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This track is unlike anything anywhere else on the site. When you hear the mp3, you won't have a clue what it's about until you've read this.
For this month's submission, I thought I'd try something like "audio sculpture" using the spoken voice. A couple of weeks before RCC day (July 16, 2005), I was having a particularly bad day and noticed that I was quietly babbling to myself at a rather frenetic pace. (The side of the family I take after most has a history of men who talk to themselves - a lot - in old age...needless to say, this observation wasn't one which I took with delight.)
I decided to see what would happen if I recorded what was coming out of my mouth...and this mp3 is the result. It's not speech played backward or scrambled...this is unedited, raw babble from two four-minute tracks I recorded that evening. The middle part of the mp3 is simply sections of the two tracks spliced together, one voice each for the left and right channels. And because the voice separation is such an integral part of this "performance", this is one of very few mp3s on this site which is offered in stereo.
It was only after I had produced the track that I developed a comedy riff around it. At the time I recorded this, I noticed that I was tending toward something similar to a notorious Pink Floyd track entitled Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict...I even vocalized an ending on one of them that sounds like Roger Waters' infamous closing line from that track: "And the wind cried Mary".
I realized right away that this was a very weak submission. The package had to justify its existence, much in the way that the box justifies the pet rock. So I came up with the following story-behind-the-music, which pretty much speaks for itself...with one exception: "Abdab" nods to Pink Floyd. (The original name of the Pink Floyd band back in the mid-1960s was The Screaming Abdabs.)
|"Abdab Fetches the Rarg": A Bulbov Folk Tale|
Field Recording for the Library of Congress Oral History Repository
Recorded May 12, 1966 in Feltupf, Soviet Republic of Georgia, by Dr. Winter S. Heat's field recording team from Yonkers University's Mickey Mantle School of Anthropology and Cultural History.
About This Recording
This unique field recording, made by my anthropological team in Unch, in 1964 for the Library of Congress' oral history repository, is to my knowledge the first known recorded version of the classic Bulbov folk tale "Abdab Fetches the Rarg".
The tale, often told to children who don't finish their roast trykk, has been told for centuries in this area of the Bulbov mountains, and is generally referred to by parents, teachers and storytellers as "Several Specimens of Drunken Polish Animators Gathered Together in a Cubicle and Grooving with a Kazakh".
For those who may have difficulty following this rather frenetic recitation, it begins with the hero, a young boy named Abdab, apprentice to the local government-sponsored animator, who is sent forth by his annoyed elder to fetch a wineskin of a favorite local beverage called "rarg", traditionally made from fermented vulture milk and horsemeat broth. As young Abdab canvasses the local pedlars, he learns a painful lesson about life as part of the Soviet as each pedlar in turn sends him to the next, always with a warning that however smelly, obnoxious and impossible to bargain with as the current pedlar may be, the next one - the one who has the rarg - will be worse. When Abdab finally does track down the rarg, he discovers that his elder has played a trick on him, since there is no such thing as vulture milk. The tale ends as Abdab wanders home, merrily babbling to himself about how happy he'll be when his elder drinks the foul concoction he *does* return home with: an Armenian delicacy called "buzkok", which the enterprising Abdab has liberally laced with cyanide purchased from the final pedlar he meets in his quest. The tale is said to teach youngsters in the Bulbov the benefits of always knowing which poison is most effective for the superior one most wishes was out of one's way.
The dialect in this recording is difficult to follow even for those fluent in Bulb. The local accent, referred to by most Russians as "Aszvyp", has evolved over decades of living under the control of whichever regional tyrant was sufficiently anxious to possess the region's vast lint deposits that he would subject his soldiers and agents to the sight of Bulb women without permanently losing the ability to father children. Conquering armies typically forced the locals to remain in their homes and not be seen in public unless dressed in full-length burlap robes which cover the head. This practice has been copied in recent years by United Nations aid workers after a 1956 incident in which twelve Red Cross volunteers died instantly after accidentally wandering into the women's communal bathhouse. None of the local officials had warned them about the odor. While the Bulbs themselves have a natural immunity to their noxious appearance and odor, they still find each other impossible to tolerate for more than brief periods, so over the centuries they have learned to speak at a pace incomprehensible to outsiders. Bulbs speaking to each other in their own dialect communicate vast amounts of information in the very short times to limit their exposure to each other.
This rapid cadence is further aided by the local diet, which consists largely of "spelk", a stew consisting primarily of a local bean related to the coffee plant which tastes not unlike fish entrails and which has six times the caffeine per ounce as coffee beans. For decades, the hyperactive, irritable and aggressive nature of Bulb children fed on a diet of spelk has made the area famous for producing the highest percentage of public transit drivers and marriage counsellors of any region in the Soviet bloc.
About the Performance
The tale is recited by the famous local animator Yerchzk Flimd (1st place for Animation, 1966 Kiev Arts Festival, for "Bad Things: Vodka for the Twelve Babushkas"; Ziertsev Award, 1967 Moscow is a Funny Cartoon Symposium, for "Worker? Yes, But Tomorrow Too"). Yerchzk recites the role of Abdab, while Borch Genfleft, a visiting camera washer from Vodkov, performs the voices of the pedlars. Also present during recording was Jerzey Vaselinikov, who acted as censor and observer for the politburo, insuring that the story was recited with the required number of references to the superiority of Soviet rarg over mass-produced American rarg, and by whose kind permission this recording was allowed to be made for the Library of Congress archives.
Fans of early Bhugarov folk tales will be particularly amused by Yerchzk's frequent mispronunciations of "flunf" as "fludf". As you probably know, in Bulb, fludf is an aphrodisiac made from the ooze obtained by squeezing the bellies of young pregnant women, which is then dried and mixed with a small amount of gasoline and aspirin and poured into a Bulbish lad's vodka. The unaware lad who drinks this concoction, temporarily blinded and in a near-comatose state, can then be married to the daughter of the father who puts the fludf into the young man's drink while the lad is still too weak to commit suicide.
The similarity of Yerchzk and Borch's voices is no accident. The Bulbs have a unique heritage stemming from a single family stranded in the Bulbovs some three thousand years ago, and have intermarried ever since. The reason why Bulbs have such a narrow and inbred culture becomes obvious to anyone who has seen a Bulb woman and not succumbed to the temptation to pull out their eyes.
This recording is dedicated to the memory of Billy Fleming, a 22-year-old student member of the team who took his own life during the expedition after imbibing fludf and regaining consciousness during his honeymoon following a hasty marriage to Borch's daughter.