Music butthole_surfers___locust_abortion__297053020

Published on January 23rd, 2014 | by Craig Silliphant

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Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician

butthole_surfers___locust_abortion__297053020

Flipping through records at ye olde record shop the other day, I stopped dead when I came across the Butthole Surfers’ album ‘Locust Abortion Technician.’  Oh yeah, I thought, pulling it off the rack.  My wife’ll thank me for bringing home this gem (she didn’t).

It had actually been a long time since I’d taken a good listen to this album, but seeing it brought back a flood of memories.  It reminded me of brasher, younger days, and a certain surreal sense of humour my mates and I enjoyed.  But more so, the first time I heard ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ was the first time I ever smoked pot.  And let me tell you, there are few records that would imprint themselves so strongly on that right of passage.  In fact, it was a jarring, messy birth through the doorway of perception.  I probably should have opted for Pink Floyd or ‘Maggot Brain’ or something much more mellow.  But frankly, the choice was taken away from me by the situation.

I was about 17 at the time, still in high school; one of my oldest friends took me over to the abode of a burnout dude he knew, where he proceeded to spark up a doob.  While I felt the first pangs of weirdness hitting me, he threw on ‘Locust Abortion Technician.’  Within a minute or two I was desperately afraid that my cheese was about to slip off my cracker.  The burnout guy was mouthing along with some of the lyrics and samples, which didn’t help.  I don’t know if he was just enjoying the album, or if he knew how green I was and wanted to fuck with me.  I had visions of myself drooling in a padded room.  Of course, once I settled in for the ride, the fear sweats turned to gut-busting and uncontrollable laughter.  Later on, we drove home, still high, thinking we were zooming down the street, but actually white knuckling it at 5 miles per hour.  ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ was either the absolute worst album to hear on my first drug trip, or the absolute best.  It was astronaut training.

‘Locust Abortion Technician’ came out in 1987, so, a few years before I first heard it.  It was the first Butthole Surfers album recorded in their home studio near Austin, using limiting equipment like an old 8-track tape recorder and having virtually no budget. However, limitation breeds creativity, and these conditions set the tone for the band to be able to unleash their inventiveness (including the first full-length Surfers album to make use of Gibby Haynes trademark vocal effect, ‘Gibbytronix’).

There are a lot of words you could use to describe the album; heavy, droning, disturbing, menacing, hilarious, druggy, experimental, etc.  It has moments of sludgy brilliance — ‘Sweat Loaf’ is a loving but sarcastic ode to ‘Sweet Leaf’ and sounds as though a Sabbath song smoked an arseload of methamphetamines.  It also has flashes of beauty, like those found in the dreamlike narrative of ’22 Going on 23,’ which samples a woman talking to a call-in chat show about the sexual abuse visited upon her (in a wtf moment, this song crescendos and fades out in a chorus of horny, enraged cows all mooing deafeningly).  And who could forget ‘Kuntz?’  At first, it sounds like a strange and humourous remixing of something weird (it’s actually a Thai song), but it starts to roll over in your brain as the lyrics slip into a wormhole of temporal displacement, the word Kuntz itself suddenly becoming a warping, horrible, vulgar mantra.  “Cunts, cunts, cunts, cunts, CUNTScuntscuntscuntsCUNTS, cunts…”

When I put the record on in the now, I was expecting to freak myself out a little and laugh my ass off at times gone by.  But what I was really hit with is that ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ isn’t just an extended drug joke.  It actually fucking rocks.  It very much holds up, and still seems unique, considering a lot of the supposedly ‘pioneering’ music that’s been released since.  Sure, it’s wrong.  It’s very wrong.  But that makes it so right.  If you love this album, it’s probably been awhile since you cracked it out.  If you’ve never heard it before, it’s a good idea to remedy that.  Either way, you’ll thank me.  Or send me postcards from the asylum.

locustback

Just to beat a dead horse, here’s the album’s back cover.  So wrong.

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About the Author

Craig Silliphant

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.



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