Sunday, January 11, 2009

Zoogz Rift: Mix Tape Hero

Having stumbled across a post at an excellent blog the other day, I got to thinking about one of the more rewarding artists in my ever-bloating music library: Zoogz Rift.

Zoogie Whatsit?  

Oh yeah...

Described by crotch-less music critics as 'imaginative', 'stimulating', 'irritating', 'vitriolic', 'reactionary', 'paranoid', 'patience-defying', 'scrupulously obscene', and 'iconoclastic',  Zoogz Rift is as much an original as his self-admitted influences Captain Beefheart, Frankie Appaz, John Cage, Salvador Dalí, Lou Albano, Jerome 'Babe' Horwitz and Ayn 'The Lariat' Rand.  

And if you know at least four of the names on the above list, you are well on the path towards being a self-important, latte-drinking dolt. Congratulations!  I'll be sending out membership forms as soon as possible.

- Zoogz Rift (center) & The Amazing Shitheads

With a discography spanning 27 years and 763 albums, some might suggest that Zoogz Rift tilts a bit towards the prolific.  But don't you believe them.  Heck, don't even believe me!  Don't believe in your television, your dog, your fashion sense, your favorite record reviewers, or your schools; simply believe in yourself.  

And the fact that Zoogz Rift is best listened to in self-created mix tape form.

I'm not sure what it is about his music.  I own and cherish approximately 10 Rift albums.  With the possible exception of Amputees in Limbo (SST Records #122, 1985), I find it very difficult to listen to any of his albums in their entirety.  Yet I listen to each of them on a regular basis.       

The closest comparison I can make to the music of Rift would be to that of Beefheart, but only on a superficial level.  Structurally and lyrically, Rift shares a lot with the good Captain.  But while Beefheart & The Magic Band stayed within the blues framework, no matter how far out there they travelled, Zoogz Rift & His Amazing Shitheads veered over a much wider range; jazz, rock, punk, new wave, twerp pop, you name it.  

I guess it boils down to the duel edge of eclecticism.  If done well - and in small doses, musically eclectic outfits can be a rewarding challenge (see The Suburban Lawns).  More so than even the best of straight-forwards.  But if you are going to make an entire career out of being as varied as possible, expect a tight rope walk.  

And long falls when you take a misstep.          

One thing that I can say about Rift and his band that might sell them to those on the fence:  Snag Idiots On The Miniature Golf Course (reissue: SST Records #123, 1987) and check out The Great Apes Ate Grapes.  Tell me that isn't one of the greatest little songs you've never heard.  

On and on, Rift & The Shitheads create some of the more memorable riffs you'll ever get stuck in your head: My Daddy Works for the Secret Marines, Evil Eye (both off Amputees in Limbo), Sit Down & Shut Up (off of Ipecac), Dense Rain-Black Forest and Asphyxiated (from Villagers)... 

Wonderful Mix Tape material.   

Links of Interest:

* Enough Zoogz Rift to choke the Son of Sam's dog - Feelin' Kinda Froggy Blog


  1. Don't bother with the Deluxe Europeon edition of Amputees, as it is a joke on someone's part; It's the exact same as any other pressing.

    Still... it is a good enough gag.

  2. Thanks for the intro. I'm off to grab some.

  3. can i come over sometime and listen to some Rift with you?