by John Wenz
For a band that's released only two songs in the early '80s, only one of which I've actually heard on a split with a band described as "sucky/dumb new wave," it feels so weird to be on an obsessive quest to find the music of Calypso Machine Gun. The venerated Lincoln scene guide, Capitol Punishment, bears no mention of CMG, though split mates Bump Fuzz get a mention. But I wanted to know more! Find out more! But unfortunately, the single also regularly sells for more than $200 on eBay.
Luckily, a reader came through, at least with some tidbits.
I received an email from a reader named Matthew asking me what I knew about the band. I told him what little I did — basically, that I'd heard one song ("Lobotomy") played all of once on New Jersey's venerated WFMU, and their "Choking on Cufflinks" show. A direct link (without embedding, boo) can be found here. The other song, "Psychic Turmoil," is still a mystery to me, as is the Bump Fuzz side of the split.
The band plays an electronics-laden brand of Absolutely-No-New-York-No-Wave. It's almost a bastard son of early electronica and Crass' Penis Envy album. And if there's one thing I love, it's Crass.
More than many bands playing at the time, the members of Calypso Machine Gun seemed, from my brief exposure, more willling to push sonic boundaries than scene contemporaries, taking punk and throwing in some arhythmic funk, glitchy weirdness and distonal post-punkery.
Matthew added to the story some photos from Beef Tabloid #9, an issue of the Omaha arts scene zine with which the split was packaged. They can be seen here.
That's it. That's all I have. Which is where I turn to you, dear readers. At the end of every column, you'll notice I include my HN email. It's because I genuinely want to hear from you. In this case, if you have more info on Calypso Machine Gun, I'd love to hear it. Lineup, band history, a long unearthed cassette? A rip of the split so I can see if Collector Scum was right in calling Bump Fuzz "sucky"? Or even better — contact info for a band member so I can get the scoop. And if it's not obvious yet, I love most any relics of the punk rock era, so if you have something largely unheard you'd like to see get a new audience, pass it along!
John Wenz is the Echoes columnist for Hear Nebraska. That is, until he has enough money for a goat farm. Which will be never. Comment below or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.