I have long enjoyed music that is raucous, uncompromising, angry, screaming, agitated, energetic, charged with emotions, social and political leanings, and a degree of archness. From Frank Zappa and The Fugs to Fishbone and Fugazi, from John Zorn's Naked City to The Thing, from the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band to The Goats, from Captain Beefheart to Les Claypool. Even the recent offering from Møster! is thoroughly soaked in this kind of energy.
Sounding out from Finland, Can Can Heads are certainly raucous and irreverent, and their latest album, "Butter Life" hammers along with no regard for musical convention, high art or low art, or any other constraint that could be thrown at a musician. Such notions, so cherished by critics and musicologists, simply bounce off these guys. Together since 1993, they have found their "thing" (I'm not gonna give it a name: they call it "Ramones meets Albert Ayler”. That's pretty good, but nothing coming from the two parts of that formula ever sounded quite like Can Can Heads.)
Can Can Heads are not merely a sum of influences, or even a sum of their total parts. They rip and tear at the fabric of their sound. Just when you think there's a pattern emerging, they screw it up by delivering a moment (yes, just a moment; but remember, the majority of the 18 tracks on this album are under 2 minutes long, so moments are magnified) that scatters everything to the four winds, then takes off in an utterly different direction.
Even when chaos seems to be the prevailing force, you notice that there is a steady pattern from one instrument or other anchoring the whole thing. And when order seems established, with every member on the same page, you suddenly realise it's all been a con, and you're being swept off on a wave of energy. Energy. That's probably the image that keeps tumbling into my mind as I listen to "Butter Life": it's like being caught inside an overcharged plasma globe, filaments of electricity discharging from every angle.
In tracks like "Breakdiscodance", "The Pee Party", "The Hour of your Annihilation" and "Spastomatiko", the anchors are there aplenty (the latter managing to swing AND grind in equal measure). Yet, the album has, bizarrely, something for everyone (I mean actual open-eared listeners, not those pseuds who pretend to be open to music and then trash an entire genre without a second thought). It's one of those albums that, if this general chaotic free-for-all approach hasn't taken over your musical life, will fit certain moods and make for a great choice. Anything from failing to get research-funding to being fired from a job you hated anyway, from stag or hen parties to 4:00AM long-distance drives on a motorway, and all manner of life events in-between and beyond could very well benefit from a full injection of "Butter Life".
After such a high-octane journey through an underworld populated by the sound of sounds mating with each other in reckless abandon, the track "The Shape of Filth To Come" inspires my final word on the matter: Improfilth.