May 8, 2019
Please Play Neil Cicierega’s Aggressively Weird Mash-Up “Mouth Sounds” At Our Funeral
We are not proud to admit that the first album we ever purchased for ourselves was a cassette of Astro Lounge, by Californian “ska” band Smash Mouth. In our defense, we were 12 at the time, and 12-year-olds, like movie executives, are not particularly known to have discerning musical taste: we were extremely fond of the album’s breakout single, “All Star”. We spent many an evening putting on Astro Lounge, dancing around our bedroom like we were stupid, and then rewinding it so we could dance to “All Star” over again five more times (which is still our preferred musical appreciation style, at 27).
Within the year we moved out of our old town, we hit the second half of our first puberty, and our musical tastes matured, too. Our overplayed Smash Mouth cassette (with its weird, garish CG album art, identifiable at fifty paces) got dusty as we “borrowed” our dad’s David Bowie and The Who cassettes instead. We dimly remember when we went to see Shrek in the movie theatre, and our inward cringe as “All Star” came onto the movie’s soundtrack, because we knew that this was a song that was shamefully bad. No longer could its sheer energy excite us. Its embarrassing miasma contaminated everything it touched.
Shrek came out in 2001. Something else came out in 2001, something that changed our perspective more than a big-budget movie or a crappy album could, and that was a flash video entitled “Hyakugojyuuichi”, by a teenager in Boston who was scarcely older than we were.
His name was Neil Cicierega, although he was going by Trapezoid back then, we’re pretty sure. We lost a lot of hours staring with overjoyed hypnotic fascination at “Hyakugojyuuichi” and other videos from this budding genre, which Cicierega called “animutation”. We don’t know if that was what first kindled our love of the bizarre, the deliberately terrible, the surreal, but it certainly played into it.
Cicierega went on to make and release music online under the name Lemon Demon, and if you know him it’s probably because of a 2005 song and accompanying flash vid, called “The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny”:
There was also Potter Puppet Pals, which everybody we know likes better than we do. Over the following years we just kind of checked in on Cicierega occasionally and made approving grunting noises with nothing catching our minds or imaginations too thoroughly.
We were unaware until very recently that Cicierega had taken up mash-ups, but if you need to dip your toes in the water, please sample a mash-up of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!” with Elton John; it’s called “Crocodile Chop”:
Last week, Neil Cicierega released an album for free on Soundcloud. It is a masterfully done series of mashups, knitted together with love and malice. It is called Mouth Sounds, and it features every single terrible thing from the ‘90s and the 2000-ies, including – of course – “All Star”. “All Star” features in every single possible permutation, haunting the mix. Imagine a baroque fugue, built around the admonition that you are an all star, get your game on, go, play; peppered with Santana’s “Smooth”; salted with Beatles to taste, and that is Mouth Sounds.
We settled in with a gin and tonic on Friday night alone, and cranked Mouth Sounds, and laughed raucous and joyous until we scared the cats. When it was through, we started it again and danced around the house like we were 12 again. We shared it with our roommate, who listened to it huddled on her bed at midnight, whispering like Jodie Foster in Contact: “I had no idea …” We shared it with snipy, who told us in no uncertain terms that we should be punished.
Now we share it with you. You may love it, or you may hate it, but we promise you that you will not be disappointed or bored.