27 April 2011
"BED BUGS 1-3" LP
Art by Daniel Dugger / Design by Alice Lane
Available now on Private Leisure Industries , Bed Bugs 1-3 LP by Bryan Lewis Saunders. With music by Kaontrol Kontraos, Christopher Fleeger and Bryan Lewis Saunders.
Art by Daniel Dugger / Design by Alice Lane
I have a friend who I’ve been in a couple of bands with who is completely insane, and would go on rants out of nowhere. I always joked about recording him constantly and putting out an LP of him talking. If this is what it would turn into, I probably should have followed through. This record consists of stream-of-consciousness-style spoken word over found noise. The writing is awkward. The best way to describe the style and feeling is if you tried to imagine David Sedaris getting drunk and calling a suicide hotline. I really like this record even though I feel sort of dirty and voyeuristic when I listen to it. –Ian Wise
Didn’t care for the Trophy Wife single that Private Leisure Industries released, but this oddball “stand-up tragedy” album by Bryan Lewis Saunders (renowned multimedia artist, or so the press sheet says) is a doozy. It’s a pretty simple concept – Saunders rants about horrifying interpersonal relationships (briefly) and bedbugs (at length) with the sound of post-industrial squalor in the background, as if Saunders was a quarter-mile from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and some looters broke out into a gunfight while this album was recorded. Saunders hardly shuts up for the duration of Bedbugs 1-3, but he has no reason to do so, as his wounded, nefarious voice sits on your shoulder and burrows into your ear slowly and effectively. He sounds legitimately mad, in the “tragically insane” sense, especially as he describes the gruesome, horrifying habits of bedbugs. There’s no way you won’t be checking under your mattress after Saunders is through with you. I can’t imagine I’d ever play this record for anyone else, it’s simply too uncomfortable to hear in the presence of another human being, but it’s the legit fright and grotesqueness Saunders invokes that makes Bedbugs 1-3 such an engrossing experience. Save the money you were planning on spending on Saw 8 and creep yourself out with this instead.
Got this 12" in from Private Leisure Industries, a full length from Bryan Lewis Saunders, who turns out to be an album of stand-up tragedy. This got me thinking about the late '90s when KRS had their "Wordcore" single series...I forgot that their first release was a split spoken word album... (actually the first 10! - ed), and I remember a friend working at a station upstate and playing a lot of this guy... I can't find his name or album anywhere....all I remember is some kind of beat behind him while he talked about how 12 packs of soda are so cheap they really start fucking with you thinking you could start selling soda...eating fast food, not having any money...sort of like Slacker, but angry...just bitching about everything. But this poetry slam stuff seemed to be going around during that period....don't forget John S. Hall, detachable penis, the resurgence of The Beats appreciation...Gap khaki ad's with Kerouac, apple ad's with Ginsburg, unpublished letters anthologies, documentaries...a huge show at the whitney...I think it was around this time that Burroughs did some kind of collaboration with Kurt Cobain? Or Henry Rollins putting out spoken word and poetry books....I guess looking back there was a fair amount of dealing with this untapped genre. It wasn't just artists reading their already published work anymore it was coming up with material that was specific only to the recorded piece. I feel like that's where we get to Bryan...sure there's a huge 20 page xerox booklet in the liner notes with the lyrics to the tracks, but I feel like these three specific pieces are so tied to the sounds happening in concert that it hopefully elevates it beyond just spoken word? At least I think that would sort of be the next logical step for anyone bringing this back.
There's three massive tracks here all titled "Bedbugs 1-3". The first one gets into a tragic relationship with a pretty messed up girl, with a droning nightmare background. His slightly distorted vocals, weirdly phrased, half singing at times, are at points delivered with a low measured unemotional repeated rhythm and other times he breaks out of character to get scary, or pan the story back and forth across the speakers. It's not a story with a narrative plot, I think a lot of it comes off as disjointed prose diary entries, as weird as that waking dream must have been. Or really high composition notebooks.
It's also reminding me of Joe Frank and his awesomely weird stories on NPR Sunday nights...he's a lot like Bryan, coming up with a whole experience, it's not just a reading, but using all audio to create this weird atmosphere.
This second track is tough.. thanks to a morse code style beeping that repeats on and on for the entire half side of the A-Side, with Bryan barely drunk mumbling underneath. The shrill high pitch tones at random intervals....I'm sure it was thought out enough to represent something, but I haven't been able to properly get through this one. It's impossible to pay attention to what he's saying, and maybe that's the point. An audio bedbug is caught in this one, always there, impossible to get rid of.
The B-Side starts out with an entertaining tv channel 11 report about a bedbug infestation, and interviewing some guy who talks about wearing layers of clothes and tucking them in...I got news for him, in Greenpoint everyone has bedbugs...you either have a reaction to their bites or you don't...it's like mice or roaches...deal with them. They are totally disgusting, but what are you going to do? Honestly the solution is worse than the problem...spraying everything you own with poisons...wrapping everything in plastic for months. They live forever. Bryan really fucking hates these things....I don't blame him. I just know resisting is completely futile. Unless everyone in brooklyn...in the world deals with them all at once. They'll just come from the apt next door...it will make you insane and take over your life. I understand where Bryan is coming from...it's hard to listen to his whispered clinical diagnosis of the problem. I honestly don't want to hear it...it's completely paranoid...the ramblings of a madman....but this is where Bryan's at by the end of this ordeal. I sympathize.
I will play this for the kids trick or treating.
Pure psychological manipulation permeates Bryan Lewis Saunders’ Bed Bugs 1-3 LP (Private Leisure Industries). One of several 2011 releases by the Johnson City, Tennessee stand-up tragedian (and he’s already a few deep into 2012!), Saunders holds back nothing on both sides of this slab. His relentless, almost breathless, spoken delivery, and ability to effectively pursue different personalities on a track-by-track basis effectively results in an anxiety-inducing release. Yes, I was almost compelled to pull up the needle, but I endured, and I’m not sure that I’m a better person for it. If I quit, though, I wouldn’t be able to tell you about how thoroughly Saunders explores a dark unconscious and fear.
Atop two separate building drones across the first side, Saunders supplies disturbed vocal ruminations that puncture hope for healthy social interaction or self-care. The personality Saunders conveys on the first side is severely penetrated, which destroys his guard (and contrasts well with the paranoid second side). On the flip, Saunders opens and closes with Johnson City newscasts about bed bug infestations in a high-rise residential building. Saunders himself presents a rapid-fire, frayed anxiety, running through the horrific helplessness and entrapment of a mind infested with bed bugs. By the time the LP closes, Saunders’ characters are completely resigned, following their initial puncture and penetration. B-R-U-T-A-L! - Nicholas Zettel (foxydigitalis.com)