LINK FIXED 12/8/09
The guys over at De Stijl get a big fat gold star for releasing and reissuing some awesome shit lately, including these two long lost classics. Back in the 70's Mark Tucker unknowingly recorded the music that would later pave the way for the likes of Daniel Johnston and The Elephant Six Collective. His most famous release, Batstew, is a mishmash of lo-fi bedroom recordings and ambient sounds that has been sought after by record collecting nerds for decades (seriously, the original pressing goes for as much a shitty used car on ebay). If the measure of a great album is how emotionally affecting it is, consider this one a home run. Batstew won't grab you in any sort of typical fashion though. I've honestly never had an album make me feel more uncomfortable in my entire life. The left-field dialogue quips and the overall feel of the record really drive home the fact that ol' Mark was probably a pretty mentally unstable dude back in the day. During the course of the record, Mark eventually takes us for a ride in his car. So now as a listener, it seems like you're trapped in the trunk of this crackpot's hearse while he drives around and serenades you with man-on-man love songs and moaning analog synth lines.
I might be in the minority, but I have to say In The Sack is actually the better of Mark's most famous releases. While 90 pound aging white hipsters with Pitchfork contributing writer aspirations might turn their noses up at this remark (both to scoff at me and to keep their black plastic frame glasses from sliding off of their faces) I have to stick to my guns on this one. Start to finish, In The Sack trades an ounce of "What the fuck?" for a pound of damn good songwriting. Track to track the record flows better, and Mark has the opportunity to showcase his musical chops while retaining a healthy amount of average joe listener alienating weirdness. I can see how both of these albums could be incredibly polarizing, but if you have any interest in one of the pioneers of bizarre American underground music, you owe it to yourself to download these LPs.
Download In the Sack