The Frog Tape
Skin Graft Records
If Quintron wants to make a Halloween album, then by god, he’ll make a Halloween album, the likes of which you’ve never heard before. In a swamp, what’s the scariest animal of them all … hint … hint … Frogs???
The Frog Tape is like a lost soundtrack to the unwittingly campy Southern gothic exploitation flick Frogs — which you can probably catch on basic cable some random Saturday afternoon. Emblazoned right on the cover is the maxim: “Perfect for parties, haunted houses or trick or treaters.” And I agree. This is a rickety, organ-drenched echo horror — as good as the first time you heard “Monster Mash” or that “Worms” song. Cramps do Halloween. Samhain do Halloween. Now Quintron does Halloween. Looks like I’m reviewing this baby right on time.
What we have here is basically a grab bag of short “effects” tracks for maximum creeposity, some scarified covers and then a field recording of a legion of undead frogs for about fifteen minutes. Ace! “Horrors” kicks things off with frogs singing ominously in the background, overlaid with strange organ and synth bleeps that hint at forgotten drive-in classics. Perfect intro. “The Throat” is one minute of hideously modified frog croaking and undulating, ending with a slowed-down demonic Dracula laugh. Perfection! “Mood” sends the legions of frogs into the background to wait and watch and sing their song while Quintron does his best Lugosi-Karloff-Chaney matinee spookhouse organ! Full of atmosphere and conjuring up all the classic Universal monsters creeping down a hallway at once, lit only by a single candle. Watch out! Turn back! You fool! Turn back!
Then, if that wasn’t enough, Quintron uses the same monster movie organ settings and turns it loose on the exhumed bones of “Stray Cat Strut,” stripped of all meat and life. It’s a supercool minimalist funeral crawl through the skeletal remains of the song, just organ and haunted house ghoul screams. Mausoleum monster dance party. The Phantom of the Opera is on the keys! This album can’t get much better! The ghost of Count Quintron then announces that he is going to demonstrate his backwards organ playing technique. Hold me, I’m scared. Sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place in the soundtrack to Freaks or House Of Frankenstein.
“Bride of Frankenstein” is either a perfect evocation of the aesthetic of the late, great Mystery Funhouse in Orlando, dripping spooky fun with every blip, organ stab or echoed laugh effect, or the sinister workings of the mad doctor’s lair right before Elsa Lancaster screams her last, and then Quintron goes into a possessed, slowed-down FX-laden rendition of “Here Comes The Bride.” “Scary Office” is probably the world’s first example of horror “lounge.” I called it! Drum Buddy and church organ mesh together into woozy, purple fog-laden instrumental weirdness. Ed Wood woulda killed for this type of music — perfect for crappy ’50s alien flicks. And what are those damn frogs doing outside the windows of the “Horror Office”; they’re just sitting there, massing their numbers … god, the tension!
What could be scarier than Johnny Mathis? Quintron knows it! So he does a slowed-down cover of Mathis’s “No Love.” This one is as close as you’re going to get to the manic Quintron that we know and love. He’s still got his gravedigger hat and tails on, and his skullface mouth ain’t sayin’ a word, but that stalking drumbeat is alllllllmost funky and those are some murderous organ flourishes that he lets loose. Perfect for the dance interval, but the tension is still palpable. Which dissolves into…
Those damn lurking, sinister frogs take center stage on album closer, “Frogs.” In effect, it’s just a 14-minute field recording of a small army of frogs late at night in some swamp or lake. They croak and sing and croak some more, sometimes falling silent, sometimes allowing one of their brethren to take a solo. The ambience is downright eerie. Boo! God, Quintron rules. The new essential Halloween mixtape.
Skin Graft Records: www.skingraftrecords.com