Friday, June 15, 2007

Rosegarden Funeral of Sores

Vocal Distortion Intended

is printed on the label of the b-side of the Mercenaries (Ready for War) single. This b-side contains one of the most bizarre things Cale ever recorded, the ineffable Rosegarden Funeral of Sores. I'll try to eff it - that's my job - but ultimately you'll just have to listen. Here's a high-quality audio file (up for a limited time).

A perverted blues bass figure as mechanical as the drum machine track it accompanies drives this song forward. It's the first released song Cale used a drum machine on, and the drum machine proves essential to the artificial chill that pervades this track. It's a terrible feeling that these instruments produce, a feeling of being moved against one's will, a feeling of automation (this is compounded by the jerky stop-and-go construction of the song - like being on an assembly line). But it's the Wurlitzer organ that encrusts the rhythm track, crystallizing on it like minerals on glass, that really pushes it into horror. For all the fever-dream songwriting around, this is the first song I've heard that sounds and feels like a fever dream.

This feeling extends to the vocals and to the lyrics, the smashed and splintered lyrics that ooze out from that intentionally distorted vocal, metallic and mechanical like the other instruments. There's an explicit dichotomy between Madonna and whore, but I'm not at all convinced that they're discrete actors. The lyrics loop back on themselves, repeat, stop midway and restart. Some men are chosen from the rest. But their choices don't seem to matter.

P.S. That the, uh, less subtle Bauhaus cover is better-known than the original is a damn shame.
P.P.S. The live mash-up with Femme Fatale on Circus Live is an interesting experiment, but it doesn't really get off the ground.
Also: I like the 'n' that they randomly added to the title for the Sabotage/Live reissue - "Rosengarden Funeral of Sores" has a better ring to it.

2 comments:

3nipples said...

a genius piece ~ Bauhaus introduced me to it and for that they deserve thanks

Terraminas said...

Sick stuff!
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