The Immediate Stages Of Genius:The Mars LP


A band starts out trying to play rock and roll, can’t play anyone else’s songs, writes their own.  In the case of the Ramones, “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You” is created.  In the case of Mars, a song about Proust, “3E” is created.  The Ramones go on to write “I Wanna Be Sedated”.  Mars go on to write “Puerto Rican Ghost”, a one minute “song” that is a better distillation of abstract rage than any hardcore punk.  The point is clear- yes, you really can do anything you wanna do. Mars wrote songs featuring S&M with robots, interjections of Egyptian consonants, and coughs as vocals, all laid over postapocalyptic soundscapes where addled mutants scream.  This is not elevator music.  There are no hooks or any real musical precedent.  But Mars are one of the most important bands ever because of the sheer sound they smashed out of their instruments, the textures, the timbre, the POWER of the raw noise!  The Mars LP is a record to be played loud because it is a sensual record; that is, it is one that is to be felt, not to be heard. If it is played only once (all 32 minutes), it will stay with you, from the guitars of “Helen Fordsdale” imitating insects, Sumner Crane muttering “SCORN!” in an imitation of a homeless man, the two second reprise of “Outside Africa” sputters into implosion, China Burg mumbling threateningly in “11,000 Volts”, Nancy Arlen’s beat(!) holding down “Monopoly” as guitars twitch and hum, the guitar jack being pushed in and out to create noise in “The Immediate Stages of the Erotic”, better music for a bondage performance than Merzbow ever recorded.   The record is disturbing, frightening music.  But it is glorious because it is music to play on the sidewalk obnoxiously, to listen to at three in the morning three times in a row, to overdrive through a guitar amp and marvel at.  The only other artwork I can compare it to is a Jackson Pollock action painting; they are both beautiful yet hold no elements of beauty.

This and the Teenage Jesus & The Jerks/Beirut Slump anthology are the reissues of the year.    Forget U2.  Forget anything else on earth for thirty two minutes and play this record, which is currently available at a (gasp) reasonable price, making it the only in print edition of Mars’ discography that includes their original mix of the Mars EP.  Currently, Complete Studio Recordings 1977-78 (its contents equivalent to this) can be found secondhand at Amazon for 100 dollars.  So buy The Mars LP now.


One Response to “The Immediate Stages Of Genius:The Mars LP”

  1. You write great. Great recommendations too. Will buy Mars LP now.

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