Supersister: Pudding En Gisteren

Kim Kirkpatrick: A few years ago I was listening to a great DJP multi-turntable performance, scratching, segueing, mashing with unbelievable perfection and hilarity. One brief segue included a rising keyboard synthesiser that I recognized but could not identify. Eventually I had one of those "of course it is..." moments. DJP predominantly works with classic/alternative and 80's rock songs but this sample was an obscurity, Supersister's "Judy Goes on Holiday" from their 1972 release Pudding En Gisteren*.

Supersister was a progressive rock band along the lines of the Canterbury Scene and interestingly the Dutch Supersister were originally signed to John Peel's Dandelion label in England. Pudding En Gisteren was their third album released in 1972. It starts with "Radio", a Latin rhythm, flute, synth plucked strings song, with vocals leading to the line: "Turn it on and go"! At this point the band explodes into progressive glory, kicking in with speedy high hat work, deep bombastic background vocals, synthesiser keyboards galore (including accordion), intricate bass lines, and then "Radio" is gone... on to a tune titled "Supersisterretsisrepus", a 15 second classical synth harpsichord ditty played forward then reversed... then zipping into "It is not strange to be a "Psychopath", with it's beautiful tumbling piano lines, strings, and vocals worthy of The New Vaudeville Band's "Winchester Cathedral" (I sincerely hope you do not know this reference or have heard the song). By now a Monty Python/Bonzo Dog Band meets Caravan amalgamation enters your mind and (KAPOW!) Supersister is off with the musical adventure titled "Judy Goes on Holiday". A bouncy bounce bounce of a tune with it's wind up synth, Gong like percussion, flute, organ, Jazz/Fusion, Progressive Rock, and stop n start timing adventures, whew! And in true Prog Rock form suddenly it all comes to a halt... shifting into a peaceful Camel like segment with, dare I say this, some Quicksilver Messenger Service flavored acoustic guitar moments. Back with a brief reprise of the theme, then the outro singing of "Love you in the morning, love you in the night" sounding just like an outtake from Zappa's "Cruisin' with Ruben and the Jets", hell of a musical journey in under 13 minutes. But there is more, the 21 minute title track Pudding En Gisteren (Music For Ballet). I am not going to walk you through this particular musical journey, but in retrospect it is a blend of Gentle Giant, cool 60's jazz movie soundtracks, euro circus tunes, and Brand X, with an overall tripping forward psychedelic atmosphere.

So here I am 37 years later listening to Supersister's Pudding En Gisteren because DJP pulled a 5-10 second sample from the record. How great is that? It still seems a worthy listen, which surprises me as much as anyone, admission of a Prog Rock past is not always easy. Listening in this century the music might be more funny then intended, more laughing moments then heard when released, but Supersister consistently were not as bombastic and over the top as many of their Prog-compatriots. They were deliberately amusing, and clearly were having fun in their compositions and lyrics. I'd go so far as to say they were enjoying life based on the 4 releases I am familiar with. A couple of their releases stand the test of time, like a few other better known bands of the Canterbury Scene (tantalizing opening for a Bob post). Esoteric Recordings have reissued Supersister's catalog, all remastered and with appropriate additional singles and live performances. Forced Exposure would be a good source in the U.S.A. for these UK releases. And if my opinion carries any weight I would suggest you also pick up their first album as well, Present From Nancy released in 1970. Perhaps it is more of a straight ahead progressive rock/jazz trip, but it still has their humor and really holds together well, encouraging a complete listen from start to finish.

As an aside, I played both of these albums during dinner one evening and each tune, each change in direction by Supersister was enjoyed by and commented upon by my 12 and 15 year old daughters. This kind of musical interaction seldom happens since they became tween and teen. Yet more value in Supersister's music all these decades later.

DJ Shadow also used this sample through out his track "Organ Donor" from his classic release, Endtroducing on Mo'Wax.

Bob Burnett: Kim says Canterbury so off I go. There's still a lot of "progressive" music I like from 37+ years ago; most of it in the Henry Cow family or rooted in that form of what's known as progressive. That very short list would be Soft Machine, Henry Cow, National Health, Robert Wyatt solo efforts, Kevin Ayers, Steve Hillage's Rainbow Dome Musick. I think "downtown" music has certain touches and nods towards Canterbury. I also feel '70s era progressive influenced a strand of music I like today: The Sea and Cake, Tortoise, Yo La Tengo, Nels Cline's solo career to name a few. (as well as what I'm listening to right now--Opitope Hau on the Spekk label) To further explore Kim's nod to the sample, there's something about the art of sampling that makes even the most annoying music on it's own a post modern masterpiece when part of a larger reconstructed composition. The classic for me being DJ Food's Raiding the 20th Century. I'd be hard-pressed to "hear" JayZ, Beyonce, Will Smith, Justin Timberlake on their own merits because while they use samples at times the overall production technique is so crafted, perfected, polished and pounded into compression happy tracks that it becomes a digital marketing tool and not a composition--and I can't see past that.In contrast , these same works of sonic corporate lobby art in the context of Raiding the 20th Century appear in a different framing.
Raiding the 20th Century makes it so I don't need to know or comprehend what I'm hearing at any given time. I know the muddled millieu is part of a larger work and know it's being used for it's impact in an overlapping, multi-dimensional way. I have a great aversion for TV's, radios, music, etc. playing from cars, in public places and being forced on me in general. Maybe the secret is to approach interloping media from the same post modern position a mash-up offers; to make the unwanted impacts into momentary frames of John Cage-like Imaginary Landscape (for 4-12 radios) where conventional instruments and electronic devices create the sonic happenings.

No comments:

Post a Comment