The Hop Frog Kollectiv: Refrigerator Mothers – ‘Ghosts of a Primitive World’ CD-R (URCKarmRecordings)

A joy to receive stuff like this through the post, while I’m sat here pretending I’m a big label boss what attracted me to this was the beautiful CD-R cover, a wrapping of ‘Chinese Ghost Money’, and the sticker ‘midi-eatern post asiatic psychedelic dron-e-raga punk’… Also sent was the single version of ‘Arab National Amthem’ on blue marbled vinyl, this package included a mysterious old black and white photo of a tiny wooden house. Intrigued I read the enclosed info sheet:’The hop-frog kollective’s Refrigerator Mothers are ritualistic and tribal post-punk folk dreamweavers but let not the term lead you to the narrow field of American folk music but to indigenous music from around the world. The Refrigerator Mothers post-post-punk kraut punk folk-noise punk sound of the future embellishes electronic beats, with looping as well as live tribal percussion, throbbing bass and swirling guitars rich with the usual cast of hop-frog kollectiv members and their toy/world instrument antics ranging from saz to electric kazoos to rebaba to kitchen sinks to cumbus to child-sized accordians.’ Great. First track is too minimal and indulgent for me, over 20 mins of tabla loops, some primitive juno stabs and some broken Quran readings – a strange choice of opener for an otherwise varied and lively collection. The track ‘Arab National Anthem’ is nice – makes me think of Auto da Fe’ – aha! – they are on URCK’s website, well, under the artists page anyway but not on the discog page…odd. So it’s a ‘kollectiv’ what do I expect? A posh woman shouting ‘Your god is a bore! Like a tortoise!’ ends track 3’s upbeat and tribal party visitation. The hypnotic ‘Pascialla Mangoes’ is a treat and the album starts to make me feel I’d like to see this stuff live, even join in… which is ironic being as the weaker first track is the only recorded ‘live’ one (though I suspect most of the recordings are ‘jam’ style with some overdubs.) The untrained sitar playing on ‘Spiritscar’ is unlistenable for me having been seriously into classical Indian music in the past; instead of being the entirely inventive as per the usual the player attempts a ‘raga’ style melody and the result should’ve been left off. Some totally unclassifiable styles continue in the next track (continuing a vague Oriental theme) and would be engaging were it not for the unhidden errors, giving the feel of people having fun rather than making a record (as if they went together at all..!). A pretty, child-like solo piano tune concludes the experience. Apart from a couple of bummers, this is something I would play while drinking a cuppa with the missis in the morning, that’s one of my acid-tests, the other one being ‘does it make me feel like my kundalini is spurting out of the top of my head when played very loud’.