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The Newsletter of
The Council for the Literature of the Fantastic

Volume 1, Number 5 (1998)
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Out in the Heat

by Brian Clark
Copyright 1997 Brian Clark

Victor Krummenacher's Great Laugh. Magnetic Records (POB 460816, San Francisco, CA 94146-0816). 60+ minutes, music CD.

Music is like medicine, to paraphrase a line from Richard Powers' The Goldbug Variations, because there is a chance it will cure you, or at least take away the pain. This odd trio of recordings form a poten cocktail that can be applied topically to any number of cultural ailements and aches.

Victor Krummenacher's band Great Laugh is the mature rock n roll of an artist whose been around for a while, but who, in his thirties, is discovering he's queer. The what-to-do? melancholly that swirls like a fog through Out in the Heat blows in an intimate history lofted on simple but entrancing minor key melodic rhythms. If all this sounds a little sad and hard to take, rest assured, Out in the Heat is actually, by the hemeopathic rule of like cures like, a balm for the dissociative uncertainty jitters that so plague the postmodern soul. If that last nit is not oxymoronic. And if you like black-mood blistering guitars.

Which brings up Krummenacher's history. For ten years beginning in the early 80s, Victor was the bass player for a band we've come fondly to call Camper van Beethoven. Apparently, as soon as they got a hit, Camper split up. Cracker went one way, and the Monks of Doom another, with Krummenacher now singing lead and playing bass. The Monks were biting and angry, sometimes hysterical, majestic, often frightening with just guitars, bass and drums. The Monks of Dooms' records remain among my favorite head-in-thundercloud music.

Great Laugh is the less strident, and though no less driven by the mysteries of the spirit, more mundane, familial, and inward-looking outcome of Victor's life in music. The out in Out in the Heat really does refer to coming out, but Krummenacher's lyrics are oblique, hermetically sealed in a self-signifying volume (loud) that paints a detailed picture, but were never sure of what, exactly, for the picture cant be anchored in any specific referential frame. His subjects may be his sister, or slowly discovering he's gay after his youth has started to fade, but his songs are an exploration of this in some ways unknowable cloud, life. His elegant handling of this mystery turns his melancholy into art.


The Council for the Literature of the Fantastic is based at the Department of English of the University of Rhode Island. We thank the University and the Department for their support.

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