'Essay Concerning The History of Ethiopian Biker Rock'
by Alex Moskos.
"When I first got off the bus in my new home of Montreal I was issued a dire warning from a spun out hobo who approached me in a miasma of liquored air and proclaimed loudly "IN QUEBEC, PROG NEVER DIED!" 'Twas almost as if motherfucker was a "greeter" working for Tourism Quebec. Put it on the license plate. The homies and I put this notion to the test immediately, cobbling together an entire Triumvirat discog in a matter of two days from a few local thrifts. The entire collection for under three dollars, often with shinny original Euro pressings!
Anyways, there is another musical tradition that dies hard in Montreal, one that is of a much more homegrown variety. A tradition which Panopticon Eyelids are the present embodiment. The roots of this are obscured but are probably found in Offenbach's castle burning trip to France depicted in the film 'Tabarnak!' or maybe even the strange Reel Psychedelique LP, which is what it says it is: zigazon on blast, caller and all... More recently (the early nineties) there was the incomprehensible Limpton's cassette 'Kill' (whose sacrilegious hit "Fuck Herbert Reeves" will forever make no sense, no matter what quantity of drugs you consume), the work of Sailor White or even the ribald babble of Quebecois comedy LPs. Let's not forget Les Raisin Brains from St-Jean, who wrote 'Iron Balls' and 'Les Pates Sont Pas Pire Mais Vive Les Cheeses!' ('The Fries Are OK But Viva Cheeseburgers!') in 1982.
This is a tradition for which there is presently no real name. The members of Panopticon Eyelids might tell you that it's called, strangely enough, Ethiopian Biker Rock (itself the title of an Alien Altars cut.) Which I suppose makes sense, because, there are presently no Ethiopian members of Panopticon Eyelids, nor are there any real bikers in the band, although Montreal is still famously the home of the most virulent Hells Angels chapters. And of course the Canadian government recently built an all-in-one courthouse/maximum security prison/prisoner transfer zone specifically to hold, try and encarcerate bikers, the building being a piece of panoptic architecture that rivals any of the examples found in Foucault's Discipline and Punishment. No, Ethiopian Biker Rock is best described as a mental amalgamation of the first two Voivod LPs, the early work of a Laval metal band called Aggression , Robert Morin documentaries, a bit of Hawkwind and doses of harmolodic funk (courtesy of Eric Gingras' bass work which alternates between being totally free and a heavily rhythmic chug, it should be noted that Alexandre St-Onge is still Montreal's premier slap-bass player although he hangs in a slightly more pentatonic realm).
Note then, as well, that Ethiopian Biker Rock is best enjoyed with a quille-mol, (aka a longneck Molson). Now Molson's product line seems less sugary than Labatt's. That much is for sure. Although Labatt 50 is the best of the beers produced by the major Canadian breweries and was the beer of Canada's working class, English and French, for 60 odd years. That said, the specific flavor of your quille-mol should probably be Molson Ex or Dry (which has a slightly higher alcohol count), Stock Ale if you can find it, not Molson Canadian which is not available in Quebec, likely cuz market research statistic flows have found that nobody'd buy the stuff if it was. Actually, better yet, imagine that you are a fucking quille-mol, Dry to be specific. The nature of your being is strange, because, after all, your being is bifurcated: you are both liquid, yellow, bubbles, and you are glass, the sort that is strudy and gold and in fact you know its translucency well. You have to look out through yourself often, watch the modulating light make and then deform the hand that will soon hold you, warm you. First heating your glass-self and then, magic of the browning motion in total effect, your liquid-self. Imagine, the difficulty in the experience of the trifurcation of your being when suddenly, some of you is split from the rest of you. Yeah, dear reader, it's a real bender: A portion of your being dividing from the liquid-you and parting ways with the warmth of the glass-you. But still you are one, a quart bottle of Molson Dry in its totality. Soon that part of you will be elsewhere, likely inside the mouth of one of the members of P.E.
But I digress, after that strange decade between Expo 67 and the 76 Olympics, when Montreal was freed from its nearly fascist Catholic masters and transformed into a Prog-loving modernist eye sore, the money and power elite abandoned the city for Toronto (good riddance!) leaving the shell of North America's most unique city to be overrun by a cast of very amiable, drink loving, French-speaking record geeks. Some grew up to run the roost, live professional lives in the plateau
and sport these fucked up little haircuts, ugly black collard shirts and little silver neck chains. Others, like Panopticon Eyelids took to furthering Ethiopian Biker Rock as the primary expression of Quebec's bent id-force.
At a recent outdoor music festival held deep in the woods, a weirdo-musical version of the Para-Olympics or Gay Games, America sent as its representatives a bunch of cartoon characters with multicolored panties on their heads and enough amps to demolish a small shed (hey, whatever, people'll pay ya to destroy a wee building in 2006.) Quebec sent Panopticon Eyelids. Not to pick fights r'nothin'. But P.E.lifted rock heat qua rock heat into the darkening sky and summoned rain, which, it could be argued, nearly ruined the festival. But in the end, consensus formed and all agreed that the Ethiopian Biker Rockers brought the deepest bag. So then with all the hyperbole and newspaper ink being spilt like so much dribbling puh over Montreal's rock bands, most of them pretty-boy, ex-pats from British
Columbia and Ontario, Fig Records is proud to present the true Montreal musical heritage: Ethiopian Biker Rock, the only musical tradition where the term, "fuck le chien" can be aptly used to talk of compositional form. We thank Panopticon Eyelids for affording us the
released October 1, 2006
Never released by Fig Records.
Recorded by Radwan Moumneh.
Cover artwork by Félix Morel.
Sébastien Fournier - Guitars
Eric Gingras - Bass
Michel Meunier - Guitars, Vocals
Félix Morel - Drums
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