impLOG

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: ‘Holland Tunnel Dive’ by impLOG

“Warning: The National Institute Of Recorded Music Has Determined That Playing This Record May Be Dangerous To Your Tweeters’ Health.”

Not even this caveat on the sleeve could prepare unsuspecting listeners for the mind-blasting impact of this obscure nugget spewed from New York’s downtown no wave underground in 1980.

Setting up a pulsing synthesised throb – vaguely resembling a springier Martin Rev disco groove – as its increasingly fizzed-up vamp gains momentum, the track is strange enough, but after the heavily treated sleaze-marinated vocal appears like robotic excrement sliding up from a radioactive chemical toilet, it’s even quite disturbing.

Then this low rumble starts stirring in the groove’s sonic bowels, like a distant subway train gaining volume and intensity until its deafening screech seems to be replicating how it might sound to get caught on the runway in front of a marauding Concorde – louder and louder until your cranium feels like it’s being cleaved like a hapless melon, before dying down to let the mangled robo-voice return, slavering like a masturbating space-bison on heat. After another toupee-savaging sonic interruption, the startling icing on this deranged cake appears as a jaunty sax section playing a riff-motif before tootling away like a trad jazz band that’s hit the wrong room.

I used to love playing ‘Holland Tunnel Dive’ to unsuspecting post-pub gatherings or lolling stoners, watching reactions veering between extreme terror, puzzled repulsion or jaw-dropped delight. The B-side’s electronic desecration of ‘On Broadway’ was also admirably depraved.

Released on Charles Ball’s no wave hotbed Lust/Unlust (home to Mars and Teenage Jesus And The Jerks), impLOG was the brainchild of Don Christensen and guitarist Jody Harris from James Chance’s Contortions (saxes parped by Paul Colin). The pair only released one more single that same year, the more KONK-like ‘Breakfast’, which was coupled with the sinister, sonorous hypno-dirge of ‘She Creatures’ (although Christensen revived the impLOG name in 2005 for a Philip Glass remix).

‘Holland Tunnel Dive’ is nothing less than anarchic New York post-punk’s most mind-blowing masterpiece. Still capable of causing havoc, I played it on my WNBC London radio show with Jay Burnett last month, and the lift-off eruption prompted a flurry of sudden knob-twiddling as the dial flew into the red.

I’ll be spinning it again on Saturday 19 February, when I venture into the outside world of DJing for the first time in years, joining the mighty Alex Paterson at Coventry’s LTB Showrooms. Hope to see some of you there!

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