Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Alvaro - 1977 - Drinking My Own Sperm

Alvaro 
1977
Drinking My Own Sperm



01. Latino America
02. Palido Sol
03. Drinkin My Own Sperm
04. Three Trees
05. The Whip Of Indifference
06. Valparaiso
07. Lost For Words

Piano, Percussion, Flute, Bass, Lead Vocals, Whistle – Alvaro

Recorded and mixed at Riverside Recordings LTD, London November 1977




Composer, vocalist, keyboardist, and poet Alvaro Pena-Rojas, better known as "Alvaro the Chilean With the Singing Nose," has been compared to John Lennon and Tom Waits, though in fact his strange music exists in a category of its own. With a large number of self-released recordings that borrow from such diverse sources as his Chilean background, European avant-garde, minimalism, and easy listening pop music, Alvaro has forged an endearing legacy of DIY and outsider music. Born in Chile in 1943, Alvaro released several singles of pop music in his native country in the late '60s before moving to London in 1974. Once there he hooked up briefly with Joe Strummer in an early version of the 101'ers, Strummer's group prior to the Clash.

Over the next several years in London and Germany, he recorded several demos, often just soloing on piano or keyboards and vocals, or occasionally with a drummer and bass player. With punk all the rage of London in 1977 and an emphasis on independence from record labels where bands would release their own material, Alvaro started his own label, Squeaky Shoes Records. His own quirky music, though nothing like the noise of punk, had even less commercial potential. With help from Antonio Narvaez on various percussions and vocals and Cathy Williams on vocals on one track, and himself on piano, lead vocals, percussion, pinquillo, double flute, bass, whistle, and stones, Alvaro's first LP, Drinking My Own Sperm, was recorded in November 1977 and came out soon after. The next several years saw the release of more full-length albums, singles, and tapes from Alvaro, all issued on his own label. His third record, The Working Class, recorded in Bavaria in 1979 and released the next year, was a completely solo effort with no overdubs. His single "Mariposa" from 1985 was considered the weirdest single in the Virgin Records Megastore in London at the time.

Often shuttling from London to Continental Europe, as well as South America, to record and tour, by the late '80s Alvaro relocated to Germany. He played some concerts on the East Coast of the United States in 1991 and continued to tour and release records and CDs throughout the next decade. Through self-production, Alvaro has maintained his unique vision, that combination of an unusual singing voice; music that is steeped in Chilean folk music and yet influenced by modern European experimentation; and strange lyrics in Spanish, English, and German. Since the mid-'70s, he has also published several books of poetry with various presses.

Chilean singer/songwriter composer Alvaro Pena-Rojas moved to London in the early 1970's and hooked up with pre-Clash Joe Strummer in the 101-ers, but then spent most of the punk and post-punk area sculpting an incredible catalog of 18 albums and singles, including one of the strangest albums of all time, 1977's "Drinking My Own Sperm". Alvaro's music is uncompromising and passionate, blending everything from Eno-esque, yet distinctly Latin-tinged pop experimentalism to piano composition to radical folk poetry. His unique approach to the flute on some of his records has also saddled him with the tag "The Chilean with the Singing Nose."

Alvaro Peña-Rojas was an advertising exec who ended up living in a squat in London when he chucked his professional career to fulfill his dream of being a musician. Rooming with he-who-would-become Joe Strummer, Alvaro was a founding member of the squat's pub-rock band, The 101ers. After the Pistols opened for The 101ers at the Nashville Rooms, Strummer felt like he was destined to become a punk, and founded The Clash. Alvaro took his own trio into the studio (along with singer Cathy Williams, then in Red Balune with her boyfriend, Geoff Leigh) and used his savings to record Drinkin My Own Sperm, which he then had pressed up on his own Squeaky Shoes label. The music is a mad mélange -- like Andean lounge music in parts, like berserk early Eno in others, and filled with the strange joy of Alvaro's keyboard inventions throughout. The album's title-track -- which Alvaro has long claimed was an ode to his lonely existence in London -- strikes us more like the move of a canny marketer. Because of its title, the record was banned on the BBC and often noted in contemporary mainstream journals as yet another sign of the disgrace that was punk. Of course, we leave the ultimate decision to you, but one has to wonder.

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