I see by the calendar on the clock on the wall it’s nearly the end of 2013, which means we’re coming up on an auspicious occasion. Five years ago Interröbang Cartel was working feverishly to complete its third album by its self-imposed deadline of December 31, 2008. We succeeded, just, and only by sleazing a little.
So who or what was Interröbang Cartel?
Well, back in the olden days, before there was Google+, or MySpace, or whatever that other one is, one popular form of social networking on the Internet was Usenet. It was crude, in a way; no graphics, no fonts, just ASCII text messages pushed out to the ether to be read by anyone who wanted to. Usenet still exists, but mostly (I gather) for the exchange of ASCII-encoded binary files, and discussions among a few stalwarts who still hang on in the face of slicker, more popular, and perhaps less functional ways of interacting on the networks.
One Usenet group, alt.religion.kibology (or a.r.k) nominally existed for purposes of worshipping Usenet notable James “Kibo” Parry. In fact it was a weird gathering place for a bunch of people whose outlook and sense of humor overlapped sufficiently to bring them together. In its prime, it was a fun place.
In April 2003, a.r.k regular Jacob Haller proposed the formation of “an International USENET Punk Band” with himself on concertina. I think he expected, if the idea was to go anywhere, it would be an entirely imaginary band, but as it turned out, we really did form a “band” — or at least a loose, globally distributed group of musicians — and we recorded music. Some of it was even punk, but in fact the styles ranged from prog rock to blues to country to microtonal to noise. Most of the songs were funny or weird… but not all; some were just plain good songs. Some of the members were professional musicians; some had never recorded a song. Some of the songs were written, composed, arranged, performed, and recorded all by one individual. Some had lyrics written by one person, music composed by another, and performance by a third. One song was recorded in a collaboration between two people, one in Rhode Island and one in Australia. Several sets of lyrics were set to music by more than one person, or the same tune was recorded in several different arrangements. There were some music videos made. And yes, the quality of the finished products varied considerably. So what? It was enormously fun.
We put together enough songs to fill three albums: Needs More Wanger, The Last Days of the Crazy People’s Supermarket, and Tribute Album. There were several other albums in the works beyond these, and some songs for them were completed, and others started, but the project sort of petered out after the end of 2008.
In honor of the fifth anniversary of our last album, then, I thought I’d present a series on my personal favorites — the contents of a CD I put together for myself called The Best of Interröbang Cartel.
Some of the information conveyed in these posts will probably be wrong, either due to faulty memory or misunderstanding in the first place. Corrections will be welcome! For more information on Interröbang Cartel take a look at our wiki, still online though not active.
Our first song: The Sun! She Explode!
This song led off the second album, Supermarket to give it its shortened name. The lyrics were by M Otis Beard. This was, I think, the one and only IBC song arranged and recorded by Kerri, and for me it came right out of left field; the job she did on it blew me away. If you’ll pardon the expression. About 21 other people, Kibologists, friends, and relatives, contributed voice samples, including yours truly at 2:05. This may be the best song ever to combine stellar astrophysics with Groucho Marx jokes. Take a listen.
The Sun! She Explode! (mp3)
(Cover artwork by Kerri’s friend Robin)
[Edit: Better image.]