Billy Bao - Urban Disease (2010)
Beyond having heard this album, I ceased trying to stay up to date on Billy Bao two years ago when I dismissively threw Dialectics of Shit into a pile with Rusted Shut, i.e. like Brainbombs but not as funny and without the killer riffs. Just pounding headache inducing garbage that I don't particularly enjoy listening to. The 7" and 10" that came before weren't all that different but they were certainly shorter, which is always a good thing. There's a story behind this band but I don't know which parts are true, if the singer is some Nigerian guy howling at oppression or when Mattin joined or if he just fabricated that entire backstory as part of his "conceptual art" schtick that he has going on. All I have is the internet to inform me about these things. There's only so much vague bullshit that I'm willing to wade through.
Let me try, though. This two sided vinyl adventure contains the earliest Billy Bao recordings? Maybe? They're from almost a whole half decade ago, perhaps? The press release said something about Mr. Bao inviting people over to perform Psychedelic Underground in its entirety. Maybe that happened. Maybe the music on here is something else that isn't that. And maybe Mattin fucked with it a considerable amount and that's why there are long stretches of silence jarringly ripped open by primal noisemaking with even more noisemaking smeared over it.
The only thing that puts this within the previously established Billy Bao aesthetic is that it's so listener unfriendly. The music itself has little to do with the sort of punishing downtuned racket that is normally found on the records released under the Billy Bao name. And perhaps this is where the Amon Düül fascination comes in, considering that it begins with a brief passage of inane yelping drum circle freakout bullshit. After all, isn't Psychedelic Underground about as fuzzed to shit as the stuff happening within the grooves of Urban Disease? "Ein wunderhubsches Madchen traumt von Sandosa" began with a stream of white noise blasting its wad out of the mix and it was almost as painful as any of the torturously blunt editing choices that Mattin (???) makes on here.
I'm not sure if this album proves that Billy Bao's roots lie in freeform psych or what amount of influence Mattin has over the group's recordings or anything at all. The sawing power electronics brutality at the beginning of side B certainly reminds me of side B of List of Profound Insecurities, his recorded collaboration with Drunkdriver. But then I hear that followed by two minutes of retarded ELP style prog jazz wankoff and I have no clue what to think. And then ending it all with a synth/drum machine dirge that sounds like Supersilent finally laying down a rough demo for their early Cure recalling goth pop crossover smash... fuck. Urban Disease suggests that there is a hell of a lot more to Billy Bao than "noise rock." There are plenty of moments identifiable as being grounded in some kind of junky but highly dynamic approach to improv but then there's the matter of Mattin, and if he really is responsible for arranging such a bizarre assortment of sounds into a two sided Long Player format... well, kudos to him. Whenever he did this. If he did this. I've never heard an album quite like Urban Disease and it's easily 2010's most confounding releases, but also one of the best.