I first encountered the mysterious figure known as The Love Doctor when I downloaded the album Satanic Abortion, by a “band” known as Clogged Orifice. I grabbed it from a blog based solely on the band name, the album title, and the cover art, which was a horrifying Edward Gorey-meets-Wes Benscoter drawing of a demon extracting a fetus from a presumably dead or dying woman. I admit it; the sheer fuck-you-ness of the whole thing made me laugh before I’d even heard a note.
Once I did, though, I was even more impressed. Not by the talent on display so much as by the monomania and internal cohesion of it. The music was an ultra-harsh cross between death metal and noise-rock, with a loose, improvised feel. The drumming was wild and barely in control, all slashing cymbals and off-time thumping, like whoever was playing had either totally abandoned traditional concepts of aggro-rock rhythm…or had just sat behind the kit for the first time that week. The guitar was a practice-amp buzzsaw sound, grinding away at caveman-like riffs and occasional gnarled, post-Greg Ginn “solos,” all hurled at the listener with the persistence of an enraged autistic. But the vocals were the weirdest, most unique thing of all. Anyone who’s listened to more than one ultra-underground metal album is aware that the human voice is frequently distorted nearly beyond recognition, whether it’s reduced to porcine squeals or a grunt so low it could be mistaken for distortion. The vocals on Satanic Abortion, though, were modified through the use of some sort of filter that made them sound like an insectile alien from a mid ’70s episode of Doctor Who. Not only were the “words” totally unintelligible, all human qualities had been subtracted away, leaving behind only this rippling buzz. It was one of the most disturbing sounds I’d ever encountered. This was music operating on a genuinely rare level of anti-human hostility.
Included in the metadata for the MP3s was a simple instruction: “Visit http://thelovedoctor.bandcamp.com.” So I did. And what I discovered was a vast, and constantly metastasizing, catalog of recordings, all free, and issued under a bewildering array of band names, most in the post-Carcass “medical textbook/thesaurus abuse” subcategory. Names like Harmonious Tones of Shattered Bones, Acute Necrotizing Hepatic Tumours of the Paralyzed Liver, and Carcinomatous Hepatocancrogastrojejunostomy Following Ureterarterialnecroticfaciotomy and Urethropancrejejuniumuterostomy, The one that leapt out at me, though (other than Clogged Orifice, with whose work I was already familiar), was Reglan Induced Drug Intoxication. That didn’t strike me as a “metal” or “goregrind”-oriented name; it felt more likely to be a noise or power electronics project. I was even more convinced of this when I noticed that the RIDI “albums” were almost all part of a series named in tribute to Magnum condoms, and that the majority consisted of single tracks, a half hour or more in length. I immediately downloaded them all, since they were free.
I was wrong. They weren’t power electronics, or noise of any kind—they were extended, mostly instrumental death metal jams that sounded like half-improvised crosses between Orthrelm and the most ragged Neil Young and Crazy Horse jams. Again, the instrumentation was limited to guitar and drums, and there seemed to be a disconnect between the two—I was starting to wonder if the players were even listening to each other. It sped up, it slowed down…it was truly wild, uncontrolled music, following the compositional “logic” of a small child singing a constantly mutating song to itself, without concern that anyone might be listening.
Not all the pieces were marathons. The earliest RIDI releases were EPs with titles like The Insane Asylum, A Short Death, Another Short Death, Regland, and Anatomy of Pharmaceutical Deterioration, and these contained tracks that could run less than a minute, or as long as 14 minutes. Some were performed on keyboards, and had a horror-soundtrack feel.
The more I listened, the more convinced I became that I was on the trail of a Jandek-level genius, a secret (unwitting?) avant-gardist who just happened to work within the realm of goregrind and extreme metal. I needed an interview, so I sent an email to the address connected with the Bandcamp page. It took about 10 days for a reply to arrive—”Hey man, I’m sorry to get back to you so late but I’ve been busy and haven’t been checking my emails so often I only glanced at this before. I would be interested in doing an email interview.” Two weeks later, I sent my questions, and on July 22, I got my answers, prefaced with “First off, sorry for the delay in response as I have said before, I can be very busy and I end up forgetting to reply to something like this.”
The very first reply, to a question I’d inserted more as a conversation-starter than anything else, blew me straight back in my chair.
Continued after the jump…