The Birds in the Bushes (with Lemon Bears Orchestra)
Rock critics, present company included, throw around the term "primitive" too
much. We use it to describe instrumentally underdeveloped but effective music.
In my mind, the word "primitive" alludes to pre-homosapien humanoids. When
describing an artist, the word, then, describes a caveman-like tribe
semi-rhythmically smashing rocks together in some type of ceremony around a
fire. From all the critical mythos surrounding The Godz, the first time I heard
them, I expected them to be a bunch of Cro-Magnon men communicating in grunts
with a guitar being played like it dropped out of the sky from a portal to the
future. It'd take someone pretty unpretentious and wacky to make something I
could simply grace with the "primitive" label.
Inca Ore is a wacky lady. She has an affinity for shouting Dadist,
free-association poetry and clanging pots and pans. Occasionally, she imitates
animals and blows a slide whistle. Her backing band, Lemon Bears Orchestra,
creates banging and scraping sounds and sometimes adds to Ore's animal battle
cries. Occasionally, there is a reverb-ridden flute line thrown into the mix to
remind us it is the 21st century. The whole thing is an organic chaos with a
very urban tint.
The majority of the songs on the album revolve around loose, almost calamitous
percussion and Ore's spoken-in-tongues vocal chanting. Ore's nonsensical
blathering echoes the language-approximation methods of the Sun City Girls but,
unlike the Girls, Ore never seems like she is attempting to be coherent. Even
when she is shouting in English, her sentences seem disembodied from any
meaning. Her voice evokes a child's wide vocal range — from the ethereality of
playground chants to the anger of a hissy fit.
One such hissy fit provides the album's best moment. The horrific "Glossolalia
the Gift of the Tongue" finds Ore shouting like Punky Brewster as her backing
band rips a piano's chords and provides clinking sword percussion and a bizarre
low moan. A venomous mix of insanity and disorientation occurs.
A lost-in-the-woods motif runs through a lot of Ore's compositions. The group
emits animal chants and vocal imitations of natural sounds to a backdrop of odd
percussive timing or perhaps weird piano clanging. Even when the group employs a
limited use of dissonant fuzz, as they do on the expansive mindfuck "Cape Meares,"
it seems organic. Of course, the lost-in-the-woods motif leads to an inevitable
fluting and guitar strumming on "Blue Train," but Ore and the Bears never fall
prey to the nostalgia hang ups many of their peers demonstrate. Instead, the
band floats the flute sounds in an eerie manor and uses a guitar to imitate a
slow moving train, highlighting dual vocal melody that sounds like the Manson
family reinterpreting the Velvet Underground's "Murder Mystery."
A sexual gloss adds flavor to the calamity. One of the male members of Lemon
Bears Orchestra provides a rhythmic thrusting voice for the percussion on "Lucky
One." Ore works her way into orgasmic swing, slowly building a chant along to
the point of a scream filled with ecstasy and violence. It's one of the first
times I've heard bare animalistic sexuality replicated perfectly in sound art
The Birds in the Bushes is a step away from the doldrums of the whole
freak folk, new weird jive, but it is not an album that will appeal to a broad
audience. To the unwilling/untrained ear, the album sounds like a cataclysmic
mess of clanging and screaming. In his two and a half sentence review of Inca
Ore's album for Rock-A-Rolla, Bobby Bone wrote: "The result is an
unlistenable and irritating mess of clatter, hissing and chanting. Absolute
nonsense." Some people just aren't evolved enough to appreciate the primitive.
1. The Garden and the Awakening Orchard
2. Spine Milk
3. Blue Train
4. Glossolalia the Gift of the Tongue
5. The Birds in the Bushes
6. 1950's Beatnik Poetry
7. Metal Storm
8. Lucky One
9. Cape Meares
10. I Will Kill You
11. Forest Feeling