Almost 25 years after the anonymous Colorado citizen operating under the moniker Longmont Potion Castle started tormenting people via phone and releasing it on cassette, and after claiming that the project was over several albums ago, LPC is finally making its full-length vinyl debut. Even though LPC falls under the category of “prank phone calls” I’ve always thought of his work (and I do consider it “work”) to be closer to some sort of avant-garde sound art than the fucking Jerky Boys. He’s had the same deadpan tone to his voice all these years, and he’s still coming up with ridiculous dadaist non-sequitors that simply wouldn’t come out of most people’s mouths. Not to mention, he still filters his voice through a digital delay system, playing around with pitch and reverb and generally just confusing the hell out of people. He still occasionally calls up shops asking for odd-sounding items that don’t exist (“rug munchkins”), or asking repair shops to fix items they don’t actually fix, and when they won’t, he’ll nonchalantly retort with “maybe you’d rather look at my flamethrower, how’s that sound?” Naturally, a large percentage of the people he calls react with extreme fury. Sometimes LPC is obviously asking for it; he opens one call claiming that he’s sponsoring Julian Assange for WikiLeaks, and is told that he will only receive money for “hand grenades to blow his fucking ass to hell where he belongs”, otherwise “go fuck your commie self.” His standby routine still remains calling people up claiming to be from UPS (or DHL, or another delivery service) and saying that he has a huge delivery from another country and that they owe him thousands of dollars and that he’s on the way to deliver it right now and he needs the money immediately. Even when the people he’s calling absolutely refuse to believe what’s happening, they still stay on the line for much longer than anyone with common sense would, and continue arguing while LPC’s utterings get more absurd, and while his voice gets more processed. On “Lizards”, LPC tells the guy on the other line to “talk to my leader”, at which point he filters his voice and mixes it with new age music, and speaks about “objects which look like faberge eggs from Mars” and other psychedelic things. On another track, he calls someone asking for backing tracks (“I need ogg vorbis tracks, stat!”) with the pitch of his voice fluctuating rapidly, and works the guy on the other line up so much that he ends up having to ask “why are you fucking cursing at me?”, with his voice still electronically mangled. Only on a few instances do the people he’s calling seem to be in on the joke. He cracks a girl up with some silly voice saying “hey Dahn, what’s going ahn?!”, and in two instances, he’s actually asked if he’s the guy from Longmont Potion Castle. On one of the digital-only bonus tracks, Merle Allin (whose brother G.G. was infamously called on one of LPC’s early albums) seems to have a grand old time hooping and hollering at LPC, who calls about delivering a package by foot, but then ends up throwing it in the dumpster.
If all of this sounds horrible and not funny, then you are probably not going to enjoy the track called “Kiplet’s Prayer”. On this track, LPC speaks through a Mac speech synthesis program in character as a hearing impaired 14 year old, calling a Christian prayer line to pray for his friend Carl “who is in gangs and drugs.” He gives his email address as “email@example.com” and his postal address as “39 firstname.lastname@example.org”. This sounds cruel and exploitative on paper, but what makes it hilarious is the way the computer voice pronounces “Kiplet”, and “gaaangs”, and “thhaaank you”. Essentially, the delivery is what makes LPC work. The combination of straightfaced recitation of completely absurd subject matter (such as calling up a coffin shop asking about “Alligator Monday”) along with quick-witted one-liners (such as giving his phone number as “888-Witchery”) makes his recordings completely bizarre and fascinating, and I’ve yet to tire of them.
I should also mention that LPC albums consist of more than just phone calls. He also sneaks at least one thrash-metal instrumental onto his albums, and sometimes he even makes songs blending metal riffs with collages of chopped up samples of his phone calls. “LPC 9 Theme 1″ makes a hook out of the angry guy he calls at NBS Electronics saying “I’m open right, I’m open right fuckin’ now”, and “Big Big Banana” loops the titular phrase amongst a copious amount of curse-heavy threats. The guy is obviously a pro with a recording studio, as well as with a guitar.
I’ve been a diehard Longmont Potion Castle fan since college. I read the reviews and interview on Mark Prindle’s site, and downloaded a few albums, but I ended up buying all of them because This Man Deserves My Money. As you can probably expect, every time I try to subject my friends to LPC, they either don’t get it at all or become diehard fans as well. I seriously think that this man has had a profound effect on the way I perceive human interaction. I’m not saying I randomly call people up and threaten to whip their ass, or tell them I’m about to deliver a truck full of insects, but it definitely makes me consider how ordinary and banal it is interacting with most people on a daily basis, and this just makes me wish I could do something subversive. My mind is nowhere near as creative as LPC’s, however, and I’m pretty anti-social most of the time anyways. But I think what he does functions as a fascinating study on social interaction, as well as being funny absurdist comedy and experimental sound-art. Plus, it’s more quotable than Monty Python. I’m getting all sorts of coaxial flutter on my unit. I deal with Elastico Gomez. OK, let’s try this again; Dougan, Nassssshhhhhhhhh…