Sam Kulik
“So You Want to Be a Slug”

I think I can give you this gist of this video. I’ll try, at least. (If you hate spoilers, I recommend actually watching before you take in the following prose).

There are exactly two main advantages to being a slug. The first is the fact that slugs, outside from being squished on the sidewalk, are rarely intentionally murdered by people. The other advantage of being a slug is that they are very gross.

If you don’t get it, I don’t exactly blame you, but there is hope. A little background might be useful: This here is a video for a track from the new record by Sam Kulik. For this project, the New York musician and Talibam! collaborator has written several compositions in the style of the song poem, which is a form popularized decades ago by magazines, comics, and tabloids wherein amateur poets would send publications a set of lyrics, to which the magazine would respond by hiring a semi-professional musician to compose and record a song set to the submitted words. They would print the recording either in single copies (typically on 45 RPM records or cassette tapes) or include them on larger compilations. The music, which was often produced in single takes, would come out pretty shoddy, use recycled melodic material, and feature whoever happened to be in the studio at the time of the decision to use any given lyrical submission. The idea at once seems like a lazy attempt to give hopeful authors a false sense of importance in exchange for a quick buck on behalf of the publications. But the results, to Kulik, were certainly more artistically and culturally fruitful than just that. Hence, we have this incredibly weird record, Escape from Society.

Kulik based his music around submitted lyrics as well, and though the tunes carry a similar sort of carefree whimsy, the conscious adherence to the approach in and of itself makes his recordings sound much more careful and composed. In the specific case of “So You Want to Be a Slug,” which features lyrics by Steve Hockensmith, Kulik uses a hypnotic scale to give this simple riff an intensely heavy Sun Ra dose of psychedelia that is extremely effective, even more psychedelic given the deadpan nature of the performance, mirrored in Kulik’s serious stares throughout the clip. The whole thing slaps you in the face with exactly what it is and what it’s about, over and over again: An insane trip of self-referentiality/spiritual discovery. And a lot of slugs.

There’s much, much more information about the record on Kulik’s website and a really interesting podcast with detailed explanations of the tracks that appear on the record, the influence behind each, and insight into Kulik’s obsession with song poems. Highly recommended.

• Sam Kulik:

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.