Meek and the Blue Men - I Hear a New World
Joe Meek was obsessed with the occult and recording ghosts in the cemetery. I think he murdered his wife and committed suicide or something. But he did make some rad music before he died, and this album featured the first Chipmunks-sounding voices on record that I know of.

**Bonus** - Anything by King Khan and Mark Sultan. They have definitely mastered the art of catchy memorable songs. Just one listen to just about anything they come up with and it’s stuck with you for life – just like “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant. They are two of my favorite songwriters right now.

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