Alleee and Franc's
INSOLITOLOGY

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Thrill!
To the The Dulcet Tones of
Insolitous Music


I'm not speaking about "experiemental music," where people have "happenings" and hit garbage with ingots and play casio keyboards with cars honking and then a girl standing behind the composer screams "RAPE!" Although that would be sweet. I am speaking more of a kind of music made by folks with little music education and maybe even less talent: people who sometimes just don't care what others think about their lack of sophistication, and have great integrity and honesty. These folks are rare. Then there are the ones who are a little slow, or a bit autistic yet creative, or are just plain psychotic.

The urge to express creativity and vision does not discriminate. Some would wish it did. Some of these folks have enough money to ally themselves with those in the know, and some of these people are Jessica Simpson. But we at Insolitology know the difference between that and what is interesting. It's interesting that we care about.

The Incorrect Music Show

If you do not wish to throw yourself head first into the sometimes cold and muddy waters of Insolitous Music there is no place better for you to go than The Incorrect Music Show with Irwin Chusid (I'll speak more of him in a second) and Michelle Boule.

Incorrect Music was a show on WFMU, a station from Jersey city, that played from '99 to May of 2002. Luckily, we are blessed with hours and hours of archived shows on Real Audio. Irwin and Michelle helped us understand and process music that is, at times, not particularly digestible. I will be introducing you to some of the crackpots, lone geniuses and insolitologists you will encounter listening to these shows. So take my advice, set aside some good listening time and listen to all of these shows. I mean all of them, and become an Outsider insider.



Robert Alberg

Martian Sands mp3

From CD Street's review of Robert Alberg's Self-named CD:

This album is everything I was expecting and MORE! The melodies rival just about any of the mainstream boy bands and alberg does all of the songwriting and producing himself, which just proves how talented he truly is compared to the fake groups created by the music industry. This is a little poppy, but definitely has an edgy sound which will appeal to more indie fans. All in all this album should appeal to just about anybody!

The most accurate review I've ever read.

If you are a pretty single lady in the Kirkland area, and you've just been made aware that Bobby is single, don't bother writing. Even if it is years after I have written this article, and Robert has been released from the hospital that took him in last fall for some....mental evaluation. It's just probably not the greatest idea you've had, dear single lady. Sio go find a hunky serial killer to write letters to.

From Edition Manifold.com

Among the many schemes devised by Robert Alberg before being taken into custody was a plan to build his own spaceship and to poison the country's water supply. The intended outcome for each of these schemes was simple: to die. They are methods for suicide that could only be devised by someone completely out of touch with reality and Alberg is, indeed, just that.

Alberg was arrested after someone noticed he was buying a lot of castor seed from seed catalogs. He was making ricin (not a good idea post-9/11) in his basement and was writing strange letters about the water supply. Of course, what he had was hardly enough to be a problem. The FBI realized he was autistic, his family finally realized they couldn't just leave him to his own devices and thankfully they got him some help. It's a good thing he was able to write Martian Sands beforehand, or we would all be poorer for it.

Shooby Taylor: The Human Horn

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing mp3

Anyone wishing to hold the title of insolitologist should right now be asking himself "who is this Shooby Taylor, and why...just why?" We have suffered from this mystery until the summer of 2002, thanks to the efforts of folks like musical insolitologist Irwin Chusid, who was able to visit William Taylor, and record their conversation, after having written a chapter on him in his book, Songs in the Key of Z. Not only did he bless us with this interview (here in Real Audio, but he eventually was given all the master reels of Shooby's recordings, which he is transferring. Score!

From Irwin Chusid's website, Key of Z--Shooby Taylor

Taylor was happy we'd come to visit, and quickly sparked to life. He'd been expecting his son William, Jr. to visit two days before, but WT Jr. was a no-show, and didn't call. This had lowered the elder Taylor's spirits. But he welcomed his two guests, and sat up in bed to get acquainted. He was outgoing and colorful, a relic with a legendary past, brimming with folksy wisdom and hosannas to Jesus. It was like meeting Satchel Paige.

Spoken like a true insolitologist.
Shooby has been described as having a "quixotic" career as a scatman. It sounds about right. Check out the video of his efforts at The Apollo. According to the interview with Chusid, Shooby was really sad about being minstrelled off the stage. He thought they didn't want his style, the way he held his imaginary horn, the way he sang to recorded music. He did have the last laugh, though, because David Letterman and his audience appreciated him just the way he was.

Shooby unfortunately passed away in the early summer of 2003. He was 74.

Rodd Keith
Beat of the Traps mp3

You write the poems, Rodd records them. Not a bad deal, since "you" could be any ya-hoo who doesn't know the first thing about poetry or lyric writng, and Rodd was a musical master, a genius, if not so sober all the time. Write a terrible, misspelled, splotchy poem about how you feel about The Foreigners on a napkin, and Rodd could turn that garbage into something sublime--or not--for a small fee.

Rodd is not the only noted song-poem interpreter. There's also Dick Castle (Elmer Plinger) as shown on the left. Regardless of the obvious talents of folks such as Buddy Raye (what was the name again? Dick Kent?), Rodd Keith (Rodney Eskelin) just is a lot sexier. He has a back story, and a dark side. The best way to learn about this song-poem hero is to read the above-mentioned website by his estranged son, Ellery (also a gifted musician), or you can listen to this:
This American Life Interview, Blame it on Art. The interview is in act three.

The best way to hear all you can of Rodd, and I'm sure you want to, is to buy this cd, I Died Today. Don't think you can just go to The American Song-Poem Music Archives and download to your heart's content. Since they came out with The American Song Poem Anthology, you can't do that anymore. Shucks.

Alvin Dahn

Don't Throw Your Dreams Away mp3
Alvin Dahn Studio Time Take 1 in RealAudio
Alvin Dahn Session Take 2 in Real Audio

From the website:
Alvin Dahn (rhymes with "man") is a former college custodial engineer and mausoleum crypt salesman. In the early 1990s, convinced that pop stardom beckoned, he quit his job, forked over a wad of borrowed cash and, with topnotch session players, recorded an album at a Buffalo, NY studio. Allegedly self-taught on 50 instruments and imbued with a "determination and desire to make [a] mark in the music industry," Dahn genre-surfed from country to ballads to disco in a voice that'll never be mistaken for Mel Tormé, but with arrangements that revealed a stunning sophistication. By the time the album was finished, so were his finances, and the collection remains unreleased.

One engineer who worked with Alvin at the time writes: "He was pretty confident that he was the next John Lennon, and his music was gonna top the charts. I don't think I've met a less musical person in my life, but he was convinced that he was 'the bomb.' At first it was torture working on the project, but after a while I began to realize just how special these performances were." Since then, bootleg tapes have been circulating and Alvin has unwittingly achieved cult status.


Irwin Chusid has taken the same kind of hits that we at Insolitology.com have, regarding the supposedly cruel exposure of people like Dahn. "It's exploitation!" they yell. But time and time again, the subjects of insolitology appreciate that their music and their messages are getting the exposure they want and deserve. An article in Boston.com states:

Chusid has been taken to task both in the pages of the Village Voice and by relatives of the artists. "[Outsider musician] Alvin Dahn's wife cried when she first heard `Songs in the Key of Z,' " he says. "She couldn't believe he was in this category. But Alvin said, `I don't know what an outsider is, but if it brings me more listeners, I'm happy.' "

For The People! The Most Wanted and Most Unwanted Songs

This American Life often has shows dealing with music, insolitologists, and music insolitologists. One of the most entertaining shows was called Numbers, wherien Dave Soldier and Komar & Melamid mathematically discover The Most and Least Wanted Songs, available on their website. The radio program is the only place where you can hear these, as far as I know. From the website:

A poll, written by Dave Soldier, was conducted on Dia's web site in Spring 1996. Approximately 500 visitor's took the survey. Dave Solder and Nina Mankin used the survey results to write music and lyrics for the Most Wanted and Most Unwanted songs. The Most Wanted Song: a musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably “liked” by 72 ± 12% of listeners. The Most Unwanted Song: fewer than 200 individuals of the world’s total population will enjoy this.

Most Wanted Song Sample
Most Unwanted Song Sample

Meet the Musicological
Insolitologists


Otis Fodder
Brilliant Pillows mps from the album Two Zombies Later

Otis Fodder of Seattle, Washington, is a name you'll hear often on The Incorrect Music Show. He not only arranges and records stings and intros for the show, but provides all kinds of tracks. Otis can't be called simply a musicological insolitologist, though. Otis is a composer and musician alone and with The Bran Flakes, a band that practices the art of musical collage. So Otis Fodder is a musicological insolitologist of musical collage.

The best thing about Otis is that he's the connection. He offers more music than anyone would ever need, all free. You'll find plenty of mp3s on his personal site and the Bran Flakes' site--but hold on--then you've got Comfort Stand.

"Welcome to Comfort Stand Recordings, a community-driven label where all releases are free with artwork and liner notes. We strive to bring you recordings that we find interesting, compelling and downright enjoyable. Everybody needs free music."

Indeed we do, Otis. Indeed we do. 514 pages of your catalog, to be exact.

Since Otis is a super-resource in himself, you might want to wet your feet in his countenance a little bit first. For that, I suggest you listen to Friendly Persuasion on Luxuria Music Radio, on Tuesdays at 9 pm Eastern time. Freindly Persuasion tends to have fantastically listenable playlists; at least in my estimation. For instance:

1. The People's Temple Choir: Welcome
2. Pepper Tanner: Imagination Radio
3. Jimmy Neeley for Actionwear: Actionwear Theme
4. Piero Piccioni: Spiral Waltz (Luxuria Instrumental-Vocal Mix)
5. Serge Gainsbourg: L'Eau A La Bouche
6. Lilian Atterer & das Orchester Maurice Pop: Weil Ich So Sexy Bin
7. Public Service Announcement: It's a Good Time to Buy a New Car
8. Andre Brasseur: Pow Pow
9. Youth For Christ International: A Teen Talks


And so on. You get the picture.

Irwin Chusid:" WFMU Radio Personality, Author, Producer, Music Historian, Landmark Preservationist, Media Hacker."
The Answer LIVE with the Ray Siliconiff Singers: Irwin Chusid, Michelle Boulé, Sport Murphy, and Amy Anderson from WFMU on May 16th 2001

From Irwin Chusid's Songs In The Key of Z:

Outsider music sometimes develops naturally. In other cases, it could be the product of damaged DNA, psychotic seizures, or alien abduction. perhaps medical malpractice, incarceration, or simple drug-fry triggers its evolution. Maybe shrapnel in the head. Possession by the devil--or submission to Jesus. Chalk it up to communal upbringing or bad beer. There's no universal formula.
There's one characteristic that makes outsider music so refreshing: its unpredictability.


The above is precisely why I classify Irwin Chusid as an insolitologist: Those words could be as easily used to describe our Top Ten of Insolitology.

Chusid would not go to such lengths to preserve and promote such music we would otherwise never hear if he did not love it. And I'm glad he does.

More Insolitous Music Links


Weirdo Music: An independant, online music label with a great page of rotating downloads from the Musicalogical Insolitology Community. As you click on each album, notice that they too have links to the Oddio Universe, like Sem Sinatra, Dana Countryman, Bellybongo, Hepcat Willy, Space Debris, Basic Hip, and more.
Cake and Polka Parade: a blog with lots of smashups, odd recordings, Dutch artistic sensibilities, and other things for the creative listener.
Music For Maniacs: A very similar idea as above, only more to love!
Splusp!!!!!!!!! from Splogman's World, "an unidentified Sharity Program." Much of it is in Dutch, but it's mostly translated. Come on! See what weird stuff they have over there! Note the creative way they link to downloads and song info. You get to preview the album by clicking on a thumbnail of the album cover with bit from all of the songs. Click on the title to download the album. Very helpful, when, like me, you're going through a couple hundred files a day, looking for gems to add to an audio station.
Ubu Web's archive of 365 Days Project: In 2003, Otis Fodder curated a project wherein he called for cool and strange music, one track a day, for every day. Not only do you get the track, but you get somewhat of an explanation for it, and some helpful posted comments. A great resource, and it's terrific that Ubu is hosting it now. Check out their site, too.
The Hellbound Alleee Station : Along with our evil, scientific and atheistic commentary, I add a lot of music from these sources, as well as a few more I have up my sleeve. I change out the music on a very regular basis. A good station to listen to while studying Insolitology.

Mailing Lists
Audio Oddities: A discussion group that often has downloadable files available.
Outsider Music: Members of this group include Chusid, Fodder, and Splogman. You're in good company here. Join them!


***Written by Alleee, 03/05

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