When you consider the rich, underground cultural history of their hometown, Bristol, It’s not surprising to hear the wide mix of influences found in Erotic Secrets of Pompeii‘s music.
A multi-cultural town, Bristol has been the site and origin of much street art both in the music and visual art scenes. Caribbean immigrants gave rise to a sound-system culture, which paved the way for the birth of drum ‘n’ bass, a sub-genre whose influence can be heard all over electronic music from the past twenty-or-so years. Bristol also gave birth to the trip-hop genre, made popular by groups such as Massive Attack and Portishead. Banksy, an anonymous graffiti artist, has become a household name in the world art scene while maintaining a connection to the anti-mainstream, street tradition of his hometown. One can imagine that ESOP fed off all of these traditions when creating their own fusion of “funk, Germanic cabaret, and even breakbeat while exploring the transgressions of authority figures,” as they so aptly put it.
“Germanic cabaret” is actually a great description of Erotic Secrets of Pompeii’s latest single, “They Wouldn’t Let me Write my Book.” It’s what entering a Weimar-republic era cabaret in the seedy part of Berlin must have been like. There’s the host of the show blowing fireballs at the crowd with a psychotic look in his eyes as he announces the evening’s entertainment. There are the transexual pole dancers seducing the confused crowd. There’s a pianist, having had a bit too much schnapps, trying to keep some semblance of rhythmic order. Basically, there’s a live shit-show which any sane person should have a slight curiosity about.
The music in “They Wouldn’t Let me Write my Book” frenetically shifts gears throughout the song. Things start off with a slow, industrial section, rounded out with distorted synthesizer, steady triplet rhythms on tom-toms, and what sounds like a vocal coming off of an old melted cassette tape. All of a sudden, a madman yells, “they wouldn’t let me write my book,” marking the first dramatic shift of the tune. The song speeds up to an uptempo punk crowd-mover, with Nine Inch Nails growly electronics in tow. Shortly after, an arabesque sounding rhythm guitar starts riffing away, bringing in a metal influence out of seemingly nowhere. The festivities roll on as our twisted narrator, who seems to be reciting equally from old prophetic scriptures as much as Grimm faerie tales, chants “a fist, a Faust, a feast recommended at your leisure a lease, a louse, a least we pretend it’s all for pleasure.” The second shift happens in the last quarter, after some more cacophony from the guitarists, and this time accompanied by melismatic wordless vocals. Suddenly, there’s a break-down with a fast, tremolo guitar lead which climaxes with an agit-funk closer. Feeling dizzy yet?
Erotic Stories of Pompeii‘s latest single may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s sure to turn some heads and offer something exciting to the mix. Check them out in the links!