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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 Belligerent Songs That Will Scare Children into Leaving You Alone

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 11:24 AM

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2. Sun Ra, "Atlantis"

Sun Ra's 21-minute, densely layered space jazz epic feels like the soundtrack to a particularly vivid nightmare involving grotesquely large insects, house-leveling tornadoes, and a 30-foot-tall Gumby.

3. Paul Pena and Kongar-ol Ondar, "Durgen Chugaa (Fast Talk)"

After hearing a broadcast of Tuvan throatsinging on his shortwave radio, blind bluesman Paul Pena taught himself the ability, which involves producing two to four pitches simultaneously. Pena became so adept he was invited by one of the world's best throatsingers, Kongar-old Ondar, to visit Tuva and sing in its triennial festival. Here, over khomus (a mouth harp) accompaniment, the pair produces vocal sounds that will make Western ears raised on Beiber and Beyonce quiver and shake.

4. Mount Vernon Arts Lab, "Percy Toplis"

Even my most mule-stubborn child would be driven from my home office and back into their bed by "Percy Toplis." It's 12 ear-shredding minutes of what sounds like a triggered building alarm.

5. The Residents, "Arctic Hysteria"

Howling winds, fingers plucking absently at a stringed instrument, savage group chants involving an invented language -- "Arctic Hysteria" simply chills the blood.

6. Virgin Prunes, "The Children Are Crying"

After all these years, Irish boogeyman Gavin Friday still gives me the heebie-geebies, so I can't imagine how unnerving he would be to a little one. "I hear the children crying," he speak-sings in mocking tones. "Tomorrow will never come."

7. Meredith Monk, "Dungeon"

Meredith Monk's trademark "extended vocal technique" incorporates overtone, throat singing, yodeling, keening, percussive sounds, and micro-tonality. On "Dungeon," this technique is on full display. At particular moments you wonder if she's being strangled by a lumberjack; at others, if she's been pitched headfirst off a steep cliff.

8. Alfred Lewis, "Mississippi Swamp Moan"

Alfred Lewis' sky-high notes on the harmonica accent his teeth-chattering banshee wail. Checking in at over 80 years old, "Mississippi Swamp Moan" feels extra unsettling thanks to all the clicks and pops.

9. The Books, "A Cold Freezin' Night"

The Books' "A Cold Freezin' Night" is constructed from salvaged audio tapes made on Tiger Electronics' Talkboy recorder. From the group's blog: "The primary tape that you hear in 'A Cold Freezin' Night' is a game of one-upsmanship between a brother and a sister (I think). Their conversation escalates until the younger sister has no choice but to drop the A-bomb." Some of the samples include the particularly demonic brother telling his sibling he plans on cutting off her toes, as well as blowing her brains out.

10. Der Plan, "Wenn der Sonne ist Vergluht"

Layered, processed vocals in the harsh-sounding Germanic language ... The kids don't stand a chance with Der Plan.

Dad Rock is a column in which Ryan Foley attempts to look at pop music and pop culture from the precipice of middle age. If he ultimately leaps, it's because tiny hands ruined his Galaxie 500 vinyl. Accusations that he's raising five insufferable hipster children can be sent to

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