Tired of "Monster Mash"? Through with calling "Ghostbusters"? If your Halloween playlist is begging for something different, Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records have you covered! On October 6, you can look no further than the frightfully fun Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease. Don't believe us? Take The Bride of Frankenstein's word for it - she's on the cover!
One of the most unusual records of all time, this "Symphony for Tape Delay, IBM Instruction Manual, & Ohm Septet" was credited upon its original release in 1974 to "recognized raconteur, genius, composer, musicologist, conductor" Heins Hoffman-Richter, whom the original liner notes blithely informed us "died from an ear lobe tumor." Who? you might ask. It turns out that the late Hoffman-Richter was none other than best-selling poet and all-time cult music hero Rod McKuen (Listen to the Warm, "Seasons in the Sun")...but you won't find any cats named Sloopy here. McKuen recorded the album for his own Stanyan label, then the second-largest mail order record company in the world, only behind Columbia House. Stanyan wasn't just selling records, either. His company also offered a variety of publications including his books of poetry and calendars. A special May 5, 1973 issue of Billboard celebrating McKuen's 40th birthday featured a full-page ad for an upcoming clothing line, McKuen Casuals: "Millions are into his books and records and songs and in the coming year, many millions more will be in his pants...and jackets, and sweaters, and sneakers." Proceeds would be earmarked for his Animal Concern charity.
While the Stanyan discography was filled with fascinating albums of every stripe, Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease stands alone. Put simply, it's Rod McKuen's very own Metal Machine Music. He immersed himself in musique concrète, or music which utilizes recorded sounds as raw material, for the strangest album in his vast discography. Like Lou Reed's later experiment in feedback and noise, Freak Your Friends features no songs or traditionally structured compositions...but it just might scare off those candy-hungry kiddies on your doorstep! Though the Reed and Hoffman-Richter albums do not sound alike, both are true to their intentions and utterly devoid of the trappings of mainstream music.
The album consists of four movements, two per side. Unsurprisingly, McKuen did his homework. The disquieting, dissonant, party-stopping suite takes its cues from such seminal works as Raymond Scott's 1962 ambient series of Soothing Sounds for Baby albums and Danish composer Bent Lorentzen's 1972 The Bottomless Pit, blending blasts of feedback with burbling water effects, bleating synthesizers, disembodied carnival-esque sounds, ominous noise beds, startling squeals, and thick tape echo.
This wild journey through the electronic underground has to be heard to be believed. It arrives on "seaglass with black swirl" vinyl in a package that replicates the collectible original release. A glow-in-the-dark pressing is strictly limited to 100 units and available directly from Real Gone Music, while 300 copies on "antifreeze green" vinyl will be earmarked for Vinyl Me, Please. The LP, in all formats, additionally includes an insert with new liner notes from The Second Disc's Joe Marchese. Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease isn't for the faint of heart, but it promises to live up to its title. Look for it on October 6! You'll find the track listing and pre-order links below.
Heins Hoffman-Richter, Music to Freak Your Friends and Break Your Lease (Stanyan SRQ 4015, 1974 - reissued Real Gone Music/Second Disc Records, 2023) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Real Gone Music / Vinyl Me, Please)
- First Movement: Milkshake
- Second Movement: This Is My Beloved
- Third Movement: Gidget Gets in Trouble
- Fourth Movement: Send Out the Clowns