Leave it to a pop star from the high-paced trendsetting Shibuya district of Tokyo to transform the supermall marketing ploy of "consumer entertainment" into musical artistry. On his first American release, Fantasma, producer/musician/label executive Cornelius looks at Vivaldi, the Beach Boys, '70s American television, Black Sabbath, and Bugs Bunny through a pair of 3-D glasses that coalesce the unlikely mixture into a futuristic soundtrack rife with wistful sweetness and agreeable melancholy. Cornelius performs with his Orangu-Tang Clan at Bimbo's 365 Club on Thursday, Nov. 19, with the Notwist and Solex opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $11; call 474-0365.
For the last 20 years the locally centered Bigg Citty Orrchesttra has been creating and composing what can be crudely described as ideational noise installation art symphonies. Each piece is constructed with a different theme and different musicians as the need or desire presents itself, which is often enough to include an impressive partial inventory of more than 150 full-length tapes, 350 compilation tracks, seven CDs, four singles, three video collections, two eight-tracks, eight issues of the noise magazine Tryst, and a slew of momentous live exhibitions. (There are, no doubt, long-forgotten projects floating among BCO-obsessed fans in Germany, Holland, and France, and, as often happens, chronicling falls in the hands of zealots.) Discovering the impetus behind BCO's body of work can be a serious or, more accurately, a ludicrous task for the somber-minded journalist. Responses to standard interview questions are likely to come back as "Dead air is good air," "E as in apple," "Practice not cuing up your records," "Just in case you like noize," and "Nobody knows that except you and me." Of the things of which we are certain: BCO never spells its name the same way twice; more than 600 different musicians have been absorbed by the BCO collective at one time or another, including members of the Legendary Pink Dots (who perform at the Fillmore on Nov. 22), Crash Worship, Negativland, Battery, Gong, Grotus, Chris & Cosey, and Haunted by Water; BCO has no covenant with style or content -- its recorded crop includes Greatest Hits and Test Tones (the same 48 tracks of physically manipulated test tones mixed by Monte Cazaza, the Haters, John Duncan, and others), Salty Sea Shanties for Young Pirates (self-explanatory), Hi-Fi Stereo Test Record for Pets (an instructional recording to help our animal friends appreciate music), and Child's Garden of Noise (songs written for BCO by kids for kids); BCO has tried diligently, but unsuccessfully, to get sued by Yoko Ono (see beatlerape, a composition of "stolen and butchered" Beatles sounds) and Procter & Gamble (see The Consumer CD, a collection of 100 disabled commercial jingles from the '40s, '50, and '60s); BCO performs too rarely to be missed -- the last performance, over a year ago, was culled from the works of dada poet Kurt Schwitters and involved a continuously vomiting man (other performances have included a campfire retelling of Gilgamesh, a live re-enactment of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi with actors and a 10-piece orchestra, a live performance of beatlerape with vulgar bare Beatles puppets, a tour of Europe fixed on the moral correctness of copyright infringement, and numerous historic pieces centered around folks like Hugo Ball, Apollinaire, and Jean Cocteau). BCO's most recent recording is based on the work of Od McUb, a Pennsylvanian who was sent to the Netherlands where he began creating original English-language reading material through the shredding and commingling of old books and pamphlets -- medical journals with art history, small appliance manuals with psychiatric reports, musicology texts with firearm handbooks. On the CD, we find the voices of Edward Ka-Spel (who opens for the Legendary Pink Dots at the Fillmore), Fe Beltane, Monte Cazaza, Mr. Hate, and others reciting these word-collages above surreal, often frightening, washes of sound. While BCO has promised nothing, the collective has suggested readings from The Collected Works of Od McUb might take place during the show at Bottom of the Hill on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 10 p.m. Polkacide headlines and new BCO puppets will be in full effect. Tickets are $7; call 626-4455. BCO will also be creating shopping music (with an entirely different cast of puppets on hand) at Amoeba on Friday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. Admission is free; call 831-1200.
-- Silke Tudor