Schnäbi Gaggi Pissi Gaggi - Schnäbi Gaggi Pissi Gaggi (Tochnit Aleph 12")
I got to wondering recently what the Schimpfluch crew and associates were up to lately, which is never really a healthy thing. But it seemed like ages since I heard something new outta their Swiss caravans, so I decided to pick up this new addition to the Tochnit Aleph Punk Series (volume four; prior volumes featured the Good Looking Communists aka Raionbashi + guests and Sidewalk Social Scientists aka Joke Lanz) and I have to say the fantastically baffling name played a strong part in my decision. The other puller was the fact that this "band" consisted of Rudolf Eb.er, Joke Lanz, and Céleste Urech. The latter of which is Joke's son. He was 3 years old when this was recorded. He played drums and wrote (almost) all the lyrics and music. Ridiculous? Yes. Absurd? Yes. Gimmicky? Yes. Right up my alley? You know it.
Turns out this wasn't really the best place to look to find out what's up with the aktionists' current activities, seeing as how this session was laid down in, uh, 1993, but I digress. Schnäbi Gaggi Pissi Gaggi apply a deft twist to the classic power trio lineup by excluding the guitar altogether - Rudolf does "vacuumvocals", Joke plays "ventilatorbass" and Céleste is on percussion. Obviously the most knee-jerk reaction is to compare Schnäbi Gaggi Pissi Gaggi to Rush in this sense, but I feel I must point out that Neil Peart can't hold a candle to Céleste's wizardry behind the kit (and on the frequent occasions when Céleste deems necessary to add his own vocalizations, he does sound pretty close to Geddy Lee, so that's two-thirds of the bases covered right there...and nobody really cares about Rush's guitarist anyway). The music on here is indeed divided up into songs, given titles like "Schlagzug Boxe Quark (Wurscht Isch Viel Geiler)" and "? (Oppis) Microphon Schlagzug Boxe Uma (Oder So)" which just roll right off my tongue. But as you might expect, Céleste's compositions don't exactly sound worlds removed from minute-long improvised jamming with three people on vocals, bass and drums. I think the longest song might scrape two minutes, which is obviously the "YYZ" of the set, but other than that it's all kept pretty to the point. Just about every song features Rudolf screaming or gagging on Céleste's lyrics while Joke backs him up with an extremely distorted electric bass current and Céleste thrashes about behind the kit, usually occupying himself with the cymbals. Interspersed between these mini-masterpieces is banter between the musicians and the audience, who would probably have consisted of friends and family (I can't understand German but I do not think there were any monologues goading women into taking their tops off or any equivalents of "are you ready to fucking rock, Cleveland?!?!?!?!"). Easily the best thing about the record is Rudolf's vocals which are all too restrained for a punk rock set (I don't care if there is a 3-year old present! Unlesh the fury!), and force the band into realms that are at least somewhat past semi-serious tossed off jams. Apart from that, there's not too much else on display here, but then again I'm not so sure what you were expecting to hear. I could say it's a great work of post-dadaist Fluxism blah blah blah but instead I'll say it's a pretty fun record that doesn't have too much longevity after you hear it once, and sometimes that's right where you want to be too.
One of the best things about the album is the bang-up art job Tochnit Aleph did - the striking photo of the trio in action on the back sleeve may be the best part of the whole thing, and there's a great black and white fold out featuring more pics of the group and Céleste looking vaguely reminiscent of Nick Cave. Plus the drawing on the front is pretty cute too, and how many Schimpfluch releases can you say that about?