Amps for Christ and Two Ambiguous Figures, The Beggar’s Garden

Amps for Christ and Two Ambiguous Figures, The Beggar's Garden

The future is about demographics. Actually, that’s misleading, since even today is really about demographics. Specifically, more and more the idea of niche marketing to smaller and smaller groups with more narrowly defined preferences is becoming not just commonplace, but virtually expected. Business seems to say “Oh, you know what you want? And here’s more of the same!” (Or slightly similar, repackaged so you won’t taste the dust.) And this isn’t any one-sided corporate evil. We reify it by seeking out publications and products that fit the demographics we are and/or want to be. We want our opinions to be supported; we like what we know. Think of it this way — of the hundreds of magazines at any superstore, how many would you consider buying? Maybe 5%, tops … but they all sell, or they wouldn’t be there (or won’t be for long if they don’t sell — retailers aren’t dumb). Thousands of niches, each being filled by media that upholds itself.

I could go on and on about this (I haven’t even mentioned how the Internet plays into all of this), but the simple point I’m trying to make is that this great new Amps for Christ record is, from a demographic standpoint, a pure nightmare. First of all, the Christ reference may not be ironic (I have no idea, myself), and a lot of indie folk get turned off by that. Second, this is purportedly a side project of a Man is the Bastard member. While I haven’t heard them (feel free to send me review copies, though), I’m pretty sure they’ve got some power-noise-core thing going on, which is anything but what this record is about. Not only that, but it doesn’t even particularly match up with the sound I associate with Shrimper — Refrigerator, Diskothi-Q, Mountain Goats, etc. (To be fair, they’ve put out tapes by a wide variety of folk, so this is probably more silliness on my part than anything else.)

So, what is this? It’s a sprawling collection of countless musical styles (everything from Indian-style tabla cuts to folk to marching music to David Tudor-inspired oscillating electronics), that, for absolutely no obvious reason, all fits together. (Equally astonishingly, none of the cuts are incompetent, which is a surprise on any record that tries on this many genres) To me, this reminds me of a really great radio show that you might hear on a good college station, leaving you both impressed with what you’ve heard and anxious to hear what might come next. I don’t really know how many people this will appeal to, but the demographic of me is highly satisfied with this purchase. (Shrimper puts out lots of swell stuff, so write ’em.)

(Shrimper Records -- P.O.Box 1837, Upland, CA. 91785-1837; )
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, March 1st, 1999. Filed under Reviews.

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