Stunning and extensive collection of original artwork, album covers, and two lengthy reference books — all describing a vast imaginary world of 20th century rock-and-roll that never existed.
Very good plus.
[Alternate Universe Record Collection]
"AND THEREAFTER THE SEA WAS DRAINED OF ITS FURY AND SANK INTO THE STONE OCEAN OF THOUGHT - AS THE PROCESSION MARCHED ON IN STRANGE HALLUCINATING TRANCE"<br /><br /><br />"I'M SINKING DOWN INTO WASTED EARTH / THE ECOLOGICAL DEVASTATION BEYOND CONTROL / I'M FIGHTING A WAR WITH NO CAUSE OR REASON / ETERNAL DAMNATION GRIPS AT MY SOUL!" <br /><br />"Dark mellotron and synthesizers, screaming guitar. This freaked me out the first time I heard it. And I wrote the song!"
Introducing the auto-fanfictive outsider art of The Indoor Kid — a Henry Darger of Greil Marcuses, Syd Barrett of Daisy Ashfords, Robert Christgau of Richard Dadds — who fell through the pages of ten thousand music magazines into a wonderland of his own making. The anonymous creator (hereafter The Artist) fashioned an entirely fictitious musical universe. From dozens of albums drawn and collaged over actual LPs (as well as what might perhaps best be described as concept art for those albums) to extensive accompanying commentaries whose tone owes a great deal both to zines of old and the once-popular Encyclopedias of Rock, the impression is one of carpeted suburban bedrooms and children longing to escape both backwards into lost decades and forwards into the autonomy and sexuality of imagined adulthood. The Artist's mock-authoritative assertions of judgment and offhand omniscience speak of a child raised by a stacks of ROLLING STONE and CREAM in lieu of the foundling's traditional pack of wolves. His major fascinations — psychedelia, the particular flavor of British whimsy that preceded it, and hippie-tinged heavy metal of the Zeppelin-Black Sabbath era— are all in line with this lineage, and with the character of the solitary late-'80s adolescent.
THE DREAM OF FAME BEATS FAME ITSELF:
The Artist's record collection most immediately calls to mind the work of Mingering Mike, the D.C.-based self-made recording artist who constructed scores of fake albums, by "unheard artists such as Joseph War, the Big 'D,' and Rambling Ralph, on labels such as Fake Records, Inc., Decision, Sex, and Mother Goose" (Hadar). Discovered at a flea market in the early 2000s, Mike's work found instant cult and early online fame. The present collection, however, can be dated with a great deal of confidence to the mid-late 1980s through perhaps the very early 1990s (from the issue dates of the original repurposed albums, as well as triangulating particular contemporary references, coupled with certain early laser-print fonts). Thus, while it is almost certainly impossible that the one could have influenced the other, the similarities of technique, imagination, and single-minded dedication in their respective oeuvres are striking.
Their art styles, however, are highly individuated. Though both may be placed under the broad umbrella of outsider art, our Artist abhors a vacuum; he does not have Mike's appreciation of negative space. Lacking any formal skills or apparent training, and with a representational style much younger than his assumed years, he works in blasts of color, in layers of collage and pen and children's marker, in puns and allusions and call-backs both verbal and visual. And whereas Mingering Mike's invented record labels and bands lent verisimilitude to his own fantasied career in which he was the star, The Artist is self-effacing to a fault. His dream is pure and strange. Not so much the protagonist of this created world, but its chronicler, publicist. In short, that most reviled and necessary of creatures: the rock journalist.
"OPIUM: ONE OF THE MOST POTENT DRUGS. NOW THE NAME OF A NEW ROCK AND ROLL BAND."
Clearly a deep reader, if only of music journalism, the artist scatters little gems in the corners. Little clusters of mini-trends pop up in band names: the exquisitely named Sand Witch, Witch-ita Falls, Witching Hour, and Witches Comettee [sic]; Mezzanine, Anecdote, and The Syntax Man; Tar-O and the O-CULT Band. Elsewhere there's a knowing nod to the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band, clearly a source of inspiration; a song called "Austin Osmanspare," described as a "creepy tale of a black magic practitioner"; a reference to vocals (vocals!) like H.P. Lovecraft. Well-versed in the style of Bangsian word-omelettes ("a sound full of ponderous organ, pounding, plodding rhythms, screaming operatic vocals, fast blitzkrieg-Bach-inspired guitar runs"), some of the song titles are undoubtedly jokes on purpose: "Who When And Where Is Our Love Machine," "Soldier Sentry Squabbie (Cockleshell Army)", "666 (All in the Name of Satan)," Death Banquet's "Let Me Bludgeon You" followed by "No, No, No (Don't Break The China," and the magisterial "Surrender Your Arms (Sexual Metaphor)."
Meanwhile, the real world does exist, but is kept resolutely peripheral: nods to Timothy Leary, praise from George Harrison, glowing comparisons to Ozzy Osbourne and sneering ones to Michael Bolton creep in. Occasionally, a deep-cut cover appears, like "Magic Handkerchief" (Bown/Bannister), always scrupulously attributed. In a stroke of crossover genius, one of the two encyclopedic notebooks explains that the (imaginary) band Iron Maiden had to change its name when the other (real) Iron Maiden got too famous. Poets too feature not only in certain liner notes ("The group are heavily into Shelly [sic], Byron, Keats, William Blake, and Sigfried Sasoon [sic]") but also most intriguingly in one unique piece of album art: "Strange Games" by "WILLIAM BLAKE." Unlike all the others, however, this album incorporates actual photographs of a teenage boy, sulking theatrically for the camera in a red-collared black cape, heavy bangs, and incipient wispy mustache. We suspect the subject of being the artist, and if we are correct, his choice of pseudonym is impeccable.
ENTRANCE TO THE SOLAR MINE
What became of the creator is unknown and likely unknowable. Perhaps, like Mingering Mike, he decided that "the dream of fame beats fame itself" (Washington City Paper). Perhaps he put away childish things and went on to be a sober and square maker of spreadsheets and never reminisced about a single song no one else had ever heard. Or perhaps he struggled when abruptly deposited in an adult world more real, but less beloved, than his own — a sadly more likely scenario as this collection was rescued from a storage locker auction.
What is known for certain, however, is that the most compelling of pasts is the dream-past just before one's own birth, well-remembered by parents and better-known to cool older siblings, but eternally opaque to oneself. It is tragically the strangest history of all, farthest away yet tantalizingly close. One cannot remember it, so one invents. Wasn't Satanic Brittanica's "Moanin' Alone (If You Leave Me, Girl)" a banger? And that the song "Bastard" by Dallas sure rocks. Tune the FM dial of the aimless drives of youth. You remember.
Read more: Dori Hadar, Mingering Mike: The Imaginary Career of a Soul Superstar; Jason Cherkis, Washington City Paper, "The Return of the Magnificent Mingering."
n.p. [circa 1986-1990]. Collection includes the following 101 items: 52 original hand-colored and collaged record album sleeves. Two handwritten clamp-bound journals. Six color xerox reproductions and 41 original color marker-and-collage artworks (for a subtotal of 47 different images; the color xeroxes do not reproduce any of the original works present, and though some band names and iconographic motifs recur, no images repeat from the album covers.) Collaged materials include one piece with several original photographs of a young man tentatively identified as the anonymous artist. All materials show minor wear with occasional glue separation of artwork from original album cover; on the whole, spectacularly well preserved. A complete inventory is available, as well as a document with further sample quotes.
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