Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sabalon Glitz – "Ufonic (17 Years Gone Mix)"

Now this is a true smoke-break classic. It's spacey, it's got a good (though frustratingly not great) rhythm, it plays at a consistent volume, it's not too repetitive and it's really long. Forget cigarettes, you could smoke a cigar during this one. This one was always my number one go-to when I had to feed the monkey, a DJ's best friend if there ever was one.

I bought this single on kind of a whim years ago after first hearing Sabalon Glitz on the mighty Monsters, Robots and Bug-Men comp. Yes, this is indeed the third week in a row I've mentioned it. It really is that good.

Anyway, one side of the record contains the title track from Sabalon's only album. It's basically just a bunch of effects pedals making noise for a few minutes; cool enough, but nothing you haven't heard before. The flipside contains the "same" song remixed by San Francisco-based rave/hippie duo Dubtribe Sound System. Dubtribe have basically built an entirely new song simply by laying a beat and a bassline under the original, then topping it off with some additional random noises (see the label credits in the photo). Now we have a monster.

There's a weird postscript to the Sabalon Glitz story. They made one album and broke up, but it was enough to get frontman Chris Holmes a major label deal. So he put together a new band called Yum-Yum and recorded an album of middling overproduced pop. The album flopped, the band was dropped, and Holmes moved on the the next trend by putting together a failed electronica act. Buried by the dusts of history, neither Holmes nor Yum-Yum even rate a Wikipedia entry (n.b., the guitarist from W.A.S.P. is a different Chris Holmes).

But several months after the band and its marketing apparatus had faded away, seemingly for good, the always gullible Harper's magazine published a rambling feature by an old friend of Holmes, who "explained" that the entire Yum-Yum project had been an elaborate practical joke by Holmes that exposed the fallacies of the music industry to make an ironic point about them.

The logic isn't worth summarising here; suffice to say anyone with a passing knowledge of popular music who read the article called bullshit. The whole thing is now just a footnote in Yum-Yum's pointless history.

And speaking of which, Holmes was last heard from getting arrested for trying to bring brass knuckles on to a plane. The website he set up to accept donations for his legal defense is still up, and his explanation of the whole misunderstanding is mildly amusing (as is his claim not to have created the site). Nice to see he's still slinging shit, I suppose.

Buy it... on vinyl. (If this track's on a CD anywhere, I don't know about it.

From my deck to you: Sabalon Glitz – "Ufonic (17 Years Gone Mix)"


Hyde Park Lifer said...

I'm walking through my entire CD collection converting them to lossless audio so that I can box them up for good and not depend on crummy mp3s forevermore. I came to Ufonic and thought I'd look Sabalon Glitz up on teh intartubes to see what anyone else had heard about them. I'm mainly writing to let you know the album was originally released on CD, although it's possible you had to be here in Chicago to pick it up. It was released by Trixie Records, a local Hyde Park (Chicago) label at the time.

I knew Chris back in the day. Your description of him sounds pretty in tune with his personality, with one exception. Though I had lost touch with him by the time Yum-Yum made its debut, I believe it possible that the project was, let's say, both serious and tongue-in-cheek. I have no doubt that the band was making a deliberate (if doomed) effort at stardom through the avenue of typical studio pop, but I suspect Chris had some appreciation of what he was doing and enjoyed the irony. He was the kind of guy who would squeeze every drop of benefit he could from a situation, playing both sides if it gave him an advantage. He was a tireless self-promoter. So he made a wry record, knowing it was unremarkable. It doesn't mean he can't go at it with gusto and ride the wave if it should take off. I don't think he would mind revising the story as needed to fit the ending.

Hyde Park Lifer said...

I should add that the CD release has a 22½-minute untitled hidden track with a bunch of extra music and a recording of a call-in radio show where a guy explicates his beliefs about UFOs, aliens, Jesus, and Satan. I haven't seen the vinyl, but I'd guess that it's not included.

Jim W said...

I bought that record when I saw them, in silver paint, at Lollapalooza.

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

those were the days
Carla Bruce-Lee (nee Bruce)

Unknown said...

dubtribe remix is great. electronic rock at its finest. good record.