Five Songs Vaguely Related to Animals

Edit: Murray pointed me at Grooveshark, and then I did this:

So you can apparently now actually listen to these songs, through some devilry I am not party to. Do it!

Okay, this is a slightly flimsy premise, but it actually has some gems, lo:

Henry Cow – Bittern Storm Over Ulm

Unrest (Virgin, 1974)

This is a short song just shy of two and a half minutes, but it features to my ears, the most concise and complete statement of Henry Cow as a band. The funky bass figure, the weird lead guitar, the avant jazz drum virtuosity, and of course the early Zappa-esque woodwinds.  It might be a little hard for you to digest, but that’s probably because your brain is underdeveloped.

The bittern is a member of the heron family, and Ulm is a German city on the Danube. So there you go. Totally animal related. Despite being instrumental. Oh well.

Eagle Twin – In the Beginning was the Scream

The Unkindness of Crows (Southern Lord, 2009)

This is an excellent new two-man doom metal band, obsessed with eagles and crows for some reason. This is growly and rough, and describes crows in a strange mythological manner (inspired by Ted Hughes’ “Crow” poems apparently) as being somewhat responsible for the invention of murder, amongst otherthings.

“Who begat crow. Who begat more crow. Who begat murder. Who begat more murder.”

Right up my alley thematically and musically. Crunchy and delicious. Also, beardy. Can’t have enough beards. Even if everyone in the world had a beard, that still wouldn’t be enough for my liking.

Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band – Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish

Trout Mask Replica (Straight Records, 1969)

This is one of the more absurdist songs on one of the most absurdist commercial records ever released by a man who is quite likely not “all there”. Lyrically, Beefheart throws out a trail of utterly incomprehensible images, including such wonders as:

“Dank drum ‘n dung dust”


“Archaic faces frenzy, ceramic fists artificial deceased”

Musically, it is, much like the rest of the album, a jigsaw puzzle of the blues assembled all wrong. Not much more to say about it. Except that it is an awesome wonder that it works as well as it does.

The animal link here is vague. There’s a few specific references here and there in the lyrics, to bugs, fish, whales, and the titular octafish. But lords only know what it’s really about.

Torche – Tarpit Carnivore

In Return (Robotic Empire/Rock Action, 2007)

Torche, the recently robbed, but always awesome melodic super-heavy rock band, are sure to bring a smile to the face of all but the most fun-hating amongst us. And while I certainly hate fun, not enough to hate Torche. I mean come on. This song is plodding and stomping, yet snarly and lithe. As the name suggests, it is the sound of mastodons and sabre-toothed tigers and those crazy looking pre-ice age rhinos. Except not really, because it is in fact the sound of a guitar whose lowest string is downtuned beyond all recognisable pitch to create a thunderous metallic rattle.

Very animalistic and raw, but also, as I may have mentioned, fun.

Old Man Gloom – Branch Breaker

Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism (Tortuga, 2001)

Mmm, ape cum. Hey, maybe you should search for the lyrics of this song.

It’s one of OMG’s shorter pieces, a little vignette of fast, crunchy grinding metal. Thematically it expresses the name of the album, the regression of man to a primitive ape-like state and his return to the forest from whence his ancestry came. Kind of impressive they can express this concept in 51 seconds. That’s right folks, probably in less time than its taken me to write this gibberish.

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