Appliances – EP


Oh how I yearn for a DJ night open minded enough to allow me to play this “out”.

The sticker on the shrinkwrap declaring “Punk Funk Rap” sounds like a musical miscarriage of Ozzfest side-stage proportions, but upon dropping the needle on side 1 it becomes rapidly clear the actual musical content of the record eclipses what sounds rather dreadful in concept. This ain’t no Mike Patton bowel movement folks. “Funky” but in a floor-clearingly good way. What lies in these grooves is the synthesis of no-wave and rap that really should have happened in late early 80s New York but for some reason materialized in the Bay Area in the form of the first cut from this 1981 EP. All Ghostbusters metaphors aside, crossing these steams is undoubtedly a dangerous process but here it works somehow. Imagine the vocal delivery of Tina Weymouth in “Wordy Rappinghood” with thrice the conviction and a pinch less lightheartedness over a gloriously disjointed no-wave funk skronk with sprinklings of party clap thrown in mid-song, topped off with brief moments of viciously free form guitar (?) skittering, a horn section stumbling in time to the offbeat rhythm like the JBs after one too many swigs from the backstage booze stash. The lyrics speak in fear of a complex paranoia web involving backstabbing hippies and undercover bums, but let’s not forget the classic bumper-stickeresque observation that “paranoia’s having all the facts”. Indeed.

Sadly the album blows it’s creative load on the first cut and the band spends most of the rest of the EP treading far too deep into 80s house-party band territory, not damaged enough for my taste. The closing track has some interesting guitar scrapings (like a young Pat Place getting real lazy with the slide) over a xylophone-augmented melody but not much beyond that. A one tracker but that one track will certainly clean your clock.

The cover is on point too.

Appliances: “Paranoia Rap”

10 Comments

  • i fucking love paranoia rap but not as much as mike patton bowel movements.

    i played this on my radio show once and someone called in to describe it as “proto anticon” wtf?

  • That’s the good track?

  • you spelled steams instead of streams

  • Appliances were from Madison, Wisconsin. The band later changed its name to Appliances SFB and had one (so-so) LP on Steve Albini’s Ruthless Records label.

  • you guys are lucky you live up north cus it’s super tough to find shit like this in the dirty south :( if you started an obscure booty bass section of your site i’d hook it up though..

  • I was the trumpet player in the Appliances. Not to be confused with Appliances SFB from Madison. I wrote the instrumental part of the track “paranoia rap” and Dominique Diprima wrote the words and did the vocals. Robin Ballinger was the band leader and played bass. Jed Spear played guitar. 16 year old Chilean, Federico on drums (never got his last name) and Rocket played things he built himself and a mattelophone, a toy made by Mattel which he modified. I joined the band mainly to have sex with the vocalist (best set of tits I’ve ever seen) and bassist (world class ghetto booty on a white girl) but then got into the music and ended up having a lot of fun with the band.

  • Don’t know if this has been documented or not, but it appears that Dominique di Prima Baraka is a second-generation poet: yup, Diane di Prima and Amiri Baraka are her parents. And she’s a talk-radio lady in Los Angeles now. Great record!

  • Got a bug up my ass to find this after I saw some reference to Dominique online. I was the recording engineer for this EP way back in the day. And I’m happy/mortified to find a copy of it I can hear again after almost 35 years.

    Are the other tracks posted somewhere online? I’d be interested in hearing those also.

    I say happy/mortified, because as much as I still like the song, the sound and mix are barely adequate by today’s standards. Made harder to listen to by years of experience gone by. I’m not sure how good the rip to mp3 might be, YouTube is iffy at best for sound quality.

    It was released on vinyl, which is a dicey proposition when it’s that old, but the copy above sounds pretty clean.

    And if memory serves, the EP got a pretty good review in BAM Magazine at the time. Ah well, we were just kids, having a good time. And funk-rap in ’81 was a pretty new thing, still crawling its way out of the womb …

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