Amen to Zombie: February 19th, 2010

In a world where experimental electronic music exponentially splinters into a multitude of rogue genres that slowly shuffle the globe from demilitarized dance floors to sleeper cell bedroom studios and back, a team of disparate scientists tracks this solanum-like pandemic while desperately trying to interpret cryptic field recordings of Samhain’s past, not one day at a time, but from Amen to Zombie
Here’s two words that you might not expect to see on the same insert of a CD jewel: “Famous” and “Horrors.”  This week’s redux of otherworldly transmissions highlights one in the Drew’s Famous series of Halloween recordings.
A little ribbing is in order here.  From the Drew’s Famous website:

Drew’s Entertainment is a unique and exciting company that was started in 1994 with one crazy idea.
When people plan parties in their home they focus on the guest list, invitations and food and often treat the music as secondary. But how often have each of us said that “if the music is good, then the party will be good?”
Hiring a DJ or a band can be either too expensive or time consuming for most people. Drew’s Entertainment solved the problem by creating compilations of the greatest party songs of all time and placed them in party and other specialty retailers nationwide where they could be easily accessed by a broad range of consumers.

Now you may or may not have seen these discs sitting on the shelves of party supply stores or at Odd Lots around the country, donning the “Drew’s Famous” logo, and know that Drew’s offers titles like “Puppy Party Music” and “MILF 2”  as part of its music catalog.  And maybe you’ve even picked one up and gave it a spin, and realized how otherworldly bad they are.  If so, I don’t need to talk up their Halloween section and how just slightly off the ideas conveyed on each disc are and make them a treat to listen to.  But then again, this blog is sort of for the uninitiated.  So let’s clear a few things up about the above statements from Drew.  And yes there is a Drew.
Essentially the “crazy idea” that Drew came up with is to pillage the public domain for easily recognizable tunes and open up a studio that would employ musicians to essentially try to come as close to breaking likeness rights as is humanly possible with out actually breaking any laws.  Throw in a couple of actually licensed tunes and you got yourself something like KidsBop that National Lampoon’s produced.  And when I say a couple, I mean compared to the entire Drew’s Famous line of CDs available, there probably 10 CDs that have “Lime in the Coconut”  and “The Electric Slide” on them.  But Drew takes it to the next level by basically trying to make a crappy knock-off of a mix tape for every situation imaginable. Yes, there is actually a CD for sale that is called “MILF 2.”
I highly recommend you go to the website and have a look at all of the Drew’s catalogs.  There is actually a catalog dedicated to those little action figures you put in water and they grow into squishy bigger messes of themselves.
Now some of you might take issue with the beginning of the 3rd paragraph in the above quoted material from Drew’s.  This being a music magazine I would hope that our readers would prefer a flesh and blood DJ to a CD player.  But before you get all high and mighty, ask yourself one question: Would your band want to play an “Over-the-Hill, Hawaiian Luau” party?  If you said yes, they I’m going to say that you’re being cynical.  Cynicism is over; Conan said so, so get the fuck off of my blog and head on over to the Cobert Report with the rest of the douches.  Either that or you may have considered the possibility that the party might be for Pee Pop, in which case it would be a fun thing for your band to play your best Garage Polka.  But I’d venture a guess that Pee Pop would just assume listen to a CD after you played like 3 songs.  Just long enough to be proud of you and your shitty Garage Polka band.  This is where Drew can fill the gap.
Now as you read down the rest of that blurb it might also strike you as odd that Drew would consider providing the music for a party a “problem.”  Most of the time the trouble is fending off your friends from the stereo or kicking them off stage to usher on the next band or DJ.  This just illustrates how warped the entire catalog is.  In some sort of modern or utilitarian way these discs are going to try and cover you for every situation.  And yes, these are some sort of mutant low-rent version of those NOW CDs you’ve see at sorority parties, but the strange corners of the company are that much more.  Thus we have this time around:
Drew’s Famous Haunted House Horrors
Produced in 3D sound technology

This CD contains the ultimate collection of Halloween terror Created at the Skyroom studio by the world renowned special effects guru, David Musial, utilizing today’s leading 3D technology, “Q Sound.”  The music will surround you and create a virtual haunted house in your home.  If you want to spook the trick or treaters, haunt your house and make this Halloween the scariest ever, then dare to dim the lights and turn on “Drew’s Famous Haunted House Horrors.”  HAVE A GREAT PARTY! thank you – Drew

Couple of things about that, right?  Wow, I feel like I’m never going to get to the CD, which is great, but there’s so much more surrounding the actual recording that’s both jaw-dropping and gut-busting.  Returning now, so no I have no idea what Q Sound is.  But if you were to guess unnecessary panning you would be half correct.  There are a lot of monsters skulking from left to right here.  But to be fair there is also a very “big” sound on the CD as well.  Meaning that it was properly mastered.  However, at the suggestion of the back of the CD, you should play it for trick-or-treaters which, unless you’re a weirdo, usually stay on the outside of your home at Halloween time.  I haven’t tried to play the CD outdoors but if this Q Sound could somehow make it sound like haunted chains were rattling from across the street and the trees were filled with shrieking witches, I would be all in.
Another funny thing is that the “thank you” that Drew is responsible for is trademarked.  Don’t be messing with Drew’s Famous thank-yous, which sounds even creepier than this CD.
On the CD you’ll find a very nice selection of “scenes”  commonly found on these types of CDs.  Zombie attacks, chainsaw massacres, people writhing in hell, stuff going on in the graveyard.  All very standard fare, but again it’s got that very nice studio sound to it.  There is also very creative use of the “water in a huge dish” effect you know you love doing when washing dishes.  If it were not for Drew hyping sound gurus that no one has a clue about, I would go so far as to say that Drew could be a contender for the modern day Disney Records in terms of quality Halloween recordings.
The highlight of the entire disc is a track called “I’m Going to Get You” and I’ve never heard anything like it.  At its core the track is about four minutes of a robot gone Terminator on you that keeps telling you to “stop running” in an 8-bit vocoder voice.  There other strange servos whirling around as the robot slowing tries to kill you.  But the brilliant thing is that the track is otherwise unadorned by background music.  No whistling wind, no dripping blood, just the slow clomp of a robot trying to kill you.  It’s well worth the price of admission alone for that track.
We’re more than six months away from Halloween, so we’ll probably be revisiting some of the other offerings from Drew’s Halloween catalog. There’s a section that is called “Value Assortment” that look just about right for my tastes.  But for now, “I’m going to get you!”
Goodnight out there, whatever you are.