Thursday, February 21, 2013

COUNTDOWN OF 10 MASTERPIECE ALBUMS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED - #9 A Poke in the Eye... With a Sharp Stick by PIG


A POKE IN THE EYE... WITH A SHARP STICK (1988)
In between 87's Music for the Masses and the Pretty Hate Machine of 1989, the planet experienced a vital year for music development with the birth of PIG.  25 years ago Raymond Watts released a landmark underground album entitled A Poke in the Eye... with a Sharp Stick.  Well-cultured electronic music fans saw a glimpse into the intellect of the most important individual in music history since John Cage himself.  Raymond, I salute you and thank you for branding my birth year. 

Personal friends have heard me talk uncontrollably about Watts for years, but what makes him so special?  My first thought is that words cannot describe him, and why would I waste time writing a review?  That's a bloody cop-out!  His entire discography reflects almost every element that I have found myself desiring from a musical experience.  He is the only artist that has accomplished this in his career but for now, I'll talk about the significance of A Poke in the Eye.  Side note - I once was literally poked in the eye with a sharp stick when I was 17.  They should have put me on the magazine at that time.  Yes, this adds to my connexion to Watts.   

I've often referred to Sharp Stick as "The Real Pretty Hate Machine."  The brilliant arrangements represent Watts as the true "Golden Child" of industrial music. His musical portraits range from filthy dirt to amorous lambency and utilize strong melody without breaking sincerity or ingenuity.  Throughout his career, Watts does not solely write industrial-oriented music.  His albums always venture into different territory and oft within the industrial pieces themselves.  I find these moments to be the best insight into Raymond's true genius. 

Never for Fun 
Never for Fun is the first single released prior to Sharp Stick.  What a track!  A true gem in my library!  The percussion and synth bass interact in a manner that I've never heard before.  You cannot turn away.  Actually you can, but you will still hear it.  This falls under the rare "Shake the Disease" category of songs.  It's a piece where I'm not in love with the chorus, but every other part of the song is so fragging brilliant that it still somehow makes it into my top 10 favorite songs ever written.

Other top tracks from the album include One for the Neck, Shit for Brains (a track that helped glue me to Watts!), and My Favourite Car.  A stand-out moment is Raymond's version of Hildelinde.  This song does not fit the mood of the rest of the album in any obvious way.  For this reason, Hildelinde is the most important statement on the album.  It is a definitive expression of how Watts was never interested in being what typical audiences want.

Japan release
I once wrote a college essay that suggested one of the main reasons I dislike american culture was because Raymond Watts is not very famous.  I then proceeded to quote him in every other essay as if he were a household name.  "Oh I disagree with Christopher Hitchens because Watts once stated…" or from the mouth of Raymond Watts [Virginia Woolf,] "Don't trespass on my patience, baby."  I often listen to Pig albums in my room and start bursting with passion to write new music.  Simultaneously, I burn with rage at how a man could have worked so hard for 20 years and received such little response outside of Japan.  Don't worry, Raymond.  Respect is still coming your way:


1 - I have decided to write a book on the musical context of Raymond Watts (and also biographical information if he will humor me some interviews).
2 - 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of both PIG and Sachem Orenda.  Crossover?  Hint - stay tuned! 

-Sachem Orenda   

Watts receives honorable mention in Electronic Coffee III, a piece by Sachem Orenda - Listen here:





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