Repulsar at Remer
Richard Thomas, The Duluth Reader, Thursday May. 2nd, 2019
A short time ago I reviewed a local band that played in a number of different styles and I suggested (violating first rule of music club, do not make suggestions to musicians) that instead of exploring different genres, they might try to create something totally new, something no one’s ever heard before. Like a sign dropped from the sky, a few weeks later this cd was mailed to our office (not from the same band). Indeed it is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. And I never want to hear it again.
That’s the point, of course. It’s supposed to be weird, disturbing and repulsive. The band is called Repulsar, alright? It’s beyond avante garde; it borders on psychotic. If it’s unlistenable, they’ve succeeded. Yeah, there’s a market for this stuff. If you’re a fan of unwatchable movies like “Psyched by the 4D Witch” and “Monster A-Go-Go,” then Repulsar is your cup of phlegm.
Basically it’s a bunch of messing around with digital recordings, distorting sounds and creating stereophonic yawps. There are only four tracks. In the first, “Bob Deified,” someone says “wow, Bob” over and over while in the background there’s noodling with bass, saxophone and keys. The first track is only four minutes long, but the next, “No Devil God Knits War,” is 10 minutes. Track 3, “Raw Stink Dog Lived On,” is the exact same length as track 2 because it’s the same piece played in reverse, and the name is a palindrome spelled the same forward and back. Track 4 is Track 1 in reverse and called “Deified Bob.” So the entire album is the same forward and in reverse.
Repulsar is from the Twin Cities, but in the liner notes they say they recorded the basic noises for the album during a campfire concert in Chippewa National Forest near Remer. Where? you might ask. Remer is a North Central Minnesota grease spot on the map just a spit and a holler down the road from Brainerd where the movie “Fargo” is set. As grease spots go, Remer’s not bad. I spent a year working there in the late 1990s, first as a cook, then at the sawmill across the street. Most of the people were nice, some not. But I digress.
In 2009 someone photographed someone in a gorilla suit near Remer and claimed it was Bigfoot (like that had never been done before) and it made national news on an apparently slow day. A few years later the town decided to capitalize on that for tourism purposes and call itself “Home of Bigfoot,” since no other town before had been shamelessly cheesy enough to do that. They now hold a Bigfoot festival every summer.
Repulsar has out-crazied the good citizens of Remer. In their liner notes they explain that the Bigfoot are multidimensional and when sighted, they disappear by moving back in time. Hence the album contains a lot of yowls, grunts and chirps in forward and reverse, since Bigfoot communicate both ways. Some of the noises were recorded at a “Kids Calling Bigfoot” contest at last year’s festival. P.S. Remer is a palindrome.
Listening to this album, or as much as you can stand, tempts you to look them up online. This leads you to an encyclopedic and entertaining website about the band, its three members (Newt Skink, Michael Donahue and Wayne Sayers) and their music and theatrical projects dating back to the 1980s. It’s full of recordings, essays, some intellectual stuff that went over my head and, best of all, comics.
Donahue, who also records as the solo electronic act Primadonahue, was told as kid by a voice teacher, “In order to make a living in music you need to either be really good or really bad. Those in the middle starve.” After 20 years of trying and not being successful in music, he founded Repulsar to test the theory: “Is there a secret trap door on the edge of terrible that when crawled through will lead to the promised land of greatness?”
So arguably Repulsar sucks so bad they’re great. I ain’t saying it ain’t a fact. Though having looked through their backstory, I feel the inevitable twinge of regret at having pulled back the curtain to discover the wizard. I kind of dug the repulsed feeling I had when I first heard it, wondering what aliens made this and what dungeon they’re locked in. Turns out they’re the sort of guys you wouldn’t mind hanging out with. Though you might not want to let them choose what music to listen to.
Entry on the forum at the Melvins website (themelvins.net bbs)
June 29, 2016
There's a local band that I love called Repulsar and your video kind of reminded me of their shenanigans as well. The sound and band set up is different but fuckin' A! Here you should check 'em out: primadonahue.com/repulsar. One of the things they do is every show they show up with a shit load of bubble wrap and eventually just toss all of it out at the audience. I'm sure you can guess what happens next. They're great and their recorded stuff is HORRIBLE but I think it's meant to be that way, but they are one of the funnest bands to see.
Repulsar: Gay Deer Hunter Sex Wagon
Paul Whyte, The Duluth Reader, November 12, 2015
I receive a wide array of music from all over the nation, but I try to focus on local music as much as I can. On occasion I will review an album from Minneapolis. Usually it’s because there is something outstanding about the album that people should know about. This week I’m going to review this album mostly because it’s hunting season and it seems fitting to review and album that is titled “Gay Deer Hunter Sex Wagon.” This album is pretty awful and it's not hard to explain why. I don’t think the guys who made this album will be too upset by me saying this, because I have hunch that’s what they were going for. Off the band’s website they explain, “Repulsar is committed to explore cheesy drum machines, bass tones that resemble the sound of farting, loud guitar feedback, semi-competent soloing and multi-phonic atonal throat singing techniques set to conceptually suspect themes.” Keep in mind that I don’t condone this album, I’m just reviewing it.
First off, this album is outstanding, but not in a musical way. It’s outstanding in how absolutely weird and potentially offense it is. The opening track “Americaca” has this crude and wacky version of the Nation Anthem played on a keyboard with a really cheesy sound. It’s hardly recognizable but I think that’s what they were going for. If you are easily offended, please stop reading this right now.
There’s not much singing on this album. Instead it’s often spoken word gibberish, “I want to explore big fat sweaty American cunts,” said in the most creepy way possible is how this album starts out. Apparently the album details a creepy straight white conservative male through his journey into becoming a completely depraved gay liberal. Yes, you read that right. That’s the concept of the album. Feel free to quit reading this at any time. It really just gets worse.
I do like how they sent a track list and about half the tracks don’t “conform to FCC standards.” I’ll move to their “top suggested” song for airplay, titled “Out of the Glue and into the Crack.” I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. This happens to be one of my least favorite tracks on the album, not like I have an actual favorite. It’s completely dissonant with howling lyrics that can hardly be understood. The samples of messed up bizarre vocals and grating horns make me want to skip it every time I gave it a listen. It’s about as avant garde, if you want to call it that, as it gets.
Let’s move on to look at tracks like “Nipple Me Now Manipulator.” The title of the track is the “chorus.” The character portrayed on the album contemplates living by the rules, finding a wife and conforming to the American dream, but decides that “I might as well turn gay.” When looking at the character depicted, he’s insane. I’m not sure what statement is being made, but the band wants to cut into political issues as well as personal preferences of sexuality. The thing is, it’s not like they’re making a joke of it, at least not completely. They seem to hate sleazy straight guys as much as they seem to hate twisted gay guys. It’s a rather confusing album and I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is all on purpose, although I don’t know what purpose that is. Did I say that this album is offensive?
The album boils down to a song that has three parts, titled “Weapons.” The parts include: Simple World, Gone is Gold, and Heavy Soul. The track is the longest at over eight minutes. The listener is greeted with, “your sex life is boring,” with a sampled vocal refrain that says, “missionary.” There is quite a bit of monologue in the “song.” I’m hesitant to say that any of the material can be considered really as songs, it’s more of a conceptual experiment of beats, noise and words that sometimes are understood to blabbering madness which revolves around hetero and homosexual themes. I personally am rarely offended, but I could see how most people would want to pour lighter fluid on this album and set it ablaze. The “song” has dialog that describes the character witnessing, “and I look in, and it sounds like there’s people having sex. There’s screams like it’s torture and someone’s being hurt. I listened a little more and I thought, no, that’s… wild sex. At the time, they left their windows open like they were trying to get my attention and try to get me in on it too. I was young and handsome back then…It was like a horror movie, it didn’t sound like sex at all, I realized that it wasn’t ‘normal,’ or sweet sex, or gentle. It was dominance and submission.” The song isn’t done with that. “They want to train kids that heterosexual sex is taboo... they play a game where they say you’re against gays and it’s intolerance… the sounds out of that house happened to be gay, it didn’t matter if it was a man and a woman, but it happened to be gay… they promote gay sexuality so there will be less births and population control, there’s a number of reasons why. They could be pushing hetero sex, but it would be for the same reasons, control… Where it really leads is beyond sex completely. Those who really harness and nurture it get to a point with themselves where everything is sexualized.” I’m going to stop there.
Overall, if you really like very experimental electronic music with messed up themes of sexual perversion, this album is worth checking out, I guess. They have a Bandcamp account. This is one of the weirdest albums I’ve heard in recent years. The band is daring the listener to go through this bizarre ordeal. I have no idea why gay sex and pretty much psychotic behavior is something to obsess about, but this band has achieved that in this very unusual album. I’m surprised they didn’t mention the deer fucker or ball slasher in it, honestly. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up, local interest).
So, that was this week’s CD review. If you want to weird out all the guys at the hunting shack, this is the perfect album. They’ll probably not want to hang out with you much if you do. Or if you just want something really weird to listen to, do it up with this album. I wish I could say that this is satire, funny or somehow relevant to something, if that’s in this album, I missed it. I’m not going to say the album is homophobic, they just went out with the intent of making the listener say, “what the fuck was that?” This is the most fair review I could give this album. It’s really messed up and you will be doing yourself a favor to not listen to it. You’re going to listen to it now, aren’t you?
Goodbye, Gastro Non Grata: "Even the Clusterfucks Were Good"
Mecca Bos, City Pages, January 27, 2015
..."It was a good time. Something where people saw things they didn't know they were going to see and ate things they didn't know they were going to eat."
"Like the time Replusar played and the guy was driving around with a bike wrapped in bubble wrap playing a one-man band with a pineapple taped to his head. We were really nervous about that one, but then realized it was the right call."
Repulsar: Gay Deer Hunter Sex Wagon
Zeph Daniel, The Zeph Report Podcast, October 25, 2014
Perverse but delightful… Do not expect to be coddled. Do not expect to be put in a nice easy chair and fed nice harmonies and choruses and things. Expect to be assaulted sonically. It’s a journey from being heterosexual and conservative to becoming gay and liberal. That’s the arc of the story. It will offend gays. It will offend heteros. It offends everyone and I think that’s good.
Repulsar: Gay Deer Hunter Sex Wagon
Dirtyvynalcollecting, Discogs, December 14, 2014
More pre-Post Apocalyptic rhythmic free jazz and noise-inspired guttural utterances and electronic spasms from the mossy underbelly of the Minneapolis music scene. Bring your raincoat, and watch for flying pineapple.
Repulsar: Audrey Seiler Fantasy Abductor
Dirtyvynalcollecting, Discogs, December 14, 2014
Repulsar is a live act that fits squarely into the very-Square "Noise" music scene like a sine wave hitting a wall at an abrupt angle. Musically, it's best described as a blend of de-tuned and remodulated power electronics, spoken word/grumbling, and Beefheartian/jazz-affected EDM. It's "danceable" in a sense, but is mostly cathartic and intellectually-idiosyncratic twaddle. In other words, it's great fun!
Note: The following review was so spot on we decided to ask the reviewer to join the band. For some strange reason he said yes.
Repulsar: Audrey Seiler Fantasy Abductor
BullGazelleMusic ASCAP/Stucco Records, 2011.
Wayne Sayres, Studio 8, Amsterdam, May 4, 2011
The one man-one reptilian alien band Repulsar is one of the groups Tipper Gore and the PMRC warned us about back in 1985-- only upon hearing Repular's bizarrely warped, twisted and sickening songs, Tipper would have revoked all the parental warning stickers from the albums of WASP, Guns n' Roses, and 2 Live Crew, pinned medals on all of those artists, and then tried to have the playing of Repulsar banned as a jailable offense.
Repulsar themselves voluntarily warn listeners saying, "CAUTION: Listen to the Repulsar tracks at your own risk. They are meant only for those who have the courage to recognize the GREATNESS in really BAD MUSIC." The short biography/manifesto inside the CD explains how Repulsar is "seeking a secret trap door on the edge of 'terrible' that may lead to a promised land of greatness…" I'd say they leave it to the listener to determine if such a secret door exists.
I've seen this disgusting duo perform on a couple occasions at Bedlam Theatre ten-minute play festivals, and although the performances were short, they were extremely memorable. The first time I saw them was a performance art style re-imagining of Rush's critically acclaimed futuristic Ayn Randian "2112" album transformed by Repulsar into "2012."
It featured vocalist Newt Skink performing half-naked but for a costume of shrink-wrap plastic, duct tape, and a pineapple taped to his head, ranting madly through the bastardized, depraved and corrupted version of the lengthy concept album where instead of a guitar, the protagonist/narrator finds a magic megaphone. He tries to present it to the priests of Syrinx, overlords played by puppet versions of Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake featuring giant genitalia balloons, with disastrous results for the pineapple.
Repulsar guitarist/arranger and multi-instrumentalist Michael Donahue, who performs on a drum seat surrounding by banks of drum machines, synths, a theremin (yes, believe it) and MIDI equipment, did a sickeningly brilliant job of converting the music of Rush to Repulsar's twisted vision.
I told him I thought so after the show but he didn't believe I was actually paying him a compliment. My girlfriend assured him, "No, Wayne really means it, he's a big Rush fan." His sister Mo later explained that Michael's reaction may have just been from repeated experiences of having audience members approach him after shows and just telling him outright, "What the hell was that? You suck!"
In the next Repulsar show I caught, they gave an equally bizarre performance that was a love letter to the cloacae, the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tract of all birds, reptiles, and amphibians, that featured Mo asking the audience through a megaphone if any of them were "double-vaginal anal virgins," another Repulsar performance that went beyond being merely surreal.
So being somewhat familiar with the band, it was with slight trepidation that I loaned Michael Donahue my cassette player so he could convert a recorded rant by Newt Skink referred to by Repulsar as "Armed Forces" (so named because it was recorded over the Elvis Costello album of that name) into a song. He returned the cassette player a week or so later with the completed CD entitled "Audrey Sealer Fantasy Abductor," featuring cover art of a blood-dripping-from-daggers mock Metallica-style Repulsar logo on the back and a police sketch on the front. He explained that Audrey Sealer was a girl who made up a story about being abducted and how Repulsar thought the sketch of the fictitious kidnapper slightly resembled Newt Skink.
It took me a little while to listen all the way through the disc but once I did I found I strangely enjoyed it. It starts with a number called "Knee Knew Knee," a narrative story about two knees who "hated each other from the moment of conception" and "were bored as fuck with each other." "EMF," (which I won't spoil the surprise by telling you what it's an acronym for), begins with an authentically karaoke-style homage to Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" before crumbling into an experimental neo-jazz mess of piano, electronics and guitar feedback with ultra-obscene lyrics drawn from the Wesley Willis Lyric Generator.
"Pigs Choking on Pie" is a Beatles homage of sorts, mutilating and skewering "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" on a kabob of heavy guitars and a grotesque narrative revolving around hallucinated beetles named A to Z. Another highlight is the title track, which contains what appear to be questions from a personality assessment recited by Newt Skink in a deceptively reasonable tone of voice.
The sound of the album is crystal clear as Michael Donahue is a capable and talented producer, which only serves to make the sonic choices and perverse utterances all the more disturbing. The sound veers from cold, noisy and annoying electronics to mock classic rock guitar riffs to the equivalent of armadillo claws covered in horse excrement scratching a chalkboard while hyenas fuck in the background. Newt Skink's vocals range from bland announcer to sleazy game show host to that of a subhuman mutant demon screeching gibberish in a sewer. The lyrics deal with a range of topics as perverse as they are degrading.
Repulsar is not for everyone. However, if you like your entertainment weird, hilarious, and generally fucked up, then this is really the disc for you!
Repulsar will be performing live at the Quadruple CD Release Party at the Acadia Café, 329 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, on Friday May 13th, 2011 along with Well Trained Monkey, Primadonahue, and earWorm Improv Group. The show is free, music begins at 9:00, 18+