The Flaming Lips — Gummy Skull EP
Where to begin with Wayne Coyne et al? There’s a strong argument for Zaireeka‘s inclusion here — an album that requires being played on four CD players simultaneously is never gonna be something you queue up on a whim — but still, even the quixotic absurdity of that concept pales in comparison with the silliness of releasing an EP on a USB stick embedded in a giant skull made of marijuana-flavored gummy bear stuff.
The Somerset Strings — Music for Washing and Ironing
Oh yes — long before Music for Airports, a mysterious 1950s group called The Somerset Strings were pioneering the idea of soothing utilitarian music for people in stressful environments. And the stressed people in question? Why, the housewives of America, of course, who would no doubt otherwise be prone to bouts of womanly hysteria in the course of their crushingly tedious domestic chores. No doubt this soothed their fragile little feminine souls, eh? Lest we rest too long on our post-feminist laurels, let’s remember that it’s barely 50 years since this record’s existence was considered perfectly acceptable, and at least one presidential candidate probably owns a copy. Less gloriously absurd than plain old absurd, this is as much an important historical document as it is proof that the 1950s were FUCKED UP.
Michael Viner — The Best of Marcel Marceao
As in, y’know, the famous mime artist (although his name was spelt “Marceau”). This record was the project of one Michael Viner, a producer from LA best known for this, and featured a whole lot of silence followed by applause. Improbably, it charted and won Viner a record deal. It’s also a Tom Waits favorite.
Crispin Glover — The Big Problem ≠ the Solution. The Solution = Let It Be
Frankly, if it’s half as weird as What Is It?, we’re kinda terrified to listen to this. Crispin Glover is scary.
Heins Hoffman-Richter — Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease
From what we can gather, this amusingly titled early electronic cacophony — which bills itself as a “symphony for tape delay, IBM instruction manual and ohm septet” — was designed to be as strange as possible, and it certainly delivered in spades. Hoffman-Richter would later go onto make something called My Love Lies Sleeping With a Male Chorus, a “Cantata for reverb-a-phone, kitchen utensils and 21 male vices” — sadly, we can find no trace of this later work on the web.
Rick Wakeman — The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
And finally, we discussed this record a while back when we looked at geeky concept albums, but still: King Arthur. On ice. The end.