Revenge of Calculon

By time Sunday rolled around during Iceland Airwaves we were all pretty well spent.  Holly was under the weather, we’d all been out super late the night before, and the weather had taken the kind of turn for the worse that the North Atlantic specializes in, that amazing combination of cold, heavy rain, and high winds that will leave you soaked (♠) and chilled to the bone within 60 seconds of stepping outside.  Since there wasn’t anything compelling on-venue closing out the festival we all strongly considered just sitting it out and chilling in our apartment, but I had that itch… I really wanted to see old school punks Fræbbblarnir who were playing an off-venue early evening set in the upstairs room at Dillon.  What eventually sealed the deal was that they were to be followed by a band called Revenge of Calculon who my buddy Ingvar insisted I had to see.  So Norberto, J and I braved the elements, got soaked to the bone on the four-block walk to Dillon, and caught Fræbbblarnir, who packed the joint full of locals and played a fun set.  When they wrapped we were able to grab some seats right by the stage and I got the chance to meet Life in the Vinyl Lane reader Paul in person after we’d been missing each other all over town during the week.

And then Revenge of Calculon hit the stage.  Wearing track suits.  And lucha libre masks.  And shit got weird.

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Revenge of Calculon come at you with one guy on the electronics and one guy playing funky bass, the music like the soundtrack of a 1970s blaxploitation sci-fi movie (♥), all bleeps and bloops and funky bass and audio clips from old films and TV.  They tore it up at high velocity and had a good sense of humor when their equipment suddenly went dead for a couple of moments during their set (did I mention the roof of Dillon leaks, and it was raining, and that water was dripping near the stage…?).  It was one of the two or three best performances I saw all week, and after the set I bought both 7″ records the band had on them, for which I was rewarded with my very own lucha libre mask!  As soon as we got home I ordered their other two singles as well – they were so good I wanted to have everything they had out. (♦)

The pace of the singles is more deliberate than that of the live performance, but the elements are all there and it’s funky as hell – if anything the studio versions are a bit heavier than the sheer recklessness of the live tracks.  “Hot Dog Man” b/w “Atari-Safari” is some radical stuff and my favorite of the four records, the closest you’ll get to their live craziness, feeling like it could all come off the rails at any moment, or at least that’s how you feel until you realize that in fact there probably aren’t any rails to begin with. “Meltdown” b/w “Neutron Star” is another great combo, particularly the B side with its vampire-movie-esque opening followed by a blend of creepy electronics, jamming bass, and hyper-modulated vocalizations that make it feel like you’re watching three different movies at once that somehow all seem to fit together like the pieces of a luchador’s mask.

All four singles are available on the band’s website HERE, and there’s a bunch of YouTube videos of their music you can check out.  My favorite, though, is the one they shot, edited, and released within a couple of days of their Airwaves off-venue show at Lucky Records – check it out below.  Beware the Revenge of Calculon… and watch out for vinyl with wet spines (see the 0:24 mark)…

(♠)  Though if you keep walking in the same direction, you’ll end up soaked on one side of your body and completely dry on the other since the rain is coming down at a 45 degree angle.  it’s weird.

(♥)  I know that’s not a real genre, but let’s be real – if Fred Williamson or Richard Roundtree or Pam Grier starred in a 1970s sci-fi movie you’d be all over that thing.

(♦) I believe there is also a five-song CD.

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