Within 3:37 I was completely convinced someone had been soaking my iPod in a concoction of mescaline and red cordial (with more than a dash of ADHD splashed in). By the end of ‘Gritos Dulces’, the opening track of Darth Vegas’ new album Brainwashing for Dirty Minds (Romero Records), I felt as if my eyes were pinwheels out on stalks, my tongue lolled like a pink lolly snake and little mushroom clouds puffed from both of my ears as my brain imploded with mirth.

The world had become a cartoon fun-maze of gyrating buildings, heaving footpaths and gulping trashcans. And it was all Darth Vegas’ fault.

The last time I saw Michael Lira’s 7-piece mutant-soundtrack ensemble, they were providing incidental music to a Robert Landridge animation short (“Fred’s Dream”) at the 2011 GRAPHIC Festival. It was Star Wars into silent-film, surf-pop into Stravinsky – often within a few bars of music. But listening to Brainwashing for Dirty Minds there is no visual except for the onslaught of pop culture references – horror movies, schlock sci-fi, ‘exotica’, black metal, goofy musicals etc etc ad cheesuem… – that make images swim into the black lagoon of one’s mind like nasty little creatures.

There is the knock-kneed can-can of the abovementioned ‘Gritos Dulces’ (translates as ‘Sweet Screams’), the nutso 9/8 polka of ‘Prokletsvo Gummina Kokoshke’, the Star Wars ‘cantina’ jazz of ‘Swami Salami’, the Loony Tune lunacy of ‘A Night To Dismember’… can you see a pattern forming here? Silliness, madness, hyperactivity of all kinds, and a great deal of fun.

Once you get over the simultaneous spin of space-sickness and gut-busting laughter, you realise how amazingly well-made this music is. Many of the arrangements bring to mind Carl Stalling’s frantic soundtracks for classic Warner Bros cartoons such as the Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies series – insane jump cuts from style to style, mood to mood, the band stopping on a dime, only to plunge shrieking down yet another roller coaster right before your very ears. Darth Vegas make it look so easy, the musicianship is transparent (as it should be) but don’t try this at home without adult supervision, kids. It really is quite the shit. 

And just when Brainwashing for Dirty Minds is getting all too confusing, the Romero Records website explains all:

‘Essentially it’s the soundtrack for a cult B-grade sci-fi/horror/porno film about an opium-addicted ghost falling in love with a nympho robot with four breasts, set against the backdrop of a war between a horde of vampire gypsies and surf­loving ninjas from outer space.’

So now we know.

Darth Vegas launch Brainwashing for Dirty Minds at The Factory May 18 with guests The Tango Saloon, Rescue Ships and Jay Katz. Go here for tix.

Romero Records website is here.


Published April 2012 on theorangepress.net

  1. Experimental Fan says:

    They do make it look easy! Great album and nice review there John.

  2. Newmarket Music says:

    Reblogged this on Newmarket Music and commented:
    A great review from John Hardaker (check out his blog WordsAboutMusic) of Darth Vegas’ new one Brainwashing For Dirty Minds. Sums it up quite nicely!

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